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Death’s Cheat

Jed Cullen Author Interview

Zaven follows a group of high school friends who are in the middle of a Zombie pandemic and must rely on each other for survival.  What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?

Funnily enough, being bored with my friends during high school gave me the ideas for the book. A lot of characters in the book are based off my school mates. When they read it, I hope they don’t find themselves too difficult to stomach.

How do you balance story development with shocking plot twists? Or can they be the same thing?

I start with the ending in mind. Zaven is the first book in a sequel and I have the final conclusion being the key aspect that I strive towards. With an ending developed first, the story balance and twists are quite simple to implement.

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

My main theme was the definition of a Zombie. Ultimately, Tyler is the true zombie throughout the book as he blindly follows other’s advice without any contextual knowledge. Since Zaven is written in first person from Tyler’s perspective, the reader get’s the story through his eyes… This makes the reader as blindsided as Tyler. Overall, poor decisions result from poor observation.

The other main theme is Death’s cheat. It is symbolised time and time again throughout the book, though, readers will have to look deeper to find the meaning.

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

I am currently working on the sequel to Zaven. It will likely not be available for a while due to my commitment to work. Nonetheless, the story is mapped out and there will be no loose ends. It will come full circle and answer all possible questions.

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook | Website

Detention on your first day of High School is one thing, but your teacher trying to eat you is a bit over the top… Set in Florida, America, Tyler Graham and his friends must band together and survive a zombie pandemic where lawlessness and violence becomes a new means of morality.

Rieden Reece and the Broken Moon – Book Trailer

Everyone keeps secrets. And all kids keep secrets from their parents. But what if your secret were so big, so terrible, and so impossible, no one would believe you anyway?

Rieden Reece hides such a secret.

To an outside observer, Ri may seem somewhat average. A troubled kid from a broken home coping with his personal pile of problems. A snarky thirteen-year-old can only deal with so much.

The night the moon cracks changes him forever.

When the moon breaks, it starts a chain of events leading him on the greatest adventure of his life. By his side, a shadowy figure from another universe whom Ri calls the Shadow Man. Together they must fight the evil powers beyond Ri’s understanding. It forces him to muster up the strength, bravery, and grit he never knew he had.

And the countdown until complete collapse continues…

Will Ri be able to stitch the moon back together before his universe completely unravels? And can he reverse what is happening to his helpless mom…

The Myrk Maiden: Daughter Darkness

Twilight is a 15yr old girl who doesn’t quite fit in with her family. She is mistreated by her parents and siblings and is forced to do chores all day. She doesn’t understand why she is treated different and why her mother despises her. She realizes that she looks different from her sibling, but she does look like her father. She learns that she is part of the Sharavaks, who are also known as the shadows. They want to exterminate normal people and establish their own civilization, but they need Twilight’s help since she is the most powerful. As her powers awaken she has an internal battle between good and evil. Will Twilight help the Sharavaks carry out their dark purpose?

The Myrk Maiden: Daughter Darkness by Alyssa Charpentier is a riveting coming-of-age fantasy novel that immerses readers in an alluring world of magic and the tense fight between a hope for good and an inherent evil.

Twilight’s character starts off innocent, and the reader wonders why she is hated by her family. As the story progresses she unravels the mystery of who she really is and her powers begin to grow and we get to see the dark side of her. I was enthralled with this meticulous development of her character and the intriguing realization of who she actually is. I was shocked when Twilight turns ferocious and savage. This is the moment readers get to see her internal struggle where she yearns to be good, but the darkness is always pushing itself on her.

Tension is high throughout the story, especially when Twilight is on the run. While I enjoyed the story I felt that it could have benefited by being shorted just a bit to make Twilight’s struggle feel more linear rather than recycled. Don’t let this deter you from reading this impressive gothic fantasy novel though as the author creatively incorporates magic into the story, like having Twilight’s mother visit her in visions or how the Sharavaks were able to infiltrate Twilight’s thoughts and shapeshift. All of this helps make this story an unpredictable adventure.

I recommend The Myrk Maiden: Daughter Darkness to readers who are looking for a dramatic and thoughtful fantasy adventure novel.

Pages: 466 | ASIN: B098MXQHTK

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The World Has Never Been More Fragile

Janet Kravetz Author Interview

Sky Curse: The Chosen Five is a sci-fi and fantasy novel that follows five young adults, who are chosen to fulfill a Mayan prophecy and must locate crystals that will hopefully save the Earth. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?

Sky Curse series aims to bring hope for Earth’s future, while analyzing causes that might bring its demise, like environmental chaos. It was important for me to bring up the mighty Mayan civilization that disappeared abruptly and the recent research that suggests that human-made environmental disasters had caused their demise.

The protagonist Cecilia is just like any one of us. She’s quite ordinary with a lot of problems of her own. At the beginning of the book, she has nothing to do with climate change activism. Until she gets hold of a mysterious crystal that gives her some magical powers. With her newfound abilities, she tries to save the world from an impeding apocalypse.

Readers say Sky Curse is a page-turner that…

  1. reads like “news from the future,”
  2. which helps understand the present,
  3. while learning from the ancient past (the Maya, Roman Empire, etc.)

As for the inspiration for the setup – many people, especially teens and young adults, suffer from climate anxiety, but unfortunately feel helpless to do anything about it. They give up. They call the subject “depressing” and steer away from it. They get depressed about their future and the future of the next generations. That’s exactly how I felt before I started writing the Sky Curse series. Sharing my feelings on the subject with the world made me feel that I’m actually doing something about it, however small. It’s an empowering feeling to have and it’s that exact feeling that I want to share with the world. I would like to start some empowering and educational conversations around topics that cause climate and even AI anxiety. This book aims to inspire sustainability-related action without causing any feelings of guilt or inferiority to the readers.

Did you create an outline for the five chosen ones in the story before you started writing or did the character’s personalities grow organically as you were writing?

I did a little bit of both. I had had an initial outline for their characters, but later I added intricate story layers to the manuscript during the editorial process. The new and improved plot drove the characters’ personalities to grow organically and dramatically with the story, while I was reviewing the storyline over and over again.

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

This is a highly entertaining, action-paced novel that touches upon topics such as the environment, mental health and resilience (happiness and self-fulfilment,) the future of ai and technology, spirituality etc.

I believe that the world has never been more fragile than it is now, but it’s definitely worth saving. We live in unprecedented times when our sustainability efforts as well as our technological advances and failures will soon define humanity. We must discuss important questions: will humans soon live, work, collaborate, compete, and integrate with machines? Will humans become an interplanetary species? Will human cloning become the norm? If so, what would that look like? What are our collective and individual roles in imagining and then shaping this future?

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

First, lets’ mention my previous book. Reaching Beyond Ourselves: Leading a Spiritual, Peaceful and Diverse World is my poetry book that tells my own personal story of enjoying different cultures and speaking different languages on my journeys from Ukraine to Israel to Canada. You can find it on Amazon Books.

As for the next book – the outline of the second book in the Sky Curse series is mostly written at this point and the novel will be called Sky Curse: Trial by Fire. It will shed light on some of the unresolved mysteries of book 1, while presenting new mysteries and adventures. Expected to be available in 2023. Please subscribe to my website to get notification about its release.

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook | Website

The Sky Curse series follows Cecilia Miller, a coder of artificial dreams living in the year 2045. It’s a time when climate chaos has become the norm and the collective mental health of humanity has fallen to a grave state. The world’s population has grown to a horrific twenty-five billion people, maxing Earth to its limit. Most are planning to abandon Earth and leave it to its fate as they colonize a new world through Titan pioneering (those beings are called Universalists). However, there are those who still hold on to hope for Earth and a humanity untainted by AI (those beings are called Localists). As humanity struggles to survive, it seems like only technology can help, and Cecilia is determined to be the one to bring it about. When planet Earth faces apocalyptic events, she must summon her resolve and resilience if she’s to have a chance to save this world.

I Needed An Outlet To Vent

Stephanie Cotta Author Interview

The Conjurer’s Curse follows a young man who was born with a curse that causes those he loves to die prematurely. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?

I got the initial premise due to Covid. Mid-January of 2021, I grew disheartened with the social distancing and how many people acted like everyone could be carrying the “plague.” I experienced something to this extent firsthand, and it left such a bad taste in my mouth, I needed an outlet to vent. So, I laid in bed that night thinking, “What if a teenage boy bore a curse that actually did kill people if they stood in his midst?” I got up that morning and started writing what became the 1st chapter of THE CONJURER’S CURSE.

Also at this time, being shut in and with most places of “fun” closed, I was desperately in need of an adventure. My love for The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien and its adventurous beats inspired me to make this book a fantasy-rich journey. Like Bilbo, I wanted Rowan to explore a new place, setting/environment, or people group in the early chapters, and of course, I had to through in skirmishes with scary monsters and dangerous creatures. Every good adventure story needs to have a monster to face, and THE CONJURER’S CURSE doesn’t shy away from it!

Rowan just wants to belong and not worry about everyone he loves to die because of him. What were some driving ideals behind your character’s development?

I wanted Rowan to have a selfless and integrous heart, putting others’ well-being ahead of his own. He would rather live a solitary, lonely life, than for his life to cause harm to those he loves. I wanted him to be courageous and compassionate, despite the way he was ostracized in his village, and have a strong sense of perseverance.

It was important for me to demonstrate how a positive role model can impact the life of a young person’s identity and future. Many of the attributes Rowan exemplifies he owes to his fourth guardian-mother, Naja. It’s her teachings and her mantra that guide him as he faces tough obstacles.

I also wanted Rowan to have an innocence about him as he went on his journey, so everything felt new and foreign to him—to be naïve at times in the ways people can be treacherous or unscrupulous.

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

Hope is always a theme I endeavor to show in my stories. Even when circumstances are at their bleakest, the spark of hope is never absent. This has been the case in my own life, so it hits home when I incorporate this belief in my writing. And so, early on, I have a character remind Rowan that there is hope for him, even though he’s cursed. It’s simply an obstacle he must overcome.

I loved exploring Rowan’s search for belonging and acceptance. I think it’s a universal theme everyone can align with, especially young people. To find a home, a place of belonging, individuals you can call family even if they’re not related, is something people may search their entire lives to find. But when you do, to quote my character Tozrah, “Tis a special feeling.”

Rowan also struggles with the shame of who he is, how he looks, the stigma of his birth, his past. This is something I know many people wrestle with. A close loved one experienced the shame and rejection of being abandoned as a baby by his mother, and so much of his struggle to come to terms with this terrible reality is what inspired Rowan’s tumultuous past.

I felt it important to weave forgiveness into Rowan’s story, considering the actions of his mother and the devastation it causes in the lives of her sons—one who forgives and one who does not. Rowan realizes holding grudges or having hatred in his heart will only damage his soul. That is a lesson we can all learn from.

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

I have finished writing the sequel to The Conjurer’s Curse, and I hope it will be ready a year from now. Aside from that, I am currently working on a YA steampunk fantasy that I hope to finish any day now. It will go through beta readers, and then I’ll be ready to pitch it off.

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook | Website

Seventeen-year-old Rowan is a walking, breathing curse. He just hasn’t realized it yet. 

Since birth, Rowan has been the object of scorn in his village. The reason? He’s a dikyli-an outsider with albino skin and an ominous mark blazoned on his neck. So when his fourth guardian-mother is found dead, all blame falls on him, and he is banished before his life-draining curse can strike again. The only path left to Rowan is clear: He must discover who cursed him and alter his horrible fate-or forever lose everyone he loves. 

From facing treacherous seas, soul-devouring Moonshades, and desert terrors, Rowan battles for his very survival to reach his homeland-the far-off kingdom of Shandria, a land rife with hostilities. Dark surprises and back-stabbing betrayals emerge as two devious Iron Barons-who know the scandalous origin of his curse-plot to imprison him in the Mountain of the Damned with the rest of the accursed. 

To make matters worse, Rowan’s curse threatens to claim another life when he meets Tahira, a spunky, pertly persistent Shandrian who vows to aid him in his quest despite the overwhelming odds. Their alliance of trust and necessity develops into love-a love doomed to end in death if Rowan remains cursed. With the hope of a future hanging in the balance, he must overcome the greatest challenge of his life. For the only way to end his curse is to slay the Conjurer who cast the life-draining spell.

Where Conflict Would Arise

KC J. Hutchins Author Interview

Scars and Scales follows an Omni dragon as he embarks on a perilous quest to unite the lands against a sorceress queen. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?

The original idea for this story came from an imaginary game I used to play with a school friend. I liked the adventures so much I brought them home and played the same game with my younger brother and cousin. They would look forward to our sessions as I created more and more scenarios, lands, and creatures while continuing from our last point. It inspired me enough to do some sketches throughout my younger years. When I decided to finally write the tale, I obviously updated it and thought it out a bit more. Believe it or not the ending popped into my brain as I relooked at characters and notes I made. From there, it all clicked together. I could clearly see how many beings were going to be in this company, how each one would grow in their development, where conflict would arise from within their group, and most of all Xerxes. With him, I wanted to make a character who the reader doesn’t know whether to trust him or not. Give them the same feeling his companions have while traveling with him. Thus, why the viewpoint changes between a few of the characters. Beyond this, I didn’t want to write another adventure story where the protagonist slowly learns to become strong. Instead, I created a master of sorts who needs to learn something a plucky protagonist usually possesses, trust.

Your characters are diverse and well-developed. What were some driving ideals behind your character’s development?

I wanted to create characters which play against what one would think. An easy example is the bounty hunting leprechaun Donald. One would usually picture said creature as one who runs away from humans with the use of magic. Not so much in Donald’s case. In fact, he avoids it altogether by using tools and his wit. So, using this sort of basic thought I created each character with it, and this caused the surge in their development. Honestly, I could sit here and go on and on with each character… Alvilda being timid, but strong… Wolfgang with his struggle over his emotions, but controlling them enough to heal and save others… Sindri who speaks with a silver tongue, but isolates himself at the forge to create works he never finishes… Mjusnall the pacifist giant who defends others, including a bounty hunter… But I don’t want to make the answer too long.

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

Funny enough how this question melds with the other two. I wanted to write, at least with Xerxes, how difficult it can be to trust someone. Because I don’t know about anyone else, but I find it difficult to make friends. Heck, I think I can count the amount of them on one hand. So, I wanted him to show there are others who feel the same. At the same time, I didn’t want to make this bond grow easily… for we all possess some bad qualities, or we made poor decisions at some point in our lives which haunts us. This helps explore whether one can accept the worst in someone and still stay connected to them. Other than that, I’d say there are sprinklings of friendship, duty, and acceptance with a few drops of other themes throughout the story.

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

Good question. I find myself drifting between a few projects, but I focus way more on the second book of this series, Shimmer of Scales. The positive feedback gave me such a drive to work on it. So much so I’ve written over a hundred pages of it. When it will be available is the tricky part. Ideally, I’d say it’ll be available in a year. However, there are several factors which pour into it. Money is a big part of it. This book was only made possible through a combination of a relative passing away and working my butt off for years. So, if enough copies are sold (hint hint to the people reading this… though no pressure just thought it would be funny to put this here), or a publisher comes knocking with a decent offer… I can keep on this timeline.

Author Links: Website | Facebook

Ten years has passed since the slaying of the Omni dragons. These tyrannical beings subjected the world of Magitotum by the power they hold, the combined abilities of all other dragons. It was a celebrated day when Delsey, sorceress queen of Mendaxum, and her army slayed these beasts. But oh, how the lands were wrong in this thought. For soon after, the witch set her sight on conquering the rest of them. After destroying their oppressors, who else could oppose her?

Yet, there remains one hope. A single Omni survives known as Xerxes. Freed after ten years of torture, the dragon seeks to unite the lands against Delsey. He believes a mix of creatures in his own company will promote the change he seeks. Wolfgang from the healing werewolf tribe known as MoonClaw is the first to join and proves to be his biggest test. For the werewolf trusts him as much as the dragon trusts other… which is not at all. Who could blame him? Especially since the Omni’s former lover and friends were the cause of his torture and imprisonment. Yet through this journey, Xerxes needs to trust others including a silver-tongued dwarf, a timid yet strong elven princess, a pacifist giant, a bounty hunting leprechaun, and a lazy gargoyle. Together this group faces down the witch outside the fleeing city of Suregarde. The question is… do they possess the strength to succeed?

The Only Guarantee Of A Legacy

Erik Daniel Shein Author Interview

Kona follows a teenage girl who dreams of working with sea life and, while working at an aquarium, discovers friendship, learns life lessons, and finds romance. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?

In my life, I have known at least a handful of kids who have had childhood cancer. Their stories are often heartbreaking and stay with you forever. After all these years, the advancements in treatments for childhood cancers are still very limited, while more publicized cancers have received more funding and research. My goal was to write a story that would allow their voices to be heard, to bring the cause to the forefront while also combining with it our love for protecting animals too. Giving voices to those that often are unheard is important.

Melanie has had many challenges in her life so far, and is trying to figure out where life will take her. What were some driving ideals behind your character’s development?

One of the driving ideals behind Melanie’s character was providing a window into the heart and mind of a teen dealing with childhood cancer. Kids with cancer are often fighters, with smiles larger than life, as they put on a brave face for the world. Inside they are dealing with so many things that never show on the surface. As I was fleshing out Melanie, I was speaking with a family that had dealt with childhood cancer to get the heart of my character. These kids are not only fighting for their lives, but they are also fighting for their families, too, to keep everyone together. Melanie often does this with her little sister. She is always there to reassure Kimmie and let her know everything is going to be all right, no matter what happens at the end of her story.

Another driving force for Melanie is her ability to relate to Kona. Like the wild dolphin, Melanie feels suffocated by her circumstances. Kona feels trapped by the four walls of the aquarium when she is used to having an entire ocean, and Melanie feels like her disease is a prison that keeps her from living her life to the fullest. While Melanie cannot change her own situation, she could fight for Kona’s future and the safety of the marine life for years to come. In a way, Kona is the only guarantee of a legacy for Melanie.

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

It was important to show the fighting spirit of these young heroes that often get swept under the rug. The tenacity and grit that children fighting cancer have been remarkable. Their motto to never give up, no matter the battle, is truly inspiring. It is heartbreaking that after all these years, the medical advancements for childhood cancers have not made as much progress as other cancers. I felt the need to put a face to the story and give it everything I had. Kona is an emotional rollercoaster ride from start to finish.  

I also wanted to write a clean teen romance because there is still innocence in the world, even though our literature, movies, and mainstream media show us children who have grown up well before they are ready. That first touch of the teen spirit crushing on their first love was a breath of fresh air amidst the turbulent sea of emotions inside Melanie, showing that cancer kids are just normal kids trying to live a normal life through insurmountable odds.

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

We are currently working on another heartfelt book called ‘Because of Lily,’ which is centered on a young girl in the heart of the Savannah in Africa. It is a young adult novel of self-discovery and a coming-of-age novel. We are hopeful that it will come out next Spring.

Author Links: Amazon | Website

As a childhood cancer survivor, Melanie has seen a few good years with no evidence of disease, but in the back of her mind, she is always waiting for the other shoe to drop. Being a normal teen is what she has always wanted, so when she’s offered a dream job at the Blue Haven Aquarium, she jumps at the chance.No one has told Melanie about Chase MaKenzie, the guy she is paired to be working with, nor the new best friend she’ll find in the watery depths. Melanie’s world is about to change forever.
Heart touching, witty, and at times heartbreaking, Kona explores the depths of friendship and love.

A Strategy For Personal Awakening

Angel A Author Interview

Holy Parrot follows three people who form an unlikely friendship and bond while struggling with their own beliefs and dark secrets. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?

The disparity of personalities creates a multi-perspective insight into a challenging set of events. The value is to show that, for any given moment, the viewer is part of the event in a way that is specific to their personal circumstance. Maria is a teen who says she is to be the mother of the new Christ. Leo is a science student who has unilateral faith in reductionist logic. Robin is a mythologist who looks for the value of collective belief in any given circumstance. Everyone is a master of their own perspective. We expand our potential for wisdom as we explore to understand events from multiple perspectives.

What were the morals you were trying to capture while creating your characters?

The morals are actually stated in the novel (spoiler alert). Love, light and life are stated to be a foundation of existence as expressed through conscious attention to the behaviours of compassion, creativity and connection. The narrative offers a strategy for personal awakening through precise moral behaviour conducted with authentic sincerity.

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

There are a number of layers integrated into the story. Perhaps one to mention is that the main characters are all seeking to transcend or deal with unique personal suffering in their own way. Their support of each other is a key to the effective resolution of the challenges faced.

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

The next book is called Bring Me To Life. I like to think of it as a Gothic Romance. It is a graphic novel about a (kind of) ghost who becomes inexplicably enamoured with a special woman. So much so that he seeks to return to life for her. The story is complete and the illustrations are in the process of development. I’m not sure how long that will take. Sorry…

Author Links: GoodReads | Facebook | Website

Buritaca, Colombia: Mary, sixteen, insisted the parrot, known as Gabriel, told her she would be the mother of the new Christ. She said she was a virgin. Pablo, suspected as being the child’s father, mysteriously disappeared. Leo Lumière, an undergraduate genetics student from Australia was torn between exposing a crime and protecting Maria from harm.

Was Maria lying to hide a despicable secret? Or was she birthing the leader of the new millennium? Phenomenal events unfolded as millions united, chanting one phrase – ‘Loro Santo’: Holy Parrot.
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