Book Review Alert: Immortal Games by Lauretta Hignett

Reviewed: May 2nd, 2022
Released: April 27th, 2022
Genre: Urban Fantasy

Immortality sucks.

Just ask Imogen Gray: Over two-hundred thousand years old and teetering on the edge of total insanity. Strong as a shifter, faster than a vampire, Imogen’s walked the earth forever, always alone, never growing, never changing.

Imogen’s on a mission to find the next reincarnation of her father, the only person in the world who knows how to complete the transition to human, and get rid of the curse of immortality.

But when her delinquent teenage ward accidentally summons a powerful Fae Prince through the portal, suddenly, finding her dad has to take a backseat. There’s a homicidal maniac on the loose, one who has his eyes on the Vampire King. Her Vampire King. Worse than the burning jealousy is the fact that the Fae Prince seems to know exactly what she is.

Immortal Games is Book Two in the fast, fierce and fast-paced Urban Fantasy series. A slow-burn romance, it includes a diverse cast of characters, shifters, witches, fae, cryptids and more. Read My Thoughts…

Book Review Alert: Beasts of Prey by Ayana Gray

Reviewed: April 23rd, 2022
Released: March 3rd, 2022
Genre: YA Fantasy

Magic doesn’t exist in the broken city of Lkossa anymore, especially for girls like sixteen-year-old Koffi. Indentured to the notorious Night Zoo, she cares for its fearsome mythical creatures to pay off her family’s debts. But when they are threatened by the Zoo’s cruel master, Koffi unleashes a power she doesn’t fully understand.

As the son of a decorated hero, Ekon destined to become an elite warrior. Until a fire at the Night Zoo upends his future and, on the brink of his final rite of passage, Ekon is cast out – his reputation left in tatters.

For Koffi and Ekon, the outlook is bleak – unless they can capture the Shetani, the vicious monster that plagues their city. As Koffi and Ekon enter the Greater Jungle, a world steeped in wild magic and danger, the tentative alliance between them is tested to the extreme.

The hunt begins – but are they the hunters or the hunted? Read My thoughts...

Author Interview – Rachel Stanley

Author of the paranormal A Grim series.

Today, I am chatting with Rachel Stanley about her paranormal fantasy A Grim series. Rachel is revealing her cover for the third installment A Grim Ending today!!! I’m so excited to be part of her cover reveal!! Isn’t it gorgeous?? Can’t wait to dig into her thoughts behind the cover!

Helen: Welcome Rachel! I’m so excited to be sharing the cover reveal for your next book! A Grim Ending. Why don’t you start us off by introducing yourself?

Rachel: Hi! My name is Rachel Stanley, it’s lovely to meet you all. I’m a UK based author living in the Northwest of England. I live with my husband and our two cats – Cooper and Watson, who actually feature in my first series of books. I’ve always been an avid reader; I fell in love with fantasy when I was a child and my best friend’s brother lent my The Belgariad by David Eddings. I never returned his books because I loved them so much! I actually wore them out because I re-read them so often. Don’t worry, I now have them on my kindle so that I can re-read them whenever I want. I have tried most other genres but nowadays I tend to stick with fantasy – if there isn’t a vampire or werewolf, witch or wizard in it, it probably isn’t for me. Ironically, my books have none of the those in them! What else do you want to know? I love to travel, and I love animals. I aspire to see as much of the world as possible before I die and there are still some animals that I want to see in the wild. I’ve been lucky enough to tick off some major ones though – bears, whales and even otters! 

Helen: Oh I’m a fan of David Eddings, espacially his Belgarion/Mallorean series, I just love his characters. Definitely a character driven series entwined with a quest! and they are all so relatable! I think Emperor Kal’zakath is my favourite, or maybe Silk, or no maybe…! But enough of that, tell us a little about your current work in progress!

Rachel: I’m currently editing A Grim Ending. It’s the final part of a trilogy that focusses on Emma and Blake. Emma is so normal that even her own mother has been known to accuse her of being boring and Blake is… well, Blake is her soulmate. He’s also the Grim Reaper! Although he would be furious if he knew that I’d described him as such because his title is the Keeper of Souls. It’s difficult to tell you too much about A Grim Ending without giving away snippets of the two books that precede it – A Grim Affair and A Grim Haunt. Suffice it to say that poor Emma suffers some more in A Grim Ending! But I hope that even though all three books have dark undertones, I’ve kept the storytelling quite light. 

Helen: I loved the first book, you can find my book review here! Must get around to reading the second before The Grim Ending releases! Tell us about your covers, they are so vibrant and to the point!

Rachel: The cover of all three of my books is dominated by a scythe, as you would expect, right? A Grim Affair has ice crystals on the cover. This was done purposely because Blake is cold throughout the book. He’s been on his own for nearly a thousand years and he’s bored and lonely. That’s made him… ah… shall we say a little bit disconnected. In comparison  A Grim Haunt has rising water on the front. This is representative of one of the scenes in the book. You’ll need to read it to find out exactly what happens though! And A Grim Ending has flames on it. Again it’s representative of one of the key elements of the story. I think A Grim Haunt it my favourite though. 

Helen: I love to hear the thoughts behind the designs! What made you start writing this series?

Rachel: I get asked this question all the time! I started writing A Grim Affair because of a dream. In the dream a man – Blake – is stood watching a second man who has a 50:50 chance of dying. I couldn’t get the dream out of my head. I kept wondering who Blake was, what he was doing, how he knew that the second man had a 50:50 chance of dying etc, etc. I started writing the story down just so that the ideas would get out of my head. At the time I was really busy in my day job and A Grim Affair served as a way to switch off. In the end I got so far into the story that I figured I might as well finish it and that I might as well publish it. I didn’t spend years searching for an agent or a publisher. One Sunday afternoon, when I’d finished, I simply uploaded it to Amazon. And then I realised what I’d done and went back and had it properly edited and I bought an actual cover. Lol. I did everything wrong!

Helen: They look so pretty together! Such a beautiful blue! And you write fantasy because…?

Rachel: I’m a fantasy writer because it’s what I love to read. Also, you get to make up stuff and no one can tell you that it’s wrong! 

Helen: Tell us a little about your protagonist and why you wrote about her.

Rachel: As I said before, my protagonist is Emma, someone who’s so normal that even her own mother has been known to accuse her of being boring. I wrote Emma that way on purpose because I wanted to read about someone like me whose world was turned upside down by abnormal events. Emma is tall, a traditional British pear with long, red hair, hazel coloured eyes and a smattering of freckles across a nose. She works as a vet nurse and has a little house that she shares with her fur babies (Cooper and Watson). She’s fiercely loyal to those she loves but a little aloof with everyone else, and she likes nothing better than being in her own home baking or gardening. She’s not entirely like me (my mother-in-law, who’s a keen gardener like Emma, cringes when I say that I’m going to do some gardening!), but she’s a lot like me.

Helen: If I asked Emma why we should read your books, what would she say?

Rachel: Emma would probably tell you to read all of the books in A Grim Series because she’d hope that by doing so you’d start to understand Blake a little better.

Helen: And she would be right. Your series is amazing! Who is your favourite character to write?

Rachel: My favourite character in A Grim Series is Abaddon. Well, she’s not the one that I love the most because that would be Emma and Blake, but she’s such fun to write. She’s an angel who is connected to Emma and Blake’s back story. You’ll have to read the series find out exactly how she’s connected, and whether she’s a hero or a villain, but she’s such fun to write because she’s so outrageous. She’s extremely liberal and is always coming out with the most outlandish remarks. Also, because she’s an angel, she can look like whoever she wants to look like and it’s good fun coming up with new bodies for Abaddon to ‘wear’.

Helen: Characters that give you flexibility and freedom are the best to write, because you never know where you might end up! Do you plan your books or do you let them take you where they will?

Rachel: I’m a pantser. I wish I was a planner because I often write myself into holes that my husband has to dig me out of, but I just can’t do it. When I started A Grim Affair, I literally had one scene in my mind. Some way into the book, I worked out the ending of the series but I had no idea how I would get there. I’m often surprised by my own characters. They go rogue on me all the time! 

Helen: Mine do as well! I always seem to end up places I wasn’t expecting! Do you find yourself doing a lot of research for your books?

Rachel: I refer you to one of my previous answers, lol! The great thing about writing fantasy is that you get to make stuff up and no one can tell you that it’s wrong! Before writing A Grim Series though, I did do quite a bit of research into grim reaper mythology, and that influenced several aspects of the story. I intend to write an article that will be at the back of A Grim Ending to share some of what I learned. It’s fascinating stuff! I always liked mythology as a child. It’s no wonder really that I became a fantasy writer. I also make sure snippets of information are correct. As an example, the prologue of each book in A Grim Series is set on a specific day in the World War One. I did several google searches to make sure that what I was describing was as authentic as I could make it. 

Helen: It is surprising as a fantasy author how much research does come into it, and you find yourself researching the strangest things!! How do you fit your writing into everyday life?

Rachel: So, this is one of the hardest things about being a writer, finding the time. Personally, I work long hours during the week so I never try and write on a weekday. That leaves me with the weekend. I’m an early bird so I always write on a Saturday and Sunday morning before my hubby gets up. It doesn’t give me much time each week, but it’s enough.

Helen: I know the feeling! We’re almost at the end, it has been lovely learning more about your books. Tell us something random about yourself.

Rachel: Hmmm, something random about me. Well, I used this with my day job team the other day and they were surprised so perhaps you’ll be surprised to know that I have two tattoos. Neither of them see the light of day all that often because being a UK based author I tend to be covered up. It’s no joke that it rains A LOT in the UK. 

Helen: Now we want to know what those tattoos are!! You can’t leave it there!! But we are at the end of time together and I have so enjoyed chatting with you. Good luck with the release of your final installment The Grim Ending. I love the cover, even more so now you pointed out the elements! Just to finish, what advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Rachel: Just do it. If you want to be a writer, be a writer. It’s that easy. It’s also quite hard. It’s hard finding the time and it’s hard being disciplined enough, but it’s worth it. Even though I’ve not yet made it to giddy heights that JK Rowling has, there’s nothing quite like knowing that someone is reading your work. And when – if – they leave a positive review… well, that’s an amazing feeling. 

About the Author:

Rachel Stanley

Rachel Stanley lives in the Northwest of England. She has always wanted to write stories but only found the time to put pen to paper after a dream about a Grim Reaper. True story!

She’s spent most of her adult life working as a project manager, despite her degree being in psychology. Her degree comes in handy though, helping her to understand people and their different motivations. Rachel loves people watching!

Rachel lives with her husband, David, and their two cats, Cooper and Watson, who feature in her “A Grim” series. She loves to travel and intends on seeing as much of the world as possible in her lifetime. Much of her writing is actually done when she is on one of her trips (at home or abroad). She can often be found at the side of a lake, or sat on a rock in the middle of nowhere, adding to her latest work of fiction.

Family is very important to Rachel. She firmly believes that without them she wouldn’t be where she is now.

For all the latest news:

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You can preorder A Grim Affair from Amazon:

UK: eBook | Paperback

USA: eBook | Paperback

and Book Two: A Grim Haunt:

UK: eBook | Paperback

USA: eBook | Paperback

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

If you enjoy fantasy books then you will love my books which are available in eBook, paperback or hardcover: Book One: Sentinals Awaken. Book Two: Sentinals Rising. Book Three: Sentinals Justice. Book 3.5: Sentinals Recovery. Sign up to my newsletter and download a free novella called Sentinals Stirring and get notified when my next book releases.

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Author Interview – Ceara Nobles

Author of Sparks and Shadows.

Today, I am chatting with YA Fantasy author, Ceara Nobles, about her novel Sparks and Shadows which releases today!!! Congratulations Ceara! Sparks and Shadows is the first book in the Rising Elements series.

Helen: Welcome Ceara! To start us off, tell us about your new novel.

Ceara: Sparks and Shadow is the first book in the Rising Elements series, a modern, action-packed YA portal fantasy featuring Fae mythology, magic, and slow-burn romance.

Seattle is full of monsters, and I’m the only one who can see them.

 I’ve spent the last 17 years (AKA my whole life) pretending I can’t see the monsters who disguise themselves as humans. I may not have a place to live and my best friend may be moments away from getting in too deep with the city’s most dangerous drug lord, but I’m rolling with the status quo. 

That is, until I save my arch enemy’s stupid life and find myself in a warehouse full of monsters. 

Next thing I know, I’m in Monster Land (AKA not Seattle) and up to my ears in monsters, magic, and inevitable mayhem. If I want to get home, I have to join a band of revolutionaries and stay alive long enough to get back through the portal before war breaks out. 

This’ll be a cinch. 

Helen: Congratulations on the release of your novel! Such a special feeling! This is such a lovely cover! Can you tell us how you came up with the design?

Ceara: This cover was so fun to make! You’ll see Everly, my main character, on the cover. Elements are a huge part of the series, and Everly’s magical element is fire, so we chose warm colors to go along with that. Most of the story is set in the mystical land of Thios, a city built into a massive forest in Faery, so we had to incorporate trees onto the cover. I wanted the cover to match current cover trends but also be meaningful to my story.

Helen: Is there a story behind the title?

Ceara: Funny story about the title. Originally, I had chosen the title SPARK OF FATE. I loved the title, researched the heck out of it to make sure there were no other books using it, and commissioned the cover from my designer. I even announced it and did a cover reveal on my Instagram page. Then I realized another author had published a book IN MY GENRE with the exact same title a few weeks before I announced mine. I was heartbroken! But I knew it would cause too much confusion to have two books with the same title in the same genre, so I brainstormed some other options and came up with SPARKS AND SHADOW. I have fallen in love with it, and I think it fits the series much better than my first one!

Helen: Oh, what a shame and how frustrating after all that work! I am so glad you found another title you love just as much and I think it works just as well if not better! What made you write this book?

Ceara: This book was born from my love of Ireland. We went on a family vacation there a few years ago, and I fell in love with the moss-covered forests and fae mythology. I also have a deep love for the Pacific Northwest, specifically the Seattle area. I combined the two, and SPARKS AND SHADOW was born!

Helen: Sounds like the best inspiration! Is YA fantasy your favourite genre to write?

Ceara: I write YA fantasy, and I love it! SPARKS AND SHADOW is a portal fantasy, and I love the idea of marrying the real world and a fantasy world. It makes my job really fun, and I get to combine the best of both worlds. I love imagining the possibilities of a fantastical world, creating new magic systems and societies and species. 

Helen: I agree, part of the joy of writing fantasy is the creative freedom to make up whatever you want. How does writing fit into your everyday life?

Ceara: I have a 2-year-old, so writing whenever I want just isn’t going to happen. She’s in preschool 2 days a week (soon to be 3, and I can’t wait!), so I head to a local coffee shop on those days and work there for the day. Something about the change in location really gets me into the headspace to work! A good iced chai always helps too. 😉 My husband also takes her two evenings a week and gives me three solid hours to work. Overall, I’m able to work about 20 hours a week.

Helen: How wonderful, supportive hubby’s are the best! Do you have time to fit in any hobbies?

Ceara: I love traveling! Between my hubby and I, we have family in three states, and we spend a lot of time traveling between them. I also love visiting new places, so we usually take at least a few trips per year. Besides that, I love long hot baths with a good book and thrifting!

Helen: You are very busy! Is there anything anecdotal you would like to share with your readers?

Ceara: I have to shout out to my husband! We have dubbed him my “creative director,” and he’s actually the inspiration behind my publishing company’s name: Riverside Press. When the idea for Sparks and Shadow first came to fruition, it was on a solo camping trip with my hubby and I. We spent an entire afternoon sitting in folding chairs by the river, plotting and brainstorming the first version of my story. He’s always there to support me, whether by brainstorming ideas with me or taking our toddler for the day so I can catch up on my deadlines. I wouldn’t be able to do this without him!

Helen: That sounds perfect! Thank you so much for chatting with me today. As we reach the end of our time together is there any advice you would share with new writers?

Ceara: It sounds cliche, but my best advice is this: you CAN do hard things. Writing stories and sharing them with the world is terrifying and difficult, but it is the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done. As for the publishing process? It’s not as hard as it sounds. Just learn as much as you can and keep failing until you figure it out! 

About the Author:

Ceara Nobles

Ceara Nobles is a Utah-based author of romantic suspense and fantasy novels. She graduated from the University of Utah in 2016 with a B.A. in Computer Animation, then realized she hated it. So she decided to pursue her true love of writing instead. She spends her days writing sales copy as a copywriter… and her evenings writing exciting stories as an author. And she loves both! When she’s not busy writing, you can find her snuggling her new baby girl, road tripping with her hubby, or shooing her cats off her laptop.

For all the latest news:
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You can preorder Sparks and Shadows from Amazon:

UK: eBook | Paperback

USA: eBook | Paperback

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

If you enjoy fantasy books then you will love my books which are available in eBook, paperback or hardcover: Book One: Sentinals Awaken. Book Two: Sentinals Rising. Book Three: Sentinals Justice. Book 3.5: Sentinals Recovery. Sign up to my newsletter and download a free novella called Sentinals Stirring and get notified when my next book releases.

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Book Review Alert: Through the Door by T.L Brown

Reviewed: February 28th, 2022
Released: May 21st, 2021
Genre: Paranormal Mystery

In this second book of the Door to Door Paranormal Mystery Series: relationships tested, friendships built, secrets revealed, and sacrifices made… 

Salesman Emily Swift is back – and so is Templeton! After learning about her supernatural abilities and finding the Crimson Stone, thirty-year-old Emily Swift returns home to Kincaid to rebuild a normal life with her boyfriend. As she struggles to get a handle on her “door traveling” energy, a strange warning squawks from her car radio: a rogue, terrorist group called the Fringe is still watching her. 

Before she can figure out if the message is from a friend or foe, Emily’s quirky mother, Lydia, goes missing – and resurfaces in the Empire! As Lydia travels from city to city in this peculiar world, a wake of chaos is created. Add the murder of a hated art critic and a kidnapping into the mix, and things go from bad to worse. The Fringe believes Emily knows where the magical Crimson Stone is hidden, and they’ll stop at nothing to get their hands on it. 

Friends Tara and Rabbit join Emily as they race against the Fringe to catch up with Emily’s wandering mother. Will Emily’s nemesis, the mysterious Templeton, join her in rescuing Lydia? What will it cost her? Is the price too high?  Read My thoughts…

Author Interview – CK Sorens

Author of Afflicted.

Today, I am chatting with YA Fantasy author, CK Sorens, about her latest novel Afflicted; the second installment of the Trimarked series which releases on March 1st, 2022 and is currently available on preorder- keep reading to check out the preorder thank you gift Carrie has lined up for you!

Helen: Welcome Carrie! To start us off, tell us about your latest book.

Carrie: Afflicted is the second book in the Trimarked Series and follows Ember, whose powers have grown in the five weeks since the end of the first book, Trimarked. Nicu, her Fae guardian, has kept her secret from the Fae to protect her from imprisonment, but his loyalties are torn. So far, her unintentional bursts of power have been minor, and ignored. But as a powerful Witch upsets the fragile allyship between human, Fae, and Witch, Ember considers consciously using her chaotic abilities. If she chooses to access her powers, will Nicu keep his promise, or will he side with his kind? When the choice is to protect her friends or save herself, Ember may discover the answer.

Helen: That sounds amazing! You have such a vibrant cover. What was the inspiration behind the cover design?

Carrie: My cover was designed by the talented Natalie, the driving force behind Original Book Cover Designs. It shows Ember on Witch lands. One of the taglines for this book is “Fighting is her best feature,” and we wanted to show she’s ready for the fight to come with the clenched fists and red sweater. The red is also to show that this girl is ready to be bold, to fight for what’s important to her, once she figures out what that is.

Helen: This is the second book in your Trimarked series, how did you come up with the name of the book?

Carrie: Afflicted’s title came, in part, from one of my antagonists. The Queen can spread her over-large soul across the bodies of other people, effectively turning them into mind-controlled drones. When they’re under her control, they’re afflicted.

Afflicted has a second meaning, though, from astrology. When planets are afflicted, they’re in opposition to each other, two bodies on opposite sides. In this novel, so many chess pieces move around. Everyone seems in opposition with the other until they’re not. They are constantly shifting.

Helen: Oh, I love the dual meaning behind the title. That is so interesting and makes your series even more intriguing. Do you typically write fantasy?

Carrie: I write YA fantasy because fantasy is what got me through middle and high school. I enjoy reading and writing stories where young people are coming into their own. All their lives they’ve been told what to do for their own good, and now it’s time for them to figure out which parts of that they want to take with them, which they want to experiment with, and what they want to throw away. In fiction, YA characters are thrown into incredible situations without any experience to back them up in their decision making process. It’s not so different from real life. Sometimes, that pile of college applications is just as scary as facing down dragons. YA fantasy is not only a great escape, but also validation that hard things can be done through perseverance, faith, and a little bit of help, whether it’s from authority figured or magic.

Helen: Tell us about your protagonist and why you wrote her/him?

Carrie: In Afflicted, the main character is Ember Lee. She wasn’t just born in the wrong neighborhood (Fae), she also has a Witch for a dad and a human for a mother. A human with magical capabilities is unheard of, as they don’t have the ability to sense or use magic. The mages see Ember as a ticking time bomb. The humans see her as a reminder that magic has invaded their space, which had been ‘normal’ before they were forced to coexist.

I wrote Ember because she’s struggling in many of the same ways I struggled. I had more friends and a greater support system growing up, but many of my choices were ones I made because of those very systems. When the consequences of those choices weren’t what I wanted, I got out. That burned a lot of bridges for me and caused a lot of tension within that support system. So, at the time I began writing this story a decade or so ago, I truly felt on my own. Her experiences came from a dark part of my life, and I’m finding through conversations and reviews that it’s one many people can relate to, bringing me community once again. It’s a full circle, and I have the experience of creating and sharing Ember to thank for that.

Helen: I think that makes Ember even more engaging as she faces circumstances which drive difficult choices. If I asked Ember why we should read your book. What would she say?

Carrie: Oh, I love this question. Honestly, Ember would say:

“Don’t. Like I need one more person in my life watching me.”

Because of her status, she has a regular, though not constant, Fae guard, Nicu. The Witches give her more space as long as she keeps her weekly meeting with Devi to be checked up on. The humans, at least, steer clear of her for the most part, but they’re also the ones more likely to bully her. There’s another group of mixed-race kids and runaways called the Halfers. She should fit in with them because of her mixed parentage, but they think she brings in too much attention, and they hate the fact that her mother didn’t abandon her like their parents abandoned them. They put up with her because their leader trades with her, but that’s the extent of their patience.

But we as readers don’t have to listen to her, do we? 😉

Helen: LOL! Love it. Like me, you are a Realm of Darkness participating author. What made you write a novel for an paranormal fantasy anthology?

Carrie: The next book I have coming out is going to be in the anthology, Realm of Darkness, a collection of 40 paranormal and fantasy romance novels at all different steam levels. Even though this would take me out of my current series, which is not a romance, I joined for the opportunity to learn and to get to know more indies. Being in the set has fulfilled both of my hopes, and I’m really excited to take these lessons forward, and to be able to grow my indie tribe with these talented authors.

Realm of Darkness Anthology

Helen: I am so excited to be part of this anthology, it has been a great experience, and I can’t believe the launch is only in October. It has come around so quickly! You can preorder the anthology here for the insane price of 99c/99p! You can check out some of my other posts as I spotlight the authors as they reveal their covers!

Thank you so much for chatting with me today. It’s been such fun getting to know you more, Carrie. As we reach the end of our time together is there anything you would like to add?

Carrie: Afflicted is up for pre-order now, and will be live on March 1st, 2022! If you pre-order, I have a couple gifts lined up for you. If you pre-order an ebook, I’ll send you a character art bookmark collection and a Trimarked temporary tattoo and sticker. If you pre-order a paperback, you’ll receive the same gift, PLUS a ebook copy of Afflicted so you can get started right away. The details are outlined on my here.

About the Author:

CK Sorens

C.K. Sorens started reading and writing young, carrying the love of the written word with her through college and beyond. Trying out a few professions, she always came back to her love of writing.

C.K. lives with her husband, their three sons, and their dog, Pippin. She enjoys warm days at the beach, day hikes, and sitting on the patio with a small fire.

For all the latest news:

Website
Linktree to social media sites
Instagram

You can preorder Afflicted from Amazon:

UK: eBook | Paperback

USA: eBook | Paperback

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

If you enjoy fantasy books then you will love my books which are available in eBook, paperback or hardcover: Book One: Sentinals Awaken. Book Two: Sentinals Rising. Book Three: Sentinals Justice. Book 3.5: Sentinals Recovery. Sign up to my newsletter and download a free novella called Sentinals Stirring and get notified when my next book releases.

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Author Interview – Nellie H. Steele

Author of Trouble, the fourth book in the Supernatural mystery Shadow Slayers saga.

Join me as I chat to Nellie H. Steele about her latest book Trouble which launches today! Congratulations Nellie! And find out what else she is working on.

Helen: Welcome Nellie! To start us off, tell us about your latest book.

Nellie: I’ve got a LOT going on with current offerings!  In the next few months, I’ll be releasing Book 4 in my Shadow Slayers saga along with the first books in two new series!

The first one to make its debut is Trouble and it is really appropriately named.  The Shadow Slayers are experiencing Trouble from all sides!  They’ve just come off of a life-changing experience when they travel to an alternate universe and just as things seem to be settling down, the dam breaks and a flood of other issues hit them. 

The Shadow Slayers are a great team to write and I’m really excited for people to continue exploring their universe.

Helen: You sound extremely busy! Once you start writing a series and your characters become like family, it’s wonderful to be able to return and write more in the world you know so well. What was the inspirarion behind the cover design?

Nellie: This cover couldn’t be more perfect for this book.  It has both literal and figurative meaning.  The broken mirror with Celine trapped inside symbolizes her life breaking apart with the amount of difficulty she experiences. 

It also has a quite literal meaning.  There is a scene in the book in which a mirror shatters to pieces after the Slayers glimpse an image of Celine dancing in a red dress.

Helen: It is a most unusal cover. How about the title, is there a story behind that?

Nellie: The story really hits the Slayers with trouble from every angle imaginable.  They’re drowning in problems in this book, so the title fits really well.  It also ties well to the ending of the book.  I won’t say any more but when the title was proposed, I latched on to it immediately because it felt so fitting.

Helen: I love the stories behind covers and titles. It gives the readers a little more colour and depth! Although Slayers is a fantasy series, you don’t just write fantasy do you?

Nellie: I’m literally a split personality.  I can’t seem to pick a lane.  I enjoy an eclectic range of genres to read, so it makes sense that I’d also enjoy writing a range.

Currently, I write cozy mystery, supernatural suspense/magical realism, adventure and historical mystery.  I’m about to debut another cozy mystery series and a second series which is close to adventure but with a twist. 

I didn’t really expect to expand into this particular genre (which is still a secret and will be revealed in the coming months), but I’m a “pantser,” and my characters take the lead.  I didn’t expect them to go in this direction!

Helen: Oooh how exiting … a secret … follow Nellie to make sure you hear first! What else are you working on in 2022?

Nellie: In true split personality style, I’ve got two WIPs right now.  I’m working on the third Maggie Edwards Adventure.  In this installment, Maggie is traveling to Scotland for a relaxing vacation.  She’s received an invitation to spend some time at Dunhaven Castle with Cate Kensie (of the Cate Kensie cozy mysteries).  What should be a fun, relaxing time will turn into anything but!  Look for Maggie’s next adventure later this year.

I’m also working on Book 5 in the Cate Kensie mystery series.  Cate’s just gotten an eye-opening in Book 4 with some of our Shadow Slayers characters hopping into her series and causing quite a bit of chaos.  She’ll continue to experience some issues from her new discoveries while she solves a decades old murder!

Helen: I’m glad I am not the only one with multiple projects on the go! Do you prefer writing or editing?

Nellie: Writing by a mile!  I don’t mind re-reading and tweaking my work, but sometimes trying to parse through a heavy edit to be sure word choice is spot on can be very tedious!

Helen: Pantser or planner?

Nellie: Pantser.  My characters take the lead and often, they take the story into a direction I did not expect.  This happened a few times.  One of my characters in my Duchess of Blackmoore historical mystery series I had intended to die early on in Book 1 (maybe by Chapter 5).  He’s still going strong in Book 2.  I guess he had other ideas.

I’ll also debut a new series later this year that I did not expect.  I wrote another cozy mystery series and, while writing, had an idea to write a prequel to explain the backstory of some of the supporting characters. 

One full novel later, these characters will now become the main characters for another new series.  I fully expected to write a short story, but my characters had other ideas!

Helen: Which characters do you enjoy writing the most and why?

Nellie: I enjoy writing most of my characters, each for different reasons. One of the most fun characters to write is my Shadow Slayers villain, Marcus.  He gets to say and do things no one else can.  Writing his snippy dialog and no-holds-barred actions can really be exciting.

Helen: He sounds like fun to write. What is the most useful piece of advice you’ve received about writing?

Nellie: Write daily, no matter what, no matter how hard it is. I’ve heard this from several other authors as well as writing coaches.  There’s a sense that writers have a creative spirit and only write when the mood strikes them.  There’s always a reason to put it off for another day.  I’ve worked hard to build a good writing routine that is incorporated in my day-to-day life.  It’s really helped me push past any sticky plot points.

Helen: Thank you so much for joining me today. Just one last question to close us out. Let’s finish with you telling us something random about yourself.

Nellie: I’m an avid animal lover and I have 14 rescue pets.  I can’t say no to a furry face (obviously, lol).  Right now, I’ve got 8 cats and 6 dogs.  I often incorporate them into my stories.  For example, Cate’s dogs are based on two of my teddy bears (Kylo and Finn).  And in the new cozy series, the cat Cassie and Lily adopt is based on my own one-eyed wonder, Percy.

About the Author:

An Indies Today finalist for Best Book of the Year 2020 with Cleopatra’s TombNellie H. Steele made the leap from science to art with her first book, The Secret of Dunhaven Castle.

An animal enthusiast, Nellie often features a version of one of her fourteen rescue animals in her stories, though the fictional pets are usually better behaved than her own fur-babies!  A literary split personality, Nellie’s work ranges from cozy mystery to supernatural suspense to riveting adventure.

She lives in the South Hills of Pittsburgh.  When she isn’t writing or engaging in animal care, she enjoys teaching Statistics and Data Science at a local university.

Check out all Nellie offers at www.anovelideapublishing.com/novels or at her blog, Nellie’s Book Nook, available at www.nelliesbooknook.com!

For all the latest:

Website
Blog 
Facebook
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Amazon
Goodreads

You can purchase Trouble from Amazon:

UK: eBook

USA: eBook

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

If you enjoy fantasy books then you will love my books which are available in eBook, paperback or hardcover: Book One: Sentinals Awaken. Book Two: Sentinals Rising. Book Three: Sentinals Justice. Book 3.5: Sentinals Recovery. Sign up to my newsletter and download a free novella called Sentinals Stirring and get notified when my next book releases.

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Book Review Alert: Dreams Lie Beneath by Rebecca Ross

Reviewed: January 26th, 2022
Released: November 2nd, 2021
Genre: YA Fantasy

The realm of Azenor has spent years plagued by a curse. Every new moon, magic flows from the nearby mountain and brings nightmares to life. Only magicians—who serve as territory wardens—stand between people and their worst dreams.

Clementine Madigan is ready to take over as the warden of her small town, but when two magicians arrive to challenge her, she is unknowingly drawn into a century-old conflict. She seeks revenge, but as she gets closer to Phelan, one of the handsome young magicians, secrets—as well as romance—begins to rise. 

To fight the realm’s curse, which seems to be haunting her every turn, Clementine must unite with her rival. But will their efforts be enough to save Azenor from the nightmares that lurk around every corner? Read My thoughts

Book Review Alert: Hunter by Nicole Conway

Reviewed: January 16th, 2022
Released: November 24th, 2020
Genre: YA Fantasy

One boy must earn the trust of a blind dragon and hunt down an elusive sorceress before she can rekindle the war that nearly destroyed their world.

As the Kingdom of Maldobar emerges victorious from the brutal invasion of the Tibran Empire, much of the land is left in utter ruin. With his home destroyed and family gone, 16-year-old Thatcher Renley has no one left to turn to. And when he’s mistaken for a Tibran soldier and banished to a wartime prison camp, Thatcher knows his only hope for freedom lies in appealing to Queen Jenna directly.
But getting out of the prison camp might be the least of his worries— especially after he stumbles across a feral dragon locked in an iron cell. 

As far as dragons go, Fornax is a lost cause. The battle that killed his rider also left him blind and too aggressive for any knight to control. But Thatcher can’t deny feeling drawn to the beast. Does he have what it takes to calm Fornax and join the proud ranks of Maldobar’s dragonriders? Only time will tell. And with a bloodthirsty Tibran witch threatening to rekindle the chaos of war, everyone’s time may be running out. Read My thoughts…

Author Interview – Mark Piggott

Author of The Last Magus: A Clockwork Heart

Join me as I chat to Mark Pigott about his latest release and all things writing. Welcome Mark! I am so pleased we’ve finally had the chance to catch up. I read your book The Last Magus back in 2021, (you can see my review here) and thoroughly enjoyed it. Marcus is a worthly MC!

Helen: To begin with, Mark, tell us about The Last Magus.

Mark: The Last Magus: A Clockwork Heart is my latest novel. Marcus Gideon, left for dead at a crossroads, is saved by a modern magical miracle—a clockwork heart. This second chance gives him the opportunity to discover his forgotten past while forging a new future as the apprentice to a Magus. The Magus were legendary warrior-wizards, the sacred guardians of magic on Attlain, until a failed rebellion forced them into hiding. As the apprentice to The Last Magus, Marcus Gideon takes his destiny into his own hands, combining the strength of a warrior with the power of a mage. The story takes you from his rebirth and apprenticeship to assuming the mantle of a Magus and training at the Basilon Magical Academy. He makes friend, allies and enemies along the way in this first step into a fantasy steampunk world of machines and magic.

Helen: I just love the cover, it is so fantastical and atmospheric. How did you come up with the design?

Mark: Since this novel focused on one main character, Marcus Gideon, I wanted to represent him and his powers on the cover. I also wanted to touch on the steampunk aspect of the story with the gears and mechanical frame. Through my contact with other independently published fantasy authors on social media, I discovered a great cover artist, Anna-Lena Spies (@eerilyfair_design on IG) and she worked great with me, even though we communicated only through email (She’s in the Netherlands). She deftly showed the power of a Magus, summoning a magical weapon from thin air. I plan to have her do all my covers to ensure consistency across the series I intend to write.

Helen: I’m so glad there are more stories to come in the series and I can’t wait to see what you come up with for the covers! What made you write this particular story.

Mark: I grew up as a child of the nuclear age, living through the Cold War, wondering how the world would end. You had so many post-apocalyptic movies and books in the 60’s through the 80’s, so much so that it overwhelms the mind. I wondered what would happen if the world ended by magic? That’s where this story came from. I imagined magic returning to the world, in such a force, that cities and countries would fall, people and animals would change form, and the world would start anew. But I also didn’t want a pure fantasy world, so I thought about my new favorite genre . . . steampunk. What if I combined magic and machines and built a world around that idea. It may look and act like a “Tolkien-esque” world, but it is one of magic and machine where the two mingle and merge into one.

Helen: Steampunk fantasy is so cool, with all the inventions and ‘new’ technology at your fingertips, your imagination is your limit really in what you could come with. What made you choose to write fantasy?

Mark: As a young teen, I loved comic books. I started creating my own comic book characters and stories. I even drew a little. I wanted to be the next Stan Lee or Jack Kirby but my artistic skills didn’t pan out. I went the writing route instead. I joined the US Navy as a Navy Journalist, but I wrote mostly news releases, feature articles, and press releases. It was during that time that I started developing my writing skills and developed my story into the Forever Avalon series. I can also say my time playing Dungeons and Dragons helped me with world building, character creation, and developing a story. All of that was part of the game so it helped me in my writing. I am a full-time writer, both personally and professionally. I work as a writer-editor with the Department of Housing and Urban Development. My job is to try to make the complex writings of government rules and regulations more readable and clearer for everyday people. At night, I work on everything for my novels, from social media posts, marketing, and writing whatever work in progress I have.

Helen: You are very lucky that you are able to write for your work, keeps your writing juices flowing! Aside from translating indecipheral regulations, what else can you tell us about yourself?

Mark: I am a 23-year veteran of the U.S. Navy. I deployed on four aircraft carriers, including aboard USS Enterprise (CVN 65) when 9/11 happened. We were on our way home, at the end of a six-month deployment, as we watched it happen via satellite TV. You could feel the ship turning around as we moved on station, waiting for the chance for a little payback, as it were. The Enterprise was first to launch strikes against the Taliban and Al-Qaeda forces in Afghanistan. It was during this deployment that I wrote my first novel, Forever Avalon, as a way of dealing with the separation from family and war.

Helen: First, thank you for your service. Second, those experiences at sea must have given you so much material for your books! No wonder you like to combine the wonder of technology onto your novels. You must have had time to read as well. What is your favourite book?

Mark: The Elric of Melnibone series by Michael Moorcock. It was the fantasy book series that inspired my own writing style, going beyond the norms of fantasy to find something new. I loved the dark gritty character in Elric and villains he faced, simple but intimidating, and the conflicts he faced in each and every story. Plus, the new mythologies created in this world were sheer brilliance, a first-rate study in fantasy world building for any writer.  

Helen: I haven’t read that series, I must go and check it out. Thank you so much for chatting with me today. To close us out can you share a little about your plans for 2022?

Mark: I have two books being released in 2022 (no dates yet): Corsair and the Sky Pirates, a steampunk historical fiction bringing the war between Nikola Tesla and Thomas Edison to a new level of adventure from Revolutionary Press; and The River of Souls, a fantasy novella showing love can cross time and space from Curious Corvid Publishing.

You can also find Mark at the Katsucon 2022 anime convention, February 18-20 at the Gaylord Convention Center, National Harbor, MD. Where he will be signing and selling his books during the three-day event.

About the Author:

Mark Piggott at the Willamsburg Festival

Mark Piggott, a native of Phillipsburg, N.J., enlisted in the U.S. Navy in 1983, beginning a 23-year career.

He served on three aircraft carriers and various duty stations as a Navy Journalist before he attained the rank of Chief Petty Officer. He retired from active duty in 2006.

His first novel, Forever Avalon, was published in 2009, followed by his second novel, The Dark Tides, in 2014. The Outlander War, Book Three of the Forever Avalon series from Austin Macauley Publishing, was released in 2020. He is currently working on the fourth book in the Forever Avalon series, The Prometheus Engine, and a new fantasy/adventure series, The Last Magus.

He and his wife, Georgiene, live in Alexandria, Virginia. They have three children.

For all the latest:

Website

Instagram

You can purchase The Last Magus: A Clockwork Heart from Amazon:

UK: eBook | Paperback

USA: eBook | Paperback

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

If you enjoy fantasy books then you will love my books which are available in eBook, paperback or hardcover: Book One: Sentinals Awaken. Book Two: Sentinals Rising. Book Three: Sentinals Justice. Book 3.5: Sentinals Recovery. Sign up to my newsletter and download a free novella called Sentinals Stirring and get notified when my next book releases.

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