Author Spotlight: Mercedes Prunty

If you’ve been following along this year, I’ve featured many new and “new to you” authors on my blog. I believe in supporting my fellow authors and I hope you’ve been able to find new authors to follow and read. Here’s my latest “Author Spotlight,” author Mercedes Prunty, author of Junia and many more books.


Hi Mercedes, thanks for agreeing to this interview. Tell us a little about yourself and your background?

Hi, well I’m a mother, wife, author and blogger and I currently reside in a small seaside town in East Sussex in the UK. I trained as a hairdresser before finding out I was pregnant with my eldest and it was on my maternity leave when I was bored (Before the baby arrived) that I really started writing. I had always written things as a teenager such as short stories and poems in my notebooks in class instead of paying attention so I guess it’s always been in me to write but I didn’t think I would pursue it. But I didn’t actually write and self-publish my first book until after I’d had my second child. I just needed a confidence push to get me going, which my husband gave me with a pep talk of ‘If you don’t try you’ll never know’ and I’m so glad he told me to.

 

How long have you been writing?

Properly, about 4 years. Not properly, my whole life.

 

What inspired you to start writing?

My first proper novel idea came to me whilst visiting my grandparents. My baby was asleep in her travel cot and my grandad had a documentary on TV about temples in Peru and ancient gateways around the world and to be honest I’d always loved things like ‘Tomb raider or Indiana Jones’ and that was when the idea hit me. So I wrote it down and threw it in a drawer, that was until a night feed at 1am one night and I was wide awake, so I wrote the first chapter, the next night the next chapter and so on. It still took me a year to write but that’s what awakened the true writer in me. Thanks Nan and Grandad.

 

Tell us a little bit about your current project. Is it a novel, short story, or something else? Is it part of a series?

It’s a novel which is going to be around 50,000 words, I’m writing it for a competition and that’s around the limit they want, because normally my novels are 100,000+ words. It will be a stand-alone and it’s a Zombie horror novel set in my home town. (I mean why not right?) The idea for this one came to me in a dream and I began writing it, then I spotted the competition and thought, why not.

 

What genre do you prefer to write in, if any?

Fantasy and Horror and those are the genre’s I mainly read although I will read pretty much anything just depends on my mood.

 

JuniaWhat authors influenced you?

Funnily enough one of the authors who influenced me a lot was S.D.Perry who wrote the novel adaptions from the Capcom game ‘Resident Evil’. As a teen I was obsessed with Zombie horror (I still am) but I loved those books and read them to death, literally, I had to buy them all again they were unreadable after the 57th time. Another author who influence me was Laurell K Hamilton, this mainly influenced my voice as for most of my works I write in first person as she did with the Anita Blake novels but with my new WIP I am in third person which is actually a nice change.

 

What are you currently reading?

I am currently reading the Resident Evil series that are adaptions of the films. (See I told you I liked zombies). I recently brought the last book in the series but thought I would read them all in a book marathon so I remember what happens and can envision it like one long film. Although I have seen the films hundreds of times over too.

 

AloneDo you write every day? A few days per week?

If and when I can. I have two young children and it’s hard to find the time sometimes. So I just wing it and if I have a quiet day I’ll write, if it’s crazy I don’t.

 

Do you listen to music when you write? Does it influence how you write?

I have to listen to music when I write, I get so easily distracted by other noises, even the fridge talking distracts me. (My desk is in the kitchen. I’m not really a piggy…much). I tend to have a separate playlist for each novel but I mainly listen to film or video game soundtracks. For my book Junia I listened to the Final Fantasy X soundtrack on repeat for months.

 

How do you think your writing has changed from when you first started?

It’s neater and by that I mean less sloppy, my vocabulary is broadening, my ideas getting more vivid, less mistakes but still a few, the formatting and page layout has improved. I take it all in my stride though and learn as I go along.

 

KeeperOfTheKeyHow do you create the covers for your books?

I’ve done photography and art in school and college (Before I went off to do hairdressing), so I love drawing and taking photos so I tend to use them as my covers. One day I would love a cover to be made for me but my finances can’t accommodate that so I use my own, which isn’t a bad thing as people have commented on how they like my covers as they are not all the same generic ones you get from the shop.

 

Are there any non-literary influences for your writing (movies, actors, music, etc)?

The Resident Evil films and games, The Last of Us video game (Honestly if you haven’t played it you haven’t lived, it is awesome and so is the soundtrack), Final Fantasy X video game, (I like video games if you haven’t guessed and yes I am a bit of a geek). The Walking Dead… Just anything Zombie horror and Fantasy.

 

Do you have an excerpt from your current work you’d like to share?

‘Suddenly Alicia stopped, it looked as if she was trying to listen to something behind the scream of the alarms. Joel stopped and raised his gun up still holding onto the case, then his eyes widened. “RUN!” he screamed grabbing Maria’s hand and dragging her along the corridor.

Glenn turned to see a whole army of the turned chasing after them, their eyes focused on one thing, “The case Joel, drop the case!” He shouted as he also took Alicia’s hand and ran behind them.’

It’s not been edited yet but I’m working on it so this part may or may not change.

 

What is your favorite book and why?

Hard to choose just one but… Maybe… The Enemy by Charlie Higson. (Yes it’s another Zombie horror book)

 

How do you market your books?

Social media mostly because it’s cheap / mostly free although I have been planning to try and branch out a little into the paid Facebook and Amazon ads so we’ll soon see if they bring any more punters in. I have also been to a few book festival type events and sold a few copies there too.

 

Where can we purchase your current book? What about previous books?

They are all available on Amazon…

From Amazon.com

Junia

Alone

Lone (Alone Book 2)

The Keeper of the Key

From Amazon.co.uk

Junia

Alone

Lone (Alone Book 2)

The Keeper of the Key

 

Where can we find you online?

Twitter – @MercedesPrunty

Facebook author page

Blog

 

LoneIf you’re an indie author, what made you choose that route?

I chose the Indie route because I have so many ideas in my brain for stories, that I worried I would forever be trying to find agents or publishers and not have time to write. I have been told by many that even if you score a publishing deal with a traditional publisher that they might not want to take on all your works, so that would mean finding new agents again and I can’t be harassed with that. Although if one day I decided to try it I wouldn’t mind giving traditional a good go. I guess right now the indie scene suits me and it’s so hot right now it’s a great and inspirational scene to be involved in.

 

Any parting words for writers?

Never give up, keep writing, even when it all feels like rubbish and your failing you truly are not. True writers never give up, quitters are the people who didn’t believe and you must believe.

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Author Spotlight: J.S. Frankel

In my year long quest to bring you new and “new to you” authors, I’m please to present young adult fantasy author J.S. Frankel, author of The Titans of Ardana (and many other YA Fantasy novels).

Hi, J.S., thanks for agreeing to this interview. Tell us a little about yourself and your background?

My real name is Jesse Frankel, but I never cared for it, so I go by my initials most of the time. I was born in Toronto, Canada, a long time ago, and grew up there, attending university and graduating with an Arts Degree, which is about as useful these days as an empty beer bottle.
When I was twenty-six, I moved to Japan to teach ESL (English as a Second Language) and never really went back. I got married a long time ago, and my wife and two sons make our home in Osaka. I teach English and write when I have the time.

Star Maps on AmazonHow long have you been writing?

Not very long, really. I started when I was forty-eight, and now I’m fifty-five, but I didn’t get into it until I was around fifty-two.

What inspired you to start writing?

Something my son said to me back in 2011. We’d been watching a cartoon, something about trees, and he said, “Papa, it would be great if the trees could talk.” It was a throwaway line, really, but that night—cliché time!—I had a dream, and later on I turned it into my first novel, The Tower. (That’s out of print, but I may self-pub it in the future).

Tell us a little bit about your current project. Is it a novel, short story, or something else? Is it part of a series?

I’m working on a number of projects right now. Actually, I’m waiting for the edits to Master Fantastic, a YA novel I have with my publisher. Then I have the third Titans novel to edit, and two more, and I’ve just completed the rough draft of Ether, a fantasy novel with a hard-edged twist. So, I’ve always got something going.

What genre do you prefer to write in, if any?

CatnipYA, as it is fresh and exciting and new. Teens always have something new happening in their lives, and I like to record those happenings, as it were.

 

Do you write every day? A few days per week?

Yes, every day, unless sick. If I don’t write, I get withdrawal symptoms. OCD, I know, but that’s how it is.

 

How do you think your writing has changed from when you first started?

When I first started, I was pretty decent with writing dialogue and action, but my narrative was poor. I knew it, the reviewers knew it, and they mentioned it to me—kindly. I went to work on it, and now my narrative has improved quite a bit, although I still feel there’s room for improvement. I like to keep things simple, no excess, no waste, just enough description to spice things up, and then let the action carry things along.

 

How do you create the covers for your books?

MASTERFANTASTIC final cover!I don’t. I work with a cover artist who goes on basic ideas I put out and she carries them through. I’ve worked with a number of people, but two of them stand out: Carmen Waters and Martine Jardin. Both work for Devine Destinies. Carmen did most of my covers including those for Catnip, Picture (Im)perfect, and Mr. Taxi, while Martine did the Titans covers as well as Master Fantastic and a few others. Both are excellent artists!

Are there any non-literary influences for your writing (movies, actors, music, etc.)?

I’m a huge YouTube video watcher, and I can honestly say that music and music videos have provided me with the inspiration to pen my novels. Mr. Taxi, Twisted (a gender-switch action/comedy) Star Maps, and a couple of others all came about due to watching music vids. They gave me ideas and I ran with them.

 

Do you have an excerpt from your current work you’d like to share?

THETITANSOFARDANA510-253x379Excerpt from my novel, entitled The Titans of Ardana. This is from the end of Chapter One, where the main protagonist, Martin Calder, attempts to get an autograph from his favorite television action star, Dana. And…he finds out that things aren’t quite what they seem…


Peering inside, the brother-sister combo stood in the center of the room. Dressed in jeans and long-sleeved shirts, they stood ankle deep in a sea of empty candy bar wrappers and cookie boxes. Three assistants fussed around throwing garbage into a large trash bag.

In a lazy, idle motion, Dana lifted the front of her shirt to reveal a firm midriff. Yeah, she had the abs, along with a line of bumps that started from a triangular bellybutton and ran around her narrow waist. All of the bumps were a perfectly round shape, the size of pearls. Multiple bumps… that wasn’t a rash. Neither was the three-pointed navel.

Oh hell! My heart immediately accelerated to mega proportions and I flattened my back against the wall, breathing hard. Bumps, I’d seen bumps and…no…it had to be some kind of prosthetic. Sure, that was it. In a second, she’d peel it off, scratch her stomach, and I was an idiot for believing something had been wrong in the first place.

Risking another peek, the assistants turned around, and all of them were clones of Van. With a sudden, massive inhalation of breath from him, they melted into his body. “Holy crap, they’re…”

Reflexively, I put my hand over my mouth in order to stifle the gasp of surprise. This couldn’t be happening! People didn’t just split apart and reassemble, did they?

“Hey, what are you doing here?”

The voice—Dana’s—startled me. Damn it, I’d been busted. Hands on her hips, she wore a pissed off expression. “What did you see?” she demanded.

“Uh, nothing, I saw—”

“You saw nothing. Now what do you want?” That came from Van. He’d come outside to stand alongside Dana and I felt his eyes rake my form over as if searching for a spot to tear me a new one. At six feet and around two hundred pounds, the guy looked strong enough to lift a tank.

Put on the spot, trying desperately to hang onto the real and true, I sputtered out an excuse. “I, uh, was hoping I could get an autograph from Dana. And you, too,” I added. “I’m a big fan of the show.”

Dana visibly relaxed and a smile began to play around her lips. “You’re a fan, huh? If you are, tell me what happened in episode twelve, midway through the show.”

plit-second answer time and it was a no-brainer. “You were captured by the Shadow Agency. They tortured you, sent a rogue mutant agent named Saldar to kill your brother, and you busted in and saved him at the last moment.”

Yes, perfect response, and in an attempt to look cool, I crossed my arms over my scrawny chest. A second later, I dropped them to my sides. My chest was too small and my arms resembled sticks. Glancing at her brother, his reaction was to offer no reaction at all. Rocks showed more emotion.

“Great,” he said. “We got us a fanboy.”

He then took a step toward me, violence flashing from his eyes. Please don’t hammer me too hard. In a quick move, Dana put her hand on his arm to restrain him. She may have been shorter and lighter, but she had some grip. Van struggled, but couldn’t go anywhere. Finally, he jerked his arm away. “All right, sis, it’s cool.” Impaling me with a glare, he said, “Fine, you’re hardcore. So, what did you see?”

“N-nothing,” I stuttered. My confidence shattered and sweat poured down my face. After wiping it away and hoping not to appear too pathetic, I managed to say, “I just, uh, walked in and saw all the candy wrappers and—”

“And now you’re here because you wanted an autograph. That’s all, right?”

“Yeah, an autograph, and then I was going to leave.”

Unfortunate situations made people feel like total tools. Call me Tool Dude. Van grunted something unintelligible, and then pulled a piece of paper and a pen out of his pocket. He scribbled something on the paper and thrust it at me. Pivoting around on his heel, he walked inside, back turned to me.

Dana stayed a moment longer, long enough to give me that same curious smile, a faint curling of the corners of her mouth. Dawn purple glowed in her eyes, and the color seemed to leap out and swallow me up. Something was there, something I couldn’t figure out. Maybe it was interest or maybe not. “What’s your name?”

“It’s Martin, Martin Calder. I’m a student at Tacoma High.”

Dana didn’t bat an eyelash and then went over to the table to grab a sheet of paper and a pen. Following her brother’s lead, she wrote on the paper and handed it over. It read From Dana to my biggest fan.

Lifting my head, our eyes met once more. She was in the process of giving me that same curious look, and then the door closed. Well, mission successful and I’d achieved the impossible. I’d seen it as well. While exiting the building, a security guard confronted me. “Hey, how’d you get inside?”

“Uh… uh, well…”

The expression of mess with me and you’ll suffer major trauma was written all over his face. “The exit is over there.” He stabbed a thick forefinger at the gate. Message given—message received.

Once outside the entrance, the shakes began. What I’d just seen had rocked my world and shaken the very foundation of my grasp on reality. Two people I idolized weren’t people. Aliens lived here and I was the first one to know their secret. The only problem was no one would believe me.

Where can we purchase your current book? What about previous books?

Here are the links to where they can be bought.
Amazon
Devine Destinies
Finch Books
Smashwords
Barnes & Noble

 

Where can we find you online?

I’m on Facebook and Twitter.

How do you market your books?

I use mainly Facebook and Twitter, and hope that word-of-mouth will carry my name around.

Any parting words for writers?

Don’t give up! I know that sounds like a cliché—and it is—but the most popular writers—not the best, maybe, but the most popular, are those who stayed the course and kept at it when others folded. You have to be persistent as well as consistent. If you have those traits, you have a good chance of getting published.

 

Massive book cover from Sara

 

 

Author Spotlight: RJ Batla

Today I’m fortunate to present RJ Batla author of AGAINST THE BEAST and FIRE EYES AWAKENED.

Hi RJ, thanks for agreeing to this interview. Tell us a little about yourself and your background?

Hi! Thanks for the interview Jason! I’m a Texan, born and raised, a Christian who loves my family and a fan of good old fashioned fantasy, sci-fi, and superhero books. I’m a country boy who has always loved to read and be outdoors in any form or fashion. I consider myself to be one of the ‘nice guys,’ and try to help anyone I can when I can.

 

How long have you been writing?

I’ve been writing for around seven years now, but I’ve gotten serious about it in the last two and have written over two hundred thousand words since then. Most of it probably wasn’t that good (or will ever see a published book in its current form), but it has helped hone my writing craft. It’s been a journey, but now that I (kinda) know what I’m doing, it’s a lot of fun!

 

What inspired you to start writing?

To get the voices out of my head!

Just kidding. But I’ve always wanted to write a book and I’ve been telling stories to myself in my head for a long time. I wrote a little in college, and some family had said it was pretty good. So I continued on, enjoying the learning of a new skill and telling a story.

 

Tell us a little bit about your current project. Is it a novel, short story, or something else? Is it part of a series?

So I’ve got several projects going at the moment. FIRE EYES AWAKENED is my first full-blown novel, and it’s at the editor right now. I expect to release it around May or June.

The RANGER’S FIELD MANUAL is the companion guide to the world of Terraunum. I’ve gotten it written and edited, and might be available now for free for signing up for my email list! There is a smaller version available now for an email signup, but anyone on my list will get the expanded edition as soon as I can.

 

What genre do you prefer to write in, if any?

I don’t know that I prefer any, but I’d have to say fantasy comes the easiest for me. I like the creation of worlds, the magic (both the system and in general), and the old school sword & sorcery battles.

All of my current works are based in Terraunum, a future earth where Marvels have amazing powers over the elements and much more. It’s Epic Fantasy/Sword & Sorcery with a good bit of Superheroism and some technological elements of Steampunk. So a blend of genres.

 

What authors influenced you?

Oh wow, several. Terry Brooks, who was the first author I really latched onto in the fantasy genre, is a clear influence. Also Jim Butcher, who writes the Dresden Files, my favorite series – I love the main character Harry Dresden, a smart-aleck wizard with a strong sense of justice. Those would be the two biggest influences, though everything I read tends to influence me in some way.

 

What are you currently reading?

So I’ve got several books on my reading list right now. I tend to read several books at once (I know, a little crazy). Right now, here is what I’m reading:

Outbreak by Joshua C. Chadd; Mistress of Masks by C. Greenwood, and Thinblade by David A. Wells

 

Do you write every day? A few days per week?

I try to write every day, but it usually turns into around 4-5 days per week, depending on when the kids go to bed and how much time I have at night. The day job gets in the way (as per the usual), so I do all my writing at night. Usually I can knock out between 500-1000 words per hour after I have my outline done, so I am able to make good use of my time.

 

Do you listen to music when you write? Does it influence how you write?

Absolutely not! I love music and tv, but I can’t do either and write at the same time – I get too involved in one thing and get sidetracked.

 

How do you think your writing has changed from when you first started?

I’d like to think it has gotten better – better at telling the story, better at getting my point across, more succinct, clearer, more descriptive without wasting words. I also think I’ve learned what works and what doesn’t, and how to make sure and only include what is good/important but to make sure I do include those same things.

 

How do you create the covers for your books?

RJBatlaI come up with the general idea for what I’m looking for, then I work with the professionals to get it done right. I am by no means an artist (drawing wise), so I hire out freelancers who are pros. I have two different cover artists that I use, and they are both amazing.

 

Are there any non-literary influences for your writing (movies, actors, music, etc)?

Absolutely! Movies – anything superhero-related, action/adventure, and even some of the drama. I’ve also been heavily influenced by a couple of animated shows, particlularly Avatar: The Last Airbender (the series, not the movie), and Naruto, a manga adaption.

 

Where can we purchase your current book? What about previous books?

I’m exclusive with Amazon right now, so that’s the only place to get any of my books. I’ve only got one out, but several are in the works and will be out as soon as I can get them out there.

 

What is your favorite book and why?

Now that is a tough question. Because you’re making me pick ONE, I’m assuming a work of fiction, I would have to pick Summer Knight (The Dresden Files, Book 4) by Jim Butcher because it introduced me to the Dresden Files series that I love.

 

How do you market your books?

I use Facebook, Twitter, Amazon Ads, and my email list. But mostly it’s word of mouth from other authors and friends.

 

Do you have an excerpt from your current work you’d like to share?

Sure, here is an excerpt from AGAINST THE BEAST.

Royn parried the sword from the left Skeptor and threw up an air shield on his right. Steel clanged against bone as the two traded blows. The second one broke through the air shield quickly and thrust at Royn’s midsection.

Royn teleported at the last second, the creature’s sword hitting nothing but blue light. Growling, they advanced on his new position, circling around again. Clearly they meant to keep his attention divided. The left one started in again, and Royn counterattacked, matching the strikes with his own as the second one circled and jumped in again. Thank God for his Ranger training, or he wouldn’t have lasted ten seconds against these things.

“Flying Knives!” Royn called, arcing his arm and sending dozens of daggers of sharpened air at the Skeptor. They imbedded themselves in the bone, but didn’t penetrate, didn’t even slow the thing down. Again Royn teleported away at the last second.

They continued to circle, and this time Royn put everything he had into his sword work, until he found an opening. “Aha!” he said, driving his blade right into a Skeptor’s chest.

It clanged and bounced harmlessly off the bone armor, the force prying the sword from his hands. “No!” he said, teleporting away, then right back to get his sword and away again too fast for them to react. Damn that was close.

Five more times they circled and advanced, each time Royn throwing a different attack at the second Skeptor, and five more times Royn teleported away. But there was a problem. Royn’s energy was draining quickly—the second bean was wearing off, his reserves already depleted. He was weaker than he thought. He hadn’t fully recovered. He shouldn’t have come. The Skeptors circled again. Like vultures. Might as well be. One of these times they were going to get him. Just a matter of time. How could he win this battle? His attacks fell right off of them, nothing stuck. He was severely out matched.

What is that blasted buzzing? Royn dodged a sword attack and deflected a fireball with an air blast.

“Now.”

From behind him the second Skeptor launched another fireball. Diving away, the heat singed his clothes as he tucked and rolled on the landing, immediately jumping up before he was blasted again.

 

If you’re an indie author, what made you choose that route?

Definitely Indie, though if someone wanted to pay me an insane amount of money I could be convinced!

The main reasons I chose Indie is the ability to actually get your work out in the world and let the people/readers/fans decide if it is good enough, vs someone in a corporate office. So in a word control – I have ultimate say on anything involving my works.

Plus it’s on my timeline – if I need to push something back because I have time with my family scheduled, it doesn’t hurt anyone or myself.

 

Where can we find you online?

Here they are:

WEBSITE: rjbatla.com

TWITTER: @RJBatlaAuthor

FACEBOOK: facebook.com/rjbatla

EMAIL: rjbatla@rjbatla.com

 

Any parting words for writers?

Keep working hard. Take it one day at a time. Grab any time you can to write, market your current works, or read – either for fun or for honing your craft. You eat an elephant one bite at a time, and you write a book one word at a time over a sustained period. You can do it!

 

Author Spotlight: Michelle Murray

In my continuing series presenting new and emerging authors, I present author Michelle Murray.


Author Spotlight: Michelle Murray

miranda-cospaly-casey-2Today I’m fortunate to present Michelle Murray author of The Dream Walker Land of Mystica series and Rainbows and Dreams.

Hi Michelle, thanks for agreeing to this interview. Tell us a little about yourself and your background.

I am a working mother of two fine young men, one in college, and the other in high school. I started writing myself in high school. A number of my poems and short stories won awards, and were published in anthologies. I was even featured in Whos Who Among American Poets. I’ve always enjoyed fantasy, and children. I combined my two loves, and Dream Walker was born. Rainbows and Dreams is a collection of some of my poetry.

 

How long have you been writing?

I have been writing since high school.

 

What inspired you to start writing?

The freedom of expression, the ability to write down my feelings and thoughts with no judgement, no talking back. The ability to create worlds, feelings, moods from a pen and paper. There is magic in that, taking words and painting a picture.

 

Tell us a little bit about your current project. Is it a novel, short story, or something else? Is it part of a series?

I have a couple projects in the works, one is a sequel to Dream Walker’s Destiny, and one is a prequel called Lighting’s Journey. I also work on my poetry from time to time.

 

What genre do you prefer to write in, if any?

I prefer fantasy and poetry. I can’t pick between the two, they both have a hold on me.

 

What authors influenced you?

I love the classics, and believe we can learn much from them as authors and readers. Shakespeare, Mark Twain, JRR Tolkien, have always inspired and influenced me.

 

What are you currently reading?

Right now, nothing. If you know some good poetry or fantasy, please feel free to recommend some.

 

Do you write every day? A few days per week?

I try to write at least two times a week, but it doesn’t always go that way. I’m really trying to get more of a schedule down for my writing, this is one of my goals for this year.

 

Do you listen to music when your write?

Unless you count teenagers, computers, tvs and regular household noises music, no I do not listen to music when I write.

 

How do you think your writing has changed from when you first started?

I started with poetry and short stories, and evolved into a novel. I created characters, a world, and gave more detail than a poem or short story would. I went back and added chapters, tweaked descriptions, and just kept filling in the gaps in the story so to speak. I have learned to rewrite things and change my sentence structure.

 

How do you create covers for your books?

51blfiktrrlI hire someone to do that for me. Generally I have an idea what I want, and I describe it. The artist usually sends me a couple different pictures to choose from based on that description. For my sequel Dream Walker’s Fight, I want Miranda in or around some clouds with a dark presence haunting her.

 

Are there any nonliterary influences for your writing?

I am inspired by nature. The trees, the clouds, the sky, rainbows and butterflies. I love to go for walks and see what will inspire me! Movies tend to be the same stuff sequel and reboots so I don’t find a lot of inspiration there.

 

What is your favorite book and why?

I don’t really have a favorite book, as I said before I love the classics. I also enjoy Robin Hobb, Margaret Weiss, and Collen Huck.

 

How do you market your books?

This is a challenge. I used to post on Facebook and Twitter but I think people were getting tired of that. I contact bloggers, reviewers, do author interviews. I try to do things besides just saying “buy my book.” I have gone to the girl scouts, boys and girls club, and donated books to the libraries and other organizations. I would like to do more of this, but seem to be hitting a snag in these plans.

 

Do you have an excerpt from your current work you’d like to share?

I have been posting on my Facebook excerpts from Dream Walkers Fight, stay tuned for more!

 

Where can we purchase your current book? What about previous books?

All three Dream Walker Land of Mystica Series books are available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble online. Rainbows and Dreams is available for Kindle only at this time.

Amazon: The Dream Walker

Amazon: The Dream Walker Returns

Barnes and Noble: The Dream Walker

Barnes and Noble: The Dream Walker

 

Where can we find you online?

You can find me at Facebook.

My website.

You Tube.

Twitter.

GoodReads.

 

If you’re an indie author, what made you choose that route?

I knew Dream Walker was special, and a good story. I wanted to get it out there, I didn’t realize how much work or what I was getting into. I have been lucky it’s been finding an audience and readers are enjoying it!

 

Any parting words for writers?

Keep at it! Keep writing, keep submitting just keep trying!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Author Spotlight: Shakyra Dunn

In the next installment of my ongoing series of Author Spotlights, I present Shakyra Dunn.

Author Spotlight: Shakyra Dunn

shakyraToday I’m fortunate to present Shakyra Dunn, author of The One Left Behind: Magic.

 

Hi Shakyra, thanks for agreeing to this interview. Tell us a little about yourself and your background?

Hi there! Well, I’m twenty-two years old, I was born in Chicago, Illinois, and I’m currently living in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Full time writer and part time night stocker. Wonder which one is more life-consuming.

 

How long have you been writing?

I’ve been writing since I was about seven, but I took up the mantle of writing officially when I was fourteen, and became published last year.

 

What inspired you to start writing?

I used to create stories all the time when I was younger and write them down on paper or my mom’s old desktop. When I started high school, I happened to find my stories tucked away in a box and spontaneously decided to write again. Since then, I’ve become influenced to take up the craft.

 

Tell us a little bit about your current project. Is it a novel, short story, or something else? Is it part of a series?

I’ve put the sequel to The One Left Behind: Magic on hold and I am currently working on a novel that I started for NaNoWriMo called “FML: The Final Lesson” (name is in progress). It is going to be a part of a separate mini-series centered around the themes of life, morality and understanding, but none of the stories really connect to one another aside from some similarities or cameos here and there. This is going to be the first of the saga that I create.

 

What genre do you prefer to write in, if any?

I prefer to mix genres, but my primary field is fantasy.

 

What authors influenced you?

Lemony Snicket. When I was nine years old, I picked up his first book in “A Series of Unfortunate Event” for a project for class, since we were assigned to read a certain amount in a month. After I finished the first, I started to devour the series until the final book concluded when I was thirteen. I always felt as though the series ended on a bad note, and it inspired me to want to create my own stories and try to tackle my own endings.

 

What are you currently reading?

Reading, uh, now? I’m sadly not reading much due to focusing more on my own works, but I’ve been dabbling on and off with Adelle Yeung’s final book in her series “The Cycle of the Six Moons.”

 

Do you write every day? A few days per week?

It’s come down to a few days per week solely because my job drains a lot of my motivation and energy. Nights are not fun. Nope.

 

Do you listen to music when you write? Does it influence how you write?

Always! I listen to instrumentals, and it paints a picture in my head about the scenery that I want to create.

 

How do you think your writing has changed from when you first started?

Well, for one, I’ve gotten heavy development on characters, even if my plots can be a bit mundane or outlandish. There is no in-between with me. My characters from age fourteen were so dull and lifeless, and now that I’ve grown stronger in that aspect, I feel that I can carry a story well.

 

oneleftbehindHow do you create the covers for your books?

For the original cover of The One Left Behind: Magic, I enlisted the help of an artist on Deviantart that did concept art of my main character Frayle. To this day, I still adore the picture. I tend to go to other artists for my book covers.

 

Are there any non-literary influences for your writing (movies, actors, music, etc)?

Definitely music, and I also play a lot of JRPG’s to help fuel my idealism on characters and plot.

 

What is your favorite book and why?

Oh man. I have so many, I don’t know what to do with them all.

 

How do you market your books?

I try to promote myself through author takeovers and participating in groups as much as I can. I’ve yet to have any success through online promotion websites such as BookRaider.

 

Do you have an excerpt from your current work you’d like to share?

Sure!

The cinders crackled over the singed wood, rising through the midnight’s earthy air. Gusts of wind drifted through the dry oak trees, the shades of early autumn teeming from the branches in the form of cracked leaves. The stars were absent from the sky, yet a faint glimmer hovered above.

The still night of a new moon; such times were hard to fall upon. That made things even more brilliant for such an announcement.

“You feel it, don’t you?” A gravelly voice cut through the silence, catching the attention of the group that surrounded him. “This air is thick. The stigma of wind such as this besieges any and every lost soul, carrying them beyond the boundaries of time.”

“Master Hinju, you always make things more dramatic.”

Any means of a rebuttal were replaced by extended humming in a straight tone before finally, “Now is not the time for remarks.” Copper eyes opened to the sound of distant laughter caught in the indistinct gales, and a single glance at the source drew bitter silence. A stern expression coated his features as he gazed upon the group of fourteen seated around the open fire; no disturbances occurred, and he once more cleared his throat, running his fingers through the curly brown mop on his head.

“I have summoned you here today for your final examination.” For a moment, chatter progressed among the group, some questioning what he meant by a ‘final examination,’ and after a second glance, silence took over again. “Moving on… The fourteen of you have advanced through your courses with ease, rising through the ranks of your respective classes. You were hand-chosen by your mentors to reach this stage in your lives.”

“Master Hinju, what is this final examination?” One student piped up, a stalwart expression coating her pale features. “We’ve had plenty of tests, but this is the first that I’ve heard of this…”

“Curious as always, Leilana,” Hinju replied with a nod. “That is correct—you have had many of these examinations, using your time to study magic and overcome obstacles placed before you.” The man cocked his head to the right and smirked. “But how often have you been sought out by the Headmaster himself for one of them?” Leilana grew silent, tucking a loose strand of her shoulder-length dark hair behind her ear.

“He’s not wrong…” one of the students mumbled.

“I guess this is the first time we’ve had someone like Master Hinju try to teach us…”

“Your examination on the night of emptiness will be a test of your overall skill level and valor.” Hinju rose to a stand, extending his hand up towards the evening sky. “As Maesters and Arcana, you know that under the blessing of an innovative and invisible moon, you will be guided by none other than yourself. I chose this night specifically for you to give your all.” The students turned to one another in silence before continuing to listen to their Headmaster’s words. “Two by two, you will duel one another. The winners of each respective battle will progress towards the title that you each so crave—a chance to grow closer to becoming a Warlord.”

Leilana’s eyes widened at the statement, and she clutched the golden-encrusted grimoire in her arms closer to her chest, the metal vines lining the book pricking her fingers. So, that was the prize of winning a duel. Seemed simple enough.

“Would anyone like to volunteer for the first battle?”

From the group of fourteen, a boy with neck-length dark brown hair tipped his beret and rose to a stand, confidence clear in his amber eyes. “I will.”

“Ah, so the mighty Lancett Lune is our first up for battle.” Hinju nodded in approval. “I expected no less. Do you wish to choose an opponent, or shall I have the stars choose for you?” Lancet briefly turned any signs of contempt on Leilana after looking over all his possible choices at least once, and the girl met his gaze before returning a small smirk. Lancet turned to Hinju once more, a hand on his hip.

“I leave my fate in your hands, Master.”

“Very well.” Hinju closed his eyes and ran his fingers along the silver crystal at the tip of his wooden staff, the jewel illuminating a smoky gloom. The students never averted their eyes from the man, watching as the crystal’s haze began to flow over another boy seated on a log. Once he had caught notice of the beam above him, a grin upturned on his face and he shot up from his spot, his blonde hair bouncing along with him.

“Yes!” he exclaimed gleefully before brandishing what appeared to be a rapier from the sheath at his side, twirling the hilt between his fingers. “I’ve always wanted to try my hand at fighting you, Lancelot! The day has come!”

“Lancelot?” Lancett laughed at the comment before he took hold of the sword at his side, pointing it at his opponent. “Take it easy there, Kindall. I’m not some knight. One day, I’ll be a Warlord. But right now, we’re both just knaves in the field of magic.”

“Begin!” Hinju commenced.

The two boys charged for one another at the call to battle, rapier and sword interlocking, the clashing metal harmoniously in sync. Lancett shoved Kindall back with his hand, causing him to stumble before regaining his stance in time to block an oncoming strike. Kindall thrust his hand out, miniscule shards of ice rushing through his palm, cutting into Lancett’s skin before melting. Lancett’s body became shrouded in a douse of flames faster than Kindall could process, the heat and cinders hazing his vision.

Kindall leaped from the line of fire and swung his rapier, sharper icicles accelerating from the tip of the blade. Lancett cut through the shards with his sword as he boosted himself forward off his right foot, ducking under another shard before slamming his sword onto the ground. Kindall barely had the time to react when a cataclysm of earth sent him off his feet and up into the air. He gripped to a tree branch and pulled himself up, bouncing on his right then left foot in an anxious manner.

“The hell is he doing?” one of the male students exhaled. Leilana’s eyes narrowed as she kept her focus on the noble battle before her. Something about the method that the boys seemed to be taking was a little profound, as if they were slowly beginning to seep into a fractured state of bloodlust.

Kindall held up his rapier with both hands and cast down a streak of lightning at Lancett. Lancett cringed, the narrow impact sending quivers down his back. Once he had found an opportunity to strike, Kindall swung from the branch and pierced through Lancett’s defenses, knocking him to the ground. He quickly regained his footing afterwards and extended his sword forward as Kindall was rushing to him again, a swell of dark energy ensnaring the boy and locking him in place, hovering above the ground in a magenta-shaded bubble.

“Hey!” Kindall tried to slice through the bubble, to no avail. When that failed, he attempted to kick and punch it, and when his efforts came to nothing, he groaned and decided to just take a seat inside of his solitary confinement, arms crossed in a huff. “Damn! I was so close!”

Lancett sighed of relief, falling on the ground, hand over his pounding heart. “That was close… I was afraid I was gonna run out of stamina…”

“Excellent work, Maester Lune. Victory is yours,” Hinju stated, laying a hand on Lancett’s shoulder. Within seconds, the torn flesh on his face and body began to mend and close once more, as if the marks were never there.

“Thank you, Master,” Lancett replied, grinning.

“That was awesome, Lance!” One of the girls piped up, now on her feet, both hands curled into confident fists. “You’re so strong!”

“That was impressive,” Leilana agreed.

Kindall grit his teeth, anxiously rocking his right leg up and down. “There he goes again, winning the hearts of all the girls… why can’t I ever get that lucky…? I’m handsome enough, I’m strong, and I’m fun and I’m confident too, just like him… maybe I should just dye my hair or something…”

Hinju stepped up towards Kindall’s little prison and patted it a few times with his staff, the bubble bursting and causing the boy to hit the ground face-first. Kindall sat up, nearly glaring at the man before tapping his finger against the dirt, his free hand still pressed against the ground.

“Vanity does not win hearts. Nor does it appeal to those that you do seek out for guidance—it shows that you have some weakness in yourself.” He rested a hand atop the boy’s head, and a warm light washed over Kindall’s body, healing the wounds that he sustained during his duel. “But those flaws about yourself do improve your perception on what you want to improve on.” Hinju extended a hand to the boy and once Kindall had a solid grip, he pulled him to his feet. “You did admirably yourself, Mr. Mandrison. Do not take this as a loss, rather as an experience.”

“T-Thank you, Master. I will, definitely.”

“That goes for all of you,” Master Hinju continued, “When in battle, or throughout your lives, certain obstacles that you must face are not to be taken with a heavy heart. Every step forward is something that you are meant to grow from. Now, who would like to go next?”

 

Where can we purchase your current book? What about previous books?

My current book can be found on Amazon and NOOK! The Final Lesson is, I’m hoping, set to be released in late summer!

https://www.amazon.com/One-Left-Behind-Magic/dp/1533690448

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-one-left-behind-shakyra-dunn/1123913689?ean=9781533690449

 

Where can we find you online?

My Website: http://shakyradunnauthor.wixsite.com/seerofwords

My Review Page: http://burningmasses.shakyradunn.com

My Facebook Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/SeerofWords

My Twitter: https://mobile.twitter.com/shakyradunn

My Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/15350089.Shakyra_Dunn

My Amazon Author Account: https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B01H1BAPWS

 

If you’re an indie author, what made you choose that route?

Part of it was a lack of patience in wanting to pursue traditional publishing, and the other was fear of rejection at the time. But now that I’ve spent six months in self-publishing, I feel that I would do better in the traditional field. It’s got to be worth one try.

 

Any parting words for writers?

It may sound cliché, but never stop doing what you love. Your dream is yours alone, and once it is set in your mind, don’t stop fighting for it.

Author Spotlight: J.A. Bennett

In my ongoing “Author Spotlight” series I present to you author J.A. Bennett.


Author Spotlight: J.A. Bennett

familyToday I’m fortunate to present J. A. Bennett author of Music and the Tree Who Loved Her.

 

Hi Jaymee, thanks for agreeing to this interview. Tell us a little about yourself and your background?

I was born and grew up in Australia, the child of eccentric parents who loved to travel and hated school. We never had much money. I have three brothers and two sisters, but my parents were very creative when it came to stretching what little we had. We travelled around in a painted bus called the Cosmic Cruiser, and carved totem poles, really big beautiful ones. Sitting under these, with my dad watching the sunset, I developed a love of the still, quiet majesty of nature. Those days will always live within me, the clarity of the blue as it turns to gold, the soft, pink blush on the horizon, searching always for the first star to make my wish.

 

How long have you been writing?

I’ve been writing as long as I’ve been reading. It all started when my parents decided to buy the entire stock of a second-hand bookshop. Helping to carry thousands of books into the house, we had to stack them on the noggins of the walls. You see, my dad built the house as best he could, and didn’t want to waste money on inside cladding. It is so hot in Australia, there was no need for it outside of convention. Therefore, the beams in our walls were visible. These proved the perfect place to store all our new books until my parents found a shop to rent. I will never forget walking from room to room, and reading the spines of so many books. Ten at the time, I would pretend to read the big ones, but it wasn’t until I really read Magician by Raymond E. Fiest that I fell in love with writing.

 

What inspired you to start writing?

Apart from Orson Scott Card and Raymond E. Fiest, I owe my writing career to poetry, not mine, but rather certain poems I stole, and recited to my parents as my own. I will never forget how proud they were that I was such a good poet, they would tell everyone. When I saw how affected by my words they were, I started to write my own. My greatest success in poetry came when I presented an original poem to my grade school teacher and she said “So, which book did you steal this from?” It was all she said, and the first time she revealed that she had known all along my poems weren’t my own. Except, this one was my poem. To this day, I still remember it:

“Silky black spiders dwell on top of the bathroom beam,

Glossy black coats all ready for Halloween,

My nightmares and flowing, constantly going, this night of Halloween.”

I’m not saying it was a good poem, but it was mine and wonderful, erudite Mrs. Crawly thought it wasn’t!

 

Tell us a little bit about your current project. Is it a novel, short story, or something else? Is it part of a series?

Music and the Tree Who Loved Her is my debut novel. It’s a standalone speculative epic fantasy novel of 100k words. Green was a seedling as proud as any conqueror … so begins the magnificent tale of the indomitable spirit of one tree, who after losing everything, finds himself in the middle of a deep, intricate and wondrous adventure.

Prince Green is a Prince of the Forest no longer. Living alone on the prairie, ignored and shunned by his own kind, he finds comfort in the gossip of the savanna grasses, and company in the stars at night.

He doesn’t realize that the ache under his bark comes from loneliness until he saves his mortal enemy’s child – a newborn dragon maiden – whose sweet kisses have the power to rebuild a shattered world, or destroy it.

Music and the Tree Who Loved Her is a fairy tale for adults which shares the story of the living world of Symphony, where mountains, trees and rivers are all heroes, combating love and hate, to restore music to their silent world.

I have two other novels in the pipeline, retellings of my two favorite fairy tales, The Little Mermaid and The Twelve Swan Princes.

 

What genre do you prefer to write in, if any?

Literacy and speculative epic fantasy.

 

What authors influenced you?

Raymond E. Fiest and Orson Scott Card as I mention before, but also Anne Mcaffrey and her Ship Who Sang series, and Tolkien just to name a few. I spent ten years reading – from ages ten to twenty, all the books from my parent’s secondhand book shop. My sisters and I would often snuggle up in the loft of our enormous barn, and read together. Passing the book on to the next, before its pages could even get cold. Sometimes even sharing the same book and fighting over who lost the other’s place.

 

What are you currently reading?

I am reading books by indie authors such as myself. Notably, The Cosmic Dentist by Andras Skinboy, Collective Retribution by S. Edwards, and They Move Below by Karl Drinkwater, all great writers that deserve a break.

 

Do you write every day? A few days per week?

Yes, I write every day, at least two thousand words. Writing is a muscle, and you must work it.

 

Do you listen to music when you write? Does it influence how you write?

Actually, I don’t because, as you say, it influences the tone of my words. When I write I really am not on planet earth anymore, writing as much as reading, transports me to into these worlds.

 

How do you think your writing has changed from when you first started?

My lyrical style has remained, but, overtime, I have hewed my grammatical and punctuation skills. This is something that you can’t wing and you must learn and practice; things like how to use speech marks, proper use of capitals etc. I still tend to leaved -ed off words, so that’s something I must proof read for. We all have our quirks. I was homeschooled by eccentric parents, so I never had formal study to teach me these things, so I still get it wrong, but less often.

 

music-and-the-treewho-loved-her-5How do you create the covers for your books?

As I have limited money, I am a stay at home mum, I create them myself, but I do think professional covers are the way to go as they sell books and hope to have one of my own soon.

 

Are there any non-literary influences for your writing (movies, actors, music, etc.)?

I am a movie and T.V buff. If I wasn’t reading as a kid, I was watching videos. We lived in the middle of nowhere with no reception, so every week my dad would take us to the video store and we would rent fifty or so movies for 1$ each. We never had the money for new releases so I have pretty much seen every B-grade movie ever made. I saw and loved, Westworld the movie, long before it was a T.V Series. I think my love of film is reflected in the cinematic style of my writing.

 

What is your favorite book and why?

The Ship Who Sang by Anne Mcaffery. I never read anything so beautiful as that little ship braving her feelings and learning to love and live. It is why my characters are not human either.

 

How do you market your books?

Facebook, twitter, and I am now starting to advertise via amazon. Self-promotion is a learning curve and I am still very wet behind the ears.

 

Do you have an excerpt from your current work you’d like to share?

Green was jealous of their Windguise, he had none of his own. He was stuck under his bark by the dove’s corruption. If he went anywhere, he walked. To date, not very far, but that was okay, he liked the savanna – the stars shone bright here and the grass wasn’t too prejudiced. And of course, there was Cephisus, who brought him extra water in the dry season, and shared Greenworld gossip against the rules.

I feel this excerpt captures the tone and style of the story very well.

 

If you’re an indie author, what made you choose that route?

I shopped Music and the Tree Who Loved Her to every agent on the planet (who repped my genre), after a year of rejection, I decided to self-publish. It really is a unique story, outside of any trend, so I understand why they turned me down. Agents want originality if there is a preexisting box to stick you in. I will endeavor to fit in a box with my next novel, but no promises! I don’t suggest anyone else create a novel where the heroes are talking trees, ambulant mountains, or sassy little rivers, if they want to make any money!

 

Where can we purchase your current book? What about previous books?

Music and the Tree Who Loved her is exclusive to Amazon and Kindle. I priced it at .99 cents in the hopes of reaching the largest audience as possible. Here is the link to amazon.com: Music and the Tree Who Loved Her. I will be releasing a print copy in the weeks to come.

 

Where can we find you online?

Here for Facebook.

Here for Twitter.

Here for GoodReads.

family-halloween

Any parting words for writers?

I gave up on Music and the Tree Who Loved Her, even unpublished it, until one day I googled the name of the book and discovered that someone had not only read Music, but had been so inspired by it, she had drawn the characters and posted them on DeviantArt. What was most amazing was she had depicted them as I saw them. Her sadness, that the book had been taken down, and her recreation of the characters that lived in my mind, renewed my faith. So, I republished and here I am. I believe in, Music and the Tree Who Loved Her, seeing how much someone else did as well changed everything for me. So, don’t give up, you never know when your writing will change someone’s lives, or that someone will change yours.

Thank you so much for interviewing me!

Release Day: Moments of Darkness

Today’s the day! My new book of dark fiction short stories titled “Moments of Darkness” is available on Amazon, Nook, and iBooks! I’m excited to share this new collection of tales with you and hope you find them entertaining.

Please consider picking up a copy today and share with others that might enjoy short, slightly twisted tales perfect for cool autumn nights.

Thanks for your support and I can’t wait to hear what you think of “Moments of Darkness!”

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