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Interview with DJ Edwardson

Today I have the honor of inviting a new acquaintance of mine over for a chat. Please welcome Mister DJ Edwardson, author of The Last Motley, a fantasy MG novel which I am beyond eager to read, which can be purchased here and The Chronotrace Sequence, a science fiction series for YA, which can be purchased at this site. It’s been a while since I read any new science fiction, so I’m hoping to get a copy of his first book to check it out. I’ve always been a huge fan of clean science fiction and fantasy, and it sounds like that is exactly what DJ produces.

DJ Profile PictureBio: DJ Edwardson has a degree in English from Cornell College where his emphasis was on the works of Shakespeare. He’s tried his hand at both acting and directing in the theater, but these days is happiest with a pen in his hand. He lives in Tennessee with his wife and three children and a rather large collection of board games. His family usually gangs up on him so that he doesn’t win, but he has fun anyway.

What first drew you to write? How did you get started?

Well, like many authors I suppose, I was an English major in college. And though I loved reading, which was where the focus of my studies was, I really loved the writing courses especially. For a while I thought about journalism though. I didn’t really have any aspirations of writing novels.

Then after college I was in Honduras working at an orphanage and I had a lot of time to think. No TV, foreign country, not a terrible lot of friends, you get the picture. And I came up with this idea for a story: what if there was only one Christian left in the world?

So, I scribbled down fifty pages or so in a notebook and then…I got married, moved back to the states, and though at some point I transferred that story to a computer document, I never really thought a whole lot about it after that.

Fast forward many years later and I was part of a book club and really getting excited about stories again, for the first time in a long time. And another guy in the club was working on a short story and he said, “Hey, would you take a look at this?” I said, “Sure,” and that got me thinking about my unfinished novel. I asked him if he’d take a look at it and he was very encouraging. We started exchanging our work and that is when I started writing in earnest. That would have been around 2009, I think.

And the rest, as they say, is history-or actually science fiction, to be more accurate!

chronotrace sequence

So that first book turned into a science fiction series of three books and now you’ve just released your first fantasy novel. What’s it like writing in two genres?

Very, very different. They’re both alternate realities with invented worlds, but the similarities pretty much end there.

The Chronotrace Sequence, my sci-fi series, takes place on this totally, inhospitable planet. There’s technology everywhere, but nothing green, no plant life, no animal life. It’s all metal and sand.

last-motley-on-shelfThe Last Motley, my fantasy book, is sort of an idealized medieval world with towns and rivers and forests and all the rest. It’s so much more full of life, full of color. And of course the magic is particularly colorful in this book. You might get an inkling of that just looking at the cover. The way magic is portrayed is one of the things I think that makes the book stand out.

And the changes spill over to the characters as well. There’s a lot of doubt, ambiguity, and uncertainty in the mind of the main character of the Chronotrace. He’s not jaded or skeptical, but he’s had his memory erased so he’s constantly playing catch up, off balance, unsure of what is going on.

The main character in The Last Motley is out of his element as well. He’s just a tailor and he’s stumbled onto this wild, magical curse that’s threatening the world, but he has strong relationships with his family to fall back on so he’s more grounded. It’s also a much more intimate story with a strong family element woven in right from the beginning.

So, yeah, lots of differences. Writing in one world is a bit like wearing jet boots: total novelty, but unstable, and always a bit off-kilter, and the other is more like an old pair of slippers: comfy, familiar, and they just sort of mold to your toes in the most natural way possible.

So you’re independently published. Did you try to go the traditional route first? Talk about how you landed on this path?

Yeah, well at first I really didn’t even know self-publishing was an option. So, I tried finding an agent. I probably wrote the worst query letters in the history of writing because I didn’t even get form letters back for rejection, just silence. Maybe I did get one or two rejections, but that was it.

Then I stumbled across this author commenting on some post on the internet and claiming to have made $25,000 on her latest release and it had only been out for like 6 months or something. And she said she only paid around $800 for editing and her cover and everything. That’s when I started researching that angle.

Then I went to a writing workshop with a local author who was published by Harper Collins. He was a first-time author, but he said that his publisher was basically just editing his book and giving him a cover. They really weren’t doing anything in terms of marketing.

I started looking at the horrific amount of time it took to go from finished manuscript to print, the awful pay for traditional authors, the fact that they can pull your books for whatever reason, and I took all that in and it just seemed like I would be foolish not to at least give the independent route a go.

If your writing style could be compared to any other writer, who would it be?

Ooo, that’s a tough one. I think I’m probably the least objective person on the planet when it comes to my own writing. My writing might sound like Kermit the Frog for all I know.

But a few reviewers have compared my writing to Lewis and Tolkien, and even George MacDonald. And I know they’re being wildly generous when they say that, but I suppose to some degree we write what we love, don’t we? I mean, actually, Lewis’ Space Trilogy was a conscious inspiration for The Chronotrace Sequence. So, yes, I suppose the kinds of things I write maybe just maybe could be considered in the same wheelhouse.

I’m trying to write very wholesome, good, beautiful stories, with a magical, otherworldy and yet eternal air to them, which are the sort of things that they wrote. Stories that will stand the test of time. I’m not really out to entertain or to try and write what’s popular, what’s in vogue at the moment. I want my stories to have that mythopoeic, timeless feel, which of course Lewis and Tolkien were masters of.

I’m still learning, but if I ever write anything half as good as they did I’ll be thrilled.

The Last MotleyThanks for joining us today, DJ!

Don’t forget that you can purchase copies of his books here at his website, which is quite spiffy, if I do say so myself. So please hop on over and sign up for his newsletter to keep on top of upcoming releases and make sure to snag a copy of his newest book, The Last Motley. The cover is simply stunning, don’t you agree?

 

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Cover Reveal with Kendra E Ardnek

A few weeks ago Kendra revealed the cover of her book, The Worth of a King, expected on August 27th of this year. Since I am trying to update my new website, I thought I would share this again.Worthreveal.jpg

Book Description:
Princess Obsidia’s father was killed the night she was born. Since there was no male heir, the crown went to the man who killed him, by Dialcian law. This never bothered her, growing up, and when it comes time for Obsidia to choose her husband, she chooses Prince Delaney, the son of that man, with little hesitation. Only then does her life start crumbling around her.

Adrian expected to live a normal life, taking his father’s place at the print shop when his father retired. But, on his eighteenth birthday, when the princess’ engagement is announced, his world is ripped out from under him when he learns that his life was a ruse, and he is the twin brother to the princess – and expected to take back his father’s throne.

Delaney knows that his country is hovering on the brink of war – and that his father may harbor murderous intentions towards his intended bride due to her Zovordian blood. He wants nothing more than to protect Obsidia and his people, but as merely prince, he has little power against his father.

The ancient war between the Dragons and the Immortal King and Queen is nearing its climax, and the three are already caught in it.

the worth of a king 4.pngAnd now for the COVER…Isn’t it beautiful? I think this is my absolute favorite of Kendra’s book covers so far, and she has so many lovely covers to display.

Kendra graciously agreed to pop in for an interview today as well. Make her feel welcome!!

If you could spend a day with one of your characters, who would it be and why? What would you do together?

Lauta, hands down. She’s the Doorkeeper, and can control the doors between worlds. We’d spend the day world-hopping. The day would never end.

Can you share one lesson you have learned from your writing with your readers?

If I want to accomplish something, I have to work at it. I can’t just sit around writing false starts to my stories. I have to finish them.

If your writing style could be compared to food, what would it be and what would it taste like?

It’s spaghetti. Twisty and meaty and so much fun to eat.

Kendra E. Ardnek.jpgAuthor Bio:

Kendra E. Ardnek loves fairytales and twisting them in new and exciting ways. She’s been or acting them on her dozen plus cousins and siblings for years. “Finish your story, Kendra,” is frequently heard at family gatherings. Her sole life goal has always been to grow up and be an author of fantasy and children’s tales that glorify God and His Word.
Find her online at: Website || Blog || Goodreads || Facebook || Twitter || Amazon 

Blog

Interview with Hope Ann

Today I have the honor of inviting a special guest to visit my blog. I hope you will all make her welcome and enjoy getting to know a little bit about the lovely Miss Hope Ann and her books. I have read one of her books, and I must confess to enjoying it so much I got a little fangirly. So without further whatnot from me, I am going to turn the floor over to her.

Hope Ann is a Christian wordsmith, avid reader, and dedicated author. Her time is taken up with writing, reading, playing with inspirational photos, blogging, helping care for the house and eight younger siblings, and generally enjoying the adventures of life on a small farm at the crossroads of America. She has self-published fairy tale retellings on Amazon and is currently working on several projects including a fantasy novel and futuristic trilogy. You can find out more about her on her website.

Now, a few questions for Hope Ann.

Tell us, Hope, why do you like to write stories?

Why does one like to breathe? I love creating worlds and characters. I love to weave plots and themes together. I love the reactions of readers or learning that something I wrote inspired someone else. But in the end, I can’t quite explain it. It’s just… it’s what I do. And I love it.

If you could spend a day with one of your characters, who would it be and why? What would you do together?

Either Ethaniel, from Fidelyon, or Torin from my Cember Earth series (the first is a work in progress and the second is in random planning stages). Both characters have a way at setting people at their ease (if they care to, that is). Ethaniel is quiet and steady, while Torin would plot the kidnapping of a king as some great prank. But either of them would be quite fun to spend time with.

Would you want to live in your story world? Tell us why or why not.

Which one? I’ve three worlds right now, plus the future of our current world. Most of them I’d love to visit, both so I could write about them better and just because it would be cool. Live, though? I like my computers, thank you very much. One of these days I will come up with a story that merges technology with fantasy, but right now I’d prefer to be here. That’s why I work on writing, after all, instead of researching portals.

Can you recommend any authors/books that have inspired you and your style of writing?

I love anything by Tolkien. He was one of the first fantasy writers I read much of. I also love Brandon Sanderson; the imagination and characters and plots of his books are brilliant. Also, I love my friend, Kate Flournoy’s writing—I’ve learned so much from it and love everything she’s written.

Can you share one lesson you have learned from your writing with your readers?

Don’t ever stop, if you are committed to it. Writing is about nothing if not perseverance. It gets hard. Sometimes plots don’t come together. Or they don’t work. Or a book ends up doubling the word count you need. Or a hundred other things. But don’t stop. Keep moving, keeping staring at a blank screen and muttering to yourself and pacing the floor until you figure out your problem. Because, given time and dedication, you can figure it out. You just need to keep at it.

If your writing style could be compared to weather, what would it be?

A breaking storm with quick bursts of rain and heavy wind, followed by the golden light of a rising sun that turns the rain to diamonds.

Thank you for stopping in to visit with us today, Hope. I know we all enjoyed getting to know you and hear about some of your fascinating story worlds.

Before she goes, I wanted to share with you a little bit about her book Burning Rose. Before we get to that, I just have to fangirl for a moment because…THIS COVER! Isn’t it absolutely stunning? Her book is on sale right now and I highly suggest you dash over to her website to learn more about the details.

A war, founded in ancient legends, changes the lives of those it touches forever.

Elissa, a villager from the northern mountains, attempts to save her brother and ends up trapped with a strange host and a treacherous enemy.

Evrard, the Wingmaster of the Prince’s army, races against his weakening powers to discover the location of his twin and save her from deadly mistbenders.

Haydn, a pardoned rebel from Tauscher’s army, confronts shadows of myth and former comrades in his struggle to keep his sister safe and find the stolen Stormestone.

Fairy tales retold as you have never heard them before. 

Blog

Author Interview Tammy Lash

Today I have the pleasure of introducing Tammy to you all. Not only is she a talented writer with a gift for digging deep and making you laugh and cry, but she is also a dear friend of mine. I hope you will all make her welcome and check out her lovely debut novel, White Wolf and the Ash Princess. White Wolf recently underwent a rebranding phase and now has a lovely new cover to fit its genre which I will share with you a little further down. You can buy your copy of this lovely novel right here.

ABOUT TAMMY

Tammy lives in Lower Michigan with her husband and her three children. Izzy’s home in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula (Munising) is where she and her family enjoy exploring. Tammy enjoys hiking, kayaking, beach wandering, “hunting” for birch bark and hopes to someday find a porcupine quill. White Wolf and the Ash Princess is her first novel. She is published in Keys for Kids and has been in children’s ministry for over twenty years.

 

So tell us, Tammy, why do you like to write stories?

My first instinct is to say that I like the teaching aspect of writing. My husband and I have taught in children’s ministries at the churches we have been called to for most of our married life, and I’ve homeschooled all of our kids. I like my stories to teach and inspire. If I were to think harder about why I like writing, I’d say it’s because, even though I find writing to be overwhelming at times, I find it to be a challenge. I like the difficulty of it. I like accomplishing something that my brain screams is impossible. I hear this nagging voice at the beginning of every chapter. Finishing a story always seems “bigger” than me, so when I DO it, it’s like I’ve reached a mountain top. The Lord is forever faithful. He has given me strength to get through many “impossible” projects!

If you could spend a day with one of your characters, who would it be and why? What would you do together?

I would like to spend the day with Izzy because we are both so much alike. We both dislike tea, we have a spicy temper…and both of us would rather walk around barefoot. We would have so much fun walking the beaches of the U.P in search of beach glass or Petoskey stones. Her favorite trees are birch trees and I could see both of us geeking out at our bark piles. Izzy is a good shot with Jonathan’s guns. I don’t shoot anything larger than a .22. I’d ask her to give me a lesson or two with the bigger guns so I could impress my deer-hunting, gun-slinging husband.

Would you want to live in your story world? Tell us why or why not?

Eeeeek! I would LOVE to live in my story world! White Wolf and the Ash Princess is the combination of my two favorite worlds–seventeenth century England and seventeenth century Early America. I love the romantic era of Jane Eyre with the dresses, decor and mannerisms, but I also love the thought of exploring an unspoiled land and discovering a new culture.

Can you recommend any authors/books that have inspired you and your style of writing?

The book that has made the biggest impact on my writing in terms of character building–especially when writing male characters– is The Outsiders by S. E Hinton. This novel, thankfully, was required reading in my high school English literature class. Pony Boy and Soda Pop Curtis were the same age as me, and I could relate to their struggle to fit in. Sixteen-year old greaser, Johnny, made my heart bleed as he shyly hunched through the book with his thumbs in his front pockets. I related most to the oldest Curtis, Darry, who grew old before his time fathering his two brothers after the death of their parents. My goal as a writer is to make my characters shine as brightly as Ms. Hinton did with hers.

Another old favorite is one that my mom passed down to me. Mrs. Mike was published in the late forties by Benedict and Nancy Freeman. Part Two of White Wolf and the Ash Princess is inspired by the stunning culture the Freeman’s introduced me to back in high school. The Ojibwe people and their traditions, customs, and folklore are of specific interest to me today because of the book my mom shared with me years ago.

What is the hardest part about being a writer for you?

I heard this from my parents growing up–and I’m sure most with brothers and sisters heard the same thing: “Don’t worry about what your sister is doing–keep your eyes to yourself and worry about you.” Hmmmm…..anybody else hear this?? My biggest struggle is when my eyes leave my laptop to see what other writers/authors are doing. It’s ok to look to learn, but it is never ok to compare. I often compare my slow writing style with the much speedier versions of the masses and it does nothing but bring discouragement. We are “fearfully and wonderfully made” and each of us is a unique one-of-a-kind creation.

Can you share one lesson you’ve learned from your writing to your readers?

I’ve learned that nothing is impossible. Hard, yes…but impossible? Nope! If He wants it done..it’s going to get done! Through Him, I finished White Wolf and the Ash Princess and Lord willing I’ll finish the coming sequel, Letters from the Dragon’s Son.

If your writing style could be compared to food, what would it be and what would it taste like?

My husband and I have date night out twice a month. We go to the same place, nearly every time, so I can get my fajitas and endless chips and salsa. I’d say my writing is a lot like my favorite date night meal. It’s hard to stop crunching down those chips!! I try to end the chapters of my books/stories that way–with the need for “just one more”. I love the onions in my chicken fajitas, but I don’t like cutting them for myself at home. I buy the bag of already chopped onions to save my eyeballs from the burning. I do like runny eyes when I read, though. If I read through my work and tear-up, I know I’ve gotten the feel right. The next time you read a Tammy project, think fajitas!


Connect with Tammy

Wow, thanks for stopping in to chat with us today, Tammy! I know we all had a blast. There are many ways you can connect with Tammy if you would like to know more about her and her future releases.

Reviews

Review of Minstrel’s Call by Jenelle Leanne Schmidt

Minstrel's Call coverThis is one of those series that grows on you. I liked the first book, but I wasn’t invested enough in the story yet to truly appreciate it. The author was still growing her craft and developing her characters. By the time I got to book four, I found myself completely enraptured in her world, begging for more, and saddened to realize the series had finally come to an end. What an epic, enthralling adventure.

What I liked:

The world-building. Ms. Schmidt has a gift for painting full-scale worlds with unique cultures and compelling histories, a world so real I wish I could hop on a plane and go for a visit. The backstory is so rich and cleverly sprinkled throughout the story that I never felt as if I were sitting in a history class, but rather like I was living it as it happened.

The characters. Ah, the characters! Even the minor cast will tug at your heart and leave you wishing you had more. And I’m so glad that many of the cast carry over from book to book, allowing us to experience their tales to the fullest. Brant is, as always, my favorite—but the other characters grew on me even more. Particularly Yole, Kitry, the Minstrel and especially Kamarie. I felt that THIS book of all the books pulled her to her lowest and yet to her highest, finally giving her the chance to prove her mettle. I wept with her, cheered with her, longed for her to succeed.

The author’s voice. Ms. Schmidt has a compelling way with words. I love her descriptions, the richness of her passages, the detail and love she installs on the page. I tried to pick one quote from the book to share, but there are too many of them…I would have to copy half the book. I finally chose this bit, because it is at once chilling and beautiful.

“The sea of undead fighters was endless…Their ferocity was only matched by their eerie silence. Even as they fought and fell, they uttered not a word or cry, as if the silence of the grave had risen up to swallow the living.”

What I would have liked done differently:

Um. Not much. This story blew me away with its complexity and beauty. In the earlier books, the omniscient point of view was distracting and took me forever to get used to, but by the time she reached book four, Ms. Schmidt had mastered the technique so well I didn’t even NOTICE the point of view. I think I would have liked more of the story to be told from Kamarie’s perspective. So much of her adventure we see through the eyes of others, and her story is SO GOOD in this book. But I love the characters surrounding her too much to make a big fuss about this point, because in all honesty I wouldn’t want to give up a minute of my time with them either. My only other constructive comment is…why can’t there be a book five? Wink, wink. Just saying. I could really use one more book.

I suggest this book to fans of Tolkien and Lewis. If you like epic fantasy, compelling allegory and rich story-worlds, this book is a sure win. I rate this book high PG for thematic elements and battle sequences.

Reviews

Review of Dissemble by Sarah Addison-Fox

Dissemble Kindle Cover 3rd ProofI was very excited to read the second book in the Allegiance Series by budding novelist, Sarah Addison-Fox. Book One surprised me with its unique nature, how the author combined a YA themed novel with family values, and book two followed in the same venue but with some new twists of its own.

What I liked: Book Two is just as fast paced and endearing as book one, but it is a harsher tale. The heroine, a former slave, finds herself in new and more dangerous circumstances as she finds herself moving from one form of slavery to another when she is forced to become a spy. War is blooming on the horizon and the stakes have risen.

The family values are still there. I think the author should write an entire series for MG readers about the kids in this book. I think she would be very successful with it. I love how the story alternates between the hero and heroine as well as with Mick’s family and the kids, following their own unique plot line and struggles. It was a very refreshing change but the typical YA novel.

What I would have liked to see different: I personally prefer my books without swearing, but the usage in this book was kept to a minimum and the author was careful to use “milder” swear words which I appreciated. There was also some more kissing in this book, which does not bother me because it was not at all explicit, but it irked my romantic sensibilities that the poor heroine was kissing the WRONG dude. I can’t say any more (Spoilers), but this complaint stems mostly from my inability to be patient and wait for the happy ending resolution than from anything the author should have done differently LOL. I can’t help it: I love a good romance and happy ending.

Ms. Addison-Fox is off to a great start trying to make her mark in the Indie world with her unique style of combining endearing family values and compelling action. I look forward to watching her grow as she continues to develop her craft.

Content: I rate this book for Adults, for mild swearing, kissing and tasteful violence. There is one scene of attempted assault which may be difficult for some readers.

 

Reviews

Review of White Wolf and the Ash Princess by Tammy Lash

White wolfThis is one of those stories that gets under your skin and consumes your soul. Ms. Lash’s debut novel is a rare treasure indeed. Rarely do books these days move me to tears, but this historical Christian novel with just a dash of steampunk and fantasy did just that. I reviewed this book back when it first released but somehow I must have forgotten to post it here, so I’m going to rewrite it because this book deserves it!!

One of the things I loved most about this book was the characters. They are so real they felt like my friends by the time I finished reading, and left me longing for more. They made me laugh, they made me cry, they made me mad, they made me sigh…Jonathan was such a terrific tragic hero, truly swoon worthy and at other times SO FRUSTRATINGLY MALE lol. I couldn’t help but fall in love with him. Izzy was spunky, fragile and so real, I felt as if she were a mirror of myself at times. And Tubs, don’t get me started on him because I could talk all day about him.

I’m not usually a huge fan of historical fiction, but this story cured me for the genre. Ms. Lash had such a fresh perspective on how she dealt with history and yet made it her own world at the same time, with hints of steampunk technology and just whispers of fantasy. Her White Wolf legend was absolutely stunning, and how she weaved it throughout the story…so well done.

Usually, I like to leave at least one constructive comment on what I would have liked to have seen differently, but I loved everything about this book. I think the only thing I can say is, “I wish it hadn’t made me cry” LOL because it truly was wrenching at times, yet the ending is so full of hope and left room for the next book in the series. I can’t wait to read book two.

Content: I would rate this story PG-13 for thematic elements. There is no language or sexuality in this book.