Archive for February, 2016

Inside the Book:

Within A Captains Fate

Title: Within a Captain’s Fate

Author: Lisa A. Olech

Publisher: Lyrical Press

Genre: Historical Romance

Format: Ecopy

Wherever the tides take you . . .

Guided by the winds of fate, Henry ‘Ric’ Robbins arrives on a hot June day in Port Royal. But the moment he sets foot on what should be a pirate’s paradise, he’s driven to steal a woman destined for slavery, survives the worst natural disaster to ever hit the isle of Jamaica, and answers the call to be captain of the Scarlet Night.

Jocelyn Beauchamp’s life is one of privilege—until she is rudely thrown into the hands of pirates. Freed from the chains of her cloistered society, Jocelyn is drawn to her newfound life at sea—reckless, thrilling, and utterly unpredictable. And the man who saved her life not once, but twice—why not do it all over again?

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Meet the Author

Lisa Olech

Surrounded by men, Lisa considers herself an estrogen island in a sea of testosterone! This makes her queen!! Living in the beauty of New England she spends her free time tending the many gardens that surround her home and breathing fresh lake air.

She loves getting lost in a steamy book, finding the perfect pair of fabulous, sexy shoes and dreaming of her handsome heroes.

Her creativity and deep sense of spirituality has filled her life with new and wondrous adventures. She believes in ghosts, silver linings, and happily ever afters!

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authorphotoLeif Grundstrom-Whitney is the proud co-author of the epical satire The Hidden Chalice of the Cloud People; the wicked and witty character known as Facinorous contained therein is a product of his multifarious mind. He has been published in several obscure poetry journals (hold your applause). To say that he is an edacious reader would be an understatement worthy of Hemingway. If he had a spirit animal, it would probably be a gregarious raven who knows how to play a Hammond B-3 organ.

Jason Grundstrom-Whitney has been a Social Worker and Substance Abuse Counselor in the State of Maine for many years. In this time, he has introduced meditation (tai-chi, qigong, yoga, and meditation) groups to teens when told he would fail. This was one of the most successful and long lasting groups. He developed a Civil Rights/Peer Helper course that won state and national awards (for High School) and has worked as a civil rights activist. He has also worked as a long term care social worker and now works as a Hospice Medical Social Worker. Jason is a poet, writer, and musician playing bass, harmonica and various wind instruments.

Q: Congratulations on the release of your latest book, The Hidden Chalice of the Cloud People. To begin with, can you gives us a brief summary of what the story is about and what compelled you to write it?

A: When Tommy Dana is abducted into a fantastical realm called Lethia, where the worthy stories of humanity are granted a physical reality, the social media-averse thirteen year old must plunge through a multi-varied meta-fictional adventure in order to save his, and the entire human world’s, imagination from falling into the thieving clutches of the witty supernatural villain Facinorous. That’s as succinct a description for a shelf-toppling novel as one can get. A marvel of concision!

A strong desire to satirize and introduce some much needed adequately thoughtful satire and inspired zaniness and crafty jocosity into a genre that seems to have grown rather grim and dystopian of late compelled us to create our mammoth manuscript.

Q: What do you think makes a good Young Adult Fiction novel? Could you narrow it down to the three most important elements? Is it even possible to narrow it down?

A: If we ever write a traditional one, we will let you know. The key to making a potent satire is meticulously crafting a sophisticated facsimile of the atmosphere and mood and plot elements and tropes of the genre you are satirizing so that readers feel as if they could be experiencing such a book and can therefore come to appreciate the subversive humor of the work that seeks to playfully undermine that literary category better. The style and the level of detail, combining adroitly, must produce a certain degree of verisimilitude. Compelling characters that make the reader pause and think, reflecting on the fictional constructs’ eccentricities as well as the meaning of their thoughts and words and deeds, and loads of heady action that serves to propel the plot are two other important elements.

Ebook - JPG format-.jpgQ: How did you go about plotting your story? Or did you discover it as you worked on the book?

A: The primary framework of the plot, with the major aspects and developments of its arc, was plotted out, summarized and established in concise written form long before the first actual sentence of the book had been painstakingly plastered to page. From there loose outlines for sections and chapters and crucial plot points were carefully created and used as a nonrestrictive starting point for the prudent meanderings of our artistry. From these literary blueprints an aureate rivulet of prose and imaginative writing sprang! Okay, maybe a turbid brook of modestly clever prose is more accurate. But we digress. Vivid detail was eventually produced by this method. Little by little, piece by piece, our vision for the story became a concrete reality. This structured albeit artistically free system allowed us to incrementally cover and create the novel in its massy entirety.

Q: Tell us something interesting about your protagonist and how you developed him or her. Did you do any character interviews or sketches prior to the actual writing?

A: Tommy Dana as a character parodistic of a wide range of young adult heroes comes from many different places. First and foremost he is a modern champion of cultural lore and the power of the imagination. Against the inexorable pull and the intoxicating allure of external technological objects he rails and protests! He is half Irish and half Native American, two cultures that have long storytelling traditions. Tommy not only understands storytelling but wishes for a world that would truly integrate this direct transmission of knowledge into a present time that has been increasingly ruled by the demands of technology. He sees a world that has become cold and distant, somewhat bereft of inter-personal communication. He sees that with such convenient technology our inherent ability to create fictional worlds via the symbols we use to explain what we have lived experientially has been diminished. In his youthful mind, the artistry of the personal creative identity is the panacea to all of life’s woes! Part of what makes him humorous (or satirical) is that his imagination turns out to be far more effete than expected. It is also utilized much less, over the course of the book, than it could be.

Q: In the same light, how did you create your antagonist or villain? What steps did you take to make him or her realistic?

A: It would be very strange indeed to make a supernatural near abstract entity (heavy on the malevolence) upon whom a vital majority of the satire of the book hinges terribly realistic. Facinorous, the arch antagonist of our vasty story, is the meta-fictional enigma that needs to be cracked in order to appreciate much of the book’s darker humor. He’s a deranged sliver of wry otherness speaking to everyone (in the audience or otherwise) and no one in particular. He seems to always lurk somewhere beyond the happenings of the tale and exists there primarily to perpetuate sly subversions.

Q: How did you keep your narrative exciting throughout the novel? Could you offer some practical, specific tips?

A: The elaborate interweaving of multiple storylines through which the protagonist and his allies traverse on a thrilling quest drives a large part of the excitement of the narrative. We compel our readers to soar on with our deft choice of the particular adventurous plotlines that they follow. By interfusing subtle shards of verse into the prose one can spice up the narrative as well.

Q: Setting is also quite important and in many cases it becomes like a character itself. What tools of the trade did you use in your writing to bring the setting to life?

A: We made use of a wide variety of diverse descriptions to convey the numerous settings of our novel. Fantastical settings such as the ones we present are best portrayed grounded with a certain amount of realism. With skillful elan the descriptions, whether vague or fastidious, should soar; they should never come across as mannered.

Q: Did you know the theme(s) of your novel from the start or is this something you discovered after completing the first draft? Is this theme(s) recurrent in your other work?

A: From the beginning of the process of creating the manuscript the themes were well-defined. The action and the structure of the plot and the various interweaving storylines within it flowed organically from a thorough understanding of these established themes. We never allowed them to constrain our creativity or rigidly shape the framework of the narrative however.

Q: Where does craft end and art begin? Do you think editing can destroy the initial creative thrust of an author?

A: That’s a tremendously difficult question with no easy answer. If managed in a careful and measured manner, there need be no divide and the two can run seamlessly together. The editing should never be allowed to hinder the execution of the author’s creative vision. The operations of the artistic mind and the processes of its thoughts need the freedom to forge a path unmarred by impediment.

Q: What three things, in your opinion, make a successful novelist?

A: Pertinacity, patience, and artistic vision.

Q: A famous writer once wrote that being an author is like having to do homework for the rest of your life. What do you think about that?

A: Precisely so, and we wouldn’t have it any other way. There’s a thrill to researching a topic of interest relevant to the subject matter or the details of your book that is later utilized in an inventive fashion in its creation.

Q: Is there anything else you’d like to share with my readers about the craft of writing?

A: A few platitudes we have to impart: Take your art seriously; refine your abilities, hone your skills and develop a habit of writing on a quotidian basis; not necessarily a piece of art that inspires the pneuma and rattles the firmament but something that is at least adequate or decent. Practicing your craft plays a crucial role in maintaining the well-being and the liveliness of your mental character as well as improving your writing abilities. Let the sensitive fabric of your psyche become pachydermatous and persevere through all the vicissitudes that adversity can muster.


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Inside the Book:


Title: A Forest of Wolves

Author: Chelsea Luna

Publisher: Lyrical Press

Genre: Historical Romance

Format: Ecopy

Prague, 1610

In a few short weeks seventeen-year-old Mila has gone from being Ludmila Novakova, pampered daughter of the High Chancellor of Bohemia, to becoming a traitor escaping the palace at midnight in her wedding nightgown. Her country is in chaos, an army is marching from Austria, and revolution is a breath away.

Mila is caught in the middle, between the man she loves—Marc, the son of a blacksmith and a leader of the rebellion—and the murderer the Church calls her husband. Even as she flees with Marc into the heart of the resistance, where the suspicions of angry citizens make her every palace-born habit a danger, she knows he hasn’t told her everything.

But Mila is keeping the biggest secret herself: she is the heir to the throne, the daughter of embattled King Rudolf and Princess of Bohemia. The truth will turn the fury of both sides against her, leaving Mila alone to win her country’s freedom—and her own . . .

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Meet the Author


Chelsea Luna is the author of over eight novels and counting, including two bestselling young adult series — the New England Witch Chronicles Series (4 books) and Love & the Zombie Apocalypse Trilogy.  Chelsea received a Juris Doctorate from New York Law School in New York, New York in 2007, and a B.A. in Sociology, with a concentration in Criminal Justice, from the University of Tennessee in 2004.

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Daniela I. Norris 2Daniela I. Norris is a former diplomat, turned political writer, and with age and wisdom – inspirational author and speaker. Her award-winning stories, articles and essays have been published in numerous magazines and anthologies.

Published books include –
– Crossing Qalandiya – Exchanges Across the Israeli Palestinian Divide (Reprtage Press, 2010)
– On Dragonfly Wings – a skeptic’s journey to mediumship (Axis Mundi Books, 2014)
– Collecting Feathers: tales from The Other Side (Soul Rocks Books, 2014)

Recognitions, part of a trilogy, is her first novel.

Daniela lives with her family near Geneva, Switzerland, and is co-director of the Geneva Writers’ Conference and part of the International Grief Council panel (www.internationalgriefcouncil.org).

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About the Book:

Amelia Rothman, a foreign-rights editor from New York, has a turbulent personal life. She juggles a divorce and two teenage kids, and decides to seek hypnotherapy to help her deal with insomnia and anxieties. But when during the Recognitionssession an unexpected event emerges, she tries to understand how it is relevant to her current life and why it suddenly triggers a series of synchronicities that take her on an unexpected personal journey to the depth of her subconscious.

At once a spiritual and psychological novel, Recognitions explores the concepts of past lives, recognition of people and their roles in our present lives and life lessons.

Praise for Recognitions:

Think Cloud Atlas, a classic story of rebirth, many lives, and reincarnation on a level that involves protagonists in other lives – but take it a step further in Recognitions, the first novel in a trilogy, which presents a woman under hypnosis who sometimes encounters a French girl on the cusp of marriage and sometimes an African shaman facing a village’s struggles with illness and slavery.

Then take these diverse lives and weave them together in the story of a modern-day woman, Amelia (who must deal with these other lives and her own daily challenges, and who faces her own struggle to understand the connections and messages that lie in her dreams and hypnotic state), and you have an emotionally charged saga filled with three threads that lead back to one tapestry of wonder.

Under a different hand, this saga of birth, death, and afterlife could have easily proved confusing: it’s no simple matter to create three disparate, very different lives, and weave them together with purpose and discovery; no easy venture to bring all these pieces to life and then meld them into one… a story that is quietly compelling: a moving saga highly recommended for any reader interested in predetermination, past lives, and how three disparate worlds weave together.

Midwest Book Reviews

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Would you call yourself a born writer?

Probably, as I always knew I wanted to be a writer when I grow up. But I also knew I had to accumulate some life-experiences that I can write about, and so I’ve worked a dozen different jobs before I actually became a writer. These included waitressing, translation of movies for subtitles, five years as an air-hostess and even seven years as a diplomat!

What was your inspiration for RECOGNITIONS?

Recognitions is in fact based on some past-life-regressions I’ve had myself, although of course they are fictionalized. Also, I was always fascinated by the question of the roles certain people play in our lives – and writing a novel about it gave me the liberty to explore this question.

What themes do you like to explore in your writing?

I used to be a political writer, and the first book I published was co-authored with my friend Shireen Anabtawi, and was a political book. Then, following the sudden death of my younger brother Michael in a drowning accident in 2010, I realized that the bigger picture might not be in politics, and my themes shifted from political to inspirational.

How long did it take you to complete the novel?

About two years, although I also published a collection of short stories – Collecting Feathers – while writing Recognitions. The short stories were mostly previously published ones, they appeared in magazines and anthologies, and I added a few new ones – also with inspirational themes.

Are you disciplined? Describe a typical writing day.

I have three young boys so it is often difficult to find time to write. I use the time they go to school and kindergarten to write, and also the time when I wait for them outside school, or outside their various after-school activities.

My favorite writing time used to be 4am – until my latest boy was born. That sort of ended the 4am writing sessions – but I am hoping they will come back in the not-too-distant future!

What did you find most challenging about writing this book?

I wanted to try and introduce themes such as past lives, past-life-regressions and the role of strangers in our lives to general readers, so my biggest challenge was to make sure the book is not too ‘out there’ for the general public. I hope I’ve succeeded in that!

What do you love most about being an author?

Being able to spend many hours with fictional characters, and having different writing projects. Each article, story or book is different, so I never get bored. And I also love reading for research – many of my books do require extensive research – which I enjoy very much.

Did you go with a traditional publisher, small press, or did you self publish? What was the process like and are you happy with your decision?

My first book was published in 2010 with Reportage Press – a small publisher in the UK. They went out of business soon after they published it (no connection there, just bad luck….) and I published my next three books with John Hunt Publishing, which like the Kafka story – is a publisher that has two doors, one for published authors and the other for those yet to be published.

JHP offer different contracts to different authors, depending on their writing credentials and projects, which I think is an innovative way to publish and gives a chance to many debut authors to make their first steps in the publishing world.

I am very happy with them, even more so as now that John Hunt – the very inspiring founder – retired, the company is run entirely by authors – who can get extra gigs in editing, proofing and even PR! It feels like a real community of authors, who help each other and chat on Facebook and on the JHP closed forum, which only JHP authors have access to.

Where can we find you on the web?

I have a website – www.danielanorris.com and a blog – www.tweetsfromtheafterlife.com and am always on Facebook – much more often than I ought to be – https://www.facebook.com/Daniela-I-Norris-179238064930/?ref=hl

Please stop by!

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Practice Makes Perfect Cover Reveal

Inside the Book:


Title: Practice Makes Perfect

Author: Sarah Title

Publisher: Lyrical Press

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Format: Ecopy

Sometimes the best surprises come wrapped in a bow-tie… Helen Lee has a top-secret dream: to publish a romance novel. There’s just one problem, and her most recent rejection letter doesn’t mince words: Helen can’t write a love scene to save her life. As Head of Reference at Willow Springs, Kentucky’s Pembroke College, Helen is hoping her library research skills will do the trick. But she may have to resort to a far more “hands-on” course of study. Luckily, there’s someone who’s more than happy to instruct her… History professor Henry Beckham has noticed that his friend, Helen, is behaving strangely. Known for her laser sharp focus—not to mention her snorting laugh—she’s been oddly distracted. He misses that laugh. But it all makes sense when he catches Helen researching erotic writing and discovers her ambition. She seems to think her only option is to die of embarrassment or give up and surrender to spinsterhood in the company of her three cats and two basset hounds. Good thing Henry has a much more real-life approach in mind. And his tutorial just might teach them both a thing or two…

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Meet the Author

Sarah Title

By day, Sarah Title is a (sort of) mild-mannered librarian in West Virginia, and by night, she writes funny, steamy, comfort reads. Sarah holds a B.A. in English from Vassar College and an M.L.S. from Indiana University. Her first book, Kentucky Home, was released by eKensington in April 2013. The follow-up novella, “Kentucky Christmas,” came out, surprisingly, the following December. She also contributed to the anthology, Delicious, with Lori Foster and Lucy Monroe.

Her newest book, Home Sweet Home, was released by eKensington in April 2014.

Sarah is represented by Louise Fury with the Bent Agency.

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Inside the Book

Title: Pickles

Author: Raymond Mendoza

Publisher: iUniverse

Genre: General Fiction

Format: Ebook

 The most deadly of enemies are often those we cannot see. The greatest battles are not the ones written on the scrolls of history but plague the battlefields of our hearts. We all encounter grief, pain, and loss. Sadly, many do not survive their struggle. In author Raymond Mendoza’s Pickles, Michael Harvey is lost in a stormy sea of hopelessness. He is trying to find himself again after his wife and their unborn child are killed by a drunk driver. Grief holds him captive as he tries to continue maintaining his art gallery with his father after the devastating loss. However, as Michael begins to realize, there are things that are solely constructed by His hand. As Michael struggles with the unseen battle, signs begin to appear through a newly discovered journal. While it seems like there is no hope for a man who is like a lost ship at sea, the glow from the lighthouse seemingly guides him back to the shores of loving again. And sometimes it comes from unexpected sources, like a dog named Pickles. Pickles is an emotional journey that portrays the power of true love as it is lost and then found once more. No matter how bad things may seem, through God’s power and love, one can be restored. 

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Inside the Book:

Title: The Book of Barkley
Author: L.B. Johnson
Publisher: Outskirts Press
Genre: Memoir
Format: Ecopy/Paperback

2015 Indie B.R.A.G. Medallion Honoree. 

2015 Reader’s Favorite International Book Award – Silver Winner. 

Gripping Memoir, Hailed “An Instant Classic” by Critics, Shares Journey of Love & Life through the Inspirational Eyes of Man’s Best Friend…

Crafted from the heart and experiences of L.B. Johnson, ‘The Book of Barkley: Love and Life Through the Eyes of a Labrador Retriever’ takes readers from the author’s depths of grief and personal despair to an empowering new life chock-full of love. But Johnson’s radical life change didn’t come from finding God or attending a cookie-cutter support group, but instead from a black Labrador called Barkley who taught her the real, innate meaning of love.

In a wholly-unique and uplifting new memoir, Johnson tells the deeply-personal story of her life and experiences with a rambunctious Labrador Retriever named Barkley. It’s not just a story of one woman and her dog; but a bold journey to discover what love really is, and why learning to live like a dog gives humanity a powerful new meaning.

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Meet the Author


A former commercial pilot, LB Johnson grew up out West where she later received a doctorate in a Criminal Justice related field in order to pursue a career in federal service after hanging up her wings. She lives in Chicago with her husband and rescue dog Abby. Mrs. Johnson is active in animal rescue and donates 100% of her writing proceeds to animal rescue organizations across the United States as well as Search Dog Foundation.
Her books include the #1 Amazon Best Sellers “The Book of Barkley” and “Saving Grace – a Story of Adoption”. She also has been awarded the Readers Favorite International Silver Book Award for Excellence in Writing.
Check out writing updates and news at her author’s webpage http://lbjohnsonauthor.blogspot.com/



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Inside the Book:

Forbidden Legacy-HighRes

Title: Forbidden Legacy
Author: Diana Cosby
Publisher: Lyrical Press
Genre: Historical Romance
Format: Ecopy

A betrothal neither wants . . . a passion neither can resist.

When the English murder Lady Katherine Calbraith’s family, she refuses their demands to wed an English noble to retain her home. Avalon Castle is her birthright, one she’s determined to keep. After Katherine’s daring escape, she’s stunned when Scotland’s king agrees to allow her to return to Avalon, but under the protection of Sir Stephan MacQuistan . . . as the knight’s wife. To reclaim her heritage, Katherine agrees. She accepts her married fate, certain that regardless of the caliber of the man, Stephan may earn her trust, but he’ll never win her love.

One of the Knights Templar, Stephan desires no bride, only vengeance for a family lost and a legacy stolen. A profound twist of fate tears apart the Brotherhood he loves, but offers him an opportunity to reclaim his legacy—Avalon Castle. Except to procure his childhood home along with a place to store Templar treasures, he must wed the unsuspecting daughter of the man who killed his family. To settle old scores, Stephan agrees, aware Katherine is merely a means to an end.

The passion that arises between them is as dangerous as it is unexpected. When mortal enemies find themselves locked in love’s embrace, Stephan and Katherine must reconsider their mission and everything they once thought to be true . . .

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Meet the Author

Diana Cosby

A retired Navy Chief, Diana Cosby is an international bestselling author of Scottish medieval romantic suspense. Her award-winning books are translated in five languages. Diana has appeared at Lady Jane’s Salon, in NYC, and in Woman’s Day, on USA Today’s romance blog, “Happily Ever After,” MSN.com, and in Texoma Living Magazine.

After retiring as a Navy Chief, AGC(AW), Diana dove into her passion – writing romance novels. With 34 moves behind her, she was anxious to create characters who reflected the amazing cultures and people she’s met throughout the world.

Her years of living in Europe inspired Diana to write in the medieval time frame. After watching the movie Braveheart and with her passion for writing complex plots, the idea for the MacGruder brothers series was born.

With the release of her 1st book in her new Scottish medieval The Oath trilogy, An Oath Taken, which hit bestseller lists in Canada and the United Kingdom, she’s now preparing for the release of the e Box Set of the MacGruder Brothers series on February 24th, and the last two books in The Oath trilogy, An Oath Broken – 22 June, and, An Oath Sworn – 23 December, 2015!

Diana has many passions in life, but one that resonates in her life is that of giving. She firmly believe that each of us can make a positive difference in another person’s life. Some of the charities she supports are listed below:

The National Trust for Scotland, which acts asntfslogoguardian of Scotland’s magnificent heritage of architectural, scenic and historic treasures.

Habitat For Humanity, which gives a deserving family more than a home, but a foundation upon which to build their dreams..

Semper Fi Fund , is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit to help with immediate financial support for injured and critically ill members of the U.S. Armed Forces and their families.

Homes For Our Troops, assists severely injured Servicemen and Servicewomen and their immediate families through various venues to aid them in building a home that allows them live a more independent life.

The Navy SEAL Foundation, provides immediate and ongoing support and assistance to the Naval Special Warfare community and their families.


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Inside the Book:

Wagon Train Sisters

Title: Wagon Train Sisters
Author: Shirley Kennedy
Publisher: Lyrical Press
Genre: Historical Fiction
Format: Ecopy

After the death of her abusive husband, Sarah Gregg is free to join her family along with thousands of others in the nation’s westward march for gold. But in the middle of the hard journey, Sarah’s younger sister, Florrie, disappears. Devastated by the family’s failed attempts to find her missing sister, Sarah now wants only to settle into a quiet, uneventful life when she reaches California . . .

But Jack McCoy, a drifter and one-time gambler riding along their wagon train, sees so much more for Sarah. In the roaring mining town of Gold Creek his attentive persistence points Sarah toward new vistas. Then unexpected news of Florrie arrives—and it’s worse than anyone expected. But driven by a new hopefulness, Sarah seeks help from Jack, despite his troubled past. The two have traveled a rough road together, and only their hearts can tell them where they are headed . . .

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Meet the Author


Shirley Kennedy was born and raised in Fresno, California. In her early career as an author, Shirley wrote traditional Regency romances, one for Ballantine, the rest for Signet. Later on, she branched into other genres. She lives in Las Vegas, Nevada, with her older daughter, Dianne, and Brutus and Sparky, her two editorial assistants who love to nap in the sunshine next to her computer while she works on her next book. Please visit Shirley at shirleykennedy.com, or follow her Twitter account @ladyk360, or on Facebook at facebook.com/shirley.kennedy.52.


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Inside the Book:


Title: Daughter of Blood
Author: Helen Lowe
Publisher: Harper Voyager
Pages: 768
Genre: Science Fiction/Fantasy
Format: Ecopy/Paperback

A Gemmell Award-Winning Series

Malian of Night and Kalan, her trusted ally, are returning to the Wall of Night—but already it may be too late. The Wall is dangerously weakened, the Nine Houses of the Derai fractured by rivalry and hate. And now, the Darkswarm is rising . . .

Among Grayharbor backstreets, an orphan boy falls foul of dark forces. On the Wall, a Daughter of Blood must be married off to the Earl of Night, a pawn in the web of her family’s ambition. On the Field of Blood, Kalan fights for a place in the bride’s honor guard, while Malian dodges deadly pursuers in a hunt against time for the fabled Shield of Heaven. But the Darkswarm is gaining strength, and time is running out—for Malian, for Kalan, and for all of Haarth . . .

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It’s All About The Characters

One of the reasons why I love writing Fantasy is because it’s all about possibility and wonder—the excitement of new ways of looking at the world, and the flexibility to play with those possibilities. But it’s the characters that really matter—the people who have all of the normal challenges and problems of just being human, but must also deal with the additional challenges that arise when magic starts getting thrown about.

Although I should stick with saying “characters” and not “people”, as not all great characters in Fantasy-SciFi are people: for example, the ent, Treebeard, in JRR Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, the daemon Pantalaimon in Philip Pullman’s The Golden Compass, or the legendary helmet, Nhenir, in my own The Wall of Night series.

As a reader, the characters are almost always what make the difference between my liking a book and loving it. I enjoy interesting and quirky ideas, and worlds that stretch my imagination, but if I don’t care about the characters, then it’s very hard to really care about the book. Whether I love them or hate them, I want to be engaged—to laugh and cry with the characters through the action of the book, to hold by breath when scary stuff is happening and breathe a sigh of relief when the protagonist wins through… Or doesn’t, as with Ned Stark in GRR Martin’s A Game of Thrones.

But I’m also a writer and creating character is essential to the process. I still want to be engaged by them, but not necessarily to like them. And sometimes, it’s when someone tells you that they don’t like a character that you think: “A-ha, my work here is done!” This happened with The Heir of Night, the first book in The Wall of Night series. An early reader said: “… but I just hate the Earl of Night. He’s such an anal retentive @#%*$&!.” He couldn’t quite understand why I immediately punched the air—but I had worked really hard on that particular character and the reader’s response was exactly right.

And sometimes it is the characters you have to work hardest on that are the most rewarding—not because they are likeable necessarily, but because they are human. So the Earl of Night is an anal retentive @#%*$&!, but that is not all he is. Working to achieve that fine shading as the story unfolds is very rewarding for me as a writer.

Writing character can be a little like quarrying for gemstones. Some characters you have to chip away at patiently until the shape of the personality reveals itself; with others it’s just a single tap and the perfect jewel falls into your hand. A new character, Myr, in Daughter of Blood, was like that. Once I got her name right (that step was vital!) the character of Myr was just there, whole and pretty much complete. The main character, Malian, was more complex—but she has been through a lot in the past two books, as well as being crucial to the resolution of the story, so her character’s journey is complex and consequently requires considerable care and thought.

Yet in the end, however they arrive, each character has to be real once they take their place in the story. However minor their parts, they all have to have their backstory and reasons for being who and where they are, so they live and breathe on the page—and draw the reader into the magic of their lives.

Meet the Author

Helen Lowe
Helen Lowe is an award-winning novelist, poet, interviewer, and blogger, whose first novel, Thornspell (Knopf), was published to critical praise in 2008. Her second, The Heir of Night (The Wall of Night Series, Book One) won the Gemmell Morningstar Award 2012. The sequel, The Gathering of The Lost, was shortlisted for the Gemmell Legend Award in 2013. Helen has a second-dan black belt in the martial art aikido and represented her university at fencing. She posts regularly on her “. . . on Anything, Really” blog, occasionally on SF Signal, and is also on Twitter: @helenlowe.




Helen is giving away print copies of The Gathering of the Lost & The Heir of Night



Terms & Conditions:
  • By entering the giveaway, you are confirming you are at least 18 years old.
  • One winner will be chosen via Rafflecopter to receive both copies – US ONLY
  • This giveaway begins January 18 and ends on February 12.
  • Winners will be contacted via email on February 13.
  • Winner has 48 hours to reply.
Good luck everyone!


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