Blog Tour – The Captives – Cas Peace


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A city besieged by evil…
Secure in his stolen stronghold, Baron Reen continues to sow chaos in Albia’s capital. Nowhere is safe from his malice and the King’s Guard is powerless to stop him. Crucial pieces of his plan are falling into place and soon his vengeance will be complete. All he lacks is the final game piece that will force his archenemy to her knees before him.
Sullyan works frantically to solve the mystery of Reen’s newfound powers. She knows she is getting closer to the truth, but will she be too late to save the scarecrow’s captives?


 The book is now live and here is a link that will take you to the correct Amazon page no matter where in the world you are.

Cas lives in the lovely county of Hampshire, southern UK, where she was born. On leaving school she trained for two years before qualifying as horse-riding instructor. During this time she also learned to carriage-drive. She spent thirteen years in the British Civil Service before moving to Rome, Italy, where she and her husband, Dave, lived for three years. They enjoy returning whenever they can. Cas supports many animal charities and owns two rescue dogs. She has a large collection of cacti and loves gardening. She is also a folk singer/songwriter and is currently writing and recording nine folk-style songs to accompany each of her fantasy books. You can listen to and download all the songs from her website:
See the video of her performing live at the King’s Envoy book launch here:

Find out more at her website:

Connect with the Author here: 

Author Facebook ~ Facebook ~ Website ~

 ~ Blog ~ Amazon ~ Reverbnation ~

Interview with the Author

In 10 words tell us about yourself.

British female, animal lover, singer, cactus grower, wife, horserider, Christian. (Not necessarily in that order!)

Can you remember the first story you wrote?

I can, and in fact, I still have it. It’s called “The Night of the Halo’d Moon”, and it was a young person’s fantasy about a world ruled by unicorns. I never quite finished it, but I might resurrect it one day. I like to think it did have some merit, even though I wrote it a good 30 years ago!

If you had to choose 10 books to take to a desert island which ten would it be?

The Little White Horse, by Elizabeth Goudge.

The Worm Ouroboros, by E R Eddison.

The King of Elfland’s Daughter, by Lord Dunsany.

The Lord of the Rings, by J R R Tolkien

The Chronicles of Morgaine, by C J Cherryh

The Mists of Avalon, by Marion Bradley

Unicorns I have Known by Robert Vavra

Beowulf, translated by Seamus Heaney

Some sort of huge crossword compilation

And probably a book about boat building!

What is your most successful marketing tip (for your books)?

The best results I’ve ever had from all the different marketing I’ve done for my books have come from amalgamating a cover reveal/blog tour from Loving the Book with a Twitter campaign (I use Twuffer to schedule Tweets) and Facebook posts. The first novel in my Artesans of Albia fantasy series became an Amazon UK Bestseller the very first time I did this. I think it’s about keeping your book’s profile as high as you can, even if it’s only for a relatively short time.

What is the most useful piece of advice about writing you’ve been given?

I found this quote in a writing magazine and printed it out to hang above my desk. It has served me well over the years and it’s as relevant today as it was when I found it. My only regret is that I didn’t record who made the quote!

“ If you ever suffer moments of self-doubt, remember that every sucessful writer was once where you are now. Nothing is wasted. Every word you write, every page, every chapter, holds a lesson. Success may be just around the corner, and you may be closer to it than you think. Hold the faith – you just have to keep going, keep growing, keep writing fresh words.”

What’s your latest writing project?

Right now I’m working on the final novel in the Artesans of Albia series, entitled The Gateway. I wrote it years ago, but it needs a full edit. Once that’s done, I have an idea for a YA prequel to the series and I’m also a contributor to the Perseid Press HEROIKA brand anthologies. I will probably try to write more short stories as I enjoy the challenge.

Who is the biggest influence in your life?

Gosh, that’s a tough one. Writing-wise, I think I would have to say Elizabeth Goudge, because I discovered her writing very early on in my life and loved her style. I’ve never forgotten the first time I read The Little White Horse and the way it made me feel. I’d love to think I could write something that another young person might read and love and remember for the rest of their life.

On a more personal level, it would have to be my family. Not very exciting, maybe, but true nonetheless. My parents and my husband have been hugely supportive throughout my life, and my brother has been fantastic in helping me write, sing, play and record the unique folk-style songs that accompany my fantasy novels. I don’t know what I’d do without any of them!

If you could have a dinner party with anyone from history who would you choose and why?

I think I’d have to choose someone like Joan d’Arc. I’ve always been fascinated by the role of women in a male-dominated society, and especially so when the woman in question takes up arms. It is one of the themes of my own fantasy series, and is the reason I wanted to create a believable heroine who could hold her own, and in some cases surpass, strong male warriors. Yet I didn’t want her to be some kind of Amazonian, kick-ass female who kills everyone she sees. I wanted her to be feminine, and sometimes vulnerable, and to have all the faults and frailties of a normal woman, yet still to be a good and charismatic leader. That’s how I see Joan d’Arc, rightly or wrongly, and I hope I achieved this.

What would you cook for them?

Well, I happen to be rubbish at cooking. It’s not something I enjoy or find relaxing. In fact, if I do cook, I usually end up so fed up with what I’m making and the time it’s taken that I don’t want to eat it! My husband does most of the cooking in our house because he enjoys creating new dishes. I do all the clearing up, which he doesn’t enjoy, so it works out fine. But I do like omelets and I can cook them well, so anyone who dined with me would have to be prepared to eat eggs!


The first book in the series, King’s Envoy, is running a FREE KINDLE VERSION promotion from May 26th –May 30th. How flippin cool is that! There is not a universal Amazon link for that but here is the US link:

and UK link:

The Author has send us a song list, That also includes video of live preformances!

Artesans of Albia Songlist.


From King’s Envoy: The Wheel Will Turn.

To see live video performance:

From King’s Champion: The Ballad of Tallimore.

From King’s Artesan: Morgan’s Song.

From The Challenge: Meadowsweet.

From The Circle: Larksong. 


To view our blog schedule and follow along with this tour visit our Official Event page 








The Kitchen Imps and Other Dark Tales by @LibraryofErana #BookPromo #Fantasy

Yay spotlight for the Kitchen Imps!  Title: The Kitchen Imps and Other Dark Tales (Fire-Side Tales Collection Book I) Author: A.L. Butcher Genre: Fantasy   Book Blurb: Naughty imps, missing socks, cunning thieves and baffled go…

Source: The Kitchen Imps and Other Dark Tales by @LibraryofErana #BookPromo #Fantasy

Author Interview 111 – Lisa M. Wayman – Historical Fiction


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Welcome to Lisa M. Wayman

Where are you from and where do you live now? I’m a navy brat, so I’m from lots of places on the east coast. After my Dad left the navy my parents decided we should live closer to nature, so I spent high school in upstate NY growing my own food and living in a house heated by wood. Now I live in Phoenix Arizona and I appreciate the convenience of the grocery store, though the food doesn’t taste as good.

Please tell us a little about your writing . ‘Longing for Home’ is my first work of fiction. It is a historical fiction novel set in the 1890s. There is a love story in the book, but it is mostly about finding a place to belong.

Where do you find inspiration? I was inspired to write my book by my Great Grandmother’s story. She came from Slovenia to America as a 17 year old. She traveled by train from Slovenia to France, then by boat to Ellis Island and then once more by train Wyoming to meet her father. She did this all without speaking English. I used her story as a jumping off place to explore my roots. I also found it was a good way to come to terms with my own itinerant life and to figure out what it means to be home.

Do you have a favourite character? If so why? I love the two main characters in my book: Irena and Seamus. The thing I like most about them is that they both have strengths and flaws. They struggle together and rescue each other. My sister-in-law also commented that she loves that Irena is a plain looking woman. I wanted them to be real people so that they were relatable and so readers would love them as much as I do.

Are your characters based on real people? Well, yes and no. I took traits of different people and spread them over the characters. I then let Irena say things to characters that I wanted to say to real people, but didn’t get the chance to. For example, the character Maureen is modelled after a woman who my husband was helping out. He had the best intentions and was being nice to someone having a very hard time. I was surprised by how jealous I became and how upset I was. To allow Irena (spoiler alert) to shout and slap Maureen felt wonderful. I didn’t do that in my life, I explained to my husband how I was feeling and he severed the relationship. In my life it worked out fine, in the book it is more dramatic, and in a way more satisfying.

Research can be important in world-building, how much do you need to do for your books? Do you enjoy this aspect of creating a novel and what are your favourite resources? I did a ton of research for this book. I’m kind of a history buff, so I had some baseline knowledge, but I certainly didn’t know the details. I started with Wikipedia for a general background, then went to the primary source. Old newspapers are available on-line and I read quite a few of them. The advertisements were great for all the little details of the time period. Another good source was for an overview of what was happening in the world. While I was writing I read fiction that would inform how I understood my characters. The Jungle by Upton Sinclair helped me understand the Chicago meat packing district. Galway Bay by Mary Pat Kelly helped me understand the Irish experience. And really good writing by multiple authors – check out my book list on my website – helped me with the craft of writing. One of the reasons I wrote the book was to explore my heritage so I got on-line to the official Slovenia website and I looked for Slovenian bloggers, fairy tales, myths, ect. I even tried out some recipes and ordered Slovenian wine from Blue Danube. I am a PhD, so I’ve done research before and it was really fun to follow the trail wherever I wanted to instead of within the restrictions of scientific method.

Is there a message conveyed within your writing? Do you feel this is important in a book? I wanted to convey a message that resilience is possible. My characters live during the gilded age – the time of Downton Abbey, but Irena and Seamus are at the lowest station in society and struggle through poverty and racism. I don’t need books that end with perfect happily ever after, but I do think it is important to enhance the world. So I hope the reader takes away a feeling that big struggles can be overcome.

Sort these into order of importance: Great characters; great world-building; solid plot; technically perfect. Can you explain why you chose this order? (Yes I know they all are important…) Great characters absolutely first. A novel is a story and the reader is drawn into a relationship with the characters. My characters are complex enough with flaws and strengths that the reader feels a kinship with the fictional person and cares enough to be drawn deeply into the second most important aspect: a solid plot. The plot reveals who the characters are. I could tell you all about what the characters fear, aspire toward and secretly hope for, but it is much more interesting to learn about them by how they deal with their problems. I did have a hard time being mean to my characters, I love them so, but their trials are how they reveal themselves. The world building is the background for the story. It was important to me that it be historically accurate, but the point of the story was the characters, not a history lesson. Finally, technically perfect. Well, my editor will tell you this wasn’t my priority, I wanted to play with the words until my story was clear and the reader could see the action. I did pretty well with that, but not perfect and I am horrible at spelling and punctuation.

Do you self-edit? If so why is that the case? Do you believe a book suffers without being professionally edited? I do both. I read, re-read and edit every time. I did at least three full reads with edits. Then I sent it to some beta readers who were ruthless and cut out an entire section and made me re-write the entire thing because it was ‘boring’. Then I re-edited. After all that I got a professional editor. She really helped to make sure that the writing was clear and technically sound. She discussed recommendations with me and I accepted 99% of her edits without question. There was one small thing that I thought changed the meaning and we discussed it and re-wrote it together. I was really lucky and the editor was collaborative and very helpful. I think it made the book really professional and the best quality. Some people might be able to do that without a professional editor, but I can’t.

Most authors like to read, what have you recently finished reading? Did you enjoy it?
I just finished The ‘Guilded Hour’ by Sara Donati.I thought she did a very good job of developing the characters. I liked that it was set in the 1890s and as a nurse I was interested in the medical aspect of the book. The other book that I recently enjoyed (for the umpteenth time) was ‘The River Why’ by David James Duncan. For absolutely gorgeous writing that will move your heart read anything of his.

 Can you give us a silly fact about yourself? I can’t swear. My Dad was a navy man, but he never swore, smoked or drank. No kidding, if he hits his finger with a hammer he says ‘gosh dang it!’ I know, weird right? Anyway, I grew up with no swearing at all and I was pretty nerdy in school so I didn’t hang out with anyone who did swear. My husband laughs if I try to swear because I get it really wrong. When my characters need to swear I have to get a ghost writer to help.

Book links, website/blog and author links:

longing for home cover with blurb

Back Catalogue 5 – Tales of Erana Interview


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Originally published here:!Author-Interview-AL-Butcher-Tales-of-Erana-Myths-and-Legends/dr2ze/55b8f04a0cf27acb2d8bddd2

Today I talk to A.L. Butcher, author of the collection of short stories, Tales of Erana:Myths and Legends.

 A. L. Butcher is the British author of the Light Beyond the Storm Chronicles fantasy series, the Tales of Erana series, and several short stories in the fantasy and fantasy romance genres. She is an avid reader and creator of worlds, a poet and a dreamer. When she is grounded in the real world she likes science, natural history, history

 and monkeys. Her work has been described as ‘dark and gritty’ and her poetry as evocative.

 A.L. what made you decide to publish a novel?

 The short stories came from lore and legends created for the world of my novels. They are mythic in style – similar to fairy tales or old-style legends. The original idea for the characters and world came from a mix of an idea I’d had for a while for a fantasy/mythic world and a character I had for a roleplaying game. Put simply I had a head filled with stories which wanted to be born.

Where do you get your inspiration to write?

 Everywhere. Nature, history, myths, and things I read and see. I tend to get bursts of inspiration at the most inconvenient times, like in the bath or at work.

 If you could pick just one phrase from your writings to preserve for future generations, what would it be?

 Magic has its price and that price was war. Other tribes coveted the Relic, gift of the Lady of the Sky, and so fought the tribes of the Jagged Peaks, staining the rock with blood and even poisoning the streams. In the infancy of the world the mortal races were young and foolish. Some remained so.

 Why have you chosen this collection for your spotlight?

 I think the Tales of Erana series is a great way to highlight the world of Erana. I love myths and lore; these focus on the magic, the legends and other more minor characters in the world. I’d love to get more people to read and listen to the Tales of Erana, they are short tales and can easily be read over a lunch break or on the train so are a good introduction both to the fantasy genre and the setting. The lyrical prose reflects a time of fireside storytelling and great heroes.

The novels are more…adult and unsuitable for younger readers.


Where did the ideas for these stories come from?

From the lore surrounding the world creation.

Different authors have differing approaches to writing.  Some prepare very detailed plot outlines before they begin on their first draft, while others have a much looser outline and like to see where the story leads them.  What was your approach with Tales of Erana?

 I’m definitely a pantser! I have an overarching plot for the series but the individual books and stories lead me along. For the short stories I usually have a vague idea of what I want but it is vague. Either the story ends up working – or it doesn’t.

Was there any part of the stories that surprised you as it appeared on the screen in front of you? If so, can you tell us about it?

 The ending to Moon on the Water. It’s not an especially happy ending. Essentially it’s a story of war, love and revenge but it started out as a totally different story.

 Some readers of fantasy like end-to-end action, while others prefer a greater emphasis on the personal journey of the main character(s).  Where would the stories in the Tales of Erana sit between these?

 Individual stories range from more action less ‘journey’ to the other way around. Moon on the Water is tale of forbidden magic, love and the war they bring; The Tale of Treyna the Beloved is the story of how the sun and moon became separated in the sky and the arrival of night and day in Erana – basically you could call it a creation myth of sorts. There’s not much action in that one – it’s the ‘journey’ of the elder gods; Storm Born is a lonely mage’s journey to create a companion – and the aftermath; The Legend of Oeliana is a tale of love, vengeance, magic and broken promises – it’s one of the tales which gives hints for later ones; the Blue Phial is a coming of age tale of a young apothecary. Overall I’d say these lean towards more ‘journey’ than action. That said one of the other tales in the series – Tale of Erana: The Warrior’s Curse is pretty much all action.

Are there any underlying messages hidden within the stories (e.g. life lessons, commentary on society, religion, etc) that you’d like to share?

 The world of Erana is a world of myth, magic and monsters. It’s a world where half the population are enslaved, magic is forbidden and the land is run by martial law. There isn’t an intended message, except perhaps hope. There is always someone to fight for those who cannot defend themselves. And the world will be what it will be – despite the people on it.

 Authors can grow quite attached to some of their characters, and sometimes that attachment can be with minor characters who maybe don’t have a big part to play in the novel.  Are there any characters from Tales of Erana who you’d like to explore in more depth?

 In the paperback collection (Tales of Erana: Volume One) we find Coel – an unwilling hero thrust into a situation beyond his control. He is not a bad person, but he does have to do potentially bad and dangerous things – although in the end for a good cause. Coel will appear in a later book/novella. At least I hope so – he’s fun. (He also appears in Nine Heroes.)

And finally, how influential do you think fantasy is in today’s society? 

 I belief it is at the core of our cultures. Western Civilisation has a basis in Ancient Greek and Roman culture, not to mention Nordic, Judeo-Christian and many others. Whether or not one is religious it is easy to see the heroic/mythic/fantasy elements. Example – I’m British, we have St George, several other saints with mythic backgrounds, dragons, fairies and, of course, King Arthur. We have a great tradition of storytelling, and fantasy authors too. From an early I was told fairy tales, fantasy stories about sentient kitchen equipment, and I read CS Lewis, Lewis Carole, and many others.

 Thanks very much for your time A.L. I wish you all the best with your various stories from the world of Erana.

 You can purchase Tales of Erana: Myths and Legends in various formats from the following links:

And on Audio Book

Book Spotlight – The Golden Sword


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Book – The Golden Sword – Book II of the Silistra Quartet

Janet Morris – fantasy, science-fiction, epic


Beginning in May 02 2015, after more than 30 years of print, the four volumes of The Silistra Quartet are being published in all-new Author’s Cut editions by Perseid Press, revised by Janet Morris.  The second of these, The Golden Sword, released in May 2016.

The Silistra Quartet is a series of fictional memoirs by the High Couch of  Silsitra herself, Estri Hadrath diet Estrazi. The books chronicle the adventures of the most beautiful courtesan in tomorrow’s universe, The Silistra Quartet is Mythic Fiction, combining elements of science fiction and fantasy with mythology, metaphysics, and magical realism from a distant realm.

The Golden Sword

Overview: The Battle of the Sexes is never over…

She had the power to create planets.
The sixty carved bones of the Yris-tera foretold her ancient fate.
Her heritage of power took her beyond time and space and stole from her the
one man she loved.

Enslaved on the planet Silistra tomorrow’s most beautiful courtesan unleashes the
powers of the gods.


Overview:  High Couch of Silistra:  Biology dictates reality

One woman’s mythic search for self-realization in a distant tomorrow…

Her sensuality was at the core of her world, her quest beyond the civilized stars.

Aristocrat. Outcast. Picara. Slave. Ruler.

Praise for the Silistra Quartet:

“Engrossing characters in a marvelous adventure.” – Charles N. Brown, Locus Magazine

“The amazing and erotic adventures of the most beautiful courtesan in tomorrow’s universe” – Frederik Pohl

“To be an outcast in Silsitra means travel and Estri is a traveler between stars and planets as well as between time. The best single example of prostitution in fantasy is Janet Morris’ Silistra series. […] Each the books exhibits a consciousness its form as an historical autobiography; the author appends glossaries for each novel and includes prologues, epilogues, biographical sketches, and copious notes to guide the reader into a better grasp of the mult-levels of the work, […]  To be an outcast in Silsitra means travel and Estri is a traveler between stars and planets as well as between time.  — Anne K. Kaler, The Picara From Hera To Fantasy Heroine

“Long ago the human colonists of Silistra waged a war so vicious that centuries later the planet has not recovered. Men and women alike suffer from infertility — the deadliest legacy of that deadly war. Because the birth rate is so low, the Silistrans value above all the ability to bear children . . . and their social order is based on their fertility and sexual prowess.
On a planet desperate for population, women hold the keys to power. These are the adventures of Estri, Well-Keepress of Astria and holder of the ultimate seat of control: the High Couch of Silistra.” — Jim Baen, publisher, Baen Books.

“The best single example of prostitution used in fantasy is Janet Morris’ Silistra series… Estri’s character is most like that of Ishtar who describes herself as “‘a prostitute compassionate am I'” because she “symbolizes the creative submission to the demands of instinct, to the chaos of nature …the free woman, as opposed to the domesticated woman”. Linking Estri with these lunar and water symbols is not difficult because of the moon’s eternal virginity (the strength of integrity) links with her changeability (the prostitute’s switching of lovers). […] Morris strengthens the moon imagery by having Estri as a well-keepress because wells, fountains, and the moon as the orb which controls water have long been associated with fertility, […] In a sense, she is like the moon because she is apparently eternal, never waxing or waning except in her pursuit of the quest; she is the prototypical wanderer like the moon and Ishtar. She is the eternal night symbol of the moon in opposition to the Day-Keepers […] At her majority (her three hundredth birthday), she is given a silver-cubed hologram letter from her mother, containing a videotape of her conception by the savage bronzed barbarian god from another world. […] If Estri’s mother then acts as a bawd, willing her lineage as Well-Keepress to her daughter, then Estri’s great-grandmother Astria as foundress of the Well becomes a further mother-bawd figure when she offers her prophetic advice in her letter: “Guard Astria for you may lose it, and more. Beware of one who is not as he seems. Stray not in the port city of Baniev …look well about you, for your father’s daughter’s brother seeks you”. Having no brother that she knows of does not stay Estri from undertaking the heroic quest of finding her father.” – Anne K. Kaler, The Picara: From Hera to Fantasy Heroine.

Author Interview 110 – Deborah Dixon – spec fic

Welcome to Deborah Dixon

Hi! Glad to be here! Figuratively speaking.


Where are you from and where do you live now?

I’m from Kingston, Jamaica. Currently I live in New Orleans, Louisiana, USA.


Please tell us a little about your writing – for example genre, title, etc.

Mostly I write under the wide umbrella of speculative fiction – fantasy, scifi, paranormal, that sort of stuff. I like to mix them together a bit – for example, one of my characters is an AI engineer and also part Fae – and put them in a familiar, modern setting (usually New Orleans, because the city’s already weird enough for it!).


Where do you find inspiration?

Everywhere. In conversations, in music, in things I see.


Are your characters based on real people?

A few of them have certain qualities based on people I know, but that’s mostly it. If an actual person I know shows up in one of my works, it’s probably for laughs.


Have you ever used a person you don’t/didn’t like as a character then killed them off?

I have not – at least not in my writing. I am very guilty of doing this in the various iterations of The Sims games.


Research can be important in world-building, how much do you need to do for your books? Do you enjoy this aspect of creating a novel and what are your favourite resources?

I research everything from the science I’m referencing to the location of a hotel in Brazil. The amount of research depends on the work – for my novellas I mostly just spot-check my mythology, but for my sci-fi novel I’m reading a few books regarding artificial intelligence and the technological Singularity. My favorite resources, though, are people themselves. My best friend is a great one; she’s familiar with several religions and such practices, and helped me shape my portrayal of them.


Is there a message conveyed within your writing?  Do you feel this is important in a book?

There’s a message in everything I write. To me it’s crucial. It is nice to have a little something just to entertain you now and then, like a Hollywood blockbuster with stuff blowing up, but this world is far too complex to sit in it and let its happenings flit on around you, especially if you’re a storyteller of any sort. Art should move people to think and act, in a positive way.


In what formats are your books available? (E-books, print, large print audio) Are you intending to expand these and if not, what is the reason?

At the moment, they’re only available as ebooks. This is due to the process my publishing company uses. They will be available in print eventually, and possibly as audiobooks too; it depends on the amount of interest there.


Do you self-edit? If so why is that the case? Do you believe a book suffers without being professionally edited?

I self-edit, but I also usually have another writer also look at my work as well. Having a second set of eyes is more important to me than someone who sells her/himself as a professional editor. They tend to disagree on so many things. Follow the advice of one and you’ll be lambasted by another. Best not.


Do you think indie/self-published authors are viewed differently to traditionally published authors? Why do you think this might be?

I think they were, only a couple of years ago. But that has changed, with more indie authors finding success and more Big Five authors stepping back to self-publish. There’s definitely more respect given to that group now.


Do you read work by self-published authors?

I read works that are well-composed and original and that make me think. I don’t pay much attention to how they were published.


What are your opinions about authors commenting on reviews? How important are reviews?

Reviews are crucial – they can draw a much bigger audience, because they lend your work credibility. They say, “someone has read this and has had thoughts on it.” Authors commenting on reviews can give excellent insight into the author’s process, which is always interesting, but an author should never, ever respond to a negative review. At all, even if it’s just to point out an inaccuracy. That’s a long road of bad impressions you really can’t afford to go down.


When buying a book do you read the reviews?

Depends on the book and who wrote each review. I dismiss any review written by The New Yorker or the Atlanta Journal-Constitution out of hand.


What are your reviews on authors reviewing other authors?

I don’t see much of a difference. Authors are readers too, just with a bit more insight.


What experiences can a book provide that a movie or video game cannot?

Movies and video games provide you with visuals. With book, the author describes the world in words, and you develop the visual in your head. That’s a very personal experience, because you don’t share the same visual with anyone else, not even the author. It’s pulled from your own experiences and perception.


What three pieces of advice would you give to new writers?

  • Just write. If you’re having trouble getting started, try using an outline, or start in the middle, or develop your characters with freewrites. But the important thing is that you are writing.
  • Don’t become a writer for the money, because if that is your motivation, you’ll likely never see a dime from it. Write because you love it.
  • Read while you write. “I don’t want such-and-such book to influence mine” is a lame excuse. Everything should be influencing your book. That’s research. (Now, don’t plagiarize any other books you might be reading, of course.)


What are your best marketing/networking tips? What are your worst?

Social media is your best friend, but not your only friend. There are resources out there for authors trying to market books (we as authors tend to be terrible at that). There are books and online articles on it, and you can study what other authors similar to you do as well. As for worst, social media is a double-edged sword. Always make a separate, professional account on any site, and do not connect it to your personal one. There are no secrets on the Internet.


Most authors like to read, what have you recently finished reading? Did you enjoy it?

I once said, after a certain set of books became popular, that I would never write a vampire story. (Actually, I ranted to several friends about it.) But I read Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter a few years ago, and loved it; the supporting character, a vampire named Henry, is one of my favorite characters of all time. (And yes, I’m aware the book is satire. I saw the movie.) Just recently I noticed that the author had released a sequel that starred Henry – The Last American Vampire. It’s also historical fiction/satire in the vein of its prequel, but the character is even more outstanding. Suffice it to say I now have a vampire story in the works. (It’s not historical fiction, though.)


What are your views on authors offering free books?

Everyone loves free stuff. If it’ll get people to read, then by all means offer free books.


Do you have a favourite movie?

Many, but let’s go with Spirited Away because I’m in that kind of mood today.


Do you have any pets?

I have a sansevieria and a spider plant named Thing 1 and Thing 2, respectively. I’m told that they do not count as pets. However, since I care for them, and since they are actively plotting my demise, I think they do count.


Can you name your worst job? Do you think you learned anything from the position that you now use in your writing?

I had a position that was described to me as being “marketing,” but turned out to effectively be “sales.” The manager there was so irresponsible that I actually wound up in the Midwest with no hotel, food, or gas at one point. I didn’t learn anything that helped my writing, but I did learn how not to run a business.


Can you give us a silly fact about yourself?

Horror movies don’t scare me at all. Documentaries, however, scare the crap out of me; I can’t sit through one. Think about it: Documentaries are about things that ACTUALLY CAN and ACTUALLY DID happen. See?


Book links, website/blog and author links: (Shalamar, my publishing company) (my professional Twitter) (our blog about writing and publishing) (our Facebook Page)





Fantasy and Sci-fi in Society Guest Post – Deborah Dixon


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Name: Deborah Dixon


Location: New Orleans, Louisiana, USA


How do YOU define fantasy/science fiction/heroism?

Fantasy generally involves the use of fantastic creatures and settings. Science fiction involves the use of fantastic (for now) technology. Obviously there can be major overlap between the two; that’s why I like the term “speculative fiction” to cover them both. As for “heroism,” I specifically don’t define it. More on that below.


How pervasive do you think fantasy/sci-fi is in our society today?  Why do you think this is?

HBO’s most successful show is a high-fantasy epic. The Star Wars reboot came out as one of the highest-grossing films of all time. SF offers a special sort of escapism that society is searching for today, which puts SF writers in a very unique position.


Are these genres seen in a more acceptable light than they used to be?

I don’t think they were ever unacceptable. Perhaps sci-fi was at first, in the days of H.P. Lovecraft and Harlan Ellison and others (and that’s a very specific sort of sci-fi), but that’s way before my time. I could only offer hearsay.


What makes a ‘hero’? Would you say this definition is different within literature to real life?

Heroism is a concept that I find much too simplified in fiction as well as in real life. The definition varies from person to person – I doubt you’d find anyone over the age of five who would give the same answer. Is it a person who does good things? Perhaps, but what if they use undesirable means to do good things? Is it a person who obeys the law? Perhaps, but what if the person follows the law to the extent that other people are hurt? There is no basic definition one can put on heroism, or on villainy.


If you’re a writer how do you portray heroism in your books?

I don’t. I write characters who act based on their beliefs, their frames of reference, and their own capabilities. Whether any of my characters are heroes or villains I leave for my readers to decide. My first novel to be published specifically deals with this concept – of what makes a hero or villain, and who gets to decide who wears those labels. I personally do not label my characters as either (although for story reasons a few of my characters refer to themselves as one or the other. But it’s based on their perspectives of themselves.)


It has been argued fantasy is full of ‘tropes’ – what are your views on this?

Do you mean tropes or clichés? There’s a huge difference. Tropes are everywhere – in fantasy as much as your favorite romantic comedy and the last reality show you watched. They’re helpful writing tools in any genre or format. Clichés are tropes that are overused to the point of making a reader groan upon spotting one, such as the typical damsel in distress. Some fantasy writers do overindulge in clichés, but I would stop short of stating the whole genre suffers from them. Authors such as George R.R. Martin and Neil Gaiman have made an art of writing fantasy while shunning clichés or turning them on their heads.


Fantasy and science fiction used to be seen as very male-oriented, do you think this is still the case. Do you have any experience of this?

In terms of writers? The field is certainly more even between women and men in fantasy than it was a couple of decades ago. Sci-fi is probably still more male-dominated, but I suspect that’s by choice; the readership of sci-fi absent any significant romantic element tends to be decidedly male, and so men end up writing it as well, just as women are all over romance. I like being an obviously female sci-fi writer; it’s a novelty I can market. But as far as my work goes, I’d rather get past sex and gender and focus on the material.


How important are ‘facts’ in fantasy/science fiction – does something need to be plausible to be believable?

Facts provide a basis on which the writer can build plausibility. For example, if you take the care to explain a hierarchal society in ways that relate to the real world, that will make the action in your high-fantasy novel much more sturdy, and then you’ve built up trust with your reader once you decide to whip out the dragons and magic rings. The same goes for sci-fi; introduce some technology or science your readers are familiar with, and later they will be more likely to accept that the spaceship just traveled from Earth to the galactic north in two hours. Don’t just dump phlebotinum on them with a “they can do that because that’s how this book works” hand wave. You have to establish why they should accept the rules of your world/galaxy.


How has science fiction changed from the days of Mary Shelley and Jules Verne?

I personally consider Shelley and Verne to be general literary authors, not science fiction, but that’s due to technology pressing forward and the concepts they worked with no longer holding the novelty of impossibility they did when they were published. Hey, it’ll happen to me too some day. “Oh, the Singularity. I remember that fondly. How quaint.”


Fairy-tales, anthropomorphic personifications, mythical beasts and cultural fantastical persons are all about us – such as Santa Claus, St George, dragons and fairies – how vital are these for our identity? Are we who we are because of the myths our cultures hold?

It’s the other way around. Our myths and creatures exist as they do because we are who we are. There’s a reason so many widely spread cultures have such similar stories – we as human beings have a need to believe in a higher power, to create an origin story, to explain away the best and worst in ourselves through benevolent and malevolent beings. Agricultural societies always have nature deities. Hierarchal societies always have pantheons. And they’re still vital to us, even as psychology and science explain many of these things, because they appeal to our sense of imagination, and they give us something to lean on and hide behind.


What myths have influenced your work?

All the myths I know. My own background means my works focus most on Abrahamic stories, but I’ve included and toyed with elements from Celtic, Norse, Greek/Roman, and West African mythologies, and feature anything from shapeshifters to kami and all in between. One of my own characters sums this approach up succinctly: “Everything is true, at least in part. All anything needs is a believer.”


What are some in YOUR society/cultural identity, how are they perceived and why are they important? Why have they endured?

Jamaica’s stories as they exist now are mostly those brought over from Africa in the slave trade, such as Anansi, the spider who weaves all webs and tells all tales. The reason for those enduring probably has to do with African slaves needing to bring something over from their own lives (including vodou, which is not practiced in Jamaica, but it is in Haiti. Just for the record). Unfortunately, the mythologies that existed before European colonization are not enduring; they were oral traditions and very few of them were written down before the native islanders were wiped out. A large part of my ancestry is made up of people who were extinguished before their stories could be immortalized; I suppose that has something to do with my interest in writing and helping others to write as well.


Bio: Deborah Dixon is a lifelong writer residing in New Orleans. She has written nine novels, five novellas, and numerous short stories. She is also one of the three founders of Shalamar, a publishing company designed to help new writers. Aside from writing, she also composes music and promotes small business in her hometown.


Links: (Shalamar, my publishing company) (my professional Twitter) (our blog about writing and publishing) (our Facebook Page)


The Kitchen Imps – Now in audio!


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Hurrah! I’m pleased to announce the Kitchen Imps is now available in audio! Narrated by J Scott Bennett the short story collection is just shy of an hour in length, so perfect for the commute to work.

#Kitchenimps #fantasy

The e-book is also now available on all the Smashwords associate stores.

The Kitchen Imps and Other Dark Talessix short tales of mayhem and mischief.

Naughty imps, missing socks, cunning thieves and baffled gods feature in this collection of short fantasy fiction.

Audio narrated by J Scott Bennett

Review – 1888 – London Murders in the Year of the Ripper


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1888 – London Murders in the Year of the Ripper by Peter Stubley

#truecrime #LondonHistory #JacktheRipper

1888 is a year that entered history for all the wrong reasons – the Autumn of Terror was the time the unidentified serial killer known as Jack the Ripper stalked the streets of London. But these were not the only crimes in what was then the capital of the British Empire, and the primary trading port of the world.

This fascinating book recounts a whole year of killings; some were done in pitiful desperation, some for the usual reasons – greed or love, some were done on the spur of the moment, some were done in madness but all were tragic in their own way. In part this is a social commentary – almost all the killers and the majority of the victims were poor. This was a time without many rights for women or children, domestic violence was very common, families were often large and money was scarce. In, what was arguably, the most civilised city on Earth, life was cheap and crime was rife.

Most of these tragic tales are little known – forgotten by time, and overshadowed by the Ripper’s crimes. This is the first time I have seen some of these outlined, and I read a lot of true crime. The author deals with the subject sympathetically, non-judgementally and references particular articles, laws, biographies etc. It’s obvious a lot of research was done to select these accounts and to present them accurately, and in the context of the time. In the case of the Ripper, the author does not speculate on a possible perpetrator, as many crime writers do, he simply presents the facts and states that no one was ever identified as Jack the Ripper.

Overall I’d recommend this to readers of Victorian history, true crime, British history and those interested in the social commentary of the time.

5 stars

Amazon :


Author Interview 109 – Amanda Byrd


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Welcome Amanda Byrd


Where are you from and where do you live now? I’m from Pennsylvania and now live in the state northerners vacation in, Florida


Please tell us a little about your writing – for example genre, title, etc. I write what I call non-fiction “real talk”.  There’s quite a few “bad words” in my book(s), but they’re just words to me.


Where do you find inspiration? Real life experiences


Do you have a favourite character? If so why? There are no characters in my books, but I do have a favourite fantasy character.  Drizzt Do’Urden.  He’s so profound, and that profundity comes from the wonderful creator of him, R. A. Salvatore


Are your characters based on real people? They’re not exactly characters in the sense of character.  I’ve used titles like “said co-worker” and such.


Have you ever used a person you don’t/didn’t like as a character then killed them off? If I ever write fiction, I’m sure I will J


Is there a message conveyed within your writing?  Do you feel this is important in a book? My message is simple: being an adult is not fun.  I write experiences and lessons learned and hope my readers can learn from those mistakes I’ve made or build off of them.


In what formats are your books available? (E-books, print, large print audio) Are you intending to expand these and if not, what is the reason? I go with e-books and paperback publishing.  I am considering audiobook, but the interest hasn’t generated enough yet.


Do you self-edit? If so why is that the case? Do you believe a book suffers without being professionally edited? I do. It’s cheaper and I know what I want my book to look like, whereas a professional editor will try to change the entirety of the book.  Also, I don’t think a book suffers without professional editing, but the ones that are professionally edited…may want to be edited twice.  I’ve recently read some traditionally published books with horrible editing.


Do you think indie/self-published authors are viewed differently to traditionally published authors? Why do you think this might be? I think the acceptance of self-published/indie authors is growing at an exponential rate and people are starting to respect us more because they realize we can sometimes write better books.


Do you read work by self-published authors? I do as a member of an author review site



What are your opinions about authors commenting on reviews? How important are reviews? Reviews are extremely important.  If you have minimal, that greatly lowers your chances of someone buying your book.  As for the author commenting on the reviews, I feel that’s a great way to build reader relationships and exposure.


When buying a book do you read the reviews?  Rarely


What experiences can a book provide that a movie or video game cannot? Use of imagination, which I feel doesn’t happen much in today’s world


What three pieces of advice would you give to new writers?  I’ve really only got one piece of advice, and it’s this: If the urge to write strikes, no matter what you’re in the middle of, STOP AND WRITE! I’ve lost a lot of great material by putting writing off…and it’s not coming back.


What are your best marketing/networking tips? What are your worst?  Facebook ads haven’t really done anything for me.  I did join a local business association, which has really helped with networking.  I’m a firm believer in word of mouth and face-to-face relationship building are the best.


Can you name your favourite traditionally published author? R.A Salvatore

And your favourite indie/self-published author? Don’t have one yet


What are your views on authors offering free books?  I’ve done giveaways and not even gotten reviews for them, so I’m off the giveaway thing for a while.


Do you have a favourite movie? Hannibal


Do you have any pets? Yessir! Cats!


Can you name your worst job? Do you think you learned anything from the position that you now use in your writing? My worst job was the one I had while writing my first book.  I’ve learned a lot about what I don’t ever want again in a job.



Can you give us a silly fact about yourself? I’m just a big kid with an organizational obsession.  I goof off all the time and simply enjoy making people laugh.

Book links, website/blog and author links:








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