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RothIrene S. Roth is an academic and freelance writer for teens, tweens and kids. She has written over 500 book reviews and 1,000 online articles on different topics for teens, tweens, and about the craft of writing. She also teaches workshops on writing and craft at Savvy Authors. She lives in Stratford, Ontario with her husband and cat. Visit her at https://irenesroth.wordpress.com/

ABOUT HER BOOK

In Seasons of Empowerment for Adolescent Girls, Ms. Roth argues that there are four seasons of empowerment for adolescent girls. Sadly no adolescent girl can simply wake up one day, snap her fingers, and be empowered to tackle the world and all the forces that exist inside and outside. Becoming empowered to be who we are can be truly difficult. This book consists of a step-by-step guide to help adolescent girls achieve self-improvement.

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Q: Congratulations on the release of your latest book Seasons of Empowerment for Adolescent Girls. What was your inspiration for it?

A: With this book, I want to inspire adolescent girls to get on the path of self-empowerment that will make the stronger and much more able to deal with the difficult years of adolescence.

Q: How was your creative process like during the writing of this book and how long did it take you to complete it? Did you face any bumps along the way?

A: I wrote the first draft of this book quickly. Then I went back and make some modifications. I didn’t have any bumps along the way at all, except I wanted to make sure that the book was written in a voice that was applicable to teens.

Seasons of AdolescentsQ: Do you experience anxiety before sitting down to write? If yes, how do you handle it?

A: No, I never experience any anxiety. I guess I am a lucky writer.

Q: What is your writing schedule like and how do you balance it with your other work and family time?

A: My writing schedule is quite heavy: I write for 5 hours most days, and I teach and research in between times. I guess you can call me a writer and teacher. I slot my family and work life outside of these times. I always have.

Q: How do you define success?

A: For me success is defined as doing what you truly love. If you love writing and you can write quite a bit, you are successful and lucky.

Q: What advice would you give to aspiring writers whose spouses or partners don’t support their dreams of becoming an author?

A: I would talk to them directly about it, and then I would still schedule my writing time and write. Sometimes you just have to do what is most important for you, without the permission of your family, especially if they don’t understand you as a writer.

Q: George Orwell once wrote: “Writing a book is a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout of some painful illness. One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven on by some demon whom one can neither resist nor understand.” Do you agree?

A: Despite the fact that I believe that writing is hard work, I have never believed that it is like a painful illness. That is too negative a connotation. However, writing does involve self-understanding and self-respect. And these can be hard to cultivate in a way that is open and honest.

Q: Anything else you’d like to tell my readers?

A: Always pursue your dreams, otherwise you won’t like your life or yourself.

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blackwellThe Blackwell Family Secret: The Guardians of Sin is book 1 in Jonathan L. Ferrara’s YA urban fantasy series. I must say this was a thoroughly enjoyable read, and I can’t wait to read the sequel.

After his parents are killed by a demon, sixteen-year-old Nicholas Blackwell is put under the protection of the Vatican and sent to a boarding school surrounded by a deep forest: St. Christopher’s Academy, complete with iron gates, gargoyle statues, and gateposts that leer at him. As his life is in danger, this is the only place where he can be kept safe. One night he ventures into the woods and a serpent tricks him into eating the forbidden fruit, with disastrous consequences–for the Guardians of the Seven Deadly Sins have been unleashed, and now Nicholas must go into the City of Demons and defeat the Princes of Hell, and in the process discover his family secret, one that could change the entire world…A daunting task for a teen, even if he happens to be the school’s cockiest leader of mischief.

I loved the book. Nicholas is a charming protagonist, cleaver, arrogant, yet brave and selfless at times. Ferrara’s world, inspired by Biblical tales, of course, is elaborate and imaginative. I especially loved his focus on the Seven Deadly Sins–what they are, where they came from, etc. Angels and demons are intertwined with fantasy elements, and the whole concept of good and evil is explored.

There’s romance, action, adventure, and mystery. It is also a bit dark at times, which I enjoyed. Ferrara is a talented writer, his prose smooth and his dialogue witty. The pace was excellent and the story kept moving forward with increasing tension until the very satisfying ending that left me hungry for book 2. Recommended!

Find out more on Amazon.

My review was originally published in Blogcritics.

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blackwell

The Blackwell Family Secret:
THE GUARDIANS OF SINS
by Jonathan L. Ferrara
URBAN FANTASY, Young Adult
5.5×8.5, 224 pages
Publication date: December 5, 2014
$15.95 trade paperback, ISBN 978-1-940076-19-5
$5.95 E-book, ISBN 978-1-940076-20-1
Publisher: Dragonwell Publishing
Distribution: Ingram Book Company
www.dragonwellpublishing.com / AMAZON

Nicholas Blackwell has no idea he is supposed to fulfill a destiny. All he knows is that he draws trouble like a magnet. Orphaned at eleven when two demonic men killed his parents, he copes with the strict rules of his new home, St. Christopher’s academy, unaware that he has been the real target for the killers and that his guardian angel has saved him in the nick of time. And now, his problems are only beginning when a mysterious serpent lures him into the woods and tricks him into a demonic ritual that will unleash the Seven Deadly Sins to destroy the humankind. Nicholas has no choice but to correct his mistake–or die trying. Aided by Amy, a shy but determined girl who seems to know more about his task than she should, Nicholas’s quest is to travel into the City of Demonio and defeat the Seven Guardians of Sin. To succeed, he must confront demons, monsters, and lost souls, learn the mysteries of the Chapel of Dreams, discover the true meaning of friendship and love, and face the darkest secret of all: the Blackwell Family Secret.

“The Blackwell Family Secret: the Guardians of Sin” is a debut young adult urban fantasy adventure with a Christian theme.

About the author:

unnamed copyJonathan L. Ferrara was born in San Pedro, California to an Italian fisherman and a mother from New York. Growing up with one older brother, Jonathan had several hobbies: finding the best hiding spots to jump out and scare his mother, discovering new fantasy book series, and imagining outrageous, whimsical worlds full of magic. He is now happily married, residing in California in the City of Angels. He has two wonderful children-his dog Koda and cat Merlin.

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Look for my review of this book soon!

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SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESA native of Honeoye, New York, Andrew Cratsley lives in North Carolina. Keepers of Runes and the Tower of Shadows is his debut novel. Cratsley is a lifelong fan of fantasy books, films, and RPG-style gaming.  A champion of literacy issues and proud supporter of the World Literacy Foundation, Cratsley will donate a portion of the proceeds from Keepers of Runes and the Tower of Shadows to the World Literacy Foundation’s fight against illiteracy.

Twitter: @Mortiscet / www.keeperofrunes.com

https://www.facebook.com/andy.cratsley?fref=ts

Interview

Q: Congratulations on the release of your latest book, Keepers of Runes and the Tower of Shadows. What was your inspiration for it?

A: I can’t point to specifics, but I would blame a life long obsession with fantasy in the form of movies, books, and RPG’s.

Q: Tell us something interesting about your protagonist.

A: Corinth is a young elf who obsesses with righting the injustices of the world, but like many so young; he must learn himself and the full reality of the world around him. His 3 companions share his depth and face similar transformations throughout the series.

Q: How was your creative process like during the writing of this book and how long did it take you to complete it? Did you face any bumps along the way?

A: The road is treacherous and painful, but is equally rewarding to complete. It’s an exciting journey interrupted by many writer’s blockades.

Q: How do you keep your narrative exciting throughout the creation of a novel?

A: Concise writing and appropriate word choice is what I value most. Adding unnecessary content makes a work read like a weather forecast.

Q: Do you experience anxiety before sitting down to write? If yes, how do you handle it?

A: Not at all. I’m excited and eager to see what my efforts will create. Not all days are fruitful, but the good ones are amazing.

frontcover_444x664Q: What is your writing schedule like and how do you balance it with your other work and family time?

A: I’m still figuring all of that out, but the vampire in me releases my creativity after sunset. I don’t why I was born with this internal clock, but it works.

Q: How do you define success?

A: Success is a state of mind, not a list of assets.

Q: What advice would you give to aspiring writers whose spouses or partners don’t support their dreams of becoming an author?

A: Life should be about achieving happiness and our first step is to figure out what is truly important. This is often difficult to figure out, but you should realize your passions and cultivate them.

Q: George Orwell once wrote: “Writing a book is a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout of some painful illness. One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven on by some demon whom one can neither resist nor understand.” Do you agree?

A: It does take a certain obsession to follow through with such a task. I think something unique drives each of us authors, and the desire to finish what I started is fueling my obsession.

Q:  Anything else you’d like to tell my readers?

A: Thank you for taking the time to get to know me, and of course my work. I hope you enjoy, because the story has only begun!

About the Book

An extraordinary coming-of-age fantasy tale written by a dynamic new voice in the world of fantasy, Keepers of Runes and the Tower of Shadows has garnered high advance praise.  Kirkus Reviews notes that Cratsley “believably and authentically develop[s] his characters” and calls the book a “promising debut.”  In a Clarion Review, ForeWord Reviews reports that Keepers of Runes and the Tower of Shadows “has all the color, imagination, and drama one might expect from the genre as well as emotional depth.”  Moreover, the review states that the book’s “fast pace and gaming-style characteristics may appeal to more reluctant readers and inspire future fantasy enthusiasts.”

About Keepers of Runes and the Tower of Shadows:  At 120 years old, Corinth is young by elf standards.  But even as a young elf, Corinth is haunted by his sordid past. When he emerges from his solitude within the eternal forest around Enzlintine, Corinth is sent away to quell the troubled region plagued by Khalid, the Lord of Conquest.  But this will be a journey like no other. Corinth bands together with two curious companions—the human ranger Aventis and the oh-so-spirited Nadine—until the trio is captured by an insidious necromancer, Mortiscet. A vile dark elf who forces the group to help his daughter Rieka find a mysterious object, Mortiscet thrusts the group into increasingly dangerous circumstances. Can Rieka escape the clutches of her wicked and overbearing patriarch?  And what will happen when the group launches towards a frigid wasteland in search of the bane of the evil that stalks them?  On this perilous journey, they’ll have to battle assassins, ominous creatures and the forces of Khalid. Expect the unexpected—because sometimes, the best intentions come from the darkest recesses of the heart…

A splendid and magical tale with a captivating storyline, extraordinary characters and a plot brimming with action, intrigue and adventure, Keepers of Runes and the Tower of Shadows is a fascinating read that captivates from page one. Resplendent with characters that come to life within the novel’s pages, Keepers of Runes and the Tower of Shadows is a beautifully-written, imaginative, and inventive tale.  With its strong central female characters, Keepers of Runes and the Tower of Shadows offers a refreshing diversion from fantasy tales that focus largely on male protagonists and male supporting characters.

A mesmerizing work of fantasy geared towards young adults, Keepers of Runes and the Tower of Shadows will also appeal to adult readers of fantasy, as well as fans of such fantasy classics such as The Lord of the Rings or the Harry Potter series.  According to Pacific Book Review, Keepers of Runes and the Tower of Shadows has aspects to entice most any reader, whether lover of fantasy or not…. readers of fantasy will delight in Cratsley’s work.”

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Please welcome my special guest, debut fantasy YA author D.W. Raleigh! His novel, Shiloh’s True Nature, has just been published by Hobbes End Publishing

D.W. Raleigh was born in the Delaware Valley and has spent most of his life in that region. He has attended multiple colleges and universities collecting several Doug Raleigh Picdegrees, including an M.A. in Philosophy. After toiling away for many years in various unfulfilling jobs, he began to realize that what he really wanted to do was write. Scribbling down ideas and little short stories he eventually came up with something he wanted to share with the world. Thus, Shiloh’s True Nature was born. D.W. currently resides in Newark, Delaware with his longtime love, Judy, and their two cats, Lovie and Cheepie.

In this interview, the author talks about his inspiration for the book, his creative process, writer’s anxiety, and the meaning of success, among other things. 

Q: Congratulations on the release of your latest book, Shiloh’s True Nature. What was your inspiration for it?

A: Several years ago, I was compiling a list of mythological concepts I found interesting in hopes it would inspire me to write something.  In my research, I came across two books from the late Joseph Campbell; The Power Of Myth & The Hero With A Thousand Faces.  These works really inspired me and provided a blueprint for successful storytelling.

Q: Tell us something interesting about your protagonist.

A: Shiloh Williams is highly inquisitive…in good and bad ways.  His thirst for knowledge and an understanding of his environment is admirable.  However, he also finds himself in dangerous situations because of his need to know.

Q: What was your creative process like during the writing of this book and how long did it take you to complete it? Did you face any bumps along the way?

A: I think it took a couple of years to outline and then another couple to write and refine it.  I don’t really know how others construct their novels, but I have a very specific building process.  I create a short outline with the basic story structure.  I then continue adding things until I am able to form chapters.  The process goes on and on until the entire book is completely outlined.  In the case of STN, it went on until the outline was about 50,000 words.  So, when I sat down to write the book, I converted the 50,000 word outline into a 90-100,000 word novel.

shiloQ: How do you keep your narrative exciting throughout the creation of a novel?

A: I do so by keeping that goal in mind.  As I was outlining the book, I made sure each chapter had specific, relevant goals and ended in such a way as to make the reader want to continue reading.  Was I successful? I think so, but only time will tell.

Q: Do you experience anxiety before sitting down to write? If yes, how do you handle it?

A: No, I don’t experience anxiety…it’s more like what you feel like when you were a kid and had to do your homework.  It’s just hard to get started sometimes…you know you need to do it and you want to, but there are so many other things you could be doing.  I usually combat the feeling by reading the last few paragraphs of what I last wrote.  By the time I get to where I left off, I’m where I need to be mentally.

Q: What is your writing schedule like and how do you balance it with your other work and family time?

A: I have no set writing schedule.  I write when the mood strikes.  Otherwise, if I force myself, I end up not liking what I’ve written.

Q: How do you define success?

A: The minimum definition of success for me will be to make a living from my writing.  I am proud of the fact that I’ve created something that has been published…and I certainly won’t consider it or myself a failure if it doesn’t sell millions of copies, but it would be nice if it did.

Q: What advice would you give to aspiring writers whose spouses or partners don’t support their dreams of becoming an author?

A: It’s tough to deal with a negative situation like a lack of support.  I mean, you have to follow your dreams, but you also have to weigh your priorities and be realistic.  For example, if you and your significant other have a two person business and you decide to abandon that commitment to pursue an author’s life, you’re being irresponsible.  On the other hand, if you’re not in that type of commitment and your significant other doesn’t support you, I think you need to seriously examine your relationship.  Ask yourself, or better yet ask your significant other, how they would feel if you didn’t support their endeavors.

Q: George Orwell once wrote: “Writing a book is a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout of some painful illness. One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven on by some demon whom one can neither resist nor understand.” Do you agree?

A: No, I do not agree.  Given Orwell’s works, particularly Animal Farm and 1984, I could see him saying such a thing.  However, he makes the process sound more arduous than pleasurable.  I am driven to write, but it provides me with tremendous satisfaction.  I’m happy when I put together a great paragraph or chapter…I’m elated when the work takes the shape I intended.  There’s no darkness, or compulsion, or negativity of any sort for me.

Q:  Anything else you’d like to tell my readers?

A:  I’d like to thank them for their support and hope they’ll all pick up a copy of Shiloh’s True Nature.  The novel can be found at hobbesendpublishing.com or amazon.com

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ABOUT THE BOOK

Title: Shiloh’s True Nature

Genre: YA/Fantasy

Author: D.W. Raleigh

Publisher: Hobbes End Publishing

When 12 year-old farm boy Shiloh Williams is sent to stay with his estranged grandfather, he discovers a mysterious new world inhabited by ‘Movers’. The Movers live in symbiotic harmony with one another, except one extremely powerful Mover who has stolen the town’s most precious artifact, the Eternal Flame. Shiloh investigates his supernatural surroundings, makes new friends, and begins to think of the town as home. However, just as soon as he starts to fit in, he realizes his newfound happiness is about to come to an abrupt end. One decision and one extreme consequence are all that remain.

Amazon Paperback Kindle 

Hobbes End Publishing / Author Page / Facebook

 

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Karai MadillA chronic “head in the cloudser” K. Madill lives in a rickety house on a well treed street in British Columbia, Canada.  When she’s not hanging out with her best equine friend in the woods she can be found trying to stay upright on her roller skates or mediating the affairs of her various furred and feathered friends that rule the aforementioned rickety house. 

K. Madill’s website: kmadill.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/K-Madill/161159890706088

Twitter: https://twitter.com/KaraiMadill1  

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/20643483-the-stolen-herd

About the book

Mandamus is only a foal when his herd is captured by the terrible Rakhana Army. Rescued and raised in secrecy, he knows nothing of his heritage until a dreadful incident in the woods brings him to the attention of the Forest council – and everyone else. Sent away for his own protection, he is determined to seek help on behalf of the many animals who have gone missing from the forest, including his own family.

With the help of a troubled man and a stout-hearted bat, can Mandamus save his fellow creatures before it’s too late?

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Interview

Would you call yourself a born writer?  

Storyteller, yes…writer, no.  I’ve been making up stories for as long as I can remember. I used to try and get my pets to act out parts I’d written for them. Talk about bedlam!  None of them were trained. We all had creative differences.  Needless to say, I gave up on being a playwright and turned to short stories and then novels.  The Stolen Herd is my first book and, let me tell you, writing it was like being lost in the wilderness.   I had no idea where I was going or what I was doing.

What was your inspiration for The Stolen Herd?

I clearly saw my main character, Mandamus, standing before me one day. He had this really troubled look on his face. The Stolen Herd was carved out of a stack of notes that took me about three years to create. The novel itself took six years, but that’s because a whole lot of life happened during that time.

What themes do you like to explore in your writing?

Ohhh, this is my favorite question! I began the series to write about animal rights, equality for human beings and environmentalism.  Yeah, nothing too heavy there!

How long did it take you to complete the novel?

Six years. I’m a relentless planner/rewriter/agonizer.

Are you disciplined? Describe a typical writing day.

I can be disciplined but only if I have a deadline, seriously – I’m terrible at keeping up a writing routine.  Truthfully, I’m terrible at keeping up any kind of routine. A good writing day will find me putting in about 10 hours of work, broken up by taking care of my horse, ferrets, dogs, cats, turtles and fish. That’s on a weekend. During the week, I do all of that, plus work a full time job, so I don’t get lots of scribe time. I have no writing space at my house so sometimes I’m reduced to finding the nearest closet and scribbling madly in there for an hour or two.

What did you find most challenging about writing this book?

I think stripping layers off of myself was hard.  I chose Mandamus to be raised by another herd and I’m adopted so, you know…some of it is quite personal.  Some of the great qualities my characters have come from me and, unfortunately, some of the nasty traits do as well.

What do you love most about being an author?

Love most? Hmmm…let’s see. Living in a different world, not being able to relate to most people? Not being able to hold my own at a party where people are discussing mortgage rates or the deficit because I’m too busy thinking about how a grizzly bear, a cougar and a man could break a tribe of Yeti out of prison? Those are the definite downsides.   I suppose what I love best is being able to write that nonsense down and share it with people who are drawn to that sort of thing.

Where can we find you on the web?

kmadill.com

or on Facebook under K. Madill

Pump Up Your Book and K. Madill are teaming up to give away a $25 Amazon Gift Card!

Terms and conditions:

    • By entering, you confirm you are 18 years of age or older.
    • Raffle runs from 12:00 AM EST on June 2 through 12:00 AM EST on June 28, 2014.
    • Winner will be selected randomly by Rafflecopter.
    • Winner will be notified by email and has 72 hours to claim the prize before a new winner is selected.
    • Prize will be sent via email from the author’s representative.
    • VOID WHERE PROHIBITED.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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ABOUT THE BOOK

 

For two decades Tyler Gibbons has been keeping a secret from his family. At the tender age of sixteen, Tyler embarks on a student exchange program. Sent to the Andean city of Ambato, Ecuador, he finds daily adventure as he tries to fit in at school, connect with his host family, and navigate through a world of beaches, volcanoes, and jungles. But tucked deep inside this year are events so profound, so unexpected, they forever shape the man he will become.
Now, 25 years later, his mother pulls these soaring tales from her son, exposing, for the first time, the source of a deep unhappiness. While these memories contain the wounds of an unresolved past, they also possess the power to heal his painful present.
Thoughtfully crafted and boldly told, Tyler’s journey takes the reader on a wild South American adventure, while illuminating a mother’s unyielding power to heal her child.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

 
Randy’s Website / Goodreads / Twitter

A performer, playwright, and producer Randy founded The Beggars Group in 1999. During the following decade he produced over two dozen productions including; The Expatriates, Do It!, and Theadora, She Bitch of Byzantium.

Plays he’s written include; New Year’s Resolutions, Homlessness Homosexuals and Heretics, Testing Average, Kill The President, Armor of Wills, and The Dwelling.

Randy is currently completing his novel careful, which will be released in May 2014.
 

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