The Write Stuff – Monday, July 06 – Interview With MP McVey

 

FB_IMG_1433457449604Today, I have the pleasure of having MP McVey as my guest. Mr. McVey is a member of the Facebook group, Fantasy Sci-fi News Network, #FSFNNet. I find this fantasy author’s take on the genre refreshing because while so many modern works routinely make use of more recent mythological paradigms, his debut novel, Plod On, Sleepless Giant, incorporates some of the world’s more primitive societies’ core concepts. When I asked him to discuss it, he told me the following:

The world is not as it seems …

At the center of our world lives an elephant. Ancient and alone, he’s chained to a great wooden wheel—turning our rock as it glides through space. But what would happen if he were to stop? What would become of all we know and love on the surface?

All that stands between Earth and its downfall is a sole Watcher—beings tasked with guarding all in creation. Sent on a fool’s mission, he must gather humans from the surface that somehow play a role in our world’s destruction.

But from one mistake, a decision is made … an opportunity taken. When insurmountable forces align against humanity, it seems all will be lost. Can it be stopped in time? Can wrongs be righted? Can we be saved?

My most recent book—and also my first—is a contemporary fantasy called Plod On, Sleepless Giant. It’s a story of love and suspense, set in the shadow of the eternal struggle between good and evil. We get to meet the great elephant, Temelephas, whom lives at the center of our world. He was created as an insensitive automaton … never to remember or feel anything, only to walk in his circle and spin our planet.

Over time, Temelephas learns to remember and begins to feel strange emotions that he doesn’t know how to deal with. It is then that he realizes how lonely and empty his life truly is, and these thoughts slowly lead him to stop his important walk, and stopping the world from turning. And basically the story is about trying to fix the things that have been broken and righting the wrongs.

What was the biggest challenge you faced writing this book and how did you overcome it?

My biggest challenge was not really knowing how to write a book to begin with. I had written many, many stories over time and had started writing previous books, but never finishing. A story is a story, it’s as simple as that. I thought writing a novel would be the same, only longer … I couldn’t have been more wrong.

The pacing was a big thing for me. A story has to be told fast; there isn’t a tremendous amount of time to develop characters or weave an intricate plotline. So the story is told pretty straight forward. But with books you have more room for a deeper story and more complex characters. There’s more wiggle room for pomp and flair.

What else are you working on?

Right now I’m finishing up my second novel, which is a more straight forward fantasy. Plod On, Sleepless Giant was a contemporary fantasy set in Columbus, Ohio … my current work takes place in a world that is completely made up. It’s more in the vein of sword and sorcery, quest, or heroic fantasy (I’m never good at classifying my writing). At the moment I am calling it Through the Wicked Wood, but that could change at any moment.

I don’t want to get too much into it, but I combine some humor and romance in there to round it out—it feels a bit like a fairytale for adults. The characters are all flawed, as is the world they live in … but most of them mean well. My favorite is a character named Eizel Mamzer, a tricky fellow with a snazzy suit and top hat.

Tell us about your path to publication.

It was certainly not your typical journey, though my road to publication started out like so many others. I had finished my book and had edited it so much that I hated the sight of it. I queried some agents and painfully waited to see any sign of hope, but only got rejections and condolences.

I started thinking more and more about self-publishing, having heard some success stories from many different sources. Not that self-publishing makes a writer rich or anything, but it certainly gets your book out there and gets the writer some exposure. So I began to read up on the process—the do’s and don’ts of the whole thing, and tips to help along the road.

So there I was at work(I work at a gas station), pouring over my manuscript as I once more tore it apart with a red pen, when a customer came in and asked what it was I was doing. I told her about the book and we chatted a bit, and she told me about how her husband had written a few books as well.

She left and I didn’t think much about it, just went about my night. A few days later her husband came down to talk to me about the book, and we chatted about writing and life. It was one of those conversations that you know you will remember forever.

He asked to read it, so I sent him a copy via email. Some time went by and he called me at work, excited about my book. He told me he wanted to publish it and that was how it happened.

Have you ever dispatched someone in a book and then regretted it?

I have never killed off a character and regretted it, but I have written myself into a corner with nowhere to go. I ended up abandoning the book all together when I realized the only way out was mass murder of main characters. It was the first book I attempted to write and it came on fast. It’s not much of a loss … it was pretty terrible.

Learning to write comes write a plethora of such lessons. Let’s explore that theme a bit further. If you were going to commit the perfect murder, how would you go about it?

This is such a great question, and I hadn’t given it much thought until I thought about what my answer might be. I think the most important part would be getting away with it, so the method of the actual killing wouldn’t be as important as the disposal of the body and any evidence. So I would probably poison my victim—leaving no actual “crime scene”. Then I would most likely dismember the remains and dispose of them in a creative way that I won’t divulge. I might actually use the method of disposal in a book someday.

I sincerely hope not! Returning, to the real world, what motivates or inspires you?

Inspiration comes from many different places, I think. Sometimes it’s a fragment of a conversation that sets my mind spinning on an idea or something I read. The idea for Plod On, Sleepless Giant actually came to me in a dream—it would be nice if that happened every night, but it doesn’t. I also find inspiration right here in Columbus, Ohio … the people here are amazingly resilient and funny.

As far as motivation, it’s always the story that drives me forward. Sometimes it’s hard to write because I can sense the story becoming a bit drab and dragging in places. A lot of writers push through this and churn out words daily—which is the key—but sometimes I need to see it as a yield sign or one that warns of an icy bridge ahead.

Do you have another job outside of writing?

I do. I work in a gas station. It’s a family owned business(not my own) and my bosses Gary and Tracy are very supportive of my endeavors in writing.

Describe a typical day.

I work until late at night, so normally I don’t get to bed until about one in the morning. So I wake up around 9 am, and I plan to start writing at about ten. On good days I’ll write until about noon, then eat some lunch and get ready for work. On weekends I kind of just write when I can. It’s hard to schedule out due to running errands.

Before I let our visitors sample an excerpt from your book, let’s close with a Lightning Round. Please answer the following in as few words as possible.

My best friend would tell you I’m a …

They’d more than likely say “goofball”.

The one thing I cannot do without is …

Sadly, Netflix.

The one thing I would change about my life:

I guess I would make it so money wasn’t as important, or at least wasn’t an issue for me. Then I wouldn’t have to work so much or stress out about bills, which would give me a bigger, calmer path in writing.

Thank you for taking time to share with us. Here, then, is a sample from Plod On, Sleepless Giant:

 71iUgJf63gL._SL1500_The center of Earth shook and rumbled with the sounds of creaking wood and grinding metal, tumbling through the dark. The din swept through caverns, accompanied by the boom, boom, boom of steady, heavy steps. It would have driven any man crazy, this racket that crept through the darkness, but it was comforting to the one who had to listen. It was a noise he had always known, a sound that was born with him. He was the reason for the noise.

For all time he had walked his circle; his large, gray feet beating a pattern into the dirt. Round and round he went, his weight pushing the large, wooden wheel to which he was bound. He groaned from time to time … long, soulful bellows from his wrinkled trunk.

His ancient head swayed with the thudding beat of his steps, his long immortal ears hanging tiredly at his sides. He would walk until the end of time. He didn’t want to, but he was compelled to. It was his purpose … and without purpose, what would be left?

So he walked.

He could feel their eyes upon him, those that watched him, those that kept him in this existence … those who gave him purpose. Their stares penetrated the thick hide of his neck, burrowed into his spine and peeked in to his brain, listening in on his every thought. That’s how they watched him, how they knew when he was unhappy.

They were in his mind every second of forever, and he came to expect their presence there. After a while he lost track of his Watchers all together, as if they were just another part of him. Life would not have been the same without them.

The Watchers always knew that, sooner or later, the great elephant called Temelephas would work through whatever unhappiness it was that settled in his large heart. After all, he had been walking since the beginning of everything and knew of nothing to which he could compare his sorrow.

Walk, walk, walk, through the darkness he would stomp; his feet pounding his life into the earth. Around he went, his sweaty, tangled hair flowing down around his neck. “Round and round she goes, where she stops … nobody knows.”

If you’d like to learn more about MP McVey and his writing, here are some useful links:

 Twitter:         @mpmcvey

Blog:              www.mpmcvey.wordpress.com

Site:                www.temelephas.com

Book trailer: www.youtube.com/watch?v=tKMbJytW7Lk

 

The Write Stuff – Monday, June 8 – Interview With Joshua Grasso

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Most readers assume that an author’s world is steeped in literature. When that’s not the case—an increasingly frequent phenomenon in today’s self-pub world—the book often ends up poorer and the reader suffers. That’s far from the case with today’s guest author. Joshua Grasso, is an English professor at a small university in Oklahoma specializing in British Literature. His books, not surprisingly, are heavily inspired by the works that grace his classrooms—Beowulf, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Robinson Crusoe, Pride and Prejudice. He is also a life-long reader of fantasy, science fiction, and comics, and tries to work all these influences into his fiction, which are firmly in the classic fantasy literature tradition of Tolkein, Lord Dunsany, T.H. White, and many others. He has independently published two novels, The Count of the Living Death (2013) and The Astrologer’s Portrait (2014).

When I asked Joshua to give us a sense of his most recent work, he described it this way:

Prince Harold has fallen in love with a portrait, which he much prefers to his real bride-to-be. However, the portrait may be a hundred years old, and only the greatest sorcerer in the land can verify her existence. Unfortunately, Turold the Magnificent is currently on trial for maliciously impersonating a person of quality and despoiling her family history. Harold gets him off on the condition that they locate his lady love before his wedding to Sonya, who vows to kill him on their wedding night. Along with his faithless Russian servant, Dimitri, the three steal off to locate the true identity of the sitter—only to confront a curse much older than the portrait. To dispel the curse the prince must lead a revolution, fall in love with his wife, and release the centuries-old hands of Einhard the Black, who are eagerly awaiting their latest victim.

That’s an intriguing premise. Can you tell us a little more?

The Astrologer’s Portrait poses the age-old question: do we fall in love with people or our own ideals? The protagonist, Prince Harold, falls madly in love with a painting that may be three hundred years old, yet is determined to find the sitter, and if possible, confess his undying love to her. A disgraced sorcerer, Turold, is conned into helping him locate his Muse, only to uncover something much larger than a family heirloom: the painting hides a curse which involves a pair of undying hands, a folio of forgotten plays, and the haunted dreams of an Italian noblewoman who bears an uncanny resemblance to the painting in question.

Writing a novel is seldom a straightforward process. What was the biggest challenge you faced writing this book and how did you overcome it?

I wrote the novel over four summers and winter breaks, since these are my “off time” from teaching at a university. As you can imagine, it’s hard to pick up the thread after several months and remember who these characters are, what my ideas were for them, and why it all made sense. In fact, many times I would re-read the work and find it hopelessly inept and uninspiring. I spent days and weeks re-writing it each time I re-encountered it before I could start writing again. Luckily, this helped me gain perspective and challenge my instincts as a writer, since I would approach it after a year or so as a reader, and the reader was often bored or annoyed with the story.

What other novels have you written?

I’ve written four other novels, only two of which are published; the fourth is being completed. My fourth novel, which is 80% finished, is called The Winged Turban. This is the third summer I’ve spent writing it, and it’s going along quite well—much easier than the previous one. Probably because I forced myself to keep reading it and editing it even during the semester so I didn’t lose the thread of the story.

Do you find there are occupational hazards to being a novelist?

I was never interested in merely trying to write for a living. I always thought being a teacher/professor would be wiser, since I could then read books for a living, teach them to others, and become inspired from the interchange of ideas with my students. After a year in advertising, I decided to get my Master’s in English and that led directly to my Ph.D. in British Literature and a position in a small university in Oklahoma. Once I got my bearings as a professor, I began to write in earnest again and have written three novels during my 8 years as a teacher. And as I suspected, teaching the books I love and listening to students talk about them, struggle with them, and more importantly, write about them, always inspires me to continue the conversation in my own writing. I honestly believe that reading, teaching, and writing is all part of the same process of thought, just viewed from different perspectives. I am the same “person” when I do each one.

Tell us about your path to publication.

I spent twenty-odd years from college to the present day trying to publish my novels. I pursued agents, publishers, entered contests, etc., all before deciding that my future lay in teaching, not in selling books. In a way this proved fortuitous, since I’m a better teacher than writer, and teaching fulfills me much more than any amount of fame as a writer would. Also, my early novels were pretty bad and I’ve destroyed them all. What I now consider my “first” novel was written only 9 years ago and has at least 5-6 “skeletons” behind it. However, even my most recent novels have met with indifference from agents and publishers, so I finally decided to self-publish the first two just to see how it went. And while I haven’t been too successful, a good number of people discovered my books and enjoyed them, which justifies the point of writing them. For now, that’s good enough.

That’s more than good enough. Since you mentioned skeletons, let me ask if you’ve ever dispatched someone in a book and then regretted it?

No, because fiction isn’t real life: you can resurrect anyone. Superman has died umpteen times and is still alive and kicking. Same with Sherlock Holmes. No one dies in fiction!

You’ve been on the path long enough to appreciate the difficulties it entails. What is the single most powerful challenge you’ve faced when it comes to writing a novel?

Having characters that are interesting enough to change your story. If your story stays the same from initial conception to final page, you’ve made a mistake. Good characters make the story go in new and unexpected directions. Indeed, you might say that good characters write the story for you. Until you have characters you can see in your mind and that seem to navigate the story without your direct input, the story isn’t really a story worth telling. I’ve begun many a story without the characters, and you know deep in your gut that something is wrong. It’s almost always the characters.

Tell us about your “other” job.

 As I mentioned above, I’m a professor of English literature and teach classes ranging from Freshman Composition, British Literature surveys (typically the earlier periods, from Beowulf to the 18th c.), World Literature, Humanities, Postcolonial Literature, and even comic books. Teaching inspires my writing and is also a release from the stresses of my career. I also write a lot of academic writing—articles, essays, biographical sketches—so that also influences my creative writing. Often, as in the case of The Astrologer’s Portrait, an article on 18th century theatre spills over into the plot of a novel; indeed, I even buried a few lines of an obscure 18th century play in the dialogue of one of my novels. Almost no one would outside of my field would recognize it!

What motivates or inspires you, not necessarily as regards your writing?

Art, music, and books. All of my novels are inspired initially from a work of art: I love paintings and have spent hours in great museums trying to see what the great artists saw. My first job was across the street from the Art Institute of Chicago, so I would go there during my lunch and explore a gallery at a time, seeing the originals of paintings I had once admired in books. One or two of these paintings ended up in one of my books in a round-about way. Classical music, too, fuels my writing and many scenes are written with a specific composer or work in mind. Perhaps even more importantly, though, are the writers and books I admire, which inspire me to try new things or simply to emulate old masters. Nothing I do is “new”: I merely compose variations on very old ideas, and in the process, try to make you forget the original tune.

What has been your greatest success in life?

 My greatest writing success has nothing to do with my novels, though it remains a great accomplishment: this year I won the CEA Critic’s (a literary journal) Robert A. Miller Memorial Prize for Best Article published that year. However, my greatest success beyond writing would simply be earning my Ph.D. and being able to land a job in my field (increasingly hard for PhD’s to do these days). I’m proud that my kids can see me teach and realize how important literature and culture is, and that their father spent his life trying to make “dead” words speak. I passionately believe in the power of art and literature, and am glad I can devote my professional career to defending and promoting it.

What a wonderful perspective. On the other side of the coin, what do you consider your biggest failure?

In a way, all of my novels are “failures.” What I mean is that writing is such a transcendent experience, full of emotion and visions and delusions of grandeur. When you are in that moment, you feel like your work matters, that it will change the world—or at least your world. However, when you read a finished work a year later, it no longer has that magic. Something is lost, and you only see its shortcomings, its failings. In that sense, the work has failed…it rarely has the power to move me as it once did. The connection is lost, and you can only go back and try to create a few sparks in revisions. I doubt I will ever write a work that years later I can read with delight and feel that yes, this is exactly what I meant to say. I can be proud of it, naturally, but I find reading my own works difficult once I’ve gained some distance.

At this point, before I share an excerpt from The Astrologer’s Portrait, I’d like to try a Lightning Round. In as few words as possible, answer the following:

My best friend would tell you I’m a… grump.

The one thing I cannot do without is… music.

The one thing I would change about my life is… try to get more sleep.

My biggest peeve is… willful ignorance.

Amen to that! The thing I’m most satisfied with is… my library.

As promised, here is an excerpt from The Astrologer’s Portrait:

cover-joshua-grasso-astrologers-portrait-200x300The Royal Astrologer was dead. Shortly after eight o’clock he tumbled to his death from the highest tower in the palace. According to the testimony of a handful of onlookers, there was a violent crash (the window), a pained cry (the Astrologer), a tremendous clatter (a series of coins which dropped onto the courtyard) and a resounding thump (the body). There wasn’t much left to parade around the streets in the morning, so it was a very hushed-up, discreet affair, much like the man himself. No one quite knew what he did in the queen’s employ. After all, the title “astrologer” is a rather ambiguous term. To some, he read the stars and charted their invisible trajectories. To others, he was a dabbler in witchcraft and the magical arts, bringing some unspeakable doom upon the kingdom. But if you asked the queen she would probably call him a “sponge” and insist that his room was fumigated as thoroughly as possible.

The only question was what to do with the late Astrologer’s effects. In his room he had amassed a prodigious collection of artifacts, from paintings, sculptures, books, diagrams, maps, experiments, crystals, and other, less recognizable items that were promptly thrown in the trash. The queen had everything catalogued and put up for auction, which attracted a steady stream of collectors and connoisseurs. Apparently the Astrologer, who never contributed a single krouck to the court’s coffers, was sitting on a fortune worth several hundred thousand fobs. Priceless weapons and faded maps changed hands and brought a girlish smile to the queen’s lips. How nice to suddenly stumble into a neglected fortune and not have to dirty one’s hands with the transaction! She called her chief attendant aside and commanded him to find out how many other octogenarians were in her employ; she was particularly interested if any of them might be willing to depart for their final journey before rather than after the upcoming ball season, the cost of which went up every year and promised to bankrupt her.

Thank you, Joshua, for taking the time to share your writing with us. For those of you who would like to read more of either this book or his earlier work, Count of the Living Death, or else connect with the author, you may do so at the following:

The Astrologer’s Portrait: http://www.amazon.com/Astrologers-Portrait-Joshua-Grasso-ebook/dp/B00LKQ0DXC/

Count of the Living Death: http://www.amazon.com/Count-Living-Death-Joshua-Grasso-ebook/dp/B00FQ6711Y/

 Website: The Virtual Astrolabe: http://hblackbeard.blogspot.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/joshua.grasso

Twitter: https://twitter.com/JoshuaGrasso

 

 

 

 

The Write Stuff – Monday, April 13 – Interview With Nicholas Rossis

book photo NR_500I first encountered Nicholas Rossis about a year ago through the Facebook Group, Fantasy Sci-Fi Network News. He is a renaissance man, a diligent, cogent blogger and a best-selling fantasy author. If I were asked to describe him in as few words as possible, I would call him engaged, intelligent and pro-active.

When I asked him to describe himself, he did so as follows: Avid reader. Web developer. Architect by training, holder of a PhD in Digital Architecture from the University of Edinburgh. Most importantly, author.

Nicholas loves to write. He has published Runaway Smile, a children’s book, which you can read for free on his blog. He has also written the Amazon best-selling epic fantasy series, Pearseus. The final book in the series is currently penned and expected summer 2015.

Finally, he has published the Amazon best-seller The Power of Six, a collection of short sci-fi stories that includes his award-winning short story, I Come in Peace.

Nicholas lives in Athens, Greece, at a forest’s edge, with his wife, dog and two very silly cats, one of whom is always purring on his lap.

Nicholas, will you tell us about your most recent release?

coverVigil-700That would be Pearseus: Vigil, the third book in my epic fantasy Pearseus series, and the penultimate one overall.

What was the biggest challenge you faced writing this book and how did you overcome it?

I wanted to have it ready for Christmas, so the main challenge was to have everything ready by then.

I failed.

You see, in the end I decided it was far more important to produce the best possible book, than to meet an arbitrary deadline. So, when the feedback from my beta readers came and I realized I needed to change a few things to improve on the story, I decided to release the book a month later, even if that meant missing the Christmas period.

I think that was wise. Producing the best book one can is a universal dictum and sound advice. Will you tell us about your other novels?

I have written another three Pearseus books, including a novelette-sized prequel. I have also written The Power of Six, a collection of short stories with a science fiction/fantasy twist.

About a month prior to Pearseus: Vigil, I had released my first children’s book, Runaway Smile. I’m especially fond of this one, particularly the great illustrations provided by the very talented Dimitris Fousekis.

Have there been any awards, productions, videos or anything else of interest associated with your work?

I’ve been lucky enough that four of my books have repeatedly reached #1 on Amazon in their respective genres. Also, one of the short stories in The Power of Six has won a competition here in Greece and was included in a traditionally-published anthology.

I haven’t made any videos, but it’s something I’ve been considering for a while now. I’ll let you know when I do.

What else are you working on?

I’ve already started working on the last Pearseus book (working title: Endgame – you heard it here first), but I’m also working on my next children’s book, Musiville. It’s currently illustrated by Dimitris, and I’m not helping by making changes to the text!

What would you say are the occupational hazards of being a novelist?

Too many to list here, from the obvious (square eyes from staring at a screen all day long) to the not-so-obvious (people think you’ve had a stroke because you spend half the day staring in empty space). Also, I should mention insomnia (from planning your next scene) and industrial-strength absent-mindedness (a natural consequence of your mind being light years away).

Hah! You’re as bad as I am. Will you share with us how you became a published author?

One could say I’ve always been writing in the form of essays, but also a dream journal, where I’ve kept my most memorable dreams since I was in my late teens. Then, in 2009, I dreamed that someone was urging me to write. I flicked through my dream journal and came across a potentially good tale, so I wrote it up as a short story and submitted it to 9, a Greek sci-fi journal. To my great surprise, it was published. Then, I entered a competition with my next story, and won an award – this was the one I mentioned earlier.

I felt I had found my calling, and started working on my novel, Pearseus, while writing further short stories, a children’s book series (currently being illustrated) and various blog posts in between. I tried sending my various manuscripts to maybe a dozen agents and publishers, but was rejected. It gradually dawned on me that things move at a glacial sleep in the world of traditional publishing. Being rather impatient, I decided to self-publish. To my astonishment, the second book of the Pearseus series reached #1 in its genre within two months of its launch.

I have now published traditionally my children’s book, Runaway Smile, in Greece, so I consider myself a hybrid author.

Fantasy authors frequently kill off their characters. If you were going to commit the perfect murder, how would you go about it?

I’m the kind of person who tries to resuscitate ants when he accidentally steps on one, so I think I’m the last person who would commit any kind of crime – let alone murder.

Except in my books, of course. I’ve been reading Sue Coletta’s free 50 ways to Murder your Fictional Character, and now have a pretty good idea of what to use: poison. There’s many a poisonous herbs in our gardens, so the easiest thing would be to slip a handful of those into the unsuspecting victim’s casserole and make sure they eat alone. This would make it the perfect crime, especially if they’re the kind of person to have a herb garden.

Hmm. I’ll have to file that away. Returning to something more serious, is there anything you want to make sure potential readers know?

Only that I love and cherish each and every one of them. If I knew where they lived, I’d bring them chocolate cookies. Unless they left a poor review of course, in which case they’d better not eat them.

I think that brings us back to the previous question. Do you have another job outside of writing?

Yes, I’ve been working on the Internet for the past 20 years, mainly in web design and web marketing. This proved to be a great help when I started self-publishing, as I’ve been using most of the things I’ve learned through my day job for promoting my books. The best thing about it is that I can do it from home, as we have turned the ground floor into a spacious office area, which means no commute. Plus, the tea is always excellent.

Before I share an excerpt from Vigil, I’d like to close with a Lightning Round. In as few words as possible, please answer the following:

My best friend would tell you I’m a…

strange kind of beast. But an affectionate one.

The one thing I cannot do without is…

The Internet. I’d feel mute and deaf without it.

The one thing I would change about my life:

Having children. Someone has to test-drive my children’s books.

My biggest peeve is…

The human capacity for self-delusion. I’m now convinced that it’s infinite.

The person/thing I’m most satisfied with is…

My wife, as she totally gets me!

As promised, here is an excerpt from Vigil, after which you will find links where to purchase Nicholas’s books, as well as how to connect with him.

In the Sewers

In the distance, they heard the grating of metal against cobbles as the soldiers opened the manhole to search for them inside the dirty sewers.

She lost track of time as they sped down one tunnel after another, each stinking a little more. She fought to push the image of Sophie’s bloodied body away from her mind, but it kept popping back to her head. The woman had been like a mother and a sister, helping raise the twins as if they were her own. And the priest; why would a priest of Themis be after them? What had they done to offend their goddess?

Elsie froze and her pretty face went white. Angel followed her eyes to a dozen red eyes peering at them from the darkness. She pulled her little sister by the hand. “Don’t look at it,” she whispered, but the little girl could not move. Angel leaned down to face her, trying to avoid the stinking waters. More red eyes blinked around them. “Honey, it’s just a rat. It’s more scared of you than you are of it.”

Elsie bobbed her head while craning it around Angel’s shoulder to stare at the animals splashing in the stinking water. Angel swallowed a sigh and lifted her into her arms. Themis, she’s heavier than she looks!

The girl burrowed in Angel’s arms, squirming with each new rat they encountered. Balancing the torch with one hand and holding Elsie with the other proved impossible. Angel handed the torch to Cook. Stumbling under the weight, she moved as fast as she could. She took one turn, then another, when the torch fell into the water with a loud hiss. It glowed for a second, then the light disappeared.

“I’m sorry,” Cook whispered with a strained voice. “It slipped.”

Angel stopped herself from screaming at him. “It’s all right. We’ll just follow…” Her voice trailed off. Where was the light from Xhi’s torch? He must have moved on, unaware that he had left them behind. She fought the urge to shout his name; she had no idea how close the soldiers might be. When was the last time she had seen the flame from his torch? Shit! It was back at the rats’ nest. She must have taken a wrong turn, and now they were lost. Swearing at herself, she wondered how to tell the children that they had to go back. She opened her mouth, then heard faraway voices. Soldiers!

“Follow me,” she whispered and raised one hand to feel the walls as she pressed forward in the darkness. In the distance, her straining eyes caught a light. She headed that way, hoping to find Xhi. Instead, they arrived at a grating that sliced the dim light from above into dirty squares flickering in the waters. She let Elsie down with a loud sigh. “Will you be all right now, honey?”

The girl nodded, holding back terrified tears.

She heard the voices again, this time accompanied by the sound of approaching feet splashing in the filthy waters. They must be getting closer! Her gaze jumped around, searching for a hiding place. She pushed the twins into a tight alcove, squirming behind them. I wish I had a knife! More splashing echoed in the narrow space, drawing nearer. She held her breath as she pressed their bodies to the wall, wishing to blend into the shadows.

“Angel?” Cyrus’ voice made her jump out of her skin, then she burst from her hiding place to jump into his arms.

“Thank Themis, I thought—”

Xhi did not let her finish her sentence. “They’re heading this way. Hurry.” He climbed a tight ladder before pushing a manhole cover to sneak a look outside. A few moments later, he motioned them up. With some loud, straining breaths, she raised Cook, then Elsie into his arms, and he lifted them out. Angel pushed Cyrus up, then followed them.

They had emerged in a confined alleyway, now covered in darkness. The derelict buildings could only be part of the Slums. She drank the evening air in deep gulps. The stained walls around them stank of mold, urine and moisture, but to Angel the stale air smelled of freedom. The twins stared at the unfamiliar surroundings. Elsie sniffed and wrinkled her nose in disgust. They must be so scared. Angel wished she had some sort of treat, aside from a half-eaten apple.

Thank you so much for sharing with us, Nicholas!

Visitors can connect with Nicholas on the following links:

Facebook         www.facebook.com/NicholasCRossis

Twitter             www.twitter.com/Nicholas_Rossis

Google+           https://plus.google.com/+NicholasRossis

Blog                   http://nicholasrossis.me/

You may purchase his books at:

http://www.amazon.com/Nicholas-C.-Rossis/e/B00FXXIBZA/

Cover_Runaway_Smile_700http://www.amazon.com/Runaway-Smile-fairy-unshared-wasted-ebook/dp/B00QQC2YLY/

The Write Stuff – Monday, October 6 – Interview With Diane Robinson

This, the second interview in The Write Stuff’s series of Readers Favorite award-winning authors focuses on children’s author, Diane Robinson. Diane, I’ve learned, is as fantastic as are her characters. Scouring the web for information about the author produced this:

2012-07-13 08.57.08Diane lives in a small hilltop castle nestled amongst a very old and magical forest. In this mystical forest, all the fantasy creatures one can imagine live and audition for parts in the author’s next book.

The author has a journalism diploma from the Schools of Montreal and an advanced diploma from the Institute of Children’s Literature in Connecticut. Diane writes fantasy children chapter books, teaches watercolor and acrylic art to children, and is a writing instructor to adults.

I asked Diane to give us the premise of her latest title, Sir Princess Petra’s Talent – The Pen Pieyu Adventures. This is what she provided:

Sir Princess Petra has already proven she is a kind and noble knight. This, however, does not please the king and queen—they want her to behave like a princess and forget this silly knight nonsense of hers!

But when the king writes a new rule in the royal rule book that requires her to attend Talent School and acquire a princess talent certificate or suffer the spell of the royal magician, Petra, reluctantly, agrees to go. But who could have guessed what Sir Princess Petra’s Talent would be?

How delightful! Will you tell us the story behind your book?

The story behind the book is my rebellious nature, to write the kind of story I want to write, to do something out of the norm, to possibly do what many people say a person can’t do in writing for children. I have studied children’s literature extensively—I don’t agree with all the rules. The main character of this series, Petra, has that same rebellious nature and proves that the unattainable can be accomplished with finesse and pizzazz and through kindness. Maybe I just had to prove, to myself, that a writer doesn’t have to follow the norm to write a fun book for kids.

What are you working on now?

Working on the 3rd book in my fantasy/adventure children’s chapter book series entitled, Sir Princess Petra’s Mission-The Pen Pieyu Adventures. I’m also working on a grammar book for elementary age children entitled, Grammar for Kids and Dragons—written in a humorous tone with the medieval characters from my series in the grammar examples.

And a worthy task that is. Goodness knows how much dragons need this sort of help.

May I ask why you have chosen your particular genre?

I’ve been fascinated with the medieval era and fantasy books since I was a kid. By the age of nine, I was making up mini plays–with princesses, brave knights, and meddlesome, or fun, dragons–and performing them for the neighborhood kids. The only hard thing about making the plays work was my sister, the brave knight, insisting to wear her cowboy attire at all times and shooting the nasty dragon instead of spearing him. Sheesh! Cowboys!

Sheesh indeed! Will you tell us why your writing is different from other authors in this genre?

I have a bizarre sense of humor (or so I’m told from non-bizarre humor people) and I think some of that humor comes out in the characters quite well. My books have been described as: ridiculously fun; very silly; incredibly witty; charmingly funny; and even, a maverick fantasy with brilliant flashes of humor and originality. Hmmmm.

That said, why should someone buy your book?

Well, if you think you might like to read about Sir Princess Petra, a tom-boy, onion-throwing princess knight who hangs out with a dragon (Snarls, from the Forest of Doom) that is a chef, royal steed, and is her best friend, along with a bog witch who is afraid of frilly dresses and a continuously soggy-smelling midget knight, Prince Nastybun, from the Land of Mesoggie, then you might want to buy the books. Oh, and then there’s Prince Duce Crablips who wears pink armour and likes to crochet, and King Asterman who runs Talent School in the Land of Lost Donkeys.

Hah! Ridiculously funny, indeed. I like it. Tell us a bit about your path to publication.

My road to publication was full of pot holes and ruts and quite a few broken wheels. I wrote the first book as a picture story book, researched publishers, queried them, sent manuscripts, had a couple of bites, and after 9 years and 27 rejections got an actual traditional publishing contract if I could turn the book into a chapter book. I did, publisher and I signed, publisher forfeited contract due to lack of funds (during the 2010 U.S. recession), back to drawing board, several months later found another publisher who wanted my book and does a few traditional contracts a year. Yep signed up, toot sweet. This publisher also accepted book two (since I hadn’t signed a series contract with them), and will publish book 3 also.

Good for you. What is your writing routine?

In the summer, I have no writing routine. Summers in Canada are just too short, and we all flock outside to play ball, ride horses, gardens, cruise on the lakes, drink beer around the fire pit, play ant hockey, stuff like that. By November, when the snow flies, I wake up early on Fridays (day off from day job) and write for several hours in a row. Saturdays, I edit for a few hours, write blog posts, work on marketing, and catch up on social media stuff.

Petra book one and two coversWhat else have you written?

Sir Princess Petra – The Pen Pieyu Adventures (book one) was my first publication, Jan., 2012. Sir Princess Petra’s Talent – The Pen Pieyu Adventures (book two) is the 2nd book published, Sept., 2013. Previous to those publications, I wrote some newspaper articles, and had some poetry published. I have written adult short stories that are not published yet.

Tell us about the awards you have won.

On Sept. 1st, 2014, I found out that book one won the Sharp Writ Book Award, 1st place in children’s books, and book two won a bronze medal in the Readers’ Favorite International Book Awards, grade 4th – 6th category.

Previous to that, book one won: 2012 Lieutenant Governor of Alberta Emerging Artist (literary) Award (medal and $10,000.00); 2012 Purple Dragonfly Book Award, 2nd place, children’s chapter books; 2013 Readers’ Favorite Intl’ Book Awards, honorable mention, grade K – 3rd; and was a finalist in the 2013 “50 Great Readers You Should Be Reading” contest.

Do you ever experience writers block and, if so, how do you overcome it?

Sometimes I have writer’s block for weeks at a time. I don’t worry about it much and I never force myself to write. I just have to wait until my imaginary friends start talking to me again, and they do, eventually. If my friends have been silent too long (mad at me because of a ridiculous scene I have put them in?), I go for a walk through the forest on my acreage—that usually gets my characters talking real fast (after threats of bringing in new characters).When I’m going through a writing blockage, I usually work on editing and other left-brain thinking stuff.

Some say marketing a book is more difficult than writing it. What is your marketing strategy?

Marketing books is sheer torture chamber stuff. I work on marketing approximately 5 hours per week. I have a marketing manager, a publicist, and an agent. They all give me input and help me with marketing strategies like: news releases, author signings, school visits, book blast promotions, social media, blogging, and author lectures. It’s still a lot of work on my part, but I have seen how the books have become more popular as I keep up a good and steady marketing effort.

Tell us about your writing community.

I live on an acreage, near a small town. This small town has one library and no book stores. There are several self-published writers around the area, and we all know each other, support each other, and keep in touch. Occasionally, we set up multi-author signing together in the small surrounding towns.

What life experiences or careers inspire or enrich your writing?

For several years, I have been an art teacher to children; being around children is rewarding in that I really get to see and hear what children act and think like, which is vital in writing for children.

For the last year, I have been a writing instructor in the course I teach to adults at the Creative Writing Institute–Writing for Children course. Mentoring other writers is a wonderful experience and it makes me into a more prolific writer—well, I have to be or I will get fired. Yikes.

Ever since I read my first book, Black Beauty, at age 7, I have been a fan of the written word. I read all the time, and have rarely watched television, even as a kid. Reading great writers, whether it is children’s literature or adult horror novels always inspires me to be a better writer.

Do you have a parting thought you would like to leave us with?

If you ever think to convince a wayward dragon of your opinion, either rub his tummy, or run away (which is very insulting to wayward dragons). But always go with your first instinct.

Before I provide our visitors with the links to your book and way to connect, I’d like to share with them an excerpt from the second chapter of Sir Princess Petra’s Talent – The Pen Pieyu Adventures, the title that earned the Readers Favorite award:

The pink knight spoke with a vibrating voice,

“I am Prince Duce Crablips of the Kingdom of

Crablips. I aim to stop the Princess Knight from

acquiring a talent and gaining her certificate. I

will stop at nothing. We may have to duel if you

do not turn back.”

“What in the entire kingdom are you talking

about?” Petra frowned her eyebrows at him.

“Are you not the Princess Knight?”

“Yes, I am Petra Longstride of the Kingdom

of Pen Pieyu.”

“Oh no, not another do-well?” Snarls

grumbled. “The last time you had a do-well,

you squeezed and squished and twirled

Prince Nastybun in your dance routine for so

long … well, he did finally give up, but honestly,

it was just boring. Don’t you know of any other

do-well maneuvers?”

“It’s a duel, Snarls, not a do-well.”

“I know all about your little clutch-’em-dance

routine,” Duce Crablips blurted. “And you’re not

touching me!”

“I have no intentions of touching you or

dueling with you.” Petra said, feeling quite

sure she was becoming annoyed. “But why in

the kingdom would you care if I received my

talent certificate?”

Duce Crablips dropped to one knee,

shouldered his spear to point at them, and began

chanting something that sounded in between

humming in Chinese and the rusty wheels of

the royal wheat mill.

“Stop that! I can’t understand a word your

saying, and it’s all quite harmful to the ear!” Petra

slid down the smooth scales of her mount.

Duce Crablips let loose his spear.

It landed between Snarl’s toes.

Snarls yanked the spear from the dirt, broke

it in two, then, raised his head and blew out a

fierce stream of something that resembled torn

pieces of gooey parchment.

“Oops.” Snarls flashed a fake smile. “Possibly

too many onions in that last omelette ta-da?”

“Snarls, stop dragon blasting!” Petra snapped.

“And as for you, Duce Crablips, just tell me what

your problem is, and you won’t be reported for

interfering with my mission!”

Duce, covered in layers of sticky onion skins,

looked like something ready to bake. His eyes, as

wide as royal platters, were wider than his wide

lips. He slowly stood up on shaking legs.

“Is it true they put you in a frilly dress

for interfering with someone’s mission?”

he whimpered.

“Worse for messing with a knight!” Petra

scolded. “It’s a strict rule in my kingdom.”

If you, or any younger acquaintances, would like to learn more about Diane or her works, so may do so through the following links.

Book online sales:

Amazon: http://amzn.to/1gPU1D5

B & N: http://bit.ly/1e2PvFL

Tate Publishing: http://bit.ly/12hBWGg

Goodreads:  http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18136476-sir-princess-petra-s-talent—the-pen- pieyu-adventures

Booktopia: http://www.booktopia.com.au/sir-princess-petra-s-talent-diane-mae-robinson/prod9781625106827.html

Abe Books: http://www.abebooks.com/servlet/SearchResults?kn=Sir+Princess+Petra%27s+Talent&sts=t&x=-863&y=-100

Website, blog and other online social accounts:

Author website and blog: http://www.dragonsbook.com

All About Children’s Books blog: http://www.dianemaerobinson.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Diane-Mae-Robinson/265979866785967

Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/Diane-Mae-Robinson/e/B007DKO8SK

Goodreads Author Page: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5428435.Diane_Mae_Robinson

Twitter: @DianeMaeRobinso

Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/indyrobins/pins/

Google +: https://plus.google.com/102087977798605792054/posts

The Write Stuff – Monday, September 22 – Interview With Patricia Reding

I am using the last several weeks of the year to feature a select group of authors in what promises to be a truly exciting series. Several have earned one or more Readers Favorite book awards this year. Two will be of very special interest. I begin this series with Patricia Reding.

DSC07942_3Patricia Reding leads a double life. By day, she practices law. By night, she reads, reviews a wide variety of works, and writes fantasy. She lives on an island on the Mississippi with her husband and daughters (her son having already flown the nest), Coconut (a Westie) and Flynn Rider (an English Cream Golden Retriever), from whence she seeks to create a world in which she can be in two places at once. She took up Oathtaker as a challenge and discovered along the way, the joy of storytelling. Currently, Patricia is working on Select, the first sequel to Oathtaker.

Oathtaker’s description is as follows:

An Oath Sworn. A Struggle Engaged. A Sacrifice Required.

When Mara, a trained Oathtaker, is drawn by the scent of the Select to battle underworld beasts summoned by the powers of evil to destroy the guardians of life, she swears a life oath for the protection of her charge.

Armed with a unique weapon and her attendant magic, and with the assistance of her Oathtaker cohorts, two ancients and a spymaster, Mara seeks safety for her charge from one who would end Oosa’s rightful line of rule and from assassins who endeavor to bring ruin to the land.

As Mara puzzles to decipher ancient prophecy concerning her charge, as she is haunted with memories of her own past failings, she discovers the price her oath will exact.

To renounce her word would be treasonous; to fail, ruinous; to persevere, tortuous. Abiding by an oath requires sacrifice.

Patricia, I’ve had a chance to glimpse Oathtaker’s opening pages and found it hard to step back out into the “real” world. It’s a captivating read. Further, your readers rave about what a wonderful story it is, but I’m wondering if there is a story behind the story.

I will age myself here and probably open a wider window into my soul than I might intend, but the inspiration for Oathtaker was my longing to return to the world as I saw it as a child. Perhaps it is just that my parents sheltered me more than I thought, but I recall a world in which people said what they meant and meant what they said. People entered into agreements with a handshake. Children knew that if a parent said “no,” it didn’t mean “no” only until the child overcame the parent with begging. People in relationships worked hard to walk through the difficult times together. Their behavior, their choices, came with consequences. I longed for that world because today it seems so easy to go back on your word. This is true across the board—of parents, teachers, politicians, and more. I think that our young people in particular, suffer as a result. They crave continuity and truth and something they can count on to be and to remain true. In many ways I think society has failed our youth in this regard, and I wanted to help to make up for that failure.

With all that in mind, I sought to create a world in which one’s word mattered, and in particular, to examine what someone might do if she found something that, or someone who, pulled her from her path—if she found her love—a moment after swearing a life-oath that forbid her from attaching herself to him. Thus, Mara came to be. Her situation is made more difficult by the fact that in Oathtaker, the man she comes to love, Dixon, is released from his vow only moments before Mara swears her oath. From that premise, Oathtaker was born.

Why have you chosen your particular genre?

There are two main reasons I write fantasy. The first is that I think it is the hardest. You see, I read a fantasy series some years ago that I found utterly genius. I sought to know how the author accomplished what he did. After reading it, I then went through a period when, notwithstanding the many, many wonderful works out there, I struggled to find stories that engaged, entertained, uplifted and challenged me. I had to see for myself what the process included. I had to know more. Thus, I started this writing venture as a challenge to myself—and writing fantasy was the greatest challenge I could conceive of. It requires the creation of a new world and a magic system. Such features must make sense to the story and must be internally consistent. Those are not easy tasks. Along the way, I discovered the joy of storytelling. I also discovered that writing a story that is new and different is very difficult. Perhaps of most importance, I developed a strong understanding of and for other authors. I am much more forgiving of mistakes than I once was.

The second reason I chose fantasy was because I wanted to explore a concept that I felt might seem “preachy” if I approached and discussed it through a story set in our modern world. Specifically, I wanted to present a story in which the main character was faced with choosing between honoring her word and following the path her heart begged her to pursue.

Your Readers Favorite award sets you apart from the herd, but in your words, why is your writing different from other authors in this genre?

Actually, this question makes me laugh. You see, I’ve discovered that there are many who would consider themselves “fantasy aficionados.” These are people who, it seems to me, have preconceived notions of what a fantasy story should do, how it should be told, that all the names should be unpronounceable and include apostrophes, and so forth. For example, some think a fantasy author can only teach about his world and how it works by having the main protagonist begin the venture in some kind of training. In this way, the reader learns along with the character. Some think that the world has to include so many “made up” things (that bear some loose resemblance to things in our world) that the reader has to learn an entirely new vocabulary in order to follow the story or constantly refer to the back-of-the-book glossary. Sometimes I read about how a fantasy work is “set” into some time period in our world (such as medieval, for example). But it makes no sense to me to say that because some features of a fantasy world are “medieval,” that as a result some other features or things can or cannot exist or happen. For me, that is the whole idea behind a fantasy world—it is made up. It can be anything. Thus, I am willing to give the writer the freedom to include or not to include anything in that author’s world that he or she chooses. This includes language used, gadgets in existence, and so forth.

Of course, people can have whatever thoughts they like about the fantasy genre, but I think having preconceived ideas about how a fantasy should be told, is a bit short-sighted. If all authors followed that train of thought, new ways would never come about. For example, where did steampunk come from, but that someone decided to do something different? What about gaslamp fantasy? I found a great list of fantasy subgenres to which I refer from time to time. The titles are intriguing. Consider, for example, the following: hard, gritty, dark, urban, dying earth, new weird, and so on. See: http://bestfantasybooks.com/fantasy-genre.php. A reader with preconceived notions might be disappointed when they encounter these works. By contrast, I appreciate a writer doing what has not been done before. I’ve read of wizards and elves and fairies. I want something new.

With those ideas in mind, I decided I would create the world I wanted—regardless of what someone else thought it ought be. My world does not fit any particular era in our own world history. The names do not begin with “de” or include apostrophes—and they are pronounceable. In most cases, I chose names because of the meanings behind them or, where I wanted to avoid drawing any connection to a meaning, I made them up. Several readers have told me that they’ve never been able to get into fantasy before—but that they enjoyed my work. Perhaps this is because, as one reviewer of my work suggested, I wrote Oathtaker “from the outside looking in” (see http://joshuagrasso.booklikes.com). I believe he was on to something . . .

Why should someone buy your book?

Oathtaker is a story that is challenging and uplifting. It offers heroes, secrets, magic, and an adventure. It is appropriate for readers 13 and older.

Tell us about the awards you’ve won.

To date, I’ve only entered one contest and that was the Readers’ Favorite 2014 International Book Award Contest. The winners were announced September 1, 2014. I was delighted to be awarded with an Honorable Mention Award in the Young Adult Fantasy category. This is quite something for a “first work.” I note that while my story may not be a standard “young adult” tale, in that it includes significant characters of a wide range of ages (and does not include “insta-love” or a love-triangle), it certainly poses a challenge to young readers and it speaks to issues important to them. Best of all—young readers have enjoyed it.

The Readers’ Favorite contest also includes a connection with WindDancer Films (at http://www.winddancer.com), the production company behind such movies as “What Women Want” and such television series as “Home Improvement.” Of the thousands of entrants in the contest, Oathtaker was chosen as one of ten works about which WindDancer Films would like to learn more.

What is your day job?

Goodness, where does one begin? In addition to being a wife and mother of three (two of whom are still “at home”) I also practice law. My main practice area is Intellectual Property. Intellectual Property includes assets of value that cannot be touched—trademarks, patents, copyrights, trade secrets, and so forth. In particular, I handle trademark matters, including registrations and infringement, domain name infringement, and so forth. (Have you ever received a cease and desist letter from me?)

I think the practice of law makes for good training for writing fantasy—a genre that requires that the author keep numerous balls in the air at the same time. My experience with questioning people, collecting facts, looking for alternative ways to resolve matters, negotiating, drafting, and counseling, serves me well when it comes to writing.

Alright then, would you tell us about your dream job?

More than anything, I would like to teach. I would enjoy mashing some first year law students’ brains, as was done with my own, but even more, I think I would like to teach political science at the undergraduate level.

My undergraduate degree was in Political Science, with a minor in Philosophy. I concentrated on studies relating to what was then the Soviet Union, including history and philosophy courses pertaining to the USSR. Today, I am a 24-7 political news junkie. (The funniest stories my children tell me are of their bringing their teachers, unaware of details about which my children are well-versed, up to speed.) There are so many issues, aside from simple civics details, that would be great fun to explore with young minds. Some themes I know I would concentrate on would be how to be good consumers of information, how to “read between the lines,” how to identify when someone is not answering the question asked, how to spot an ideological bent, and so on.

If I spoke to your closest friend about you, what would she or he would tell me?

She would probably tell you that I have a knack for asking questions—questions that will unearth issues not previously considered and/or that will move you from problem to conclusion. She might also tell you that I truly do believe that “chocolate” is one of the four basic food groups, that I salt things way too much (because “salt” is another of the four basic food groups), and that I am bilingual—sarcasm is my second language.

Do you have a favorite quote?

There are so many. In particular, I love Abraham Lincoln and Mark Twain quotes. But with a philosophy background, I find myself thinking of this, from John Stuart Mills: “War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things. The decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks that nothing is worth war is much worse. The person who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing which is more important than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself.” In many ways, these words seem to sum up life and the state of the world at any given time.

What are your favorite authors?

I adore Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables. I think it is the most beautiful thing ever written. It is more than a story—it is poetry. I am also a big Charles Dickens fan. It took me some time to catch his rhythm, but I now find him positively hilarious. Once, I sat and read aloud to my then middle-grade daughters, the opening chapters of Great Expectations. Honestly, we laughed until tears ran. I love his descriptions of everything from people, to dead and scattered bugs on the floor. As to more contemporary works and/or those in my own genre, I am a big fan of Terry Goodkind’s Sword of the Truth series.

It’s time for the Lightning Round. Brief answers please!

The one thing I cannot do without is:

music. I especially enjoy movie soundtracks, Celtic works, and Broadway shows (in particular, Wicked, The Pirate Queen, Phantom and Aida). My family and I have also performed for almost 20 years now, in a Christmas musical, Two From Galilee, so I love participating as well as listening.

In one or two words, what is your defining trait?

Committed. Serious.

Hard copy or ebook?

Preferably hard copy. I love the feel of the book in my hands.

Vice? Virtue?

Vice: Louis Vuitton handbags. If I ever go broke, I will have to auction mine off. Virtue: Can I think about this for a while?

Hah! Favorite book:

Les Miserables

Favorite movie:

Oh . . . this is so hard. I love the Lord of the Rings movies, but probably not for the same reasons as many others. Truthfully, I find the story a bit difficult to follow. My favorite parts are the background music and the lighting—which in some scenes is true genius.

Do you have a parting thought you would like to leave us with?

Don’t limit yourself—and don’t allow anyone else to do so either.

So true.

I asked Patricia to provide an excerpt from Oathtaker. This is the gem she provided:

PastedGraphic-4Upon touching the woman, Dixon’s eyes turned quickly from the soft glance he had given her to a kind of madness. He jumped up and glared. “What have you done?” he hissed.

“What have I done?” Mara crouched down, pulled away the blanket that covered Rowena, then carefully took into her arms first Reigna, then Eden. She stood up, holding herself as tall as she could. She glared. “What have I done? Oh, nothing! Oh, well that is, except—ahhh . . . well . . . let me think here—.”

She hesitated, playacting. “Oh, yes, I remember now. I took down a full pack of grut, helped Rowena birth these beautiful children, accepted them as my charge, saw to it that she released her power with her dying breath, comforted her in her last moments—. Shall I go on?” She took a deep breath. “What have I done? Who are you to accuse me of anything? I have done my duty!”

“I am her Oathtaker. That’s who I am!”

“Were,” Mara snapped. “You were her Oathtaker. She’s dead. Or did I forget to mention that? So I might ask—what have you done? Where were you when she so clearly needed you? The truth is, if I hadn’t arrived when I did, I expect we would have lost them all!” Her eyes remained fixed on him.

After some seconds, he looked away. “Dead.”

She could not tell if he was stating the fact or asking if it was true. Considering the shock he must be feeling, she decided that arguing with him would not be in anyone’s best interests. She recalled that above all, she must get the girls to safety quickly.

“I’m sorry. I did all I could. Rowena had lost too much blood before I arrived. She . . . she was a fighter, I know.”

He did not take his eyes from his former charge. He dropped to his knees at her side. Taking her hand into his own, he lifted it to his cheek and closed his eyes. His breathing slowed. His jaw set. Mara sensed he fought back tears. Slowly, he leaned forward to stroke the woman’s cheek, then her hair. Finally, he bowed his head and audibly exhaled.

Mara watched his easy touch, saw his shoulders sag and his eyes pressed closed. She knew that look.

“You loved her.” She had not intended to speak the words out loud, but there they were—hanging in the air.

“Well,” he said, clearing his throat, obviously restraining himself, “of course I cared deeply for her. She was my charge. She’s been my charge for . . . for some time now. I’ve forgotten what life is without her.”

“No, that’s not all. You . . . you loved her. I can see it in your eyes, in your touch, in—”

“She was my charge!” He held Mara’s gaze, as though daring her to challenge him further.

She said nothing. Perhaps he was trying to convince himself, but she wondered.

“You do understand the significance of the oath you just swore?” he asked, scornfully.

Of course she did. An Oathtaker’s vow came with commitments. Mara hadn’t given it much thought earlier, but when she swore her oath, she had sealed the deal. Her word bound her to the twins for so long as they lived. She could no longer follow another path.

In the moment she took her vow, Ehyeh bestowed gifts upon her, attendant magic and continued youth. She would not physically age until the death of her charge. Only then could she begin her life anew, follow other dreams. The same had been true for Dixon while his charge had lived. But what did his denial mean? What was he trying to imply? That because he’d sworn to accept Rowena as his charge, he had not still been vulnerable to his own feelings, longings, desires? Had he been one who had fallen into the state of pain that came with loving someone while subject to his oath?

“Of course I do,” she confirmed.

 

If you’d like to read more, or learn more about the author, here are some links to help you:

Amazon:  http://www.amazon.com/Oathtaker-Book-1-Patricia-Reding-ebook/dp/B00K32MW6U/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1409924611&sr=8-1&keywords=oathtaker

CreateSpace:  https://www.createspace.com/4767727

Barnes and Noble:  http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/oathtaker-patricia-reding/1114778887?ean=2940149813094

Links to website, blog and online social accounts:

Website and blog:  http://www.oathtaker.com

Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6983212.Patricia_Reding

BookLikes:  http://patriciareding.booklikes.com

Amazon author page: http://www.amazon.com/Patricia-Reding/e/B00BQUN18G/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1409925157&sr=8-1

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/PatriciaRedingAuthor

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/Oathtakers

Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/oathtakers/

Google+: https://plus.google.com/u/0/b/102507278936219521448/102507278936219521448/posts

 

 

The Write Stuff – Monday, September 8 – Interview With Leisl Kaberry

This week’s guest is award-winning fantasy writer, Leisl Kaberry. I first met Leisl online. She’s a member of Facebook’s Fantasy Sci-fi Network, a group of amazing writers and readers you might wish to consider taking part in. I’ve found this multi-talented Aussie-turned-Canadian a real delight as I’ve gotten to know her. In turn, I thought you would also enjoy meeting her. Leisl writes fantasy adventures. Here’s what she has to say about herself:

Leisl 086‘I was never going to be a writer… seriously.’ Somehow despite Leisl’s lifelong love for making up and telling stories, she had no desire to become an author. However, after a creative urge spurred her on to write an idea for a scene, the world of Titania was born and she hasn’t looked back since. Born and raised in Australia she has lived in a variety places, including the Australian outback and Montreal, Canada. She currently resides in Kitimat, Northern British Columbia with her husband and four children; she is studying a degree in Criminology and Criminal Justice, is an amateur theatre actor and enjoys snowboarding during the winter.

Will you tell us about your award, Leisl?

Recently I won the RomCon Readers Crown 2014 for Fantasy. I was just thrilled to become a finalist, so to actually win… I was over the moon. Our local library in Kitimat has hung all the framed artwork from the book on the wall there. 11 pieces in total… I consider that a great honour, for me and my artist.

With the degree of competitiveness in today’s writing community, I can assure our visitors this is no small achievement. Since just getting published is also a major achievement, will you please share your experience?

I took the really long road on the first. When I started writing Journey of Destiny, I knew I needed to see it through and have it published, but writing for me (over ten years ago) was nothing more than a hobby and I would sit down to write whenever I had a creative urge. Fast forward to when we moved to Montreal Canada and I was stuck indoors while it was freezing cold outside, I barely knew anyone and I was struggling to learn the language. I found myself sitting down to write on a regular basis, when I could get some quiet time away from the kids. Within a year I was finished writing, I bought myself the book Self-Publishing for Dummies (no, really) and I set to work editing for the next three years. I did multiple edits myself between having others edit for me and in that time I rewrote and wrote a whole lot more. I found an artist through a mutual friend and we talked about her doing the cover for me and that turned into a whole lot of other artwork inside the book also… this dragged things on while I learnt how to format and prepare my book for publishing. Just over 11 years from conception to fruition. A worthwhile journey though… I learnt a stack in that time about writing, developed as a person, had some amazing experiences and lived in some very different places… all of which was fodder for my imagination.

That path suggests real discipline. I’m wondering if you ever get stuck. Do you ever experience writer’s block?

I don’t know that I’ve ever really had writers block, for me when I find I can’t write it’s usually just a function of being uninspired which leads to can’t be bothered and the manuscript not being worked on. I tend to find a good brainstorming session will get me past any issues though.

When I’m stuck on a problem the best thing I can do is leave the computer and give it some serious thought. Lying on the couch, sitting in the hot tub or going for a walk by myself can help me relax and just let my mind play with imagination. All answers seem to come after a serious brainstorm and usually with added excitement and clarity. All I want to do then is sit down and write feeling freshly inspired.

What life experiences have enriched your writing?

I guess the biggest inspiration through life experiences has been travel and living in different locations. Traveling to different parts of the world has opened me up to new and exciting scenery that I was able to experience in ways that you can’t through a picture alone. The smells, the people and even the ambient temperature all add to the experience and give inspiration to my world. In the book I’m working on at the moment, a good part of the story takes place in a country that was inspired by a trip to Iceland. Iceland’s terrain is so different and unusual that it is frequently used for filming sci-fi and fantasy movies including Batman Begins, Oblivion, Prometheus and my favourite, Stardust. I loved it and the very experience being there gave me so much feed for my imagination.

Having lived in very different locations has also given me a wealth of inspiration for growing and enriching my world. Living at the top of Australia in the tropics certainly inspired the first book.

What are you working on now?

Right now I’m a hard a work editing the second book of the Titanian Chronicles. It’s fully written and it will soon be passed on to others for further editing. My aim is to get it out by Christmas. While the first book sets our heroes out on a journey of discovery beyond the elvin borders where they have spent the entirety of their lives, the second book sees them five years on, at a time where the armies of the Warlord Moorlan are gathering and the mysterious Dark One is in search of furthering his power. I have seen this book in my mind since the beginning of my own journey writing the first book, there is a lot of exciting plot development in this one and it was so inspiring to write.

What is your typical day like?

A typical day for me starts at 6am with exercise… it’s the greatest thing to wake me up and get me going for the day. Then after I shower, the next hour is all about getting my kids ready for school and off to the bus stop. When I get back with the dog I finally sit down to breakfast and I work through my emails and social media. After that there’s housework and I study. In the early afternoon I sit down to work on my book and most days I can get few hours in before all the kids come bursting in the door from school. Once they are home its pens down for me and it becomes all about them. I help with homework and taxi the kids around to after school activities. I sometimes get a bit more writing done after the kids go to bed but then I also hang out and relax with my husband and maybe get some reading in. Then we go to bed around midnight and get up again at six the next day to start it all again. It doesn’t sound exciting but any day I get to work on my book is a good day for me and I find that exciting.

How do you overcome adversity?

I tend to be a pretty optimistic person anyway and try to see things in a positive light but it doesn’t always work straight away. I tend to find a good sleep does wonders… things always look better in the morning. ‘The sun will come out tomorrow…’ and all that, it really works!

Do you have a favorite quote?

“Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.” ~ Dr Seuss. I love this quote… the Dr knew too well. See!? This totally reflects my positive point of view.

It does! And I like your take charge attitude. So then I have to ask, if you could change your circumstances and live anywhere in the world, where would you choose to live?

Hawaii… haha, and I say that without ever having been there. I’m a beach girl, I just live for it. The roar of the waves, the salty smell in the air, the refreshing water and soft white sands is alluring to me. I would be happy just living in a shack on the beach and Hawaii has a wonderful and rich culture too that I imagine would also inspire me.

Now comes the Lightning Round. In a few words, answer the following:

The one thing I cannot do without is…

My family… I tend to think of my laptop as family too… it carries my characters and the story they tell.

In one or two words, what is your defining trait?

Happy go lucky – Oops three words.

Hard copy or ebook?

Although I think ebooks are great and so, so convenient, I still love hard copies of books and where I love a book or series, I will have to have it on my shelf.

Vice? Virtue?

Virtue for me and vice for my characters

Favorite book:

Daniella (played by Drew Barrymore) in Everafter is asked to pick a book, any book and she says “I could no sooner choose a favourite star in the heavens.” I feel this way.

Favorite movie:

Stardust

Do you have a parting thought you would like to leave us with?

Not really, but I would like to say thanks Raymond for the interview, I appreciate you taking the time.

Thank you for joining us.

I asked Leisl to provide a synopsis and an excerpt fromTitanian Chronicles – Journey of Destiny. She provided the following:

Journey of Destiny - Leisl KaberrySynopsis

Afeclin walked nervously to the entry of the cottage. He held his breath as he passed over the threshold.

A little cradle was the only piece of furniture left in the building.
Afeclin touched the cradle delicately with one finger.
All of a sudden he fell backward onto the floor as an image of the fire burst into his mind…
He had seen a horrified face that screamed amongst red hot flames.

Found beyond the Elvin borders, Afeclin, a human child, is taken in and raised by an Elvin King. Now grown and longing to learn about the mystic arts, he embarks on a journey back into a land now unfamiliar. Accompanied by his elvin friend, Wolflang, they leave their homes to seek out their destiny. Unbeknown to Afeclin and Wolflang however, the warlord, Moorlan and his confederate, a dark mage, are preparing to bring war to the peaceful Land of Marrapassa, putting their lives and those they care about, in danger.

Excerpt

The ground had been a lot colder and harder to sleep on than it had first appeared. Wolflang had found himself sleeping on rock and although the rock was covered in fresh fallen leaves and moss it provided little comfort for the elf.

Adding to the problem, the day’s events had kept playing over and over again in his mind.

In the early hours of the morning, exhaustion overcame him and Wolflang, tired and achy, fell into a deep sleep.

It was during this sleep, while his body was relaxed and free from the tension built up in him from the previous day, he saw a familiar being.

A human man, wearing a leather cloak, stood before him and beckoned for Wolflang to follow. His face was shadowed by the cloak’s hood apart from his jaw and cheekbones covered in thick, greying stubble. Deep wrinkles around his mouth and down his neck showed that the man was aged and his weathered hands were old but strong.

‘You’re the hooded man I saw at the celebrations the other night.’

The man nodded and once again beckoned for Wolflang to come with him.

Wolflang, while curious, felt at ease with the old man despite his mysterious nature. He began to walk towards the hooded figure, stepping with lightness on the ground.

The older man led Wolflang to the edge of a cliff. There he beckoned the elf with an open hand to cast his eyes over.

Wolflang came and stood beside the hooded man, looking down into a deep valley beset by mountains.

He beheld a frightening scene before his eyes. For there in the valley a mighty battle raged. Heavy men clad in black armour, not unlike the pig-faced trolls they had seen the day before, surrounded a small multi-raced army.

Wolflang could hear the clang of swords clashing and shouts of anger and fear as men fought for their lives, giving everything they had. Blood flooded the terrain as one by one, the smaller army’s men fell to the ground dead.

The men in black, having been victorious, waved their swords in the air and cheered in celebration of their slaughter. It was a sickening sight.

‘What is this?’ Wolflang asked shaking his head.

The hooded man spoke at last, ‘It is a vision of an event that is to come.’

Wolflang felt sick to his stomach. He stared at the strange man with an incredulous frown. ‘Why do you show me this?’

‘In this moment of time lies a part of your destiny,’ the hooded man said as he faded away before Wolflang’s eyes.

‘What do you mean? I am to die down there?’ Wolflang shouted at the already faded figure.

Wolflang’s mind raced as he tried hard to comprehend what he had just witnessed. He buried his head in his hands in sorrow and slumped down to the ground.

If you’d like to buy Leisl’s book, or learn more about her, please click on the following links:

Book links:

http://www.amazon.com/Titanian-Chronicles-Journey-destiny-Volume-ebook/dp/B00F3UYKZS

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/422214

Social links:

Blog http://titanianchronicles.blogspot.ca

Twitter https://twitter.com/Lawfabex

Facebook www.facebook.com/titanianchronicles

Pinterest http://www.pinterest.com/leisl78/

The Write Stuff – Monday, August 11 – Interview With Author Robin Lythgoe

I delight in authors who exhibit a command of the language, who can convey an idea or express a sentiment with one word that would require a paragraph from others. Donna Tartt, Dean Koontz, Martin Cruz Smith and George R. R. Martin are fully fledged masters. Every now and then, however, I stumble on a new author who evidences such a talent emerging. It was Robin Lythgoe’s vocabulary that drew me in from her opening page.

It has taken me half a year to persuade Robin to allow me to interview her, so I was pleased when she finally relented. Even though she has only produced one novel to date, there are passages within it that hint of her ultimate potential. I hope she will grace us with another some time soon.

This is how Robin describes herself:

Robin_0123_pp_300I was born into a family of bookworms who happily introduced me to all kinds of books—and then I had terrific teachers who encouraged me not only to read, but to write. Books opened up entire new worlds for me, and when I was growing up (still working on that) I would rather read than do anything in the world. The Summer of Reading happened when our television broke and there was a family reading marathon. The best summer EVER. I read historical and modern romances, mysteries, thrillers, fantasy, historical fiction, and the occasional horror. Fantasy, with its wonderful worlds and creatures and magic, captured my heart. My love of words developed naturally into a desire to put my own on paper. I started with (bad) poetry, then leaped into novel-writing. There were quite a few unfinished beginnings lying around before raising a family distracted me. Writing took a back seat, but reading never stopped. Finishing my first (unpublished) novel proved to me that I could really do it and… here I am! I am published—and I have several more books in progress.

As the Crow Flies was the work that introduced me to you. How would you describe it to our visitors?

Meet Crow, an engaging but self-serving thief. He has spent his life perfecting the talents given to him by the gods, sharpening his razor wit, and planning for a comfortable future with the woman of his dreams.

And then there’s Tanris, dauntless servant of the empire, dedicated lawman. It’s a feather in his cap when he finally captures the miserable, thieving bird that’s been flitting about the Bahsyr Empire as if he owned it.

Neither man is prepared to become a cat’s paw for a wizard with even bigger plans.

In this tale of thieves and dragons, author Robin Lythgoe ventures into a world where the master thief Crow and the lawman Tanris must learn to weather each other as well as survive dangerous lands, a haunted cave, and a temple guarded by blade, sorcery—and a vengeful dragon. Their goal? Simple: take a journey across inhospitable land to fetch an incredible, mythical prize. Escape the dragon. Return before time runs out …

What are you working on now?

While I’m entertaining ideas for another story about Crow, I am juggling a series which has actually been in the works since before As the Crow Flies was published. In a nutshell, “An unwitting pawn in a contest where the prize is an empire must rely on the very magic used to alter him in order to escape slavery and prevent the mage who would be his master from gaining control of the throne.”

Why have you chosen this particular genre?

It is the genre that most excites me! I love the balance of creativity and reality involved in creating a fantasy story. It is a fantastic (pardon the pun!) exercise in imagination for both reader and writer. The writer weaves an entire new world, and the reader gets to interpret it with his or her own experience and imagination. What a wonderful partnership!

There are numerous works of fantasy on the market. Why should someone buy Crow?

As the Crow Flies delivers a particular stamp of adventure and humor (one that’s found in my short story, Dragonlace, as well). It’s fast-paced, but not too fast for some creative world-building. I have it on good authority that the novel can be read in one day, if you’re willing to let chores fall by the wayside on your day off. The characters are relatable and they grow. People care about them, and it’s great when readers choose one character as their favorite and fiercely defend their choice. My current project is more serious than As the Crow Flies, but it still maintains the solid core that readers so enjoyed with Crow: style and rhythm, characterization, adventure, world-building. And, in spite of my original intention to write Crow’s story as a single, stand-alone novel, I’ve also got another story for Crow simmering—thanks to the enthusiastic prompting and prodding of fans.

What else have you written?

I have two published short stories: In the Mirror, and Dragon Lace—as well as the afore-mentioned “first” novel (Which will probably never see the light of day!) Dragonlace once appeared in an online ezine.

Are there any awards or honors you’d like to share?

While they are modest, I am tickled pink that As the Crow Flies has been named a Five-Star Reader’s Favorite, a semi-finalist in The Kindle Book Review’s Best Kindle Book Awards, and is currently floating in Wattpad’s Write Awards 2014. Indie Book of the Day also spotlighted my book as an award winner.

Writing can tax the imagination, even cause a proven writer to doubt his/her ability. How do you overcome writer’s block?

Taking a leaf from the fictional Richard Castle’s writing:

“I don’t believe in writer’s block. I believe in writer’s embarrassment. That’s when you’re so embarrassed by the horrendous drivel you’re writing that you can’t bear to see it on the page. After all, you can always write something. I’ve discovered that giving yourself permission to write poorly is the gateway to writing well. It may not be good, it may not make sense, but that’s okay. After enough pages of meaningless drivel, your brain will uncover something interesting, and before you know it, you’re off and writing again.”

That said, I have struggled with the drivel—to the point that I avoided doing any writing at all, but that made me feel frustrated and ever-further behind in my goals. There is nothing like having new bills to pay to inspire one! I’m also really lucky to have a fantastic writing partner who has enough patience to help me hose down the drivel to expose the gems lying beneath.

I’m still slogging through a lot of muck, and I get impatient. I don’t want muck, I want instant perfection! Patience and persistence are two qualities I need to rely on heavily. They should be perfected any time now…

To give us a peek at the person behind the book, I frequently ask the following questions:

Where would you live, if you could live anywhere?

I would love to live somewhere by the water—preferably a beach, but a lake or a stream would do nicely. (I often wonder what I’m doing in the desert…)

What is your dream job?

I’ve got it! I have dreamed about being an author since I was a little girl. It is fantastic to actually be in this place, in this time, doing exactly that.

What motivates or inspires you (not necessarily as regards your writing)?

I love listening to music, examining artwork, and admiring photography. In fact, I gave in to the siren call of Pinterest, and now I have a wonderful, easily accessible place to collect the things that inspire me. It amazes me how beautiful or formidable our world can be—and the countless unique ways the vision of it is interpreted.

Do you have a favorite quote?

“Writers write what they know best,

their passions, fears and dreams.

Writers never write about

what others call their ‘themes.’”

–       Charles Ghigna

Do you have any pet projects?

I do! I really enjoy doing Family History. If I’m not careful, I can get sucked into research and discovery for weeks before I remember I have other things to do! I don’t just like finding out the names and places, although that is awesome; I think it’s important—and educational—to learn about the places and cultures our ancestors lived in. It makes the people more real to me (and it doesn’t hurt my history education or my writing at all!)

What are a few of your favorite authors?

I am not a dyed-in-the-wool, stalker-type fan of any particular author, but I have most enjoyed (and learned from) Robin Hobb, Tad Williams, C.J. Cherryh, Stephen Lawhead, Terry Goodkind, R.A. MacAvoy, Lindsay Buroker, and A.E. Marling.

Alright, Robin. Lightning Round.

The one thing I cannot do without is:

Chocolate

In one or two words, what is your defining trait?

Imaginative…ly stubborn.

Hard copy or ebook?

Yes. I like my options! 😉

Vice? Virtue?

Vice in fiction, virtue in life.

Favorite book:

Only one? That is cruel. That’s like asking a mother which is her favorite child.

Hah! Favorite movie:

Ladyhawk. Or maybe Wolverine. Showboat? (I’m versatile AND indecisive! Which leads me to another quote: Indecision! It’s the key to flexibility!)

Do you have a parting thought you would like to leave us with?

First, I want to thank you for inviting me to visit you virtually. It is a pleasure—I so enjoy your humor and intelligence. The company and support of other authors like you is aMAZing—and so are the wonderful readers who take the time to support us and share their thoughts and pictures and ideas with us. You all make the journey more doable, more exciting. Thank you!

Alright. Since I’ve already told everybody how much I enjoyed your book, will you please grace us with a chapter from As the Crow Flies?

AsTheCrowFlies_480x640web

CHAPTER 8

I had scarcely stepped out into the street with my handsome new acquisition when I was abruptly and rudely accosted. Two hulking pieces of manhood caught me by either arm, and I nearly lost both my hat and the burlap sack of supplies I carried. Lifting me right off my feet didn’t trouble either of them, and while they whisked me off down the street, I took a moment to recover my breath, my composure—more or less—and to study their identities. “Do I know the two of you?” I inquired politely while they plowed through puddles I would have chosen to go around. The first splash caught me rather by surprise, but I had the forethought to lift my feet for the second. No sense getting wetter when there was an alternative.

“Raza wants to have a chat with you,” the bruiser on my right informed me.

“Jolly for him. Would you be so good as to put me down? I think I remember how to walk.”

“We’ll help.”

“You’re too kind. Really.” I looked from one to the other, but they showed no sign of responding to gentle persuasion and we were making good speed down the street in a direction I had no desire to go. So I held on tight to my belongings and stuck my foot between the legs of the less chatty fellow on the left. He went down in a heap, and I went with him, rolling half onto him. The other man swore and scrambled, trying not to fall, too. I helped him out as best I could by swinging my sack at his head. There were a pair of grappling hooks in there, a climbing rope, metal cleats, and other sorts of paraphernalia a thief might find handy on the job. It knocked him backside over teakettle, which was rather satisfying and alarming at the same time.

Both my delight and my worry at the damage a hook might have caused were arrested by an arm around my throat.

If you’re interested in purchasing a copy of As the Crow Flies, here are a few links to help you:

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/As-the-Crow-Flies-ebook/dp/B00AM1ZGUQ

Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/as-the-crow-flies-robin-lythgoe/1114302256?ean=2940044229471

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/263933

iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/as-the-crow-flies/id595567889?mt=11&uo=4

If you’d like to acquaint yourself better with Robin, you may do so here:

Blog: http://robinlythgoe.blogspot.com/

Website: http://www.robinlythgoe.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/RobinLythgoeAuthor

Twitter: https://twitter.com/RobinLythgoe

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5114039.Robin_Lythgoe

Google+: google.com/+RobinLythgoe

The Write Stuff – Monday, June 16 – Interview With Author Kasper Beaumont

This week’s edition of The Write Stuff takes us to the Land Down Under, but with a twist… We’re replacing ’roos with dragons and Aussies with elves as author Kasper J. Beaumont takes time away from her already busy schedule to share her writing life with us. I first met Kaz through Facebook’s Fantasy Sci-Fi Network where she’s an active part of the group that connects readers with bloggers and authors who specialized in this genre.

041 Kasper J. Beaumont was born and raised in Australia and lives a quiet life with the family in a seaside town. Combining a love of fantasy and a penchant for travel in the Hunters of Reloria trilogy, Kasper started to write on the urging of friends and family and enjoys watching readers become immersed in the magical world of Reloria. Kasper is a pen name for a rather shy author who is happy to remain unnamed.

 

 

 

 

 

Golden Dragon crop The first two volumes of her trilogy, Elven Jewel and Hunters’ Quest, are already out. The concluding volume, Dragon’s Revenge, is expected to be released July of this year. Oh, yes. Before I forget, the Dragon’s Revenge art competition is underway. There are 11 prizes and anyone can enter.

http://huntersofreloria.weebly.com/dragons-revenge-art-competition.html

 

 

 

Here is some information about the first two installments:

Elven Jewel Cover 3x4 Elven Jewel

This fantasy adventure begins when the magical continent of Reloria is threatened by cruel, scaly invaders called Vergai from the wastelands of Vergash. These invaders are barbaric and are intent on destroying the protective elven forcefield and conquering peaceful Reloria. The Vergais’ plan is to steal the Elven Jewel which is the key to the Relorian defence system.

Halfling friends Randir and Fendi and their bond-fairies are the first to discover the invaders and they embark on a quest to save the Elven Jewel. They leave their peaceful farm village with their fairies and race against time to stop the invaders. They join forces with dwarves, elves, men and a mysterious dragon, and call themselves the Hunters of Reloria.

The quest is perilous, with numerous encounters with the ruthless Vergai, who are determined to fulfill their mission. The Elven Jewel is stolen and the quest becomes a race to the portal to retrieve the jewel before it can be taken to Vergash. A battle for Reloria ensues where the consequences for the Relorians is death, unless Vergai are stopped.

Hunters Quest 3x4 Hunters’ Quest

Magical Reloria is under siege by scaly Vergai invaders by portal who have captured the Elven Jewel which creates their protective forcefield. These Vergai live across the western sea, and have fled with the elven princess.
Halfling friends, Randir and Fendi and their bond-fairies are members of a group of brave hunters on a quest to recover the stolen Elven Jewel. They must search for a mage who can make a portal to rescue the princess. They thought they knew what the quest would entail, but with an unexpected member and new enemies, not everything goes the way they had planned.
Their journey takes them to strange new places including the centaur lands, the gnomish inventors, the Great Elven Heart and the home of the dragons.
This unlikely group of men, a dragon, dwarves, halflings, fairies and an elf are known as the Hunters of Reloria.

Kaz, what distinguishes your work from that of other fantasy authors?

I introduced the concept of fairies and halflings bonded together in a symbiotic relationship. The fairies use their magic to heal and regenerate the halflings. The halflings eat food which keeps the fairies strong. The fairy comes into being at the birth of the halfling and one will not outlive the other. They also have a distance limit of 10 metres, but as I don’t use measurements in the book, I just call it the limit of their bond. I like that their fairies have individual personalities. Some are like a little conscience and others such as Sienna-Li can be very cheeky and get himself into trouble.

I also use some mythical beasts in my books, which some reviewers call a ‘genre-mash.’

Intriguing. These are certainly unique stipulations. Will you give us an idea of what your writing routine is like?

I’m not sure that I have one. I do routinely wake at 5am, but I don’t tend to start writing straight away. I usually sort through the 100-odd emails I’ve received for the day and do writing later on, maybe when the kids go to school. I love to escape to the bath or cubbyhouse with my scrapbook and scribble away without distractions.

For some authors, writing occurs in fits and starts. How do you overcome writer’s block?

I don’t believe in it. I could write 18 hours a day if my life would let me. It’s like there’s a dam full of ideas in me and the sluice can be opened at any time for ideas to spill forth.

Hah! Good for you. I would say the same about myself. Since I suspect we will also agree writing doesn’t come out of nowhere, but rather springs from our experiences, what life experiences inspire or enrich your writing?

I would have to mention my family when talking about writing. My eldest son has two short stories published and has been my biggest supporter. He likes to come up with outrageous ideas such as Cyclops giants with laser beams and I fit them into the stories somehow.

My favourite thing to do is travel with the family and experience new lands and cultures. Not only is this fun, but you always learn something, whether you’re in the Louvre, or wandering a desolate countryside.

Aside from the Hunters of Reloria trilogy, what else have you written?

I’ve written a short story recently about the tragedy of Garass and Asher, which is the back-story to one of the Hunters of Reloria. They were two best friends who had the misfortune to fall in love with the same woman and it tore them all apart. I like this one, because I get to write more romance than in the previous books, but as you know, I do love my battles too. I just handed it over to my editor and hope to share it with you all soon. My poor editor is very busy at the moment.

A moment ago, you mentioned your family and how they influence your writing. What else would you care to share about life in the Beaumont household?

My chickens. I have 6 beautiful little hens who are so tame they eat out of our hands. Sometimes they get impatient and peck our toes to remind us to bring food. They each have a name and personality. It’s so nice to have fresh eggs every day and know that the hens are loved and well cared for.

That’s delightful! Sticking to your “other” life for a moment, do you have another job outside of writing?

Yes, I’m a healthcare worker and I do enjoy my job most of the time. It has its challenges and rewards. At the moment I’m working less hours there and spending more time on my writing, so I would have to call it the best of both worlds.

Here are a few of questions I ask most of my guests. Where would you live, if you could live anywhere?

I’d love to be on an island with a couple of hundred people. Somewhere that’s not too hot or cold and there’s a mango tree. My family and I would live in tree houses and go fishing for our supper. Perhaps we’d have a pet possum. No work, no school, no traffic. I’d still have my scrapbook, no doubt. No worries and no cares sounds heavenly to me. Oh-oh, I think I’ve watched too many episodes of Survivor LOL.

Sounds like Swiss—or rather, Aussie—Family Beaumont. How do you pick yourself up in the face of adversity?

Keep calm and carry on. I’m not really one for theatrics. We’ve had some loss recently and it has brought my partner and I closer together. It has been great to have all the family rallying around us.

I agree. Having said that, what makes you laugh?

The Umbilical Brothers and Tim Minchin. They are seriously some funny guys. Also the Big Bang Theory is hilarious.

Alright, before I treat our visitors to an excerpt from your writing, here are a few Lightening Round Questions. Answer them in as few words as possible.

The one thing I cannot do without is:

Chocolate (I apologise to my partner, who runs a very close second!)

Favorite book:

The Belgariad series by David Eddings

Favorite movie:

Star Wars

Do you have a parting thought you would like to leave us with?

Try an Indie author for your next book. There are truly some gems to be found.

Raymond, thanks so much for having me on your blog today. It’s been heaps of fun, cheers, Kasper.

I’ve enjoyed having you. Thank you for coming.

Now, as I promised at the beginning of this interview, for your reading pleasure, here is an excerpt from Hunters’ Quest by Kasper Beaumont, Battle of the Western Outpost.

Halflings Fendi and Sienna and their bond fairies, could now discern what the elf and dragons’ keen eyes had already seen. The grasslands ahead were covered with thousands of Vergai, spread out in numerous camps across the West Lands, and beyond them, the outpost castle was just discernable in the early morning gloom. Bolts of lightning could be seen striking about the black fortress. As they sped closer, Fendi saw many giants surrounding the crackling portal.

Dark shadows above the portal caused the Dragon leader to pull up abruptly from his rapid flight. The dragons hovered high above the Vergai campfires.

The grey Dragon turned to the brown and growled, “There be some kind of sorcery here. See those large blobs suspended over the castle? They emit lightning at random intervals. To destroy the portal, we must avoid them and defeat the wizards on the far side.”

To the dragons’ surprise, a loud voice came from far above them, “Well, it’s about time you dragons joined the party. We have been here for hours, but can’t find a way past the lightning creatures and the giants. They keep pouring through the portal and we can’t get close to it.” It was Baja dwarf’s cheerful voice calling, but he sounded rather more serious than usual.

They all looked up to see Heikki’s gnomish flying machine suspended above them, with their companions straining to look over the sides of the basket.

The Dragon leader gave a regretful look at the Hunters of Reloria in the flying machine, before saying, “Lead them to the wizards, Varnon. If I fail, that is our last hope.”

With mighty beats of his enormous wings, the dragon set off towards the portal, leaving his companions behind. Fendi gave a cry of despair at seeing huntress Sienna valiantly clinging to the dragon’s spiked neck. The other dragons followed the leader closely, with Fendi riding the plucky brown, and Daeron upon the large black.

As they approached the castle, the halflings saw it was the same defensive design as the other outposts, but made of black rock. A fair distance in front of the castle was the portal, surrounded by giants and twelve strange lightning creatures. Fendi thought they looked a bit like large bloated toads, anchored to the ground in front of the portal by long thick ropes. Glowing antennae projecting from their foreheads were suspended before wide mouths. Every so often, one of the creatures burped and lightning crackled in all directions, striking the ground with a loud explosion. Fendi noticed that the giants stayed well clear of these lightning creatures and were positioned directly in front of the portal.

The Dragon leader carrying Sienna reached the portal first and circled high around it, noting the portal could only be seen from the eastern side with no guards to the west. He surmised that the portal could only be accessed from one direction and he banked around to see the other dragons, hydra and wyvern, waiting for his lead.

“Follow me, dragons, we’ll go straight down the middle and then peel off sideways just before the portal, while sending your strongest burst of flame into the mouth of the portal to break the connection. Let’s go.”

With wings beating strongly, the grey Dragon sped straight towards the lightning creatures, with the others bravely fanning out behind in a V formation.

If you’d like to learn more about Kasper Beaumont, or purchase her books, here are a few links to assist you.

Book links:

http://www.amazon.com/Kasper-Beaumont/e/B00DQ2JB22/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_1

https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/KasperBeaumont

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/c/kasper-beaumont

Links to her website, blog and online social accounts:

http://www.huntersofreloria.weebly.com

http://www.huntersofreloria.weebly.com/ kaspers-ramblings.html

https://twitter.com/KasperBeaumont

https://www.facebook.com/huntersofreloria