Get a FREE ebook for Halloween

2020 has been rubbish for many and Halloween for many has effectively been cancelled because of Covid-19, which is why I thought I’d give you, my wonderful readers a FREE gift as compensation for not being able to party or go Trick or Treating. I hope you enjoy this chilling mystery fantasy tale. If you’re a fan of the Sundered Crown Saga then you’ll enjoy this. 

Simply click the link, fill in the form and your FREE ebook will be sent to you.

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Author Interview – Lee Conley

Halloween is almost here and what better way to celebrate then with tales of ghouls and the ravenous undead! Coming through the woods with bloodied axe in hand is fantasy author, Lee Conley the author of the Dead Sagas.

  • Hi Lee tell us a bit about yourself and what inspired you to write?

Hello Matt, thank you for having me. My name is Lee C Conley, author of The Dead Sagas series. I live in the cathedral city of Lincoln in the UK with my wife and daughters. By day I work as a professional guitarist, and by night I am either teaching historical martial arts, and generally fighting with a longsword or a sabre, or I am writing. I’ve always loved reading so it just seemed natural when I wanted to write my own stories and it just went from there.

  • What appeals to you most about the fantasy genre?

Fantasy is my preferred genre to read, always since I was a kid. I only recently branched out into other genres of fiction in the last 15 years. I think it’s the escapism of it all, a chance to remove yourself from the world and enter another. It’s as simple as that really. I’m a big horror fan too, and believe if a book can scare you the writer has got it right so I am on a little quest to write things that are scary. It just seemed natural to try and do that in the fantasy settings I always knew I’d write in. Fantasy is such a fantastic genre, full of myths, legends and folklore all mixed up with popular historical culture into the pure fantastic. Fantasy and speculative fiction is potentially limitless really. It gives the imagination complete freedom to make up whatever you like, however you like, its pure fantasy and escapism.

  • Tell us a little bit about your latest project and the challenges you’ve faced putting it all together?

I just recently released the second book in The Dead Sagas, A Ritual of Flesh, it certainly came with some challenges. One a writing level, this book was the book that really revealed the mystery of the first book, A Ritual of Bone. I took a calculated gamble with the writing of the first book, I knew the second was needed straight away as there are many plot threads that were set up and still needed resolving by the end. I wanted to hook readers and drive them straight into book 2 with questions. The challenges were to weave all those threads together as book two really finished the story elements that were left hanging and completes and resolves the first part of the series. A Ritual of Flesh required a lot more careful plotting that the first. Also this new one was the culmination of my publishing learning curve to date. It is the first novel that I think I got right first time and will not have to make future tweaks to the covers or editing, I made those mistakes on my earlier books and this time it all came together into a pretty workable process to move forwards with.

  • What type of characters do you like to write the most and how much of yourself do you put into them?

One striking trait of the people of Arnar in The Dead Sagas is undoubtedly the sense of honour that pervades that culture. It is so steeped in Anrar culture, it is a way of life for them, and that it has given the book a nobledark aspect which was unexpected. Most of the characters in The Dead Sagas, even the antagonists, are certainly noble characters they are just all working to their own ends, in fact it is quite hard to pin down exactly who all the antagonists are. I think a little of yourself goes into any character you write, there is certainly more of my perceived traits in some characters more than others.

  • For any wannabe writers out there what’s the most useful thing you’ve learned?

Get an editor! Definitely polish that work so it is the best it can be, you will need that second set of eagle eyes, no matter how good you are. Getting a good editor is a must, something I learned by having to re-edit some of my previous work.

Also if you’re going the indie route, do not skimp on cover art and book design. The old adage, ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’ is unfortunately, yes true, but also, in this day and age, completely wrong. Your book will indeed be judged by its cover before a reader even picks it up, and with the masses of great books out there, you cover will need to stand out. Don’t skimp on covers or editors, they are the essentials.

  • What writing tricks do you utilise to hit your deadlines and keep your stories on track?

I don’t like deadlines so simply never use them. In any project, my own sense of obsessive work ethic will simply get it done if it needs doing, and creatively it just takes as long as it takes. I am now studying a creative writing degree and sometimes you need to write to a deadline in that, so I always give myself a few extra weeks and just crack on, often it doesn’t take long for the initial draft anyway I find, and without the pressure I find it helps to keep the creativity going.

  • Are you a plotter or a pantser (make it up as you go)?

I am a bit of both. A Ritual of Bone was heavily pantstered in the early stages just to get a feel of how the plot and characters would emerge. As things appear, sometimes they were re-written and a bit of plotting came in to help me really pull it all together and entwine the plot threads in the most effective way that I needed for that scene, for the impact I was trying to achieve with certain elements.

As I said earlier, the second book, A Ritual of Flesh, was much more plotted out. All events and plot threads were woven together to a plan, but the chapters were still pantstered in a way. I knew what I needed to achieve in each chapter but had no idea how that would actually happen until I wrote it, the small details, the sometimes can be the best and most crucial parts.

  • What plans do you have for the future? A new series or perhaps a dip into other genres?

I will be writing the rest of The Dead Sagas in one go I think. It will be two books but I will write them in one consecutive drafting period. Those four books will be the main series, but there will be scope for perhaps a few standalones in the same world. Once I have finished the main series, I may well start a different project before I return to any standalones for The Dead Sagas, perhaps some dark sci-fi, maybe a wyrd west, but possibly a different horror fantasy. We’ll see. I do have plans to release a short story collection, probably very soon as I seem to be amassing some fun short stories and though it would be nice to release a small collection in the next 6 months, so watch this space.

  • With the world the way it is at the moment what sort of tales do you prefer? Ones with heroes where good triumphs over evil or ones that take a darker approach?

I always seem to prefer stories with a darker touch, regardless of the world around me. I do like very dark stories and settings with heroes, I do appreciate a good hero, but I just want the themes to be dark and brooding, it’s how I like to escape, strange as that sounds.

  • What’s better, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings or Star Wars?

Easily Lord of the Rings! The films, books, everything—it has been so incredibly awesome! It has had such a huge impact on the genre as a whole, more so I would say, than Star Wars has had on Sci-fi, I’d say fantasy has influenced sci-fi more, and Lord of the Rings is so important to fantasy it’s the winner by far. I do love Star Wars though, especially the games that have spawned from their canon. I’m not a huge Harry Potter fan if I’m honest, I enjoyed what I read but never finished the series, I was content to just watch the films to finish the story but never found to much of a draw to that world, I was more Conan and things like that.

Anyway, that’s all from me, but thank you to Matt Olney for inviting me to do this interview. Thank you to anyone who is reading this for taking the time, and I hope you found my ramblings interesting.

The first two books in The Dead Sagas, A Ritual of Bone and A Ritual of Flesh are out now (links below). If any of my work sounds of interest, please do dive into the world I have created, but if you do, remember… Fear the Dead!

Regards,

Lee

For more information on Lee’s work visit his website:

www.leeconleyauthor.com

Or sign up to Lee’s mailing list!

Here!

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Social media links

Facebook: www.facebook.com/LeeConleyAuthor/

Twitter: @LongswordLee  or  https://twitter.com/LongswordLee

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Goodreads: www.goodreads.com/author/show/14649012.Lee_Conley

Reddit: u/LeeConleyAuthor or  https://www.reddit.com/user/LeeConleyAuthor

Universal Sales links:

author.to/LeeCConley

getbook.at/ARitualofBone

getbook.at/ARitualofFlesh

Many thanks to Lee!

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Author Interview – Eric Shapiro

The woods can be a spooky place at night with the shadows of the trees eliciting horror if you allow your imagination to run riot. Tonight I am joined at the campfire by Horror fantasy author Eric Shapiro.


  • Hi Eric tell us a bit about yourself and what inspired you to write?

Hey, Matthew. I’m the author of a bunch of dark fiction and screenplays and the co-owner of a Silicon Valley newspaper called The Milpitas Beat. As a kid, my mom inspired me to write by instituting a no-boredom policy in the home. If I said I was bored, she’d tell me (lovingly) to write a story. As an adult, I stay inspired by dreaming up characters whose minds I find fascinating and want to explore.

  • What appeals to you most about the fantasy genre?

You know, I think I was thrown at you by my publicist Michael Evan (laughs) even though I don’t specialize in fantasy! The good news is, I have some fantasy stories kicking around in my mind. I also tend to see horror as surrealism, which you could argue is a subdivision of fantasy. Anything psychotropic that challenges the banality of consensus reality is worth looking at. It keeps our minds expanded and healthy.

  • Tell us a little bit about your latest project and the challenges you’ve faced putting it all together?

My latest fiction release is called RED DENNIS. It came out this past March from Independent Legions Publishing, just as the pandemic was starting. It was a challenge in the sense that it was my first proper novel, after having written 5 novellas. This book was almost the length equivalent of 3 novellas. So the challenges were keeping it tight and propulsive, and also staying in one narrator’s mind for that long, particularly since he’s a very troubled person. I started thinking I was him at times. So how’s that for being into fantasy? (laughs)

  • What type of characters do you like to write the most and how much of yourself do you put into them?

I’m almost exclusively drawn to protagonists who are neurotic or psychotic. There’s a ton of me in them. They’re not me, but they’re strong aspects of myself, either latent-shadow elements or more overt representations where it’s just me under different circumstances. The protagonists in my novellas IT’S ONLY TEMPORARY, THE DEVOTED, and LOVE & ZOMBIES sound almost exactly like me, but they’re all individuated – from me and from each other. There are subtle yet huge differences; it’s like I’m an actor playing different roles. The protagonist in RED DENNIS doesn’t quite sound like me, but he’s one door down; he lives in an area I feel awkward and alarmed about. Again, it’s like I’m an actor and each time I draw a protagonist, I’m pulling different points of emphasis but using my own available human materials.

  • For any wannabe writers out there what’s the most useful thing you’ve learned?

The more you practice, the more spontaneous and automatic it becomes. This can be helpful from a productivity and inner-access standpoint (as in having access to yourself and your emotions), but it can be hurtful in terms of finding passion to start something new that’s really special. Once you’re used to the medium and confident in your ability to put out professional work, the bar for what gets you excited gets much higher. So I’ve learned that there’s no replacing ass-plus-seat experience, but as you accumulate it, you might lose a little excitement or edge about the work and have to rediscover or rekindle it.

  • What writing tricks do you utilise to hit your deadlines and keep your stories on track?

I wrote a whole book about this, also out in 2020, called ASS PLUS SEAT. It’s 21 tips for inspiring writers to finish their books and screenplays. The title states the main ethic: You have to sit down and do it. Start writing and then the muse arrives. She’s not capable of making you begin.

  • Are you a plotter or a pantser (make it up as you go)?

A little bit of both, with a strong lean toward pantser. I plot insofar as I have a clear scenario in which to operate, then pants my way through it and usually end up surprised by where it goes.

  • What plans do you have for the future? A new series or perhaps a dip into other genres?

I’d love to do a book series; that’s one of my goals. A trilogy or a saga that expands beyond three stories. I’ve yet to settle on a world or scenario, but I’ll know it when I have it. The whole idea’s set to a simmer for now. 

  • With the world the way it is at the moment what sort of tales do you prefer? Ones with heroes where good triumphs over evil or ones that take a darker approach?

Anything that’s frank or candid goes down well, at all times. As long as it’s not lying to me, I think it’s part of the solution.

  • What’s better, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings or Star Wars?

Star Wars all the way! I just last night watched A NEW HOPE with my kids for the first time. They loved it. There’s three trilogies, of course: the original, the prequels, and the Disney ones, and major peaks and valleys in terms of motivation and quality, but at its best that’s a ridiculously exciting and inspiring world.

Check out Eric via the links below-

https://www.amazon.com/Eric-Shapiro/e/B007167ZP4%3Fref=dbs_a_mng_rwt_scns_share

https://www.facebook.com/eric.shapiro.3386


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Author Interview – James Reid

Today I am joined at the campfire by dark fantasy author James Reid and his magnificent beard. We chuck another on the flames and settle in for a chat about all things books.


  • Hi JMD Reid tell us a bit about yourself and what inspired you to write?

I am a fan of fantasy books. I always loved the works of Tolkein, Eddings, Jordan, Brooks, Weis & Hickman, and more when I was a teenager. I wanted to tell my own stories set in fantastical worlds of my own!

  • What appeals to you most about the fantasy genre?

The creative worlds, creatures, and powers that are impossible in the real world. It lets your imagination be its most free.

  • Tell us a little bit about your latest project and the challenges you’ve faced putting it all together?

My latest series is Secret of the Jewels, a five-book dark fantasy series that starts with Diamond Stained. It follows Obhin and Avena, two souls weighed down by their guilts and regrets.
Obhin, a palace guard who has fallen after making a tragic mistake, is now a bandit at the nadir of his life. He doesn’t care about much any longer. About the pain he causes others. But when his only friend is mortally injured, he’s spurred to save his life. Joined by Avena, a young woman the bandits have captured, they fight to keep him alive despite the objections of the bandit leader.
This act gives Obhin a chance for redemption. A new beginning, but can he find that new beginning in a city full of crime and corruption where a dark necromancer, a crime syndicate, and political unrest threatens to plunge the city into madness.

And can Avena trust this dark stranger in protecting the most important person in her life: her teacher and famed healer.

  • What type of characters do you like to write the most and how much of yourself do you put into them?

I like to write characters with flaws and help them overcome them. Probably because I’m such a flawed person and it’s nice to know that people can be heroic and overcome their weaknesses.

  • For any wannabe writers out there what’s the most useful thing you’ve learned?

You need to write, write, write. I could be crap. I could be garbage. It could be nonsense. But you need to get in the habit of writing and develop your mental muscles. You can’t get better if you don’t write, write, write. If you can’t find an hour every day to write, is it really something you want to do? Something you are passionate about? This discipline can be hard to achieve, but if you can get it, you’ll start to find you finish stories and make progress.

  • What writing tricks do you utilise to hit your deadlines and keep your stories on track?

I write everyday. I have a schedule I follow. This is my job, and I treat it. Wake up and go to my writer’s den.

  • Are you a plotter or a pantser (make it up as you go)?

I am a hybrid. I started off more of a pantser, but now I do very loose outlines of major events then write more detailed scene outlines for a few chapters at a time. I write them and that way I can evaluate how the characters reacted and what they should do next. So there is room for my loose outline to change and grow while my scene outlines generally don’t’ change much.

  • What plans do you have for the future? A new series or perhaps a dip into other genres?

I am editing What Mask Hides, which is a sidequel to Secret of the Jewels. It takes place in the same time period of Secret of the Jewels and they have some connection, but each are standalone stories. It’s about a noblewoman who becomes a thief to find meaning in her empty life. Then I’m writing No One’s Tale which serves as a sequel of sorts to both series. It follows villain characters from both series as they search for new place in the world after seeing what their actions caused. One is a shapeshifter called No One who also needs to figure out who he is. In addition, I’m writing a fantasy quest series called Shadow of the Dragons. About a young boy trying to protect his childhood friend after she’s possessed by a dragon and a dark organization needs her for their nefarious goals.

  • With the world the way it is at the moment what sort of tales do you prefer? Ones with heroes where good triumphs over evil or ones that take a darker approach?

I like my characters to triumph but to have difficult journeys.

  • What’s better, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings or Star Wars?

Lord of the Rings. Star Wars had three awesome movies, but Disney is running it into the ground with their current soulless stories. Harry Potter is great, but J.K. Rowling should stop writing these Fantastic Beast movies. She somehow ruined the concept of a fun movie about a guy going around with magical beasts into this crazy, over the top mess.

Follow James via

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

Newsletter: http://eepurl.com/61bSz

Twitter: https://twitter.com/JMDReid

Website: http://JMD-Reid.com

Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/J.M.D.-Reid/e/B00P44PBQK/

Diamond Stained Buy link: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B085X3PHYB


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Author Interview – Nikki Nelson-Hicks

Writing by the flickering flames of the campfire I see all sorts of shapes and tales cast by the light. Adventures and heroes, villains and horror. A twig snaps in the woods nearby and I look up to see my latest guest. Author Nikki Nelson-Hicks.


  • Hi Nikki tell us a bit about yourself and what inspired you to write?

Hi! I’m Nikki Nelson-Hicks and I think my interest in writing started because I am a reader. My childhood was chaotic and I found solace in stories. That is still where I find peace and the place I flee to when I need some guidance and a cosmic head rub.

  • What appeals to you most about the fantasy genre?

The world building. Creating entire civilizations, races, religions, universes, all from the static medium of ink on paper. Think about that. It’s magic.

  • Tell us a little bit about your latest project and the challenges you’ve faced putting it all together?

This past year I’ve been putting together all the stories from the Jake Istenhegyi: The Accidental Detective series into an Omnibus. My first intention was to put them all into one volume but, yikes….it turns out the first one was 300 pages long. I had to split it into two volumes.

The first volume is already out on Amazon in paperback and Kindle. The second one, will be out hopefully in November.

The biggest obstacles I faced while writing…well, I should say re-writing, reformatting and re-editing, these stories was coming the grips that, although they were originally published by another small press company and did pretty well….they weren’t very good. Oh my. Especially that first story. Yikes. What a mess. I’ve grown as a writer and I was able to go back, make corrections, add some meat to a very decrepit skeleton and make the series not only flow better but more enjoyable for the reader.

Oh, and 2020. That pretty much got in everyone’s way.

  • What type of characters do you like to write the most and how much of yourself do you put into them?

I love to write heroes that take on the bad guys and fix wrong and make everything right. It’s the Fury in me. I put a lot of my hopes and dreams into my characters. I wish I were as strong as they are.

  • For any wannabe writers out there what’s the most useful thing you’ve learned?

I have a poster on my wall above my desk that reads:  QUIT YOUR COMPLAINING. IT’S NOT THE WORLD’S FAULT THAT YOU WANTED TO BE A WRITER. IT’S NOT THE WORLD’S JOB TO ENJOY THE STORIES YOU WRITE AND IT’S CERTAINLY NOT THE WORLD’S OBLIGATION TO PAY FOR YOUR DREAMS. NOBODY WANTS TO HEAR IT. STEAL A PEN IF YOU HAVE TO BUT STOP WHINING AND GET BACK TO WORK.

Oh, and get a chair with good lumbar support.

  • What writing tricks do you utilise to hit your deadlines and keep your stories on track?

When I have a deadline, everything else in my life gets put on hold. The house turns into a pigsty. Meals are whatever you can put together in a pantry. Showers are on a need-to basis. My family learns to deal with life all on their own. Momma’s got work to do.

If I’m not a deadline, I force myself to work at least two hours a day on a story. Hey, I have a day job, a family, 5 cats and 2 dogs to take care of. Two hours is a lot to carve out of my day.

  • Are you a plotter or a pantser (make it up as you go)?

I’m a hybrid. I loosely plot. I need to know the Beginning and The End. The middle bit can be a bit more muddy but I can make my through it as long as I know The End.

  • What plans do you have for the future? A new series or perhaps a dip into other genres?

I write in all sorts of genres; I don’t like to get pinned down inside one box. (Although I’ve never tried Romance. I’m not sure I have the stomach for it.)

When I finally put the Jake series to bed, I have two stories I want to work on.

 One is called “Crown of Feathers”. It is based on the Appalachian legend that a crown of feathers can be found underneath the pillow of a dying person. If you find it, it means they are going to heaven There are actual examples of them in an Appalachian Folklore Museum in East Tennessee. In my story, set in the turn of the 19th century, a boy steals the Crown of Feathers from beneath his dying mother’s pillow so that Death won’t be able to take her away. Shenanigans ensue.

The other is a modern day thriller called “Hand Me Down”. Short and sweet, it is about a woman whose dark deeds from her past bleed into her present and threaten to destroy everything. There’s lots of murder in it. It’s gonna be fun.

  • With the world the way it is at the moment what sort of tales do you prefer? Ones with heroes where good triumphs over evil or ones that take a darker approach?

I want my heroes to win. I want the bad guys to get what they deserve. It is bourgeois but I don’t care. If I wanted stark, dystopic reality, I’d watch a freaking history channel. Fiction helps me see a world the way it SHOULD BE and, maybe, it can teach us how to create a better one. If something can be imagined, it can be created.

  • What’s better, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings or Star Wars?

Did you know that an interview question posited by the FBI is: Would you rather be a serial killer or a terrorist?  It’s a way to tell if a person is an individualist (serial killer) or team player (terrorist).

I feel the same way if a person asks if I like Star Wars or Star Trek? It’s a way to tell if a person is a team player/bureaucrat (Star Trek) or if a person is more of a rebellious streak (Star Wars).

Confession time: I have never read Lord of the Rings.  I have what I call a Tolkien Block. When I was a teenager, a group of girls started up a coven and wouldn’t allow me to join their group because I “wasn’t their type” because I didn’t read Tolkien. Ever since then, I can’t stomach it.  I didn’t even like the movies. I got bored. I mean….don’t even get me started on those damn eagles. WHY DIDN’T THEY JUST USE THE EAGLES??!?!

So, we’re down to Harry Potter or Star Wars.

Huh.

Harry Potter is fun but if you really stop and start to think about the idea of a Wizarding World that, for some stupid reason, lives in a Dickensian dystopia and doesn’t use their obviously laws of physics bending powers to aid the world at large, it starts to fall apart. Seriously. Quills over a ballpoint pen? Owl mail over Email?

Star Wars has a very warm, fuzzy spot in my heart because I was there at the beginning, sitting in the theater, 1977, when that Imperial Cruiser pulled out overhead.  My heart still races when I think of the opening overture.

Yeah. I gotta go with Star Wars (despite the terrible prequels and then even sadder sequels). At least we have The Mandalorian. #itistheway

My blog is:  https://nikkinelsonhicks.blog/

My Amazon author page: amazon.com/author/nikkinelsonhicks


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Author Interview – John B. Rosenman

The flames crackle and the light flickers as the campfire finds new vitality from the fresh kindling I’ve thrown onto the fire. The night is cold but that doesn’t stop another author making their way to warmth of the flames. Tonight I am joined by prolific sci-fi and fantasy author John B. Rosenman.


  • Hi John tell us a bit about yourself and what inspired you to write?

 Hi. I’m John B. Rosenman, and I’m a retired English professor who writes speculative fiction – science fiction, fantasy, horror, paranormal (and one young adult). I’ve published a couple dozen books as well as two hundred and fifty stories in places such as Weird Tales, Whitley Strieber’s Aliens, Fangoria, Galaxy, Endless Apocalypse, The Age of Wonders, and the Hot Blood erotic horror series. My novels include action-adventure scifi novels such as Beyond Those Distant Stars, Speaker of the Shakk, A Senseless Act of BeautyAlien Dreams, and the Inspector of the Cross series (Crossroad Press). I’ve also published a four-book box set, The Amazing Worlds of John B. Rosenman  (MuseItUp Publishing). Recently I completed a science-fiction novel Dreamfarer which is the first in a new series.

I love ideas and story concepts. In fact, I always have.  When I was a small child I would say to my father, “Tell me a story.” His stories by my bed at night planted the seed. I like to create alien worlds, fascinating characters, and prose and something poetry that is as good as I can make it. I also like to revise, though sometimes it’s a struggle.

  • What appeals to you most about the fantasy genre?

Fantasy makes the invisible visible. There are other worlds, other realms, other universes with beings as wild and as beautiful as I can make them. So-called objective reality is not the only reality. I recall a line from a movie that said you can live in the Imagination. That’s the most beautiful nation of all.  My favorite title for a science fiction / fantasy magazine was If. If you can imagine it, in some way it must be true and exist somewhere.

  • Tell us a little bit about your latest project and the challenges you’ve faced putting it all together?

Crash is due out in mid to late November. It’s the sixth novel in my Inspector of the Cross scifi / adventure series and reflects a new approach to the adventures of my hero because the alien enemy, the Cen are no longer involved. Also, Turtan loses his memory and no longer knows who he is. Oh, he faces all sorts of challenges, and I had to reimagine the whole series. Plus, I faced other challenges because circumstances required me to pack up the whole series and move it to a new publisher, Crossroad Press.

At the same time, I resurrected a novel I wrote nearly forty years ago. Dreamfarer is about a world where machines give people dreams that are so much more beautiful, exciting, and fulfilling than real life.  At the age of thirty-two, you can have yourself “interfaced” and dream the rest of your life away. What could go wrong? What’s wrong with that? Dreamfarer will be published by Crossroad Press, but I don’t have a date yet. I’m also at work on a sequel, Go East, Young Man. Like Dreamfarer it focuses on the adventures of Sam Adams, a man who had the misfortune to wake up forever from his wonderful dreams and who is determined to destroy the dream industry because of its terrible impact on humanity.

  • What type of characters do you like to write the most and how much of yourself do you put into them?

I’m addicted to noble, tormented heroes who battle evil and sinister forces. Sometimes they’re Christ-like in nature as in my Inspector of the Cross series, and occasionally they have godlike powers of healing as with Dax Rigby in Dax Rigby, War Correspondent. I put a great deal of myself in them, particularly my desire to be like them. In my mainstream, coming-of-age novel, Johnny Roth embodies two traits I yearn to have. They are to be a great boxer AND a great artist.

Sometimes I try to see things from girls’ or women’s POV. Sky in Skyburst is a fifteen-year-old girl dying of cancer. What must it be like to be a young girl faced with such a problem? Ah, but as with others of my heroes, she has great, even transcendent abilities. Stella in Beyond Those Distant Stars is turned into a cyborg after she has a radioactive accident. Like Sky she’s tormented and apparently doomed, yet she manages to find love and fight against an alien enemy that seems invincible.

  • For any wannabe writers out there what’s the most useful thing you’ve learned?

Above all, never give up or let yourself be defeated by rejection and negative thoughts. If you’re a writer, you will be strong and forge on.

Beyond that — Read, read, read; write, write, write; revise, revise, revise. If possible, join a good writers’ group where expert criticism and critiques are supplied on a regular basis. Analyze everything. If a work of creative fiction astonishes you, try to identify some of the elements that make it work. Read critical articles discussing them and take a course or two in creative writing.

  • What writing tricks do you utilise to hit your deadlines and keep your stories on track?

If I have a deadline, I will make it because I want to be published. I guess you could say my desire is my writing trick. If there’s a deadline for submitting a short story, and I have a good idea or like the subject, well, then, I will get my story or stories in on time. The same goes for a situation in which a publisher indicates that a certain date is the deadline for getting my novel in. In this case, NOT BEING PUBLISHED is my writing trick.

Also, if a story or novel is going well, if my inspiration is hot and flowing, I tend to harness my inspiration and keep scribbling. This is especially true with a novel, which requires dedication and the long haul. Skip it for a few days or weeks, and I may never go back.

  • Are you a plotter or a pantser (make it up as you go)?

       I’m a pantser. Often it’s like I’m wandering in a fog and only gradually does the road ahead become visible to me. I may have an idea of the eventful conclusion but no clear, overall plan of how I’m going to get there. I used to walk through a local Barnes & Noble that I found particularly conducive to inspiration and sometimes the slightest thing there would suddenly spark a story. For example, I saw a book titled The Calm Technique and instantly a story leaped almost full-blown into my head. The Death Technique is about a man who has the       gruesome ability to make his body rot and resemble a corpse. I sold it to a pro anthology.

  • What plans do you have for the future? A new series or perhaps a dip into other genres?

      I plan to finish Go East, Young Man, the sequel to Dreamfarer and see it published.  I’ve       been thinking of shifting my focus after that and concentrating on short stories. They take less time and sometimes can be written quickly. There are various publishers I’ve published with before and various anthologies and magazines that have published my fiction. It would be nice to submit short fiction to them. I also love “theme” magazines, newsletters, and anthologies. Recently I published revised, previously published stories in Flame Tree Press’s Endless Apocalypse and Dying Planet collections.  In addition, I hope to generate some new stories. Will I try Romance? I doubt it. Nor do I see myself getting into elves and faeries. But you never know. It’s better to be fresh and try new things. 

With the world the way it is at the moment what sort of tales do you prefer? Ones with heroes where good triumphs over evil or ones that take a darker approach?

   I used to like horror and dark fiction more than I do now. Heck, I was Chairman of the Horror Writers Association. As I’ve gotten older, though, I’ve come to prefer tales where the sun occasionally shines and good tends to triumph over evil. My science fiction / speculative fiction novels feature heroes who ultimately conquer or prevail over villains.  But I do love my villains, whose darkness sometimes threatens to overshadow the goodness of my heroes because it’s more compelling and interesting. I do continue to like subtle, atmospheric dark fantasy or horror, where darkness is suggested and hinted at rather than shown. Please, no extreme, gory horror, though I used to write some.

What’s better, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings or Star Wars?

Star Wars, I think, primarily because I sometimes write space opera novels with swashbuckling heroes and larger-than-life bad guys. I read the first two Harry Potter novels. They were okay, but I never went back.  I read the first 560 pages of Lord of the Rings and then stopped reading. Please, somebody, tell me why and where I’m wrong!

Visit his website at http://www.johnrosenman.com

Blog: http://johnrosenman.blogspot.com/

Twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/Writerman1

Facebook Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/JohnBRosenman?ref=hl   

Facebook Home Page: http://www.facebook.com/john.rosenman

Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/John-B.-Rosenman/e/B001KMN69E

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/938855.John_B_Rosenman

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/john-b-rosenman-50287218

E-mail: jroseman@cox.net

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Author Interview – Michael Ross

Sitting at the campfire one night my peace was shattered by the appearance of a magical portal. Who should step through? None other than fantasy author Michael Ross the author of the Wand Chronicles.

  • Hi Michael what appeals to you most about the fantasy genre?

Letting my imagination run riot. I have the imagination of a 6-year-old and always been lost in fantasy

  • Tell us a little bit about your latest project and the challenges you’ve faced putting it all together?

Released an epic fantasy trilogy on the 1st of July. The Wand Chronicles. Charts the events and adventures that ensue when the humans meet the elves for the first time via a portal that appears on Earth. The adventures centre around a very powerful wand (not a harry potter type wand) that is sentient and integrates with the person that is using it. Of course everyone wants it, so adventures happen in trying to protect it, but we also see how the elves cope with the bumbling humans, and as the story progresses we have the very first 1/2Human/ ½ Elf, a girl called Kia a very powerful empath. Magic abounds so do lots of unusual characters from all over the cosmos   www.thewand.me

The biggest challenge was putting all my eggs in one basket, ie Amazon KDP. I did everything right, amazing website, landing page, editor, illustrator etc On its release date, Amazon lost the plot. For 17 days you couldn’t find the books, and then for another week after they appeared, each of the books said ‘Unavailable to purchase’ All Amazon said was sorry for the inconvenience?!

But now in the process of uploading to many other platforms, Kobo, Goodreads, Draft2Digital etc

  • What type of characters do you like to write the most and how much of yourself do you put into them?

I like characters that are a little bit quirky, not your normal sheep-like kind. They all have a loose kind of moral attitude.  I have an overweight fairy in my latest series called The Big Fairy Adventures. She is called Tinker Tanker but has a heart of gold. She is covered in little bruises from bumping into walls since her wings can’t cope with the excess weight. From my last epic fantasy trilogy, I have brought a favourite character over from that, he is a little human, A Chinese man called Ding Ling, he provides the humor, even in the darkest moments. There is a scene and h is in discussion with his master Hugo. Hugo is thinking of doing two major things at the same time and Ding Ling knows it will lead to disaster, so he uses Confucius sayings, to get his opinion across, in this case he says to his master, “Master, Confucius would say, ‘never take a sleeping pill if already taken a laxative tablet’”

There is a lot of myself in the characters, particularly the humor I would like to think

  • For any wannabe writers out there what’s the most useful thing you’ve learned?

Watch out for the charlatans on the marketing side out there. You will pay them money, for absolutely no guarantee you will sell lots of books. Go off personal recommendation. Please, if you are an indie publisher, put your books on more than one platform and not just one. Join up with Facebook groups for help and advice

  • What writing tricks do you utilise to hit your deadlines and keep your stories on track?

Not really had any problems like this. Certainly, my preparation for a books official release will happen a minimum of 3 months before its release date. I don’t stress out about getting a chapter written by a certain time. I am lucky, I can sit down and immediately write and write. I know now how long an editor needs a book, how long my illustrator needs to design the book cover and so on. I never ever leave things to the last minute, that’s a sure fire way of messing up your plans

  • Are you a plotter or a pantser (make it up as you go)?

I am most definitely a pantser. I did try going down the apparent tried and tested route. Potting out chapters, working on characters before starting to write and so on, but it stifled my creativity. Oh I can tell you with a book its beginning, middle and end in ten minutes, but then I type directly onto my laptop, I have a very rough idea of the characters, but then let the whole adventure fill out as I write. The only problem is, I needed to know is my writing good? This is where the Beta readers can help, but more importantly, it’s when all the rave reviews come in from the public, that you know you are ok as an author

  • What plans do you have for the future? A new series or perhaps a dip into other genres?

Working at the moment on a series called The Big Fairy Adventures. I have a big map of a fairy kingdom called Layleamonee on the wall of my authors man cave. It is covered with all sorts of little titles like, The Oberon fairy warriors, the blue whispering mountains, the Grobs, the Crags and so on, each one is a book in itself that will make up the series.

But I am about to start writing a story which is SciFi about an Android (can’t tell you much more, but there is a very interesting hook to it)

  • With the world the way it is at the moment what sort of tales do you prefer? Ones with heroes where good triumphs over evil or ones that take a darker approach?

I am a multi genre author, so have written a  true life story about a devastating tragedy, also written a book about scary stories, but I like books that are colourful, convey a whole gambit of emotions, have a touch of moral issues about them. I do have some very dark sections in my book but generally good will overcome evil

  • What’s better, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings or Star Wars?

Hmmm. Star Wars to watch, would never read this. Lord of the rings, well written but too dark and depressing and really? 4 pages to describe a character? Not many laughs either, I always feel I need to go for therapy after reading Tolkien, to improve my mood. So it has to be Harry Potter

Links to:

My website: www.thewand.me

           My Amazon Authors page: https://amzn.to/2ZPPWzd

           My epic fantasy trilogy: The Wand Chronicles on Amazon: https://amzn.to/33IWuAO

           Book one of my Big Fairy Adventures, How it all Began: https://amzn.to/3bDpgGU

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

              Twitter:    https://twitter.com/wandchronicles

           Pintrest:       https://www.pinterest.co.uk/thewandchronicles/_created/

            Instagram:    https://www.instagram.com/thewandchronicles/?hl=en

            Linked-In:     https://www.linkedin.com/in/michael-ross-280532166/


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The October Update! Cats, Voyages, Vikings and Monsters!

2020 has felt a bit like a perpetual Halloween for many thanks to the pandemic that is impacting all of our lives.

Get the Nightblade for FREE!

This year’s festivities are likely to be very muted compared to other years (much to the dismay of my wife!). As the Nightblade is the spookiest book I have, it’s available for free from today until the 20th of October.

Meet Merli the Cat!

Elsewhere we have a new addition to my household! Meet Merli, the kitten. She’s a playful little critter who has brought a lot of fun during these rather depressing times.
(Some pics below!)

Voyage for the Sundered Crown

In other news, I’m beavering away on Book 4 of the Sundered Crown Saga and have commissioned the new artwork for the book ahead of its November 30th release. Check it out below! Hopefully, there won’t be any unforeseen disasters that will force me to push back the release but I can never rule it out. Oh, and Book 1 in the Saga Heir to the Sundered Crown is just 0.99p/c until November 30th! 

Get Heir to the Sundered Crown for just 0.99p/c

October 14th 2020 marked the 954th anniversary of the Battle of Hastings, a pivotal moment in British and world history. To commemorate the battle I’ve put my historical fiction novel Unconquered: Blood of Kings on sale for just 0.99p/c on Kindle and other formats. If you’re a fan of bloody battles, Viking warriors and epic stories you’ll enjoy this one. A sequel is in the works too!

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Author Interview – Caleb Kelly

Welcome to the campfire! Today we have Indie Urban fantasy author Caleb Kelly. Let’s get started before the marshmallows get too crispy!

  • Hi Caleb, tell us a bit about yourself and what inspired you to write?

I’ve always wanted time write. It was my escape. Even in middle school I carried around a 3-ringed binder with a constant story I was writing on. I loved venturing into foreign lands and living a life free from the rules of physics we are bound by. Writing became an outlet to explore my imagination.

  • What appeals to you most about the fantasy genre?

I write fantasy so I can break free from the fetters of reality. The real world is boring. Fantasy allows us to dig into the recesses of our mind and bring anything to life.

  • Tell us a little bit about your latest project and the challenges you’ve faced putting it all together?

My latest project has been my impending release of my Arthurian fantasy novel, Camelot’s Reckoning. It was tricky looking into all the nuances of “history” and bending it to the way I needed.

  • What type of characters do you like to write the most and how much of yourself do you put into them?

I try to separate myself as much as I can from my characters. I’ve always said that adding too much of yourself will result in writing the same character across the board. Your characters aren’t you. They have different aspirations and different desires. I try to make them flawed. They are human and humans make mistakes. It’s those repercussions that add the extra flare to a story and drive it forward.

  • For any wannabe writers out there what’s the most useful thing you’ve learned?

Edit. Edit. Edit. And learn to love it. The first draft will never be gold. It will ways have room for improvement. However, one must also learn when it is time to cut the cord on a manuscript. Every author believes their story can continue to be edited years after publication. Perfection will never exist, but we can certainly strive to get as close as possible.

  • What writing tricks do you utilise to hit your deadlines and keep your stories on track?

I do most of my writing in my breaks at work. I do some at home too, mostly when I’m changing stories. The change of setting allows me to change my mindset.

  • Are you a plotter or a pantser (make it up as you go)?

I used to be a pantser. I used to say my fingers did the writing and my brain was just along for the ride. I don’t say that anymore. I have to have an outline. Typically, chapter by chapter. Although I’m not as detailed like others are, I need a skeleton to begin adding muscle too. Without it I will float in a void.

  • What plans do you have for the future? A new series or perhaps a dip into other genres?

For now, I am sticking to urban fantasy. There aren’t alot of male urban fantasy writers, but I enjoy breaking the laws of our world with the ones I make up. I have an epic fantasy in the works, but I need more time to devote to the complexity of the storyline. I want a few other series out before I jump to that train.

  • With the world the way it is at the moment what sort of tales do you prefer? Ones with heroes where good triumphs over evil or ones that take a darker approach?

I love a good hero story. The hero’s journey is an undying classic. However, villains have to be understood. A good villian should relate to the reader. One should be able to see their point of view, though their way of obtaining it may be skewed. Having elements of both styles allows for room to entice the reader on the different layers of life.

  • What’s better, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings or Star Wars?

LoTR. Without question. I like that Star Wars has an extensive universe with limitless possibilities, but Lord of the Rings has always appealed to the side of me that loves the Middle Ages. Swords and Sorcery is my bread and butter. If I can meld those with the modern world, I have accomplished what I set out to do.

Thanks Caleb!

Camelot’s Reckoning is now available for Pre-order here

Follow Caleb on Facebook and Twitter

Visit his website at – https://calebnkelly.com/

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Author Interview – Andy Freeman-Hall

The response to my call for fellow indie authors to sit by the camp fire and tell us more about themselves and their work has been fantastic! This time with the bag of marshmallows is new indie author Andy Freeman-Hall. Enjoy!

  • Hi, Andy tell us a bit about yourself and what inspired you to write?

My name is Andy Freeman-Hall, I’m 29, and an ecologist in my day job. I have what I affectionately refer to as turbo-dyslexia, and after many terrifying experiences of having to read aloud at school, I became genuinely afraid of books, getting my fantasy fix from films, TV, and games instead. Then when I was finishing my master’s degree, I decided to give audiobooks a try to help pass the time with all the fieldwork I was doing. And just like that, I was hooked. After my masters, I spent a year struggling to get a job and I decided to try and write instead of sitting around doing nothing all day but wait for rejected job applications. The next thing I knew I was writing for 8-10 hours every day. That dropped down to 2-4 hours a day once I started my PhD, but since then I’ve never stopped. That was 6 years ago.  

  • What appeals to you most about the fantasy genre?

The ability to create entirely new, living, breathing worlds. New concepts, new systems, new ways that peoples, groups, and nations interact. Fantasy (or at least the fantasy that I love most) allows the writer to create a world with unique properties, geography, and history within which amazing stories can immerge organically. That’s what I love to see.  

  • Tell us a little bit about your latest project and the challenges you’ve faced putting it all together?

It’s my first novel, The Sage’s Lot (Blood and Balance #1). I tried to get it published years ago when I first finished it, but it was in no way a sellable product. My skill level just wasn’t there after only 2 years of writing.

Since then I have re-written the entire novel from scratch twice because my ability had improved enough that each time it just needed a clean slate. Those were hard decisions to make but the best decisions I have ever made. When I couldn’t get the final version picked up by an agent or publisher, I gave up and started writing an entirely new series to try again at getting a book published through traditional means, but after speaking with a lot of authors and readers, I realised that self-publishing my original novel was the right way to go.

A lot of epic fantasy readers won’t even pick up a book like mine until 2 or 3 in the series are released (I’m planning eight). Now the beta-readers are all done, as are the proof-readers. I’m currently finalising the cover art and working on the maps. The Sage’s Lot will finally be released by Christmas, even if it kills me.

  • What type of characters do you like to write the most and how much of yourself do you put into them?

My favourite characters to write are the ones with my own sense of humour. I feel like each of the main characters in my book reflects some aspect of my own personality (or some warped version of that aspect), but my two favourites are the ones that consistently make me laugh. I may be the one writing down the dialogue, but the characters are the ones coming up with what to say.

  • For any wannabe writers out there what’s the most useful thing you’ve learned?

Perseverance. I forget who said it (maybe Steven Pressfield), but the only difference between a successful author and someone who just does it as a hobby is perseverance. I want to write fantasy professionally, but the only way I’m going to build my skills enough to do that is to just keep going. I didn’t stop after the 1st rejection, I didn’t stop after the 40th, and I won’t stop after the 400th. In the immortal words of Brandon Sanderson, ‘The most important step a man can take. It’s not the first one, is it? It’s the next one. Always the next step’.

  • What writing tricks do you utilise to hit your deadlines and keep your stories on track?

Brutality in editing. My first draft meandered down so many rabbit holes that the story often got twisted up in itself. I’m a pantser, so I just write down everything that comes to mind with no predetermined endpoint. After, I have to go back and ask myself in what way each scene progresses the story. If it doesn’t, then I either tweak it so it does or (more commonly) cut it out, slice off the best bits, and splice them into another scene. If you have the problem of writing way too much like I do, you have to be brutal. No prisoners.

  • Are you a plotter or a pantser (make it up as you go)?

Pantser, 100%. When I briefly started writing a book in an entirely new series, I added in a little planning, but in reality, I’ve found that no plan survives first contact with the keyboard.

  • What plans do you have for the future? A new series or perhaps a dip into other genres?

I’ll get the first 3 or 4 books in Blood and Balance rattled off and see how it’s going. I’ve got ideas for 4 other series (all fantasy) and a fairly coherent structure for one of them, but Blood and Balance is my baby. It’s the culmination of a lifetime of complex daydreams distilled into some semblance of an entertaining narrative. I need to see if it can swim on its own before testing the waters with anything else.

  • With the world the way it is at the moment what sort of tales do you prefer? Ones with heroes where good triumphs over evil or ones that take a darker approach?

Anything with characters that make the sorts of hard choices that a real person would in their situation. Most of us wouldn’t sacrifice ourselves for some forlorn cause, and I need to see characters that act that way as it grounds a book in realism, no matter how fantastical the setting. People are people. It also makes our courageous heroes who are willing to sacrifice everything all the more heroic. 

  • What’s better, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings or Star Wars?

Star Wars, but again, I was terrified of books until my early twenties. The Star Wars films were my go to films as a kid and will always hold that special place reserved for a first love.

Thanks Andy!

You can follow Andy on Facebook and Twitter

Follow me on FacebookTwitter and Instagram, oh and please subscribe to my mailing list for the latest news and book deals. If you’d like to do a guest post or author interview contact me via matthewolney9@gmail.com