Sands of Sorrow Book Launch Giveaway

Does the subject line say #Giveway? Technically, excluding the bothersome but necessary hashtag, you’re correct!

Enter HERE for a chance to win a #FREE paperback copy of the Cycle of Ages Saga: Sands of Sorrow, the sequel to Finders Keepers, through #Amazon Giveaways.

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If you don’t win, you can still purchase Sands of Sorrow HERE.

If you haven’t read the first installment in the Cycle of Ages Saga, you can purchase Finders Keepers, HERE.

Please remember to share this with your friends and fellow readers. Thanks for participating!

May the Fates of Faltyr be kind to you, dear reader.

Author Interview: The Charismatic Kimberly Richardson

For my final author interview this month, I am fortunate enough to have snagged some of the valuable time of the charismatic Kimberly Richardson, my friend and the editor of the Cycle of Ages Saga. Let’s get down to business, Kim. I’m sure the readers out there are eager to learn more about you and your work.

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J:  Judging from our conversations and your stories, you have a vivid imagination. Where do you find the inspiration to fuel this creative fire and turn your wild ideas into amazing stories?

K:  I get inspiration by simply observing the world around me. The world is filled with magick and wonder; all one has to do is simply open your eyes. Even a simple conversation between two people in a coffee shop can inspire an awesome story – several of my stories began that way.

Photo by Kimberly Richardson.

Photo by Kimberly Richardson.

J:  You’ve reached some manner of acclaim in a short period of time as a professional writer. In fact, two of your novels were considered for the Pulitzer list a couple of years ago. Could you tell us more about that experience as well as your other accolades/honors?

K:  Being enlisted for the Pulitzer was quite a learning experience for me; it felt wonderful to know that my work stood a chance to receive such an honour. I do plan to enlist again very soon! I was also a finalist for several awards as well as edited several anthologies that later won awards through certain stories.

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J: Which of your fantastical tales has generated the most feedback from readers? What was their overall response to it?

K:  It is spread across the board; I get feedback from people about everything! Generally, the feedback has been great followed with questions of when my next work will be available. Either that, or they ask me if I’ve ever committed any of the “incidents” that are in my stories. I consider that to be a compliment.

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J:  What writers have influenced you the most? And which of their books are your favorites?

K:  That answer is very, very long but I will say that roughly 100+ writers have influenced me. The list of books is too long as well. I take little bits from those who inspire me and add it to my own mixture. The mixture is always changing and blending to whatever I’m either reading or writing.

J:  If you could talk to any of these writers, living or dead, who would it be, and what would you discuss?

K:  Actually, I really wouldn’t want to speak with any of them, strangely enough. They are in my mind in certain ways and for me to possibly speak with them might shatter that “image”. I know that sounds lame but it is the truth. Let them continue being that certain “thing” in my mind and I’m happy enough.

J:  Doesn’t sound strange to me at all. After having my own mental image of certain celebrities shattered by meeting them in person, I tend to avoid those who have had the deepest impact on me. Nice to know that I’m not the only one who would hate to be disappointed in the humanity of my heroes and idols.

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J:  In addition to writing, do you have any other hobbies or creative pursuits?

K:  Photography, tea blending, traveling, cooking, hiking, mycology, attending ballets, opera and the theatre in general, reading books (of course!).

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J:  Could you tell us more about your experiences as an editor for Dark Oak Press and others? Do you prefer to write your own material or help edit and shape the work of others?

K:  They are equal in my world. When I first began editing for Dark Oak, I wasn’t sure of what I was doing. After many bruises, scrapes, cuss words and failures later, I think I’ve gotten the hang of it. With regards to my work – I still enjoy it. That will never die even as I continue my work as an Editor.

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J:  As a writer and editor, what advice would you give to aspiring writers who want to become published professionals?

K:  Don’t stop, no matter what. I can’t get any more blunt than that.

Photo by Kimberly Richardson.

Photo by Kimberly Richardson.

J:  What project are you working on currently? Without spoiling anything, could you provide us with a snippet from it?

K:  As of now, I’m working through the second round of edits for my Southern Gothic novel, Open A. The novel is about a Memphian named Graydon Fayette who is also a world renowned violinist. He is also a member of a very old family that more than just dabbles in the dark side.

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J:  Do you have any new or upcoming releases that you’d like to promote here?

K:  Open A should be out next year if not sooner. Tales From a Goth Librarian II was released this past February. Both are/will be through Dark Oak Press. I also have a short story called “The Master of Tea” that will be released in Asian Pulp through Pro Se Press this year.

J:  Thanks for sharing, Kim. As always, it’s a pleasure to hear more about you and your passion for writing and editing, as well as your other creative pursuits. I wish you all the best on your upcoming releases. Maybe we’ll be seeing you on the Pulitzer list again soon.

Author Interview: The Badass Bella Roccaforte

As most people’s thoughts turn to warm weather, bright flowers, and outdoor vacations, there are those of us who enjoy the Addams Family or Munsters-kind of life regardless of the season. I am one of those Autumn People, always with one foot on either side of the Veil. Paranormal writer Bella Roccaforte is part of our worldwide creative carnival as well. This legitimate badass is literary and quite lively, unlike some of her creepy crawlers and haunting hunks. I have the privilege of sitting down with her to find out what steered her toward the world of spooky fiction.

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J:  Let’s start with something simple. How long have you been writing? And what led you to “go pro”?

B:  In a former life, I was a professional musician and used to write poetry for as long as I can remember. But as far as writing stories, I started in December of 2012. My husband had been talking about writing a novel for as long as I’ve known him. So I challenged him to write for an hour and I would do the same. 

At the end of a week of doing that he asked how many words I had. I didn’t know, because I wasn’t paying attention to that. Turns out I had 30k words. When I asked him how many he had, he just told me that wasn’t important right now. He asked to read what I had written and after he did, he told me it was good and I should publish it. So I finished and here I am now eight novels later.

 J:  Whoa! That’s an impressive start. If you can type 30k words in a week, I should hire you to write my novels, if I could afford you. Broke Guys Productions is no euphemism. Hehehe!

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J:  What genre(s) do you prefer to write? Do you prefer to read those genres too?

B:  I prefer to write in paranormal. I’m having a blast with my latest series which is a paranormal romance. I’m not typically big on romance, but this story was scratching to get out.

I also love to read paranormal, pnr is okay, but I don’t need a lot of sexy to enjoy a story.

J: Personally, I’m fine with scary, sexy, or both, as long as it’s well-written and edited.

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J: Speaking of your reading habits, what are your five favorite novels?

B: Inferno by Dante Alighieri

The Beautiful Demons series by Sarra Cannon

Elfhunter series by C.S. Marks.

The Celestra Series by Addison Moore

The Art of War by Sun Tzu

J: Both 1 and 5 are great choices. I’ll have to check out the rest. You’re not the first person to recommend Elfhunter.

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J: What writers have influenced you the most over the course of your life?

B: Addison Moore and Sarra Cannon. I would not be a published author without both of them!

J: I feel similarly about those who helped me along the way, writers, editors, publishers, and artists. Part of why I started this series of interviews was to showcase them as well as others.

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J: Let’s turn back to your writing process. When you set out to create a new story, do you jump right in to the tale (pantster) or plan it out for ages beforehand (plotter)?

B: Gosh, this is a tough one because I usually have the basics down for the story in my head before I jump in. But as the words flow, they create their own little ripples in the story line. I have been known to come out of my office with wide eyes and say “Whoa, I didn’t see that coming!”

But I don’t create an outline, or write down the plot. My latest series actually grew from a series of paintings I had done. Originally, there were three paintings, now there are nine. But the original three served as beginning middle and end. The story has grown beyond that at this point.

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J: Are there common themes, topics, or tropes that you use or explore in your works of fiction?

B: Oh yes, I have all kinds of little Easter eggs or private jokes all throughout my work.

In the INK series, there are a ton of The Walking Dead Easter eggs. I have a character named Carl who’s always getting lost. Things like that.

In Paranormal Transmissions, many of the towns/cities they go to are named after the actors from The Walking Dead (I’m a huge fan if you can’t tell.)

In Moon Crossed (The Crescent Hunter Series), my “hero” is named Cole Jackson. Jackson is the name of the hero in Sarra Cannon’s Beautiful Demons series and last night I needed a list of casualties. Characters we’ve never really met that died in battle. At first, I was thinking I could name them Kenny (South Park), Rory (Doctor Who), Red (Red shirts from Star Trek), you know characters that always die. But I couldn’t come up with enough names, so I decided to go with a list of all my exes.

J: It’s nice to know that I’m not the only writer here who has killed an ex or two in fiction. Or loves #TWD!

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J: Judging by our previous conversations, it sounds like you have had a rough life, one that has helped build you into the badass you’ve become. What real life events have most shaped your writing?

B: Whoa, so yeah. If we were sitting face to face, I’d be making that face that Peta Mellark made when asked on stage if there was anyone special at home (Hunger Games). 

Okay, so yes, probably the one thing in my life that has shaped and driven my writing in one specific way is heartbreak. In the INK: Series, the two heroes are based on exes. They are both aware and think it’s pretty cool. I did have one of them apologize to me for being such an ass hat. 

Moon Crossed is the product of a difficult time when life had just fallen to pieces for me. I’m a people hoarder, and for whatever psychological issues, I have one of the coping mechanisms is to create an extremely tight knit circle of friends that I would kill or die for. The circle broke, we all fell away, and I felt like my heart had been dug out of my chest with a rusty spoon. Thus, the painting outlet, and subsequently telling a part of that story. I, of course, had to spice it up and throw in some romance. But all of the characters with the exception of the love interest/hero are based on my boys from The House of Brotus (our little cult). 

It has been therapeutic, but still on a level while going back and doing revisions and re-feeling some of those emotions, it’s so raw. Most of us have all reformed the circle, it would seem there was only one permanent casualty of the fallout.

J: Pardon to tough question, but I find that many writers tend to be survivors and fiction makes wonderful therapy for us. But it also showcases our pain as well as our hope for a better tomorrow. That can make it daunting to delve into such personal stories on occasion. Glad you’re working through it all and finding catharsis bit by bit with each tale.

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J: Do you find that your real life struggles make it easier or more difficult to put your characters through a fictional baptism by fire?

B: Depends on the character and the mood that I’m in. Sometimes it’s so nice to just rip someone’s intestines out and eat them while they watch. Other times I’ll be like, “I’m so sorry, but we really had to do that. It hurt me more than it hurt you.”

 In general, the heroine always gets the shitty end of the stick. I love to torture her to see how amazing she’ll be when she rises from the ashes.

J: What’s the common quote about fiction? Put your characters up a tree and then throw rocks at them. Writing 101. I think some of us enjoy the experience entirely too much though. Yes, I’m talking to you, G.R.R. Martin.

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J: What writing project are you working on at the moment?

B: I’m currently putting the finishing touches on the first book in the Crescent Hunter Series, Moon Crossed. I’m releasing it in serial format and three episodes are already available on Amazon. I’ll continue to release them weekly until April 15th.

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J: What upcoming releases do you have slated for 2015? When and where can we find them?

B: Moon Crossed #1 (Crescent Hunter Series) April 15 – Amazon and my website (BellaWrites.com for the paper back)

INK: Bold Strokes (Book 5) – Final book in this series. All digital retailers by the end of summer.

Three more installments of Paranormal Transmissions – supernatural/paranormal serial. All digital outlets and I’ll be releasing them over the course of the next year.

And who knows what else might come from my crazy brain. If you had told me three months ago that I was going to write a shifter romance, I would have said, “Shut up, I’m not.”

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Thanks for the lively, intriguing answers, Bella. I’ve come to expect no less from you. Good luck on your future endeavors and upcoming releases. Stay weird. Stay fun. And most important of all, keep writing!

Author Interview: Logan Masterson and the Denizens of Ravencroft Springs

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Little did our subject, author/editor/artisan Logan L. Masterson, realize that he’d become the topic of the afternoon, even before arriving for his interview. During our usual ritual of in depth conversation over the chaos of Call of Duty, my brother Joshua and I had been discussing our own personal experiences with the weird and wild denizens of Ravencroft Springs. This fictional town, the epicenter of Masterson’s novella of the same name, recently released by Pro Se Press, hit close to home for us.

My brother and I grew up on a farm on the edge of a creepy little town nestled in the foothills of the Appalachians, one caught in a cycle of crime, grime, and decay similar to Masterson’s Ravencroft Springs. There are even mysterious murders, missing persons, and mouldering rows of millhouses. As a result, the old mining town portrayed in Masterson’s novella came alive for us. It easily becomes a believable centerpiece for the grim events that unfold in this brief, fast-moving tale of unlikely lovers doomed by abyssal, otherworldly creatures and their murderous cultists, common enough tropes in Lovecraftian horror that are utilized quite well in this Southern gothic story.

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With Masterson’s easy, flowing prose and the conversational tone of its narrator, Ravencroft Springs feels like an even faster read, which is a shame, because it left us wanting more. More of the smart, determined protagonist. More of the deranged, deformed townies. And more beings from the Cthulhu Mythos. So, you can bet we hope to read more tales of terror set in Ravencroft Springs soon. We’re sure that you will too after reading it.

As for its creator, I met Logan Masterson after he edited my short story submission for Capes and Clockwork, a Dark Oak Press anthology featuring stories about superheroes in the age of steam. He is also the author of one of the entries in this collection of steampunk superhero stories. Mr. Masterson also served as editor on the Pulpology anthology; however, he was not one of the contributors for that collection. After nearly a year on the hectic convention circuit and working on our individual projects, I finally had a chance to sit Logan down and ask him about his writing, editing, and other projects. Let’s hope you enjoy his answers as much as I did.

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How long have you been writing fiction? And what genre(s) do you prefer?

I’ve been writing fiction formally since I was a teenager, some twenty-five years ago. I took it up seriously, along with poetry, way back in high school. There was a long hiatus there, but I’m back in the saddle and giving it a real go now.

I love all the speculative genres, but my real calling is probably fantasy. I love world-building and epic adventure so very much that anything else I write becomes fantasy in some sense anyway.

When writing fiction, do you prefer short stories, novellas, or novels? Why?

The novella is probably the perfect form for me. Its length allows for plenty of development and a subplot or two without begging for filler. Writing short stories is really rough, especially at the common 7,000 word limit. Novels are also difficult, since they demand a tremendous amount of content that must be lovingly curated. The fantasy novel is even tougher: it’s easy to fill a book with unnecessary background, action and detail.

What writer(s) has/have influenced your writing the most?

If I had to pick a handful, they would be Tolkien, Dickens, Raymond E. Feist, Neil Gaiman, and lately Alex Bledsoe, especially his Tufa novels.

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As a writer, are there common themes or tropes that you prefer to use in your work?

The tropes really depend on the genre, but the themes are pretty much the same throughout. Humanity is my theme. The strengths and weaknesses that make us what we are: love, hate, tradition, fear; these are the internals. Externally, humanity is culture, war, greed, nobility, and a thousand more facets of a great dusky jewel.

Where do you find inspiration for your writing?

Inspiration is everywhere. Everywhere! I find ideas in comic books, TV shows, the news, personal anecdotes, just all over the place. Combining elements, working ideas together and hammering them into something newish, that’s the tricky bit.

Is there a work of fiction that you keep coming back to, one that you can read over and over again? If so, why?

The Lord of the Rings. I’ve read it more than a dozen times. It’s epic and personal, the scion of fantasy, but shot through with tremendous horror. Tolkien’s prose is incredible in places, and his descriptions are comfortable and evocative enough to make a reader feel like he’d actually been there. I also revisit Shakespeare and Dickens every once in a while, to touch the very avatars of character and structure respectively.

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As far as your own work goes, what are you working on currently?

I have several projects on the go just now, all at various stages. The first sequel to Ravencroft Springs is forming up nicely in my head. Meanwhile, I’m getting words down on a new series of fantasy short(ish) stories about three postulant priestesses. An epic fantasy continues to slow roast on the back burner, if I can slant-mix a metaphor.

Will there be a sequel to Ravencroft Springs? If so, what can you tell us about it?

I can’t say much, really, but I’ll give you this: Ravencroft Springs is the first installment in a Supernatural Southern Gothic trilogy. Since the tropes of supernatural horror are crystal clear, I thought I’d muddy the waters a bit by adding elements of the southern gothic, a genre steeping in history and mystery.

What will be coming out next for you?

I have a couple of finished stories in different stages of submission right now, so I’m not sure what will come first. There’s a prequel to Ravencroft Springs out there, and a sequel to my Prime Movers story in Capes & Clockwork. I’ll be sure to let you know when “The Feast of Love” and “The Ecuadorian Adventure” come out.

Where will you be making your next public appearance to promote your work?

My next scheduled event right now is Killer Nashville, a great crime and mystery conference here in town on August 21-24. It’s a great event, with a staged crime scene contest, lots of amazing panels, and terrific guests. After that, I’ll be at Imaginarium in September, a new convention in Louisville, and at the Southern Festival of Books here in Nashville in October.

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Find out more about Logan L. Masterson and his creative endeavors at the following link: http://agonyzer.com/

Like Logan’s author page on Facebook @ https://www.facebook.com/LoganLMasterson

Like the Ravencroft Springs fan page on Facebook @ https://www.facebook.com/RavencroftSprings

Buy Ravencroft Springs on Amazon @ http://www.amazon.com/Ravencroft-Springs-Logan-L-Masterson-ebook/dp/B00K1I5RPO

Buy Capes & Clockwork on Amazon @ http://www.amazon.com/Capes-Clockwork-D-Alan-Lewis/dp/1937035689

Buy Pulpology on Amazon @ http://www.amazon.com/Pulpology-D-Alan-Lewis/dp/1496140478