Tuesday, October 4, 2022

Author Interview - Cydney Daemon


CydneyDaemon, first and foremost, is a human being. She is definitely not a demon of chaos taking human form in order to collect as many books, black cats, and items of gothy wonder as possible. When she is not hyper fixated on writing whatever has possessed her brain, Cydney can be found arguing with her dog, playing referee to her two house panthers, consuming media things meant to scare her for fun, and testing the limits of Dr Pepper consumption on the human body. Alternatively, if spotted in the wild instead of in her cave of darkness, she may be seen rambling to herself about anything from book ideas to how many times she had to walk down that aisle before remembering to grab the damn chips she came here for. Prior to becoming a published author, she worked in customer service—which was a grave mistake on everyone's part. She currently also works as a freelance writer, writing the session notes for mental health professionals. With an origin story that includes poverty and severe childhood trauma, mental health and empowerment for everyone has always been extremely important to her. Cydney seeks to write books that have their own heart and soul and that can help those in the way books helped her growing up, whether that be by providing an escape or an inspiration.

Genre: Gritty Post-apocalyptic fantasy – Adult/Upper YA

Q&A

Q1: What is the name of your latest book and what inspired it?

CHAOS is the title of my debut. It follows four teenagers who come together to try to solve the murder of someone they’re all connected to. They begin to uncover secrets about their city involving a cult and the ancient mythology behind their powers. Originally, I started writing it just as a fun side piece many years ago with no intention of sharing it, but the story and the characters grew on me. It was initially about teen superheroes, thanks to my deep love of the X-Men. There’s still a small hint of that in the book, but it’s so much more now with a darker, grittier tone.

Q2: When you’re writing an emotional or difficult scene, how do you set the mood?

It depends on the scene and my mental state. Sometimes my brain sees and feels things so vividly that it just flows without me needing to set the mood. Other times, it helps me to listen to music and/or to read a couple of other scenes I’ve already written. There are other times when it’s really difficult because the scene is so emotionally draining, and I don’t really know how to set the mood and just sort of have to power through it.

Q3: What authors, or books have influenced you?

Bram Stoker, especially Dracula. Not only is it my favorite book because of the story itself (though I side with Dracula and believe he was framed), but the prose is beautiful and the structure is very unique. I’m also definitely inspired by a lot of the classics and Greek mythology. For more modern inspirations, I would list Rachelle Mead’s Vampire Academy series, The Nevernight Chronicle by Jay Kristoff, and Shea Ernshaw’s books The Wicked Deep and Winterwood. I love beautiful prose and books that I can feel the tone and the vibe in every word and on every page. Specifically with CHAOS, I went through a major overhaul between the 1st completed draft and the 2nd completed draft. The 1st draft had a very juvenile feel, which has its place but wasn’t what I wanted. I wanted something darker and more heavily grounded in reality with the tone and the vibe. Vampire Academy and Nevernight really helped me figure out how to tell the story in the way I wanted and how to tell it in a way that felt authentic to me and my own style.

Q4: Which of the characters do you relate to the most and why?

There’s part of me in all 4 main characters. And even in a couple of the side characters. I think it comes across in the most obvious ways with Henry based on a lot of his kind of weird behavior and Charlotte’s background with being Indigenous and not having a connection to her community. For Wesley, I didn’t realize until recently that I was pulling from my own experiences with a loved one’s death and how that affected me. I can’t really provide an explanation for Elsey though without giving away spoilers except for her scars and my own experiences with being bullied and mistreated due to scars, appearances, or perceptions from other people.

Q5: What advice would you give to a writer working on their first book?

Have fun with it and make sure you’re writing for yourself. Focus on writing the book you want to write, not the book other people want you to write. You’ll never please everyone, but at the end of the day, you need to be happy with what you’re doing and love what you’re writing otherwise you’re going to resent your story and maybe even want to walk away from it altogether.

Q6: How much research did you need to do for your book? 

An extensive amount. I have collected classroom syllabuses, school schedules, science articles, photography information, weapons information, combat information, etc. From looking up calendars in the future in a certain location to get the exact moon phase on that date to looking up what type of glass a window would need to be to avoid fracturing in a given situation, everything has been thoroughly researched to make sure I could be as accurate and grounded in reality as possible.

Q7: What was your hardest scene to write, and why?

There’s a scene between Henry (one of my main characters) and his dad, and it was very difficult to write not only because of the content it shows but because Henry is such a precious sweetheart of a character. He holds so much emotion inside while being an absolute cinnamon roll and writing things that hurt him is physically painful for me. Every time I even think about the scene or have to read over it, I actually have to verbally apologize to him even though I know he can’t hear me.

Q8: What is your writing process like? Are you more of a plotter or a pantser?

My writing process has changed so much over the years. I used to be a pantser, but with the risk of plot holes and realizing that my brain just wasn’t equipped to be a pantser with how vividly I see stories in my head, I made the shift toward being more of a plotter. Now, I write a summary of what I want to happen as detailed as possible and break it down into scenes and organize it in the order I want it to be in. Some scenes, though, I don’t have an exact plan for what’s going to happen, but I have an end point in mind or I’ll know a scene is needed in a certain spot and in the outline, I’ll write something like, “scene between Charlotte and her dad,” and then I just let the characters guide the scene and decide what happens.

Q9: What are you working on now?

At the moment, I’m going to allow myself to take a break so I can relax a little bit and get some other fun projects done and maybe watch a show or a movie or two. But then I’ll get to work on writing book 2 in the CHAOS series.

Q10: What are you currently reading?

Currently, I’m reading Mary, Everything by Cassandra Yorke, and next I’ll be reading Heir by P.K. Reeves.

To find out more abour Cydney Daemon follow the social media links below, and keep reading for a excerpt from CHAOS.

Instagram

Goodreads

Amazon Author page

Website

Twitter


Bitter pain wound her heart into a solid knot. Elsey Hallen bit her tongue and tried to breathe.

The pungent aroma of cabbage and pork choked the air from the room. For every note the cellist flubbed, she gritted her teeth. Her shchi remained untouched.

Surveying the room, Elsey noted every detail. Eight people around the table, herself included. Two exits—one on the far right and one on the left. Golden damask wallpaper. Cream crown molding. A gold chandelier trimmed in gleaming crystal. A string quartet in the—

“Elsey.” The man across from her mother placed his elbows on the table. He rested his hard, flat chin on top of his folded hands.

Her striking blue-green eyes sliced to him.

Gray peppered Micha Adamson’s slicked-back chestnut hair. His tailored navy suit hugged his wide shoulders, complementing his speckled robin’s egg eyes. A crooked nose offset the features of his otherwise magazine-worthy face. He wore an arrogant sneer that seemed to fit with his prominent cheekbones and strong square jaw. Towering over the other attendees, his strapping build demanded recognition. His skin shone under the lights like raw pine treated with a layer of varnish.

“You always seem to be growing.” Micha’s stare lingered on the sweetheart neckline of her black velvet dress. “What are you now? Seventeen?”

“Yes.” Her voice—like a crackling flame—carried an extra bite. “The same age as your son and daughter.”

A pinch nipped her left side. Elsey jerked from her mother’s grasp. Digging her black nails into her dress, she ignored the look she received from her father, Gregor, at the head of the table.

Micha’s thin lips twisted up. “My last girlfriend was eighteen.”

If Elsey had a weaker stomach, she would’ve vomited. “I’m not taking applications at this time, and I’d still pass on yours even if I were of legal age.”

“What legal age? There are no laws dictating what I can and can’t do.” He burst into laughter, slamming his hand on the table. The dishes rattled. All eyes fixed on them. His gaze narrowed. “Don’t worry. You’ve always been too willful for my liking.”

The bitter pain knotted even tighter into her heart.

“Besides,” he continued with a voice colder than frost, “what would a man want with a girl who looks like a jigsaw puzzle?”

Her face grew almost as scarlet as her long, voluminous curls. Every stare felt sharper. Elsey felt too aware of her appearance. The jagged line cutting from her forehead into her right brow. The deep hole creating a concave against her high cheekbone under her right eye before cutting into a sickle down her face. The pitted dip in her chin that forked at the end. The hollow stitch of skin at the left corner of her heart-shaped lips. The strained skin twisting around her left eye and slicing toward her jaw. The thick line carved along the valley of her left cheek. And underneath her long-sleeved dress and flesh-toned stockings, more scars—rough lines and gouges—defiled her entire body. Turning her creamy muted rose skin into a map of puckered and gnarled terrain.

Rage unfurled its wings in her chest. Burying all her pain in a shallow grave.

She gripped the table.

Tuesday, September 27, 2022

Author Interview - R. S. Williams

R. S. Williams is a fantasy author from Somerset, England who lives with her husband, daughter and two cats.

She started writing in her late teens and grew up on a steady diet of books and tv shows feeding her imagination. When not writing, Rhianne can be found reading a book, watching Netflix, playing video games, spending too much time on TikTok or going for walks.

If you want to be notified about new books, cover reveals, and latest news straight to your inbox, sign up for Rhianne’s newsletter, and get a free deleted scene from Kingdom of Lies.

Genre: Fantasy, YA & NA

Q&A

Q1: What is the name of your latest book and what inspired it?

Return of the Dragons, The Kane Saga Book Two.

This entire trilogy was inspired by an adopt-a-plot I found during my second year of NaNoWriMo. I never did anything with it to begin with, then when I was on holiday with my then boyfriend, now husband, I was lounging by the pool and it just hit me. All the books I had been reading had incredible female main characters. Which is fantastic but we were nearing the end of my holiday, I’d read 9 books and all of them were female. A thought struck me, and I wondered what boys were reading if all the books had a female lead because as I saw myself in these main characters, could they? So, I gender swapped the plot I adopted, added in some magical elements like dragons, a mad sorcerer and the chosen one and voila. I wrote down 6 pages of notes that afternoon of my main character, Elijah, books 1, 2 and 3 and never looked back. I wrote the first draft that year and continued with the other two.

Q2: What’s your favourite and least favourite part of publishing? 

Favourite has to be getting the finished book in your hands. Seeing your cover with your name on an actual book is something that will never get old. Although necessary, I actually hate editing. I do between 6-9 rounds of edits so it can get a little boring after a while, but I know it makes the story stronger.

Q3: What authors, or books have influenced you?

Oh man. There have been loads over the years. Sarah J Maas and Elise Kova continue to be authors I admire and look up to. Along with Lyndsey Hall and Chloe C. Peñaranda. They’re all killing it and their writing styles are so immersive I love every book I read by them.

Q4: What is your schedule like when you’re writing a book?

Chaotic. I spoke about this in episode 18 of my author accountability podcast with my co-host Donna. I used to have a real solid plan, and in a way I still do, things just got a little chaotic when I had a baby. In the lead up to my maternity leave I wanted to have as much done as possible so I could take a few weeks off - I wrote 3 novellas, a standalone and rewrote book two and three of my trilogy. Then I had my baby and took a few weeks off and got right back to it when my daughter was about 4 weeks old.

I’m really territorial about my writing time. I write between 5/5:30am to 6:30am every weekday. Then I do extra bits on a Monday and Wednesday evening. This gives me time to work the muggle job, build my VA business and still have time to spend with my husband and friends. It took me around four years to get here but it’s what works for me, and I stick to it.

Until October 2022 I’m on Maternity Leave from my muggle job so if my daughter has a nap, I try to either write or read during those as well.

Q5: What advice would you give to a writer working on their first book?

Never give up. It will feel shitty at times but it will be so worth it when you get to the end. Don’t be afraid to reach out to other authors and make friends. Lyndsey is not only an inspiration, she’s one of my best friends now and we met on Instagram, then in real life back in 2020.

Q6: What do the words “writer’s block” mean to you? 

Being unable to get what's in my head out, or having a blank moment. It can mean many things but to me it’s whenever I have a barrier in my way.

Q7: What part of the book was the most fun to write?

Oh can I do one for each book? For Kingdomof Lies it was the scene where Elijah meets his love interest for the first time. In Return of the Dragons it’s when the pact is broken and we see the dragon transformation and in book three it was during the massacre… I won’t say too much on that, but my critique partner still hasn’t forgiven me.

Q8: How would you describe your book’s ideal reader?

Someone who enjoys fantasy books, chosen ones with found family tropes and a little romance. Although I’ll be branching out into that more in my next series as that’ll be NA.

Q9: What are you working on now?

Quite a few things! I’m editing a couple of short stories for upcoming anthologies that I will be a part of. The origin stories for my next fantasy series which I just finished drafting book one for and outlining a standalone. Oh, and editing book three for The Kane Saga which will come out next year.

Q10: What are you currently reading?

I’m currently doing a re-read of Graceling. As a mood reader I find it difficult to get into books sometimes. I’m also reading A Queen Comes to Power by Chloe C. Peñaranda.

To find out more about R. S. Williams follow the social media links below.

Facebook
Instagram
Goodreads
Amazon Author Page
Website
TikTok

Return of the Dragons is available as paperback and ebook.


Having grown up in Rheanydd, all Elijah wanted to focus on was entering the annual Hollom horse race. A year later, he’s one of Princess Sienna’s Elite bodyguards in Adelith, where he learns more about his hazy past every day.

King Roderick’s solution to Eli being revealed as the missing crown heir is to marry Eli to Princess Sienna and combine their two bloodlines. But when a body is found with a blood-splattered message and the queen reveals a secret about Eli’s magic, a wedding is the last thing on everyone’s mind.

Eli starts to doubt the Dragon Elders’ motives when their answers only come in the form of cryptic messages. Yet he can’t help but feel a connection between the dragons and himself. So, he agrees to fulfil their task to get the relics before The Master’s Agents of Cyran.

But the agreement between the dragons and his father is due to end soon, setting the dragons free from their human forms and able to rebuild their race. Unless The Master gains control of them.

Can Eli and the dragons work together to stop The Master from getting the relics, or will he gain control over the dragons to rebuild the world and become a god?

Tuesday, September 20, 2022

Author Interview - J. L. Minyard

J.L.Minyard is the not-so-secret pen name of award-winning young adult author Jessica Minyard. Jessica is an author, poet, ISTJ, Sagittarius, and boy mom who lives and writes from the bluegrass.

 She has an MFA from Lindenwood University and her short fiction and poetry has appeared in Flash Fiction Magazine, Vamp Cat Magazine, salt + vinegar zine, Nightingale and Sparrow, Re-Side Zine, Taco Bell Quarterly, Kaleidotrope, and elsewhere.

 Genre: New Adult college romance

Q&A

Q1: What is the name of your latest book and what inspired it?

My latest book is the first in an interconnected NA romance series called Sometimes Love Ain’t Enough. The main series will be three books, but I keep thinking of more ideas for spin-offs, so we’ll see!

Honestly, SLAE was inspired a lot by my own experiences as a fat woman and a toxic relationship I had in my early twenties. Obviously, things have been changed for the purposes of fiction and the story, but the feelings Vivien has and the journey she goes on is very familiar to me. I also knew I wanted to put more positive fat representation out in the book world.

Q2: What do you need in your writing space to help you stay focused?

I create playlists for all the major projects I work on, and I listen to these when I’m writing. They help me stay grounded and stay in tune with the emotional and thematic threads of the work.

In my larger writing environment – my head, my home, etc. – I need harmony and stability. I find it very hard to focus when my life in general is in chaos. We recently went through the process of building a house, which involved several moves, and unsurprisingly I barely wrote anything. I was able to work on edits, but little new writing happened at all!

Q3: If you could spend a day with another popular author, whom would you choose and why?

Um…probably C.M. Nascosta because I’m slightly obsessed with her work and I have …questions. Important questions.

Q4: What, to you, are the most important elements of good writing?

I will forgive almost anything as long as the story is compelling in some way. Heck, I don’t even have to like the characters as long as there’s something in the story that’s pulling me forward.

I think this really boils down to making your readers care – care about anything, something, in the story. 

Q5: What are common traps for new authors? 

I would probably have to say spending too much time and energy on the first draft. This was my struggle as a new writer and it’s something I see a lot of new writers struggling with. The purpose of the first draft is not to have the perfect story – it’s getting the words down. If you never get the words down, you’ll never get to the next step, and the book will never be finished.

And, honestly, the editing and revision processes are where the magic happens! That’s where you find the patterns in the story, tease out the suspense or the romance, and play with language.

Q6: What is the most valuable piece of advice you’ve been given about writing?

In one of my last classes for my MFA program, the instructor introduced the idea of a “reason for being” when it comes to stories. Why now, why these characters, why this place, etc.

This idea really changed the way I think about craft. Sometimes this “why” gets forgotten or downsized when I’m working on my own stories and it causes me to get stuck. I find that I haven’t given my characters enough desires, or their desire might not be compelling enough to drive the story, or their desires come to fruition too easily and there are not enough challenges in their way.

Q7: How do you come up with character names for your stories?

For my contemporary work, I keep lists of first names and last names that I pull from when I’m writing. I usually start with my favourite names and add to the lists as I come across different names out in the world. I also take into account the characters’ backgrounds and backstories when I’m picking their names.

Vivien, the main character in Sometimes Love Ain’t Enough, was an interesting case because of her backstory. Her mom named her after a famous actress, but then she also chose her own pen name, so I had to think of a name the character would actually pick for herself.

Q8: At what time of the day do you do most of your writing?

I have a 3.5-year-old chaos gremlin so most of my writing happens at night, LOL. I do actually prefer to write at night. My ideal writing routine would be to stay up late writing but then also being able to sleep late the next day. I can’t do that, because of said gremlin, so I also have to grab writing time when and where I can get it.

Q9: What are you working on now?

I’m writing the second book in the Penn Warren University series! There’s a sneak peek of this book at the end of Sometimes Love Ain’t Enough so readers can find out which character this book will be focusing on.

Q10: What are you currently reading?

I’m currently reading 40-Love by Olivia Dade and very impatiently waiting for the release of C.M. Nascosta’s Moon Blooded Breeding Clinic.

To find out more about J. L. Minyard check out the social media links below, or keep reading for an excerpt from Sometimes Love Ain’t Enough.

Facebook

Instagram

Goodreads

AmazonAuthor Page

Website

TikTok

Sometimes Love Ain't Enough is available as paperback and ebook.

As we ate, we chatted about small, everyday things. I asked him what he was doing with the high schoolers today and he explained their team-building activities and what kind of programs they were doing at Penn Warren.

I told him a little bit about Amera and Sebastian and how we had clicked together freshman year. He complimented the house and I told him about Amera’s parents’ connections.

During a quick lull in the conversation, I asked him when his birthday was.

He looked momentarily startled before answering. “January fourth.”

“You’re a Capricorn.”

Well, that made complete and utter sense. Caps were practical, realistic, persistent, and disciplined. They also tended to have strong control over their urges and desires. Which explained a whole hell of a lot.

“How did you just know that? Off the top of your head?”

I toyed with a swirl of noodles on my plate. “Um, I like astrology, specifically horoscopes.” I held out my arm, wrist-up, so he could see the bull’s head tattooed on the inside of my wrist. “Taurus.” Gentle and fierce; built for comfort and pleasure; loyal.

He gave a little laugh. “Yeah, I saw that. I thought maybe you just liked cows.”

I flushed. “It is not a cow. It is a bull.”

He held his hands up in supplication, humor still written all over his face. “I apologize.” He grabbed my arm and brought it to his mouth, lips moving lazily over my tattoo. “I like the bull very much.”

Suddenly, the room was too hot. Suddenly, all the air was gone from my lungs. 

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Tuesday, September 13, 2022

Author Interview - Sarina Langer


SarinaLanger is a dark fantasy author of both epic and urban paranormal novels.

She’s as obsessed with books and stationery now as she was as a child, when she drowned her box of colour pencils in water so they wouldn’t die and scribbled her first stories on corridor walls.

(‘A first sign of things to come’, according to her mother. ‘Normal toddler behaviour’, according to Sarina.)

In her free time she usually reads one audiobook, one ebook, and one paperback (one for every occasion), plays video games, and obsesses over mythology.

She has a weakness for books on writing and pretty words. (Specificity, anyone? Or perhaps nebulous?)

Sarina lives with her partner and daughter (read: their cat) in the south of England.

Genre: paranormal urban fantasy romance

Q&A

Q1: What is the name of your latest book and what inspired it?

Thank you for having me back! My latest book is A Dream of Death andMagic, and it’s the first book in a planned decology, CHAOS OF ESTAANDERSON.

To be honest, I don’t remember what exactly inspired this one. I wrote the first draft almost two years ago (I think) when I finished another WIP sooner than expected and needed something else to make up the NaNoWriMo numbers. I’d written down a few notes in the summer for this one, but I didn’t have an outline or any of my usual plotting. So, I pantsed the very first draft.

And this, friends, is how I learned that I can’t pantse a book. I need a plan or it’ll end in disaster.

When I came back to this book after initial critique partner feedback, I decided to just start over. They actually liked it, but it didn’t feel right to me. I love mythology, so I wanted to include a few things in this series. I sat down at my desk one morning to plan this one, jot down a few ideas for a sequel, maybe, and then suddenly I had rough ideas for ten books. That’s not usually what happens, but this book was very vocal, if that makes sense, from the re-start.

Q2: What’s your favourite and least favourite part of publishing? 

My least favourite part is when I hit that stage, usually in my second or third edit, when I don’t want to look at it anymore, none of the plot twists hit as they should because I’ve read it and picked away at it so many times, but I can’t send it to my critique partners just yet because it’s not quite there. That part can be a slog. I didn’t have that with Death and Magic. Fingers crossed the next nine will go just as well.

My favourite part is almost everything else. A few moments I especially love are early on into a WIP when anything can happen, seeing my covers for the first time, listening to the audition scripts for the audiobooks, and seeing critique partners and beta readers heap love on my characters and the stories. All of that is so special, and I don’t see any of it ever getting old.

Q3: What authors, or books have influenced you?

The books that were a big influence on Death and Magic were the Court of Thorns and Roses series by Sarah J Maas. I didn’t actually love the first one (mostly because of Tamlin the Asshole), but when I finally picked up the sequels, I got through them fast. I actually got a little obsessed with them. I ended up analysing what it was exactly that had me so hooked and realised that I loved the combination of fantasy, humour, darkness, and spice, and that’s exactly what I’m aiming for in Esta’s series.

Esta’s story is a slow-burn romance, though, so don’t expect a lot of heat right from the start. The beginnings are definitely there, but I don’t think it’ll get really spicy until Book 3. It’ll be a decology, probably, so that’s a lot of time to make stuff happen. I won’t be rushing into everything in Book 1. I’m not a fan of insta-love, so this’ll develop more organically.

Q4: What is your schedule like when you’re writing a book?

That depends entirely on the time of year. I work term-time in a university library, so I’m off over Christmas, Easter, and nearly three months over the summer. I have a lot more time to write then, but naturally, it’s also the best time to get other things done, like audiobooks. I’m always surprised by how much of a backseat the actual writing takes during those times. I can edit at work if it’s quiet enough (I’m super lucky to have very supportive colleagues who make sure we have all of my books on our shelves), but I can’t listen to audiobook chapters, for example.

During uni terms, I get up much earlier than I need to so I can write before work. I’d be too tired afterwards, so it needs to be in the mornings. Having that pressure works well, too—I know if I don’t write now (usually between 7 & 7:30am), it won’t happen that day. It always feels good to leave the house around 8am and know I’ve already got the words down. It takes a while that way, but it does get the books written. Although, I’ve also lost track of time more than once and then had to rush out the door, which is less fun.

Q5: What advice would you give to a writer working on their first book?

Don’t put any pressure on yourself. This is your first book, so it’ll be your biggest learning curve. This is great because of how much you’ll grow as you work on this book, but it’s also daunting. It doesn’t need to be perfect—all first drafts are shit, so cut yourself a lot of slack. You’re not going it alone—don’t be afraid to find critique partners (bookish friends you trust to be honest with you), beta readers, and editors to help you improve the story in a considerate way.

And if after all that you’re just not feeling it, you don’t have to publish it. You can write just for yourself. I recommend it, too. If you haven’t written anything before, you probably shouldn’t publish right away. Give yourself some time to grow as a writer and develop your skills. You only get one debut novel.

Q6: What do the words “writer’s block” mean to you? 

This may be unpopular, but there’s no such thing. I believe that writers use writer’s block either to blame something they have no control over and therefore it’s not their responsibility, or as an excuse because it’s easier than admitting that they’re scared of other people reading their book, of this book not being as good as their last, of everyone hating it, of not being good enough in general—lots of things.

Writer’s block itself—being physically unable to write because the muse isn’t talking to you today—isn’t a thing. Inspiration comes as you write. If you’re waiting for the muse to come to you, you’ll be waiting for a long time. Instead, show the muse that you’re serious and get writing.

If you’re staring at the screen or your notebook and feel drained, you may have burned out. Take a break. If you’re staring at the screen or your notebook and can’t think of what to write, move on to another project. It may not be this book’s time. If you can’t get excited about your book, you can’t expect your readers to be excited either.

If you’re a pantser and swear by winging the whole book, then that’s great if it works for you. If you tend to get stuck and don’t know how to move on, just do a tiny bit of plotting. I don’t mean the ‘plan every single chapter in extreme detail’ kind of plotting, just enough to give you a road map. Give yourself somewhere to go.

As an editor, I often see writers frustrated because they can’t figure out what their characters should do next. They’re thinking about what the character should do or what would be most exciting for the story when they should consider what the character would do. It’s not really up to the writer to decide. It’s up to the character—all you need to do is listen and let them act as they would according to their nature. Think of them as real people. When you really know your characters, you’ll never wonder what they would do again, because there’s only one option. When you ask yourself ‘what would my best friend do?’, you don’t think about what would be most exiting for your situation. You know what they would do, because that’s just who they are. It’s the same with your characters.

Instead of blaming something that doesn’t exist, figure out what exactly is stopping you from writing—fear, burnout, a lacking understanding of your characters, not enough direction, a lack of excitement for this particular project, etc—and address that issue.

If you want to write a book, it’s your responsibility to make it happen. Blaming writer’s block takes at least some, if not all, of that responsibility away from you.

Q7: What part of the book was the most fun to write?

All of it! I genuinely loved every scene. (well, except two. I love how they came out, but I was crying when I wrote them, so hopefully you’ll cry too.)

Q8: How would you describe your book’s ideal reader?

From early reader feedback, this book is a comfort after a long day, it’s fun, and it’s a great escape from the mundane. If that’s something you want, then you’re this book’s ideal reader.

Q9: What are you working on now?

I’m going through the First Big Edit of Blood Vow, the final book in the Blood Wisp series. Remember what I said earlier about the edit eventually becoming a slog? I’ve hit that spot. Hopefully it’ll be with critique partners by the time this interview goes live. I’ll be a lot more relaxed if that’s the case.

I’ve got the sequel to Blood and Magic outlined, but I just want to get this First Big Edit done before I start writing. The tone in BloodVow is very different, and I don’t want to muddle it and make it harder than it needs to be.

I’m slowly world-building a new epic fantasy called The Silence of Magic, and I’ve got several audiobooks in the works: Wardens of Archos, Blood Song, and A Dream of Death and Magic.

Q10: What are you currently reading?

You’d think I’d read more over the summer since I’m home, but no. I’m slowly making my way through A Court of Silver Flames (hardback), the Adamant Spirits charity anthology (ebook), and Neon Gods (audiobook). That last one, at least, should be done and reviewed when this interview goes live! I’ve got the audiobook of Child of Fear and Fire lined up next and looking forward to it.

Find out more about Sarina Langer by following the social media links below:

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A Dream of Death and Magic is now available in ebook and paperback



Esta Anderson’s life is missing something.

She feels there should be… more to, well, everything, and her ambitions of being a photographer aren’t exactly going as planned, either. But she’s determined to change at least the latter this summer. She just isn’t sure how—inspiration has been a bit of a bitch lately.

She’s also a lucid dreamer who knows her dreamscape better than her actual neighbourhood. So, when one day she finds a strange obsidian void lake in her dreams, she can’t just pretend it isn’t there. Something has to happen if she jumps in… right? It wouldn’t make her feel so seen and strangely whole if it were nothing.

Except, that’s exactly what happens: nothing. At least at first. But then…

Who knew the world was so full of fairies and vampires and werewolves and demons and— Magic? Well, obviously they did, but Esta feels like she’s finally seeing the world as it really is. And with that new insight comes all the photography inspiration she’s been waiting for.

Except the Veiled are hiding for a reason. They’ve seen war before, and if Esta isn’t careful, her enthusiasm and curiosity could start a new one. Some of the Veiled are ancient, they remember the last battle against humanity…

And they know just how to turn Esta’s lucid dreams into her worst nightmares.


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Tuesday, September 6, 2022

Author Interview - Kristina Streva

Kristina Streva grew up in Rockland County, New York. As a chronic daydreamer, she took up writing as a hobby and soon realized the magic in creating fantastical worlds. She loves museums, thrifting, movies, art, crafting, reading and all things creative.

Genre: Young Adult Fantasy

Q&A

Q1: What is the name of your latest book and what inspired it?

The Inked! It has been a long-term goal of mine to become a published author. When the pandemic happened, the world slowed down and I decided to take the opportunity to finally accomplish that dream. My writing also allowed me to escape from the reality that was happening outside my window. I was able to build my own fantasy world, free from any pandemic.

Q2: When you’re writing an emotional or difficult scene, how do you set the mood?

The Inked is fairly light-hearted, … except for that whole battle to the death thing in the middle of my novel. I have some mild horror in my book which I found fun to write, as I tend to gravitate to the dark. Some might find these moments to be difficult scenes as they are more graphic than others.

I like to do my writing at the Starbucks located inside my local Barnes & Noble. Being surrounded by other books and having a nice snack and some coffee really sets the mood. I find it motivating to be encompassed by such creativity.

Q3: What authors, or books have influenced you?

I love the author Christina Henry! She writes a ton of dark twists on common fairy tales, and I truly enjoy reading all her books. I’m also a recovering Twilight addict. Those books were a staple of my college years. #teamedwardforlife

Q4: Which of the characters do you relate to the most and why?

Tanis is the youngest sister in my book, and I find her to be the most relatable. She’s a bit silly and naïve, but also tends to be the peacekeeper of the group. I’m a Libra, so I definitely appreciate a gal who wants to keep the peace.

What I love most about her character in my novel, is that she goes from being slightly co-dependent on her sisters to finding her strength and voice to help them. I think it’s a bit of a shock to her as well, that when facing a challenge, she can overcome it.

Q5: What advice would you give to a writer working on their first book?

Consistency is key. Just keep writing, even if you think it's terrible and you want to stop. First drafts aren't meant to be perfect. It's a steppingstone. Fine-tuning can come later, but if you never start, you can never finish.

Q6: How much research did you need to do for your book? 

Since my book takes place in the ocean, I did have to look up some boating terms that I was unfamiliar with. I also used a thesaurus so I wouldn't be repeating the same words frequently. Additionally, I looked up videos of people expressing anger, sadness, and other emotions to see how I could better describe their facial expressions in my novel.

Q7: What was your hardest scene to write, and why?

I don’t have a particular scene, but I will say when you have multiple characters in one chapter, head hopping can become a problem. I struggled with this during my writing and had to make sure that I was keeping each chapter in one perspective so as not to confuse the reader.

Q8: What is your writing process like? Are you more of a plotter or a pantser?

I am a pantser! I don’t plan or plot anything out with my writing.

My best friend is also a writer and we have joked about this. She has notebooks filled to the brim with characters, arrows, and anything you can imagine that would help you organize. I prefer to just write as I go… keep the juices flowing. Anything that needs to be changed can be altered in draft two!

Q9: What are you working on now?

Book two of The Inked series!

Q10: What are you currently reading?

Shadow in the Glass by JJA Hardwood

Keep reading for an exerpt from The Inked and find out more about Kristina Streva by following the social media links below.

Her hair was beautiful, and much like that of the mermaids he had grown up with, it was long and flowed behind her in the water as she moved. Yuri’s eyes met his, and he held her gaze, staring at the stunning icy-blue that looked back at him. He traced her pale complexion from her face down to her skinny arms, now held bent and stiff against her hips.

“Do you not know who I am?” He wore a cocky smile that hollowed into dimples at his cheeks.

Yuri’s brows furrowed. Her sharp glare stabbed at his ego, causing his dimpled smirk to retreat from his face like a wounded soldier.

“Honestly, I don’t care who you are. Answer the question. Are your intentions to harm me?” Her eyes darted to his pronged trident.

Kaleb’s grip loosened on his weapon as he stooped toward the seabed, his eyes remaining focused on Yuri’s icy-blue scowl. He opened his palms, letting the trident roll out of his hands and onto the sandy seafloor. Inching back, he straightened his arms, outstretching

his hands high over his head.

“No, I don’t wish to harm you. Do you wish to harm me?” He wiggled the fingers

of his empty hands.

Yuri crossed her arms over her puffed-out chest.

“That entirely depends on you,” she sneered. Her nostrils flared.

The once-retreated smirk returned to Kaleb’s face. How could such a small and petite girl have so much attitude? This girl is feisty! As his heavy trident sank deeper into the ocean floor, he lowered his hands and tapped awkwardly at his sides. His armour clung to his broad, muscular chest as he gestured in a proper bow. I might as well introduce myself properly.

“I’m Kaleb. My father is King Oasis of Atlantis. My troops and I came out here to hunt the beast that terrorizes these waters.”

Kaleb paused for a response that didn’t come. He waited. His stomach knotted at Yuri’s silence. It twisted like the ends of a fishing net. Her deep-blue eyes stared off to the rowboat in which she had emerged.

“And you are…”

You can find out more about Kristina Streva by checking out the following social media links:

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Tuesday, August 30, 2022

Author Interview - Lauca

Lauca is a European writer, author of micro stories inspired by everyday life, while her historical novel draws inspiration from Chinese history and her adventures across China. Her writing also reflects her interest in foreign languages and crossing cultures.

Genre: historical novel

Q&A:

Q1: What is the name of your latest book and what inspired it?

My latest and also first book is ReturningEast. The inspiration came from the website of an old French shipping company, Messageries Maritimes. Thus, the novel is about a physical journey from France to Hong Kong and then Asia in 1954, which turns into a journey of self-discovery and evaluation of one’s past.

Q2: When you’re writing an emotional or difficult scene, how do you set the mood?

I don’t think I have a specific process, maybe because this is my first novel. Every scene was challenging because I did not “know” them before writing them.

Q3: What authors, or books have influenced you?

I have a couple of authors, who I love to read, like Banana Yoshimoto and Amy Tan. But I think life has a larger influence on my writing than authors do. I love reading in different languages and I can really see how the tone of let’s say a Chinese novel is different from an American one. I am more drawn to Asian cultures, and I also enjoy reading French novels but as I often read in English, I came across many good novels from US or UK authors.

Q4: Which of the characters do you relate to the most and why?

Interesting question, I never thought about it. They each have a trait that speaks to me but there is no one I relate to most. I think the ladies of the story, even though they are minor characters, are quite interesting. Maybe one day I will write their story, where they get to be the hero.

Q5: What advice would you give to a writer working on their first book?

You don’t need to get it right from the start. You can always edit a first draft, but you cannot edit a white page. So, just put as many words as you can on paper, following your inspiration or a prepared plot, and later edit what you don’t need or like.

Also, don’t get stuck in confusion, there is never a right answer, and one choice is a good as another. When you research something specific, like for example how to use multiple points of view, use three sources and then make up your mind. Do not waste your time looking at dozens of sources, after the first 3 or 4, they all are a variation of the first two!

Q6: How much research did you need to do for your book? 

Researching the book was the fun part. I love history and I enjoyed exploring websites relating to stories from old Hong Kong, watching Youtube videos shot in China and also going to the library to read about colonial Indochina. Much of what I read never found its way in the book, but the magic is in the realistic details which appear throughout the book.

Q7: What was your hardest scene to write, and why?

The end. I do not plan a sequel, but the end of the book is not the end of my hero’s story, as in my mind, there is a life for him after this journey. Thus, it was challenging to find a satisfactory comprise between leaving his journey open and at the same time closing this chapter of his life, and the book.

Q8: What is your writing process like? Are you more of a plotter or a pantser?

For this first book I was 100% a pantser. I had no plot whatsoever, I had no characters, nothing. I sat down each time I had scheduled a writing slot and had to squeeze my imagination to have the next scene come out.

I took part in the NaNoWriMo in 2019 and I did plot a story. It was definitively easier to write a first draft and even though I did not finish it (at least for now), I could write 44.000 words in three weeks. Considering that I have an office job four days per week, the result is not bad.

For the second novel, which I started a couple of weeks ago, I am a mix of plotter and pantser. I do have my characters this time and I know their development. I have some ideas about a couple of points I want to bring in the story, but I do not have a complete plot.

Q9: What are you working on now?

I still work on micro stories, which I publish twice per month. I also started a second novel, as I mentioned above. I can say that there will again be an international set of characters and the story takes place between Berlin and Italy, around the first decade of 2000.

Q10: What are you currently reading?

I have just re-read a novel by a Japanese writer, Aki Shimazaki, translated into French. On my e-reader I have open The Law of Attraction, by Hesther Hicks and on my night table there is an Italian edition of a collection of short stories related to Japan, written by Italian or foreign authors.

To find out more about Lauca follow the social media links below. Keep scrolling for a sneak peek at Returning East

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Returning East is available in paperback and ebook.


Returning East

Chapter 1

 In the Joliette harbour, JJ looked down from the deck of the Cambodge as a sea of passengers queued to board the ship. Most of the passengers were men. A whole army division was probably heading to Indochina to support the troops in the ongoing battle at Điện Biên Phủ. Priests and nuns were the next conspicuous group, unintentionally mixing with the soldiers on the gangway. Some soldiers gave way and made the sign of the cross; others turned their backs on the ecclesiastical company and kept their distance, thus blocking the priests and the extreme unction that their presence on board seemed to announce. 

The mix of passengers included a statesman with his entourage, as well as a few civil servants of lower grade, some in the company of their wives and children. The navy officials completed the picture. With their white uniforms, they looked clean and smart, and they granted a holy quality to the whole scene, as if the passengers were entering into the officialdom of marriage. The various groups added brushes of colour to the white background: shades of green for the military, black and white for the missionaries, a potpourri of hues for the other passengers. Some glamourous ladies attracted looks, their wasp-like waists eclipsed by their full breasts and large light-coloured hats, whose ivory or vanilla colour often matched that of their purses. Each tone had its own modulation of buzzing voices, which were drowned out by the ship’s foghorn.

Jean Jacques stretched his neck in all directions to see if he could catch a glimpse of anyone close to his age among the passengers. Failing to see any, he lowered his head to look at the seawater splashing in the gap between the pier and the ship. The size and beauty of the Cambodge was remarkable. He read that the ocean liner—162 metres long with a speed of 23 knots—was quite new; its maiden trip had been only the year before. He took in every detail, which he planned to tell George about. 

As the ship pulled out of the harbour, he felt the full power of its steam turbine engine, as if he were sitting in a fast car. When the harbour disappeared from sight, he went to sit on one of the deck chairs to enjoy the last rays of the afternoon sun. He opened his diary and read again the letter he wrote the night before.

My dear George, 

This will be my last letter for a while. I am leaving tomorrow for China. Yes, you heard right, China! I wanted to write to you earlier, but the preparations have taken all my time. I arrived in Marseille today, and I will board a ship of the Messageries Maritimes, which will take me to Shanghai. 

I know what you are thinking. I also feel I must apologise for changing my mind about going to Asia again. Despite my mixed feelings, I need to go there. I have good reasons and I hope you will understand my position. 

My neighbour, my teacher, Old Min, passed away a few weeks ago. He found out he was very sick just a while before. After several years of searching, he had finally located his long-lost daughter and had recently got in touch with her. He was, though, too sick to go back to China to see her and she has no means to come to France. It was a sad moment for him to realise that, you can imagine. 

Old Min was a generous and wonderful teacher, who dreamt of spreading the traditions of Chinese painting in France and preserving this ancient art. Unfortunately, his poor health prevented him from seeing his dream realised. I see now that he probably sensed he had not much time left to live. This is why Old Min took me in as his student, with an unspoken wish that I would carry on his work. He treated me with such kindness and selflessness; he guided me and took his time to teach me. During his stay at the hospital, we discussed the possibility of my going to China to study painting there. Old Min even contacted one of his friends, who is the dean of an academy in Hangzhou. Of course, I did not want to go. But I could not tell Old Min that, as he lay on his deathbed. Instead, I humoured him and promised that I would go. What a mistake! 

On one of my last visits, he asked me to take his ashes to his daughter, so that he could rest in peace in his motherland. Despite the pain, which made his face contract and his hands tremble, he took my hand and pressed in it a ticket to China and a letter from his friend in Hangzhou, who had accepted me as a student for the next few months! You can imagine my surprise, and my fear. I was dumbfounded and I just took the ticket. The day after, though, after a sleepless night, I planned to tell him that I could not go. When I arrived at the hospital, his bed was empty. I had arrived too late. What would you have done in my position, George, tell me? How can I now refuse to go, without having told him so? His wish to let his daughter have his ashes mattered to him so much that he arranged my ticket from his hospital bed! I feel I cannot let him down now. The dean’s letter allowed me to secure a visa to China, but I am not sure I will go to the academy. Still, I must meet Old Min’s daughter and give her his ashes.

You see, I have very good reason to go there. And this time I want to keep my promise.

            I shall write to you more from the ship, maybe send you postcards along the way, if possible. I don’t know. Old Min bought a third-class ticket, but my parents changed it to a tourist-class ticket, not the cheapest. At the beginning, I thought my father would not let me travel. But it looks like they are keen to see me go, after all. Especially my mother, I am sure. Maybe my father agreed in the hope that the experience will forge my character. You know him too. He has clear ideas how a man must behave in society, and shyness is not permitted.

Since Old Min passed away, I did not have anybody to speak to. We did not speak a lot either, but I felt he was my close friend. Now I feel lonelier than ever, and you, George, are my only friend.

 

My warmest regards to you. JJ.

JJ closed his diary and as usual, he tried to recall George’s baby face. Now and then the memory would start fading; he would then turn to the portrait in his diary. Each time he bought a new diary, he would draw George’s portrait again: a child of six or seven in blue shorts and a white shirt, a leather ball in his hand, his eyes half closed and facing the sun but still looking straight into the camera. The image was like a picture he had stolen from his mother shortly after George’s funeral.

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