Friday, August 25, 2017

Feature Friday: Dana Perry

Dana Perry is an undergraduate student at Tufts University, where she’s pursuing a degree in biology. She grew up in Bethany, Connecticut, where she had an unlimited area of woods to roam and trees to climb. When not in class, Dana most likely has her nose buried in a book about the supernatural. Ascendence is her first published work.




Interview:
A.L.:
What piece of advice would you give to a budding author?

Dana:
I think one of the most important things to remember when writing a long-term project is to not limit yourself by constantly doubting your work. Trust me, every word is useful, even if it won’t have a place in the final work. I’ve written some pretty unintelligible stuff while up waaay past my bedtime, but come morning, revising those scribbles kept the ball rolling and helped fight writer’s block.

A.L.:
What's your favorite book and why?

Dana:
Kelley Armstrong’s The Gathering blew me out of the water. I must admit, it’s been a few years since I’ve last read it, but it was phenomenal. Some combination of the setting (a teeny-tiny Canadian town settled deep in the woods), the strong protagonist, and the awesome mountain-lion-centric mythology had me so well hooked that I read it straight through the night on the day I got it, only to fall asleep and dream about it before waking up and picking it right back up again.

A.L.:
Where did you get the idea for Ascendence?  Any reason for the unique spelling of the title?

Dana:
I love any sort of book involving the paranormal, but I’ve found that a lot of them start with their protagonist in the dark as to the supernatural. I thought it might be fun to play with a main character who knew a little too much for her own good, and everything else followed! As for the title, spelling Ascendence with an ‘e’ is less popular than with an ‘a’, but for some reason, I felt like spelling it with an ‘e’ gave the word a little bit more of a spine (no pun intended!), rather than a lighter, more effervescent feel.

A.L.:
Did you hit any snags while writing Ascendence?  What were they and how did you fix them?

Dana:
My biggest snag was time management. I was in high school when I wrote Ascendence, so sometimes it was a bit tough to set aside a decent chunk of time to just sit down and write. Thankfully, I have an awesome friend who was able to look past the unavoidable garbage that cluttered the first manuscript and fall in love with the work, demanding new chapters, which gave me a reason to write and edit as fast as I could.

A.L.:
Which one of the characters in Ascendence is your favorite and why?

Dana:
That’s like asking me to pick between my children! It’s a hard choice, because I love them all, but Luke in particular speaks to me. I’m a sucker for a character who’ll go to the end of the earth and back for their family, and Luke fits that down to a T.

A.L.:
Can you tell us a little bit about your journey as an author?

Dana:
To be honest, I’ve never really thought about myself as a creative person. I was never really one for art or music, but reading is my weakness. I guess when a couple hundred books go in, it makes sense that one would come out. Now that I’ve written one, though, I don’t know if I can be stopped! Writing is such a rewarding experience, and I don’t know what I’d do without it.

A.L.:
What are you working on now?  Sequel?  Something new?

Dana:
Right now, I’m finishing up the first manuscript on another book in the Ascendence universe, but focusing on Benjamin Bellevue many years in the future. I have to say, I’ve utterly fallen in love with this one, so hopefully it’ll be polished up soon!

A.L.:
You grew up in Bethany, CT!  As a fellow Nutmegger, I believe in spreading the CT Pride.  What is your favorite hang out spot in CT and why?

Dana:
There are a lot of golden spots to hang out in Connecticut, but not much can top the view from the top of Sleeping Giant State Park’s blue trail. It’s a hard hike, but scaling those cliffs makes for one amazing view I’ll never forget.

A.L.:
So -- because I'm dorky and get super excited when I find out other people are into the supernatural -- what's your favorite supernatural being and why?

Dana:
Ooh, this is a toughie. I think I’d have to go with shapeshifters, because there’s just something special about a creature that you could look right at and not even realize anything’s amiss. They toe the blurry line between human, animal, and other, and that’s such a fun dynamic to explore.

A.L.:
You grew up roaming the woods.  Do you have a particularly memorable woodland adventure story to share with us?

Dana:
One time, I was hiking up a particularly steep trail up a cliff face with two friends of mine. It had been a long hike, and my legs were like Jello. So, when I saw someone had spray-painted a series of arrows up the sheer rock as an alternate route to walking the path, I started climbing immediately. It took me all of a minute to realize that I was in way over my head, clinging to the ledge like a drowned kitten a good hundred feet above the ground. Somehow, I managed to haul my sorry butt up and over the lip of the cliff, only to fall directly on top of a picnic another group of hikers had set out. I wound up giving them all a heart attack by just appearing out of nowhere, but hey, I survived the climb!

A.L.:
What's your favorite part of being an author and why?

Dana:
My favorite part of being an author is seeing people fall in love with my characters. Through the whole, drawn-out process of writing a novel, you come to spend a lot of time with them, to the point where they are almost real, in a way. It’s just the most incredible feeling to know someone else likes them just as much as you do.


The Giveaway:
Dana will be giving away a copy of Ascendence (US).

Ascendence: Leah Walker may be head-over-heels obsessed with the supernatural, but it seems the world just isn’t throwing her any bones. Or ghosts. Or vampires. Or much of anything, really. That is, until a newcomer takes up residence in her sleepy little town. To her good fortune, Luke is pretty darn attractive with his muscular physique, keen senses, and air of mystery...Which means to say, she’s lucky because he’s totally a werewolf. Upon his arrival, her days grow almost as interesting as her nights, in which Leah is bombarded with welcome dreams of the Protector.

The Protector’s sole purpose is to guard human souls from the threat of the demonic. Her days are filled with darkness and death, but she and her angelic blade Haldis exorcise demons with unfeeling, single-minded determination. Leah wants nothing more than to be the Protector and to live in such a clearcut, evil vs. good world.

What she didn’t think of, however, is that to live in such a world there has to be evil. As blood begins to flow and the darkness of her dreams pours into her waking life, Leah meets more of it than she could ever comprehend...Or hope to fight alone.


How to Enter:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, February 16, 2017

A Tea Party & Books Scavenger Hunt


I'm participating in the "A Tea Party and Books Scavenger Hunt" this year.

Enter for you chance to win ridiculous things!


Friday, September 9, 2016

Feature Friday: Lou Anders

Apologies for not having any Monday Muses or Feature Fridays for the summer.  I've been on insane deadlines and the blog got docked for it!

Today I've got the fabulous Mr. Lou Anders visiting!

Lou Anders is the author of Frostborn, Nightborn, and the forthcoming Skyborn, the three books of the Thrones & Bones series of Norse-themed fantasy adventure novels written for boys and girls equally. He was the 2016 Children’s Writer in Residence at Thurber House of Columbus, Ohio, where he spent a month teaching and writing while living in a haunted historical building. Anders is the recipient of a Hugo Award for editing and a Chesley Award for art direction. He has published over five hundred articles and stories on science fiction and fantasy television and literature. A prolific speaker, Anders regularly attends writing conventions around the country. He and his family reside in Birmingham, Alabama. You can visit Anders online at louanders.com and ThronesandBones.com, on Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, and Tumblr, and on Twitter at @Louanders 


Interview

A.L.:
What piece of advice would you give to a budding author?

Lou:
Write all the time. The most important advice I can give and the toughest to hear is this—your first effort isn’t any good. Writing is just like anything else. It has to be practiced repeatedly for a long time to acquire the skill. No one would expect a beginning pianist to play Chopin’s Prelude No. 4 or someone who has never held a basketball before to compete in the NBA. I’m a very big believer in Malcolm Gladwell’s ten thousand hours, the idea that it takes roughly that amount of time to master a skill. Start now, write constantly, spend years. But the good news is—the sooner you start, the sooner you’ll arrive.

A.L.:
What's your favorite book and why?

Lou:
It’s a toss up between two books. When I was young, I saw Robin Williams in the film, The World According to Garp and fell in love with the story. Subsequently, reading the novel by John Irving made me want to become a writer. But it was The Hobbit that made me fall in love with fantasy and showed me what I wanted to write. Those two books had a huge impact on my career as a writer.

A.L.:
Where do you feel the most inspiration?

Lou:
I write standing up in the kitchen. But place isn’t really important. What inspires me is artwork, a really immersive video game experience, a wonderful film, a good book, a fascinating bit of history. Usually it’s a sense of grandeur in an otherworldly setting that sends me off, wanting to take a journey and explore.

A.L.:
With a few novels behind you, you must have hit a few snags along the way.  Which was the most memorable and how did you fix it?

Lou:
Skyborn, the third Thrones & Bones novel, was a hard one to write. It needed to stand alone as its own story while also providing a satisfying conclusion to the two previous novels. It had to answer a lot of questions and tie up a lot of character arcs, while juggling multiple characters. It went through a pretty extensive restructuring too. But usually when I hit a snag it’s because a character’s desires aren’t clear enough and the fix is to go back and rewrite the introduction in a way that puts the motivation front and center.

A.L.:
Which one of the characters you've written is your favorite and why?

Lou:
That’s a terrible question. They are all my favorite. But I’m very fond of writing dragons. Orm and Orma, from the Thrones & Bones series are great, and I have some more dragons coming up which I can’t wait to share with the world.

A.L.:
Can you tell us a little bit about your journey as an author?

Lou:
My journey is a strange one, and I’m not sure that it’s something another could duplicate. I grew up in Alabama at a time when the Deep South was a little deeper than it is now, and although I had a lot of friends, I never quite fit in or felt completely at home. Everyone said, “You must be a writer,” because they knew the south occasionally produced those (William Faulkner and Truman Capote were frequently mentioned). So I went to college and tried to write. And failed miserably. In a fifth year of a mostly directionless education, I fell in love with theater and did most of the courses required for an undergraduate degree. This got me a spot in a summer in Oxford acting program and from there I did a year on partial scholarship in London. I moved from London to Chicago with dreams of being an actor but ended up writing and directing small black box theater instead. Then I met a man named Dan Decker who taught screenwriting, and I moved to Hollywood. I worked in LA for five years as a journalist for Titan Magazines, spending days and days on the set of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Star Trek: Voyager, Babylon 5, and its spinoff Crusade. I got to see how television was made across every department while writing some five hundred articles, mostly interviews with cast and crew. During this time, I wrote screenplays with a partner and though nothing was ever produced, we were paid for writing a few of them. Then an old friend hired me to run an online publishing site before there was such a thing and I rode the dot com bubble up and down. When it crashed, I knew as many people in publishing as I did in tech, and so I began to freelance edit. Then around 2010 I began to get the writing itch again, while at the same time wanting to produce something that was suitable for my children to read. After a few failed attempts I hit on the idea to write a book that would encapsulate all the joy I felt reading The Hobbit, would stand for both children and adults, but which would be more inclusive and diverse than the fantasy fiction of my own youth. And Frostborn was the result. These days I’m a full-time author, which means I spend half my time writing and half my time talking to kids about my worlds. And that’s a great way to live.

A.L.:

What are you working on now?  More Thrones & Bones?  Something new?

Lou:
I just finished a new novel not in the Thrones & Bones series. It is more fairy tale than fantasy and has knights and dragons and other creatures. It’s out with readers now for initial feedback, and I’m quite pleased with it.  And I’ve begun work on something new about which I’ll say even less, except that I’ve taken one character from my series, aged them a few years, and sent them on a solo adventure.

A.L.:
You've been both an editor and an author at this point.  Can you tell me the pros and cons of each?

Lou:
When I became a full-time author, a colleague said to me “expect your inbox to get a lot lighter.” It did. I loved working with authors. I loved working with artists even more. I don’t work with authors these days, but I continue to work with illustrators to create all the wonderful maps and character artwork for my fantasy world. I must say that, while I enjoyed my time as an editor and art director, and I’m very proud of the work that I did and very grateful for the relationships it afforded me, nothing compares with producing your own creative work.

A.L.:

Why did you choose to write for a middle age crowd and, likewise, why did you choose to work in the realm of Norse mythology?

Lou:
A middle aged crowd? I think you mean a middle grade crowd, though I do have middle aged fans too! But my desire to write children’s books began with the urge to write something for my own kids. I edited a lot of fantasy books for the adult market that, while I am proud of them, weren’t appropriate to share with my children. I wanted something of mine they could interact with now. Also, my children are biracial, and I wanted to write about heroes who straddled two worlds in which they might see themselves. And I wanted to recapture the joy I felt reading fantasy when I was their age.

A.L.:

What is your favorite paranormal creature?  And your favorite myth/legend?

Lou:
I like dragons. I really like dragons. But one of the fun things I’ve done in the Thrones & Bones series is plumb the depth of mythology for unusual creatures you might not have heard of, like draug (Frostborn) and tatzelwurms (Nightborn). And I love sharing those with readers. As for a favorite myth, when I was a child I was an enormous fan of King Arthur. Arthurian legend loomed very large for me. These days I have a renewed appreciation for Tolkien and for the myths that inspired him.

The Giveaway:
Lou is giving away a copy of Nightborn to US entrants!

Nightborn: For fans of Lloyd Alexander and Brandon Mull comes Book 2 in the acclaimed Thrones and Bones fantasy-adventure trilogy that began with Frostborn.
 
Karn Korlundsson is a gamer. Not a riddle solver. But in order to rescue his best friend, Thianna Frostborn, he will need to travel to the faraway city of Castlebriar (by wyvern), learn how to play a new board game called Charioteers (not a problem), decipher the Riddle of the Horn, and tangle with mysterious elves.

Meet Desstra. She’s in training to join the Underhand—the elite agents of the dark elves. When she crosses paths with Karn, she is not all that she appears to be.

Everyone is chasing after the horn of Osius, an ancient artifact with the power to change the world. The lengths to which Karn will go in the name of friendship will be sorely tested. Who knew that solving a riddle could be so deadly?

The novel includes instructions for playing the board game Charioteers. Visit ThronesandBones.com for additional games, maps, character profiles, and more!


Praise for Nightborn

“Anders presents a captivating world.” —Kirkus Reviews

”[A]n adventure story with good pacing, well-drawn characters, and engaging action scenes.” —Booklist

Praise for Frostborn
“Future fans of Tolkien and George R. R. Martin can happily cut their serial-fantasy teeth on this first book of an eventual series.” —Kirkus Reviews

“A fun, fast-paced, and highly enjoyable tale.” —Garth Nix, bestselling author of the Abhorsen trilogy

“A powerful, fast-paced tale. . . . The setting is rich, the characters well-defined, and the danger ever-paramount.” —Publishers Weekly, Starred

“An excellent choice for readers new to the genre. The themes of staying true to oneself, teamwork, and individuality will resonate with readers.” —School Library Journal

“The most delightful fantasy I have read in ages. . . . Put me on the waiting list for book two!” —Amy Plum, international bestselling author of the Die for Me series


How to Enter:
 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, August 29, 2016

Cover Reveal for REDUX

Hi everyone!  Long type no post, I've been very busy churning out awesome new novels for you!  Speaking of, today is the cover reveal for the sequel to NEXIS, REDUX!  May I present:


Friday, July 29, 2016

Feature Friday: Colleen Houck on her RECREATED Dream Cast

Today we've got Colleen Houck giving us a guest post on her "dream cast" for her new novel, RECREATED.

Recreated:  From Colleen Houck, New York Times bestselling author of The Tiger’s Curse, comes Recreated, the second book in the epic Egyptian-inspired Reawakened series, in which a seventeen-year-old must literally go to hell to save the love of her life.

Lily Young thought traveling across the globe with a reawakened sun prince was a grand adventure. Now she’s about to embark on the journey of a lifetime.

When Amon and Lily part tragically, he transports himself to the Netherworld—what mortals call hell. Tormented by the loss of his one true love, he’d rather suffer in agony during Lily’s mortal years than fulfill his duty to protect humanity.

Heartbroken, Lily seeks refuge on her grandmother’s farm. Yet she can feel Amon’s pain, and she has been having dreams—dreams of Amon continually suffering.

For before he departed, Amon gave Lily something very special, an item that connects them even though they are worlds apart. Now Lily must use this object to free him, and to free their realms from darkness and utter chaos. She will do whatever it takes.

Recreated Dream Cast
If I had any say about which actors and actresses would play in the Reawakened series movie, should I be fortunate enough to make that a reality, I might choose something like this:

Lilliana Young
              Chloe Moretz                                Hailey Steinfeld
I chose these actresses because I wanted Lily to be strong, confident, and have the look of a girl sophisticated enough to walk down a New York City street and look like she belonged there. These two actresses look like they’d be comfortable in Manhattan but they would also fit in just fine on grandma’s farm in Iowa. That takes a special girl.

Lily’s Nana
Blythe Danner

Lily’s Nana is a spunky lady. She’s still very pretty for her age but she’s also a bit stubborn and tells it like it is. She’s the type of woman who might have raised a son to be tough enough to make it in NYC but she has the values of a farmer’s wife. She guides Lily through some difficult times in the series and she’s a great judge of character.

Amon
              Kostas Martakis                            Sean O’Pry

I chose these models for Amon because I like their look, especially in the shots where one is dressed up to look more Egyptian. I’ve also seen this model look very American so I’m not sure that he’s exactly the right fit but Amon has his lips and cheekbones.

Asten
Carmine Signorelli

I imagine a slightly younger version of this guy for Asten. He’s mischievous and handsome and he’s a powerful magician in his own right.
Ahmose
Khaled Selim

Ahmose is a little bigger than his brothers. His smile is less frequent but he’s a solid rock that Lily comes to lean on. This guy has the eyes.

Dr. Hassan
Zahi Hawass
When I first began researching Egypt, I watched a lot of documentaries that were hosted by Zahi Hawass. He is exactly how I imagine Dr. Hassan, right down to the hat.

Amun-Ra
 Will Lemay
Amun-Ra is a tall, gorgeous black man. He's the main god that all the others obey. He rules the cosmos from his palace in the city of the gods, Heliopolis.

Horus
 Goksun Ergur
Horus is the son of Isis and Osiris. He has been the thorn in the side of Seth for centuries. In RECREATED he is in exile under the protection of Amun-Ra. He's a bit of a womanizer and his actor seems to fit the part perfectly.

Anubis
James Gandy
Anubis is the dark lord of mummification. He's cheeky, has a lot of secrets, and loves his dog. This actor seems just about right.
 
Osiris
Lee Thompson Young
Osiris is the god of agriculture. He's a bit of the handsome football captain/student body president type that everyone admires. Seth hates him because of this. Isis falls for him but he's too much of a rule follower to jump into the forbidden relationship right away.

Isis
K.D. Aubert                                           Sydney Tamiia Poitier
Isis is tall and strikingly beautiful. She falls for Osiris but has to talk him into the relationship since the gods are not allowed to be together. She is a master spell caster and Seth desire her not just for her beauty but for her ability.

Nephthys
Elisha Cuthbert                             Skylar Day
Nephthys is Isis' sister. She's a gifted seer. She is Seth's wife but not all is as it seems in their relationship. Nephthys works in the Netherworld to help keep things in order but she lives in Heliopolis most of the time.

Cherty
 Stephen Root


Cherty is a ferryman better known as Charon. He's a surly boat captain who takes the ghosts of the dead to the Afterlife for judgment. He's a bit crusty and rough around the edges.

Ma’at
Emilia Clarke                         Camilla Belle
Ma'at is beautiful but she's very stern and unapproachable. Her role is the judge in the Afterlife. She can weave spells too but not as well as Isis.

The Giveaway:
Colleen Houck will be giving away FIVE REAWAKENED & RECREATED BOOK SETS!
a Rafflecopter giveaway  

Monday, July 11, 2016

Monday Muse: Crown the Empire -- Machines


I am very into songs about machines lately. It's because I'm working on the sequel to Nexis...There will be a playlist.

Monday, July 4, 2016

Monday Muse: Christina Perri -- I Believe



This is my obligatory "crud, my life is falling apart...but here's my smile and here's me giving good vibes to all of you because of it" post. Gotta hold on and all that jazz.