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Creativity Inspires Creativity

Marieke Lexmond Author Interview

The Magical Tarot Deck follows a magical family who is targeted by a stranger that stole a tarot deck, allowing him to attack the family from afar, they must find out who it is before they disappear. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?

Clearly, I love tarot cards! How they work, the different decks! This is how the Madigan Chronicles came into existence all those years ago. The thought that it would be so cool if the main characters represented the Major Arcana and what would happen if the cards came to life and got used against them. It started as a screenplay for a movie, but it was too complex for an hour and a half story. Many years later it had changes completely, but “the Magical Tarot Deck” did end up being the main focus of a whole book!

What was your inspiration for the interactions and backstories of their characters?

This is a difficult question. I get inspired by many things and it’s something I actively pursue. I’m a big believer that creativity inspires creativity, so I like to do things that touch on my stories. Long walks in a forest or along a beach. Make spells, which I sell on my website http://www.underthewitcheshat.com . Life is about experiences, and writing is molding these experiences, observations, feelings— mix it with a healthy dose of fantasy and create characters and stories. It’s an opportunity to explore dualities in us, as a re-occurring theme in my books is ‘balance’. There are always two sides to a coin!

When you first sat down to write this story, did you know where you were going, or did the twists come as you were writing?

I generally know where a book is going, but I leave plenty of room for surprises when I write. This will eventually be a six-book series and even though I know how it must end, story lines have been changing along the way. If I plot in too much detail, I lose interest in the story. I like to be taken on a ride sometimes with what goes on in my head!

What can readers expect in book 3 and when will it be available?

“The Wand” the Madigan Chronicles #3 is available! In the third installment of the Madigan Chronicles, the struggle to keep the elemental powers safe continues, and the family dramas deepen.

Ceri has a hard time finding the balance as the Keeper of the Land in Fairy and being human. Alienating her daughter, who finds a dangerous friend in Mab, the Queen of Fairy.

In the meantime, Maeve must face up to her teenage trauma and wrestles with accepting her true self. Bridget does her utmost to help her twin, to make up for some of the pain she had caused by leaving her behind all those years ago. At the same time, she is forced to take on a responsibility she never wanted and upsets the entire family in the process.

Currently I’m writing “The Cup” the Madigan Chronicles #4 in which the world expands, and we also get to know more about Luna and Freya.

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook | Website

“The Magical Tarot Deck” is an exciting fiction novel that readers of fantasy will love. In this gripping sequel of The Madigan Chronicles, the Madigans thought they could relax after they retrieved the Dagger of Consciousness, but malicious Lucy takes possession of the family’s Magical Tarot Deck. Now they must get it back in time before she will use it against them. Lucy sees her chance not only for revenge but also to pressure the Madigans to return the Dagger. More family secrets are forced into the open and magical talents emerge.

The Magical Tarot Deck is comprised of twenty-two cards, and on each card, a family member is illustrated. When a question is asked and a particular card comes to life, the person on the card gets ripped from wherever they are in their current life, until they fulfill the question.

Moonlit Skies

Jack is of fae blood and desperate to escape his past. When he stumbles upon fellow fae, LeAnne and Maggie, they graciously invite him back to their home. Jack soon discovers his new friends are Watchers (of the extreme variety) who oppose marriage between fae and humans. At the same time, Giselle, another fae, is going to visit Lily and Rowan who are pregnant with twins. Her trip is thrown into chaos when she meets a handsome man with whom she has an instant connection. Their lives soon become intertwined in a way no one could have expected.

Moonlit Skies, by Abby Farnsworth, is the second book in the EverGreen Trilogy and tells the fascinating story of Jack and Giselle, two faes connected through a shared fondness towards Lily. They must face the threat from the Watchers who are determined to put an end to intermarriage with humans and Lily, unfortunately, is on their radar.

Farnsworth has effortlessly blended the fantasy and contemporary genre to create a fascinating modern fantasy experience. The author seamlessly shifts the point of view between characters allowing the reader to fully immerse themselves in the characters’ thoughts. The dual points of view allowed me to become emotionally invested in the characters. Readers will be on the edge of their seats as they try to solve the mystery of exactly how Giselle and Jack are connected and how the two storylines will intertwine.

The author’s descriptions are so vivid that readers will feel as though they are in the story alongside Giselle and Jack. The author touches upon serious issues that are prevalent in society today, showing readers that we are not alone. Readers will find Farnsworth’s characters are both captivating and relatable.

Moonlit Skies is a charming romance novel that will enchant readers as they fall in love with the characters and travel to a breathtaking fantasy world.

Pages: 118 | ASIN: ‎ B09BLP5VV1

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What Matters Most In Life Are Relationships

Donan Berg Author Interview

Lucia’s Fantasy World follows a young girl as she experiences coming-of-age moments and learns her full potential while trying to help a sick friend. What was the inspiration for the setup of your story?

In human life, struggle, anxiety, loneliness, and depression are too often inevitable, even more so for youth. This leads to and begs a question. What should be valued? Of the many moments in my life, a phrase and a first grade experience stand out.

The phrase comes from the Orient. It says: “Fall down seven times, stand up eight.”

The first grade experience involved crayons. I’d spent six months with my mother and brother in Ireland visiting her relatives, well, mine, too. In doing so I’d missed kindergarten where each student received a new box of sixteen crayons to be used and carried into first grade. My first grade teacher removed a crayon discard box from a windowsill and gave it to me. Fellow students teased me for scribbling with broken and stubby crayons.

However, I was happy. My classmates had only one of each color. I had six reds, eight greens, etc. Lucia learns she has a special skill – drawing or sketching. I can’t draw or paint, but did win a national photography award. Upon learning of the honor, I had to give a speech. I used the Oriental quote above and the words of Mark Twain. To paraphrase, he was reported to have said, “When I was fourteen, I couldn’t stand to have the Old Man around. When I was eighteen, I was amazed at how much he had learned.”

As the question of “theme” appears below, I’ll skip a long answer to say that there’s a ripple throughout Lucia’s Fantasy World that what matters most in life are relationships, not material things, not a physical Christmas tree, but learning and living the spirit it embraces.

Lucia grows in this novel from a carefree child to one that realizes the world is bigger and has more challenges than she imagined. What were some driving ideals behind your character’s development?

I recall this quote from John Ciardi: “You don’t have to suffer to be a poet. Adolescence is enough suffering for anyone.”

Lucia, although her family is split, has basic needs fulfilled. There’s shelter, food, and clothing. Although she might not be a school “glamor” girl, she has fun snow sledding with Johnny. He shares his sled and doesn’t complain his leg is in a metal brace. Yet, in her own mind, Lucia longs for material things her Mother can’t afford, especially a Christmas tree. Friend Omar has access to multiple Christmas trees as a Boy Scout worker at a tree stand, yet, he can’t give a tree to Lucia.

Twelve novels ago in A Body To Bones, my first writing adventure, I coupled a whodunit mystery with the main character’s growth to be a person of strength after years of emotional suffering. Now after a debut fantasy, Find the Girl, A Fantasy Novel, that offered greater fantasy adventure than self-realization, I desired to explore an adolescent coming of age. This effort began a story, unrelated in style and concept, but nevertheless subconsciously tied in with my novel, Aria’s Bayou Child, where a mother is falsely imprisoned for killing her husband and desperately seeks to find her stolen child.

Although totally different in tone and circumstances, Lucia, like the adult Aria, learns determination, trust in her own ability, and the value of human relationships. Lucia doesn’t just feel good; she harnesses her ability to do better than good.

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

While I touched on theme in answer to the first question, I often take exception to the adage that a theme is so important to a novel that it can’t exist without one. All too often, theme is dumbed down to be “Love conquers all” or “Principle trumps greed.” Theme is thus treated as parallel to teaching a lesson. If the reader discovers it, the author receives an A.

The goal should be to create, and have empathy with, characters who make choices, take risks, and subject themselves to the consequences. My viewpoint strives to delve into virtue. It’s to understand morality or societal goodness and the individual’s journey of faith, hope, charity, justice, and, along the way, come to a realization of what’s important.

Did Lucia lack virtue because she yearned for a Christmas tree, a material object? No. Her obsession was natural in her teen world. Did it hinder her growth? No. But who’s to say it wasn’t required?

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

Excuse me if I chuckle. Questions after book readings often include “How long did it take to write your first novel?” I answer: “thirty years.” When the puzzled expressions fade, I explain that as a journalism student it was taken as gospel that you would write the “Great American Novel.” I started, then everyday life intervened. Two children grew into adulthood before my wife died of cancer. I retrieved 54 typewritten pages from a file cabinet that represented my debut novel. I fully understood that putting onto paper the novel that had matured in my mind was a distraction to grief. When I finished, my publisher asked, “What’s your next book? We need an excerpt.”

Today, I ponder if I’m destined to write my 13th novel as a Halloween trip along Elm Street?

Absolutely not. Lucia’s Fantasy World offers an excerpt for a mystery/suspense, “Albert’s Deadly Fate.” It’s said to be available in 2024. The long lead time is because I’m working on a minor league hockey team romance, a third fantasy, another romantic mystery, and tinkering with expanding a short story highlighted by the Giant’s Causeway on Ireland’s Antrim Coast. Of course, completing a trip to the Scottish Highlands, delayed by COVID for two years, may upset all plans, although I’ve promised myself one story about Jamie and Clare and the Jacobin Rebellion is enough.

Thank you to Literary Titan and all my readers. It’s a joy to be able to express myself. How troubled we’d all be if one error caused us to begin again with a new rock.

Author Links: GoodReads | Amazon

Lucia McFate finds her life changed when sledding friend, Johnny, is stricken with a life-threatening infection. Discovering she has a rare, if dangerous gift, Lucia literally falls into a tunnel and her escape lands her in a far-off land many centuries in the past.Her challenges are many, but the most important is how to transport a spirited box found in the past to her real-world reality to save her friend.In superbly crafted writing that builds suspense, award-winning author Donan Berg gives us a most enduring fantasy fit for all ages.

Ashes, Ashes

Jessica Goeken’s Ashes, Ashes centers around teenage monster slayer, Adrienne Young, as she navigates family drama, high school crushes, and magical responsibilities. Adrienne has more on her plate than your average seventeen-year-old — trying to strike a balance between attending classes and battling creatures from the Shadow Plane isn’t easy. But when her guardians come under attack by an unknown entity, Adrienne must put her life on the line to save them. With the help of her adoptive siblings, Adrienne is duty-bound to solve the mystery surrounding her guardians’ disappearance, alongside the death of several schoolgirls — and it’s going to take all her strength to do it.

Reminiscent of young adult adventure stories like the Percy Jackson series, Ashes, Ashes is an action-packed rollercoaster filled with fights, tears, and humor. While some may find the high school romance plot less compelling than the magical battle Adrienne becomes embroiled in, overall this novel strikes a balance between high-stakes conflict and more lighthearted concerns.

This story does make use of some well-worn tropes, such as the popular boy falling for the outcast girl (who, we are led to understand as readers, is beautiful but unaware of it). However, the world-building is immersive and exciting — the author has clearly put a lot of thought into the existence of her magi, with their uniquely turbulent lifestyle and varying skills and abilities.

The concept of creatures existing within different planes, and the relationship between our world and these planes, is also intriguing and employed to good effect. It is both thrilling and amusing to watch Adrienne leap between fighting malevolent creatures and returning to the Mortal Plane in time for school. I would recommend this book, particularly to any young adult who enjoys a mixture of supernatural horror and teen drama, as life-threatening events coincide with the typical trials and tribulations of growing up.

Pages: 344 | ASIN : B09YY333XL

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Lucia’s Fantasy World

Lucia’s Fantasy World, by Donan Berg, is a captivating story about a courageous and caring young girl named Lucia. One day while sledding with her friend, Johnny, he is sent to the hospital due to immense pain in his leg related to an infection. Lucia, with the help of her friend Omar, goes on a journey to help heal Johnny. On this journey she finds out that there is something special about her and she just might be able to help her friend more than she thought.

This charming and intriguing story is the perfect read for a young adult or middlegrade audience. The tone is fairytale-esque and the author perfectly captures the innocence and imagination of the characters in the book.

The relationship between Omar and Lucia is one that young readers will easily be able to relate to. They set out on adventures together, get into mischief, and care for one another. I enjoyed reading about the fun Lucia had while playing with her friend Johnny, it brought back a nostalgic feeling and made me remember when I was a child.

Berg’s excellent use of description plays a big part in the book as Lucia and the reader is transported into a far-off land that is many centuries in the past. I also thought it was interesting to read about the moment Lucia grows up from calling her Mom, Mommy to Mother. I feel the author captured this transition perfectly as there is a moment in a child’s life where they decide they must grow up. Berg shows young readers that it is ok to want to help your friends and through Lucia’s story he helps readers cope with hard times.

Lucia’s Fantasy World, by Donan Berg is a magical story that will take you on a fascinating adventure with Lucia. Filled with child-like imagination, friendship, adventure, magic, and sorcery this book is the perfect fantasy book for middle aged children who are looking for an imaginative coming of age adventure.

Pages: 250 | ASIN: B09YCVQ4JD

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The Devil Pulls the Strings

Boone Daniels is your typical knight in shining armor. His sense of justice and loyalty is strong, especially after a terrible accident at a jousting match that puts his best friend, Flynn, in the hospital. Unable to perform with his band, the Village Idiots, Flynn asks Boone to take his place in New York at a charity ball. Provided with an address and time, Boone heads to NYC to meet the Village Idiot’s benefactor, Professor Stone. Boone soon stumbles upon his true purpose for being in New York – to stop Sinti from summoning the devil and stop Baba Yaga, an immortal being who has been trapped in a deep sleep for centuries, from destroying NYC. Along with his new friend, Sapphire, Boone helps a secret organization fight a long-time war with the Dragon and Nymph society.

In The Devil Pulls the Strings, Joseph Zarek brings to life magic and monsters found in European lore. This is an exciting story that I found to be fast-paced and full of action. The author hits on thrilling plot points rapidly, moving Boone through his next steps to stopping Sinti quickly with just enough time to digest what happened before moving on.

Readers are immediately introduced to intriguing magic and mythological creatures before the main character, which sets readers up to know what kind of imaginative story they are delving into, but I feel like this prevents readers from discovering this secret world along with the main character.

Some of the information the author uses is factual and conforms to the original mythology, which I loved, but in some areas the author bends mythological rules in unique ways, which I love even more. For example, Wendigos prey on people who are socially disconnected or corrupt, greedy and/or weak. I enjoyed the author’s fresh take on these mythological creatures.

The Devil Pulls the Strings is a quirky epic fantasy adventure that is relentlessly moving forward and never forgets to entertain the reader. The modern reimagining of old mythologies and the mash-up of multiple mythologies makes this a one-of-a-kind fantasy that readers will surely enjoy.

Pages: 254 | ASIN: B09435JJ67

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The Younglings: Fire & Magic

The Youngling gang of supernaturals is back in the second installment of Helena M. Craggs’ series. This time Quinn and his friends are more experienced, more determined, and have even more troubled spirits to clean up after. A wannabe vampire on the loose, stalkerish witches and the pressure cooker of first years of college mean that their break from the supernatural realm has well and truly come to an end.

The Younglings: Fire & Magic picks up from where it left off, continuing the journey of first loves, sexuality, friendship, loyalty and familial unity. The ongoing guidance of demon nanny Mrs. D was the feel-good stability and wisdom that can often lack in the young adult genre.

Narrated predominantly from Quinn’s perspective Helena M. Craggs has done well to maintain his humorous and charismatic character. The addition of storytelling from multiple perspectives created the perfect amount of angst to keep the reader feverishly turning pages and builds upon the logic and reason of characters the reader has already had the opportunity to understand.

The natural progression of the original characters truly shines through in this second installment. Eve and Quinn have matured immensely; tougher and more direct, they set the tone of the novel to be logical and infallible, genuinely growing into the ruling roles so heavily focused on in book one. An outstanding friendship dynamic with purposeful powers and personalities, Craggs has taken her time to evolve relationships through real-life themes young adults face. The romantic subplot solidified this novels place in the workings of a brilliant young adult read.

The Younglings: Fire & Magic is a lighthearted paranormal fantasy that takes young adult readers on an action-filled adventure. The supernatural characters are engaging and will have readers hooked from the start.

Pages: 340 | ASIN : B09YHMTV4Z

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A Little Bit of Drama

Author Interview
Albert Scott Author Interview

Broken Revelations: Calamity of the Gods follows a Nephal and his wives through time into the past and to the land of the Gods to search for a thief. What was your inspiration for the wild journey you take readers on in this novel?

I wanted to play with how the gods of various pantheons would interact with each other and shine some light on some lesser-known gods that I think are pretty cool.

Was there anything from your own life that you put into the characters in your novel?

Yes. I put a little bit of drama from my life into each novel but I won’t say what bits I write about I’ll leave that for my readers to have fun figuring out.

What was your favorite character to write for and why? Was there a scene you felt captured the character’s essence?

I love writing for Sun Wukong! He’s my favorite pagan god his mythology is full of things that I can write about and play with like I did when Adrian and the gang went to Diyu in Calamity of the Gods.

Will there be a follow-up novel to this story? If so, what aspects of the story will the next book cover?

Yes, I am planning a follow up novel as we speak it will focus on Adrian being stuck in the Nexus and how he will go about saving his wives from the hands Kar’ma and Erlking.

Author Links: Amazon | GoodReads

Adrian Grey just can’t catch a break.

He united the angelic factions with his marriage just in time for the Dominess to give him the task of investigating a series of thefts of relics that has the pagan pantheons preparing to go to war with one another, he discovers that one of the stolen items were the only thing containing terrible beings known as the Calamities and the trail of the thieves leads Adrian and his wives from the top of Mount Olympus to the depths of Tartarus , into the halls of Valhalla through the lands of Duat and the courts of Diyu into a portal where they found themselves eons in the past in the land of Mu: the land of the gods!
With the help of Wukong and Ezriel , Adrian and his wives learn the untold story of the gods and their homeland while searching for a way to stop the thieves , the Calamities and return to their own time before they too become ancient history.
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