Meet Bill Blume

Everyone has heard of vampires. Everyone knows that there are vampire hunters. But what you don’t know is that Gidion is one kick-butt vampire hunter. Here’s what Gidion has to deal with in his first book

Hunting vampires is a Keep family tradition. Dad quit the business over a decade ago when Mom was killed, so Grandpa has been teaching Gidion in secret to take up the hunt. As Gidion closes in on the local coven, he discovers their plans to kill one of his teachers and a girl from another school. One of his best friends might be the key to finding the vampires’ lair… if he can be trusted.

Bill-Blume-Canal-Walk-Headshot-01As a Richmond-bound author, Bill Blume is a member of James River Writers and hosts a local writing group at the Urban Farmhouse in Midlothian every Thursday from 6-8 pm. I’m happy to say I am part of that group and have met some amazing people there.

Bill, what inspired you to write your first book?  I was about 40,000 words into another manuscript, and everything was working for me. One (BIG) problem: my relationship with that story was toxic. It tapped into a lot of bad things in my life at that time. I even smashed a wooden sword against a tree in my anger at one point. My wife helped me through that time with one question: “What is it you really want to write?” I’d always known the answer.  I wanted to write the best damn vampire hunter novel anyone had ever read. That book was Gidion’s Huntbill blume Gidions-Hunt-cover

It sounds like you already knew what you wanted. How long have you been writing?  I got the urge to write back in high school, so that makes it a lot longer than I probably should admit (it’s more than a quarter century). My biggest struggle as a writer in those early days was born from trying to write a novel before I’d really done much reading. Except for comic books, I was a terrible reader until my senior year in high school.

Are you an outliner or pantser? I’m more pantser than outliner, but I’m more of a hybrid. I usually know a few key moments I’m writing to in the book, but I let my characters lead me there naturally. If the characters make it clear they need to go a different plot point than I originally intended, I’m willing to change it. For my second book, Gidion’s Blood, I was forced to outline the first half of the book, though. It’s only told from Gidion’s point of view, so I needed to create a timeline of what would be happening so Gidion would also be reacting to the actions of the vampires hunting him instead of the vampires simply responding to what Gidion was doing. That added a lot more tension to the story.

How long, on average, does it take you to write a book?  It varies a lot for me, but both of the first two books in the Gidion Keep, Vampire Hunter series were written over the course of a little more than a year. That’s somewhat deceptive, though. A lot of that time included periods where I wasn’t able to write at all. For the second book, I even lost a month, because I’d broken one of the fingers in my left hand.

It varies for me too. Sometimes you get a story that just won’t leave you alone and you can write on it for hours on end, then there are the others. Lol. Any tips on how to get through the dreaded writer’s block?  Writer’s Block can come from different places. Sometimes it’s a scene where you’re pushing your characters into doing something that’s wrong for them. When that happens, try to look back and figure out what other paths your characters might take. Odds favor you’ve recently taken a wrong turn in your manuscript. I actually wrote a goofy set of blog posts about that. Just don’t panic. Sometimes the answer is much simpler than you might think. (Blog Posts: https://billblume.wordpress.com/2014/06/05/that-manuscript-is-wrong-for-you/, https://billblume.wordpress.com/2014/06/11/dont-be-a-taylor-swift-writer/ )

What are your hobbies aside from writing?  I’m addicted to fantasy football, so much so that it’s tough to write during football season. A co-worker got me hooked on it back in 2009. I now run several leagues, and my favorite is a league with comic book themed teams. There are two divisions, one for Marvel Comics and the other for DC Comics. My son has even owned a team in that league for several years; he takes great pride in beating me when he does. I only play for pride, though. Playing or money would be too stressful.

pariscataWhere is one place you want to visit that you haven’t been before?  I want to visit Paris. While the food would be fun, my real reason is to visit the Paris Catacombs. There’s a whole culture down there, and I’m determined to take Gidion Keep there in one of his future adventures, but that’s a long ways off.

I’ve always wanted to go to Paris. France is so mesmerizing. So, if I randomly gave you an island, what would you name it? And who would live there with you?  I would name the island Iridia. The name comes from a kingdom my wife and I created for a fantasy novel that we wrote together (I’m hoping it will eventually get published). My wife loves beaches, so naturally, I want her there. Our kids would get to visit. The list of friends I’d let come there would be too long to write here.

Weirdest thing you’ve ever eaten.  The weirdest thing? I might be blocking the memory of something, but the first thing that comes to mind is pork cheeks. They are SOOOOOO good! One of my favorite restaurants in Richmond made them, and they were tender and delicious, like little balls of beef stew without the veggies. Some people might consider octopus weirder (I love octopus!), but I think it’s a toss-up.

I’m not sure I’m brave enough to try those. If you could bring one of your characters to life, who would it be?  Just one?! GAH! I don’t think I can answer that. That’s like trying to pick a favorite child. No way. I suspect the answer would be Gidion Keep, but that feels a bit like a copout. Besides, I already have two teenage children to deal with. A third would be too much.

Do you have any advice for other writers?  The most important thing is to get your butt in the chair and get it done. It’s too easy to prioritize your writing as something less than important in your life, but sometimes your time to write needs to get the top spot. I’ve neglected my wife and kids, taken time off from work to write instead of going on vacation. I’m blessed with a family that understands why I do it, and they even encourage me to get out and write sometimes. If I don’t get to write, I can turn surly. They’d rather I go write and come back more pleasant.

Can you share a little of your current work with us?  I’m in the middle of two projects. I’m waiting to hear back from my beta readers on a non-Gidion Keep, young adult novel that is an epic fantasy reimagining of Red Badge of Courage. While I loved that book in high school, so many others hate it. That divisiveness makes it perfect for a reimagining. While I await my beta readers’ responses, I’m doing research for another young adult urban fantasy that will be set here in Richmond, but this won’t be a Gidion Keep novel. All I’ll say about that bill blume Gidions-Blood-front-coverfor now is that my research is focusing on schizophrenia.

Thanks for chatting with me, Bill. If you are interested in purchasing Gidion’s Hunt, please do so on Amazon or get an autographed copy at Fountain Bookstore.

For the purchase of Gidion’s Blood, you can go to Amazon or for an autographed copy, go to Fountain Bookstore.

Keep in touch with Bill Blume on social media: Website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Goodreads.

 

 

 

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Genesis Girl Book Review

What is the Genesis Girl? Jennifer Bardsley has created an amazing story about Vestals, Viruses, and living life separated by technology.Genesis Girl Cover

Eighteen-year-old Blanca has lived a sheltered life. Her entire childhood has been spent at Tabula Rasa School where she’s been protected from the Internet. Blanca has never been online and doesn’t even know how to text. Her lack of a virtual footprint has made her extremely valuable and upon graduation Blanca, and those like her, are sold to the highest bidders. Blanca is purchased by Cal McNeal, who uses her to achieve personal gain. But the McNeal’s are soon horrified by just how obedient and non-defiant Blanca is. All those mind-numbing years locked away from society have made her mind almost impenetrable. By the time Blanca is ready to think for herself, she is trapped. Her only chance of escape is to go online.
For me, it can take a few days to a couple months to read a book. It depends on how captivated I am with the story and the characters. Genesis Girl threw me for a loop with the very first sentence. It wasn’t my favorite way to start the book, but I kept reading and boy am I glad I did. This book only took me two days to read. I was floored by the plot, characters, and writing. Jennifer Bardsley is a phenomenal writer.
What was my favorite part of this book? I’d have to say the creation of technology and how Jennifer made it seem so real. These days, people are always on their phones, always blogging, never getting a break from computer screens. In Genesis Girl, there are the Vestals. They are pure, free from technology and innocent from the corruptions of the world. I love the main character, Blanca, and her arc through the entire book.
Would I recommend this book to others? YES! Over and over and over again. I suggest everyone get their copy when it’s released. You will be amazed by Genesis Girl, just like I was. Teens and adults of all ages would have fun reading this spectacular book. I give this book five stars!

5starsJennifer Bardsley is the author of GENESIS GIRL, which debuts September 27, 2016 from Jennifer Bardsley-genesis girlMonth9Books. She also writes the column “I Brake for Moms” for the Sunday edition of The Everett Daily Herald and blogs at Teaching My Baby to Read. Jennifer is a graduate of Stanford University and a member of SCBWI. She lives with her husband and two children in Edmonds, WA. Jennifer is represented by Liza Fleissig of the Liza Royce Literary Agency LLC.

Chapter-by-Chapter-blog-tour-button

I have reviewed this book for the Chapter-by-Chapter Blog Tour happening June 13-24. You can find the tour schedule here to check out other reviews.

 

You can also check out the book trailer here.

I hope you have enjoyed my review and you can pre-order Genesis Girl on Amazon.

AUTHOR CARYN MCGILL

What’s so special about today? It feels like another plain Friday, but it’s not. Someone’s celebrating their birthday, people are buying new homes, starting new jobs, publishing their first book. Someone out there is having the best day of their life! 

June 10th is a great day to read, to write, and to learn about another great, talented author. Today I’m introducing Caryn McGill, my new friend! 

Caryn McGill has immersed herself in a lifelong study of religion, astrology, reincarnation, and past-life regressions. This otherworldly journey coupled with her decades spent teaching science has produced her debut novel, The Wives of Lucifer. Born on New York’s Long Island, Caryn McGill resided on its bucolic East End until a recent move to Richmond, Virginia, where she’s currently finishing her second novel.

Let’s get to know more about her!carynbookcover

The WIVES OF LUCIFER is published by The Wild Rose Press.

Olivia loves her new immortal life, her friends and especially Drew; she never thought she’d fall in love on the other side of death. But when Olivia learns she bears the mark of Lucifer and has powers that tie her to the Underworld, she worries that perhaps she’s done terrible things in her past lives and dark secrets are being kept from her. And those damn wives, what do they want from her? Olivia endures unspeakable tragedy in The Wives of Lucifer and when she discovers what fate has in store for her…she suddenly understands that being immortal doesn’t guarantee you’ll live forever.

Caryn, what inspired you to write your first book? I had a curiosity about death at an early age after my little brother died. My imagination has always toyed with what happens after we die. I finally had to write it.

How long have you been writing? I’ve been writing for eight years. I never intended to be a writer but I unexpectedly found myself possessed by this character. It felt like I channeled her. I know…weird.

Are you an outliner or pantser? I’m definitely a pantser. I write scenes without much regard for the overall plot. I eventually put them in order and weave in details and background to make the story flow.

How long, on average, does it take you to write a book? I usually finish a first draft in about three months. I then rewrite for six to eight months before I’ll let anyone read it.

When did you first consider yourself a writer? I first considered myself a writer when I went to a pitch conference in New York City and editors/agents were interested in my manuscript. Until that point I thought I was chasing an unrealistic fantasy.

Any tips on how to get through the dreaded writer’s block? I don’t really suffer from writer’s block I suffer from “editing block”. Writing the story is fun, but editing can be torture. I find putting the story away for a few weeks helps. When it starts to niggle at me again, like an old friend I miss, I get excited about rewriting.

What are your hobbies aside from writing? I’m a glass fusion artist. I make plates and other decorative wares for the home.

 

Where is one place you want to visit that you haven’t been before? I’d love to visit Alaska. I love the cold weather and find the flora and fauna of the northern latitudes fascinating. I incorporated this biome in my debut novel by making hell a frigid tundra.

You were just given an Island. What would you name it? And who would live there with you? I’d name it Peace Island. Only pacifists would be allowed. No intolerance would be tolerated! (I know, kind of an oxymoron.)

Weirdest thing you’ve ever eaten. I went to a Chinese New Year celebration once. We had jellyfish and sea urchin. Not a fan of either…

carynart3If you could bring one of your characters to life, who would it be? One of my antagonists, Ravana. Although she’s scary, she cracks me up with her wit and sarcasm. I’d love to take her to a party.

Do you have any advice for other writers? My motto is “Never Stop Dreaming”, because if you dream it, it can come true. I never thought I’d sell a book to a traditional publisher.

That’s great advice! If you want to stay updated on Caryn and her books you can follow her on FacebookTwitterWebsiteWriteonsisters Blog.

You can also purchase The Wives of Lucifer on Amazon or Wild Rose Press.

Thank you so much for talking and answering all my questions. I can’t wait to read your book!!

If anyone else has a suggestion for an interview, please let me know!

Artemis Grey and her book Catskin

This author is published through Clean Reads and has an amazing new book! Catskin is a contemporary YA set in Alaska. It follows Ansel, an albino Athabascan boy, who happens to find a runaway girl hiding on his property. The ensuing story will hopefully make readers reevaluate what it means to be family, and realize that normal is what you make it.

Artemis, can you tell me what inspired you to write your book?  Um, I don’t think I was ever “inspired” to write. It’s simply always been an ingrained drive inside me, a need to get ink onto paper.

How long on average does it take you to write a book?  This varies widely. When I was working on the farm (a six hundred acre estate) I had the ability to write on lunch break, and even add a sentence here and there throughout the day. Mentally and emotionally I was completely content, and even when I was working, I had the ability to think constantly about whatever story I was working on. Now that I’m at a job where I can’t daydream while there, can’t stop to jot notes or plot points and don’t get a lunch break (I work at a Tavern open for midday fare, so no lunch break) it’s a lot more difficult to get words down. Even when I finally get home, there’s a decompression process, so my writing time is severely curbed. At the farm, I could get a first draft for a 80k-100k story in a month or two. Now, it’s more like 5-6 months.

Any tips on how to get through the dreaded writer’s block?   I’ve never actually gotten writer’s block. I have a huge backlog of story ideas, and partial starts, and since I’m someone who can work on multiple WIPs at a time, if I get stalled on one project, I just move to another one.

Sounds great! What are some of your hobbies aside from writing the next best seller?  Riding horses, herding cats, doing yard work. I also paint, and usually the results are either given as gifts, or donating to the Wildlife Center Of Virginia for their yearly fundraising auction.

Very cool! What is one place you want to visit that you haven’t been?  ICELANDartemis

Tea or coffee? Mostly coffee, black. But I do love tea as well. And my favorite today is hot water with lime, honey, a piece of ginger root, and a dram of moonshine.

If I randomly gave you an island, what would you name it? And who would live there with you?  First of, my island is going to be off the coast of Alaska, Nova Scotia, or Iceland. I would name it Niflheim and the spirits of the dead would live there with me, because I think they would tell amazing stories. (I know you thought I would list living people, but I like to Crazy Ivan unexpectedly)

LOL, dead people can be fun too! Weirdest thing you’ve ever eaten? I’m game to try most anything, but in this modern world of “foodies” I’d have to say that the weirdest thing I’ve ever eaten is probably Kiss The Devil wine, which is a specialty wine from Peaks of Otter vineyard in Virginia. It’s made from 30 different types of peppers, including the ghost pepper. No, I didn’t drink an entire glass, but I did take a full shot glass.

That sounds like something to try since I’m also right here in central Virginia. So tell me, are you a morning or night person? Both. I love mornings, and the night. If I was not required to “keep a schedule” I’d probably be up early, nap during the day, up all evening into the small hours and then nap in the night until morning. Much like the old way of cycles, where people would go to bed early, then wake in the middle of the night and do things in their homes (like letter writing and correspondence) and then go back to sleep until morning.

Three more questions: Do you have any pets? Uuuuummm… We have a herd of cats (literally) along with two horses, and one very teensy miniature donkey. And once in a while, an abandoned baby bird, which is raised until they’re fledged out, and then released.

If you could bring one of your characters to life, who would it be? Just ONE? Dang, that’s hard… I think I’ll go with Herian Hunter, who is a character no one else has met yet, from one of my WIPs, BLOODED.

Do you have any advice for other writers? Write. Just write. And read. Read whatever genre and age group you write. Also, it’s good to at least have an idea of WHY you write. For me, it’s a compulsion. I describe myself as a “scripturient” because I’m literally not happy mentally or emotionally if I’m not writing on a regular basis. So while I desperately wanted to get published, even if I’d known from the very beginning that I would never be published, I would still be writing exactly as I am now.

Thank you so much for reading all about Artemis Grey! Here is the blurb to Catskin which is now available.

catskinSometimes the only way to find yourself is to go missing…

Shy, eighteen-year-old albino, Ansel, thought that letting the runaway girl with the injured ankle sleep in his parents’ shed was a good idea. That was before she passed out in his shower, woke up in a panic and accidentally attacked him. Any average guy would have called the cops but average isn’t Ansel’s style.

When she refuses to tell him her real name, Ansel nicknames the girl Catskin, after one of his favorite fairytale characters, and begins the dubious task of earning her trust. It’s not an easy thing to do, but a few awkward conversations later, one thing is clear: Catskin doesn’t want to be the way she is, she just doesn’t think she can change. Ansel knows from his own experiences that seeing the world around you differently doesn’t mean that you’re wrong, something he intends to teach Catskin.

While the details of her past remain elusive, Catskin creates a new place for herself with Ansel and his family, and develops her own brand of normalcy. Then a terrible accident leaves her hovering near death, and Ansel is forced to contact her estranged parents. But there are secrets hidden in the life Catskin left behind. Dark secrets that chased her all the way to Healy, Alaska and Ansel’s actions unknowingly provoke a shocking confrontation between the wealthy world Catskin was born into, and the starkly average one she now shares with Ansel.

Refusing to give up the imperfect girl who fits perfectly inside his heart, Ansel prepares to go to war with Catskin’s father. But in the end, Catskin might be the only one who can save herself.

If you are as interested as me in purchasing this book, please do so at the sites listed below. Amazon   Barnes & Noble   Kobo

Please feel free to get to know Artemis a bit more and follow her on social Media!   Grey Places Blog   Facebook   Twitter   Amazon   Goodreads

Thanks again for stopping by. If you have any questions for the author or myself, leave a comment. If you have someone you would like me to interview, just leave me a comment!

 

This is what chronic illness looks like.

I want to share my friend’s post and her struggle through life with a chronic illness. You may never see the symptoms but they are there and people need to understand the importance of life and the many things others deal with. Be compassionate. Be kind. Be honest. And be you! Don’t let someone tell you how to live when YOU are the only one to know what is the best route.

While you’re struggling to find your place in this world and what is right for you, don’t take it out on others who are different. I have a chronic illness and it effects my whole body at times. Whether I’m tired or sore or in pain, I’m still a person who deserves respect. Read what Katrina has to say about her illness on her blog below.

These photos were taken within 24 hours of each other. In the first photo, I look like a happy and productive person. I’m a young woman painting my first house with my husband. -Katrina

Source: This is what chronic illness looks like.

A Look Inside Author L.E. Fred’s Head!

Recently, I’ve made so many new friends including several authors from one of my publishers, Clean Reads. It’s great to get to know new people and check out what they are working on. Today I’d like to introduce L.E. Fred! LE Fred

L. E. Fred is a YA author so wrapped up in her own worlds, that she had to write them all down. Beginning her journey with Devon’s world, L. E. Fred writes books to inspire young adults to find their hidden potential and become the hero they wish to be. With stories ranging from fantasy, to sci-fi, to even a splash of romance, L. E. Fred writes for the young adults she admires and wishes to inspire. Her stories are heavily influenced by her love for travel, and every new experience inspires another story to tell.
L. E. Fred currently lives in New Orleans (not for long!) with her family and red, fluffy dog.
lefredL.E. can you tell us about your upcoming book?   My recent release is Reverie, the sequel in my Lucid series. Reverie continues the adventures of Devon, Kyle, and Mitch as they face the perils of the Dream World to save both the real world and the people of the Dream World.
Can you tell us a little bit about the series?   Lucid is a YA fantasy series about a 15 year-old boy Devon who’s been tasked with saving the world. One night, he dreams about being on a spaceship. He sees other people on the spaceship, but he thinks nothing of it. The next day, he sees on the news that people are being put into inexplicable comas all over the world. He recognizes some of the coma victims from his dream and knows he must figure out what’s going on. What starts as teenage curiosity becomes a fast-paced adventure in a fantastical dream world.
Wow! That sounds awesome! What inspired you to write your first book? Lucid was inspired by my own personal struggles with sleep paralysis. That’s when you wake up mid-dream unable to move. It’s usually accompanied by some pretty freaky hallucinations which can lead to some scary moments. I always wondered what would happen if I was unable to wake up, which led to my fabrication of a separate Dream World.
Very interesting! So, how long have you been writing?   I’ve been writing since I was in 6th grade. I still remember being assigned my first creative writing assignment. What was supposed to be a 2-page story turned into a 14-page novella. I still have plans on turning that story into a novel!
L.E. are you a full-time or part-time writer?  And how do you find or make time to write?   Well, I’m no J.K. Rowling…yet. So writing isn’t my day-job. I have many passions, though, so I don’t mind sharing my writing time. I treat writing like a workout and discipline myself to do it every day. Some days are better than others, but if I’m writing, I’m happy.
Okay, one more question before we get to the fun ones. How do you get through the dreaded writer’s block?  Writers block is just a fancy word for being LAZY! No, seriously, it is an obstacle I’m suffering with as of late. I find experiencing new things like traveling to a new city or even visiting a new coffee shop jolts me back into a writing mode. I love experiencing new things, and getting out of my comfort zone usually sparks some new material.
dog
That sounds like excellent advice. Now, the most important question of the day: Do you have any pets? (You know us writers like to keep furry friends.)   I have a fluffy red dog named Ragu. He’s my partner-in-crime 🙂
Aw! He sounds so fun!  Tea or coffee?    Wine 😉
Fair enough. Where is one place you want to visit that you haven’t been before?   I’ve always wanted to go to Dublin. I studied abroad in the UK, but I never got the time to visit Ireland. Since half my family comes from the Emerald Isles, I know I gotta get over there!
Oh, I’d love to go there! If I told you that I was buying you an island, what would you name it? And who would live there with you?   I’d name my island Fabrica, and I’d invite all of my friends and family to have a massive beach party for forever and ever!
Party on L.E.’s island! And lastly, what do you do for fun outside of writing books?  Aside from writing, my big hobbies are singing and playing guitar. I’m a professional singer, and I play guitar at a local bar. I also cosplay and make my own costumes of my favorite video game and anime characters. It’s so much fun to be a character for the day!
I’m a big fan of Renaissance fairs. I know how fun that can be!  What are you currently working on so we have an idea for the future?   My current WIP is an urban fantasy that takes place in my hometown, New Orleans. It deals with a mixture of mythology tied in with the changes taking place in the Big Easy. I love playing a tourist in my own hometown to do research!
lucid
Your life sounds so fun! If you want to keep in touch with L.E. Fred you can follow her on Facebook and Twitter.
To get your hands on the Lucid series, you can find them here: AmazonB&N,  Smashwords, Kobo, and iTunes.
To purchase Reverie, find them here: Amazon and Smashwords.
I hope you enjoyed this interview. Please contact me if you would like to see a certain author or creative person interviewed. Next week I will be talking with Artemis Grey!

Author Carol Riggs Cover Reveal!

I have the honor of spreading the news about Carol Riggs’ book Bottled and showing everyone her new cover. How exciting!

Advanced Praise for BOTTLED:
Bottled has everything you could want in a story: humor, suspense, action, and romance. The twists kept me glued to the pages.”
~Elizabeth Langston, author of I Wish and Whisper Falls

Here is a blurb for BOTTLED:

At seventeen, Adeelah Naji is transformed into a genie and imprisoned in a bottle. For a Bottled453x680thousand years, she fulfills the wishes of greedy masters—building their palaces, lining their pockets with gold, and granting them every earthly pleasure. All that sustains her is the hope of finding Karim, the boy she fell in love with as a human. When at last she finds a note from her beloved, she confirms he has access to the elixir of life and that he still searches for her.

But someone else also hunts her. Faruq—the man who plots to use her powers to murder and seize the life forces of others—is just one step behind her. With the help of a kind master named Nathan, Adeelah continues to search for Karim while trying to evade Faruq. To complicate matters, she begins to experience growing fatigue and pain after conjuring, and finds herself struggling against an undeniable attraction to Nathan.

As Faruq closes in, Adeelah must decide just how much she’ll risk to protect Nathan and be with Karim forever. How much power does she really have to change her future, and what is she willing to sacrifice for an eternity of love? If she makes the wrong choice, the deaths of many will be on her hands.

Carol Riggs author photo_head

Carol Riggs is an author of YA fiction who lives in the beautiful green state of Oregon, USA. Her debut novel, THE BODY INSTITUTE, released Sept 2015 from Entangled Teen, exploring body image and identity. Her fantasy YA, BOTTLED, will release from Clean Reads on July 7, 2016, and her sci-fi YA, SAFE ZONE, will release from Entangled Teen in October 2016. She enjoys reading, drawing and painting, writing conferences, walking with her husband, and enjoying music and dance of all kinds. You will usually find her in her writing cave, surrounded by her dragon collection and the characters in her head.

 

You can keep in touch with Carol on her website, TwitterFacebook, and Goodreads!

 

Featuring Benjamin William Phillips

Hello everyone! I had the chance to sit down with another Rambunctious Ramblings Publishing author and learn about the book he signed with them. Benjamin William Phillips is a fantasy/sci-fi novelist who lives in an interesting place.

Benjamin, where do you currently live?  I currently live in the Midwestern United States, though I prefer to say that I live through a rainbow under a bridge to the left of the third star on the right and you go all the way ‘til dusk.

That’s a really cool place to live. So, when did you first consider yourself a writer?  As soon as I started writing my very first novel at the age of 10.

BEN MOONWow, so early. But I guess that’s when most authors start writing. Can you tell us about your upcoming book?   Yes, it’s set to be release next year in June. Shards of the Crystal Rose is a young adult urban fantasy novel about a fifteen-year-old girl that has to make sense of the world around her, because nothing seems to be what it is at first and she gets drawn into a fantastical adventure filled with fairies, a dragon, elves, unicorn people, fox people, magic, a terrifying masked teenaged queen, war, and all sorts of other weirdos as she tries to sort out what is and what is not real and fix the world around her.

WOW! That sounds awesome. What inspired you to write this book?   I was inspired to write Shards because of the way in which the media from television to film to video games and magazines and other books all tend to abuse and portray mentally ill people, especially schizophrenics. I wanted to show these illnesses, and the people that are afflicted with them, in a different; more kinder light… to show that they are just as human BEN MEMEas you or I am and that we’re not some big boogey critter in the closet waiting for darkness so we can eat you. We have the same emotions, the same fears, the same problems just like everyone else. We love and live just like everyone else does and I felt that it was time to try to help change the world’s view on how mental illness should be thought of.

It sounds like you have a good grasp on what you are trying to accomplish. I have no doubt your book will be as great as you want it to be. I’d love to know, how do you find the time to write?   I just post a note in my Facebook timeline that asks that people not disturb me so that I can have the time I need to write, and then I just get to it.

It’s that easy, is it? How long does it take you to write a book?   I’m not sure. One of my other novels, and is a part of a series by the way, called The Raven’s Blood Chronicles—Mirrored Sisters, (it’s Book One of that series), took me 11 years to write, whereas Shards of the Crystal Rose took only about 9 months or so. It really tends to vary with the subject of the book and how long I plan on making the first draft.

I definitely agree with that. Now, I want to ask you a very important question. Are you ready for it?   Go for it!

Do you have any pets? Do the animals that accompany several of my characters in my stories count as pets?

I guess that counts, you have created them, live with them, write their every move. It counts. If you could bring one of your characters to life, who would it be?   None of them. They already exist in the pages of my novels, and in the hearts, minds, and souls of my fans, followers, and readers. There is no need to bring them into this world as they have their own worlds to live in, which can be visited at any time by anyone. All you need to do is pick up a book and read it.

Fair enough. For the dreaded writer’s block; do you have any advice?   Generally speaking, I just walk away from the project for a day or two. I do try to do other things, like play video games or watch a film, or read. When I get ‘writer’s block,’ I see it as my brain’s way of telling me that I have taken too much time working on (blank) project and that it is time for me to step aside and take a break to prevent burn out on the storyline, this way my characters and the story itself won’t suffer.

Great advice. Something I do whenever I have trouble with writing. Do you have any otherben advice for aspiring writers?   Don’t bother listening to the people that tell you, you won’t make it in the world of writing. You’ll get there. It may take time, and a lot of it, but you’ll get there. You’ve got a story to tell and out there in this world there will be one person that desperately wants to read it, so write it. Besides, no one is more uniquely qualified, or more capable, of writing your story than you. And, give your editor some respect. They aren’t trying to hurt you, or your story. They want to see it succeed just as much as you do, even when it doesn’t seem that way at times. You don’t have to always follow every single suggestion, but more often than not, those suggestions that they make will actually make your story stronger and more believable to your audience, so it would benefit you to listen to what they have to say.

And there you have it from Benjamin Phillips. Can we have a peek at Shards of the Crystal Rose?   This is from Shards of the Crystal Rose, Chapter Twenty-Five, and is the first on-screen appearance of the main antagonist character, the White Crown.

A young girl’s screech of terror brought everyone to a frozen standstill.

                All eyes turned to the south of the village.

                A masked girl stood behind the quivering body of a young Runga’an woman, ignoring the wailing of the filly that stood in front of the older Runga’an, a long dagger clutched in her hand as a rivulet of crimson ebbed its way down the blade and dripped from her wrist. Her mask obscured her face; the eyes empty, blacked out. The only feature on the otherwise featureless mask was the upper lip. It had been painted black as jet. The girl’s mask was tied by a thin black ribbon behind her head. Onyx hair, tinged at the tips with fiery red, waved in the clutches of the breeze. She ripped her dagger from the throat of her victim and wiped the blood across the sleeve of her sapphire tunic and tucked the weapon into its sheath at her hip. Releasing her free hand from the dying woman’s shoulder, she let her fall and crushed her victims’ chest beneath her boot as the she stepped over her, making a beeline straight for Grae Reivyn. A small opaque crystal crown rode on the girl’s head, glittering in the sunlight. “No,” Grae Reivyn muttered, her eyes widening. She flicked her wrist, summoning a sphere of glittering black speckled mist. The White Crown locked her eyes with Grae Reivyn’s and inclined her head slightly. Grae Reivyn flicked her wrist again, snuffing the sphere out. The Crown raised a hand straight into the air and snapped her fingers. Forty guards phazed around her, appearing in a cloud of sparkly purple-black smoke.

                “I will not submit to you,” Grae Reivyn snarled, her arm shaking as she tried to summon her magic again. The White Crown stood an arm’s length away, keeping her empty eyes locked with the Soother’s.

                “Bow before your queen, now!” one of the guards said, unsheathing a broadsword.

                “I will…n-not!” Grae Reivyn choked, coughing.

                Her lungs burned for air.

                “Bow!” the guard bellowed, stepping behind her. He kicked her in the back of the knees, forcing the Soother to the dirt. Grae Reivyn collapsed, tucking her face into her arms as deep chested coughs ripped through her throat. She sputtered, clutching at her neck as the White Crown crouched, gripping the Soother’s chin. She pulled the woman from the dirt and flung her away, her manicured nails gouging thin trails of blood. Grae Reivyn rolled into a ball, tears bursting from her eyes. Her lips blaze with blue. She quivered, fighting for air. The Crown turned away from her. Grae Reivyn choked, falling face first onto the ground, sucking in mouthfuls of welcome air.

                “Next time, horse, you will bow willingly!” the guard growled and turned to the rest of the onlookers. “Hail your queen!”

Great excerpt! Thanks for sharing it with us. If you are having fun getting to know Benjamin and his book, please follow him on Facebook and Twitter. Please don’t forget to check out his publisher here.

And I know you are all wondering where to purchase this book, but you will need to wait 390 days and 23 hours. They book should be released on June 15, 2017. That’s right, I said it, 2017! I will update again when it gets closer to the release date so you all remember to snag a copy!

Thank you so much Benjamin for playing along and answering all of my silly questions.

fireflies

 

 

 

 

 

Keeping Writing Close To My Heart

When I was younger, I had always dreamed of writing a book. I had this awesome fantasy world I created and even drew a detailed map with mountains, streams, and oceans. I came up with a plot and characters; the whole shebang!

But, what I didn’t do was actually write the book. I was never confident about writing. There was always something in the back of my mind telling me I wasn’t good enough, so I kept my folder (with a horse on the front) with all my story ideas and pictures close to me so I could add to it whenever. If I suddenly had an idea, it went in the folder. No one knew what was inside. They all thought it was school work. But they were wrong.

I kept that dream close to my heart until one day, I wrote some of that down.

It all started when I decided my sister would help me write. My great idea was for me to come up with the plot points and Elena would write my story. That lasted all of one day. Elena basically told me to write it myself. So, I did. I was so excited. Writing was exhilarating and new. It worked parts of my brain that I loved. Creativity is my middle name, I get it from my dad – who used to write westerns back in the day. Sadly, he doesn’t have any of his work.

My first story ever wasn’t really what I wanted to write; it was a collaboration with my sister because I was clueless how to start. The story consisted of a private school, princesses, and bombings. None of it worked. LOL. 15,000 words later and I scrapped that idea to start my fantasy story I created when I was young. I was actually writing that book!

You could imagine my excitement! It took me eight months to finish 60,000 words of junk. But the most important part was that I wrote the book; my childhood dream! I titled it Under The Willow Tree and still hope to one day revisit that lovely work of art and finish it the way I want too, but for now, it stays close to my heart as the first book I ever wrote.

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Left to right: Kristina, Melissa, Elena, Dana

 

I want to thank my sister, Elena for denying me and my crazy idea of her writing my book. I want to thank her for always believing in me and talking with me about ideas (rather excitedly) and chapters and editing. I want to thank her for just being my sister. If it wasn’t for her, I would’ve never landed a publishing contract with Clean Reads or Rambunctious Ramblings Publishing, Inc.

All of my sisters, Kristina for reading Bleeding Hearts and loving it, for reading the first, horrible draft of Under The Willow Tree and never once complaining.

And for Melissa, who has always supported my writing, and although I haven’t let her read anything yet, I know she will love it.

Lastly, my husband, Kyle for buying me that laptop and letting me buy an unimaginable amount of books and never once telling me I couldn’t do it. And for loving me. (That’s a given. LOL)

I will keep my writing, my books, my sisters, my husband, and the rest of my family close to my heart as I continue on this journey of a writer.

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Me and Kyle

Let’s sit down with Kade Cook

As many may know, Kade Cook is an author with Rambunctious Ramblings Publishing, Inc., and I had the chance to ask her some questions about being an author!

So, Kade, tell me a little about yourself. I am a coffee addicted writer that sings, dances and blogs from my kitchen bubble about whatever enters my mind and scribbles away about my book on my blog. I love everything reading, writing and artistic. I spend most of my time chasing around my incredible children that I hope one day will grow up reading and enjoying books as much as I do.

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This symbol is made by Kade herself.

 

Sounds like you have a lot of fun. That brings me to my first question, what is your book called and what’s it about? (Okay, two questions.)  GREY is the story about a young logically wired psychologist who is thrown into a supernatural world that is anything but logical and must find control of her true self in order to survive the Darkness that haunts her. It takes you through her trials and tribulation of learning to walk again as a stranger in a world that is no longer familiar to her.

It is everyday life, infused with magical elements just beneath its surface.

Wow! So fascinating. Is this part of a series?  Yes, GREY is book one of The Covenant of Shadows Trilogy or series, I haven’t exactly decided if there will be a fourth. It is out lined but we will see how it goes.

The trilogy is a journey of growth and enlightenment, of seeing things in a different light than what had once been allowed in order to shelter a child from unnecessary truths of her heritage. A discovery of the real spirit inside that refuses to be contained and conform any longer.

I personally can’t wait to read this. So, what inspired you to write this book?  Well I have been sitting on a book idea for more than 20 years but was always afraid to do it. I was terrified every time I thought about how I would make the characters talk, so I buried it. After years of being home with the kids, not doing any kind a cerebral work I began to get bored and it showed. One day my husband said to me: ”if you are so bored then why don’t you write a book.”kadecook

So…I did.

And boy was he sorry. But I put away my fears of dialogue and just began to write. Little did I know that when it was time for the characters to speak, they did exactly that. Loud and clear. There was no longer any fear of ‘how’ they would say it, just nervousness and exhilaration of ‘what’ they would say.

How long have you been writing?  I have written my entire life but only in song, music and in poetry. It was just until 2015 that I actually put pencil to paper in an attempt to create a novel. Mind you I have lived in the land of make believe since I was able to recall, writing everything out mentally as I went. Life just seemed more interesting that way.

Would you consider yourself an outliner or pantser?  I would have to say both. Though the skeleton of the story, once it reveals itself, is normally figured out to the best of my abilities first. Then I just let the story go, with minimal guidance and allow the muscles to take form on the bones naturally, unforced. I let the characters have as much room as they need to find themselves and the message they want to show me. I basically just take notes as quickly as I can before they change their minds. Which sometimes they do.

I’m a bit of both myself. That reminds me, how long, on average, does it take you to write a book?  GREY’s first draft was written and completed (without edits) in five months. But book two is taking a bit longer. With edits to GREY, time spent publicizing its birth and then of course life in general, things are moving along more slowly but they are still moving. That is the main thing. I am hoping to have it done by end of summer, then start on book three. Which has already been out lined and waiting my attention.

Sounds like a ton of work and dedication to writing. What else do you do for fun? What are your hobbies?  Let’s see, I garden in the summer, I run to the hockey rinks all winter long, I sing and dance in the kitchen when no one is watching and I read and read and read some more. Once in a while, I even wander down the road and hang out with some of the folks that live in my incredible neighborhood.

That makes me want to come to your house for a week and hang out with you. But I’d love to know where you would like to visit that you haven’t been before.  Oh, that is an unfair question. I cannot pick just one… but, hmm, okay here is one place I would love to go: Europe. That is one place right? Hee hee

Yes! I would call it a place. I would love to go to Europe. Kade, if I told you that I won the lottery and bought you an island, what would you name it? And who would live there with you?  The veil. Non-fictional? I would take all my neighbors and my family. Fictional? Any of the Schaeduwe – Shadow Walkers, from my book. They can jump in and out of shadows at will, arriving anywhere at any time, pretty handy when you are on an island. OH and did I mention they are wickedly cute?kadedog

That sounds awesome and a fun place to go. I’ll add it to my list of places I want to visit. Okay, now on to the more important questions: Do you have any pets?  I have a beta fish, well, I don’t… my four year old does, named Rainbow. We used to have a Rough Collie named Indy but he went to the clouds last summer.

Aw, he is adorable. I’m sure Indy enjoys the freedom from up above. Here’s another important question: What is the weirdest thing you’ve ever eaten?  A frog… and you know what? It does taste like chicken. So, yah.

In light of the strange questions, if you could bring one of your characters to life, who would it be?  Oh, wow. Just one? Well I guess maybe Ethan Borne. He has been around for a while, and has an open outlook on the way the world works. He has seen many sides of what life gives you but still manages to find the goodness in everyone. I like him.

He sounds so interesting! Do you have any advice for other writers?  Regardless of what anyone else thinks or feels or tells you what you should do, write for you. Not for them. Do it for yourself. Build the world that you want to see and always believe in that dream of seeing it through. It’s your dream, defend it.

Would you mind sharing a little bit of your book with us?  Here is a small snippet from GREY:

“Everything alright in there?” Knowing full well that it was not, Sarapheane wanted to comfort Gabrian.

“Yeah, mom,” Gabrian says, lying through her teeth. “Migraine, I will be alright. I just need to lay down.” Her head hurt, her mind hurt, her whole body hurt. Nothing felt good.  All she wanted was to go to bed and wake up better in the world she knew before the auras started.

“Are you sure?”

“Yes.  I’m sure.” 

For a moment Gabrian wishes that she was a little girl again. That her mom would come tuck her into bed and tell her that everything will be ok.

That there isn’t anything hiding under her bed in the shadows.

That there is nothing to be afraid of in the Darkness.

And that she wasn’t a monster.

I’m very intrigued by this snippet. If you are just as interested in this book as I am, you’re going to have to wait in line! GREY is set to be released on August 15, 2016. Only a few short months away and we get to take a look at this book!kadepic

If you would like to follow Kade and The Covenant of Shadows Trilogy please do so below.

WordPress     Facebook     Twitter     LinkedIn   Google     Goodreads     Tumblr

I had so much fun talking with Kade. She has been a peach to work with at RRPI and I wish her and her books the best of luck. Happy Friday the 13th!

Please don’t forget, if you have a creative person you would like me to interview, leave me a comment and I’ll get right on it.