Sunday, June 30, 2013

Author Spotlight: Jerome Brooke

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Introducing author Jerome Brooke. I will be reviewing Jerome's book The City of the Mirage in a few weeks - watch for it!

1. Tell us a little about yourself.
Jerome Brooke lives in the Kingdom of Siam. He is the consort of Jira, a princess of the lost Kingdom of Nan. He has written The City of the Mirage (Books to Go Now) and many other books.

2. When did you start writing, and why?
I  have been writing poetry for about 20 years - fiction for 10. I began to write because I wanted to create art and beauty.

3. What do you write, and why? What do you enjoy about what you write?
I have two children. I hope they, their children and future generations will see my work. I also have cousins and nephews. I also write family history, and want to preserve more than basic facts like birth date for the future. Poetry can be beautiful, as can fiction. I like for people to see a poem or fiction text, and to enjoy the work.

4. What is your latest book or series? Any forthcoming books?
I have a book on contract with Books to Go Now - the book is a erotic paranormal set in Haiti of the Colonial period. The title is Lover of the Voodoo Priestess. I used the pen name Joan Barron.

5. "Welcome To My Worlds": Tell us a little about the world of your latest book or series.
and
6. Introduce us to some of your characters. What do you like about them?

The book tells of a young French man of letters in Haiti of the old days. He falls under the spell of a Voodoo priestess and her daughter. She causes the death of her rival (a Frenchwoman).

The book is erotic, with relationships between a European and slave women. The paranormal aspect is the Voodoo element.

7. A fun fact you would like your readers to know about you or your book.
I am married to a much younger woman (23 years younger). She is from Nan in the Highlands north of Bangkok. Nan was long an independent kingdom, and still has its own royal family.

8. Website/contact info:
http://runesofthebard.wordpress.com/
jeromevbrooke@yahoo.com


Picture The City of the Mirage is ruled by the Divine Astarte. She has called the man who comes to be called the Conqueror to her service. Astarte was born on our own world.

Astarte rules a vast empire of the multiverse. Her race seeded many worlds with life over the eons. The Conqueror leads her legions to victory in a war against forces led by her brother.



The City of the Mirage
is available at Amazon.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Book Review: Desires, by R. Rose

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(Just a reminder, this isn't a book review blog and I don't take book review requests.)

Desires: A Legacy Novel, by R. Rose

Kyra's star ratings:
Story and characters: ****
General premise and inspiration: *****
Writing mechanics: ***
ebook formatting: ** (may not be the author's fault, but I found the formatting in this ebook distracting - all dialogue in block quotes, could not change font face)

(I received a free copy of this book for the purpose of giving an honest review.)

"Desires" is the story of a young woman, Elean, who is the mortal manifestation of the Goddess Brighid, and the two young men, Liam and James, who are her best friends and protectors. Early on, in desperate circumstances, she is forced to choose one to be her husband. I could never quite get over the feeling that under duress she chose the wrong one, which only added to the poignancy of the love story. The other one is still in the picture, and they both remain devoted to her through thick and thin. The novel is based on Irish folklore and mythology, which provides a rich foundation for the story and which I found interesting.

The characters are likeable and engaging, although I did find myself wanting to smack Elean a few times (for insisting on sneaking out by herself even when she knew from hard experience that it was dangerous and even though the people who cared about her kept warning her not to, and also when she stayed mad at someone for over a month just because they took measures to make sure she did something that she desperately needed to do.) This reaction to a character is usually when I stop reading a novel, but I really wanted to see how the story turned out. Plus, I generally have that reaction to teenage characters acting like teenagers (don't get me wrong, I love teenagers, my offspring include a current teenager and a former teenager) so I try not to let myself be prejudiced by it.

I also didn't understand why, when one character came under an evil influence and became a threat to Elean, the whole clan full of warriors who were presumably loyal to her didn't stand up and defend her. They knew this one character had become dangerous, but no one besides Elean, her nurse, and her warrior were willing to step up and protect her.

And finally, well, I hate it when that happens to a character at the end! *cry* Even though I did see it coming.

The book is very nicely illustrated. However, I found all the dialogue being set into block quotes distracting and disruptive to the flow of the story. (I don't know if it was the author's choice to do it this way or the book formatter's choice.) The book could also use a close edit to clarify and smooth out the writing and to fix some grammar and punctuation problems.

Overall, though, "Desires" is an emotional, engaging novel. I think teens especially will appreciate the characters and the love story (although there is some sexual content that may make it inappropriate for younger teens), and anyone who's interested in Irish folklore and mythology will enjoy the setting and story premise.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Cure For Nel Free on Amazon; Chosen of Azara News Updates

Picture Just a few news updates. First of all, my short story collection, A Cure For Nel, and Other Stories, is free on Amazon through June 30. This might be the last time you can get this collection for free; I'm thinking I'll take it out of the Select program at the end of this 90-day period and replace it with something else. If I do this, Cure For Nel will become available through other outlets, but I won't be able to do the free promotions for it any more. So if you haven't downloaded it yet, now's your chance to get it for free!

Also here:
AmazonUK
AmazonCA (Canada)
AmazonDE (Germany)
AmazonFR (France)

Right now, it's at #48 in Fantasy Short Stories and Anthologies in the Kindle Store on Amazon US. More downloads will raise the ranking, which will give me more visibility.

But, you say, I don't have a Kindle! Never fear: if you don't have a Kindle, you can get the free Kindle reading app for your computer or device, or, since my ebooks are DRM-free, you can use the free Calibre software to convert the book into epub format for other ereaders (Nook, Kobo, Sony, Apple).

In other news, Chosen of Azara has been approved for the Smashwords premium distribution, which means that over the next several weeks it will become available on the Barnes&Noble, Apple, Sony, and Kobo websites. I'll add buy links as those go live.

And finally, if you want to try before you buy, or your budget won't allow you to buy right now, you can read Chosen of Azara for free for a limited time right here! I'll post a chapter 2-3 times a week, with up to three chapters available at any one time. When I get to the end, it'll come down once the last chapters have been up for a week or so, but the free sample will remain on the site.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Author Spotlight: Holly Dae

Picture Introducing another new and exciting independent author, Holly Dae!

1. Tell us a little about yourself.
I’m twenty-two, a senior in college, and majoring in English. I’m the oldest of seven children (six girls and one boy) and a little bossy because of it. Okay, so I’m very bossy, but my family does nothing to help me tone that down. My other hobbies are gardening, reading, cooking, and at the moment obsessing over Teen Wolf.

2. When did you start writing, and why?
I started writing when I was like seven. The first book I ever put together was about what happened when my second little sister was born. After that, it was just kind of a hobby I did. Nothing serious. Then when I was ten and my mother noticed I was writing stories a lot more than any of my friends did and they were long stories she said, “You really enjoy doing this? You should be a writer when you grow up.” That was when it first occurred to me that people write all the books on the shelves in the book stores and libraries. I’ve been practicing and honing the craft ever since.

3. What do you write, and why? What do you enjoy about what you write?
I write YA Fantasy and Paranormal, mostly featuring teenage female protagonists that are of some type of African-American descent. I do so because while I don’t really care what race or gender the characters in books I read are if the story is good (Harry Potter is my favorite series ever!), I wanted to read a book about a character, who, like me, might be worried about her hair getting wet in the rain because it would shrink into a tangled unmanageable mess, without the book being about that character being African-American and I had a hard time finding books like that when I was a child. For that reason I almost exclusively write ya fantasy and ya paranormal because that give me the opportunity to use character from very diverse backgrounds and settings, yet their races have absolutely nothing  to do with plot or the story that’s being written.

4. What is your latest book or series? Any forthcoming books?
My latest series is a YA contemporary fantasy called The White Rose. It’s self-published and I’m in the process of trying to gain a following for it. Right now it has two books. The first is called The Seal of Oblivion and its sequel is Plague of the Black Akantha. They feature Laqiya (the q is pronounced /k/) and she’s, African-American, thirteen and able to control the forces of nature and has to use them to keep oblivion sealed and the antagonists from shattering the seal. I’m hoping to finish the third book in the series, Revenge of the Illusionist, by this fall so I can send it out to betas and get it edited for a mid to late winter release. Right now, I’m working on Going Lucid which is a YA Paranormal featuring Malakha, a seventeen-year-old who can cross an invisible divide and enter Hell at will. The release date for that is tentatively August 10th 2013. That’s very tentative.

5. "Welcome To My Worlds": Tell us a little about the world of your latest book or series.
So The White Rose is a YA fantasy set in I guess it would be an alternate contemporary world. There are a lot of familiar places mentioned in it (The United States, Georgia, Atlanta), but the city it’s set it is actually the fantasy version of Macon GA, where I was forced to move to when I was a child. When I say fantasy, I mean that Roselyn City is everything I wished Macon was when I moved there as a child. It’s in the exact geographical location, but very modern, mildly busy, big, very diverse, and contains most of the action of the series even though sometimes the characters travel to Atlanta and come back. Although I changed the name and made the city bigger, I did want it to be a little recognizable to the city it’s based off of so it also has two or three big fairs that come into town that really define the city much to the bafflement of the main character.

6. Introduce us to some of your characters. What do you like about them?
There’s the protagonist of the White Rose series Laqiya and at first she comes off as a bit of a spoiled, bourgeois-y rich girl, who wants nothing to do with being anyone’s hero. In fact she hates her power to control all the forces of nature and is very vocal about wanting to be normal and that sometimes annoys the people around her. But her most redeeming quality, and the quality I like most about her, is when she finally does set her mind to do the things she knows she has to, but has been running away from doing, it is very hard to deter her from doing it. She has a good heart. The problem is she’s thirteen.

Then there’s my favorite character of the series so far, and that’s one of Laqiya’s best friends, Sakura. She’s part Japanese-American and part African-American and she’s always very whiny and scared. The thing that I like about her most though is that when it comes time to face her fears, she doesn’t run away. In fact, she’s probably the bravest character I’ve written.

7. A fun fact you would like your readers to know about you or your book.
I’m really into anime, especially the magical girl genre, and I always try to find a way to tip my hat to the genre in my books. For instance, there’s this scene in The Seal of Oblivion where the antagonist manages to summon oblivion and when she does the characters draw attention to the fact that there are no fancy words, fancy movements, or special items to do it, which is a direct contrast to the bright colorful transformations and power up sequences and rituals in magical girl anime. So there are a lot of things that inspire The White Rose series that come from magical girl anime, but without all the theatrics and tropes. The books wouldn’t have been the same without my enjoyment of magical girl anime.

8. Blog/site link, and where your book is available.
My blog is thesealofoblivion.wordpress.com where you can find more info on my books and excerpts from the books I’m working on.

I’m also available on Goodreads.

All my books are available on Amazon.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Character Interview: Sajur Golu

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Haven't done a villain interview yet. Introducing Sajur Golu, from Chosen of Azara (boo, hiss):

1. What is your full name? Is there anything significant about your name?
I am Sajur Golu. "Golu" is a title signifying that I am a high priest dedicated to the service of a Source in the Madrinan Empire. Ordinary priests are also known as golus, but they are not entitled to bear the title as part of their name.

2. How old are you?
Only petty-minded people allow themselves to be limited by such a thing as numbers.

3. Tell us about your family. What do you like and not like about them?
I am descended from the Old Madrin nobility, a people superior in courage and intellect who gave rise to the Madrinan Empire.

4. Who was your first kiss, and what did you think of it?
I don't see why something like that should be important enough to bother remembering.

5. What is your occupation?
I am the High Priest of Source Dar, the Source on which is founded the capital of the Madrinan Empire and the most powerful Source in the Empire. I am also chief advisor to Dansat, the ruler of the Madrinan Empire and, should something happen to him and his older son the Crown Prince, I fully expect to be the Regent in his younger son's place.

6. What are your best and worst qualities?
I possess extraordinary intelligence and a bold and fearless vision of the future. I am also gifted with a keen perception of others' thoughts and emotions, and with the ability to persuade others to do my bidding. As well, I have a matchless ability to take in Source-power and to use it, and the courage to go beyond the limitations that are imposed by the small-minded.

My worst quality? I would say that I regret not having the ability to actually read minds. I am also not as young as I used to be, and aging is somewhat of an inconvenience to one with my drive and ambition.

7. What quality do you value most in a romantic partner?
Golus in the Madrinan Empire are generally expected to remain celibate. A rather petty limitation, adhered to by those who are too conventional to fully explore all the avenues by which power can be gained and experienced. I have rather unique and sophisticated tastes in this area, unconstrained by petty ideas of morality or romance, and I savor the times when I can find a participant for my activities who has the proper attitude towards them.

8. What is your favorite thing to do?
There are ways of using Source-power that most workers of magic would not dream of or dare to use if they did know of them. My research in this area is always intriguing and fulfilling.

9. What is your greatest fear?
Why should I fear anything?

Although, I will admit, it would be a rather annoying inconvenience should those on the Imperial council who are petty-minded enough to not share my grand vision and to object to some of my methods and objectives persuade Dansat that I should be removed from my current positions.

10. What is your most treasured possession?
Power - both magical power, and power over the minds and hearts of men - is what gives life meaning. Life can only be experienced to its fullest through the exercise of power.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Chosen of Azara Now Available at Amazon and Smashwords

Picture And, yay, Chosen of Azara is now live on Amazon and Smashwords! The next step is to do the paperback version; that should be available in a few weeks. In the meantime, the files will go through the approval process on Smashwords for expanded distribution and once that's done the book will become available for sale at Barnes&Noble, Sony, Apple, and Kobo. Watch for buy links as the book goes live on those sites.

Quick Update: Chosen of Azara

 
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I finished the proofread on Chosen of Azara yesterday, and the formatting is (so far; knock on wood) going well. Yesterday afternoon and evening and this morning I got done what it took me a week to do last time. It helps that I have my stylesheet and templates already set up - I'm using the same stylesheet for each book so that my books will have a consistent look and feel to them - and that I decided not to try wrestling with constructing the entire ebook by hand (see "command-line programs are not my friend" under this post). Last time, I wrote out a general workflow, which is making this easier, but this time I'm making sure to write down all the tips, tricks, and shortcuts that will make the formatting go even faster on future books. Not making any promises, but I anticipate Chosen of Azara going live on Amazon by early next week, with other stores to follow as I get those formats done.

In the meantime, if you're anxious to get a peek at Chosen of Azara, or want to read some before you decide if you want to buy it, you can read a sample here on my site. It consists of the first scene or two from each of the three sections of the book (instead of just the first 10-20% which is what you get when you download the free sample from ebook stores), with spoilery bits removed. Check it out, and meet Juzeva, Sevry and Lucie!

I'll make an official announcement when Chosen of Azara becomes available for purchase, and will add buy links as they go live. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Author Spotlight: R. Rose

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1. Tell us a little about yourself.
I am a California native and have lived here my whole life. I love to research myths & legends from around the world, which is where I get the ideas for most of my stories. I am a registered veterinary technician and wildlife rehabilitator, preferring to work with wildlife and exotics. I think I can safely say that I have been bitten or scratched by more species of animals than anyone I know. I think it also a safe bet to say that I have had more different species of animals living in my home than most people. My children have experienced living with everything from opossum, birds of prey and coyotes to scorpions, hissing cockroaches and bird-eating spiders. I guess it’s no wonder none of them went into veterinary medicine.

2. When did you start writing, and why?
I was always making up imaginary stories as a kid, but I didn’t really get the writing bug until I was in college. My college English teacher (who was actually the Psychology professor) asked us to write five pages in the format of a romance novel. I had been reading romance novels for quite a while and couldn’t wait to see the “A” on my paper. When it was graded, he returned it with a note saying “No man could make love all night after being shot in the shoulder.” Well…obviously the man had never picked up romance novel in his life. He must have been projecting his inadequate manly prowess onto my buff and totally hot character (who was only winged by the bullet). I received a “C” on the paper, but I was hooked on writing. While doing genealogy research I came across a bulletin board called “Clancy’s Pub” for those with Irish roots. Out of shear boredom one night I wrote a post about coming into the pub and finding it empty, but having the feeling I was being watched. Other like-minded people responded to the post in such a way that an impromptu adventure story was launched. We did quite a few after that, but “Desires (A Legacy Novel) is my first book in print.

3. What do you write, and why? What do you enjoy about what you write?
I like to write fantasy and paranormal fiction with my core ideas coming from the myths & legends I research. Currently, my books are in the young adult category, but that might not always be the case. I just happen to read a lot of YA, so that is the path I chose to follow with the Legacy series. I have also been asked to write a children’s book about a pony that is given to family therapist that uses the horses to work with children. Only this little pony that was raised with long-horned cattle and doesn’t really know she is a horse. She finds it hard to fit in the herd of horses that are a part of the program. The proceeds from the sale will go to therapy horse programs. I think the part I like most in my writing process is when the ideas come to me. It is like watching a DVD on the big screen; everything just rolls through my head like a movie.

4. What is your latest book or series? Any forthcoming books?
My current book is “Desires (A Legacy Novel), which is the first book in the series. Fantasy artist, Julie Fain designed the cover and the Celtic art in the interior is by renowned Celtic artist, Jen Delyth. I am currently writing “Malevolence” which will be the second book with “Sacrifices” being the final book. There may be a novella between books two and three. Julie and Jen will continue with their art in the series, plus they will be joined by fantasy artist, Delight Prescott-Spall to bring a unique touch to the books’ interiors. Also to be released this year (I hope) will be a book or series based off of a Native American legend from the Pacific northwest and, of course, the children’s book.

5. "Welcome To My Worlds": Tell us a little about the world of your latest book or series.
Most of “Desires” takes place in the Glens of Antrim in Northern Ireland during the early Iron Age. The village of “Ballybog” was created by a warrior that was given the task of protecting the heir of the Goddess Brighid. He and his mercenaries travelled into the mostly uninhabitable bog lands to raise their families in safety. The men know the leader of their clan has been entrusted with the guarding of an Otherworldly treasure, they just don’t know it is his wife. There are also glimpses into Tara and the Otherworld.

6. Introduce us to some of your characters. What do you like about them?
Eléan – Her maternal bloodline carries a spark of the Goddess Brighid’s soul. They were created to keep the Goddess in the hearts of mortals and are considered her daughters.

Liam and James – Warriors and adopted brothers, their father is the best friend of the King (Elena’s father). The three of them have a special bond.

Morrigan – the Goddess uncontrollable lust and killing rage. She has decided the best way to get even with Dagda over a perceived insult is to kill his daughter Brighid. But she cannot do that out-right, so she directs her rage at Brighid’s heirs in the Mortal realm and their warriors.

Greagoir – born to peasant parents, he just knew it was a mistake. When he dreams about controlling a powerful goddess from the Otherworld to get all he wants, Greagoir is sure it is the answer to his prayers. Like they say…”Magic always comes with a price.”

7. A fun fact you would like your readers to know about you or your book.
I do my best writing when the weather is stormy, but I live in the center of sunny California. My writing routine includes putting a fireplace DVD on the TV in my office, as thunderstorm CD on the computer, a pot of tea on my desk, and I darken the room and light all the candles…instant winter even when it is 110 outside.

Picture 8. Blog/site link, and where your book is available.
Website:  http://www.take2creativestorywriters.com/desiresalegacynovel.html

Can be purchased at:
Amazon. com | Powell's Books
Barnes and Noble.com | Abbott Press Bookstore

Saturday, June 15, 2013

For My Dad

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So, it's Father's Day. I never know what to get my dad for Father's Day. Anything he doesn't already have, either I can't afford it, or he either goes out and gets it himself or just doesn't want it. I always send my mom flowers for Mother's Day, but my dad's not really a flowers kind of guy. So what do you give the dad who has everything? A blog post dedicated to him, of course!

Here are things I learned from my dad (that's him in his college days in the picture), and ways he influenced me, to make me what I am today (and I consider what I am today to be a good thing!):

1. He and my mom always emphasized education and had high expectations for me and my three siblings. These high expectations were kind of hard to deal with sometimes, but it became ingrained in me that I'm capable of excellence if I work at it. I haven't always been very good at the whole work ethic thing, but when I do find something I want to work hard at, it's there.

2. He read "The Hobbit" out loud to us when we were little kids, along with other books - I seem to recall "The Wind in the Willows," and definitely "A Christmas Carol." He and my mom also gave me a box set of the Earthsea Trilogy when I was 11 or 12 years old (either for my birthday or for Christmas, I don't remember.) This launched my love of fantasy and imaginative literature at an early age and let me know that it's ok to explore the imagination and to invent worlds and things that don't exist in the "real world."

3. Although he made a career as a research physicist and physics professor, he has always worked with his hands. He grew up working as a carpenter with his father and grandfather, and has continued to do carpentry along with vegetable gardening and yardwork through his adult life. That taught me that manual labor is as fulfilling and worthwhile as work that's done with the mind, and any kind of work done honestly and to the best of your ability is something to be proud of.

4. He did also teach me - I'm not sure if this was inadvertant or not - that some jobs just aren't worth doing and that you want to do whatever it takes to make sure those kinds of jobs are not your only option. When I was 11 or 12 he strongly "encouraged" (I recall it as "forced" but my memory might not be correct on that) me to get a paper route. The old-fashioned kind, where the kid rode around on a bike tossing papers onto driveways and then knocking on strangers' doors once a month to collect the money. For the afternoon paper. In Phoenix, Arizona. In the summer. I hated it. I delivered papers for two or three years and hated every minute of it. And the pay worked out to maybe pennies per hour. It's worth it to do whatever you have to do to learn and acquire skills so that a crappy job like that isn't your only option. (Sometimes you have to take whatever you can get in order to pay the bills, but you want to be able to move to something better if the opportunity comes along.)

5. He's very musical (so is my mom; they first got to know each other in their high school pep band; not sure how my mom, being a pianist, fit into that, but that's what happened) and music was important in our home. When I was in 5th grade, he "encouraged" (there's that word again) me to take up the flute. I enjoyed music and got pretty serious about it, with the result that I majored in music in college and that's how I met my wonderful husband. So, thanks for that, Dad :-D

6. Even after he retired from his position as a professor, he still remains a scientist and a teacher, with the motto, "You retire from what you do, not from what you are." Because of this, I'm able to think of myself as a writer, even if I don't make any money at it (which isn't the case, I am making some money, not a lot so far but some) and even if some external agency or organization doesn't validate me with that title.

7. There's a saying that the best thing a man can do for his children is to love their mother, and my dad embodies this. He and my mom have been together as friends, sweethearts, and husband and wife for probably sixty years now. Because of this (and because of my own marriage), I believe in true love and happily ever after, and that's why I write about those things. Some writers say that happily ever after is unrealistic - it doesn't work that way in love or in life. Yeah, life is hard, there are always going to be challenges, and in my books, even when the hero and heroine end up happily together they still face challenges and difficulties. But challenges are better faced with your best friend, lover, and sweetheart at your side, and you come out stronger at the end for going through them together.

8. When it comes to politics, my dad and I disagree probably 95% of the time (the one thing we seem to agree on consistently is on having no desire to belong to a political party). From my dad, I've learned that someone can disagree with you and still be a good person.

9. My dad gave me my first computer as a combination First Mother's Day/Grad School Graduation gift in 1989. It was one of those where you had to start it up by inserting a 5-inch floppy with the OS on it. When I decided to try my hand at writing novels some months later, I quickly discovered how much easier it is to write stuff on a computer than by hand or on a typewriter. I still have my original writing from that old computer, transferred from disk type to disk type and format to format at least five or six times since then. Some pretty darn good ideas, too, including my first two complete novels which one day I will revise and release. Urdaisunia was initially written on that old computer, too.

10. My dad's faith has always been an inspiration and example to me. He's a scientist, and probably the most intelligent person I know, and he's living proof that reason and intelligence and deep, devout faith are perfectly compatible - not just that, but they build on and increase each other. I wandered a bit for some years in my early adulthood, but I eventually came to fully embrace the beliefs and faith that he and my mom taught us and raised us in, and that's a gift as great as any other he's ever given me.

Picture Happy Father's Day, Dad. Love you!
(And here's one more picture of him, doing science stuff. He's the one on the right.)

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Character Interview: Lucie

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Introducing Lucie from Chosen of Azara. (That's her on the cover.)

1. What is your full name? Is there anything significant about your name?
My name is Lucie Barille. I don't think there's anything really special about it, but I like it.

2. How old are you?
I just turned 20.

3. Tell us about your family. What do you like and not like about them?
My father is Baron Robart Barille. I love him a lot, and he spoils me. My mother, Rinata, died when I was 11. I still miss her every day. Her mother, my Grandmama Lillia, lives with us. She came to help my mother take care of me when I was little, because my mother was sick for a long time, and she stayed with us after my mother died. So I wouldn't be alone in a house full of bullheaded men, she says. I'm very close to her. I also have two older brothers, Pavel and Petir. They're both really annoying, but I do love them. Even though I wish they weren't quite so annoying.

My great-grandmother Varena, Grandmama Lillia's mother, had a really interesting story. She was a wandering foreign woman with a baby daughter who took shelter at Meadowlook one winter, and the Baron there, Baron Arnaud Ellande, fell in love with her and married her. I think that's so romantic! He also adopted my grandmama, and raised her as his own. I never knew him, he died about ten years before I was born, but I think every man should be like him.

4. Who was your first kiss, and what did you think of it?
My first kiss was with my fiance, Estefan. I liked it, of course. Although... It wasn't quite what I was expecting. It wasn't really even on my mouth, more on my cheek, you know? He tries to be discreet, but I've seen how he kisses other girls, like the maids, and it wasn't anything like that. I suppose it wouldn't really be proper for him to kiss me like that until after we're married. (To be fair, Estefan isn't the only one who kisses the maids and kitchen girls, my brothers do it too. Estefan's mother, Lady Alise, says all men do that sort of thing.)

5. What is your occupation?
I'm the daughter of a Baron, and since my mother is no longer living I help my father manage his household. When I'm married I'll be a Baroness, the Lady of Hart's Leap, which means I'll be busy managing Estefan's household and raising our children. I can't wait! :)

6. What are your best and worst qualities?
Well, I sing well, and I play the lute and the harpsichord, and I'm very good at gathering herbs for the healer in the village, and I'm kind and cheerful. And my hair - does my hair count as a good quality?

On the bad side, I never paid very much attention in my lessons, and my brothers think I'm silly but they're even sillier so what do they know? And Lady Alise, my future mother-in-law, thinks I'm eccentric because I like to be outdoors a lot. And my nose and bosom freckle in the sun. Which I guess wouldn't be a problem if I didn't spend so much time outside. But that's okay, I'd rather be outside.

7. What quality do you value most in a romantic partner?
My fiance Estefan is wonderful, of course. He's very handsome, and strong and manly, and has a fine voice, though I do wish he had better taste in songs. And his house, Hart's Leap, is one of the most modern and beautiful houses in the Lower Districts of Ceryria. I'm very lucky that he wanted to marry me.

Though, I suppose I do wish he paid more attention to me and less to the housemaids. And I wish he wasn't always telling me what to do and what not to do. Except for those things, though, he's practically almost perfect.

Except sometimes I wish he was more like... Well, never mind that. And also a little more like my step-great-grandfather. But really, I'm very lucky to be engaged to him.

8. What is your favorite thing to do?
I love to go walking through the woods near my father's house. There's just something magical about them, and I feel like that's where I belong more than anywhere else. I especially like it when -- um, never mind that, too. Estefan doesn't think it's proper for me to go wandering around the forest, especially by myself, and I promised him I'd give it up after we're married, but until then, as long as my father doesn't forbid it - and he almost always lets me have my own way - I'll keep doing it for as long as I can.

9. What is your greatest fear?
My greatest fear? I don't know. Maybe that my Grandmama will die? She's old and in poor health, but I don't want to lose her. Also that Estefan might decide he doesn't want to marry me after all.

10. What is your most treasured possession?
I have this crystal pendant on a silver chain that my mother gave me when I turned 5. I guess that's awfully young for a gift like that, but my mother told me that it was a treasure that belonged to my great-grandmother Varena and that I must take the very best care of it, so I've always been very careful with it. I don't know what's special about it besides the fact that it belonged to my great-grandmother, but my mother gave it to me and it's one of the things that remind me of her the most.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Author Spotlight: W.H. Cann

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1. Tell us a little about yourself:
I’m married to a wonderful wife, have 2 fantastic children, both of whom have left home; my son courting and my daughter married with 3 beautiful children. I am a qualified aircraft engineer having trained and served in the Royal Air Force, but now work full time as a finance officer in local government. I love walking, preferably in the spring and autumn, camping, and gardening, (I just wish I had one large enough to do something in).  I have a passion for genealogy, reading and of course, writing; I enjoy watching classic British sitcoms, crime dramas such as Agatha Christie, Lewis and Midsomer Murders, and have a large collection of films of all genres. Finding time to do everything I would like is hard, so it often requires a careful balancing act, although some things do get neglected at times, such as genealogy.

2. When did you start writing, and why?
I first started writing back in 1998 when I was off work following a back injury. Not being able to do much physically, including walking and driving, I thought I would pass some of my time away by writing a story. I did not expect to write much, but once I had started, the story just seemed to flow and I was hooked.

3. What do you write, and why? What do you enjoy about what you write?
My first version of my series of ‘The Guardians’ novels actually started off as science fiction with a slight supernatural element, but I was not happy with the finished manuscripts. So I put these aside to write in my favoured genre, Fantasy, having always preferred reading fantasy novels to science fiction. However, after having set aside my writing for several years to focus on genealogy, I decided to rewrite ‘The Guardians’ series into a Fantasy set in the distant future.

I suppose I would have to say I enjoy everything about what I write, from developing the characters, to evolving the level of magic involved in the story. I just love writing, and the genres of Fantasy and Science Fiction can give your imagination that little more freedom to explore beyond the accepted laws of science.

4. What is your latest book? Any forthcoming books?
My latest book was published as an eBook back in January 2013, ‘A Guardian Reborn’, the third book in the series ‘The Guardians’, however, I have also just completed a thorough revision of the first book in the series, ‘Path to Vengeance’, which I feel brings it more up to the level of books two and three.

I will soon be starting the rewrite of books four and five in the series, with a hope to publishing the book four later this year and book five early in 2014. I am also working on some short stories that will fit in and around ‘The Guardians’ series of novels. When all of these are completed, I will commence working on my fantasy epic series “The Chronicles of Ferantiana”.

5. "Welcome To My Worlds": Tell us a little about the world of your latest book:
The third book focuses primarily on the main character, Grogaan, and the story is set on several worlds and sectors of space, each having an important and profound effect on him and his future. The Guardians’ series is set in the distant future, where travel between worlds is at the speed of light, guns have been replaced by lasers, but human nature is still volatile and unpredictable. Magic has played a major part in shaping society across the galaxy, often with catastrophic effect. The galaxy is divided into four quadrants; the Gaashox, where the first book is set; the Ladorran, which features prominently in books 2 and 3; the Yeasson, which features in books 4 and 5, and avoided by most space farers and merchants of the Ladorran quadrant; the Neaffrox, only mentioned.

6. Introduce us to some of your characters. What do you like about them?
Grogaan Learman, one of the main characters, the son of a renowned fighter pilot, adept in magic, and destined to achieve great things. I like Grogaan for several reasons; he has an inner strength that helps him cope with everything destiny throws at him; he cares for his friends and puts as much importance on their welfare as his own.

Ellarna Rayshon, the eldest daughter of a Senator, intelligent and a gifted diplomat, who discovers she is adept in magic. She is another strong character with a kind heart, and puts the needs of others far above her own.

Pakrowask and Kopranton, both former Senators of their homeworld of Krelath, now Imperial Governors of the Hebradon Empire and powerful sorcerer’s.  Although initially deceived, they show a surprising level of restrain in their dealings with magic and their Empresses.

General Sorann Taggash, Guardian Master, and hero of the ‘Confederation of Star System’s. Prone to rushing in to situations without thinking and getting into trouble, but underneath the appearance of immaturity, he bears surprising strength of character and compassion.

7. A fun fact you would like your readers to know about you or your book.
Sorry, can’t think of any fun facts about me, and there aren’t any about my books. [Kyra sez: the books themselves are fun enough!]

8. Blog/site link, and where your book is available:
Website: www.whcann.co.uk

Books available from:
Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/whcann

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Paperback Editions:
Path to Vengeance:
Amazon UK | Amazon US | Createspace

 Sorcerer’s Duel:
Amazon UK | Amazon US | Createspace

eBook Editions:
Path to Vengeance:
Amazon UK | Amazon US | Smashwords
Barnes and Noble | Diesel | Kobo

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Monday, June 10, 2013

Character Interview: Sevry

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Meet Sevry, from Chosen of Azara (sorry, this one's kind of depressing) (and no, that's not him on the cover either) (remember, these are of the character as they are at the beginning of the book, or, in this case, their story arc) (enough asides; on with the interview):

1. What is your full name? Is there anything significant about your name?
My name is Sevros, but when I was little my parents nicknamed me Sevry, and it stuck. That's what I've been called ever since.

2. How old are you?
I am 23 years old.

3. Tell us about your family. What do you like and not like about them?
My grandmother was Queen Ilvana, queen of Savaru. My aunt Juzeva was married off to the Crown Prince of the Madrinan Empire. I also had a grandfather, mother and father, brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles and cousins; we were a large and loving family, and I was fortunate to have that for a few short years. They're all dead now. I'm the only one left. I definitely do not like that.

4. Who was your first kiss, and what did you think of it?
I've been too busy trying to stay alive and fighting a war for the last twenty years to kiss anyone.

5. What is your occupation?
Nominally, I'm the king of Savaru, but my country is completely overrun by the enemy and all my people are dead except for me. So my list of responsibilities is pretty short - mainly, kill as many Madrinans as I can before they kill me.

6. What are your best and worst qualities?
I had a talent for music when I was a boy. I don't know what's happened to that - I haven't felt much like making music in a long time.

My worst quality is that I was too weak to save what was left of my people.

7. What quality do you value most in a romantic partner?
Alive would be good. But it seems I'm out of luck there.

If things were different... I'd like a woman who loved music, who could sing to me and with me.

8. What is your favorite thing to do?
Like I said, I used to love to sing and make up songs and stories. Now, life is just a matter of trying to stay alive even though death would be preferable to what passes for life now.

9. What is your greatest fear?
My country has been conquered by the Madrinan Empire, all my people are dead except for me - the last few insisted on dying to protect me, their king, which was pointless because I'm also going to be dead within the hour. So there isn't really anything left to be afraid of except that I'll die without taking a handful of Madrinans into death with me.

10. What is your most treasured possession?
The song that used to be my mother's favorite. I still remember it. If I knew that that one song would survive my death and the destruction of my people, then I would die a little more content.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Character Interview: Juzeva

Picture Another character interview: introducing Juzeva from Chosen of Azara. (no, she isn't the young lady on the book cover.)

1. What is your full name? Is there anything significant about your name?My name is Juzeva. It's a Savarunan name meaning "promise."

2. How old are you?I am 20 years old.

3. Tell us about your family. What do you like and not like about them?
My mother, Ilvana, is the Queen of Savaru. My father, Ezdar, her consort, is also the High Priest of the Source Yizu. I have four elder brothers, who all have wives and children.

Though I love my family, of course, and I honor my parents for giving me birth, the person - or being, I suppose, since a Source is not a person - I am closest to, who is my true family, is Source Azara. I was born Chosen - that is, perfectly attuned to Azara's power. I need her power in order to live, and I am closer to her than I could ever be to anyone or anything else.

I do have a good friend, though. My dear servant Ysa stood very much in the place of a mother to me when I first came to the Convent, when I was eight, and she remains my closest human friend and confidante.

4. Who was your first kiss, and what did you think of it?
As a Daughter of Azara, vowed to the service of Azara, I am sworn to celibacy. (Not all Sources require those in their service to remain celibate; my father, for example, is High Priest of a Source and is also consort to my mother.) I entered Azara's service when I was eight years old; therefore I have never kissed a man, other than, of course, my father and brothers in the manner of family members.

I don't mind the requirement of celibacy. Azara is my life; her service, her magic, the love I feel from her, are all I need. I do not feel that I am missing out on anything by not marrying or having children.

5. What is your occupation?
As Chosen of Source Azara, I am the High Priestess of Azara. My primary responsibilities are to lead the rituals of worship, assist those who wish to draw upon Azara's power in order to work magic, and convey Azara's word to those who worship or are dedicated to her or who desire guidance from her. I hesitate to use the word "responsibilities;" that makes what I do sound like a chore or an obligation. Serving Azara is my greatest joy; I cannot think of anything I would rather do.

6. What are your best and worst qualities?
My best quality? I have no wish to sound vain, but I believe my best quality is my desire to serve Azara and, through her, to help the people of Savaru. I am, after all, the daughter of their Queen, and they are my people. My worst quality... Again I do not wish to boast, but Azara has never given me reason to feel that my character is lacking in any way.

7. What quality do you value most in a romantic partner?
As I said before, I am sworn to celibacy in Azara's service, and I have no regrets about living my life in that manner.

If for some reason I were to marry, though, I would like a husband who is kind.

8. What is your favorite thing to do?
I love to climb down the path and walk out onto the rocks in the cove where Azara dwells, and stand among the waves and speak with her.

9. What is your greatest fear?
That someday, for some reason, I will be forced to leave Azara.

10. What is your most treasured possession?
That is easy - my connection to Azara as her Chosen.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Author Spotlight: Alexandra Butcher

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Introducing Alexandra Butcher, whose book The Light Beyond the Storm Chronicles, Book 1 I reviewed in the last post.

1. Tell us a little about yourself. 
I am a British author with a variety of other interests, including nature, history, the theatre, gaming and, of course, reading.  I live in the south-west of Britain with an assortment of pets, plants and books.

2. When did you start writing, and why?
I suppose at school, I always enjoyed reading and English Literature and certainly at primary school/middle school age I would get asked to write poetry or short prose for summer events. Always an imaginative person I would often imagine stories or what is now called ‘fan-fic’ from the books I read. More seriously I suppose the fan-fic progressed into more than just a few pages and the poetry continued, albeit darker. Running and playing RPG games, including Warhammer, Vampire and Star Wars  meant I often had to write interesting adventures, and even as a player I often used to come up with complex backgrounds. Yes I am a geek, and proud of it.

Why? That is more of a difficult question. If I am honest probably as escapism as I was often quite unhappy at school and would both read and write to lose myself in new and exciting worlds. All my family like books, my sister is a teacher of English and Drama and my late grandmother was a researcher of local history and had a couple of books published.

3. What do you write, and why? What do you enjoy about what you write?
I write poetry, as I mentioned, but not often now and most of it will never see the light of day. I do have a couple published in an anthology and I recently wrote a summer based poem which will feature in a summer charity anthology, along with a short fantasy story. My main genres, however, are dark fantasy/fantasy romance and erotica.

I love to create the worlds and the adventures, it is very exciting to be able to see the story flow.

4. What is your latest book? Any forthcoming books?
Can I mention both? The first is the ‘Light Beyond the Storm Chronicles – Book I’, which was published just over a year ago and I have just released ‘The Shining Citadel – The Light Beyond the Storm Chronicles Book II’ which was released just a few weeks ago. I also, as I mentioned, have a short fantasy story and some poetry in ‘A Splendid Salmagundi’. I am just about to start writing Book III of the Chronicles and there will also be some short stories.

5. "Welcome To My Worlds": Tell us a little about the world of your latest book.
The books are set in the world of Erana, a dark medieval-style fantasy world. There are humans, half-elves and elves in Book I and Book II introduces trolls and fae. Erana is not a nice place to live, especially for those of the elven race. Elves are un-free, with no rights, no recourse to justice and often kept as slaves or servants, they are unable to move around freely and many are forced to live in utter poverty. Those who live in their ancestral home – the Shimmering Forest – do so in hiding ever afraid the slavers will come. The land is run by the Order of Witch-Hunters, a brutal and largely corrupt organisation who maintain their power through ignorance, fear and violence. Magic is also illegal. Mages are feared, and anyone who has magic in one form or another must hide it or risk a visit by the Order of Witch-Hunters.  The humans tend to be unkind to the elves. The nobility too are often corrupt and indifferent. Life is hard for the poor and most people are too busy surviving to dare to question the status quo, or in some cases it suits them.

In Book II we are introduced to the trolls – which are not creatures who live under bridges and menace travellers. These trolls are a noble race; strong, and clever but rather insular. They too have magic but it is limited, they are shape-shifters and seers. We also meet the fae, believed to have been banished and nasty – think emotional-vampire mages who use the fear and turmoil of others to enhance their spells. Book II reveals quite a lot more lore of the world, the history of the darkness and of Dii and Archos. More will be revealed later on.

6. Introduce us to some of your characters. What do you like about them?
Book I features Dii, an elven sorceress and former slave, who runs away from her master’s house in fear of her life. Fleeing into this dark threatening world she must survive and find a way to be free. She is also passionate and loving and to a great extent she needs to be looked after, she is the more submissive of the two mages. She does learn to be a little more dominate but she likes to please, this is a result of her slavery. She is also extremely clever and she finds wonder and joy in many things, such as snowfall, being allowed to read what she wishes and the sheer beauty of the natural world. She is wary of people.

Then there is Archos, a mysterious nobleman and powerful mage who befriends her. Those two have quite the passionate relationship!  Archos is powerful, rich, handsome and dangerous but he can be moved to acts of great kindness and bravery, including at the risk of his own life and his reputation. Archos is a lot of fun, he is a real anti-hero. He fights for the good team but he doesn’t always use pleasant means to achieve his ends. He is also quite mysterious and dark. He is certainly not how he appears. He does have a kind side, his relationship with Dii is very touching and to his friends he is loyal and generous, but to his enemies he is ruthless.

The other main characters are Olek, a half-elven thief and the young elven huntress and scout Ozena, whose sister is taken by slavers. Ozena is the young rather naïve and virginal girl in book I. Raised in a small elven village she knows next to nothing about the world of humans but she is brave in her own way and she is stubborn, if sometimes impulsive. She does not wish to ask the humans for help but she knows she must. She does have a bossy streak though.

Book II has these four, plus Marden who is a human warrior and has other secrets, Th’alia an elven scholar and Talfor a shape-shifting trollish warrior.

What do I like about them? Dii is kind and gentle, despite her terrible history, and as the stories progress she becomes more confident and more sure of her magic and starts to become a formidable mage in her own right in Book II. Olek is amusing. He loves to eat and he has a good sense of humour but again he knows what is needed to be done and he does not shirk from it. He is very worldly, which is surprising for an elf or half elf. He is also very confident, another unusual trait for an elf. Marden is interesting and he develops a lot as a character and a man in book II. Archos is deliciously nasty when he needs to be but he is also quite amusing. He has an air that he knows more than others, but this is often the case. He does. He can be arrogant but in some ways he has the right to it.

7. A fun fact you would like your readers to know about you or your book.
I am frightened of clowns.

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8. Blog/site link, and where your book is available.
‘The Light Beyond the Storm Chronicles – Book I’ is available as an e-book on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, I-books and Diesel and also as a paperback on Amazon. ‘The Shining Citadel’ is available on Amazon only at the moment. The paperback will appear shortly (as at early June) and will appear on the other sites when the KDP Select term expires.

Book links –The Light Beyond the Storm Chronicles – Book I
Amazon http://www.amazon.com/Light-Beyond-Storm-Chronicles--ebook/dp/B0088DQO9C
http://www.amazon.com/dp/1481255622 (paperback)
Smashwords | Barnes and Noble | KoboI-tunes | I-tunes UK

Book 2 http://www.amazon.com/The-Shining-Citadel-Chronicles-ebook/dp/B00D4CF6W8
Blog/Websites
www.LibraryofErana.wordpress.com
http://www.facebook.com/DarkFantasyBeyondTheStorm

Friday, June 7, 2013

Book Review: Light Beyond the Storm Chronicles, Book 1

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The Light Beyond the Storm Chronicles, Book 1, by Alexandra Butcher
**** (4 stars)

A long time ago, I thought it was unfair that in the fantasy books I read, wizards never got to have personal lives. Kings and princes and ordinary village guys and everyone else, yes, but not wizards. "The Light Beyond the Storm Chronicles" certainly makes up for that.

Aside from the sex scenes (which are not frequent, but are very explicit, occasionally bordering on kinky), The Light Beyond the Storm is an intriguing tale of a world where elves and mages are oppressed, an elf woman, Dii, who decides to fight for her freedom, and the powerful human mage, Archos, who assists her and becomes a force for helping elves and other oppressed people against the cruel, decadent nobility and the ruthless Order of Witch Hunters. It also involves two very sweet love stories.

Dii, who starts out the novel, kind of fades into the background after Archos comes on the scene, but Archos is such a seriously cool character that I didn't mind too much, though I do like to see the female character take a more active role. Even so, it's clear that Dii is a big motivation for everything Archos does. And, to be fair, with Dii being a female elf mage, she has virtually no freedom or ability to act independently in this world. Archos is awesome - handsome, powerful, scary when he's doing his really cool magic, completely badass and ruthless when he has to be, but also with a very tender side, and a genuinely good heart when it comes to helping the unfortunate and oppressed. I don't know if it's kind of contradictory to say this of a book with such graphic sexual content, but it's refreshing to read a fantasy novel with a clear moral compass, where the good people are strong, smart, and admirable, instead of being weak, stupid, and pathetic as is so common in current "dark" or "gritty" fantasy (*coughgrrmartincough*). I enjoyed the other characters, but Archos especially stands out.

The world is painted in vivid detail, from ancient magic caves to fields and forests to the dark and dangerous city. I would have liked to know more about why elves are so oppressed, how they came to be treated as little more than property to be used and abused, and what gives the Order of Witch Hunters so much power. The background of the elves is hinted at a little bit late in the book; I get the feeling we'll learn more about that in the next book.

The book could use a careful edit to smooth out some long, tangled sentences and tidy up the punctuation.

For those who prefer not to read such graphic content, I would say that this book can still be enjoyed even if you skim over or skip the sex scenes. Also, there are a number of rapes that occur in the book, but none of them are described in detail.

Overall, I found myself caught up in wanting to see if Dii could keep her new-found freedom and if Archos could help the captured, enslaved elves, and in the two romances. I'm looking forward to finding out what happens in the next book.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Character Interview: Prince Eruz

Picture Here's the companion piece to the last post about Rashali, an interview with Prince Eruz from Urdaisunia.

1. What is your full name? Is there anything significant about your name?
My name is Eruzasharbat. I'm commonly called Eruz; it's becoming customary among younger Sazars to shorten our names. Some older Sazars think that makes our names too similar to Urdai names, but it also makes them easier to say.

2. How old are you?
I am 25 years old.

3. Tell us about your family. What do you like and not like about them?
My father is Nezudanasag, King of Urdaisunia. My mother, his First Wife, is dead. I have a younger twin brother, Hazramatanarg, and an older brother, Teshtarganazad. Teshtarg's mother was one of our father's lesser wives; that's why he isn't heir to the throne. I also have a number of sisters. My wives are Nishanara (my First Wife), Gutrarina, and Birsaguna, and I have a two-year-old daughter, Mizalilu, by Gutra.

My father and brothers... Let's just say we don't see eye-to-eye on the best way to rule Urdaisunia and deal with the Urdai people. I think their view that it's appropriate and necessary to rule the Urdai with a heavy hand is short-sighted and dangerous, not to mention wrong for its own sake. My brothers would each love to take my place as heir, and I feel like my father is always watching me for an excuse to disinherit me. My father's brother Sumatriganaz, feels more the way I do, but I'm not sure if I can count on him to back me up in a confrontation with my father.

As for my wives, they're charming and attractive, but I never seem to be quite able to please them. Especially Nisha - we've been married for five years and I've yet to give her a child.

My daughter Mizalilu is the light of my life. She's quite perfect in every way, of course, the most beautiful child ever born.

4. Who was your first kiss, and what did you think of it?
My father contracted my first three zanira for me when I was seventeen. Since, of course, it's improper for a man to kiss a woman who isn't legally contracted to him as a wife or zanira, my first kiss was one of them, though I don't remember which one. (I'll admit, though, there might have been a kitchen girl or two before then, but my first permissible experience of any kind with a woman would have been with one of those zanira.) I'm sure I enjoyed it, I enjoy engaging in intimate relations, but sometimes I wonder if duty and physical pleasure are really all there is to it.

5. What is your occupation?
I am the High Prince, the Heir to the throne of Urdaisunia. Besides the general duties that go with the position, I am responsible for matters concerning the Urdai and also the harbor city, Kubiz.

6. What are your best and worst qualities?
I think my best quality is my willingness to look at matters objectively and realistically and to think for myself rather than being blinded by prejudice and tradition. Although this does cause difficulties for me with my father.

My worst quality is that sometimes I lack the courage to stand up for what I think is right. Besides that, allow me to refer you to my wives. I'm sure they'd be happy to give you an exhaustive list of my faults.

7. What quality do you value most in a romantic partner?
I appreciate a woman who is intelligent, and who can challenge me on an equal standing. Also, I know this sounds silly, but it would be kind of nice to have a wife who cares about me for myself instead of just for what I can give her. I know that isn't how things work, but it would be nice.

8. What is your favorite thing to do?
I enjoy riding my horse, Teshkarizaz, and spending time with my daughter. I also like going out in disguise to gather information myself rather than relying on agents to find out the things I want to know. It's a relief to be able to stop being the High Prince for a while and do something challenging and exciting. Also, the Sazars still worship Kuz, the god of sorcerers, and he's one of my favorite gods, so he has granted me a few small gifts which I enjoy using when I have the chance.

9. What is your greatest fear?
That my father's oppression of the Urdai will lead to an uprising, which would lead to bloodshed and disaster for all of us. I especially fear that my daughter would be harmed in a rebellion. I also fear being disinherited - not that I care so much about being King, but because both of my brothers hate the Urdai and would be even more ruthless towards them than my father is. I would like to see Urdaisunia peaceful and prosperous for the sake of all who live there, and especially for the sake of my daughter and any other children I might have.

10. What is your most treasured possession?
My daughter, Mizalilu.

Character Interview: Rashali

Picture Here's another fun thing I thought of to have on the blog: character interviews! I always enjoy reading these on other blogs about characters I like, so I decided to give it a try. Non-spoilery - these interviews are of the characters as they are at the beginning of the book. Have more questions for the characters? Leave them in the comments :)

First up is Rashali, from Urdaisunia!

1. What is your full name? Is there anything significant about your name?
My name is Rashali. It's just an ordinary Urdai name. I've heard that people from other lands have names for their families, but we Urdai don't have that custom.

2. How old are you?I'm not really sure. With things being so difficult, once someone survives to adulthood, their age doesn't really matter. I think I'm about 22 years old.

3. Tell us about your family. What do you like and not like about them?Most of my family, including my parents, most of my siblings, and my husband and daughter, are dead. Of course, I don't like that. My sister Kinna is still alive, and a few of her children. I live with them and help care for them. Kinna is older than me, but I feel like I'm the one who is stronger, and who looks after her. That's all right, it keeps me busy and gives me something to do, to keep my mind off of Tigun and Lalana being gone, and keeps me from getting too lonely.

4. Who was your first kiss, and what did you think of it?*blushes* My first kiss was Tigun. He had come to our village from a village far away, on the Tabra River. He was so handsome, and the first person I'd ever met who wasn't from Moon Bend or one of the villages nearby. I don't know why he chose me - I'm told I'm not very pretty, and that I'm far too serious -  but he did, and he kissed me, and I liked it enough to marry him.

5. What is your occupation?
I'm a widow, a childless mother, a sister, an aunt. I care for my surviving family members, and for others in the village who need me. I'm also a Scorpion, a rebel against the Sazars, who conquered my country three generations ago. My greatest dream is to see the Sazars driven out of Urdaisunia and destroyed.

6. What are your best and worst qualities?My best qualities are that I'm loyal and hard-working, and I think about things instead of taking them for granted. My worst quality is, I wish I wasn't so weak that sometimes my emotions, my feelings, are hard to live with. I wish sometimes I could just stop feeling anything.

7. What quality do you value most in a romantic partner?I want a man who cherishes me and respects me, and who is kind and loyal and intelligent. A man like Tigun. I don't know if there are any more men like him.

8. What is your favorite thing to do?I used to love to... spend time being close to my husband, and also playing with my daughter. I can't do those any more. There isn't anything I really like to do now, except think about and plan for the day when my people can regain their freedom and their pride.

9. What is your greatest fear?That my people will all die away, our culture and achievements will be forgotten, and only the Sazars will be left in our land.

10. What is your most treasured possession?
My memories of Tigun and Lalana, and my identity as a woman of Urdaisunia. No matter what else the Sazars take from me, they can't take those.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Author Spotlight: Jessica Keefe

Picture Time for another author spotlight: introducing Jessica Keefe!

1. Tell us a little about yourself.
I'm 21, a mother, a wife, a nap time novelist. My life revolves around the cutest 18 month old in the world who thinks I am the world. I never realized how much I could mean to someone until my son was born. He relied on me for everything. Food, entertainment, comfort, love, warmth, safety, anything and everything he could think of a thousand other things he couldn't. I'm pretty normal though. I watch Duck Dynasty and play Candy Crush Saga, much to my husband's chagrin, since he thinks it's a stupid game even though he's downloaded it too. I tend to read a lot of historical fiction despite my inability to write it myself. My two favorite authors are J.K. Rowling and Philippa Gregory. Through their books I have learned so much about myself and what a good novel looks like. Though we write different genres I hope to one day have an ounce of the amazing talent they do.

2. When did you start writing, and why?I started reading Harry Potter in sixth grade. During the summer before seventh I was sad that the next novel in the series wasn't out yet, so I spent two months writing fanfiction. I didn't even know what fanfiction was at that point, but that didn't stop me from writing an multi-thousand word epic about Draco Malfoy and Ginny Weasley. After that I couldn't stop myself. I continued writing fanfiction until I realized that I could create my own characters and my own world and make them do whatever I wanted. That was it for me. That was all I needed. I haven't stopped writing since.

3. What do you write, and why? What do you enjoy about what you write?
I have primarily written Christian romance fiction, including one little fic-let that I actually started and finished in November 2009. The Deceiver is my first attempt at another genre that has been overwhelmingly successful. I don't read much science fiction myself, but I've been told that I'm tapping into that genre, dystopia, and cyberpunk; three areas I've barely touched the surface of as a reader. I enjoy writing it though because it's powerful, people can relate to a world that has gone so far in the opposite direction of Utopia that it might just mimick the direction our own world is going.

4. What is your latest book? Any forthcoming books?The Deceiver will be my first published book and with the ending already in mind I know that it will have at least one sequel, perhaps even two or three. As a reader I like to read series books because I get to follow the characters through multiple adventures. I'm not going to extend The Deceiver just to continue it, it honestly needs at the very least a second book, but I'm glad that I will get to satisfy other readers who feel the same way as I do about series novels.

5. "Welcome To My Worlds": Tell us a little about the world of your latest book.
700 years ago a nuclear war between the countries destroyed a third of Earth. Scientists and NASA had been sending people to the moons of Jupiter for years. It was decided in the following decade that since Earth was no longer liveable that they would need to terraform another liveable planet.

700 years later they now inhabit three planets referred to as the Triad Of Existence: Sagan-101, Hades-4, and Enovia-23. At birth newborns are tested for their potential. Your potential is decided by a series of tests run by a machine that then sorts you in one of nine levels. Levels 1-3 are the lower class. They have minimal ambition and are extremely dependent on the other two triads. They live on Sagan-101, a planet that's mostly ice and covered in snow. Levels 4-6 are the middle class. They are your average men and women, not destined for great things, but capable of taking care of themselves. They live on Hades-4, a planet populated by volcanoes and in a state of what constant summer would be like. Levels 7-9 are the upper class. They are people of superior intelligence, ambition, strength, and possess all the skills it takes to survive on their own. They live on Enovia-23, a planet made mostly of water that relies heavily on the technology that keeps their man-made islands from sinking. Earth is a prison state now. The only people who live on its surfaces are criminals, which is a major plot point in the novel.

That's not even half of what makes The Deceiver what it is. There's a tattoo engraved on each person's wrist that taps into your limbic system, reporting back to a database of computers your thoughts, emotions, memories, and location. It's used as a way to keep track of every human among the Triad Of Existence as well as keep tabs on the population growth.

And then there's the Triad Of Colors, a cluster of three brightly colored pills that the government created and perfected to keep the masses in line. One that regulates heart rate and blood pressure, making the taker more calm and attentive. One that dulls the extremes of negative emotions and brings your amygdala levels back to a place of normalcy. And one that damages the hippocampus, usually used to distort short term memories so that they are unable to be remembered.

There's a lot going on within The Deceiver, but it works.

6. Introduce us to some of your characters. What do you like about them?Elia Davenport - She's my fiery red head and the reason behind the title of the story. Deceivers are a job in the new world and she's one of the chosen. Unfortunately she's been relegated to escort duty because of an incident on Hades-4. I love her because she's strong and confident and intelligent. But then she's also manipulative and secretive and always hiding something or another. She's a treasure trove of secret thoughts and bended rules.

Colton Bishop - He's one of the heroes. He lives full-time on Hades-4 as a representative of the Enovia-23 government. A charming, self-effacing man who loved his mother as only a child deeply devoted to his parents can. He trusts easily, but is afraid of breaking the rules of the realm. Unfortunately he has a Pandora's box of secrets that is just waiting to be opened. For a man who doesn't like to break the law, he sure does have a knack for it.

Elric Davenport - Our villain and the father of Elia. He's the reigning general of Enovia-23, a position much like president, but he rules over all three of the planets, not just the one he lives on. His greatest plans are for the Triad Of Colors. He has always liked what they do, but he wants to push them further. Rebels have been popping up for decades, never doing much, but always disturbing the peace. Elric wants the pills to have a bigger hold on the people. And some people, a select few, are terrified of what that means and will do anything to stop it.

7. A fun fact you would like your readers to know about you or your book.
If I don't know what to talk about, I talk about pie. Or cheesecake. It's a wonder I am not fatter because of my obsession with both. The way to my heart is sugary goodness. I even gave that quality to one of the mothers in my novel.

8. Blog/site link, and where your book is available.The Deceiver is set to be published this December. You can find the Facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/thedeceiver.jkeefe. That's where I've been publishing excerpts, general musings about the novel, and accompanying images to set the tone. You can also follow my blog here: http://jessicakeefe.wordpress.com/. It's both about my personal life and my professional life. Because honestly, I'm not one without the other.