Posted in Blog

Interview with Derrick Smythe

How do you come up with the title to your books?

My title actually came after the first book was written. I had a title before, but it just didn’t feel right. The rest of the titles in the series fell into place with the completion of the outline I had written. Each attempts to align to the central focus of the story while remaining true to the series as a whole.

What was the hardest scene for you to write? Which scene was your favorite to write?

Any scene that begins a new chapter seems to be a major challenge for me! I have to write and rewrite my openings multiple times before I am able to get them right and then I often just delete the first few paragraphs and find that I like it much better.

I particularly enjoy writing action/fight scenes. I love putting myself into the body and mind of my characters as they live out fight sequences, especially without having to personally experience any of the bruises, bleeding, etc.

What inspired your book/series?

A hand drawn map, an idea, and a God.

What are you working on next?

I’m finalizing the second book in my Passage to Dawn series, as well as another short-story for one of my ancillary characters who doesn’t necessarily get a lot of screen time, but is one of my personal favorites.

What authors or books have influenced your writing?

Robert Jordan, Michael J Sullivan, Michael Wisehart, Robin Hobb, Raymond E. Feist, Edward Robertson, Brandon Sanderson, and of course, J.R.R. Tolkien.

If you could live anywhere, in this world or fantasy, where would you live?

I think I would especially enjoy living among the elves of either Feist, Sullivan, or Tolkien.

What is your favorite meal?

I’m a simple man. I like a good burger or steak, no side necessary.

Coffee or tea? Wine or beer?

One cup of coffee is about all I need to be happy.

Describe yourself in three words.

Aspiring, calm, calculating.

Today I’m happy to introduce Derrick Smythe, author of the book, The Other Magic

Tell me about yourself. What inspired you to write?

In the summer and fall, I’m a bit of an outdoorsman, seeking trails for hiking, parks for camping, or both. During the winter I’m stuck inside to resume my day job as a high school history teacher. I’m also a wrestling enthusiast—not WWE (no offense if you enjoy that!). I wrestled throughout high school and college then transitioned into officiating years back; it’s a lot better on my joints than competing. Of course, my big passion is writing, a passion reinforced in recent years with the success of my debut epic fantasy novel, “The Other Magic.” I was inspired to write out of a combination of extreme boredom while working a summer job in college, and an itch to do something more than simply enjoy the worlds created by others. Don’t get me wrong, I love immersing myself in the created worlds of others, but the more fantasy I read, the more I knew I had a world and story of my own to create and share. 

Describe your desk / writing space.

My desk exists within a state of heightened tension between neatness and disrepair. At my core is the inner OCD desire to have everything neatly stacked and put away, but on the other side is my need to have instant access to my notes and doodles, of which there are many, and they are always being added to. My computer monitor also has sticky notes all around it though every once in a while I’ll go through them and eliminate the ones that have since been resolved. I could argue that I just need a bigger desk, but I’m quite certain that this would not ultimately solve the issue.

Do you have a writing routine or do you write when inspired?

I write primarily in the mornings before my wife and daughters wake up. My alarm goes off at precisely 4:30AM, I get my coffee and oats, then head up to my office to work until around 6:30AM when it’s time to get dressed and help rush the kids, wife, and myself out the door to begin the day.

Author Bio

Derrick Smythe has been fascinated with all things elvish, dwarvish, and magical since his days of running through the woods with sharpened sticks in defense of whatever fortification he and his brothers had built that summer. After consuming nearly every fantasy book he could find, he was driven to begin work on one of his own. When he isn’t dreaming up new stories, he can be spotted hiking the Adirondack Mountains or traveling the world. He currently resides near his hometown in upstate New York with his enchanting wife, ethereal daughters, and his faithful-if-neurotic Australian Shepherd, Magnus.

Posted in Blog

Interview with Laura Winter, author of Star Collapsed, on sale May 25th!!! Pre Order Today

Today, I’m pleased to introduce Laura Winter, author of the new series, Star Collapsed, on sale May 25th.

Tell me about yourself. What inspired you to write?

I somewhat accidentally stumbled upon writing. I’ve spent most of my life on the softball field (I actually played professionally after my pitching career at Notre Dame). In 2018, I was going to grad school and coaching when I discovered NaNoWriMo, but it was the middle of summer. Instead of waiting for November to write my book, I decided to do a trial run to see if I could actually do it… and I wrote my book in 10 days! Absolutely no writing background, but a whole lot of determination to get better and to tell the stories that were stuck in my head. After that, I couldn’t stop.

Describe your desk / writing space.

My writing area itself is pretty much clear – keyboard in front of me, podcast/audio equipment to the left, and my planner to the right. What’s happening on the shelf above me is another story… I have about twenty notebooks and loose stickers and decorations. I swear I’m actually a minimalist (unless it comes to notebooks and shiny pens).

Do you have a writing routine or do you write when inspired?

I thrive on routine! I have set plans for when I sit down to write – whether that’s chapter notes, a plan of attack for editing, or just general writing-adjacent tasks (like social media and marketing or cover design). If you had asked me a year ago, I would have told you that I write best in the mornings (I was once an early bird), but lately I’ve been really cranking out the words after lunch and even at night!

How do you come up with the title to your books?

That one really varies. For my high fantasy Warrior Series, I tied the titles to the identity of my characters (there are 3 main characters, each with their own books), so with each new title, you can see how each character grows and changes based on the events of the series.

My YA/NA fantasy Soul Series titles come from the main conflict for my characters and that journey from forgotten memories, remembered pasts, and obscured souls. The main focus is on the good and evil of the Blue and Cold Soul, hence the Soul part of the title. We have powers based on space events like supernovas, black holes, and blue stars!

And, with my brand new Star Series (which happens to be a spin off of the Soul Series), I based the titles off of those space events! This series happens 18 years later and we get to follow Kiya, the daughter of the supernova and black hole from the Soul Series. If you’re familiar with space events, the titles of the Star Series are going to follow the life cycle of a star… starting with Star Collapsed!

What was the hardest scene for you to write? Which scene was your favorite to write?

One of the hardest scenes I’ve ever written was the big plot twist in Soul Remembered. Without giving too much away since it’s the second book in the series, I had to write that scene through my own tears because I quite literally broke my own heart in the process of writing it. It had to happen, but wow I didn’t realize it would hurt so much.

I love myself a good fight scene. I have been known to actually act out those scenes in my living room, especially if I want to make sure movements are actually possible. I have quite a few that I’ve written in the last few books, and between sword fighting (Warrior Series) and superpowered fighting (Soul and Star Series), I’m not sure I can pick just one.

What inspired your book/series?

Seeing as I’m now back into the superpowered Blue Star world, it’s pretty easy to attribute that to my love of space and superpowers. I’m always interested in telling stories of strong women who come in and save the day, and when you add a little flavor with superpowers and magic, you’re in for a real treat.

What are you working on next?

More Star Series! I have a few ideas brewing in the back of my mind, two of which are nearly functional, and I’ll start those when the plots sort themselves out. For now, I have a plan for two more Star books!

What authors or books have influenced your writing?

I’ve always been inspired by magic and fantasy worlds. The book that really pushed me into writing was The Magicians by Lev Grossman. With the crazy that has been 2020 and 2021, I’ve been able to broaden my reading list and I have to say that S.M. Gaither’s Shadows and Crowns series really got me excited to jump back into a fantasy world.

If you could live anywhere, in this world or fantasy, where would you live?

Fantasy world, no question. Selfishly, I’d love to live in the worlds I’ve created, but I would never pass up an opportunity to go to Narnia.

What is your favorite meal?

Can Reese’s candy be my meal?

Coffee or tea? Wine or beer?

If it has caffeine, I’ll drink it.

Describe yourself in three words.

passionate, dreamer, crazy

BIO: Laura Winter is a passionate creator, minimalist, and van life dreamer. She’s dedicated to writing character-driven stories with intricate plots that will keep you engaged until the last page. Explore new worlds, fall in love with characters, and enjoy an escape.

BLURB – Star Collapsed:

Is it possible to hate someone at first sight?

I’ve been around the power community my entire life. I have a special bond with the famous Blue Star; the combination of Finnley’s telekinetic explosions and Nate’s shadow manipulation.

You see, I’m their daughter.

Let me rephrase that. I’m their powerless daughter.

On the night of my Trials, I passed every test except the most important one – getting powers from a power source – and now I’m stuck with the constant reminder that I failed to be something great. While my family and friends go out and save others who can’t control their powers, I’m left on the sidelines.

Which is why I’m furious when Ryder shows up, claiming he doesn’t want those incredible powers he possesses. It sparks some deep fire inside me to think that he’s throwing away a gift I so desperately want. No, it really sparked something, and now that anger is getting worse. He might not have a choice about getting involved, because his presence has triggered something in me that I’m not sure is going to end in anything but destruction.

Because what good can come from a stellar collision?

If you loved the Soul trilogy following Finnley, Nate, and Glitch, you’ll love the extension of the Blue Star story in the Star trilogy. Not required to read the Soul trilogy to follow this series.

Posted in Blog

Author Interview With Amanda Fleet

I’m very excited to introduce Amanda Fleet, author of the Guardians of the Realm series.

Tell me about yourself. What inspired you to write?

I’ve written since I was young, though none of that teenage angst rubbish will ever see the light of day. I suppose I wrote more seriously much later in life, writing my first book (which will also possibly never see the light of day!) in 2007. I know this will sound terribly cliched, but there were stories and characters in my head and they wouldn’t shut up unless I wrote about them.

Describe your desk / writing space.

It’s a large, wooden desk, with drawers down either side – antique style, though not actually an antique. It faces the window that looks out over part of the garden. There’s my laptop on it, plus an external monitor, and the edges are cluttered with notebooks, pens, more pens, scraps of paper, and some more pens. I really need to tame it!

Do you have a writing routine or do you write when inspired?

A bit of both. I write most days, and apart from a time where I was close to having a breakdown, have never run out of ideas, so inspiration always seems to flow. When I was close to a breakdown, I had zero inspiration and that was horrible.

How do you come up with the title to your books?

Great question! My first published book “The Wrong Kind of Clouds” got its title via my husband who is a keen photographer (as is the main character in the book). I have spent so many hours of my life waiting for “the right kind of clouds” for his photographs – clear blue skies aren’t great; small, fluffy white clouds aren’t great… menacing, stormy skies with lots of light and shade are what hubby is always after! It’s linked to in the book (though I can’t say more without giving away spoilers).

For other books, the titles spring from the books more directly. “Aegyir Rises”, “Aeron Returns”, “War” and “Invasion” all describe what happens in the book.

What was the hardest scene for you to write? Which scene was your favorite to write?

The hardest scenes for me to write are death scenes and sex scenes! Death scenes because I cry so much while I’m writing them; sex scenes because they are difficult and embarrassing to write.

My favourite scene to write was in “Aeron Returns”, when Aeron and Faran have come to Earth (from The Realm) and he is a total fish out of water. He’s incredibly fond of honey (a scarce resource in The Realm) and Aeron buys a jar for him. It’s the first time he thinks she might love him again.

What inspired your series, Guardians of the Realm?

Ah. A trickier question. Often the ideas for a book come from just a single question that then grows and grows until it becomes a book (or a series). A lot of the things I think about writing involve people being in the wrong place somehow. It started out with wondering if there were portals to other worlds and grew from there, really. Landscape can be a great trigger – rocky outcrops or slabs of craggy rock… who wouldn’t wonder if they led somewhere exciting?

What are you working on next?

I’ve just published the 4th book of the series – “Invasion” and once all the dust has settled from launching that, I’ll start to edit my next book – something completely different for me: a time-travel romance set in Scotland, near to where the battle of Culloden took place.

What authors or books have influenced your writing?

Sarah Fine was definitely a big inspiration for the Guardians of The Realm series. I adored her Guardians of The Shadowlands series. Patrick Ness is another huge favourite. I don’t think I’ve read a book of his that I haven’t thought was amazing, but the Chaos Walking trilogy is outstanding.

If you could live anywhere, in this world or fantasy, where would you live?

Ooh. You know, it’s a tight race between Scotland and Italy. Since I speak almost zero Italian, I might be better off staying in Scotland, though not where I currently am. It’s a tough one as I normally crave the countryside and wide-open spaces, but I’m also getting older so the sensible bit of my head wants a big hospital nearby! And I hate midgies (small, biting insects that are very common in the west of Scotland). Scotland-wise, I suppose somewhere up near Inverness would tick most of the boxes – open and rugged, yet Inverness is a city with a decent hospital and the east has far fewer midgies. Near the sea too. Italy? Somewhere in the north, near the coast.

What is your favorite meal?

Stir-fry and noodles.

Coffee or tea? Wine or beer?

Tea; wine.

Describe yourself in three words.

Introvert; loyal; perfectionist.

Author bio:

Amanda Fleet is a physiologist by training and a writer at heart. She spent 18 years teaching science and medicine undergraduates at St Andrews University, but now uses her knowledge to work out how to kill people (in her books!). She completed her first degree at St Andrews University and her doctorate at University College, London.

She has been an inveterate stationery addict since a child, amassing a considerable stash of fountain pens, ink and notebooks during her lifetime. These have thankfully come in useful, as she tends to write rather than type, at least in the early stages of writing a book.

During her time at St Andrews, she worked with the College of Medicine in Blantyre, Malawi. While in Malawi, she learned about the plight of the many street children there and helped to set up a Community Based Organisation that works with homeless Malawian children to support them through education and training – Chimwemwe Children’s Centre. It was this experience that helped to inspire the Malawian aspects in her novel “The Wrong Kind of Clouds” (briefly released as “The Call”), though, of course, the book is entirely fictional.

She is the author of the urban fantasy series: “The Guardians of The Realm”, the crime novel “The Wrong Kind of Clouds”, and the psychological thriller “Lies That Poison”.

Amanda lives in Scotland with her husband, where she can be found writing, walking and running.

Posted in Blog

Ashes And Blood & Below Dark Waters is now in PRINT!

Ashes and Blood
Below Dark Waters

Get Your Physical Copy of
Ashes and Blood &
Below Dark Waters!

It feels so good to be able to announce that.

Besides that, it’s been a slow writing two weeks. I had wanted to get more done, but my boyfriend and I are falling apart. I’m in an air cast and he can’t turn his head.
So I’ve been taking a little wellness break. 

DNA- 65,879 – I just started the third trimester 😉 

Dalya III- 16,694

Posted in Blog

Dec. 10th

I hope that everyone has a wonderful holiday season and that the start of the New Year brings peace to everyone during these difficult times.

As I write this newsletter, snow is falling outside my window for the first time this year. Our twinkling Christmas tree and decorated window create a picturesque frame to the majestic, but chilly outside. There’s not enough snow to build a snowman or a fort, but just enough to coat the trees and dust the grass evenly.
The view alone makes me think of homemade braided cinnamon wreaths and a hot cup of cocoa. I included my yummy braided cinnamon wreath with cream cheese frosting at the bottom of this newsletter.
It’s not only scrumptious, but looks pretty with its white frosting and cinnamon sugar coating. YUM!

Back to books, can you tell I love food?

Word count is moving. I’ve started to focus again on DNA and I can’t wait to introduce Karen, my newest character, as she counts down the days to her own Christmas due date.
DNA: 37,370 words
Dalya Book III (Stranger Shores? I haven’t settled on the title yet, maybe in the next newsletter I’ll do a vote): 16,694

Braided Cinnamon Wreath
I like making this recipe into a wreath shape and then cutting slices of it, but you can make mini rolls too.

1/2 cup of warm milk 110°F
2 1/4 tsp yeast
1/8 cup melted butter
1 egg yolk
1 TBSP sugar
2 cups of flour
1/2 tsp. salt

Cinnamon Filling
1/4 cup softened butter
4-5 TBSP sugar
3 tsp cinnamon

Cream Cheese Frosting
2 oz cream cheese
4 TBSP melted butter
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup of powder sugar

Mix milk, yeast, sugar, melted butter, & egg yolk. Allow it to sit for ten minutes.

Mix in the shifted flour & salt. Knead the dough into a ball and place the dough in a greased bowl. Cover bowl with towel or plastic wrap and place in warm area to rise for at least one hour.

Whisk butter, cinnamon, and sugar.

Flour your work area and roll out the dough into an 8 x 12 rectangle. Spread 3/4 of the filling on it.
Roll the dough long ways into a log.
Slice the rolled up dough down the center and separate.
Take one of each end and braid the two pieces together into a circle.
Brush remaining filling on the top.
Bake at 400°F for 25 minutes
Drop the temperature to 350° and back for an additional 10 minutes.

While baking, beat cream cheese, melted butter, vanilla extract, and powder sugar until smooth. Drizzle on hot cinnamon wreath and enjoy.

As always, check out the books below, most of them are on sale or free!

Game of Thrones meets Arabian Nights in this blood-soaked fantasy epic inspired by the crusades, featuring Lovecraftian gods, mischievous djinns, and astral magic!
They took his daughter, so Micah comes to take their kingdom. Fifty thousand gun-toting paladins march behind him, all baptized in angel blood, thirsty to burn unbelievers.
Only the janissaries can stand against them. Their living legend, Kevah, once beheaded a magus amid a hail of ice daggers. But ever since his wife disappeared, he spends his days in a haze of hashish and poetry.
To save the kingdom, Kevah must conquer his grief and become the legend he once was. But Micah writes his own legend in blood, and his righteous conquest will stop at nothing.
When the gods choose sides, a legend will be etched upon the stars.
Gwynn had finally completed her training and joined the ranks of the elite Inishmore Bards. Eager to explore the world and create her musical legacy, Gwynn sets off on the road toward the dazzling city of Samhayne. Her peaceful journey is interrupted when she encounters Shae, a Southron warrior mortally wounded in battle. Drawing deep upon his lifesong, Gwynn uses her musical gifts to heal him…then swears him to secrecy, lest anyone learn of her hidden talent. Journeying together Gwynn and Shae are met by a Fae prince known to Gwynn since childhood. Sensing her distress over her growing powers he insists that they travel with him to his realm. In the hidden Royal Court of Heralith they find themselves battling deadly monsters, inner demons, and the dark forces of the demi-goddess Aere. Gwynn’s bardic magic just might be enough to free them from the enchantment that binds them but if she fails, it could shatter her mind and soul. Fae Song pays homage to epic fantasy series like Harry Potter. Balahar is an adventurous new world of magic and music, Kings and Queens, sacrifice and victory.
Dragons. Elves. Curses. Blood Pacts and orcs… and plenty of Chosen Ones.

Get these novels from ten masters of fantasy and unlock portals to new worlds today for less than a dollar a piece!

Table of Contents
1. “Rise and Fall of the Obsidian Grotto” by Christopher D. Schmitz
2. “The Tally Master” by J.M. Ney-Grimm
3. “A Veil for the Vanguard” by Danny F. Santos
4. “The Kakos Realm: Grinden Proselyte” by Christopher D. Schmitz
5. “The Dragonslayer’s Sword” by Resa Nelson
6. “Apprentice Storm Mage” by Douglas Van Dyke Jr
7. “The Avant Champion: Rising” by CB Samet
8. “The Chronicles of Agartha: Book 1 – The Green Boy” by Sherif Guirguis
9. “Severance Lost” by J. Lloren Quill
10. “Prelude to Insurrection” by JC Kang
11. “The Dragon Princess” by Paris Hansch
Katie is a normal girl living a normal life, until she falls through a glowing crevice in the sidewalk. She makes a note to herself to avoid glowing crevices in the future. On the other side of the crevice lies Dreamland, a realm of fantasy and magic, a place where she can let her imagination soar and develop new powers. Katie has no idea why she’s there or what she’s supposed to do, and she meets other kids also stunned to find themselves in the same realm of mystery. When a strange woman in white appears, Katie and her friends learn that Dreamland is under a threat only they can stop, while the woman “helps” the kids with incomplete instructions and unclear advice that frustrates them enormously. Through the confusion, Katie has the adventure of a lifetime, with magic, self-discovery, battles, and the potential collision of worlds, while she faces her worst nightmare: her annoying little brother. Can she and her friends fight and defeat the forces of evil? Can she figure out how to get back home? Can she stop her brother from asking for more candy before he destroys the universe? This fantasy adventure novel is perfect for young girls looking for fun, excitement, humor, and a little inspiration to help them develop into everything they want to be!

Posted in Blog

Below Dark Waters is On Sale Now!!!

 On Sale Now!
Click on the link to get your ebook today!

It’s been a long, chaotic, stressful year since I began writing Below Dark Waters. But perseverance is the key to life and no matter what, we have to push through and still find a way to achieve our goals.
I’m so happy I did.

But we need to always help each other and that’s why I love cross promoting different authors. We all need help building our audiences and it means so much when cross promotions succeed. Please go through all the promo’s at the end, there’s even a chance to win $300! 

Below you will find the blurb to the book Escape. Click on the links to discover all the ways you can buy this awesome book.

The howls of Guards on hunt shatter the air.
Trinity can’t let them catch her outside of the encampment or she and her family will be executed.
She has to hide but where? She’s surrounded by river and forest.
A splash draws her gaze and the river-man’s flipper slips under the water. Forest it is, because there’s no way she’s going into the river.
She races into the woods, backpack slamming against her shoulders as the calls of the Guards draw closer. Brush breaks and crashes behind her. They’re too close. There’s nothing for her to do but surrender.
She raises her hands to her shoulders and slowly turns, but it’s not the Guards who have caught her. A Tracker, the deadliest of predators, stands on its back two legs, towering above her, front legs hanging down like arms.Brindle fur covers its body and its eyes glow yellow in the shadowed forest. Its tongue lolls out the side of its mouth, exposing a row of sharp teeth on the other side.
She should scream but all she can do is think, “Someone should tell it that they no longer exist in the wild.”
Lake of Sins: Escape is a young adult fantasy in the vein of The Island of Dr. Moreau. If you like imaginative dystopian worlds, headstrong heroines, and incredible monsters, then you’ll love this visionary tale.

Posted in Blog

Beta readers!!

Beta readers!!

If anyone is interested in beta reading Below Dark Waters, send me an email at I’m creating a beta team and would love for you to join. In the email, please send a little info about yourself and why you want to be a beta reader.

As I type this, my fingers are dyed pink from food coloring, my kitchen is a birthday cake war zone, and currently my inbox is blowing up with emails. To say I’m busy is an understatement, but I love it. However, tomorrow I promised myself that I will go to the beach for the first time this year. I must! I grew up on the beach. It’s my second home!

But it will be my only day off this week as I’m trying to get Below Dark Waters released September 10th. That’s the goal. As of this moment we are on track.

That’s about it for right now. In the next newsletter, I promise to have the back cover for Below Dark Waters. It should be up on most platforms by September 3th for presale!

Until then, check out these two authors and the promotions below. There are some amazing books in here and they are either on sale or free!

Posted in Blog

Hey, how’s it hanging?

I hope everyone is enjoying the summer and had an awesome 4th of July!

This month is birthday month. That means I’m in the kitchen, baking cakes. So far this week, I’ve made a New York cheesecake, vanilla cupcakes with vanilla buttercream frosting, and a vanilla bean cake with chocolate buttercream frosting. Normally, right about now I’d be preparing my kitchen for my nephew’s birthday cake, (in the past it’s been multiple types of dinosaurs, a 3D pirate ship, and a rocket ship) but because of COVID… things have changed.

I hope by this time next year, that everything will be back to normal.

My cover artist has been super busy. I should see the cover for Below Dark Waters by the end of next week. The following update should have a first look at the cover design.

I’ve shifted gears from DNA back to putting the finishing touches on Below Dark Waters. So far, I’m right on track on for having it out end of August.

Next update will be August 6th. Meanwhile, checkout some of these promotions, there are tons of books on sale!

Stay safe and healthy,
Katie Zaber