Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Author Interview with YA author Milli GIlbert

This month I'm wrapping up both of my blog tour series. I'm excited to introduce my last interview for that series, Milli Gilbert!

Kristen: Thank you so much for answering some questions for me. With the changes in reading materials over the years, it seems a popular question/debate is ebooks vs. paperbacks. Both have their pros and cons, but for your own reading, do you prefer ebooks or traditional paper/hard back books?

Milli: Pretty much whatever I can get my hands on. I have a tablet, and I have physical books. I love being able to read in bed with the tablet without having the light on and disturbing my husband, but there’s still something to be said about the way a book feels in my hands, or the way an old book’s pages are worn soft, and the way it smells. I love the smell of old books.

Kristen: I so agree! I love the ability to read at night without bothering my husband and usually choose my Kindle at night for that reason. But there's something special about a paperback.

When you develop characters do you already know who they are before you begin writing or do you let them develop as you go?

Milli: Uh… yes. It depends on the character. Sometimes, we’re old friends just catching up, and other times, I’m still getting to know them. It’s like meeting anyone the first time. They’re fully developed, whether we see it or not, it’s a matter of being observant and finding what makes them tick. If you pay attention to the character, like you do when you’re talking to a friend, you start to pick up on their little quirks and personalities. Sometimes it takes a while. I’m still scratching my head over a couple of them.

Kristen: Wow, I love your way of describing that. Everyone's fully developed, but we need time to learn who they are.

Can you give us an insight into your main character. What does she do that is so special?

Milli: Oh, my… Um… Well, Jordy is very driven. Her goal in life, as a NASCAR driver, is to get out on the track and race even one season against her father before he retires. She refuses to give up, even when people tell her she can’t do something -- usually her twin brother, and she doesn’t care what others say about her. She is her own creature, and doesn’t have time for petty crap. Chris (the love interest) refuses to let Jordy give up, even when she doubts herself, and even though he gives odd birthday presents (for her 18th, he gave her a hammer, so she could break through the glass ceiling with it), he knows what buttons to push and when. Then again, when someone has been your best friend since they day you were born, thanks to their dads being best friends, it’s hard not to know someone.

Kristen: Sounds like fun! I love characters who have a goal and are determine to not give up, and to achieve their dreams.

To switch subjects a little, when it comes to publishing, what do you choose as a path and why?

Milli: I publish independently. There’s less for me to do that way - I’d be doing all the same marketing stuff I already do, even if I published traditionally, but I’m in complete control of the finished product.

Kristen: I'm so with you on the control thing. I want all the power! 

When you're putting a book together, how much research do you do?

Milli: That depends on the project. Some books, there’s very little research, others, there’s a lot more because I don’t know the subject matter. Sometimes, I just apply my own life to a situation I put a character in, and other times, I have to reach out to the world at large for

Kristen: I hate research and thought fantasy would be the perfect way to just make up my own stuff. But it's amazing how many things still weasel their way in that need me researching something. 

Thank you again for stopping by and what a great way to wrap up this series! If you want to know more about Milli or her books, don't forget to hit all the links below!

An eclectic writer, Milli Gilbert is a stay-at-home mom who loves to play with words almost as much as she loves to play with her kids. All of her stories involve romance, and maybe a little bit of mystery. Milli loves to write about cowboys and shifters, and can usually be found trying to find interesting ways to combine them. She also writes smut under a different name. She has several short stories published, and will have her first full length novel out in November 2017. She just took off after one of her couples to follow them around for a few months – but don’t worry, she’ll be back. 

Find Milli on FacebookGoogle+, and Pinterest, or follow her on Twitter.

And of course, on her blog, Hairballs of Genius.

Friday, June 2, 2017

Interview with Corinne Morier

This month's interview is with Corinne Morier, also known as the Meme Queen!

Kristen - What is your favorite part of the book you're working on now?

Corinne - I think my favorite part is in chapter seven, when Ceruden is questioned by the spirit of the river. I was sort of inspired by a subplot in an anime I watched and wanted to expand upon the idea of a spirit living in the river that never stopped asking questions. Although I was also scared to death that it wasn't believable enough, so just the other day when I received feedback on it from one of my critique partners, I was so happy when she said that it added a fun layer of complexity to the world I'd created.

Kristen - What literary character do you relate the most to?

Corinne - I definitely relate most to Hermione from the Harry Potter series. We're so alike it's scary. I was also the bookish outcast who loved school and ended up the favorite of several of my teachers. And the scene in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone when they're in their first day of Potions class and Snape is asking Harry a bunch of questions that he doesn't know how to answer, and meanwhile, Hermione is sitting on the edge of her seat frantically waving her hand in the air because she knows the answer to the teacher's questions is exactly like how I was back in school.

Kristen - What do you hope readers will take away from your book?

Corinne - I just want people to walk away from my book having enjoyed the story. I don't really care if it's a character, or a certain part of the story, or even just a certain line that sticks with them. I just want to write stories that remain in peoples' heads long after they turn the final page.

Kristen - That's definitely a hope I can empathize with. The feeling that someone enjoyed your story, no matter what aspect of it, is so inspiring and makes it all feel worthwhile.

If you could have any superpower, what would you choose and why?

Corinne - I think I'd want to fly. Cliched answer, I know, but it just seems like so much fun to soar through the air.

Kristen - And no worrying about traffic! Getting to places would be faster because you could fly straight there instead of zigzagging.

What's the hardest thing about writing?

Corinne - Motivating yourself to sit in the chair, day after day, and bang out words onto a keyboard that make some semblance of sense in the hopes that someone somewhere will be entertained by them.

Kristen - Very true! Especially if you have so many other things that you want to do as well, or have to do, it can be hard to make time in a day to just write.

Thank you for joining me today, and I can't wait to see how your novel turns out!

Corinne Morier is a bibliophile-turned-writer with a penchant for writing stories that make readers think. In her free time, she enjoys blogging, playing video games, and swimming. Her motto is “Haters gonna hate and potatoes gonna potate.” 

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Friday, May 5, 2017

Interview with Allie May

This month's interview is with Allie May, writer and blogger!

Kristen - Where is your favorite place to write?

Allie May - My recliner used to be the best place to sit and write. I love writing with my feet up, and the chair was so comfortable. But it’s currently in storage. When I’m at work, I’m stuck at a desk and it’s not comfortable at all. Now I have a chair support for my bed that I use when I write on my days off work.

Kristen - Do you think that the cover plays an important part in the buying process?

Allie May - Absolutely. For example, if a book has a shirtless guy on it, then I won’t buy it. I’m also tired of the girls in awkward positions trying to look natural on covers.

Here’s what I want my book cover to look like. It looks kind of like a textbook which I think makes it stand out more on the shelf. But ultimately the publisher gets to decide what it looks like.

Kristen - I also think knowing your audience plays into it. I feel like I'm attracted to certain kinds of covers, and that it's a great first impression aspect that authors and publishers can use to say "my book is the kind of book people who enjoy x type of fiction will love". 

And I'm so with you on the shirtless men photos! Or the headless people, where they just took a picture from the neck down. Those aren't deal breakers, but I spend too much time wondering where their heads went.

Does your book use any references to mythology or real-world folklore, or does it contain its own folklore?

Allie May - One of my favorite parts of Powerful is the mythology that I was able to create for each kingdom. They each have their own creation myths that I based off real world religions. One is a monotheistic religion with a prophet that I based off Islam. One is a polytheistic religion that I based off Indian and Japanese religions. One is kind of a Native American inspired religion where the elements themselves are gods. It was probably my favorite thing to write out of the whole book.

Kristen - What part of your writing time do you devote to marketing your book?

Allie May - I’m not really marketing books right now, since I don’t have anything published yet, but I do spend a lot of time marketing myself. I make sure to use social media once a day, and I try to come up with funny and entertaining things to post that will make readers like me when I do have something to offer. For example, I’ve started putting funny quotes that I say onto photos and sharing them.

Kristen - Even marketing yourself can take a lot of effort. So it's great that you've started now and are trying to show future readers who you are as a person. 

What’s your views on social media for marketing, and which of them have worked best for you?

Allie May - I love using social media to market. I’m a total introvert, and I hate talking about myself, but social media has really been a great way for me to connect with other writers and readers. I love Facebook because it’s easy and I already know how to do it, but I’ve also *reluctantly* started to see the value in Twitter.

Kristen - It's a lot of time to build connections, so it's great that you're enjoying the process and getting out there and meeting people. Everything's easier if you find pleasure in it. 

Thank you for letting me interview you, and I can't wait to see Powerful published!

I am Allie May, fantasy author and mother of the world’s cutest dog. I run the blog, Hypergraphia. Hypergraphia means the overwhelming and uncontrollable impulse to write, and I combat it by writing fantasy novels and blogging twice a week. When I’m not writing or working, I’m usually at Disneyland. I’m currently editing my novel, Powerful, while working on another novel that I started when I was twelve called A Fairy’s Tale. On the weekends, you might catch a glimpse of me in the shadows as a lightsaber-wielding superhero. Maybe.

Don't forget to check out Alyson on all her social media!

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Friday, April 14, 2017

Author Interview with Sue Seabury!

Let's welcome YA author Sue Seabury!

Kristen - Hi Sue! Thanks for dropping by. First questions of the day! How often do you write? Do you have a special time during the day to write?

Sue - I write every morning, and maybe snatch a few minutes later in the day to work on editing.

Kristen - Ah that's the opposite schedule from mine! I write late at night when everyone is sleeping. Though I do also try and snatch those precious moments during the day if there's a lull in activity.

Do you aim for a set amount of words/pages per day?

Sue - No. My preference is to finish a scene in one sitting, but that isn’t always possible.
Kristen - Do you write on a typewriter, computer, dictate or longhand?

Sue - Computer. My handwriting is officially illegible.

Kristen - Mine too! Besides, it all needs to go on the computer eventually so I might as well save myself some time. Not to mention I type way faster than I write.

Where do your ideas come from?

Sue - Where don’t they come from? Anything I see, hear, etc is fair game. Look out. I’m collecting ideas from you right now.

Kristen - Eep, I'll be careful then. I knew there was a reason I made sure my socks were matching for this interview! 

What are your ambitions for your writing career?

Sue - To be #1 on the NYT bestseller list . . . What? That’s not everyone’s ambition?

Kristen - Haha, I'm sure most writers at least hope that's in their future! I think if I made it anywhere near the top 10 I'd think it was a dream. 

Thank you so much for joining me today!

Sue Seabury enjoys travel, good food and great conversation. Since she doesn't often get to do any of these things, she writes about them in her books.

Follow her on Twitter.
Learn more about Sue on her blog.
Find her books on Amazon.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Interview with H.S. Cook

This month's interview is with H.S. Cook. First, a little bit about her.

Working in a world of logic and reason, while dreaming of one filled with magic, H.S. Cook lives between her scientific research and her fantasy writings. A molecular biologist by day, she finds ways to inject the magic of her worlds into daily life, making time to write. She is currently working on an epic fantasy series: The Blood King Chronicles.

On now to the interview.

Kristen - Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
H.S. - The first story I was given to read was a series of Wind in the Willows books. It was before I went to school, but they were not oversimplified. It was published as a box set of 9 books, so the individual books were short and easy to manage. I remember reading them and getting lost in the adventures of Rat, Mole, Badger and Mr. Toad. I loved those books so much, and they started my life of reading. I still have them today!
Kristen - I only remember reading one story from Wind in the Willows. So I at least know who people are talking about, though I didn't get to enjoy all the same adventures as you did. Mr. Toad is quite the character!

What was the first thing you remember writing?
H.S. - I am sure we had assignments before this, but the first thing I remember was a two-line story for school that had to start: ‘In the dark, damp basement…’ I do not remember it exactly, but in two lines I was eaten by a massive hairy spider.
Kristen - And later that night you probably wondered why you had nightmares! At least you managed to pack a riveting ending into two lines.  

What do your friends and family think of your writing?
H.S. - Generally, they are supportive. They understand that I need to write. I would like to say that they enjoy it, but that may be friends and family just being nice.

Kristen - What are your thoughts on good/bad reviews?
H.S. - I crossed out good/bad there because a review is an opinion, whether good or bad. I appreciate honest reviews. I do not care whether it is loved or hated – I cannot force people to like what I write. I only ask that they are honest and representative of your actual opinions.
Reviews left with an agenda, or jumping on the bandwagon, are not helpful to other readers or to the writer. They are a waste of space.

Kristen - Which famous person, living or dead would you like to meet and why?
H.S. - Writers – Tolkien. He is my idol. Non-writer – Rosalind Franklin. She is one of my many idols in science and was vastly under-appreciated at the time. X-Ray Crystallography is vital to my current research!
Kristen - I'm so glad I got to learn more about you. And you're a Tolkien fan too! Thank you for answering some questions for me.
Thank you for taking the time to talk with me.
By the Blood, may the Fates show mercy.
H.S. Cook

Check out her website!
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Friday, March 17, 2017

Interview with JR Creaden

This month's YA writer is JR Creaden! Let's jump right in.

Kristen - Did you have any ideas about being a writer that becoming a writer changed?

JR - Perhaps it was those summers spent in Maine reading Stephen King, but I imagined writing as a more solitary experience than it’s been for me. Instead, I’m involved with more writers than I ever dreamed possible—exchanging stories and tips, brainstorming, commiserating, researching. I talk to more writers everyday than I knew existed before.

Kristen - I was much the same way. I assumed writers holed up in caves and never spoke to anyone, but for me it has been a lot of interaction with other writers and discussing the craft and brainstorming. 

What do you do when Real Life intrudes on your writing?

JR - As in when the characters are too much like their real life counterparts? That’s happened a few times, but then I call up the facts and reorganize my thoughts. The characters are unrelated and from alien worlds that didn’t even coexist in the same time periods prior to coming aboard the ship (where the story begins in Re: Morse). Also, none of them had parents, so their core problems—personality or otherwise—have to be addressed by themselves. I am their author, not their parent.

Kristen - Do you have a favorite scene or line you’ve written?

JR - I do! The scene when Relativity’s crew performs a Vincil play, Renderings, for the cadets. I’ve been pressured quite a bit to drop the scene, but I’ve stuck to my guns. The play, which is not exactly “children-oriented” any more than Romeo and Juliet, and the character reactions to the play, are essential to the plot of the whole series.

As an educator and a parent, I believe it’s important for our literature to expand our familiarity with different media. Students of all ages are expected to read, perform, and engage with theater, and using theatrical performance within literature is a fantastic method to model a universal experience. 

Kristen - Tell us about your main character’s weaknesses. How do these affect the first book of your series?

JR - In Re: Morse, the main character, human Hugo Morse is plagued by self-doubt. While we don’t go into major detail about Hugo’s background, certain elements haunt him. Despite the utopian version of Earth he remembers, Hugo’s experiences were not so pleasant. His upbringing within the Syndicate, raised on space ships before being deposited at the Rodanbary Academy, was rather lonely. His fear of failure holds him back and puts everyone in danger.

Kristen - What do you want your tombstone to say?

JR - “Free Fertilizer ↓” I wrote a poem ages ago about my wishes for after death called “Bury Me Standing” all about how I’d like to be buried Bene Gesserit style—upright, wrapped in linens, with a fruit tree planted over me. It might sound morbid, but I have no qualms about death, about the function of my physical body after death. I can’t stand the idea of being put into a sealed box, where my matter is isolated from the Earth that sustained me. I want to give back.

Kristen - Thank you so much for stopping by and sharing! If you'd like to find out more about JR, follow any of the links below!

Check out her Website
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C:\Users\Jessica\Pictures\JR creaden.jpg
JR began her writing career as a child disgruntled with song lyrics. After some early success with poetry and essays, she spent decades distracted by songwriting and academia until her story dreams became too interesting to keep to herself. Re: Morse, the first book in JR’s YA scifi series Contact Files, will soon be ready for public consumption or vivisection. Her goal is to share stories that inspire readers to embrace cultural diversity, the promise of science, and the value of humor and imagination to build a future that’s more Star Trek and less 1984. When she’s not writing, JR enjoys exchanging “your mama” jokes with her children, floating in lakes, and slaying virtual dragons.

Friday, March 10, 2017

February Book Tree

And we're back with another book tree! Last month was slower than January, but still a good month in material. Out of 12 books, 9 of them made the tree list!

The month started off fast enough as I plowed through a series I started in January. I also devoured my first classic challenge book. After that, I hit a slow patch that had everything to do with attention span, other things calling my name, a crazy shift in weather(I am not kidding, mid-February we were getting 50-60 degrees in MICHIGAN), and a general restlessness.

It's not about the quantity though, it's about enjoying what you read, so a slow month by no mean equals a bad one! I'm sure as summer creeps closer it'll get even slower.

Top Row
(Five stars)
  • Where Carpets Fly - An Arabian flair brought this exotic story to life as restless teenager, Elina, moves to the big city in order to take magic lessons. A deeper mystery runs around some of her new acquaintances, but Elina doesn't have time to figure it out before a simple visit to see her father's ship lands her and her new friend, Kara, in danger. Swept up in events beyond their control, the girls soon find themselves in a foreign country that's ripe with turmoil. Disaster strikes and now it's up to Elina to save the day, but she won't be doing it alone.
  • Tower of Thorns - I've recently decided I need to catch up on series I've already started and after loving the first book of this series, there was no doubt that Tower of Thorns had to make it on my pile for February. Blackthorn is a healer recently freed from the worst of prisons. Her rescuer's conditions? That she must say yes to every request for aid and not leave the country he sends her to . . . for seven years!

    As a former mother, wife, and rebel who tried to gain justice for her murdered husband and son, plus the dozens of women harmed by the local warlord, Blackthorn's attempts landed her in that ghastly prison for a year and now that she's out the only thing she wants it justice in the form of the man's death. Being trapped for seven years by the deal that keeps her free is frustrating to the tenth degree.

    Grim, another resident of the prison of horrors, is also freed upon Blackthorn's request that his release be added to the deal. Both are fighting the nightmares of the past, both are a little less than personable, and both are some of the most real characters I've ever read. Their struggles, their personalities, their inner demons make them easy to relate to.

    In book 2, Blackthorn goes to the aid of a strange lady who tells a chilling tale of something stuck in a tower on an island covered in thorns. Whatever is in there cries from dawn to dusk, a sound so terrible that it brings people's worst memories to the forefront of their minds and causes both people and animals no short amount of terror often leading to depression and suicide. 

The lady believes that certain conditions are needed to enter the tower and eliminate the problem, and she needs Blackthorn to meet them. Meanwhile, Grim is fighting his own struggles as something comes a little close to home in bringing back horrible memories from his past. Add in an old friend of Blackthorn's who says the time is right to take down her old enemy, and you've got the recipe for a perfect novel!
  • The Ultimate Prince Charming - Book five in the series I couldn't stop once I started, this story took top prize. Though I enjoyed the whole series, one book had to walk away with favorite status and it was this one hands down.

    Prince George isn't like the other princes from Charming Academy, oh no, he's the ULTIMATE prince charming. After the death of his princess, George begins to see flaws in the system. Namely that there are any number of princesses who don't get rescued for whatever reason. These princesses sit, and wait, in their cursed situation either until they die(from old age or circumstances) or a random person rescues them.

    George rightly things this isn't something that should just be "okay" with everyone. He then makes it his personal mission to find as many of the Lost Princesses as he can and rescue them. What a guy! The fairies from the school try to throw a wrench in his plans by assigning him a new princess and trying to push for him to just save her and that's it. George, the prince of awesome, he's not about to be pushed around. So he does his own thing and begins the ultimate quest to do what no other prince has done before.

    Meanwhile, Leticia(the princess assigned to him) has lost her original prince and has no idea who's coming for her or if someone even is. But she's got two of the coolest dragons for company while she waits. 

Bottom Row
(Four stars)
  • Prince Charming's Search - This was book 3 in the Charming Academy series(the one I spam read). This followed the story of Clarissa and Jacobi on their Cinderella inspired tale. Really loved the twists given to Cinderella's half of the story.
  • Oliver Twist - I have a classic challenge this year for five books, and this is the one I finished first. Great read with lots of sarcasm and wit. There's this revealing insight into an unfamiliar world that was probably way too familiar at the time. It's easy to hate or love these characters in their turn as they're so deeply defined that you can't help feeling like they're real and wishing them good or ill.

    The climax at the end was really WOW and I read it twice, the second time aloud, so that I could really get the full effect of it. Great way to start off this challenge.

  • Becoming Prince Charming - Book 4 of the Charming Academy series brings us to Beauty and the Beast where the focus is more on the Beast than Beauty, an interesting twist in itself. Kaelan's unique curse has forced him to look like a Beast, but now it's trying to take over his mind as well.

    With only an old fairy and a handful of servants, Kaelan's wait for his recuser is fraught with inner battles and growing danger outside of the castle walls.

  • Ella Dethroned - A novella that leads into a series that takes place over a hundred years later. Very interesting beginning and did its job of making me want to read more. Powefully descriptive writing (and that cover!) that hooked me and did it quickly, not easy for a novella to do.

    Ella's on the run as after being removed from her throne by an enemy, her life is now in danger as the allegiance of everyone around her is shifting. Everyone except for one of her trusted guard who is determined to save her.

    The story follows their winter escape, the pursuit that follows, and Ella's discovery of what her role is now that she's no longer Luminary.
  • Prince Charming's Quest - The final book in the Prince Charming series. This brought the series to a satisfying end with the long awaited quest from the main character from the first book. Lucian's quest hasn't been easy. Of course, quests never are, but his has been extra difficult thanks to a dragon's grudge. While he battles through obstacles(and a lot of dragons), Moira's fighting off horrible nightmares that are a bit too real for comfort, and they don't want to let her go.

The only thing that could've made this book better is if it ended with the dissolution of the prince/princess match-up and quest system which seemed to put a lot of people in danger(even to the point of severe injury or death) and ran all over the lives of everyone in the quest's path without so much as an excuse me.
  • A Study in Scarlet - Book 3 in my classic challenge(we won't speak of the horror that was book 2). A Study in Scarlet was a quick read, but engrossing all the same. The first half is dedicated to Sherlock and Holmes meeting and then solving their first case together. The second half went back to show the motivation of the killer in a very indepth sense that was definitely interesting, though the tactic of pulling me away from the current storyline was not one I enjoyed. Since both stories were equally interesting, I'm not sure what I would've preferred, but it did feel like I was reading two separate stories that barely tied in to each other.

And that's how my February went! What was your favorite read of the month? Any good romances that went along with Valentine's Day?

Friday, March 3, 2017

Interview with Krisna Starr

This month I'm interviewing fantasy writer Krisna Starr who also happens to be a good friend of mine. Krisna sneaks her writing in around parenting her two adorable children and is currently working on her novel Dragons of Atlantea.

Kristen: What drew you to write in this genre?

Krisna: I’m an avid reader of almost all genres – mystery, thriller, sci-fi, YA, but my all-time favourite is fantasy. From the time I can remember, I’ve been fascinated by magic, different worlds and fantastic creatures like dragons, mermaids and unicorns. When I read novels featuring them, I get transported to their magical world and get to meet them :)

LOL! Who wouldn’t love to fly upon a dragon’s back, ride a unicorn or uncover the treasures of the ocean with mermaids?

Kristen: Fantasy is my favorite too! All the magical creatures and worlds, not to mention you have the freedom to create more and not be limited by our world.

When did you decide to become a writer?

I don’t remember when it became a conscious decision. I’ve always been making stories in my head. After reading a fascinating book by Enid Blyton in my eighth grade, I started penning down my own story. But it was just for my entertainment. I had no wish to share it with any one. One story lead to another and before I knew it, the passion for writing overtook my life.
Kristen: What is your favorite motivational phrase?


Kristen: Do you think that the cover plays an important part in the buying process?

Krisna: Definitely. I think an alluring book-cover is one of the major hooks for a reader. Many times, people think of a hook in terms of a great prologue or chapter 1. But it is much more than that as I described in my blog post on “Elements of a Strong Hook”.

Before a reader reads our chapter 1, his attention has to be grabbed in some way to entice him to pick the book, have a look at it.

When I go into book stores or browse through amazon, two things grab my attention – the book cover and a catchy title. If I’m hooked by them, then I read the back blurb and the excerpt.

So a great cover translates definitely to more sales.

Kristen: I'm of the same mind. With so many books available and so little time, the best place for me to start narrowing down choices is to see what covers catch my eye and go from there.

Where is your favorite place to write?

Krisna: Hm, my favourite place to write is the beach. I’ve always felt calm and peaceful when I sit on the sands of the beach and gaze upon the infinite ocean. And when I write in this state of mind, the words just flow like the waves. But, the beach is about an half-hour drive from my house and I can’t spend as much time as I want there.

So the next best place is the meditation center that is across the street from where I live. The atmosphere is so peaceful there that my mind is instantly calm. The ideas just flow. I’ve written some of the best scenes of my novel there. Of course life gets very busy that many times I can’t afford the time to even go across the street and spend some alone time. Then it’s back to my writing desk with my laptop :) 

Kristen: I'd love to be able to write by the beach! Like you, I live about 30 minutes away from a decent beach(though mine's on a big lake, not the ocean!).

Thank you so much for joining me today and I can't wait to read your book once it's published!

Krisna is an avid reader and a lover of dragons, unicorns and all things magical. She divides her time between living in this world doing her day-to-day tasks, and the wonderful world of her dreams that is full of magic and fantastic creatures. Her current WIP, Dragons of Atlantea
(working title), is set in the magical world of Atlantea where magic rules, dragons roar and angels soar in the skies.

Besides books, she enjoys spending time with her children, mediation/ yoga, music and watching animes on the net.

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Monday, February 27, 2017

January Book Tree

Hello devoted fans! And people who accidentally clicked on this post. ;) I'm sharing my first ever monthly book tree. We'll see how faithfully I stick to it, cause we know how I can be, or at least I know how I can be.

It'll be a short and sweet post that shares my best reads of the month and a thought on them. I absolutely LOVE reading. Like, stick me in a tower for a year and as long as there's a never-ending supply of books I'll be happy. So this is another way for me to share my love for reading and maybe even help you discover your next book.

Now for the grand unveiling! *tugs on sheet hanging over large frame* Oh come on! RIIIIPPPP. Meant to do that! *tosses sheet aside*

Yes, this is what you get when I write blog posts in the middle of the night.


Please, please, hold your applause. I know, my skills at creating pictures stacked on pictures is impressive.

Okay, okay, down to business. So why a tree? Kristen, that looks NOTHING like a tree! You're right, it doesn't. But see, my beautiful mind picture imagined them tiered like a gorgeous pine tree shape. I then realized that I better only read six books if I ever want that to be feasible. That or find some freaking huge picture. Vision didn't become a reality, but I'm still calling it a tree because I'm stubborn!!! Pretend I'm a three year old showing off their picture of a dragon eating the sun while mommy is making dinner.

The top row would be the five star books and then the second row is the four star ones. (my ratings) Due to space reasons, I decided not to include my 1-3 stars, but I may in the future find a way to better illustrate my reading that'll include all the monthly books.

Top Row
(five stars)
  • Katya's War - The second in the series, Katya's war is a futuristic sci-fi novel that revolves around the planet of Russalka. Colonists from Russia settled the planet long ago and after a long silence between Russalka and Earth, the planet governs itself. But things are not as they seem and there's lots of danger to be had on the ocean-covered planet.

    I love Katya and her story. It's great to see a YA story with a strong female lead who doesn't fall into all of the cliche traps of trying to prove she's a stronge female character. There's also ZERO romance in this series. How many YA novels starring a FMC have zero romance nowadays? I recommend both books in this series as they're really undiscovered gems.
  • From the Stories of Old - An anthology of fairytale retellings that recently debuted. There's a good mix of everything in here. Urban, medieval, and even a futuristic setting. Some romances, some not. Happily ever afters and bittersweet endings. A fresh spin on a variety of favorite fairy tales, and a couple from some lesser known tales as well.

  • Slave - No sun. No moon. Hannah's world is a perpetual hopeless grey as clouds mask all light every day. The Workers work, and then return to their dreary homes. And somewhere, someone is profiting.

    A dystopian read that's like a breath of fresh air. Easily one of the best dystopians I've read in a long time.

  • Prince of Malorn - Korram's a young prince whose regent wants to kill him in order to snatch permanent power. In a desperate attempt to gather allies from the mountain people in his kingdom, Korram's simple quest to find fighters turns into a far different journey.

    A wonderful story that had so much vibrance and happenings that I felt like I'd been granted three books instead of one. The realness to this story, the depth of characters, and the plot had me fighting to put this one down.

  • The Midsummer Captives - Princess Gwen's given up on love for herself, but she's determined to help her sister to their happily ever afters. But when a journey to a neighboring kingdom goes awry(can you say stone dragon?) and the party scatters inside a mysterious forest, Gwen finds herself in a dilapidated old castle that's been partially enchanted. The two residents are equally strange.

    This book is a stand alone in a series that starts off with what was my #1 read for last year. Another great addition that makes me anxious for the nest!

Bottom Row
(4 stars)
  • Queen's Lady - A fun romp through the Elizabethan era that breaks some norms for what we expect with characters. Romance, prejudice, redemption, and people who aren't always as they seem.

  • Firebird - A futuristic sci-fi/fantasy based around the idea of what if three thousand years in the future the Messiah still hadn't been born yet. Firebird's planet has isolated itself from the galaxy and has developed some rather disturbing traditions. Firebird is one of the "extra" children that nobility have just in case, but who will be ordered to commit suicide once she's bumped down to a certain place in line for the title.

    Takes a bit to get into because of the huge amount of information I had to absorb on the culture, planet, galaxy, people, etc.

  • Charming Academy - In a fantasy world there exist two academies. One for princesses and one for princes. They're evaluated and assigned a princess/prince from the other school. Until they turn 18, the students are given classes that relate to the quest they'll be put on after they graduate. First in the series, Charming Academy sets ups all the characters for their quests which the rest of the novels explore.

  • The Orphan Queen - Wilhemina is a princess without a kingdom. Long after the one night war that saw her parents and the rest of the nobility slaughtered, Wil and the other noble children are now hiding in the enemy kingdom. They're planning, and plotting, and doing everything they can to not only stay alive and hidden, but also to regain what they lost.

  • Prince of Alasia - Jaymin is the young prince of Alasia who finds himself rushed into hiding when his kingdom is invaded. Somehow he must find a way to free his kingdom from the clutches of the neighboring kingdom and regain the throne. A companion novel to Prince of Malorn that takes place near the same time, with different main characters in different kingdoms. This is a MG novel while Prince of  Malorn was YA.

  • Ender's Game - A somewhat disturbing, and absorbing tale of a sci-fi world where children are recruited to be trained for a battle that may or may not happen. After two invasions, the people of Earth aren't taking any chances. Ender may be a kid, but he's like no kid you've ever met. A bit scary in its idea, graphic at times, but overall well-written and engaging. You may not like what's happening or the characters, but it made me think.

  • Finding Prince Charming (not pictured) - Hey, I ran out of room on my tree! This is the second book in the Charming Academy series and follows Adrian(who's been cursed!) and Allegra. There roles have been swapped and now it's Allegra who must find Adrian, break his curse, and rescue him. Adrian's got problems of his own. Add in a purple-haired mermaid, a witch with a vendetta, and a hopeless romantic frog, he's hoping Allegra hurries before he ends up trapped forever.

Overall, I had a great January! There were three books that fell into the okay category and two that made me want to slaughter pinatas. But I had an overwhelming number of AWESOME READS! That's what I call a good month in reading.

What was some of your favorite reads for January?

Friday, February 24, 2017

Where Carpets Fly Blog Tour

Hey everyone! Today I'm super excited to share a book release and an interview from newly minted YA fantasy author, Elise Edmonds. 

Elise and I met about three years ago when we were both starting out on our writing journey. I was working on what is now my first published novel and she was doing the same. It's been a blast to grow as writers together and to now be on the author path together.

Today she is here to share details on her novel Where Carpets Fly and answer some questions. First a little about the book.

Elina Faramar finally leaves her family's flying carpet shop when her father reluctantly agrees she can take magic lessons in nearby Kamikan. Urban life promises adventure, and new friend Kara shows her the sights.

However, Elina soon sees a darker side of life: a foreigner arrested at the circus, forbidden schoolhouse rooms with odd comings and goings, and unsociable pupil Simeon's shady deals at the docks. Everything seems connected to the volatile neighbouring country of Pallexon, but no one will tell her why.

When Elina and Simeon develop a magical mind link, he seems close to confiding in her. But an unexpected voyage takes Elina and Kara away from answers and towards unknown danger in Pallexon.

Alone in a strange country, with no identity papers, the situation rapidly turns into a nightmare when Kara is mistaken for a spy. With her own freedom at stake, Elina must rely on her wits and magic to save her friend and unravel the secrets of Pallexon.

You can get Where Carpets Fly on Amazon(available in paperback and ebook).

And now the interview!

Kristen - Elise! I've been waiting for what seems like forever to see Carpets in its finished form. I'm so excited to have you here.

Elise - Hi, Kristen! Thanks for having me.

Kristen - Let's get started. One of the things that makes Where Carpets Fly so unique is its setting. Often when creating fantasy worlds, we use a lot of Western European/Medieval influences, but you went a different route. How did you decide on a setting and what influenced the world that your main character, Elina, lives in?

Elise - I knew I wanted to create a complete fantasy world, so I did some research on worldbuilding and just started drawing a map. I wanted to include flying carpets, and they always seem to have an Arabian setting, so I knew I wanted to have a warm country on the map. In the end, Elina's country, Tamarin, was influenced by my love of Moroccan/Spanish food and Mediterranean/Persian lifestyle and architecture. It takes aspects of all those cultures and blends them into something new. I'm also conscious that it's good to have diversity in fantasy settings, and I wanted to get away from using the standard medieval European type setting.

Kristen - A nice warm country sounds amazing right about now. To completely switch gears here(just to keep things interesting), can you share something special about where you live? Any interesting facts, sights, or history? Maybe a picture?

Elise - Wow, I could be here all day! For the last twenty years, I've lived in or near the city of Bristol. An awful lot of the history here, unfortunately, is connected to either the slave trade or the tobacco industry. However, the city is also famous for its 19th century engineering. The most famous engineer is Isambard Kingdom Brunel, who built the Great Western Railway, many ships including the SS Great Britain (a popular current tourist attraction following its fairly recent renovation), and the famous Clifton Suspension Bridge. The bridge is probably my favourite thing in the city – I attach one of my husband's photos for you. And of course, Bristol is home to Aardman Animations: of Wallace and Gromit fame.

Kristen - I love Wallace and Gromit! I remember watching those when I was a kid. The Wrong Trousers one was my favorite. Great picture too! Here's a sorta book question for you. If your characters had a pet, which would each of them choose?

Elise - Mmm... that's a tough one.

In one of the early drafts, I had Janni (a sailor lad) trying to tame a seagull. It didn't make the final cut though! I think his older brother Niels would have preferred a ship's cat, to get rid of all the pesky rats.

And Elina would have liked a pet bird too, but something smaller than a seagull: a canary or a finch maybe, so she could practice her Biological Magic (which allows her to communicate with plants and small animals).

Kristen - I'm sure Batman would love to learn that skill! It'd certainly make his namesakes better partners! What was the toughest thing to write for this book? Any research you hadn't expected to do?

Elise - I think the hardest chapter research-wise was the one where Elina gets to see over a large ship for the first time. I suddenly realised I had to describe the ship in quite a bit of detail. But not only did I have to learn about the ship, because the book is from Elina's point of view, I had to use terms that she would be familiar with.

In general, I didn't have much idea of structuring a plot when I first wrote the book. It's been a huge learning curve, and I had numerous great critique partners on the website Scribophile who helped me out and made it what it is today.

Kristen - Ha, yes, I remember that chapter because I was going through a similar situation at the time. I also had a character on a ship for the first time and was trying to dredge up any lingering memories on the subject. I believe we discussed how we'd both be doing ship research in the near future. What are your future writing plans? Do you have any more novels for this series planned?

Elise - Yes, I hope to have several more books in the series! Book two is already well underway and I hope to make good progress on it this year. Aside from this series, I have various half-started projects, as all good writers do, and it remains to be seen what will become of them! But book two is my main focus right now.

Kristen - I can't wait to read it! Thank you again for stopping by and good luck on your novel!

Born in Staffordshire in England, Elise Edmonds has always been an avid reader, especially of fantasy and young adult books. Elise moved to Bristol in her teens, to attend university, and undertook a career in the finance world. Now living in a quiet South Gloucestershire village, she spends her free time with her husband and two cats, and enjoys attending local fitness classes, watching movies, and playing the piano. Pursuing writing in her spare time as a creative outlet is a way to bring the magic back into her everyday life.

You can keep up with Elise and see what's next for her and Elina on her social media.


Friday, February 17, 2017

Fairy Tales: Timeless Tales (Retellings Part 2)

This week I resume my list of suggested retellings! If you missed it, the first half of retellings is here. Without further ado, we'll kick off with . . .

Sleeping Beauty

The Sleeping Beauty by Mercedes Lackey

Heavy is the head--and the eyelids--of the princess who wears the crown...In Rosamund's realm, happiness hinges on a few simple beliefs:

For every princess there's a prince.

The king has ultimate power.

Stepmothers should never be trusted.

And bad things come to those who break with Tradition....

The moral of the story? Sometimes a princess has to create her own happy endings....

The Five Hundred Kingdom series consists of six adult retellings. As a whole, the series is hit or miss, but I love the premise. What if fairy tales happen a certain way because some mythological force called Tradition dictates that certain things have to be that way. The seventh son has to be foolish, lucky, and the least favored child. The girl with a step-family has to marry the prince, etc.

Those who are aware of the Tradition can try to manipulate it, but those who aren't can get caught up in a disastrous tale. The Fairy Godmother starts off the series, and I'd recommend that because it sets up how the Tradition works, even though it's not my favorite book. All-in-all each book can be read as a stand-alone.

This story is what happens when a little kingdom finds itself so full of fairy tale aspects that it requires a fairy godmother all to itself. Both the fairy godmother and Rosamund shine out as strong female characters who are determined to make their own fate and use the Tradition for them, not be used by it. The two male main characters provide humor and the final elements for an amazing story.

Book Links: Amazon and Goodreads

The Snow Queen

The Snow Queen by Mercedes Lackey

Aleksia, Queen of the Northern Lights, is mysterious, beautiful and widely known to have a heart of ice. No one would seek her wisdom except as a last resort. But when she's falsely accused of unleashing evil on nearby villages, she realizes there's an impostor out there far more heartless than she could ever be.

And when a young warrior following the Tradition disappears, leaving his sweetheart and mother to fear the worst, Aleksia's powers are needed as never before.

Now, on a journey through a realm of perpetual winter, it will take all her skills, a mother's faith and a little magic to face down an enemy more formidable than any she has ever known.

Another one from the Five Hundred Kingdoms series. This one is my favorite of the series and also my favorite retelling of the Snow Queen. (Creating unique titles clearly isn't Lackey's strength)

The Snow Queen starts off near the end of the traditional tale and it's told from the Snow Queen's point of view. This story twists the roles of the characters and gives the Snow Queen a new motivation for her actions. Her personality and how well she plays her role made me instantly love her. The rest of the story is brand new.

Book Links: Amazon and Goodreads

The Goose Girl

The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale

Anidori-Kiladra Talianna Isilee, Crown Princess of Kildenree, spends the first years of her life under her aunt's guidance learning to communicate with animals. As she grows up Ani develops the skills of animal speech, but is never comfortable speaking with people, so when her silver-tongued lady-in-waiting leads a mutiny during Ani's journey to be married in a foreign land, Ani is helpless and cannot persuade anyone to assist her. 

Becoming a goose girl for the king, Ani eventually uses her own special, nearly magical powers to find her way to her true destiny. Shannon Hale has woven an incredible, original and magical tale of a girl who must find her own unusual talents before she can become queen of the people she has made her own.

This is another book that's made its way into my library and I've read it at least twice. There's two stand out things for me in this tale. The first is the addition of Ani having magic. There are different forms of "speaking" in Ani's world and she has one of those forms. The second is that this book feels very much like the original tale only fleshed out.

The talking blood and horse head are absent(unless I'm forgetting), but otherwise this feels like Hale took the original story and expanded it and filled in all the blanks. Most retelling are tweaking the plot in some way, but this stands out as unique because so much was the same.

I the rest of the series(which are not retellings, but stories from other characters in the world) was okay, but they failed in my mind to measure up to this one and I didn't even add the last two books to my collection. This can be read as a standalone and though I have a friend who'll shoot me for saying so, I'd have been happy stopping with this one.

Book Links: Amazon and Goodreads

The Princess and the Pea

Violet Eyes by Debbie ViguiƩ

When a storm brings the dashing Prince Richard to her family's farm, Violet falls in love at first sight. Richard also gives Violet his heart, but he knows his marriage is destined to be an affair of state, not of passion. For the king and queen have devised a contest to determine who will win their son's hand in marriage.

To be reunited with her prince, Violet must compete against princesses from across the land. It will take all of her wits - and a little help from an unexpected source - if Violet is to demonstrate the depth of her character and become Richard's bride.

The Princess and the Pea is not a popular tale to be retold, but even if adaptions abounded, I think this one would still snag the number one spot. There's never any doubt as to who the main couple are, but the path to try and be together is still an interesting one.

There are two especially interesting qualities about this story. I don't want to give out any spoilers, so excuse me for being a little vague. The first awesome thing about this book is that there's a whole host of princesses trying to win the prince. The author takes the time to develop quite a few of these other princesses and gives them such unique personalities, that it's hard to imagine they weren't always part of this fairy tale.

The second thing is the tests. I can't say more, but I absolutely LOVED the tests.

Book Links: Amazon and Goodreads

Blended retellings

These two books are both combined retellings. They're both middle grade, but I enjoyed them as an adult.

A True Princess (Snow Queen/Princess and the Pea) by Diane Zahler

Twelve-year-old Lilia is not a very good servant. In fact, she's terrible! She daydreams, she breaks dishes, and her cooking is awful. Still, she hardly deserves to be sold off to the mean-spirited miller and his family. Refusing to accept that dreadful fate, she decides to flee. With her best friend, Kai, and his sister, Karina, beside her, Lilia heads north to find the family she's never known. But danger awaits. . . .

As their quest leads the threesome through the mysterious and sinister Bitra Forest, they suddenly realize they are lost in the elves' domain. To Lilia's horror, Kai falls under an enchantment cast by the Elf King's beautiful daughter. The only way for Lilia to break the spell and save Kai is to find a jewel of ancient power that lies somewhere in the North Kingdoms. Yet the jewel will not be easy to find. The castle where it is hidden has been overrun with princess hopefuls trying to pass a magical test that will determine the prince's new bride. Lilia has only a few days to search every inch of the castle and find the jewel—or Kai will be lost to her forever.

Book Links: Amazon and Goodreads

The Princess Curse (12 Dancing Princesses/Beauty and the Beast) by Merrie Haskell

Twelve princesses suffer from a puzzling (if silly) curse, and anyone who ends it will win a reward. Reveka, a sharp-witted and irreverent apprentice herbalist, wants that reward. But her investigations lead to deeper mysteries and a daunting choice—will she break the curse at the peril of her own soul?

I've never once contacted an author to ask if they'd write a sequel for something. Until this book. Yes, I'm way above the target age range. This was simply a brilliant book that combined two awesome stories to create a deep tale with fascinating characters. I dearly hope there'll be a sequel, and I'd love for it to be YA targetted.

Book Links: Amazon and Goodreads

There are a few more recommendations I'd like to put out there and didn't really have a category to put them in. The first is a fairy tale anthology that has various retellings of different stories

From the Stories of Old A JL Anthology

In this international collection, new life is given to fairy tales, both classic and obscure.

Mythical creatures put the fairy in Fairy Tale. Mermaids, selkies, and ocean guardians experience the best and worst of humanity; sisters encounter an unusually friendly bear; a brave bride meets a silly goose; and a spinner of gold sets the record straight.

Urban fantasies modernize classics: a Frenchman learns the truth about magic, his past, and his girlfriend; a girl sets out to find love but receives a curse; and today’s naughty list makes Old Saint Nick not-so-jolly.

New worlds bring a fresh sense of wonder! In the future, a young woman fights for her people and herself; a bastard son finds acceptance in a world ruled by women; and a farmer’s wits win the heart of a frosty king.

Discover unexpected twists on old favorites, and fall in love with new tales and worlds to explore!

Book Links: Amazon and Goodreads

The second is a series where the first book is about the characters attending fantasy schools for princes and princesses. The sequential books are all retellings using those characters.

Growing up is hard enough for anyone, but for a boy destined to be the Prince Charming of a fairy tale it's an absolute nightmare. Attending Charming Academy you not only deal with the normal aspects of youth, but there are sarcastic dragons, vindictive witches and your princess hates you. Will Lucian survive school and become the prince his parents believe him to be? Join him and his friends as they learn the art of being a Prince Charming.

The following books in the series are the tales of The Princess and the Frog, Cinderella, Beauty and the Beast, and two more that I've yet to get to. (I'm in the middle of the 4th book)

Book Links: Amazon and Goodreads

Last up is a series where I've read all the books, but it's been so long and stories tend to blend in my head that I couldn't accurately pick out which ones I enjoyed enough to recommend. Violet Eyes is one of the books in this series. The rest are all pictured below and as they're by different authors, the best route to finding all the links is to pull up one on Amazon or Goodreads and find the linked list or also bought. (Yes, I'm too lazy to pull up that many myself)

And that is all for retellings! I read a lot of retellings and have a lot that I still want to read. So hopefully I've been able to pass along some interesting titles you haven't added to your list yet. 

What are your favorite retellings? What do you look for in a retelling?

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Valentine's Day Book Sale!

This Valentine's Day, the awesome authors at Fellowship of Fantasy have banded together to provide an awesome selection of free and discount Fantasy and Speculative Fiction stories. Browse the titles, select as many as your heart desires, and discover your next favorite author!

All Fellowship of Fantasy titles are author rated with a guaranteed content level no higher than PG-13, so you shouldn't encounter graphic sex, gratuitous violence, or excessive language.

As pricing can be subject to the whims of the vendors, please verify that the deals are, in fact, still active before purchasing. Thank you!

Bargain Books (priced at 99 cents)

Fellowship of  Fantasy
Rebirth—Frank B. Luke-Amazon
Seven Deadly Tales—Frank B. Luke-Amazon
The Hidden Level—AJ Bakke-Amazon
To Save Two Worlds—AJ Bakke-Amazon
The Regency Shifter Series—KM Carroll-AmazoniTunesBarnes and Noble
Academy of Secrets—Michael Carney-Author Website
Sunbolt—Intisar Khanani-AmazonBarnes and NobleKobo
Wyndano's Cloak—A. R. Silverberry AmazonBarnes and Noble
The Stream—A. R. Silverberry -AmazonBarnes and Noble
Rainbird—Rabia Gale-AmazonBarnes and NobleKobo
Reality Break—Jennifer Kibble-Amazon
Battle for the Throne—EJ Willis-Amazon
Nyssa Glass's Clockwork Christmas—H. L. Burke-Amazon
The True Bride and the Shoemaker—L. Palmer-Author WebsiteAmazon
Cry of the Sea—D. G. Driver-Amazon
Foxtails—Erica Laurie-Amazon
Eun Na and the Phantom—Erica Laurie-Amazon

Free Books

The Buick Eight—Frank B. Luke-Amazon

Cora and the Nurse Dragon—H. L. Burke-Amazon
Lands of Ash—H. L. Burke-Amazon
Prince of Alasia—Annie Douglass Lima-Amazon
Awakening—Julie C. Gilbert-Amazon
Leandra's Enchanted Flute—Katy Huth Jones-Amazon
Mercy's Prince—Katy Huth Jones-Amazon
Woe for a Faerie—B. Brumley-AmazoniTunesBarnes and Noble
Chasing Lady Midnight—C. L. Ragsdale-Amazon
Jin In Time Part One —Karin De Havin-AmazoniTunesBarnes and Noble
Nyssa Glass and the Caper Crisis—H. L. Burke-Amazon

Fellowship of Fantasy