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From This Breaking Point

Tayvia Pierce
Tayvia Pierce Author Interview

The Twisting Flame follows Carys who faces unimaginable horrors as she fights corruption, gets abducted, and gets taken to Azkaelom where she’s pushed to the limits of her strength. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?

Initially, it began with a fascination with “What makes a villain tick?” The idea of “good guys” and “bad guys” became fascinating the more I realized that everyone (the best heroes and the greatest villains) all believe they are the ones doing the right thing, but..what IS the right thing, really? It’s all about the lens you view events through. The Rise of The Phoenix series explores the many perspectives of good versus evil, and that it’s not always so easy to know which is which.

The basic idea of the inter-relationships and conflict between Daon, Malik, Barak, and Eilam was suggested by my Muse years ago as an interesting dynamic that we found interesting, and finally I couldn’t help but wonder “What if we tossed an enterprising and clever young aristocrat from the opposite side into the mix?” I knew I had to write that series, and it quickly took on a life of its own, and in ways I didn’t expect!

“A Single Spark” (Book 1) showed the foundations of her belief system and family dynamics. The adage “history is written by the victors” comes into play in “The Twisting Flame” (Book 2). It’s only when she is brought to the point of mentally and emotionally breaking, only then fully introduced to the truths of the other side. From this breaking point, she begins to grow into a new version of herself, hence the symbolism of the Phoenix.

Carys is an intriguing and well developed character. What were some driving ideals behind your character’s development?

I wanted a strong female character who was no damsel in distress, but rather, someone who could be feminine and yet on equal footing as the men in the story. Yes, she needs saving on occasion, but not so much in the way that many females are portrayed. I love diving into Carys’s mind and watching her grow and change as the story goes on. She is learning so much, growing more clever, resourceful, and independent. Is it strange to say she is someone I admire, despite her faults? Watching the belief system that she has always accepted as “truth” completely unravel was thrilling as she was introduced to new ways of thinking, seeing both sides, and having the ability to make the choice which truth she wished to support.

What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?

I’m not sure how to answer that without saying “All of them!” I really wanted to explore how villains are created, but more than that, how there isn’t really “Good vs Evil” as much as “People of one belief vs People of another.” It’s also a story about courage and finding one’s purpose and destiny, love and family, loyalty and perseverance. At its heart, it’s about truth, but not like you might think. The truth of one person is not the truth of another, but if that’s the case, what is truth? It’s about seeing both sides and then discovering which truth you support for yourself.

What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?

I am working on “The Crimson Blaze”, Book 3 in the Rise of the Phoenix series. It will hopefully be available by summer, 2023! It continues Carys’s journey as she strikes out on her own after sending her family into hiding, and is determined to rescue Barak while trying to stay hidden from those who seek to use her for their own ends.

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook | Website

In “The Twisting Flame”, Carys must survive unimaginable horrors as she fights the corruption of the enemy. Abducted by a mysterious and brutal stranger, Carys is taken to Azkaelom and pushed to the very limits of her strength and endurance as she longs for freedom and fights for her very survival. As she faces the Lord of Azkaelom, she begins to understand the truth behind her abduction and comprehend the significance of the storm she must endure.
In “A Single Spark”, Lady Carys and her family were forced to abandon their aristocratic life in Taurova, creating a new life in the western land of Lund. They quickly became the target of dangerous people, and Carys was finally forced to hire the mysterious Ben to help protect them. As their friendship blossomed into more and her family’s circumstances began to spiral, she no longer knew whom she can trust. When the unthinkable occurred and everything she believed was ripped away, it was too late — she had been caught in the dark net of their enemies.

“The Twisting Flame” is a masterful work of fiction and as the sequel in the Rise of the Phoenix Series, it shares an exciting story that readers of fantasy will love.

“I longed to be the woman I had once been, ignorant and foolish, but there is no going back…The spark that had flashed to life had become a flame, twisting my fate into its own form and life as I knew it was over.” – Carys

Ékleipsis: the Abyss

Ékleipsis: the Abyss by [Tamel Wino]

Ekleipsis: the Abyss by Tamel Wino is a collection of dark psychological thriller stories that keep you on the edge of your seat. The book has five stories and some situations you might even be able to relate to. The book explores those desires that you have that can take a turn for the worse, and it can happen to anyone, your neighbor, your friend, or your social media follower. Tamel really captured that essence of society and the dark side of people.

Ekleipsis: a word that means abandonment. Abandoning your humanity and taking that plunge into the dark void. Each of Tamel’s story is colored by this idea. A billionaire who has too many skeletons in the past, or a jealous woman who lost everything she had. Each character or villain in the stories are well thought out and relatable in some sense. What I realized was that each story had a different focus and an element that makes it stand out from the others but as a whole gives a vivid and dark reflection of humanity.

While I enjoyed these stories and the gritty exploration of humanity that they provide I sometimes felt like some stories were rushed. These are short stories so I completely understand the need to move things along, and these stories certainly do move quickly, but I would have loved more of a buildup (or maybe I’m just so enthralled with these stories that I want there to be more). As soon as we are introduced to the intriguing characters, the fascinating plot is unfurled and then the story is over. Such is the nature of short stories I suppose. I would honestly read all the stories if they were separate novels! The plot of each story is that strong, and I want to know more about each person and their thoughts, and just sit inside the characters mind for a while.

I look forward to reading more of these dark thrillers from Tamel Wino and readers will appreciate the dark undertones of this horror anthology. Ekleipsis will surprise you more that you can imagine.

Pages: 235 | ASIN: B09CN7H667

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From A Different Perspective

Calvin James
Calvin James Author Interview

The Colored Water Fountain follows two kids on a quest to find the meaning behind a sign, but the shocking truth changes their worldview. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?

Unfortunately, racism may always be a part of our society. I wanted to create a story looking at race from a different perspective to demonstrate to children that we should not judge people in this way.

I loved the bright and beautiful art throughout the book. What was the art collaboration process like to bring this story to life?

I was fortunate to find an illustrator, Jordan Pizzuti, who is excellent at her craft. From years of writing music and collaborating with musicians, I learned to give other’s their creative space because they may come up with something better than I would have. So allowed Jordan the freedom to create the world with as little input as possible. I feel she did a wonderful job.

What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?

Truth, kindness, friendship, love, and hope. These themes run throughout all my stories. I feel they are important because I want my stories to show children the world as it could be and strive for that vision.

What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?

The next book, LONG, LONG TIME, will be released in May of 2023. In the interim, there will be several music projects that will be released.

Author Links: Twitter | Facebook | Website

In a world that has been remade by a great flood, humans wake to find they are immortal children with no memory of the past. Animals are caretakers of the world; growing old and wise with no knowledge of times before. And yet, some things from the world that was… remain. When Asher and Adeline discover a sign that reads, ‘Colored’ Water Fountain, they set out on a quest to uncover the meaning.

Stuck That Way and Other Quandaries

Stuck That Way and Other Quandaries by [Julie Kusma]

Stuck That Way and Other Quandaries by Julie Kusma is a collection of short stories that are delightfully unnerving. Ranging topics like beastly transformations, death curses, and demon hunters are all masterfully crafted to create raw emotion. Quick warming: These stories do have violent and disturbing scenes that I don’t think are appropriate for children.

My favorite story of the bunch is probably “By Induction”, a story about a woman who fully believes that she can curse people to their deaths by putting their name in a jar and putting that jar in her freezer. When her curse strikes again, she has a change of heart and decides to curse another. No spoilers, but it is a great short story.

Another great one is the titular story, “Stuck That Way.” A father is showing his young boy how to create a corporeal form in parts, but the mother warns against it, because she does not want him to become trapped inside a body and disappear from their plane of existence. It’s quick, unsettling, and a commentary on human life. Fantastic work.

The writing is very strong overall, and Kusma does well to develop setting and motivation for her characters before twisting the reader’s expectations and toying with the seemingly inevitable ends. She also does well by making the characters think and act very logically. It’s pretty easy to understand why the characters make their choices, even if the results are not positive. If there was a weakness in the writing, I would say that the rare moments of action are sometimes not clearly described, but these clear up quickly and efficiently.

I’ll be looking forward to more work from Kusma, and I hope that the next set of stories are just as chilling and unsettling.

Pages: 83 | ASIN: B088JT34CT

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Babouc’s Vision

Somewhere, Dado is regaling his grandchildren with stories of “the good ol’ days” while they hunt for dinner. Izzy is hoping to make it in the big city. Roving gangs fight for supremacy in public spectacles. And April and Tom just hope their genetics are clean enough to gain approval to have a baby. Amid all of this chaos, is Harl Babouc, an introverted tinkerer who has been reluctantly tasked with the decision of whether they, and all other inhabitants of the city, live or die. As he travels around a city he rarely sees, he learns plenty about the true depths of humanity.

In “Babouc’s Vision”, author Glenn Searfoss paints a vivid picture of a city that seems completely devoid of any redeeming qualities, but just below the surface lies the occasional glimpse of hope and compassion. After his introduction, Babouc becomes an invisible presence, nothing more than a specter there to observe, learning about the city’s citizens in real time with us. Through their stories we come to understand how society reached the point of being over regulated to the extreme and the ways they have learned to cope and adapt to the increasing pressures. Searfoss’s prose is amazingly descriptive, laying bare the good, the bad, and the overwhelmingly ugly that comes with both the environment and its people. Even the most insignificant characters come to life in spectacular ways under the spell cast by his words and it keeps the book from ever seeming stale or slow. Even as the chapters rotate from one story to the next in occasionally unconnected ways, the pull of needing to know what comes next remains constant. 

While “Babouc’s Vision” doesn’t immediately seem like a book that would be deeply thought provoking, the ending gives plenty to think about in regards to humanity, diversity, and redemption. It makes the book worthy of a second reading in order to catch all the nuance that’s easily overlooked the first time through. The characters are all human beings, even when it seems like every ounce of it has been drained away. Babouc realizes that those qualities still exist within them, which means those qualities could still be expressed. The book also explores the question of intentions versus outcomes and the moral implications of both. It definitely provides more than meets the eye.

“Babouc’s Vision” was thoroughly enjoyable and difficult to put down, which is always a winning combination. Even the more despicable characters were engaging enough that you cared what happened to them and the ones who were more sympathetic had you actively cheering for their success. “Babouc’s Vision” is an intellectually stimulating science fiction story.

Pages: 248 | ISBN: 1587210118

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The Song of Kamaria Trilogy

T. A. Bruno
T.A. Bruno Author Interview

On the Winds of Quasars is the thrilling sequel to In the Orbit of Sirens. What were some new ideas you wanted to introduce in this book that was different from book one?

For Quasars, I wanted to explore the world of Kamaria on a more personal level. In the Orbit of Sirens was mostly about humans and why they came to Kamaria. Although the auk’nai were involved in that story, they had plenty of room for deeper observation. In Quasars, we see more of auk’nai society, and we discover that there is more than one mindset to the native Kamarians through the lens of the auk’gnell.

What scene in the book did you have the most fun writing?

Any scene involving L’Arn and Auden became my favorite to write. Auden is such a great character to explore, and I hope readers find him equally interesting to read about. The first scene L’Arn and Auden meet still gives me chills when I read over it.

What were some challenges you set for yourself as a writer with this book?

I wanted to represent a family dynamic much like my own growing up. My brothers and parents had to adjust to a lifestyle that accommodated my brother Danny, who was born non-verbal autistic. I wanted to have this shown through the Castus family, so I included Nella Castus, who was born Deaf. To do her justice, I reached out to people in the Deaf Community, and even brought on a Deaf Consultant to help ensure she was portrayed right. Nella instantly became another one of my favorite characters to write. She’s a ball of energy who doesn’t let anything hold her back, and she will fiercely defend those she loves. She’s an excellent addition to the cast, and I hope readers fall in love with her like I have.

What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?

I haven’t announced the final book’s name yet, but I expect to release it sometime in early 2022. It is far along in production, and it’s really shaping up to be an explosive conclusion to the Song of Kamaria trilogy.

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Instagram | Facebook | Website

The thrilling sequel to In the Orbit of Sirens
In the aftermath of the brutal slaying of a sacred auk’nai deity, Cade and Nella Castus are taken from their home and brought deep into the wilderness. They must make their way back to civilization, traversing dangerous landscapes as they are pursued relentlessly by their captor-a winged abomination.
As Denton and Eliana search for their missing children, they uncover something that will change life on Kamaria forever.

The Two Revolvers Saga

Dave Matthes
Dave Matthes Author Interview

Legend of the Horizon Vengeance follows the apocalyptic life of Rancid Mahoney and the man who took him under his wing. What inspired the direction of this novel and the journey Rancid goes on?

The themes I wrote about in the first book, Leave My Ashes on Blackheart Mountain, while important to the character of Mahoney, were still somewhat rudimentary, in that they were mostly about love and how to love someone in a world as brutal and unforgiving as the one these characters all live in. And I think the decision Mahoney made at the end of Blackheart Mountain summed up pretty well what that all means. In Book 2, Mahoney deals with the fallout of that decision, while taking on the brunt force of a plethora of even more complicated discoveries which will lead to even harder decisions. When I first wrote Mercy, a novella which would become the chronological Book 3 of The Two Revolvers Saga, Mahoney is already of a fairly advanced age. He’s grizzled with time, he’s pretty much an expert with the weapons that he has, both the physical and the emotional weapons. But in Books 1 and 2, the story takes place two decades before that, so he’s still pretty young and having to learn all of these incredibly harsh lessons on how to survive in an already ruthless world. So I think the core of these first two books, particularly Horizon Vengeance, is learning those lessons, but as the reader will find out, there is never any one single way with which to deal with the hard choices life throws at us, and just because a morally-good character makes one choice, it doesn’t always mean that choice was the right one.

What were some ideas that were important for you to personify in your characters?

Legend of the Horizon Vengeance is a massive story encompassing many different character arcs, while some that began in Blackheart Mountain are completed, others are expanded upon and left to grow through the remaining books in the series. In regards to Mahoney’s arc, I wanted to focus on his own growth from the point at which Blackheart Mountain ended, and lead into a sort of re-identifying himself. His journey throughout Horizon Vengeance begins at a point of having experienced much of the world, but that experience is still clouded with ignorance and a steep desire for purpose. When the book opens, he literally has no place of belonging, no sense of direction except for the vague words of Frank Delmont, his old mentor. And Frank is on a journey of his own, trying to rectify his own past mistakes. Their two journeys and lusts for clarity clash here and there, but ultimately, and Mahoney learns this quite violently, their collective journey is about acceptance.

What is one pivotal moment in the story that you think best defines Rancid Mahoney?

There is a moment about halfway through the book that happens between Mahoney and Frank that is perhaps the most eventful “pivot point” for Mahoney, but I can’t talk about that without spoiling the story, in fact there are many pivotal moments within the story that could be considered spoilers so I can’t really speak much on them. However, there is a moment between Mahoney and Wyatt Delmont, who is Mahoney’s step brother, that takes place just before a massive battle. Wyatt and Mahoney, while connected by half-blood, are both around the same age but grew up in different parts of the world learning different ways to survive, a reality that serves as a fissure dividing them in a way, both emotionally and morally. Mahoney’s two revolvers are sacred to him, as they have their own history. But just before the battle is to begin, Mahoney offers Wyatt one of his revolvers, and I think that a huge stepping stone for Mahoney in terms of learning to trust other people, made even more significant that it is Wyatt whom he is giving the revolver to.

What can readers expect in book three of the The Two Revolvers Saga?

Book 3 was actually the first book in the series I wrote, titled Mercy, it was originally intended as a simple standalone novella. It’s been out for a few years and the reception I received from readers is part of why I decided to expand on the world and lore of Rancid Mahoney. I’m currently working on Book IV, titled The Dead and the Dying, which will take place from the point of view of several characters, mostly set during the same time as Mercy, leading up to where that book ended, and going beyond.

Author Links: GoodReads | Website

A year following The Battle of New Canterton, Rancid Mahoney, now wandering in exile and in search of purpose, answers the call of an old mentor and surrogate father figure, Frank Delmont, who has embarked on his own quest for redemption since his retirement from Gunther Ostrander’s vicious shadow.
With the war to the north incinerating the lands behind them, the two take to the sea aboard The Moonlady in search of the only other known two remaining members of the Delmont Family: Plath and Wyatt, Frank’s brother and son respectively. But all is not well in the Woodstar Triangle, the maritime trade routes that used to be known as The Caribbean Sea. A different sort of conflict has been brewing in the southern waters. Val Remo, Empress of Woodstar City, and Mahoney’s biological mother, has been confronted with her most challenging tribulation yet. Plaguing the Empress’ rule are the bloodthirsty, relentless Mantle of Fire, a fleet of pirates priding themselves with decades of unchallenged bloodshed, and Chief Zao of the Black Boar Tribe, emerging from the northern war to hunt down Tuskatawa deserters and their sympathizers alike.
As “guests” of the Empress at Morro Castle, a fortress carved out of the ruins of Old Havana, Mahoney and Frank are presented with a double-edged sword. Remo demands that Wyatt Delmont be brought back to her so that he may answer for his crimes of rebellion, insurrection, and most of all, stealing the Horizon Vengeance : Val Remo’s prized war vessel that has a story of its own beginning before Mahoney was born. To ensure her demands do not go unanswered, Remo sends along with Delmont and Mahoney the captain of the Igneous Reef, Sebastian “The Anvil” Longbar, a man feared for his brutal habit of feeding unruly crew members and prisoners to his pet, Celeste, a monstrous bear living in a cage deep in the bowls of his ship.
An expedition to reunite a family divided will clash with a conquest to overthrow an empire, and Rancid Mahoney will be forced to decide between family over principle, and self over fate.
Legend of the Horizon Vengeance is BOOK II in THE TWO REVOLVERS SAGA.

KARRIN: Warrior Child

KARRIN: Warrior Child: A Paranormal / Sci-Fi Adventure (Excalibur Saga Book 3) by [Sahara Foley]

Sahara Foley’s Karrin Warrior Child is an enchanting urban fantasy novel. It follows the life of Karrin, a young girl who was abandoned at a home for unwanted children. With little memory of her real family and where she is from, she still maintains her dignity and courage. At the home, she meets a terrible matron, guards, and girls. But despite the hardships of living in the home, she experiences kindness from the facility cook, aptly named “Cook”. Not only does Cook allow her to help in the kitchen, but she also ensures that she always has something to eat and a comfortable place to sleep. Over time, a beautiful relationship develops between them, climaxing in a series of sacrificial decisions. Eventually, we discover that Karrin is not your ordinary child. In fact, she is so extraordinary that she is being hunted down by those who see her as a threat.

As you read from page to page, it is hard not to root for Karrin and even learn to care for her because she’s captivating but also feels authentic. If there is one thing the author did well, it is maintaining the fast pace of the narrative. From the first to the last chapter, she captures our imagination with riveting prose and dialogue. This makes it easy to get a clear picture of what is happening at all times. Moreover, the author is adept at covering the perceptions of different characters throughout the narrative.

This is the first book in the epic Excalibur Saga series, but I think it can still be read as a stand only story. With an fascinating protagonist and a storyline infused with intrigue, science fiction fans will heartily enjoy this action-packed adventure novel. KARRIN: Warrior Child is a thrilling must read that will have you guessing to the very last page.

Pages: 189 | ASIN: B07JFNML14

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