Posted in Blog

Today I’m doing something different. I’m doing a character interview for my friend, Laura Winters’ amazing new book, The Curse of Broken Shadows.

Where are you from, and what do you do?

Elias: Rooke, the earth kingdom. Assassin and thief.
Farrah: Same.
Brela: Assassin from everywhere and nowhere.
Cason: You can just say you’re from Valisea, the former shadow kingdom. We all know.
Brela: *sticks tongue out at Cason*
Cason: *rolls eyes* I’m from Anfroy, the sun kingdom, and I’m Captain of Serill’s Guard.
Serill: I’m the Crown Prince of Severina, the moon kingdom.

What magic do you have? Did you study for it?

Farrah: I’m earth and moon blessed. Water, with a special affinity for ice, and a smidge of healing magic. I only ever attended the earth temple, but not for long.
Cason: Fire and enhanced senses from the sun god, lightning from the moon god. I trained at both the sun and moon temple and have the tattoos for the highest graduation marks.
Brela: They should have created a new graduation level for you. Those tattoos aren’t even close to showing your real strength. And, for the record, neither of you are ‘tainted’ for your multiple gods-blessed magics.
Elias: Yeah, I don’t care about my earth temple tattoos. I skipped all the graduation inks for my herbal affinity and only got the strength ones. But look at what Brela drew for me. *proudly shows off his shoulder ink that blends strength and herbal magic marks* I made her tattoo it on me.
Serill: I just have healing magic.
Brela: And a brain. That’s stronger than any magic. I would know, because I can kick all of your asses and I don’t have magic. *casually hides the fact that she possesses a cursed shadow magic from Serill and Cason*

What was your childhood like?

Brela: I spent ages 3 to 9 hiding from soldiers who were trying to kill me because I honor the shadow god and was cursed with her magic. Then, after I escaped Valisea, trained as an assassin in Rooke.
Farrah: I don’t talk about anything that happened before I was 19 and met Brela.
Elias: Can’t complain. I did my own thing, got into trouble, and didn’t really care about anything until I was 20 and met these two *points to Farrah and Brela*
Cason: I spent my early years training at the sun temple in Anfroy, then left to study at the moon temple in Severina. Most people are afraid of my magic so I didn’t really have friends until I met Serill.
Serill: I’m the Crown Prince of Severina. Even though the king would rather have my brother on the throne over me because he has lightning magic instead of my weaker healing magic, it was pretty easy-going until recently.
Cason: You mean until we met Brela?
Brela: I’m sorry, dragon. Are you really complaining about some of the things we’ve–
Serill: Oh, gods. I don’t need to hear you two flirt this early in the morning.

What is your biggest wish/goal/desire?

Serill: To unite all the kingdoms again. Yes, including Valisea and the shadow-kind.
Farrah: Oh. I just want to see the moon temple. I’ve heard it’s the most beautiful sight on the continent.
Elias: I’m simple. A bed big enough to share with Farrah and Brela and for them to be safe.
Cason: For people to not see my magic as something destructive.
Brela: Same. And for my people to no longer be hunted.

What is your greatest fear?

Cason: Losing control of my power and emotions. Being seen as weak for having those emotions.
Serill: Not being respected because I have a weaker magic and don’t care for violence.
Farrah: Being seen as weak or broken because of my scars.
Elias: Heights.
Brela: Small spaces. Someone using my family against me.

Do you have any pets?

Brela: Does a mythical shadow wolf that is now very real and stalking me count?
Farrah: As long as you don’t bring it in the house, sure.

Do you have a crush on / love someone?

*Brela and Cason avoid eye contact*
Elias: It’s no secret that Brela, Farrah, and I are a thing.
Farrah: Brela and Elias. Easy.
Serill: Can we add a sixth member to this group? I’m lonely.

Describe the others with one word.

Brela: Surprising (Serill), Wild (Elias), Heart (Farrah), Dragon (Cason)
Cason: Incorrigible (Brela), Kind (Serill), Protective (Elias), Fierce (Farrah)
Serill: Inspirational (Brela), Misunderstood (Cason), Beautiful (Farrah), Caring (Elias)
Farrah: Civilized (Serill), Loyal (Elias), Stubborn (Cason), Hope (Brela)
Elias: Queen (Farrah), Revolutionary (Serill), Uptight (Cason), Tenacious (Brela)

Favorite color:

Farrah: Black or dark colors.
Brela: Purple, but more blue than black. No, maybe emerald green, like Elias’s eyes.
Serill: I’ve always liked Severina’s colors. Midnight blue and silver.
Elias: Blue or purple. Green, too. Honestly, Brela and I change our answer daily.
Cason: Blue.
Brela: *looks into Cason’s eyes* Nevermind, it’s steel blue.

What’s something to look forward to in The Curse of Broken Shadows?

Farrah: Badass women kicking butt.
Elias: I also look forward to that. Found family is my favorite.
Cason: A lot of magic and new monsters and beasts.
Serill: Adventure and growing friendships.
Brela: Flirting, banter, swords, and knives… often at the same time.

An assassin, a powerful dagger, and a magic that shouldn’t exist.

Shadow magic is extinct. The Veil Worshippers who honor the shadow god’s wall are hunted for their artifacts, including the Veil shards that break off the wall in Valisea.

Brela vows to steal it all back. With the dagger of her people and a Veil shard embedded in her collarbone that has infected her with shadow-cursed magic, she is determined to keep her secrets or suffer a fate worse than death. That was a lot easier when the uptight and infuriatingly handsome Captain Cason Valkip wasn’t hunting her.

Cason has spent his entire life hiding—from the raids on Valisea, from his emotions, and from his multiple gods-blessed magics that everyone is afraid of… everyone except Brela. The chaotic, non-magic wielding assassin who drives him insane is also the only person who has never looked at his tainted magic without any ounce of fear. Which is why being forced to work with her to discover the source of the breaking wall sets his already uncontrollable fire magic ablaze.

With tension growing in the remaining kingdoms and mythical beasts threatening her at every turn, Brela’s secrets might not remain hidden for much longer. To survive, she will have to work with the one man who could burn her.

Because if shadow hell is released, no one will be safe.

Posted in Blog

Today I’d like to introduce Ashely Caggiano author of The Weary Traveler

Tell me about yourself. What inspired you to write?

I didn’t start speaking for an abnormally long time after I should have according to all the developmental books. My mom says it was because I was just listening, and while it was much more likely because of some pretty intense anxiety, she wasn’t necessarily wrong: I was listening too. I’ve always enjoyed observing the world and the people in it, figuring out why things are how they are and making up reasons when there wasn’t an answer. That’s where stories come in—the intersection of “why,” “I don’t know,” and “what if?” I found that I liked telling stories, but that whole being quiet thing ended up counter to ever being listened to, so writing became the best way to express myself without being interrupted. See, you just read this whole paragraph, didn’t you?

I turned to fantasy fairly early and never left because it always has more to give. Magic can be terrible, but it’s also fun and ridiculous, and its ability to cut a reader off from the “real world” while still representing actual struggles people have is a great tool for storytelling. Plus, I love love, and isn’t that the most magical thing of all? Ew, gross, I know, but that’s the other part: fantasy lets you be corny and get away with it. Sometimes readers even like it.

While I’ve always liked observing, I’ve also always wanted to fix things and help people. I don’t really have the ability or the tools to do that in most cases, but I know for myself, stories have always been a place of escape, healing, and ultimately growth. So if I can give that to anyone else, then maybe I am capable of doing a tiny bit of that fixing after all.

Describe your desk / writing space.

I’m a nomadic writer, but I do have my favorite spots, depending on what stage I’m in. I brainstorm and plot from a desk with a whiteboard beside it, every surface covered in notebooks and sticky notes and colored pens. I do first drafts from a big, comfy armchair or couch, nested in blankets, an oversized sweatshirt, and noise-cancelling headphones to discourage me from getting up. Most of my rewrites and edits are ping-ponging between those two, though lately I’ve been using a very small standing desk so I can do a lap of the room while I fill in plot holes and sort out dialogue. The necessities for any of these spots is a very hot or very cold drink, the ability to talk to myself without looking crazy, and at least one cat.

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

I’m very lucky in that writing is my fulltime job, so it’s essentially what I do for the entire day. I find I’m most productive in the morning and late in the evening, so I start my day with a cup of coffee or tea and a short session of reading to get me in the right headspace, and then I use timed sprints to draft or hour-long blocks to edit. My afternoons are much of the same, but with more business tasks interspersed like writing emails or blogs. In the evening, after chores and dinner, I’ll pull my laptop out again and review what I thought was good that morning and either applaud myself or leave scathing notes for my future self to fix.

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

I’ve been finding lately that utilizing details from my real life, even when I add a fictional twist on them, has been hard. Write what you know, it’s true, but that doesn’t make it emotionally easy, yet those scenes are usually a lot more satisfying in the end. Lorelei goes on a tirade to the hearth sprites in The Weary Traveler about why she ended up at Moonlit Shores Manor, it’s very much stream-of-consciousness, rambley nonsense, but it’s meant as exposition and to give the reader a sense of who Lorelei is early on. While I only rewrote it once or twice, conceptualizing it and figuring out how to get it right was a real struggle.

My favorite scenes to write in the Vacancy series seem to be when Lorelei gets overwhelmed and has an outburst, like in the third act of book two when she confronts Mr. Carr (not a spoiler, it’s inevitable). It’s very cathartic to just let her unload on somebody and to say the things she’s had pent up for so long. I also love a good romance scene, but I end up rewriting them a lot to turn up or down the steaminess like at the Valentine’s Day party in The Wayward Deed.

Also, dirty jokes. If I manage to sneak one in, my cockiness knows no bounds.

What inspired your book/series?

I’ve always felt television was the perfect medium for storytelling, and I used to dream up this sitcom with a supernatural vibe that was a mix of Charmed, Fawlty Towers, and Friends. That’s Vacancy. It was originally a serial on my blog, but I knew I would reach more readers (and actually finish the dang thing) by novelizing it. I wanted to see a group of people with individual struggles come together to solve their genuine problems while constantly being interrupted by “real life,” and I wanted that “real life” to be full of absurd magic and campy situations.

Who is your favorite character from your book and would you get along?

From the Vacancy series, I have to say Bridgette just might be my favorite character, but she’s objectively awful, so we would absolutely not get along. In early iterations of this story, she was pretty one-dimensional and easy to dispassionately hate, but in novelizing the story I didn’t want her to be a caricature of a “mean girl” who just fulfilled “the other woman” role, so I fleshed her out and then fell in love with how she sees the world. Her view is grossly solipsistic and shallow, but in a twisted way she thinks she’s doing the right thing, and while her actions aren’t exactly justifiable, she ended up being complex in a way that I really hope translates to the page by the end of the trilogy. All that said, she does absolutely despicable things, but her snotty, valley girl lines are a lot of fun to write!

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

I fear I would get killed off in most of the fantasy worlds I love, or at the very least couldn’t stand them without daily access to a hot shower. The world of Diana Wynne Jones’s Howl’s Moving Castle is just so bright and magical and lovely though, it’s like a fairy tale and it has a bathtub, so it might be tolerable! In our world, I’d like to live on a secluded beach where I can sit in the sand and listen to the waves and the gulls while I type away endlessly. I’d just need a laptop that can handle sand and sunshine.

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

Only after realizing I hate every single word and every possible mixture of them?? Titles are the worst, but I’ve come up with an okay method: make a list of important words, phrases, and concepts that convey the ambiance and theme of the book, then rewrite the list by combining words over and over in different orders while keeping the genre in mind. I try to write all my ideas down, even if I hate them (for a long time book two of Vacancy was called Occupancy), because it either gets the bad ideas out of my head, or leaves them there for future me to look back at and realize they weren’t so bad after all. (Spoiler: the latter is extremely rare and even more delightful!)

What are you working on next?

After Vacancy’s third and final book, The Willful Inheritor, is published this fall, I have a one-off sword and sorcery romcom in the works (working title Bad Blood, but you know how I feel about titles). I’m playing around with villain tropes and classic Halloween monsters and a more traditional, medieval setting for this one. It’s lighthearted while attempting to ask the question “what is evil, really?” I’m restricting that story to a standalone novel for my own sanity.

I’ve also got a vampire romance called Creatures and Covens on Kindle Vella that needs to be finished and then brought to ebook, and a weird, holiday horror/black comedy novella that I keep just failing to complete in time for December, so we’ll see if I can pull it off this year or if it’s fated for Christmas 2022. After that, I have a trilogy for 2022 called Blightwood that’s my first stab at a more serious fantasy epic with a slightly darker romantic subplot. Knowing me, that dark romance will morph into something a bit brighter, but the world revolves around a blighted forest, “dark” elves, and conflict between what is essentially heaven and hell, so it won’t be too bright.

What authors or books have influenced your writing?

Obligatory Harry Potter mention, of course. I look to Neil Gaiman when I’m trying to understand beautiful prose and how to submerge a reader into a world, and I read Gillian Flynn for a how-to on punching a reader right in the gut and crafting an unputdownable story (all stuff I’ll forever be a student of). If I could emulate even one percent of the joy and laughter I get from Terry Pratchett or Douglas Adams, I’d consider my life fulfilled, and Diana Wynne Jones is the culmination of everything I want to inject in my writing: fantasy, comedy, heart, and the tiniest bit of good sense in the face of ridiculousness.

What is your favorite meal?

A box of generic-labeled mac n cheese and a diet soda. I don’t think I need to explain why.

Coffee or tea? Wine or beer?

I’m boring and don’t drink alcohol (my bitter receptors work overtime), but I love both coffee and tea! Of course, some people would say I’m not drinking either since I add lots of creamer and milk to a medium roast cold brew or hot chai, but if you dump a scoop of protein powder in either you’ve got a pretty good breakfast going, and the perfect way to wake your brain up for some writing!

Describe yourself in three words.

Really likes cats.

Author Bio:

Ashley is a self-published author who likes to write silly little stories that hopefully bring readers joy. She likes cats, guacamole, feminism, and the internet.

Lorelei Fischer desperately needed somewhere to spend the night, and, as if by magic, Moonlit Shores Manor appeared.

But there’s a cost for everything, magic included.

More than willing to escape her old life and fill the open position at the bizarre bed and breakfast, Lorelei quickly learns of the dangers waiting for her. She’s only human, after all, and casting spells, shifting into wild animals, and caring for mythical creatures aren’t exactly in the wheelhouse of a former barista and art school failure. At the manor, faeries might pull tricks on you while washing linens, werewolves might try to rough up your bellboy, and a shadowy presence in the woods might be your undoing if you ask too many questions.

With the help of her supernatural, live-in coworkers, Moonlit Shores Manor could be Lorelei’s sanctuary from her past mistakes. Though as the truth of the manor’s history unravels, it could just as likely become another place Lorelei must flee to save not just her reputation but her life.

Posted in Blog

Today I’d like to introduce the author of Awakening, G. Clatworthy

Tell me about yourself. What inspired you to write?

I’ve always loved creating stories, and it was during the first lockdown last year that I went back to writing as a way to get some time just for me. I started out with children’ books as a catharsis for my lockdown experience – my first book was called ‘The Girl Who Lost Her Listening Ears’ so that gives you some idea of my experience. Then I started to write books I wanted to read, hence my new urban fantasy series.

Describe your desk / writing space.

I work in our games room most of the time, I have a sit / standing desk so I don’t spend all day hunched over and I’ve personalized it with stickers as it was far too grey and office-like when I bought it. My favourite bit of stationery is my to do list pad, I love a list and it helps me focus. I also have several notebooks on the go with all my ideas for future books.

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

I am very rigid with my schedule as I don’t have a lot of free time to write in, so I make sure I do at least an hour every day.

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

The hardest scene for me to write so far was in Solstice of Dragons – Book 2 of my Rise of Dragons series – it involved huge spider-like creatures with ten legs, many eyes and graphic descriptions. I wouldn’t say I scared myself writing it but I didn’t want to go to sleep with it still in my head!

My favourite scenes are the ones where the characters have the opportunity to react with a bit of sass or snark – I enjoy irreverent humour so when that works and a reader reaches out to me to say they loved one of those scenes in my book, I love that.

What inspired your book/series?

I was thinking about typical urban fantasy books and this idea for a half-dwarf lead character who just wants a quiet life came into my head and so Amethyst was born! She has her own jewellery shop but then her best friend gets kidnapped and she’s thrown into a world of cults and dragons!

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

In this world, I love Japan and would really love to live there, just outside a city. I think it’s got a really cool culture that mixes modern and old and the people are lovely. In a fantasy world, I think the Discworld would be fun to live in, anywhere with magic really.

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

This is the part I find hardest! I have ideas while I’m writing, but I wait until after I’ve finished the book before choosing the final title.

What are you working on next?

Right now, I’m finishing up my Rise of Dragons series. I want to finish the six books before I move onto another series. I’m currently finishing book 3 – Equinox Betrayal – which is about a dragon egg being stolen.

What authors or books have influenced your writing?

I think there’s too many here to mention. I’m a massive Terry Pratchett fan, Tolkien, Lyndsey Buroker to name a few, but I read really widely so I hope I bring in good elements from a number of authors.

What is your favorite meal?

This is tough because I love food…I think a prosciutto pizza followed by a chocolate fudge cake, accompanied by a rich red wine.

Coffee or tea? Wine or beer?

Tea (hey I’m British!), no milk or sugar and preferably Earl Grey or something like that. I don’t drink coffee. And definitely wine over beer – a prosecco or a rich red.

Describe yourself in three words.

Curious, organized, creative.  

Bio:

Gemma started writing during the 2020 lockdown and loves fantasy fiction and dragons in particular. She lives in Wiltshire with her family and two cats and also enjoys crafts of all kinds. You can get a free prequel to her Rise of Dragons series here and check out Book 1 in the series on Amazon.

Join the conversation at Gemma’s book wyrms readers’ group on Facebook.

She also writes children’s books. You can find out more on her website www.gemmaclatworthy.com or follow her on Instagram (www.instagram.com/gemmaclatworthy) or Facebook (www.facebook.com/gemmaclatworthy).

She wants a quiet life.

They want to awaken a slumbering dragon. Can she rescue her friend and survive an encounter with a dragon or will it end in fire and blood?

Amethyst is a half-dwarf jeweller and weaponsmith who just wants to improve sales in her shop in a popular Cardiff arcade. When her best friend gets kidnapped, she’s dragged into a world of cults and dragons. Not to mention hate at first sight with an arrogant elf.

Posted in Blog

Today I’d like to introduce the author of The King of Kishar, Timothy Scott Currey

Tell me about yourself. What inspired you to write?

I have always had a lot of creative and artistic hobbies, and through my childhood I dabbled a bit with everything. Music, acting, singing, you name it. I was a very daydreamy kid as well, always off in my own worlds, always with my nose in a book. If I liked a story or a movie, I tended to become obsessed, and just read/watch it over and over.

Writing books was just a natural extension of those tendencies, and my desire to just replicate in some small way the stories I grew up loving.

Describe your desk / writing space.

I write on a computer that had once been for games, which is on top of a fairly beaten-up second-hand white desk. There’s a little turtle-shaped lamp, and the light shines out through a mosaic of stained-glass pieces that make up its shell. I also have a couple fidget toys on hand to help when my brain is idling.

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

I definitely try to be strict with myself, but I know that the inspiration comes in waves. When the inspiration comes, there’s no problem, but I work hard to try and let myself back off a bit when it feels like the creative juice is drying up. It can sometimes be hard to keep from being disappointed during those lulls!

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

Hardest scene to write: There was a scene which amounted to being a philosophical showdown between the protagonist and the antagonist. I wanted to make it an interesting, climactic back-and-forth that had all the stakes of a sword fight. As tough as I found it to carry out a conversation as though it had all the excitement of a life-or-death battle, I think I did the best I could and I hope it comes across well.

Favorite scene to write: There was a chariot chase through the streets of a Mesopotamian-inspired city, and I just found it super exciting to write, which also made it easy to write. You just don’t see chariot chases much outside of old sword & sandal movies!

What inspired your book/series?

I became really excited about the idea of writing in an ancient, Mesopotamian-inspired setting like the one in The King & Kishar.  I had been spending time reading about the Epic of Gilgamesh and leafing through old encyclopedias about the Sumerians, and the idea just really took hold of me. I thought a lot about how the invention of writing was such a crucial turning point in those days, and that’s reflected in the writing-based magic system.

Who is your favorite character from your book and would you get along?

My favorite character was Sannan, who was a little bit of a side character to be honest. She is a bit of an outcast, and has a quite sad backstory. I am sure we would get along, because she has a good heart, but she is also perceptive and brutally honest at times. Hard truths, even those delivered by a friend, can still sting.

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

It would have to be Bag End. I’m quite tall, and would have to crouch to avoid constantly bumping my head on the ceiling.

Still worth it!

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

It’s different for every book, and I honestly don’t think I have a process down yet. Sometimes it’s the setting or situation, sometimes it’s a character’s name. It’s something I’m actively working on getting better at, because after all, the title is one of the first things a reader will see.

What are you working on next?

Next I’m going way the other way in terms of historical settings, and I’m writing a trilogy that has flintlock technology, humans and elves, and telepathic magic. It will be different in pretty much every way, especially in terms of its much larger scope.

What authors or books have influenced your writing?

Garth Nix, Kazuo Ishiguro, Ernest Hemingway, JRR Tolkien, Ray Bradbury, John Steinbeck, David Gemmell, Weis & Hickman, Neil Gaiman, Brian Jacques, Josiah Bancroft, Stephen King, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and many more. 

What is your favorite meal?

For me, nothing beats chicken vindaloo with fresh naan.

Coffee or tea? Wine or beer?

Coffee over tea, wine over beer. In both cases, that’s only a 60/40 preference.

Describe yourself in three words.

Creative, inquisitive, indecisive.  

Bio:

“I am a fantasy author living in Bunbury in Western Australia. 

It’s a city in a region with amazing biodiversity and criss-crossed all over with hiking trails, so you can bet nature is an inspiration in a lot of my stories. The wineries are killer, too. 

I have a thousand hobbies, some big and some little. They wax and wane over time. Right now I’m super into gardening, gaming, re-watching The Office twice a year, squash (the sport not the veg), and staring blankly at walls while I figure plot points out.”

Every word King Adzi Akkatha writes on sacred stones is binding, and lasts for all eternity. 

But how can he rule when he has been cursed to forget everything?

His city is in chaos. Hinatsi rebels clash with his soldiers, and their mysterious leaders try to capture the King.

With the help of High Priestess Idza and General Qanatha, he must relearn their laws and customs, and who he was as a King. His former self seemed cruel and cold, and he is plagued with doubts. He is an imposter in King’s clothing—do they even have the right man? 

They must flee to the great Temple of Mesopos where the King’s memory might be restored. The rebels are never far behind, and day by day the curse progresses. 

There is little hope they will reach the temple in time. 

Even if they do, will the King want to continue ruling as a cold tyrant?

Posted in Blog

Today I’d like to introduce the author of Hooded, book one of The Furix Rising Series, A.A. Woods.

Tell me about yourself. What inspired you to write?

I don’t think there’s ever been a time in my life where I haven’t told stories. Even when I was a kid on the playground, my mom used to catch me telling strangers all about myself in vivid, usually fictional detail (they’d often compliment my mom on what an ‘exciting life’ their young daughter had lived, and she’d whisk me away with all possible haste before they figured out they’d been duped by a 5-year-old). So even though it took me until adulthood to take writing seriously as a profession, I’ve always had it in my blood.

But the real change came right at the end of college. I’d studied pre-med with the intention to become a doctor and write novels on the side (with all that free time, right?). I had everything in place, had taken all the right exams, and even scored a sweet internship at Mass General Hospital. While there, however, I began to have honest conversations with the doctors I worked with. They kept saying, “if you can think of anything else to do with your life, do that first.”

Obviously I could.

So I did.

Now, I’ve been writing professionally for seven years, with 18.5 finished novels, 10 published, and many, many more to go!

Describe your desk / writing space.

I work in the top floor of our little suburban house, which means I get to overlook a beautiful nature preserve in front of us. Whenever I’m stuck, I like to gaze out at the trees and river and, if I’m lucky, some adorable dogs playing in the park. My writing space is an L-shaped corner desk, with one branch dedicated to my day-job and the other cluttered with outlines, timelines, notebooks for the ideas I’m working on, notebooks for random and/or future ideas, a calculator (because why not?), and gum. I’m an absolute gum addict and go through one of those supersize containers about once a week. I also always have some kind of beverage handy. In the morning it’s my French Press of coffee. Later on, it’s water with lime, tea, or seltzer. Very occasionally I’ll allow myself a diet soda.

I don’t have a lot of knickknacks, since clutter tends to stress me out more than inspire me. The only non-work item on my desk is a picture of my dad skiing. It’s such a graceful and happy snapshot of life and it always inspires me that even though things are hard, they can be fun too.

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

Even though I love being a writer and adore my growing pile of finished novels, I sort of low-key hate the actual act of writing. Which is why, if I waited for inspiration, I would probably never actually get any writing done.

When I’m in the drafting stage of a manuscript, I set myself a word count or chapter goal and then do my best to hit it. Because I’m an overachiever, my goals are usually out of reach, so I almost never do. Which gives me more motivation to try harder the next day!

I try to write 3-4 hours every weekday, leaving room for my day job, dog walks, and general life chores. If the weekend is quiet, I’ll get some writing done then too, but I try to keep a good work/life balance and leave my free time free. Never easy when you work from home, as so many people have learned this past year!

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

In my most recent release (Severed), the absolute hardest scene for me to write, and one I procrastinated for days, was the plot twist at the end. Obviously I won’t spoil it here, but it’s a dramatic multi-chapter character-driven sequence with about five different points of view and a million things going on. I think I’d built it up in my head so much that I was terrified I wouldn’t be able to execute this epic, awesome vision. However, upon finally braving the page and reading it during edits, I feel like I got pretty close. J

As far as my favorite scenes to write, I love writing action. When things are going so fast that my fingers can’t keep up with the words and the characters are making desperate snap-decisions, I can feel my heartrate picking up with the excitement. Fight scenes, chase scenes, any time the story has real momentum, I love that. It can be amazing too, to see what my brain comes up with in those moments. It’s almost like I’m improvising as much as the heroes!

What inspired your book/series?

Hooded was inspired because I went through a phase where couldn’t get enough of fairy tale retellings. Cinder, Uprooted, Spinning Silver, Ella Enchanted, Zel, etc. I loved how an author could play with expectation and nod at the original myth while doing entirely their own thing. Hooded actually went through three full rewrites, each time finessing and reworking the concept of a “dark fantasy Little Red Riding Hood.” Funnily enough, the end product has diverged so much from the original fairy tale that I’d be impressed if anyone recognizes the nods that remain! They’re there, but the series very much became its own beast. And now, moving into Bladed, I couldn’t be more excited to see what that turns into.

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

I would give up to and maybe including my soul to go to Hogwarts. Ever since I first read the Harry Potter Series, I’ve been waiting for my letter. I can almost convince myself that it’s actually a graduate school and my invite will be showing up any day now.

But in the real world, I would love to go back to Edinburgh. I studied aboard there my junior year of college and I’ve never fallen so in love with a city in my life. It’s a bucket-list dream of mine to live there again.

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

That’s such an interesting question! Unfortunately, I don’t think I have a great answer for this. Tittles feel almost cosmic to me, like these giant puzzle pieces that slot into place one day and then just fit. I really hate to be working on something that doesn’t have a title, so it’s one of my earliest brainstorming stages to come up with one. Most of the time I’ll have a bunch of ideas bouncing around in my head for a few days, running through options on jogs or while cleaning, and then boom, something will click. Maybe it’s putting words together that I hadn’t tried before (like with The Star Siren). Or it’s using something story-specific but also dramatic and evocative (like Hooded or Vagabonds). Once it’s there, it’s very hard for me to shift. It feels a little like naming a child!

Who is your favorite character from your book and would you get along?

My favorite character would definitely have to be Iara, the pirate queen in Hooded and Severed. It’s funny because she was supposed to be a side-character in the background of the first book, plot-relevant but not destined to stick around. But when Iara showed up on the page, she swept me away with her magnetism and swagger. In classic Iara fashion, she refused to be shunted to the role of sidekick and therefore ended up playing a much larger role in Severed than I’d originally intended. She also got her own spin-off short story (All Hail the Pirate Queen) which is available free to my newsletter subscribers, and will be pivotal in the final book, Bladed.

Furthermore, just for you all on here, I’ll share that she might also be getting her own trilogy very soon. Stay posted if you want to hear more!

What are you working on next?

My next great challenge is the final book in the Furix Rising series, Bladed. That one’s going to be huge for me because not only am I closing out my first series ever, I’m also trying to pull together the threads of at least a dozen subplots, not to mention keep my world-building consistent and give all my characters satisfying arcs. I keep telling my husband that it’ll be a miracle if I pull it off, but hey, miracles happen.

After that, I want to finish my Scottstown Heroes small-town superheroes series (which starts with Vagabonds, which you can read for free). There are 3 more books and 2 more novellas in that world I want to write. I also have Iara’s spin-off that’s been percolating in my brain, along with a young adult sci-fi trilogy, a fantasy western, and tons more.

I won’t be short on work anytime soon!

What authors or books have influenced your writing?

Oh goodness, where to start? I grew up on Harry Potter, obviously, along with Artemis Fowl, Pendragon, and Lord of the Rings. In my adult writing life, I’ve been extremely inspired by the Illuminae Files, which I find to be one of the best examples of pure entertainment that I’ve read in recent memory. Also the Red Rising series by Pierce Brown, which has an amazing trilogy arc. I love general fiction and have recently been way into Taylor Jenkins Reid, especially Daisy Jones and the Six and Malibu Rising. Although if I’m honest, the book that’s influenced my writing more than any other is John Truby’s Anatomy of Story, which is basically my writing bible. 

What is your favorite meal?

Sushi! I could eat sushi every day from now until the end of time and never get tired of it. With the amount of soy sauce I use I’d probably pickle myself, but it would be a glorious way to die.

Coffee or tea? Wine or beer?

I’m a weirdo and like black coffee at room temperature so I can taste all the flavors, especially when I blend some cacao nibs in with the beans. It’s delicious!

And since I’m married to someone whose family owns a winery, I’m legally obligated to say wine. But I do enjoy a good sour when he’s not looking.

Describe yourself in three words.

Passionate, Contrarian, Relentless  

Thank you for inviting me! 

Bio: A. A. Woods is a Boston-based Hispanic author of science fiction and fantasy. After a childhood in Montana and a few exciting years in Costa Rica, her family finally settled in the northeast to escape the sun. There, she went to the University of Vermont for a degree in Molecular Genetics, which has been useful for terrifying the hypochondriacs in her life. She’s traveled to over 20 countries, been struck by lightning, and worked in a morgue, which could explain a lot. When not writing, she can usually be found trying to exhaust the new family dog.

Hated.
Hunted.
Hooded.

In a land of myths and monsters, 17-year-old Carlette is a slave. Her power of enhabitation, the ability to control animals, makes her useful to the island’s colonial rulers. Convinced she’s on the right side, she spends her life doing their bidding, awaiting the day she gets to leave it all behind and fulfill her purpose in their war across the sea.

But when an escaped spy forces her to leave the safety of the road, Carlette is plunged into the wilderness with a handsome enemy by her side, rebels at her back, and only her wits to guide her. Among the giant trees of the magical forest, Carlette will begin to realize her world is much more complicated than she’s been led to believe.

Will she learn to see through the lies she was raised on? Will she have the courage to choose heart over duty?

And will she do it fast enough to save everyone she loves?


For fans of Princess Mononoke and Six of Crows, this dark fantasy is Little Red Riding Hood as you’ve never seen it before.

Posted in Blog

Today I’d like to introduce T.E. Kessler, author of Holding Out For A Hero, book one of the Jelvia: Not Human series

Tell me about yourself. What inspired you to write?

My pen name is T E Kessler, but under my real name (Louise Wise), I started my journey writing shorts for women’s magazines. I’d written many books before then, but like most authors, I could never strike lucky with a publishing deal and became disheartened.

Then one day, I had a rejection letter from an agent who’d sent my typescript off to Simon & Schuster, and S & S left their notes tucked inside the typescript. To this day, I don’t know if the agent left them in on purpose because, although the notes were rejecting the book, they were full of praise, labelling me as ‘up and coming’.

Anyway, those notes urged me to continue publishing as an independent author. Today, EDEN (written under my real name) is one of my best sellers.

What is HOLDING OUT FOR A HERO all about?

Imagine a world where humanity is threatened by another species. But it’s still the 21st century, we still go out to work, enjoy vacations and watch Netflix on the TV. But in this world, living alongside us is a species called Jelvia. They are disease resistant, stronger, larger and venomous.

It’s believed that the essence of a Jelvia is to kill humans to become the supreme being, but it later comes out that they are following orders from a hierarchy. This hierarchy is simply called ‘the committee’, which deploys instructions straight into the Jelvia’s head.

But a group of Jelvias have turned against this committee. Instead of killing to order, they kill human criminals, which controls the urge to kill. It’s a small step to guard against the annihilation of humanity.

Then there are us—humans—who are too frightened to question the whys and hows of the Jelvian world and carry on as normal. Yet some of us recognise that something isn’t right with the world, but their voice is unheard so far.

The series is called Jelvia: Not Human and will be a total of six books. The genre is sci-fi romance for over 18s (there are between-the-sheets scenes that aren’t suitable for minors).

Describe your desk / writing space.

My office is the smallest room at the back of the house. Its only window is a skylight, but it’s quiet, and I like it. I have pictures of nebules and all things ‘outer space’ on my wall, and a doll from the movie ET has pride of place on my desk. So yup, I’m a bit of an astronomy geek!

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

No, routine. Luckily, I haven’t experienced writers’ block, and I can quickly jump in and out of my writing. I prefer to write in the afternoons or evenings. I’m not a morning person, and my thoughts are barely intelligible until after lunch!

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

The hardest scene is turning Narcifer (Jelvia hero) into the baddie.

Shock crossed his face, rapidly followed by a revulsion. It was an emotion she never wanted to see on his face while looking at her. But before she could react, that same strange light she’d seen before danced in his eyes.

She watched it a moment but then he bent down and hauled her up. He tossed her over his shoulder as if she weighed nothing, then carried her up the stairs and almost threw her onto the bed.

She twisted to the side and tried to get away from him, but he grabbed her hip and pulled her around on her back. He held her down with one hand while his other hand tugged out of his jeans.

Freed from his constraints, he crawled onto the bed and moved over her on all fours. His body wasn’t touching her; his hands were on either side of her head, his knees on either side of her thighs. His eyes were filled with white electric, and they were focused on her breasts; his breath was ragged. She felt exposed, vulnerable.

‘Stop!’

They stared at one another, and she raised a hand to touch his face. The strange lights in his eyes danced. She remembered asking if an angry Jelvia was the safest kind, and he’d replied, ‘and one making love.’

Then the moment was gone, and his knee roughly parted her legs, and before she had a chance to take a breath, he thrust into her hard. It was without emotion. There was no tenderness.

It actually hurt to write that scene. I think he redeemed himself, though. My favourite scenes are the funnies between Macy and her bestie, Courtney. It’s where I can unleash my sarcastic British humour to its maximum! Luckily, I have an American editor to keep me in check.

What inspired your book/series?

I wanted to write an alien/human contact series that’s original, so I came up with the idea of not having the alien know he is an alien! But the inspiration came from years and years ago when EDEN (my book written under Louise Wise) was a mere dream of an astronaut stranded on the moon. This was looooong before the movies Gravity and Stranded (inferior to my series, if you ask me!)

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

Wales. On top of a mountain. I don’t like heat, so Britain is my country of choice (England is my home), but where I live it’s flat with no hills or rugged mountain ranges and although the countryside is beautiful with its thatched-roof cottages and ancient churches, rolling fields and hedgerows, the rugged mountain ranges in Wales are breathtaking. And it’s only three hours away from where I live!

But oh, I’ve been to Venice and that’s fabulous, too. And the Balearic islands, with Minorca in particular, is beautiful. So many places, but the heat will devour me, so GB is the only place, I guess, and as they say, home is where the heart is!

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

Macy (main character), in Holding out for a Hero, mother was murdered. Macy, at the time, was only a child but could never come to terms with her mum’s death and subconsciously is looking for a ‘hero’ to fight the injustices in the world. That she falls in love with an assassin is the cusp of the story. Is he a good assassin or bad? With Jelvias you can never tell!

What are you working on next?

Next in the Jelvia: Not Human series is Surviving her Dominant, where I bring out the ‘brain injury’ suffered by the Jelvia, Aldarn.

Here, I hope the reader is beginning to realise that there is something more to Jelvias than just ‘another species of human’. I never tell the reader the Jelivas are aliens in the first book (or second or third, come to that), and like the human characters, it’s something they gradually figure out themselves.

It isn’t a spoiler, don’t worry. And readers who have read Eden and Hunted by Louise Wise will already know where the Jelvias originate from.

What authors or books have influenced your writing?

I love Dean Koontz. He can terrorise without resorting to gutter language and smutty scenes (my books have both). And on the other side of the book coin, I enjoy a good rom-com by Matt Dunn or Sophie Kinsella.

What is your favorite meal?

If the scene has the right ambience: music, lighting, convo, company, all food will be my favourite. I love eating out, and I’m no cook—in fact, I’m dire. My family cheer when I order food.

Coffee or tea? Wine or beer?

Everything is in its place. Coffee in the morning, a cup of tea at any other time, and wine if my day requires it (which is most of the time!) But you didn’t mention cocktails… hmmmmm

Describe yourself in three words.

Loner. Empathic. Worrier.

Who says your boyfriend has to be human?

Macy’s life changed forever when, as a child, her mother was murdered. The killers were never found, and Macy grew up looking for injustices and making them right.

She became a journalist, interviewing celebrities but lately found stardom shallow and pretentious.

There was just no putting right a teen-idol rockstar.

Things changed when her best friend was attacked but rescued by an unlikely hero.

The hero was a Jelvia.

Humans lived in fear of the Jelvia.

The Jelvia killed humans for fun.

Macy just saw a hero that she’d been looking for all her life.

This sci-fi romance contains some mature scenes, but if you’re looking for a hero, drop right in!

Posted in Blog

Today, I’m happy to introduce, Randi Rayl author of the series The Bone Gathers

Tell me about yourself. What inspired you to write?

I have always been a storyteller.  While waiting for the next episode in a TV series to air, I would imagine the possible scenarios. And to the chagrin of my family, speak the anticipated dialogue aloud while in house and in public. Nothing to see here…just a girl talking to people who aren’t there! I had written so many stories that I never finished because grammar and I are not on the best of terms.  But then a friend of mine explained you hire people to edit your work. It was like a light bulb.  I could actually finish a book.  So, I did! And my first novel (The Split) under my other penname, Randi Harvey, was published in 2018. 

Describe your desk / writing space.

YIKES!  I am sitting beside my sewing machine covered in string and knick-knacks: a two-dollar bill, Santa pictures, straight pins, a bank ledger, surrounded by hundreds of books on the shelves, my first agent rejection letter taped to the wall, and a myriad of other this-and-that’s.

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

If I have an editing deadline, I am inspired to not lose my deposit, and I write to hit it.  Right now, I am in between series so I have been taking my time promoting the most recent one (The Bone Gatherers).

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

I hate connecting scenes.  But what I like and what I am good at seem to be at odds. Love describing characters and their outfits.  But it has come to my attention I am a quite proficient at writing a “damn good sex scene” as my content editor put it.  And before you ask, I’ll fill you in.  No, my sex life is not as colorful as my characters’.  I’m a mom of two young boys.  My husband and I are lucky to hide behind a locked bedroom door while avoiding eye contact with a curious dog and cat for five minutes while my kids are rocking out to Story Bot songs in the next room.

What inspired your book/series?

I wanted to write stories that align with existing folklore and so many mythologies have already been done.  When I came across the Aztec folklore, I knew it was fresh and new, so I ran with it.

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

We have moved a lot so I would like to change it every few years.  But I love Thailand.  I love Mexico and I can’t wait for COVID to be over so I can start exploring other places in the world. And obviously, I’d love to live in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.  #teamgryffindor

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

I try a few out on the tongue and then google them to make sure they haven’t been “taken” already. But titles have always come easy to me.  Writing the book blurbs are a nightmare!

What are you working on next?

I have a new thriller book I have written a bit of an outline for and several scenes about old Hollywood actresses.  I have also delved into Sato’s (a b character in the Bone Gatherer series) story.  It’s a different series with new characters following the Fae of the Norse (as the series is named).

What authors or books have influenced your writing?

I love Sarah J Maas, the Gears couple, Diana Gabaldon.  I just started reading Harry Potter (don’t judge).

What is your favorite meal?

Sushi or Thai food

Coffee or tea? Wine or beer?

Wine or beer? Coffee & Wine…no question

Describe yourself in three words.

Creative – honest – boss-bitch (the hyphen counts 😊)

Anything other thoughts? 

My second book, Choosing Fire, (SCROLL DOWN TO GET YOUR COPY) will be available on amazon for FREE August 17th through the 21st.  Links provided. And if you liked the book, please leave me a review.  If you didn’t, then I have disabled the review feature for these novels 😉 

Last, I am currently under quarantine recovering from COVID.  I am vaccinated and, thankfully, didn’t have to be hospitalized.  Please please please don’t go through what I, my husband, and two small boys are going through right now.  Get your shot, wear a mask, and be kind to one another.  We love you!

Sofia thought she had her life figured out, but death had other plans…


A dedicated nurse, Sofia lives for helping her patients and their families. She doesn’t mind the long hours and tedious work. She has a loving boyfriend, a cute apartment, and a paid-off car. Life is perfect. Until her patients begin to die at an alarming rate, and almost always when the new tall, dark, and handsome nurse is on duty. Growing suspicious of her new co-worker, Sofia decides to take matters into her own hands and catch Eztlie in the act when she stumbles upon the real demonic killer, instead. Before she can become the creature’s next victim, Eztlie kills the monster and saves her life.

The elusive Eztlie isn’t a real nurse, he’s an ancient Aztec warrior from another time. Upon his death, the King of the Dead made Eztlie part of an elite team of demon hunters, sworn to protect mankind and rid the world of monsters that want to steal the souls of the living. It’s the kind of life that doesn’t give him much time for commitments or relationships of any kind, and that’s just fine with him.

But as Eztlie and Sofia get closer to finding the māpach wreaking havoc on her patients, they also find themselves getting closer to one another. But can Sofia trust the aloof immortal whose mere touch sets her body on fire? Or will that same fire consume her, body and soul, until there’s nothing left?

For centuries, Xel has loved her fellow warrior, Xi. Always aloof, Xi may give Xel his time, but he has never given her his heart. To make matters worse, Xel has been harboring a secret. 

She has the power of flames. A power that if discovered by the king of the underworld can lead to a life of servitude by his command. Xel thought her life was as good as she could hope for. That is until a stranger crashes into her world. 

Teya is a Sentinel, a leader of the earthbound warriors, and he’s tasked to collect information from the Bone Gatherers on the demon infestation. But when he meets Xel, his mission changes. Engrossed by her beauty, he discovers her secret and begs her to join him in the underworld to train with the other Sentinels. 

Leaving her family and Xi behind, Xel embarks on a new journey with the mysterious Teya, who worships her in ways she never knew possible. 

But when Xel suspects there is more to the underworld than meets the eye, she longs for home and the man who has held her heart for centuries. 

Torn, Xel must choose between the man who adores her or the one who has stoked the flames within her for centuries. The wrong choice could mean not just her death, but the destruction of everyone, and everything, she’s ever loved.

Posted in Blog

Today, I’m happy to introduce the author of the Kingdom of Wind & Fire, R.A. Lewis.

Tell me about yourself. What inspired you to write?

I’ve always wanted to write, and often wrote as a child. My stories back then rarely had a coherent plot, and the characters often changed genders part way through but I loved telling stories even then. My mother says that I was telling stories as soon as I could speak. It grew from there. A few years ago after ending a creatively draining job, I decided to stop putting off my dream of writing and dive in head first. Ten books later and here we are!

I am often inspired by every day things, but I’ve always had a wild imagination, as well as I’ve always been a big book worm. I love writing about trauma and emotion in my stories, and I strive to make realistic characters that you can identify with. Writing for me is part therapy, part desire to tell a compelling story.

Describe your desk / writing space.

I write in my tiny office, surrounded by all my nerdy things and a TON of books. I desperately need new book shelves as my current ones are overflowing and double stacked. It’s a bit chaotic but I love it. I also have a reading chair in my office, and usually at least one dog and a few cats around for company. Sometimes the whole crew of two dogs and four cats comes in, and it feels crowded but comfy. I write on a desktop with double monitors which is nice for being able to go back and forth between research and writing.

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

I don’t have much of a specific writing routine, although I probably should. I wear headphones with ambient sounds every time I write because it helps block out external stimuli. Sometimes when I’m struggling to focus I have a mini ritual: I do some light meditation, put on my headphones and play some sort of ambient sound (usually wind in the trees or falling snow), then light a pretty candle and get to writing. I have ADHD and struggle with focus so sometimes all it takes it shutting off social media and doing a ritual to get me back on track. If that doesn’t work, then I take a walk. And if THAT doesn’t work, I usually give up for the day and come back later.

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

I would say the first scenes and the last ones are equally difficult to write. Perhaps even the middle of the book can be tough, because my brain is often ten steps ahead of my fingers. But I also think that the last scene and the first scene are also my favorite. The first scene holds all the excitement of starting a new story, and the last scene holds the satisfaction of a finished one.

What inspired your book/series?

Well, each book is different and I have a few series out. Usually I draw inspiration from movies or tv shows I’ve watched, past books I’ve read, my own personal experiences, previous work/jobs/friends/clients/family, or nature. Occasionally music inspires me, as it did for The Elemental Kingdoms Series. The very first scene was inspired by a Celtic song, and the books blossomed from there. My Valdir Chronicles started out as a writing prompt from a friend who told me to write a virgin obsessed wyvern. Suddenly I was 9 chapters deep with a whole series blooming before me. My newest series, Crowe Trials, was inspired by my love of Celtic Mythology as well as the Fae trend in fantasy these days.

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

In this world? Scotland. Just outside Edinburgh or on the Isle of Skye. In the US? Northern California in the mountains near Shasta and Lassen. In a fantasy world? Tortall or the Wizarding World or maybe Middle Earth.).

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

Usually they just come to me. Sometimes I go off popular title naming, and sometimes I search title lists of similar books, and then use a thesaurus to come up with themes/ideas from my book. I try to boil down what my book is about/represents before I move forward with a title.

What are you working on next?

I’m working on the main part of the Crowe Trials series. I have three books planned beyond the novella which released last month. I’m well into book one, Rook & Lion, now. This first book is a mix of The Selection, Cruel Prince, and Hunger Games mixed with Dark Fantasy Romance. I’m excited to get this out!

What authors or books have influenced your writing?

Oh man. Asking a book worm who their favorite author is, or favorite book, is so dangerous! Here are a few that I ADORE and would love to write similarly to: Tamora Pierce, Garth Nix, Cinda Williams Chima, Sherwood Smith, Jaqueline Carey, Scott Lynch, Pierce Brown, V.E. Schwab… the list goes on! But every book I read usually influences my writing in some way.

What is your favorite meal?

I don’t think I have just one. I recently had bariatric surgery, so my meals have drastically changed, but I’d have to say Mexican food. I love tacos and burritos and fajitas. I love shrimp or fish or steak. I mostly stick to protein and veggies, but beans and cheese are a guilty pleasure of mine. That, and a poached egg on avocado toast. So yummy!

Coffee or tea? Wine or beer?

I rarely drink alcohol, and usually it’s a hard cider, a Moscow mule, or a gin and tonic. And as much as I adore coffee, I don’t drink it often due to it hurting my stomach (although I do drink cold brew on occasion). I much prefer tea, and my go to drink is a london fog.

Describe yourself in three words.

Imaginative, loyal, emotional.

Blood is magic. Magic is everything. And it can get you killed.

Twins Brianna and Brayden have had to hide their volatile elemental powers all their lives. But now they must use them if they want to survive.

After fifteen years apart, Brayden escapes enslavement to a SpiritSinger who controls his every move. No sooner has he reunited with his family when the twins’ mother is captured by the same enemy.

The twins must make an impossible choice: to rescue her or follow her last wish. With the help of a snarky smuggler and his crew, Brayden and Brianna embark on a quest to hone their magical skills and save their mother.

But evil is brewing on the horizon, and it’s coming for anyone with power.

Posted in Blog

Today, I’m happy to introduce the author of the Dingo & Sister, Nikky Lee.

Click on, Dingo & Sister at the bottom of the page to get a FREE COPY!!!!

Tell me about yourself. What inspired you to write?

Kia ora, I’m a New Zealand-based author of fantasy, science fiction and horror for adults and older teens. While I now call New Zealand home, I originally hail from sunny Perth on the west coast of Australia, a city with two claims of fame: the most isolated capital city in the world and its “shark infested” waters. (Fun fact: between May and December 2017, Surf Life Saving Western Australia had 1400 shark reports.) 

Growing up, my TV idols were the SG-1 team from Stargate and Max from Dark Angel (I guess that says a lot about me!) Book wise: not so surprisingly, Harry Potter was a main go-to, along withTamora Pierce’s The Immortals, K. A. Applegate’s Animorphs, anything by Paul Jennings, and the occasional Goosebumps book. I also real a tonneof Japanese manga, too many to list here. 

I began writing when I was about 13 after drawing a character during the summer holiday break. Over a few weeks, the story of this character grew and grew inside my head. I’d tell it to myself whenever I had a spare moment—doing the chores, waiting for the bus, during TV ad breaks—until it got to the point where I couldn’t hold all the details of the story in my head. And as I struggled to keep hold of it all I stopped being able to tell myself new parts of the story. At last, exasperated, I started writing it down so I could clear some mental real estate to figure the next bit of the story out. 

Fast forward nearly 20 years and here I am, still writing stories out of my head. 

Describe your desk / writing space.

I have a desk, but I only use it while I’m editing so I can have a second screen. When in drafting mode I’m on the sofa, usually typing around a cat who’s squeezed herself in between the laptop and me. In winter, there are blankets and slippers in the mix too.

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

I work full-time and am a natural night owl, so I write late in the evenings, usually while my husband watches TV (I have a really good set of headphones!). Since I work to deadlines (usually my own) I’ve learned that I can’t wait for the muse to arrive—I have to coax it out as I go. Sometimes it comes, sometimes it doesn’t, but I can always go back and edit those bits.

I try to write most days as I’ve found it harder to get the words flowing again when I take too long a break, particularly when I’m in the middle of something long and complex.

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

100% the ending. I cried while writing it. I won’t give too much away (other than to say no, the dingo doesn’t die). But I had to walk away from the keyboard after writing it I was so emotionally rung. 

What inspired your book/series?

Dingo & Sister was actually a challenge to myself to prove I could write characters. Up until then, I had this belief that I wrote great plots but my characters were so-so. What’s more, I often needed a lot of words to bring them to life. The goal for Dingo & Sister was to create compelling characters in as fewer word as possible.

In terms of inspiration, much of it came from a train trip I did across the Nullabor—a desert plain that runs across the Great Australian Bite. It’s a two-day trip; you go to sleep one night seeing bushland and scrub outside the window then wake up the next morning to vast, utterly flat red desert. It’s quite surreal. We took the trip right in the middle of summer and the heat was something else, floating around 45C (113F) when we got out of the train at its midway stop.

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

Given many fantasies and sci-fis are either war-torn kingdoms (or on the brink of it) or have gross social, political and/or environmental problems, I think I’ll stick with New Zealand (but maybe somewhere in the South Island near the mountains, preferably with a good coffee shop nearby).

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

Oddly, the title for Dingo & Sister was one of the earliest elements of the story I decided on. Normally I umm and ahh over titles, often workshopping them in my online and local writing groups. Some years ago there was a manga called Lone Wolf and Cub—I never got around to reading it (another one for the TBR pile!) but the title always stuck with me. When I started writing this story, I figured why not use a similar naming convention since the ‘wolf and cub’ title was so memorable for me. 

What are you working on next?

I’m currently working on the second book of my debut trilogy—an epic fantasy about a girl bound in a blood pact to a monster. Think The Witcher meets Shadow and Bone. I recently revealed the cover of the first book, The Rarkyn’s Familiar, which comes out in April next year (and is available for pre-order!).

What authors or books have influenced your writing?

A lot! I’m something of a chameleon writer and my style will vary a little depending on the type of story I’m telling. I’ve had a lot of fun experimenting with style and voice in my short fiction, taking elements from the voices of Peter McLean and Madeline Miller and combining it with the weirdness of Paul Jennings. 

For my longer works, one of my most significant fantasy influences is Robin Hobb—she writes some of the most vivid characters in the genre (imo). On the science fiction front, William Gibson’s Neuromancer, Neal Stephenson’s Snow Crash, Isaac Asimov’s Foundation and Vonda McIntyre’s Dreamsnake come to mind. On the manga side, seminal works such as Princess Mononoke, Akira, Ghost in the Shell, and Berserk have been hugely influential.

What is your favorite meal?

Oo, tough choice. I love tacos, curries and stir-fries, but I think my grandmother’s mac and cheese recipe is my favorite. Quick and easy too (but not very healthy).

All right…prime grade ribeye steak, sous vide’d and grilled medium rare.

Coffee or tea? Wine or beer?

I love a good coffee, but I’m sensitive to caffeine so I’ve had to cut back. These days it’s a coffee in the morning to get me going then fruit teas after that. One of my local tea shops does a nougat flavored tea that is AMAZING. I much prefer wine or cider over beer, Pino Gris is my go-to.

Describe yourself in three words.

Persistent (some might say stubborn). Curious. Loyal.  

Nikky Lee is an award-winning author who grew up as a barefoot 90s kid in Perth, Western Australia on Whadjuk Noongar Country. She now lives in Aotearoa New Zealand with a husband, a dog and a couch potato cat. In her free time she writes speculative fiction, often burning the candle at both ends to explore fantastic worlds, mine asteroids and meet wizards. She’s had over two dozen stories published in magazines, anthologies and on radio. Her debut novel, The Rarkyn’s Familiar—an epic tale of a girl bonded to a monster—will be published by Parliament House Press in 2022.

Posted in Blog

Today, I’m happy to introduce the author of the series Forensics and Fantasy, Michael Angel.

Click on, Forensics and Dragon Fire at the bottom of the page to get a FREE COPY!!!!

Tell me about yourself. What inspired you to write?

I’ve been writing short stories since I was in fourth grade! Later in life, I decided to enter the field writing non-fiction books. I wrote four of the For Dummies books, which put me on the map. Then I moved over into fiction writing after studying under the great Dean Wesley Smith and Kris Rusch and haven’t looked back.

Describe your desk / writing space.

LOL, it’s a standard computer desk, laid out without too much clutter. The big issues for any writer are ergonomics – if you compromise your wrist posture or seating, you’ll pay for it down the line! About the one luxury I’ll admit to is a mesh-seat and backed chair that lets air circulate around you so you don’t get overheated.

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

I wish I had a more consistent writing routine, but sometimes life interferes. However, I put in some good hours in front of the screen every day. You need to practice writing at speed for long stretches to get things done.

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

I literally cried when I had to write the death scene of one of the major characters. It’s one of those oddities of this profession…that you grieve over the death of a person who’ll never exist outside of your own head.

It’s even more amazing when you make other people cry over this, too.

On the other hand, you can feel the exhilaration of whenever the main character pulls themselves out of a hopeless scrape. When they come out a little ahead of where they started.

What inspired your book/series?

I have the exact moment on audio tape! I was listening to a lecture by Kris Rusch about how you can come up with new ideas by smashing together unlikely combinations. One example she gave was ‘How about writing like C.S. Lewis on speed?’

I thought: “Hm, how about C.S. Lewis meets C.S.I.?”

And that’s how the 10-book Fantasy & Forensics series was born!

What authors or books have influenced your writing?

Aside from Kris Rusch and Dean Smith, there’s a bunch: Roger Zelazny, Jack Chalker, JRR Tolkien, David Eddings, Clive Cussler, David Preston, and Michael Critchton. How’s that for a start?

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

Ideally, a title should instantly tell the reader the book’s genre, and maybe give a clue as to what the book’s about. For the first book in my Fantasy & Forensics series, you have centaurs, and a crime they’re supposed to have committed: Centaur of the Crime. Or the free novella featured here, which involves a dragon and the use of forensics to solve a crime: Forensics and Dragon Fire.

What are you working on next?

I’m finishing up another book in the Plague Walker Medical Thriller series, and then I’ll be swinging back to fantasy again!

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

I love Texas Hill Country, which is close to where I already live. Perhaps in a hilltop villa surrounded by gnarled valley oaks, with views overlooking the vineyards of a local winery.

On the other hand, I believe one of the perks of living in Tolkien’s land of Númenor was immortality, along with a nice Mediterranean climate. So…yeah, I’d at least rent a condo there.

What is your favorite meal?

Good lord, I’m a total foodie…you’d make me choose ONE meal?

All right…prime grade ribeye steak, sous vide’d and grilled medium rare.

Coffee or tea? Wine or beer?

Diet Cola with a lot of ice, please. I like my caffeine cold.

Describe yourself in three words.

Ignores instructions to a fault. 😊