Category Archives: Author Interviews
Interview, Cover Reveal & Giveaway with Fantasy Author, Melissa McPhail
- How important do you think cover art is to selling your books?
I think cover art is essential to book sales. A well-crafted cover will tell the reader in which genre the book is classified, represent in some way the story’s theme, and give an overall impression of the world. Fantasy book covers are vital to presenting a sense and feeling of the world. In many cases, the cover is the only visual representation a reader gets.
And of course, we all know that a book cover done well will catch a potential reader’s attention. It’s your best and sometimes only chance to make that memorable first impression.
- For self-published and small house published authors, what do think is important to remember when deciding on the final cover for your work?
I stand firmly on the side advocating book covers that support the central themes of the story they contain. For literary fiction, you can get away with more creative (or minimalist) covers that don’t have much to do with the story itself but are artful and visually compelling.
But for fantasy and other genre fiction, covers should capture a particular feeling that’s prevalent in the story (loneliness, peril, mystery, love, longing…) and give the reader some sense of the world.
No matter your genre, ensure your cover communicates the things you need and want it to communicate, and don’t settle for anything less. The cover is your first communication to a potential reader. Make sure the communication you want is what gets across to them.
- Who did you choose to use for cover art, and why? What was your process for deciding on who to use?
With the original covers for Cephrael’s Hand and The Dagger of Adendigaeth, I used an independent digital artist, Kentaro Kanamoto, to create the artwork, and then I designed the covers around the artwork.
The new covers were produced by Damonza.com. I really liked their approach to cover design and was attracted to them originally when I saw a cover they produced for another independent author. They ask for a lot of information about the story and its central themes up front, and then they get busy creating. They worked with me through a number of revisions until I was happy with the covers.
- How does the new cover better relate to the book and its characters?
It was important to me to ensure that the new covers give a sense of the world as well as some of the story’s key thematic elements. All three of the new book covers give a visual representation of more themes that are central to their part of the story.
Cephrael’s Hand is the name of a constellation that features prominently in book one, so of course those stars are represented on the cover.
Patterning is the name of the magic system in the world, and some representation of Patterning is included on all of my new covers.
For the cover of Cephrael’s Hand, the most central character in the story is working a pattern. This was important to me, as I feel having that image there helps establish a visual concept of Patterning for the reader early on in the series. The new Cephrael’s Hand cover also gives a sense of the time period and setting of the story.
- Can we expect similar covers for the rest of the series?
Yes. I decided to rebrand the entire series with new covers. Having all of the books similarly branded as part of the same series is important for continuity and will help readers from becoming confused. The covers also help establish a growing concept of the world as the story grows.
Interestingly, I debated rebranding the earlier books, since ideally once your readers are heading into the second or third books, they’re already committed to your series. It brooked the question if book covers were still that important later in a series. But as I looked at this topic, I saw that you never know at what point a reader will come across your books. Too, it isn’t always the first book that grabs their attention. So great covers are a must for every book.
- Speaking of the series, when will books 2 and 3 be available?
Book two, The Dagger of Adendigaeth, was released in 2012, and book three, Paths of Alir, will be available in October 2014.
The Cover Reveal & Giveaway
Are you ready for the reveal of the new Cephrael’s Hand cover? Because here it is! What do you think? Does it do a good job conveying the fantasy genre? Is it a book you’d be attracted to in the store? Does it make you want to learn more?
Thank you for helping us celebrate! If you’d like to see the new covers for books 2 and 3 in the series stop by www.MelissaMcPhail.com, and check them out.
Guess what else? The author is offering a special giveaway as part of this grand event. Check out the Rafflecopter form below (it’s also available at www.novelpublicity.com/cephrael-cover-reveal/) to find out how you can win a Kindle Fire. Hooray!
Oh, and don’t miss learning more about Cephrael’s Hand and where you can pick up a copy—that’s below too.
“All things are composed of patterns…” And within the pattern of the realm of Alorin, three strands must cross:
In Alorin… three hundred years after the genocidal Adept Wars, the realm is dying, and the blessed Adept race dies with it. One man holds the secret to reverting this decline: Bjorn van Gelderan, a dangerous and enigmatic man whose shocking betrayal three centuries past earned him a traitor’s brand. It is the Adept Vestal Raine D’Lacourte’s mission to learn what Bjorn knows in the hope of salvaging his race. But first he’ll have to find him.
In the kingdom of Dannym… the young Prince Ean val Lorian faces a tenuous future as the last living heir to the coveted Eagle Throne. When his blood-brother is slain during a failed assassination, Ean embarks on a desperate hunt for the man responsible. Yet his advisors have their own agendas, and his quest for vengeance leads him ever deeper into a sinuous plot masterminded by a mysterious and powerful man, the one they call First Lord.
In the Nadori desert…tormented by the missing pieces of his life, a soldier named Trell heads off to uncover the truth of his shadowed past. But when disaster places him in the debt of Wildlings sworn to the First Lord, Trell begins to suspect a deadlier, darker secret motivating them. Honor-bound to serve the First Lord in return for his life, Trell continues on his appointed path, yet each day unveils new and stranger secrets that eventually call into question everything he knows.
Please enjoy this interview with Stephanie Fleshman, author of the enticing Paranormal YA, Render. Then read on to learn how you can win huge prizes as part of this blog tour, including a Kindle Fire, $550 in Amazon gift cards, and 5 autographed copies of the book.
An Interview with Stephanie Fleshman
Author of YA Paranormal Novel, Render
1. How do your experiences traveling and growing up in a rural town help you to write?
Traveling has always stimulated the passion I have for learning other cultures. Render definitely depicts that, since I bring so many other cultures into the story.
2. You are among many new authors who went to a post-secondary school for something completely different from writing. How does your degree in psychology play a role in your writing?
Psychology is the study of human behavior, so that has definitely helped to create multi-dimensional characters.
3. Do you have any advice for others who have stuck to a career path, but find that writing is their true calling?
I don’t believe you have to choose. Experience and knowledge of different fields can benefit a writing career, depending on what you want to write.
4. Who are two of your favorite authors, and why do those authors speak to you?
Cormac McCarthy. I think he is a literary genius.
J.K. Rowling. She is a true storyteller, which I believe is different than telling a story.
5. You use some really unique names in Render like Koldan, Raya Whitney and “The Russian.” Where did you get the inspiration for the names? Secondly, when in the writing process do you name characters?
I start with names, but those names have a tendency to change throughout the story. For Render, most of the names had to do with origin.
6. “Koldan Holdt knows what he wants.” He knows, but his fate has been determined since before his birth. Can you discuss how people find their way around the obstacles of life as well as any suggestions you might have?
Recognizing there is no such thing as complete control–the control you do have is determined by different variables, one being the choices you make.
As part of this special promotional extravaganza sponsored by Novel Publicity, Render, the debut YA Paranormal novel by Stephanie Fleshman, is on sale for just 99 cents! What’s more, by purchasing this fantastic book at an incredibly low price, you can enter to win many awesome prizes.
The prizes include a Kindle Fire, $550 in Amazon gift cards, and 5 autographed copies of the book.
All the info you need to win one of these amazing prizes is RIGHT HERE. Remember, winning is as easy as clicking a button or leaving a blog comment–easy to enter; easy to win!
To win the prizes:
- Get Render at its discounted price of 99 cents
- Enter the Rafflecopter contest below
- Visit the featured social media events
- Leave a comment on my blog for a chance at a $100 prize.
About Render: A betrayal born of blood. A curse for a gift. A love worth saving… Seventeen-year-old Raya Whitney thought she knew Koldan–until a sudden turn of events threatens both their lives. Get it on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or iTunes.
Stephanie Fleshman graduated with a degree in psychology and has family throughout the United States as well as in Thessaloniki and Athens, Greece. Visit Stephanie on her website, Twitter, Facebook, or GoodReads.
Please enjoy this interview with Thaddeus Nowak, author of the exciting and beautifully written YA fantasy, Mother’s Curse, and its sequel, Daughter’s Justice. Then read on to learn how you can win huge prizes as part of this blog tour, including a Kindle Fire, $450 in Amazon gift cards, and 5 autographed copies of each book.
1. Stephenie surely defies stereotypes. Born a princess, but a tomboy. Cursed as a witch, but a likable relatable character all the same. How did you go about creating her character?
Stephenie was born in my imagination many years ago. It was during a time I was struggling with another story. To help “get my creative juices flowing,” I started to write random scenes with random characters. One scene I wrote was about a young girl who was alone in a public house where a conflict broke out, and she had to fight her way out.
Well, I kind of fell in love with the character and had to find out who she was, where she was going, and why she was alone in the world. In making that discovery, I crafted the current story arch that is the Heirs of Cothel Series. It took some time to work out her past and what her life would be like growing up as a witch and how the damaged relationship she has with her mother would affect her. Based on those factors, her break from what would be typical for a princess seemed natural.
Which then led me to think of the girls I had grown up with and the women I know today; many of them are tomboys and are not afraid of getting dirty and running about the woods. So it just seemed natural that Stephenie would be that way as well: a strong young lady who has her own motivations and agenda, but is compassionate and can sympathize with others, even if she cannot fix all of their problems.
As a bit of trivia, many aspects of that original scene are in Mother’s Curse.
2. Did you face any special challenges writing a female lead character, given that you are a male author?
Yes and no. I grew up surrounded by girls. My family had the only boys in the neighborhood for many years, so all my friends were female and that does give me something to draw from.
When writing Stephenie, I try to get into her head and see the world through her eyes. Occasionally, I need to refocus and make sure she would really react in a particular way. The good thing is I have had her in my head for so long that I usually have a pretty good idea of what to write for her. My bigger challenges come with some of the other female characters and making sure I am true to them.
3. The tension between Stephenie and Sergeant Henton is one of my favorite parts of the book. How did you develop their relationship using such subtlety and not hitting us over the head with cliché romantic dialogue?
I am glad the subtlety of their relationship is being noticed. I had one reader tell me they were worried that I might fall into one of the overused traps they see in so many YA novels. Once they realized I had not done that, they were ecstatic.
I can say this approach in the story is very much me. I am something of a romantic, but I don’t care for most of the stories dubbed as “romance”. Do people act in stupid ways when they are trying to attract other people? Of course, but too many stories seem to force stupid decisions upon the characters to ratchet up the tension. Too many times, that is done through obvious misunderstandings that could be resolved with half a minute of conversation that the characters work very hard to avoid.
My goal is to never have a character deliberately sabotage their relationships for stupid reasons (at least not a character I respect). If things work or don’t work, I want there to be more substance to the reasons. I want the investment in the relationship to be greater, and so the emotions stronger. Perhaps I’ve watched too many classic movies, but there is something very powerful about what is never said aloud between people.
4. The Kingdom of Cothel is at war. Could you tell us more about the front lines Stephenie is so desperately trying to escape to?
At the opening of Mother’s Curse, Cothel, and most of the other countries to the west, are fighting against an invading army that sailed in from the Endless Sea. These invaders have many witches and warlocks in their ranks and are overwhelming the holy warriors and soldiers of the people who live around the Sea of Tet. These Senzar invaders have killed royal families and left countries without rulers. Stephenie’s father was quick to join the battle because his oldest daughter was married to the crown prince of Esland and one of the first to be killed.
The Senzar spent most of their focus driving toward a prominent mountain range in the middle of the land between the Sea of Tet and the Endless Sea to the west. Their main forces have yet to cross over Cothel’s boarders. However, they are on the doorstep of the country and Cothel’s forces are low on supplies and reinforcements. Stephenie’s desperation is to reach her father and brother, the King and Crown Prince, because she fears her mother is plotting something that could put them and the people of Cothel at risk.
5. Although firmly rooted in the fantasy genre, Mother’s Curse and Daughter’s Justice remain quick-paced engaging reads not mired in the details of exotic lands or creatures. Why did you decide to depart from the genre with regards to this important aspect of storytelling?
While some fantasy novels feature lengthy descriptions and details about the various inhabitants, to me Mother’s Curse, Daughter’s Justice, and the subsequent books that will be in the series, are foremost about the main characters: Stephenie, Henton, and Kas. The backdrop of the world, while important, really is a backdrop and I have tried to embrace the idea of less being more.
I am proud of the world I have created, but I am also willing to let the nuances soak in over time as they become relevant to the story. For those who like to find out more about the lands Stephenie has to explore and the history I have created for those lands, I try to put some extra information up on my website. I’ve been adding to it slowly, but have had requests for more information and will work to increase the frequency of the postings.
6. Which authors, film makers, and other sorts of storytellers serve as your primary influences in crafting this book series?
This is a good question. In all my reading, I cannot recall consciously thinking I would like to expand on a specific idea in my own stories. I am certain all the things I have read have had significant subconscious influences. I grew up with a mixture of the classics (Isaac Asimov, Tolkien, Ursula Le Guin, and Arthur C. Clarke) and contemporary writers such as Joel Rosenberg, Barbara Hambly, Jane Lindskold, and Kate Forsyth. There are, of course, many more I did not list.
From TV and movies, I would tend to pull more influences from the scifi realm. For conscious influences, I would say I really liked the whit and humor of Farscape and how the characters got along. The only thing I can say I remember the actual spark of the idea was from the movie High Spirits. That movie lent me the idea that over many years ghosts would fall into a trance and continually relive an aspect of their lives, no longer aware of the world around them until something disturbed their environment.
7. How did you write the interactions between Stephenie and her mother without wanting to strangle the latter? And how did you craft such a formidable villain despite her maternal relation to our loveable hero?
Well, first off, I love my own mother, so no parental issues there. I do know she got a few questions when other people first saw the title and read Mother’s Curse, but having been an early reviewer of the story, she’s also a strong supporter.
For Stephenie and her mother, I wanted the interaction between the two of them to be very toxic and antagonistic. Years of mutual hate meant they knew how to push each other’s buttons and get under the other person’s skin.
Some of it I think I may have pulled from my experiences working in sales and dealing with difficult customers, but mostly it came from the number of years I worked in what was effectively the advanced support team of a crisis management center. Our job was to help people recover large computer systems that were in real trouble. It was high pressure work and not everyone could handle the customers who were themselves under incredible stress. A big part of the role was simply human psychology, empathizing with the customer and helping to make sure they knew you had their best interests at heart. It was really more managing the people than actually working to repair and troubleshoot the databases.
A natural side effect of learning how to help reassure people in a crisis is an insight into how one could hurt people. Hopefully, I’ve managed to put those years of experience to good use in making believable villains.
8. Have any experiences, personal quirks, or people you know worked themselves into your writing? If so, how and where?
Well, not so much in Mother’s Curse or Daughter’s Justice. There is a lot of me in the characters, especially when it comes to the pragmatic nature of several of them, but I did not really draw from any other people. As a kid, I spent a fair amount of time gaming with my friends and that has lent me the ability to quickly imagine another person, craft some personality traits, and put on a different hat to play that part.
However, the next book, tentatively titled Daughter’s Revenge, will feature someone close to me in the pages. I’ve had numerous requests to include a character for our horse, Dollar (original show name was Silver Dollar due to a white mark on his withers about the size of a silver dollar). So, in book three, look for Stephenie and others to spend some time on horseback, and Dollar to be along for the journey.
9. When not writing, what do you like to do with your free time? Tell us something whacky and cool!
Free time? I don’t quite understand the question. 🙂
I have had to narrow down my list of hobbies and “want-to-dos” considerably over the years. There is just not enough time in the day. However, the primary activities I keep up with include:
Hiking. Though we lack any mountains to make it challenging, I try to spend time on a couple local trails. It is excellent time for working out specific plot details in my head. This year I have two different vacations planned, both of them involve a week of hiking with my wife. One will be in North Carolina, and the other will be on the west coast.
I often mix photography in with the hiking. My wife and I are generally landscape photographers who want trees and mountains in almost every shot, though I do like shooting soft water. I’ll definitely post a few shots of my vacations online after each of those trips.
I also try to keep fit at the gym, but that unfortunately slips from time to time. However, I need to get back into proper condition to hike 15+ miles a day in the mountains with about 35 pounds of gear (cameras, lenses, and a tripod gets heavy).
And of course, I read a lot of novels when I can. Though lately that has also been hit and miss. I always feel guilty reading something else when I can be working on my own novels. But sometimes I just have to take a day or so of solid reading and knock out a book simply for the joy of it.
10. What’s next for the Heirs of Cothel Series, and when can we expect book three?
Book 3 is tentatively titled Daughter’s Revenge. I will let the title imply what it will. As I have already alluded to, Stephenie and others will be going on another road trip, this time using horses. She will learn more about herself and continue to grow as a person. There will be a couple of new characters introduced, but aside from that, I don’t want to give too much away.
Regarding the release date, the first two books have released in the first quarter of the year. I am am aiming to move that up some, but a lot of things have to come together with the proper timing to make that happen. I will definitely keep everyone posted about when to expect book 3 on my website as things get closer.
As part of this special promotional extravaganza sponsored by Novel Publicity, the price of the Mother’s Curse and Daughter’s Justice eBook editions are just 99 cents this week. What’s more, by purchasing either or both of these fantastic books at an incredibly low price, you can enter to win many awesome prizes.
The prizes include a Kindle Fire, $450 in Amazon gift cards, and 5 autographed copies of each book.
All the info you need to win one of these amazing prizes is RIGHT HERE. Remember, winning is as easy as clicking a button or leaving a blog comment–easy to enter; easy to win!
To win the prizes:
- Get your copy for just 99 cents
- BONUS: The sequel is also discounted to 99 cents
- Enter the Rafflecopter contest below
- Visit the featured social media event
Mother’s Curse is a coming of age story about the youngest Princess of Cothel and her efforts to save her father and brother from her mother’s schemes, while at the same time, coming to terms with what it means to be a witch. Get it on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or iTunes.
Daughter’s Justice continues Stephenie’s journey of discovery, where she must overcome national opposition to her being a witch as well as lead her friends and protectors on a mission to stabilize her countries finances. Get it on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or iTunes.
Today we have a treat for you. Two videos, one of Jason Brant and one of Elle Casey, both answering questions from me about their new book together, ACES HIGH. You will get to hear Jason making fun of the fact that I am from the South. You can go ahead and tell him in the comments what a douche is he 😉 You can also make fun of him for countless other things in the video. Go at him. Be My Guest! If you can stop laughing at him long enough that is.
Elle is her usual awesome self (don’t worry, Jason…you were awesome too!). She never ceases to surprise me. Her favorite quote in the book was actually mine as well. It is one that Jason wrote that had me dying laughing so hard that my husband gave me the “god, you’re crazy” look.
If you haven’t read ACES HIGH, I urge you to go get your copy and I am going to put a handy little buy link right here on the page.
Please let them know what you think about the interviews in the comments below. Ask them questions if you like. I’m sure they will eventually get over here to maybe answer a few!
Please enjoy this interview with Bella Andre, New York Times and USA Today best-selling author of the contemporary romance series, The Sullivans. Then read on to learn how you can win huge prizes as part of this blog tour, including special romantic swag baskets for each book, an iPad Mini, Kindle Fire, Nook Color, and Kobo eReader, and Amazon and iTunes gift cards!
Interview with Bella Andre
about her best-selling series, The Sullivans
1. You create characters beautifully and are an absolute master of plot twists. It seems like you could write in almost any genre and do a bang-up job of it. What made you decide to devote your efforts to the romance genre in particular?
Thank you so much for the compliments! I’ve always been a huge romance fan – I’ve been reading nearly a book a day since I was a teenager – so it was a natural fit for me when the characters starting appearing in my head one day. 🙂
2. How did the idea for this interconnected contemporary romance series first come to you? What was your inspiration?
I love the family series that have always been popular in historical romance – like Julia Quinn’s Bridgerton series and Nora Roberts’s MacGregors – and I was also inspired by my husband’s large family. It seemed like a natural fit to combine the funny and sweet family dynamics into an overarching series of sexy contemporary romances with the alpha heroes that I love so much.
3. Everyone seems to have a favorite Sullivan. Now I know this is like asking you to choose between your own children, but who is your favorite? And who’s most like you?
I’ll have to plead the fifth and pick Mary Sullivan – the family matriarch – as my favorite Sullivan. She’s the heart that keeps the family together and I get emotional whenever I write a scene with her. In fact, in COME A LITTLE BIT CLOSER (Smith Sullivan’s story), the scene where he calls his mother to ask for love advice is one that so many readers have told me is their absolute favorite scene in any Sullivan book.
As for who is most like me – maybe Sophie Sullivan from I ONLY HAVE EYES FOR YOU. She loves to read (and is a librarian) and when she wants something (in her case: bad boy Jake McCann), she goes for it! Of course, I’m also a lot like Lori Sullivan (aka “Naughty”) with her big mouth and constant laughter.
4. In your opinion, what ingredients are needed to make up a good love story? Is life the same as fiction in this respect? Why or why not?
I love to love my characters and when I write a story I need two heroic, nice, good people (and why not gorgeous, too?!) who deserve love and have a lot of love to offer in return, but who are flawed partially because they haven’t found that perfect someone who complements them like no other. I like my fiction to be a little bigger than life – the Sullivans are extraordinarily hot, sensitive and attentive – but at their heart, they’re all very real.
5. How has your own love story with your husband informed the Sullivan series? Are there any scenes that are directly taken from your own life?
I have the best husband in the entire world. Sweet, loving, sensitive…and super hot! He’s always supported me in everything I’ve ever done and I think his strength and capability to love is at the core of every hero I write.
With that said, none of the scenes are ever taken directly from my own life. I have a very active imagination. 🙂
6. Let’s pretend for a second that you are a single woman living in the world of the Sullivans, which of the six brothers would you be most likely to fall in love with and why?
Ohhhh, now THAT is a fun fantasy! I would fall in love with each and every single one of them – and do, while I’m writing each of their stories! If I had to pick one, I might have my eye on Marcus (FROM THIS MOMENT ON) – because while all of my Sullivans are sweet, sexy and sensitive – Marcus is the only one with his own endless supply of wine from his winery. And there’s just something about the oldest brother…. Then again, Zach Sullivan is such a great combination of cocky and sweet. And Ryan Sullivan has all those muscles. And Gabe is such a hero as a firefighter (and I love his dirty talking between the sheets). And Chase is so sexy and protective. And then there’s Jake McCann (who falls in love with Sophie Sullivan) with his tattoos and big muscles. Not to mention Lori’s hero in the upcoming ALWAYS ON MY MIND which will be out this spring. I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that Lori’s hero just might be the hottest hero I’ve ever written.
See, what did I tell you earlier? I’m no good at picking just one. So let’s just say, yet again, ALL OF THEM!
7. The Sullivans and their beaux have some pretty interesting careers. From photographers and sculptors to professional actors, musicians and ball players all the way to firefighters, librarians and business owners, they lead very exciting lives! What type of research did you have to do to capture these jobs so well? Do you have any interesting research anecdotes to share?
I’ve written firefighters and athletes in previous series which helped with my firefighter, Gabe (CAN’T HELP FALLING IN LOVE) and my baseball player, Ryan (LET ME BE THE ONE). I also live in Sonoma and have a lot of experience with wine and wineries which was ideal for winery owner Marcus (FROM THIS MOMENT ON) and as a writer I’ve been blessed to work with many librarians who served as information points for Sophie (I ONLY HAVE EYES FOR YOU.)
For books where I need inspiration, the internet has been amazing and when needed, I also call on the help of professionals. Even though I’d written firefighters before, I still sent all my firefighting scenes to a professional and for Smith’s book (COME A LITTLE BIT CLOSER) I sent all the acting-set sequences to a local film producer.
8. I was very touched by the inclusion of Yorkie puppy, Cuddles, and Great Dane rescue, Atlas, in book five, If You Were Mine. Are you a dog person yourself? If you have pets, I’d love to know more about them!
I *love* animals. I had the best time writing the two dogs in IF YOU WERE MINE. They had their own little love story in that book, which pleased me to no end. There’s a cat that plays a very important role in ALWAYS ON MY MIND (Lori Sullivan’s story, coming Spring 2013). My whole family loves animals, and we’ve recently adopted a beautiful cat. Or more accurately, the cat has adopted us, smart little minx.
9. The Sullivan series is currently seven volumes long. How many more books do you have planned, and which other family members will get the spotlight in their own books?
Lori’s book (ALWAYS ON MY MIND) is up next, and there are 5 Seattle Sullivans who are ready for love – I will start with Rafe Sullivan’s book this summer! Plus, I have something *very* special planned for Mary Sullivan, their mother, planned to release for the holidays in 2013.
10. And lastly (for a bit of random fun), what has been the most amazing/ touching/ validating interaction you’ve had with a fan of your books?
Everyone who has ever written to me on Facebook or Twitter or Goodreads or via email to tell me how much they love my books and that the Sullivans have moved them in some way has touched me. I love my fans, so, so much! I have the very best time in the world writing about my Sullivans… and knowing that I have so many absolutely wonderful people waiting to read them as soon as they’re released is a total thrill every single day.
The Sullivans are on tour with Novel Publicity. Follow along for your chance to win amazing prizes. We’ve got special romantic swag baskets for each book, an iPad Mini, Kindle Fire, Nook Color, and Kobo eReader, and Amazon and iTunes gift cards. WOW!
You’ll also get introduced to this amazing contemporary romance series via excerpts as well as interviews with and guest posts from New York Times and USA Today best-selling author, Bella Andre. You’ll definitely want to learn more about the family that has captured the world’s heart.
All the info you need to join the fun and enter to win amazing prizes is RIGHT HERE. Remember, winning is as easy as clicking a button or leaving a blog comment–easy to enter; easy to win!
To Win the Prizes:
- Purchase any of the Sullivan ebooks by Bella Andre for just $4.99 (optional)
- Enter the Rafflecopter contest on Novel Publicity (go here)
- Visit today’s featured social media event (that’s where the HUGE prizes are)
About The Sullivans: In this sexy, emotional and funny contemporary romance series, each member of the Sullivan family will eventually find true love…usually where he or she least expects it.
Audiobooks are also available for the first five in the series (with more coming soon). Plus, keep an eye out for paperback editions coming from Harlequin Romance starting Summer 2013.
About the Author: New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Bella Andre has always been a writer. Songs came first, and then non-fiction books, but as soon as she started writing her first romance novel, she knew she’d found her perfect career. Known for “sensual, empowered stories enveloped in heady romance” (Publishers Weekly) about sizzling alpha heroes and the strong women they’ll love forever, nearly all of her novels have appeared on Top 10 lists at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple and Kobo.
Her books have been Cosmopolitan Magazine “Red Hot Reads” twice and have been translated into nine languages. Winner of the Award of Excellence, The Washington Post has called her “One of the top digital writers in America” and she has been featured by NPR, USA Today, Forbes, and The Wall Street Journal. She has given the keynote speech at Book Expo America on her self-publishing success and has sold more than one million books.
If not behind her computer, you can find her reading her favorite authors, hiking, swimming or laughing. Married with two children, Bella splits her time between the Northern California wine country and a 100 year old log cabin in the Adirondacks.
Interview of Doug Dillon: author of Sliding Beneath the Surface
Book I in The St. Augustine Trilogy
1. What do you like about writing in the paranormal genre?
First of all, it is just so much fun. I get to play with the spooky things that have haunted humankind for millennia and the possibilities are endless. Second of all I get to use my own paranormal experiences as a basis for everything I write in that arena. It just flows so naturally because I’ve been there. And last of all, I get to actually educate some folks about the paranormal in the process. Sure, I present all that stuff as scary, but in the end, I show it as a very natural and positive part of who we are as human beings.
2. How long did it take to write your book?
To be perfectly honest, I started playing with the Sliding book during a trip to St. Augustine back in 2004. But actual writing/editing time would be about a year and a half.
3. Do you create an outline first?
Yup, I’m an outliner from hell. Well, not in the usual outline format but I do pre-construct each chapter with its own story arcs and write a synopsis. I also have a checklist of items I need to include with regard to things such as location, physical environment and whatever Jeff, the main character, is physically sensing.
In fact, I have an actual form I used to outline Book II of the trilogy so I wouldn’t forget anything. BUT–once I get into the writing, my characters and I often veer in unexpected directions and new chapters sometimes get written in the process.
4. Do you ever get writer’s block and if so how do you overcome it?
Only in the sense that I struggle with how to express something complex in the fewest words possible. Even then, I’m a meditator so I know how to gently back away from the problem, stay centered and look at it in a new light.
5. If you couldn’t be an author, what would your ideal career be?
If I had the professional credentials, I would love to be an investigator for the University of Virginia’s Division of Perceptual Studies. For decades, they have been investigating cases of reincarnation in children worldwide.
6. List 3 books you just recently read and would recommend?
Nonfiction – Life Before Life: Children’s Memories of Previous Lives by Dr. Jim Tucker
Mystery – The Sanibel Sunset Detective by Canadian journalist Ron Base
YA – Divergent by Veronica Roth
Where can everyone find your books? What social media sites are you on?
Click to Buy E-book:
- Barnes & NobleUSA
- TheBookDepository: Australia, Brazil, NewZealand, HongKong, Ireland, India, Philippines, SouthAfrica
Click to Buy Print Book:
- Barnes & Noble
- TheBookDepository: Australia, Brazil, NewZealand, HongKong, Ireland, India, Philippines, SouthAfrica
Please enjoy this interview with Melissa McPhail, author of the spellbinding epic fantasy, Cephrael’s Hand. Then read on to learn how you can win huge prizes as part of this blog tour, including a Kindle Fire, $450 in Amazon gift cards, and 5 autographed copies of the book.
1. Your debut novel, Cephrael’s Hand was the winner of The Written Arts Award for both the best fiction and the best Sci-Fi/Fantasy categories–congratulations! So tell us, what was the inspiration behind this story, and can you tell us a little bit about it?
I started the first version of Cephrael’s Hand when I was going through a difficult time in my life. I needed the cathartic joy that I’d always found in writing. I didn’t set out to write a novel—just to write. That first draft had no planning, no world-building, no design. It was pure creative inspiration. And it was awful!
But the characters… I had brought them into being, and they insisted that they had a story to tell. It took my growing as a writer—and over a million words tossed into the trash—to finally tell their story properly.
Cephrael’s Hand is the result of a philosopher’s approach to fantasy. It’s the story of one man’s steadfast determination to save the realm he swore to protect, and his willingness to do anything it takes to accomplish that end—even to betray those he loves. It’s the story of the unlikely pieces (men and women) who unknowingly fall beneath his shadow, and of the players who follow him. Ultimately, it’s a story of salvation.
I see fantasy as a metaphor for life in this world. We all face tests of our honor. We’re all working to accomplish our goals and flourish and prosper. Few of us set out to do evil. Yet evil is done. Goals are abandoned. Integrity is compromised. We totter precariously on thin wires as we move through the labyrinth of life. I strive with my series to illuminate those wire-thin paths, that we might find solid ground beneath them.
2. Without giving away too much, can you reveal what’s in store for the readers when they crack open Cephrael’s Hand?
If you listen to my critics—too many characters! But this is an epic fantasy dealing with a conflict that spans multiple kingdoms. It takes a team to save the world. 😉
Hopefully you’ll meet interesting characters and a world you can easily find your own place within. You’ll discover pirates, princes, star-crossed lovers and philosopher-soldiers. You’ll see many characters who are not as they appear, and a few who are exactly as they seem. You’ll find adventure on a perilous road with prince Ean val Lorian, and farcical escapades with Trell of the Tides and the pirate Carian vran Lea.
You’ll often wonder who is good and who is evil—because most villains in real life are cloaked in shades of gray.
3. Can you tell us more about some of the key concepts that inspired the world of Cephrael’s Hand?
The story is crafted out of many of the philosophies I’ve studied. As I was planning Cephrael’s Hand, I had been reading about game philosophy. Game philosophy speaks on the importance of games in our lives and takes a look at their composition (barriers, purposes and freedoms) and their anatomy (pieces, players, maker of games). It’s a compelling concept with abundant applications, and I became immediately interested in exploring the ideas more via the story of Cephrael’s Hand.
Balance is another concept that threads throughout the story. Exploration of this idea comes out of my study and practice of yoga. If ever a concept permeates our lives, the pursuit of balance is one. Whether seeking to balance work and parenthood, our social commitments and our private lives, or even just the juggle of that list of a thousand things we’ll never get to, every one of us is seeking balance in some fashion. Placing this concept within the framework of a fantasy story embellishes it with a magical lure.
4. The Cephreal’s Hand constellation plays an important role in the book. Is there a real life constellation that plays a similarly important role in your life?
I can’t say that a particular constellation is important to me personally, though I’ve studied Astrology for many years. But I’m drawn to the idea, both scientifically and philosophically, that we are all connected somehow with each other and the broader universe. String Theory and General Relativity play to this idea from the perspective of science. Certainly, if we are connected to the stars in some esoteric way, then the actions of the stars can impact us. Astrology believes this, and the graphing of natal charts proves an underlying truth in this ancient, mystical and often misunderstood science. Philosophies far and wide declare that we’ve descended or separated from a universal oneness and teach karmic values with the intent of helping us return or re-ascend to that harmonious state.
The concept of Balance in Cephrael’s Hand stems from this idea of universal connectivity.
5. Ever since a linguist named Tolkien came along, language has been a very important aspect of the epic fantasy genre. What inspired the various languages in Cephrael’s Hand?
The desert languages are based on Farsi or Arabic, depending on the tribe. Farsi is one of the oldest languages still in use today, and its traditions lent themselves well to the Kandori culture, which is one of Alorin’s oldest races. Likewise Arabic, being originally a language of the nomadic tribes, seemed the correct base from which to draw the language of the Akkad.
Even older than both of these languages in my novel is Old Alaeic, which is the original language of theangiel, the Maker’s blessed children, and of the two original races: the zanthyrs and the drachwyr. Old Alaeic draws primarily from Gaelic root words. I chose Gaelic because the language maintains some of the earliest roots of our Indo-European linguistic heritage. Its spellings and pronunciations are almost universally reminiscent of mythological beings from ancient times and are often associated, especially in the fantasy genre, with elves, Druids or other mystical races.
6. Which other authors have served as influences and inspiration for your own work?
I love lyrical writing, so my bookshelves host an eclectic mix (albeit heavily weighted with fantasy and science fiction). Those who first come to mind from the fantasy genre are Anne Rice, Patrick Rothfuss and Jacqueline Carey, all of whom carry on a great and fabulous romance with the English language, much to the ecstasy of millions. Being able to string words like pearls into a story that reads at times like poetry in motion seems the greatest pinnacle of storytelling skill.
7. It’s been said that one of the most time-consuming processes of writing epic fantasy is world building. Without giving too much away, what are a few of your favorite world aspects and what inspired them?
As I wrote in a recent guest post, world-building and the magic system developed for the world are intimately connected. We can’t really describe a fantasy world without talking about the magic that rules it, because so much of what we understand about the world derives from our understanding of how the physical laws of the world work.
In creating my world of Alorin, I established five “strands” of the lifeforce known as elae. These strands are a way of describing and codifying the lifeforce which is the source of energy in the world, but they are only one way of describing it. While most of the viewpoints I am writing from agree with describing the lifeforce in terms of “strands,” there are other races in Alorin who have codified it differently, darkly, or with less purity for lack of philosophical simplicity.
I love exploring different viewpoints and imagining how each would describe a universal energy. I love examining the cultures that seek to describe this energy and how their ideals might alter their understanding of it. For example, the Adept race believes that Adepts are born with the ability to work one of the five strands, but only one. Yet some of the “Wildling” races are known to be able to innately work more than one strand.
The Fhorgs race works blood sacrifice to fuel their magic. Would their magic work without such sacrifice? The Adepts believe that it would. Yet within the Adept philosophy, a working of magic requires faith both in the existence of power and in one’s ability to manipulate it. If the Fhorgs don’t believe themselves able to wield the lifeforce without letting blood, it follows that magic would become unavailable to them simply because of their lack of belief. Moreover, because the Fhorgs don’t limit their ideas of their magical ability to a five strand approach, it’s possible they might achieve more through the wielding of it–or not. These are existential questions for these two races, questions which set them at odds with each other. Questions from which derive conflicts and persecutions, intrigues and betrayals.
Such explorations fuel both world-building and magic-system building, because their delineation establishes how the world works, how the people of the world interact with the energy that fuels it, how they interact with each other, and how they use the energy itself to work arcane acts.
8. You grew up in a house full of musicians, but your creativity emerged in the form of writing. Have you always felt called to write?
I always thought I would end up with a career in music like the rest of my family. I grew up harboring such an appreciation of these accomplished, classical musicians all around me, it seemed a natural course to follow in their footsteps.
Instead, I stumbled into writing the way one sometimes bumps into providence, colliding with it accidentally. I happened to take a creative writing class in high school. My creative writing instructor believed the best way to teach writing was to send her students out to actually write. So I did—hundreds of pages over the next few years. Writing became both an outlet for my creativity and the escape reading had always provided. I know I share that love affair with many authors.
9. At one time or another, most writers hit the wall and their work stalls because of the dreaded writer’s block. What do you do to get around or over this mental wall to resume writing?
Usually I turn to music—either composing it or listening to it. If I can find a great new song, sometimes that will help inspire me out of the hole. When a scene just isn’t working, I’ve learned to go back to where I was last doing well in the story and scrap everything that came after. It’s an agonizing process, but often necessary.
10. The Dagger of Adendigaeth, Book 2 in your series, has just been published. How has your vision expanded from book 1 to book 2, and what kind of creative growth have you experienced in your process this second time around?
We grow as writers with every novel—at least I believe that’s the goal. Many of the things I gained in writing The Dagger of Adendigaeth are intangible, ineffable understandings of myself and my creative process. I think of those times of being fabulously, fantastically stuck and the final moment of inspiration that launched me out of that depressing well. I think of the plot twists that came to me completely without warning, and the absolute magic that is the creative process.
The thing I loved most about writing this book was being able to explore so many viewpoints—especially the viewpoints of those characters who might be viewed as antagonists. But I don’t and never have seen them that way. It’s my greatest purpose in writing this series to be able to show the motivations and ideals that mold and shape each character. The more we can understand each other, the closer to a peaceful coexistence we will find, whether in the microcosm of our lives or the broader political and religious zones.
As part of this special promotional extravaganza sponsored by Novel Publicity, the price of the Cephrael’s Hand eBook edition is just 99 cents this week. What’s more, by purchasing this fantastic book at an incredibly low price, you can enter to win many awesome prizes.
The prizes include a Kindle Fire, $450 in Amazon gift cards, and 5 autographed copies of the book.
All the info you need to win one of these amazing prizes is RIGHT HERE. Remember, winning is as easy as clicking a button or leaving a blog comment–easy to enter; easy to win!
To win the prizes:
- Purchase your copy of Cephrael’s Hand for just 99 cents
- Enter the Rafflecopter contest on Novel Publicity
- Visit today’s featured social media event
About Cephrael’s Hand: Two brothers find themselves on opposite sides of a great battle, neither knowing the other is alive… A traitor works in exile while preparing for the disaster only he knows is coming… A race of beings from beyond the fringe of the universe begin unmaking the world from within… And all across the land, magic is dying. Cephrael’s Hand is the first novel in the award-winning series A Pattern of Shadow and Light. Get it on Amazon or Barnes & Noble.
About the author: Melissa McPhail is a classically trained pianist, violinist and composer, a Vinyasa yoga instructor, and an avid Fantasy reader. She lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband, their twin daughters and two very large cats. Visit Melissa on her website, Twitter, Facebook, or GoodReads.
Today I am hosting a guest post from Addison Towne, author of Suburban Task Force. I hope you enjoy a glimpse into the life of Addison and her book.
Today I became ‘that’ mom.
The one who drove her kid through Starbucks for chocolate milk and a croissant only to rush him to eat it in the parking lot at school because we were a half hour late.
Oh, and did I mention he’s three?
While I understand the value of time and the need to teach our children to respect it- I find myself often fighting against it. I can honestly and without shame say that there are days I simply don’t take my son to school because I don’t want to deal with the time parameters. He has the rest of his life to worry about time; being on time, having enough time, what time…you get the point. Whether it’s the excuse of his being late for school, or that I would have to show up as the frazzled still in her PJ’s mom or just in general stopping him from playing and having fun, I find myself saying enough is enough and therefore let him stay with me at home.
Kids need routine, I know. But we have to teach them the fun of freedom sometimes as well right? Without this letting go, this freedom, I never would have written Suburban Task Force. I broke free of the corporate time structure and now force myself to work within my own ‘time’ to accomplish my goals.
Now, let’s be perfectly clear. I realize I am incredibly fortunate to have this ‘stay at home option’ as my husband maintains his respect for ‘time’ and as a lawyer charges hourly for it, allowing me to be frivolous with mine. Working from home means I can shift my work hours if need be, to overnight. Yes, I suffer, but admittedly I like working in a dark and silent house. There was a time when I made the daily commute and corporate rounds while my husband figured out his path, and so I try not to feel guilty about it… but sometimes I do.
This post is really a thank you to time and to my husband for letting me find my way into writing. There were characters like Suzie, Jade and Chloe waiting to get out of my head and explore this world on the page. Without the time, they would never exist and I would always feel an empty place where Suburban Task Force should have been.
Lest I not forget the drive-thru. Without the drive-thru they would definitely not exist. Sorry husband.
It takes a home invasion scare and a co-workers brutal mugging to wake Jade from her suburban slumber. The adventure begins when she and her two best friends forgo an uplifting spa retreat for an intense tactical, gun and self defense weekend, all without their husbands’ knowledge.
Upon their return, feeling rejuvenated and proud, the women try to re-adapt to their suburban lifestyles. Not so easy when you have to attend a VIP party on Catalina Island with the who’s who of Hollywood and Politics. Without warning, the island is taken hostage by a rogue terrorist group. With the men and women separated, and all outside communication cut off, Jade and her friends feel their only hope is to use their combined talents and outlandish movie knowledge to outsmart their captors.
Comedy and daring action ensue as the three women, with one weekend of self defense training, try to lead an all out attack against those holding their loved ones hostage. If you are a fan of the Stephanie Plum series or enjoy an action packed, laugh out loud read this is the book for you!
BUY ON AMAZON: Suburban Task Force
Addison Towne is a lover of fashion, foes and fun! She was born and raised in Chicago, Illinois. Her background in television, film and marketing gave her the motivation and passion to write Suburban Task Force. As a entrepreneur she has spent the last ten years developing brands and products that have earned her awards and recognition ranging from a television Emmy to a CEO of the year Women Making a Difference nod.
You can reach her via email at AddisonTowne@gmail.com. She is currently working on the next Suburban Task Force series and looks forward to reader input.
Connect with Addison!
http://pinterest.com/addisontowne/ Pinterest (help fill Jade, Suzie and Chloe’s Closets with fun stuff!)
Buy the Book!
Suburban Task Force
Today I have the pleasure of introducing you to author Jason Brant. Check out his awesomeness with his guest post and enjoy 🙂 Oh, please feel free to question him and laugh your ass off. Suscribe to comments for this post if you want to keep up with the conversation. I, for one, can’t wait till author Elle Casey reads this. You will know why soon. 🙂 I will put lots of links below so you can follow Jason’s crazy…I mean awesome…train.
The Power of the Mullet
Like Samson, people who have the balls to rock a sweet mullet have powers that we mere mortals can’t fully comprehend. I wish I could understand what it is about this hairstyle that gives those it adorns almost supernatural abilities, but I don’t have the courage or manliness to pull off that look. It’s a character flaw that I’m working hard to fix. As of late it seems that people have felt the need to scoff at the mullet, but I’m here to tell you why they’re wrong. There have been many incredibly influential people throughout the years who have been given special skills thanks to their bitchin’ mullets, but they become vain and disheartened, eventually cutting their hair. Little did they know that this would lead to their downfall.
Who are some of these fallen heroes? Here are three examples.
Mario Lemiux and Jaromir Jagr: This dynamic duo crushed the hockey world in the ‘90’s, leading the Pittsburgh Penguins to several Stanley Cup victories. Jagr cut his rad mullet in 1999 and immediately began suffering from an affliction I like to refer to as ‘sucking ass’. Lemieux, beloved by the city of Pittsburgh fell upon a string of injuries that resulted directly from defiling his perfectly quaffed mane.
Richard Dean Anderson aka MacGyver. He cut his mullet and then aged instantly. The timeframe between these two pictures is a matter of hours.
Billy Ray Cyrus. He changed his hair and then sired a demon.
Now, there are also plenty of instances where someone’s career has skyrocketed because they’ve cultivated the mullet. Here are two current examples of those:
Kenny Powers. OK, so the actors real name is Danny McBride, but I’m fairly convinced that this role wasn’t much of a stretch as far as acting goes. He has a hit TV show and burgeoning movie career. And it’s all because of his righteous mullet.
Elle Casey. Though I don’t have an up-to-date photograph, I do have one from her childhood. Her hairstyle has remained unchanged throughout the years though, so this is a good representation of what she is currently rocking. Obviously, her writing success is directly attributable to the mullet. Don’t be fooled by the boyish looks in this picture – I’m fairly certain she is indeed female.
For awhile I was thinking that hard work and perseverance were the keys to success and happiness, but I’ve now learned the error of my ways. There is a fast track to all that is good in life, and it drapes over your neck. I hope that I’ve been able to illustrate the importance of keeping things ‘business in the front and party in the back’. It is in your utmost interest to work on growing a wicked mullet of your own. Your career, sex life, and overall awesomeness depend on it.
Jason Brant Links:
Books By Jason: (available Amazon, B&N, Smashwords, Kobo, and maybe more places: I only put the Amazon links below)
The Gate: The Gate
I am honored to be a part of the Waiting For Daybreak Blog Tour! Today I have a guest post from author Amanda McNeil. I hope y’all will make her feel very welcome and ask some questions as well as buy her book if you are interested lol. I will insert a link to buy the book from Amazon below. Amanda also generously offered an ebook of Waiting for Daybreak for giveaway. Giveaway details below.
Boston is an amazing location for an apocalypse. I honestly don’t know why it doesn’t feature more often, although urban fantasy writers are starting to catch on to the allure. I’ve lived in Boston for seven years now, and one of the things foreign tourists always tell me is that it is the most European city in America. We all know nothing is spookier than old buildings and winding streets, and Boston has both.
Most cities in America are built on the grid system, but Boston’s streets were literally originally cow paths. I don’t know if you’ve seen the trails animals make in the wild, but they are not straight and planned. They wind and meander. This means that it’s a lot easier for something like, oh say a zombie, to sneak up on you.
My zombie apocalypse, then, is set in this pseudo-European city with meandering streets, old buildings, and dark alleys. It’s a modern, scientific apocalypse that somehow simultaneously manages to be gothic. I thank Boston for that.
Frieda, the main character and thus a survivor, knows Boston very well. She knows innately how to get from one neighborhood to the next by sense of direction alone, a talent that is not necessary in grid-style cities. It’s one of her strengths that she doesn’t realize she has until the apocalypse forces her out of her depressed stupor and into survival mode.
Setting is important both in establishing the scene for the reader and developing the character. In this instance, Frieda is more self-sufficient than she realizes purely because navigating a city that is not built on a grid takes a bit more effort. Realizing that this is a skill she has and using it helps her to start to see her value as a person. Her journey out of depression and into self-actualization is thus helped along by the setting of the winding streets of Boston.
WAITING FOR DAYBREAK BLURB:
What is normal?
Frieda has never felt normal. She feels every emotion too strongly and lashes out at herself in punishment. But one day when she stays home from work too depressed to get out of bed, a virus breaks out turning her neighbors into flesh-eating, brain-hungry zombies. As her survival instinct kicks in keeping her safe from the zombies, Frieda can’t help but wonder if she now counts as healthy and normal, or is she still abnormal compared to every other human being who is craving brains?
Amanda is an energetic, masters degree educated, 20-something happily living in an attic apartment in Boston with her shelter-adopted cat. She writes scifi, horror, urban fantasy, literary fiction, and paranormal romance. She has previously published short stories and a novella.
LINKS TO BUY THE BOOK AND CONNECT WITH THE AUTHOR:
Buy on Amazon: Waiting For Daybreak
Library Thing: http://www.librarything.com/profile/gaialover3
I will make this giveaway super easy. There is ONE e-book of Waiting for Daybreak up for grabs. Winner has the choice of .epub or .mobi. To enter, all you have to do is ask a question about something that you read in this post. If you do not ask a question that is about something in this post, you will not be counted. So read and ask a question. Contest ends 8/3 at 8am CST with winner announced sometime afterwards. Thanks!