Spotlight Interview · Spotlight Interview Thursdays

Rebels and Fools by David Michael Williams

glow in the dark

Hi Readers!

I have another Spotlight Interview for you today with author David Michael Williams and his sword-and-sorcery fantasy series called Rebels and Fools, Heroes and Liars, Martyrs and Monsters. I hope you enjoy our interview!

Can you tell us a little about yourself and your background?

I have a healthy (some might say “overactive”) imagination and have always gravitated toward creative pursuits. Career-wise, I’ve been a teacher, journalist, columnist, PR professional, project manager and marketing specialist. I’ve been blessed with many opportunities to write for a living. Last year, I formed an independent publishing company to get my stories out into the world.

What inspired you to write?

I fell in love with the fantasy genre before I even know it was a genre. Video games and books inspired me to create my own world. I sketched, I daydreamed, and I even playacted scenes using LEGO minifigs. Then I started chronicling those battles in written form. Eventually, I decided I wanted other people to enjoy my stories too, so I took the plunge and drafted my first novel, Rebels and Fools.

RFWhat is the genre?

The Renegade Chronicles—comprised of Rebels and Fools, Heroes and Liars, and Martyrs and Monsters—is classic sword-and-sorcery fantasy. The focus is on action and adventure.

How did you develop your plot and your characters?

The Renegade Chronicles came about somewhat organically. I had been writing scenes for my world, Altaerra, for many years, so when it came time to transform the meandering storylines into a series, I had to pick a point in time to serve as “the beginning.” Instead of cobbling together a narrative from existing scenes, I went farther back in time to focus on some of my central characters and come up with a true origin story.

Much of the heavy lifting had been done, in terms of world building, but it was a true joy to explore new locations, discover new characters (and old characters anew), and write the tale that would serve as the foundation for so many future adventures.

What inspired your protagonist?

I feature a handful of protagonists throughout The Renegade Chronicles, and each has his or her unique motivations. Klye Tristan, a Renegade Leader, wants to atone for his past crimes and find meaning in his life through heroics, while Saerylton “Colt” Crystalus, a young but high-ranking Knight of Superius, feels unqualified for his command and must, at times, choose between rigid rules and his conscience. Then there’s Opal, who searches for clues about her past while trying to decide what—and who—is important to her in the present.

HLHow did you get in touch with your inner villain?

I love writing villains, and truth be told, identifying “the bad guys” in The Renegade Chronicles can be difficult to identify. Are they the rebels who undermine the new peace treaty or the Knights charged with defending it—the good and the bad? Even the foreign invaders who declare war on the Content United believe their cause is just.

In my books, the villains see themselves as heroes, which means readers get to step inside the minds of some very interesting people. As with any character, I first determine what is important to them and what lines they are willing to cross to achieve their goals.

What was the hardest part to write in the book?

Death scenes are difficult. To maintain tension throughout the series—and to keep a story about battles and war remotely realistic—characters must die. But neither do I dispatch characters willy-nilly. I had tears in my eyes when the first major character perished in Rebels and Fools. Choosing who will live to see the end—and whose sacrifices will make that ending possible—is seldom easy.

What was your favourite part of your book to write?

I have an awful lot of fun writing dialogue, and because The Renegade Chronicles focuses on groups of people with very little in common, conversations can take unexpected, and often humorous, turns.

MMAre you a full-time or part-time writer? If part-time, what do you do besides write?

I write fiction part time, but even my “day job” as a content specialist at an advertising agency affords me the opportunity to write scripts, brochures, websites, and so forth.

What are you currently reading?

Recently, I’ve enjoyed a resurgent interest in graphic novels, from Robert Kirkman’s Invincible and Neil Gaiman’s Sandman to older Marvel compilations, such as Squadron Supreme and Doctor Strange. Right now, I’m reading Avengers comics from the 1970s.

My wife and I are also reading Lev Grossman’s Magicians Trilogy together.

Who would you say are your favourite authors?

A few of my favorite fantasy authors are Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman, R.A. Salvatore, Neil Gaiman, George R.R. Martin, and J.R.R. Tolkien, the founder of the fantasy genre. When it comes to classical literature, I’m a big fan of William Faulkner.

DMWHow about your favourite books? What would be your top 5?

Wow, what a difficult question to answer! I’ll give it a shot…

  1. Absolom, Absolom! by William Faulkner
  2. The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
  3. Dragons of Summer Flame by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman
  4. American Gods by Neil Gaiman
  5. World War Z by Max Brooks

What are your future projects, if any?

In addition to The Renegade Chronicles, I’ve been working on a science fiction series called The Soul Sleep Cycle. The first two books (If Souls Can Sleep and If Sin Dwells Deep) are under editorial consideration at a traditional publishing company, and I’m on the verge of starting the first draft of Book 3, If Dreams Can Die.

What is your preferred method for readers to get in touch with you and your books?

I can be reached via my website as well as social media:

Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?

I include writing tips on my website (david-michael-williams.com), mostly lessons I’ve learned along the way.

One thing I will say is I’m glad print-on-demand publishing was not available when I was in my early twenties. Self-publishing almost makes it too easy to put one’s work out there, and I’ve seen plenty of examples of writers publishing before they are ready; I’m afraid I would have been among them.

If I had published The Renegade Chronicles before 2016, the series would have been an inferior product, and I wouldn’t have had a clue about marketing. So my advice to young writers is to wait until you’re prepared to treat your fiction like a business before self-publishing.

Untitled design

Wonderful answers! Thank you to David Michael Williams for allowing me the chance interview him. If you’re a sword-and-sorcery fan, I recommend that you definitely check out his books!

Where to Buy:

Rebels and Fools
Print EditionAmazon CANAmazon USSmashwords

50 Books in a Year · Book in exchange for honest review · Book Reviews · Sunday Short and Sweet Review

Tame Me by J.L. Leslie

Short and Sweet

tameme
Genre: Romance, Contemporary Romance
Publisher: Self-published
Date of Release: February 8, 2016
Pages and Format: 169 pages; mobi format
Links: Author BlogFacebookGoogle+,
Goodreads

 

 

 

 


My Rating: 

4.5 Stars

4 Stars

Summary: 

“Wren Davis has always been the responsible one. The caretaker. She’s always put her life on hold for others. When she takes a job as Stellan Zane’s housekeeper, she does it to take care of her sister. Her own life can wait. Only she wasn’t expecting to find him so irresistible…

Stellan Zane is used to getting what he wants, when he wants. No woman gets to him. No woman really knows about him or his past. When he lets his little sister hire him a housekeeper, Wren Davis is not what he was expecting. And she’s his employee. Yet, she’s what he wants…

Unable to fight their attraction, the two embark on a relationship that’s supposed to be uncomplicated. Allowing Wren to have the carefree life she’s never had and Stellan to enjoy the type of relationship he always gets. But when exes interfere, the unexpected happens and things become complicated, can Wren tame Stellan…and will he allow her to?”

I received this eBook from the author in exchange for an honest review.

The story is: Sister (Lennon) plots against overbearing, overly protective brother (Stellan) by hiring a young and pretty woman (Wren) to cook and clean for him. Easy enough job, especially as it is one man making a mess.
Both are attracted to each other even though they try to stay away. Eventually, Wren worms her way under Stellan’s skin and into his heart.

Holy steamy sex scenes batman! Whoa!
There is a lot of adult content in this, especially swearing and descriptive sex scenes.
I read this while laying down with a migraine and it was well worth the read.

So, how can I get paid $70K a year to clean a house and cook for one handsome man, and end up getting the guy in the end too? Ha ha.

Stellan was a bit of an asshole at first, but as some of his past was revealed, it is any wonder how he and his siblings aren’t more closed off from life.

I definitely had some serious feels for this book, especially when Wren had to deal with her sister’s illness. I cried my heart out for Wren; such a terrible ordeal to have to deal with. Oh the feels! The feels!

giphy

For a stand alone novel in a series, this was well written and having read the series now, it is my favourite book out of the three Zane series. The author had a good story to tell here.
(More reviews from the series to come.)

I recommend this to those enjoy a good romance story.

Where to Buy: 
Amazon CAN | Amazon US

About the Author: 

J.L. Leslie: I am from a small town in Alabama and I’m happily married with three kids. I love living a small town life because it allows me the time to do what I love…read and write! I have just started self-publishing and Demons From My Past is my first book. I am currently working on a series and have just released the first book in that series, Tame Me. The second book should be available in March.

Spotlight Interview · Spotlight Interview Thursdays

Spotlight Interview with David Temrick and his novel Rebel Queen

glow in the dark

Hi Readers!

I have a fantastic interview today with the author David Temrick and his novel Rebel Queen. Enjoy!


Genre: Fantasy
Publisher: Amesdian Press
Date of Release: December 1, 2015
Pages: 308 pages
Links: Author WebsiteFacebookTwitter,
Goodreads

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Summary:

“Cassandra has a problem, and it’s only the first of many. Being raised as the youngest child in a family of great heroes would be a challenge for anyone.

Until a few days ago, Cassandra was content with her role as a child of greatness. She was studious, spent most of her waking hours with her mother and other heads of state and at her father’s insistence, learned how to duel. As her siblings had before her, Cassandra knew she would likely be matched with a partner for political reasons and had long since accepted her role in the world.

That was, of course, before her mother died, and before her…transformation. Overnight, her soft pale skin sprouted gorgeous golden dragon scales.

Presented with a future she no longer recognizes, as the first of her kind, she must overcome a whole new set of challenges if she hopes to survive the unknown threat that comes from across the Careless Sea.

The Sakwa dragonkin are a dying race, fueled by a tribal system that failed them centuries ago but yet unable to adapt to a new way of life. In a desperate bid to keep the people focused on outside conflict, Jenya of the Toho has declared war on Cassandra’s country. An ocean may separate the two cultures, but the Sakwa see the Seven Kingdoms as their opportunity for a new start; a new start they will willingly kill and die for.”

1. Can you tell us a little about yourself and your background?

I’ve been writing for most of my life at this point. I started with short stories, flash and fan fiction when I was a teenager. I wrote my first novel in 2008 and it was published in 2011. I like to share my love of writing with others, so in addition to some groups I’m a part of I also conduct workshops in schools. When I’m not writing, I love playing and coaching baseball and curling and I’m a sucker for weird movies and TV shows.

2. What inspired you to write Rebel Queen?

 I’ve wanted to write another novel in the world that I’d created for my first two novels for some time. After I wrote a coming of age assassin novel called “Daughter of Vengeance”, I couldn’t wait to continue exploring how things were going to unfold on Amesdia.

3. What is the genre for Rebel Queen?

 Fantasy. I love fantasy.

4. What draws you to this genre?

Aside from my odd fascination for the genre, what I love the most about fantasy is that the stories can explore some very common problems we face every day from a totally unique perspective. Racism and bigotry drive me crazy, so exploring racial biases between humans and dragons is a less polarizing way of exploring our own preconceived notions. This has to be done in a somewhat clever way so it doesn’t come off as preachy or condescending.

5. How did you develop your plot and characters?

I like to explore personalities and interesting people. I get my ideas for quirks from all around me. Once I have my characters in place and an overall story arc, I start outlining the major storyline and the large subplots. Almost always as I write though, the story takes on a life of its own and I end up down a rabbit hole. This style takes a little more time during the re-write and editing process, but I really enjoy what comes out of the other side.

6. What inspired your protagonist?

Change. We all go through it in ways large and small every day, but I wanted to saddle my protagonist with a really monumental shift in her appearance and as a result, her standing in her community and family. Once that huge alteration to her physical appearance happened, the rest of her character just slid into place. I didn’t want to make her cliché though, so there are some aspects to her pre-transformation personality that she held firm to.

7. How did you get in touch with your inner villian?

There are fairly despicable people in our world, I merely take the most repugnant parts of what I see as their outward personalities and then try to find a way to make that relatable. No one is the villain in their own story, so my antagonist had to have a rational reason for doing what she’s doing and how she’s going about accomplishing her goals. Otherwise, the villain is just two-dimensional and formulaic.

8. What was the hardest part to write in your book?

Racial tension and sexism makes me really uncomfortable. I had to have the major parts read and re-read by as many people of as many walks of life as I could coerce into it to ensure that I was exploring some hard to face truths as opposed to imaginary fluff.

9. What was your favourite part of your book to write?

The protagonist’s growth, both physically and emotionally. While she was changing from human to dragonkin (half-human/half-dragon), I had to decide what features of a dragon she would receive and which ones to leave out. My favourite part was describing her first attempts at flight. When I was younger, I had many opportunities to go gliding. I used every feeling and emotion that I could recall from those experiences to make her experiences as poignant as possible.

DT10. Are you a full time or part time writer? If part-time, what else do you do besides write?

Part time, though the goal is obviously to be a full-time writer. Other than writing, I play baseball and curling, watch movies, go on long walks with my wife and daughters…I can even be forced into yard work from time to time.

11. What are you currently reading?

I read autobiographies for the most part, the last one I read was Zak Baggins latest book. Nothing is quite as interesting to me as reading how someone perceives themselves VS how I perceive them. Weird as it is, I’d really like to read a Tom Cruise autobiography. He seems like an eccentric happy person, I’d like to read about how he sees himself. Biographies by others don’t interest me, they always seem to be more about the author than the subject, or clinical to the point of boring me to death.

12. Who would you say are your favourite authors?

Sharon Shinn’s book “Archangel” changed my outlook on life. No joke. It’s an incredible book. The sequels disappointed me, but Archangel was wonderful. The way she described music and the feeling of slavery really hit me hard. I’m a huge Raymond E Feist fan; I’ve always enjoyed his novels. I also liked Jennifer Fallon’s first six novels.

13. How about your favourite books? What would be your top 5?

I really enjoyed the Potter and Hunger Games books, even though only one of them made my top 5…in no particular order.
Archangel – Shinn
Magician – Feist
Prisoner of Azkaban – Rowling
Treasure Island – Stevenson
The Third Magic – Katz

14. What are your future projects, if any? 

I’m working on the sequel to Rebel Queen. The working title is “Dragon Plague” in which my protagonist from Rebel Queen and Draconis’ Bane will continue to have adventures…gods and demons it’s hard to promote a future book and not spoil the current one. Old enemies return with a new plot to commit dragon genocide on Amesdia. Three storylines will converge into one epic confrontation with the true architect behind all of the draconic suffering since the species fled their homeworld.

15. What is your preferred method for people to get in touch with you and your books?

Anyway you feel the most comfortable. I have a facebook fanpage that I try to post something to every day; I tend to get a lot of fan interaction from there as well as direct messages. Twitter and Reddit will probably always intimidate me for unknown and irrational reasons. But links to all of my social media and email are on my website, so really any of them will get to me in short order.

(Links for David Temrick are provided with the novel picture – Leticia)

16. Do you have any advice for aspiring authors? 

Find your voice and stick to it and understand that all criticism can help…even the unnecessarily cruel stuff. It’s hard to create things and put them out there to be judged. Do it anyway.

Thank you to David for allowing me the chance to interview him and his novel Rebel Queen. I encourage you, my readers, to seek out his novel.

 

 

 

 

50 Books in a Year · Book in exchange for honest review · Book Reviews

Tressa’s Treasures by Belinda M. Gordon

Bookreview banner

BMGTT 
Genre: Fantasy, Romance
Publisher: Self-Published
Date of Release: October 2, 2015
Pages and Format: 223 pages; mobi format
Links: Author WebsiteFacebookTwitterGoodreads,
Google+

 

 

 

 

My Rating:

4.75 Stars

4 Stars

Summary:

“Her identity is secret. Her destiny is incredible.

Tressa is a fae in hiding. Unable to fulfill her transcendent role in an ancient prophecy, she hides on her grandmother’s estate in the Pocono Mountains. Tressa is content to work in her small shop and fake her humanity, but she knew she couldn’t stay hidden forever.

When she uses her powers to protect a friend, strange things begin to happen all around her. The Unseelie are nearby, the enemy of Tressa’s people, and they’re coming for her. As the dark fae come closer, Tressa must use the powers she’s hidden for so long to keep the people she loves alive.”

I received this eBook from the author in exchange for an honest review. 

Tressa is hiding from the Unseelie Court who want her dead because of a prophesy of her people naming her one of the King’s Jewel. Previous King’s Jewels did not survive the Unseelie Court, thus her identity must remain hidden.

When Sophia and her handsome father Xander walk into her store, and surprisingly, into her life, she sacrifices her identity to protect those she loves dearest. Although, Sophia has some interesting talents that make her able to see Tressa for what she is.

This is a great tale, especially with the mixing of Celtic folklore, Sidhe folklore and several biblical references. It was especially interesting that the Sidhe, when they die, they go to purgatory and await the prophesy to be filled.

I definitely recommend this to those who are looking for and enjoy an adult faery tale.

Where to Buy:

Amazon CAN | Amazon US Barnes & Noble | Indie Bound | Book Depository

About the Author:

BMG
Belinda M Gordon was born and raised in Pennsylvania and currently lives in the Pocono Mountains area with her wonderfully supportive husband, her thoughtful easy-going son, and two delightful dogs.

50 Books in a Year · Book in exchange for honest review · Book Reviews · Sunday Short and Sweet Review

One Person’s Craziness by R.T. Ojas

Short and Sweet
RTOJAS 
Genre: 
Novella, Science Fiction
Publisher: Self-Published
Date of Release: February 6, 2016
Pages and Format: 63 pages; ePub
Links: Author WebsiteTwitterBlogGood Reads

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Rating: 

3 Stars

Summary:

“Amoli is a mysterious man with an even more mysterious past. During a recorded session with a psychiatrist, he reveals his perplexing story about survival, hope, ancient civilizations, and cosmic adventures.”

I received this eBook from the author in exchange for an honest review. 

This was an unusual novella. Very reminiscent of the Twilight Zone with alien abduction and an unusual story to boot.

Amoli and two others managed to escape being abducted by the aliens and strove to continue living on their island, when they happen upon one of the aliens. After the alien had fallen into a trap, the other villager tries to rescue him and they decide to bring him home which means boarding the alien ship. They find out from their families that they are descendants of the aliens and were removed from their island to protect them. From then on, Amoli goes back to Earth and somehow manages to live for many years and sit down with doctors to tell his story.

It was an interesting tale, but it took a long time to become interesting. The story was pretty bloated with unnecessary and irrelevant details, including a stab at romantic feelings for the one female villager. It might seem important to add those details, but it tends to turn the pace of the story to sludge. It ends rather abruptly as well, just when it started to get pretty good.

Kudos to the author, though, for I love Twilight Zone-esque stories!

Where to Buy:

Amazon CAN Amazon US

About the Author: 

 
Software Engineer at day.
Writer at night.

50 Books in a Year · Book in exchange for honest review · Book Reviews

Gyre by Jessica Gunn

Bookreview banner

 
Genre: 
New Adult, Science Fiction, Fantasy, Romance
Publisher: Curiosity Quills Press
Date of Release: February 1, 2016
Pages and Format: 288 pages; mobi
Links: Author WebsiteGood ReadsTwitterFacebook

 

 

 

 

My Rating:

3.75 Stars

3 Stars

Summary: 

Chelsea didn’t try to teleport. All she wanted was to play the Battle of the Bands show. But after accidentally teleporting onto classified Navy vessel SeaSatellite5, all she’s rocking is the boat. Once it’s sorted out that Chelsea’s not a threat, SeaSat5’s top scientist offers Chelsea a position on the crew as an archaeology intern. Dr. Saint studies people with powers, believing them to be descendants of Atlantean refugees, except Chelsea’s powers are beyond anything on previous record.

While great for everyone else onboard, the miracle of Chelsea is Trevor’s worst nightmare. The same girl who’d given him a brief lifeline to sanity three months ago literally fell from the sky, under a mile of ocean, and onto the very station where he’s employed. Making matters worse, Trevor’s family are Lemurians, Atlantis’s enemy, and Chelsea’s presence is unpredicted—a wrench in an already unstable situation. But Trevor wants no part of his family’s war. The only thing he wants is Chelsea, Atlantean or not.

Days into Chelsea’s sudden appearance, SeaSatellite5 uncovers Atlantean ruins and a massive artifact cache, placing its entire, hundred-man crew in the crosshairs of an ancient war. There are those who want the Atlantean relics inside the ruins destroyed, and only Trevor knows the treasures for what they really are: Link Pieces, tools used by the ancient civilizations for their time-travel war.

With lies and shifting alliances abound, Chelsea and Trevor will have to think fast in order to save the station. If they don’t, the Lemurians will seize the artifacts and Atlantis will be destroyed forever.”

I received this book from the publisher Curiosity Quills Press in exchange for an honest review. 

I had some trouble with this book at first. It took me about 60 pages to finally draw me in. Normally, teleportation and mythology draws me in immediately. It was well worth the wait because it turned out to be a good book, despite the high and low pace of the book.

I actually enjoyed the male to female protagonist POV in this book. It gave both characters a bit more depth, although I did find Trevor to be annoying in his affections and I felt Chelsea didn’t find her voice or affection for Trevor until near the end of the book. So a lot of the affection parts were one sided. It made the insta-love a bit gag worthy.

I think that Chelsea’s reactions to suddenly teleporting to Trevor on SeaSat5, after Trevor rescues her, were well justified. She didn’t accept her abilities too quickly. Even when she developed more abilities, she was rightfully freaked out about these abilities.
Trevor made some serious errors in this book and he struggled to admit that he was in the wrong. Chelsea was a far better character for she was able to admit her faults, strengths and weaknesses.

I was unaware of Lemuria being a lost land like Atlantis. That was quite an interesting tidbit for me. I hope that in the next novel, Lemuria is touched on more.

There was some confusion about who Trevor worked for, who the bad guys were and who the good guys were. It became a bit of a jumble at the end.

Despite the issues in the book, it was a good book and a new take on adding mythology and mythological creatures and abilities. I recommend it if you’re looking for a new tale involving Atlantis, Lemuria and supernatural abilities, this might be it for you.

Where to Buy:

Amazon CAN | Amazon US | Barnes & Noble IndieBound Book Depository

About the Author: 

Jessica Gunn is a New Adult author and avid science-fiction and fantasy fan. Her favorite stories are those that transport the reader to other, more exciting worlds. When not working or writing, she can be found binge-watching Firefly and Stargate, or feeding her fascination of the ancient world’s many mysteries. Jessica also holds a degree in Anthropology.