Exclusive Interview with J. M. Sullivan!

Hi guys! Today, I have with me another wonderful author whose debut book just released last Tuesday! Please give a warm welcome to J. M. Sullivan, author of Alice: The Wanderland Chronicles, a dark retelling of Lewis Carroll’s original novel Alice in Wonderland.


About Alice: The Wanderland ChroniclesAlice Cover Edit

“Always protect your queen.”

Ever since the outbreak of the Plague, life hasn’t been easy, and for seventeen-year-old Alice Carroll, it just got worse. Her sister, Dinah, has contracted the ‘un-deadly’ Momerath Virus and without a cure, will soon be worse than dead. She’ll be momerath.

Alice must leave the safety of the Sector and venture into Momerath Territory to find the antidote – if it exists. Chasing a rumor about a mysterious doctor with the cure, Alice falls down the rabbit hole into Wanderland, where ravenous momerath aren’t the only danger lurking.



J. M. Sullivan

1. Why do you love writing? When did you first have a love for writing, and how was it formed?

I have always loved writing. My mom used to read to me all the time when I was little, so I remember growing up with a love of stories and literature. As I got older and realized that I could be the one who told the stories, I started making up my own. Thankfully, my writing has improved dramatically since my first stories about princes and princesses!

2. What are your favorite books, genres, and authors? Which ones have impacted you and your writing style the most?

I love fantasy books. Probably not surprisingly, retellings are some of my absolute favorites. I love being able to escape into a new world that still has a sense of familiarity to it. The one that impacted me the most is easily Ella Enchanted, by Gail Carson Levine. Not only is it the first retelling I ever read, it was also the very first book I ever picked out for myself at a book store. I absolutely fell in love with the way Levine wove her characters and worldbuilding together to create this magical story that slowly unveiled itself to be a reimagining of Cinderella! I remember being so surprised and happy all at the same time when I found out my beloved Ella of Frell was actually Cinderella! It is the same feeling I want my readers to have when they read my work.JM Sullivan - small

3. What do you do when you’re not writing? Is writing a part-time or full-time job?

As AMAZING as it would be unfortunately writing isn’t my full-time job (yet). To pay the bills, I follow one of my other passions, which is teaching! During the week, you’re most likely to find me in a classroom teaching sixth graders about the wonderful world of Science! Since I’m so busy, in my free time, I really just enjoy spending time at home. My kids and I have dance parties and baking adventures; or as a family we binge-watch movies. It may not be the most exciting stuff in the world, but it’s the little things in life. 😉

4. Why did you choose Alice in Wonderland as the inspiration for Alice: The Wanderland Chronicles? What about Lewis Carroll’s novel attracted you to make a retelling of it?

Actually, Alice chose me! I didn’t even have plans to write a retelling until the idea for Alice smacked me like a ton of bricks! It was only after I started writing the retelling that I realized how much I LOVED working with the genre, and now I’m not sure I ever see myself leaving!

5. Who is your favorite character from Alice in Wonderland and why? Which character would you like to meet in person?Alice Cover Edit

Well, my favorite character from Wonderland is also my favorite parallel in Wanderland. I’ve always loved the Cheshire Cat for his attitude and the way he exasperates Alice. His character was always just so fascinating to me, which I tried to carry over into the character of Chess in Wanderland. While he’s definitely not the exact same Cheshire Carroll created, some of his traits mimicked his namesake and helped shape him into the fabulously snarky and endearing character Alice knows and (secretly) loves.

6. Alice: The Wanderland Chronicles is a dark YA fantasy retelling of Lewis Carroll’s novel. What were some of the challenges as you were trying to put a new spin onto an old tale?

Since I write retellings, there’s always this fear that I am going to incredibly disappoint the fans of the original. It comes with the genre, though. You’re working with stories that people have grown up on and have cherished memories of. Even though you’re creating a new, re-imagined version, you still have a responsibility to it’s integrity, and it’s intimidating!

7. Why do you believe that it is important for an author to connect with readers, bloggers, reviewers, fellow authors, and other book enthusiasts? What is your favorite part about chatting with people all around the world?

It’s important because I think that they are some of the coolest people that you will ever meet! Don’t get me wrong—I love my non-bookish family and friends too, but sometimes they just don’t ‘get’ it. And since writing is SUCH a huge part of my life, having the people who understand how important the writing things are (like WIPs, OTPs, Beta Readers, and all the other writerly/book jargon terms lol) without me having to translate or having people who I can fangirl with completes that huge part of me. So THANK YOU GUYS from the bottom of my heart!

8. How is it like living in the United Arab Emirates? If I were to go visit there as a tourist soon, what would you recommend me to do?

I love it here! Actually, it’s really funny because it reminds me a lot of home. I grew up in Arizona, so moving from one desert to another, the climate is actually really similar. The one major difference is that beaches are SO MUCH closer here, which I adore! I would definitely recommend if you come, you have to visit both Dubai and Abu Dhabi. They are about an hour and a half away from each other, but they are both so different! They both have awesome beaches and great malls so either way, you can’t go wrong! If you like a little more excitement, Abu Dhabi has Ferrari World, which has the world’s fastest roller coaster; or Yas Waterword, which is a huge water park. In Dubai, you can go see the world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa, and definitely check out the Dubai Mall while you’re there! I still don’t think I’ve visited all the stores and I’ve lived here for two years!!

9. If you could live out a fairy tale, which one would you choose and why? Which Disney princess would you be, and what makes you select her?

Hands down, the Little Mermaid. I’m still kind of upset that mermaids haven’t been discovered, although if they were, I suppose I’d be even more upset that I’m not one, so there’s that. I absolutely love the water and the ocean. In fact, once upon I time, I considered being a marine biologist! The sea is where my heart is, so if I could be ‘Part of that World,’ I totally would be.

10. What is your go-to cure when you experience a case of writer’s block?Alicestack

Writer’s Block is THE.WORST. I don’t know that I’ve found a cure, but for me, the best thing to do is just press on. Even if the words are terrible, getting them onto the page and pushing through the scene is the only way I can fight it off. There may be lots of head banging and whining, but I force myself to keep writing, otherwise the block kicks my butt.

11. What can we expect from you in the future? Could you give us any teasers or hints for what you are writing next?

Absolutely! I’m currently working on a new retelling project that I’m hoping will release early 2018. THE NEVERLAND TRANSMISSIONS (working title) is a SciFi retell of Peter set in outer space, told in a dual POV with Peter & Wendy. It’s with my betas right now, and I have to say, I’m pretty excited about it! I would LOVE to tease a bit, so here’s a little taste 😉

Wendy cleared her throat, schooling her voice into the formal tone she reserved for her superiors.

“Is there more to the transmission that I need to be aware of, Admiral?”

Toussant nodded. Though her lips pressed together, she seemed pleased with Wendy’s response. Another click of a button and the transmission continued.

“So far, the strangest phenomena of the planet is how it has affected our aging process. The days run longer here; as do the nights. I don’t have an exact calculation, but I would estimate we have been here for ten earth years, yet I look the same as I did the day we left. So does the twelve year old cabin boy. It’s as if not a single day has gone by. It is this phenomena that has inspired the name our crew has assigned the planet. We call it NEVERLAND.”

12. Do you have any tips to any aspiring authors or writers?

Be kind to yourself! We writers are SO HARD on ourselves, and it can absolutely derail a great project! Having an inner critic can be good to help stretch your work and yourself, but don’t give the nasty little guy so much reign that he completely derails you. Just remember, someone needs your words. To get them out there you have to write them!


JM Sullivan - small

About the Author

J.M. Sullivan is a Science Teacher by day, and an author by night. Although known to dabble in adulting, J.M. is a big kid at heart who still believes in true love, magic, and most of all, the power of coffee. If you would like to connect for a healthy dose of sparkle and positivity, you can find her on Twitter or Instagram @_JM_Sullivan.

Twitter | Instagram


Happy Reading!

+ J.M.J.

~ Kester

Do you have any thoughts or questions? Comment below, or find me in one of my social media pages, and let’s chat!

Blog | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads | Instagram

Exclusive Interview + GIVEAWAY with Abby J. Reed

Hi guys! Life update: school is going to end in three more days for me! Three more days! I can taste that sweet, sweet freedom now! In the meantime, I am trying to get as much read in the month of May and I’m catching up on all of my reviews! Now, I have a special guest for you today: Abby J. Reed, author of When Planets Fall. I just finished reading it a week ago and it was great! Definitely enter the giveaway below!


About the Book30801623

Breaker’s home is cleaved by blood. The three tribes on the planet Scarlatti, whose only difference is their blood color, each want to exploit Breaker’s valley for themselves. The feudal tension has already claimed red-blood Breaker’s leg and his older brother. Now all this 18-year old wants is to maintain the tenuous peace in order to keep his little ‘stroid of a brother alive. Malani, a red-blood raised blue, is a kidnapped POW and only wants to return to her adoptive home with her dangerous blue secrets. Luka, a red-blood stewing for trouble, wants to right wrongs done to his family and bathe his home in justice.

All three intersect when Breaker discovers a wrecked starship and is given seven days by the green-bloods to fix and hand it over as a weapon. Breaker must decide if aiding his enemies is worth the home he knows and his family’s life. War is coming. And war respects no boundaries. And war leaves no survivors.


Abby J. Reed

1. Why do you love writing? When did you first have a love for writing, and how was it formed?

I love writing because it’s my way of giving back to the world. I can’t volunteer at events. I can’t cook meals for all my friends who are baby-ing. Right now, I can’t even donate tons of money to help (enter your chosen endangered species). But I can make the world a little more beautiful by telling a story. I can give in this way—by creating art.

2. What are your favorite books, genres, and authors? Which ones have impacted you and your writing style the most?

Most recently, Robin Hobb’s THE ASSASIN’S APPRENTICE really impacted me. I loved how the main character Fitz could’ve totally been “the chosen/special/talented one” . . . but wasn’t. I loved how he became magically disabled and never recovered (some may say it’s not a disability, but I will argue for forever that it is). And yet—he still did his job and did it well. Those are the type of characters I want to create, the one’s who keep going no matter what.

3. What do you do when you’re not writing? Is writing a part-time or full-time job?

Writing is “technically” my full-time job. However, with the whole Chronic Migraine thing—it ends up being a part-time job. I spend the majority of my time managing my disorder, then when I can, I write! But I also love painting. Painting uses different creative muscles and it doesn’t aggravate my head, so I spend a lot of time in my little studio.

4. Your debut book When Planets Fall takes place on the fictional planet of Scarlatti, which is home to three feuding tribes. What was your process to world-build the geography, demographics, society, and culture of Scarlatti and its inhabitants?30801623

I strongly believe a person is heavily influenced by their world, language, culture, everything. I spent a long time researching and nailing down a lot of these details as I began fleshing out characters and writing the first draft. After I have a “poop” draft and knew where the story is going, that’s when I really pour in and make sure the world building is sound and complete.

5. Why do you believe it is important to incorporate characters with chronic illnesses and disabilities inside YA fiction? Since you yourself have Chronic Migraine, which is a neurological disorder, is there anything in the book that has been inspired by your own experiences?

Breaker, Malani, and Luka are all disabled because at the time I was writing—I was beginning to drown in my own disability. I handled the pain well for years. But eventually, you run into a wall. I couldn’t handle Chronic Migraine without more help—I switched doctors, I switched medications, I was seeing a counselor and pain management specialist, and I realized I had a lot of emotions about my disability. WHEN PLANETS FALL became my outlet for these emotions—Breaker’s emotions about his amputation are probably the closest to my own, though Luka has a lesser severity of my disorder.

If they could have this and keep going, then maybe so could I. Writing them gave me hope.

That’s why I think chronic illness and disability should be included more in YA lit. Because all of us need that hope.

6. Which tribe- each based on the blood colors of red, green, and blue- would you want to be and why?

I’d pick Human, red, just because that’s what I already am. There’s pros and cons to each. No tribe is perfect and each have their high points and hidden flaws.

7. Science Fiction or Fantasy: You could only pick one! I know you love to write about both, but which genre as a reader and writer would you choose and why?

Ugggghhhh. Why do you do this to me??? I CAN’T PICK. Ooo. I know. Science-fantasy. Ha. Now I can have both.

8. How is it like being a debut author? What is one thing you wish someone told you before you started writing and publishing?

AbbyI really like being a debut author. I love meeting people and being able to connect and chat about books.

Another author told me recently—she does as much editing as she possibly can before she sells the book. But once she sells, she consideres the book done. I really wish I had heard that attitude before selling. That would’ve helped me manage the stress of deadlines for my health better!

9. Your book is told from three protagonists’ perspectives: Breaker, Malani, and Luka. Which character POV was your favorite to write? Whose POV gave you the most challenges?

Honestly, I loved all of them as I wrote. I was having serious OMG I LOVE YOU BE MINE FOREVER crushes on each. But Luka’s story was the hardest. I re-wrote his storyline probably 3 times before it finally clicked. His depth really surprised me.

10. Do you have any writing habits?

Habits don’t work well with Chronic Migraine. What works today will 98% not work tomorrow. The only habit I can really maintain is during drafting. Whenever I do sit down to write, my minimum goal is 1,000 words, no matter the pain. Everything else depends on the day!

11. Since When Planets Fall is the first book in the Stars Fall Circle series, is there anything you could tell us about the sequel? Could you give us some secrets?

Tahnya will have a POV! And . . . somebody new . . . .(wink wink). Also—I’m a huge believer in consequences. So, actions in book 1 will have repercussions in book 2. Plus, there will be a couple payoff scenes I’m eagerly waiting for :DDD

12. Do you have any tips or advice you would like to give to any aspiring authors or writers?

I’m constantly telling this to myself: you are not your work. If your work sucks, that doesn’t mean you suck. If you’re work is awesome, that doesn’t mean you’re awesome. There’s more to life to you, to me, then just writing.

Thanks so much, Abby, for doing this interview! I love your answers! 🙂


About the AuthorAbby

Abby J. Reed writes young adult science fiction and fantasy novels that ask what if. She has a degree in English Writing and is drawn to characters with physical limitations due to her own neurological disorder called Chronic Migraine. Her debut novel, When Planets Fall, will be published in April 2017 by Soul Mate Publishing.

Abby lives in Colorado with her husband and two fluffy pups. If her hands aren’t on the keyboard, they are stained purple and blue with paint. Find her online at www.abbyjreed.com


Now here’s our giveaway!!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Rules are the same as always! Go enter! You don’t want to miss it!


Happy Reading!

+ J.M.J.

~ Kester

 

Exclusive Interview + Giveaway with Kym Brunner!

To all you Star Wars fans, May the Fourth be with you! Today is also National Bird Day, which brings us to today’s special guest: Kym Brunner! Kym wrote a book called Flip the Bird (yes, there is a secret pun… please see question 5 for that answer… the bird is named Flip), and to celebrate the upcoming “Be Kind to Animals” week and International Bird Migratory Day on May 14th, she is giving away a copy of Flip the Bird! Woo hoo! Here’s a special interview I conducted with her after I saw her at SE-YA (I’ve made a lot of author friends there).


Kym Brunner

1. Why do you love writing? When did you first have a love for writing, and how was it formed?FlipTheBirdCover

I’ve always loved reading, but it wasn’t until my thirties that I thought, “Hmm…maybe I could write a book.” I bought a book called “How to Write a Book For Dummies,” and that was all the permission I needed to go ahead and try writing a book too. Found out I absolutely loved it and an obsession was born.

2. What are your favorite books, genres, and authors? Which ones have impacted you and your writing style the most?

I love reading––PB through adult novels––but mostly I read YA and New York Times bestsellers. Growing up I was really into Stephen King because there wasn’t a true young adult category. I suppose that’s why I love suspenseful books so much. As far as writing style, I can only say that I write the way I think and talk, so I don’t model myself after any particular author. But when I first started writing, I was reading a lot of Meg Cabot, Carolyn Mackler, Laurie Halse Anderson, and John Green. Fingers crossed that I picked up a few tips vicariously through reading their books.

3. What do you do when you’re not writing? Is writing a part-time or full-time job?KymBrunnerAuthorPhoto

I always tell my husband that I have two full-time jobs… teaching 7th graders and writing novels. When I’m not teaching or grading papers, I’m writing or thinking about writing. I get up early and write before school, and then work for several hours after school on my novels. On weekends, I still get up early and write, sometimes all the way until dinner. Writing consumes me and I don’t even notice the time.

4. Your latest book Flip the Bird is targeted especially for middle grade to teenage boys. Why did you choose to write for this audience, and how would you respond to that “teenage boys don’t read”?

I didn’t choose the audience; the book chose me, so to speak. I took a falconry class at a raptor rehabilitation center after attending the Medieval Times dinner show, and the sport captivated me. I could easily have made the story a female apprentice, but having brothers myself, I could easily picture this being a dad-son sort of activity. As far as teen boys not reading, I can only shrug. I do think there are a lot of teen boys reading out there, but as a group, their interests might stray toward video games, girls, and sports for awhile. But I’m hoping they eventually come back to reading, and that they continue to make time to read when given a chance to relax. Reading novels not only expands your mind and gets you to consider other aspects of issues, but it’s very relaxing. Everyone needs down time without the noise and violence of a video game to collect their thoughts and think about what kind of person they want to be. Reading gives you lots of opportunities to explore who you are and who you will become as an adult.

5. What was the inspiration for the title of Flip the Bird? Is there a reason why Mercer chose to name his hawk “Flip”? (Is there a secret pun in the title?)

Definitely a secret pun in the title! The original title was (get ready to cringe)  “A Falcon’s Feather.” Yeah, so that is what we call “a working title,” something to put down at the top as a placeholder, but you can see it didn’t work at all. One day, we were laughing about someone flipping the bird to me in traffic, and I was like, “Bam! That’s it! He’ll name his hawk Flip!” Thus, it should probably be titled, “Flip, the Bird” with a comma. 🙂

6. Would you want to be a master falconer? Would you like to have a bird as a pet, and if so which one?

Maybe one day I’ll pursue being a falconer myself, but it is a huge time commitment and can be somewhat of a big expense if you do it correctly. I have had birds as pets before (cockatiels, umbrella cockatoo, green cheeked conure) and have loved them all. I also have several bird feeders right outside the window where I sit and write.WANTED - DEAD OR IN LOVE cover(3)

7. In one of your previous novels Wanted: Dead or In Love, the souls of the infamous Bonnie and Clyde start to take over the bodies of high school students Monroe and Jack. Did you have to do any research on the deadly duo to write this book? If so, what are some of the most interesting or surprising things you learned?

Boy, did I ever have to do research! Hours upon hours of reading books and watching documentaries. The thing that surprised me the most was that Clyde Barrow lived in the poorest part of Dallas during the Depression, so much of the stealing he did in the beginning was to survive and to help his family. I think his first arrest was for stealing a turkey, and another was for failing to return a rental car on time, both in his teens. Not making any excuses for him, but his first murder was a prison guard who had raped him daily during his year incarceration when he was only 17. After Clyde was released from prison, he followed the guard home and killed him.

8. You are currently serving as a 7th grade teacher along with your writing career. How would you instill a new love for books in a student who does not like reading at all?

I talk about how much I love books and have librarians come in and book talk the newest books a couple of times a year. No one likes to be told what to do, so I hope that my enthusiasm for certain books makes them curious enough to want to read it too.

9. Could you tell me some of the reasons why you think that Chicago is the “best city in the world”? If I were to go there (which I already have!), what are some activities or attractions you would recommend to a visitor?

Chicago is beautiful and filled with diverse, smart, talented people. It’s got every type of food you can imagine with a ton of pro sports teams and there’s just a cool vibe when you walk along the lakefront. I’d recommend trying foods from around the world at all of the ethnic restaurants we have, take a bike ride through Grant Park and Buckingham Fountain, visit the Art Institute, and catch a free symphony on Wednesday afternoons in the summer near the Bean! Of course you should go have a snack and a drink on the Signature Room on the 95th and 96th floors in the John Hancock (and you don’t have to pay to go to the 98th floor observation deck).

10. I am so glad I got to see you at the Southeastern Young Adult Book Festival in Murfreesboro, TN! What do you like most about being an author at book festivals? How was your experience at SE-YA?

SE-YA Fest was amaaaazing! I loved how many teens were bussed in for the day to attend the event! So fun to talk to a room full of eager readers that had the most hilarious questions for the authors. It was so well run and the campus where it was held was stunning. What I like most is being able to talk with teens about books, and especially happy when they’ve read my book and want to take a picture with me. Makes me feel so happy and proud.

11. Have you written any other works? What can we expect from you in the future?SmartCookie_Cover(1)

Always writing, always hoping the next book is picked up by an editor who loves it too. I’ve written a humorous MG sci-fi novel that my agent will be sending out to editors soon. My “WIP” (work-in-progress) has some “eco-fiction” elements in it the way Flip the Bird did, but this one also has a futuristic world and a suspense plot filled with lots of twists. Fingers crossed that all my books eventually land in the hands of readers.

12. Do you have any tips to any aspiring authors or writers?

Read, read, read…and write, write, write. Everything takes practice so you’ll have to write for awhile before you can critically read your own work. Join a critique group and have others read your stories and tell you what is working and what isn’t is the most valuable tip I can give you. Writing a book is hard work, but anyone can do it if they dedicate the time to making the pages sing. Best of luck and thanks for interviewing


About Flip the BirdFlipTheBirdCover

Mercer Buddie wants two things in this world: a girlfriend and the chance to prove to his master falconer father that he’s not a flake. With hunting season fast approaching, fourteen-year-old Mercer has only a short time to work with Flip, a red-tailed hawk he irreverently named to show his dad that falconers don’t have to be so serious all the time.


When Mercer meets Lucy, he falls hard for her gorgeous looks and bubbly personality. He thinks his love life is about to take flight, until he discovers that Lucy and her family belong to a fanatical animal-rights organization called HALT—a group that believes imposing any sort of restrictions on animals is a form of cruelty. Mercer soon realizes that if he wants to keep seeing Lucy, he’ll need to keep his love of falconry and his family’s raptor rehabilitation center a secret from her, and Lucy’s involvement with HALT from his family.


With humor and honesty, Mercer’s story shows how growing up means making diff
icult choices…and sometimes, being rewarded in unexpected ways.


About the Author

Kym Brunner dreams entire novels in her head, but needs about a year to write it all down.  She wishes there was an app for this. She’s addicted to chai tea, going to the movies, and reality TV. When she’s not reading or writing, Kym teaches 7th grade full time. Her article, Cracking Down on Multiple POVs:  Surrender and Nobody Gets Hurt, appeared in Writer’s Digest online (July, 2014). She is the author of the three YA novels listed below. She lives in the Chicago area with her family and her two trusty writing companions, a pair of Shih Tzus named Sophie and Kahlua. Keep in touch by following her on Facebook (Author Kym Brunner), Twitter (@KymBrunner), or at her website, http://www.kymbrunner.com.

Wanted: Dead or in Love, Merit Press, June, 2014
One Smart Cookie, Omnific Publishing, July, 2014
Flip the Bird, HMH Books for Young Readers (coming Nov. 1, 2016)

Website
Facebook
Twitter
Goodreads 


Now onto the giveaway!
Please check out the rules and make sure you FOLLOW them!

Hope you enjoyed this interview! Happy Reading!

+ J.M.J.
~ Kester

Blood Road Blog Tour: Exclusive Interview with Amanda McCrina

Hi guys! In my hometown of Paris, TN, today we are holding the parade for the World’s Biggest Fish Fry! If you don’t know what that is, it’s a week-long festival where we eat a bunch of catfish, go to the carnival, and watch the two to three hour-long parade! Fun fact: some of our Grand Marshals include Verne Troyer, the actor who played Mini Me in the Austin Powers movies, and Hannah Robinson, a local who was Miss Tennessee a year or two ago and made it to the top 7 in the Miss America pageant! Small town represent! Today, we have a blog tour for Amanda McCrina’s newest book Blood Road! Hope you enjoy!

BLOOD ROAD


Title: BLOOD ROADA blood road

Author: Amanda McCrina

Pub. Date: April 25, 2017

Publisher: Month9Books

Format: Paperback, eBook

Pages: 329

Find it: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | TBD

Synopsis: Nineteen-year-old Torien Risto has seen dissidents dealt with before. He knows the young local girl who just knifed him will hang for assaulting an Imperial officer, unless he can stop it.

Someone inside the provincial government is kidnapping Imperial citizens and selling them across the desert to the salt mines, silencing anyone who tries to intervene. The girl’s brother is one of those who has been taken. Rejected by the corrupt courts, she’s waging a personal war against the Empire.

Determined to save her life, Torien sets out in search of answers on the Salt Road, the ancient trade route running deep into the heart of a desert—territory claimed by the hostile Mayaso tribe.

Now, Torien is no longer sure where his own loyalty lies, or how far he will go to break the cycle of tyranny, political bullying, and social injustice in an empire that seals its borders in blood.


About Amanda:Amanda (1)

Amanda McCrina has studied in Italy, taught English in Japan, and currently tutors Latin in Atlanta, Georgia. She received her BA in History from the University of West Georgia, and is now pursuing her MA. She writes stories that incorporate her love of history, languages, and world travel. She drinks far too much coffee and dreams of one day having a winning fantasy-hockey season.

Website | Twitter | Pinterest | Goodreads


A Amanda

1. What is your book Blood Road about?

Blood Road is a political fantasy about a young Imperial army officer who sets out to solve a kidnapping and uncovers a vast trafficking plot whose roots go much deeper than he originally thought.

2. Why do you love writing? When did you first have a love for writing, and how was it formed?

I love writing because it makes me see my own world in a new light. I’ve been making up stories for just about as long as I can remember (really embarrassing stuff, some of it)—probably because I’ve been reading for just about as long as I can remember. I think the key to developing as a writer is to read.

3. Who are your favorite authors, and which ones have had an impact on you? Who has affected your writing style the most?

Three long-time favorites are Ernest Hemingway, Rosemary Sutcliff, and George Orwell. I deliberately tried to imitate Hemingway when I first started writing seriously, and it’s taken me a long time to unlearn that and develop my own voice. But I still appreciate Hemingway’s minimalistic, dialogue-driven prose—and, equally, Rosemary Sutcliff’s beautiful descriptions.

4. What are your favorite genres to read and write? What are your favorite books?

I read a lot of historical fiction and nonfiction. I enjoy (and owe a lot to) fantasy, but at this point it takes a really fresh spin to get me interested. I love a good mystery, too, but I’ve never tried writing one.

From the three authors I already mentioned, my favorite books are, respectively, A Farewell to Arms, The Lantern Bearers, and Homage to Catalonia. Other all-time-favorites include Elizabeth Wein’s Code Name Verity (the voice is incredible), Megan Whalen Turner’s Queen’s Thief series, and Ursula Le Guin’s Lavinia.

5. What do you do when you’re not writing? Is writing a part-time or full-time job?

Writing is currently a part-time job. My full-time job is teaching middle- and high-school English at an international school in Madrid. Between those two things, I don’t have a lot of free time!

6. Is your book based off or inspired by the Roman Empire? If so, how much research did you have to put into it, and are there any parallels between the Roman and Vareno Empires?

There are definitely parallels between the Vareno Empire in Blood Road and Ancient Rome. I note in the book that it’s not an analogy that should be taken too far, since the Vareno Empire doesn’t perfectly resemble Rome at any one point in time. It’s most similar to the Christianized Rome of the 300s and 400s CE, but even that starts falling apart if you look at it very closely. (For example: the people of the Vareno Empire practice a religion that resembles Christianity, but the military also practices decimation as a punishment. In real life, the Roman army hadn’t really used decimation for several centuries by the time of Christianization.)

A lot of the research I did for Blood Road overlapped with research I’d done for my undergraduate thesis, so I was able to kill two birds with one stone.

7. What was your process for world-building your fictional empire’s geography, social structure, characters, etc.? There’s so much depth put into the social and governmental structures of the Vareno Empire, which can be found on your website!

I did incorporate some specific elements from real Roman history—for instance, my Imperial Guard is pretty blatantly based on the Praetorian Guard. I also turned to other time periods for some things. The signi, criminals sentenced to military service, were inspired by the penal battalions of the Wehrmacht and the Red Army in WWII.

It’s always potentially problematic to pick through real-world history and recycle it into a fantasy world; you have to be aware of the ramifications of detaching history from its context. But I do think studying real-world history is one good way to enrich fictional worldbuilding. (Also, food. Start with food. I mentioned this in another interview: knowing what your fictional people are cooking and eating is often key to understanding their world.)

8. If you had to choose, would you rather read and write historical fiction or fantasy for the rest of your life, and why?

If I had to choose, I’d pick historical fiction. Blood Road is fantasy in that it takes place in a secondary world, but there’s no magic, so really it reads like historical fiction. I’m terrible at writing magic systems.

9. How is it like living in Madrid, Spain? What are some of your favorite things about the city?

Madrid is a great city—eclectic, very walkable, with perfect weather and a good mix of cultural sites, shopping and dining destinations, and green spaces (plus a random Ancient Egyptian temple). I sound like a travel brochure, but really I am thankful for the opportunity to be here!

10. Your main interest of research is the Christianization of the imperial Roman Army. Could you share with us any fascinating facts you have stumbled across in your research? Why do you like studying and writing about this topic?

I think it’s fascinating that an essentially religious institution, the Roman army, could adapt so quickly to a drastically different belief system. The Roman army camp was an inviolable sacred space, and ritual was (and always had been) an integral part of camp life—so what does it mean that the army adopted Christianity so quickly when Constantine converted?

There’s so much I find fascinating, but one thing that surprised me when I first started researching was that by 400 CE or so pagans were actually prohibited from joining the army—you had to be a professing Christian. (Of course, how strictly that prohibition was enforced is a matter for debate.)

11. If you could take three things along with one book with you on a deserted island, what would you bring?

I’m going to assume the three things can’t include a boat or a satellite phone, so I’ll say: 1) Ryan North’s Time Traveler Essentials cheat sheet. The situation isn’t exactly the same, but most of the information still applies. 2) Seed potatoes. It worked for Mark Watney. 3) A volleyball.

My book would be War and Peace. I still probably won’t have finished it by the time rescue arrives.

12. Whenever you encounter writer’s block, what is your go-to cure?

Either a bike ride or a hot shower, or both, in that order.

13. Have you written any other works? What are your current plans with your writing career?

I’ve finished the first draft of a sequel to Blood Road. I’m also currently working on a YA WWII novel set in Poland/Western Ukraine, about a Red Army sniper.

14. Do you have any tips to any aspiring authors or writers?

At the risk of repeating myself—reading is so important. Also, because I wish somebody had told me this a long time ago: don’t beat yourself up over making a certain word count each day. It’s OK to have days where you only write two sentences. (If it isn’t, I’m sunk.)

Thanks so much, Amanda, for coming onto our blog! Glad to have you!


Giveaway Details:

1 winner will receive a 1 month subscription to Owl Crate, US Only.

Rafflecopter Embed Code:

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Tour Schedule:

Week 1:

4/24/2017- Rockin’ Book Reviews– Review

4/24/2017- Month9Books– Excerpt

4/25/2017- Two Chicks on Books– Interview

4/25/2017- Doodle’s Book Reviews– Review

4/26/2017- Don’t Judge, Read– Interview

4/26/2017- Book-Keeping– Review

4/27/2017- A Backwards Story– Review

4/27/2017- Hazel West’s Character Purgatory– Excerpt

4/28/2017- LILbooKlovers– Interview

4/28/2017- Wishful Endings– Review

Week 2:

5/1/2017- Exploring the Inner Universe– Review

5/1/2017- So Few Books– Interview

5/2/2017- Book Review Becca– Review

5/2/2017- Bibliobibuli YA– Interview

5/3/2017- Reading for the Stars and Moon– Review

5/3/2017- I am not a bookworm!– Review

5/4/2017- YA and Wine– Guest Post

5/4/2017- Mundie Moms– Review

5/5/2017- Never Too Many To Read– Review


I hope you enjoyed today’s interview/blog post/giveaway! Certainly check out Amanda’s book!

Happy Fish Fry!

+ J.M.J.

~ Kester

The Sky Throne Blog Tour: Exclusive Interview with Chris Ledbetter

Hello! Today we have another blog tour stop for you today! Please welcome Chris Ledbetter in this interview talking about his newest book The Sky Throne! Hope you enjoy it!

THE SKY THRONE


Title: THE SKY THRONEThe Sky Throne

Author: Chris Ledbetter

Pub. Date: April 18, 2017

Publisher: Month9Books

Format: Paperback, eBook

Pages: 292

Find it: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | TBD | iBooks

Goodreads Synopsis: Duality dwells at every turn, and an adolescent Zeus will learn that all too well when Hyperion attacks his family on Crete.

When the dust settles, his mother is unconscious and his best friend left for dead.

Stacking epic insult upon fatal injury, Zeus discovers the woman who raised him is not his biological mother. But to ensure her safety while she recovers, a heavy-hearted Zeus leaves her behind to seek answers at Mount Olympus Preparatory Academia.

Zeus embarks on a quest to discover who ordered the attack on his home, avenge the death of his friend, and find his birth mother. When some of his new schoolmates vanish, Zeus’s quest is turned upside down, and the only way to make things right is to access the power of The Sky Throne, confront a most dangerous enemy, and take his life back.

On his way to becoming king of the Greek gods, Zeus will learn to seize power, neutralize his enemies, and fall in love.

“Destined to have a sequel or two, young teens will appreciate the story, and teachers will appreciate that it instructs readers about the pantheon of gods.”–Kevin Beach, VOYA Magazine


About Chris: Chris

Chris Ledbetter grew up in Durham, NC before moving to Charlottesville, VA in 11th grade. After high school, he attended Hampton University where he promptly “walked-on” to the best drum line in the conference without any prior percussion experience. He carried the bass drum for four years, something his back is not very happy about now.

After a change of heart and major, he enrolled in Old Dominion University and earned his degree in Business Administration. He’s worked in various managerial and marketing capacities throughout his life. He taught high school for six years in Culpeper, VA, and also coached football.

He has walked the streets of Los Angeles and New York City, waded in the waters of the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, and climbed Diamond Head crater on Hawaii and rang in the New Year in Tokyo, Japan. But he dreams of one day visiting Greece and Italy.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest | YouTubeGoodreads


Now here’s the interview!

A Chris

1.  In 10 words or less, how would you describe THE SKY THRONE?The Sky Throne

Zeus origin story. Actually, Greek Olympian gods: Origins.

2. Why do you love writing? When did you first have a love for writing, and how was it formed?

The first thing I love about writing is what we all love about reading, which is the ability to escape the real world and experience life as someone else. When I sit down to write, I am immediately transported. It’s very much like sliding a virtual reality headset down over my eyes. I began writing in 2006, almost as a dare to myself and fell in love with it ever since.

3. Who are your favorite authors, and which ones have had an impact on you? Who has affected your writing style the most?

My favorite authors are James Dashner, Jennifer Donnelly, Dan Brown, Laini Taylor, Paulo Coelho, Heather Petty, Kim Harnes, Tracy Clark. They’ve all helped to inspire and shape my writing in one form or another.

Continue reading “The Sky Throne Blog Tour: Exclusive Interview with Chris Ledbetter”

Interview + GIVEAWAY with Stephanie Elliot

Hi guys! This past week has been crazy for me! I’ve been gone out of town for the All State Men’s Choir (which was super amazing by the way!) and catching up on a ton of homework… As I write this, I still got a 16-slide powerpoint, a one-page article reflection, and an essay on the US and USSR involvement in Latin America in the Cold War. But by the time this is posted I’m probably done with all that. I haven’t been able to blog that much recently, but I’m back! I’m not going to post as frequently as I was before because I am going to focus on many other things and activities, but I’ll still be active!

Also, Happy Easter!!! I did not post anything this weekend to honor the Triduum and the Resurrection of Our Lord Jesus Christ and the start of the Easter season, so here’s my latest post!


 

A Stephanie New

1. How would you describe Sad Perfect in your own words?SadPerfect_09e

A girl with a unique eating disorder falls in love and tries to hide her disorder from her boyfriend while trying to recover.

2. Why do you love writing? When did you first have a love for writing, and how was it formed?

I love writing because when you write you get to create anything you want to. You can go anywhere you want to, you can dream up anything you want to. I think I loved reading first and then I loved writing.

3. Who are your favorite authors, and which ones have had an impact on you? Who has affected your writing style the most?

I don’t know if my writing style has been affected by any particular writer but I admire so many writers. I love writers who can write in verse, or who can make a sentence sing off the page. Someone who makes colors look completely different than you ever imagined just by their word choice. Writers who do that are magical.

4. What are your favorite genres to read and write? What are your favorite books?

I love reading contemporary novels—young adult and women’s fiction. Psychological thrillers are fun too. Emotional reads that can get your heart racing and your mind thinking are what I gravitate toward.

5. What do you do when you’re not writing? Is writing a part-time or full-time job?

Writing is very part-time and I would love to write more. I’m a mom to three teenagers, and I love that job too—it’s my most important one.

6. What is ARFID, and what is the message or impact you want your readers to get through your book?DSC00461

I want readers to know that ARFID (Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder) EXISTS. Many parents think that kids are just picky eaters and don’t do anything to help their children with this serious eating disorder, which is the actual fear of trying new foods. It’s a mental disorder that can also cause severe anxiety and depression and lead to more serious issues if not treated. I also want readers to know that there is hope for kids with ARFID, that if someone has ARFID, and if he or she wants to get better, if they work at it, they can get better.

Continue reading “Interview + GIVEAWAY with Stephanie Elliot”

The Magnificent Glass Globe Blog Tour: Exclusive Interview with N. R. Bergeson

Hello! I hope you are enjoying your day! We have another blog tour stop for you today! We have with us N. R. Bergeson talking about his debut book The Magnificent Glass Globe! If you want to travel around the world, then you should go check out this book!

THE MAGNIFICENT GLASS GLOBE


Title: THE MAGNIFICENT GLASS GLOBEA Globe

Author: N.R. Bergeson

Pub. Date: April 10, 2017

Publisher: TantrumBooks

Format: Paperback, eBook

Pages: 273

Find it: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | TBD | iBooks | Kobo | Google Play Books

Synopsis: Eleven-year-old Mary Tucker dreams of visiting the Amazon. But if her father, a museum curator, has his way, she might be a grandmother before she ever gets the chance.

One day, while mischievously exploring the museum’s warehouse with her brother Ike and best friend Helen, Mary stumbles across an old travel trunk belonging to her grandfather.

Inside, they discover an nondescript glass globe. Curious about the simple object, Mary touches the globe, and is shocked when the room is suddenly consumed by the most amazing view of Earth.

The magnificent globe lets the friends zoom closer and closer toward the earth’s surface, eventually bringing them close enough to touch the trees. That’s when the globe entirely disappears, and they find themselves falling.

Suddenly, they’re far from home, in place that’s either a paradise, or the place where they will die.

Sleep, water, and food become precious and scarce. A native tribe may hold the keys to their survival as well as clues to help them get back home. But it won’t be easy. The rain forest is a big place, and when others find out what the globe can do, Mary, Ike and Helen will need a plan, allies, and a little luck.


About N.R.: Nils

R. (Nils) Bergeson is the author of the “Magnificent Glass Globe” series. Nils was born in California but spent his childhood at the foot of the beautiful mountains of northern Utah. From an early age, he was fascinated with the wider world, prompting him to earn a degree in international studies from Utah State University, followed by a Master’s degree in Public Administration/International Management from the Monterey Institute of International Studies. He knew early on that his interests were as wide as the world itself, and that he’d find real joy living overseas. Since 2002, Nils has only spent four years living in the United States. He was a missionary in Siberia, spent time in Romania as a U.S. Peace Corps Volunteer, and has worked for several years in Colombia, Kazakhstan, Afghanistan, and now Indonesia as a U.S. diplomat/international development worker. He’s traveled to more than 60 countries with his wife, Emily, and their three young children. Nils’ love for writing, which began in the second grade, complements his globetrotting ways well. He hopes his writing will instill a desire in his readers to take advantage of modern opportunities to see the world, learn new languages, and expand their cultural experiences. We live in a wonderful world, and it’s just waiting for us to see it.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads


A N.R. Bergeson

1. What is your book THE MAGNIFICENT GLASS GLOBE about?

It’s about a globe – a particularly magnificent globe – made out of glass. More specifically, it’s about Mary, an eleven-year-old who obsesses about traveling the world and feels stuck where she is. After she accidentally discovers the aforementioned magnificent glass globe, she finds herself, along with her brother and best friend, unexpectedly in the middle of the Amazon rainforest. Now, they have to figure out how to survive and get home. They realize the world can be both beautiful and dangerous.

2. Why do you love writing? When did you first have a love for writing, and how was it formed?

I like to express ideas, and I feel like writing gives me a chance to do that in a creative way. I hope it will help people see something in life just a little bit differently.

I dabbled with writing a little bit way back in second grade. My teacher was so impressed by a short story that I wrote and encouraged me to become a writer. “Yeah,” I thought. “I could do that…” While it helped instill a love of writing, that short story didn’t become a best-seller. Still, ever since then I’ve tried my hand at writing in different ways – books, articles, and blog posts.

3. Who are your favorite authors, and which ones have had an impact on you? Who has affected your writing style the most?

Well, I don’t know about style (I’m really just winging this whole thing, and I hope to learn a little bit more about writing from the real professionals at some point), but I was influenced once by the great Brandon Sanderson. I asked him if somebody like me, with a full time job, a family, and more taking up my time, would ever be able to find time to actually write a book.

“Sure,” he said. “You’ll have to be organized with your time. But you can do it. Just do a little bit at a time.” And he was right. So thanks, Brandon.

4. What are your favorite genres to read and write? What are your favorite books?

Well, most of my reading is focused on very boring and very long technical documents. If I spent as much time reading good literature as I do reading reports and memos, I would probably have read every book ever written.

But when I’m not stuck reading the booking stuff, I like to branch out and do different things. I read a lot of non-traditional epic fantasy-type books, as well as a lot of contemporary literature where ordinary kids find themselves in extraordinary circumstances.

I like to write about young people discovering new ideas and seeing new things for the first time.

Some of my favorite books are Great Expectations, The Bridge on the River Kwai, Maniac Magee, The Secret Garden, and more.

5. What do you do when you’re not writing? Is writing a part-time or full-time job?

Well, I think writing is like my third or fourth job. I work full time at the U.S. Embassy in Jakarta, Indonesia. Luckily, the traffic here in Southeast Asia is terrible, so I take my laptop and try to write while stuck in a traffic jam. My other full-time job is raising my three highly-energetic children.

6. Mary, Ike, and Helen- the main characters- in your new series use the glass globe to travel all over the world. If you could use the globe to travel somewhere, where would you go?

Well, I’ve been lucky to go a lot of places already with work. And I have loved them all. But I still haven’t lived in Africa, and there are a lot of places I’d like to go. I’d probably start with Zambia.

7. What was it like serving as a missionary, Peace Corps volunteer, and a U.S. diplomat in various countries around the world?

You end up in a lot of really weird situations where you have no idea what is going on. I’ve found myself time and time again in rooms full of people speaking languages I didn’t understand, and just nodding my head and pretending like I understand. But you learn that people are all fundamentally the same. We have the same hopes and desires. There’s no reason for us all not to respect one another and get along.

8. Out of all the more than 60 countries you have visited, which one was your favorite and what did you see there?

Everywhere is amazing. If I could go and spend more time in a particular place, however, I’d probably pick Japan, Chile, and Turkey. Also, Finland is one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been.

9. How do you want your book to change young readers? Why did you choose to write for a middle grade audience?

One reason I wrote for a middle grade audience is because those books are shorter, and I wanted to actually finish a book at some point! But I also get along with young people. I don’t think I ever fully grew up. And they read more than anybody else. They are learning about the world for the first time. They are open to new ideas and haven’t been corrupted by the boring parts of being an adult. I hope it makes them want to see more of the world, meet people from other places, and become better global citizens.

10. Who was your favorite character to write and why?

I like Ike because I can relate to the wanting to be funny, but not always being very good at it. I also liked writing Colin the poacher. I have a lot of Australian relatives, so in some ways I’m kind of teasing them with his character.

11. What is your personal cure for writer’s block?

I have no cure. If somebody has discovered one, please tell me. Also, I could use some advice on how to write more effectively while sitting in a crowded van in rush-hour traffic.

12. How much of your books were based off of your own personal experiences or research (if you had to do any)?

Almost 100%. I never actually got lost in the rainforest, but I did go visit back in 2010/2011 when I lived in Colombia. I met the Ticuna, visited one of their villages, had monkeys crawl all over me, climbed vines on a tree, and walked around the beautiful streets of Puerto Nariño. I would highly recommend it to anybody.

13. Have you written any other works? What are your current plans with your writing career?

Book #2 comes out in 2018. It’s in a completely different part of the world – Russia. Russia has been like a second home to me, so I loved writing about it. You get to learn more about where the globe came from, what the deal is with Anatoly, and you find out that things are a lot more complicated than they seemed at the end of the first book.

14. Do you have any tips to any aspiring authors or writers?

Yep, and it’s the same advice I give over and over again. Get out and see something different. Learn a new language. Visit a new country. Eat some weird food. Be safe, but be adventurous. You’ll it will flip on your brain like a switch, and new ideas will start flowing from all over.


Giveaway Details:

1 winner will receive a paperback of THE MAGNIFICENT GLASS GLOBE & A DVD of Jumanji, US Only.
a Rafflecopter giveaway


Tour Schedule:

Week 1:

4/3/2017- Rockin’ Book Reviews– Excerpt

4/4/2017- Books: A true story– Review

4/5/2017- Never Too Many To Read– Guest Post

4/6/2017- Month9Books– Excerpt

4/7/2017- I am not a bookworm!– Review

Week 2:

4/10/2017- Book Review Becca– Guest Post

4/11/2017- So Few Books– Interview

4/12/2017- LILbooklovers– Interview

4/13/2017- Don’t Judge, Read– Excerpt


I hope you have a great week! 🙂

+ J.M.J.

~ Kester

Summoner Rising Blog Tour: Interview with Melanie McFarlane

Hello! Welcome to my tour stop for Melanie McFarlane’s Summoner Rising Blog Tour! As an honorary member of her Street Team, I would like to present you this wonderful interview! Can you also believe March is already over? I know right! This year is going by so fast! Well, here’s the blog tour!

SUMMONER RISING

Title: SUMMONER RISINGSUMMONER RISING by Melanie McFarlane (1)

Author: Melanie McFarlane

Pub. Date: March 28, 2017

Publisher: Month9Books

Format: Paperback, eBook

Pages: 300

Find it: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | TBD | iBooks | Kobo | Google Play Books | Indiebound

Synopsis: Excerpt from, The Book of Summoning:

Law One: A summoner is responsible for all creatures it lets through from the netherworld.

Dacie Cantar wishes someone had explained the Laws of Summoning to her before she watched a shadowy creature crawl out of a painting at the local arcade. At least it explains the strange things she’s witnessed since moving in with her great-aunt, after her mother’s untimely death. But who wants to be followed by shadows the rest of their life? Add that to being stalked by a strange boy at school, who just might be her Tovaros (aka soulmate), it’s about all Dacie can handle in her new life.

As she nears her seventeenth birthday, will she be ready for her new responsibilities, or will the shadows that stalked her mother until her death, finally consume Dacie, too? And then there’s Law Two…

 

About Melanie: Melanie

Melanie McFarlane is a passionate writer of other-wordly adventures, a little excitable, and a little quirky. Whether it’s uncovering the corruption of the future, or traveling to other worlds to save the universe, she jumps in with both hands on her keyboard. Though she can be found obsessing over zombies and orcs from time to time, Melanie has focused her powers on her YA debut There Once Were Stars, and her YA urban fantasy Summoner Rising.

She lives with her husband and two daughters in the Land of Living Skies.
Website | Twitter | Facebook | InstagramGoodreads

Continue reading “Summoner Rising Blog Tour: Interview with Melanie McFarlane”

Golden Release Day Celebration: Guest Post with K. M. Robinson – How to Score a Killer Author Interview

Hi guys! Today marks the day that Golden by K. M. Robinson releases into the world! Woo hoo! I liked reading the book, so now you can finally order it! There will be links below to any online retailers where you can buy this fabulous book! If you need some convincing, here’s my review and my interview with K. M. She’s come back onto the blog for this wonderful guest post for not only bloggers, but for any avid readers! Author interviews are very very very important to us as bloggers, so being able to interview our favorite authors is a great help for both bloggers and authors! It’s a great way to get to know them better! So if you want to know how to interview authors, K.M.’s got some tips for you!

Katie.PNG

How to Score A Killer Author Interview: The Art Of Making Your Blog Irresistible To Authors

All Goldilocks wanted was an interview. One simple interview. But Goldilocks played her cards wrong and ended up with no interview and a rather upsetting send off.

Here are 6 steps on how bloggers and booktubers can score a killer interview with their favorite authors with tips from Goldilocks and the Three Bears on the art of making your blog irresistible to authors.

Continue reading “Golden Release Day Celebration: Guest Post with K. M. Robinson – How to Score a Killer Author Interview”

Interview + GIVEAWAY with Bryan Pentelow

‘Ello gov’na! (I just love British accents!!!) Today’s special guest hails all the way across the Atlantic and lives in the United Kingdom! We are so glad to have Bryan Pentelow with us today! He is giving out TWO e-copies of his newest book Sprocket and the Heart of the North this week, and we want you to win them! Go check out the interview below and be sure to enter the giveaway below!

Bryan Pentelow

1. In your own words, what is your book Sprocket and the Heart of the North about? 51CtZm7Rp2L._AC_US160_

As with all the Sprocket Sagas, this one is a fight between good and evil. Which wins? Read it and find out. 

The North of England was a centre of glass making in the past and in my history, the furnaces were fired by dragons. Then a desperate sorcerer needing powerful magic to save his own land steals the Heart of the North, kills its maker and casts an evil spell to cover his dark deeds. A counter spell is conjured to contain the evil but how long can it last. Can dogs, dragons and humans find the lost Heart of the North before the Creeping Dark destroys the Great Northern Forest and lays waste to their homes? What is Dragon Glass and what makes it so special? Is the young glass blower from Manchester a descendant of the maker of the Heart of the North? What is hidden on a dusty top shelf in the store room of the Glass Museum in Malaga Spain? There is so much to learn, so many questions to answer and so little time for our heroes to unravel the clues and twists of history and legend. Join the hunt for the Heart and follow the trail where ever it leads, but don’t linger on the way or you may be consumed by the CREEPING DARK.

2. Why do you love writing? When did you first have a love for writing, and how was it formed?

I have a life long fight with the English language, having very wobbly spelling and a tenuous grasp on grammar. As a result of this, I wrote as little as possible till the advent of word processing packages then at least I could correct some of my shortcomings. I have been a copywriter for mail order catalogues which broadened my vocabulary when trying to find yet another different way to describe several almost identical products. As part of my sales and marketing career, I had to make presentations and give them. This disciplined me to write logical timelines and produce impact at beginning and end. Try Public speaking some time, it’s a great way to improve your writing and bring an understanding of the difference between written and spoken language. At some time I would love to give poetry a serious try but I find the restriction of very few and precise words beyond me most of the time.

3. Who are your favourite authors, and which ones have had an impact on you? Who has affected your writing style the most?

The list is endless and it is very hard to pull out my favourite authors, but I will do my best not to write a book and bore you to death. Terry Pratchett and his Disc World books have given me immense joy over the years and great sorrow at his recent death. The vast imagination and joyous humour of his stories are beyond compare. My second choice is Neal Asher. He writes science fiction which explores the relationship between humans and artificial intelligence which could be hard work if his storylines and action packed plots didn’t drag the reader along at a breakneck pace. Steve McHugh is my third choice with his masterly interweaving of history, legend and the present day. Mix together magic, gods of every pantheon and a thrilling fast paced story line and you are in for a fast ride. Recently I have come across to new, independent authors who have gripped my reading. E.M. Swift-Hook who is currently producing the second trilogy in her fascinating story of the clash of medieval and sci-fi societies is a writer well worth getting to know. Her books are full of strong characters with plots that have more twists than a coil spring. The second is Robert Lee Beers. His books centre on a hard-bitten private eye whose cases cross the boundaries of time and the supernatural to give a fascinating insight into the ways of crime and evil. As all these writers have a number of books to their names, whichever one you pick you will have plenty to go at. 

4. What are your favourite genres to read and write? What are your favourite books?

I have a fairly catholic taste in reading material. My only must have is a good story line. I cannot bear are the sort of classic novels filled with dithering characters with too much money and time who fritter away their time on pointless trivia. I love Science fiction and fantasy both to read and write for the freedom to follow ideas to logical or illogical conclusions usually without getting locked up or causing wars or riots. I like military history as long as it’s not too packed with statistics and facts that they slow down the story. I read this, I don’t write it as I’m much too lazy to do the copious amounts of research necessary to get the facts straight. I have listed above some of my favourites but here I would include ant of Bernard Cornwell’s books particularly the Lords of the North series and the Sharpe series. Staying in the Napoleonic era I would also recommend any of Alexander Kent’s Bolitho books about the Royal Navy of that period. He can write a sea battle like no other and leave you wondering how any sailor survived the shot, shell and flying splinters. Just to show that I do read books by authors who are not British, I would include most of David Baldacci’s fiction books all of which are real page turners.

5. What do you do when you’re not writing? Is writing a part-time or full-time job?10391697_105921086085058_4141656_n

I read. I am lucky enough to be retired so can usually find time to keep my, to read list, from getting too long. I have always loved reading as a method of learning and visiting new places and ideas. As a child, I went through many torch batteries while reading under the bed covers after official lights out time. Since I became a writer and discovered how much a review means to an author I also try to write a review of the books I read and would encourage everyone to do the same. It doesn’t have to be lengthy or erudite, just a few lines to say what you liked or what could be improved are of real value. My other great pleasure is listening to the radio. I know its old fashioned but the special effects have always been much better than television and the scenery always coincides with my ideas of what things look like. 

6. Who is your favourite character from your Sprocket Sagas?

It has to be Mrs. Mumbly. She is an English Bull Terrier and is the toughest dog you could imagine. If you are unfamiliar with the breed then look them up on Google. They are short haired, bullet-headed with pointed ears and whippy tails. They look very fierce but if you offer a hard dog biscuit and a scratch between the ears you will have a friend for life. These dogs are totally loyal to their friends and will defend their loved ones to the death. If you meet one, be a friend. Never cross the dog world’s answer to an armoured vehicle. 

7. How is it like living in Britain? What are some things you love about the United Kingdom? Do you guys drink a lot of tea there? (I had to ask!)

I love and hate the weather. In the same day, we can experience at least three seasons and need to change outfits to suit. I love the fact that the English, in particular, are not uptight about who we are. It makes me smile when our Celtic neighbours get wound up about the ‘Old Enemy’. Clinging to the past can have a very negative effect on a nation. 

Yes we do drink a lot of tea and are very choosy about what tea we drink and how we brew it. What most of Europe and most of America forget is that tea needs boiling water and that coffee machines do not get the water hot enough to make a good cup of tea. 

My other delight is the BBC. From an early age their Children’ Hours on the radio (now sadly no longer broadcast) fired my imagination and being able to watch a whole program without being interrupted by the banal drivel of adverts is a blessing afforded to very few.  51bgt51b3gL._SX311_BO1,204,203,200_

8. Your books feature dragons and take place in Dragon World! Would you like one as a pet, and why or why not?

Yes, I would like a dragon but not as a pet. My dragons are sentient beings, so keeping one as a pet would be like keeping a slave. I would love a dragon friend but most of them are too big for houses and their appearance would tend to terrify people. Also, they must be kept away from liquorice as it gives them hiccoughs and that combined with the ability to breathe fire or ice can lead to disaster. Having a Seeker Dragon as a friend would save a fortune in petrol and air fares as I could use portals as a means of getting about. One of my aims in life is to give dragons a better press. They have mostly played the villain in stories but that was because of humans being frightened of the unusual and our tendency to try to wipe out that which we find threatening.

9. What is a regular day of writing to you?

There isn’t a regular writing day for me. I am completely undisciplined and come and go to and from my laptop as the ideas hit me. I am something of a believer in Terry Pratchett’s theory that Ideas sleet through the multiverse till they collide with a mind and if you don’t write them down quickly they will move on to someone more receptive. In this way I drift from project to project sometimes working for long periods while the story line flows and at others, bumbling about in my shed or garden as ideas sleet past. Being retired and a self-published author I don’t have editors or publishers setting deadlines for me. What a marvellously unstructured existence I lead, at least till my grandchildren put the pressure on.

10. How do you combat writer’s block?

I’m lucky. It hasn’t been much of a problem for me but on the odd occasion when a story line gets stuck up a dead end, I go and do something else till bits drop into place then go back to where things started to go wrong and re-write from there. I am waiting for a breakthrough in the second Sci-Fi book to see if it will be one or two books but if I wait much longer then it is likely to be more fact than fiction.

11. Have you written any other works? What are your current plans for your writing career?P1020353

There are now six stories in the Sprocket sagas and my eldest granddaughter is putting the pressure on for another full-length book, a longer one as it only took her about a week to read the last one. 

I have also written a short Science Fiction book ‘Sea Change’ and am writing a much longer sequel. There is also a short story, ’A waste of Skin’ which I have yet to publish. As I am a member of a speaker’s club I will be writing a number of pieces for verbal presentation. Some of my past speeches have been put up on Niume and can be read there. Anything which is on that site with the exception of the serialisation of the first Sprocket book is free to download. Find me on Amazon to see all my books.

12. Do you have any tips to any aspiring authors or writers?

There is only one main tip and that is to write. Until you have written down your ideas you have nothing to work on. In this day and age it is easy to cut and paste a piece of work to put in additional material or to alter an idea which has run into a brick wall but until you have a basic story on the screen or page there is nothing to improve. So don’t waste time trying to come up with the perfect novel in your head, get on and write. 

Thank you so much, Bryan, for coming onto our blog!

Check out Bryan’s social media pages here!

Website | Amazon | Facebook | Goodreads

Here is the giveaway! We are giving away two Kindle e-copies of Sprocket and the Heart of the North! Enter the giveaway below! The rules are in the Terms & Conditions (make sure you read them!).

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Hope you have a wonderful week! And make sure you share! 🙂

+ J.M.J.

~ Kester