Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Author Spotlight: A.J. Norfield

Introducing author A.J. Norfield, here to tell us about his debut novel Windcatcher (which is discounted on Amazon this week!):

1. Tell us a little about yourself.
Hi everyone, A.J. Norfield at your service. Proud father of two adorable rascals and happily married. And not unimportant: debuting author of the Stone War Chronicles. My days are filled with working in the world of conservation, while the nights allow me to construct adventurous worlds, inspired by mythical creatures that I’ve admired all my life.

2. When did you start writing, and why?
I remember “writing” when I was very young, creating my own cartoons. However during my teens and twenties I’d rather enjoyed the reading side of books, than the writing side. I always had the intention or wish to write my own book(s) (like many people do, I expect). There was no doubt it would fall in the fantasy genre, heavily focused on dragons. So a few years ago the time seemed right to undertake this new adventure and I was able to finish my first novel as a result of it.

3. What do you write, and why? What do you enjoy about what you write? 
Dragon adventures fantasy, which officially falls under epic fantasy (if I had to choose an “official” genre). Dragons have captured my imagination since I was a youngster, from reading to movies, from drawings to now writing. They have this majestic feel that ties into my admiration of nature that creates the perfect combination for exciting tales of danger and wonder.

4. What is your latest book or series? Any forthcoming books?
‘Windcatcher’ is my debut novel. I was very nervous to put it out in the world at first, but slowly I’m settling into the fact that many people really like the story. And what’s there not to like? The stakes are high, the action is plentiful and you’ll be able to meet a very special dragon, who will steal the readers hearts, from the moment it arrives in the world. The reviews it gets are amazing, I’m truelly humbled by them. It has become clear that those readers that enjoy books like the Dragon Riders of Pern and Eragon are very likely to enjoy my first steps in authorship, as well. Which is not surprising as Anne McCaffrey is one of my all-time favorites and a huge inspiration.

Currently I’m working on ‘Wavebreaker’, the second book in the Stone War Chronicles Series. The story deepens, new characters are introduced and a new dragon will see the light of day. The additional main character is to be a strong female lead whose storyline will run parallel with that of Raylan and Galirras as they continue their journey from ‘Windcatcher’. I hope people will grow to love her just like they do Raylan and Galirras, as her world is turned upside down and has to flee for the oncoming dangers from the East.

5. "Welcome To My Worlds": Tell us a little about the world of your latest book or series.
My lovely newly made worldmap is available here:
The known world’s continents represent three different dragon teeth. This comes from the old history of the Tiankong Empire, a nation that is still much of a mystery in book I of the Stone War Chronicles. The kingdom of Aeterra is where Raylan, the main protagonist, grew up. It entered a stable period after the last great war, focusing on trade and prosperity. The story is set in medieval (fantasy) times, with slight modern sets of life. While the world is divers and grand, filled with the good and the bad of the people that live in it.

Doskova is the third, large player on this world’s stage. It lays in the East. A dangerous and dark continent, where our main characters will discover a danger that will impact the world.

After completing ‘Windcatcher’, I feel like the world is really coming into its own as I continue to explore the many exotic places and landscapes in ‘Wavebreaker’. Because of my background in conservation, I really enjoy implementing nature and animals into the story, to make the world feel more real, as well as add value to the story of men.

6. Introduce us to one of your characters. What do you like about them?
I would like to focus on the only female character in the group of friends for this interview: Xi’Lao
She is the whole reason why their group travels to Doskova in search of the ancient relic. She’s reserved and calculating, traveling from the Tiankong Empire to request the aid of Aeterra’s king in locating their nation’s most valuable piece of history, while the empire is in chaos.

Still, she’s as mysterious as the Empire she comes from, as Tiankong actively refusing entrance to any outsiders. As a character, she combines a vast amount of knowledge, with a high skill in combat—which makes her a valuable member of the team. Then, as the story unfolds, people will see the deeper layers of why she is so driven to get the relic back, and the many aspects of one’s life that influence your decisions along the way.

7. A fun fact you would like your readers to know about you or your book.
There are actually many tiny references to other books, movies and videos games in the story. Though, they might actually be way too subtle to be noticed by anyone. Other than that, I never really realized how much emotion a writer can transfer to the reader until I read that I made a grown woman cry. It must seem pretty weird to see someone jumping up and down from joy in their living room, because they made a person cry… ^_^

8. What music do you listen to while writing?
For the action scenes I often will listen to Two Steps from Hell, or Kamelot. Movie music or game music like ‘Everybody's Gone to the Rapture’ are really enjoyable as well. However, as soon as I have to write complicated emotions or conversations, I tend to write in silence, as not to get distracted from the words I wish to put down on paper.

Where to find A.J. Norfield:
Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Windcatcher is available at Amazon (discounted through May 27, 2016 or read free with Kindle Unlimited!)

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Author Spotlight: A.L. Butcher

Today I'm happy to welcome fantasy author A.L. Butcher to the blog.

1. Tell us a little about yourself.
Hi, and thanks for having me today:) I’m A.L. Butcher (Alexandra), British author of fantasy, fantasy romance, mythic and short stories.

2. When did you start writing, and why?

I’ve always been creative, making up stories and imaginary friends and worlds so I guess that means forever;). If you mean when did I start writing professionally that would be about 2012, although technically that was when I first published. The actual book took about a year.
Why do I write? It keeps me sane, it helps me cope with anxiety, stress and it makes me happy. Also I write because I have stories to tell. A writer is who and what I am.

3. Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?

I grew up in a little town in the South Eastern UK. My family liked to read a lot, and we were encouraged to be creative. Both my father and grandmother made up stories, and my mother would take us to the theatre quite a bit.

I have a sister who’s an English and drama teacher, one whose an artist, and a grandmother who was a local historian.

4. What do you write, and why? What do you enjoy about what you write?

As I said I mainly write fantasy fiction – for the most part it’s definitely adult – sex and sorcery as it were, but some of the short stories have less of the adult scenes. Much of my work is heroic fiction/mythic fiction. I’ve just produced a short collection of fairytale-esque stories (not adult rated – suitable for all), and that’s just been made into an audio book.

I’m also a poet, but that’s mainly written just for myself. I have a couple of horror short fiction stories, which have been produced for anthologies.

5. What is your latest book or series? Any forthcoming books?
The Kitchen Imps and Other Dark Tales is my latest. It’s a collection of darkly humorous fairy tales featuring the titular imps, a rather bemused god, an enchanted kitchen and a canny thief who outwits a greedy king. The last is a retelling of an ancient Egyptian tale.
Hopefully the imps and their friends will return in later stories.

I’m also working on the second edition of my second novel, which should be republished shortly and in audio later this year. It’s be re-edited, and expanded slightly.

Currently I have two novellas in progress. The first relates back to an event in book II – but from a different perspective, and the second is an expansion of a story written for an anthology, featuring a bard who becomes a reluctant hero. Both of these will be part of the Tales of Erana series – the companion series for my novels.

6. "Welcome To My Worlds": Tell us a little about the world of your latest book or series.
Erana is a fantasy world where magic is illegal and elves live as slaves. Magic is everywhere, it neither knows nor cares it’s illegal, for the rules of men are of no consequence to it. Unfortunately for those who are magical – the mages, adepts, musician adepts and magical creatures they must hide what they are or risk imprisonment or death at the hands of the ruling Order of Witch-Hunters. There are elves, trolls, humans and magical entities such as elementals, gods, and semi sentient objects. It’s a pretty dark world, run by martial law, and ruled by fear. Even the humans are not safe, for the Witch-Hunters and the slavers basically do what they like and anyone who defies them ends up enslaved or dead. It doesn’t stop the resistance, but it does make it a lot more dangerous.

Book I follows a young elven sorceress who runs away from the house of her wicked slavemaster; she must survive in a world where her very existence is illegal. During her adventures she helps rescue some other elves taken by slavers, meets a mysterious and powerful nobleman who is not all he seems, and has to come to terms with who she is and what she is.  Book II continues their adventures when they seek out a lost city, and magic box which might just turn the tables for the resistant. They must battle a foe long thought gone, and find out some terrifying truths. There is intrigue, betrayal, love, magic, lies, truth, battle, passion and monsters.

Book III follows some of the characters from book II as they try to find the source of a mysterious illness and the disappearances which have taken the lives of friend and foe alike, and the main character must prove her worth to lead her tribe.
7. Introduce us to some of your characters. What do you like about them?
Book I:
  • Dii – Dii, or Dii’Athella is the elven sorceress. She’s pretty naïve in book I – she’s been a slave most of her life and knows little about the world. She’s clever, kind and very troubled.
  • Archos – he’s a human (sort of) sorcerer, resistance leader and nobleman. He’s charming, passionate and deadly.
  • Olek – he’s a half-elven ‘servant’ to Archos. In truth he’s a thief, assassin and spy.
  • Ozena – she’s a young forest elf whose village is raided by slavers. Archer, hunter and tracker she brings help and then must seek out her sister, who was taken in the attack. She’s also pretty naïve, life in a small forest village does NOT prepare one for the harsh reality of rule by the human overlords.

Book II:
All of the above, plus:
  • Marden – a human warrior and Witch-Hunter playing a very dangerous game.
  • Th’alia – an elven scholar sent to seek out Dii and Archos and captive of Marden.
  • M’alia – twin sister of Th’alia – and a captive mage who must not only survive her incarceration but keep the Witch-Hunters on the wrong trail.
  • Talfor – Trollish lord, warrior and bear-changer. The son of the local troll Shaman he accompanies the above group and is instrumental in the adventures and discoveries.

Book III:
M’alia, Talfor plus:
  • Mirandra – sister of Talfor and heiress to the Shaman of Var. She must survive her proving to lead, and discover the whereabouts of her missing kin.
  • Ephany – half-elven thief/whore who works for the resistance and acts as ‘bodyguard’ to the trolls in the human lands in the Emerald Valley.
  • Gregori – human merchant and adventurer who seeks knowledge of his kin and to right a perceived wrong.
  • Danyan – elderly human mage in hiding residing in the Emerald Valley who sets out to also answer the question of the mysterious disappearances.

8. What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
Creating people and places.
About the Author:
A. L. Butcher is the British author of the Light Beyond the Storm Chronicles fantasy series, and several short stories in the fantasy and fantasy romance genres.  She is an avid reader and creator of worlds, a poet and a dreamer. When she is grounded in the real world she likes science, natural history, history and monkeys.  Her work has been described as ‘dark and gritty’ and her poetry as evocative.

Blog | Goodreads | Amazon author page | Twitter | Facebook

A. L. Butcher's books are available in ebook, paperback and/or audio at:
Amazon | Smashwords | Barnes & Noble | iTunes | CreateSpace

Read on for excerpts from The Kitchen Imps and The Light Beyond the Storm Chronicles:

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Milestone: 2 Million Words

PictureNo, this isn't my total 2 million words. This is the rough draft of all 6 Daughter of the Wildings books, in one binder.

I've blogged before about keeping a spreadsheet of my total lifetime word count. When I updated the spreadsheet at the beginning of this year, I realized that I was within close shouting distance of 2 million lifetime words, and that my goal this year of writing 1,000 words a day would get me there before too much longer.

Yesterday, I did it. I passed 2 million words. My lifetime word count, as of last night (which is actually when I was writing this) was 2,001,285. The two millionth word came four scenes into the rough draft of the third book of the follow-up series to Daughter of the Wildings.

Here's how I count the words: I use the word count from Word, which seems to be the most accurate (although I don't write in Word; I open my saved manuscript files in it to get the word count). I enter the initial count when the rough draft of a project is finished. Then, since the final versions are always longer (my rough drafts are often closer to an outline or summary; when revising, I write addtional scenes and fill out dialogue, description, and action), when the project is finished I update the word count to include all the additional words I've written. I usually add 20-50% or more words between the first draft and the final version.

Here's how all those words are distributed:
741,682 - published works up for sale
632,176 - fanfiction posted on my fanfiction site or complete and intended for posting
402,897 - unpublished completed projects in various stages of revision, intended for eventual publication
224,530 - assorted fragments, unfinished projects, and first drafts in progress, and a finished novel or two that will probably never see the light of day.

All of this is strictly fiction writing; no blog posts, forum posts, emails or anything else like that is included.

It took me from 1990 to 2010 to reach 1 million words, from 2010 to 2016 to hit 2 million. If I keep at my current pace, assuming all is well and I'm able to continue that pace, I should hit 3 million in 2020.

And now the big question: Are any of those 2 million words any good? Well, I don't know. I think so; I work hard to do the best writing I'm capable of, and I hope readers will enjoy what I write. One thing is certain; I'm better now than I was when I started 26 years ago, and I will work to continue to improve over the next million words.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Throwback Thursday: Favorite childhood books

A few weeks ago, I saw this on Pauline Ross's blog (she originally got it from I Read Encyclopedias For Fun). The prompt was timely; I host a twice-monthly activity for the 8-11 year old girls from my church, and at the same time I was planning an activity that's always a favorite: the girls are invited to bring a favorite book to share, and we spend an hour talking about books and our favorite characters and the things we love about them. One little girl said, "I don't like to read, I like math," so I found this book in my older son's room: One Two Three... Infinity, by George Gamow. She was so excited to realize there are books about math that aren't just math textbooks, and while the other girls were drawing portrait galleries of their favorite characters, she copied equations and diagrams out of this book. That was awesome.

Another great thing about this activity is it gave me an excuse to haul out some of my favorite books from when I was that age. So here, inspired by the blogging prompt, are some of my favorite books when I was growing up. As far as possible and as best I can remember, the covers below are the editions I owned, or close to them. Links go to Goodreads.
Nancy Drew
I loved these books. Besides fantasy and romance, I've always enjoyed mysteries, and I gobbled up the Nancy Drew books like candy. I thought Nancy was so cool, she was smart and brave and had a car and friends and a boyfriend and could go wherever she wanted and do whatever she wanted and her dad the lawyer was her buddy, and the mysteries were always interesting. Spooky and dangerous, but not too much so. When I was in the 4th grade, in the early 70s, a girl in my class who lived on my street had the entire collection of Nancy Drew books that had been published up until then (the ones in the yellow hardback covers). She was the envy of all the girls in the 4th grade. We weren't really friends, but I asked if I could come over to her house just to admire her Nancy Drew collection, and she graciously agreed. It was a thing of beauty.

Johnny Tremain
This tale of a young teenage boy in Boston during the early years of the American Revolution was one of my favorite books when I was eight years old (I was reading well ahead of my grade level; I think it's more written at a 6th-8th grade level). I loved seeing historical events that I'd learned about in school on a personal level, what it was like for someone only a little older than me to live through them and play a part in them, and I was drawn to the honor and courage shown by Johnny, the young soldier Rab, and the other patriots. But mostly, I had a huuuuge crush on Johnny. Yes, Johnny Tremain was my very first book boyfriend. I may be weird in this, but in my crushes on fictional characters or celebrities, I never got jealous of whatever woman they might be in a relationship with; I always rooted for it to work out, either as vicarious wish-fulfillment or because I just wanted the object of my adoration to be happy. Anyway, I loved the budding romance between Johnny and Cilla and wished there was a follow-up book to show that they lived happily ever after.

Little House books
I had the full set of these, and read them over and over. Another fascinating glimpse of life into a period of history I had learned about in school, and I found I could really relate to Laura even though her life was so different from mine in the suburbs in the early 1970s. I could never really get into the TV show, even though it was hugely popular. The books were better.

Little Women
Another one I read over and over, and I read my favorite parts even more often. I related to Jo, with her love of books and making up stories. I got a beautiful illustrated hardcover edition from my parents, probably for Christmas? But I don't seem to have it any more. Maybe it's still at their house. This is one of the first books that got me started on making up my own "fanfictions" (though I never wrote them down), mostly versions where a certain character doesn't die (do I really have to avoid spoilers on a book that's 150 years old?) but gets to live happily ever after with a special someone (usually an original character, or OC in fanfic terms, as the book character who might have been eligible was already taken).

Picture Earthsea Trilogy
I thought I was younger when my parents gave me the boxed set of this, either for my birthday or for Christmas (they're about a month apart), but according to the printing date inside (yes, I still have the original set), I must have been 13. So a little older than the age group I'm looking at here, but these books were so influential on me, I can't have a post on favorite childhood books without it. I love the world, vast oceans and small islands, and Sparrowhawk/Ged is one of my all-time favorite characters (and another early book crush). I wanted to explore the world more and have more adventures with Ged and explore different angles and directions the story could have taken, and this desire and the resulting daydreams were a direct contributing factor to my decision to try writing a fantasy novel of my own some thirteen years later.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Author Spotlight: Rachel A. Brune

Today I'm happy to welcome urban fantasy/steampunk author Rachel A. Brune to the blog, talking about her books and a new Edgar Allan Poe project.

Q: Tell us a little about yourself.A: I'm 38 years old, six feet tall, and I have trouble saying no to new projects. On the other hand, I always have a steady stream of experiences and characters on which to draw when writing!

Q: What do you write, and why? What do you enjoy about what you write?
A: I write in a variety of genres, but lately urban fantasy and steampunk seem to be my thing. For urban fantasy, I am in love with the idea that the fantastical is right around the corner, and that there are worlds where magic lives right next to the subway. As for steampunk, I love the physical aesthetic of the costumes and artwork that you can see at conventions, but I also love the worlds that have been created around the idea of futuristic historical technology.

Q: What is your latest book or series? Any forthcoming books?A: The very next thing that is coming out is a steampunk detective story, "The Case of the Cigar Girl in the Sixpenny Temple." This is a punk version of Edgar Allan Poe's story, "The Mystery of Marie Rogêt," and will be part of an anthology that includes literary punk versions of Poe's stories and poems, titled Merely This and Nothing More: Poe Goes Punk. After that, I will be starting revisions on an urban fantasy novel, Steel-Toed Blues, and then sending that out to hopefully find a home.

Q: A fun fact you would like your readers to know about you or your book.A: For the last few months of 2015, I was having the WORST writer's block. I couldn't even sit down to my computer without wanting to cry because nothing was coming. So, I auditioned for a play, and ended up cast as the Priest in the local Sweet Tea Shakespeare production of Twelfth Night. I also played guitar and sang with the band that accompanies the play. For some reason, trying something new creatively jogged loose whatever was blocking my writing, and I started getting words done during rehearsal, and finally finished the steampunk short story, and made some good headway on my novel.

Rachel A. Brune's books are available at Amazon.
The Poe anthology will be available on Amazon on May 31.
Where to find Rachel A. Brune:
Blog | Goodreads | Twitter

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Tasty Tuesday: Stuffed Bell Peppers

Bolognese Stuffed Bell Peppers photo by abapplez allrecipes.comBolognese Stuffed Bell Peppers photo by abapplez Occasionally on Tuesday, I like to share something that I make that's yummy, preferably healthy, and easy to make during a long day of writing. Today I'm featuring what has to be the world's best stuffed bell peppers. Now, I know stuffed peppers usually aren't anything to get very excited about, but these are, for one reason: bacon.

Yes, these stuffed peppers have bacon in them. And almost everything is better with bacon. These aren't necessarily easy, though since I'm only feeding the two of us (or three of us, when our younger son is home from college), I use my trick of cooking half the batch the day I make it and freezing the other half for another day. And even if it isn't easy, it's totally worth it.

Here's the original recipe, from AllRecipes Magazine. Go look at it, then come back and I'll tell you what I do differently.

Okay, you're back. First off, I found that the filling works for 4 whole medium-size bell peppers, or 8 half peppers sliced lengthwise, not 6 whole/12 half. When I'm dividing the batch, I put half the filling into 4 pepper halves, or 2 peppers, and freeze the other half of the filling in a freezer zipper bag. (When you freeze and cook another time, the rice does get a little mushy, but let's be honest. You're not eating this for the rice, you're eating it for the bacon.) I don't stuff the other peppers until the day of cooking. I like to get a combination of different color peppers; red and gold or orange are my favorites, because they're tasty and it makes a pretty and colorful presentation. Blanch the pepper halves in boiling water for about 30 - 60 seconds; this will help them cook better in the oven.

Also, the original recipe says you can use pancetta or bacon. I skip the fancy stuff and just use bacon. I figure one bacon strip per whole pepper (or four strips for the whole batch, to make filling for four peppers/8 halves). Of course, it probably wouldn't hurt anything if you throw in an extra strip :-D

On to the vegetables: I increase the minced carrots to about 1/4 c., skip the celery because gross, and also add about 1/4 cup finely diced bell peppers (green or red is my preference) and the same amount of finely diced zucchini. So along with the pepper halves that hold the whole thing, you're getting a bunch of good veggies. You could also add finely chopped spinach if you're into that sort of thing. I'm not, but if you are, that's ok. I won't judge you.

Prepared marinara sauce: I just get the Kroger store brand. It's good. You could get fancy and expensive here, but there's really no need to.

The recipe also calls for red wine, which I skip because I don't usually cook with it, and for heavy cream, which honestly seems like overkill when you're also using bacon and parmesan cheese in the filling. This recipe is rich enough without it (I can usually only eat one pepper half, or maybe one and a half, but not two) and it adds about a zillion calories. Use it if you want, but I don't.

Like I said, this is kind of a lot of work, but you can divide the recipe (or double it) and freeze half, so it's two meals for only a little more work than one. With so many vegetables, you don't need to make an extra salad or anything. I just get some bake-at-home french bread and throw it in the oven while the peppers bake, and there's dinner.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Three Big Sales This Weekend!

Three big sales going on this weekend:
150 science fiction and fantasy books only 99 cents this weekend! Science fiction, dystopian, fantasy, paranormal, urban fantasy, horror, fantasy and science fiction romance, and box sets.
Mother's Day fantasy sale! Free, 99 cent, and bargain-priced fantasy books for Kindle.
Mother's Day rebate sale at All Romance/OmniLit: Buy selected books and receive 30% of the purchase price in store credit towards a future purchase.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Book Tour: Bellona

Today I'm welcoming author Aoife Marie Sheridan, here with Saskia Book Tours to introduce her new book Bellona (Saskia Trilogy #1.5). And don't forget to pop over to my main site to enter the giveaway to win an ebook three-pack of Eden Forest (The Saskia Trilogy #1), Hunters (The Demon Series #1), and Bellona (The Saskia Trilogy #1.5), and also enter for the grand prize giveaway:
Paperback copy of:
Eden Forest (The Saskia Trilogy #1)
City of Secrets (The Saskia Trilogy #2)
The Rise of The Queeen (The Saskia Trilogy #3)
Hunters (The Demon Series #1)
E-Book: Bellona (The Saskia Trilogy #1.5)
And a 20 dollar amazon gift voucher.

Bellona is a young princess who grows up in a world of privilege. A world of servants, banquets, and power. To others, she has everything. But behind the castle walls and locked doors things are very different.
Bellona is a damaged, dark and broken girl. Her mother is her number one tormentor. Her words break Bellona, while her father prefers his fists. Hate grows thick within Bellona and the servants become her toys - ones she can break and replace.
In this harrowing tale, we watch Bellona destroy everything around her, yet Nierra, the man who will become her husband, is the only hope she has. But will he be enough to save her?

Redemption will be sought,
Deaths will be repaid,
And somethings can never be undone.

Step back into Saskia again.

Amazon Purchase Links: | AmazonUK | AmazonCA | AmazonFR | AmazonDE | Amazon Japan

About the Author:
Aoife Marie Sheridan has loved reading from a very young age, starting off with mills and boon books given to by her grandmother. Her love for romances grew; by the age of 14 she had read hundreds of them.

Aoife has a passion for writing poetry or in her eyes her journal entries. It was something she did throughout her teens and into her twenties. Aoife won first place for two of her poems and had them published at a young age of just nineteen.

Aoife's first book Eden Forest (Part one of the Saskia Trilogy) took first place with Writers Got Talent 2013. Aoife continues to write tales of fantasy and romance.

To find out more about Aoife Marie Sheridan you can visit her at:

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