Book Review Alert: Soul Strung by Rachel Hobbs

Reviewed: November 3rd, 2021
Released: November 2nd, 2021
Genre: Dark Fantasy

A deliciously dark and turbulant paranormal fantasy, with characters that will inveigle their way into your affections, even though you know one of them shouldn’t!

Battleworn Ruby is putting her darkest days behind her, and where better to start again than the bustling Callien city? Too good to be true, when the demon of her past comes crashing back into her life, the warning he carries with him leaves it in pieces. Where Drayvex goes, chaos and mayhem trail in his wake. And she’s bound to him tighter than ever before.

Scheming Drayvex has been busy: chasing the demon turned traitor from world to world, keeping furtive tabs on the girl with a piece of his soul; oh, and running a demon empire. Concerned Ruby will be discovered alive, he enlists her on a hunt for the lapis temporis, an object that can quite literally turn back time, to fix old mistakes and kill their mutual enemy in the past. He’s done playing games.

Power-starved Saydor is on the run. Converting to his cause one underdog at a time, his eyes and ears are everywhere. You can’t kill what you can’t find, and Saydor’s covert talent is deadly. The bigger you are, the harder you fall. And he’s just getting started.

But when you are playing for time itself, how do you know when you’ve been here before? Read More…

Book Review Alert: The Spinning of Deception by Elizabeth Lavender.

Reviewed: October 30th, 2021
Released: October 25th, 2019
Genre: Science Fiction

With the fate of his people on the line, the truth is his greatest weapon…Eighteen-year-old Dante refuses to let evil conquer the galaxy. And the fact that his own father acts as the instrument of a dark lord’s unrelenting destruction only makes it harder. But when Dante learns a mysterious warrior has strange visions of his family, he discovers she may hold the key to defeating his father.

As sinister attacks threaten more and more planets, he fears their purpose is to prepare for an ultimate showdown. But with clues scarce and the girl’s mission to help him turning deadly, Dante might be running out of time before those he swore to protect are doomed.

Can the young hero unravel the mystery and win freedom for the universe?

The Spinning of Deception is the enthralling first book in the Sunspear science fiction series. If you like epic tales of the battle against darkness, intriguing characters, and dangerous adventures, then you’ll love Elizabeth Lavender’s star-spanning saga. Read More…

Book Review Alert: Dreams of Darkness and Desire by B.L Cagle.

Reviewed: October 26th, 2021
Released: October 26th, 2021
Genre: Paranormal Fantasy

On the surface, everything about Kira Lockwood is a picture of perfection — an amazing best friend, a loving boyfriend, and a promising future in ballet. But beneath it all, she’s plagued with unusual dreams and nightmares. And to make things more complicated, the man who haunts those very dreams has just moved in down the street. Their attraction is undeniable, but she struggles to understand why he torments her at night while she sleeps.

Blake Michaelson is a handsome and powerful centuries-old warlock. He and his three brothers have been searching for one thing – Kira Lockwood. Though she doesn’t know it, she is a descendent of the first Supra Virtutem, a witch with the ability to harness the ultimate power. He and his brothers have spent a lifetime, hunting others like them, and claiming their magic as their own. To ensure their immortality, Blake must complete the Order of Three: claim her body, take her blood, and end her life.

Kira can’t ascend and harness her power until her 21st birthday but her magic lives within her and her light recognizes the darkness. Will Blake complete his mission or will the power within her be enough to save her? Read More…

Book Review Alert: Memory of Wings by Emily Michel

Reviewed: October 24th, 2021
Released: September 14th, 2021
Genre: Paranormal Fantasy

The last time he followed his heart, Shax ended up in Hell. This time, it just might be his only salvation.

Once Lucifer’s most feared assassin, Shax is stuck on Earth and tormented by the need to find the one who got away. Outrunning supposed friends and definite foes, he takes refuge in Kansas City. It isn’t long before he comes face-to-face with his quarry, the angel Kheone. The smart choice would be to kill her, but for reasons he does not want to examine, he rescues her instead. Now embroiled in the events that closed the Gates to Heaven and Hell, Shax must decide between love and saving his own skin.

Loyal and lethal, Kheone pursues the demons roaming the Earth with single-minded ferocity, fulfilling her purpose to protect humankind. When her friend dies under circumstances eerily similar to the explosion that cast her out of Heaven, she makes a deal with Shax to track down the killer. Struggling to trust her new partner, Kheone fights her growing bond with the demon as they discover the pieces to a puzzle that just might reopen the ways back to Heaven and Hell. Working with a demon has Kheone questioning the very nature of good and evil, testing her loyalty to the Archangel Michael and all the angels trapped on Earth. Read More…

Author Interview – Kelly Evans

Author of The Beggar Queen

I am so happy to chat with historical fiction author Kelly Evans, today. I’ve read Kelly’s gothic horror novella The Strange Tale of Miss Victoria Frank and you can find my review here, but today we are talking about Kelly’s latest novel The Beggar Queen which released on August 6th. Welcome Kelly. Let’s start with you introducing your latest novel.

Kelly: My current novel is The Beggar Queen, recently released! It takes place in Seventh Century France and tells the story of Bathilde, kidnapped from England and sold into slavery to a powerful mayor. She thinks her life is over but when the king notices her, everything changes. He marries her but when, in the fashion of Merovingian kings, he dies early, she rules on behalf of her young son. By the end of her life Bathilde had changed the face of France forever.

Helen: This sounds really interesting, sometimes real history is more exciting than fiction! What can you tell us about the cover? I am assuming this Bathilde?

Kelly:The cover for The Beggar Queen shows the main character, Bathilde, in the chemise she chose to wear when she retired to a monastery. The chemise is based on her actual clothing, still kept in the monastery she founded in Chelles, France. When she gave up the riches of her life, she had a jewelled cross embroidered on the front to remind her of the life she once led.

Helen: She sounds like an extraordinary woman who lived an extradorinary life. What made you choose to write her story?

Kelly: I like bringing little known women in history out of the footnotes of the (mostly) men and telling their stories. There are so many amazing women whose stories need to be told, it’s difficult to chose. Bathilde’s story is my third about obscure women. The first is about Aelfgifu, the first wife of Canute the Great. The second is about Edith of Wessex, the wife of Edward the Confessor.

Helen: They all sound equally amazing. As they say, ‘behind every successful man is a strong woman’, I think they didn’t have any choice but to be strong. There was never anyone standing behind them. Which genre to write? This is Historical fiction, isn’t it?

Kelly: Historical fiction (with a side in historical horror!). I’ve always been interested in history; my first degree is in English Lit and History. When I moved to England there was no way NOT to be fascinated, particularly the medieval period, with so many still-standing buildings to visit. Re the horror, I’ve been a horror fan from childhood, I used to watch old monster movies with my dad on Sunday afternoons. It made sense for me to combine history and horror, so I wrote a book that takes place during the black death and added a little undead goodness. As much research went into that book (and the second one in the series) as my straight up historical fiction.

Helen: I would imagine there is a lot of research, as you have to get your historical facts spot on when writing about real people, even if you are putting your own spin on it. How much research did you have to do?

Kelly: I’m a huge proponent of being as accurate as I can in my novels. It can sometimes take months of research before I even start writing, and then I’ll do additional research as I go along. My job is to make scenes in my novels as realistic and immersive as possible without sounding like a high school history paper. I extend this idea to the free articles on my website, including the series of articles I’ve written by the fictional medieval manor owner, Lady Matilda. She offers advice about everything from running your manor to beauty tips to entertaining during the black death. Despite the tongue-in-cheek delivery, the same amount of research goes into those articles as any book I write.

Helen: Sounds like there is as much work, if not more in the resarch than in the book. I am glad you get other uses out of the information you learn. It must be fascinating. Lady Matilda sounds like she knows a thing or too! What made you start writing?

Kelly: This is kind of a cop out answer but I don’t really know. In high school I used to write a short story (as part of a series) in my last class of the day and leave it in my friend’s locker for her to read the next morning. She began reading them to her homeroom class and, after a while, I discovered I had a bit of a following. It was fun so I guess that’s where I really ‘caught’ the writing bug. I’ve been writing both fiction and non-fiction ever since.

Helen: As you have to do so much research do you plan your novels, or do you still find that you are a bit of a panster?

Kelly: Absolutely a planner! It’s difficult to be a pantser when you write historical fiction, you really need to stick to the historical timeline accurately. I also find being a planner means there’s less major editing to do once the story is done because you’ve already worked out all the major plot lines and issues. I also worked as a project manager for trade software platforms before I retired to write full time so my brain kind of works in that logical manner anyway.

Helen: You are fortunate to be able to write full time, I am so jealous! Do you have a set space set up for writing?

Kelly: I have an office in my back room with a window facing the deck and yard. Every so often I’ll look up and just stare out the window for a moment to give my eyes a break. I also have everything I need to hand, including three shelves full of history books!

Helen: Tell us about your current work in progress; who are you writing about?

Kelly: I’m currently researching Seventeenth Century Bologna and Baroque art for my, as yet unnamed, novel about the artist Elisabetta Sirani. She trained under her father and when he fell ill was responsible for looking after her entire family with her art. She started her own art school for women and her art was desired in Bologna by the rich and famous. Sadly, she died young due to the stress of supporting her family.

Photo by Camila Camacho on Unsplash

Helen: With so much research needed for your own books, do you ever have time to read novels for pleasure?

Kelly: I’m currently reading The Conjurer by Luanne G Smith. It’s the third part of a trilogy about a vine witch and the further stories of her two associates. I love the idea of a winery having a dedicated vine witch to help the grapes (the first book), and the follow-on tales of her friends are an easy, entertaining, supernatural read. Perfect at the end of a day of heavy research.

Helen: I loved the Vine Witch, and I have the second book on my kindle tbr pile. I will get to it soon! Tell us something random, or anecdotal about yourself.

Kelly: I’m able to play music by ear ie I can pick up any instrument and, after a few minutes, play it. I took clarinet in school and still actively play tenor recorder (the big, deep-sounding one – I play mostly medieval music), oboe, guitar, and I recently took up the ukulele.

I’ve led a somewhat charmed life. I’ve been inside the Great Pyramid of Giza, been on Austrian television, flown an airplane, worked in one of the world’s greatest museums, and so much more. I try to try as much as I can!

Helen: Thank you so much for joining me today, Kelly. It’s been lovely meeting you. It is so interesting to find out more about these hidden women of history. I am glad you are bringing them out into light. Just to close us out, what advice would you give to new writers just starting out.

Kelly: Try to write every day, but don’t beat yourself up if you can’t – life gets in the way and you have to be flexible. Be wary of adjectives (and adverbs too!). Never stop trying to perfect your craft – you’re never too good or too experienced to stop learning.

About the Author:

Born in Canada of Scottish extraction, Kelly Evans graduated in History and English from McMaster University in Ontario, Canada. After graduation, she moved to the UK where she worked in the financial sector. While in London Kelly continued her studies in history, focussing on Medieval England. 

Kelly is now back in Ontario with her husband Max and two rescue cats. Her books include The Confessor’s Wife, The Northern Queen, The Mortecarni, and Revelation (all set in Medieval Europe), Elizabeth: Path to the Throne (Tudor England), and The Strange Tale of Miss Victoria Frank (gothic novella). 

When not writing, Kelly loves reading, music (she plays a pretty mean ukulele and some wicked medieval recorder), and watching really bad old horror and science fiction movies. Preferably ones with large insects or lizards. And with a LOT of popcorn. Really a lot.

You can find more about Kelly via:

Author website

Twitter

Amazon Author page

You can purchase Kelly’s books from Amazon:

The Beggar Queen

UK: eBook | Paperback

USA: eBook | Paperback

As an Amazon Associate I may earn commission from purchases made using these links.

Author Interview – Rachel Hobbs

Author of The Stones of Power series

I am so happy to be chatting to fantasy author Rachel Hobbs today. Her second fantasy novel Soul Strung launches on November 2nd, and if you haven’t read Shadow Stained yet, you should! Welcome Rachel. Let’s start with you introducing your new novel.

Rachel: The book I’m working on right now is Soul-Strung, the second book in the Stones of Power series. Soul-Strung is the direct sequel to Shadow-Stained, my debut adult dark fantasywhich launched last year. In Soul-Strung, we pick up the story around a month after the events of book one. Ruby is living Callien city, where she’s been trying to build a new life for herself in the wake of past catastrophes. Always the opposite, Drayvex is leaving trails of devastation. Saydor, having narrowly escaped with his life, is back in the power game, and boy does he know how to play it. As we know, Drayvex now has one very clear, very human weakness. And it’s only a matter of time before Saydor discovers that she survived. But despite Drayvex’s dogged attempts to hunt the demon down, Saydor has been one step ahead. So Soul-Strung starts with Drayvex turning up on Ruby’s doorstep out of the blue, armed with this devastating confession and a crazy plan – secure the stone of time and kill Saydor in the past. It’s the first time she’s seen him since Shadow-Stained, and his presence is the equivalence of a demonic hurricane ripping through her new city life. Buckle up, this is going to be a bumpy ride!

Helen: I am so excited to read Soul Strung, as you well know I love Drayvex, even though he is a terrible demon lord, he does have a soft, well a softening centre! What about the cover? What can you tell us about how you came up with the design?

Rachel:Both Shadow-Stained and Soul-Strung have my demon-human duo, Ruby and Drayvex, on the covers. Ruby and Drayvex have a complicated relationship, and it just gets more tangled and polarizing as the books go on. I wanted to reflect that on the cover of Soul-Strung. The biggest difference in the two covers, though, lie with Ruby. This is a deliberate reflection of her personal journey, of the changes she undergoes between the first and second books. On Shadow-Stained’s cover, our heroine has her back to Drayvex and the threat he poses to her. On Soul-Strung, she’s facing Drayvex head on and ultimately, the darkness he represents. She’s not the victim she once was. She’s a little stronger, a little wiser, and she’s no longer scared of the big bad Demon Lord. The question is though, is she facing down his darkness, or is she inviting it in? You’ll have to read the book to find out!

Helen: Sounds amazing! I hope she is inviting him in. He needs some of his sharp edges smoothing! How did you come up with the title of the book?

Rachel: I wanted something suggestive of being trapped. Strung is a great word, as it evokes visions of being tied to someone or something against your will. A loss of control and freedom that’s forced upon you, but at the same time, not entirely torturous. With these vibes in mind for book two, Ruby and Drayvex are living with the consequences of that impulsive decision at the end of book one. Consequences that just seem to unfold and unfold. Yes, he saved her life. But not even Drayvex could know what the price of this would be, as no demon before him has ever put a piece of their soul inside a living, breathing human. At least, they didn’t leave an instruction manual!! Does he come to regret going to such lengths? Now isn’t that the question.

Helen: With such strong characters in your book, who did you prefer writing? Ruby or Drayvex?

Rachel: I’ve always gravitated more towards the villains than the heroes in stories. Give me a character with grey morals and a big personality, and I’m yours. I’m a sucker for a good anti-hero, and I think this is a big part of why I find Drayvex so much fun to write. It’s just so much more interesting when the protagonist is a terrible person! I must admit, I feel like I do sometimes really push those anti-hero boundaries with Drayvex. He’s a villain masquerading as an anti-hero. He’s unapologetically demon in all the worst ways, and yet somehow, he manages to get away with murder time and time again. I was told pretty early on that Drayvex’s one redeeming quality is his affection for Ruby. This made me laugh, as when you put it like that, it sounds pretty bad! But I couldn’t agree more. When I first released Shadow-Stained into the world, I wasn’t sure how well he was going to be received. But it seems like the sly devil is doing pretty well for himself. Everyone loves a rogue.

Helen: I think part of it his struggle to understand what is happening. We sympathise as he attempts to understand human emotions, emotions he shouldn’t be experiencing! Which part of the writing process do you prefer? Editing or writing?

Rachel: I used to think I preferred editing to writing. I’m one of those writers who favour having written the book to the act of writing itself. Writing has never been easy for me, and when I’m in a bad cycle, I struggle day after day, after day and I don’t enjoy it. But on those good days, writing from scratch feels like flying. There’s nothing more freeing than taking that tangle of thoughts and words and emotion inside your head, and shaping it into something entirely new that has a life of its own. Having now taken two books from initial concept to a living, breathing story, I’ve come to realise that when I’m writing, I prefer editing. When I’m editing, I’m dreaming of writing. So now I see the pattern, I’m trying to teach myself to enjoy the process as a whole. Both writing and editing have their place. They’re both part of the journey, so I may as well try to enjoy the whole ride!

Helen: It’s been lovely chatting iht you, good luck wiht the launch of Soul Strung. Just to close us out, tell us something random about yourself.

Rachel: I played clarinet in my school orchestra in my teen years. We travelled the world, played in Prague and Barcelona, and Lake Garda. From carparks to grand halls, we did it all. Music was one of my chosen escapes back then, and it was so easy to lose myself in these big booming pieces that blew me away. Being part of a bigger whole kept me whole. Well, that and stories. I was quite young when I first joined, so some of my memories of these beautiful places are stronger than others. But I’d like to back one day with my partner and see them again with fresh eyes.

You can find my book review of Rachel’s first book Shadow Stained here.

About the Author:

Rachel Hobbs lives in South West Wales, where she hibernates with with her bearded dragon and her husband. By day she is a dental nurse at a small local practice. By night, she writes.

​Her debut novel SHADOW-STAINED is the first in a dark fantasy series for adults, inspired by her dark and peculiar experiences with narcolepsy and parasomnia. She’s since subjugated her demons, and writes under the tenuous guise that they work for her.

​Fuelled by an unhealthy amount of coffee, she writes about hard-boiled monsters with soft centres and things that go bump in the night. ​

You can find more about Rachel via:

Author website

Twitter

Instagram

You can purchase Rachel’s books from Amazon:

Shadow Stained

UK: eBook | Paperback | Hardback

USA: eBook | Paperback | Hardback

Soul Strung Pre-order until Nov 2nd 2021 (Pre-order the paperback and a claim a free piece of character artwork.)

UK: eBook | Paperback

USA: eBook | Paperback

As an Amazon Associate I may earn commission from purchases made using these links.

Author Interview – Forest Wells

Author of the Blood of an Alpha

Blood of an Alpha, by Forest Wells releases today, October 10th, and I am excited to be chatting with the author about his books and all things writing. Welcome Forest. Let’s start with you introducing your new novel.

Forest: My new release is a novella called “Blood of an Alpha”. In this one, Toltan’s pack faces serious trials when they lose their alpha, and the new one is an arrogant fool. As things get worse, Toltan will find himself facing hard choices that could decide the fate of the entire pack. This one is actually a prequel to my first novel, “Luna, The Lone Wolf”, and has two other short stories that dig deeper into events we hear about, but never get much detail on. I had hoped to have it out by June or sooner, but it took a little longer than expected.

I am also working on a sci-fi called “Fog of War” that follows the one human and two holdren (alien foxes basically) crew of a Scorn heavy starfighter. If it helps, think of it as a fighter bomber with better weapons and armor. Anyway, just as 40 years of war with the alien nation of Marcalla looks to be ending, a new threat that may not be new at all looms over the horizon. The crew of Gold 1 will charge back into the flames of war as they always have to defend their homes and loved ones, but they may not come out unscathed this time. That one I didn’t expect to have out before September, and that was if things went perfectly. FYI; things NEVER go perfectly for me.

Helen: That was one of the lessons I learnt when publishing my first book. Things always take a lot longer than you expect, and you should give yourself plenty of time to get everything done. Setting unrealistic deadlines just puts unnecessary pressure on yourself. Congratulations on publishing your book, you did it! Was there a special meaning behind the title you chose?

Forest: Not really. In the first novel, Toltan talks to Luna about “Your blood. My blood. The blood of all wolves. The blood of an alpha.” When I look at the three journeys we follow, that theme felt central to all three. The characters all have “the blood of an alpha”, and their journeys touch that blood in different ways. As for the sci-fi, it just feels right, though it took me a while to find it. There’s a fair amount of doubt, or “fog” if you will,  hanging around the characters. The title tells people that combat is a part of the story, but there’s more to it than just war and space battles, which is why despite what it looks like, it’s actually not a military sci-fi.

Helen: Who is your favourite character from your novels so far?

Forest: That would be the holdren Sundale from the sci-fi, but I still don’t know why. I only know that I love spending time with him any time I can. Especially when I get to dig deep into his mentality and emotions. I don’t know what else to say about that really.

Helen: You have two books out now, which genre do you prefer to write?

Forest: I tend toward sci-fi and fantasy because… I enjoy it? I’m not sure what else to say. I’ve always enjoyed Star Trek, Babylon 5, Starcraft, Narnia, Dragon Age, Dragon Heart, and so it’s fun for me to create my own worlds. I will say that I have an eaiser time creating worlds rather than playing in the real one, so that too is a factor. I get to set my own rules, and then play within them to tell the story I want to tell.

Helen: Creating new worlds is what I love about writing fantasy. Have you always wanted to write?

Forest: I was always writing, even as a kid in elementary school, but I didn’t realize what it was. Then 9/11 happened, the muse woke up, and I’ve been writing ever since. The stories won’t leave me alone, so I write them as best I can.

Helen: Strong emotional reactions tend to be a catalyst for many writers. Having awoken the need to write, how did you come up with the ideas for your books?

Forest: In the case of “Blood of an Alpha”, the two side stories are, well, side stories that couldn’t be told in the original novel because they weren’t part of Luna’s journey. One of them was in an original draft of “Luna” actually, but I realized that because it left Luna’s perspective, it damaged the story too much so it had to go. Similarly, the original draft showed us how Luna’s pack came to be where they are before he was born, but it was too slow and took too much time to develop before he ever got to meet Luna, much less begin his journey. But I didn’t want to just shelve those pages never to use them again. So I expanded those set-up page into its own story that is now “Blood of an Alpha.” But the last half or third of it is actually the original start of “Luna, The Lone Wolf”.

In general though, my ideas mostly come from random thoughts or feelings. My sci-fi was born because I was tired of the “heroes” we were getting. They were always misfits, downtrodded, broken (one way or another), worn-down, unrespected, unlikable, arrogant, or straight up criminals. I wanted a hero like that line from the original “Duck Tales” TV show; “Real heroes just do their job.” I couldn’t find one, so I set out to make one. Not sure if he stayed true to that as he evolved, but that’s how it started.

But it tends to be purely random. A writing contest makes me think of a different angle on werewolves, my desire to see wolves protected gave birth to a story about a wolf who learned how to face and evade hunters (it evolved into what became “Luna, The Lone Wolf”, but that’s how it started), looking at dusty Zoid models made me think of some long forgotten weapon depot that someone finds, things like that. My personal is how a line from Shrek gave me an idea. “You’re a GIRL dragon. I mean… of COURSE you’re a girl dragon.” Suddenly, the old fairy tales of a princess locked in castle guarded by a dragon made sense. From that came a story about a dragon with her own journey to take. And that’s all you’re getting on that one for now. Sorry. 😉

Photo by Andrew Ly on Unsplash

Helen: I love that you are interested in wolves for themselves and that interest drove you to write the book, and of course, any book with dragons has to be good! How does writing fit into your daily life?

Forest: I write when I can, think when I can, and be perfectly fine with not doing a thing for a protracted period of time. Experience has taught me that I do worse when I force things, not better. So I’ve learned to use distractions to center myself so I can write at will more often, but I’ve also learned to let things be. Thus far, sooner or later, the words come back to me.

Helen: Are you a writer who prefers back ground noise or silence? Do you have a playlist you use when writing?

Forest: Heh heh, that’s a VERY long list. But sometimes I do, sometimes I don’t. Music can help me get into a scene better sometimes, and other times I need the silence to really process the, “okay, how does this NEED to go?” thoughts that make it all work. As for the music itself, it’s a long mish-mash of tunes, soundtracks from games/movies/TV shows, and other instramentals that fit the feeling I need to conjure at any given moment. Whether it’s League of Legends, Assassin’s Creed, Mass Effect, Ace Combat, Rambo, Star Trek, Babylon 5, Fox Amoore, or Two Steps From Hell, if it fits a mood I need, it will be played at some point.

Helen: How much research do you need to do for your books?

Forest: As much as I need. That sound like a cop-out, but it really isn’t. Mostly because I’m not sure how to exactly quantify it. I look up what I need for the needs of the story. My first novel just needed some research into wolves, most of which I knew because wolves have always been a passion of mine. The sci-fi… whew. That thing has sent me digging into technology, science, and tactics like nothing else. But I never dug more than I needed, and I think it’s served me pretty well so far. I have enough to tell the story and build the world enough for the reader to enjoy. Now for “Luna”, my written notes were pretty minimal. For the sci-fi, I have 30 pages of notes JUST about my alien foxes. So it depends on the needs of the story a bit too.

Helen: That’s not a cop out at all, each book is different. The trick is not to get lost in the research, but it sounds like you have that under control. Talking of control, do you find yourself planning your books, or letting them evolve as they will?

Forest: Oh total panster. There is no plan. I have at most a general idea of how a story will end (though that doesn’t always remain in tact) and a few highlights along the way, but zero idea how I’ll get there. So in many ways, it’s more like I’m reading my work that writing it. It can be fun in that way, but also annoying when it’s clear the story knew things but didn’t bother to tell me. The story knew the real back-bone to “Luna, The Lone Wolf”, I could see it in the evolution of the story, but it didn’t let me see it until a few months before publication. Similarly, the uniforms for my sci-fi military always had a sash sewn into them. For years I thought it was purely decorative. Then the story finally admitted that it’s also an emergencty air supply. May not last long, but even five minutes can be enough to get to an air tank or be rescued. It always knew, but it didn’t tell me. Panster.

Helen: What is your favourite book and why do you like it so much?

Forest: It’s not so much one as a series. Jane Lindskold’s Firekeeper series really got me energized about writing canine characters, as well as fantasy in general. But the main thing is that she is an expert at weaving intricate and detailed plot lines that are totally separate, only to have them crash together for the climax. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to do that, but that doesn’t keep me from enjoying the read.

Helen: If you didn’t write in sci-fi or fantasy, then which genre would you like to try and write in next?

Forest: Oddly enough, I actually have an idea for a murder mystery. I’ve loved shows like NCIS, The Rookie, Columbo, and others, and I wouldn’t mind giving it a try someday. No idea if I ever will, but still. It would be a fun challenge to write.

Helen: That sounds intriguing, I hope you get the chance to write it. We’re nearing the end of our chat now, tell us something anecdotal about yourself..

Forest: I got the chance to do a reading at a VERY small bookstore up in Joshua tree. There weren’t many people there, and I only sold one book, bit it still felt like a worthwhile trip. To this day I don’t know why, but I do know that it was one of the first times I really felt like a published author. Kind of like being on the other side of the signature table. It’s also been a reminder for me to not be too proud about my appearences. Especially as a new author, but even if I ever do “make it big”, I hope I never get so proud as to say no to such a venue. After all, it’s where I came from. I hope I never forget that.

Helen: I bet that was the best feeling ever! Thank you so much for joining me today. Just to close us out, what advice would you give to new writers?

Forest: Well that could take an hour. Lol. You’re going to hear A LOT of “do this, don’t do that” as you develop. At least 50% of it won’t apply to you or your story. But as you get better, you’ll learn which ones to heed and which to ignore. Like the popular GIF says, “The code is what you call guidelines than actual rules.” Until then, be a sponge. Absorb any little tib-bit and fragment you can into your ball of clay that you use to create. Don’t be afraid to stash freelancers and other resources for future reference. I’ve sat on a few for years until it was time to call on them. It was worth the stash. Also; you DO NOT have to write every day, but I recommend you try it first. Even if you turn out to be one of the many who can’t write like that (despite what you’ll hear, there are plenty of highly successful writers who don’t), the attempt will help you develop your own tricks and ways to help your write more often than you normally would. Writer’s block IS a thing for some, but it can also be an excuse for others, so be wary of which it is for you. There is no such thing as an “aspiring author”. You write. You’re an author/writer. Own it. The terms are inerchangable and do not need a quantified beyond, at most, “published or unpublished”. And finally; I don’t care how Steven King or any author you name writes. You will NEVER be them, and they will NEVER be you. Write like YOU, and you’ll be fine.

About the Author:

Forest Wells is an author with dysgraphia, but those things don’t go together, which is why he did it anyway. He specializes in stories that focus on the emotions and personal journeys characters face regardless of the genre he’s writing. All of which is fueled by his deep passions for all things wild canine, sci-fi and fantasy, and really any well told story. When he’s not writing, or helping with his parent’s Girl Scout troops, you’ll find him watching his favorite NFL and NHL teams, watching E-sports, or gaming himself. Assuming he’s not caught up in the biggest of all procrastinating tools: Twitter. His first novel Luna, The lone Wolf was released in April of 2019, but he had a few short stories and poems published in anthologies before that. He currently lives in his home town of Thermal, California.

You can find more about Forest via:

Author website

Twitter

You can purchase Forest’s books from Amazon and other vendors:

Blood of an Alpha

UK: paperback

USA: Paperback

As an Amazon Associate I may earn commission from purchases made using these links.

Author Interview – C.A Bleu

Author of The Trinity Ring

Joining me today is YA fantasy author C.A Bleu who released her debut fantasy novel The Trinity Ring on June 1st! Welcome Cindy, congratulations on publishing your first book. Such an achievement; I am so excited for you. Please tell us a little about your novel.

Cindy: Zara Trinity was ready to find her place in the world, but she never thought she would have the power to change it. 

Her eighteenth birthday brings betrayal and family secrets to the surface that threaten to overwhelm her as she learns to wield her new powers.  

Losing her mother at a young age Zara was raised by her guardian Aaron. As the leader of the Protectors of the Trinity, Aaron had sworn an oath to protect her. He regretted his role in the secrets he kept, but knew it was necessary for the prophecy. 

Being hunted by Dimitri, an assassin she never expected to have feelings for leads Zara down an unexpected path. Holding the fate of Humanity in her hands will she be strong enough to withstand the tests ahead?

Helen: The Trinity Ring is your debut novel. What made you put pen to paper and write a book?

Cindy: I have worked in hospice over 15 years and about 6 or 7 years ago I decided to start journaling as an outlet. I kept feeling that I just needed to write, but I never thought I would actually write a book…I began writing about life, but gradually it changed to this story… over the years and after many edits it has evolved to The Trinity Ring. 

Helen: Congratulations on completing your book. Writing can certainly be an escape from the daily pressures. You have a unique cover. How did you come up with the deisgn?

Cindy: For my cover I reached out to a local University of Tennessee art student. She read my book and then did an original painting of Zara Trinity.  Bri Mckamey photographed her painting and created my book cover. She is still in art school at UT and this is her first book cover she has done. 

Helen: How wonderful. Original art makes your book even more special. It is a lovely picture. Which character did you enjoy writing the most?

Cindy: Great question! I actually think I may have enjoyed writing about Dimitri the most. I think there is so much that he goes through that really connects all humanity. Grief, faith, self doubt these things know no boundaries. Both Dimitri and Zara go through a lot of change and self growth throughout this story and I think many people may be able to relate to some of it. 

Helen: I saw from your bio that you work full time, and you are working on a second novel which is great news! How do you fit writing into your life?

Cindy: This is tough sometimes. I often write early in the mornings before the rest of the house begins to wake.  Usually it is on the weekends and I love to sit on the back porch when writing. 

I am a hospice social worker, I began with journaling…I never set out to write a book…let alone publish one… but it was my niece and daughter who one day looked at me asking why I wasn’t going to publish. As I looked at them I realized I had written about a strong female character battling self doubt and trying to be brave. How could I not show the women in my family the same courage. So for them, and myself, I decided to take the leap and publish. I wanted to show my daughter and niece that through our fears we can show our greatest strength. 

Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

Helen: How do you come up with the ideas for your books?

Cindy: This is the first book I have written and in this process the words just flowed. If felt like this story just came to life and needed to come out.  The final printed book has many changes from my first draft, but getting that first draft out seemed to have a mind of its own as if poured out of me. Many parts of this book came from my own personal feelings and experiences having lost my mother at a young age as well. 

Helen: I think what we experience in life must come though in our writing, you of course inherently write what you know, but it also colours other aspects as well. A long time ago I did a degree in Politics and International Relations, and I have a feeling that may influnce my world building! We just spice it up with a LOT more action and adventure! Thank you so much for chatting with me today. As a debut author just completing a book, what advice would you give to aspiring writers.

Cindy: I would tell new writers to just keep writing. Someone out there needs to read what you have written. Self-doubt creeps in, but just remember that your story will likely touch someone else out there in a time and place that they need to hear it. We are writing for a reason…whether it is to positively impact someone else’s life or to allow someone a way to escape the day-to-day routine.

About the Author:

Currently living in East Tennessee, I love being surrounded by the mountains and being in nature in general. After growing up in Ohio, I moved to Tennessee to play soccer in college. With my bachelor’s and master’s degrees in social work I have been working in hospice these past fifteen years. As an outlet for self care, many years ago I decided to start writing. Journaling a few minutes each day gradually turned in to so much more. I never planned on publishing a book and likely may not have taken that step if not for the encouragement from my family and friends! Keep shining your light everyone!

You can find more about Cindy via:

Instagram

Goodreads

You can order’s Cindy’s novel from Amazon and find it on Kindle Unlimited:

The Trinity Ring

UK: eBook | Paperback

USA: eBook | Paperback

As an Amazon Associate I may earn commission from purchases made using these links.

Author Interview – Emily Michel

Author of Memory of Wings

I am joined today by author Emily Michel who releases her fantasy novel Memory of Wings on August 3rd! Links to the pre-order are at the end of this post. Welcome Emily. Congratulations on the forthcoming release of your book. Please tell us a little about your novel.

Emily: A Memory of Wings (coming August 2021) is an enemies-to-lovers paranormal romance. Shax tries to escape his past as Lucifer’s best assassin after the Gates to Heaven and Hell explode, casting down to Earth all of the angels and demons caught in the blast. But then he runs into the one that got away, Guardian Angel Kheone. After rescuing her from the falling body of her friend, he finds himself searching for the killer. Shax questions his nature as a demon and faces a choice between love and saving his own skin.

Helen: What an exciting premise, it definitely sounds like a novel I would pick up. What made you begin writing?

Emily: I began writing stories in elementary school but had the joy of writing stripped from me by all the essays in high school and college. When my husband deployed in 2012, I used creative writing as a way of acknowledging and processing my feelings. It took seven more years, but I turned that story into three novels, which I self-published.

Helen: Congratulations on finding the joy of writing. I agree with you that writing is a cathartic experience. The fact that we also create amazing books is a bonus we get to share with other readers. Your preferred genre is paranormal fantasy isn’t it?

Emily: I’ve mostly written paranormal romance (five books out of seven drafted), probably because I was heavily inspired by Anne Rice, Laurell K Hamilton, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I find it fun to create these hidden worlds. I’ve also drafted a contemporary romance that I’m considering changing into a paranormal and a fantasy romance.

Helen: Seven books drafted and five of them published is an amazing feat. Did you plan the whole series or did it just sort of happen?

Emily: Oh, I’m definitely a pantser, though I have learned the wondrous utility of the Beat Sheet. I pantsed my way through my first five books then discovered Save the Cat! It helped me revise books 4 & 5 — a contemporary romance that I couldn’t fix at that time and what became A Memory of Wings. I approached my next two books (a fantasy romance and the sequel to AMOW) with beat sheets in hand, and the drafting was much easier. It’s like having a road map with the important stops marked on it, but how I choose to get to those stops is still very much freeform.

Helen: Save the cat! is an amazing book, for those writers out there, you can find the links on my recommended writing tools page. Tel us a little bit about how you write. Do you like music or silence?

Emily: I love listening to music as I write. I have multiple playlists depending on what I’m writing that day. There’s usually one overall playlist for each series, sometimes a secondary playlist for a specific book. I also have mood music: music for fight scenes, love scenes, sad scenes, sex scenes, etc. Then when it’s time to edit, I choose instrumental music. Sometimes classical, sometimes more “new age”. My playlist for A Memory of Wings features a lot of music from the TV show Lucifer and music by Klergy. 

Photo by Duncan Sanchez on Unsplash

Helen: It’s been great finding out about your novel, thank you for joining me. Congratulations again on the forthcoming release of Memory of Wings. Just to close us out, can you tell us what advice you would give other authors?

Emily: Keep writing and keep learning. Writing is a skill, and as with all skills, you can learn to do it better. The more you practice, the better you will get. Set aside regular time to write, not necessarily everyday if that stresses you out, but frequently and guard that time. Read inside and outside your genre. The more you read, the more you see how other authors put together stories, both the good and the bad. I’ve used some favorite books to help me determine how to structure a story. The structure behind Devil’s Claw & Moonstone, my second book, was based on an amalgamation of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone and Voyager (Outlander 3). 

About the Author:

Emily Michel spent most of her life as a military family member. She has called many places home, including Germany, Belgium, and Kansas. After nearly twenty years traipsing around Europe and the US, she settled back in her home state of Arizona a few years ago with her husband and kids. 
 
When not writing, Emily reads, walks, hikes, and pets her feline overlords. Emily is the current President of Saguaro Romance Writers, a chapter of Romance Writers of America. She also volunteers for the PTA, but do not accuse her of being a PTA Mom. She’s cooler than that. Maybe. 
 
In 2019, she self-published her Magic & Monsters trilogy, a steamy witchy romance, and is currently working on a new angel/demon romance set in Kansas City. Please buy them. Her two teenage boys eat a lot of food.

You can find more about Emily via:

Author Website 

Instagram

Twitter

Facebook

You can pre-order Emily’s novel from Amazon:

Memory of Wings

UK: eBook

USA: eBook

Canada: eBook

As an Amazon Associate I may earn commission from purchases made using these links.

Author Interview – Katherine D. Graham

The Vow that Twisted Fate

Today I am talking to author Katherine D. Graham who releases her fantasy novel The Vow that Twisted Fate on July 9th. Links to the pre-order are at the end of this post. Welcome Katherine. Congratulations on the forthcoming release of your book. I am so excited to be talking about your book as I have been reading an ARC. A Book Review will follow soon! Please tell us a little about your novel.

Katherine: The Vow That Twisted Fate follows young Queen Arlena as she seeks to defend her world from an evil Sorceress’ pending invasion. After evil was banished 500 years before the story takes place, the world became innocent and pure. A portal opens in the sky in this story, revealing the banished evil sorceress Maedra in a parallel evil dimension. Arlena must call a legendary company of Dwarven warriors forward in time to help her face the enemy they previously faced to kill, but can Arlena defeat evil without becoming evil herself?

Helen: This sounds amazing, I am thoroughly enjoying what I have read so far. Arlena certainly has her hands full, not only with other royals belittling her ability to rule, but also also with that reluctant love interest! With so many ideas within the story, how did you decide on the cover design?

Katherine: I am very fortunate in that Jesh Art Studio, who designs most of my main covers, is gifted at listening to me talk about what I love about my book and comes up with the actual concepts for me. With The Vow That Twisted Fate I knew I wanted to reflect the parallel dimensions and heroine/villain on the front, and Jesh’s team brought it together beautifully.

Helen: How did you come up with the title for the book?

Katherine: I actually first had the idea for this book in a dream, and a line I remember vividly from the dream was a line that turned into the title “The Vow That Twisted Fate”. It is the vow that the ancient Dwarven company made with Arlena’s ancestor that allows them to travel through time to help Arlena change the fate of her world.

Helen: I believe Epic Fantasy is not the only genre you write in.

Katherine: I write a few different genres within fantasy. High/Epic Fantasy is my primary genre, but I also write some Paranormal Fantasy, Dark Fantasy, and Court Intrigue

Helen: How did you first start writing? What inspired you to write fantasy novels?

Katherine: I have been writing since I was a child (with crayons and construction paper). Words and stories just seem to spill out of me (telling or writing), whether I want them to or now. While I’ve written my entire life, my husband Jikyo is truly the person who inspired me to pursue my dream of becoming an author. When I received my developmental edit back for The Vow That Twisted Fate a few years ago I was so overwhelmed and devastated by the level of work it needed, that I put it down and didn’t write again for a few years. If Jikyo hadn’t convinced me that it was worth pursuing again, I wouldn’t be where I am today. Also my sister Fu, who is my ongoing muse. She keeps me on track and is my sounding board for new ideas.

Helen: Tell us a little about your writing process. I believe you have to squeeze your writing in around your busy life!

Katherine: As a working mom, I typically write in spurts. I will write a piece every free second (during naps, lunch breaks, midnight hours once everyone else is a sleep) until it’s finished, and then take a few weeks off to recover before launching into another piece. NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) in November is my primary writing month, where everyone who knows me knows I’ll be doing some serious out-of-the-house writing, typically at a 24-hour breakfast restaurant.

Photo by Thought Catalog on Unsplash

Helen: It is so wonderful being able to return to cafes to write. Just the aroma of coffee starts the mental juices working. Being so busy do you have to plan your stories?

Katherine: I am 100% a pantser. I capture an idea, and then draft out the story (typically by hand the first time on paper). After that, I go backwards and  ‘plot’ my story against “The Hero’s Journey” to make sure I didn’t skip any key pieces (and fill-out the story if I did).

Helen: It always amazes me how we Indie Authors fit writing into our lives. I think that is the beauty of writing, you just have to put pen to paper, or finger tips to keyboards because the story must be told! Which type of character do you prefer to write?

Katherine: This is a really tough question! It honestly depends on the story. While I love the complexity of challenge of writing a well-rounded villain who can make readers question which side they should be on, I also enjoy writing heroes.

Helen: Who is your favourite character to write?

Katherine: Honestly, I don’t know if I can pick a single one. Each one represents such a unique part of the world. The most fun to write, though, was a side-character from the company of Dwarven warriors named Geor. He is a lively, witty addition to a serious good vs evil book, and I never knew what to expect from him until it was happening.

Helen: Love it! What environment gets you in the mood for writing? Your chosen playlist or silence?

Katherine: I typically write to whatever is in the background (kid’s TV, for example), but I do listen to music when I’m alone. I usually make writing playlists with a variety of music types to fit the different characters and scenes and just play through that. I have everything from German Folk music and JRock (Japanese rock) to Dubstep and Gregorian chants on my playlist.

Helen: Quite a mixture! Is there a new project in the works? What are you currently writing?

Katherine: I am currently writing the first book in a duology called Starfire Express; a portal adventure fantasy about a young woman who boards the wrong train on holiday and finds herself on a train full of magical and mystical creatures taking a tour through other dimensions. She finds herself in the centre of a Fae rebellion against Dragon overlords.

Helen: Wow! You have a great imagination. How do you come up with the ideas for your novels?

Katherine: Many of my stories start as dreams. Lately, though, many of my stories have been rapidly-expanding from existing ones (side characters who deserve their own book, for example).

Helen: Which do you prefer, writing or editing?

Katherine: Definitely writing. Maybe it’s because I’ve been an editor for so long, but I know that the editing journey could go on forever (if we didn’t draw a line in the sand somewhere), and the pantser in me loathes the waiting and revising and waiting again. In the end, though, it’s nice to see all the pieces fall together, and my editors are AMAZING!

Helen: Where do you prefer to write? Do you have a writing space where you are most prolific?

Katherine: I love writing in nature, but real life is more practical. I often find myself writing in my recliner. Sometimes, when I have time away, I find myself writing with my sister Fu over a pancake dinner at a restaurant (pre-pandemic) or in the car at a taco drive-thru restaurant (currently).

Helen: Most writers are great readers. What have you recently read?

Katherine: There are so many good books out this year! I am reading Heavy is the Head by Katrina N. Lewis. Luna Reyes and the Emperor of Light (middle-grade fantasy) by Daniel Pagan Murphy, StarDust (science fantasy) by Nicole Wells, and Argent Blade (dark epic fantasy) by Luke Courtney are some of my recent reads that have been truly phenomenal.

Helen: I agree. There are some amazing books being released. My ‘to be read’ pile is growing. Who are your favourite authors?

Katherine: J.R.R. Tolkien and Amelia Atwater-Rhodes are my favourite traditionally-published authors. Nicole Wells, Luke Courtney, and Andrei Saygo are some of my favorite indie authors.

The Fellowship of the Rings from J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings series is my favourite traditionally-published book. I try to read it annually. The comradery, adventure, rich world-building, and intense plot never ceases to amaze me. I always find something new about it with each re-read.

Helen: Thank you for joining me today, it has been great talking about your new novel. Congratulations again on the forthcoming release of A Vow that Twisted Fate. Just to close us out, can you tell us what advice you would give other authors?

Katherine: Be open to improvement/change, and don’t take genuine constructive criticism personally. Writing is an art; the quality improves with each book you write.

Thank you so much for the interview, Helen! You are an amazing author yourself. It is the support of the amazing indie author community and our wonderful readers that has made my writing journey one well worth taking, and I cannot express my gratitude enough.

About the Author:

Katherine D. Graham is a fantasy author, developmental editor, and Top-10 Reedsy Reviewer from Tennessee in the USA.

Her debut Epic Fantasy novel, The Vow That Twisted Fate (July 2021), is a 5-star Indie Reader Approved novel and one of five fantasy finalists in the 2021 Next Generation Indie Book Awards.

She is also the author of the Splitting Worlds series, with novellas Splitting Dusk (December 2019-email subscriber exclusive), Down Falls The Queen (June 2021) already published and the novella Down Falls the King (December 2021) available for pre-order now.

Katherine is happily married to her high-school sweetheart and Hero. They have two sons and three adorable fur-daughters.

Katherine love reading, writing, swimming, traveling, grilling out, and playing video games. Japan is her happy place.

You can find more about Katherine via:

Author Website 

Instagram

Twitter

You can pre-order Katherine’s novel from Amazon:

The Vow that Twisted Fate

UK: eBook | Paperback

USA: eBook | Paperback

Canada: eBook | Paperback

As an Amazon Associate I may earn commission from purchases made using these links.