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Author Interview: Sydney Paige Richardson + Excerpt

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Twin Sisters: one destined to rule, one cursed to destroy.

Some say blood is thicker than water. But for twin sisters, Adie and Aura, their connection runs even deeper than blood.
After investigating a surprise attack carried out by dark souls controlled by the Wicked Willow, an evil  residing in a neighboring region, Aura uncovers a family secret: she is the fulfillment of a curse placed upon her family centuries ago.

While Aura is destined to destroy their planet, Thindoral, Adie is fated to follow in their mother’s footsteps and become Ruler, but even Adie’s path comes with revelations. Dangerous premonitions plague her dreams, all depicting Thindoral’s demise at the hand of her sister.

As darkness takes control of her mind, Aura must determine whether defying fate and time is the choice that will seal her destruction, or if self-sacrifice will save all she holds dear. Meanwhile, Adie is faced with an impossible decision: save her sister, or protect their world?

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Author Interview:

What gave you the idea for The Halves of Us?

Honestly, it came from my dreams. I have suffered from night terrors since I was a little girl. I was going through a super stressful time in my early twenties, which makes the night terrors worse and come more often. I started to write them down because it felt like I could have some sort of control over the situation. Slowly, on the advice of a dear friend of mine, I started to merge them together and build a story.

I know there’s twins in the story, do you have a favorite?

Oh my goodness! I don’t think I can choose. I relate to them each so much. Adie has night terrors and loves whole heartedly, and Aura is headstrong and fights for what she wants and those that she loves. There are pieces of me in each of them. I can relate to them both so much.

When you write, do you outline or just go with the flow?

I think it’s a mixture. With book 1, it really was about just merging all these dreams into a story. And then I realized this was going to be more than one book. With book 2 and book 3, I outlined some of my ideas. But when I started writing book 2 of the series it really took off in a direction I wasn’t expecting in some areas (including the death of a character I didn’t even know was coming – and resulted in my crying in my cubicle on my lunch break). So, I think I do both.

If you could describe The Halves of Us in three words what would they be?

Sisterhood, choice, and darkness.

When did you first start writing?

When I was a child. I wrote my first ‘book’ in second grade called Girls. My second grade teacher laminated it for me! It was when I knew I wanted to write stories. I kept a diary/journal and mostly did terrible poetry in those in my teenage years. I always knew I wanted to write – but I needed time to grow into my voice and aesthetic. I think I am still growing and learning every day from myself and the writing community– but I am so excited about sharing my stories with the world! I think that is my next step in continuing to mature as a writer.

Did you always know where the story would go for The Halves of Us?

With this book (part one of the trilogy), I definitely knew where most of it was going. Many of the scenes are based on my actual dreams/night terrors. But just like when you are dreaming, you start in one place and then go to another – and forget how you got there, I had to fill in the blanks and build the story. I felt that I always knew how it had to end, but it didn’t really hit me how the end would play out until I was in my car listening to Pandora. This song came on called In Reverence by David Tolk. It has no words to it, but the entire music just filled me and I began crying in my car because I knew exactly what I had to write.

What’s the hardest part about writing?

I think that changes from day to day. Some days it’s self-doubt. Some days it’s finding time. Some days your creativity leaves you and you feel stuck. Some days it’s forgetting where you saved that last file and having a panic attack. I think my main struggle now is really just self-doubt and worrying that no one will love it as much as I do.

If you could become any book character for a day, who would it be and why?

Any book character EVER? Oh man I am giving two answers. Maybe three…ahh crap. This is a tough question! Here is two, a new one I just met and an old one I have loved for a while:

NEW character I have just met: Well, I just finished reading Blinding Night by Chantal Gadoury, and it was such as beautiful story – and I find myself still thinking about it. I would love to be Summer for a day. Mostly because Darce and Morpheus, but also because I love the story. ;]

OLD character I love so much: Luna Lovegood from Harry Potter because she’s weird and says random things, but she’s oddly smart and compassionate – and I think we have that in common, plus HOGWARTS.

What’s your favorite color?

I love black. It is a majority of my wardrobe. But I also love purple, various shades of blue, and emerald green [basically just all the jewel tones ever].

What other books do you have planned next?

Well book 2 and 3 of The Halves of Us trilogy come out next year through Parliament House! I hope everyone continues to follow Adie and Aura’s journey.

I am also working on another YA fantasy called The Chains that Bind about djinn that live in a parallel world to Earth and a girl that gets stuck there after a wish goes wrong. It has a few re-telling factors of old fairy tales, but has the story stands on its own.

I have a two other WIPs that are top secret! ;]

Do you have any advice for other writers?

To just keep at it. It’s tough. Some days suck. The best thing you can do is find like-minded writers who help build you up and also offer you constructive criticism. Take it all in, listen to their advice – it’s the only way you can grow.

 

Excerpt:

[Scene in Adie’s perspective] Twin sisters Adie and Aura, along with the other final year students, are being escorted down to the Room of Papers by their Uncle Gossamer. There, in the Room of Papers, they will each discover their Fates…

“We’re headed down to the former dungeon area. It hasn’t been used as a prison in hundreds of years. It’s more of an archive area now, deep inside the mountain connected to the Dome.”

Adie turned to speak to Aura, but she was no longer by her side. How does she always disappear like that? We were supposed to do this together. They reached a large door she’d never been through but had always made her curious. Or more, it had always made Aura curious.

Don’t tell Aura not to touch something, because then all she wants to do is touch it.

The Forbidden Door.

It remained locked at all times. Long, thick bars of brass bolted the silver door, crisscrossing at different angles, making the door impenetrable. Adie shuddered as she heard her mother’s voice in her head. Behind this door lies the Fates of our people, guarded by a creature most foul.

Years ago, when she and Aura would sneak through the Dome and find all the secret tunnels, no matter how hard they searched, they couldn’t find another way past this door. The only ones allowed to enter were those in their final year of Teachings. They’d always discussed going through this door together.

Gossamer shuffled with his keys, but Adie’s eyes caught a quick slide of his hand as he pulled a key from his pocket she’d never seen before. The pale key had a soft glow. Adie gazed around, wondering if anyone else had noticed.

As Gossamer turned the key, he took a step back, and they watched the brass bars shift around the door, clicking as they each moved to the side. The door shuddered as it eased open. Following Gossamer’s lead, the students shuffled in, forcing Adie forward without Aura. The dark tunnel had white vines trembling along the walls and creeping beside them as they walked through.

As they reached a spacious open room, Gossamer fumbled through his array of keys until he reached a wooden one with an elongated and bent torso. He inserted the key in the only door in the room and turned it with ease. The door creaked, and all the students watched with wide eyes.

A humpback creature unlike any Adie had seen on Thindoral, stood in the doorway, towering over Gossamer. Peachy rugged skin covered him except for the tousled hair on his large round head. A sharp beak protruded from his face, and a thin opening stretched across it, creating what Adie assumed was a smile. Sharp, silver teeth lined his grin in multiple rows, and a foul rotten smell filled the air around him as he panted breathlessly.

Gossamer faced the students. “This is Mister Dilip. He will escort you, one at a time, into the Room of Papers.”

Mister Dilip looked about the main room of the dungeon with his beady pink eyes. He clasped his hands in front of him, revealing three wrinkly fingers on each hand, and sighed with anticipation. Adie stepped forward to get a better look and listened to his gruff voice.

“You will each enter individually. It’ll seem but an instant to those who remain waiting out here, but remember, time doesn’t bind this room. There are rows. There are stacks. There are thousands of papers.” His eyes grew wider with excitement as he gazed at the students surrounding him. In a deep, raspy voice, he continued, “You’re searching for one sheet of paper. The one that’s not blank. That one will reveal your Fate. Your destiny. Welcome to the Room of Papers.”

The students peered behind him, but all they saw was darkness. “Who’s first?” he asked as one eye spun around in its socket, making his pink iris vanish. All the students stepped back in a hushed gasp, except one.

Aura.

Her distraction was obvious. Her eyes remained glued to the floor and her hands were in fists. Her gaze broke when Voke croaked loudly. An Ogre next to him grunted and hunched his shoulders, trying to disappear into the crowd.

Mister Dilip’s three fingers motioned her forward. Adie watched as Aura held her head high as she walked toward the dark room. She paused only momentarily and glanced over her shoulder. Adie forced a smile and prayed Aura would come back with a pleasing Fate. Gossamer motioned for Aura to continue, and she entered the room, disappearing into darkness as he shut the door behind her.

What seemed like only thirty seconds later, a pale-faced Aura walked out of the room. Within her trembling hands, she held a large, rectangular white sheet of paper. She walked toward Adie quickly and stood next to her sister.

“How long was I gone?”

“About thirty seconds or so,” Adie whispered.

“Seemed like an hour.” Aura said, showing Adie her paper.

“I don’t see anything.”

“And you won’t,” Mister Dilip interjected. His eye rotated again. “You alone will see the image on your own paper. You alone will see your Fate. You can’t see the Fate of others. You may only share your Fate with those it involves.” He looked around at the crowd, all the students hesitant to be next.

Adie stepped forward, nominating herself.

“Come. Come, Future Ruler.”

Adie took a deep breath and straightened her shoulders. She walked forward and into the dark room, stealing a quick glance behind her to get reassurance from Aura, but the door had disappeared. Mister Dilip, Gossamer, Aura . . . everyone was gone.

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Author bio:

Even before I could hold a pencil in my hand, I was making up stories in my head. I wrote my first book in the second grade, Girls [sorry Lena Dunham], about me and my best friends in college [because college was super cool when you were 8] who went on treasure hunts and fought bad guys with our super powers. My second grade teacher was so impressed with me, she laminated a cover and bound it. That will forever be the moment I dreamed of holding a copy of my own book and placing it on a shelf.

Now all grown up, my head still stays in the fantasy world, fashioning worlds where the power of a star can be harnessed and used for time travel, flying is just as easy as walking here on earth – and my best friends are fairies. My characters are dark and lost individuals, but your love for them will grow when you realize not everything is black and white. I am represented by Rebecca Angus at Golden Wheat Literary.

Connect with Sydney:

Facebook: @sydneypaigeauthor

Instagram: @sydneypaigedecides

Twitter: @sydsayingthings

Website: sydneypaigerichardson.com

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Dream Keeper: Review + Author Interview

Title: Dream Keeper

Author: Amber R. Duell

Date of Publication: January 29th, 2019

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The Sandman is seventeen-year-old Nora’s closest friend and best-kept secret. He has to be, if she doesn’t want a one-way ticket back to the psychiatrist. It took her too long to learn not to mention the hooded figure in her dreams to her mother, who still watches Nora as if she’ll crack. So when Nora’s friends start mysteriously dying gruesome deaths in their sleep, she isn’t altogether surprised when the police direct their suspicion at her. The Sandman is the only one she can turn to for answers. But the truth might be more than she bargained for…

For the last five years, the Sandman has spent every night protecting Nora. When he hid the secret to the Nightmare Lord’s escape inside her dreams, he never expected to fall in love with her. Neither did he think his nemesis would find her so quickly, but there’s no mistaking his cruel handiwork. The Nightmare Lord is tired of playing by the rules and will do anything to release his deadly nightmares into the world, even if that means tormenting Nora until she breaks.

When the Nightmare Lord kidnaps Nora’s sister, Nora must enter enemy territory to save her. The Sandman is determined to help, but if Nora isn’t careful, she could lose even more than her family to the darkness.

My Review:

Right off the bat, I was extremely intrigued by this book. I’ve read three other stories by Duell, so I knew the writing was going to be flawless and the story would be unique. I was not disappointed!

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First off, I’m going to say I don’t get scared or need a blanket when reading a dark or creepy book. Instead, I’m more like, heck yes that was awesome! And there was a whole bunch of fist pumping with the nightmare descriptions!

The book is told in dual POV, and I already knew Sandman would be my favorite chapters—which they were. But Nora’s were great too—she was a strong character that made choices for heself. Now, let’s get down to swoony business, the Sandman was sweet and can I just keep him in my pocket? Also, I want to go to my own private sand beach like now, have a sand whip, and kapow it against the sand, just because!

So far, this is my favorite book by the author, fab-ab-ab writing and especially the world, which was such a cool concept. Loved it! Give me the next one, now!

 

Author Interview:

What inspired you to write Dream Keeper?

When I lived in Maine, we would drive back home to NY a lot to visit my family. We got in pretty late once, and my oldest was wired at midnight because we just spent 6 hours in the car so I told him if he didn’t try to go to sleep that I would call the Sandman. (It worked, by the way! haha) Then I was sitting on the couch the day after we went back home and it hit me. I wanted to write a Sandman book. Everything stemmed from that moment.

Did you have to do any research when writing Dream Keeper?

Yes! And it was really fun. I read up on the different legends that dealt with dreams or dreaming. (The Sandman isn’t the only one in the Dark Dreamer trilogy!) Also, I researched facts about dreams and REM sleep.

Who’s your favorite character in Dream Keeper, and why?

The Sandman. He’s such a kind, genuine person. Plus cool tattoos, starlit eyes, and magic!

When you write, do you outline or just wing it?

Both. I have a vague outline with things I know need to happen, but I fill in the blanks as I go.

What’s your favorite book ever?

The Winner’s Curse! (Technically, the whole trilogy.)

What inspired you to be a writer?

My mother used to make up stories for us at bedtime and it always seemed like fun.

What’s your least favorite thing about writing?

Can I say writing? lol After the vague outline, I do an incredibly sparse draft (20-30k words) and it’s so bad. I hate everything about it, but it’s necessary since my process involved adding a bunch of layers to that base.

What other future books do you have planned?

There are two new ideas that I’m trying to decide between—a high fantasy and a contemporary fantasy.

What’s your favorite color?

Purple

Where do you see yourself in ten years?

Finally back in NY! With any luck, still writing stories to share.

Did you already know from the beginning that Dream Keeper would expand into a series?

It was originally a duology instead of a trilogy, but as I got into planning the second book, I realized it needed another.

When did you know you wanted to be a writer?

I don’t think there was ever a time that I didn’t want to.

What future books do you have planned next?

There are two new ideas that I’m trying to decide between, but first I have to write the 2nd and 3rd Dark Dreamer books.

If you could live in any fantasy world where would it be?

Any that had fairies!

What advice do you have for other writers?

Don’t get discouraged! Keep working at your craft and bringing new stories to life.

 

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Amber R. Duell is a native of Central New York but currently lives in Mississippi with her husband and two sons. She survives on caffeine and baked goods. When not reading or writing, she enjoys snowboarding, embroidering, staying up way too late to research genealogy, and discovering real-life adventures.

Stalk Amber:

Website: http://amberrduell.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/AmberR_Duell
Instagram: http://instagram.com/amberrduell/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AmberRDuellAuthor/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/15857372.Amber_R_Duell

 

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Do you remember your dreams?

 

Author Interview: Kathryn Lee Martin

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Sixteen-year-old Rags is the most feared Rustler in the world, and for good reason. When she’s not raiding the post-Yellowstone Kingdom’s established settlements for supplies to keep her frontier, Rondo, alive another day, she’s fending off witch hunt-happy villagers who want her rare blue eyes in an unmarked grave.

But when the Kingdom strikes back, kills Rags’s best friend, and sends its second-in-command to destroy Rondo in four days, Rags must make a choice: seek revenge, or save her loved ones who are trapped in a town bound for slaughter broadcast Kingdom-wide. With little more than a stolen dream to guide her, and a growing attraction to a sly Kingdom informant, Rags is about to give the Kingdom four days it’ll never forget—if the bounty on her head doesn’t get her killed first.

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It’s the one place no rustler ever wants to end up.

Having survived Rondo’s destruction, sixteen-year-old Rags has been taken captive by the Kingdom and sentenced to ‘rehabilitation’ at the Kingdom’s Threshing Floor, a notorious prison camp for hardened criminals. Those who refuse to serve the Kingdom go in…no one comes out.

Faced with this nightmarish reality, Rags is forced to use everything she knows as a rustler to survive against starvation, a cruel ward master, and torture at the hands of the Kingdom’s ruler, Hyperion. Given only two options—death, or conformation to the Kingdom’s ways—she’s forced to play the Kingdom’s twisted game.

With the help of the Kingdom’s second-in-command, Henrick Oreson, and its charismatic luresman, Colton Caelan Fieldson, Rags must find a way to play a convincingly false role she was never meant to play and show the Kingdom she can be ‘rehabilitated’ to its standards. But with the deciding evaluation rigged in the Kingdom’s favor, failure is imminent…unless she can find a way to turn lies into truth and achieve the impossible: actually, escape the Threshing Floor.

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Author Interview:

What gave you the idea to write The Bone Roses?

I’ve always been a fan of futuristic “what if” stories which led to my love of wanting to write one of my own. I tend to favor underdogs and rebels in most of my works and wanted to put myself in the shoes of a young outlaw who might be struggling in a grim future where the law has gotten out of hand to the point where every day is a test of survival. I also have a love affair with the Yellowstone supervolcano, which lead me to base the story on the “what if” aftermath of such an eruption should one ever take place. I grew up with fantasy stories and in a small town and have always loved westerns so I decided to combine elements of them to create a dark world reflective of that. What I ended up with was The Bone Roses.

Who is your favorite character in The Bone Roses?

Even though I adore writing the stories from Rags’s perspective and I have so many favorites in the story, if I have to pick one, it would have to be Henny. Henny is such a versatile character to write and he’s got a lot of secrets to explore. He has two sides to him, the soldier capable of commanding the Kingdom Corps, and a much softer, rarely seen human side to him. He has a lot of personality for a young man who plays a mostly villain role in The Bone Roses, but as the series unfolds, you see a different side to his motives for being the way he is. He’s also just fun to write, especially his interactions with Rags and Colton.

Did you always know The Bone Roses would be a series?

No. Originally The Bone Roses was supposed to be a stand-alone story with a very different ending than the one it currently has. As I sat down to actually write it though, things just sort of got out of hand and the characters wouldn’t cooperate so it sort of took on a life of its own and became a series. In a way I’m glad that it worked out that way as I adore these characters, but it was unexpected at the time.

Do you outline before you write or just go for it?

A little bit of both actually. I’ll start with a reasonably long, fairly detailed outline, but that usually ends up getting away from me because of my characters doing what they want to do in the story. I do keep an outline of the entire series overview to stick to as much as possible so I know where I am at any given point and how to get to the next arc in the story, giving it some structure, but when it comes to each individual book, it’s anyone’s guess what’s going to happen since some parts I just go for and they work.

Garden of Ashes, the sequel to The Bone Roses is about to release, do you have a favorite between the two?

Between the two of them, I prefer Garden of Ashes. Not that The Bone Roses isn’t a good book, because it is in its own right, but when it comes to character development, a few key characters take the spotlight in Garden of Ashes and we get a more in-depth view into their personal lives. Henny and Colton are good examples of this and the stakes are considerably higher in Garden of Ashes than they were in The Bone Roses. It changes the perspective of how Rags views them from how they were portrayed in The Bone Roses. We also see Rags mature quite a bit in Garden of Ashes.

Do you have any other hobbies besides writing?

I have a few. I tend a small hobby farm with a goat, donkey, border collie, and four cats. I also enjoy gardening, especially with my rose bushes. When I’m not doing that, on my limited free time, I can be found playing video games.

What’s your favorite color?

I have quite a few favorite colors (lavender purple, sage green, cyan blue, and silver) but if I have to pick one, I love the color cyan blue. It’s just one of those cool colors that I’ve always liked.

What other upcoming books do you have planned?

There are two more books in the Snow Spark Saga planned. They are Stars Over Zephyr and Count the Rain. I also have another super-secret, special project I’m ultra-excited about and have been working on called Phirestag. It’s a higher level of steampunk fantasy and the first in a series known as the TimeFeather Chronicles that I’m hoping to share with the world relatively soon. Beyond that, there are a few other projects in the works, but right now my focus is on the Snow Spark Saga and TimeFeather Chronicles.

If you could re-read one book forever, which one would it be?

Quite honestly, this was a tough one because I haven’t really found that one special book yet that I’d want to re-read forever. One of these days I’ll find it but for now, I’m just enjoying the wide variety of amazing works that many amazing writers are putting out there into the world.

What advice do you have for other writers?

Practice your craft as much as you can and don’t let the bad parts about it discourage you from writing. It’s tough out there in the publishing world and not everyone is going to like your work, accept it, want to read it, etc. Many people will love it of course, so don’t think it’s all doom and gloom because it isn’t but writing is not for the faint of heart. You will have days where you feel like giving up, aren’t good enough, and so on. Just remember during those times that you’re writing, you’re creating something amazing, and it’s all being done by you. Enjoy the journey. Learn to dance with the words you’re writing. Embrace your craft and realize that no matter what, you’re a writer and one way or another, you’re going to make it. You have something only you can write to share with the world and that makes it all the more special.

Author Photo Kathryn

Author Bio:

Kathryn Lee Martin, known as ‘Ryn’ by friends and colleagues, spends her days saddling up the literary horse and hitting the “what if” trails on a quest to tell the outlaws’ and underdogs’ stories. Not one to shy away from the darker side of stories for the older young adult audience, her works often explore impossible odds and dire futures, falling into a fusion of post-apocalyptic science fiction meets the gritty lawlessness of the old west with a dash of fantasy and steampunk. Putting her unfortunate characters in situations where faith and fighting often go hand in hand, she’s not afraid to make things difficult for them and when she’s not corrupting society on paper, she’s usually leading the rebellion to save it.

Connect with Kathryn:

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

Twitter: https://twitter.com/RynSageQuill

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/rynsagequill/

Website: https://www.rynleewrites.com/

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What kind of world would you want the future to have?

Stolen: Cover Reveal + Author Interview with Marlena Frank

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About Stolen:

It’s difficult taking care of a delusional father by yourself. Sixteen-year-old Shaleigh Mallet would rather explore and photograph dilapidated buildings than cater to her father’s dark episodes. But when she’s kidnapped by a creature who carries her atop a flying bicycle into another world, she realizes this wasn’t the escape she wanted.

In a kingdom known as the Garden, where minotaurs pull carriages and parties are held in hot air balloons, Madam Cloom and her faerie servant, Teagan, rule over the land with incredible but terrifying magic. Shaleigh must prove that she is the reincarnation of a long-dead ruler, not because she believes it, but because it’s her only chance to survive. With the help of a trespassing faerie, a stoatling, and a living statue, Shaleigh hopes to outwit everyone. She aims to break the bonds of servitude and finally make her way home. What she doesn’t realize, however, is that she’s playing right into the hands of a far worse enemy…

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About The She-Wolf of Kanta:

“A pair of yellow eyes caught the moonlight and locked onto hers.”

Mercy has always dreamed of becoming a werewolf trapper like her father. In Kanta, one must learn how to survive one way or another. A dark-skinned, blue-eyed young beauty, Mercy understands that she brings out the beast in monsters and men. When a routine werewolf delivery turns into a vicious assault from a pair of human traffickers, Mercy’s life changes forever. Somehow she must endure in a dangerous city where women and werewolves are hunted.

Intro for The She-Wolf of Kanta:

The crickets were deafening as moonlight streamed down through the branches. Mercy’s pulse rang in her ears and her entire body was tense. Her left calf kept cramping up, but she ignored it. A moment’s delay when the beast showed its face could mean a gory death. She couldn’t fail tonight, not after months of practice. Behind her she knew Father was watching, and she wondered if he felt as nervous. The forest was deceptively peaceful, but Father said they were close, and that if she remembered her training, she could hear them, too.

She got into position in the middle of the clearing with her foot poised above the pedal switch. She tried to calm her mind and focus. The clamor of crickets surrounded them, but that was merely wrapping the noises beneath. She tried to listen closer. She heard an owl in a tree, her father’s raspy breaths, and the heavy, padding paws of the beast stalking her. Her mouth was dry and her body began to tremble. Father had said she would panic, that it was a normal reaction to facing one in the wild for the first time. That was the deciding moment, he had said. She needed to keep control of herself, but that was so much easier when she knew they weren’t near, when she knew it was safe.

Then she saw it. Through a thick patch of bushes, a pair of yellow eyes caught the moonlight and locked on to hers. Mercy froze. It was said when you looked into a werewolf’s eyes, you felt how easy it would be to become its prey. Facing one required both a strong mind and a strong body. It was as much a mind game as a physical one, and never had Mercy felt so small and insignificant. She had a very sensible and primal urge to run away. There was no way to prepare for that moment, Father had told her. That was the gamble of going trapping to begin with, whether or not you would be able to contain the urge to flee. She felt her legs shake but forced herself to stay rooted to the spot. If she ran, both she and her father could be torn apart.

When the werewolf lunged forward, the only thing Mercy could think of was how big it was.

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Author Interview:

How did you come up with the idea for She-Wolf of Kanta?

So people are usually surprised that research into the history of slavery led to the creation of Mercy’s story. In the novella, I focus on werewolves not only as monsters, but as metaphors for human trafficking. I thought of a city that depended on werewolves in order to survive, and the limping city of Kanta was born.

What did you love the best about the main character in She-Wolf of Kanta?

I love Mercy’s fearlessness. She has hurdle after hurdle thrown at her, and yet she refuses to give up. So many times in her story it would be easier just to stop fighting, but she doesn’t. She’s both inspiring and at times a little terrifying in her determination, and I love her for it.

Do you outline before writing or just go with it?

I try to outline at least the first few chapters before I hop in to start writing. That way if I struggle trying to get the storyline to start, I can fall back on the outline to remember my direction. Usually I already have in mind what beats I need to hit throughout the novel. I know where the characters need to go, but not always how to get them there. Toward the end of the book, I may go back to outline the ending as well, especially if it is a complex ending.

What made you decide to want to be a writer?

I was an avid reader as a kid. Once I got done with classwork, books were my reward, and I devoured so many of them. My passion for writing went in and out over the years, and then I participated in NaNoWriMo for the first time in 2010. It gave me such a confidence boost to finish the first draft of an original novel that I decided to try writing short stories. Now I’m writing novels on a regular basis.

You have a new book coming out next year titled, Stolen. Can you tell us a little bit about it?

Stolen is my debut novel that is coming January 22nd from The Parliament House. It’s about Shaleigh, a young, black urban explorer who prefers to investigate and photograph abandoned buildings instead of dealing with her delusional father. It tackles some pretty heavy topics of mental illness and what it’s like to be the child taking care of a parent. Then Shaleigh gets kidnapped by a creature that clearly isn’t human.

Taken away from her friends and family, Shaleigh finds herself in a land filled with dangerous creatures and untrustworthy people. She must navigate the tricky political world of the Garden and prove that she is the reincarnation of the previous Master of the Garden. Along the way she befriends a talking statue named Mawr, a stoatling named Colin, and a trespassing faerie. She plans to outwit the dangerous Madam Cloom to make her escape back home.

Stolen is book one of a three-part series, which I’m happy to say will all be released from The Parliament House. The cover is just fabulous and I can’t wait to introduce readers to this unique and fantastic world!

Who is your favorite character in Stolen and why?

That is a tough question because I love all of them so much! But if I had to choose, I think it would be Talek, the trespassing faerie. He’s quite the character and shows up just in the nick of time to help out. He works closely with Shaleigh to assist her on her journey. He’s sexy, determined, and charismatic – what’s not to like?

What other future books are you working on next?

I’m actually working on the sequel to Stolen, titled Broken. This will be a continuation of the Stolen Series and will be coming soon from The Parliament House – as soon as I finish them of course!

I’ve also recently finished another YA Horror novel titled The Seeking, about a young teen who must hide with her siblings once a year to keep from being captured by her hometown. I’m hoping to be shopping this book around soon, so expect to see more about this one!

What hobbies do you have besides writing?

Outside of writing, I love watching movies. Anything with fantasy, or even better dark fantasy, grabs my attention immediately. Horror movies that border the fantasy line like Pan’s Labyrinth for example are absolutely fantastic to me. I guess I grew up in the 80s and got exposed to some fantastic dark fantasy children’s films so I was a little spoiled!

I’m also an active member of the Atlanta cosplay community! I cosplay both anime and comic book characters – usually the villains. You can usually find me at the big conventions around Atlanta, including DragonCon, MomoCon, and AWA. I’ve also organized and presented fan panels at conventions, put together a Cosplay Music Video, and been a photographer for our cosplay troupe, Black Knight Productions Cosplay.

If you could be one other person for a day, past, present, or fictional, who would it be?

I would actually love to be Jessica Rabbit from Who Framed Roger Rabbit. Not only would I get to be sexy and sleuthing around the streets of Toon Town on a regular basis, but I also would get to be a jazzy lounge singer. That honestly sounds too cool!

What’s your favorite color?

I would just say green, but it’s a very specific green. It’s the color of the first leaves in spring, that light yellow-green color that signifies that winter is finally ending. I love it.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Don’t give up. Being an author today is an uphill battle the whole way. Keep reading, keep writing, and keep learning about the industry. There are so many ways to get your works out there! Find what works best for you and figure out how to make your dreams come true.

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Marlena Frank has always been fascinated with monsters, and now gets to write about them. She has been writing spooky and fantastic stories since 2010 and has had her short stories published in a number of anthologies, from Heroic Fantasy Quarterly to The Sirens Call.
Her YA Dark Fantasy novella, The She-Wolf of Kanta, was released in April 2018 from Radiant Crown Publishing. Her debut novel, Stolen, book one of a three-part YA Fantasy series, is coming out January 2019 from The Parliament House. When she isn’t thinking up strange tales, she loves watching movies and she’s an active member in the Atlanta cosplay community.

Connect with Marlena:

Blog: http://marlenafrankauthor.com/

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

Instagram: http://instagram.com/authorlenafrank/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/MarlenaFrank

Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/lenaf007/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5258802.Marlena_Frank

Amazon: http://amazon.com/author/marlenafrank

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Author Interview: Brandy Woods Snow

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Rayne Davidson is perfectly happy fading into the background. Her mama’s antics garner enough attention in their small Southern town for the both of them, but when Rayne catches the eye of all-star QB, Preston Howard, she’s enamored with the possibilities. Too bad Preston doesn’t make her heart thump—but his brother does.

Gage Howard doesn’t mind the town’s stares, probably because he doesn’t get them. Growing up in his older brother’s shadow, Gage shrugs off the endless parade of girls Preston brings home—until Rayne.

But there are unwritten rules that shouldn’t be broken, like cheating on your boyfriend or betraying your brother. Rayne and Gage deny their growing attraction, neither willing to hurt Preston—until the town finds out.

They think overcoming the gossip will be the hardest obstacle.

They’re wrong.

Rayne’s mama has a secret, and its revelation could divide the town, the families, and the new couple.

Can love really exist if it’s all built on a lie?

 

Author Interview: Brandy Woods Snow, author of MEANT TO BE BROKEN (a Carolina Clay novel) released July 2018 from Filles Vertes Publishing

What was the inspiration for Meant to be Broken?
I originally wrote a prologue for MEANT TO BE BROKEN more than 12 years ago while sitting in a tiny, blue cubicle on my lunch break from a corporate job. I sent the file to my email where I let it sit until 2015 when I finally began writing the actual story. (Ironically that terrible prologue didn’t make the cut!) I guess my inspiration really came from something as simple as wanting to write a small-town love story. It was when I actually started writing that some of the underlying themes began to come out—the love/hate relationship with a small town; Southern culture and how it affects expectations of behavior; the thin line between truth and lies; and even religious undercurrents. Growing up in a place where everyone knows your name can be both comforting and constricting. I found my characters doing exactly what I was doing at the time of writing—stepping out of “my box” and embracing my true self. Some people support that, and some people don’t.

Do you have a favorite character in your book? Who and why?
Of course, I love both Rayne and Gage. They are so special to me (see how I talk about them like actual people?). If I have to choose, though, I’d say Rayne, for the simple fact that she reminds me so much of myself. She tries to be confident but the insecurities creep in; She has strong opinions but she’s afraid to voice them all the time; She says she doesn’t care what people think of her but she spends her life worrying what everyone will say. I like to think that while I was writing this, she and I grew up together and finally found our true selves.

Do you usually outline or just go with it?
The first draft of MEANT TO BE BROKEN was completely pantsted. I had an overall idea of what I wanted the main turning points to be, but that was pretty much it. After that first draft “wasn’t working” though, I took it back to basics and plotted out some new scenes and put it all into a very formulaic pattern. The flow and pacing improved significantly. It was a learning curve. As I write now, I plot most scenes and turning points with the plot and character advancement goals for each, but I can honestly say I’m not tied to anything. If I begin writing and a character begins pulling me in their own direction, I go. It’s more important to be true to the character and story than some random notecard I put together in the beginning.

Without me giving spoilers, did you always know who Rayne would end up with or did you question yourself at time?
I always knew it would be HIM.  I’m a bleeding heart romantic who fully believes that the decision your heart (not your head) makes is the right one—you know, that whole “love” versus “in love” thing. The guy Rayne chooses in the end is the one who knew her—all of her—and still wanted more. He wasn’t the popular choice, but he was her choice. Rayne had to learn to get herself and other people out of her own way to become the person she was meant to be in order for it to finally work. Sounds easy enough, right? But try growing up in a small town where everyone has an opinion. Sometimes it becomes a matter of “do I live their version of life?” or “do I live mine?” When Rayne finally makes that decision, the choice is clear.

When did you know you wanted to be a writer?
Since age 4 when I read THE POKEY LITTLE PUPPY. It was the first book I ever read by myself, and I was sold on the wonder of books. At age 6, I begin typing out stories on a typewriter and illustrating them. I dabbled in poetry a bit in elementary school and wrote several emotionally-charged pieces about navigating bullies in high school. I majored in English and Writing at Clemson, though I pursued a journalism focus since everyone warned me that you can’t expect to make a living writing books. I’ve worked in corporate communications, marketing, and magazine writing/editorial for nearly 18 years now but the desire to write a novel never left me. In 2015, I moved that dream off the back burner, and here we are today.

What’s your favorite book you’ve read this year? And what’s your favorite book ever?
My favorite book I’ve read this year has to be WORDS IN DEEP BLUE by Cath Crowley because it deals with true love finding its way back after so many emotional hurdles. And who doesn’t adore love letters?
I have two favorite books of all time: PRIDE AND PREJUDICE (obviously) and THE GRAPES OF WRATH. I’ve always adored these books and now, looking back, I can guess why. One deals with finding love and one deals with emotional suffering and finding your way as a family through various trials. Both are right up my alley.
What future books do you have planned next?
I’m currently writing Book 2 in the Carolina Clay series, which will focus on the rejected brother and his HEA/HFN.
I’m also querying another completed YA contemporary romance as we speak and have put down extensive notes and a rough first chapter on “the book of my heart” that deals heavily with an issue close/dear to me. I’m being intentionally vague here because right now, I’m keeping it under wraps. 

If you could live in any year or another fantasy world, what would it be?
I’ve always thought it would be so much fun to live in the 1950s and 60s with all the big hair-dos and drive-ins and rock and roll music. Maybe that’s from listening to a crap-ton of oldies growing up? LOL

I know you’re a Southern girl, what’s your favorite part about it?
The lifestyle. I feel like I have the best of all worlds here. From big city to rural backroads, you can go from one extreme to the other in a matter of miles. The food. The weather. The fact that strangers still wave to each other and say hello. The unique places. My biggest dream is to drive cross-country and see everything America has to offer, but there’s no doubt in my mind that the South (and more specifically, South Carolina) is my home and my heart.

What’s your favorite color?
I have two, blue (any hue) and orange (Clemson Tiger orange, to be specific!).

If you were trapped on an island with one person, one object, and one food, what would they be?
This is so easy—my husband, notebooks (and pens!), and macaroni and cheese (not the box variety but the good Southern kind in a casserole dish).

Do you have any advice for other writers out there?
There are four points of advice I always tell writers, and I don’t foresee this ever changing.
1. Find your tribe
Critique partners are the bee’s knees, y’all! Don’t trust yourself to see all the mistakes and plot holes in your own work because it’s not going to happen. The book you’re writing is already in your brain but you cannot see if you’re translating it to the paper efficiently. Fresh eyes make all the difference. Find a core group of honest, talented CP’s and your writing life will change for the better!
2. Read in your genre
Please do this. You want to learn how to show and not tell? Read. You want to know how to develop character voice? Read. You want more information on building character motivation? Read. See what other authors are doing. See what publishers are looking for. Gather all this great information while also taking in a great story, and then use that to hone your own craft. Gold mine!
3. Throw away limitations
You know that whole quote about “dance like no one’s looking”? Well, modify that to “write like no one’s looking.” I can’t tell you how many times in the beginning I found myself censoring my own words because someone I knew might not like what I was saying. For real, y’all. There goes those weight of expectations again, thrown all over your shoulders. Brush that junk off and write what’s in your heart. Quit caring if Aunt “sew and sew” will banish you to Hell or tell the Ladies League about your “free-wheeling” style. WRITE.WHAT.YOU.WANT.
4. Persevere
You’re going to want to give up. You’re going to feel defeated, rejected, worn out, and sometimes unloved. It’s a part of the whole experience. But this is your dream. Remember that when the sucky stuff happens. And just like I tell my kids, “Any dream worth having is worth fighting for.” It’s not going to be easy…it’s not supposed to be. If it were easy, everyone would do it. You are not “everyone.” You’re an author, so get back up and see this through!

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About Brandy:

Brandy Woods Snow is an author and journalist born, raised and currently living in beautiful Upstate South Carolina. She has a Bachelor of Arts degree in English with a minor in Writing from Clemson University. While creative writing has always been her first love, the media has been her home for more than 17 years, during which time she has built a strong platform that includes articles in Delta Sky, Greenville Business Magazine, Columbia Business Monthly, and Home Design & Décor magazine (Charlotte, Raleigh). She has also worked in corporate communications, public relations and business development for international and regional companies. Her first novel Meant To Be Broken, the first book in the Carolina Clay series, was published by Filles Vertes Publishing in July 2018.

When Brandy’s not writing, reading, spending time with her military husband or driving carpool for her three kids, she enjoys kayaking, family hikes, yelling “Go Tigers!” as loud as she can, playing the piano and taking “naked” Jeep Wrangler cruises on twisty, country roads.

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Author Interview: Gregory Funaro

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Goodreads Summary:

The Mysterious Benedict Society meets The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place in this gothic-tinged, jacketed middle grade fantasy by New York Times bestselling author Gregory Funaro.

In a world where magic exists, Lucy and Oliver Tinker will need to rely on their wits and each other if they want to survive…

Deep within an enchanted woods in the tiny town of Watch Hollow sits the once-grand Blackford House. But make no mistake, Blackford House is no ordinary home. In its walls dwells a grand cuckoo clock whose ticking tells more than the time. But when the clock’s gears cease to turn, the evil that lurks outside starts to come in from the shadows.

Of course, when Lucy and Oliver Tinker and their father arrive in Watch Hollow, they have no idea that anything evil is afoot. They’ve been brought to this rundown home in this isolated small town by an offer from a mysterious stranger that’s too good for them to refuse. All Mr. Tinker needs to do is restore the house’s clock and fistfuls of gold coins are his to keep. But it doesn’t take long for Lucy and Oliver to realize that far more than the clock needs saving. It quickly becomes clear that both the magic within the house’s walls and the animal guardians that are charged with protecting it are in dire need of help.

As Lucy and Oliver learn about the magical world they’ve stumbled onto, the shadow woods beyond their front door grows stronger, and an evil emerges intent on capturing the clock animals and destroying everything the Tinkers hold dear. It’s a fantastical adventure by the author of the New York Times bestselling Alistair Grim’s Odditorium series, Gregory Funaro.

Author Interview: Gregory Funaro

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How did you come up with the idea for Watch Hollow?

I was approached with an in-house proposal by Abby Ranger when she was a senior editor at HarperCollins. Abby was amazing to work with, and her original idea sparked the genesis for a story I ended up working out with David Linker—another senior editor at HarperCollins. David was awesome, and really helped me narrow the focus of story and polish the plot. The ideas of alchemy, wooden animals that come alive at night and the monster in the woods—as well as the relationship between those woods and the house—were all there from the beginning. However, the story has changed drastically from the original proposal, and evolved over the course of three different drafts and two false starts.

Who’s your favorite character in Watch Hollow?

It’s a tie between Lucy and Oliver. So much of the story is about how the children learn to cope with the death of their mother. They are both on a journey toward self-discovery and healing—or the symbolic “balance” in the book—and yet the paths they take are very different. The story is told from their alternating points of view, so it’s hard for me to choose one over the other. I love them both.

Do you have a favorite book you’ve written? Why?

I would say right now it’s Watch Hollow. It was such a challenging but rewarding experience, and I learned so much from working with Abby and David. I also learned a lot about myself as a writer, and think I’m better because of this process (at least I hope I am). I also just love the characters and the world, which is much smaller than the expansive universe in my Disney series. The whole process felt much more intimate, and forced me to explore the characters more.

When you write a book do you outline first, or just write?

When I first started writing, I didn’t outline at all. I tried, but found that it inhibited me creatively. My first few books were written with vague ideas where the story was going, which allowed the characters to take me along for the ride. With Watch Hollow, however, I was asked by my editor to outline a couple drafts, as well as the sequel, and I have really come to appreciate that component of the process.

Did you have to do any research for Watch Hollow?

Oh yes! Lots of research on clocks, alchemy, different spiritual philosophies, as well as how children cope with grief. And even though I am originally from Rhode Island, I also needed to reacquaint myself with the area in which the fictional town of Watch Hollow is set.

What’s your favorite thing about writing? Least favorite?

Stephen King put it best when he said he wrote simply “for the pure joy of the thing.” That about sums it up for me. Least favorite? Writer’s block. That sucks big time.

What’s your favorite color?

Green

What’s your favorite book you’ve ever read?

Watership Down

What do you like best about middle grade books?

I really haven’t matured much since seventh grade, so I feel right at home inhabiting the world of kids that age when I’m writing. I think adults forget how complex children are, so the most rewarding part of the experience is presenting young characters with problems that adults couldn’t possibly solve because… well, because they’re adults. When it comes right down to it, I think I just try to write stories that I would want to read when I was a kid. And that is a lot of fun!

Do you have any advice for writers?

Again, I defer to Stephen King. His book, On Writing, should be required reading for anyone in the profession. I wish I had read it sooner…

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Author Interview: R.J. Garcia + Giveaway

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Summary:

Mystery surrounds the town of Summertime, Indiana, where fifteen-year-old Tommy Walker and his little sister are sent to live with relatives they’ve never met. Tommy soon makes friends with Finn Wilds, a rebellious local who lives with his volatile and abusive stepfather, who also happens to be the town’s sheriff.

Finn invites Tommy to late night meetings in the woods, where Tommy gets to know two girls. He forms a special and unique connection with both girls. The meetings become a place where the kids, who don’t fit in at school, or home can finally belong. As the group of friends begin to unravel clues to a cold case murder and kidnapping— they learn the truth is darker and closer than they ever imagined. Even if they live to tell, will anyone believe them?

A sense of fragility

Author Interview:

What inspired you to write Nocturnal Meetings of the Misplaced?

It was a combination of my experience working with foster kids and my interest in cold-case crime shows that inspired this story.

Who is your favorite character in Nocturnal Meetings of the Misplaced and why?

Tommy because he took on an adult role early in his young life and loved his family so deeply. This was a trait I admired so much in some of the kids I worked with in foster care. I have seen many children not only taking care of younger siblings and their parents or parent until they can’t hold things together and the authorities get involved.

I was probably the most like Annie as a teenager. I was shy but weird. I was good at making others feel better but had trouble defending myself.

What made you want to become a writer?

I liked to make-up stories ever since I can remember and used my imagination as an escape. After working as a social worker, I collected a lot of stories along the way.

Do you outline your stories first?

I plan things out in my head but not on paper. Sometimes a scene comes in my head that will play out later in the story, but I go ahead and write it out.

Do you have a favorite scene in Nocturnal Meetings of the Misplaced?

Probably when Tommy gets the kiss, he always wanted. After tutoring our characters, we have to give them a few happy moments.

What are you working on next?

I am working on two manuscripts. One is contemporary YA suspense, and the other is Si-Fi and the craziest idea I ever had. Hopefully, I can pull it off,

What’s your favorite color?

It changes, but currently, I love cobalt blue.

What’s your favorite book ever? It is so hard to choose just one. I have said it was The Outsiders by SE Hinton because it was the first book I loved.

If you could watch one movie over and over, what would it be?

I like scary movies and dramas but not to watch over and over. In that case, I think it would be a movie with a great soundtrack like Maybe Mulan Rouge or The Wedding Singer. It might be a Disney movie, I love them.

Do you have any advice for writers?

I’m still in the stage where I’m seeking advice. I could say never give up. My brother stuttered as a kid, and I have dyslexia. He is a lawyer now, and I have published my first novel. If you want something bad enough, you can do it.

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What sort of place would you like to have a late night meeting?