Review of “Given to Fly” by JD Estrada

I smiled the entire time I read this book. It’s sweet, fun, colorful, imaginative, and includes wonderful lessons for any child or adult. The wordplay often made me chuckle, and the writing proves Mr. Estrada is a poet even in prose. The story reminded me at times of “Alice in Wonderland ” and at times of “Charlie and The Chocolate Factory” while always being unique as well. Great characters, fantastical adventures, beautiful language – I was hooked.

This is a book I will definitely buy in paperback for my kid to treasure.

See it on Amazon!

Hot New Release “Given to Fly” by JD Estrada

Given_to_Fly_Cover_for_Kindle

Have you ever wanted to read a book that dreams about becoming a Studio Ghibli film?  Well now you can.  Given to Fly is the 13th book by Puerto Rican indie author JD Estrada and his first full length middle grade fantasy novel.  But more importantly, it’s a book with a lot of heart and no violence.

If you see movies, TV, video games, or the news at any given moment, it’s almost as if violence is a required ingredient in whatever medium we enjoy.  Given to Fly is a book that avoids the use of violence even when it talks about real issues like death, financial and professional struggles, and life in general in favor of finding joy and life lessons through the fantastical.


At 11 years old, John Rivers is a kind hearted kid who dreams about flying.  He’s just moved to the Pacific Northwest with his family to a house that although it’s very lovely and very cozy, it’s not exactly magical. What he doesn’t know is that magic is actually closer than he thinks.

After strolling up a hill near his house, he finds a cliff with a cove at the bottom and a huge tree growing over the water.  What’s special about this particular tree is that it currently serves as the resting spot for a house that defies logic while embracing the amazing.  As curious as he is kind, one look at Od Manor would have been all it takes for him to consider heading into the sideways house, but when he sees a shadow inside, he climbs down to make sure no one is in trouble.  Once inside, he discovers that no one is in trouble but that the term living room has never been as literal as when an ottoman starts asking questions.  The house’s owner is called Fäet Odstein, which would be odd enough if he weren’t also the literary persona of JD Estrada.  Adventure ensues as Fäet discovers that John dreams about flying. Intent on helping the boy out, they seek the help from a library pillaging bookworm, angels, spiders, and even take a moment to contemplate at the meaning of life in the linen lagoon as they try to discover what it takes to fly.


Apart from a whimsical adventure that feels like a lover letter to works by Hayao Miyazaki, Given to Fly is also the first of what will be a series of stand-alone middle-grade novels with Fäet Odstein as one of its protagonists.  The purpose of these books shall be to offer stories without violence that hopefully get more children to read and dream.

Influenced by Hayao Miyazaki, Peter Pan, and dreams of flight, Given to Fly is a book full of heart that skips the violence in favor of the fantastical.

Grab a copy today HERE on Amazon!


IMG_1040This is not the first time JD Estrada has written middle grade fantasy stories.  His Daydreams on the Sherbet Shore have been described as whimsical bedtime stories with a lot of heart.  That same heart was the main driver for this story.  Like most of his works, Given to Fly was written longhand in one of the best gifts Estrada has ever received in his life.  A long time ago, his wife gifted him a hard cover notebook.  The image on it was particularly special to him.  She had asked him what image meant the most to him.  Without batting an eye, he looked up the image to the Pearl Jam single by the same name.  A couple of months later and with misty eyes, he had a hard cover notebook with that same image and the name could only be Given to Fly. But what to write about…

The question lingered in the air and rumbled in his brain until a trip to Orlando had him and his wife going to Epcot Center and getting on the Soarin’ ride for the first time.  As sights, sounds, and smells washed over him in the beautiful flight simulator, an idea was born and by the end, he had soared right into an epiphany.  “It’s going to be about a boy who dreams about flying,” he told his wife through tears of joy after getting off the ride.

Several years have passed after that ride and finally Given to Fly is ready for you to read.  It is a tribute to things that bring him joy and a song that makes his soul smile.

IMG_0864In honor of the band that has inspired his life so much, all proceeds for Given to Fly and all other Estrada books for the remainder of 2018 shall be donated to Actionforjackson.org in support of #EBAwareness.  Epidermolysis Bullosa is a family of rare genetic disorders that affect the body’s largest organ: the skin.  Eddie Vedder (lead singer for Pearl Jam) has worked hard to support this cause.  It is a small token of gratitude for everything the band means to Estrada and aligns with his #Humans4Humans efforts to support different causes and try to make a positive impact through his writing and any other efforts to support good causes that help our fellow humans.

qjWC_df-_400x400 (1).jpgFind JD at:

Website – www.jdestradawriter.blogspot.com

Twitter – www.twitter.com/JDEstradawriter

Instagram – http://instagram.com/jdestradawriter/

Google+ – https://plus.google.com/u/0/

Facebook page – www.facebook.com/JDEstradawriter

Goodreads – https://www.goodreads.com/author/dashboard

Soundcloud – https://soundcloud.com/j-d-estrada

 

Hot New Release – “The Liminal Hymns” by Anaïs Chartschenko

**I’ve only read a little from Anaïs Chartschenko (and, yes, I have to copy/paste her name every time), but so far I’m very impressed by her work.  So, when given the opportunity to help promote her newest creation, I jumped on the chance.  I’m looking forward to this collection and to giving her a listen as well!


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The Liminal Hymns sing the story of moments between, leaving certainties to embrace doubt. Liminal spaces are explored through examinations of mythology, philosophy, and religion. With sardonic shots of whiskey and wit, this collection delves into the sensory and psychological kaleidoscope of the human condition.

See it on Amazon!

See it on CDBaby!

Black Powder4New Ideas10Not Just Jacob


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Anaïs Chartschenko hails from the Canadian wilderness. She has come to enjoy such modern things as electric tea kettles. Her published works include:

Bright Needles
The Whisper Collector
The Weightless One
Perfect Break
The Liminal Hymns

 Follow Anaïs:

www.anaischartschenko.weebly.com 

 

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Cover Reveal – Locke and Keye

I really enjoyed Anatomy of a Darkened Heart by Christie Stratos, and I’m definitely looking forward to her new book, Locke and Keye.  Christie was kind enough to let me be a part of her cover reveal for this, her second book, and I’m excited to share it here along with the blurb (and a link so I could go pre-order my copy right away – I encourage you to do the same).


As a standalone novel, Locke and Keye’s distinct characters and tense atmosphere create a dark Victorian experience that will stay with you after you turn the final page. As the book immediately following Anatomy of a Darkened Heart, Locke and Keye leads the Dark Victoriana Collection in a whole new psychological direction while expanding familiar characters and scenes to continue the Whitestone legacy.

LOCKE AND KEYE 003

BLURB:

“Brothers in the art of keeping secrets.” This is the mantra Mr. Locke’s carefully chosen five employees must repeat together every day before starting work.

If you won’t tell them your name for Locke and Keye’s ledger, they’ll find out. They have their ways—and many of them. Yes, these talented locksmiths can make a new lock and key set for you. They can even make a special padlock for a diary you never want to share with anyone. But just remember: when they make the lock, they keep a key—and it’s only a matter of time until they use it.

Day by day, each of these young, single, alone-in-the-world workers is being molded into the family they crave. A family in which each member has his use toward an end he doesn’t even know exists.

How do the brotherhood and the town’s secrets interlock? Only Mr. Locke holds the key.

EXCERPT:

Matthew looked down at his interwoven fingers. “I wonder what Jude knows that we don’t,” he said.

John put the journal down and looked at Matthew. “I don’t want to know,” he said. “Being asked to follow someone? It seems a little…” John shook his head once and looked down at the journal again.

“Well it must be for a reason,” Matthew said. “Mr. Locke wouldn’t be part of anything underhanded, I’m sure.”

The corners of John’s mouth tightened. “I’m sure.”

Locke and Keye
(Dark Victoriana Collection Book 2)
Coming September 7, 2017

Preorder your copy on Amazon HERE


Christie Stratos headshot_outdoors.jpg

Christie Stratos is an award-winning writer who holds a degree in English Literature. She is the author of Anatomy of a Darkened Heart and Locke and Keye, the first two books in the Dark Victoriana Collection. Christie has had short stories and poetry published in Ginosko Literary Journal, Andromedae Review, 99Fiction, and various anthologies. An avid reader of all genres and world literature, Christie reads everything from bestsellers to classics to indies.

 

 

 

 


FIND CHRISTIE ON SOCIAL MEDIA:

Website: http://christiestratos.com

Newsletter: http://bit.ly/2thw6Pn

Amazon author page: http://www.amazon.com/Christie-Stratos/e/B015L5FMTM/

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/christiestratos

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/christie_stratos/

Twitter: http://twitter.com/christiestratos

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

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/christiestratos

Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/cstratoswrites

#AuThorsday with Amie Irene Winters

AmieIreneWintersHeadshot.jpgToday I’d like to welcome Amie Irene Winters, bestselling author of the Strange Luck series.   

Can you give us your quickest description of your books?

Dark.  Strange.  Adventurous. P erfect for fans of Alice in Wonderland, The Wizard of Oz, Neil Gaiman, and all things supernatural.  If you love magic, wizards, oddities, teen fantasy, mythology, supernatural creatures, young adult dark fantasy, and other realms, then the world of THE STRANGE LUCK SERIES awaits you!

I love when the “fans of” list clearly sets the tone and feel of the story.  Are these elements things that you look for as a reader as well?  What are some favorite books in your genre?

Thanks.  I tend to look at the description first, but if I’m still not sure about the book I’ll check out the “fans of” component.  I included titles/authors in my description because people have told me that my books are similar to those.

I love anything by H.P Lovecraft and Neil Gaiman.  I’m really into gothic horror literature right now and have been reading authors who influenced Lovecraft.

I’m a Lovecraft fan too.  What are you working on currently?

I’m finishing up the final edits for the third (and last book) in the Strange Luck Series—A Darling Secret.  All the books in this YA Fantasy series center around a specific theme. Strange Luck (Book I) focused on the value of memories and identity.  The Nightmare Birds (Book II) focused on fear.  And, A Darling Secret (Book III) will focuses on inner strength.  A Darling Secret will be released fall 2017.  I can’t wait for the series to finally be complete!

Congratulations on nearly being finished!  Did you always plan to focus each book on a specific theme, or was that something that developed as you went along? Are those particular themes important to you?

I didn’t plan it.  The themes developed as I wrote.  When I write I don’t plot everything out.  I have a very general idea of what I’m going to do and the rest I come up with as I go.  For example, I wanted to write a book about a world built using stolen memories.  That was the general idea I had for Strange Luck.  The rest took form as I wrote.  A lot of the time I don’t even know what is going to happen in the story or to my characters, but that’s part of the fun.

All the themes I discuss in my books are important to me and are largely based on my own experiences/thoughts, like how we are our memories.

I’m a plotter myself, but your approach sounds like a fun way to create.  When you get stuck in your writing, how do you make yourself keep going?

It sounds counter-intuitive, but I take a break from writing.  I’ll go for a walk, hit an aerobics class, paint.  Whatever it takes so that I feel recharged and can look at my work with a fresh eye.  Sometimes it might take a few hours.  Other times it might be a few weeks.

Do you find that your method brings a flood of ideas back to you so you start writing again, or do you eventually just decide to start writing again and hope ideas come?

More often than not, I’ll get a flood of ideas.  This is why I always have a notebook with me or my cell phone, where I can take verbal notes.  I also get inspired by reading.  I’ll be sitting there half paying attention to the story I’m reading and then suddenly, an idea will come.  All my paper bookmarks are covered in notes.  Lol.

Ha!  That’s a great idea for bookmarks.  Do you use your personal experiences in your writing?

Definitely!  Since I’ve always been an outdoorsy girl, I found it easy for my protagonist to be one too.  Daisy’s a bit of a tomboy who loves hiking and camping.  The trails she hikes and places she goes are based on some of my favorite real-life places in California (where I grew up).  Almost all my characters are inspired by people I know.  Even some of my old pets I had growing up!  There’s a lot of other secret things I throw in too, like how my experience as an aerial acrobat influenced writing The Nightmare Birds, which is centered around a dark circus.

If you are curious about more secrets behind my books, check these out:

10 Things You Didn’t Know About Strange Luck

10 Things You Didn’t Know About The Nightmare Birds

Aerial Acrobat?!  That’s definitely a unique experience to draw ideas from!  When real-life people inspire you to create characters, do you ever tell the real people?  And do you ever encounter random people with quirks you use in your characters? 

Yes, I do tell certain people that a character was inspired by them.  They always get a kick out of it.  And yes, I do encounter random people with funny quirks that I’ll implement into my stories.  An example of both is Christine (the German aerial acrobat) from The Nightmare Birds.  In real-life Christine was a German foreign exchange who stayed with me and my family in high school for a semester.  She was obsessed with the color orange. Everything she owned was orange and she only ate orange food.  She also had really long brown hair, which she always chewed on like a beaver.  You’d be standing there talking to her and she would start chewing on her hair like it was a meal.  I always thought both of those quirks about her were funny, so I used them in the story.

That is funny.  Is there anything you’ve read that made you jealous you didn’t think of it first?

Probably Harry Potter.  It’s one of my favorite series of all time, but I think J.K. Rowling is more than deserving, especially after all that she has been through.  She’s truly an inspiration and a remarkable person.

Many authors seem to feel that way about Harry Potter and Rowling.  Why do you think her stories make SUCH an impact on not only readers, but authors in particular?

J.K. Rowling effortlessly invites you into her magical world, which leaves a delightfully whimsical lasting impression on any child or adult.  I think it’s impactful on authors because the story resonates across multiple genres.

Thanks, Amie, for sharing!

WHERE TO FIND Amie Irene Winters: 
Website:  www.amieirenewinters.com
Goodreads: Amie Irene Winters
Amazon Page: Amie Irene Winters
Facebook:  Amie Irene Winters
Twitter: @AmieIWinters

A Fairly Fairy Tale – Cover Reveal!

I’ve been busy, busy, busy finishing up my first Fantasy story (since I decided to get the book out in time to be a Christmas gift to my new nieces.  Shh!  It’s a surprise!).  It’s finally about ready to go, so I wanted to give everyone a first look at the cover!
I’ll also post sneak peeks at chapters and illustrations this week, so watch for those!

AFFT Kindle Cover.jpg

SYNOPSIS:

Once upon a time and with surprising frequency, dragons kidnapped helpless princesses.  As the ultimate romantic gesture, heroic princes fought the dragons and saved the damsels in distress.

At least, that’s the story you’ve been led to believe.  But here’s a little secret:

Sometimes the dragon saved the princess from the princes…

In the kingdom of Marshwood, everybody lives happily ever after – orphans, stepmothers, everybody.   King Wesick is wise and beloved.  Queen Mattea is beautiful and kind.  Prince Nolan is handsome and brave, and his sister Littagale is smart and talented.  But when it comes time for Princess Littagale to marry, suddenly the dragon Tor flies down from Mount Shadow, kidnaps the princess, and flies her to his dark lair.

“Oh, no! The horror! Who will save her?” cry the townspeople.

With great fanfare and the cologne of testosterone, princes from near and far arrive in Marshwood and vow to rescue the princess – in exchange for the honor of becoming her husband and inheriting the kingdom.  The townspeople rejoice, place bets, and everyone waits to see who will defeat Tor and save Princess Littagale.

But what secret is Queen Mattea hiding?  And why does Tor have a spa in his lair?

AVAILABLE FOR PRE-ORDER NOW!
http://bit.ly/AFairlyFairyTale

Release date & Paperback available:   12/20/2016

#AuThorsday with Pam Elise Harris

B1DoQJEPHnS._UX250_Today I’d like to welcome Pam Elise Harris,  editor extraordinaire and author of Oblivion.

Can you give us your quickest description of your book?

Oblivion is the story of six acting students trying to achieve greatness despite the obstacles in their paths.

What genre would you say Oblivion fits into?

Contemporary fiction.

What are you working on currently?

Mostly, I’m working on my freelance editing projects.  I edit for Booktrope among other clients.  One of my clients is actually a real estate attorney.  He’s doing continuing education courses that I am editing.

On the writing side, I just won my fourth National Novel Writing Month this past November.  I am a hardcore NaNoer, having completed every NaNo and Camp NaNo since Oblivion in 2012.  I am currently developing my second novel The Truth Will Set Me Free, which I normally describe as “Woman running for her life meets man who wants to save the world.”  I am also working on a guide for newbie authors on working with an editor and finding time to write the last book of my trilogy.

Busy.  🙂 The guide for newbies is an interesting idea.  Are you doing that because you see so many mistakes being made by others, so you want to offer specific, other direction?

It’s not so much that I’m seeing mistakes as much as I’m encountering authors who don’t know how the process works.  The guide is meant to offer them direction.  It will take them through the process from beginning to end, giving them helpful tips.  For example, one of the main problems I encounter is authors who don’t read their work through before sending it to an editor.  Authors can catch so many errors just by doing that and it saves the editor time from figuring out what the author means.  This may be something that never occurs to the author, but it’s actually really important.  Another issue is that newbie authors often aren’t aware of the type of edit they want, and often times it could be a deeper edit than they expected.

What is one bit of advice you’d like to share with writers?

Don’t rush the editing process.  Really take the time to perfect your story.  Your editor is there to help you.  Don’t be afraid to let him or her help you.

I have to ask – as an editor, are you really tough on your own work right away, or do you let yourself write loosely and then go clean it up when you’re done?

Yes, I am tough on my own work right from the start.  I am my own worst critic.  I try not to clean it up as I go because you’re not supposed to do that for NaNo, but typos are evil and must be destroyed.  I’m always cleaning it up where I can.

What is one question about your books that you wish more people would ask?

A lot of the places in Oblivion are actually real.  I wish more people would ask about the stories behind them.

Cool – Can you give one such story behind a location?

Oblivion is set in 2012.  I have a timeline with the actual dates that each scene occurs on.  So, it turned out that during the dates in Oblivion there was an actual convention called I-CON on a local college campus.  I-CON spans many fandoms, but my husband and I did actually attend for the Doctor Who programming.  Well, one of my characters is a massive Whovian, so I figured he would actually go to this.  Any programming referenced in the book is the actual programming from the convention that year.  Even the food choices mentioned were what they actually had available.

That is a really cool way to add detail.  Who inspires you to write?

Usually, it’s more of a what than a who.  I get a lot of my ideas from movies or songs.  Sometimes I’ll IMDB an actor and suddenly get an idea.  (That’s actually what happened for my Awethology piece which became this past November’s NaNo.)  I also take a lot of inspiration from Jonathan Larson.  He had an amazing way with words.

Interesting.  So would you say you’re visually stimulated? (Also, who was the actor?)

I don’t know if I’d say I’m visually stimulated because it’s more the story in a movie or song that inspires me or some aspect of it.  Something just sparks.  And the actor in question was Ansel Elgort.  I had just seen Paper Towns where (spoiler) he has a cameo.  So, I went home and IMDBed him, and I found out that he was originally from New York where I’m from and he’s a trained ballet dancer.  My Awethology/NaNo piece just took off from there.

When you get stuck in your writing, how do you make yourself keep going?

I don’t think about it.  I just keep writing.  Just getting ideas down is the important thing, not how good they are.  If you just keep writing, something good will come out if it eventually.

Do you use your personal experiences in your writing?

To some extent I think that everyone does.  But I don’t use the events of my life, so much as character traits.  All six POV characters in Oblivion have an aspect of my personality.  A lot of the places I use in my books are real places that are or have been part of my daily life.

Thanks, Pam, for sharing!

25637391WHERE TO FIND Pam Elise Harris:
Goodreads:  Pam Elise Harris
Amazon Page:  Pam Elise Harris
Facebook:  Pam Elise Harris
Twitter: @Pams_Prose

Podcast Interview on The Kota, Writing, and More

What do you get when you put 2 musicians, a writer, a recording device, and a few beers together?
The best bar conversation you’re ever going to eavesdrop.

Many thanks to Justin Stover of Blue Collar Songwriting for the rare opportunity to be interviewed alongside my brother, Christian Somerville, who co-created The Kota Series worlds with me.  This was tons of fun.

May or may not contain:
Stories of how The Kota originated
The influences of family on creativity
My writing history
Why I love indie publishing
Connections between indie writing and indie music
Taylor Swift shout-outs

Enjoy!

https://bluecollarsongwriting.com/2016/05/24/bcs-podcast-sunshine-christian-somerville/

TPH Promo

NEW Kota Art

SOLOSKota

After many, many hours drawing, here is some updated art for The Kota Series.  Take a look!  Anyone look like they did in your head?

I mostly focused on Book 1, but more coming soonish.  🙂

See it all HERE: NEW Kota Art

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