D.L. Gardner

Biography

Dianne is an award winning novelist, screenwriter, and artist. She has had a passion for the written word, having indulged in poetry in her young years and loving to write essays at school. She began writing novels in 2011. Dianne writes primarily fantasy novels including all sub-genres, with a love for historical fantasy, but has also written a historical novel based on actual letters by a relative during World War II.

Share a little bit about your recent release, Darkness Holds the Son.

Darkness Holds the Son is a standalone spin-off novel to the Sword of Cho Nisi saga. It takes us to a small village named Tuluva where Jareth, an unemployed mercenary, and his wife and two children are raising goats to sustain themselves. Things go well for them until the land-baron of Ogress raises their taxes, forcing Jareth to pick up his crossbow and return to the battlefield.

Jareth has an even more pressing problem than keeping his family out of debtor’s prison, though. His son Crispin has seizures that are caused by magic and if Jareth doesn’t find the source soon, it could be fatal as the boy hears voices instructing him to kill his father. On Jareth’s quest, he discovers that the same affliction is haunting all the children in the kingdom.

Tell us more about your Sword of Cho series. Are there more books to come or does Darkness Holds the Son complete it?

Sword of Cho Nisi begins with Rise of the Tobian Princess, and in it the world is introduced, a continent, and an island of magic. A wicked wizard is attempting to destroy mankind and rule the world while a daughter of a legendary king attempts to redeem herself from the trouble she caused by accidentally killing the allied king of Cho Nisi whose magic they need to win the war. There are three books to the series, each a little darker than the next.

Darkness Holds the Son is in the same world, with some of the same characters but a different story line. I’m currently working on another novel that continues to expand the world, bring the same characters back, while introducing new villains and new territory, and a touch of new technology.

You have quite a few books listed on your website. What do you want readers to know about your other books?

Almost all of them have a fantastical element to them. I have two series (Ian’s Realm and Sword of Cho Nisi). The others are stand alone novels. I also have a coloring book which I did the illustrations for with 2 short fable-like stories. You can buy it on Amazon and other retailers, but the best copy is on KaBlam because they’re the only ones that could do a flip-book like I wanted.  It’s called The Magic Plum.

I’ve done a lot of research for my novels and have two historical fantasy novels (Thread of a Spider and Cassandra’s Castle). Ian’s Realm is a portal fantasy. Pouraka and Dylan are urban fantasies. Hoarfrost to Roses is a historical mystery sweet romance with a ghost. I dabble.

When did you start writing and at what point in the process did you decide to publish?

Well aside from writing poems and prose when I was younger I began writing for earnest in 2010 with the idea of publishing a fantasy novel. The first one I got lost and scratched the whole thing. Then I started studying the craft and wrote the first book of Ian’s Realm, Deception Peak. That’s the one I wanted to publish.

In what genres do you write? Do you have a favorite?

Fantasy (epic), and historical fantasy. Those are my favorites, but I loved doing the few sweet romances too.

What advice had the biggest impact on your writing and/or career?

Probably C.S. Lewis’ simple advice to say what you mean and mean what you say.

I don’t know if it’s just one piece of advice, though that impacted my career. I studied John Truby’s Anatomy of Story and connected with his instructions i.e. how to have a plumbline that all the characters are connected to in some way and how their goals interact and conflict with each other. There’s a lot of advice out there. Marketing advice too and I think the most important thing I took away from all that I’ve studied is to just write because you love writing.

You’ve written at least one screenplay. How involved are you in that arena and how is it different than writing a novel?

You have to think action when you’re writing a screenplay. Everything gets cut into a few minutes of action to tell the story. Some dialogue, true but the dialogue has to be real. It has to sound like you and I are talking. But it’s all action.

I worked with some Indie filmmakers to make a couple of concept films and I’m currently pitching one of our screenplays. I’m not sure where it will go, though.

We won a lot of awards for the film. You can see it on FilmFreeway. It’s an adaption of Ian’s Realm

What is your favorite aspect of writing?

It’s exciting when the story unfolds. I love developing the characters and having them interact with one another. The whole process is amazing. You get caught up in this other world, and you’re there and have to solve problems according to your characters personalities. You’re with them, you see what they see, smell what they smell, taste what they taste, feel what they feel. It’s pretty involved.

Where do you get your story ideas?

That’s a good question. They happen from current events, or historical events, or just by asking ‘what if?’. Ideas are everywhere. Sometimes a walk in the woods will ignite a flame.

What does success look like for you as an author?

Success is people reading and enjoying my books. I really would like to have more people know about them and read them. It’s hard breaking the ice when there are so many authors, so many ads, so many people praising the success of others and you’re like standing there with your book waving it in the air saying, “here’s mine!” and the crowd passes by. Sometimes I feel like I’m 2 feet tall in the middle of a parade.

Anything additional you want to share with readers?

Just that I love writing and I think you might see it in my stories. They’re written for people to enjoy!

Website: Gardners Art

Book Locations:

Gardner’s Art Bookstore
Books2Read
Amazon

Excerpt: From Darkness Holds the Son

Barin hesitated to even touch the sword. It wasn’t in his heart to wield magic, much less dark magic. As he stared, a glimmer of light rested on the hilt and a whisper like a breath of air entered the room.

“This was entrusted to you by a friend.” The voice moaned—a low, deep, and raspy voice. “They swore you would only use it for good.”

“I’ve no desire to use it for anything,” Barin said to himself for he maintained he was alone.

“Sometimes need arises and we have to go against our desires,” came the answer. A pale blue light now shone on the hilt exposing the detailed etching—a graceful horse rearing—the destrier, the Potamian symbol for honor. Barin wiped his clammy hands on his coat while struggling against the urge to pick up the sword. He had sworn never to lay eyes on it again and yet here he was. As the light around it grew brighter he stepped back.

“I have no idea why it’s shinning except that the magic it holds is of the devil. I cannot touch such a thing,” the king protested.

“Is your virtue not more powerful than the dark wizard’s iniquity?” the Keeper—the last dragon— asked.

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Author Interview: J.W. Kiefer

Biography

J W Kiefer is a father, minister, novelist, script writer and blogger who hails from the Southern Tier of Western New York State. He has a degree in Theology and Church management as well as a degree in liberal arts. He is also a reserve Green Lantern; and when duty calls, can be found assisting the rest of the core in interstellar matters. An avid vocalist and worship leader, he loves to belt out Disney tunes, especially when it is most awkward and embarrassing for his children.

Share a little bit about your recently published first novel, Death.

Death is the first book in the Justice Cycle series. In a away this an origin story, since it is the end of one character’s journey and the beginning of another.

A “Justice” is a person who has been chosen as the physical avatar of Justice on the Earth. The living embodiment of the spirit of Justice has been placed into a sentient sword that takes on bearers to wield it and to become it’s avatars on the earth. Each bearer carries the weapon until it is time for their soul to pass on to the next world and then the sword chooses another wielder and the cycle begins again. In this first book we are introduced to the cycle through the eyes of a new bearer.

The cover of Death says this is book one. What can you tell us about the next book and/or the rest of the series?

Book two should be finished by the end of the summer and available for sale by sometime at the end of 2022 beginning of 2023. It is called “Famine” and continues exactly where book one left off. In the first book our heroes are introduced to the concept of a greater spiritual world and in book two they are thrust into this greater world and the stakes get much higher for them and for the rest of humanity.

There are five books planned for the series and two prequels. Their working titles are:

There are five books planned for the series and two prequals. Their working titles are:

Book 2: Famine
Book 3: Wrath
Book 4: Plague
Book 5: War

Prequels:
The Shogun
The Musketeer

Death is your first published novel. What has the experience been like and how did you feel when it was finally published?

Well, I am a pantser, so the process has been quite interesting. The way I tend to write is that I have a general idea of the plot and the characters and where they are going. I then sit down and let the characters tell me how they are going to get from point A to B. This can make for an interesting ride, and I am at times just as surprised at what happens as the readers are. This can also make for a long process since I can be prone to writers block. For book two I have done a lot more plotting. It has helped keep my productivity moving better, though my day job gets in the way a lot making the writing process slow still.

As far as how it felt to finally publish something. Both amazing and terrifying at the same time. I was so happy that I finally did what I had always said I wanted to. I was also terrified, because now I was really doing what I always said I wanted to, and I needed to make sure I kept moving forward with it. I think it is easy to stall out after we reach our goals. For instance, once a person loses the weight they wanted, it is easy to now let your workout routine slack and then you will start to slip back into old habits. For me I have been very conscious of that and still I feel that book two should be farther along than it is.

Your Amazon bio says you have a degree in theology and are a minister and worship leader. Does your faith or theology training come out in your book?

Absolutely. When JRR Tolkien was asked if his works were Christian allegory he replied in the negative. But what he did say, however, was that it is impossible for his faith to not be prevalent in his works, since it is a huge part of who he is and by it his view of the world is shaped. It is the same for me. My faith is one of the greatest defining characteristics of who I am and how I see the world, so of course that will be in my books.

Your bio also says you love to embarrass your children by belting out Disney tunes. Do you have an especially interesting story of embarrassment you would like to share?

Well, we were at an outlet mall in Fort Meyers Florida, and I burst through the door of the Disney store loudly singing the song Prince Edward from Enchanted kept trying to sing to Giselle. I’m pretty sure I remember them throwing me out.

What is something you will do differently with your second book than you did you’re your first?

Plot more. I think most author’s first books are something they have probably been thinking about for years and so therefore know it so deeply that they can write it without a lot of planning and forethought. For me, book one was like this. I knew the story and the basic characters as well as I knew my own.

Book two, on the other hand, required a lot more planning. Book one was so intimate and a very confined to just a few characters and their small part in the universe. I found that in book two I had to establish this world that I had only hinted at in book one. This required about 6 months of plotting and world building before I could actually start on the next part of the story.

In that time, the entire story changed, and I established things in a more concrete way. I knew I wanted to make it a series, but I really had no idea what the overall plot of the series would look like when I ended book one. I had ideas, but now I have the over-arching storyline plotted out for the series. Of course, I am still a pantser, so my characters are going to ignore me and do what they want anyway.

Do you have any strange writing quirks?

I need to listen to music while I write. I see the world like a movie and that is how I write. Just like in a movie, I need the music to set the tone of the scene and to bring out the emotion for me. For me I need to be at my computer with my headphones on and whatever music I feel best fits the scene I am writing playing on a loop. If I don’t have my music, I won’t be able to lose myself in the story and nothing will come. I plan on one day releasing a list of the music I wrote to, so people can listen while they read and experience it the way it was written.

How did you get started writing fiction?

I started by writing comic books when I was a kid. I then moved on to writing scripts for plays and really bad movies my friends and I used to make. The transition to writing novels was just the next level of progression for me. I can’t draw well, so comics were out and making movies requires a lot of people, time, and money, all of which I didn’t have. Writing novels was just the natural progression. I had always been a reader had been writing short stories and about a gazillion unfinished novels since I was 15. My kids grew up and I found that I now had the time to actually follow my dreams, and so here we are. It is still a slow process for me, since I still need my day job, but who knows what next year will bring.

What is your favorite aspect of writing?

I love inspiring people. Since the beginning of human history we have used stories to inspire us as a collective species. I am a scholar, but I find that God speaks to me just as much through Star Wars as he does through the Bible. He uses these tales and the truth of those characters and their stories to inspire, to teach and to help me see areas I need to change in my own life. This is what I love about writing. I hope that, by telling the stories I have in my head and heart, I can inspire others.

What does success look like for you as an author?

Well, I think being able to write as a job would be success for me. Certainly I would like to have a lot of people read and like my books like any author. I am just getting started, so I am really just at the starting line of this journey. My first book is out, and I am learning the industry and how it all works. For me right now, I think finishing this series and then moving on to the next one that is already brewing would be how I measure success. Of course, if I became the next J K Rawlings and had millions of people reading my books that would be pretty swell as well.

Website: JWKiefer.com

Book Locations: Amazon Kindle, Kindle Unlimited, and trade paperback available through Amazon.com

Excerpt

Steve’s eyes were closed, but he was not unconscious. Whatever the entity was that had been helping him, it had minimized the damage from the impact to next to nothing. He cracked open one of his eyes and saw his brother crouched in front of him, holding his head as if he were in pain.

Unsure of what exactly was happening to Jared, he decided it best to play possum and figure out his next move. Jared’s eyes were squeezed shut. His face was contorted in an expression of intense anguish. Steve had no idea how it was possible that his brother was alive. It all felt surreal, like he was trapped in some sort of low-budget horror film or something. In fact, this whole day had been one long walk into the paranormal and the bizarre. Perhaps he was having some sort of psychotic break, but he decided to go with it either way.

“I will not!” his brother suddenly shouted.

“He is going to kill you,” the voice in his mind rasped. “You must destroy him first.”

Kill me? Steve thought.

I suppose it does make sense. Why else would his brother come back from the dead? Well, maybe to see Dana, he surmised. Only a fool like his brother would rise from the grave just to save a girl. The girl he could never see as anything more than a friend until it was too late. Maybe instead of a revenge movie, he was in some ridiculous paranormal romance story instead.

It was time to put an end to Jared, this time for good. He reached inside to his unseen benefactor, and it once again provided him with demonic power. The shadows coalesced around him and this time his muscles expanded and swelled from the unrestrained power.

With a roar of defiance, he ripped his trapped arm free and sprung at his brother. Steve’s shout brought Jared back to his senses just in time to see both of his fists bearing down on his face. Before he could react to the sudden attack, Steve struck him square in the jaw with a double-fisted uppercut that sent him careening through the air.

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Author Interview: Bruno Martins

Biography

I don’t really know how old I was when I started writing stories. I wrote them for school, I’m certain, but the first time I wrote without any academic goal I was 12, I remember that much. I just loved reading and stories and the books I laid hands on didn’t last that much and I had so many stories in my head I just started playing with them until it was impossible not to write them down. I kept writing different stuff.

When I was 22, a friend of mine incited me to enter one of the largest and most prestigious Young Writers’ contests in Portugal. I did and won an Honorable Mention. I tried again two years later and won it. I went to Torino and them Rome and Sarajevo, representing my country as a Young Writer. One of the best times of my life.

Then, one day, I decided to write a Scifi novel I had been chewing on for some time: The Saga of Alex 9. I showed it to a publisher who’d just included a short story of mine in an anthology, and he loved it. I was a published novelist one year later, and soon was featured in a series alongside names like George R.R. Martin or Bernard Cornwell, hailed as an author to recon with in Portuguese Scifi. How about that?

I wrote more novels and worked in movies, TV and plays. I’ve done a lot of things in my career, but overall, I’ve been writing professionally for 20 years.

Share a little bit about your horror novel, INSIGHT.

It’s a small stand-alone psychological thriller with supernatural tones. It’s the story of Matt, a psychologist in a small US town whose wife recently died and whose 9-year-old son, Sam, stopped talking. And then strange things begin to happen – the ghost of his wife starts to appear, Sam seems to develop supernatural powers and there’s a strange man in a dark suit following him. When his son is kidnapped, Matt dives into a spiral of unexplained events and he’ll have to do the unimaginable to save his family.

What drew you to write in the horror genre?

Well, pragmatism, I guess. I love speculative fiction – Scifi, Fantasy, Horror. Of these, horror was the one that attracted me the least. But when I was writing movie scripts, it turned out horror were the cheapest movies to make in these genres, so I wrote a few horror scripts and was struck by the fact that it is a genre that draws you closer to reality and real people than the other two. It’s not about technology or magic, it’s about our inner demons and psyche. And that is something that really interest me.  

How did you get started writing fiction?

I love stories since I can remember. And I was a storyteller from the start. But I grew up watching my father reading books. Every day before or after lunch or dinner he would sit in his chair and read a novel. A crime novel, as it happens. Or a spy novel. He hated SciFi («Those are things that don’t happen and will never happen.» – i.e. «old ladies solve murders all the time.»), and Fantasy was obviously (obviously!) for kids.

Still, some of the first novels he gave me to read were from Edgar Rice Burroughs or Jules Verne. And that was besides all the comic books I read – the pride of my collection was a 50cm-long special edition of ‘Flash Gordon’. At 16 I read Frank Herbert’s ‘Dune’ for the first time, and loved it. Its intimate style still stays with me after all this time. As well as authors as Boris Vian, or Virginia Woolf.

But then, movies. I love movies. Much of my writing skills, my plotting skills, my ‘lay-down-the-scene’ skills, came from movies. I’d stay here a long time talking about it, so I’d better shut up. Seriously, when I was a kid, I would narrate every single scene from a movie I enjoyed to some poor family member I was able to trap. I was nasty! So don’t get me started!

You have published a number of books and from a glance at your Amazon author page they include multiple genres. In which genres do you write? Do you have a favorite genre?

Yes, I started with realistic literature. For a long time I wrote that, won awards, was published. But then I decided to turn to my long-lasting stifled passion – speculative fiction. I then published my first Scifi Trilogy, a crazy action-packed Scifi novel with a Fantasy structure: THE ALEX 9 SAGA; in the future, with magnetic weapons, space ships, space battles, but also samurai swords, cavalry charges, knights, bows and arrows, phalanxes and other infantry formations, huge battles. It’s still only published in Portuguese, but it will come out soon in English, I hope.

From then on, I was hooked on these kinds of stories. I still write realistic fiction from time to time, but all my novels/series so far have been speculative fiction: THE DARK SEA WAR CHRONICLES (space opera), LAURA AND THE SHADOW KING (post-apocalyptic) and INSIGHT (horror/psychological thriller).

You have quite a background that includes writing for newspapers, magazines, and doing research. How did you settle on writing fiction over journalism?

I always wanted to write fiction and indeed I did write fiction continuously since I was 12. However, after coming out of Business School in my mid-twenties, I suddenly got an invitation to go to Sarajevo with other award winners, writers included, to prepare an international arts fair. This was 1998 and Bosnia was fresh out of civil war. I then contacted one of the largest newspapers in Portugal and asked them if they wanted a chronicle of a young writer going to Sarajevo. They replied: ‘We want three, and why don’t you come work for us?’ And so I did.

After a couple of years I was looking for a job and sent CV’s to all kinds of publications around the world. I had 3 replies: Ideias&Negócios, one of the most prominent business magazines in Portugal at the time (ended up writing for them for 3 years); The Washington Post (helped them with a couple of stories, doing research and liaison in Portugal); and Jane’s Defense Weekly (was Portugal’s international correspondent for 4 years).

After 4 or 5 years, journalism was beginning to fall into a crisis and pay was lousy, so I stopped doing it. I did write a few more pieces for some publication – including literary and economic publications, for the Department of Tourism, for Pirelli and Goodyear, and other companies – but not as a regular occupation. So I’ve been writing fiction for 38 years, but have only a few years of journalism.

What advice would you give to someone starting out as a fiction writer?

Don’t freak out once you figure out it’s not as easy as it seems. Just write and write and write. Have fun. Most of all, don’t try to be a writer. Studies say writers are the happiest professionals out there, but I think that’s because so few get to be professionals. Most of us never make it. So write because it’s fun, because it’s a part of you, because it allows you to express yourself, because you have stories in your head that need to go somewhere. Just write. If you do it enough and if you learn a lot each step of the way and if you get lucky, then one day it will be the center of your life and you’ll be a writer and, if you start being paid for it, you’ll be a happy one.

What is your favorite aspect of writing?

Imagining the story, the twists and turns, and the characters, and the dialogues. And then, all of a sudden, somebody will tell me: ‘I loved your book!’ and that’s the best feeling ever!

You grew up in Portugal and it appears have traveled fairly extensively. Does your exposure to various parts of the world play into your stories?

I haven’t traveled half as much as I’d like. Portugal is known for discovering the world. We were the first Europeans in Brasil, in Australia, in Japan, in Angola, in Mozambique, around the Cape of Good Hope, to arrive by sea in India and in China.

We don’t really believe we’re at the center of the world. We always traded and related with many around the globe (we did our share of mischief as well, of course). But we’re a small nation of 10 million. Somehow, we believe it’s the relationships we have with others that make us strong. So, in a way, yes. All my series have characters of different cultures and I try to make them really different between themselves. I hope I’m successful in that.

What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?

Difficult to say. I strive to have routines and somehow I always fail. I like to be with friends, to cook, to read and watch TV. I struggle with my two terrorist ginger cats to prevent them from taking over the world. I argue with my partner Ana about absolutely nothing and learn the craziest things from my stepdaughter Diana. Once in a while, I play games in my computer.

I like hanging around in a coffee shop and have an espresso while I look at people going about their business. I go to the butcher shop and to the fruit store and order things from the supermarket. I have a couple of clients for HR consulting I advise and serve a few hours a day. And things like that. It’s a hard question…

What does success look like for you as an author?

To sell. I never really had a problem in publishing – I always was able to publish, either by myself or traditionally. But selling enough to pay de bills, that’s another story altogether. It’s hard work. Success as an author, for me, would be to sell enough to have a nice income at the end of the month and don’t worry too much about it. That’s it. To earn my living doing what I love.

Anything additional you want to share with readers?

I won the Young Creators National Award for Writing in ’96, and represented my country in fairs in Torino, Rome and Sarajevo. I was in Sarajevo when Clinton decided to bomb Belgrade, which was a little bit scary, but not so much as the earthquake we felt a few days earlier.

Overall, it was a special experience for me. I was there 3 years after the Civil War and scars were everywhere. Every single wall had bullet holes in it and some quarters the windows were still covered with United Nations’ plastic, as no window had survived the war.

But the worst scars I saw were in the eyes of people around me. You could see they had all gone through Hell. Sarajevo is separated in two by a river and during the war, no-one could go from one side to the other without being shot by snipers. And children could only play outside when there was fog.

These kinds of stories were very impressive to me. I wanted to go there because I wanted to learn for myself, up close, the real consequences of war, and I did see them.

My parents were involved in the Portuguese Guinea Independence War, and I knew they had been scarred by it. And I’m fascinated by those extreme events. War brings out the best and the worst in people. That’s a little bit what I try to show in my writings.

Both LAURA AND THE SHADOW KING and THE DARK SEA WAR CHRONICLES are about war and its consequences, even though the most important themes in them are resilience and hope. A couple of years ago, the Portuguese version of THE DARK SEA WAR CHRONICLES won the Adamastor Award for Fantastic Writing, which was my latest award and one I’m really proud of.

I was chosen by Sweetycat Press as one of the international Emerging Writers of 2020, which is another honor I love.

Here are a few links where you can reach me and find my books:

Webpage
Amazon
Goodreads
Facebook

Excerpt

Her eyes told him it was too late. Her face, her pale void face, told him it was too late. He looked around, helpless. What could he do? What was there to do? What was there to help him? What should he do?

That’s when he saw him. Sam. The boy. On top of the stairs. Frozen. Looking down. Unable to move. And he could feel his shock. And he cried loud. ‘Sam! Go to your room! Your mom is fine! Go to your room!’

That’s what he wanted to say. That’s what he wanted to say for his son’s sake. But what came out of his mouth was a wail. A long, hopeless, desperate wail. And tears came pouring out of his eyes. Like a waterfall bursting through a rock. And another wail came out. And another. And Sam wouldn’t move. He wouldn’t move. He stood there. On top of the stairs. Emotionless. And he hadn’t shown any obvious emotion since then.”


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Author Interview: Brendan and Lori O’Gara

Biography

Brendan and Lori O’Gara write in the fantasy, contemporary fiction and nonfiction genres. They have published novels together and individually. The O’Garas reside just a few miles from where they grew up on Perdido Key, Florida.

When not at the beach, writing or reading, they can be found wandering the stacks in a library, perusing antique stores and thrift shops, playing tabletop role playing games, or spending time with their family. A large blended family that consists of six children, seven grandchildren and one dog named Harley Quinn.

To make this easy, Lori will answer the questions.

Share a little bit about your book, The Travelers’ Song.

The title of our book is The Travelers’ Song. It is about a group of travelers on a mission of the Seven Kingdoms in search of the greatest food of the lands. It is a covert mission. They are spies searching out the remnants of technology for the self-proclaimed Emperor who is a necromancer.

How many books have you written together? Talk about the process of collaborating. Do you do share responsibilities or split them?

Between the two of us we currently have twelve books published. I have a contemporary fiction series titled, The Perdido Key Novels. Brendan wrote and published a fantasy themed cookbook before themed cookbooks tied to fiction were cool called Gadlin O’Hale’s Fantastic Recipes: From the Seven Kingdoms taken from the greatest Pubs, Taverns, and Inns”.

After about a hundred readers saying, “The recipes are great but what happens to the characters?” Brendan asked me if I wanted to write a fantasy novel series with him. I agreed and that is where our fantasy books started. Our fantasy series is called The Necromancer’s Song the first book is titled The Travelers’ Song. We have three compendium books in the series as well that includes a cookbook.

Has writing together improved or challenged your relationship?

We have known each other since we were 12 years old. We have always been writing or adventuring together, so it is just how we operate. It hasn’t challenged or improved our relationship.

You have several other fantasy books published as well. Tell us briefly about those.

Our fantasy series is called The Necromancer’s Song the first book is titled The Travelers’ Song. We have three compendium books in the series as well that includes a cookbook.

The Dark Beginning is a brief look into the personality of our Necromancer. The Extant is a look into why evolution is a promenade theme in our story. The Two is about golems who are actually very old souls. They will play a pivotal part in the Necromancer’s Song storyline in book two (The Music of the Bones) and book three (The Serpent and the Six)

You also have some contemporary fiction novels, all with “There” in the title? Are they related to each other? What are they about?

I  have a contemporary fiction series titled, The Perdido Key Novels. They are connected              to each other and are about Native American lore, magic, romance and drama.

You have three titles under the banner of No B.S. Christianity. What does B.S. stand for and what can readers expect to experience from those books? 

My mission is to share my non B.S. (Brutally Suffocating) approach to Christianity through my writing by building a platform that attracts the derelicts and outliers in this world. I look to find the humans who traditional Christianity or religion has broken. Humans who know that there must be more to life than this and more to God than we have been lead to believe. Those humans are my tribe. My book titled Believe is basically my manifesto. The other two titles, Breath by Breath and Prayer after Prayer are guides to connect to the Divine. https://loriogara.com

Do you have any odd writing habits?

We will rehearse dialogue. Brendan takes on a character and I take on another. Then we verbally act out the scene. We are constantly talking about our work as if the characters are real people.

What is the best piece of writing advice you’ve ever received?

Write from what you know. In our fiction, we have created characters based loosely on people we know or a composite of traits from several people. The old adage is true, it is easy to write from what you know. That changes depending where you are in your own life story though.  The other best advice is, SAVE EVERYTHING you write! Save it in multiple formats.

What is the hardest aspect of writing for you?

Stopping. We have a difficult time knowing when a project is finished. We get so attached to our characters that we want to see them continue.

What does success look like for you as an author?

We love when a reader says that they read one of our books, even if they hated it. The best part is that our characters got a chance to live in someone’s imagination for a while or one of our ideas sparked something in another person. Success for us is when readers know our work and ask, “When is the next book coming out?”

Anything additional you want to share with readers?

Magic is real. There is a constant theme in all our fantasy writings that life is the most powerful of all forces in the universe and it is also fragile, taken for granted. Most of us only get one shot at life, but what if there was more to life than what we know? Live like there is always more to the story.

Website: https://the-ogaras.com

Book Locations:  Amazon, Lori O’Gara
                                              Brendan O’Gara

Excerpt

Life is the most powerful of all forces in the universe. It will survive any obliteration. Life on Earth, unforgiving and beautifully dangerous, is not the same as it was four thousand years ago. Technology dependent humans lost control and as a result, almost destroyed themselves. In this age, knowledge is currency. Technology is magic. Evolution prevails.

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Author Interview: Jay Willis

Biography

My goal as an author is to create an engaging and fun body of work to sustain a generation through their life as readers of Fantasy: from intelligent chapter books to sprawling epics.

From an early age, I was fascinated by story-telling and wrote my first books in grade school by hand using typing paper packets stapled together for me by my mother. An avid Dungeons & Dragons role-player, growing up in the 80’s obsessed with Star Wars and Raiders of the Lost Ark, my reading and writing interests have always skewed toward the fantasy and science-fiction genres.

I am a graduate of both Capital University and Capital University Law School.  I’ve been a licensed attorney for more than 25 years. I’m a former Judge and now work as an Assistant Prosecutor.

I live in southern Ohio with my wife and two children who are now grown and in different stages of college. I love both tabletop games and role-playing games. I’ve played video games since the Atari 2600, I’m a recovering World of Warcraft player, and my two current video game obsessions are Fallout 76 and Elden Ring.

Share a little bit about your book, Dream of the Sphere, and the Sphere Saga.

Dream of the Sphere is the intricate first entry in the expansive The Sphere Saga epic fantasy series. If you like gargantuan conflicts, jaw-dropping twists, and deep explorations of humanity’s beliefs, you’ll love this hard-hitting tale.

Here’s the book description for Dream of the Sphere:

Three thousand years of tradition torn asunder. When the truth comes out, will a hero emerge to pick up the pieces?

Dashira Eisenheart takes ultimate comfort in her community. So she’s thrilled when her brother ascends to the coveted order chosen to protect the world from safely sealed-away, millennia-old, dangerous magic. But her faith in her beloved parents’ loyalty cracks after she spies her mother sneaking about town to meet with the enemy.

Striving to stay focused on her own academic studies, Dashira becomes caught in family tensions that soon reach a boiling point. And as her father’s Brotherhood and her mother’s rebel group head toward a cataclysmic clash, the young seeker finds herself trapped by conflicting choices.

Will she face her fears and accept her role in a grand destiny?

At its core, the Sphere Saga examines the implications of The Conflagration in the world of Legacia which resulted from a clash between The Three, Axamar Sulvastra, Lornai val’Adoral, and Vrom Krazstar. The best of friends, the worst of enemies, The Three, the most brilliant and powerful mages in history, nearly destroyed Legacia, and after the near-apocalyptic event humanity decided to eschew Magic and prevent such a catastrophe from recurring. Over the course of three-thousand years of attempting to suppress Magic, the society forged by the survivors becomes a rigid theocracy stifled by fear. The denizens of the city of Kaharna have unwittingly locked themselves away into a pattern of stagnation trapped in their dependence upon the Sphere to keep Magic contained and untouchable. Ultimately, in Legacia Magic is Life and the people find their very existence in peril unless they find a way to restore Magic in their world.

You also have one book in a series entitled The Arcana Chronicles. Tell us about that book and series.

After I wrote the initial draft of Dream of the Sphere I struggled to pull it together and polish it into what I wanted it to become. I took some online writing courses with Dave Farland after that and started working on craft. With Dave’s help I started to realize my writing skills weren’t quite where I needed them to be to pull off my Sphere Saga so I left those books behind for a while.

At the 2015 Writer’s Symposium at Gen Con I spent a few days with Dave Farland in classes in-person and developed the story that became Blood is Thicker than Magic, a Middle Grade/Teen Urban Fantasy, which became my first full-scale published novel. I wanted to write a story geared to encourage young men to read that was full of wonder, something veering in a different direction from Harry Potter and the Percy Jackson books.

In addition to writing adult fantasy you write children’s books. Tell us about those.

I wrote the original Blacktooth the Pirate stories for my kids because I was getting sick of Princess Stories. I even had those first two stories printed into a book form so my wife and I could read them to the kids. Blacktooth’s Treasure Chest eventually became the first book I actually published. With Blacktooth I wanted something silly and fun that would make a kid want to read while introducing them to the wonderful world of Fantasy.

What drew you into writing in the two different areas of fantasy and children’s books? Which do you prefer?

I want to write Fantasy in various forms. Specifically, I hope to engage my readers from an early age sharing my lifelong love of Fantasy. We all need some magic in our lives. I don’t write down to kids in my Children’s and Middle Grade books. The stories may not be as involved and complex but they still inspire that sense of wonder we all desperately need and crave. Worldbuilding and intriguing characters are still important to kids.

Ultimately, if I had to choose, Epic Fantasy is my passion. I love storytelling and the multifaceted layers I can explore in Epic Fantasy are what I enjoy most about writing.

Your profile on Amazon says you have been a lawyer for 25 years. How does a lawyer get into publishing novels?

I’ve loved storytelling since I was very young. From making up stories with my Star Wars action figures to actually starting to write and illustrate stories on my own then moving into playing Dungeons & Dragons and creating characters and adventures in that setting I’ve always wanted to write.

Throughout college as a History and Political Science major on the path to Law School I wrote a LOT of academic papers. After my first year of Law School I managed to take an entire summer off and spent most of it writing to save my brain from the ravages of that brutal First Year. Writing preserved and salvaged what was left of my sanity.

Writing took a backseat while establishing my career as an attorney and I didn’t do much storytelling until my kids were born. As far as full-scale novels, I “won” National Novel Writing Month (NANOWRIMO) back in 2013 and completed an Epic Fantasy novel which will most likely never be publishable. I kept at it and “won” again in 2014 and 2015 with what were the original drafts of my first two Sphere Saga books.

I initially explored traditional publishing and queried agents and editors for a while. After over 100 rejections and no interest I decided it was time to learn about self-publishing and I immersed myself in discovering the intricacies of how to publish my own works and I haven’t looked back.

What is your favorite part of the writing process?

I live for worldbuilding. I enjoy outlining and plotting and all that goes along with putting a fantasy world together. The danger is allowing myself to explore too many rabbit holes and go too far astray into researching obscure topics.

What would you advise your younger self to do differently on the writing journey?

Stop playing World of Warcraft sooner and write more. Most importantly, I wish I would have conquered my unspoken fear of failure and started writing with purpose on a regular basis sooner.

Do you have any essential writing habits or strange writing quirks?

The most useful writing habit I’ve developed is to begin each writing session reading and allowing myself limited revisions through the last bit I worked on to warmup and immerse myself back into the world I’m working in.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

I watch a lot of movies, play board games, roleplaying games, and video games. I’ve spent far too much time dying repeatedly in Elden Ring of late.

What does success look like for you as an author?

Publishing the first three books of The Sphere Saga marks success for me. Having even a handful of readers and being able to share my world and the characters that have lived in my imagination for so long is why I write.

Anything additional you want to share with readers?

I am a Contributor on a new non-fiction book releasing May 3, 2022 called Putting the Fact in Fantasy. I have articles about the real world history of magic, the history of the Spanish Inquisition, and the use of Prophets and Religion in Fantasy included. Putting the Fact in Fantasy was edited by Dan Koboldt and will be available on Amazon.

Website: https://www.jayswillis.net

Book Locations: Amazon including Kindle Unlimited

My social media links are:

Facebook
LinkedIn
Instagram
Twitter
TikTok

Excerpt: from Dream of the Sphere-Book One of The Sphere Saga

THE WIND WHISTLED atop the Spire, blowing Dashira’s hair in every direction. She had never been this high up before. The city spread below them, a landscape in miniature, everything except the Sphere, of course.

Standing atop the Spire, alongside Spirelord Benebis, gave her a new perspective on the immensity of the Sphere. Even from this vantage, the Sphere was daunting. It waited below, a steadfast and implacable foe that had churned toward this inevitable conflict for three thousand years.

“We had not counted upon the Brotherhood marshaling well-armed trained forces,” Benebis said, as he watched troops moving below, attempting to break in the front doors to the Spire. “This certainly complicates matters.”

Despite the constant buzz of the wind, Dashira could hear Benebis speaking. She found that more than a little disconcerting. If only she had been able to obtain more details from Mother. Plagued by doubt and uncertainty now, she couldn’t yet fathom how she could be of use in saving Gambor and destroying the Brotherhood.

Not far off, a rumbling reverberated, followed by a fiery explosion. Benebis rushed to the opposite side of the Spire, Dashira following. The nearest Spire trailed a pillar of black smoke from its base.

From this height and distance, it was impossible to tell the source of the smoke, or the cause of the damage. Benebis’ face contorted in anguish. Something terrible had happened at that Spire, and he must be able to sense it.

“Take my hand,” he said, reaching out to her. Dashira did as requested. The man’s hand was ice cold, and smooth like polished marble.

“I will explain things later. Prepare yourself Dashira. You are about to witness actions which you may find… disturbing.”

Dashira nodded in response. The Spirelord’s ever-flowing runes ceased their shifting and flared with cobalt brilliance, inundating Dashira’s body with a tingling sensation. Then there was falling and white light.

She gasped.

Blinked.

They stood in a well-lit chamber pulsing with life. Her eyes adjusted, making it difficult to see.

In the center of this circular chamber was an oval-shaped vat carved from a marbled blue and white stone, like nothing she’d ever seen. The massive container held a mercurial liquid emanating a purplish glow. Dashira noticed there were no windows and no doors in this room. There was no visible means of entry, or exit.

“We must move with haste,” Benebis said, before Dashira could spit out any of the myriad questions tumbling through her head.

The Spirelord plunged his hand into the vat, closing his eyes as he did so. A purple vapor formed, rose from the liquid, and a ubiquitous fog permeated the chamber.

“Breathe in and do not fear,” Benebis instructed.

Dashira trusted the man. She did as instructed.

With her first deep inhalation, her body became hazy and indistinct.

Was she floating?

She now understood the smell and taste of purple.

How peculiar?

She exhaled and took yet another breath.

With her second breath, time slowed, and she gained a palpable awareness of everything in the room.

First, she was one with the liquid in the vat, which now bubbled violently, but in slow motion.

Next, her senses expanded, she was one with Benebis. His heart beat in counterpoint to her own. He smiled at her, as if to offer comfort and encouragement.

Time sped up, and her awareness seeped into and through the walls, upward and throughout the entirety of the Spire.

Her lungs burned with need, her breathing rapid, drinking in as much of the vapor as she could hold. Overwhelmed but exhilarated, she could see through over a thousand pairs of eyes, the entire population of the Spire all simultaneously.

Then, it all stopped.

She blinked and gasped for air, as if she had been submerged underwater too long. The purple cloud filling the room was gone, the liquid still, and Dashira panted and was covered in sweat.

Her body tingled.

She peered down at her hands and arms; flecks of purple swam just below the surface, and her skin paled to a lavender shade similar to the vision of Vrom from her dreams.

Benebis touched her on the shoulder. “What I have done is forbidden by our laws, but it is necessary. I need your assistance in defending this Spire. Follow my lead, use your instincts, and do what you know to be right. Take care, however, not to over exert yourself.”

He didn’t explain what he’d done. No explanation was necessary. In the moments of her exposure to the Fonte Arcanum, she knew the name of this chamber now; she had gained some of the powers, as well as knowledge imparted to Spirelords. She understood the secrets held fast within the Spires. Her head spun with the burden of arcane knowledge.

The dots swimming in her skin coalesced into shapes. The glyphs engraved upon their bodies from the inside imbued the Spirelords with permanent magical powers, with energy distilled directly from the pure magical essence contained in the Fonte Arcanum.

“Take my hand once again. We have no time to delay.” Benebis reached out to her once again.

She took his hand, her head spun with this turn of events. If only she had time to think things over. She needed time to access the knowledge she had now been granted.

“It will come to you as needed,” Benebis said, replying to her thought, and they vanished, reappearing in the entryway to the Spire above. The instantaneous travel to another location wasn’t nearly as jarring the second time.

He was right. Now was the time for action. She couldn’t spare the time for contemplation. The Sphere-blessed were dying. Gambor and Mother were in danger.


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Author Interview: Jennifer Tempest

Biography

Jennifer Tempest was born and raised in Edmonton, Alberta, where she lives with her partner and large cat. Jennifer loves to read and travel to gain inspiration for her creations as well as taking inspiration from her boyfriend’s Dungeons and Dragons Campaigns. Often including her friends in her works of fiction, Jennifer writes to make people smile and get drawn into her world.

Share a little bit about your book, The Cardinal War.

The Cardinal War takes place within the city of Mordale which is on the West coast of the Frythiel Empire. The Emperor passes away with no known heirs and the four surrounding manors are thrust into political drama and intrigue to determine who the next heir must be. The story follows Daithi, one of the Emperor’s lead messengers, as well as a young thief, Eileen. The two must learn how they fit into this changing landscape and upon meeting must determine how they fit with each other. Both continue to grow and develop and readers will be sucked into finding out what happens next.

What motivated you to go from writing for fun to publishing a book?

I have been writing to some degree since I was in third grade and my stories have been getting longer and more in depth as I have grown older. The Cardinal War was the first story that reached 20,000 words and there was just something about it that I kept coming back to and wanting to make the story even greater.

I looked into self-publishing years ago but let fear get in the way and I just continued to write for fun. However, 2021 came around and I decided I couldn’t let fear stop me anymore. I accepted my book may not be for everyone but I wanted to share my story with the world; the characters I had created years ago and the world that I continued to build in my mind. I reached back into The Cardinal War, touched up sections and dove into the publishing process.

What challenges did you overcome to get your book published?

Starting was probably the first challenge as I had no concept of where to begin; how to get it edited, how to create a cover or how much all of this would cost. I was not too worried about how long it would take, I just wanted the book out there with the story and cover that I had envisioned.

The next worry came with editing, I knew I had a good story but I was still a bit worried of what the editor would say and what they would want to change. It ended up being a wonderful learning experience and has helped me in writing future works.

Finally, I was struggling to imagine how I could best convey what I wanted the cover to look like to someone else. Since writing The Cardinal War, I knew the cover would have wings and a compass. Turned out, that the graphic designer was amazing and was able to interpret exactly what I wanted to create what turned out to be a very eye catching cover.

Do you have any strange writing quirks?

I would have to say the way I tackle writing a story is unique, especially if you know me well. I am known to love organization and planning but I don’t actually plan that much when it comes to my stories. I will create the main characters that will be spotlighted in the work as well as writing maybe a sentence or two for the basic chapters I envision. But other than that I write whatever I feel that day, whether that be chapter 1 or maybe its chapter 7 today. I tend to write based on the type of chapter I am feeling that day, so for example, maybe I want to write a intimate conversation for an afternoon or maybe it’s a fight scene that I have in mind.

I will jump back and forth between chapters adding on to them and weaving in the connections between. Sometimes I will be in an editing mood and I will simply re-read what I have already written and expand upon it. I mind that this method helps me escape writers block as if I am tired of writing a scene or have run out of inspiration for it, I will simply switch to a different section of the story. One consistent element of my writing however is that I will write the ending, at least in part, first.

What do you enjoy most about the writing process?

I love creating and expanding on the world and introducing my characters to this growing Empire. If I have one or two main characters I can develop their relationships with each other and other minor characters, who may turn out to be major characters in a future work. Each new character adds something to the world and the world brings characteristics to each character in it. I love the thought of eventually being able to share all of this with others and letting them get sucked into my world.

What is the best writing advice you’ve ever received?

“Don’t write with the thought of publishing the story, write because you love writing” I heard this recently in a group interview with a few other authors and it really struck with me. When I started The Cardinal War, I didn’t know I was going to publish it. It was with the writing and completion of the story that I realized it was something worth publishing. I think if you write with the focus of publishing in the forefront of your mind it can add unnecessary stress and fear. Write because you love to write and you love to create, the rest will follow if its going to happen.

If money were no object, what would you do with the rest of your life?

Travel, volunteer with animal rescues as much as I can and keep writing and sharing my books.

Who are some of your favorite authors? What are some of your favorite books that you’ve read?

Before I started this publishing journey, my answer was always the same: Mercedes Lackey, Kristin Britain and Naomi Novik. But with this experience I have meet new authors and I would have to add Connie Reed and JMD Reid to my list as well. As for favorite books, I would say: Brightly Burning by Mercedes Lackey, Winterlight by Kristin Britain, League of Dragons by Naomi Novik, Foundation of Courage by JMD Reid and finally Emerging Threats by Connie Reed.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

When not writing the quickest answer is I love to read! My To Be Read list grows and grows with so many wonderful stories out there but I just love reading people’s creations. In addition to that, I love playing board games with my friends, we have over 200 games, as well as doing Escape Rooms, I recently completed my 75th room. As I mentioned before, I love to organize and plan which has resulted in murder mystery parties and other fun activities over the years. I also love to work out, try new moves at Circus class and volunteer with animals.

What does success look like for you as an author?

To me the success is just to hear others talking about my book or simply being intrigued about the book and wanting to read it. Yes money is an easy way to look at some form of success, but I published The Cardinal War simply to share my story and I want people to get sucked in and keep reading. I love having the opportunity to talk to others about my work and have them be genuinely interested and invested in the conversation.

Anything additional you want to share with readers?

I just wanted to thank everyone for taking the time to read a bit about me and to encourage everyone to keep reading! If there are any budding writers out there that are on the fence about publishing or even just getting started, I want to say write with your heart and write for you. You will enjoy the process more and it will shine through in your story. Don’t let fear stop you!

Website: www.jennifertempestbooks.com

Book Locations: Available on my website otherwise through Amazon, Barnes & Nobles online and Indigo online.

Excerpt: From The Cardinal War

“Why do you think we need to be armed? Driskell asked, a bit surprised. “We have always been greeted peacefully.”

            “Well, I have been thinking about this all day,” Daithi replied, sitting back on his heels. “Who do you think is going to be new ruler? I mean, it seems almost positive that Emperor Ithel is not going to last the night, and with his wife Helori dead years ago and no children, well, who does that leave? Which means –“

            “It means there is going to be war between the four manors to see who can establish their child as the new heir”

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Author Interview: Elizabeth Lavender

Biography

I’m the author of the Sunspear series. The first book in the sci-fi series is called The Spinning of Deception, the second book is Deception’s Hold, and the third book is Shadowed Bonds. I’m currently working on the next book in the series.

Originally from the Alabama coast, I currently live in the Dallas area with my husband and my two children. I have a Master’s degree in counseling, a bachelor’s degree in psychology, and a minor in English.

I enjoy science fiction and fantasy and hope to bring that same enjoyment to others. I also enjoy suspense novels. However, as long as the storyline is intriguing, I’ll give other genres a try. My reading spans from Les Misérables to Shakespeare to the Percy Jackson series to anything written by Ted Dekker or Frank Peretti.

I work full-time and have been at the same company for over twenty years happily. I’m a huge football fan and have a decent throwing arm, despite what my oldest son says when he practices throwing the football with me.

Although I enjoy Texas, I love going home to Alabama to visit. Besides visiting family and friends, it’s nice to be back near the water again and enjoy the amazing seafood.

Share a little bit about your Sunspear series.

There are currently three books in my sci-fi/fantasy Sunspear series, which include The Spinning of Deception, Deception’s Hold, and Shadowed Bonds.  I am currently working on the fourth book in the series.

Our story starts with our two main characters, the two spear-bearers who will be the inspiration to stand against the Dark Lord’s army that means to crush countless galaxies, one colony at a time in a bloodbath.   Dante stands on one side, determined to stop the threat, even as his father commands the Dark Lord’s army. 

Across the galaxy, a mysterious young girl, trained in secret, fights against the threat as well.  Her gift of visions reveals the truth of a past tragedy from Dante’s family, and it could be the key to stopping the Dark Lord.  It’s also this past event that creates a deadly task for Dante to complete as it ties into the present terror that threatens the galaxies.   A mysterious connection grows between the two spear-bearers, but is it strong to defeat the battlefield that the Dark Lord has in store for them? And can they stop whatever the Dark Lord is creating to bear down on the colonies before he unleashes his destruction? 

What does the future hold for the Sunspear series? Do you have an idea of how long it will run?

The Sunspear Series is only at the halfway mark in completion, if even that. Shadowed Bonds, the third book in the series, released in October 2021.  I am currently writing the fourth book in the series.  The series will take at least six books to tell the whole story of Dante and The Girl.

Do you have plans to write something outside of this series?

Not at the moment, simply because I haven’t thought beyond this series right now.  This storyline, world, and characters have been in my head and heart for a long time, and it takes me considerable time to get each book published since I work full-time while doing the writing. This series will take at least a few more years to finish out.  After that, I’ll see where inspiration takes me. 

Your degree and career are in counseling. What drove you to write and publish a novel?

The story and characters had been forming in my head since about high school, and I’m now in my 40’s.  I’ll let you do the math…  There was a point that I just had to write the story down. It had been running around in my head for too long.  As far as my counseling background, it proves helpful in writing the series with getting inside the characters’ heads and conveying the emotional intensity in many of the scenes.  Also, with a number of the scenes with the Dark Lord’s deception, I found my counseling background helped as well as it’s similar to the lies many clients become trapped.

What is your favorite part of writing?

My favorite part is writing the first draft, getting the story down the first time.  The characters write the story for me now, and I love watching where they take it.  It’s the most amazing feeling when a scene unfolds in front of me, and I’m as surprised as the reader. 

What is the hardest aspect of writing for you? What you have done to improve?

The writing itself comes easy. By that I mean, it flows on its own, so I don’t find myself getting stuck. The hardest part of the process for me tends to be the revising/editing part.  I don’t enjoy it all, and so I have a hard time motivating myself when I get to that stage.   I have a difficult time figuring out when enough is enough.  Once you’ve been over the same scene so many times, it feels like it loses its “freshness” in a sense. Then that scene that I fell in love with before, after the 50th time, just seems okay.  I hate that about the revision process, and that’s usually when I’m done.  At that point, I’m afraid I’m taking away from a scene rather than adding anything positive to it.   As far as helping with that, I have revision tools to help with the process, like Autocrit.  I also have a couple of people go through it for feedback once I’m completely done with my process.  Then I send it to an outside editor.

In your biography you mention you like to read Ted Dekker and Frank Peretti. What is it about those two authors that you like?

I love what I call the “other battlefield” that’s always present in their works.  It’s the spiritual battlefield that rages.  In other genres, it can be compared to the supernatural and the psychological.  Whatever you want to call it, it’s a powerful battlefield and it adds a whole new layer to the story.  In my own series, it’s a battlefield that’s continuously played out in the major characters’ storylines and in many of the supporting cast.  Many of the biggest battles in the series are won and lost on this arena, not on the traditional battlefield. 

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

When I’m not writing in my own series, I’m usually getting lost in another author’s world. Probably the other thing is seeing a story come to life either on the big screen or onstage.  Of course, the rest of the time is just enjoying time with family and friends.

What does success look like for you as an author?

There is a traditional answer, like a certain number of books sold or to have a specific amount written.  However, for me that’s not it.  It comes down to why I wrote the series in the first place.  I did it because I simply believed the story is worth the telling, and I enjoy doing it. I believe stories are powerful, and you never know when your story is exactly what someone needs to hear.  So, success is when someone reads the story of Dante and The Girl, and it connects with them and it inspires them in their own journey.

Anything additional you want to share with readers?

I love getting to know other readers. That’s been one of the best parts about becoming an author. As I’ve always said authors were and are readers first. It’s what inspires us to write the stories we do. When I’m not writing my own story, I’m getting lost in another author’s story. There’s a magic in opening a book and finding it captured you so much that you came to the final page and didn’t even realize how much time had passed. It never gets old. So, I’d love to chat with you, whether it’s about my series or another world that swept you away or anything else that comes to mind. I can’t wait to hear from you!

Gulf Shores, AL beach inspired Sunspear world

Website: elizabethlavender.net

Book Locations:

My books are all on Amazon. I also have them published through Ingram, which is the supplier for most of the brick-and-mortar bookstores, like Barnes and Noble. Here are the universal links for all three books so far in the series:

The Spinning of Deception
Deception’s Hold
Shadowed Bonds

Excerpt (taken from The Spinning of Deception)

She saw or sensed no one in her room, but she could see nothing after all. Surprisingly, though she felt the darkness, she did not feel the usual reaction to shrink from it. It seemed foolish to fear it as she had in the past.

She heard a whisper, a haunting voice, “Yes, there is nothing to fear. Come…”

She heard another voice before always encouraging her, echoing the teachings of Alika, Alena, and her mother, but this voice was different, unfamiliar.

“You feared the darkness too long. You do have a purpose, one yet to be unlocked, but discover it on your own,” the voice said.

The girl stood from her bed. No light entered the room, but somehow it appeared easier to see in the darkness. Either she became more accustomed to the darkness, or it was not pitch dark anymore. Inside, the girl knew neither explanation could be possible, but she ignored it.

“You are right. With your training and will, you can avenge her death. She was innocent of this slaughter done to her, so be strong and make him answer for her murder. You know it to be true. You are capable of so much more. They are holding you back. There is a path for which you do not see yet. Let me show you,” the voice continued.

Before the girl realized it, she answered out loud, “How?”

“Fearing darkness are tales told to scare children, nothing more. The path of darkness does not lead to destruction, as you were told. It is full of power and glory. Come to me, cloth yourself in it, and I will help you gain what you truly seek.”

The girl peered down, and it seemed as if there was a path she could see even in the darkness before her. She stood there for what seemed like forever, staring at the path in the darkness. She took a deep breath and tentatively stepped forward. Instantly, a fiery pain spread over the bottom of her foot that threatened to seize her whole body. Almost simultaneously came wetness. She understood. It must be the edge of her spear or sword she practiced with a few days ago. How was it possible? She always put both under her bed to prevent such a thing from happening. She bled from the wound, and in the darkness, somehow, she could see a pool of blood forming around her foot. The girl felt sick with horror as an image of her mother’s dead body materialized in the pool of blood. Her father’s laughter echoed throughout the room though she knew he was not anywhere around. She stepped back, but it was still pitch dark and freezing cold. Even worse, the darkness hung in the room, but now it seemed to suffocate her. Then she remembered Alika’s earlier words and understood. She couldn’t get rid of it because it originated from her now. She felt the abhorrence for it return to her, as she always felt, but now she could not escape. It entrapped her, and she did not realize its strangling grip until now.

The cloaked woman’s laughter joined in to fill the room. The girl was no better than her father, the cloaked lady, any of them. She had tossed aside everything like it meant nothing, much like they dumped her mother’s body. She murmured, “No, no…” Her mother had poured her life’s blood out for her, to be trained, to be kept safe, sacrificed everything for her. This is what she did with such a precious gift?

“What have I done?” she whispered. She fell to her knees at the side of her bed and allowed the wracking sobs to consume her. Her bleeding foot no longer mattered, and she no longer felt the pain of it. She didn’t know how to recover what she had lost.


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Author Interview: Elizabeth Morris

Biography

Elizabeth Morris graduated with her bachelor’s degree in Creative Writing and English from Southern New Hampshire University in 2020. Her first book Tiger’s Blood she self-published in 2016 when she was 17 years old. She loves her cats and her family. She is currently working on the Blood of the Beast series and finds inspiration through music, nature and traveling.

Share a little bit about your two books, Tiger’s Blood and Rise of the Rebels.

Tiger’s Blood is about a world called Bitotem that is filled with creatures called Bloods. They are half-animal half-human shapeshifters. In this world the Lion Bloods are the most populated and they live under the protection of their king. One girl discovers she is the rarest Blood of them all, the White Tiger Blood. She goes on a quest to kill the king, and along the way she meets a rebellious Lion Blood, a clever Eagle Blood and a kind-hearted Wolf Blood. Will she succeed in killing the king?

Rise of the Rebels is the sequel to Tiger’s Blood and it’s about the rebels, Kira, Ethan, Noah and Chase taking revenge on the kingdom. The group meets a pair of mysterious Bloods, but they don’t know if they can trust them. When one of the rebel’s gets kidnapped, it’s up to the rest of the Bloods to save them. Will these new Bloods be friends or foes?

What do you expect this series to look like when it’s complete?

I would like to have five books in the series to complete it. I am working on the third book in the series currently. Someone told me a prequel to the series would be great, and I am working on that as well.

Where did your fascination with cats, and specifically tigers, come from?

I’ve always loved cats. I grew up with three cats and two of the cats I’ve had since I was seven. They are 16 years old currently. Tigers have been my favorite animal since elementary school. When I was in fourth grade, I wanted to do an animal project on tigers, but someone took that animal and I ended up with a whale shark. In high school I went to the county fair and there was a lion and tiger show. I got to feed a female white Bengal tiger named Kya at the fair, and that’s where I drew inspiration of my main characters name Kira.

How did you come to the decision to write a book?

I was in middle school doing an English project, when my teacher came up to me and said my writing was amazing and that I should write a book. That was when I decided I wanted to become an author and write a book. I was 13 when I had the idea for my characters and story for Tiger’s Blood and that’s also when I started writing the book.

What piece of advice has helped improve your writing the most?

“There’s nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed,” -Earnest Hemmingway. What the great Hemmingway was trying to say here is find your flow and stick with it. For me, when I have my “writers mojo” as I like to call it, I can write for hours. I like to write and not worry about editing until my book is complete. I’d say this piece of advice defined my writing style, which is when I feel inspired, I write. If you don’t like what you are writing, then you are doing it wrong.

How/where/when do you do your best writing? Do you have any strange writing quirks?

How I do my best writing is spontaneously when I feel inspired to write. Where I do my best writing is pretty much anywhere as long as I have my laptop or even my phone. I’ve actually done some of my highest word count writing on my phone rather than my laptop. I do my best writing during the middle of the day if I don’t have much to do. I’d say a writing quirk that I have is talking to myself while I write. Sometimes I will sound out a sentence or dialogue because translating it from my scattered brain to the document can be difficult.

If you could spend the day with any famous author (dead or alive), who would it be and why?

I would probably pick George R. R. Martin because I think we would have an interesting conversation. I absolutely adore his A Song of Ice and Fire series and I would love to get advice from him about how to attract readers. Overall, I think he is an amazing author.

What is your favorite aspect of writing?

My favorite aspect would be that it’s relaxing for me. Writing helps clear my scattered mind by putting words on paper. Writing is a big coping skill for me when I feel anxious or depressed. I don’t think I would be here today if I hadn’t started writing my first book Tiger’s Blood in middle school. Writing saved my life in a sense when I didn’t have any hope left.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

I love to go on walks and listen to music when I’m not writing. Music is a big inspiration for me when I write so when I listen on my phone, I think of characters or scenes in my books. Another thing I like to do is read other indie books. I like giving indie authors a chance to be heard.

What does success look like for you as an author?

I think success to me looks like happiness. If you aren’t happy writing, then why are you doing it? I already am successful in my own eyes because I’m happy. I don’t need fame or fortune, even though it would be nice, I just want to put out a book and maybe someone will read it and enjoy it.

Anything additional you want to share with readers?

Thank you for all you have given me. I love connecting with people with my writing and if you decide to buy my book(s) then I sincerely hope you enjoy it. Here are my social medias if you want to follow my journey 😊

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/elizabeth.morris.1401/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/lizlovestowrite/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/lizlovestowrite
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/18473321.Elizabeth_Abigail_Morris
TikTok: https://www.tiktok.com/@lizlovestowrite
Tiger’s Blood: https://books2read.com/u/49lR7d
Rise of the Rebels: https://books2read.com/u/mKRRBB
Book Locations: Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Books a Million, My first one has an Audiobooks so everywhere they are sold.

Excerpt

“Hello?” I yell. All I hear is my own voice echoing back at me. I walk upstairs and it is as quiet as a ghost. I start getting very curious. According to the note, he should be here. This is the only hospital he would go to. Then why isn’t he here? This makes me so angry. I start pacing around in a circle; my hands turn into fists again. I scrunch up my face and close my eyes tightly while tears race down my cheeks. I give up, he said he was at the hospital, and I go there and find no one. He’s probably dead now too, what am I going to do? I start breathing heavy and my heart beats faster than normal. Before I know it I am facing the ground…

I blink my eyes slowly. My body feels heavier than solid gold. I suddenly realize that I am still on the hospital floor. I pick myself up and notice that I’m walking on all fours. I look down at my feet… they are not feet but paws the size of gloves.

Paws? It sounds creepy when I think about it. I look around for a mirror or something reflective. I try to walk to the bathroom, but I’m not doing do well walking on these paws. I slip and trip everywhere. I finally stumble my way into a bathroom and look in the mirror and… I see paws, black stripes and white fur, sharp teeth, small round ears, and a…tail?

Well, I’m obviously dreaming. I close my eyes and try to wake up. I open them and I am still looking at this creature in the mirror. I try to wake myself up. I take one of my claws and pierce it into my other paw. I feel a sharp pain and roar ferociously. I see blood dripping out of my paw, then it hits me like a slap to the face. I’m not dreaming. This is real; I never knew that this was who I was.

My name is Kira, and I am a Tiger Blood.

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