A Fantasy Series you might want to check out

Hey guys,

My fellow fantasy author Andy Peloquin just released the second book of his Queen of Thieves Series. Both books are at 99 cents for a limited time, so you might like to check them out.

Here is the blurb of the first book:

Check out “Child of the Night Guild” on Amazon

“They killed my parents. They took my name. They imprisoned me in darkness. I would not be broken.”

Viola, a child sold to pay her father’s debts, has lost everything: her mother, her home, and her identity. Thrown into a life among criminals, she has no time for grief as she endures the brutal training of an apprentice thief. The Night Guild molds an innocent waif into a cunning, agile outlaw skilled in the thieves’ trade. She has only one choice: steal enough to pay her debts.

The cutthroat streets of Praamis will test her mettle, and she must learn to dodge the City Guards or swing from a hangman’s rope. But a more dangerous foe lurks within the guild walls. A sadistic rival apprentice, threatened by her strength, is out for blood.

What hope does one girl have in a world of ruthless men?”

 

 

 

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Review of “Time Burrito”


Time Burrito

My Rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

The first time I saw the cover of this book, I was like “What the hell!” A cat on a burrito, flying through space! I just had to grab it. I was glad I did so.

Time Burrito is an excellent science fiction-comedy. It doesn’t fear to laugh at certain tropes of the genre, and this makes it an even better read. There are also satirical elements in the story, which add to the fun. The main character “Pete” is a pretty useless guy, and it was interesting to see all the mistakes he makes along the way.

Go grab “Time Burrito” from Amazon. You won’t regret it ^^

 

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A Note on David Gemmell

Sword in the Storm (The Rigante Series, Book 1)

David Gemmell was one of the inspirations behind my short story A Song of Blood. So, I guess, I just had to write this.

A Note on David Gemmell

It’s been over two years since I first read Sword in the Storm. I can vividly remember being blown away by the rich storytelling, infused with themes of courage, redemption and the grey nature of the Rigante world. It was a fantasy novel and of course there was magic. Magic unlike any I had experienced earlier. It was a magic not of spells and curses and incantations, but of the soul. Good acts of people added to it, while bad deeds depleted the magic.

However, the best aspect of Gemmell’s writing was his optimism. One could stare Death in the eye, guaranteed to be slain in a battle tomorrow, but still be hopeful, chat with friends and make merry and enjoy life to its fullest today. Gemmell’s novel was not merely a very entertaining read to me but a life lesson.

I recently read the third novel in the Rigante series, Ravenheart. I found it having the same master storytelling of the first two books, if anything, it was actually even better. There was a scene in which a one-eyed man beats down a fighter, trained to be the best in the land. In the hands of a less gifted writer the scene would have likely become mediocre and clichéd, where the weak beats the strong. But here, Gemmell pulls it off magnificently. My heart soared as I read the particular scene, Gemmell saying that the one-eyed man seemed to lift the mountains in the background on his shoulders.

Towards the end there were a series of scenes, in which the seed of unity is sowed between two peoples at the face of utter injustice. I was holding back tears, mesmerized by the intensity of Gemmell’s writing.

It’s sad, David Gemmell is no more. As per Wikipedia, he died writing. I consider that kind of death an honour for any writer (who wouldn’t!) The best artist often dies doing what they love, getting lost in their creation forever. Gemmell continues to live through his wonderful books, inspiring readers like me to live life at its fullest, no matter what and be optimistic in the worst of situations. Like that flower growing in the snow, not a single other plant in sight, most beautiful because it has hope.


 

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Good websites for Indies: Instafreebie

I stumbled upon Instafreebie less than a month ago. I had 150 mailing list subscribers back then. Now I have nearly 900, and the numbers are only steadily climbing. The subcribers all came from cross promos a certain facebook group organises, of which I am a part of. The magical thing about Instafreebie is that every time anybody downloads a book, they are automatically included into the authors newsletter.

I recommend Instafreebie to any author, big or small, who wants to reach out to an even wider audience.

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The Accidental God by Casey Mathews

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Check out The Accidental God (A Pygmalion Fail Book 1) on amazon!
4.5 of 5 stars

This is probably the most hilarious book I have read this year. The hero, Issac, is a great character who has countless insecurities (on one occasion he actually soils his pants). Casey Matthews doesn’t allow his characters to stick to sterotypes and he weaves his words like a master storytellar. Grab this book right away if you like anything fantasy. It’s a refreshing take on the genre and you’ll find yourself laughing out loud at many points (there’s bikini armour in the book!)

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The Invisible Entente by Krista Walsh

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Check out The Invisible Entente: a prequel novella on Amazon!

4.5 of 5 stars

The Invisible Entente is one of those books which keep you on the edge of your seats. This is urban fantasy at its best. Author Krista Walsh has done a great job. The structure of the book especially is interesting, with each character narrating their own backstory. The author gives them unique voices and they become very three dimensional. Go grab this book right away and enjoy!

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Interview with Jay Erickson

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It’s author Jay Erickson on the blog this time. He is the author of the Blood Wizard Chronicles. You can visit him at his website http://www.authorjayerickson.com/

1) Tell us a bit about yourself.

I grew up in the south suburbs of Chicago where the houses are so close that you can reach out and touch both of them at once. Those suburbs are an eclectic mixing pot of cultures, religions, and poverty levels. I think such variety gave me a strong understanding conflict and identity at a very young age.

I have one brother of my own blood, and a bevy of other siblings from remarriages and such. I have a wife and two daughters, and we now live in a more rural area, a state away, where I no longer have to make uncomfortable eye-contact with the neighbor if I look through my window towards their house.

The biggest thing about me is that I love stories. Stories in every entertainment medium possible. If the story is good then I will watch/read/listen/or play it. I am an avid RPG gamer of both the pencil and paper variety, as well as console and PC. Lately, as the years have progressed, I find myself just listening to audio-books when I drive, I couldn’t even begin to tell you some of the current music anymore.

I also love to do work on Photoshop, and design my own games and promotional art.

2) Tell us about your books.

My current published work is all in the realm of traditional fantasy. The kind with elves, gnomes, dragons, and magic in a wondrous and mystical land far removed from our own. I sort of use those standard tropes as ‘comfort food’ for readers, something that is familiar. Then I turn it all upside down as I delve deeper into my world using my own races, cultures, and religions. I also like to rearrange a lot of those tropes that you may be comfortable with.

For example, I have Dark Elves, yes, but their culture is nothing like what the standard tropes have dictated. A fan once told me, bless her heart, that my world is joyously unpredictable.

You see, the world of Kuldarr is a progressive one. Within that world I have a novella line; Stormwind, Dark Consort, and Pononga. The novellas follows the path of a vagabond swordsman (Stormwind) who just can’t seem to stay out of trouble. It begins with him in a monastery trying to find out where he fits in this world. While there the village that the monastery protects is attacked. While he is attempting to defend the village, the son of someone important to him is kidnapped and he has to go on an adventure to save him. It is a more lighthearted read full of humor, action, love, and hope with a few twists and turns. It’s a tale of identity, and geared for a younger adult audience who also question their place in the world.

The novel line, starting with Pariah, is much darker. It follows a young boy (Ashyn Rune) who suffers tragedy at an early age. He becomes hunted by ruthless killers, and his only hope for salvation lies with one of the most feared and despised creatures in all of Kuldarr. This tale is dark, and violent. Kirkus Review said it is ‘a dense and violent series opener, seeded with events of grand consequence’, and I have to say that it is quite fitting.

Finally, this year I released a collection of short stories called Exactors: Tales from the Citadel, along with author J.P. Strohm. Again it takes place in Kuldarr, and tells the tales of a group of mercenaries that work for the most powerful religious organization in the world. These Exactors perform the jobs that others cannot, or will not do. They are a lot of fun, and with the help of J.P. Strohm, they really helped to flush out the dynamics of my world nicely.

I like to explain my books as sort of like the MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe), the story arcs are different, but there are threads in the books, even Easter eggs, that connect one with the other. They all share the same nations, history, world events and catastrophes, but the reader does not have to read Pariah to understand and enjoy any of my novellas, or vice versa.

3) Your book covers are real eye catchers. Who designs them?

Thank you! I wish you could tell you that I did all the work, and that I am an outstanding artist, but it’s simply not true. A lot of people contributed to help make those covers what they are.

First and foremost the talent lies in the photographers with their keen eyes, fierce attention to detail, and amazing use of lighting. Both Jason Bigart and Roy Ferrer do amazing work.

Next are the models. They are all fantastic people, and great to work with, they have helped give real life to some of my characters.

Ashley Erickson (no relation) of Hardshellart, has handled the concept design of some of my more unconventional races.

Hope Norton did the original artwork for Pariah.

After all of that, I plug them into Photoshop and attempt to recreate a scene from the books. Adobe Photoshop and InDesign really are amazingly flexible programs and are capable of some truly excellent stuff if you have the patience to learn through trial and error.

That may sound like alot of work, and it would be easier to just hire an artist to create a cover, while I stick to writing. The truth is, I enjoy watching it all come to life. It helps make the world real to me, and everyone involved loves it. I think that helps. Because each one of them wants to deliver something special. I learned right away the importance of a catchy cover, my original Stormwind cover was lackluster, and it didn’t draw people in. It was a brutal lesson. Without a cover that stands out, and a solid blurb, your book is likely to be passed up even if your story inside is amazing.

People may say ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’, but in the end they always do.

4) How do you handle the editing and stuff?

The immensely talented Kathleen LaSelle is responsible for all the editing of my currently published work. She has over twenty years of editing experience and I was extremely lucky to have her services for my first few pieces. Exactors: Tales from the Citadel was her last job, and she has since retired.

5) What about world building?

I have been designing the world of Kuldarr since 2005 even though I didn’t get published until 2015. I have developed well over five thousand years of history, along with nations, wars, political groups, secret societies, religions, etc.

I wish I could say I have a definitive strategy in place, but really new ideas come along all the time. I just make sure that if changes are made, for the better or worse, it doesn’t violate the canon I already have in place with my history and current novels.

I think my world building will always be an ongoing endeavor. I wish I had better organization because my world is spread out in numerous notebooks, hotel note pads, word documents, and on and on.

6) You joined the air force at nineteen, if I am not mistaken? Has that part of your life been an influence in your writing?

Yes, absolutely. I have now been a member for the US Air Force for nineteen years, both active duty and as a reservist. It has influenced everything I do, consciously and subconsciously.

You see, you can ask any service member, there is something different about people when you serve, when you are at war. The men and women next to you, they are not black, or white, yellow, or green. You don’t separate them, and identify them as Islamic or Christian, or Buddhist, or Atheist. They are your brothers and sisters pure and simple. They are the person that you count on to bring you home at the end of the day, and they count on you to do the same for them.

It is an exceptionally rare camaraderie that I have truly not encountered at any other career I have ever had. As such, I have tried to convey such connections with my own characters, especially in the face of adversity.

Another great thing thanks to the Air Force, is that I am well traveled. I have had the immense luxury of interacting, and learning from many other cultures and societies, which has truly broadened my understanding of the world around me. That is the beautiful positives that I attempt to emulate in my writing. Camaraderie and rich cultures.

On the other end of the spectrum is war. War is ugly. The best laid plans often fall apart after the first thirty seconds of battle. Fear is thick and rampant. Everyone has it, even the toughest soldiers. Incursions are often brutal, swift, and immensely violent.

I do my best to convey that ugliness as well.

7) How many words do you write a day?

I read an article once, I think it was in Writer’s Digest, that a professional author should target 3000 words a day. So when I write, that’s my target. Honestly though, it’s extremely hit or miss, but it’s always my target.

I treat writing like weight lifting. If I want to get in better writing shape, it has to get done. So even when I’m not feeling it, I still do it. I still write something. Writer’s block? I pound through it, inch by bloody inch. It may not be the best material, but that’s why there’s a drafting process after all.

At the same token I don’t want to over strain or injure my writing muscles, so like a weight-lifter, I take off days to let those muscles heal.

8) Your favourite books?

1.) Wizard’s First Rule by Terry Goodkind

2.) Sphere and Prey by Michael Crichton

3.) The Thrawn Trilogy by Timothy Zahn

4.) Dune by Frank Herbert

5.) Angels and Demons by Dan Brown

6.) Way of the Shadows by Brent Weeks

Now I know what you’re thinking. For a fantasy writer there’s not much fantasy in there. Truth is, I’ve always loved Science Fiction and thrillers over dragons and magic. I just seem drawn to writing Fantasy is all.

9) So what’s coming next from you?

2017 is going to be a full year for me, as well as for the readers I hope. I have the conclusion to the Blood Wizard Chronicles novella story arc, which will bring a close to the main character Stormwind’s narrative.

I will also be releasing the sequel to Pariah. I have a handful of short stories that will crop up in a few anthologies, such as Missing Pieces, which is spearheaded by the talented C.E. Rocco.

Finally, if everything goes well I might even have something completely new out, we’ll see!

10)Anything you would like to add?

I want to thank A.J. Chaudhury for taking the time and energy to reach out to me for an interview, it is always flattering to be recognized for your work.

I also want to thank all of the fans; past, present, and future. Thank you for taking a chance with my stories. For those of you that have come back for more, thank you for continuing to give this author the opportunity to entertain you. It means the world to me.


Pariah is the first novel in a four part series: The Blood Wizard Chronicles.
This first book chronicles the story of a young boy named Ashyn Rune. He is special. Not chosen one, going to fulfill some ancient prophecy and save the known universe special, but different. At six years of age, he is fully literate and he can speak a multitude of languages. By eight, he knows advanced mathematics and can even predict weather movements. Yet there is more to him as well. Something he doesn’t really understand himself, for Ashyn can manipulate fire.
His family loves him unconditionally, and he loves them with a passion. The rest of the village though is terrified of him. He is too strange. A freak of nature. A demon-spawn. A pariah.
Then in the span of a single catastrophic day, he engulfs a rich man’s son in flames, and a terrible tragedy befalls his village of Bremingham. For the first time ever, Ashyn finds himself very alone.
It doesn’t last . . .
Between being hunted by Wild Elves, stalked by Dragons, lost in a magical forest maze, and enslaved by an Enclave claiming or-phans from war, Ashyn learns that there is more to him than just manipulating fire and being clever.
Eventually he is discovered, and taken in by a man named Xexial Bontain. Xexial can see Ashyn’s particular gifts, and like the boy, this man too is an outcast. Xexial however chose his fate. For Xexial Bontain became that which the world around him fears, a wielder of a magic so perverse, so foul, that it taints the very land around it in its wake. A master of Destruction. A Wizard.
The world hates and fears Wizards and should Ashyn follow this path, he too would be hated and feared. Yet is that so terrible a fate for a child who has been a pariah his entire life?
As the years pass, Ashyn grows in power but also loneliness, until one day someone from his past is unveiled. Now the boy turned man is forced to make a desperate choice. Stay with Xexial and become a full-fledged wizard, finally learning to harness the power he requires to get vengeance for all that he has lost? Or, break his vow, and abandon everything he has gained to try and save the one he loves, knowing the result will once again be exile? Yet this time, he won’t just be hunted by the Wild Elves, but his own kind as well. Including the very the man who has become like a father to him . . .

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Interview with Brooke Burgess

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(check out the The Cat’s Maw on Amazon)

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It’s author Brooke Burgess on my blog today. He is the author of the acclaimed “The Cat’s Maw”. Be sure to visit his website http://brookeburgess.com/

1) Tell us a bit about yourself.

Hmm…let’s see. I guess I could share the bio from my new site 🙂

After a youth in eastern Canada spent daydreaming, reading, role-playing, and scribbling through plays and short stories, I officially started my jack-of-all-trades narrative career as a writer, producer, and voice director on AAA titles for software giant Electronic Arts. This period was a blessing on so many levels that I consider it my ‘Masters degree with pay’ to this day.

After several tours of duty in the videogame trenches — and with the nascent awesomeness of the WWW beckoning — it was time to embark on my ‘Storytelling PhD’ by creating the world’s first motion-comic epic: BROKEN SAINTS. (www.brokensaints.com) Experienced by millions worldwide — over dial-up, no less! — this life-changing project let me run wild with a narrative vision, and gain immeasurable growth as a storyteller for the digital age.

Nearly a decade later, I continue to work with the gaming industry while consulting on all things transmedia, directing voiceover, speaking and lecturing, and creating exciting original IP on multiple platforms.

2) Tells us about The Cat’s Maw.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R4AxJFF15_s

IT’S ABOUT A BOY! A CAT! AND A NIGHTMARE IN TWO WORLDS! =)

Basically try to imagine a modern-day Narnia with a very dark side, as if written by Stephen King and/or Neil Gaiman? It’s my award-winning Mystery/Fantasy/Horror debut for brave young readers, and cat lovers of all ages. Here are some of accolades it has received so far: BEST YA MYSTERY 2015 — Gelett Burgess Awards SILVER MEDAL (Pre-Teen) 2015 — Moonbeam Awards TOP SHELF HONOREE 2015 — VOYA Magazine (Middle Grade) ‘Top 100 Children’s Books to Read in a Lifetime — GOODREADS ‘One of 8 Great Novels Starring Cats’ — CATSTER And a story synopsis: In the sleepy town of Appleton, a young loner follows a stray cat onto the road and is struck by a car. A leg is shattered, a summer is ruined, and the troubled life of Billy Brahm goes from bad…to cursed. When the mysterious cat appears at his bedside, Billy is haunted by strange and prophetic dreams — the creatures in them speak of Watchers, and Shadows, and the Enemy that Awakens. Does this impossible realm hold the key to healing the broken boy? Is the golden-eyed cat there to help him…or to make the nightmares come true? Too frightened to share the truth with his strict adoptive parents, Billy realizes that the only ones he can turn to are the local vet’s daughter, the town’s ‘crazy cat lady’…

And a mystical tiger, beckoning from his dreams! 

3) Any reason for your fascination with cats?

You mean besides the fact that they’re smart, beautiful, powerful, and mystical animals that seem to hold the secrets to the Universe in their eyes?

I was an only child, and grew up in a tiny farm town in Nova Scotia, Canada. A cat was my first real ‘friend’. He opened up my heart, and had a huge impact on me from a very young age. In fact, he was probably the first seed of inspiration for The Cat’s Maw, as you can read here:

http://brookeburgess.com/2013/10/15/my-first-guru-had-four-feet/

4) The Cat’s Maw has received a very positive response and many awards. How was the process like of writing and publishing the book?

I had been thinking about the story for many years, as I realized that there were all of these important moments from my life — ‘spiritual’ moments, if I’m being honest — where cats were involved, or somehow connected. So then I started forming this story in my head, the adventures of Billy Brahm and the big arcs of the Shadowland Saga, and doing lots of research. I looked at the history of cats in the civilized world, how different cultures viewed them (as gods, magic spirits, demons, and – most importantly, as dream walkers), and begin to make an outline for the entire story.

When it came time to write, I was fortunate enough to find a tiny, peaceful island in southern Thailand that was just perfect — there were cats everywhere!  The first draft of the book poured out of me in just over 8 weeks. After that, I took a break to rest and recover (writing can be very draining for me, because I really surrender to the process), and then edited and polished the book over several months while submitting to publishers.

There were several interested agents and publishers at first, but I found that the money they were offering was just too little in exchange for them controlling the rights to a very personal story — my story!  So I did a crowdfunding campaign on social media and raised enough through friends, family, and fans of my old series to finish the illustrations and book cover, properly self-publish, and create the amazing audiobook version:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_i98wBPXNDI

5) How many books will the Shadowland saga consist of?

Five. The story will also evolve over time. The first book is more of a mystery/fantasy, with some suspense and a touch of horror. The second book brings in more adventure and suspense elements. The third will move more into thriller/horror territory. The fourth is full-on fantasy. And the finale will combine all of the elements to finish as a ‘spiritual epic’.

6) The Cat’s Maw is both for adults and children. Was it difficult to maintain a writing style that attracted both age groups? How did you achieve it?

One of the best compliments I received from a reviewer mentioned that they loved the book because I had ‘faith in the audience’. I believe that younger readers are capable of understanding and really enjoying deeper and somewhat complex characters and ideas, and are also brave enough to immerse themselves in a scary story with big questions about life and death if the writing doesn’t talk ‘down’ to them.

These were the kinds of stories that interested me when I was young, and I find in my travels that many adults feel these types of stories had the power to stay with them their entire lives. That they were ‘timeless’. And that was always my goal — I just wrote for my 12yr-old self, and tried to keep him interested and excited 🙂  And this seemed to work, as many adult readers have reviewed and said that the book made them ‘feel like a child again, with a sense of wonder and dread‘.

7) I assume you are working on the sequel. Is the anticipation by readers daunting you? Do you have any fears that the sequel just might not live up to the first book?

I’m working on the sequel in Morocco right now! I wanted to go to a new place that had a history with and affinity for cats, and I’m feeling very inspired here. The island in Thailand had a cat-loving Buddhist culture, and the Muslims here appreciate cats very much. So that helps a little with finding the courage to keep writing, seeing cats every day and remembering that I have a responsibility to tell this story. But I certainly have some fears about the sequel — I don’t want to let people down, or copy myself, or play it safe and miss the essence and message that needs to be loud and clear in the story.

I’m also aware that I need to make some small structural adjustments to engage readers earlier on this time. The first book was intentionally designed to be a slow, hypnotic tale that carefully pulled people in and then suddenly dropped them into a roller coaster of weirdness about 2/3 through. For Book 2, I’ll be diving into more mystery, tension, and urgent conflicts from the beginning…and also blurring the line between what’s ‘real’, and what exists in the ‘dream’ world.

8) So which books and authors have most influenced you?

It’s quite a mix, but I’m a big fan of things that left a lasting impression, touched my emotions, and shaped my values and spiritual beliefs in some way.

Here’s a small list – ask me again tomorrow and it could change!

  • The Prophet – Kahlil Gibran
  • The Alchemist – Paulo Coelho
  • The Lord of the Rings – J.R.R. Tolkien
  • The Sandman Anthology – Neil Gaiman
  • Salem’s Lot / The Stand / The Dark Half – Stephen King
  • The Little Prince – Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
  • The Wonderful Wizard of Oz – L. Frank Baum
  • Valis – Philip K. Dick
  • Watchmen – Alan Moore
  • The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe – C.S. Lewis
  • Charlotte’s Web – E.B. White
  •   Watership Down – Richard Adams

 

9) What’s a typical writing day like?

When I’m able to get into a rhythm and have a month+ to devote to a writing project, my writing day usually unfolds like this:

  • wake up at 8’ish
  • do 20-30 min of yoga
  • go for a walk and have a light breakfast and coffee (or two!)
  • return, respond to mail and social media, and turn off internet
  • meditate for 20min
  • start writing around 10:30 for 4-5hrs
  • hit ‘save’, turn of my writer’s brain, and get out of the house
  • later that night, I’ll do a bit of research and prep, and make notes for the next morning
  • I do NOT read what I wrote that morning — if I did, I’d be tempted to edit. My feeling is that I should wait until the rewrite phase to edit.
  • REPEAT until complete!

 

10) So when is the next book coming?
If the Muse is kind, then early next spring. I’ll be announcing the title and doing a cover reveal before the Holidays.

11) Anything you would like to add?

I hope you’ll come and visit www.brookeburgess.com to experience all the weird and wonderful things I’ve been working on!  I split my time between videogame writing, audio projects, stories for comics, travel videos, and books…so there’s a lot to discover and explore. Looking forward to connecting with all of you soon 🙂

Thanks for the opportunity, AJ — good luck, and don’t stop writing!


A. J. Chaudhury is a young author from India writing mostly in the fantasy genre. His historical low fantasy short “A Song of Blood” has released and is being acclaimed by reviewers.

To download his fantasy novella “The Drabird” for free CLICK HERE!

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Interview with Casey Matthews

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It’s Casey Matthews on the blog today. Author of The Pygmalion Fail fantasy series, apparently Casey is the only writer on the internet who doesn’t own a cat. Be sure to visit www.caseymatthews.org/

1) Tell us a bit about yourself.

I’m a level 3 human with proficiency in writing and bardic knowledge. Extroversion is my dump stat. Not only do I have misophonia (rage when hearing people chew loudly), but so does my roommate. My house is full of skittish people constantly irritated at one another who have to hide in closets to eat.

Beyond my roommate there is also this girl in my life named Katie and she sleeps in my bed and plays with my hair and we spend a lot of time together. She is my everything and she is totally not imaginary.

2) Tell us about ‘The Pygmalion Fail’ trilogy. It revolves around paintings?

It revolves around paintings, geek culture, and RPGs. Isaac is a geek who gets sucked into his own fantasy world and has to deal with a wizard who’s jealous of his ability to draw things into existence. Isaac isn’t really the best at fighting off the minions of this wizard, though, so he needs help from some of his own creations—as well as his power-gaming best friend, Dak (initially Dak is back on Earth; later he’s sucked into the world with Isaac).

The story at its heart is about screwing up. Isaac’s creations are never quite what he intends: the bikini armor that doesn’t properly protect its wearer, the Queen’s (shall we say) ethical lapses—this world is a mess. Some of it is Isaac’s fault. Artistically, this story is about the messiness of creation. Culturally, it’s a love-letter to the fantasy genre that also pokes fun of the tropes a little.

The tone is light-hearted, the pace is quick—I learned a lot about story structure making it that way, and I’m proud of how it came out.

It’s also close to my heart, because it’s a proper bromance. The most important relationship in this story is between Isaac and his best friend, Dak.

3) Tell us about the upcoming ‘Blood and Factions’ series.

This one’s got a serious tone. It’s still sword and sorcery, but focuses more on adventure, deception, intrigue, and romance. If you like assassins, this one’s for you.

The story is about a conman-style assassin named Marlow, who has to protect the priestess Arca from a wicked tyrant who is contracting Marlow’s old guild to slay her. Marlow and his crew are pursued by his oldest and most dangerous friends; they’re chased across the world, and eventually take refuge in a foreign city where Marlow and Arca must pose as husband and wife (much to her chagrin).

I love the characters in this story. Marlow’s a charismatic asshole, principled and political, but almost too cynical to function. Arca’s past is troubled, but it’s made her courageous, and she suffers no fools. There’s also Rayk, a personal favorite of mine. He’s a Fae-blooded youth with the mindset of a particularly sheltered boy—and yet he murders easily and treats it like a game. He spends most of the story just being very excited to kill things.

4) How do you go about the process of preparing your books for publication?

I contract my editor early, alerting him to the work that’s coming his way, because mine is very busy and is usually backlogged. Editing is expensive and, if your person is good, it can take some time. I contract my cover art whenever I can, but at the very latest, a month or two before I anticipate the editing to conclude.

I do the formatting myself and at this point stick to KDP.

5) You released three books in a short period of time. How has that been helpful as a marketing strategy?

The theory behind doing a tightly staggered release is that people don’t have to wait long for the next story—so perhaps you draw more return readers than if they had to wait a year. My books are also fairly short and there’s a big plot arc that connects them, so I wouldn’t want people to wait more than a month or two in between each.

I’m not sure how much a marketing edge this is. Maybe it would have done better to bind them together into one large volume—I’m new to publishing and still experimenting with format.

6) Hmmm… So Spiderman is your role model?

When Spider-Man loses—and he loses a lot—he doesn’t give up. He goes back and studies his enemy’s weaknesses, he learns from his mistakes, and he goes into the next fight prepared. That combination of tenacity, adaptability, and use of mind make him formidable.

He’s flawed. He makes mistakes—sometimes very costly ones. But he tries, he puts himself out there every day, and even though he hasn’t got money and the press hates him, he does what he thinks is right. Not because it makes his life any better—it never does—but just because it’s right.

So yeah, I’m not half that awesome, but Spider-Man knows what’s up.

7) Any other interests besides writing?

I cycle between a few major entertainment sources: tabletop RPGs, novels, television and movies, and video games. I’m a pretty curious person and keep a stable of much smarter individuals whose blogs and brain scrapings I consume for pleasure.

8)Where do you think the world of indie publishing is headed?

Right now, I think most people who read indie books are looking for niche categories that mass market doesn’t address. Your prepper fiction, your lit RPG, your alien bodice-ripper romance—or hopefully in my case, humorous portal fantasy.

Point is, indie publishing can cater to demands that mass market won’t—because it’s too niche. And that’s where most of my books fall. They’re very good, but very niche.

There’s a quality problem in indie publishing, though. I hear a lot of folks complain that they want niche categories that are done better. And this is where it sucks not to have any gatekeeping: when everyone publishes, how do you tell the good from the bad?

Mind you, we shouldn’t just add quality filters. There is a strong case for bad fiction. Most bad books are still written with incredible passion, and many readers don’t actually care all that much if the grammar’s shoddy or the tropes are overdone. When someone makes a story with passion, and it finds some other soul with that same passion, the quality of writing is sometimes a distant concern. So while I’m very snobby about the quality of book I put out, I’m a libertarian snob and I don’t begrudge the success of bad books. If you didn’t cheat—if you actually wrote the book, and you actually pleased people with it—you deserve every five-star review, even if you don’t know how to use a fucking comma.

Amazon is a humbling teacher, and what she teaches me is that you don’t have to be Shakespeare to be read. Sometimes people are hungry for a story about an apocalypse-surviving badass, or a big, beautiful woman kidnapped by alpha male aliens.

But I’d like indie publishing to do a better job of rewarding good writing and good storycraft in conjunction with these niche categories. The technology right now allows us to easily identify genre and what a story is about; it’s not good at identifying the high-quality stuff within that genre. The review system kind of sucks; the “look inside” is a little better, but even then, it doesn’t give you a good feel for the work’s total worth.

It’s difficult to prove quality in indie publishing, and unless that changes, I don’t think it goes much further than it has right now. I can’t foresee a solution to the quality problem. Maybe good writers organize into guilds that screen for quality? Maybe a major publisher opens up an “indie publishing” wing that screens quality? I haven’t read up on the Kindle Scout program lately, but I’d watch efforts like that and see where they lead.

9) What has influenced your writing the most?

Comic books and superheroes. Most of what I write is secretly about superheroes, even if there aren’t any capes or costumes.

10) Anything you’d like to add?

Enjoy “The Accidental God”!

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01IGIZNQI

 

The Accidental God (A Pygmalion Fail Book 1)

The world of Rune is just a series of fantasy paintings, or so Isaac Myers assumes; he’s even started adding some new art of his own to the seemingly abandoned project. He learns better after a frustrating night of gaming with his best friend, Dak, culminates in a one-way trip to Rune itse…

amazon.com


A. J. Chaudhury is a young author from India writing mostly in the fantasy genre. His historical low fantasy short “A Song of Blood” has released and is being acclaimed by reviewers.

To download his fantasy novella “The Drabird” for free CLICK HERE!

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Interview with Melanie Ifield

 

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It’s author Melanie Ifield on the blog today. She writes books for both adults (The Age of Corruption) and children (Chronicles of Novarmere, The Chicken Liberation Army) and has many books under her belt. Despite having long term illness she writes, and is easily the most positive person I have ever had the opportunity to meet online. Be sure to visit her blog https://melanieifield.wordpress.com/

1)Tell us a bit about yourself.

I was born and raised in country Australia, where I have now returned after years away attending University and then working in both Sydney and Canberra. I studied journalism at Uni but ended up in the public service; a good occupation that gave me the chance to explore writing fiction in slow times. I started writing when I was very young, when my hand writing was so large each sentence took up a page! While I didn’t write so much for many years between then and now, being an author is really al I’ve wanted since I first picked up a book.

2) Tell us about your books.

I write both general fiction and fantasy for a mixture of age groups!

I wrote The Chicken Liberation Army (CLA), a general adventure novel for ages 7-10, after a friend commented that a fox had ‘liberated’ his chickens the night before, putting it like that so as not to upset his son. I quite liked the idea of liberating chickens, but by children with a desire to do what was best, not by foxes, of course! So I formed the CLA, a group of adventuresome children between the ages of 8 and 11 who know that something is going wrong at a new hen farm, so they set out to find the answers for themselves. It was incredibly fun to write, just allowing the children to have an action packed adventure, knowing they’d come home safe.

I also have a general fiction for adults called The Age of Corruption (AOC). This was a longer and harder project, but still enormous fun. It is all about a young woman who inherited a lot of money and turned to parties and alcohol to pass the time. However, she meets someone new, a dangerous someone who has a dark past and an even darker nature, who teaches her some valuable lessons in self-sufficiency and life. They are drawn into a web of hard men, international hit-men and drugs, but it is always told from the bumbling heroine’s perspective – giving the action and adventure a humorous edge. So while yes, it is about crime, it is also quite simply, just a romantic adventure.

Those two are my general fiction and I most certainly want to get back into that genre and both age groups. However, a lot of my time has been taken up with the release of my complete series one of the Chronicles of Novarmere.

The Chronicles of Novarmere is a fantasy series for the ages 12 and up. It has been read by those in their 20s 30s and older, and it appears to translate into the older groups as well as the younger. It is about a boy, an ordinary boy, who finds himself in extraordinary circumstances and has to find the hero within to save the day. It takes him from his home in our world and deposits him in the magical land of Novarmere, where his best friend is the little dragon Nilofar, who rides upon his shoulders, and the ranger Lan, who teaches him how to survive. It is great fun, with strange magical creatures, dragons, wizards and a war – everything I have come to love in fantasy!

3) You write fiction both for adults and children. How different is it to write books for children as compared to adults? Are there any additional difficulties?

I found that content is really the only thing that was mainly different for me. Of course, the children’s books had to have far more cliff hangers at chapter endings to get the younger audience to keep reading and stay off their computer games…! But in general, I write with a sense of fun always buried in my work, wondering what I’d do in any given situation and how much adventure could I handle? The content and themes, like the darker themes behind AOC, are what changes. It has to be age appropriate in danger levels.

The major difficulty is keeping a tight pace in the children’s books that will keep them interested enough to turn the page, want to read the next book, and stay away from the next box-set of DVDs! There are so many things that are clamouring for our time and attention, especially children who are learning concentration skills, it was harder to drive a plot that grabs them and doesn’t let go.

4) How’s a typical day like in the life of Melanie Ifield??

As some of you may be aware through reading my blog, I am not just a writer, but I am also someone experiencing a long term illness. So there is really no typical day for me. Each day is set up when I get up and my body tells me what it feels able to do. With an automatic nervous system disorder, my eyes are greatly affected, so the morning may be a little bit of social media, but screen time is hard and painful, so I limit it severely. I hand write most things these days, when able, typing on the screen as little as possible. A good day may see me able to spend an hour at the screen, a bad day sees me laid up on the lounge chair unable to look at anything.

5) How long do you take to complete a book? Do you edit as you write or after you have finished a draft?

When I first sat down to write the Chronicles of Novarmere, I wrote feverishly. I completed all four books and the CLA in an 18 month time frame. That’s not to say they were ready for publication, but the ideas were there and the characters were set. I’d write anywhere up to 6000 words a day, re-reading the last chapter and fiddling with it every day I sat down at the laptop. I like to edit ideas as I go, but my editor, who happens to be my sister, would say I don’t edit for spelling or grammar at all! Which is not quite true, she should read the first draft… I chop and change sentences as I go to try to make the action sleek, then go back over it all once I’m done to make sure there are no major inconsistencies, like a change of eye colour!

6) How is the publishing process like?

I found the self-publishing process traumatic as first! But now it’s not so bad. I think I must have made every mistake in the book (pun intended!) and still do, but I am learning as I go and find there are loads of groups that have amazing members ready to help out.

7) How do you promote yourself as a writer?

Mainly through social media. But due to the limitations of chronic illness, I’m afraid I don’t promote myself enough! It is a fine balance between rest, writing, research and promotion – one I am yet to master!

8) You have some interesting posts on your blog. For how long have you been blogging?

Thank you! I haven’t been blogging long at all. Only this year. I try to mix things up. It isn’t just about writing and my books, but more how writing integrates into my life and how my life affects my writing; especially how illness prevents the feverish writing I use to do, as I am more likely to do 7000 in two months, then not be able to write for the next two months.

9) Which author and books have most influenced you?

Oh that is almost impossible to answer! I read so much and feel that nearly every epic fantasy author I’ve read plays a part in how I write, as I think everything we read percolates through our subconscious, especially if we loved it. Enid Blyton and Emily Rodda have influenced my children’s books, along with JK Rowling of course! I’d have to say Janet Evanovich had a big impact for my adult book.

 

10) So what’s going to be your next release?

I am working on a compilation of short stories set in the Novarmere world that will bring to light the background of some of the things that happened in the Dark Wizard Series. There are so many books I have in my files, sometimes I do not even know where to start! However, I cannot pin a date to that, as everything takes a lot more time in my world these days.

11) Anything you’d like to add?

Thank you so much for this amazing opportunity. I have enjoyed not only answering these questions, but reading your interviews of others. I can only add to other authors out there that there is so much joy to be had from seeing your books come alive, don’t ever give up!

Happy reading! Melanie


A. J. Chaudhury is a young author from India writing mostly in the fantasy genre. His historical low fantasy short “A Song of Blood” has released and is being acclaimed by reviewers.

To download his fantasy novella “The Drabird” for free CLICK HERE!

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