Simon Markusson has been INTERVIEWED!!!

1. What’s your name? Where can we find you? Blog? Twitter? Facebook?

I opted not to use a pen name, though I probably should have! Simon Markusson sounds quite cumbersome and mismatched, doesn’t it? Kinda like Todd Messerchmitt or something… No, that actually sounds cool. I should so have used Todd Messerschmitt!

I’m a complete publishing newbie so my online presence is pathetic. I really have to start working on that. Instagram @markussons and an old Twitter account @smarkusson That sounds like a Pokémon…

2. Tell us a little about your life outside of the world of writing.

It contains a lot of reading! I also have some more physical interests like exercise and motorcycle riding. I’m a bit of a health nut. Oh, and of course I binge watch tv-shows like Game of Thrones, Breaking Bad and Stranger Things. It’s getting harder to stay in shape! I’m also a working journalist…but I guess that belongs to the world of writing as well.

3. How long have you been writing? What genres have you written? They don’t have to be published.

I’ve been writing since high school and have a lot of ideas and projects that have been maturing for a long time. Mostly fantasy and sci-fi.

4. What has been the greatest influence to your writing? Other authors, life experiences, etc…

I read David Eddings and Robert Jordan when I was a kid, and they’ve had a huge impact on me. I totally grew up with The Wheel of Time series! In high school I started reading George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire (and yes, it was because of Robert Jordan’s blurb!). That really opened my eyes to a whole new world of grit, violence and intrigue (in a literary sense, don’t worry!). I’ve been hooked since.

5. Are you currently writing anything now? If so tell us about it? If not make something up…

Yes! I’ve just released the first book of my epic (and humorous) fantasy series The Queen Beyond. The first book is called The Unchosen, and the story follows a rather cynical farmhand, Nathelion, who is mistakenly identified as a hero foretold in prophecy. The thing is that he doesn’t believe in magic, ancient evils and all that mumbo jumbo, he’s just looking for a way to leave his life of drudgery behind. Unfortunately, his little white lie might just cause the end of the world.

The series is planned to be a trilogy. I’ve already written the other two books (first drafts), and plan to release them with maybe a year or so between each book.

6. How do you typically begin your projects? Do you create outlines and character profiles or jump in head first with the initial idea? And do you focus on just one at a time?

I guess it all starts with an idea that won’t leave you alone! I certainly daydream a lot. In a way, that is to constantly be writing. The act of typing it down isn’t the hard part. I don’t systematically create outlines or character profiles, but they do live a life in my mind before I sit down to write it all down.

7. What aspect of your writing do you consider your strength? Your weakness?

My strength lies in evocative writing. My chief weakness is probably language-related. I’m Swedish so English is not my first language, but I still prefer to write in English (it’s much more versatile!). I definitely make sure to enlist the help of skilled editors!

8. After publishing, the next trouble facing writers is marketing. What do you typically do when marketing your novel? Do you have tips you’d like to share?

I’m new to this so it’s trial and error for me! I’m currently trying out Amazon’s advertisement services and I’m reaching out to potential ARC readers! (thank you ARC readers, you’re the best!)

9. What advice would you give a writer who is starting out?

Be ready to change your opinions about how to go about doing things!

The Bride Program

The Bride Program by Dane Griggs:

Maya Arnold was leading a normal life, working and helping care for her sister, until the Cerasteans arrived. Offering a cure for cancer if enough women volunteer as brides, Maya jumped at the chance. Saving her sister was her only goal. She never expected to actually fall in love with an alien, or find best friends in the other bride volunteers.

Since the mysterious destruction of Ceraste, Commander D’Avii and the surviving males have been searching the galaxy for a new home. Finding Earth and its women was a miracle. Like most Cerasteans, he finds humans to be fascinating creatures — none more so than bride volunteer Maya. His attraction to her is instant and intense. Still he knows Maya can never choose him, a warrior, with so many higher-caste scientists seeking their own mates. To do so would shame the scientists and tear the last of his people apart. Yet he aches at the loss of something he never even had.

BOOK 1: The Bride Program  3 STARS

This was a fun quick read. Maya was an every day girl that you could really relate to, as well as the friends she makes of the other brides and the girls night out sort of fun they enjoy. Though I think D’Avii’s chapters were better in a way because of his view of the world and learning about the culture he comes from. I loved the plot of this, with the aliens making themselves known to the world and trying to find a way to save their own race while bettering ours. But I also liked that they didn’t necessarily see themselves as better than humans, and even often commented on the ingenuity of people. The whole interaction between the brides and the aliens was really sweet, and good to see them interacting and learning about each others cultures. Developing real bonds and friendships with each other. However, I do feel like a lot of it was rushed a bit. There was a bit of the meshing and changing to fit the new world that went a little too smoothly that felt unrealistic. I wish it would’ve been developed more, and considering how short the story was it definitely could’ve been. But considering how this is clearly set up to be a series, I can’t wait to read more and hope to learn more about what’s going on on earth and the changes that have been made and the people who are still adjusting to this new discovery.

The Girl Who Called the Stars COVER REVEAL!!!

The Girl Who Called the Stars by Heather Hildenbrand

Coming July 18th, 2018

Be very afraid of the Shadows.

I know what I’m not. Human.

I can’t remember my life before Earth, but I’ve grown up hearing the stories of a planet ravaged by war and a people in need of a leader who will bring them out of the darkness. I’m supposed to be their light.

My future terrifies me.

But I’m done waiting to have a real life. If I ever want a chance to live free of the Shadows, I’ll need to fight for it because freedom is never free. No matter what galaxy you call home.

Pre-order Link:

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07DMNCSSC

Laura Holtz has been INTERVIEWED!!!

1.      What’s your name? Where can we find you? Blog? Twitter? Facebook?

I’m author Laura Holtz and you can find me at www.lauraholtz.com, and on social media at @lauraholtzauthor on Facebook and Instagram.

2.      Tell us a little about your life outside of the world of writing.

First and foremost, I am the dedicated mom of three terrific kids.  I am a cycling enthusiast and I regularly spend time outdoors on my bike, Chicago weather permitting, or in a spin studio when it’s cold or rainy.  I love a good creative project, so I often consult on home design or visual media endeavors.  Right now I’m working with a small food company on their logo and brand materials.

3.       How long have you been writing? What genres have you written? They don’t have to be published.

I am a musical theatre lyricist and bookwriter, and I completed my first show, Gatecrashers, just before starting Warm Transfer. Musicals are like mental Sudoku, and they require extensive rework – it’s just a matter of time before I get back to Gatecrashers for another round of revisions.  

Years ago, I wrote a screenplay about Tsar Nicholas II and his Russian ballerina mistress while my newborn napped, however I never did anything with it.  It remains on a diskette somewhere in my basement.

With respect to books, I have written commercial women’s fiction and YA science fiction.

4.      What has been the greatest influence to your writing? Other authors, life experiences, etc…

My childhood family dynamic has influenced my writing, especially my fascination with gender power and control imbalance.  

As a kid, I often escaped into books about aliens – these both terrified and intrigued me, which is probably why I enjoy conceiving stories in the YA sci-fi realm.  

While in college, I spent a year abroad studying English Literature.  My college at the University of London used the tutorial method of instruction and the lessons were intense and immersive.  Reading Dickens, Hardy, Austen and Brontë gave me a huge appreciation for refined language and the precision of well-crafted imagery, among many other things.  One novel, Jane Eyre, was particularly compelling to me.  My mother had told me tales of her youth and somehow I felt like I had a better understanding of her cruel upbringing by reading about Jane’s own plight.

5.      Are you currently writing anything now? If so tell us about it? If not make something up…

Yes!  I am working on book one in a YA science fiction series.  I am also in the early stages of my next musical, a full length drama skewed toward a younger audience.

6.      How do you typically begin your projects? Do you create outlines and character profiles or jump in head first with the initial idea? And do you focus on just one at a time?

Ideas come to me when I am moving – especially when I’m on my bike.  Once I have an idea, I begin by creating a list of story events – a timeline, then I flesh out each scene.  When a given scene has a purpose, and it serves the plot, I know I’m in good shape to begin writing.  Characters take real focus.  It’s almost like I have to court each one over a period of time before I really know what they’re about.  

I like to work actively on one project at a time.  For me, it would be tough to divide my time and attention between two activities.  I prefer to put all my energy into one project, and mentally flirt with the idea of the next.  Looking forward to my next project is extremely motivating to me.

7.      What aspect of your writing do you consider your strength? Your weakness?

My strength is definitely my ability to make the perfect cup of coffee (with real whipped cream on top) before I sit down to write.  My caffeine fueled descriptions of place are probably my strength, and the internal dialogue of my characters is something on which I am always working. 

8.      After publishing, the next trouble facing writers is marketing. What do you typically do when marketing your novel? Do you have tips you’d like to share?

I’ve been fairly proactive on social media, and I am working with local Chicago bookstores on events.  I have a long list of podcasts I am soliciting, and I have also reached out to to woman’s organizations that support survivors of partner abuse.  Plenty of my friends and family are part of a grassroots promotional effort; many of them are also in bookclubs and are excited to get the word out.  I’ve also engaged Smith Publicity to cast a wide PR net.  

I wish I would have started developing my online presence much earlier than I did.  It would have been nice to document the process of developing Warm Transfer earlier.

9.      What advice would you give a writer who is starting out?

Invest a little money in a class, coach, or online course.  Once you have skin in the game, you’re more likely to follow through when you hit a wall or decide your story is worthless.
Your story is not worthless.

Vorpal Blade

BOOK 1: Into the Looking Glass  by  John Ringo

Vorpal Blade   description:

The sequel to Into the Looking Glass. William Weaver, PhD. and SEAL Chief Adams are back and Bill got himself a ship! The former SSBN Nebraska has been converted, using mostly garage mechanics and baling wire, into a warp ship ready to go “out there.” But as everyone knows, the people who really are going to bear the brunt are the poor Security guys, Force Recon Marines who are kept in the dark and fed manure all day. That is until they land on an alien planet, get partially wiped out and then load back up again. Ranging in topics from the best gun to kill armored space monsters to particle physics to cosmology to health and beauty tips, Vorpal Blade is a return to the “good old days” of SF when the science problems were intractable and the beasts were ugly. The monkeys are out in the space lanes and ready to rock. As soon as they get another roll of duct tape.

BOOK 2: Vorpal Blade   5 STARS

I loved that this shows how the world has evolved since humans have encountered aliens. More so, that it wasn’t some endless panic, but an easy acceptance. They’d destroyed the evil ones, and the good ones, Adars, are accepted into society. Especially considering how the Adar’s technology has greatly advanced life on Earth. However, the main story is the spaceship they’ve built with said technology meshed with good ol’ human rigging, and them going into space to find what else may be out there. Ringo does a great job with making these people normal in the most bizarre environments. They’re marines that you might meet on any base, and yet now they’re among the stars meeting new aliens and fighting new battles. The best part was the pranks they play, and the way they deal with any who don’t quite get along with the others is pretty humorous. It is a great sequel that in no way lags, and keeps the adventurous, exciting, new feel that made the first one so great, because this isn’t rehashing the same old thing even as they are still hunting down Dreen. But that is just a small part of the greater story line. If you liked the first one you definitely need to check out the second.

The Warlord of Mars

BOOK 1: A Princess of Mars  by  Edgar Rice Burroughs

BOOK 2: The Gods of Mars

The Warlord of Mars   description:

John Carter risks everything to rescue his wife, Princess Dejah Thoris, from the clutches of his evil adversaries, but he is always just one step behind! His battles cover the face of the red planet, as his quest carries him ultimately to the mysterious northern pole. Will this civilization, submerged in ice, prove fatal to our hero? This is the third of eleven in the popular ‘Martian’ series by Edgar Rice Burroughs.

BOOK 3: The Warlord of Mars  4 STARS

In a way, this completes the journey that began in the first book. He’s still searching for his wife, and now her father and grandfather. I love that we have gotten to see all of Mars, and the different races, and what their lives are like. What makes these books so great is that John Carter, is just himself. He’s the greatest swordsman of 2 worlds, he can defeat any foe, and has taken on armies. But he knows he’s not much beyond a fighting man. He has his smarts in coming up with rescue plans, but he’s not exactly made out to be the smartest man there ever was. He tends to just be lucky, and often shows himself as being a bit ditzy. Like not understanding why Dejah Thoris doesn’t recognize him when he’s in disguise, while at the same time completely accepting that no one else around her recognizes him either. He’s a fighting man, and he does whatever it takes to save the woman he loves, but he’s also someone who takes others advise, and seeks help from those willing to give it. It really makes him out to be more realistic than you expect, and a hero that you can’t help but root for time and again as he fights for all that is good and right in the world, and thus completely changes this world he’s fallen into forever.

The Barbarian Before Christmas

Due to the number of books in this series I’m just going to add the link to the list of books I’ve reviewed by Ruby Dixon. While this is apart of the Ice Planet Barbarian series, it still requires you to have read the first book in the Icehome series.

The Barbarian Before Christmas   description:

The growing barbarian tribe is about to celebrate No-Poison Day – a time of love, laughter, and gifts. But all Elly wants is for her mate to be at her side before the brutal season arrives. All Bek wants is a way to quickly return to his female despite the mountains between them. Thanks to the talents of a newcomer…they’re both about to get their wish and celebrate the happiest of holidays together

BOOK 17.5: The Barbarian Before Christmas    5 STARS

This was a short story, but still managed to give such a fun look at their No Poison Day celebration. I love these short stories because you get to see so many of the couples and get a more rounded view of what’s going on in the village, both in Croatoan and Icehome. The main focus was on Bek and Elly, who are definitely my favorite couple. I loved that Dixon didn’t just automatically “fix” Elly. Elly loves Bek and they have a great relationship, but she still has trouble socializing, and hasn’t gotten over her fears, such as needing someone else to taste her food before she eats. Perhaps I like her so much because I can relate to the anxiety and depression of being a part from the one you love for long periods of time, and altogether Dixon handled it perfectly. After them, seeing Lila and getting to know what it was like for her being able to hear now was wonderful. I’d been curious considering she hadn’t seemed all that moved over the change when it first happened, but in this we really get to experience what it’s meant to her. All the Barbarians, humans, and new alien men gave a lot to this story even in such a short format, and it always just makes me want more.

Elizabeth Corrigan has been INTERVIEWED!!!

1.      What’s your name? Where can we find you? Blog? Twitter? Facebook?

I’m Elizabeth Corrigan! The best place to find me is on Facebook.

Twitter: @ERCorrigan

Website: www.elizabethrcorrigan.com

2.      Tell us a little about your life outside of the world of writing.

Well, I’m just coming out of NaNoWriMo, so I’m a little like, “What is life outside of writing?” 😉

By day I am an Army contractor. I’m a QA data analyst for a part of the Army that works on monitoring and preventing suicides and other behavioral health issues. By night, when I’m not writing, I’m usually playing games. I’m a huge fan of cooperative board games and tabletop role-playing games.

3.       How long have you been writing? What genres have you written? They don’t have to be published.

I wrote my first novel in high school. My friends all liked it, but in actuality, it was terrible. It was an over-dramatic contemporary young adult novel. My published novels are all fantasy novels—the first three books in the Earthbound Angels series and my mystery/fantasy Catching a Man. Last week I finished the first draft of my first science fiction novel, which I hope to publish next fall.

4.      What has been the greatest influence to your writing? Other authors, life experiences, etc…

My writing has so many influences, it’s hard to pick any as the “greatest.” Probably the thing that has sparked the most plots for me is my dreams. I can’t count how many times I’ve woken up from a vivid dream and thought, “That would be a great novel!” Sometimes it pans out and sometimes it does not.

My Earthbound Angels series is most influenced by the television show Supernatural and the Nightside books by Simon R. Green. Probably the biggest fiction influence on Catching a Man was the novel Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder. She wrote about a military dictatorship who were the good guys, and I wanted to do something just as different.

As for my writing structure, that has been influenced a lot by Red Adept Publishing/Editing. They’ve really helped me clean up my style.

5.      Are you currently writing anything now? If so tell us about it? If not make something up…

I just finished the first draft of a science fiction novel called Arachne’s Web. It’s a space opera about a group of characters who are suddenly having memories of past lives. One of its working titles is “Space Trains” because the primary method of traveling between moons is trains in space. And yes, one of the first scenes features two of the characters robbing the train.

Up next after that is the sequel to Catching a Man, because I’ve been putting that off for way too long.

6.      How do you typically begin your projects? Do you create outlines and character profiles or jump in head first with the initial idea? And do you focus on just one at a time?

I spent a lot of time planning books in my head before I write anything down. It’s something for my mind to do when I’m bored on a long car drive or I’m trying to fall asleep. At this point in time, I’m on-and-off working on about 6 series in my head. I generally do a brief outline, just a one-liner of what’s going to be in each chapter, before I start writing, and I find that my outlines change a lot as I write the novel.

7.      What aspect of your writing do you consider your strength? Your weakness?

I always say my strength is punchy dialogue. I like writing conversations between characters. People also tell me I’m good at having distinct voices for my characters. My weakness is descriptions. I don’t pay attention to them when I read, so I don’t bother putting them in my first drafts. I have whole scenes that have no real setting. So when I edit, I need to pay extra close attention to putting in that kind of detail.

8.      After publishing, the next trouble facing writers is marketing. What do you typically do when marketing your novel? Do you have tips you’d like to share?

Can I go back and make marketing my weakness on the above question? I’m definitely not great at it. I’m trying out some new things, though, that will hopefully work out. BookRazor is a great service that will help you find reviewers.

9.      What advice would you give a writer who is starting out?

If someone asks you to pay for their publishing service, they are not a real publisher! Read the Query Shark archives to learn how to query (and write book descriptions). Don’t believe people when they say you have to write for you—you can write for any reason you want. But you’ll probably be happiest if you’re writing for yourself.

Lauren’s Barbarian

While this is a spin-off series of The Ice Planet Barbarians, it’s still rather tied to the series and I disagree that it can stand alone. At the very least you should read the first book of IPB.

Lauren’s Barbarian  by  Ruby Dixon  description:

A lush, tropical island on an icy planet makes no sense.

Then again, not much makes sense anymore after waking up and finding myself not in bed but on a strange world populated by aliens. Since that moment, I’ve learned that nothing is normal anymore and I’ve got to roll with the punches. I can handle this, though. I’m strong and capable.

So… washed up on a tropical island? Got it handled.
Separated from the others in my group? Handled.
Stranded alone with a brutal but delicious alien man that can’t speak English but has great…ahem…body language? Yup, handled.

Add in the fact that my cootie – a symbiont I need to survive – has chosen my big, hulking alien friend as my fated mate? Let’s just say that the situation isn’t the only thing that’s going to be handled.

But it isn’t long before I learn that the tropical island paradise is a death trap and we’re all in grave danger, aliens and humans alike. To survive this, I’ll need my tempting guy to give me a hand with the situation…good thing he’s got four of them.

BOOK 1: Lauren’s Barbarian   4 STARS

This book starts when they’re finally letting the captives out of the pods, and how they all reacted, and what exactly happened while Taushen and Brooke were away. First off, I’m so glad we finally discovered the secret of the island Josey saw way out at sea. It also does tie into events that happened earlier in the IPB series, and so it was nice that even as it’s breaking off into a rather new story line, it’s still staying consistent with the previous books of this world. Though at first I was a little miffed that we finally find the 4 armed natives that was hinted at previously in the carvings of Croatoan, and it turns out they also are blue with tails and horns, and also calling themselves Sakh. But honestly it was rather clever of Dixon to think about the different species mixing together, and who knows how other Sakh ended up on the island, but it’s not really that far-fetched. Once I realized that it made me like it all the more. And again we’re dealing with a human and alien overcoming a language barrier, and having to work together to save the tribe. It was developed nicely, and of course it sets up for so many more stories with the new Icehome tribe, and learning how they’re going to come together and survive this new world they’ve all suddenly been tossed on. Lauren is likeable and practical. She’s a little unsure of resonance at first but she doesn’t put up a big fight with it, which was nice to be able to have someone just happy to have a man that’s completely devoted to them. The set up of the island and the tribes was interesting, and of course leaves me wondering about the mysterious 4th tribe that no one meets. But altogether it was a fun addition to the series whether Dixon wants to call in the same series or not.

Barbarian’s Tease

Due to the number of books in this series I’m just going to add the link to the list of books I’ve reviewed by Ruby Dixon.

Barbarian’s Tease  by  Ruby Dixon  description:

It should have been a one-night stand.

I never intended to seduce Taushen, but things happened. I don’t dwell on the past and while it was great, I’m not looking for a relationship. Of course, try telling that to Taushen. The big blue alien’s in love after one night, and it’s making things darn awkward. We’ve got bigger problems than whether or not I’m his woman, like the ‘cargo’ of the space ship that landed here.

But Taushen’s not giving up. He thinks I’m his mate.
And he’ll do anything to keep me.

BOOK 16: Barbarian’s Tease  4 STARS

I hesitated to read this book for so long because of all the people making it sound like Brooke was just this horrible person, but honestly I really felt for her. I don’t consider it a spoiler since it all happens within like the first few pages of the book, but it turns out while trapped together on the ship Brooke was basically roofied, and Taushen unwittingly took advantage of her during a time when she couldn’t stop herself. Brooke is upset over what happened, while she had technically enjoyed it she still hadn’t been in a position to say no. And Taushen is equally mortified to know she hadn’t truly wanted him, and that he’d misunderstood when she tried to tell him she was roofied. But what actually upset me wasn’t that Brooke wasn’t willing to be his mate after that, why would she suddenly change her mind when she’d never wanted to be anyone’s mate, and hadn’t truly been throwing herself at him. It was that Taushen suddenly pushes her aside, won’t let Brooke talk to him, and then his idea to fix the situation where he’d taken advantage of her (even if he too was in a way a victim) was to kidnap her. Then act like a child over the idea of someone else playing with his toy. The beginning was a bit much to swallow, and it made me really not like Taushen. However, Dixon does move the characters on past that, and they do finally get to deal with their issues, and come to truly understand each other. There’s a lot of growth on both of their parts, and Taushen does quickly understand the mistake he’s made and does his best to remedy them and do right by Brooke. As Brooke puts it, these aren’t human men, their culture is completely different, and you can’t judge them by human standards. I mean yes there has been a lot of kidnapping going on, but this was the first one that really bothered me. Regardless, as the plot develops, and the ending comes about setting up the new spin-off series, it turns out to be a good story, and has me wanting more.