Category Archives: books

Free this week! Epic fantasy, Journey To Landaran

For the first time, I’m offering Journey To Landaran for free download on Amazon!  December 3 to December 5:  http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00IO7IXSC

Landaran ebook final copy 400

Blurb:

Aidah and her twin brother Tavish have always had a knack for getting into trouble. From pie stealing and pranks to hunting for magical creatures, they have always escaped notice in their tiny mountain village.

Until now.

Aidah begins seeing visions through her brother’s eyes. He’s a Firestarter, gifted with the Talent to control light and heat, destined to become a Sun Mage in the great city of Landaran. But he doesn’t want to leave without his sister. As storm clouds gather, Aidah dreams of a beautiful man, a frightening man, calling to her.

She fears the truth. That she may be developing a Talent of her own, one that will change their lives forever.

The power to read minds. To possess bodies. To travel inside dreams. In the world of Ernid, Spirit is the ultimate power.

Nations will go to war over them.

Excerpt:

He saw a man, a man who was not running. The man was dressed for heavy winter travel with a waterskin and travel pouch across his chest, a long gray cloak, sturdy fur-lined boots and—Tavish gasped—a sword, an actual sword at his hip. The only men with weapons were the local militia, and they had spears and maces for the most part. The man carried a bucket but he walked slowly, not running as others were. He stood in the middle of the street, just down from Tavish. Too close.

As their eyes met, the dark-haired man sneered. “So there you are, my young fire Talent.”

Fear gripped Tavish’s body, but his mind raced. At any second the Storm Mage could call lightning to strike at him. He could disperse the heat but not the power of the shock; it would kill him. Tavish could also call fire from the hot embers of the temple, but doing so might cause the mage to strike. From where the militia had charged up the hillside to the treeline he heard shouts and the sounds of battle. There would be no help from them.

He wondered: did the fellow want him alive or dead?

The man walked up, boots crunching on black embers in the snow, dark eyes appraising him from beneath the hood of his gray cloak. The nostrils of his hawkish nose flared. “My name is Madhar. Give yourself up quietly, or I’ll destroy what’s left of your village.”

Ah, so he was wanted alive. Perhaps an attack would be possible, but he had to be careful. Meanwhile, the fire at the silo had been almost put out, and he could see his father and grandfather leading the greater part of the village over to put out the flames at the well. He hurried to put distance between himself and Madhar as the man tried to reach out for him.

“So what are you after? Stealing Talents for Innis or something? You may find me a little more than you can handle, mage.”

He prepared to engulf the two of them in flames, forming protection in his mind for his clothing. As he began to direct the heat, however, a loud voice rang out in his head, and an image flared of another building in flames. He gasped.

“Come here! The house is on fire! Come home and put out the flames and don’t let them capture you!”

It was Aidah, and the inferno was his own home! There was no time to play with this annoying Storm Mage. Aidah and Mother were in trouble.

He pulled, and as flames engulfed himself and the mage, he ran around Madhar towards where his father was shoveling slush on fire consuming the structure of the well. He moved quick enough that a small lightning bolt meant for him hit empty space, but the force of the impact sent him flying into his father’s arms. Behind him he could hear Madhar crying out with surprise and pain as he dove to escape the flames. With no fuel and with Tavish’s concentration broken by his fall, the flames disappeared in a puff of smoke.

Tavish shot to his feet, ignoring curls of smoke wafting up from his clothing and the headache beginning to pound within his skull. “The house is on fire! Aidah sent a call for help, with her mind. And there’s an enemy ma—”

“Halt there! The Emperor wants you.” Madhar, his face covered with soot, staggered forward, sword drawn.

Blinking from the shock of the blast and Tavish’s flying entrance, Darrant stood and moved in front of Tavish, rattled but recovering quickly. He held up his shovel up like a weapon. “Who are you?”

“In the name of Innis, this town has been surrounded, and you are all now prisoners. Give up quietly or face my wrath.” A stroke of lightning lent power to the mage’s words, narrowly missing the mill up on the hillside by the creek.

Author interview: R. J. Crayton

crayton

So here’s another interview as we head into the weekend. Meet R.J. Crayton, a past journalist turned storyteller. Look to the bottom of this post for links on Crayton’s books and more.

 

1. So how did you first start writing?

I have always written, from when I was a small child. Prior to becoming an author, I was a journalist, where I wrote fact-based stories. I worked for a couple of years at the Kansas City Star, which was considered a large, mid-sized paper (I know, oxymoron). But, I spent most of my journalism time at smaller, trade publications, like Education Technology News and Campus Crime. There’s a certain exuberance in a newsroom, but I liked the intimacy and quiet focus you got with trade reporting.

2.  I see that you have a romance series. “Second Life” came out last December. What’s the premise of this series?

Second Life is the second book in the Life First series, which is set in the future after massive pandemics have wiped out much of society. The society that remains is completely about the preservation of human life, so the protagonist of the first book, Kelsey, is fleeing a forced kidney transplant. She gets help from her best friend Susan, who ends up being the primary character in Second Life, because her reward for helping Kelsey turns out to be getting kidnapped. The series is primarily suspense, with some romance as well. Second Life is the romantic book in the three book series.

3.  Any hints on where things will go next?

The third book in the series, Third Life: Taken really concludes things for this story arc. Kelsey fled her country in the first book, but she never really got away. Susan and Rob connected well in book two, but it wasn’t clear if they’d have staying power. So, the third book wraps up both those storylines. We see Rob and Susan finalized and we get to see Kelsey, once and for all, deal with the repercussions of fleeing and put that to bed in a final way.

4.  I also see that you recently published a short story collection. Tell me about that.

The short story collection is called Four Mothers. My longer fiction tends to be about things fairly unrelated to my life. When I write short stories, they tend to work through more personally connected issues. So Four Mothers are short stories on motherhood, and some of the concerns and fears mothers have. One of the stories in the collection is called, The Beads, and it’s about a mother whose daughter nearly chokes to death on a bead. I wrote that when my daughter was small and putting stuff (that wasn’t food) in her mouth.

5.  What inspires you to write?

I find inspiration in all sorts of things. I mentioned earlier that my short stories tend to be of a more personal nature. My longer works tend to be inspired by a concept or question I find intriguing. The premise of Life First was: what would a society look like if everyone was required to give up body parts if it was required to save other members of society?  So, I like the idea of an intriguing question and what if scenarios. Those are always so much fun to write.

6.  Who is your favorite writer and why?

Hmm. Do you want to know which child is my favorite, too? I tend not to like those questions because it has a certain unfair quality to it, when I like a variety of writers. I don’t know that I’ve got one who’s my absolute favorite. However, I like Harlan Coben a lot. He writes page-turners that are filled with excitement, love and a bit of fun. So, I like a book like that. While he hasn’t written tons of stuff, I was really impressed with SJ Watson’s debut, Before I go to Sleep.

7.  What do you think of the whole self-publishing wave going on right now?

I think self-publishing is great. It’s wonderful to be able to put out a book you think is good and get paid for it through sales to the public. There are many people who self publish books before they’re ready. While they have every right to do that, I think it hurts the image of self publishing, because when people take a chance on something only to find it’s low quality, they generalize and believe all self-published writing is like that. That is an unfortunate and untrue generalization. Overall, I think much of the self published stuff is good, and worth trying if you like the sample provided on the retailer’s site.

8.  What advice do you have for other writers?

I think the main thing is to write. We can spend so much time trying to get out there on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Pinterest and the rest that there’s little time left for writing. I know I’ve been guilty of that myself. But, you need to have more than just the one book out there to keep current. By writing more, you’ll have more books, which means more opportunities to connect with readers.  Of course, you should be reading, too. It’s important to read good books so you can emulate the things that work. If you read a couple of duds in there, too, then you can use that knowledge to avoid those pitfalls in your own writing. Other than that, I’m not sure there’s a lot of other advice to give

. Social media details: Website: http://rjcrayton.com Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/rjcraytonauthor Twitter feed: https://twitter.com/RJCrayton Goodreads Page: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7111348.R_J_Crayton Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/rjcrayton/ Google+: https://plus.google.com/u/0/100148365017122584860/posts Tumblr: http://rjcrayton.tumblr.com/ Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/RJ-Crayton/e/B00DFQ5F24/

Last day free! The Wish: a paranormal/supernatural love story

http://www.amazon.com/Wish-Paranormal-Short-Story-Pack-ebook/dp/B00M14V2V4/

Well, this is it!  Last day to grab the short story pack, “The Wish” from Amazon for free. After this, I’ll see how the story is doing on Amazon. If I’m not seeing a lot of Kindle Unlimited downloads, I’ll likely open it up to other markets such as Barnes and Noble, Google, and iBooks.

the wish 200 x 300

Jodi is hopelessly in love with her best friend. It seems like a harmless thing to make a wish on a Japanese tablet. But it isn’t. Especially when Uzume, Japanese Goddess of Joy and Happiness is listening. Sometimes the price for joy can be too much.

Author Interview: Ethan Jones

Ethan

Just a quick update–“The Wish” is still available for free on Amazon through August 25th. Currently it’s ranking #4 for Kindle short reads in science fiction and fantasy.

Now today I’m very excited to feature Ethan Jones, writer of thrillers and spy novels. There are a bunch of links at the bottom of this post where you can learn more about him. Welcome, Ethan!

1.  It looks like you’ve been writing for a while. What first led you into this career?

I’ve always liked to write, ever since I can remember. As a child, I would watch a movie or a TV show and then write down how the rest of the story or a new adventure would continue. Then, about nine years ago, I read a book from a world famous author that completely disappointed me. And I thought, “I can do better than this.” So, I rekindled my love for writing.

2.  What about the thriller genre appeals to you?

The sense of adventure and escapism. In a thriller, pretty much everything is possible. Betrayal, justice, fear, love, hate, terror, all feelings have so much room and so many ways to be described. And in terms of research, the writer can take a lot of liberties and use his creative license to the fullest extent.

3.  How did you develop your key characters in your series, Justin and Carrie?

I wanted a Canadian secret agent, something you don’t see very often in the suspense and thriller genres. And I wanted Justin to be a great operative, but also a kind and gentle man. He’s someone that relies on his partner, Carrie, and a host of other associates and contacts. Justin is logical, but also hot-blooded, so there’s a clash of these two traits that result in internal and external conflicts. Carrie is a tough woman that brings balance to Justin’s character. She used to date Justin many years ago and they are now good friends. They both try to lead their personal lives along their extremely busy operational work schedule.

4. It looks like the most recent book out was “Rogue Agents.” Tell me more about that.

Rogue Agents takes place largely in North Korea. A couple of Canadian Intelligence Service operatives have disappeared and they turn up in this rogue state. Justin and Carrie are assigned the task of neutralizing these two operatives, who are seemingly breaking under pressure and revealing secret intelligence to the enemy. But there is more at play and Justin and Carrie will have a difficult time preparing and executing this almost impossible mission.

5.  I’m always fascinated by history such as the Cold War period. How do you think the current political situations with Russia and the Middle East are going to impact things, both real life and fiction?

I steer clear of making predictions for the future, because we simply don’t know what going to happen in an hour or tomorrow, let alone in a few months of years. In terms of the fiction world, I’ve gotten a lot of ideas and I’m gathering material about these developments, mainly in the Middle East. My next spy thriller in the Justin Hall series, called Shadow Agents, will focus on the Middle East, the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and the new crisis swallowing up Iraq and threatening to spread out beyond its borders.

6.  What is the hardest part of writing a book?

The middle. The beginning has all the excitement of a new adventure, the thrill of sending the characters in a new operation. Then, after the first fifty pages or so, I find it a bit harder to continue to storyline and the plots and subplots. I find that I need to go back and fix a few things and then do more thinking and research.

7.  Who is your favorite writer, and why?

I don’t have a single writer, but I like the works of Vince Flynn, David Baldacci, Brad Thor, Alex Berenson, Daniel Silva, Marc Cameron, Larry Bond, and other suspense and thriller writers. I’ve learned a lot from these masters, from how to begin the story with a bang to how to use foreshadowing, how to develop characters and how to weave together the main plot and a host of subplots.

8.  What are you working on next?

My next thriller is Shadow Agents. After a Mossad operation in Ramallah, West Bank goes sideways, Justin and Carrie are hunting a Palestinian terrorist cell planning a bombing at Berlin’s central train station. The course of events will take Justin and Carrie to Tel Aviv to follow their leads and find out the truth about the deadly Mossad mission and the new threat to the Middle East.

9.  What advice do you have for other writers?

Read and write. Read famous and non-famous writers in the genre you are writing or planning to write in. See what you like or dislike about how they craft their art, how they put together sentences and paragraphs, how their dialogue flows or doesn’t flow, how their plots are developed and how their characters cover to life. The keep those things in your mind as you write. Know the ending of the story from the beginning, then see it that the character gets there, but give him a lot of seemingly impossible obstacles on the way. Have a loose outline from the start, in writing or in your mind, and use that as a guide throughout your writing. And join KBoards to learn tricks and tips of the writing trade.

Links:

You can learn more about my writing, my books, read exclusive author interviews and book reviews on my blog: http://ethanjonesbooks.wordpress.com/ Or you can join my Fans Mailing List to be the first one to learn about new book releases, advance review copies, special deals and promotions. Here’s the link: http://eepurl.com/HIG7r And you can find me on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/pages/Ethan-Jones/329693267050697 or follow me on Twitter: https://twitter.com/EthanJonesBooks I love to hear your thoughts, so drop me a note at my personal e-mail authorethan@yahoo.com Thanks for the opportunity. Ethan Jones

Author Interview: Nicholas Andrews

It’s Friday, and that means another indie author interview!  Today I have Nicholas Andrews, fantasy writer with a few series out. You can find out more about Nicholas at his blog here:  www.authornicholasandrews.com .

nicholas

Hey, I appreciate you featuring me on your site.

1.  What first got you into writing?

Oddly enough, it was fantasy-based video games. I was playing The Legend of Zelda, Final Fantasy and Dragon Warrior when I was in elementary school. Most of what I read at the time was for book reports, and I would basically read whatever my mom brought home from her classroom, which tended to be middle-grade horror. I didn’t even know fantasy literature existed yet, but liked it enough through video games to make up my own stories. Eventually I discovered the genre when I began discovering my own reading material, and that’s when the dream of writing books began.

2.  As a reader, what are your favorite kinds of books? Why?

I enjoy fantasy the most because it’s the type of genre that can be anything or a little of everything. You want adventure, action, romance, mystery? You can find it.

3.  I see that you’ve started a new series, the Law of Eight. Tell me about that.

Well, it’s going to be a five-book series. I released the first novel, Secrets of the Stonechaser, back in December 2013. It’s about a mercenary named Nerris who used to be part of a famous group of adventurers. He is at a point of absolute despair in his life, but finds a purpose in attempting to guide the conscience of the leader of a rebel army, Lady Qabala, a young woman who walks the edge of morality in many ways.

Eventually Nerris meets up with his old friends and they decide to go on one last treasure hunt, along with a mysterious sorceress named Len-Ahl. Of course, they then find themselves on a journey, caught up in momentous events that will end up shaping the fate of the world. I released Book 2, Follow the Faery Footpath, last month and it continues the story of their journey.

4.  Is all your fantasy set in the same world? Why or why not?

The Law of Eight and my novelette series The Thrillseekers: Cadets of Gauntlet are in the same world. Cadets of Gauntlet is a prequel, taking place fourteen years before the main series. It shows Nerris and the Thrillseekers’ lives before they were famous as they attend a famous fighting school.

The Adventurers is its own separate world, due to the light, humorous nature of the stories. Though in a fantasy setting, the world more closely resembles ours in the way people think and live. They enjoy a lot of the same things we do in the modern day, such as rock music, fast food, pro wrestling, television, etc. but use magic to get around technological issues.

5.  What kind of process do you go through in writing each book?

First I make an outline that I never finish. I get two-thirds of the way through before I get bored, but I usually know how it’s going to end anyway. I’m writing the third book in The Law of Eight, and I think this is the first time I’ve actually finished an outline. But so much stuff goes down, especially toward the last half of the book, that I needed to get it all on paper so I could figure out what story beats should go where. There’s also a bit of seat-of-my-pants writing going on if I get a new idea or I realize something’s not working.

Next, I write the rough draft itself, posting chapters as I go on a writing critique site I belong to, to get feedback and catch mistakes. I tend to revise as I go, so I don’t write in terms if second or third drafts. Then I’ll give myself some time off from the manuscript so I can look at it with fresh eyes. After that, I give myself a month or two to make revisions before letting someone else look at it. At some point in the interim I take care of cover design. When all that’s done, I pick a release date.

6.  Tell me what you’re working on next.

Like I said, I’m working on the third book in The Law of Eight, and I’m aiming for an early 2015 release. The third installment of Cadets of Gauntlet should be out within the next couple of months.

7.  What is something that would surprise your readers to know?

That I’ve actually been writing since I was about twelve, so close to twenty years. But it took me until my mid-twenties until I began to write anything even remotely publishable. I wrote the first version of Secrets of the Stonechaser between age 17-21, but it only ended up being 64,000 words, barely even a novel. It moved through things too fast, and while I wouldn’t call the writing awful, I just hadn’t matured yet as a writer. I knew if I wanted to do this right that I would need to rewrite it completely from the ground up.

So that’s what I did a few years back, and now it’s about 110,000 words, everything is much more fleshed out, pace, characters and dialogue have improved, and is much better off for taking the time and effort to do that. Some of the responses I’ve gotten have validated that. For example, someone tweeted to me that it was one of the best fantasy books they’ve ever read. Of course, they didn’t rule out that it may have been one of the ONLY fantasy books they’ve ever read, but I’ll take what I can get.

8.  What advice do you have for other writers?

Don’t publish before you’re ready. It’s not just validation from beta readers or editors that determine when you’re ready. It’s something you have to ask yourself and dig deep down to answer honestly. The downside of self-publishing is that a lot of rough drafts and bad writing get thrown up on Amazon way before the stories are ready, or before the writer’s skills have matured. Most of these stories get bad reviews and sink to the bottom of the charts. The writers then get discouraged because they’re not making any money and everyone is telling them their writing stinks. Many give up at that point. You don’t want to be this writer.

Publishing and writing is a long game. It took me sixteen years before I truly felt I was ready to publish, and three years later I’m still not making much money at it. But I’m not quitting. I believe you have a better chance at making a living if your writing is already at an optimal level when you hit publish. And don’t use adverbs. (Wait, that’s someone else…)

Review: Dr. Sleep, by Stephen King

sleep

Book: Dr. Sleep

Author: Stephen King

Publisher: Simon and Schuster

Genre: Horror / Thriller

Rating: 4 out of 5

I’ve mentioned before on this blog that I’m trying to read through many of Stephen King’s books. I really like his style (some don’t, but I do), and I really like the kind of storytelling that he does. I had my eye on this particular book since finishing Under the Dome when a sneak preview was included at the end. The preview hooked me enough that I actually went back and read The Shining so that I had the true and complete backstory to this novel.

Just as a book of its own, I enjoyed it. Sure, there was the running theme of a recovering alcoholic, but Dan was a nice contrast to his father. I still love the whole concept of the Shining, and this book takes those extra-sensory powers  several steps further, not only with the introduction of a new child character, Abra, who can levitate spoons and write on chalkboards with her mind, but also the True Knot, an evil psychic threat who feed off children like Abra.

I thought the resolution was clean, all the plot threads came together nicely, and I was left satisfied. For what it’s worth, I wouldn’t mind if King continued to write novels in this particular universe every ten or fifteen years with each generation.

This book fit more in line with books like The Stand or 11/22/63, so don’t expect to be scared out of your mind. It’s more of a thriller novel. As such, I recommend it.

Summer freebie! Heart of the Witch, an epic fantasy

It’s summer, it’s about 110 degrees outside (I’m in Arizona) and it’s time to offer up some free reads. For the next five days you can get my 4.6 star-rated epic fantasy, Heart of the Witch for free at Amazon!

http://www.amazon.com/Heart-Witch-Judy-Goodwin-ebook/dp/B00AR5HMZO/

Witch cover ebook 2014 250

As an awkward scribe of nineteen, Zerrick should be courting ladies; or helping the Reverend, his father, in his endless tirades against magic. But a local girl has been accused of witchcraft, the mayor’s son is ill, and the town is clamoring to put all users of magic to the stake. He can’t tell them that he’s the one they’re hunting for.

Forced to flee, Zerrick searches to find out if his magic is a curse or a blessing. Beyond the colonial town a vast wilderness awaits, with mythical monsters, strange tattooed natives who worship the Goddess, and magic in every plant and tree. In a neighboring town he meets a young woman, Mira, who seeks to flee the harsh constraints of their society.

All they want is a place where they can live peacefully, but unrest is everywhere. The land itself is suffering as magic has grown more volatile and dark omens have appeared. Stranger still, Zerrick dreams of another woman calling to him, demanding to be freed. For Zerrick and Mira, the only way forward is following the call–into greater unknowns than they were ever prepared for.