Author Spotlight: V.R. Craft

Today in my series of “Author Spotlights” I present author V.R. Craft.


Author Spotlight: V.R. Craft

vrcraftToday I’m fortunate to present V. R. Craft, author of “Stupid Humans.”

 

Thanks for agreeing to this interview. Tell us a little about yourself and your background?

I always heard you should write about what you know, so I decided to write a book called Stupid Humans, drawing on my experience working in retail and my subsequent desire to leave plant Earth. (Nowhere will you meet more stupid humans than in retail.) I also worked in marketing, advertising, and public relations, where I found even more material for my book. I’m now self-employed, and I consider myself a professional shopper. I enjoy the contact sport of shopping clearance sales, slamming on the brakes for yard sales (seriously, you do NOT want to tailgate me), and wasting time on social media, where I find inspiration for a sequel to Stupid Humans every day.

 

How long have you been writing?

Since I was a kid, really. I wrote for some local newspapers and magazines, but never got paid much, if anything, so that made me lose interest in writing for a while. I have a background in journalism, but was always more interested in making up my own stories than writing the truth. I guess it was either politics or writing, and I’m not much for kissing people’s asses, so writing it was.

 

What inspired you to start writing?

I guess I have a lot to say. I’m opinionated. I want everyone to know what I think, and I’d like to think my books and stories make a point. They’re also humorous, because I think sometimes the best way to make a point is to get people laughing and hope they think about the absurdity of the topic.

In Stupid Humans, I poke fun at stupidity, and a lot of things we do in society that don’t make sense. In the book, humanity has discovered that some super-smart humans left Earth about four thousand years ago—the lost colony of Atlantis. So we find our long-lost, distant human relatives, and five minutes later we’ve started a war with them. I honestly think that’s what would really happen if that scenario were true. Or if we encountered intelligent life on other planets. If there’s one thing human beings are good at, it’s picking fights over stupid stuff. In the book, this manifests in a peace rally that goes great until someone starts throwing peace symbols, and then the whole thing deteriorates fairly quickly. It’s a funny scene, but it also makes a point about how we human beings are.

 

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

Well, I have several projects. I have some short stories that will be published this year—Not Enough Scotch in Scotland, Don’t Feed the Trolls, and A World Without Stories. All are variations on alien abduction stories, which I also do a lot of on my blog, vrcraftauthor.wordpress.com.

Stupid Humans is also being adapted as a serial, due out in early 2017. It’s interesting watching it be adapted into a shorter form.

I’m also working on my next novel, a parallel universe story that will probably be out sometime in 2018.

 

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

I mostly write science fiction, because that’s what I like to read.

 

What authors influenced you?

Jack McDevitt, Ben Bova, Douglas Adams. I loved The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy because it was so funny, but it also had a lot of science fiction themes that were interesting. I guess that inspired me to write comical science fiction.

 

What are you currently reading?

Right now I’m reading Saturn Run by John Sandford and Ctein, then I’m going to read Death Wave by Ben Bova.

 

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

It varies. When I’m attempting a Nanowrimo, every day. Or if I’m trying to finish a project. Funny story about Nanowrimo—I started Stupid Humans in November of 2012, thinking I was actually going to write it in a month. Now the finished version of that book is about 140,000 words. The first draft was about 176,000. I finished it in November, all right—November, 2014. Hey, they never said it had to be November of the same year, right?

But there are also some days and even weeks when I don’t write. I know I should write every day, but mostly I write sporadically.

 

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

Yes, I sometimes listen to music. I don’t really know if it influences how I write. I’m a pantser, so I don’t have anything planned when I write, music or not. I wrote most of the second half of Stupid Humans while listening to Bruno Mars’ Unorthodox Jukebox playing on repeat. It’s still one of my favorite albums, and sometimes I remember writing a scene when I hear those songs.

 

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

I’ve learned a lot about writing style, like deep point-of-view and avoiding passive voice. That’s the main thing. I also try not to overwrite as much. Like I said, Stupid Humans was 176,000 words in its first draft. Part of that was due to being a pantser, but most of it was due to writing a whole lot of crap readers don’t care about. When I edited the first draft, there was so much stuff that I looked at and said, “Do I really need to spend two pages on this? Can I just sum it up in a sentence or two?” Mostly if it was neither relevant nor extremely funny or interesting, I decided the answer was no. The second draft was only about 155,000, and I later cut more from it.

 

How do you create the covers for your books?

My publisher, a small press called Oghma Creative Media, designed the book cover. I really like how it turned out.

13445360_1236045719790054_1771228305834197707_n

 

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

Absolutely! Here’s an excerpt of about 600 words. This is the peace rally scene:

For reasons Hailey didn’t quite understand, the second the shaking stopped, everyone ran for the exits. Hands pulled apart, feet pounded the floor in heels and soft soles, and signs fluttered to the ground as their holders fled.

“This door is locked!” someone screamed from the end of the concourse.

“So is this one!” Clark had joined the fleeing crowd. She’d thought better of him than that, but he’d been dating a Human, and while stupidity wasn’t contagious, people sometimes picked up each other’s habits.

Farley, running through the crowd in his “Peace for peace’s sake” t-shirt, threw the first peace symbol. Samantha said something Hailey couldn’t hear to Sheila, as she flounced out the door of her restaurant and surveyed the scene. Sheila grabbed for the nearest emergency exit door, jostling Samantha, who stumbled into Farley.

“This one’s locked too!” Sheila bellowed.

“It locks automatically after an impact to protect the inner part of the station in case of….” No one could hear her over the noisy crowd, and finishing the sentence with “a hull breach” would only worsen the panic, anyway.

“This is your fault, Human!” Farley yelled at Samantha. “I bet you caused whatever just happened, didn’t you? Your people can’t stand peace.”

Two minutes earlier he’d been holding hands with two Earthers and singing some old Human song, the lyrics of which sounded a lot like, “Come buy bombs.”

“Oh, that’s great!” yelled a Human at the back of the crowd. “Some peace organizer you are.”

“Seriously? You helped organize this display?” Samantha sneered at Farley.

“Not anymore!” He slammed his peace symbol onto the ground. Due to the lightweight plastic and the lightweight gravity, it bounced off the floor and flew up into the crowd, smacking Clark in the face.

Sheila shoved Samantha up against the wall, grabbing the collar of her black jacket. Was that messing up one of the camera shots? “Time for you to stop asking questions and start answering them. What do you know about this Human attack? Which of your people blew up that ship, and how stupid was their reasoning? Or were you in on it, Human?”

“Leave her alone, or I’ll make sure you stop getting an Economic Crisis discount on your rent.” Hailey hoped to come off as a beacon of peace instead of a miserly manager. It was so hard to gauge these things before they hit the news nets.

Sheila let go of Samantha and stomped back into her restaurant, slamming the door on other frantic fleers, but the Human/People clash was far from over.

While Hailey yelled at the crowd to calm down, every peace symbol in the room was lobbed at someone. Fortunately, the cheap plastic limited the damage, but a few pieces managed to leave red marks. One found its way to the mouth of a shop owner just as he yelled, “You people are sub-Human!” The peace sign drove his lip into a nearby tooth, and blood trickled down onto his “Give peace a fighting chance” t-shirt.

What was she doing? She was supposed to be in charge here, and she was gaping at this idiocy like, well, an idiot. Remembering her data pad, she called up the emergency preparedness plan she’d signed off on after Clark wrote it last month. She hadn’t actually read the plan, so hopefully Clark knew what he was doing.

 

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

Here is the book link for Stupid Humans on Amazon. It is also available on BN.com, and other online stores where books are sold.

 

Where can we find you online?

Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/VR-Craft-104391266655648/

Pinterest:

https://www.pinterest.com/vrcraftauthor

Twitter:

https://twitter.com/vrcraftauthor

Book Link on Amazon:

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01H7FQ3VU

Author Page on Amazon:

http://www.amazon.com/V.R.-Craft/e/B01H7POQPU/ref=dp_byline_cont_ebooks_1

Blog:

https://vrcraftauthor.wordpress.com/

 

Any parting words for writers?

Find a good writing critique group. I go to a couple, and they have helped me improve my writing a lot. Because of them I learned about things like deep point-of-view, avoiding passive voice, and other things that tighten up your writing a lot. I also learned how to condense two pages worth of back story into a short conversation in a way that still gets the necessary info to the readers without boring them in too much back story.

 

Author Spotlight: Merri Halma

In my continuing “Author Spotlight” series, I present to you author Merri Halma.


Author Spotlight: Merri Halma

merri2Today I’m fortunate to present Merri Halma, author of the Indigo Traveler Series (Indigo Traveler Book 1 and Keys to the Shadowlands Book 2 of the Indigo Traveler Series).

Hi Merri, thanks for agreeing to this interview.

Thank you for having me, Jason.

 

Tell us a little about yourself and your background?

 I studied Children’s theatre and children’s literature when I was younger. I really wanted to be a writer from a young age. I graduated though with a Bachelor of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies with an emphasis in Social Studies and the Humanities. Two years later, I earned a Master’s of Science in Counseling-Psychology. I still had the overwhelming desire to write and be published. Back then, I wasn’t aware of the writer’s groups like I am now. My whole goal after graduating was working in my field and attending prayer groups at my Church. After leaving my field and moving to Idaho, I saw a whole new world open. I realized there were writer’s groups and began joining them and seeking out others to work with. Digital publishing started and computers became the normal. Still, I am struggling to get my name out as other indie authors are.

 

How long have you been writing?

 I always had an active imagination growing-up. I used to tell myself stories at night when I was going to sleep. I would often dream in stories or hear songs with lyrics, though I couldn’t write the music to go with the words. I also had a speech impediment, so at 11, I started writing down the poetry, and lyrics as well as stories. Writing became my way of expressing myself. My dad gave me my first journal book at 12 and taught me to never write in pencil. He knew I would write about my feelings because that is what I knew and felt. Words had power to me. Words, the taunts the peers lashed out at me with, had power to cut deep. Those words echoed through the brain. Eventually, that became one of my monsters in Shadowlands. Without expressing my feelings, I knew I would be dead. I discovered all writers feel deep and write from a wounded soul. I write to heal myself as well as to expand my inner self and journey toward Spirit.

 

What inspired you to start writing?

My need to express myself and feel like I am being heard. As someone with a speech impediment, I wanted the friendship and felt fulfilled when I wrote down the words pounding in my brain.

 

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 am currently almost finished with my third book, tentatively titled Many Paths which is the third book in the Indigo Traveler Series. I realized this week that I will likely write another draft and deepen most of the theology bases on that current world as well as work with more development of the new characters that are introduced. I will find readers first to read through this draft to get comments.  I am also doing my best to post a blog on Niume every week. I am hoping to post about two or more times, to drive up interest in my page and draw in more readers.

 

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

I have coined the phrase Spiritual Fantasy because I explore the whole concept that we cannot avoid addressing Spirit, however we see Spirit. I view it as a sense of self. I have grown from the view of Christianity as the only way to embracing a more world view that says all spiritual paths have truth in it. The ultimate truth resides deep within each person. My characters all strive to find their self-acceptance while struggling to realize how they fit into the whole Spiritual world or whether they really believe in the Creator of All worlds.

 

What authors influenced you?

After I read the Hunger Games, I began writing like Collins, but it didn’t last. I can’t say any one really influenced me, per se. I love to read, but mostly I have that inner drive to write. If I don’t write every day or work on my book everyday, then my characters begin bugging me or yelling at me. I’ve had my Lynx character begin telling me he was stuck where I left him and he was itching to move on. He gave me ideas of what he wanted to do next.

 

What are you currently reading?

The Fifth Season by N. K. Jemisin. She won a Hugo award this year for one of her books. I found her on Patreon.com earlier this year and was fascinated with her campaign and began following her on Facebook. The Fifth Season is a very deep world but watching as she develops the story and the characters is also fascinating. It is not for the light of heart to read because I find I must concentrate and spend time with it and engage my brain. I highly recommend this book to others.

 

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

I have been doing my best to write every day even if it just in my journal. I have to devote my time to finishing my novel, though.

 

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

Sometimes I listen to instrumental music when I am the only one home. Right now, there is a Doctor Who marathon going on while I answer these questions. Since I’ve seen most of the episodes, I can write and watch it.

 

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

When I first started writing, and hadn’t gotten published yet, there was only traditional publishing. If someone were to self-publish, they had to spend a small fortune on the printing and finding distributors for the books. I remember stories of the author of the Celestine Prophecy giving his book out for free wherever he went because he couldn’t sell them. The more people who read it, the more they talked with others his book swept through the country and he was awarded a book contract. I read it and it was horribly written, yet the plot, story and message were the driving force of the success. After that, he had someone help him write the second book in the series and it was better.

 

How do you create the covers for your books?

I usually get an idea of what I want, and hire a graphic artist because I can’t draw. I can visualize what I want, I can’t duplicate what I see on to paper. That is why I am a wordsmith, as another friend calls it.

indigo

 

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

I really love the Moody Blues. Their lyrics and music sends me into dreams and inspires me to write.

 

What is your favorite book and why?

I have many favorite books. I love the Harry Potter series, Douglas Adams, Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, J.R.R. Tolkien, Percy Jackson series and many more.

 

How do you market your books?

I have one Youtube book trailer that I posted below. I am still learning to market and create the ad copy and how to use PowerPoint. I plan to start teaching classes on how to journal to Journal to Your Soul and hope that platform will lead to people buying my books.

I am doing my best to write every day and learn how to get feedback from my audience.

 

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

An Titus found himself in a dark forest. The trees grew together so densely no light could filter through the canopy. It was grey, black and off white, but had no natural light. For a few moments, Titus stood completely still, not daring to breath. Finally, he took a cautious step forward and then another. Soon he was roaming through the dense woods. He felt lost, afraid and not sure of how he got here. Voices could be heard in the distance. Some were whispering but they were overshadowed by a few shouting voices. His heart pounded in his chest. He felt alone, yet knew something was there, watching him, waiting for him to make a move.

 A creature made of sticks and stones wobbled out from amongst the trees. The creature’s eyes grew wide when it saw Titus, then cowered on the ground trying to cover his body in fear.

 “Names are names. Just labels that can’t hurt me. Words are empty and meaningless,” it said. “I can hurt you worse.”

 “Your words are brave, yet you cover your body as if you fear me.”

 “Aye–, I am afraid of giants like you. You erupt at a moment’s notice – your temper – your rage. You hurt people with that whip you wear around your waist and send them to a dark place.”

 “Dark place? You mean a place like this?”

 “No, dark places within them, belittling them, telling them they are useless, don’t measure up to your expectations and are no good. From then on, all they do or see is reinforced. It is the dark place that you are experiencing now. You, you, you see, see what you have done.”

 Rustling steps echoed from deep within the forest in the distance, like leaves being displaced as something came through. Titus’ whipped his head around, listening and trying to see what was approaching him.

 “No, no, I can’t bare this! Take me away!” he screamed. “I’m sorry for the pain I’ve caused others. I can’t ever be happy again. Sticks and Stone, Sticks and Stones, they heard and break my bones. But the words are replayed over and over and over. My mother and father could never see me for what I was or wanted to be. The village kids hated me for being the prince. Take me away!”

 “No, I can’t take you away. But I can lead you to another place where you see more. Do you dare continue?”

 *Excerpt from Keys to the Shadowlands Book 2 of the Indigo Traveler Series

 

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

I was not sure I could land a traditional publisher. I had made friends with individuals who had published on CreateSpace, and they encouraged me to use that because it would cost less and I could control how it is marketed better.

 

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

My books are all available on Amazon and Kindle. Indigo Traveler Book 1 is also on Smashwords.

http://amzn.to/2e4Mb1n

http://amzn.to/2ftkzVX

 

Where can we find you online?

https://www.facebook.com/IndigoTravelerbook/

https://www.facebook.com/authormerrihalma/

https://www.facebook.com/Clarence-from-Indigo-Traveler-Series-926226174154752/

https://twitter.com/MerriHalma

https://niume.com/profile/96169#!/posts

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bmTn8r679IQ&feature=youtu.be

 

Any parting words for writers?

Write every day. Find writer groups that you can join and learn from. Do not be afraid to share your work nor give up who you are because others say it doesn’t work. If you agree with them, then listen. Above all, it is your book and your words. Consider your message and what you want to say and then say it. We need your voice so please finish that book and get it out there.

Author Spotlight: Lisa Wylie

Here’s the latest in my continuing series of “Author Spotlight” interviews. Today I interview Lisa Wylie.


Author Spotlight: Lisa Wylie

Today I’m fortunate to present Lisa Wylie, author of Burning Suns: Conflagration.

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

Hi, and thanks for inviting me. I’m from Scotland, I live just outside Glasgow, and I work for a research software group at an academic publisher. I’m a scientist by training and a sci-fi geek by nature, and I dabble in photography and cooking as well as scribbling in my spare time.

 

How long have you been writing?

In fits and starts since I was a kid – any time there was a writing assignment at school, I’d make up a story. As a hobby, since I was at university, and it’s been a continuous passion since then, so let’s say twenty years.  Yipes…

 

What inspired you to start writing?

The catalyst was having a bunch of friends who were also interested in writing.  We started with our own Star Trek fanfic ship and crew, writing stories for original characters and their adventures within that universe. I fell in love with it at that point. We then moved on to an original work, and writing that, at first as a way to keep a connection, and then for the sake of the story itself, is what really got me hooked.

 

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

Burning Suns: Conflagration is a project of interesting beginnings, actually. Burning Suns itself is a board game produced by Emil Larsen at SunTzu Games. It’s a sci-fi based game, so Emil had got together with a bunch of artists and produced a galaxy that was populated with fantastic races and locations, and he wanted a story to go with that galaxy—which, for me, was like being a kid given full run of the toy store. When you get a picture like this, there’s a story just waiting to be told…

4268502_orig

And thus Conflagration was born. It’s a three-book series following the adventures of two of the playable characters in the game, although the story is totally standalone – you don’t need to play the game to follow the books. There’s a lot of potential for sequels and other timeframes in the world-build as well, so I hope it’ll keep me busy for some time.

 

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

Sci-fi. I dabble in fantasy as well, but I’ve always loved sci-fi a little more, and it was a natural progression from reading and watching to writing. Though, perversely, I think I own more fantasy books.

 

What authors influenced you?

David Eddings, Tom Clancy, Robert Heinlein, Alistair MacLean, Janny Wurts, and Richard Morgan.  That’s an odd list when you read it back, right? Eddings at the top because he was, and is, my favourite author, and even if you haven’t read his other books, the Rivan Codex, which is a companion piece to his Belgariad fantasy series, has a whole wealth of insight into how he wrote the books.  The thing that sticks with me to this day is the advice to: “Write a million words. Then throw them away. Now you’re ready to begin.” It really underscores the importance of practice.

 

What are you currently reading?

The Three-Body Problem, by Cixin Liu.

 

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

I try to write every day, if only for five minutes, although some days I do take a complete break.  Habit is a powerful ally against writer’s block, I find.

 

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

Usually, and yes, very much so.  I often use it to set my mood.  I love movie soundtracks, I always have. I love the way it’s an emotional amplifier for what you see on the screen, and that once you’ve associated a piece of music with an emotion, it can be difficult to ever shift that conception that you’re supposed to feel “this” when you hear “that” piece. So if I need to tackle a scene or chapter that has a certain emotional tone, I’ll pick the music to put me in the right mindset. And sometimes, that needs to be a terribly cheesy power ballad, hah!

 

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

I’m sure I’m echoing many others in a hope that it’s gotten better! But I think it has. I’m more comfortable with different styles, more confident in trusting to the content of a story rather than dressing it with too many fancy words, more aware that you can’t spend ten thousand words describing something in loving detail no matter how cool you think it is. Getting feedback really helps with that.

 

How do you create the covers for your books?

Burning Suns has a very talented artist crew, and they create the artwork that supports the books and the game. The book covers are a team effort between me, Emil, and our principal story artist, Angelita Ramos, about whom there are not enough superlatives I can use. I adore her work, and I’m really lucky to be working with her. You can see some of that artwork in our trailer for Conflagration – you really get a feel for the scope of the galaxy, I think.

 

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

Sci-fi movies and TV series of all shapes and sizes, I would say, and even the odd computer game – Mass Effect was a strong influence on my decision to start writing fanfiction again after a long break. And that led me to the opportunity I have now, so it was definitely a positive influence!

 

What is your favorite book and why?

HMS Ulysses, by Alistair MacLean. The fact that it’s written from experience lends it an authenticity that’s hard to surpass, but the way in which in portrays the better angels of human nature against a setting of such extraordinary hardship and in the midst of war is utterly magnificent.

 

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

Not excerpts as such, but a series of small stories called snapshots that fill in some background and work as teasers for the main story, available here: https://wyles77writes.wordpress.com/snapshots/

 

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

My new book, the third and final installment of Conflagration, will be released May 11th. Book One is free to download on Smashwords, and if you sign up for my email list, you can get Book Two for free as well (otherwise you can pick it up on Smashwords or Amazon.)

Where can we find you online?

My website

Facebook

Twitter

My Amazon bio page

Smashwords

 

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

I’m not really an indie, since technically I have a publisher, but we’re a two-man army so pretty much we do this on our own.  We’re occupying a niche between indie and trad, thanks to the setup of the game world, so we need the control that the indie option brings.

 

Any parting words for writers?

Ooh, gosh—have fun with it! Whatever you’re writing, however far along with it you are, whether it’s fanfic, original fic, poetry, or factual. When you’re putting this amount of time into something, enjoying it is crucial!

 

Author Spotlight: Ray Wenck

As part of my ongoing series of “Author Spotlights” I’m pleased to highlight author Ray Wenck. I met Ray in June of 2016 at a convention in St. Louis. We’ve stayed in touch since then and in April of this year (less than a week from this post!) we’ll be at another convention together.


Author Spotlight: Ray Wenck

ray4-2Today I’m fortunate to present Ray Wenck, author of the Danny Roth mystery suspense series and the post-apocalyptic Random Survival series.

 

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

I have 11 published novels to date. I was a teacher for 35 years and owned an Italian restaurant for 25 of those years, both of which play a part in the Danny Roth series.

 

How long have you been writing?

I’ve been writing for 6 years and a good example of the phrase ‘it’s never too late …’

 

What inspired you to start writing?

It was something I’d always wanted to do, but never had the time. Once I found the time it’s been non-stop ever since.

 

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

My current WIP is titled A Story Best Left Untold. It’s a stand alone mystery. It developed from one sentence a friend said about their child. “That’s a story best left untold.” Although that story and this one have absolutely nothing in common, the sentence sparked something that came out to be this story. It’s funny sometimes where the inspirations come from.

 

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

I write thrillers in all styles, but my most popular series is Random Survival, a post-apocalyptic tale following one man as he tries to find his way through the chaos of a world altering event that has everyone mystified.

 

What authors influenced you?

There’s so many. Harlan Coben, Lee Child, Michael Connelly, John Connolly, Robert Crais, John Sandford and a list of others.

 

What are you currently reading?

I’m currently reading D.P. Lyle’s Deep Six. Met him at some conferences and decided to read one of his books. I didn’t realize how similar our styles and main characters were. They were both former major league baseball players and both now own restaurants.

 

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

I write five days a week usually for 3-5 hours.

 

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

Sometimes, but once I start writing I don’t hear anything. In fact, I find it easier to write sitting in a diner then I do being home. I’m able to block out all the noise but, if I write at home, everything bothers me. The dog wants attention, unfinished chores make me feel guilty, the refrigerator calls to me. Not good.

 

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

I understand the process so much better now. I was always a good story teller, but my craft has improved.

 

How do you create the covers for your books?

That’s easy. I let the publisher come up with the idea and say yes or no.

 

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

I think almost anything could be an influence, but that’s not always good. I have to be careful to be true to my characters and not copy them after something I’ve seen.

 

What is your favorite book and why?

One of my favorite books was Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Intense for the time.

 

How do you market your books?

As many ways as possible. I’ve done TV ads; ads on Facebook and Goodreads. But the best way I’ve found for convincing a reader to take a chance on a new author is face-to-face. I do a lot of shows. It’s easier to explain a book to someone when you don’t have to worry about word count or time. They can also feel the passion with which you explain it.

 

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

Sure, but it’s raw.

I have a story to tell, I think. Oh, not that I think I have a story, I definitely do, especially considering the small, but important part I play in it. It’s just that I’m not sure I should tell it. I mean, after all, if the facts became known, a lot of people could be in trouble, though most, I’m sure, would go to ground, scattered about the world by strong, need-to-disappear winds.

 

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

I’m published through small presses, but because I do a lot of creative writing workshops, the question about self-publishing comes up every class. To be able to talk to them from experience I have published 2 of my novels myself, Ghost of a Chance and Live to Die Again.

 

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

All my titles are available by going through my website: raywenck.com or on Amazon.

 

Where can we find you online?

Twitter: @raywenck

Facebook: Author Ray Wenck

website: raywenck.com

 

Any parting words for writers?

At least once a show someone will come up to me and say they’re a writer too, or they always wanted to write. The secret to writing is to sit your butt in a seat and write. My suggestion, is to write for yourself, not to get published. Have fun. Enjoy the creative process and keep going until you finish. You can always go back afterward and do rewrites, but they are much easier to do once the book is done. Some may disagree with that, but so many times I’ve talked to people who write, stop and start something new, or start, decide they don’t like it and go back and start over. Consequently, the story never advances. If you finish you can go back and fix the parts you don’t like and it won’t feel as daunting.

 

Author Spotlight: Mackenzie Flohr

In my ongoing “Author Spotlight” series, I present Mackenzie Flohr.


Author Spotlight: Mackenzie Flohr

14225545_1055346424585970_2984355175129179776_nToday I’m fortunate to present Mackenzie Flohr author of The Rite of Wands.

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

I grew up in a suburb of Cleveland, Ohio. For as long as I can remember, I have loved the arts. My parents introduced me at a very young age to the artistic and cultural opportunities that the city of Cleveland had to offer. I spent my teen years developing my love of theatre and writing through The Beck Center for the Cultural Arts in Lakewood, Ohio.

 

How long have you been writing?

I have honestly been writing since I was a young child. My best friend and I would create little stories and draw pictures.

 

What inspired you to start writing?

I honestly didn’t think of writing as a career until I was on my way to Indiana to view a Lord of the Rings exhibit. That is when the concept of The Rite of Wands first came to me.

 

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

The Rite of Wands is the first book of an epic fantasy series. It follows the story of 12-year-old warlock Mierta McKinnon after he endures a harrowing ritual called The Rite of Wands in order to gain his magical powers.

 

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

Science Fiction & Fantasy.

 

What authors influenced you?

J.R.R. Tolkien, J.K. Rowling, Michael Ende, Christopher Paolini.

 

What are you currently reading?

Gnarled Bones and other stories by Tam May.

 

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

I usually write a few days per week at night between the hours of 12 – 3 AM.

 

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

Sometimes if I really need to concentrate. Music seems to bring out emotions that I cannot quite describe. I actually created a playlist for The Rite of Wands, which can be found on my website.

 

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

When I first started I really struggled with getting clear thoughts onto the paper as well as describing something so others could understand what they should be seeing. Now I feel I can get into a character’s head much easier than before.

 

How do you create the covers for your books?

MFlohr-RiteofWindsI work exclusively with Blue Harvest Creative, who design absolutely amazing covers.

 

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

When I write I can see my characters vividly, almost like they are performing in front of a green screen. Sometimes they also look and sound like actors. Specifically, for this series, the character of Mierta McKinnon was heavily inspired by actor Matt Smith. As the character evolved, I grew more confident to write this character for him, knowing I could take this character anywhere.

 

What is your favorite book and why?

The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien. The story of Frodo and the hobbits, and their struggle to destroy the one ring of power, really touched me on an emotional level. I especially loved the relationship between Frodo and Sam, and it made me realize we all need a Sam Gamgee in our lives.

 

How do you market your books?

I am a member of several Facebook groups which support indie writers like myself. We share our triumphs and our struggles as well as mutually advertise our works through our various blogs, Twitter, and Facebook pages. I also have an amazing team behind BHC Press, which also helps me properly market my book and develop my brand.

 

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

Chapter One

Draconiera Mountain–The kingdom of Aracelly
1238

 

“Mierta McKinnon.”

The twelve-year-old warlock startled, hearing his name announced telepathically. Mierta stood up on shaky legs and brushed his brown bangs out of his green eyes. The room inside Draconiera Mountain was suffocating. Hot springs bubbling up from deep beneath the ground created a dense fog, which pushed down on Mierta’s shoulders. Sweat was already dripping from his brow onto his long dark royal blue robe. His heart raced as he approached a large wooden door. He occasionally glanced over at others who were anxiously waiting their turn, wondering which of those he made eye contact with would succeed.

No matter what happens. No matter what I see. I cannot allow my fears to overcome me, Mierta told himself. I will achieve what I have come to do. I cannot fail. I won’t. I will make Mum and Dad proud.

A loud creaking echoed across the room, and the ground shook underneath his feet. Two tall wooden doors opened up to a pathway of complete darkness.

“Step inside,” he heard the dragon say. Mierta swallowed hard and expelled air through his mouth.

Upon entering the pathway, a warm mist rose from below. Water splashed against rocks, and occasional water droplets hit his skin. A faint glow shined in the near distance. He walked towards the glow until he found himself in a large circular cavern. In the centre of this cavern was a short round pedestal. An opening off towards the right looked like it was open-aired, and off to the left side was another doorway, which was currently closed.

Mierta gazed up at the source of the glow and caught a glimpse of the magnificent creature standing on a rocky ledge. He could hear his pulse beating in his ears. He felt like his body was paralyzed, yet he felt unsteady. His own rapid breathing masked the sound of Lord Kaeto stepping into the light.

Mierta gasped, shielding his eyes against the bright yellow light from Lord Kaeto’s wings, trying to conquer his fear. When his eyes adjusted, he noted the ebony veins that traced a pattern like fingers. The veins seemed to pulse with power.

“Lord Kaeto,” Mierta uttered, bowing, keeping his eyes averted to the ground.

Lord Kaeto was the last of his kind—an omniscient ancient breed of telepathic dragons that had been around for longer than any could remember. The residents of the kingdom looked at him as if he were a God, straight out of the stories of old.

“Mierta McKinnon. Rise,” he spoke. “It is your time to participate in the Rite of Wands in which your soul shall face the ultimate analysis. You will be taken on a journey of your lifetime, viewing portions of your past, present, and future. Do you concede?”

“Yes,” Mierta answered, his voice breaking.

The Rite of Wands is a tradition among witches and warlocks when they reached their twelfth birthday. It was a ceremony, which once completed, would signify their initiation into the magical community of Aracelly.

I will not fail. I cannot fail, Mierta recited to himself.

“Very well,” Lord Kaeto nodded, pleased. “The Rite of Wands shall commence!”

Lord Kaeto tilted his head upwards and blew fire from his mouth.

Mierta lifted his hands to cover his face. When he heard the sound of the bolt slide open from the other side of the room, Mierta lowered his hands to watch as the door opened with a loud creak.

“Dragomir will be assisting me with the ritual.”

Out stepped a warlock wearing tall black boots, a black tunic with a golden lacing, royal blue breeches and a long sleeved white linen shirt. His face was hidden behind an orange and golden mask shaped like a dragon’s head. The warlock raised his right hand into the air and shouted, “Forina olivet!”

A lightning bolt crashed down beside him, followed by the sound of drums beating, which gradually became louder until it matched every thump of Mierta’s frantic heart.

While the door closed behind him, Dragomir walked to the edge of the room and bowed to the dragon. The drums stopped abruptly.

The warlock bowed his head toward Mierta.

Mierta glanced back not assured.

“His appearance may look frightening, but do not fear,” Kaeto continued. “I assure you he is only here to help me perform the magic, which is tiring for me. Now, Mierta, keep your eyes upon mine at all times. You may feel a tingling sensation as I investigate your essence.” He turned toward the warlock. “Dragomir, you may begin, wand at the ready.”

Mierta watched Dragomir raise his wand and hold it out towards him. He took in a deep breath. He had heard stories about the Rite of Wands, but it was forbidden for anyone to discuss specifics of their individual ritual. The little knowledge he had told him the ceremony represented a kind of test before he would either be accepted as a full member of the magical community or not. If he failed, there would not be another chance; he would become a Magulia-a magical person without his or her powers.

The Rite of Wands began when Lord Kaeto entered his soul, though he did not know exactly what would happen. What he was about to see was a mystery. However, how he endured would determine his fate.

When Mierta stared into Lord Kaeto’s golden amphibian eyes, they were not frightful like he expected. Instead, they appeared old and sad, like he already knew what he was about to see. This sent a chill down Mierta’s body.

Lord Kaeto could see what Mierta’s heart desired. There was both good and evil inside him, caused by a deep hurt that had yet to be mended.

Please, do not curse me to a life without magic, Mierta begged.

At the same time Dragomir shouted, “Fedish ramtatí!”

It did not take long before Mierta started to feel the effects of the spell. First, he experienced what felt like a dozen small black bugs crawling up his skin. His mind urged him to scratch to rid his body of them. He reached out a hand to scratch his left arm, when suddenly Dragomir cast another spell. “Gañoth!”

Mierta abruptly stopped. A small, “oooof” escaped his lips as he promptly was thrown backwards against the pedestal located directly behind him. He felt as if all the air was being released from his lungs, followed by intense pain, as though he had been punched in the stomach. Stars filled his vision.

Dragomir watched the young warlock’s eyes start to roll. He pointed his wand straight at Mierta’s heart and stepped in close to deliver the final blow. There was no hesitation in Dragomir’s movements or guilt in his eyes. He swung his hand around in a large circle and shouted, “Draciolamus!”

Mierta gasped and his eyes re-focused. He was rewarded with air returning to his lungs. He took in several deep breaths, treasuring them as if they were to be his last. He closed his eyes and reopened them just in time to see a set of arms and hands appear, detached and demon-like. They were the colour of misty grey mixed with black. As the disembodied parts slithered toward him like a snake, a moaning sound emanated from them.

He must have cast a spell that causes hallucinations. Oh, how brilliant! I reckon as long as I don’t give in to the fear, I will get through this, Mierta thought.

Mierta wanted to break the trance; however, he was determined not to show the dragon any weakness. One day, he was certain, he would become the most powerful warlock in Iverna. He would do wonders for the magical community while he sought vengeance for the crime committed against his mother.

His body trembled while the hands crawled up his legs. His pulse increased again and his breathing became uneven once he felt them slip underneath his breeches. They climbed up his legs and made their way under his wool shirt until they reached his chest. Then they stopped.

“Lord Kaeto?” Mierta questioned, perplexed.

He let out a cry when he felt a sharp, stabbing pain.  One of the hands had entered his body through the right side of his chest. Crying out again when the other hand followed through his left side, Mierta looked down to see a gruesome sight of blood saturating through his royal blue robe where the hands had entered him. He felt overly hot as blood rushed to his face and nausea built in his throat. Taking a step forward, he heard a squishing sound. He looked down to see blood had pooled at his feet.

“Lord Kaeto,” Mierta uttered between breaths. “What?”

A high-pitched ringing filled his ears. The world before him rapidly spun and transformed into white puffy clouds. His eyes rolled into the back of his head and his knees buckled as the darkness engulfed him.

 

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

The Rite of Wands is available through Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

 

Where can we find you online?

Website: http://www.mackenzieflohr.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MackenzieFlohrAuthor/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/mackenzieflohr

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/16247559.Mackenzie_Flohr

BHC Press Author Page: http://www.bhcauthors.com/Author_Mackenzie_Flohr.html

 

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

I had thought originally about going the traditional route, but I realized I wanted more control over my work if someday it should be adapted for a television series or movie series. I also found a great group of people to support and develop me as a writer!

 

Any parting words for writers?

Keep writing! Look for what inspires you, and drives your muse. Stories pick their writer. You never know if you’ll be chosen to write the next best-seller.

 

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.