Editor's Note: The Blogger Spotlight Series will resume the first week of January! We wish everyone a wonderful Christmas week and want to be sure all of you who have Kindles are able to get a free gift from us!
From December 24-28th, SSP has an open house on Amazon Kindle including all of its authors who have eBooks available! Many genres and styles available!
All books include cover art and interior artwork from the award-winning artists Matthew Perry and Bonnie Wasson! The free books include the following (along with additional titles available for sale from each author):
Spook House by Michael West (horror, a Harmony, Indiana Novel. Other Harmony Indiana tales include the novel Cinema of Shadows, and the short stories Goodnight, and For the River is Wide and the Gods Are Hungry. Michael's urban fantasy series The Legacy of the Gods includes Book One, Poseidon's Children) http://www.amazon.com/Spook-House-ebook/dp/B009SS33VS
Overkill by Steven Shrewsbury (Sword and Sorcery, a Gorias La Gaul Story. Other available Gorias La Gaul tales include the novel Thrall, and the short stories Author and Finisher of Our Flesh, Beginning of the Trail, and Insurmountable) http://www.amazon.com/Overkill-ebook/dp/B007X0G9IW
Crown of Vengeance by Stephen Zimmer (Epic Fantasy, Book One of the Fires in Eden Series. Book Two, Dream of Legends, and Book Three, Spirit of Fire, are also available, as well as the short stories set in the same world, including Lion Heart, Land of Shadow, and Into Glory Ride. Stephen's urban fantasy series, The Rising Dawn Saga, includes Book One, The Exodus Gate, Book Two, The Storm Guardians, and Book Three, The Seventh Throne, as well as the short story set in the same world, Temples Rising.)http://www.amazon.com/Crown-Vengeance-Fires-Eden-ebook/dp/B0039PU8EQ
The seven titles spotlighted above are free on Kindle the entire week from Monday through Friday! Spread the word and load up your brand new Kindles!
It is with great pleasure that I bring you Selah Janel today, a really talented author who is in the midst of her 12 Days of Christmas Blog Tour (brought to you by our friends at Jitterbug PR!). We have an excerpt, synopsis, and a bio of Selah for you to check out today. We highly recommend you connect with Selah on her social media links and that you give her books a try! Don't forget to enter the big giveaway too! -Stephen
About Holly and Ivy by Selah Janel
After losing her job and her boyfriend, Holly returns to her parents’ farm. Embarrassed and hopeless, she doesn’t expect to bump into a forgotten childhood friend that wasn’t supposed to exist. Ivy is not only a dryad, but she lives in the pine trees Holly’s family grows to sell at Christmas. As the old friends reconnect, Ivy not only shares her strong opinions, but gives Holly a charm that will change both their lives. As days melt into weeks and the seasons change, Holly’s life magically turns around. Christmas not only brings surprises, but a choice for the human woman. What’s more important: stability, success, and love, or keeping a promise to an old friend?
“What do I do with it?” I asked. I told myself I was just playing along, suspending reality to make Ivy feel better. Although if that was the case then perhaps I should have really examined the fact that Ivy was real and not me suspending reality to make myself feel better.
“You hold it now until it gets to know you. You keep it safe in your possession and it shall bring you ease and grace,” the tree sprite giggled.
“And that really works?” No matter how I tried I couldn’t hide my skepticism.
She turned up her pointed nose. “How else would I have survived so well with murderers on the loose? It’s worked for a good long while.” I raised an eyebrow as a sly grin spread just a little too far across her face to make the smile look human. “Do you remember when I snuck to school with that sapling you took for show and tell?”
The next smile didn’t hurt quite as much as I traced the delicate edge of the tiny plant with the pad of a finger. The petaled head shivered and softly brushed against my calluses. “I thought everyone was going to have a heart attack when you burst out of the thing and started singing to everyone! Mrs. Robinson finally played it off as the whole class playing a trick on her. We had to go without milk time for a week.” I’d gotten in so much trouble with my parents for lying in school and saying that I had a magic plant. Given that I was adamant that I’d been telling the truth, it was a hell of an ordeal for a six-year-old.
“’Twas so much fun!” Ivy paused mid-pirouette. It was downright disgusting that she could hold the arabesque for so long and not even wobble or suffer a leg cramp. “Though I would not want to live in such cold halls all the time.” She paused and took a long breath, much longer than I or any other human could possibly inhale. Before my eyes her skin became greener, infused by the crisp clean air. “You need to be in the trees, Holly. Mortals refuse to understand that they must live where things grow. Now that you’re home, let’s play!” She leapt over my head and landed effortlessly beside her home tree, staring at me expectantly.
Maybe it was being back home or maybe it was just being back in the good fresh air, but her suggestion made me giddy. It suddenly sounded like the exact prescription I needed, the one thing I’d been missing through all those frustrating years. My fragile mind and heart demanded an escape. They couldn’t take any more disappointment, any more expectations or responsibility, and they especially couldn’t take any more reality. I nodded and tucked the strange clover deep in my pocket. The breeze had dried my tears and the heavenly scent of grass and pine put the sudden urge to run in my feet. Suddenly the heavy air and the blazing sun didn’t matter so much and my anxieties were willing to take a momentary backseat to the chance to goof off for an afternoon. “Are you sure you’ll be okay?” I hesitated, hand still at my pocket.
Ivy flashed a bold grin and stretched up on her toes; her fingers wiggled over her head, making her resemble an odd, scrawny plant. “With you here? Of course! Just remember to come look after my tree when the murderers come around the winter harvest time. You can even help me choose which tree will be my final home so you’ll know where I’ll be.” The words were no sooner out of her mouth when she tore off, dodging branches and bark as quick and swift as a deer. I groaned as I pulled myself to my feet and tumbled after her, muscles screaming at the sudden exercise. Still, I found myself laughing the entire time.
Selah Janel has been blessed with a giant imagination since she was little and convinced that fairies lived in the nearby state park or vampires hid in the abandoned barns outside of town. Her appreciation for a good story was enhanced by a love of reading, the many talented storytellers that surrounded her, and a healthy curiosity for everything. A talent for warping everything she learned didn’t hurt, either. She gravitates to writing fantasy and horror, but can be convinced to pursue any genre if the idea is good enough. Often her stories feature the unknown creeping into the “real” world and she loves to find the magical in the mundane.
She has four e-books with No Boundaries Press, including the historical vampire story ‘Mooner’ and the contemporary short ‘The Other Man’. Her work has also been included in ‘The MacGuffin’, ‘The Realm Beyond’, ‘Stories for Children Magazine’, and the upcoming Wicked East Press anthology ‘Bedtime Stories for Girls’. She likes her music to rock, her vampires lethal, her fairies to play mind games, and her princesses to hold their own.
Welcome to the latest edition of Blogger Spotlight, where today you will have a chance to meet Sheila Deeth, one of SSP's favorite bloggers who we love to have on our tours! Sheila is one of those individuals who is a very dedicated blogger and reviewer, as well as being a wonderful author! I think this interview contains some nice insights from someone who has a good perspective on both the blogger side of things as well as the author one. When you are finished, be sure to check out both Sheila's blog as well as her works as an author!
Blogger Spotlight #16
1. Tell us a little about yourself, and your background.
I call myself a mongrel Christian mathematician--that covers most of it, but I'm also an English American, Catholic Protestant, addicted to reading and writing, with three grown-up sons, and no dog (I really miss my dog).
2. What kinds of books do you like to read for pleasure? Any favorites?
Those grown-up sons spent many years explaining to me that I have no taste. I'll read and enjoy almost any kind of book, listen to and enjoy almost any kind of music, and I can't list favorites because the page is never long enough.
3. When did you start your blog?
I started blogging 4 years ago. I'd just been to my first (and only) writers' conference (a present from my Mum) where I kept hearing how you'll never get published if you don't have an internet presence. A blog seemed like the easiest way to get started, especially since those sons were policing each other and wouldn't allow me on facebook. Luckily now they've grown a little older they've relaxed their restrictions--I'm just not allowed to friend them.
4. What motivated you to participate as a reviewer and host guest posts and similar activities from other authors and presses, in addition to your own pursuits as an author?
I have a really bad memory, so I never know what I've read or whether I enjoyed it (but I can always reread). Writing book reviews started as an effort to get more organized, but the wonderful side-effect was I began to meet authors and publishers on the internet and get review requests, which led to hosting guest posts and enjoying the help and encouragement of lots of new friends.
5. What kinds of genres do you feature on your site?
I've featured writers in lots of different genres--that "no taste" thing as the sons used to say. I probably avoid erotica though.
6. Do you have any regular features on your site?
I'd struggle to host a regular feature. It would devolve too quickly into "when I remember."
7. What is the hardest thing about being a blogger?
Remembering to blog.
8. What are your favorite things about being a blogger?
Seeing those numbers of pageviews go up when I host someone--I feel like I've done something of value for my guest. Connecting with so many new friends has been great too.
9. What do you think being an author yourself brings to your coverage and reviews of other authors and presses? Do you feel it gives you some additional insights?
To be honest, I think it's the other way around. Writing book reviews, reading in different genres, getting to know different presses and authors through their guest posts... all those things give me new insights into writing and make me (I hope) a better author.
10. Has being a blogger been helpful in your own outreach and participation with blog sites when representing your work?
Being a blogger has helped me a lot. It introduced me to ebooks and the possibilities of being epublished. It helped me meet lots of authors and publishers. It showed me what I could (at least try to) do in terms of marketing and finding readers. And it's given me lots of blogging friends who've been kind enough to host me on my blog tour.
11. If you could give a piece of advice or two to authors looking to work with a blog site or particular blogger, what would you say?
Visit the blog beforehand so you can tailor your post to fit. Then remember to send as much information as possible (pictures, links etc) in one big email so your host can set the post up easily.
12. Any last thoughts or things you might want to say to readers who are finding out about your blog for the first time?
Well, there's a coffee cup waiting to welcome you, and I include coffee recommendations with my mini-book-reviews, but no book ratings--integers are far too restrictive to be used in describing words.
Connect with Sheila and her blog at the following links!
Editor's Note: This week's Blogger Spotlight will be posted tomorrow, as today we have a major press release in regards to the new D.A. Adams novel.
For Immediate Release December 14, 2012
Seventh Star Press is proud to reveal the new cover art from Bonnie Wasson for the highly-anticipated Between Dark and Light, D.A. Adams' fourth book in the acclaimed Brotherhood of Dwarves Series. The editor for the new fantasy novel was Philip Hopkins, who handled the editing duties for the previous title in the series, The Fall of Dorkhun.
Between Dark and Light continues the adventures of the dwarf Roskin, and the stakes have never been greater. The Great Empire has surrounded the Kiredurks and are preparing to conquer the kingdom, but unknown to them, Kwarck, the mysterious hermit of the plains, has his own plan in action. To the east, he has summoned an elven army and charged Crushaw with leading them into battle. To the south, Roskin will gather an army from the fractured Ghaldeon lands. But to the west, an ancient and powerful evil stirs. The Great War is about to errupt, if Roskin can overcome the Dark One...
The character-driven fantasy series which begins with The Brotherhood of Dwarves, and was continued with Red Sky at Dawn and The Fall of Dorkhun, has seen a steady growth in its international readership, becoming one of the best-selling franchises at Seventh Star Press. Between Dark and Light will be released in eBook, softcover, and limited hardcover editions.
All editions will include interior illustrations from the award-winning Bonnie Wasson, whose cover art for the first book in the series, The Brotherhood of Dwarves, won the Artist Choice Award for Best Warrior at the 2012 Dragon*Con Art Show.
The eBook version will be available on Kindle and Nook in the coming week, followed by the softcover edition. A pre-order window for the 75 copy limited hardcover will be announced shortly.
A blog tour in support of Between Dark and Light will be taking place in February/March of 2013.
For further information on the Brotherhood of Dwarves Series, Seventh Star Press, and its titles, please visit www.seventhstarpress.com, or the author’s site at www.daadams.com
Contact: C.C. James
Public Relations, Seventh Star Press
ccjames (at) seventhstarpress.com
Seventh Star Press is a small press publisher of speculative fiction located in Lexington Kentucky
Today I have the pleasure of bringing you a special edition of Blogger Spotlight, which is also a part of the Worlds of Wonder Author Hop. Most of the stops are being hosted at my own author site, but since this first day fell on a friday, and it involved a blogger interview, we thought it would be perfect to exhibit the interview here as well. It was a pleasure interviewing Christina from My Seryniti, and I hope all of you enjoy this special Blogger Spotlight! There is a Rafflecopter giveaway to enter, for a chance at some pretty big prizes too! -Stephen
Blogger Spotlight #15:
1. How long has your blog been around, and what motivated you to start it in the beginning?
I actually started as a gaming blogger. I really enjoy the idea of bringing people the ins and outs, normally secrets or puzzles that I found and thought others might be looking for. I LOVE to game or did before I renewed my love of reading! My first venture into blogging really helped me to feel secure about getting a different kind of blog going. I actually switched to My Seryniti in March of 2012 with my daughter's help. We introduced all of her poetry and added a few book reviews. Then I found the wonderful book review community! That's when I felt like I really started.
2. Have your reasons for doing your blog changed in any way, now that you have done book blogging for awhile?
My idea was the same from the beginning, bring everyone that reads my blog something! Whether it is a review or a cover reveal, something that makes their lives better or easier or just more fun! It's all about the customer service for me. I just love to help others and if my little corner of the internet touches someone, then I've done my job!
3. Since becoming a blog reviewer, has there been any changes in your reading preferences, as far as genres?
Funnily enough I've read a lot more YA than I normally would. Now having a daughter who is in that young adult age she would let me know if she found something fantastic, like The Hunger Games and Twilight. Both she introduced me to! But I've really tried to stay open. I just love to read! And I'll read anything even if the genre sounds a little off to me. You never know when you'll find something you love! I'm still not into Contemporary but I'm trying to keep my mind open and I found that I absolutely LOVE Dystopian! Who knew!!?
4. Has reviewing books generally been rewarding or has it been disappointing? Do you often find yourself discovering hidden gems?
Wonderfully I have found a ton of gems! I've gone so far out of my comfort zone that I've read wonders and met some great authors! Years ago I would stick only to my favorite few authors. I've tossed that idea right out of the window and I'm loving every minute of it! My hubby has this issue currently and I'm slowly introducing him to authors that I think he'll like.
5. I see where you and your daughter EJ are both involved on My Seryniti. Do the two of you like the same type of books in general, or are there some distinct differences in your preferences?
Ohhh... she reads Shakespeare! She is very much into Jane Austen also. Our genres are so totally different but it's great. She's in college so she also will let me know, like for Twilight and Hunger Games, what she's read that she's died over and I do the same for her. But my favorite genres stay around the paranormal and horror. When I need a break from reading horror I will delve into some chick lit and romance. I have yet to read Jane Austen or my daughter's current favorite, Wicked!
6. Has the blog become a fun mother/daughter activity? Any comments on this aspect?
When she's not completely involved in college, yes! Not only does she write but she is in theatre, so needless to say she's very busy but when we can get together, like for our upcoming Zombiepocalypse, I absolutely love every minute! That's one sub genre we just can't get enough of. Zombies!
7. Young adult books have become very popular with all types of adult readers. Why do you think they’ve had such an appeal?
Because a LOT of them are just so much fun to read! Sadly with some adult books you have wonderful plots but you may also have the heaviness of being an adult. My teenage years weren't all peachy but when you think back it's like wow, what if I could go back and do this again? These YA books do just that! And honestly that's what reading is all about, bringing you into another existence and letting you hang out for a while. I've read some seriously amazing YA this year and I honestly didn't really think that was my thing. Boy was I wrong.
8. Are there any particular kinds of characters that appeal to you?
Strong characters! People that fight for what they believe in, no matter what the belief. Characters that learn something! I really love seeing a character grow. It just makes me happy and when you see someone grow I feel like we grow with them.
9. Do you see any voids out there right now, in terms of a kind of character not often encountered in today’s releases that you would like to see more often?
What a great question! Honestly I'm all for the strong woman character! Go girls!! But it would be nice to read about some more men that are the lead characters. Where did all the guys go? I've read so few where the lead character was a male. Not that I don't love strong females but my favorite character right now is Rick on Walking Dead. Can we see more like this please!? ;) Of course I haven't read much romance lately...
10. As a blog reviewer, what do you see as the current trends in indie or traditional publishing, and using your crystal ball do you see any signs of what’s ahead in terms of popular sub-genres?
I really enjoy fairytales. I'm sort of hoping that this trend really picks up. A good fantasy is always lovely to read! Dark Fantasy is even better but I'm thinking the emphasis may continue with the Supernatural. I've read a few Angel stories lately. I'm hoping if the trend continues then these Angels and Gods can get out of their boxes!! I'd love to see more about demons too. I haven't seen very much out there lately with demons and they also need to come out of their proverbial boxes.
11. If you had to give advice to authors in regards to working with book bloggers, what would you tell them?
Hmmm advice... I've received a few perfunctory emails with hardly any information on the book and no information about the author. This is the first impression! My first impression is my website and I want it to look its best! Shouldn't those emails as well? Want I enjoy is when an author really tells me about themselves, why they think I may like the book and then of course about the book! Now I realize we're all too busy to get a ton of info into each email but something that says this is who I am, this is my fabulous book and this is why I think you'd like it! All that time on that book and I get an email that doesn't have anything in it! I want to be enticed!!
12. What have been some of your least favorite things about book blogging?
HA! I always bite off more than I can chew!! I went from reading two books a week, to about seven! It was dragging me down. So I backed off and remembered this is for me and for the fabulous authors I've met. If I push too much nobody is going to get a good review! That's certainly not what I'm here for! AND saying no. It's so hard for me to say no but I'm learning that I have to be honest with which genres I really like and when I can have a review done! I really hate saying no...
13. What have been some of your most rewarding aspects of book blogging?
Meeting fabulous people! I was very shy at first and didn't want to email an author! How presumptuous! They are busy people. But I realized having a blog is a way to get the word out about them and their books! Plus I'm kind of addicted to reading challenges! Another great way to get out of your comfy zone! The blogging world has such a great set of diverse people. I learn from everyone I meet and I love every minute of it!
14. And for a fun question: I see where you love spiders. (I think you would love the Sentinels (also called Aracha) in my Rising Dawn Saga, who are essentially heavenly guardians in various giant spider forms. I also was inspired by Native American lore, as well as some Germanic lore, in regards to my development of these creatures for my books.) Comment a little on the positives you find in spiders, whether from lore or real life observations.
Definitely sounds up my alley!! I started dreaming about spiders quite a few years ago. Some people may be a bit squeamish about that but I really like bugs so I looked them up. Although I'm not Native American that's the lore I found. The fact that they are the mothers, the creators of the universe, just struck a chord with me! I paint, write a little, scrapbook, play in paintshop, anything to keep my creative juices going and when I'm not doing something my little spiders let me know! I just feel better when I'm creating. When anyone finds a spider they come tell me. It is gently pushed outside, or if it's in its own cubby somewhere I normally leave them alone. The symbol of mystery, power and growth really resonates with me and I'm definitely not going to squash that under my shoes!!
Today I have the pleasure of sharing the brand new trailer for Gwen Perkins' new novel The Jealousy Glass, the follow-up to her indie press hit The Universal Mirror! These titles are from a press we consider family here at SSP, Hydra Publications, a great indie press spearheaded by that maverick and all-around good guy Frank Hall. Below you will find the brand new trailer, information on the book and author, an international giveaway, AND and excerpt! So get acquainted with a great author from a wonderful press and enjoy! -Stephen
About The Jealousy Glass
"We came to stop a war before it came to Cercia. And it seems the war has come to us."
Responsibility and patriotism spur Cercia's new leader, Quentin, to protect his beloved country at all costs and he assigns Asahel and Felix to serve as ambassadors and secret agents to Anjdur. Their journey quickly turns awry and Asahel and Felix barely escape a devastating shipwreck, walk a tightrope of political tension, and rescue an empress before they learn they must face an enemy closer to them than they thought.
Will they be able to uncover an assassin's plot before it's too late? Will Asahel be able to unearth a secret that is vital to their mission? Will Cercia survive its own revolution? In The Jealousy Glass, Perkins boldly continues a series of unforgettable characters and events that will leave you begging for more.
The giveaway officially ends on December 21, 2012—the author's birthday and supposed date for the oncoming apocalypse!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Gwen Perkins has always regarded the deep rainforest of the Olympic Peninsula as the one place that she feels most at home. Gwen grew up in small towns across the Pacific Northwest, going to slug races and strawberry festivals when she wasn't scribbling on any scrap of paper she could come by. She boasts the dubious distinction of going to a public school with only eight students, learning Irish sea chanteys from a man who sang with the Clancy Brothers, and catching tadpoles during classes.
Her adult life is generally just about as much fun.
She lives in the City of Destiny (better known as Tacoma, Washington). Her hobbies include wandering beaches, baking pies and lampworking. In between all of this, Gwen has written two novels in the Artifacts of Empire series: The Universal Mirror and The Jealousy Glass. The Universal Mirror has been nominated for a 2013 Endeavour Award.
She is presently at work on future novels in the Artifacts of Empire series while working on another series in collaboration with Wilson Fabián Saravia.
All that Asahel could see was a cloud of pale feathers as the Rukh lashed out at the cannon that had fired. Screams throbbed around him as the Rukh lifted, golden talons now rusted with blood. Broken bodies lay on the wood, ribs smashed by the weight of unearthly claws. The men were too distant for Asahel to put faces to as he fell to the deck, heart pounding at the sound of the wings beating once more.
The Rukh dove again, its beak rending the ship's prow. The heavy timbers cracked like bones against the pressure. A slow tearing sound cut through the haze of chaos settling over the ship as panic took hold. Spice spilled out of the hold the beast had torn open. Pungent scents of oil and cedar clouded the air as chests smashed against the bow, breaking apart into the water below.
Asahel crawled on his knees toward the heart of the battle, his eyes stinging red from the spices in the air. The Rukh thrashed as another cannon fired its shot, black powder belching into the fading light. Angry cries from the monster above filled his ears as it lurched down, plucking a sailor off the deck and squeezing its talons tightly around the man's midsection. Another series of screams began as the ship's port side blazed into flames, but he kept moving toward starboard, trying to reach the first cannon that had been fired.
"Zuane!" He called, hoping that the captain was near. When that failed, Asahel shouted out for others. "Felix! Nicolas!" His knee edged forward as he crawled, the coarse wool of his trousers suddenly damp. He looked down to see the blood of the fallen pooling in the cracks of the boards.
He was near the side of the Serenissma. Asahel stood, crouching each time the Rukh let out another shriek. Black smoke surrounded him, choking his lungs as he turned. The white beast had grown dim as the wall of fire leapt up, flames feeding on the ship's planking.
Asahel turned but did not see who could have called him.
"Where are you?" He whispered, afraid to raise his voice. He saw a pair of hands gripping the railing. He reached out, his own strong fingers clutching them and pulling the man toward the deck. He could feel Felix shudder as he came up over the rail, his thin body battered. The older man began to cough almost immediately as Asahel helped him back to the deck. They stared through the flames at the carnage.
The Serenissma wrenched sharply to the right. The Rukh cawed as it rose, white wings blotting out what was left of the sun. Water splashed across the wood, shooting up from the hold as the lower decks flooded.
"We've got to get out of here," Asahel said.
"There's no rafts." Felix coughed and leaned back against the rail. His eyes were bright with a fear the other man had never seen.
"Aye." The fire was close enough to warm them both. Which will it be? Asahel thought. Burning or drowning?
"I can't swim."
"Sure, and now you tell me." Asahel steadied his expression for Felix's sake, more nervous than he let on. The Soames family had been merchants and traders for generations. Unlike Felix, Asahel had been raised at water's edge.
"I never expected it to come up." Felix grimaced. "I know. We're on a boat. Clearly, I was being an optimist."
"Ship," Asahel corrected gently, looking over his shoulder at the waves.
"Grave—if we don't do something shortly." Felix inhaled, his body clenched as he turned his back on the flames. The Serenissma was moving downwards rapidly. The remaining sailors leapt from the deck, disappearing into the churning tides as they plummeted through the darkness. He looked at Asahel, his mouth twisting into a crooked grin. "No time like the present."
Felix climbed back up on the railing, sweat trickling down his forehead, his skin mottled with bruise and shadow. Asahel followed, his own ungainly body slower to take action. The two men looked at one another a last time, then back at the burning ship.
Today, I have the great pleasure of introducing you to a wonderful individual and blog that SSP has had the honor of knowing for quite some time, going back to the time when we reissued Jackie Gamber's Redheart in fact! Not only does Shana run a popular blog with a lot of great content, but she also shares some fantastic insights in this interview that can be of help to authors and publishers in working with blogs. We hope you enjoy our latest installment of Blogger Spotlight!
Blogger Spotlight # 14
1. Tell us a little about yourself, and your background.
Well, first, thank you so much to Stephen Zimmer and Seventh Star Press for hosting me as a guest on this Blogger Spotlight Feature! This is so cool! THANK YOU!
So, hello! My name is Shana, and I run the book blog, “A Book Vacation.” I’m a voracious reader (367 books in 2011 alone), so nearly all my free time is, therefore, spent reading because, “books [are] the cheapest vacation you can buy,” as Charlaine Harris once said. Oh, how true that is!
I am currently working on a list of review requests, with over 150 books on it, as well as reading books from my shelves at home and at school. While one might think that this would keep me extremely busy, and it does, I still have lots of time for all the demands of my job as a teacher (and there are a lot), as well as having time to socialize, watch movies, etc., though reading is, indeed, my favorite pastime. I have found that I get a little cranky if I don’t have a chance to read for pleasure at some point during the day, but as you can see, I tend to become wrapped up in my books and, once I start, I usually finish them in one sitting, hence, I generally read a book a day.
2. What kinds of books do you like to read for pleasure? Any favorites?
Mostly, I read Young Adult novels. I really love them (I like to think that they keep me young at heart), and since I force my students to read outside of class, all the time, I figure that I’d better have a decent selection for them to choose from. Thus, I’m constantly reading books I think my students might enjoy, spanning many different topics. Aside from all types of YA, I also read mysteries, thrillers, memoirs, classics, and literature and fiction novels on a fairly regular basis, as I want my blog to be for readers of all types, and not just for YA readers.
3. When did you start your blog, and what motivated you to do it?
I started A Book Vacation on January 23, 2011. One of my co-workers kept telling me that I should start reviewing the books that I read, since there were so many, but I kept putting off the idea because I felt like I wouldn’t be any good at it, and that I didn’t really have the time to spend reviewing. Then… we had a huge blizzard, sending my area into a State of Emergency since we’re not equipped to deal with heavy snowfall. We were off from school for a week, if I remember correctly, and a few days into this “gifted” extension of the holidays, I went stir-crazy. No one was allowed on the roads, all businesses were closed, and I didn’t have cable, so… I began toying with Wordpress, finally creating my own blog for reviews.
4. How did you come up with the name for your site? Is there a story behind it?
As Wordpress requires you to choose your blog name prior to setting up the full account, I had to pick fairly quickly, as I’m somewhat impatient. So, I called up a friend and talked to her about whether or not I should, in fact, start a book review blog, and, if so, what it should be called. We discussed it for about 15 minutes before we decided I should go with “A Book Vacation” based on a quote I love, by Charlaine Harris. It was a rash choice, but I’ve never regretted it—it remains the perfect name for me.
5. What kinds of genres do you cover on your site?
Really, I cover all of them. I don’t discriminate against any genre, though some I enjoy more than others. I will say, though, that I really shy away from ALL novels that deal with explicit sexual situations. Those books really aren’t my style.
6. What kinds of regular features do you have on your site?
On the first of every month, I run a “Recently Released Giveaway Goodness Giveaway.” Basically, this giveaway features eight recent releases that I’ve reviewed, and one lucky winner gets to pick one from the list. It’s an international giveaway (as long as The Book Depository delivers to their country), and I really love running it. Giveaways are my favorite, and I tend to run them for no other reason than that I like to give books away!
I also run “The 99 Cent Club” feature every Saturday. Basically, I troll Amazon and Barnes and Noble for eBooks that are 99 cents on BOTH sites, and then I pick 10 eBooks to post about each week. I also usually do an all-call on Twitter, asking authors if they have any books on both sites for 99 cents, and if any authors respond, I am sure to add them to my next 99 Cent Club Feature. I really enjoy it, though I only came up with the idea for it a few months ago, so it’s still relatively new in the blogosphere.
7. What is the hardest thing about being a blogger?
Finding time to write the reviews. My Kindle makes it so I can read anywhere at any time, even in the car (because my Kindle reads aloud), but I can’t always stop wherever I am and write a review, so they tend to get a bit backed up… right now I’ve got close to 20 outlines I’ve got to complete…
8. What are your favorite things about being a blogger?
Creating relationships with authors. I’ve met some phenomenal people since I started blogging nearly two years ago, and I’ve formed some lasting friendships. I’ve also been introduced to the indie publishing world, and I love it. If I hadn’t started blogging, I would know just how vast the book blogging world really is. Seriously, it floored me when I first began. There are many people out there that love books, and there are many people out there who are very talented writers. I’m just glad I get to be a part of it all, and I consider myself very lucky.
My other favorite part is the giveaways. I love making people happy, and I want people to read, so giving away books just makes sense. Hence my creation of the monthly “Recently Released Giveaway Goodness Giveaway.”
9. If you could give a piece of advice or two to authors looking to work with a blog site, what would you say?
Be respectful of the reviewer’s time, and be polite if they decline a review. Though this is a hobby for most book bloggers, we still like to be treated as professionals. I always feel bad declining a review, but sometimes I’m just not interested in the novel itself, and authors seeking reviews can be downright rude when I tell them that. Also, sometimes book reviewers just don’t have the time to add another book to the pile right now. For most book bloggers, reading and reviewing novels is a pleasure, something we do for fun because we love it. Dealing with authors who are haughty and rude really takes the fun out of it. I actually had an author tell me my name, “A Book Vacation,” was a misnomer because I didn’t have time to review her novel until 2014. As far as I can tell, reading should be a vacation, and that’s why I chose that name. I didn’t choose it so that I could be told when and what to read by an author who is, apparently, very rude. Obviously, I will not be reading that novel for review, nor anything else by that particular author.
Also, give us time. Reading is a lengthy process, and we’ve probably got a ton of other things going on in our lives at the same time, so don’t feel bad if we don’t respond to an email right away. I always get to my emails eventually, and to my review requests as well, but it takes a lot of time.
10. Any last thoughts or things you might want to say to readers who are finding out about your blog for the first time?
Welcome! I hope you enjoy my blog and find some great books to read based on my reviews. Comments are always welcome, and please make sure to check the blog often as I’m ALWAYS running GIVEAWAYS!
Connect with Shana and A Book Vacation at the following links!
Today at the SSP Blog we are proud to introduce you to the book trailer for The Witch's Dream, by Victoria Danann. Special thanks to Holly and FMB Tours for the opportunity to share this with you! -Stephen
New York to Ireland to Edinburgh to Siena to the Texas Hill Country to Napa
Valley, a secret society, a witch, a demon, a psychic, a berserker, an
ex-vampire, modern day knights, heroes, werewolves, elves and fae come together
where emotions intersect. The story maps a trail from rages to epiphanies, but,
in the end, proves that true love can find you in the strangest places, when
you're least expecting it, even when you're far, far from home.
SYNOPSIS: He was left behind when Elora Laiken made her choice. Now he’s had it
with love, but a transplanted witch who happens to be the world’s best tracker
hopes she can change his mind.
The Witch’s Dream begins with B Team on temporary assignment to Black Swan
headquarters in Edinburgh where they are supposed to fill in for stretched-thin
resources and assist with a werewolf issue. They’ve been given permission to
stop in Ireland for a few days and help celebrate a handfasting at the palace
When they reach Edinburgh, the afterglow of an elftale wedding quickly turns
all business. A missing person report turns into a demon abduction. A simple
werewolf sanction becomes a diplomatic issue requiring the one thing Elora is
no longer willing to give - finesse.
INCLUDES: The first chapter of the third book, The Summoner's Tale.
Erotic content: 18+ A few steamy scenes.
No menage. No BDSM.
Today we will revisit that wonderful land to the north known as Canada, to bring you an interview with Sarah, the creative force behind Workaday Reads. Sarah has hosted quite a few visits from SSP authors, and all of us have a great appreciation for her excellent site! We encourage those of you who are not yet familiar with her blog to give it a visit when you are finished reading the interview! -Stephen
Blogger Spotlight # 13
Tell us a little about yourself, and your background.
I'm from Ontario, Canada. I have a 3.5 year old little boy who has yet to eat or sleep well, and yet never stops running. I'm obsessed with nail polish and change my nails once or twice a week. I work full-time during the day doing accounts receivable for a large company, am currently doing a part-time internship with an ebook publishing company, and spend my "spare time" reading, reviewing and posting on my book review blog Workaday Reads.
What kinds of books do you like to read for pleasure? Any favorites?
I read all genres, however I especially love science fiction. I've read too many great books to be able to list favourites.
When did you start your blog, and what motivated you to do it?
I started my book blog in Feb 2011 because my reviews were beginning to take over my personal blog.
How did you come up with the name for your site? Is there a story behind it?
The name of my personal blog was Workaday Ramblings, because I wrote it during the day while I was at work. When I started my book blog, I wanted to keep the Workaday because it was fairly unique, so I simply changed the Ramblings to Reads.
What kinds of genres do you cover on your site?
I cover all genres except erotica.
What kinds of regular features do you have on your site?
I have reviews, author guest posts and interviews during the week, and on the weekend I have On My Wishlist, which is a meme I currently host, as well as a Week in Review post where I mention books I read and got.
What is the hardest thing about being a blogger?
Finding the time to write posts, and lately, finding the time to read books in order to have reviews to post.
What are your favorite things about being a blogger?
I have discovered and read many awesome books and conversed with authors that I would never have met if I wasn't blogging. The community between book bloggers is very friendly, and is a great way to discuss books with people who know what you're talking about.
If you could give a piece of advice or two to authors looking to work with a blog site, what would you say?
Read review policies. Personalize emails. Remember that there is a person behind the blog, and that a review is only that one person's opinion about the book.
Any last thoughts or things you might want to say to readers who are finding out about your blog for the first time?
I am hosting two reading challenges next year which have sign-ups open now: the 2013 Ebook Reading Challenge and the 2013 Self-Published Reading Challenge.
Be sure to connect with Sarah and Workaday Reads at the following links:
Buy one, get one free eBook offer! (further information below)
Plus more additional offers:
With EVERY softcover order made through our online store, receive the full set of art cards and bookmark produced for that book (all our softcover titles have associated art card sets and bookmarks), AND a free ePub or Mobi copy of the book! Visit our softcover page to browse available titles. We will email you following your order to ask whether you would like your eBook version in ePub or mobi format.
Buy One, Get One Free eBook Offer!
Buy any SSP title at Amazon.com or Barnes and Noble for your Nook or Kindle, and receive 1 SSP eBook of your choice free from us in ePub or Mobi format!
To claim your free eBook, just email us a copy of your dated email receipt for your Kindle or Nook purchase made between November 23 and November 29th, 2012, to sspstore (at) seventhstarpress.com and tell us which title you would like for your free selection, and whether you would like an ePub or mobi version.
Choose from any of our novels or Seventh Star Single releases! All titles in the SSP catalog are available in eBook editions.
Be sure to send in your receipts immediately as this offer ends on November 30th, 2012.
And there's more! Some catalog titles carry additional Seventh Star Single eBook bonuses!
Order Steven Shrewsbury's Thrall in softcover, and receive the ePub or Mobi versions of Steven's short stories Insurmountable and Author and Finisher of Our Flesh.
Order Steven Shrewsbury's Overkill in softcover, and receive the ePub or Mobi version of Steven's short story Beginning of the Trail.
Order R.J. Sullivan's Haunting Obsession in softcover and eBook, and receive the ePub or Mobi version of Rj's short story Backstage pass.
Order Michael West's Cinema of Shadows or Spook House in softcover and receive the ePub or Mobi versions of Michael's short stories Goodnight and For the River is Wide and the Gods are Hungry
Order any of Stephen Zimmer's Rising Dawn Saga novels in softcover (The Exodus Gate, The Storm Guardians, and The Seventh Throne) and receive the ePub or Mobi version of his short storyTemples Rising
Order any of Stephen Zimmer's Fires in Eden novels in softcover (Crown of Vengeance, Dream of Legends, and Spirit of Fire) and receive his short stories Lion Heart, Into Glory Ride, and Land of Shadow in ePub or Mobi versions
Today we bring you a special holiday weekend visit from Dianne Lynn Gardner, whose Deception Peak, her debut novel, introduced YA Fantasy readers to the Ian's Realm Series. Dianne is also releasing short stories set in the same world as the Ian's Realm series, so we thought it would be fun to explore Dianne's approach to the development of a literary franchise. We hope you enjoy this special author interview! -Stephen
For those who have not read Deception Peak, give us a little background on the book and the worlds it is set in.
The series is titled ‘The Ian's Realm Saga’. The first book, ‘Deception Peak’ is a young adult adventure fantasy about a teenager, Ian Wilson, who follows his father through a portal that magically appears on their computer screen. They travel into a deceptively beautiful Realm, where horses run free, the wind sings prophetic melodies, and their computer avatars come to life.
But when father and son are separated, Ian is abducted by a tribe of dragon worshipers and is forced to find his courage. As he struggles for his freedom and embarks on a perilous search to find his father, Ian meets the true peacekeepers of the Realm. It's then that he learns he has a greater purpose for being there.”
The Realm itself is pristine countryside. Colorful forests, vast prairies, a turquoise blue ocean and a foreboding mountain range that reaches far to the east, hinting at lands beyond. We only see a section of the Realm in the Trilogy (Deception Peak, The Dragon Shield, and Rubies and Robbers) but there is more of the world to explore in the series such as the Island of Taikus where wizards and sorceresses battle for power, Alisubbo, the technologically advanced kingdom of man, and the legends of a people that live north of the fjords.
Ian and his father Alex Wilson stumble into the Realm through their computer. But they aren't the first from our world who have arrived.
Did you originally envision writing a series, or was that something that evolved as you conceived of the story?
It evolved. The first book I wrote wasn't Deception Peak. It was actually The Dragon Shield. But being a new author, I had many professionals look at my story and one editor had so many questions about the world and what Ian was doing there, that I knew I had to write the prequel first, and that's how Deception Peak came to be. When I designed that book, I outlined a three book story arc hence creating the Trilogy.
How many books are planned in the Ian’s Realm Series?
I'm not sure. I have two other novels drafted after the Trilogy (which by the way are already written). It seems like I could go on forever because there are new characters showing themselves constantly, and their stories beg to be told. I keep thinking I need to write the grand finale after Cassandra's Castle, but it might not happen that way. The more book six unravels in my mind, the more I'm seeing another series arc developing.
When did the idea of short stories associated with the worlds of your series happen?
After I wrote Cassandra's Castle and began editing Deception Peak, I realized so much of the magic of the Realm had yet to be explained.--neither had the culture and the religion been illustrated. Those elements are very important influences in the characters and events in the Realm. The Tale of the Four Wizards are four short stories that package the 'why' questions that readers will, and should have. And since I've finished writing those shorts already, I've been able to add some additional gems in The Dragon Shield and Rubies and Robbers that weaves the stories even tighter together.
Are the various short stories stand-alones or are they connected?
You can read them as stand alones. They make nice little 'legends' as they have a folk-lore feel to them. But the stories are about four wizards who leave their homeland together in a little skiff. Fate separates them. So it seems natural that as we follow Silvio, we would question what happens to the others. Each story tells the tale of one of the wizards and the part that he plays in the history of the Realm. I think you'll lose some of the meaning if you don't read the whole series.
Tell us a little about the first short stories and a few ways in which they relate to the novel series?
The Tale of the Four Wizards is subtitled Patriarchs of the Realm. Here is the initial event:
On the island of Taikus the Sorceress Queen Hacatine overthrows the reign of the wizards. She robs its inhabitants of their power, harvesting magic from every source. Her goal? To defeat the Winds of the North and conquer the land of men. With only four more young wizards from which to draw power, Hacatine nears her goal of supremacy.
Silvio, Meneka, Kaempie and Reuben flee in the dark of night to escape the witch queen. When fate leaves the youngest of the wizards, Silvio, alone, and as a decoy, he has to either outrun the queen, or out-smart her.
Without giving you too many spoilers, Silvio ends up gaining much wisdom, though he pays a painful price. He is a crucial character in both The Diary of a Conjurer (book 4), and Cassandra's Castle (book 5). Some of my beta readers tell me he is their favorite character.
What lies ahead on the release schedule for both the series and the short stories?
The Four Wizard short stories will come out one by one as eBooks once a month until February. The Dragon Shield is scheduled to be released mid-February. We're talking about releasing Rubies and Robbers in possibly April. Sometime between the two novels we'll be releasing an anthology of the Tale of the Four Wizards for print. The Diary of a Conjurer and Cassandra's Castle are still waiting release dates.
What are the primary differences or challenges that you find in writing a novel versus a short story?
Actually I didn't think, after having written five novels that I'd be able to write a short story. But now that I have, I found it's really fun! Novels are of course harder and more time consuming. Outlining and character arcing are crucial but they also remind me of putting together a giant jigsaw puzzle. Only you not only get to piece them together, but you get to build the pieces.
Short stories are a step past the outline. Voice is really important in a short story. You character has to have character from the very beginning.
Is there anything you’ve discovered as a result of doing short stories associated with the novels? Have they lead to a broader development of your worlds?
Most definitely. They've helped me to understand the Realm better, and to realize how people's habits and cultures form simply through their beliefs systems. Knowing the origin of their cultures, I can better understand the conflicts and tensions that are rumbling under the surface.
You have created short stories based in your worlds, so what are your thoughts of basing other full series of novels in your worlds?
I know I'll be writing more novels and more short stories about the Realm. A short story can tell a lot about individuals as well as cultures and there are some individuals that have emerged that need their stories told. I think taking these kind of details and elaborating on them really enriches the series. I'm discovering things I didn't know! As far as novels go, we haven't seen the last. There are lands unexplored, and people needing to grow up. And even after five novels, there is still a conflict that has yet to be resolved.
Give us some links where readers can find your work and connect with you.
I want to first introduce everyone to my blog. I do progress reports of both my writing and illustrating. I do research reports with photos I've done a page on the filming of the trailer, how to build a yurt, I've introduced the models I use for the illustrations, and any other colorful thing I can think to put on there. Plus I keep my followers up to date on launch dates, book signings, tours and interviews. So if you want to know what's going on in the Realm, that's the grand central station!