Review of “Strange Luck” & “The Nightmare Birds” by Amie Irene Winters PLUS Early Look at “A Darling Secret”

25418989First, beautiful cover.  I feel like it fits the playful, whimsical, slightly mysterious tone of the story.

Second, I loved the complex and unique use of memories.  It was a great way to shape the fantastical world Daisy finds herself in, and it was a neat way to bring so many fantastical elements together – in a world of happy memories and dreams, anything goes!  The danger of Daisy losing memories added a great sense of tension. Her romantic partnership with her best friend Roger was also believable and made me care about the characters.  And, how she gradually learns how to save the day was creative and pulled it all together.

I have to admit that Daisy’s character bugged me a bit.  At times she’s loving and confident and brave.  At other times she flies off the handle and is snippy and doesn’t think before saying or doing something stupid.  This would sometimes all happen in the same scene, and it felt a little unnatural.  Also, towards the middle of the book, the maturity level of the writing shifted weirdly.  The book was plugging away and feeling very YA, and then suddenly it was like the dialogue and action were more fitting for a far younger audience.  I still liked the story during this part, but it was a bit jolting to read.

BUT, I really enjoyed the last half of the book.  I felt like the plot finally had solid direction, and I loved how everything I’d been wondering about came together.  The twist towards the end was pretty cool too – although you worry for a second.  And I really liked the time jump at the end that further showed how everything turned out.

Overall, I’d recommend this for anyone who likes YA fantasies that give you a mystery to figure out.

4 Stars

See it on Amazon!

 


29806696A bit of time goes by between the first book and this one, and the maturity level definitely goes up as well.  It’s nice to see Daisy has moved out of her teens but is still young enough to struggle with questions about life and who she is.  For that reason the book still feels YA, but it’s definitely not as light as the first.  This story is a lot darker.  There’s dark magic, many skeletons, murder, etc., and the Theater of Secrets is definitely a dramatic place full of dangerous characters.

I liked how this plot felt much more straightforward than the first book. While there are still plenty of magical surprises, this world also feels more familiar.  I think that makes the danger to Daisy that much more suspenseful.  She again made decisions that annoyed me, but considering her emotional state, it kind of makes sense.

I loved how the plot thickened and you were never really sure what to believe – and Daisy wasn’t either.  Is her own mind tricking her? Is Mr. Black telling the truth after all and there’s going to be a huge twist on everything we thought we knew as a reader so far?  This story definitely kept me turning the pages as I tried to sort it all out.   I liked how certain things from the first book tied in here, but it’s definitely a new story.  And the end certainly suggests Daisy has more to learn.

5 Stars

 

See it on Amazon!

 


A DARLING SECRET_AMIEIRENEWINTERS_FRONTCOVER

A Darling Secret
Strange Luck series, Book 3
Coming September 22, 2017

 

Learn the fate of your favorite heroes and love-to-hate foes in the thrilling conclusion to Amie Irene Winters’ bestselling Strange Luck series.

Before the Theater of Secrets was formed, before the Nameless was built, before Daisy Darling learned of her magical bloodline, there was the Realm of the Shadow Gods—ruled by the most powerful and wicked creatures known.

For nearly two decades, Daisy’s twin sister, Rose, was held captive by the Shadow Gods and survived. Now Rose has come to find Daisy to stop their impending evil from spreading into the human world. But Rose bears a terrible secret that has the power to destroy everything.

In the devastating Realm of the Shadow Gods, dark magic holds no bounds. Daisy will risk everything to save those she loves, but will the truth finally break her?


Unlock the final book in the Strange Luck series with A Darling Secret.

Pre-order today, read it September 22, 2017.


 

A Darling Secret excerpt:

A slow, creeping fear wound its way around me.

Tiptoeing around the mysterious plain, too afraid to call out, a surprising wisp of music came floating through the air. It was a jingly little melody—like a music box—followed by soft voices.

I paused. Through the violet-stained sky and swirling rainbow mist I saw something moving. My eyes narrowed as I stealthily approached an illuminated cave.

Shadows were gathering there.


A Darling Secret Amazon link:

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B074JVRWH4?ref_=pe_2427780_160035660


MEET AMIE IRENE WINTERS

Amie Irene Winters Headshot Cropped.jpgAmie Irene Winters was born and raised in California but now lives and writes in western Pennsylvania. She is the author of the bestselling Strange Luck series.

When not writing, she can be found hiking with her dog, baking desserts, or breaking a sweat in kickboxing class.

To learn more about Amie and her books, visit amieirenewinters.com.

 

Sign up for my mailing list here! You’ll only get emails when I have a new release coming up, a sale, or a giveaway.

Social media links:

Website: http://www.amieirenewinters.com

Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B00XZ88V5A

Blog: https://golden-cricket.blogspot.com/

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

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/13851542.Amie_Irene_Winters

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/amieiwinters/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/AmieIWinters

 

 

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

Writing about Talking about Writing

12977219_812672861431_378475512593826059_oLast week I went to my alma mater twice to talk about writing and Sci-Fi/Fantasy.  I also did an audio interview for a friend’s website.  So, since I did all this talking about writing, I had a lot of notes and points I naturally forgot.  Here’s the gist of everything I’ve been thinking about writing lately.

A sum-up of my writer’s journey:

I self-published my first book, The Kota, my senior year of college.  I had no idea what I was doing, really, I just had this story in my head that I’d been working on since I was 9 and I wanted it in book form.  That was 2004, before eBooks had really taken off and certainly before Kindle Direct Publishing was even a thing.  I didn’t care about being traditionally published, and I knew I’d want to get a lot better before the public read my stuff, so really I just wanted a tangible BOOK of this story in my head.   So, when I opened my first box with my book inside, it was a great feeling – it’s so far the closest thing I’ve experienced to having a kid.  I hear that comparison from tons of authors, and it’s completely true.

After graduation, I was busy with “real life.”  I’d basically set myself up to get a degree for my hobby, so I had to make some pragmatic decisions about what to do with myself.  BUT, I had 4 books planned at the time, so over the next couple of years I followed the same pattern – wrote in my spare time, self-published with the only company familiar to me at the time, and in the end I had 4 books that I could hold and sell/share with people, and I had the fulfillment of knowing I’d written a series.

Again, real life took over.  But if you like writing, you find an outlet.  So I blogged, I started a book reviewing service, I tried for the zillionth time to like poetry and published a few but still hated it (sorry, Professor Stevens).  Basically I was just writing to continue growing and get better and keep myself entertained, plus the bonus of entertaining anyone else.

Then came the social media boom of Goodreads and Facebook and Twitter.   (To any students reading this, this is the world you live in AND WRITE in now, so I’m kind of jealous you get to start your writing journey with all these resources for writers, authors, poets, etc.)   One day on Goodreads, I “met” an author guy who was just starting out, and he was like, “Why haven’t you made your books eBooks?”  That re-started everything for me, and I started doing more research on what it meant to be an author nowadays… I sound old.

So, basically I’ve spent the past decade or so learning how to be an author.  I re-published my first 4 books so that they’re now suitable for public consumption, I made eBook versions, an eBook box set of The Kota Series, I have 2 short stories with several more in the works, and I have 1 audiobook with 1 on the way.   I have a website, blog, Facebook Page – in total I have a decent 4,000+ followers.   I’ve won some awards and special honors, and I sell at least enough books every month to cover my HBO bill – which is a weird goal to set and a low bar certainly, but it keeps me optimistic and elated when I sell 100+ books a month.

How do I stay focused on writing?

I write as a second job, which is how I’ve learned to treat it.  It’s not just a hobby anymore.  If I think of it as a hobby, I just go, “Meh, when I get to it.”  But if I want to have any success as an author, I have to treat it more like a business.  And if it’s a business, writing is the product.  If you don’t WRITE, there’s obviously no point.

I’m not a person who can schedule x-amount of time at x-time every day to write.  I can’t force it.  I write when the mood and muses strike.  And I’ve learned to listen to that pull – if I’m in the zone, I let myself write and write until it’s all out.  Sometimes this means 8 hours of nonstop writing.  For me, that’s just how it works.  It might not be healthy and sometimes I forget to eat, but I think when you’re doing what you love time flies, and I never experience that more than when I’m writing.

If you write, it might be completely different.  You’ll always have people tell you how you “should” write, but that’s kind of crap.  Everybody works differently.  Whether you’re writing fiction or nonfiction or whatever, writing is a creative process.  Take advice and instruction and apply what rules work for you, but you have to find what works for YOU.

(That was a tricky thing to say in front of professors who taught me how to write, btw.  Again speaking to students here – I’m not about to definitively counter anything they’ve told you.  But I’d bet even they don’t want you to write like everyone else has always written.  For fiction writers in particular, the whole fun is finding some new way to say something new.  And YOUR voice and YOUR originality can only come from you.)

What DID I learn at college?

I honestly don’t know if you CAN teach creativity, but you can be taught where to look to get ideas.  You can be taught ways to use those ideas.  While at college, I definitely benefited from professors’ guidance as I experimented with my writing.  I always knew how to put a sentence together and I come from a family of Grammar Nazis, but professors made me get better and sharper and sometimes forced me out of my writing comfort zone so that I grew and wasn’t just regurgitating my old writing style.

Interesting thing:  I still have a folder of old notes from Colonial Lit and Intro to Philosophy and World Lit, etc.  They’re covered in side notes about The Kota, the book I published my senior year.  Those classes should NOT have given me ideas for Science Fiction novels, but they did!  It’s amazing where ideas come from.

So, even more than learning how to write, college benefited me because of all the reading.  Writers who only read in their genres are doing themselves a disservice, I think.   I still look back on my time at college as invaluable for the exposure that I got to different writers and perspectives.  I know the variety of books I read made me a better writer.

Everyone always quotes Stephen King:  “If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write.”   That’s absolutely true.

Obviously reading good writing can sharpen your brain.  Alternatively, any BAD writing can do the same thing, I think.  I know some people think reading bad writing will rub off on you, but when I read crap books I take note of the things that are bad and make sure I DON’T DO THEM.  Or – this might be bad to share – when I’m in editing mode with my own writing, I read books I know are crap because it keeps me critical, and that carries over to my own work.

But in general, reading stirs your “writer brain” more than anything else I can think of.

Oh, and writers who don’t read IN their genre are seriously missing out.  I recently did an interview with an author who said that he knew a science fiction writer who boasts that he never reads books or watches cinema in the genre.   He claims that this allows him to “be original.”  That’s horrifying and disrespectful, in my opinion.  First of all, if you don’t read or watch science fiction, why would you even like science fiction?  Same goes for Romance or Thrillers – if you’re going to be a part of a genre, know the history of the genre and writers who paved your way.   The author I interviewed brought up the point that “Literature is a conversation, a dialogue between the reader and writer.  If you haven’t been listening to the conversation, how can you contribute anything?”

I think that applies to all writing – you need to read what’s out there to be a part of it.

And as far as being a part of the literary community, if you want to write, you need to find people (whether in real life or online) who GET IT.  Your mom might love your writing, but she probably doesn’t get it if you want to talk about publishing opportunities.  You need to find a community of like-passioned people to help you grow and offer objective feedback on your work.  Via Facebook I’m part of an international group of authors, the #Awethors, and engaging with that community is the single best thing I’ve done as an author.

For those of you in college now, you’re never going to be more surrounded by physical, real life people who share your interest in writing.  You might never again have direct access to people literally TEACHING you how to write.  Take advantage of that and write now if you have any interest at all.

About the current state of publishing: 

(This was the most interesting thing to talk about, considering I’m not sure students had heard it before.  And it was surprising and exciting that they had so many questions specifically about this topic.)

Here’s a thing to remember:   At the end of the day, publishing is a business, and traditional publishers – even ones who genuinely love literature for the pure sake of loving literature – sometimes have to prioritize potential sales over even quality.  I mean, Snooki has a book published by a Big 5 Publisher…let’s all think about that for a second.   Does that mean her book is better than yours?  God, I hope not.  YOUR book could be absolutely amazing but still get rejected by publishers simply because they don’t have a place for it in their marketing system.  They might not think it will sell to their audience.  Does that mean your book is crap?  No.  Just keep trying.

Or, publish it yourself!   How you publish these days is a choice.  There’s still this lingering, outdated, elitist perception that people self-publish because their books aren’t good enough to be traditionally published.  That is simply not the case anymore.  My favorite book that I read last year was self-published (Jason Greenside’s The Distant Sound of Violence).   Some big name authors have even gone the self-publishing route because – believe it or not – there are benefits to self-publishing over traditional publishing.  Royalties and percentages and all of that are highly speculative depending on what study you look at, but it’s no longer necessarily true that being traditionally published will sell more books or make you more money.

Side note:  Really, any good English Major knows that if you’re getting into writing for the money, you’ve made a huge mistake.  It’s a shit-ton of work and luck if you want to make it big.  But, as I talked about in my interview, we don’t do this creative thing for the money – we do it because creating is what fulfills us.  I think the approach of writing on the side or as a second job is a very healthy way to go.  If you HAVE to make money off your writing, that puts a lot of pressure on this thing that is supposed to be enjoyable.  When you HAVE to do it for $$ to survive, it might not be fun anymore.  (This is why I’m marrying for money.  Just kidding! …Mostly kidding.  My fiancé jokes that we’re retiring on my royalties.)

Of course, some students raised valid criticisms against all the self-publishing out there, no doubt echoing at least one professor I can think of.

Don’t all these free and $0.99 books out there cheapen Literature?

I see this a couple different ways.  As for the financial “worth” of art, I think expecting art for cheap/free is just how consumers are in the digital age – ask any musician.  Yes, I wish our work was valued/rewarded financially at a level that makes it worth our time and effort.  But, by making so many books cheap (in order to compete, but that’s a whole other thing), more people can afford to read, and that’s never a bad thing.  More people can get our books whereas at higher prices those same people might not be able to afford it or might not “risk” it on us unknown artists.

As for suggesting that lower prices = cheap “bad” books, I again refer to Snooki’s book.  Or a certain popular vampire series.  Or dozens of other traditionally published works that I would argue cheapen literature and dumb it down.  (However, this argument is an example of the elitism of “Literature” that I try to remind myself not to have.  There’s nothing wrong with enjoying ANY book – art is subjective and I understand why some people enjoy the escapism of aforementioned popular vampire series.) All I’m saying is that the price tag does not necessarily reflect the quality of the writing.

Some say that having so many (“too many”) books out there cheapens Literature.  They long for the days when the gatekeepers of traditional publishing held most of these books back.  Honestly I don’t get this argument because I will never say that having MORE books out there is a bad thing.  Having more stories to consume is never a bad thing.  Even if it’s not a story you or I might enjoy, someone else probably will.  And whereas a traditional publisher might think a story is too weird to sell and therefore tweak it to conform, self-publishing that same book means a whole new kind of story/writing might be introduced.  That, for me, is exciting.  It doesn’t cheapen “Literature” at all but just might evolve storytelling and take us in new directions.

Isn’t it true that a lot of self-published books ARE crap? 

It’s true that some authors don’t know enough about what they’re doing and SHOULDN’T self-publish, yes.  And believe me that the rest of us wish they wouldn’t because they make us look bad and validate this criticism.  But, there’s also that saying about throwing the baby out with the bathwater.  To say that “all” or even “most” self-published books are crap is just plain wrong – and you might miss out on some amazing examples of writing.

This gets back to what I was saying about how you publish being a choice.  With all the resources available to Indie authors now, there’s no reason anyone who takes writing seriously should make a bad book.  If you care enough to write a book, you should care enough to do it right.  And that CAN be done without a traditional publisher.  You can get beta readers who’ll help you work out your book’s kinks, you can get edited by a professional, you can hire a professional cover artist, you can even properly format a book yourself very easily if you can follow instructions.  Nowadays there’s Kindle Direct Publishing, Smashwords, DraftToDigital, and crossbreed companies like Booktrope – there are a ton of resources available!  I think that most writers are seeing the value of doing a book right, and that means fewer and fewer crap books being out there.

Isn’t it crazy hard to be an Indie author, so isn’t it better to be traditional?

I know other authors who’ve taken both routes – some love one way, some will never do the other.  I know editors and publishers who’ve told me about the pros and cons from their perspective inside traditional publishing.  Like I said earlier, there aren’t many differences anymore as far as what can be guaranteed – one way might have success for some, the other is more beneficial for others.

Traditional publishers often have to go by what they think will sell, and they know their markets.  If you fit, great!  But even then, sometimes you have to do a lot of marketing leg-work yourself if you want to really branch out to an audience.  As an Indie, all that work is a given.  BUT, as an Indie, you also reap all the royalties/rewards of your efforts, and you get to keep complete control over your work.  (There’s a lot more involved here, but those are basic widely-acknowledge factors when considering this choice.)

I myself am sticking with the Indie route because, after over a decade of being at it, I know generally what I’m doing and what I would want.  It helps that my genre of Sci-Fi/Fantasy is a bestselling genre and there’s an established audience for my books.  I love having full control of my own work and being free to do whatever I want with it.  I’ve been approached by a few traditional publishers, but none of them could offer me anything I couldn’t do for myself, so that doesn’t make sense FOR ME.   (Granted, if I’m ever offered an Andy Weir kind of deal, I’ll jump on it.  And that IS an option – you can always start Indie, prove your marketability, and then accept a deal with a traditional publisher.  I know more than a few authors this has worked very, very well for.)

At the end of the day, you need to figure out what’s best for YOU.  Either way you go, the #1 IMPORTANT THING is to write the best book you can.  Then, good luck if you want to get an agent and/or go the traditional route.  If you want to go Indie, PLEASE do the work of making your book the best product it can be.  Then, good luck with marketing.   Either way, there’s a lot of work involved.  But if you love writing and want to be an author, just do it.  You gotta start somewhere.

#AuThorsday with Stewart Bint


Stewart BintToday I’d like to welcome Stewart Bint, paranormal & sci-fi author of In Shadows Waiting, Timeshaft, and others.

Can you give us your quickest description of your books? 

My new novel, Timeshaft, follows the fortunes of two sets of time travellers , rocking along to the past and future with twists and paradoxes galore.  Critics say it is a perfectly synchronized time travel saga.

I love playing with time travel in writing.  How much research did you do on the topic – reading similar stories, studying scientific theories, etc.?  Or did you wing it and play freely?

My description of the astro-temporal physics of the Timeshaft and how it connects with ley lines comes entirely from my own imagination, as that is pure fiction.

And while the description of utilising solar wind to create a new form of energy in the opening chapter is also pure fiction, I did need to undertake extensive research into solar wind itself – what it is, and what it can do – to ensure that at least that aspect of my description is absolutely accurate.

My somewhat tongue-in-cheek portrayal of teleports, aircars and holographic entertainment in the year 2345 came from reading too many pulp sci-fi novels in my childhood, and watching TV series like Lost In Space, Star Trek, and The Jetsons!

The historical scenes also called for accurate research – in particular about William Shakespeare, how Margaret Hughes became the first woman to be allowed by law to perform on stage, the way King Charles 1’s subjects perceived him shortly after his ascension to the English throne,  a little of the history of a manor house on the edge of London,  and how Thomas Coryate introduced forks into England in 1611.

That sounds like a wonderful mix! […Adds book to Amazon cart…]  What are you working on currently?

Two novels.  I’m in the final stages of updating my 2012 novel The Jigsaw And The Fan for my current publisher, Booktrope, who are bringing out a new, completely re-edited edition later this year.  It’s a satirical ghost story about a dead trades unionist who can’t get into heaven or hell because of a strike in the afterlife.

And I’m working on a brand new novel for publication in 2017 called To Rise Again.  It is set on Jersey with chapters alternating between the 1980s and the German occupation of the island during the Second World War.  It was inspired by my visit to the famous underground hospital there while I was on my honeymoon there in 1982.

Both sound really interesting but also quite different from each other.  Do you like writing in different styles/genres, and do you find writing a range of stories helps you grow as a writer?    

Absolutely love writing in different genres, as it allows me to explore a variety of personalities and character traits, and explore how people react in a veritable cornucopia of totally diverse situations.  So, yes, I believe that  helps me to grow and mature as a writer.

I also have a collection of short stories out, called Thunderlands, containing tales across many genres – sci-fi, crime, humour and horror.

Couple all of that with the fact that I have my own magazine column, and the day job is a Public Relations writer for the world’s biggest Computer Aided Manufacturing software developer, and you’ll see that my writing covers a multitude of styles, themes and subjects.

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

Never give up on your hope of becoming published.  During my twenties my ambition was to become a published novelist by the time I was 30.  Hhmmm…I was only 26 years too late for that – my first novel came out in 2012 when I was 56.  Now I have five novels, a collection of short stories, a compilation of my early magazine columns, and short stories in three independent anthologies.

Congrats on all your hard work paying off!  What would you say are the advantages and disadvantages of writing with more life experience than you had at, say, 30?

The advantages definitely outweigh the disadvantages.

I have more knowledge of who I am as a person now than I did all those years ago – in fact, 30 is half my lifetime ago!   In those days I was too career-driven, too motivated by corporate success and too eager to please everyone.

That all changed during my recovery from a prolonged period of mental illness (stress, depression and psychosis).  I still have the inferiority complex which drives me to succeed, but I no longer have that burning desire to please everyone, and I don’t really care what the world thinks of me nowadays.  I’m very much my own person, much more spiritual and caring, being closer to nature and the planet that supports us all, choosing to go barefoot almost all the time.

And I feel that reflects in my writing.

The disadvantages: The brain is slower to get into gear, and physical aches and pains mean I need to take more breaks from the computer – and they’re always at the wrong time, just when I’m in full flow with my characters.  Which is all extremely frustrating, as I’m working harder and longer hours than ever before.

But from an overall practical point of view, as my family are now grown up there are fewer distractions and demands on my time.

What a well-thought-out answer!  Thank you.  What is one question about your books that you wish more people would ask?

Where can I buy them?

Every author’s favorite thing to hear. 🙂  So where do you like people to buy them?  Amazon?

Yes, Amazon.  They’re available there as paperback and Kindle format.  And with Kindle having an app for almost every type of device nowadays, you don’t have to own a Kindle itself.  For example, I have a Samsung Galaxy android tablet, with a Kindle app installed.

In a perfect world where you could cast your book for a movie, who would you pick for your main characters?

Without a doubt, Donald Sutherland to play Ashday’s Child.  At 80, he’s seven years older than the character, but I think you’ll agree that with a little makeup he could readily transform into how I describe Ashday’s Child the first time we meet him:

Bradman stared at the tramp’s old, lined face, noting with distaste the small weasel eyes set too close together, the lank grey hair desperately in need of a wash, and the narrow tapering chin desperately in need of a shave.

The wonderful Jenna Coleman would be absolutely perfect for the role of his young assistant and shuttle pilot Caitlin Lang.  And, of course, she has considerable experience of time travel, having played the companion for Matt Smith and Peter Capaldi’s 11th and 12th incarnations of Doctor Who.

Jennifer Lawrence, perhaps best known for The Hunger Games, could be Nadia Reeder.

And I’d pick the relatively unknown English actor Jack O’Connell for the part of Phillip Oatridge.  He was actually born in a suburb of Derby, around five miles from where I spent the early part of my life.  He’s appeared in numerous TV shows and films, and his upcoming film is Money Monster, with George Clooney and Julia Roberts.

I was going to say something about Jenna Coleman having experience with time travel, but you beat me to it.  Ha!  I had to look up Jack O’Connell on IMDB, but obviously Sutherland and Lawrence are great actors to pick.  Do you picture certain people/actors in your head when you write these characters, or more your own constructs of faces and personalities?

Definitely my own constructs of both.  In terms of personality I work out a few traits (and if I think it’ll add a bit more drama, some foibles as well),  depending  on what the characters are called upon to do as the story unfolds.  For instance, in Timeshaft there’s an early scene where we learn that a character has a phobia of spiders.  This is to add more dramatic tension as that character is cocooned in webs spun by thousands of spiders in a later scene.

Physical descriptions – although I can see every character perfectly in my mind’s eye, I only give a partial description,  preferring to leave something to the reader’s imagination as to how they view them.

Thanks, Stewart, for sharing!

Timeshaft
WHERE TO FIND Stewart Bint: 

Website: www.StewartBintAuthor.weebly.com
Goodreads:  Stewart Bint
Amazon Page:  Stewart Bint
Facebook:  Stewart Bint
Twitter: @AuthorSJB

New Book Cover Reveal

Oh, what the heck.  I finished this up last night and can’t wait to share it!  I mentioned in my February Update video that I was going to “start” working on a new cover for The Woman of the Void that’s a little more sci-fi and a little less fantastical/girly.  Well, I’m already done, so here it is!
It should start updating on all the retail sites soon.
Hope you like.

TWOTV FULL NEW (1) (1).jpg

“The Poet Heroic” Sneak Peek

Hey, everybody!

I’m in the final stages of prepping The Poet Heroic, the next Kota Short – releases 12/25/2015! (available for pre-order HERE)

This book focuses on the origin story of Beathabane, the telepathic twin brother of Cruelthor, and shows how he becomes leader of the Hood rebel group in The Kota.

Here’s a first look at the opening pages!

Poet Heroic Cover FandB (2)

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07/08/69 22:00
Paris, Crow’s Region, Mainland-Euro
– ALERT:  Unauthorized Streaming Video Upload
…Tracking coordinates…

The room is dark. A wall of windows allows faint city light to stretch into the room, but the light only reaches far enough to reveal a skyscraper’s vacant office space.

A spotlight turns on to reveal a man in his late twenties sitting in a chair. His head is lowered so that his coat’s hood shields his face from the camera. He sits comfortably, his hands in his lap.

In a chair across from him sits a stylish woman with neon green hair. This is Kaytrine Elique, known rebel hacker-turned-reporter. A Euro woman who speaks only an illegal language, she wears a headset translating device. She also holds a paper notepad presumably filled with questions. With a smirk, she turns her head and looks into the camera.

Her headset translates in her own accented voice as she says, “We know we don’t have much time before this transmission is tracked by the monitors. And I have no doubt the Dominion is very interested to know the location of my guest tonight. His name is Vale Olander. Or as most of us know him, Beathabane. The Forgotten Son. The Tyrant Twin. So, without wasting any more time, let’s hear what my guest has to say.” She turns to the man in the chair. “Sir, thank you for agreeing to this interview.”

The man now lifts his hood from his head and pushes it back to reveal his face.

Kaytrine sucks in breath at the sight of him, but she regains her composure immediately. “I’m sorry, but you look exactly-”

“I know,” Beathabane tells her with a smile. “You’re not the first to have that reaction.” He glances at the camera nervously, then to the side, where he probably has a man positioned for security.

“I’ll get right to it,” Kaytrine tells him as she examines her notes. “Everyone knows the work you’ve been doing this past decade since…” She makes a face. “Since you came to the Mainland. You’ve helped scores of refugees. Saved hundreds of lives. But this is the first time you’ve agreed to publically speak out. Why is that?”

“I thought it was about time to show my pretty face,” Beathabane jokes. Then he takes a deep breath and sits up in his chair. “Like you say, people know the work I’ve done with my team. They’ve heard rumors about me, both from the Dominion and the rebels. I want my supporters to see my face and know for certain that I’m still alive. And I want those who distrust me to know that I’m not my twin. I want everyone to know that I’ll never stop working to make this world a better place for all of us. That’s all I want. People have no need to fear me. And I hope my example will prompt others to join us in this fight for what is right and just.”

Kaytrine taps her notepad. “As the first reporter you’ve been willing to speak to, I have to ask – what about your sister?”

Beathabane flinches in his seat, and his jaw tightens.

Kaytrine glances at the camera. “Everyone is wondering, you know. Your brother brought her into the Dominion not long after you came to the Mainland. Since then, she’s been learning to fight for the very things you’re fighting against. I have to wonder if that makes you view her as an enemy. And if not, how can you live with the fact that your sister is in the Dominion’s care? I would think, sir, that you’d do everything in your power to rescue her. Or am I wrong?”

Beathabane pauses in thought. Then he looks back at Kaytrine calmly to answer.

Yay!  I’m excited for you to read this one.  See more info on Amazon HERE

#AuThorsday with Anita Kovacevic

61iIdnEKx0L._UX250_Today I’d like to welcome Anita Kovacevic, author of both an adult book, The Threshold, and children’s books, including Winky’s Colours: A Penguin’s Story.

Can you give us your quickest description of your books?

My adult books are almost always a mix of reality and fantasy, with elements of fantasy, paranormal, even horror. (This is not done intentionally, but makes editing a real challenge.)

My children’s books stem from storytelling while teaching English (my full-time job/vocation), so they always have a semi-hidden educational element in them, empowering children (and adults) to stay positive, inspire and strive for improvement.

Still haven’t published a poetry book, but it follows the same pattern.

Do you find that your children’s books are easier to write or come more naturally, since you’re a teacher, than your adult fiction?

Well, I wouldn’t say they are easier to write at all.  They are shorter, that’s for sure.  They are much easier to tell, because storytelling is driven by the children’s energy and my teaching experience and it is direct communication.  When I write children’s books, it is much more difficult to find the right level of phrasing things, to keep it challenging enough, yet not too complicated for children, and to keep the rhythm of telling more flowing.  When it is storytelling, I adapt my voice, phrasing, even noise level to suit the kids, and their interruptions do not bother me – I welcome them, because they are a sign of active listening.  When you write it, there is nobody to bounce it back from in a way.

What is definitely easier with children’s books is that they are so positive, magic comes easy, and writing and telling them is pure joy.  With adult books, as with the adult world, there is so much ugliness, negativity, stress, that it inevitably sneaks into your writing.  I cannot help but infiltrate some magic or paranormal into that, too, for balance, which makes editing awfully hard because I keep hearing ‘mixed genres don’t sell’ and ‘keep it simple for your target audience’!  But I write what I feel and because I need to.  I have never been a business person.

I completely sympathize with what you’re saying about adult fiction.  So what are you working on currently?

Teaching mostly, and trying to preserve the quality of my family life and friendships. 🙂

As for writing, I have three WIPs going on – a finished adult novel (waiting to be edited) about a family which goes through fundamental changes, moving to a small place to find peace when – lo and behold…  The second one is a chick lit book about a daydreamer looking for love in all the wrong places.  The third one is a children’s book about a little squirrel who discovers the beauty of being able to do things herself.  Editing for another author, helping some author groups and book clubs with promotion services (hi, wonderful people, thanks for having me – you all know who you are) interviewing and reviewing – these are all just ‘side gigs.’

Busy, busy.  🙂  Are you an author who makes time every day for writing?  Or do you just get to it whenever you have time around everything else?

It would be such a pleasure to be able to set a time for it every day.  I try to, definitely.  But family life comes first.  My husband is really supportive, but our kids have their needs and they come first.  Day job, too.  Then you squeeze in whatever time is left.  I suppose we all do, unless we live only off our writing, but I don’t.

What is your favorite scene you’ve written?  Can you give us a peek?

There are quite a few, even the ones that gave me nightmares.  But I will share a sweet one from a children’s book, Winky’s Colours, when a boy penguin, who (spoiler alert) almost drowns in an oil spill while searching the world for colours, wakes up and sees – her.  This scene is simply wonderful when I do storytelling – the children’s reactions are precious…

Winky wakes up.  Someone is moving in the igloo and it isn’t Sarah.  The walk is funny and kind of familiar.  He opens his eyes.  Everything is still fuzzy, but he manages to see something.
‘Colours?’ he whispers.
‘No, I’m Betty.’ The voice is snappy and it speaks fast.
‘Colours?’ he says a bit louder.
‘No, no, no, no, no. Be-tty! I’m Betty!’ She sounds a bit angry now.
‘Co-lours!’ Winky said, thinking he is still dreaming.
A fin grabs his lock of hair, pulls it upward and raises his head.
‘Oh, come on, snap out of it! I’m Betty. B-E-T-T-Y. And your name is?’
Two curious green eyes are flashing at his face like road signs.
(From Winky’s Colours)

That sounds quite cute.  Do you read to your students and try out stories on them before you publish?

This scene comes right after a cliffhanger, so I love it.

In all honesty, every story or rhyme I write for children was originally written for my lessons or my children.  I never write to publish.  Some of my teaching colleagues are actually the ones who have encouraged me to even think of myself as an author.  When I read or tell stories to my students, I never tell them they are mine, because I want honest feedback.  They don’t even know I publish.  Kids love stories; they don’t care who wrote them.  They train my ego well.

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

‘Where can I get it?’

Hahaha… No, seriously.  That is the question.

Yep, that’s the one we all want to hear!  Haha.  Where CAN we get it?  Do you have a preferred retailer?

Not really.  My books are available on Lulu, Amazon, Kobo, iBookstore, Barnes&Noble, Nook…  Readers choose what suits them.

Who inspires you to write?

Everything and everyone, words, scents, my family, my students, my friends, images, nature, music…  The Threshold was inspired by that same word – threshold, mentioned casually in a landscape description in another book I was reading.  I had to put that book aside and wrote every night till The Threshold was finished.

There is a story in everyone and everything around us.  I teach creative writing and have a method which gets students to write a three-word sentence into a 40-word sentence in 3 minutes – it just takes focus, imagination and some empathy.  We all have that!  I never lack inspiration, only time and peace.  If inspiration comes in abundance, even insomnia kicks in, just to make time for writing.  But creating something out of nothing like that really fills me with positive energy.  I think writing makes me a better person – it makes me happy, clears my head and heart, and that makes me a better wife, mother, friend, teacher… I hope.

What a great way to look at it – creating helping us to be better people!  And it’s amazing what little things can often trigger inspiration.  Can you tell us a little more about The Threshold?  

It’s the first thing I wrote as an author – it actually kept me up till it was finished.  It’s a slightly creepy urban fantasy about a man who builds himself a house to be proud of, only to show well-hidden vanity.  In the process, he violates several laws of nature (trying to avoid spoilers), for which he pays dearly after crossing the threshold of his finished house.  The threshold hides a curse – makes you face…. No, not telling you! 🙂 The house remains untouched, infamous and owned by the city.  Many years later, another media tycoon of the modern times tries to acquire ownership rights to that same house, by striking a deal with the city leaders to organise a ghost-hunting reality show, which would draw attention and tourists to the city.  As is often the case, a completely average person, a curious student finally…
Well, read the book!  It’s really short!  And, in the words of Evie from The Mummy movie – ‘No harm ever came from reading a book!’

Thank you, Anita, for sharing! 

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WHERE TO FIND Anita Kovacevic:
Website:  Anita’s Haven
Goodreads:  Anita Kovacevic
Amazon Page:  Anita Kovacevic
Facebook:  Anita’s Haven
Twitter: @Anitas_haven

#TheFourFriday – Beathabane

Every Friday, I’m posting something about how the real life “The Four” overlap with the fictional four Kota Warriors.
As some of you know, The Kota Series is based on what “The Four” (myself, my brother, and our childhood best friends Kaly and Luke) played as kids.  Each of us is represented by one of the four Kota Warriors (Bullseye, Rave, Tigris, Whitewolf).  So, I’ll be sharing personal quirks that carried over into fiction, fun/weird stories we played as kids, our childhood drawings, pictures related to The Four and The Kota, etc.
Should be fun, and it’ll give you an idea of how weird or little minds were as we created this story that, years later, turned into my book series.  🙂

This week, Beathabane.
I remember being really interested in twins when I was little. (Confession: I might not have grown out of this.)  The idea of “good twin” and “bad twin” obviously stuck as far as Cruelthor and Beathabane are concerned.  I’m pretty sure my brother helped me develop Beathabane’s character, although I’m totally to blame for this character drawing:

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Yeah… He’s undergone a bit of modification over the years.  Name changed.  Shrunk him.  Changed nationality.  And good lord, why did we think 24 was old?

Sometimes I’m asked who my favorite character is.  Everyone naturally assumes Bullseye – and that’s partly true – but I’ve always really liked Beathabane.  And, since not a lot of his story gets told in the main series (he has an appearance in The Kota and then [spoilers] 😉 ) I decided early on that he would be the main character in one of the Kota Shorts.

So, now that’s happening.  It’s still a work in progress, but I like it already.  The Poet Heroic will be released on Christmas and is available for pre-order on Amazon now.

Poet Heroic Cover Front

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