Thursday, June 30, 2016

Interview with Rachel Dunne, author of In the Shadow of the Gods


Inside the Book:

Title: In the Shadow of the Gods
Author: Rachel Dunne
Release Date: June 21, 2016
Publisher: Harper Voyager
Genre: Fantasy/Action Adventure
Format: Paperback/Ebook

A breathtaking talent makes her debut with this first book in a dark epic fantasy trilogy, in which a mismatched band of mortals led by a violent, secretive man must stand against a pair of resentful gods to save their world. Eons ago, a pair of gods known as the Twins grew powerful in the world of Fiatera, until the Divine Mother and Almighty Father exiled them, binding them deep in the earth. But the price of keeping the fire lands safe is steep. To prevent these young gods from rising again, all twins in the land must be killed at birth, a safeguard that has worked until now. Trapped for centuries, the Twins are gathering their latent powers to break free and destroy the Parents for their tyranny—to set off a fight between two generations of gods for control of the world and the mortals who dwell in it. When the gods make war, only one side can be victorious. Joros, a mysterious and cunning priest, has devised a dangerous plan to win. Over eight years, he gathers a team of disparate fighters—Scal, a lost and damaged swordsman from the North; Vatri, a scarred priestess who claims to see the future in her fires; Anddyr, a drug-addled mage wandering between sanity and madness; and Rora and Aro, a pair of twins who have secretly survived beyond the reach of the law. These warriors must learn to stand together against the unfathomable power of vengeful gods, to stop them from tearing down the sun . . . and plunging their world into darkness.
   photo addtogoodreadssmall_zpsa2a6cf28.png photo B6096376-6C81-4465-8935-CE890C777EB9-1855-000001A1E900B890_zps5affbed6.jpgB&N  

The Interview

What are you most proud of accomplishing so far in your life?
It has to be getting published – I barely let myself dream it would happen at all, much less this early on in my life.

How has your upbringing influenced your writing?
I had a really great upbringing – I was always given the sense that I could do anything I wanted, so never being discouraged from the arts had a huge impact on me. My mom also had a veritable library, so I grew up valuing and loving books.

When and why did you begin writing?
I wrote my first story when I was about three: I dictated it to my very tolerant aunt and then added my own illustrations. I just haven’t stopped since then – writing and telling stories has always been a vital part of who I am.

When did you first know you could be a writer? 
I’ve always been writing, but it first occurred to me that I could make a career of writing back in middle school. We had an assignment to write a story at least two pages long, and most kids did that bare minimum. My story was twenty-six pages long, and my teacher pulled me aside after class to tell me I had talent, and that I shouldn’t give up on that dream. He was an aspiring writer, too, and I read his novel piece by piece over the rest of the school year and we spent a lot of time talking shop. He talked to me like I was more than just a kid with a dream—he treated me like a peer, like a fellow writer whose opinion he valued. That was when I realized writing could be a career, and that it was one I wanted. 

What genre are you most comfortable writing?
Fantasy for sure – it’s my favorite genre to read, and I have the most fun writing in made-up worlds. I’ve heard people say that it’s better to write outside your comfort zone, but I think writing in a genre you know well is actually very liberating – if you know all the old tricks, know what’s been done a hundred times before, you can figure out what you have to do to write something unique and different, mostly by already knowing what not to do.

What inspired you to write your first book?
My love of reading encouraged me to write my first novel when I was twelve – at that point, I figured I’d read enough good books that I could figure out how to put together a decent book on my own. I was very wrong: the novel was just a horrendous mish-mash of pieces stolen from all my favorite books at the time. I found characters I liked, methods of writing I liked, themes I liked, plots I liked – and wrapped all that in a very thin veneer of originality.

What do you consider the most challenging about writing a novel, or about writing in general?
Up until recently, I’ve always had a problem finishing a novel. I have a ton of half-finished stories that I abandoned for a shiny new story idea…which I then later abandoned for a different, shinier story idea… It’s still hard not to pursue every new idea that comes into my mind, but I’ve gotten good at writing down the idea in as much detail as possible, even a few scenes if there’s something really stuck in my mind – and then I put those in a folder and don’t look at them until I’m done with my current project.

Did writing this book teach you anything and what was it?
I learned the value of outlining while writing this book: with alternating points of view, an outline was practically a necessity. I’d always been a discovery writer rather than a planner, so by forcing myself to start planning and outlining, I’ve managed to become a sort of hybrid of the two methods. I give myself starting points or ending points for each chapter based on where I know the story needs to go, and then let myself find the path to or from that point while writing.

Do you intend to make writing a career?
Assuming I can keep managing my time well, I don’t plan to give up my day job anytime soon. Part of it is because I love my day job, but I’m also less productive if I have too much free time. Being a full-time writer would be nothing but free time, and so I worry I’d end up spiraling into failure. I plan to keep writing until I physically can’t anymore, but I’m also hoping to keep working for most of that time too.

Have you developed a specific writing style?
The part I enjoy most about writing is character voice, and so my style varies from character to character. For In the Shadow of the Gods, I have four character points of view, each with their own distinct voice – so, this time around, I suppose I have four specific writing styles! I have some writing quirks that carry though no matter the voice, but I hope I can keep changing my writing style as the character or the narrative demands.

What is your greatest strength as a writer? 
I can meet deadlines like nobody’s business.

What is your favorite quote, by whom, and why?
“Let us go then, you and I, / When the evening is spread out against the sky / Like a patient etherized upon a table; / Let us go, through certain half-deserted streets, / The muttering retreats” –T.S. Eliot, from “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock”

I generally don’t like poetry, but “Prufrock” got under my skin and stuck there. I just love the vivid and unique imagery throughout, but especially in the opening lines. They always remind me that language can be used so well to evoke emotions, and that there’s power and beauty in words.

Meet the Author:

Rachel Dunne
Living in the cold reaches of the upper Midwest with her great beast of a dog, Rachel Dunne has developed a great fondness for indoor activities. For as long as snow continues falling in Wisconsin, she promises to stay inside and keep writing. Her first novel, In the Shadow of the Gods, was a semi-finalist for the 2014 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award, and will be published by Harper Voyager in June of 2016. Its two sequels will follow.  
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The Jungle Within: Interview with Charles M.

Despite growing up in a small town, I always knew I was destined for bigger things. At age eighteen, I enlisted in the US Navy, a move that allowed me to see the world and explore my passion for life. After 6 years and an honorable discharge, I settled into civilian life, earning my Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering and an MBA in Technology Management.

Always eager to challenge myself with new and different roles, I took on the role of “Author,” writing my debut novel among the roles of full-time engineer, local business owner, and family man. But, I have no plans to stop there!

I am an avid outdoorsman, enjoy camping, hiking, snowboarding, shooting, and fishing, making the Land of Enchantment an ideal place to call home.

I look forward to sharing my novel and experiences with all of you!

Charles’ latest book is the drama/suspense, The Jungle Within.

For More Information

Can you tell us what your book is about?

The Jungle Within is really two stories in one. The one side is about a husband named Evan, who gets into a bad car accident and is taken to the hospital. At the same time that he gets into the accident, his wife Katie, is having an affair with another man. The book then proceeds into parallel paths. One story is about Evan and his struggle while he’s in the coma, and the other is about Katie and her struggles as she deals with what she did and the current state of her husband. The two sides clash in tremendous fashion.

Why did you write your book?

I wrote The Jungle Within as a dare to myself. I always thought I could write a book and so I challenged myself to do it. And I did. I was surprised at how much fun it was. I struggled at first, quite a bit actually. I even stopped writing for about 3 months. I kept finding excuses to not write. One day I just found some drive and I finished the first draft in about 3 months.

Are you consciously aware of the plot before you begin a novel or do you discover it as you write?

With The Jungle Within, I knew the beginning and I knew the ending. The middle part of the plot was the tough part. I found myself writing and writing, sometimes having to back up, but as I developed the characters, I discovered knew and fun ways to stir up their lives. It was all downhill after that!

Does the setting play a major part in the development of your story?

The setting in The Jungle Within is everything. When Evan is in the coma he awakes in the jungle, a metaphor for his mind. This is where his journey takes place. Readers have pointed out that they don’t understand the cover, but once they get to a certain point in the book it all starts to make sense.

Have you suffered from writer’s block and what do you do to get back on track?

I have suffered from writer’s block before. It’s hard to explain, but it feels as though the well goes dry. You pull so much water out of it and one day there is nothing. That’s the best way I can describe it. It’s hard because on one hand you know it won’t be like that forever, but on the other, it feels like an eternity. What I do is I completely disconnect from the story I’m working on. The more you try to force it, the worse it gets. I find that when I let it come to me, it comes from a place of inspiration, not a place of force. And it feels so much better when it comes like that.

If we were to meet for lunch to talk books, where would we go?

If I had my choice, we would meet somewhere outdoors and surrounded by nature. I love being outside. We came from the earth. It’s only natural that we love being near it. I think a nice stroll through the woods would stir up some interesting conversations.

What do you like the most about being an author?

My favorite part of being an author is being in control. I’m not a control freak or anything like that. It’s just like it’s this world that you can be the creator of. You can make up people, places and things and give them purpose and meaning. You can also use these stories to touch people in ways you wouldn’t imagine. We all have an imagination inside of us. The beauty of being an author is nobody can tell you your imagination is wrong. It’s your story. Tell it like you want to.

What is the most pivotal point of a writer’s life?

I believe the most pivotal part of writer’s life begins after their first novel. To me it felt like I was through, but I was far from through. Unless you have a publicist, you have really just started. People have to find your book, read it, share it, review it and so much more. This is the point where you decide if you writing it was good enough, or wanting to be a great writer is the real goal. All of this while trying to write your next one. It can be difficult. This is probably why most people don’t do it.

What kind of advice would you give other fiction authors?

Never give up. I know that’s a cliché thing to say, but there were times when I really, really wanted to quit writing. I could spare myself all the work and criticism that came along with releasing a novel. But when my final edition came to me in the mail it was a surreal moment. SO MUCH work went into that book and there it was. Sitting in my hands staring back at me. And in that moment, it was all worth it. The feeling is like a drug. The final product is euphoric.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Book Feature: Until Next Time by Nictoria Robbins


Inside the Book:

Title: Until Next Time 
Author: Nictoria Robbins 
Publisher: Xlibris 
Genre: Fiction 
Format: Ebook/Paperback

Jake and Kirsten met on an online dating site, and their journey began, sometimes difficult; but for some reason, they keep coming back to each other, to lost souls. Kirsten is not sure what Jake wants, and neither does she. This story is about two people who try to hide their feelings. They care about each other, but it will end up tearing them apart. Not all stories have a happy ending.

Meet the Author:

Nictoria Robbins lives in Queensland, Australia. Her children have grown, and she started writing poetry and short stories and, from the enjoyment of writing, wrote her first book. Nictoria also loves to read and her garden, family, and friends who are close to heart. She hopes you enjoy the journey that she has written.


Nictoria is giving away a $25 Gift Card!

Terms & Conditions:
  • By entering the giveaway, you are confirming you are at least 18 years old.
  • One winner will be chosen via Rafflecopter to receive one $25 Gift Certificate to the e-retailer of your choice
  • This giveaway begins June 27 and ends on July 8.
  • Winners will be contacted via email on July 9.
  • Winner has 48 hours to reply.
Good luck everyone!


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, June 24, 2016

Celestial Navigation by Dudley Mecum, author of A Sojourn Among the Avatars of Wisdom


Inside the Book:

Sojourn pic
Title: A Sojourn Among the Avatars of Wisdom
Author: Dudley Mecum
Publisher: iUniverse
Genre: Visionary and Metaphysical
Format: Ebook
Chris Cole enjoys aiming for the stars. After he rockets into orbit aboard the space shuttle, his mission is cut short when he is the victim of an accident aboard the International Space Station. Whisked back to earth for medical observation, Chris is eventually released. Before his return flight to Kennedy Space Center the next day, Chris decides to attend a nearby medieval fair with an acquaintance—a decision that will change the course of his life forever. Shortly after the astronaut's arrival at the festival, the king unexpectedly selects Chris to be a contestant in a tournament. As Chris's quest to become a knight begins, he learns how to wield a sword, battle foes, and achieve greatness. Unfortunately, villainy, treachery, and a crucible await him. As enemies emerge from the shadows, others use him as a pawn to settle old scores. Guided by a cast of colorful characters who dispense timeless advice, Chris is overcome with self-doubt as he ponders whether it is really possible to change his destiny. In this gripping fantasy tale, wisdom of the world's greatest philosophers and modern sages is brought to life as one man attempts to escape from a prison of his own making.
A Sojourn Among the Avatars of Wisdom is available for order at
Celestial Navigation
Weather permitting, celestial navigation allowed the ancients to navigate across the unforgiving seas. Many a seafarer looked to the heavens for guidance and received it. What about us land dwellers? What guides us along the “river of life”?  Not the constellations of stars that we are familiar with.  What then?  Most of us are familiar with quote books in which the counsel is compiled by author or by subject. Each quote is like a star in an alien sky.  It is only in relationship with other stars that enables celestial navigation to take place.

Accordingly, we look to the heavens for some pattern of stars that joins wisdom across subjects.  In essence, we are searching for constellations of wisdom: a pattern in the sky that will guide us through the trials of life.  What kind of book would project these constellations of wisdom into the heavens?  It should have the counsel from the world’s greatest sages.  That would be a start. However, the end result would be exceptionally dry, like a parent lecturing a child before that youth has a chance to get a word in edgewise.  Then how would the conversation unfold?  It would be a dialog between the person seeking advice and the individual giving it. (Remember, there are many sages able to give counsel and plenty of us seeking answers.)

Such a conversation wouldn’t be effective because the end result would be too discordant: there would be too many conversations going on at the same time and the resultant wisdom would not be conveyed. Perhaps a better way to impart knowledge would revolve around the adventures of a fictitious character, which calls for the suspension of disbelief.  Moreover, a “fish out of water” story would be even better.  One that involves leaving this realm and returning to it after having his hopes and dreams dashed, one that forces him out of his comfort zone.  Add external conflict and self-doubt and we have instances in which the possibility for change exists for the protagonist, and by extension, for those who seek it. Consider A Sojourn Among the Avatars of Wisdom to do just that!

Meet the Author:

  Dudley Mecum, a trained commercial pilot, earned an MBA in Finance, later working at a defense manufacturer. He currently lives in Fort Worth, Texas, where he enjoys fine art, swimming, and virtual flying.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Book Feature: Enter, Knight by K.A. Keith

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Inside the Book:

Enter Knight

Title: Enter Knight 
Author: K.A. Keith 
Publisher: iUniverse 
Genre: Fiction 
Format: Ebook/Paperback

Two infants, born simultaneously, are infused with otherworldly energies as the most ancient evil stirs. The Knight Apieron Farsinger, and Adestes Malgrim represent the heights of their opposing martial traditions in classic East versus West confrontation. In this medieval action adventure, Apieron's country Ilycrium is conquered, while more sinister assaults transpire from beyond the lands of light. The Knight Apieron Farsinger, father to three small children and husband to a gentle wife, must leave hearth and home in quest to confront the Dragon Queen in her Hellish lair. Treacherous allies, unexpected friendships, love, and the conflicts of honor all color Apieron's journey to save his land and family. The other recipient of the Starburn, Adestes Malgrim, is a peerless warrior and assassin of the cult of the Dragon. In this sweeping work of fantasy, adventure and war draw both champions into deadly strife time and again as preternatural forces vie for mastery. Their fated enmity will change the world.


Book Excerpt
In this scene, the young troubadour, Rudolph Mellor (nickname Jamello), confronts the paladin Xephard on the eve before the party’s descent into the Hel plain:

Jamello regarded the holy warrior. “Xephard the Fearless. How does one accomplish this?
The paladin’s deep voice was slow and serene. “I have thought on your question. It is one I have answered before, but never well. I will make amends now.
“Simply this …it is easier to be brave than not. The ugly part of fear is that it immobilizes one to action.” The paladin paused, gathering his thoughts. The rabbit runs, not because he is afraid, but because that is his nature. If fear covers him, he freezes in the face of danger and is taken. The secret of courage is then to do a positive action despite ones fear.
And you?asked Jamello softly.
I have no mantle of courage to slip on, having no need of such virtue. From my northern fathers, I know that the thread length of my life was wound by the Norns at the time of my birth. When it plays out, I will die. This knowledge is a mighty gift.
Is that all?
Xephard smiled warmly. No. Long ago, I gave our goddess of wisdom and war, the soldiers friend, every breath and shout and fiber of my being. I have no hidden self to fear or hurt. I have been shriven.
Nothing left to lose?” said Jamello wryly.
Exactly! beamed Xephard. He lapsed into silence. Jamello thought him done, until the temple peer lifted his head once more. The holy mistress of Lampus says that how one lives out his days is what is important. If ones deeds in this life are found worthy, Spear Goddess will gather you to Her circle of champions to live again as a chosen of her court, to be a hero most excellent.
Do you this thing, Rudolph Mellor. The paladins cloud-blue eyes gleamed in the dark as he spoke.
That said, Xephard lay back and fell apparently into untroubled sleep. Jamello groaned inwardly. He always knew that Cynthia would lure him into an inescapable fix. At last he reclined, troubled by shivering nightmares and dire, waking images such that he was surprised to find Henlees booted toe nudging him awake after the others had apparently risen with the dawn, such as it was in this bleak and blasted place.
He sat up and blinked.

Meet the Author:

K. A. Keith was born in Oklahoma. He has studied in Rome, lived and worked with Arab peoples, and served with distinction as a flight surgeon in Just Cause and Desert Storm. Enter, Knight is book one of an epic fantasy duology. The whirlwind tale continues in Hel's Storm, iUniverse 2016.