I am super-duper excited to announce that I am having a month full of author interviews!
Every MONDAY, WEDNESDAY, and FRIDAY I will post a new interview of a published author.
Among these will be:
and Zach Carpenter
just to name a few!
I would really like you, my readers, to show your support for this effort by following each of the authors (who have graciously allowed me to interview them) on Facebook/Twitter/Amazon. This would mean a great deal to me, as well as the authors. Links will be provided with each interview that I post so as to make it easy for you, the reader.
Also, if you would take a moment to leave a comment on the interviews that you read this month, that would be an added bonus!
So, stay tuned! I plan to introduce you to lots of awesome authors and their books, and I would hate for you to miss a moment of it!
Tell your friends!
Come back on Monday! And Wednesday! And Friday!
You get the point....
Book 1 - The Ruins on Stone Hill
Author: F.P. Spirit
Rating: 6/6 stars
Synopsis: Magic is Easy or so Glolindir thought, until he came face to face with his first live monster. Casting spells was not so simple with death breathing down his neck. His story might have ended there if not for three gifted youths: Seth, the mysterious halfling with the moves of an assassin; Lloyd, the spiritblade whose fiery swords are whirlwind-fast; and Aksel, the gnome whose very touch can heal.
Yet that was just the beginning of their adventures, for dark shadows loom over the little town of Ravenford. The townsfolk quickly turn to these newcomers, who may indeed be their only hope. From the old ruined keep southwest of town to hidden caves in the western hills, through dark tunnels, secret passages, concealed rooms and magical mirrors, they must face mythical monsters, evil creatures, and dark wizards, each more perilous than the last. Can they rise to the challenge and become the Heroes that the people of Ravenford so sorely need?
The Beginning: Through a caravan raid by orcs, you are introduced to the main characters, the Heroes, right off the bat. I like that a lot. There was no waiting around to learn about the book heroes and the story started on a roll. It wasn't a bang, but it was a roll, and I walked away from the first chapter with a very good sense of who each of the characters were, and I stepped into the second chapter already liking them and eager to go on an adventure with them.
The Characters: The characters were very well fleshed out and very easy to relate to on a number of levels (I even have a fictional crush on one of them... oops. Did I just think that out loud??). Each one had his own clear-cut, colorful personality which fit him, they each had a different history, and each one filled a very important role in their "team". So often, a group of characters come together and someone gets left out because they don't exactly fit in. NOT the case with this bunch. They each fall into their own role very smoothly and easily and no one is ever left out. I like that a lot.
The only thing that bugged me about the characters was this: each one of the characters seemed to be without family ties. Glo, the elf, has had a falling out with his dad. Lloyd, the warrior, seems to have been close to his family, but he also seems to have distanced himself from them. Aksel and Seth, the gnome and halfling, seem to have no family at all.
I understand that heroes have family issues, or no family at all. My own hero in my own book has that problem. And, I also understand that this seems to be what draws all the heroes together in this book: that need for a family. But, for me personally as a reader, I like to see a few of the characters who are close to their family and are on good terms with their family, even if they are miles away from them. They just add something to a story.
Anyway, that is just a petty little thing that sorta bugs me, but is not a threat to my relationship with this book. I can live with it.
All the heroes are male, and I was very happy that all of them (excepting Seth, who is just... special.) are the perfect example of manly chivalry (*pokes my character* Keegan, you should take lessons from them). I personally like manly characters who take chivalry seriously.
The brief female appearances in the book were refreshing, for me. They brought in a touch of humor as they embarrass the heroes periodically with their flirtatious nature, and they just made the book all the more light-hearted and pleasant with their entrances. Plus, they were realistic. I tire of the macho women in fantasy. It's refreshing to find some who are just like real real girls: silly, funny, and cute.
The Plot: The general plan is for the Heroes to establish a firm reputation in the town of Ravenford and live out their combined dream, which is to use their special gifts and powers to help others (or get rich...*cough* Seth *cough*). They do this by completing quests and gathering items and artifacts (any online gamers reading this?). The plot thickens when the heroes not only establish a good reputation as monster-slayers, but also stumble across a potentially nasty and mysterious plot, setting the story up for book two quite smoothly.
The World: Thac, the world in this story... I just can't get enough of it! It is well built, seems to have a solid history, and is very colorful. All the fun is located mainly around one town on the map (which I would like to someday see a map of the town, along with the surrounding country... someday...). Each of the characters originally came from completely different ends of the map. So, even though everything is happening in one little bitty area, you are aware that there is a bigger world around the heroes. This is nice, because it allows for surprises and it also promises more stories later.
There is just one thing I should warn some of my readers about before they step into this world: the theologies. There is a polytheism system to Thac (polytheism = belief in or worship of more than one god), but yet most of the people in Thac seem to just pick out ONE of the gods and worship that single one. The different gods are only referred to periodically and the fact is not pushed. The different gods mentioned are just a part of the story that help the reader connect the dots to different characters and their powers.
The fact that this was in the book did not disturb me at all, particularly since I have to deal with polytheism beliefs in real life anyway and have seen how they've shaped cultures and people throughout history (for better or worse).
The Writing: F.P. Spirit's writing style is colorful, descriptive, and smooth. I keep using the world "colorful", don't I? Well, that is the only word I can find to describe the imagination of the world and characters. They are not the bland little pawns on a little map, running around in a town full of zombies, all smashed together on black and white paper in a book. There is personality! Flare! Uniqueness! There is color!
Read it for yourself if you don't believe me...
I also like how Mr. Spirit is able to transition moods quite easily in his writing. He is also very descriptive in explaining the fantasy elements and magic in the story, but not so much as to weigh down the mind with a bunch of useless information.
I must warn that there was an instance, at the end, where one of the characters used a semi-cuss word, "jack**s", to describe a bad person that they had to deal with. This disappointed me a little, because, up until that point, no bad language had been used. However, it would not keep me from reading this book to my siblings and it did not mess up the story.
The Ending: The end left the reader and characters with another mystery to unravel, which built the interest for a second book. However it wrapped things up nicely and left the reader with a satisfied, happy feeling that all was right with the world.
The Bottom Line: This is a nice, deep, rich fantasy that any Dungeons and Dragons or Lord of the Rings fan will like. It is a clean, well written book. It was easy to read, the flow of the story was smooth, and the characters were enjoyable and easy to relate to. The plot was strong, and the whole thing was very refreshing to read, setting it apart from all the smut ridden fantasy out there on the market today.
This book is sitting right next to The Lord of the Rings as my favorite book, and I will certainly recommend it to any fantasy lovers out there!
Book 2 - The Serpent Cult
Author: F.P. Spirit
Rating: 5/6 stars
The Heroes have returned to Ravenford, where a new threat looms on the horizon. The Serpent Cult is on the rise, and they have targeted Ravenford. Who are these cultists and what are they after?
Before the Heroes can find out, they are sent away on another mission. Ships have been disappearing off the coast and rumors abound. Why did the Lucky Coin sink? Was there really a sea monster? Is the Cape Marlin Lighthouse actually deserted? And who are the three sisters and what is their secret? Are they somehow involved in all of this?
Once again join Glolindir, Aksel, Seth, Lloyd, and Elladan as they follow a twisted trail of intrigue and danger. It is a path on which they will face armies of monsters, horrifying demons, fearsome dragons, deadly assassins, evil mages, and, perhaps worst of all, diplomatic officials.
Can the Heroes overcome these obstacles or will the town of Ravenford suffer a fate worse than death?
The Beginning: The first chapter does a lot of recapping, and it does so from the townspeople point of view, which was an interesting twist, I thought. It starts off right where book one left off, with the heroes walking into town after completing a successful mission, and the people are very excited to see them.
However, the recapping does not take long, and once again you are with the heroes as they try to unravel the mystery they discovered at the end of book one. But mystery leads to mystery, and by chapter three, you and the heroes are beginning to realize that there is a desperate situation unfolding. You are left asking a lot of questions and turning the pages to find out what happens.
The Characters: The characters have done a little maturing in this book as compared to when they started out in book one (and a certain romantic relationship seems to be moving along rather nicely). More of their pasts are revealed to the reader, which satisfies a lot of questions regarding the heroes. Also, a few new characters have been introduced! Some of them absolutely irritated me with their mysterious nature and I am DYING to learn more about them. Another elf has been added as well; a romantic, charming, swashbuckling, very ornery elf who is an artist and adds a little more adult-ish humor to the book (and needs a good spanking, in my opinion... I really like him *grins*). To top it off, a tangible mini-antagonist has been added to the story as well. He needs to be fed to a dragon. *snarls at the Dunwynn cronies*
Overall, these new characters add a lot more flavor and spice to the story and I just love how the story is unfolding with them.
The Plot: Smooth and flowing with a lot of mystery and action. Once the heroes get an idea of who is behind all the dastardly plotting, the story begins rolling faster and faster, taking short pauses to mix in humor and fun before charging on to a great battle at the end.
The Writing: In this story, a new group of characters are brought in who are literally racist; they don't like non-human species of people. Mr. Spirit does an excellent job of expressing the pain of such insensitivity by looking at it from our heroes point of view. It really stings when you meet someone who does not like your favorite heroes, just because they aren't human. It stings even worse when you see your hero's heart bleeding on the paper from the insults. (ouch... ouch... sniff, sniff... ouch)
The story flow, though, is perfect. Again, I commend F.P. Spirit on smoothly transitioning his moods, keeping the story rolling, and including ALL of the characters.
I also just have to add that my dragons are most impressed with Calipherous. He was well written and is as regal as any in the dragon race. I can't wait to meet him again!
Cons: It was slightly disappointing to count 2 cuss words (p*ss) in this book, which is why I have made this a 5 star review and not a 6 star. However, the cuss words are easily skipped over (or marked out). There is also some mild adult humor as well, but it isn't anything horrible and it is quite brief. It does add a nice level of amusement for the adults to silently snicker about, but for children, like my siblings (2 boys & 2 girls, ages 8-15), they don't get the joke and they are left in the dark (or, in my brother's case, they get it all TOO well).
The Ending: It was all too soon. I reached the last chapter and was like "Wha...? NOOOO! It can't be the end! WHAT HAPPENS?!?!"
Needless to say, it ended on somewhat of a cliff hanger. Not one of those cliff hangers where you are running to the edge of the cliff screaming "I HATE AUTHORS!!" but one of those cliff hangers that leave you drooling and snarling for the next book.
However, by the end, the day was won, many of the mysteries were solved, and our heroes are mostly intact.
Note, I said MOSTLY.
The Bottom Line: Just like the first book, The Serpent Cult is a great read, crammed full of great characters, a pinch of mystery, and a load of fun! It is a very refreshing read compared to so many of the fantasy stories out there that carry so much garbage. This book is a promise to me that The Heroes of Ravenford will be one of my favorite series!
"The Three Pix" is the first short story I have ever created that has an actual moral to it.
I got bored one night, several months ago, as I was helping my sister midwife a new litter of puppies, and I wanted to write something easy to take my mind off the lull of the moment. So, this is what I came up with. As you will notice, it is not a very original idea, but my sister said she really liked it (which is something she does not generally say so easily) and that left me with a mental note to post it on my blog sometime.
I imagine this is a story one of my characters in my fantasy world would tell a group of children after supper. They would gather around the warm glow of the fire, their bellies filled with a good meal. The storyteller would sit on a stool as the children snuggle together on a bearskin rug on the floor. All their little eager eyes look up at the storyteller expectantly, waiting to hear the new story she promised to tell, and they hold their breath as she smiles at them with a twinkle in her eye that says "Let's go on an adventure tonight".
Long ago, in a tiny country called Pixland, there were once four Pix who were very skilled in their crafts. One worked with earth, another with wood, and the last with stones. They could craft anything they desired within their respective skills, but they never interfered with the other’s craft.
One day, the Pix Queen called these three craftspix together and said “Go to the valley and build me a house.” and that was all she said. So the three Pix gathered their tools and marched to the valley, but once there, they could not agree on how to make a house or where to build it.
“It should be a sculpted castle,” said the Earth Pix “Made of sand and gypsum, so it will shine in the sun, and it should sit near the river.”
“It should rather be a tree house,” insisted the Wood Pix “Carved straight from the tallest tree on the hill, with elegant arches, windows, and doors.”
“I rather think you both are daft,” snorted the Stone Pix “For the house should be made of stone, between the hills and the river where it will never move.” and so the arguing continued until, finally, each Pix went his separate way to build a separate house.
The Earth Pix found the finest sand and gypsum and mixed them together by the river. He made a beautiful shining castle, with tall towers and wide gates, and he made it only with sand and gypsum.
The Wood Pix went to the hills and found the tallest tree there. He carved and worked until he had created a gilded tree house of the most elegance, with sweeping arches and delicate carved windows, and he made it only out of the living tree.
The Stone Pix searched and searched until he found flat bedrock between the hills and the river. He then gathered stones and shaped them so that they sat perfectly one on top of the other until he had built a magnificent house, with a long hall filled with great pillars and a throne, and he made it only out of stone.
With each remarkable shelter complete, the three Pix decided to rest until the queen came to inquire of their progress. During the night, however, a terrible storm came down on them. The river swelled and the rain pounded down and washed away the gypsum castle. Lightening struck the tree house, tearing it in half and burning it to ashes. The rain seeped through the stones and made them slick before a powerful wind blew the stone house down. By morning, all that the three Pix had accomplished was undone.
“The queen will be here soon and she will banish us for failing. We shall be undone, and what can we do to stop it?” they asked among themselves.
As they were contemplating their problem, the Stone Pix took note of his fallen stones. “Although I shaped my stones perfectly, water still came between them and the wind blew them down. What more can I do to make them stronger?” he asked the other two.
“A well mixed mortar would hold them together.” replied the Earth Pix.
“A roof would shed the water.” the Wood Pix replied.
“If only I could have those two things, then the house would be complete. I cannot do it alone.” the Stone Pix sighed.
“I will make the mortar, if you will set the stone.” the Earth Pix offered kindly.
“And I will build a roof once the walls are raised!” the Wood Pix sang.
So, together, the three Pix worked tirelessly until each stone was set in mortar and a roof was overhead. When it was finished, the Queen came to inspect.
“Your progress is astounding!” said she “I am very please. When you put your three strengths together, you made the strongest house I have ever seen!”
A feast was given in the three Pix honor, and from that day on, the three worked together, using their three different skills to build the strongest kingdom in the land. They are remembered and revered to this day in the Grand Pix Empire as “The Team”.
Most folk know that I listen to music incessantly while I write. In my own defense, I sometimes go without listening to any music at all, especially if I see that the mood of the music is affecting the mood of my writing. For instance, there have been times when I find myself in the middle of a happy scene and, suddenly, I notice that it has turned into a sad scene. That is when I wake up and realize "Oops. I have the mood music going on."... I usually just switch it to something happy, but sometimes I turn the music off all together. So, I don't listen to music ALL the time. *squints at the accusers*
I've had several people ask me what kind of music I listen to while I write. The answer is: it depends on what I am writing. However, it is rarely anything with lyrics. I prefer instrumental and orchestral. I listen to tons of Celtic and Emotional, along with some World. What genre I choose depends on the mood I need in my writing, the nature of the scene I am writing, and the action going on.
Most of the time, I listen to songs composed and preformed by my all-time favorite YouTube Artists.
YouTube Artists are basically the Independent Published Authors of the music world. In fact, I generally call them "Indie Composers".
Who are my favorites? I am so glad you asked!
Adrian von Ziegler was the first "Indie Composer" that I became familiar with, and I quickly grew obsessed with his work. His music tends to be more melancholy and thoughtful, so it works well for all forms of writing. I particularly like his World and Emotional music. Each song just drips with feelings and emotion.
It is difficult to say which song is my favorite. I really like "Fatal Lullaby" and "Pulse" (which is Electronic and SO beautiful), but the one that has never ceased to suck me into thought-filled oblivion is "Where Shadows Cannot Reach".
BrunuhVille would be the second "Indie Composer" that I was introduced to. His music is usually very uplifting and more orchestral. I really like his Fantasy music. It has a very epic and fantastic feel to all of it. I listen to most of his when I need a heroic feeling in my writing.
Again, it is hard to pick a favorite, but if I was only allowed to pick one of his songs to listen to twelve times in a row, it would definitely be "Dance With Dragons".
After finding Zieglar and BrunuhVille, I became hungry for more like theirs. "Hungry" as in "snarling-like-a-starving-dragon" hungry.
That is when I found Peter Crowley, who has a very EPIC style of music:
And I also found Derek Fietcher and Brandon Fietcher (whom I have fondly dubbed "the Fietcher boys"). Derek's music is very fun and upbeat, and I really like his Chinese music. Brandon's compositions have every mystical element that I could ever wish for in fantasy music.
And last, but not least, is my current obsession: Peter Gundry. *sigh* Gundry's music is so smooth and nostalgic. So pristine. So beautiful. I can't get enough of it.
I have made sure to link each composer's YouTube channel to his name, so you should totally click into each name and check out their channel! Each one of them have dabbled in different genre's of music, so I think there is some great music for every kind of person on their channels!
If you like their music, be sure to follow them!
If one short story from my imagination were allowed to be transcribed into a short movie, this is the story I think I would want to see most. I hope you enjoy it:
Far in the west, high in the mountains, where the clouds lazily drift by and only the most nimble of creatures walk, sat a partially concealed cave in the tallest peak. Steam slowly rolled from the small mouth of the cave, drawing several mountain sheep and birds to its warmth.
One of the birds, a red one, flitted up to a rock at the cave mouth and peered into the darkness within. It twitched its wings and floated down to the ground then it boldly hopped into the cave. When it had gone in several feet, it stopped and chirped. It cocked its head and looked at a giant mound that lied at the back of the cave. The steam originated from a small point on this mound, drawing the little bird’s curiosity. It hopped closer before jumping up and perching above the hole where the steam was coming from. Something moved and more steam began to roll from the hole, intensifying the foolish bird’s curiosity. It inspected the hole until the setting sun sank lower in the sky and more of its light filtered into the cave, reflecting off a shiny disk glittering further up on the mound. Attracted by the shiny object, the little bird bounced up to it and then pecked it. The tiny gesture made hardly a sound itself, but what followed was just the opposite. Groaning filled the cave and the entire mound under the bird began to shudder and move. The little bird chirped in alarm and took flight, darting directly to the cave mouth and landing on the rock that obscured most of the opening.
Slowly, the mound inside began to grow. It shifted, shaking off dirt and dust to reveal shining bronze scales. Wings unfolded partially, knocking rocks and dirt from their leather membranes. A long, thick tail uncurled and stretched out, then it slapped the floor with a loud thump. The cave shuddered and rocks fell from the ceiling, but then all went still and became silent.
The little bird peeped back into the cave curiously and waited.
Two lights gradually began to grow in the darkness. More steam rolled from the cave. A rumbling sound started to reverberate off the walls. Suddenly, a huge stream of fire exploded inside the cave, channeling straight for the opening.
The little red bird shrieked a warning and took flight barely in time to save his bright feathers from a deadly scorching. The mountain sheep all bolted from their comfortable places with a pounding of hooves, disappearing into the surrounding trees and down the steep ledges of the mountainside.
Inside the cave, all became still again for a brief moment, then a deep, slow, rhythmic breathing began to pulse inside. Gradually, a pair of glowing orange eyes opened and their dark pupils contracted into narrow slits before expanding again, adjusting to the meager light in the cave. There was a heavy sigh, followed by a groan, then the massive hulk began to scoot toward the cave opening. Its spine covered back scraped against the roof of the cave, as did its scaly belly against the floor, and its closed wings were mere inches from touching the cave walls. A huge pair of talons wrapped around the rock sitting outside the cave and shoved it aside with ease. Dirt and shale fell over the mouth of the cave as the rock supporting all of it was removed, but they were no threat to this massive creature. A giant head pushed through the dirt, squeezing a pair of huge, curled horns out of the cave mouth, then the beast paused and slowly opened its eyes again, blinking rapidly as the sun light hit them. A low growl vibrated past huge fangs and the creature shook its massive head. The giant horns smashed into the sides of the cave mouth, rearranging the whole face of the cave. Deeper inside, the cave began to shudder and collapse in on itself. Slowly, the hulking creature forced itself out of its home, breaking the entire cave apart as its wide shoulders and chest squeezed through. Finally, the entire cave collapsed with a roar. But standing outside of it was a particularly massive, majestic dragon.
He was easily 60 foot at the shoulders. His legs were as round as ancient oaks. His scales glittered like bronze. His wings spread out to an eye opening 200 foot span. His thick tail was long, and a sharp, gleaming spade tipped the end of it. Hard spikes adorned his chin and jaw bones. His thick, ridged horns rose from his head and curled down to his nose, then changed direction and curled up and back over themselves, toward the back of his head. He blinked his orange eyes and looked softly at the lands that spread out before the mountain, partially obscured by drifting clouds.
The massive bronze dragon was truly a sight to behold, standing alone on the mountain peak with wings open wide, looking down at the world as a king on a throne. But, gradually, the dragon’s head began to stoop. His wings slowly dropped to his sides and slouched to the ground. A mournful groan rumbled from his throat and he squeezed his eyes closed as they filled with overpowering sadness. He turned and limped a few steps away, savoring his right foreleg, which was badly scarred. Even with his limp he was a formidable sight to behold while he walked, crushing earth, plant, and stone under his massive feet. But when he had gone no more than 6 paces, he collapsed to the ground with a boom. He bellowed a sad, pain filled cry that rumbled down the mountainside, making the hearts of all that heard it ache in sadness. A giant teardrop suddenly slipped from the dragon’s left eye and rolled down his bronze face, twinkling in the sunlight as it fell to the ground and soaked into the earth.
In a deep, rich voice, speaking in his own tongue, the dragon uttered sad, lonely words, “Three hundred years and I am still alone, lost in an endless winter, and none can save my broken heart!” he sniffed, then blew out a breath of steam before whispering “Oh death, why do you spare the immortal?” he spread his wings out flat on the ground and slowly curled into a gigantic ball, his whole body vibrating with defeat.
“Kohnon…” a warm wind blew across the dragon, carrying a sweet, soft whisper on it “Kohnon… my love…”
The dragon opened his eyes, a small light springing into them, then he raised his head and looked in the direction that the wind had come from. Another gust blew into his face, and a few leaves floating with it danced playfully around his huge horns before blowing away, but no one was standing there. All there was to see was open sky, clouds, and endless miles of land.
The dragon stared into the distance for some time, held there by memories of long ago with a longing in his heart for things that could never be again. Time was cold. It would not stop and let him mourn. Death was cruel. It took those undeserving and left the rest behind. And memories? Ah, memories. They could rip the wound of grief open again and again, but warm you from the inside out when all else was cold. Memories made one long for death. But they also gave one purpose, a reason for living.
Finally, the dragon took a deep breath and pushed up to his feet. He wrapped his tail around himself and looked back at his old cave for a moment, then he turned his face forward into the wind and walked away. His posture was still that of a sad and lonely creature, but there was a new hint of determination and purpose in his step as he slowly limped down the mountainside.
Although it seemed hopeless now, perhaps- just perhaps- his endless winter would one day show signs of spring.
The Mourning Dragon
Copyright © 2013
Author of the fantasy series, Tales of the Wovlen, Kathryn spends a great deal of time in the world of her imagination, having tea with fire breathing dragons, writing books on flying space ships, and practicing her mad scientist laugh with gusto. However, on occasion,she returns to this world just to play with her dog and blog about her fun.
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