Interview with B.R.A.G. Medallion Honoree Shannon L. Brown

Author Shannon Brown

Author Shannon L. Brown

Shannon L. Brown read and read as a kid, particularly every mystery she could find. She didn’t plan to be a writer though. Although she earned a degree in journalism & communications then a second degree in education, she didn’t end up working in either field. Shannon wrote her first book, a clean romance, shortly after earning those degrees in the 1980s. Submitted to a publisher, when it was rejected she changed directions. Fast forward to a day some years later when she was driving and an image of a briefcase filled with feathers popped into her mind. She knew it was the idea for a children’s mystery and “The Feather Chase” was born. Shannon wrote the book while working in unrelated fields. She also began writing magazine articles on the side and gradually moved to doing that full-time. Now an award-winning writer, she has sold more than 600 articles for local, national and regional publications and, until resigning to finish the book, was the contributing editor for a jewelry publication. (This goes to show you, you never know where life may take you.) “The Feather Chase” was published in February of 2014. It’s a fun mystery and the first in the Crime-Solving Cousins Mystery series. Shannon’s now using those earlier courses in communications to write and those in education to speak to children about writing. Originally from Alaska, she currently lives in Nashville, Tennessee, with her professor husband and adorable calico cat Evie. The second book in the series will release in the summer of 2015.

Hello, Shannon! I am delighted to be chatting with you and congrats on the B.R.A.G. Medallion for your book, The Feather Chase. First I’d like to say that I love the title of your book. Could you tell your audience a little about the premise of your story?

Thank you on the title. I went through many possibilities before I settled on The Feather Chase. The story begins when twelve-year-old cousins Sophie and Jessica find a briefcase full of feathers while hiking in the woods. They’re spending the summer together in Sophie’s small town of Pine Hill and city-girl Jessica isn’t interested in much there including helping with what might be a mystery. When they realize someone is following them, they work together to solve the mystery of The Feather Chase.

Are there any characteristic similarities between Sophie and Jessica, besides their age, that your readers can relate to?

Readers often feel one of the girls is more like them. Sophie loves the outdoors —she’d rather be hiking or camping than almost anything else. She’s also a fan of jeans and sneakers, and an average student. Jessica’s a big city girl who currently calls London, England, home. She’s a very smart girly girl who likes to dress up and wouldn’t leave the house without makeup.

The Feather Chase

What is an example of how they work together to solve the mystery they stumble upon?

I’ll answer this without giving too much away. (I’m one those who covers her ears when someone talks about a book she’s read or movie she’s seen that I haven’t gotten to yet.)

Sophie promises still-doubtful Jessica chocolate if she’ll help her sort through a pile of debris to find something she’s sure is there. They find it and from then on face danger and find clues together.

Could you please share an excerpt?      

Here’s a scene from page 3 that begins with Sophie speaking:

“Maybe the outdoors will grow on you. Pretend we’re on a great adventure.”

“I think twelve’s a little too old for that.”

“I’m twelve too, and I don’t think so. My dad says you’re never too old to use your imagination.”

“Okay. We’re on a great adventure.” Jessica lowered her voice to a whisper. “We’re going to find a bunch of spies around that bend in the path.”

Sophie seemed startled, then grinned. She must not have known Jessica had a sense of humor.

As they rounded the next bend, Jessica pointed to the ground. “Look. There’s a briefcase.”

Sophie giggled. “You’re really getting into this.”

“No, I mean there really is a briefcase.”

Sophie looked in the direction Jessica pointed. “There is!”

A black leather briefcase, something like her dad used to carry papers to meetings, lay on its side, next to a big pine tree. Jessica knelt beside it.

“No!” Sophie shouted when her cousin reached for it. “Don’t you watch all those spy movies? The briefcase is booby-trapped.”

“You must be kidding.” Jessica poked at it with her finger. Then she picked it up off the ground. “Gee. Nothing happened.” Setting it on a boulder, she pushed on the

latches. “It’s locked up tight.”

“We’d better take it to the sheriff’s office.”

Will there be other mystery stories involving these two?

The second book in the Crime-Solving Cousins series will release in the next few months. This time Sophie and Jessica are searching for a missing treasure and they find themselves in danger once again.

I find it interesting that your book is contemporary with a fictional location but you have written non-fiction articles about your story. Could you tell me a little about that? I am curious.

I’ve written more than 600 non-fiction articles so I’m comfortable with fiction and non-fiction. I’m always curious about what’s behind the scenes so I enjoy sharing things such as the evolution of my book’s cover or looking at what makes a character tick.

What is the age target for this book?

Ages 8-12 are the target audience. I had thought my readers would be mostly girls, but boys are also enjoying it. There is a 12-year-old boy who enters the story about halfway through.

Who designed your book cover?

The amazing Jeanine Henderson illustrated and hand-lettered my cover.

How long did it take for you to write your story?

I normally write quickly but this story developed over a decade. At the time, I also worked full-time and had a lot going on in life. The next book in the series will be out soon and has been a much shorter process.

Where in your home do you like to write and what is your process?

I have a home office painted in a pretty light lavender. But I also like to work in coffee shops and libraries. I’m writing this from a great coffee shop in Nashville called The Well.

How did you discover indieBRAG and what has your experience been like with self-publishing so far?

I believe I discovered it in an article on ALLi’s website, The Allliance of Independent Authors. After writing for others for years, it’s both fun and challenging to have the final say in what I do. Indie authors have the obligation of putting out a product that is equal to that of a traditional publisher so we have extra work to do with hiring editors and cover designers. And then there’s marketing. A writer, any writer, could work 24/7 on marketing.

Where can readers buy your book?

The Feather Chase is available in print from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and local stores in Nashville, Tennessee. The ebook is a Kindle and Nook, and also on Kobo and ibook.

Thank you, Shannon! It has been lovely to chat with you.

It’s been a pleasure spending time with all of you.

Website

A message from BRAG:

We are delighted that Stephanie has chosen to interview Shannon Brown, who is the author of, The Feather Chase, our medallion honorees at indieBRAG . To be awarded a B.R.A.G. Medallion TM, a book must receive unanimous approval by a group of our readers. It is a daunting hurdle and it serves to reaffirm that a book such as, The Feather Chase, merits the investment of a reader’s time and money.

A Song of Sixpence by Judith Arnopp

JA Picture

Judith, who is from Wales in the UK, is the author of seven historical fiction novels. Her early novels, Peaceweaver, The Forest Dwellers and The Song of Heledd, are set in the Anglo-Saxon/Medieval period but her later work, The Winchester Goose, The Kiss of the Concubine, Intractable Heart and A Song of Sixpence, concentrate on the Tudor period. She is currently researching for her eighth novel about Margaret Beaufort, the mother of Henry VII. Judith is also a regular blogger and author of historical articles.

A Ssong of Sixspence By JA

Blurb of A Song of Sixpence

In the years after Bosworth, a small boy is ripped from his rightful place as future king of England.

Years later when he reappears to take back his throne, his sister Elizabeth, now Queen to the invading King, Henry Tudor, is torn between family loyalty and duty.

As the final struggle between the houses of York and Lancaster is played out, Elizabeth is torn by conflicting loyalty, terror and unexpected love.

Elizabeth must choose between supporting the man claiming to be her brother, or her husband, the king?

Set at the court of Henry VII A Song of Sixpence offers a unique perspective on the early years of Tudor rule. Elizabeth of York, often viewed as a meek and uninspiring queen, emerges as a resilient woman whose strengths lay in endurance rather than resistance.

London – Autumn 1483

Ink black water slaps against the Tower wharf where deep impenetrable dark stinks of bleak, dank death. Strong arms constrict him and the rough blanket covering his head clings to his nose and mouth. The boy struggles, kicks, and wrenches his face free to suck in a lung full of life saving breath. The blanket smothers him again. He fights against it, twisting his head, jerking his arms, trying to kick but the hands that hold him, tighten. His head is clamped hard against his attacker’s body. He frees one hand, gropes with his fingers until he discovers chain mail, and an unshaven chin. Clenching his fingers into a fist, he lunges out with a wild inaccurate punch.

With a muffled curse the man throws back his head but, keeping hold of his prisoner, he hurries onward, down narrow, dark steps, turning one corner, then another, before halting abruptly. The boy hears his assailant’s breath coming short and sharp and knows he too is afraid.

The aroma of brackish water is stronger now. The boy strains to hear mumbled voices, low and rough over scuffling footsteps. The ground seems to dip and his stomach lurches as suddenly they are weightless, floating, and he senses they have boarded a river craft. The invisible world dips and sways sickeningly as they push out from the stability of the wharf for the dangers of the river.

The only sound is the gentle splash of oars as they glide across the water, far off the clang of a bell and the cry of a boatman. He squirms, opens his mouth to scream but the hand clamps down hard again. The men draw in their breath and freeze, waiting anxiously. A long moment, a motionless pause before the oars are taken up again and the small craft begins to move silently across the surface.

River mist billows around them; he can smell it, feels it seeping through his clothes. He shivers but more from fear than cold.

He knows when they draw close to the bridge. He can feel the tug of the river; hear the increasing rush of the current, the dangerous turbulence beneath. Surely they will not shoot the bridge, especially after dark. Only a fool would risk it.

The boy wriggles, shakes his head, and tries to work his mouth free of the smothering hand. He strains to see through the blinding darkness but all is inky black. The boat gathers pace and, as the noise of the surging river becomes deafening, the man increases his hold, a hurried prayer rumbling in his chest.

The whole world is consumed in chaos, rushing water, clamouring thunder, biting cold. In the fight for survival, the boy continues to battle fruitlessly for breath, struggle for his freedom. The body that holds him hostage tenses like a board and beneath the boy’s ear beats the dull thud of his assailant’s heart. The blanket is suffocating hot, his stomach turning as the boat is taken, surging forward, spinning upward before it is hurled down again, between the starlings, shooting uncontrollably beneath the bridge.

Then suddenly, the world is calmer. Somehow the boat remains upright on the water. It spins. He hears the men scrabble for the oars, regain control and his captor relaxes, breathes normally again. Exhausted and helpless, the boy slumps in the soldier’s arms, his fight defeated.

All is still now; all is quiet. The oars splash, the boat glides down river, and soon the aroma of the countryside replaces the stench of the city.

His clothes are soaked with river water; his stomach is empty, his body bruised and aching. Defeated and afraid, the man releases his hold and the boy lies still in the bottom of the boat.

He sleeps.

The world moves on.

Much later, waking with a start, the boy hears low, dark whisperings; a thick Portuguese accent is answered by another, lighter and less certain. This time when he blinks into the darkness, he notices a faint glimmer of light through the coarse weave of the blanket. He forces himself to lie still, knows his life could depend upon not moving but his limbs are so cramped he can resist no longer. He shifts, just a little, but it is too much. His kidnapper hauls him unceremoniously from the wet wooden planks.

The boy’s legs are like string. He stumbles as they snatch off his hood and daylight rushes in, blinding bright. He blinks, screwing up his face, blinking at the swimming features before him, fighting for focus. He sees dark hair; a heavy beard; the glint of a golden earring, and recognition and relief floods through him.

“Brampton!” he exclaims, his voice squeaking, his throat parched. “What the devil are you doing? Take me back at once.”

Brampton tugs at the boy’s tethered arms, drawing him more gently now to the bench beside him.

“I cannot. It is unsafe.”

“Why?” As his hands are untied the boy rubs at each wrist in turn, frowning at the red wheals his bonds have left behind. His Plantagenet-bright hair glints in the early morning sun, his chin juts forward in outrage. “If my father were here…”

“Well, he is not.”

Brampton’s words lack respect, but the boy knows him for a brusque, uncourtly man.

“But where are you taking me? What is happening?”

“To safety, England is no longer the place for you.”

The boy swallows, his shadowed eyes threatening tears. Switching his gaze from one man to the other, he moistens his lips, bites his tongue before trusting his breaking voice. “Where is my brother? Where is Edward?”

Brampton narrows his eyes and looks across the misty river. He runs a huge, rough hand across his beard, grimaces before he replies and his words, when they come, spell out the lost cause of York.

“Dead. As would you be had I left you there.”

Links

Amazon Author Page

Author Website

Author Blog

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Book Review: Mist of Midnight by Sandra Byrd

01_Mist of Midnight

Publication Date: March 10, 2015 Howard Books Formats: eBook, Paperback Pages: 384

Series: Daughters of Hampshire Genre: Historical/Christian/Romance

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Mist of Midnight is an opening story of a series I’m told. Set in Victorian England is the perfect backdrop for this story. A young girl, Rebecca Ravenshaw, returns to England from India. Her parents-missionaries-died in the Indian Mutiny. When she arrives no one believes who she says she is. A year before someone else claimed to be her and was quite convincing. The imposter died and Rebecca’s Father’s estate and his investments where given to a distant relative. His name is Captain Luke Whitfield. He and Rebecca quickly form an attraction for each other. However, her rights and who she says she is hasn’t been proven and you soon wonder what her fate will be. So begins the challenge or adventure I should say to convince everyone that she is the real Rebecca Ravenshaw.

I enjoyed the gothic mystery feel to the story and how Byrd portrays each of the characters. Even the secondary characters play an important role in the story. I was really intrigued with the details and culture of India that Byrd includes and she gives you a richly sense of time and place. Beautiful prose throughout, suspense in the right places and Byrd proves yet again you can write a good story without the vulgarity and foul language one finds often in books. This story is considered Christian Lit and Byrd does a splendid job with her characters dealing with real life situations. Often times I read in this genre and have been disappointed. I felt the characters weren’t believable and there realities seemed artificial. Sandra Byrd will not disappoint you with Mist of Midnight. In fact, she is one of my favorite writers and one of the few writers who I think can write brilliantly in this genre. I am so thrilled with this story and I will be on the lookout for more! Can’t wait!

Stephanie M. Hopkins

 Praise for Mist of Midnight

“Intriguing secondary characters and lush scenery contribute to the often sinister, even creepy, moments readers will come to anticipate. Infusing her story with mystery, tension, and emotion, Byrd (To Die For: A Novel of Anne Boleyn) strikes a fine balance between the darkness of a Gothic mystery and the sweetness of a captivating love story. Byrd—and Brontë—fans will enjoy this first of the new Daughters of Hampshire series.” – Publishers Weekly

“A marvelous mingling of mystery and deeply moving family and romantic love, Mist of Midnight kept me guessing until the very end. A house on a cliff, a Victorian-Gothic atmosphere, a cast of suspicious characters including a dark, brooding hero and a strong heroine: shades (or mists) of Jane Eyre and Rebecca! I look forward to the next novel in this compelling new series.” (Karen Harper, New York Times bestselling author of Mistress of Mourning)

“Mist of Midnight is wonderfully atmospheric, with all the right elements for a true Gothic novel, from sounds that go bump in the night to characters who are not at all what they seem. The spiritual underpinning is solid, comforting, even as we’re trapped in the author’s finely spun web of mystery, romance, and a sense of foreboding that doesn’t lift until the final page. Charlotte Brontë? Victoria Holt? Meet Sandra Byrd, the modern mistress of Gothic romance!” (Liz Curtis Higgs, New York Times bestselling author of Mine Is the Night)

“Among the many things I love about reading a Sandra Byrd novel is knowing that her words will transport me to another place and time, that she will win me over with intriguing and complex characters, and that I’ll savor every word. Mist of Midnight is no exception. I loved this book! Sandra Byrd could belong to the writing group of the Bronte sisters if they’d had one. Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre along with crumbling mansions, mysterious distant cousins, and one woman’s journey to prove who she really is are just few layers that ripple through the mists. Bravo, Sandra! Another winner.” (Jane Kirkpatrick, award-winning author of A Light in the Wilderness)

“Richly written and multi-layered, Mist of Midnight blends traditional England and exotic India in a historical feat worthy of Victoria Holt. Breathless danger, romance, and intrigue made this series opener by the ultra-talented Sandra Byrd a compelling must-read!” (Laura Frantz, author of Love’s Reckoning)

“Once again, Sandra Byrd delivers a richly layered story that will leave you eagerly awaiting the next book in this brand-new series. Mist of Midnight has it all: intriguing and memorable characters—including a central female protagonist who is both complex and inspiring—a plot chock-full of mystery and suspense, and a Victorian gothic setting, impeccably researched and artfully and evocatively relayed. Prepare to be transported!” (Karen Halvorsen Schreck, author of Sing For Me)

“Mist of Midnight is a beautiful, haunting tale. Sandra Byrd masterfully weaves together both romance and suspense among a cast of mysterious characters. I was immediately swept into the wonder of this story, and I loved unraveling all the secrets and discovering exactly what happened at the old Headbourne House.” (Melanie Dobson, author of Chateau of Secrets and The Courier of Caswell Hall)

“Sandra Byrd’s trademark attention to historical accuracy combines with an eerily building intrigue to envelope readers in a sense of dark foreboding that hinges precariously between hope and desperation. Mist of Midnight is a subtly haunting, beautifully atmospheric, and decadently romantic Victorian tale that will find a comfortable home among the best Gothic romances of days gone by.” (Serena Chase, author of The Ryn and contributor to USA Today’s Happy Ever After blog)

“Not since Jane Eyre have I read a Gothic romance that has captured my heart so completely. From the exotic India to an English estate shrouded in mystery, Byrd’s eye for detail shines through on every page. Romance lovers are sure to devour the tale of Rebecca Ravenshaw and her search for the truth behind the mysteries of Headbourne House and the handsome young captain who lives on the estate.” (Renee Chaw, reviewer at Black ‘n Gold Girl’s Book Spot)

“From the first word to the last, Mist of Midnight is a completely absorbing romantic, and mysterious, novel. Ms. Byrd’s writing is splendid, and her characters are so complex and endearing that they leap off the pages. I couldn’t put it down. An absolutely irresistible read!” (Anne Girard, author of Madame Picasso)

Pre-Order/Buy the Book

Amazon

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About the Author

03_Sandra Byrd Author

After earning her first rejection at the age of thirteen, bestselling author Sandra Byrd has now published more than forty books. Her adult fiction debut, Let Them Eat Cake, was a Christy Award finalist, as was her first historical novel, To Die For: A Novel of Anne Boleyn. To Die For was also named by Library Journal as a Best Books Pick for 2011 and The Secret Keeper: A Novel of Kateryn Parr, was named a Library Journal Best Books Pick for 2012. Roses Have Thorns: A Novel of Elizabeth I published in April, 2013.

Sandra has also published dozens of books for tweens and teens including the Secret Sisters Series, London Confidential Series and a devotional for tweens.

A former textbook acquisitions editor, Sandra has published many nonfiction articles and books. She is passionate about helping new writers develop their talent and their work toward traditional or self-publication. As such, she has mentored and coached hundreds of new writers and continues to coach dozens to success each year.

Please visit www.sandrabyrd.com to learn more, or to invite Sandra to your bookclub via Skype. You can also connect with Sandra on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Goodreads.

Mist of Midnight Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, March 2 Review & Giveaway at Unshelfish Review & Giveaway at Peeking Between the Pages

Tuesday, March 3 Review at A Chick Who Reads Review & Giveaway at Broken Teepee

Wednesday, March 4 Review at Oh, For the Hook of a Book

Thursday, March 5 Review at Reading the Past Review & Giveaway at A Literary Vacation Review & Guest Post at With Her Nose Stuck in a Book

Friday, March 6 Review at Ageless Pages Reviews

Monday, March 9 Review & Giveaway at Historical Readings & Views

Tuesday, March 10 Review at Just One More Chapter Interview at Oh, For the Hook of a Book

Wednesday, March 11 Review & Giveaway at The Lit Bitch

Thursday, March 12 Review at Book Drunkard Spotlight at Books and Benches

Friday, March 13 Review & Giveaway at Forever Ashley

Monday, March 16 Review at Flashlight Commentary

Tuesday, March 17 Review at Layered Pages

Wednesday, March 18 Review at The Eclectic Reader Review at The Book Binder’s Daughter

Thursday, March 19 Review at CelticLady’s Reviews Guest Post & Giveaway at Passages to the Past

Friday, March 20 Interview & Giveaway at Let Them Read Books

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A Writer’s Life by B.R.A.G. Medallion Honoree Lorraine Devon Wilke

Lorraine Wilke-BRAG

Lorraine Devon Wilke

I’d like to welcome Lorraine Devon Wilke back to Layered Pages to talk about her writing. She is an author, photographer, singer/songwriter, started early as a creative hyphenate. First, there was music and theater, next came rock & roll, then a leap into film when a feature she co-wrote (To Cross the Rubicon) was produced by a Seattle film company, opening doors in a variety of creative directions.

In the years following, she wrote for and performed on theater stages, developed her photography skills, and accrued a library of well-received feature screenplays (The Theory of Almost Everything was a top finalist in the 2012 Final Draft Big Break Screenwriting Contest; A Minor Rebellion a Quarter Finalist in that same event in 2014). She kept her hand in music throughout – songwriting, recording, performing – leading to the fruition of a longtime goal to record an original album (Somewhere On the Way). Accomplished in collaboration with songwriting/producing partner, Rick M. Hirsch, the album garnered stellar reviews and can be found at CDBaby and iTunes (one tune from the collection is even featured in the epilogue of After the Sucker Punch). She continues with music whenever she can (which, she maintains, is never, ever, enough!).

Lorraine, why do you write?

Not to sound trite, but it seems I must. Truly. It’s the most effective, most pleasurable, most succinct way for me to organize the thoughts rumbling around my consciousness that need to get out—a formulating plot, a necessary commentary, a passionate letter. To sit down at my computer and let those words flow from my head, through my fingers, and into some cogent, tangible, readable form, seems the best way to communicate what I’m thinking. I was that person who wrote Letters-to-the-Editor; I could settle a family battle with a thoughfully composed missive; my visual stories unrolled into screenplay format, and when I finally had a narrative I felt could sustain the novel format, I wrote my first novel. There’s something about the process—thought, through hands, to words—that is so powerful, so clear and understandable, that makes the form, to me, one of the most perfect ways to communicate. There’s also the matter of knowing there is a reader on the other end of those words. The idea of conveying ideas, concepts, great stories, emotions, to another person through your words feels like a tremendous exchange of give and receive. Very interactive and synergistic. I love the sense of getting caught up in creating a world, people, and a story, and knowing someone else will read those words and, hopefully, be transported, or moved, or entertained, or impacted in some way that is transformative. It feels like a gift I I’m able to give and so I do… always with hope the receiver enjoys it!

After the sucker punch

What is your writing process?

I can’t say I have a specific process. Or ritual. Or way I must do things. No special spot to write, shirt to wear, music to listen to. Which is good, I think, because it allows me to get to work pretty much any time inspiration hits. I work with a laptop, so I can write anywhere and often do. I can write with others in the room, noise going on, madness ensuing around me, or I can write in complete silence and solitude. Very internal process for me, learned, I suppose, as one of eleven children in a very loud, chaotic family! Of course, if someone wants to endow me with a good cup of coffee or an excellent piece of chocolate on a regular basis, I could easily make those items part of an excellent writing process.

How has writing impacted your life?

In a way, it’s saved my sanity, given me a place to focus, organize, and explore my never-ending thoughts, both creative and editorial. As a blogger/editorial writer/essayist, I often found that, as I’d note something happening in the world, read an article that provoked me, or heard some nonsense in the news that demanded a response, I was compelled gather my swirling thoughts into words. It wasn’t ego or arrogance; I simply HAD to say something or I felt like my head would explode! I took to blogging, and when someone at one of the bigger news sites printed two pieces, I knew I had my outlet. And since it was likely I had more to say than anyone would ever want to publish, I started my blog, Rock+Paper+Music, which is kind of a column for me, and from there I was invited to write for The Huffington Post.

When I’d get response to topical issues that expressed relief or commiseration, telling me I was giving voice to those who felt the same way but didn’t have the ways, means, or desire to speak out loud, I felt like I was providing a public service. Very noble. Until I discovered, and become enmeshed in, the grinding, hashing, redundant vitriol that seems endemic to topical writing. After years of that gauntlet, weary and in need of a figurative shower, I got out of politics, deciding I had to focus on more creative, positive, productive avenues for my words. Again, for my sanity. See, it’s all about my sanity! 🙂

So now my writing is built on a creative platform. I often find a way to put my editorial opinions and perspective into the mouths of characters or the prose of my narrative. That ability to fashion a completely original, imagined story, peopled by characters who bring life and humanity alive for me—and, hopefully, readers—has been an exhilarating exercise, given me a sense of tremendous creative joy.

As for impact on a career level, it’s been very exciting to be in control of my destiny as a novelist. With so much of the “business of art,” there is the waiting to please/win-over/convince gatekeepers just to get in the door to hopefully please/win-over/convince the next set of “permission givers.” Hopefully, once one does that, it’s “all steam ahead”—in the case of publishing, to get the book out to readers. So far, I have not had the particular experience of working with a publisher. I’ve been “doing it for myself” and there’s a certain purist beauty in that: to pursue the stories that move and provoke me, to write my narrative in a way that meets my creative standards and in my particular voice; to choose my title, my cover artwork, and then, with the help of professional editors, formatters, designers and selective readers, produce a book I’m proud to put out. Then… click—it’s in the hands of readers.

That’s an amazing bit of artistic empowerment that has allowed me to pursue this writing path without the obstacles too often put in our way.

When do your best ideas come to you for a story?

I’m a power walker and it’s during my walks that my creative Muse most often visits with ideas for a story, suggestions of where to take a plot, or notes about what I might have forgotten, left out, or misplaced. Walking helps clear my mind and make room for that “channel” of inspiration I tend to count on. And it’s good exercise. Win/win!

Hysterical Love

How do you respond to positive and negative reviews?

Good question. On a topic that seems to have given birth to a lot of silliness in the world of book reviewing, particularly for indie writers. When you see very mediocre books with hundreds of 5-stars reviews clearly written by family or friends within writers groups; when you read threads on Goodreads or other sites where writers beg each other for review swaps (“you like mine and I’ll like yours!”); when industrious book sites charge writers ridiculous fees for reviews; when authors get friends to attack or negate revewiers who didn’t like their books; or when trolls go out of their way to collectively bash writers they don’t like for one reason or another, the whole process and value of reviewing becomes moot, corrupt, and tarnished. Which is too bad, because good, honest, thoughtful reviews can be very helpful to an artist. As for my own, I’ve made clear I would no more want a fake, traded, or purchased “good” review than I’d want a unfair, mean-spirited negative one. I want readers who’ve taken the time to read my books to leave their honest, authentic responses to the work, whatever that is. I’ve been fortunate to have received largely positive reviews on my first novel, After The Sucker Punch, some so/so reviews, and a few “meh” reviews. None have been solicited, none have been “trades,” none have been manipulated. Happily, none have been throat-slitters either! But I’ve certainly received negative reviews on work in other arenas: music, movies, plays, etc., and you learn as an artist to take the bad with the good. Develop thick skin. Feel the hit, then let it go and move on.

I figure if I did the work to the best of my ability, if I “spoke” in my true, authentic voice as an artist, if I delivered the work I wanted to deliver, then how a reader receives it is his or her prerogative. I don’t deliver my work until I’m completely happy with it, and, if I’m happy with it, then I’ve done my job. Of course, I’m THRILLED when others are happy with it as well, but I respect anyone who honestly has a different opinion. It’s a very wide world out there and we all look at what we read, listen to, watch, through the filters we’ve gained from a lifetime of experience; every artist must be clear on that… if not, public consumption can be a painful thing!

What advice would you give a beginner writer?

First of all, you must be an absolute pro about the work: study and learn your craft, gain experience, write-write-write! Find the best people to offer critique (and be selective… everyone has an opinion; that doesn’t mean it’s the right opinion—or the right one for you); then listen, be humble, try things, experiment, but never lose sight of your own voice. Never.

If you are going the traditional route, expect to spend a considerable amount of time querying agents, with all the arcane rules and expectations that go along with that particular path. Be utterly professional, deliver the best possible work in whatever format or increment is requested, never get surly or argumentative; be gracious and resilient. Go after it with everything you’ve got, but realize all the “rules” you’re told to follow can and will change from agent to agent, so also be prepared to be flexible and tenacious. It can be a long haul, but if that’s the way you want to go, learn everything you can about the agents best suited for the kind of book you’ve written, then go after it like nobody’s business.

If the “indie” route is the one you opt for, understand that you will not only be the artist, the writer; you will also be the “business person”: the publisher, marketer, promoter, and publicist. That aspect of it can be confounding, frustrating, exhausting, brutal, dispiriting, and endless, but if you do it right, with eyes open to every good possibility, clarity about your goals, and a bracing sense of reality about your work and how it fits into the marketplace, you can have quite the successful ride! It can even be empowering, vindicating… fun!

But don’t publish until your book has been polished, fine-tuned, written, rewritten, read, critiqued, edited, copyedited, formatted, and put together with a professional designed cover. Do NOT cut corners; that not only reflects upon you as a writer, but on the indie community as a whole. Those unfortunate stigmas attributed to self-published writers by many in the media and the publishing industry—“amateurish, sloppy, poorly edited, loads of typos and misspellings, horrible covers, bad writing, lousy plots”—didn’t emerge out of nowhere. They came from too many books that did have those problems, mucking up the waters for all indie authors. Be someone who raises the bar. Do it right. Be as good as you can be. Be the kind of writer, with the kind of book, that could sit next to any legacy writer at Barnes & Noble and be right at home. Don’t publish until you’re sure you have a book like that.

Then keep writing!

Thank you, Stephanie! I appreciated being a part of your “writers series”… and thanks for all you do for independent writers. It’s much appreciated!

HYSTERICAL LOVE, with a publication date of April 7, 2015, and is available for pre-order at:

Amazon

Smashwords .

AFTER THE SUCKER PUNCH B.R.A.G Medallion Page: B.R.AG. Medallion Honoree

After the Sucker Punch Amazon page

After the Sucker Punch Smashwords page

Information links:

Lorraine’s website: www.lorrainedevonwilke.com

Contact: info@lorrainedevonwilke.com

For all publicity inquiries contact: www.JKSCommunications.com

Lorraine’s other web links:

blog

Facebook  

Facebook Writer’s page

Twitter

LinkedIn

Goodreads

AboutMe

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Other Items referenced in bio: To Cross the Rubicon

Somewhere on the Way (CD):

@ CDBaby.com

@ iTunes

Fine Art Photography site

Column @ The Huffington Post

Sunday Book Highlight

The Queens Mistake

When the young and beautiful Catherine Howard becomes the fifth wife of the fifty-year-old King Henry VIII, she seems to be on top of the world. Yet her reign is destined to be brief and heartbreaking, as she is forced to do battle with enemies far more powerful and calculating than she could have ever anticipated in a court where one wrong move could mean her undoing. Wanting only love, Catherine is compelled to deny her heart’s desire in favor of her family’s ambition. But in so doing, she unwittingly gives those who sought to bring her down a most effective weapon, her own romantic past. The Queen’s Mistake is the tragic tale of one passionate and idealistic woman who struggles to negotiate the intrigue of the court and the yearnings of her heart.

**********

Catherine stood in the courtyard of Horsham, putting on her riding gloves and gazing into the dry-lipped, scowling expression of her grandmother, who had come out grudgingly to bid her farewell. A cool breeze blew across the gently rolling terrain as Catherine curtsied properly to the woman who had been more keeper than relation.

“Remember,” the dour old woman finally said, “you’re going to court with nothing beyond your passable looks and your Howard name. If you are very, very fortunate, you may become a maid of honor, but your personal state of poverty keeps you no better than the girls with whom you shared that dormitory, unless you do something bold about it. Never forget that.”

Catherine had an overwhelming urge to make a face just then or to say something spiteful in response. She had been aching to do that for years, and yet she had always been forced into compliance.

“I understand, my lady grandmother.”

Agnes arched a silver brow. “Do you? Are you certain?”

It would be impossible not to understand your contempt of me, she thought. “I do,” she said instead.

“Do you also understand, somewhere in that empty head of yours, how that lark to seduce not one but two of my servants could put you in jeopardy of never making any sort of important match at court?”

“How would anyone discover such a thing, and why would anyone care about the indiscretions of a country girl from Sussex?”

The report came tumbling out like marbles rolling across her tongue before she even knew what was happening. She stood frozen, but refused to drop her gaze from the dowager duchess’s cold stare. But this time Agnes would not dare to hit her, not when her soft skin and smooth face were the only chance in the world to regain the Howard standing. Catherine knew it and belligerently took full advantage. The silence stretched on. Catherine still did not break her gaze.

“So you do have something of your cousin Anne Boleyn in you, after all.”

“Thank you, Grandmother.”

“Pray only hope it is not the part that landed her on the Tower Green, separated from her head.”

Catherine felt a shiver deep in her chest, but she would not show it. “Everyone here wishes me well, as I do them. They will speak against me to no one.”

“A spurned heart is a dangerous thing.”

She was not certain whether her grandmother meant Henry Manox or Francis Dereham.

“They shall marry one day and forget the past, just as I plan to do.”

“And for your sake, and for the family’s sake, I shall pray for that, since the alternative could be ghastly.”

Suddenly, before she could say anything more, the old woman drew something from a pocket in her blue slashed bell sleeve. A ruby suspended from a silver chain glittered in the sunlight through the clouds as she held it out to Catherine.

“My husband, the duke, gave this to your mother on her wedding day. He thought it might bring her luck. It quite obviously brought her no benefit. So, since I have no use for it…”

Her words fell away as she awkwardly offered the chain to Catherine. She reached out her hand and took the precious piece of the past her grandmother offered. She had so few things by which to remember her mother. There was no painted likeness, no letter. Only one linen-and-lace chemise had been left to her—one Catherine greedily guarded. Now there was this personal offering from a woman with whom she had felt no personal connection at all before now. As they stood near the entrance to the manor, a breeze whistled softly through the bough of evergreen trees above them.

“Did she wear it?” Catherine’s voice was shallow, and she could barely force herself to speak.

“Out of duty to him, whenever she visited my husband, yes, Jocasta wore it prominently.”

So at least it had touched her skin. It had been a part of her mother, Catherine thought. Not it offered a connection to the only time in her life when she had been the recipient of real affection. Catherine placed the necklace at her own throat and clasped it behind her neck without breaking with her grandmother’s gaze. She vowed she would always wear it to remind herself of what she had lost upon her mother’s death, when she was forced to this sheltered, verdant countryside. There had been no love or affection for her here, but she would try to find that again at court… If some courtier, suitable to her uncle’s purposes might actually come to love her. She had been training herself for a long time to find just that.

 anne-girard

Diane Haeger, who also writes as Anne Girard, is the author of 15 historical novels, most of them based on true stories from history. Her stories are drawn from a range of countries and eras including the French Renaissance, Georgian England, the American Civil War, to a series called In The Court of Henry VIII. Her most recent novel, Madame Picasso, details an early love affair in Paris between the famous artist and his muse. Her next novel, to be published later this year, is Platinum Doll, about 1930’s movie star Jean Harlow. Haeger holds a bachelor’s degree in English literature and a master’s degree in clinical psychology. She lives in California with her husband and children.

Website

 

 

The Price of Blood by Patricia Bracewell

The Price of Blood

Menaced by Vikings and enemies at court, Queen Emma defends her children and her crown in a riveting medieval adventure…

Readers first met Emma of Normandy in Patricia Bracewell’s gripping debut novel, Shadow on the Crown. Unwillingly thrust into marriage to England’s King Æthelred, Emma has given the king a son and heir, but theirs has never been a happy marriage. In The Price of Blood, Bracewell returns to 1006 when a beleaguered Æthelred, still haunted by his brother’s ghost, governs with an iron fist and a royal policy that embraces murder. As tensions escalate and enmities solidify, Emma forges alliances to protect her young son from ambitious men—even from the man she loves. In the north there is treachery brewing, and when Viking armies ravage England, loyalties are shattered and no one is safe from the sword. Rich with intrigue, compelling personalities, and fascinating detail about a little-known period in history, The Price of Blood will captivate fans of both historical fiction and fantasy novels such as George R. R. Martin’s Game of Thrones series.

***********

That story you read when it’s so absorbing you find yourself carrying the book around with you even when you’re not reading it at that very moment. Or when you set the book down on a table or beside you and find yourself eyeing the cover, thinking about the story. Yep. This book is just that. Perfect.

Looking forward to writing my review for this book!

Stephanie M. Hopkins

 

Review: A desperate Fortune by Susanna Kearsley

A desperate fortune

What a fantastic premise! I’m intrigue with stories that involve code breaking and to blend in a time slip theme gives a story more depth and compelling insight of the people in the story who break codes. Their process in doing so-if you will. The way their mind works is truly extraordinary and the author shows that in this story. Sara Thomas a women who was hired by an historian once famous is asked to cipher a journal from a women who lived in the past…300 hundred years ago in fact. She is encouraged by her cousin to take the job. There is one thing, Sara has Asperger but this perhaps heightens her intelligence for ciphering codes. She decides to take the job and travels to Paris where the job is at. The journal is in a home of a women who is a photographer-a bit eccentric- but does not play a major role in the story. There she starts to decipher the journal and the tale takes a different direction than expected…

I enjoyed how the author weaved the modern day story with the historical one and I found myself not wanting to put the book down because I had to find out what came next. There is also a bit of romance that develops in the story I did not mention above and I felt it was nicely done. This is the second book I have read by this author and I feel this story is a vast improvement from the first one I read. I really enjoyed the writing style in this one. However, I felt there could have been stronger character development. I am rating this book four stars.

*ARC received from NetGalley/publisher for an honest review

Stephanie M. Hopkins

B.R.A.G. Medallion Honoree: The Wolf and the Raven by Steven A. McKay

Wolf and the Raven

B.R.A.G. Medallion Honoree

In the aftermath of a violent rebellion Robin Hood and his men must fight for survival with an enemy deadlier than any they’ve faced before… 1322. England is in disarray and Sir Guy of Gisbourne, the king’s own bounty hunter, stalks the greenwood, bringing bloody justice to the outlaws and rebels who hide there. When things begin to go horribly wrong self-pity, grief and despair threaten to overwhelm the young wolf’s head who will need the support of his friends and family now more than ever. But Robin’s friends have troubles of their own and, this time, not all of them will escape with their lives…

steven-mckay 2

Bestselling historical fiction author Steven A. McKay was born in Scotland in 1977. He is married with two small children and is currently working on his third novel, the sequel to Wolf’s Head and The Wolf and the Raven. Find out more at Steven’s Website

Spotlight: Sisters of Shiloh by Kathy & Becky Hepinstall

 

01_Sisters of Shiloh_Cover

Publication Date: March 3, 2015

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Formats:

Hardcover, Ebook Pages: 256

Genre: Historical Fiction

A best-selling novelist enlists her own sister to bring us the story of two Southern sisters, disguised as men, who join the Confederate Army—one seeking vengeance on the battlefield, the other finding love.

In a war that pitted brother against brother, two sisters choose their own battle. Joseph and Thomas are fresh recruits for the Confederate Army, daring to join the wild fray that has become the seemingly endless Civil War, sharing everything with their fellow soldiers—except the secret that would mean their undoing: they are sisters.

Before the war, Joseph and Thomas were Josephine and Libby. But that bloodiest battle, Antietam, leaves Libby to find her husband, Arden, dead. She vows vengeance, dons Arden’s clothes, and sneaks off to enlist with the Stonewall Brigade, swearing to kill one Yankee for every year of his too-short life. Desperate to protect her grief-crazed sister, Josephine insists on joining her. Surrounded by flying bullets, deprivation, and illness, the sisters are found by other dangers: Libby is hurtling toward madness, haunted and urged on by her husband’s ghost; Josephine is falling in love with a fellow soldier. She lives in fear both of revealing their disguise and of losing her first love before she can make her heart known to him.

In her trademark “vibrant” (Washington Post Book World) and “luscious” (Atlanta Journal-Constitution) prose, Kathy Hepinstall joins with her sister Becky to show us the hopes of love and war, the impossible-to-sever bonds of sisterhood, and how what matters most can both hurt us and heal us.

Praise for Sisters of Shiloh

“The Hepinstall sisters provide a fascinating glimpse into Civil War life from an unconventional perspective.” –Kirkus

“The very best historical fiction delivers us into another time and place. In Sisters of Shiloh, Kathy and Becky Hepinstall plunge us so deeply into a complete and vividly rendered world of Civil War battlefields and Confederate campsites, we can smell the gun powder and taste the metallic tinge of fear along with their remarkable heroines.” –Janis Cooke Newman, author of Mary

Buy the Book

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

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IndieBound

Powell’s

Target

About the Authors

02_Author Kathy Hepinstall

Kathy Hepinstall grew up outside of Houston, Texas. Kathy is the best-selling author of The House of Gentle Men, The Absence of Nectar and Blue Asylum She is an award-winning creative director and advertising writer. She currently resides in Santa Barbara, California with her husband. Visit Kathy’s Blog.

03_Author Becky Hepinstall

Becky Hepinstall grew up outside of Houston, Texas. She holds a degree in History from the University of Texas in Austin, and currently resides in Virginia Beach, Virginia with her husband, a Navy pilot, and their four children.

Sisters of Shiloh Blog Tour Schedule

Tuesday, March 3

Review & Giveaway at Let Them Read Books

Review & Giveaway at The Book Binder’s Daughter

Wednesday, March 4

Review at Flashlight Commentary

Thursday, March 5

Interview at Flashlight Commentary

Review & Giveaway at With Her Nose Stuck in a Book

Friday, March 6

Review & Giveaway at Unshelfish

Saturday, March 7

Review & Giveaway at The Maiden’s Court

Monday, March 9

Spotlight & Giveaway at Passages to the Past

Tuesday, March 10

Guest Post at A Literary Vacation

Review & Interview at Books and Benches

Spotlight at Layered Pages

Wednesday, March 11

Review at Beth’s Book Nook

Thursday, March 12

Review & Giveaway at A Literary Vacation

Interview & Giveaway at Forever Ashley

Friday, March 13

Review at 100 Pages a Day

Monday, March 16

Guest Post & Giveaway at Mina’s Bookshelf

04_Sisters of Shiloh_Blog Tour Banner_FINAL

 

Interview with B.R.A.G. Medallion Honoree S.S. Segran

S.S. Segran

S.S. Segran spent a good chunk of her childhood exploring the enchanted forest of a million tales in the mystical land of books. In her early teens, she began crafting intriguing new worlds and conjuring up characters who came alive with the flick of her wand… err… pen. With the publication of Aegis Rising in her senior year of high school, she was surprised by the abundance of time that magically appeared right after graduation. She plans to use this newfound resource to expand the arc of the Aegis Series. Her future plans include studying Cognitive Science at university and helping youths in developing countries realize their potential through her non-profit organization, Aegis League  

When not devouring a book or writing one, S.S. Segran can be found standing behind the cauldron of life, stirring a potion made up of chores, parkour, gaming, drawing, horseback riding and—having recently jumped off a perfectly fine airplane at fifteen thousand feet – perhaps skydiving.

Hello, S.S.! Thank you for chatting with me today and congrats on the B.R.A.G. Medallion for your book, Aegis Rising. That is praise indeed! First, tell me how you discovered indieBRAG and please tell me tell me how your experience with self-publishing has been like thus far?

Hi Stephanie, thank you for your kind words and for inviting me.

indeBRAG was discovered by my dad while he was researching book review and recognition sites. I’m lucky in that I get to focus on writing while he manages marketing and publicity! Self-publishing has been a great experience for me for a variety of reasons, chief amongst them is the ability to have control over the creative process. I was told to cut down on a number of characters and make significant changes to the plot by a certain publisher in order to be considered. That was my first experience in dealing with the industry and I guess with me being a young writer, maybe it seemed to them that my work would naturally need some serious help. Don’t get me wrong, I am completely open to ideas and actively work with my advance readers and my editor to bring my readers the best book possible within my ability, but there are certain non-negotiables at the heart of my work that I must remain true to. So, yes, creative control would be one of the key elements that I appreciate in being an indie. The other would be speed and flexibility; to be able to publish your work as and when you see fit, to be able to make changes to content and pricing and having the capability to react to the market as needed.

From reading your bio it looks like you have a full schedule. How do you find time to write and how often do you write?

Finding time to write while in high school was certainly challenging. It was a juggling act with several balls in the air on any given day. Typically I would put in about ten hours on weekdays and anywhere between ten and fifteen hours on the weekends. As a general rule I try to write every day in order to stay connected with my alternate reality!

I noticed you want to study Cognitive Science. The study of the mind and its process is fascinating indeed. Do you find this interest helps you with the characterization in your stories and will further develop any future characters you write about?

I was trying to decide between studying Business and Cognitive Science for some time. For the very reasons you suggested in your question I decided on Cognitive Science and look forward to studying the fascinating aspects of the human mind as it relates to our senses, perception and understanding of the world around us. I plan to start as soon as I return to Canada from my one year of volunteer service in Haifa, Israel. Besides its application in the real world, I believe that this field of study will be invaluable in helping me create characters that are engaging and believable by exploring the multi-faceted tapestry of their lives.  

Please tell me about your non-profit organization.

While researching for Aegis Rising, I came upon an article about micro-loans. These are loans so small that traditional banks typically choose not to get involved in. They are given out to people in developing countries by non-profits or alternative financial organizations in order to start small businesses, purchase equipment and tools or other such things to help them elevate their living conditions. I have learnt that it takes so little on our part to make a difference in the life of another person living in another part of our planet. After giving it some thought and speaking with my parents and friends, I decided to set up Aegis League, a non-profit to help empower youths in developing countries explore their potential. We do this by partnering with like-minded organizations such as streetkids.org to provide life-skills training and microloan funding. Toward that end a portion of all sales from my books is donated to this cause.

What are some of the worlds you have created besides the ones in Aegis Rising?

There were many alternate worlds that I created when I was much younger. They mostly grew out of my desire to keep the books that I was reading from coming to an end. I would take up a pencil in my hand and write extensions to these stories that meandered to no particular conclusion. While most of the evidences from these creative explorations have ‘vanished’, my mom’s managed to salvage a few and has them tucked away safely, somewhere! For now, having completed Book Two (Aegis Incursion), I am fully immersed in building and expanding the Aegis universe in preparation for the three remaining books in the series.

Aegis Rising book cover two

Do you work with an outline, journal or do you just write as you go along?

For the first book I used the combination of a basic outline and organic writing for the most part. However, the more complex plot in Book Two meant that I had to utilize different tools such as mind-mapping, storyboarding, timelines, chapter capsules etc. Though they seem very structured, I made a conscious decision to ensure that there was enough room for organic development, especially with the characters.

Please tell me about your book.

Aegis Rising is a story about the survivors of an ancient civilization who live secretly in a hidden valley in northern Canada, awaiting the chosen ones from their prophecy, and a mysterious corporation with a global reach led by a shadowy figure that has a dystopian vision for the planet. The two worlds are about to collide and five teenage friends find themselves cast into the middle of this devastating conflict. Although categorized as a Young Adult novel, Aegis Rising seems to appeal to a broad age group. It is a classic good versus evil story with a modern twist to it. As one reader put it, “Aegis Rising is a unique and compelling novel that combines the youthful camaraderie of the Percy Jackson series with the relentless action of Clive Cussler’s Dirk Pitt adventures and weaves it through a dystopian backdrop of the Hunger Games trilogy.” While it is an honor to be compared to such iconic authors, I have always imagined Aegis Rising to be a unique read for my readers. I am thrilled and thankful for the amazing response that the novel has received from readers across the globe.

You have quite the cast of characters in your story. Please tell me which ones you are most partial too and why.

It’s difficult for me to pick a favorite as it feels like I have split myself into some of these characters. So, truthfully, I have no favorites. However there are some I would be interested in exploring further, like Hutar for instance. It would be interesting to explore his complexities and character further. I can assure you, I am far from done with this guy!

Please tell me about Dema-Ki.

Dema-Ki, or the Hidden Valley, is a unique place of significance in the Aegis League Series. Located somewhere along the mountains that border Yukon and the Northwest Territories in Canada, this valley is surrounded by glistening snow-capped peaks and at its heart lies a tranquil village. A beautiful emerald river called Esroh Lègna runs the entire length of the valley and passes through this village, dividing it into two sections. The northern half is made of mainly residential structures known as neyra and the southern half is where the community’s production hub is situated. It includes a large greenhouse, a barn, workshops and even a laboratory and a storehouse. Surrounded by spruce and fir trees, all the structures in Dema-Ki are built and colored to blend in with the landscape in order to avoid detection from air. The inhabitants are the hybrid descendants of a mysterious race of people who left their home island two and a half millennia ago when it was destroyed by a volcano, and the indigenous people who lived along the coast of the Pacific Northwest. After an initial skirmish the two peoples eventually became one and moved inland to build this haven. They carried with them an ancient prophecy about a dark storm that will descend on humanity’s horizon and five ‘Saplings of Aegis’ who will arise as the bearers of light to stop this malevolent force.  

Out of the ‘five’ which one is the strongest and which one is the weakest and why?

Each of the characters obviously has their own strengths and weaknesses. For Jag, his weakness lies in his disinclination to step up to the task of assuming responsibility for decisions involving the five; he doesn’t believe that he’s a capable leader. As for Mariah, her strength comes in the form of her spunk—though it can admittedly get her into trouble sometimes. For this reason, I’m not particularly inclined on determining who’d weakest and who’s strongest. Also, as the characters grow through the arc of the series (they started out as sixteen and seventeen year-olds in Book One and are now seventeen and eighteen in Book Two), their outlook and worldview together with some of their traits will go through transformations; as such I’d prefer to let them make this an organic journey.  

The Prologue is set circa 500 in an undisclosed shore along the Pacific Northwest and a long-lost island in the Tyrrhenian Sea. Why did you choose this time and setting and what interest you most about this period?

The people of Dema-Ki, as I mentioned earlier, are the descendants of two groups of people. The first group originated from an island that was completely destroyed when a long dormant volcano erupted violently circa 500 BC. Though I have not stated (yet) that the island was located in the Tyrrhenian Sea or provide an explicit description or the identity of the people, readers will eventually find morsels of descriptions throughout the series that will provide clues to who these people were and how they came to possess their amazing capabilities.

As for the people who lived on the coast of the Pacific Northwest at that time, these were some of the earliest groups to settle in that area and had established a way of life that was completely in tune with nature and lived in grateful appreciation for all that the earth had to offer them.

The coming together of these two groups of people and their eventual unification into a single race fused the earth-bound, nature-focused qualities of one group with the ethereal and supernatural abilities of the other, resulting in a harmonious and gentle way of life imbued with highly potent capabilities that help them survive in complete isolation from the rest of the world.  

My interest in this period was due to the rise of a number of cultures along the islands and coasts in the Mediterranean that have contributed to the development of art, philosophy, literature, commerce and science. From the Phoenician who brought us the alphabets to the Egyptians who built the Ancient Library of Alexandria, this region offers many exciting prospects for a writer.

What fascinates you most about writing in this genre?

This genre allows me to explore endless possibilities and build worlds and characters that the young and the eternally youthful are able to connect with, watch over and care for as they embark on a unique journey with them. As I mentioned earlier, although the series was intended for the Young Adult reader, the story has somehow appealed to people of all age groups. This has certainly fascinated me. One recent review from a seventy-one year old reader sums it up: “This book is listed as being for the teen market but I would recommend it to any age group. I am a 71 year old male and I enjoyed the book. I was pleasantly surprised when I finished the book and found that it was written by a 17 year old girl. I was delighted to find that it didn’t have sex and foul language.”

Perhaps writing a clean read lends itself to this genre and beyond after all!

Aegis incursion book cover

What advice could you give to young aspiring writers?

If you believe you have a story to tell that is compelling and entertaining, get started on it right away! Don’t wait another day. Do some basic research about the genre you’d like to write (look at other books in that category – read some of them) then start with the concept of your story (build a vision for your book), outline the plots and subplots, establish the characters, select the setting and tone, and then start writing and keep writing. What I found helpful is having tools like timelines, character sheets, mind maps, sketching some of the scenes (even if you have to use stick people), and creating storyboards as if it were a film (this will come in handy for some of the more complex scenes). Find a few friends and/or family members who will be happy to act as sounding board for your ideas and be your advance readers. Join a writers’ group in your community. And, yes… start writing!

Where can readers buy your book?

Aegis Rising is available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and other online retailers. However the e-book format is currently available exclusively on Amazon. The books are also available at the following bookstores in Canada: Chapters (B.C.), Black Bond Books, Kidsbooks and Bean Around Books and Tea in Maple Ridge.

Amazon Page

Thank you, S.S.! It was a pleasure chatting with you.

Thank you for having me. It’s been my pleasure.

A message from BRAG:

We are delighted that Stephanie has chosen to interview S.S. Segran, who is the author of, Aegis Rising our medallion honorees at indieBRAG . To be awarded a B.R.A.G. Medallion TM, a book must receive unanimous approval by a group of our readers. It is a daunting hurdle and it serves to reaffirm that a book such as, Aegis Rising, merits the investment of a reader’s time and money.