Monday, July 30, 2012

It's Almost Here...

Stock up on the Shasta and Triscuits, peeps! The 20,000th Hit Giveaway is right around the corner. This Wednesday, August 1, be prepared to walk away with a great book.

We have approximately 100 books ready to go as I type! Some of these are in sets too, which is like going to Payless on BOGO day.

I'm taking submissions for ONE more day, until midnight of July 31. So, if you have a book of any genre you'd like to contribute (even old print copies in your closet), please send me a .jpg of the cover, a good link where readers can read about it, how many, and in what format you have available to mystiparker (at) yahoo (dot) com with 20,000TH Hit Giveaway in the subject line.

I'm in special need of nonfiction, inspirational/faith-based, short story, and young children's books.

Here's a little breakdown of what we have so far:

Anthologies: 10
Sci-Fi/Fantasy: 21
Thriller/Horror/Mystery: 9
Romance: 20
Erotic Romance: 12
YA/Children's: 17
Inspirational: 2
Short Story: 3
Non-Fiction: 4

Authors AND readers are welcome to come claim a book. You'll see lots of new authors here, but you might see some familiar names, too. Don't miss the chance to become someone's newest fan! Stay tuned to the updates via the 20,000Th Hit Giveaway Event Page on Facebook HERE:

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Unwritten Celebrates...Jenny Twist

Today's very special post honors the life and work of Jenny Twist!

Bio: Jenny Twist left school at fifteen and went to work in an asbestos factory. After working in various jobs, including bacon-packer and an escapologist's assistant, she returned to full-time education and did a BA in history at Manchester and post-graduate studies at Oxford.

In 2001 she and her husband moved to Southern Spain where they live with their rather eccentric dog and cat.
 If any of you have visited Unwritten, it's highly likely that you've run across the name Jenny Twist at least once. Jenny has appeared numerous times on this blog, either in interviews, guest posts, contest entries, or in my reviews of the books and anthologies she's written and/or contributed to. Like Spellbound 2011, that included eight spooktacular stories and I reviewed it HERE:

 Let us not forget the infamous "Curious Hearts" anthology. Without the fine work of Jenny Twist and five of the other authors, it could not have earned a four-star rating from me:

Ms. Twist also gave me the idea for my first-ever collaborative interview with each of the authors of this anthology, and I've since conducted two more after that! Here's that milestone on Unwritten: 

 This particular anthology, "Take One at Bedtime" was the first work of Jenny's that I had the privilege to review. Within these pages, I fell in love with her vivid language and mixture of Spanish and British settings. I knew right away she'd gained a new fan in me and countless others with her first published work.

I haven't gotten the chance to read this Christmas anthology yet, but I DID interview all the authors together, including, of course, the star of our show, Jenny Twist here:

Last but not least, I have to sing the highest praises for what I consider to be Jenny's magnum opus (at least, so far), "Domingo's Angel", which was undoubtedly one of the best books I read in 2011. This story, set in a small Spanish village during the aftermath of Spain's Civil War, deserves a medal or at least a slot on the NYT Bestsellers list. It's one of those books that you cannot forget once you've devoured it. You can see my five-star review HERE:

As you can see, Jenny has been a huge influence, not only on this blog, but in my own writing life. She's by far been one of the most encouraging women I've had the pleasure of knowing (if only online). Anytime I've corresponded with her over doubts or concerns, she's never hesitated to lift me up and tell me to hang in there. Without her encouragement and lovely ideas, I'd have likely thrown in the towel long ago.

Read this wonderful message from Chris Gardner, mother of author Tara Fox Hall, who has teamed up with Jenny in various anthologies, including the soon-to-be released Bedtime Shadows.

I'm so fortunate that my daughter Tara decided to try her hand at writing and luckily became affiliated with Melange Books. This association caused her to meet and befriend Jenny Twist, a fellow author. Subsequently, this enabled me to "meet" Jenny through her literary works.
The first story I read was in the anthology, Spellbound 2011. It was entitled "Uncle Vernon.” It's a horror story about a seemingly harmless old man looking for his soul which was lost at sea, but he's looking in the cemetery and the cellar. It's told from the point of view of a young girl spending the night at her lover's home. It was pretty creepy. I wasn't sure this was my kind of story.
Then, as luck would have it, Tara asked me to read Domingo's Angel, also by Jenny Twist. She wanted my opinion. After "Uncle Vernon,” I wasn't sure…but it was a wonderful story…and I've read it twice since! It takes place in a remote "white village" in southern Spain. When an Englishwoman meets Domingo, a goat herder, she tells him she's "Soy Angela"- "I am an angel". Thus by trying to tell him her name, she becomes known as Domino's Angel. Beyond the sweetness of their romance the reader also gets a look in to the lives of the colorful village people, led by the indomitable Rosalba—shopkeeper, doctor, midwife, and wise woman—, a thoroughly formidable, yet loveable character. Their struggles through years of war and under the oppression of Franco's rule gave me new lessons in Spanish history. I repeat myself, but it's a great book.
Next I bought Take One at Bedtime, a Jenny Twist anthology. The stories are a mixture of romance, horror, and science fiction. I especially liked, "String Theory", about alternate universes and an unhappy couple that stumble into another dimension. Made me curious about the science behind string theory, reminded me of Twilight zone. "Antonio's Grandmother" is filled with humor and will bring a smile to your face. “The Worm That Turned" is a righteous tale concerning an abusive husband who ends up getting the "kicks" he deserves. The last story is "Waiting for Daddy,” a slightly gruesome, not for me tale of horror.
"A Victorian Dollhouse" —a new story in the upcoming Bedtime Shadows anthology authored by my daughter Tara and Jenny—put a supernatural twist into  the story about a woman's obsession with a dollhouse she sees in a shop. It's an intriguing tale of how a woman's life is changed by the purchase of a child's toy.
"Jamie and the Alien" is another heartwarming story about a man with a brain tumor or "chew mer" as his son Jamie calls it. Jamie and his uncle Rolf work together to enlist Santa's aid in helping his dad fight the alien "chew mer". There is much interesting background on English Christmas celebrations. It was an enjoyable read. "Uncle Albert's Christmas" is also in Warm Christmas Wishes. It's a humorous, sweet, wonderfully English story about Uncle Albert, recently widowed and like so many of us older folks wanting to retain our independence. It tells how he is able to escape being managed by a well-meaning (read bossy) relative.
 The short story “Doppleganger's” main character Christine is also involved with string theory as she finds herself in two different realities. In one she attempts suicide  
and in another she finds herself to be beautiful, wealthy, and with the man of her dreams. Which one is real? We know which one we'd want. This great story is found in "Curious Hearts"— also published by Melange—and will also be included in the upcoming Bedtime Shadows.
 "Mantequero,” found in Winter Wonders 2011 takes place first in England, then in Spain. the main character, June, is a 32 year old teacher who hasn't had much of a life of her own. She's always caring for others. She decides to take a trip by herself to Spain and encounters the Mantequero. I won't tell you what that is, so you'll have to read this suspenseful story and find out for yourself.
"All in the Mind" has yet to be published and it's another great story (coming in October, 2012 from Melange Books). It's about Tilly, a woman with Alzheimer's and the treatment she receives. It takes place in England in the 1940's up to present-day. It's romantic, historical, suspenseful, and of course heartwarming. You'll love the realistic, loveable —and not so loveable— characters and the surprising developments. It is a really different story which I'm sure that you'll enjoy, as I did. 

Now it's YOUR turn to sing Jenny's praises. If you know Jenny or have read any of her work, I invite you to leave a comment below, letting her know how much she and her writing is appreciated. 

**Also, I'd like to make Unwritten Celebrates...into a new series, so if you have anyone in mind you'd like to brag about, please message me through the link on the sidebar**

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Review of The Ghost in the Crystal by Matt Posner

The Ghost in the Crystal (School of Ages, #1)The Ghost in the Crystal by Matt Posner
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

When you read the blurb of Matt Posner's first installment in the School of the Ages series, you'll automatically think it's another take on J.K. Rowling's franchise. I must admit, I've never actually read any of those books. Yes, yes, I know. Send me your outraged e-mails. I've seen some of the movies and have heard enough from HP fans to know that I had my doubts that "The Ghost in the Crystal" wouldn't be a copycat. I mean, you've got Leicester (aka Simon Magus), a teen boy, who's approached by a hidden school's recruiter, goes to said school, and promptly gets into more than his share of conflict. How is that NOT different than Daniel Radcliffe's portrayal?

Trust me when I say that Matt Posner's take on this NYC-based school of magic and its teenage occupants was refreshingly different. What I found most interesting and educational, actually, were the many references to other cultures, primarily Judaism in its various forms. The school itself is heavily influenced by its Jewish culture, with Rabbis, training in Cabala, and even a Kosher dining room. Other things I enjoyed learning about were Hindi culture, astrology, and other mystical arts like tea leaf and tarot card reading. Simon's use of magic was described well and easy to visualize. I felt like I was there learning with him.

A few places, I felt a bit lost, wishing there was a little more explanation of events. I did love the dialogue, though it verged on too philosophic at times, but the tone fit the story well. While it did take a few chapters to catch and hold me, I found myself eagerly awaiting the next chapter, wishing I could actually read it straight through in a day or two while on vacation (with three kids in tow, that wasn't possible). However, I ate up the final chapters on our drive home. Simon, his allies, enemies, and their struggles, grew on me, leaving me wanting to dive into the second book in the series. I give kudos to the author for writing a well-researched, intellectual, and fun tale that I'd recommend for middle grade students and beyond. Go grab your copy today and be sure to check out Book Two, "Level Three's Dream", which I hope to read in the near future.

View all my reviews

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Read N' Win Blog Tour & Vacation Bound!

Friday night, hubby and I are hitting the road with our three kids. Destination: Clearwater Beach, FL.
It's really a pseudo-vacation, since hub's actually going for a business conference and we're tagging along. Three kids in tow means I'm not going to get to nap or read much on the beach, but it'll be the first time our kids have seen the ocean. Hubby and I have not been there since our oldest was but a peanut in my womb, 11 years or so ago.

Needless to say, I've spent the entire week buying and packing for the trip, plus helping out with Vacation Bible School at our church. Unwritten will have to remain, well, unwritten for a little while.

However, starting July 15-July 21, I'll be back on a week-long Read N' Win blog tour, hosted by Page Turners Book Tours. This is a new endeavor from Kate and co. over at Read2Review, so I hope you'll come visit me. I plan to keep up with my iPhone while warming my toes in the sand, so I'd love to see you guys visit my tour stops.

Here's the schedule:

July 15th: Ami Blackwelder - Guest Post

July 16th: My World - Review

July 17th: Reading, Writing And More - Interview

July 18th: Pandragon Dan - Interview

July 19th: Close Encounters Of The Night Kind - Guest Post

July 20th: CMash Loves To Read - Author Spotlight

July 21st: Read 2 Review - Review

***PS: It's an approximately 15-hour long trip from here in KY to Clearwater Beach. Pray for us if you're so inclined. With three kids, it'll likely be longer. Or send positive thoughts, burn incense, and invoke the spirits of traveling to keep us safe and sane!

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Say Hello to My 200th Followers!

Yes, you read that correctly, because TWO lovely ladies, book reviewer Misty Rayburn and author Friday Baldwin, both joined this blog at the same time, therefore I had no choice but to proclaim them both as my 200th follower. So, now that I have them here, whatever shall I do with them? Hmm...of course!

A combined interview! Am I smart, or what? (Don't answer that.)

My not-so-evil twin!
First up is a gal I lovingly call my not-so-evil twin, Misty Rayburn. She's the owner of a book review site called The Top Shelf. Now that you're back in your evil twin's lair, Misty, tell us a little bit about The Top Shelf and what services you provide there.

The list would be shorter of what we don't do! We do reviews, question and answer sessions, interviews, spotlights for books and trailers, participate in book tours and we even have a chat room.  There are a bunch of things in the works too!  We're going to be pulling in my fiancee Brandon to do audio book reviews.  

Now, your evil twin and her readers want to know what makes Misty tick. When you're not reading and reviewing, what do you like to do?

A lot of things.  I like to bake and am always looking for something different to try.  Right now I'm playing around with making no-bake cookies with splenda since I'm on a low carb diet.  I'm an avid gamer and right now I'm playing Devil May Cry.  I also like to roleplay in my online wrestling federation that I've been running for almost seven years. if you'd like to check it out.

How many books have you reviewed since starting The Top Shelf?

I have reviewed around 48 books.  I have a few that I've read but haven't written the reviews for yet too.

And what's your very favorite genre?

I used to be a hardcore fantasy addict.  Once in a while I'd read a thriller.  Since becoming a reviewer, I'm finding I don't really have a favorite genre anymore.  There's just so many great reads out there!

Good, good, now begone with you for a minute. Friday has been waiting oh, so patiently. Since this is your first time on Unwritten, I'll be especially brutal. Hee hee. Before we get into anything writing related, tell us all about Friday--yourself, not the day of the week.

In case anyone doesn’t already know, Marjorie “Friday” Baldwin is a pen name. My pen namesake is the title character of a famous Robert A. Heinlein book whose likeness was painted by the inimitable Michael Whelan. Who would I have to kill to get a Michael Whelan cover like that?! There aren’t enough people in the world; Whelan retired. Heinlein is dead. Friday lives on. She and her story (told in the 1989 novel of that same name) really influenced me as both a person and as a writer. Plus, I cannot believe no one took that pen name before me! Woot! You can learn more about me on my Amazon Author Profile or by friending me on Goodreads or friend me on Facebook. I am also the person tweeting behind @phoenicianbooks on Twitter so if you want to ask me a specific question, that’s a quick way to reach me. Basically, I’m a middle-aged woman hiding behind that very sexy avatar—and loving the costume!

I've got this book waiting on my Kindle called Conditioned Response, and I see it's part of a sci-fi series called The Phoenician Series. Give us the scoop on this book and the series as a whole.

The Phoenician Series is a Classic SciFi saga. These are gritty stories, told in the style of mysteries and thrillers with a little bit of sexy romance tossed in for good measure. These stories are not space-borne adventures and while there are aliens (Phoenicians), the non-humans look and act very human. In fact, the how and why the Phoenicians seem so human is part of the mystery revealed across the series. It’s all part of the Plan of the Seven Chiefs. Unraveling the Plan (capital “P”) is the story of the series. Each book, of course, has its own standalone story.

The entire series was written in the 1980s and I am editing the books now to make them publishable. The first one used to be Conditioned Response and then during editing, I created a new “tossaway” character name Raif. The rest, as they say, was history.

Buy it HERE!
Raif requires his own book, which will be a “prequel,” so I renumbered the books and Conditioned Response is now called Book 2. The plot of Conditioned Response centers around an alien girl named Shayla, who isn’t really very fond of humans despite having lived among our kind half her life—or maybe her dislike for us is because she was forced to do exactly that. She’s given up everything “normal” in her Phoenician world to become one of us. Conditioned Response is told, primarily, from her alien point of view.

Raif, our Uber Alpha Hero guy, is the other primary point of view character, though there is a large cast of characters in this book—and in the series overall. You’ll see characters reappear throughout the series but one of the central characters ongoing in the series is “borne” in Conditioned Response (which is why this used to be Book 1).
His name is Charlie and he’s an Artificial Lifeform, much like my pen namesake in her book, but I didn’t want to call this book “Charlie” (even ignoring the fact “Flowers for Algernon” was reissued under that name). Instead, Conditioned Response is a reference back to Charlie’s “first” name.

Heinlein’s book was deeply influential in developing the character that became Charlie. As the book unfolds, you get to know these 3 main characters and a couple of villains (gotta have a villain, right? or who do we kill?). The story itself has political intrigue, cultural clashes and romantic trappings. There is explicit sex more than there is a love story though I think the love story of Raif and Shayla is kind of epic. Unfortunately, it’s doomed before it begins.

By the time you reach The End, I can guarantee you’ll have been on an emotional roller coaster. This book sure dragged me through the ringer to write and edit it. Even the 20th time I read it while proofreading, I cried, I laughed, I got angry and somehow just felt the story had gotten inside my head. Like Adjustments. Who knows? Maybe they’re real and we just don’t know it! (LOL)

Who lives and who dies, who gets the girl—or who the girl gets—is the fun of reading this tome. It’s a long book, as is the rest of the series, but it reads quickly, at least once you get into it. My readers so far tell me it reads slowly at the start and then flies all of a sudden, without letting up on the relentless pace until The End. Then you’ll want more. Hah. Not to worry, there’s more to come!

When did you begin writing this series, and what spurred your love of sci-fi?

I began—and finished—writing the books in the 1980s as noted above. I chose SF as a genre because it’s what I love to read. The first SF story I ever read was Arthur C. Clarke’s The City and The Stars. Then I discovered Asimov and then, I was totally hooked when I found Robert A. Heinlein. His very conversational style and easy-to-understand language was unusual for the time and genre. I loved the way he speculated in his “What if….” stories. Heinlein made everything sound so plausible and immediate. His stories could have been written down the street, around the corner and in the middle of next week—but you always knew they weren’t.

I wanted to do that with my writing. If I’d found an author in another genre who wrote such imaginative, easy-to-read stories with intensely-vibrant characters, I’d probably want to write like them as well. Actually, I have found such an author and she writes Science Fiction and Fantasy (see below for who this author is). I dislike Fantasy genre, though, because of the suspension of disbelief requirement and strange creatures. Sorry my little Elvin Hostess but I don’t like elves. I like my pointy ears on Vulcans only (LOL)

Besides sci-fi, do you write or read any other genres?

I love children’s fairy tales—even as an adult! I would love to write some children’s fiction at some point in my writing career, but my prolific tendencies are my big obstacle. Children under eight (8) don’t read 100,000 word novels, let alone 200k epic tomes like the stuff I write.

One day, though, I think I’d like to try to write something magical like The Twelve Dancing Princesses or The Swan Princess. Those are stories that are still with me at 50 something. I’d like to write something to touch a child’s imagination that same way. I just need to learn how to write less! Hah!

What else do I read? I read all kinds of things. The two genres I won’t touch are horror and fantasy. That includes not only High Fantasy, but urban fantasy or paranormal or anything with weird creatures of the night (or another dimension). I think anything with pointy ears should be Vulcan and not have any mystical powers (sorry my Elven Hostess) and I definitely do not like hybrid creatures that are weird for the sake of shock value.

I very much like classic suspense and mainstream mystery (crime fiction), but definitely not horror or thriller/chiller stuff intended to shock and disgust with the splatterpunk style blood and gore. I write some pretty gruesome violence in my own books, but not just to have gratuitous violence. I don’t like to be terrorized and most horror and thriller stuff is just trying to scare the bejeezus out of readers so they don’t appeal to me. I need more story. I like to be gripped and unable to put the book down. That’s why I like mysteries over suspense, though well-done spy thriller/mysteries are the best! One day, I’d like to try to write a mystery/crime fiction story without any aliens or futuristic stuff.

Could you give us an excerpt from The Phoenician Series?

Sure. In fact, I’m nearly done writing a short story called When Minds Collide, which is specifically designed to give readers a taste of the series and my writing style. When Minds Collide is set 400 years prior to the rest of the series books, and tells the story of how Joshua Andrew Caine came into being. He didn’t always exist the way he is in Conditioned Response. The story in When Minds Collide is summarized near the end of Conditioned Response­ when Joshua and Shayla are sitting in the car, talking. You’ll know the scene when you get there. Read more details of that story in When Minds Collide.
I’ll be giving When Minds Collide away for FREE through the Amazon KDP Select Program, so it’ll have to be exclusive to Amazon Kindle customers for 3 months before I can distribute it for FREE everywhere else via Smashwords. That means by October or November it should show up in iTunes, Kobo, Nook, etc., and it’ll be FREE everywhere. I’ve got an excerpt of the opening paragraphs on my Goodreads blog here, and once it’s published, that’ll link through to the entire story, downloadable for FREE from the Amazon Kindle store.

Let's do something fun. Instead of ME asking you two a random question, I'm going to let you ask each other. Serves ya right for tying as 200th follower! I'm evil like that.

Misty, what's your question for Friday? Who is your favorite author and why?

Easy peasy. Lois McMaster Bujold, Author of the Vorkosigan Saga, one of the finest space opera, action/adventure, Romantic SF series ever written. Lois not only writes extremely well-crafted stories peopled with vibrant characters who have flaws, but her settings are so deeply-textured as to nearly be characters unto themselves. I always know when I read a Bujold, it’s going to be a good story, well-written and provoke some thoughtfulness or emotion from me (or both!) I also know it’s quite likely I’ll be reading her stories more than once—they’re that good! Lois also has an incredibly dry wit which often makes me laugh aloud while reading.
Any author who can make me break my silent reader’s trance to burst into laughter is well-worth checking out! Oh and Lois just published a new entry in the Vorkosigan Saga, which is available as an unproofed eARC from Baen eBooks but Ivan, His Booke (actual title is Captain Vorpatril’s Alliance) won’t be on sale in stores like Amazon until October or November. I simply couldn’t wait that long for a new Bujold. Yes. She’s that good.

And Friday, what's your question for Misty? Who's your favorite author and why?

Wow that's a tough question.  I'll split it into two parts, mainstream author and indie author.  Mainstream author is Mercedes Lackey.  Her Valdemar series is just amazing reading and it branches off in so many ways.  I think I will honestly cry when she's done filling in the gaps.   Indie author is Candace Bowen Early.  You've seen that book hangover post running around on Facebook?  Well that applies here.  Her books are just so colorful and vibrant.  The characters are just brilliant and her grasp on the time period she writes in just draws you in that much more.  You won't want to start anything new for a bit because you'll still be thinking about the world you just left.

Thank you so much for having me here on the Unwritten, Mysti. It’s a spelling test to see if I can keep you two straight, right? Well, it was fun! Thank you so much!

You girls were very brave to make your appearance here today. I do wish you BOTH much success!!

Friday, July 6, 2012

Like Sands Through the Hourglass... are the days of my blog tour.

Yes, my month-long blog tour for Serenya's Song is winding down. I thought I'd update you on my last couple of stops and a few more cool things.

1. Super-fun-happy-time interview on Stefanie J Pristavu's blog:

2. A Night with Mr. Creepy (Cevil Delmarr)--the last installment of the mini-series, "An Evening with the Cast of Serenya's Song", plus a sweet review:

3. A Very Elvish Interview on fantasy romance author Marsha A. Moore's blog. I took a deeeeeeeppp breath and told her all about Tallenmere's elves:

Plus (don't you love that word), here's another

From Tori Ridgewood, who says: "My immediate response to Serenya's Song is just "wow" -- what an incredible vision Mysti Parker has. She has written something close to an epic here, with brilliant visuals, fantastic plot that continually took me by surprise, intriguing characters..."

She read both A Ranger's Tale and Serenya's Song in about 3 days. I'm so jealous of her reading speed, but thrilled about this superb review. She even listed 5 great reasons why she loved it and why you should too (that last part was my idea):

Now, for you loyal readers who've made it this far (either you're waiting for the coffee to brew or the pizza to bake), I'll end this post with some pictures from the events I attended over the past few days. Prepare for awesomesauce:

My table at Fandomfest--yep, this guy from StrangeHouse Books totally photobombed! 

We ended a great few days
with some fireworks. These are
my three wonderful kiddos.
Happy Birthday America!
Me with award-winning fantasy
author Stephen Zimmer. He helped
coordinate Fanfest. Thanks for a
great weekend, Stephen!
Me and the troll outside Louisville's
Troll Pub, aptly located under
2nd street bridge!
Dale Smith, author of
some of our favorite children's
books at the Horse Cave
Book Fest.
These gals from 2 Dames Bazaar
make some fantastic-looking steampunk wear.

My table at the Horse Cave Book Fest
Look what the elf dragged in!
That's my hubby. He spent all
day Sunday at Fanfest with me.
And this is the fabulous
dragon pendant hubby
bought me at Fanfest.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

The Everything Post

Why? Because there's a little bit of everything. I got a little behind over the weekend because I spent Friday night and Sunday at Fanfest in Louisville, KY and Saturday at the Horse Cave Book Fest in Horse Cave, KY. But, it was well worth it, because I got to wear my whole elf ensemble and I met these guys:

Me with Sean Astin and John Rhys-Davies!
They were so funny and nice. That John Rhys-Davies is a tickler too! I was laughing so hard in the first shot, I begged the photographer to take another. He was gracious enough to do so, and I kept a straight enough face. Didn't pass out or say anything incredibly stupid, either, which is always a plus.

And I sold a total of ten books over the weekend. Not entirely awesome, yet it beats my record so far. Therefore, I keep swimming.

At least I woke up to a wonderful.....
From Tori L. Ridgewood for A Ranger's Tale! Check out her lovely review here:

You may or may not have been following my recent blog tour, but here are a few stops you might want to check out. I wrote this little article called "A Little Naughty Goes a Long Way" for SJ Clarke's blog. We have a lovely discussion going there about love scenes in fiction. Feel free to come over and share your own thoughts:

And today, doncha know, I'm at FOUR different places. Two interviews, one book review, and a guest post.

1. Interview on Kay Dee Royal's Blog--This was such a fun interview, and we're talking dreams and what they mean in the comment section. Plus, there's a giveaway! Come share some of your weird dreams and see if I can guess what they mean.

2. Fiction Fascination: An Evening with the Cast of Serenya’s Song, #5--A continuation of a mini-series starring the cast of Serenya's Song. You never know who you'll run into at The Wasted Witch!!

3. Review at Books, Books, and More Books--Mindy was kind enough to read and review Serenya's Song. Come see what she had to say about it!

4. Interview at JeanzBookReadNReview--A nice, long interview. If you didn't know me before, you will now! It's probably as close to a Barbara Walters interview as I'll get, minus the tissues. Go show me some love!

Monday, July 2, 2012

An Interview with author Dan Wright

Hiya peeps! I've been lucky enough to snag Dan Wright, author of some really cool manga-style fantasy novels.  He's gearing up for the sequel to Trapped on Draconica, which I reviewed HERE. We've appeared on each other's blogs several times, but this will be the first time I've interrogated him mercilessly like I do all my victims!

Let's dive right in, shall we? Dan, tell us about yourself. What do you do when you're not trapped on Draconica with all the Dragonkin?

Actually, I pretty much am in Draconica full time at the moment – trying to let others into my world (lol). But in the few occasions that I am NOT in Draconica (by that I mean writing), then I like to read and review books. I’ve currently offered a long list of authors a review of their books and am working through them as quickly as I can. I love reading indie authors and the amazing stories they come out with. Many of which I hope they can make into a film!

Aside from that, I also enjoy listening to music and gigging with my band. I’m in a heavy metal band called The Self Titled – website here: I play the rhythm guitar and love ripping out chunky power chords! Music usually plays a huge part in my life and I often get inspired in my writing with music sometimes. My favourite bands are Dream Theater (currently my favourite band of all time), Metallica, Stone Sour, Pantera and Fear Factory. I do listen to all types of music though – but given the chance I love to bang my head to some rocking metal!

I also love video game music and am amazed at how powerful it can be. Currently I enjoy listening to the music of the video game Blazblue, and I love the music in Final Fantasy VII.

Give us the scoop on TOD and the upcoming sequel, Legacy of the Dragonkin. What's the general story line of each?

In TOD, we were introduced to the world of Draconica through the eyes of Ben Anthony – a teenager that was known for getting into trouble. For reasons he can’t explain, he is teleported to the world of Draconica, where his adventure takes places. Draconica is a world that was created by the dragons – but in the context of this story, they are godlike entities that learned to travel across the Universe. They created the world of Draconica based on the worlds they visited.

At the time of the book, the dragons have passed away. But their legacy lives on in the form of the Dragonkin – four sisters that were granted powers by the last dragon, Dronor. They are Daniar, a powerful warrior woman that breathes fire – Erowin, a sweet girl that can communicate with nature and has healing breath – Zarracka, the villainess that forms an alliance with the antagonists, The Baalarian Empire, who can blow ice – and Rana, a kinda outcast and, what I like to call a “Feminist She-Ra”. She commands lighting and can also blow hurricanes. Not someone you should annoy!

Ben makes friends with Daniar and Erowin and they begin their journey to try and find Ben’s way home. The antagonists of the story are the Baalarian Empire – ruled by Emperor Gothon. They are poised for world domination and Ben is somehow the key to their victory. But there is more to the story than meets the eye...

TOD was written in a Young Adult Fantasy style and included Manga style illustrations to bring the story to life. It mixed comedy, action, romance and drama to create something that (I hope) will appeal to all readers.

Legacy of the Dragonkin takes place ten years after the events of this novel and (without giving too many spoilers) follows the adventures of Daniar Dragonkin’s son, Benji. He is training to be a hero just like his mother – but quickly finds out that being a hero is not as easy as he thinks it is. The villains of this piece are the Kthonian Knights, a group of 3 women and 1 male that are looking for the heart of a mara (a supernatural monster) called Kthonia so that they can bring vengeance on the world. All of them have been tormented at the hands of men and are seeking to make the men of Draconica pay for their crimes. Not only that, but the leader is an old enemy of Daniar!

LOD will be a little more of a traditional Fantasy – but also a lot more personal as a story. Whereas Daniar and her family were almost background characters in TOD, here they are the centre of attention. As I said before, the leader of the knights (Jihadain) is an old enemy of Daniar – but not only that, she’s one of the few enemies that was able to traumatise her and strike her an injury that has haunted her ever since. Those who read TOD would know that Daniar is a strong, but gentle warrior who never kills – but in this one she is driven to almost murderous rage! It is actually much darker than TOD – and it includes a storyline that I think most people will find heart wrenching at best.

This book also is part of what I call my Final Raganrok Event, something that was eluded to in a spin off novel I wrote. I won’t say what it is – but it is something that will have an effect on the world of Draconica as we know it.

Before I read TOD, I had never read anything in the manga style. I have to say I loved seeing Alexis Centino's stunning artwork to illustrate scenes as I read along. For those of us who aren't familiar with it, tell us what manga is and how you became interested in it.

Manga is a style of artwork from Japan – known for its overly stylized characters (who tend to have unique, colourful and sometimes ridiculously long hair), exaggerated expressions, cartoonish looks and badass looking characters. It tends to be over the top and extreme in places – especially when it comes to fight scenes and the use of super powers. It also has extremely quirky humour and tends to throw in some completely mad scenes now and then – but it can also be very dark and (in some cases) disturbing. It’s also known for its sometimes ridiculous amount of “fanservice” – but I try to stay away from that in my writing. The most popular Manga’s are/have been, Naruto, One Piece, Pokemon, Yu-Gi-Oh and Death Note.

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To be honest, I actually wasn’t that into Manga when I first looked for an artist for this book. But Alexis M Centeno’s work looked so amazing that I had to give it a go. In actual fact, Manga works wonders with Fantasy due to the over the top nature and highly exaggerated characterisations and weapons – not to mention the possibility for amazing fight scenes! I actually adapted my writing style to a more “Manga” style when writing this book, so the artwork really helped bring it to life in a way I could never have imagined.

Even though I’m not an expert of Manga myself, I do enjoy the genre as a whole. I love Japanese Anime films (Akira and Spirited Away being my favourites). At the moment, I’m reading the Full Metal Alchemist manga and I’m loving it. I love the story, the characters and the general theme of it. In many ways it’s my perfect genre as a writer as I have the chance to let my imagination run wild.

I find it fascinating when authors and artists collaborate on things, maybe because I picture writers hiding out in chilly basement offices listening to Pandora while a cat warms their laps. Or maybe that's just me. How did you meet Alexis Centino, and how long did it take to finish the story + illustrations?

Whilst I have worked with her for so long, I have never actually met her. She’s based in Miami and I am based in Canterbury (United Kingdom), so we have never actually met in person – although we have exchanged photographs with each other. Or main communication has been through email thus far, but I hope that one day we can meet face to face.

She answered an advert that I put up on a website called Zuda and we just went from there. In total, it took us a couple of years to get all the artwork done (as she was doing through her college studies at the time and I had to make allowances for that), but during this time she has shown amazing dedication to the project. All the character designs she did were to some basic designs I gave her, but she added her own feel to them and created them based on how she saw them. And I think her designs are just incredible! It’s rare that I have to tell her to do a second draft of a character as she seems to get it right first time almost every time!

I actually consider her a “co-creator” for this series now as she has put in all her time and effort into this piece. I also think having a female perspective on a story is a good idea for any male writer, as it means that I can gauge what I can get away with without offending any “feminist” sensibilities. Thankfully, Alexis is very open to a lot of stuff and will always tell me if I’ve gone too far.

I can't wait any longer. I have to throw you a random question. Are you a night owl or morning person?

To be honest I’m both. I don’t really like to get up too late in the morning as I like to try and enjoy my day, but I do enjoy a lie in every now and then. So I guess you could say I’m a night/morning owl type person. Lol.

Now, Mr. Wright, would you be so kind as to share an excerpt of your work?

For you, Mysti, and your readers, anything! This is a little excerpt from Chapter 19 – where Daniar and Jihadain finally meet for a major battle. I even through in some rough artwork for this scene, so you can see how it’s coming along! Hope you enjoy it!


Daniar went to one knee, clutching her belly with her free hand. Her insides were crying out in agony, as if a fire was burning through them. She lifted up her head, looking straight at Jihadain. She seemed to be glowing with a purple aura, although Daniar couldn’t tell if that was just the pain making her hallucinate. Jihadain was smiling wickedly – a smile that made Daniar want to get up and punch her stupid face, which she would have done had she the strength to do so.

‘What’s the matter, Daniar?’ Jihadain asked, disappointed at how lacklustre this battle was thus far. ‘You’re a lot slower than I remember. Have you gotten soft in your old age?’

Daniar was inhaling and exhaling huge breaths through the gaps in her clenched teeth. She had started the fight feeling exhausted and her body ached all over. Jihadain, by contrast, was yet to break sweat. ‘Then again, you never could best me in a in fight, could you Daniar? How many battles is it that we’ve fought? Four? Five? They all seem to blur into one for me, as they always have the same outcome.’

She waited for Daniar, expecting her to say something. Daniar however, had yet to catch her breath.
‘What? No witty retort? No comeback? Don’t you always do a heroic speech at this point?’ Jihadain cleared her throat, then spoke in a slightly higher and droning pitch than normal, sounding slow and unintelligent. “You’ll never stop me, Jihadain. As long as I have breath I will never give up!”

Thanks so much for visiting us today, Dan! I wish you continued success!

It was a pleasure. Thanks for having me! J

Readers--now that we've gotten you interested, I hope you'll consider helping Dan make his next release a reality. He could use some extra funds to help illustrate Legacy of the Dragonkin. See this link: to watch a video Dan made about the project or share the widget below on your own site!