Fire & Magic is book two in The Younglings series. What were some new ideas you wanted to explore in this book that differed from book one?
Stakes are higher in Fire & Magic. The Younglings are under attack, and have some major trials and tribulations to deal with, as well as normal teenage life. The joie de vivre that teenagers have is inspiring. But most teens can experience many difficulties in their day-to-day lives, and—like Shadows & Magic—I feel this book is the messy, real deal. I wanted to show The Younglings mature and grow, and watch their bonds of friendship develop and strengthen. Would you give your life to save a friend?
I’ve also introduced some interesting new characters, into Fire & Magic.
Love is a huge thing for teens, and some unexpected relationships develop. Of course, true love never runs smoothly, and we have several relationship issues. Will they be resolved? You will need to read the book to find out.
Eve and Quinn have matured in this book. What were some obstacles in this book that you felt were important to defining their characters?
For Quinn, as a half-demon, he is constantly worried about becoming evil, and as a result, his self-confidence suffers. Can an angel truly love a demon? In this book, we watch him grow in confidence, and trust that Eve loves him unconditionally. As for Eve, she is a feisty, strong female lead, and this develops throughout the book. A badass half-angel who won’t tolerate BS.
What scene in the book did you have the most fun writing?
I think the final chapter. As well as being sensual, without being explicit, the coming together of Eve and Quinn is beautiful on so many levels.
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Set in the fierce world of Vikings, The Silver Helmet by George Lyttle is a story that touches on subjects such as family bonds, morality of leadership and betrayal. Banished from the lands ruled by Viking Earl, two feuding families, the Godrons and the Caltons, are sent to exile in the lands on either side of the Redron Sea. The Godrons manage to sustain a peaceful lifestyle within their community, but live in constant fear of another attack from the vicious and war-prone Caltons. On one of these frequent attacks on their civilization, the Godrons find and take home an infant that is raised as one of their own, which will alter the destiny of both clans forever.
Author George Lyttle transports the reader into the gritty world of Vikings with two feuding civilizations, one being ruled in peace and the other in war. This feels metaphorical and allows for the reader to decide which mentality and set of values they resonated with best.
The main characters, Savon and Bradnor, have continuous tension throughout the story which kept me engaged. Savon, the child originally born of the Calton clan, was never accepted by Bradnor as one of his own, and that tense conflict gave the story a healthy level of intrigue and momentum throughout the book.
I enjoyed the arc of the storyline, when Savon comes into his own and decides which of the two civilizations he wants to be a part of, along with realizing his destiny in the form of the illusive and sought after Silver Helmet. The push and pull for the Helmet was the main reason why I was so interested in the story, and the reason why I kept wanting to pick this book up.
While I enjoyed this grounded sword and sandal epic I would have liked to have had more dialogue between the characters rather than using narration to show the relational complexities and character evolution. I would have liked the text to have expanded upon conversations and the emotions within the characters because I found them to be very compelling.
The Silver Helmet is a rousing fantasy story that I had a lot of fun reading. Readers who enjoy a sophisticated story that weaves in and out of Viking myth and legend will enjoy this exciting novel.
Pages: 145 | ASIN:
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Athena Jackson has found herself in a predicament—she is twenty years old, pregnant, and stuck in an abusive relationship with her boyfriend, Silas. When Silas finds out about the pregnancy, he demands Athena end it and forces her to a woman’s clinic. Before the procedure can be completed, Athena reaches out to an old friend from high school, Lily Rhodes Marx. Lily comes to Athena’s rescue, spiriting her away from the abusive Silas. Lily and her husband Rowen graciously welcome Athena into their home, where she finds out that family isn’t always blood, and that faeries and magic are real.
Fallen Snow, by Abby Farnsworth, is the third book in the EverGreen series. Taking place after the events of Moonlit Skies, Fallen Snow picks up with Athena and her journey to accept her own pregnancy and save herself from Silas. With several twists and turns that will keep readers on edge, Fallen Snow explores relationships, how someone could continue to love their abuser, and how new love can bloom even without the help of faerie magic.
The author has a knack for developing interesting character personalities and giving them believable physical descriptions along with faerie powers. These traits allow each character to shine on their own. There are several twists and turns throughout this alluring young adult romance novel, making this an unpredictable but enjoyable read.
I always enjoy the quick pace of the EverGreen books. I think the story moves a lot quicker here because, this being the third book in the trilogy, the author doesn’t need to spend time developing the character’s background. The characters are already established and their relationships feel genuine and the reader can feel their love for one another. Farnsworth’s writing style has developed and grown just like her characters in the story.
Fallen Snow is a seductive paranormal romance story that fans of emotionally-resonant teen fiction will enjoy. I loved the way fantasy and reality are blended throughout this story and I think readers will too.
Pages: 170 | ISBN: 1956788468
Believe follows a 13-year-old girl who is transported to the land of believers and magic, where she meets new friends and embarks on a great new adventure. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?
My inspiration actually came from a dream I had. After previously self-publishing two books relating to my time during the COVID pandemic, a friend asked me if I’d ever thought about writing a novel. Having only written the diaries, poems, and short stories before, I didn’t believe I had the ability to write a novel.
Then, one night I had the most amazing dream about a crazy holographic professor who ate sticky, sparkly-green Christmas tree marshmallows, and Professor Mortley was born. I sat down to write about him, and my mind was flooded with all the characters from Believe and their stories. My fingers couldn’t type fast enough.
I felt that kids everywhere had had such a tough time with the pandemic and all the other horrors and difficulties going on in the world today, that I just wanted to write a world for children and adults to escape to and warm their hearts. Believe was written to bring big, beautiful smiles to all its readers.
Abigale starts off life in the world of grayness and non-belief and becomes one of the believers. What were some driving ideals behind your character’s development?
I want to convey to the reader that it does not matter where you come from or what you were before, if you believe in yourself, you can do anything and achieve anything. Having grown up and loved Disney my whole life, I wanted the characters to emulate the Disney feel. I wanted the good to be very good but be floored enough to be tempted by the bad, and the bad to be bad enough to dislike, but still, show signs of hope that one day they will change.
It was really important to me that the characters displayed real feelings. For example, how even the best of friends can sometimes be envious of each other and that we can all make bad decisions for the right reasons.
Abigale, especially, needed to hold the driving ideal that even though she was born a Never-Believer, that deep within her if she believed in herself and believed in her friends, one day she would find where she truly belonged.
I think when writing family, magical fantasy books, as Believe is, there is a delicate dance between including enough reality for readers to relate to and enough magic for them to escape and be wistful about. I hope that Believe has achieved all these ideals.
What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?
The power of friendship and its many forms was an important theme for me, as well as the ability for friends to feel like family. I want to convey that friendship is a powerful and beautiful relationship for both the young and old, even if the relationships are not always smooth sailing. I wanted to show that friends forgive, love, lie, share, and cry, they catch you when you fall, surprise you and inspire you. And those relationships that have the peaks and the troughs, are the ones that are the strongest.
I also want to share that you should never judge a person until you have walked in their shoes. Aunt Violet goes through a massive transformation throughout the story and is miles from where her character first starts out. People can change and people hide very well what was always there from the beginning. You just have to look hard enough.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
I have just finished the first draft of the second book in the Believe series. I am hoping that it could possibly be ready for release by Christmas, but I see where the editing takes me. I am super excited as it has taken the characters on an amazing journey, and I have included some twists and turns that hopefully no one will see coming!
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Posted by Literary_Titan
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.
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Serenity follows an embattled prisoner of war who is haunted by a hidden magical past. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?
The story has been with me since I was a young teenager. Many characters have a base from some beloved kids show characters that I developed backstories to back in the 90’s. Slowly, over the last 20 or so years, they blossomed into their own unique characters. What started as a simple story soon evolved into something more complex. Mental illness came into play, and the project took on a whole new meaning to me personally. I no longer wanted to just share my world and story but my message. That we can all rise above our mental illness. That we can all be happy no matter what. That we call all Stand tall, Stand Strong, and LIVE!
Kain Raingel is an intriguing character that I loved following. What were some driving ideals behind your character’s development?
At its core, I wanted to show that no matter what you live through, you can always find a way to be happy and to find peace. Kain has lived through some horrific times at such a young age. All he wants is to be left alone but in the end, he finds something more to hold on to. I also wanted to share that you don’t have to be alone in your internal struggles. Having a support team can be beneficial to the healing process. Seeking help isn’t weakness but strength and we shouldn’t shame ourselves or accepting help and support.
What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?
When mental illness became a major role I pulled from my own personal experiences to truly show what it is like to live with a mental illness. I also heavily researched what I didn’t know so I could portray it correctly. Living and battling mental illness can be a silent battle that no one would know about unless they know and understand the signs or live with it themselves. Many of those with mental illness battle in silence in fear of not being understood or looked down upon. One important theme in this book is that mental illness is real and it can be debilitating. Kain is a seasoned warrior but feels helpless at times because of his PTSD and anxiety.
What can readers expect in the next book in The Blood Moon Prince series?
The story will continue from where Serenity left off. The relationship between the main character and their love interest goes through some growing pains as everyone adjusts to what happens at the end of Serenity. Readers will begin to dive a bit deeper into the hidden magical past of Kain and of course a new foe arises. Readers can expect more magic, more suspense, and of course more action.
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Stories about grand houses with lots of servants are a staple in historical fiction. A lot of the time, the house and servants are a backdrop for the story. Author Valerie Anne Hudson’s Maids of Maddington: Welcome To The Madhouse is a twist on that kind of story. Yes, it takes place in the home of a fabulously wealthy family. However, the story is very light on the “upstairs” part of the drama. Instead of focusing on fashionable upstairs intrigue, this story is told entirely by a housemaid.
Our narrator, Eliza, is a young woman who comes from grinding poverty. She works as a servant in the homes of wealthier people as a means to support herself, her mother, and her siblings. She is good-natured and dutiful. Eliza has no flaws to speak of. The story kicks off when Eliza starts working in the eponymous Madhouse’s Montague household. She finds a true friend, only to nearly lose her in a classic morality tale.
On the first page, the reader is immediately flung, in medias res, into the hubbub surrounding a high-profile murder trial. But, while a crime was committed, there is a long buildup. Hudson takes readers on that journey, seen through Eliza’s eyes, which builds the suspense. Eliza’s character is one that you grow fond of as she is courageous and kind, and you follow her on her journey as she struggles to take care of her family. Eliza and Annie form a beautiful relationship, and the drama that surrounds them makes this one read that is hard to put down.
Welcome To The Madhouse is an entertaining and engrossing story. The reader gets to see the ugly side of life in the Victorian era is at the heart of the tale, and Hudson effectively uses the contrast between the elegant lives of the Montagues and the difficult lives of Eliza’s family. This cozy little story is definitely worth reading, and I look forward to reading more books in the series.
Pages: 195 | ASIN : B09ZK9RB7P
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At the end of the 19th century, Silas Shacklady was obsessed with his mine in the Snowdonia mountains. Digging ever deeper in search of a Motherload, Silas disturbs dark secrets and powers hidden for centuries within that subterranean world. In 1897 the mine was sealed after a cave-in buried Silas and over two hundred men, caught forever within its black maw.
The mystery of how this happened and the strange presence of The Lady Emily, an ancient steam engine, draws Nick, Wendy and Alan into a dangerous underground adventure. One which finds them trapped in a battle between malevolent forces, risking all their lives and creating profound consequences for many.
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