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Cookie Break

Writer, stationery addict & occasional cat pillow. Adorer of all things cute. Tea and pasta fanatic.

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Interviews

Celebrating The Launch of Ashael Rising by Shona Kinsella

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You might remember Shona Kinsella from when she stopped by for an interview last year July (and I applaud you if you do!). Back then she talked about her WIP Ashael Rising – and now it’s time to celebrate the release of the very same!

So what do I have for you today? Why, I’ve got a mini-interview, I’ve got the cover and the blurb for you, and a few of my favourite lines! And of course all important links, so you can follow Shona all over social media and buy her book baby ^-^

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What inspired Ashael Rising?

A dream! I don’t remember all the details now but I had a dream around 9 years ago about warrior fairies that were at war with evil magicians. None of that made it into the book but the final image of the dream, flying over a desolate land where almost everything was dead, stuck with me all these years. That image formed the seed that became Ashael Rising.

Can you summarise your entire plot in one, brief sentence?

An apprentice medicine-woman must find out the truth of who she is in order to defend her people from soul-sucking invaders.

Who is your favourite character, and why?

I know I’m probably meant to say Ashael but in truth, it’s probably Bhearra. She’s funny and wise and steady. I would like to be like her.

What do you hope your readers will take away from Ashael Rising?

A desire to read the next book ;). More seriously, I hope that readers enjoy the book and fall in love with the characters the way that I did. And maybe think about life in a Cam…

What can we look forward to from you in the future?

I’m currently working on an anthology of stories by Unbound authors where the stories all centre around a library in one way or another. I’ll be contributing to and editing the book.

I’m also finishing up a novella called The Longest Night that I started in November. It’s about a tribe who live in the arctic of their world and the plight they face when the sun does not rise after mid-winter.

As soon as I’m finished with that I’ll be starting on the sequel to Ashael Rising.

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Blurb

Ashael is a hunter-gatherer woman, apprenticed to Bhearra, the healer and spiritual leader of their tribe.

The Zanthar are invaders from another world who extend their own lives by stealing the life-force of everything around them. They were last seen on KalaDene 200 years ago. They have returned, looking for The Vessel, a being prophesied to hold the life-force of the land.

Iwan is a slave to the Zanthar, descendant of the folk that were taken as slaves the last time the Zanthar visited this world. He is sent out as a spy, while his mother is held hostage to ensure his compliance.

When Iwan and Ashael meet and she invites him to stay in Oak Cam, neither of them realise that she is the one the Zanthar seek. The fate of KalaDene and all of its people rests on Ashael’s shoulders.

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Ashael Rising features two prominent POVs – Ashael, the heroine, and Iwan, a slave forced to spy on her people for his Master who craves world domination. Naturally. Ashael’s people are trusting and peace-loving, and so when Iwan comes to them and asks to stay with them for a while, they happily host the young stranger. Only, there are three problems: Iwan’s master is spying on him, Iwan begins to feel at home in the friendly village, and he falls in love with Ashael. Meanwhile, a mysterious power is beginning to stir in Ashael – and it’s this power Iwan’s master wants to destroy, before it destroys him.

There was something about the young man who had arrived a few days ago. He was full of secrets but also pain. She sensed a good man at his core, in the space beyond pretence.

Ashael Rising is out in three days on FEBRUARY 6TH! Mark it in your calenders and add it to Goodreads 😀

Until then, you can also catch up with Shona on Facebook, Twitter, and her blog.

A Chat with Daley Downing

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Did January flash by for anyone else? I mean it can’t be February, that’s preposterous oO

Since it is already February despite my protests, it’s time for another author interview! I don’t have that many left by now, so savour them while they last 😉

My guest today is Daley Downing. Daley is a self-published author from upstate New York. She’s also a stay at home mother, dance teacher, and an autism awareness advocate – so, to summarise, she’s Super Woman. Daley currently spends most of her time with her family and the cat. Other than writing, she loves ballet, reading, history, and music.

Hi Daley, and welcome to Cookie Break! Congratulations on publishing the first novel in your series The Order of the Twelve Tribes!

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Could you tell us a little about your book? No spoilers, please! 😉

The first book in my contemporary fantasy series is about 3 different families that are all connected to the same secret organization that protects the world from things that go bump in the night – or, basically, monsters. The families each have a different role, and their own internal challenges. In this first instalment, I’m introducing the organization as well as the individuals in the families. It’s a case of “getting to know you” both on a “big picture” scale and in a more intimate way.

Would you mind sharing an excerpt with us, or a favourite quote?

I’ll go with quotes.

“She’ll be fine. We need to get out of here. My wings are about to pop.”

Did he just say wings?

“Aren’t you going to change before we leave for the church?”

“Nah, God won’t care that I showed up in khakis.”

Do you remember what sparked the idea for this novel?

There were a few things. One, I used to watch (way too much) “Supernatural” (an American TV show), and I had such respect and awe for what the main characters went through, to save the world from evil all the time, and I thought, “There should be some underground government agency or something that helps these guys!” So, that was a definite spark in my imagination. Just what would that agency do? How would they defeat the monsters? How might they behave towards the rest of the (unsuspecting) world?

Two, after I read “The Mortal Instruments” (by Cassandra Clare), I was really interested in some of her unusual ideas about angels and demons and approaching how to write about such an ancient topic in a new way.

Three, when I read the “Warriors” series (by Erin Hunter),  I was really impressed by how well thought out the structure of that world was – everything from the hierarchy of the Clans to the Warrior codes and the obvious history the author had developed behind the world-building.

What are you working on right now?

Right now I’m working on the further instalments of this series.

What draws you to the genre you write in? Have you always been drawn to it?

Yes, I’ve always been drawn to fantasy. I’m not completely sure why, but I think a lot of it has to do with the possibility of magic and the chance for anything to happen.

Who/what is your writing inspiration?

Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman have played a huge part in how I think of developing characters, how to reveal plot points, and world building. And Douglas Adams for creative ways to provide necessary background/information (hopefully) without overwhelming the reader.

What do you do if inspiration just won’t come?

Throw a fit. (Am I allowed to admit that?) Not quite. Generally I go away from the work for a while, and re-read a book that previously inspired me, or focus on a different type of writing – for example, I went on a short story binge several months ago when I was really stuck on novelization.

Which part of the writing process is your favourite, and which part do you dread?

My favourite part is probably the creation – there’s something really exciting and invigorating about seeing that first draft appear on paper after only existing in your head. I dread writer’s block. It is just BAD.

What is your number one distraction?

Children. For sure, children. I have two kids that evidently enjoy exploding their world on a regular basis. So that makes it hard to get writing done some days.

Are you a plotter or a pantser?

Definitely a plotter! I don’t necessarily follow outlines or write down a bunch of notes, but there has to be intense planning going on. I might try a number of approaches to reach the same outcome, but it’s never just an impulsive decision.

Often I’ll spend several weeks to months developing an important plot point, as well as character backgrounds, and things that I need to know before the reader does. Once I have those set in stone in my mind, it generally changes very little on the page.

Tea or coffee?

Tea is my favorite and foremost hot beverage. I sometimes have coffee more for caffeine purposes than for enjoyment.

What are the most important three things you’ve learned about writing, editing or publishing (or all of the above!) since you started your journey?

Writing is a different process for everyone. Yeah, there are rules – in terms of linguistics, and great guidelines — for example, on how to plot and reveal certain character traits, in ways that make sense to the reader. But there doesn’t have a hardcore method that every writer must stick to. It depends on what your story is meant to be – and only you can determine that.

Editing also depends on finding a method that you think will produce the best results for what you’re trying to achieve with your book. Some authors really appreciate other people trying to figure out solutions to issues they’re having. Other authors really aren’t sure about that. (That’s me.)

Self-publishing is also a journey. Since I tried for over a year to come up with the funds to “traditionally” self-publish (through Amazon.com or something similar), and still couldn’t get there, I figured that literally doing it all myself – the printing, the promotion, the selling – would have to suffice to get started. At least it gets my work out there, being read, rather than still sitting in my house.

Not that my ultimate plan would work for everyone. But I got really tired of waiting. The fact is, I honestly don’t care if I never hit the bestsellers’ list in the New York Times. I just feel the need to write, to tell these stories, and to share them with others. And I didn’t want to keep waiting for the “perfect” time.

What’s your favourite quote on writing?

“The world always seems brighter when you’ve just made something that wasn’t there before.”

– Neil Gaiman

“If you don’t turn your life into a story, you just become a part of someone else’s story.”

– Terry Pratchett

“I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by.”

– Douglas Adams

What is the best piece of advice you’ve received?

To know what the voice of your story is, and to stay true to it.

Where else can we connect with you?

Right now, I have my blog, The Invisible Moth, and I’m available via email with questions about buying novels. (Please everyone subscribe to me and order stuff from me! Ahem. Moment of shameless begging is passing…)

Thanks so much for having me, Sarina!

***

Thank you for stopping by, Daley! The Order of The Twelve Tribes will be released later this Spring. In the meantime, you can connect with Daley on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

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For all other interviews, take a look here.

For Cookie Break’s home page, have a look here.

A Chat with Tirzah Duncan

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Welcome back to Interview Corner, everyone! ^-^ It’s time for the first interview of the year, and this week Tirzah Duncan is here to talk about her novella Grace the Mace!

Tirzah is a lover of fantasy, a cynical optimist, a Wholockian, and generally a weird person (in her own words – we don’t judge here!)

Hi Tirzah, and welcome to Cookie Break! Congratulations on publishing your novella Grace the Mace. That’s a huge achievement!

Could you tell us a little about your book? No spoilers, please! 😉

Some rival gangs, a young mercenary, her oblivious mother, and a cop walk into a bar…

Heh, okay, I’m not so good with the off-the-cuff descriptions. Here’s the actual blurb:

Grace has always been there for her mother, ever since she was old enough to bite the legs of those thugs and leeches that called themselves lovers. Ever since she was old enough to understand the world in a way her mother never would.

Now, she comes home every winter with blood money from a year of running with a band of sellswords. No more scrounging in midden heaps and cutting purses for a low court lord to survive the lean months.

But this year, home is as dangerous as the battlefield. Tensions are running through the street courts of her old slums, while a new and daunting lover has confounded her safeguards and gotten at her mum–and now they’re all tangled in a vicious turf war.

Is one lone mercenary enough to protect her own? Can she trust anyone else to do the job?

Would you mind sharing an excerpt with us, or a favourite quote?

“She wished she were on the battlefield, where everything dropped away except the moment and the next moment, the movement and the next movement. There was no fear, then, only the fight. It was a clean thing, she felt, whole, simple, a world unto itself. Here, there was the fight, but there were too many old emotions tangled in the weave. There was the future to think of, there was the past to haunt her. Killing and surviving were far easier than living.”

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Do you remember what sparked the idea for Grace the Mace?

It’s been a long background evolution, actually. In the beginning, I was better acquainted with Weylah, her mother. I knew Grace was loyal to her mother, was a graceful young flail-wielding mercenary, and got on fairly well in the world… aaannnd I also thought she was a he.

For four years, while working on other projects, I wondered why I could never get under the layers of Grace the Mace! Then one day, it hit me. I’d had the gender wrong all along. The name should have been a clue, right? But no, I’d been stupid. At that point, the whole story came flooding in with such a vengeance, I can’t even remember the order in which the other pieces came together.

What are you working on right now?

A collaboration with one Danielle E. Shipley (I did an interview with the lovely Danielle only last month, if you remember) in a genre that’s a bit tough to identify… Let’s call it a “High Seas Literary Bromance.” It’s got terrifying pirate queens, a poetry club in a bilge, torture and intrigue, desire and restraint, the war of man with his own darkest self, and most importantly, a couple of amazing guys who overcome all the odds to become besties for life.

What draws you to the genre you write in? Have you always been drawn to it?

I tend to write in fantasy worlds, whether or not I’m dealing heavily with the magical and the mythical. It’s always been my favorite to read—I fell a bit in love with old-school warfare at quite a young age, and I’ve never been able to ditch swords, spears, cavalries, old-fashioned naval galleys and galleons… And as almost every one of my works contains at least one fight scene, if not an all-out battle, it makes sense that I’d favor the genre in which warfare most engages me.

Who/what is your writing inspiration?

C.S. Lewis. I want to be him when I grow up. Not in style, exactly (I more favor Tamora Peirce, and, I hope, Samuel Shellabarger,) but in the way one can read Lewis’s heart and mind in his writings. I want to be to others what he has been to me, and to so many. In his fantasy, in his allegory, and in his theological essays—all of which I want to write—I find ideas transcending the written word. His paragraphs reach from hell to heaven in a great latticework of hope, and if that’s not an inspiration, I don’t know what is.

…However, he’s not that much of a “get ‘er done” inspiration. He started many of his works later in life, and seemed to proceed at a relatively languid pace. If I’m looking for inspiration to write, not “great things in my lifetime,” but “lots of things TODAY,” I turn to Hamilton, the Broadway musical. The songs, the story, the man behind the writing of the musical, and the man Alexander Hamilton himself, all drive me forward to write like tomorrow won’t arrive.

What do you do if inspiration just won’t come?

I’ve got this document called the “Slag Pile.” I bring it up and write whatever I can. Seriously, whatever I can. Sometimes this means writing a section of a novel that I’m not confident about, so I can stop second guessing myself because “It’s not in the real manuscript.” Sometimes it means stream-of-consciousness journaling, or spit-balling for a blog post or novel concept. But when the going gets tough, it stoops lower than that.

One time, I wrote about different 400 words in a row that all started with “B.” It gets that desperate. But allowing myself to write literally anything (it doesn’t even have to be real words,) will often drag me through the slump and out the other side. And if it doesn’t… well, I tried.

Which part of the writing process is your favourite, and which part do you dread?

My favorite part is any part that’s going smoothly at the moment. It can be in the concept stages, the first draft, the editing, or in watching someone read it—if it’s going well, and everything’s coming together, I love it. However, I can find hang-ups and slow days and gnarly problems at any step in the process. Those aren’t fun whether you’re brainstorming or trying to get someone to explain why that one section didn’t sit well with them.

What is your number one distraction?

Everything. Seriously, I’ve got to be one of the most distractable writers ever. I’ll get distracted by my own brain wanting to gossip with itself, by the internet, or by a different project jumping into the middle of the first… In fact, I was in the middle of writing a section in my novel when I decided to work on answering these interview questions instead.

Fortunately for me, I do jump in and out of a work easily. I’ve been known to go back and forth between a Facebook conversation and a story, one paragraph at a time, with neither suffering for it. (I think.)

Are you a plotter or a pantser?

It depends on how involved the story in question ends up being. I tend to be more of a pantser, but if my stories get convoluted and clever and political, I usually have to step back and give it an outline just so I don’t forget who my triple agent is really working for. Or if I’m working on a collaboration! If you want people to be on the same page with you, there’s sort of got to be a page.

Tea or coffee?

Absolutely! As a preventative measure against caffeine dependence, I don’t keep any coffee at home, though. To make up for that, I’ve got an entire cupboard full of teas of every stripe. Loose leaf, bagged, with nothing, with honey, with milk and sugar, and occasionally, iced. I mix it up; I don’t like ruts.

What are the most important three things you’ve learned about writing, editing or publishing (or all of the above!) since you started your journey?

Just three? Whoof! I’ll go with one point for each category, then.

Writing: You’ve got to do it. You’ve got to do a lot of it. Write new things, re-write old things, but you’ve got to write stories. It’s like every other art, and indeed, every other pursuit, in that you’ll never be an expert if you don’t log serious amounts of time. What about reading? Yes, of course, read the books you love, study them. What about reading writing books and taking courses? Sure, sure, brilliant; there are some writing books I absolutely love, and I’ve learned some really valuable lessons from them. But none of those can ever replace simply putting in the hours.

Editing: Know that your work can always be better. There are two things to take away from that statement. The first—be humble. Be analytical. Listen to feedback. Be as objective as you can. You’re probably going to have to do some hard things for the sake of ‘better,’ but it isn’t perfect just because you love it. Learn, if you can, to revel in performing manuscript surgery, because you’re going to have a lot of tumorous growths, and just as many missing organs.

The second—because your work can always be better, you can spend your whole life editing and never publish anything. You don’t want to do that. (Right? I’m guessing, here.) This is something I’ve only recently come to terms with. The trouble is that, as soon as you finish a work, you’re a better writer than when you started it. Which means you could do a better job if you did it over again. At the end of which, you would be a better writer than when you started… You have to find the point at which you can just say, “You know what, I’m proud of this. Yes, it could be better. But you know what it is now? Great.”

Publishing: You’re a marketer now. You better act like it. Getting published is fairly easy. Selling, that’s the hard part. Even if you’re picked up by a traditional publisher, these days, they want you to have your own social media platforms. Whether you like it or not, you’re now a salesman for your book, and for a long time, you’re probably the only salesman for your book. I’m really sorry if you don’t like marketing, because unless you have the budget to hire someone to market for you, the number of people who buy and read your book will ride on the success of your personal marketing efforts.

As to what “marketing” entails, that’s a litany too long to list here, but it includes things like having a clear website, maintaining a blog, building social networks both on and offline, going to conventions, hosting giveaways, hawking your book to reviewers, and—why, yes, finding bloggers kind enough to grant you an interview. 🙂

What’s your favourite quote on writing?

“To find the form that accommodates the mess, that is the task of the artist now.”

-Samuel Beckett

What is the best piece of advice you’ve received?

“You go, girl!” Maybe it sounds like encouragement, but if you think about it, it’s also really great advice. I get that one a lot from my mom. And I’ll give it to all of you now.

YOU GO, GIRL!

(If you’re not a girl, you can still totally go, but my advice stands as it is.)

Where else can we connect with you?

My website will take you to my book’s sales links, my WordPress blogs, and my Tumblr. It’s also got some free short stories and poetry, so have at ye!

Thank you, Tirzah, for stopping by! You can find her book here on Amazon 🙂

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For all other interviews, take a look here.

For Cookie Break’s home page, have a look here.

A Chat with Danielle E. Shipley

 

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It’s already time for the last author interview this year! Is anyone else shocked it’s December as of today? Did anyone else rip into their advent calendar this morning? (which I’m totally not too old for… I figured if our Sellybean gets one it’s only fair if we indulge, too.)

Today I’d like to extend a warm welcome to Danielle E. Shipley, who’s here to talk about her novel The Ballad of Allyn-a-Dale!

Danielle writes young adult fantasy novels. She’s no stranger to the publishing business and has previously published The Wilderhark Tales series – and that makes today’s interview all the more exciting! Her knowledge and advise is based on plenty of experience, and I strongly recommend you read on if you want to learn something! 😉

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Hi Danielle, and welcome to Cookie Break! Congratulations on publishing The Ballad of Allyn-a-Dale. Releasing a new book into the world is THE best feeling!

Thanks very much! I’m dreadfully pleased about it. *fondles beloved book baby*

Could you tell us a little about your book? No spoilers, please! 😉

My Outlaws of Avalon trilogy in brief: Camelot’s heroes and Sherwood’s most wanted are magically alive, conditionally immortal, and ingeniously incognito in a modern day Renaissance Faire. Enter Allyn-a-Dale, a minstrel dropped in (yes, literally) from a far-off fantasy world. Book 1’s the introductory adventure. After that, it’s deeper down the rabbit hole we go!

Would you mind sharing an excerpt with us, or a favourite quote?

One favorite quote from among the outlaws’ unending banter? Ay-yi! Well, here’s giving it my best shot:

“Why do people do that?” Robin wondered, annoyed. “Just break the rules for fun? Breaking the rules is not fun.”

Little John looked at him.

“Well, that’s different,” Robin smiled. “The Merry Men make everything fun. And anyway, we always had our reasons.”

“Right,” said Little John. “Fun.”

“And justice. And slightly convoluted integrity.”

Little John said soberly, “I only joined up for the fun.”

Do you remember what sparked the idea for The Ballad of Allyn-a-Dale?

Vividly. There I was, standing outside the gates of the Bristol Renaissance Faire (check it out if you’re ever in Kenosha, Wisconsin, on a summer weekend), and who should appear on the balcony above but the dashing Robin Hood! Not the real Robin Hood, of course and alas; only an actor. But that got me thinking: How amazing would it be if some Ren Faire somewhere housed the honest-to-goodness legend of old? And that very next autumn, “Ballad” was born.

What are you working on right now?

On the publishing front, I’m making ready for the release December 6th of the Outlaws of Avalon holiday special: “An Avalon Christmas Carol”. Writing-wise (at the time of this interview), I’m gearing up to take part in my sixth National Novel Writing Month – my first NaNoWriMo, incidentally, being the one in which I wrote “Ballad”. We’ll see where the muse takes me this time!

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What draws you to the genre you write in? Have you always been drawn to it?

I actually didn’t really get into fantasy until my teens. Then I guess I gradually became aware that I want more out of stories (and out of life, really) than what is generally considered “realistic”. So now I come up with places like Avalon Faire, where – as Marion Hood so pithily put it – “There is a lot of overlap…between the truth and the impossible.”

Who/what is your writing inspiration?

A dash of wishful thinking, a dollop of my misery wanting company in characters’ suffering, a bit of blind creation in the hope of tripping over something cool or funny or painfully beautiful… this, that, and everything, really.

What do you do if inspiration just won’t come?

Either just keep spinning the straw until it starts to turn golden, or walk away until the muse chooses to woo me. The tricky part is knowing when to employ which tactic.

Which part of the writing process is your favourite, and which part do you dread?

The actual writing part. Just putting one word in front of the other. That’s… actually the answer to both questions. Pulling the story out of the blank page is my happy place, even if I’m sometimes a chicken about getting started.

What is your number one distraction?

Social media. They say it’s a marketing must, but yikes, what a time-sucking void it can be to shout into!

Are you a plotter or a pantser?

I must prefer to plot, though I have been on occasion known to pants a project.

Tea or coffee?

Tea, forever and always.

What are the most important three things you’ve learned about writing, editing or publishing (or all of the above!) since you started your journey?

1 = That saying about “Do what you love, and you’ll never work a day in your life”? Not necessarily true. The thing you love can be work. Painful work, even. And that’s okay.

2 = Anything that depends on the reactions of others – fame, money, your book’s placement on this or that public shelf – is tragically out of your control. But the art you create is all on you. So make sure that, amidst your literary goals, you can reach at least one all by yourself, no outer validation needed.

3 = There will always be a better writer than you. Keep writing, and that better writer could be you.

What’s your favourite quote on writing?

“How do you write like tomorrow won’t arrive?

How do you write like you need it to survive?

How do you write ev’ry second you’re alive?

Ev’ry second you’re alive? Ev’ry second you’re alive?”

“Non-Stop” (Hamilton) by Lin-Manuel Miranda

(Quotes don’t tend to stick to me unless they’re set to music.)

What is the best piece of advice you’ve received?

“Hit the save button, close the laptop, and get something to eat before you pass out, Danielle.”

Where else can we connect with you?

That time-sucking social media I mentioned? I’m there, from time to time.

My blog, Ever On Word

The Twitter account of @DEShipley

My book-lovin’ face on Facebook

And because he begged so persistently, I let Will Scarlet loose on Tumblr

Thank you so much, Danielle, for a wonderful and insightful interview! Don’t forget to check out Danielle and her books on Goodreads, too – there’s plenty to discover!

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For all other interviews, take a look here.

For Cookie Break’s home page, have a look here.

A Chat with Rhianne Williams

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I’m really excited about this month’s interview, because I’m one of Rhianne’s beta readers! So you can take it from me when I say that this is one exciting release to look out for 😉

Rhianne Williams blogs over at Little Novelist, where you can find some incredible resources and online courses for writers! If you’ve never been over there I highly recommend that you take a look – you won’t regret it!

Rhianne wants to be the writer who inspires others to follow their dreams, whether that’s in writing or another matter. Now her first novel is in the editing stages, her second is being outlined and she has more ideas for stories than she has fingers.

Today she’s here to talk about her debut novel, The Collective 🙂

Hi Rhianne, and welcome to Cookie Break! I’m really excited to talk to you about your upcoming novel The Collective – to start with, could you tell us a little about your book? No spoilers, please! 😉

Oh of course. I use this to explain what my book is quickly to people so seemed this would be a pretty good thing to explain it; A curious university student gets forcefully whisked away on an adventure back in the 1700’s by a man seeking revenge, her only saviour, a library frequenter with lots of secrets

Would you mind sharing an excerpt with us, or a favourite quote? 

“It’s to say sorry,” he insisted. “Please, open it.”

Not needing any further instructions Tilly ripped open the box. Inside was a medallion on a necklace. The small coin was stamped with a pirate emblem rather than the the rulers head. Not that she knew who the ruler of this time was. For a moment, she was just a girl standing in a beautiful location in the Caribbean with a boy she might actually like. He took her hand in his and pulled her closer into an embrace. It would have been the perfect moment for him to kiss her but it was not meant to be.

Do you remember what sparked the idea for The Collective?

I have absolutely zero clue. This book took its own shape. I pasted the entire thing! I just found out about NaNo two weeks into the month and tried my best to catch up, 32,000 words were written in those two weeks and it became this remarkable story. I needed something different to work on, and this arose. 

What are you working on right now?

Far too many things;

  1. Getting The Collective ready for publication, need beta feedback and answers from publishers. 
  2. The Collective Book 2; An Egyptian Curse
  3. The Missing Prince (fantasy novel)
  4. Schedule Maker (free course module)
  5. Online course
  6. plus more

I try and focus on a few things at a time as I seem to deviate less that way – I’m strange. Usually it wouldn’t help. I pick one thing each evening I sit down to work, mixing it up keeps my interest. 

What draws you to the genre you write in? Have you always been drawn to it?

I’ve always had an active imagination so fantasy and romance have always been inside my mind. I think I love the concept that in another world/life all the things we think up COULD actually be real. 

Who/what is your writing inspiration?

The characters in my head are my inspiration, they need for their stories to be told and therefore I must write them. I’m not bothered about whether I make millions, or have my books turned into a movie. I just want to tell my stories and be proud that I have made something. If my friends read it and love it great, if people buy it and love it amazing, if people buy it and don’t like it that’s fine too! Not everyone has the same likes/dislikes, interests. 

What do you do if inspiration just won’t come? 

Play Skyrim! Seriously been helping so much, since I started playing again I’ve had quite a few 1000 writing days. (I work full time). 

Which part of the writing process is your favourite, and which part do you dread?

Planning and writing are my favourite. I don’t outline everything so there is still an element of surprise for me when I write. I absolutely HATE editing. It takes so long and feels like a chore BUT it’s for the greater good and something every writer needs to do more than once 😉

What is your number one distraction?

Television. If I get into a new series I am all over that until there is nothing.

Are you a plotter or a pantser?

Kind of a little bit of both. I plan so much and leave myself the freedom to have the story tell itself. 

Tea or coffee? 

Neither. I don’t drink hot drinks unless its hot milk from costa with marshmallows and cream

What are the most important three things you’ve learned about writing, editing or publishing (or all of the above!) since you started your journey?

It takes time, and only the story knows how long it’s going to take to tell. 

What’s your favourite quote on writing?

“The first draft is you telling yourself the story, every draft after that is you finding the best way to tell that story.” 

-Terry Pratchett

What is the best piece of advice you’ve received?

Anything Rachael has ever told me. Basically the best advice I have been given and would give is surround yourself with a few writers to help you when you’re struggling, we should all be supporting each other. 

Where else can we connect with you? 

My website

Twitter

instragram

Thank you so much, Rhianne, for stopping by!

If you’re not following Rhianne already I suggest that you do – she’s one of those writers who makes our community what it is by helping and supporting others every day!

The Collective will be out in early January, so mark it in your calendars! ❤

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For all other interviews, take a look here.

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A Chat with Liz Meldon

lizmeldon

Today I have the great pleasure to welcome author Liz Meldon on Cookie Break, for a chat about her upcoming novel – and sequel in the Games we Play duology – The King!

Liz is a Canadian author who grew up in the Middle East. She has a degree in Bioarchaeology from Western University, and when she isn’t writing about her own snarky characters, she is ghostwriting romance novellas, loitering on social media, or taking care of her many animals.

As a freelance ghostwriter, she has written over a dozen books ranging from romance to horror, full-length to novella-sized. A handful are currently on the market, and she stalks their “authors” with fiendish delight. She loves writing realistic characters in fantastical settings.

Her newest novel, The King, will be out in November, so add it to your tbr lists now!

Welcome to Cookie Break, Liz! Congratulations on being so close to publishing The King. I appreciate you taking the time to stop by, despite how busy you no doubt are!

Could you tell us a little about your book? No spoilers, please! 😉

Absolutely! The King is the first full-length book in the Games We Play duology. The Fool, its prologue, was published last December. The King and the rest of the works in the Games We Play duology centers around vampire hunter Delia Roberts. She’s a mid-level hunter at the League in the small city of Harriswood, and she’s not exactly happy there. It’s a lot of monotonous routine these days: surveillance, patrols, driving the van while the other hunters do the vamp arresting. She’s sort of stuck in the only job she’s ever liked and tried at, and now she’s not sure whether she should really even be a hunter. Her aunt was once a famous hunter on the west coast, and these days, no matter how hard she tries, Delia isn’t exactly following in her footsteps—and it’s beyond frustrating.

Meanwhile, in The Fool, she met a gorgeous masked man who turned out to be a warm-bodied vampire—Claude Grimm to be specific, a Harriswood vampire clan leader. In The King, Claude is determined to follow-up on the connection they had when they first met at the masquerade, though Delia fears what their budding romance could mean for her and the job that she’s always thought was her life’s purpose. She fights her feelings for a long time, despite knowing, deep down, she’s been smitten and denying it from the night they met.

At the same time, the Donovan vampire clan is acting out violently against the other vampire clans, forcing the League to create a tentative truce with the other vampires in Harriswood—the first time in local history, a both dangerous and unprecedented shift that will change them all forever.

Would you mind sharing an excerpt with us, or a favourite quote?

A brief excerpt from a scene where Delia finally accepts Claude’s offer to help improve her hand-to-hand combat skills:

“Seconds later the line was dead, and she tossed her phone aside like it scalded her. Unable to shake her steadily growing grin, Delia hopped up, energized for the first time all day, and went to tidy her disastrous kitchen.

Not because she wanted to do the dishes or scrub the grease stains off the backsplash, but because if she didn’t move, the high she felt after a mere two-minute conversation with Claude Grimm would utterly consume her.

And she wasn’t ready to be consumed.

Not yet.”

Do you remember what sparked the idea for The King?

I initially wrote The Fool with the intention of it being a part of my Erotic Short Shorts series. It was meant to be 8-10K—just a smutty story about a vampire hunter making mistakes and falling for a vampire. As I wrote it, however, it suddenly became so much more. I saw this whole universe unfolding, and I really wanted to pursue a romance between these two characters.

At the same time, I wanted to explore writing a character like Delia. She feels authentic to me: someone who wants to be good at a job they think they were destined for, but finds they’re kind of just coasting. I mention quarter-life crisis a lot, which I think a lot of people poke fun at, but it feels very real to me and a lot of people my age. You have these expectations in life: high school, college, job, adult. And it’s not really happening as easily as it once was. Psychologically, when you create certain expectations that aren’t met repeatedly, you start to break down a little. Delia is my exploration of that.

What are you working on right now?

I’m currently doing all the intense work that comes with self-publishing a book: creating graphics, scheduling posts, proofing, getting the paperback and ebook versions formatted. On the writing front, I’m working on an erotic short story called Bliss, which I’m hoping to complete and publish soon to add to my Erotic Short Shorts series.

What draws you to the genre you write in? Have you always been drawn to it?

I’ve always been interested in the paranormal, but what I love the most about paranormal romance is tackling very real, human issues (love, relationships, sex, character growth) with creatures who are decidedly very not-human. That in itself is my favourite thing to work through, especially with my Lovers and Liars serial. It focuses on Loki and Aphrodite (and other old world gods) trying to survive in the modern day—and we see that they are very human in their strengths and their flaws, which I enjoy.

Also love. I don’t know why I’m drawn to it. I’m very cynical, particularly about fictional romances, but I just adore writing about two people finding their other half.

Who/what is your writing inspiration?

I always say the book I’m reading right now is my inspiration. Books that fuel me to work on my own stuff are ones that I regard very highly. Music is also hugely inspirational—I plot most, if not all, my books while I’m on a walk listening to my iPod.

What do you do if inspiration just won’t come?

I work on another project if inspiration won’t come for something I’m working on in the moment. Doing something creative is bound to spark more creativity, so I just try to keep working and hope it’ll come back to me eventually.

Which part of the writing process is your favourite, and which part do you dread?

I love the plotting process and absolutely dread the revision stages.

What is your number one distraction?

Twitter. It’s awful, but I get totally sucked into it. Bad Liz. Bad!

Are you a plotter or a pantser?

Plotter FOR SURE. I plot the general story in a notebook. Then I plot chapter by chapter. Then I take that outline and plot MORE intensely before I begin writing said chapter.

Tea or coffee?

Neither. I’d take tea over coffee though.

What are the most important three things you’ve learned about writing, editing or publishing (or all of the above!) since you started your journey?

That you have to sit down and write. You can’t always wait for the muse to bless you with inspiration or the will to create. Writing is a job like any other, and some days you really just have to put the hard work in, tough as it is. Editing is a huge part of the writing process, and you have to not be scared to slash away and rework things. Also, you need a professional editor and proofreader. You can’t be a one-man band, especially when you’re gearing up to self-publish.

What’s your favourite quote on writing?

“Every writer I know has trouble writing.”

– Joseph Heller

What is the best piece of advice you’ve received?

Remember the good reviews in just as much detail as you remember the bad ones.

Where else can we connect with you?

You can reach me on:

Goodreads

Twitter

Facebook

Tumblr

Pinterest

My Website

Thank you so much, Liz, for stopping by! I’m very excited for the release of The King, and have already popped your books onto my tbr list! 🙂 Don’t forget, The King is out next month but you can already find her novels and start reading on Goodreads and Amazon now! 😉

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A Chat with Arpit Sharma

Arpit Sharma

Happy September, everyone!

Goodness me, where has the year gone?!

The writer I’m introducing to you today is Arpit Sharma. He’s one of the youngest authors in India, and when he’s not working on his book he writes poetry and music. Today he’s here to tell us a bit about his debut novel, Far From Pretension, which is set to be out later this year!

Arpit Sharma teaser

Hi Arpit, and welcome to Cookie Break! You’re so close now to publishing your debut novel Far from Pretension. This is such an exciting point to be at, and a huge achievement!

Could you tell us a little about your book? No spoilers, please! 😉

Hello readers! So about my book, Far from Pretension is a young adult novel with a realistic setting. The protagonist is a sixteen year old boy who’s trying hard to get his family out of poor financial conditions. He’s selling newspapers to support them. One day a long lost friend of his invites him for a competition to participate in. This seems as a real opportunity to turn his life around. Being a smart guy, he feels confident that he can make it. So he leaves his parents for the long period of three whole months. But while he is gone, something unfortunate happens at his home. He knows nothing about it, but when he does come to know, it’s already too late. He is betrayed in the end and there’s nothing he can do now.  But he somehow makes a choice.

Would you mind sharing an excerpt with us, or a favourite quote?

“…a tear rolled down his cheek, fell on the paper and smudged the last word of the letter.”

There’s something about this quote which draws people towards the plot. Of course the protagonist breaks down at some point in the novel, and this line paints a perfect picture of his condition.

Do you remember what sparked the idea for Far from Pretension?

It just popped up! But not really. I remember thinking about three story lines simultaneously. I was trying some way to combine the three of them, but it couldn’t work out that way. It was a big disappointment! However, the idea of putting atheprotagonist into absolute trouble, making him suffer and then giving him a surprise seemed to be a good one! (Cruel at the same time). And of course highly relatable to anyone who reads it. I then finalised my plan on going ahead with it, although major plot developments were thought upon much later.  The theme of the novel was already decided. So I right away started working on it.

What are you working on right now?

I’m not working on any lengthy project right now! (I’ll be graduating high school in 2017…so consider me to be under a lot of work as a senior). However, I write poetry on a daily basis, I’m expanding my collection and also working in some small collaboration projects. You all can read my poems on Instagram.

What draws you to the genre you write in? Have you always been drawn to it?

Yes and No! I have always thought of writing fantasy and including supernatural elements to my work. A lot of novels which I read are fantasy based. However dealing with young adult has some of its own benefits, the greatest one being that it’s highly relatable. Once you absorb the words, it’s you and the book. The image of the protagonist declines at some point (which is good in this case!) since you imagine yourself in his/her place. This establishes an effective emotional connection. And that’s what makes a novel worth reading! ☺

Who/what is your writing inspiration?

Durjoy Datta for his phenomenal romance writing! And Paulo Coelho!

What do you do if inspiration just won’t come?

Listen to songs, calm myself down and think about what would I do if I were in the story. Forming a real picture in my mind helps a lot. I personally believe that it makes my writing so much more better. The details seem more appealing, the plot develops with a flow. The process is subconscious but extremely effective. I also like to go out, talk to people one on one and share their experiences.  A lot of times I have been inspired this way, by direct conversations with strangers or friends.

Which part of the writing process is your favourite, and which part do you dread?

The initial chapters are my favourite! (Beginner’s luck!). I’m filled with positivity, and have a clear picture what to write and how to develop the story and lay the groundwork. Words simply come out themselves. It’s an enjoyable process.
The parts of writing which I dread are the emotional ones and major cliff-hangers. They are the most difficult to execute, especially while writing about a character’s death. The way things should be; it’s hard to define it in words. You have to deal with the happening itself, the reaction of other characters and many events at the same time! That makes it all the more difficult, but not at all any less exciting.

What is your number one distraction?

There are many distractions for a writer like writer’s block. But for me I guess it would be the ‘new ideas’. When I was working on Far from Pretension I had many ideas for the story. I had a hard time dealing with them initially, but then I started writing short pieces of writing based on these ideas. These thousand word pieces would help me keep the idea for future reference and they also acted as a small break from my main project. This process helped me a lot in coming up with new plot lines and increased my creative thinking. I still have those pieces with me and surprisingly my friends have liked them a lot. I think maybe  I’ll be able to develop one them into another novel.

Are you a plotter or a pantser?

Definitely a plotter!

Tea or coffee?

Both! India is famous for tea, so I don’t back off from it. 😉

What are the most important three things you’ve learned about writing, editing or publishing (or all of the above!) since you started your journey?

Well to keep it short I’d say.
For Writing being a kid helps. Originality is what sets you apart from others. It’s the key to be creative.
Editing: being like your high school English teacher(That helps!) and keep learning. It’s probably going to take more time than you think. I also advice NOT to edit while you are writing. Keep it for some other time. While going for traditional publishing, it’s important to get your work professionally edited!
For publishing, you have to come out of your comfort zone and have a lot of patience. Learning some sales techniques and knowing your strengths clearly helps. While writing author’s bio one should take extreme care and put all of your related achievements. Because most of the times it can make or break a deal. Also some contacts and previous achievements in the writing field help.

What’s your favourite quote on writing?

‘Artists use lies to tell the truth. Yes, I created a lie. But because you believed it, you found something true about yourself.’

– Alan Moore

What is the best piece of advice you’ve received?

Don’t hesitate to be yourself! Unique is what sells in the writing world!

Where else can we connect with you?

I remain highly active on Instagram, also I have a Facebook page.
I’ll be happy to help anyone who approaches me.
Facebook 
Instagram
Twitter
E-mail – arpitsharmawriting@gmail.com

Thank you, Arpit, for stopping by, and all the best for the release! Don’t forget – Far from Pretension will be out this Winter, so keep an eye out for it!

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A Chat with Holly Evans

HollyEvans

I’m really excited about today’s interview! I received two of Evans’ novels as ARCs and have thoroughly enjoyed them both (in case you missed my reviews and were wondering – Infernal Ties & Infernal Bonds), so it’s my great pleasure to welcome Holly Evans to Cookie Break today!

Holly Evans is an urban fantasy author with an unhealthy fascination with blades, a deep love of hellhounds, and would love one day to wake up as a fae. When she isn’t wrangling rogue characters and trying to tame her muse, she’s researching shiny new ninja moves. During her spare time she fights crime and rights wrongs on the streets of Prague.

Holly blogs about books and her writing, and shares her (really interesting and helpful – check it out if you haven’t already!) insights.

Hi Holly, and welcome to Cookie Break! Congratulations on your Infernal Hunt series – and on publishing the third book so soon! I’m really excited to hear more.

Could you tell us a little about your book? No spoilers, please! 😉

The Infernal Hunt books are urban fantasy set in Prague, they follow the twins Evie and Quin who’re hunters. It’s a little bit like the TV show Supernatural. Book One Infernal Ties sees Evie turn Prague upside trying to find Quin after he vanished. Book Two, Infernal Bonds opens with the night of a blood moon and an unusual celestial alignment that makes the veil between the planes very fragile. That allows infernal creatures to walk the city, which of course descends into chaos.

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Would you mind sharing an excerpt with us, or a favourite quote?

I have so many favourite quotes, I love these characters 😀

This is from Infernal Ties and it makes me smile. It’s a good look at Evie and her view on the supernal world.

My twin was in trouble, and the time for manners and platitudes had vanished along with him. I pulled back my jacket to reveal the two daggers on my hips; I kept the vial and throwing knives hidden. It’s good to have some surprises.

His eyes yellowed and he nodded to the back room. We were known around the city. We’d never made any attempts to hide what we did. As long as they played by the rules, we left them alone. It was almost a shame they couldn’t play by the rules. I smiled to myself as I walked past the bar into the adjoining room; I knew that I’d hate a quiet life. I enjoyed the thrill of the fight too much to give it up.

Three broad males were in the far room with polished tree stumps for seating around the edge. The tables were stained slabs of wood, complete with knots and uneven surface. The entire place was a chaotic mash of styles and desires, yet, somehow, it managed to work. It also offered weapons; no one enjoyed having their head smashed onto one of those tree stumps.

They stopped whatever conversation they were having and turned to face me. I gave them my sweetest smile as I strolled over to the wall between the room I stood in and their room and leaned against the archway; doorway was too strong a term. If nothing else, it had no door.

“Hello, boys, have you missed me?”

The tallest, with pitch-black hair, snarled at me. I pouted.

“Now, Felix, that really isn’t very friendly.”

His younger brother, the scrawniest of the bunch, given he fit through the doorway without too much effort, put his hand on Felix’s chest and held him where he stood.

“She’s not worth it.”

I gave them a dark smile and stepped closer. “Oh… but I am.”

Do you remember what sparked the idea for this series?

I was toying with the idea of writing twins, I thought the dynamic would be really fun, and I knew that I wanted to write an urban fantasy set here in Prague. It’s such a great location for it, with the twisting alleys and underground bars, it’s crying out for an urban fantasy book!

What are you working on right now?

Right this second I’m editing Infernal Alliances, book 4 in the series. I’m also slowly working on the first draft of Branded In Ink book one in my next Urban Fantasy series. This one follows a Dacian the tattoo magician. Between all of that I’m toying with a fun project. It’s also Urban Fantasy and will likely never be edited, it’s to help me relax and destress. That’s focused on Connor a hound from The Wild Hunt, and Alexis she’s something rather special with very illegal magic. It’s full of wonderful Urban Fantasy tropes and absolutely no care given! lol

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What draws you to the genre you write in? Have you always been drawn to it?

I didn’t realise it existed until a few years ago, but as soon as I found out I felt in love. It’s perfect for me! It has action and intrigue, with paranormal elements, all set in the real world. It’s something that’s set so close to home being in the modern day, so it’s really fun to play with. There’s also a huge scope there that I love, there’s so much variety within the genre. I can go and play with dragons, or question what it means to be me through the eyes and experiences of a fallen angel, there are so many options.

Who/what is your writing inspiration?

Prague provides a lot of inspiration. I step outside and see this gorgeous city and little ideas pop into my head. I wander down an alley and a scene will form in my mind, it’s amazing. My best friend also provides a lot of inspiration, we’ll often bounce random ideas back and forth between us. He’s the reason I have snarky gay/pansexual elves in my fiction!

What do you do if inspiration just won’t come?

I walk away. I wander down by the river, or devour a few books, or watch some TV. I refuse to try and force things, so I step back and relax.

Which part of the writing process is your favourite, and which part do you dread?

I love starting a new project. The excitement and the thrill of something shiny and new, knowing that there’s so much there for you to explore and experience is amazing. I dread the final proofing pass when I’ve read the book too many times and I have to do the teeny tiny nit-picky bits. I’m ready to be done with it and hand it over to readers by then.

What is your number one distraction?

Wonderful shiny books that I want to read. I’m an avid reader and I quite often have to put my kindle away so I’m not tempted to read a few chapters when I’m supposed to be writing.

Are you a plotter or a pantser?

Somewhere between the two. It depends on the book really. Some have had really intense, detailed outlines, others have been pantsed where I know the very broad strokes and nothing more. I always know the big plot points, whether I know the fine details is anyone’s guess lol.

Tea or coffee?

Ack! Both? I’m English I adore tea, I keep at least three types of tea in at all times. That being said, I couldn’t function without coffee and I love coffee. Can I have both?

What are the most important three things you’ve learned about writing, editing or publishing (or all of the above!) since you started your journey?

Hmm I think the most important thing I’ve learnt applies to all three. You really, really, need to read absolutely everything you can lay your hands on. For writing, I read some 100 books last summer, in a variety of genres all to try and refine what does and doesn’t work. I also read poetry, non-fiction, copy, everything I can. You need to read everything about the publishing industry you can. It’s a huge sprawling industry, there are so many details, so many tips and tricks that you need to master. And you’ll improve your editing if again, you read and read, so you get a better grasp on story structure, on what readers want, and all that good stuff.

Next is that you need to be passionate. If you’re not passionate, if you’re not madly in love with what you’re writing and what you’re doing it’ll show on all levels.

Finally, you cannot self-edit. It’s been psychologically proven that you really can’t do it. Your brain slots in what you know should be there as opposed to what is there.

What’s your favourite quote on writing?

I love this one:

“We write to taste life twice, in the moment and in retrospect.” 
― Anaïs Nin

What is the best piece of advice you’ve received?

If you can’t write, read. Reading is so important. You learn a lot of reading from a variety of sources, it offers you downtime to refresh your brain, and it can be so wonderfully inspiring.

Where else can we connect with you?

On Twitter and on my blog.

You can also find Holly and her books over on Goodreads.

Thanks for having me, it was a pleasure!

Thanks for stopping by, Holly! The third novel in this series, Witch Infernal, will be released next week, on the 9th August. If you can’t wait, like me, you can pre-order it now! 😉

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A Chat with Shona Kinsella

ShonaKinsellaToday I’d like to introduce the lovely Shona Kinsella to you! Shona writes children’s books as well as fantasy novels, and today she’s here to talk about her devut novel, Ashael Rising – an epic fantasy story which will be released later this year ^-^

Hi Shona, and welcome to Cookie Break! I’m excited to hear more about your first novel, Ashael Rising!

Could you tell us a little about your book? No spoilers, please! 😉

Ashael is a hunter-gatherer woman, apprenticed to Bhearra, the healer and spiritual leader of their tribe.

The Zanthar are invaders from another world who extend their own lives by stealing the life-force of everything around them. They were last seen on Ashael’s world 200 years ago. They have returned, looking for The Vessel, a being prophesied to hold the life-force of the land.

Iwan is a slave to the Zanthar, descendant of the folk that were taken as slaves the last time the Zanthar visited this world. He is sent out as a spy, while his mother is held hostage to ensure his compliance.

Ashael begins to experience strange visions and magic that she cannot control. A group of foragers from her village go missing, forcing Ashael to explore the true nature of her powers.

Only when she is a prisoner of the Zanthar does she discover the true nature of their plan, the terrible danger facing her world and her own role in protecting it.

Ashael Rising is a story of finding our place in the world, a story of relationships, with each other and with the land we live on.

Would you mind sharing an excerpt with us, or a favourite quote?

“Muttering another quick prayer, this time to the All-Father, Sirion once more centered himself and sent out his mental vine. He imagined it anchored to the top of his head, rising into the sky, straight towards the sun. Energy flared in Sirion, driving him to his knees before he was able to regulate what he was channeling. This was like nothing he had ever done before. The power came in waves, crashing over him as if he lay on the sea shore. Panting, Sirion pictured a second vine, growing out of his chest, reaching towards Ezre. When it connected to Ezre, the Flores leader began to glow. He seemed to swell to twice his former size and when he released his next spell he roared.

Sirion’s vision was closing in, everything disappearing into a dazzling white light. He heard shouting, something about killing the slave. Then the energy was no longer just flowing through him, Ezre was actively drawing on it, pulling the power of the sun through Sirion. The filidh felt the flare and a searing heat when Ezre cast his next spell and he collapsed to the ground. The last thing he saw was Daven, engulfed in a ball of flame, then his eyes fluttered shut.”

Do you remember what sparked the idea for Ashael Rising?

It was a dream that I had, around nine years ago. The details are hazy now but the final image of that dream has never left me and it was that image that was in my mind when I first sat down to start writing Ashael Rising. The book diverged a lot from the dream but the image will still come. I can’t tell you what it is though because *spoilers*

What are you working on right now?

At the moment, I’m getting Ashael Rising ready to send to my editor at the end of the funding period but my mind is impatient to get started on the sequel so it’s percolating away in the background while I edit.

What draws you to the genre you write in? Have you always been drawn to it?

I have always loved fantasy. One of the earliest things I remember reading is Puddle Lane, a UK TV show and book series about a magician with a pet dragon! Magic is a big draw but I also think that fantasy gives us the opportunity to explore real-world issues in a way that is somehow less threatening, allowing us to look at situations without the same level of judgement and defensiveness that we might otherwise have.

Who/what is your writing inspiration?

Hmmm that’s a tough one. Many details of the setting in Ashael Rising are inspired by my interest in ancient history and my love of nature. If we’re talking about which writers inspire me, well we would be here all day but I would have to mention Stephen King, Raymond E Feist, Stephen Donaldson, Janny Wurts, LE Modesitt Jr and Brandon Sanderson. Listening to the Writing Excuses podcast often inspires me to look at my work from different angles and has led to some really interesting changes.

What do you do if inspiration just won’t come?

At first, I’ll usually try working on something else, writing a short story or creative non-fiction piece that day. If I’m really struggling, I might take a day or two away from my computer, read some fiction and go for a lot of walks. I always find my groove again, sometimes at really inopportune moments, like while I’m cooking dinner, or settling down to sleep.

Which part of the writing process is your favourite, and which part do you dread?

My favourite part is the initial discovery of the story; the joy that comes when it’s all flowing well. I don’t really have any parts that I dread, though cutting words can be tricky. I am nervous about getting my first professional edits, does that count?

What is your number one distraction?

My kids. I have two daughters, aged ten and two, and they like to keep me busy and away from my computer. Occasionally Twitter.

Are you a plotter or a pantser?

Pantser.

Tea or coffee?

Coffee.

What are the most important three things you’ve learned about writing, editing or publishing (or all of the above!) since you started your journey?

1 – I don’t need external validation. I am a writer because I write, not because anyone else says I am.
2 – It’s important to have a publisher who’s excited about your work.
3 – There are always extra words to cut

What’s your favourite quote on writing?
“If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot. There’s no way around these two things that I’m aware of, no shortcut.”

-Stephen King, On Writing

What is the best piece of advice you’ve received?

It’s your story. Listen, take advice if you like, but remember that it’s your story. Tell it how you like.

Thank you, Shona, for stopping by! You can connect with Shona and find out more about her book on Twitter, Facebook and her blog. Ashael Rising will be published by Unbound later this year.

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