Book Review – Trading Darkness: A Dark Fairytale by Lisa Hofmann

Trading Darkness : A Dark Fairytale
Lisa Hofmann
5 Stars

My Gentle Readers, Lisa Hofmann delivers on all counts in her novel, “Trading Darkness : A Dark Fairytale”. She gives us love and betrayal, magic of many kinds, and the classic dichotomy of light and darkness.

Our story begins with a realm gripped by witch hunting madness and poor Agnes is caught in the middle. She makes a deal with a demonic power in order to try and save her family, but the demon has designs of its own.

The Blackvale familial lands of Wildenburg have a dark secret, and younger brother Gregory is about to find out just what his family’s prosperity costs. When his older brother refuses to see through his end of the pact with the Century Demon that protects their tiny fiefdom, Gregory faces a difficult decision. He must choose one of his twin daughters to sacrifice to the demon. Lose one, or lose everything as his brother so recently discovered.

Gregory gives up Louisa, but then spends the rest of his life and his sanity trying to discover if she lives. He even goes so far as to make a deal with the Immortal Wishmaster, who hides his own dark past.

Lisa weaves these characters together in such a way that you’ll be deep into the book before you realize it. She draws you into this world and makes you care about each character, even the ones you should dislike. Gregory, the father who had to make the most impossible choice. The Wishmaster, bound to balance his own light and darkness within. The Century Demon, wholly given over to revenge, even has a past that makes her bitterness understandable.

I’m so glad I picked this up and will be keeping my eye out for more from Lisa.

Grab your copy on Amazon now.

Advertisements

Guest Post – 10 Reasons Not To Visit Illumia

Hi, I’m Angel Leya, and I write clean young adult stories with (at least) a touch of magic and romance. My latest story is Running Toward Illumia, Astrea’s tale of finding herself while running from the one thing she wants most:

To find her sense of belonging.

Astrea’s lived in the Mist all her life, and she loves it there. In fact, she’d do just about anything to feel like she fits in with her Rudan people, even hunt a unicorn to feed her starving tribe.

Illumia is the first city beyond the Mist, just past the Dragon Range. Astrea’s come up with 10 reasons to never go to Illumia. I’ll let her tell you more.

***

Top 10 Reasons NOT to Travel to Illumia

10. They don’t have fog.

Who needs sunshine? I’m a Mist girl. Great for concealing movement, comfortable like an old blanket, and you never have to worry about dry skin.

9. They don’t all have red hair.

That’s why this tribe is here, despite being sent to the fog to die. And why we call ourselves the Rudan, rather than the Banned.

Wish my hair was redder. And I could use a few more freckles. But I’m one of the Rudan, I swear. I’d be dead if I wasn’t.

8. They’re weak.

Fog weeds out the weak. And if the fog doesn’t, the Lynx, ogres, or Rudan will. Illumians live the easy life. They have no reason to be strong.

7. They’re not very welcoming.

The Rudan take in anyone who can survive the fog. Illumians kicked us out (or at least my parents, but children of the Banned are no less welcome).

6. Illumians are idiots.

Everyone says so.

5. Big government.

I know all five of my council members, and they earned their spot. Like Seneca, first huntress—my mentor. Illumians probably have no idea who runs their council.

4. The journey’s dangerous.

Even if you can navigate the fog, streams filled with flesh-eating fish, and ogre-infested swamps, there’s the dragon range. There’s one pass, guarded by Illumians. The rest is mountain. Treacherous, dragon-housing mountains. No other way around it. Going to Illumia is a fool’s errand.

3. My family’s not there.

If you think getting one person into Illumia is hard, try five. Two brothers, plus Mamaa and Pawpaw.

Course, the whole tribe’s basically family. I’d want to take them all.

Except maybe Mavin. He’s a jerk. (Kidding. Sort of.)

2. I can never come back.

Going to Illumia is a one-way trip. Illumians and dragons ensure that.

1. I don’t want to.

Do I need any other reason?

***

Thanks for reading! If you’d like more, click for an excerpt from Banned, Part 1 of Running Toward Illumia.

Get all 4 parts of Running Toward Illumia today:

Banned (free!)

Lost (On Sale for 99¢ through 2/15/18)

Drenched (On Sale for 99¢ through 2/15/18)

Marked (On Sale for 99¢ through 2/15/18)

Meet The Author Monday – David L Heaney

Hello my Gentle Readers. I know our Meet The Author Monday has been a little thin lately, but I have a couple lined up for this week and next that I hope you will enjoy and check out what they have to offer. This week we will be talking with David L Heaney, a former pastor turned writer with his spiritual adventure, A Yorkie’s Tale: Lessons from a Life Well-Lived. Usual format applies with myself in BLUE and David in GREEN.fullsizeoutput_23e7
David, first off thanks for taking time to speak with us. Your book looks like a wonderful tale. Let’s start off with how you came to the world of literature and reading. 
I spent one year away at a Prep School in Peekskill, NY mostly because I had been doing poorly in school and was in and out of trouble. I hated that year. There was, however, one teacher who told me he thought I wrote well and would write better still, if I read more. He didn’t care what I read, just as long as I read. We had mandatory study hall after dinner so I read a lot of racy Harold Robbins books. I suppose that was when reading just became a part of each day.

A bit of a troublemaker, huh? Fascinating that you became a pastor then. After finishing with Harold Robbins, what genre did you explore? Who became your favorites?
I have always loved writers like John Updike, John Cheever, William Styron- I guess that’s literary realism. I also love biographies. More recently, I have been drawn to fantasy having recently completed a couple of Neil Gaiman books. I loved Phillip Pullman’s new book, Dust: La Belle Sauvage.

Gaiman is a favorite. So at some point you decided to not just read, but create your own stories. What inspired you to make that leap?
I was a parish minister for many years and was struck by the drama of people’s lives. I suppose this was because I was so often with people as they negotiated their way through critical developmental milestones. I also was obliged to write sermons for Sundays. I learned over time that stories were more powerful than traditional sermons. Stories also somehow help one make sense of experience. So, I learned that writing about things helped me better understand them.

From sermons to published author. Very interesting. Do you feel confined to one genre when you write or are you exploring several?
I dabble in in several genres. I surprised myself when I began A Yorkie’s Tale since I had never considered writing epic fantasy but enjoyed it quite a bit and am working on another fantasy story. I also enjoy writing personal essays.

Fantasy is my favorite genre so I’m always delighted to meet new fantasy authors. Can you tell us about your journey with “A Yorkie’s Tale”? How did it go from draft to available on Amazon?
A Yorkie’s Tale is my first book and most earnest attempt to publish in the traditional manner. It was a frustrating business to attempt to go the traditional route since I was a novice. Agents want to represent someone known. Publishers read manuscripts from agents. As the form letters stated-“We get X thousands of manuscripts every month…” so I understand it’s a very competitive business. I finally opted to self publish and am quite happy with how it all went. I found a wonderful illustrator who helped bring my characters to life and again, I’m quite pleased with how it all turned out. We’ll see about the next one.

When that next one is going to hit the shelves, would love to have you back to talk about it. When you aren’t writing, how do you like to spend your time? Is there a day job now that you have retired from being a pastor?
I have a small consulting firm with two UK-based partners. I worked internationally for a number of years in the area of public health and human services that were contracted out to private companies. My firm continues to represent companies interested in doing business with governments largely in Australia, the UK, and the US.
My wife, Lynda and I moved to Durham, NC with our 3 dogs from San Diego 4 years ago. She took a job at Duke Medicine and I work from home. Our five grown children and 3 grandchildren all still live in San Diego.

Sounds like you keep very busy. I’m glad you carved out the time to visit with me. You have a funny story about how you began your novel to share with us. Let’s hear all about it.
I lived for a year in London a couple of years ago. My flat was located on Poppins Court (yes, named for Mary Poppins). That’s where I started A Yorkie’s Tale. Our Yorkshire Terrier in San Diego started to get fat and we couldn’t figure out why. We later discovered he was eating the avocados that dropped from our neighbor’s tree. One lonely weekend afternoon at the Pub I started the story – the Yorkie in the backyard eating avocados.

And now that Yorkie is inspiring and helping people all over the world through your story. Wonderful. Thank you again David for visiting and please let us know when your next tale will be coming.

If you would like to follow David and learn more about him and his work, you can connect with him at the below links.

69555337_High Resolution Front Cover.7238367.jpg On Amazon

Website: http://somethingtosaydotblog.wordpress.com

Twitter: @dlheaney

Instagram: heaneydavid

 

And if any of you would like to be featured on Meet The Author Monday, you can contact me here.

Guest Post – World Building 101 by Simon Lindley

World-Building 101 by Simon Lindley

 

The Realm, The Land, Middle Earth, Narnia – I presume you have spent some time visiting at least one of them. I know I have. And, if all goes well with the ‘travel brochures’, Drageverden will soon be another fantasy ‘tourist’ destination. However, I expect people will only visit if the place promises immersive adventure!

World-building in fantasy is as critical to a plot as character development. When done well, it can transport the reader so absolutely that they yearn for the place long after finishing the book.

I’ll share with you some of my challenges, and the process I go through in creating a land that I am confident is not only believable but tangible, tactile and immersive for my readers.

One of the difficulties I’ve struggled with at times is purple prose. As writers, we sometimes lean to the flowery – long, buttery descriptives – waxing poetic, sprinkled with a fine, magical dust, like morning dew settling on the vine and… oh, I beg your pardon!
I have learned to 1) be succinct, 2) alternate between long and short/slow and faster-paced sentences, and 3) avoid overuse of adverbs. Purple prose detracts a reader as much as a similar life scenario. We’ve all been in one of those awkward moments when someone has talked for well over twenty minutes about, say, fruit flies because, well, they’re a fruit-fly expert, and we nod, and nod, and nod and mm-hmm — until we nod off.

Another habit I picked up came from kindergarten: Show & Tell. I love to tell people things. He saw a dog. Maggie was angry. The bird was tired. The danger is that by doing so, a writer creates a barrier rather than an invitation. We must ‘walk’ as we write, immersed in the land and noting its effect upon our character/s. I must show, not tell.

Like all trips we take, we discover as we go. I make an effort to step from character interiority back into Drageverden regularly, to generate an interaction between the two. It is easy to blurt out all the details of a place, but that is not how we naturally absorb our surroundings, and it quickly becomes tedious. Our character must shake as she enters the darkness of the spider’s lair, snap her head back at the whisper over her shoulder, brace with teeth clenched as the dust cloud rises from the horde cresting the last knoll – and we must be there with them.

Tolkien carried his readers along – experiencing the ground under a hobbit’s foot, smelling the foul mead and men of the Prancing Pony, and anticipating the Brandywine narrowing near the ferry, still far too distant to escape the Nazgul. He rarely tells. What’s more important is that no matter who you talk to, Middle Earth is different for everyone. Why? Tolkien let the scenes play out as much by emotion as he did geography and although he painted a vivid picture of the land, he left our conviction of and immersion in Middle Earth to fill in the deeper details.

So I haven’t provided you much regarding DrageVerden. Oh, I could talk, believe me – ask anyone who knows me and you’ll soon discover I rarely shut up — but you must ‘walk’ alongside the giants crossing the Arvian Plains to understand the shock of it all, or spend a day with Ka the drakehawk to experience her love for the Swamps of Ierloquetze. Brochures never do a place justice. You have to book the holiday.

Okay, okay! I’ll give you a little foreshadowing prior to your trip: Drage is Danish for dragonVerden means land.

Happy Trails!

mannethorn_3d wold building

Simon Lindley is an author, musician and intrepid explorer in the real world and along the rolling landscapes of his imagination. His book, Mannethorn’s Key, the first in the Key of Life Trilogy, will be released in print and ebook formats January 5, 2018 at fine retailers everywhere. It is also available for pre-order now.

Book Review – Curse Breaker by Melinda Kucsera

Curse Breaker: Enchanted

Melinda Kucsera

4 Stars

Today, my Gentle Readers, I have an excellent fantasy book for you. Melinda Kucsera delivers a fully realized fantasy world with enough background to bring it to life without burying us in a history lesson. There were a few awkward proofing errors, and missing punctuation, but not enough to put me off from finishing this book.

Sarn possesses magic in a world that has spent a long time eradicating magic. Beholden to the Lord of the Mountain and the Rangers, he tries to keep to his promises and protect his son from discovery. There are those who distrust Sarn’s magic, those that just want to use him, but most are unaware of his gift.

When the magical forest surrounding his home decides Sarn needs to see a clearing of horrendous murders, Sarn is forced to face the capricious magic within. Armed with the seemingly moody force within his blood, and a ghost boy who tries to guide him, Sarn must unravel the mystery of the deaths and how it is connected to his own battered past. When the forces seem to be targeting his son as well, Sarn goes on the offensive, defying his Masters instructions at almost every turn.

Can Sarn protect his son, unravel the mystery, and keep his growing magic in check? If you want to know you’re going to have to read the book, because I’m not spoiling it for you.

Curse Breaker:Enchanted on Amazon

Melinda Kucsera’s Website

Guest Post – “Heartless” by Alena Des

Heartless by Alena Des

Heartless2.jpg

I created Riley in the second book of my Kings series as a dark angel and the brother of my main female character. He was supposed to be a side character, a character that played his role and then jump back into non-existence. But Riley I created soon became much more. He was rebellious enough to take off on his own, defy my plans for him to be nothing more than a side character. Soon, he was backstabbing me as his creator, talking to my readers, making his secretive connections to a large fanbase. Every time he talked, he was mysterious, manipulative. I knew he was the King of Deceptions and soon began to believe he was playing with all of us.  Readers kept asking:  Is he good? Is he bad? Who is he?

The sexy, humorous and cocky angel soon had my readers panting after him. By the time I was done with my second book, I faced desertion by them unless I wrote his story, the angel who had captivated their hearts.  Oh, well…So, I was stuck with Riley. He almost screamed in my head as I was writing his book. I stopped apologizing to my readers for his vulgarity, rudeness and shallowness. He couldn’t help it, he was the son of the Sex Goddess. And, I was merely his voice. Besides, my readers wanted to know more about him, right? This was it. They were free to hate him.

It didn’t really work that way. Riley effused a natural charm. Who am I kidding? There was nothing natural about it. Women were after him. And he just didn’t give a damn. I almost didn’t like him. Almost. But as I scratched the surface with Riley, I found out so much more about this dark Angel.

I knew I was dancing with death. But I was gonna play the game until it claimed me. And eventually it would. There was no escape.”  

I began to wonder: Who was he running from? And why was he behaving this way? I had to find out.

I needed help to bring out the fun, vulnerable side which was bottled deep down Riley. For that, I needed to save him from himself and from the one who was after him. I found the help I needed in Oriana. The woman who lived among the humans but was so much more. The woman who was immune to his sex appeal. The woman who held her own secrets. I knew she would be my savior. And, she would be his.

“Hi there, luv,” I said, turning on the charm. From up close, she was an even better catch. Though she was shorter and not as curvy as I desired, there was something about her which made me pause. “My name is Riley, baby.”

“Get lost, Riley,” the woman said.

I had misheard her. There was no other explanation.

“C’mon,” I said, making sure I touched her. It was done.

I had her. I was sure. “I’m rather impatient, honey. What’s your name?” I asked, knowing full well I would not remember it a few seconds after she told me. It was still polite to ask.

“My name is Oriana,” she said politely, but I noticed the sarcasm. “Now get lost,” she repeated. I watched in amazement as she raised her middle finger.

She was making a ‘fuck off’ sign.

I was confused. I was shocked. There were only a few things that generated those feelings in me. I was having a truly weird moment right now. I liked it.

I can tell you that this whole book blog is all part of his plan. It is nothing but his masterful Deception. Read him at your expense, available since 15th of September, beware that he is waiting to charm you.  And, no one, but Oriana, is immune.

 

Check out Heartless here.

 

 

Exciting times with Cloaked Press

Hello Gentle Readers.

I have been trying to keep my personal writing career separate from my publishing company, but I have to share this with all of you. Cloaked Press has launched its first short story collection, Fall Into Fantasy 2017.

fallintofantasy

This collection features 13 authors from all over the world, giving us their take on Fantasy and all of its subgenres we could cram into the pages. Details on the authors can be found on the Cloaked Press website.

There is a story of a dwarf who can “hear” precious gems, a bookstore that can transport you to another world, magic, fairies, love, deals with demons, and a good old fashioned zombie story. I hope you will all take a moment to check it out, grab a copy if it interests you, and leave a review if you read it. If you know anyone who might be interested in our fantasy collection, please share the link.

Also, while we are excited at Cloaked Press about the release of our first collection, it is also time to start working on our next, Spring Into SciFi 2018. Submissions are open for this collection, and all details can be found here.

We have an email list with monthly giveaways and a special flash fiction story that comes straight to your mailbox. You can join our newsletter on the Cloaked Press homepage.

I hope that you will take a moment to check out Cloaked Press and what we have to offer. Keep reading everyone.