Friday, 14 October 2016

Q & A with Sharlin Craig

Ornaments of Love
by Sharlin Craig 

A touching Christmas story with glowing illustrations, Ornaments of Love is a story to cherish for years to come. A beautiful tale of Ayana, an endearing ten-year-old who excitedly anticipates that special time of year when the entire family joins together to decorate and admire the Christmas tree.

But sadly this year is different. Ayana realizes that her mom and dad are far too busy with everything else to enjoy the tree with Ayana. Then, something unexpected happens and the family is brought together with tenderness and joy.

Filled to the brim and overflowing with charming moments, gentle humor, and timeless illustrations, this beautiful story is a wonderful reminder of what’s important not only during the Christmas season, but every day of our lives. Ornaments of Love is destined to become one of your favorite holiday stories. One that will remain in your heart forever.


Published December 8th 2015 by Harmony Hearts Publishing

Find it on Goodreads
Amazon  Barnes & Noble

Read It & Reap:  April 4, 2017

Sharlin Craig, a Detroit native who now resides in southern California with her husband and daughter, is dedicated to writing inspirational children’s books that touch the spirit of her readers. A graduate of Oakland University, she’s taught music to children for several years while also writing music and lyrics. She’s combined her love for children and writing into authoring her debut children’s Christmas picture book, ‘Ornaments of Love’ http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0194NP2KG

and the accompanying 'Ornaments of Love-Slowing Down at Christmas Time' Coloring book, http://www.amazon.com/dp/0997106026

Sharlin believes that with the right surroundings and daily encouragement, children are boundless. She’s passionate about helping children feel understood and empowered through her books and hopes that her stories make them smile. 

Sharlin loves being a mom and wife and her ultimate goal is to have a happy, healthy family and a full and balanced life. She enjoys spending quality time with her family biking, hiking, and just hanging out. 

For now, she is letting her creativity shine through children’s books that inspire kids to live fully and beautifully. As readers await her next release, they can unravel a little piece of her heart by leafing through the pages of her current release, “Ornaments of Love,” a gem of a story bound to be adored by countless families across the globe.


Q & A with Sharlin Craig

Tell us a little bit about your main characters.
 ‘Ornaments of Love’ has one main character with 3 supporting characters. Ayana, a 10-year-old girl, is the main character. She cherishes her family tradition of putting up and decorating the Christmas tree with her parents each year. But this year, Mom and Dad are too busy with other things so they ask her if she can do it by herself. As she decorates the tree, each ornament that she unwraps and hangs up brings back happy family memories.  Mom and Dad are typical loving parents who are just too caught up in their ‘to do’ lists and don’t realize the impact their busyness is having on Ayana. Luckily, Ayana has Rosie, the fourth character in the book, to talk to and express her feelings to. Then, something unexpected happens which brings the whole family together with joy and tenderness.

Who designs the covers for your books and what is that process like for you as an author?
 A friend of mine, Angelika Schubert-Belle, is an amazing professional graphic designer. While in the process of writing ‘Ornaments of Love’, she graciously offered to do the graphic design for my book. Not only did she do the picture book cover and interior, but also the ebook and the ‘Ornaments of Love Coloring Book-Slowing Down with Family at Christmas Time’ cover and interior. Working with her was a wonderful experience as she’s very professional, kind, creative and reliable. I’m definitely spoiled now!

Describe your ideal writing spot.
 I enjoy writing at home in the morning hours when it’s quiet and my energy level is high. I find I’m most creative in the morning hours after my daughter goes to school.

What is the best advice you have been given?
 The best writing advice I’ve been given is:
-Don’t take “no” personally. Keep forging ahead.
-Edit, edit, edit. Read your story out loud.
-Take children on a journey in your story. Make them laugh, feel loved and be understood.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
 When I was a child, I bounced around between wanting to be a vet or a singer. As it turns out, I’m now a writer, a music teacher and a dog trainer to our 7-month-old Miniature Schnauzer puppy!
  
Which do you prefer: hard/paperbacks or ebooks?
 I find all book formats enjoyable. I appreciate the convenience of ebooks and the ability to look up definitions on my Kindle. I’ll always love the wonderful smell of physical books, the quality feel of hard cover books and how a paperback book fits so easily into a purse or carry on.

If you could have any supernatural power, what would you choose and why?
 I think we’re all born with the ability to tune in to our intuition, which can, in some ways, be called a supernatural power. I find when I listen to my intuition, my life flows more smoothly. So, I would say that I’d choose to be optimally in tune with this inner voice/intuition on a daily basis.

What book are you reading now?

I just finished a book called, ‘Bel Canto’ by Ann Patchett. It’s a Pen/Faulkner Award winner and I absolutely loved it and highly recommend it! 


Thursday, 13 October 2016

Q & A with M.L. Mackworth-Praed

The Future King: Logres 
The Future King #1
by M.L. Mackworth-Praed 

Britain, 2052. In a world of war, disease and hunger the UK stands alone as a beacon of prosperity under an all-powerful ruling party. Life at new school Logres seems promising for fifteen-year-old Gwenhwyfar, and quickly she falls for the school's handsome catch, Arthur. When Arthur’s rival, Lancelot, returns after a suspension, her heart is soon divided. Realising that behind the UK's prosperity lies unspeakable cruelty, Gwenhwyfar sets off on a path to dismantle everything the government stands for. Suspenseful, raw and awash in a dystopian setting, The Future King: Logres is a story of identity and discovery against this backdrop, the second coming of the Arthurian legends. 

Paperback, 1st Edition, 518 pages
Published December 5th 2015

Find it on Goodreads
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                                                                                     Read It & Reap:  October 13, 2016


I'm a prolific doodler, which over the years has translated into being an illustrator; a here-there artist who dabbles with embroidery, and a keen writer with a taste for fantasy, sci-fi and young adult fiction. I just self-published my first novel, The Future King: Logres, an Arthurian second-coming set in dystopian 2052 Britain. If you like YA Fantasy or are a lover of the Arthurian legends then check it out! 


                            Q & A with M.L. Mackworth-Praed 

                                        Tell us a little bit about your main characters.
Principled, smart and sometimes misplaced in her judgement, fifteen-year-old Gwenhwyfar comes from a sheltered life in Swansea, Wales. She had everything she needed there, a good school and close friends; but after an unexpected move to Logres Secondary School in Surrey she struggles to find her place. As she gets to know her classmates and adapts to her new home, Gwenhwyfar becomes more aware of the dangerous political situation in the UK. During this journey she finds herself guided by her heart more often than her head—and soon discovers that standing up for what you believe in comes at great personal cost. 

Arthur is in Gwenhwyfar’s year at Logres. He has strident beliefs and he has yet to understand that his own stubbornness can sometimes hurt others. Eager to forge a path in the world that is different to that of those around him, he leans heavily on his History teacher Marvin, who has been his friend since Arthur fell out with his best friend, Lancelot. Arthur and Gwenhwyfar are very much on the same wavelength—they connect almost immediately and recognise themselves in one another: two lost teenagers who are trying to find their way.

Who designs the covers for your books and what is that process like for you as an author?
I do! That is the great thing about being self-published, you get complete control over how your book looks and feels. I studied Fine Art at university and so producing the actual cover art was straightforward enough. It was the brainstorming that was the challenging part, and choosing the colours and party logo for the ruling political party in the novel, New National, was difficult. I wanted to keep the cover as graphic and as iconic as possible—the colours of the New Nationals dominating the cover with the dividing crown motif alluding to the legends of King Arthur. Obviously I’m excited to get the next instalment in the series published for the continuation of the story, but also for the cover art—I have a great evolution planned for the whole Future King series.

Describe your ideal writing spot.
A clean desk, a clean laptop, a comfortable chair and my Future King notes spread out next to me. I got the best of my writing done while I was living in Belgium—my old apartment had plenty of light and was a great place to focus because I could work to my own routine. Writing isn’t just happening when you’re sat in front your manuscript typing—some of my best ideas came to me while I was taking the time out to do other things. I did several temp jobs while working on the first draft of this novel. They usually included digitising large amounts of paper or data entry for slow systems—perfect opportunities to scribble out some scenes on paper or to sketch out some ideas for the cover and title of my book.

What is the best advice you have been given?
Though I had great help and feedback from sample readers, I worked on this project on my own, which meant that I had to learn by trial and error. My first draft of The Future King: Logres is unrecognisable to the final published version, as my approach to writing changed dramatically. The most useful thing I learned was that you shouldn’t try to write like someone else because you’ll lose your voice. Write the book that you want to read, write the characters that you want to know. You have to enjoy the writing process otherwise your prose will become stifled and the book will die a trailing death. Writing a book is hard work, and you definitely shouldn’t expect to get it right the first time you try it.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Not many things. I wanted to be a vet until I was about eleven, then when I went to secondary school I decided I wanted to be an actor (mostly because The Lord of the Rings films were out). That eventually changed and then I wanted to be a novelist. Whilst at university I finally made a new start at the same book I had attempted on and off since college—The Future King: Logres. I feel the most at peace when I am drawing so I would be thrilled if I could make a living illustrating and writing, with a bit of fine art practice on the side!

Which do you prefer: hard/paperbacks or ebooks?
I prefer paperbacks. Hardcovers are too bulky to carry about and you can’t collect ebooks in the same way as you can with paperbacks. The physical act and the scents associated with reading on paper are just too unique to lose—the older the book the mustier the smell and the more delicate the ritual. I grew up with an extensive library that my grandfather collected throughout his life and there were some very old treasures in his collection. I am very impressed by the quality given by Kindle however—the way the text is displayed does almost give the feel of the printed page.

If you could have any supernatural power, what would you choose and why?
The power to heal myself and others is pretty self-explanatory; either that or the power of teleportation—being able to teleport myself and others across the globe would be great for holidays and always seemed so appealing when I was running around as a model for Paris and London Fashion Weeks! At the moment I’m leaning toward the idea of being able to erect Utopia from the middle of the Atlantic. Those who believe in peace and green technological advancement could go and live there and hopefully redirect the path of the world. Read into that what you like!

What book are you reading now?
Ashamedly nothing—work has been keeping me busy and any spare time that I do have I’ve been trying to pour into the second novel in The Future King series. I’ve been dipping in and out of a collection of poems by W. H. Auden, and The Just So Stories by Rudyard Kipling were last on my reading list so I will get back to those at some point. There are also plenty of old Penguin books on my shelf that I’m hoping to find new homes for which I can read when I get the chance!




Sunday, 9 October 2016

Q & A with Damien Black


Devil's Night Dawning
by Damien Black

For centuries, the monastic Order of St Argo has stood between the mortal vale and the dark forces of the Other Side. Now a mystery warlock seeks an ancient power to rule realms, and only two of its witch hunters can stop him – if they can stay alive long enough to identify him…

When young novice Adelko is assigned to legendary adept Horskram, he rejoices at the chance to l For centuries, the monastic Order of St Argo has stood between the mortal vale and the dark forces of the Other Side. Now a mystery warlock seeks an ancient power to rule realms, and only two of its witch hunters can stop him – if they can stay alive long enough to identify him…

When young novice Adelko is assigned to legendary adept Horskram, he rejoices at the chance to lead an adventurous life. An adventurous death isn’t what he had in mind – but it comes calling when they learn of a sorcerous theft, one that could bring ruin on the Known World. They suspect a demonologist at work, but don’t know anything for sure.

Whoever it is knows who they are and wants to silence them – permanently. As they flee from one danger to another, their homeland erupts into civil war – the rebellious southern barons have reunited and want to dethrone the King of Northalde. The world they know teeters on the brink of a momentous struggle that will reshape it forever…

High fantasy meets gothic horror in this gripping tale of suspense, conflict, faith and magic – the first part in an epic saga of sweeping proportions.
 
Find it on Goodreads
Amazon  Barnes & Noble

Read It & Reap:  April 9, 2017

For as long as he can remember, Damien Black has been blessed and cursed with a hallucinogenic imagination. His sleep is disturbed by strange dreams that he struggles to remember upon waking, glimpses of worlds where superstitions are reality and prayers might actually work.

The only cure he knows for this malady is writing, an auto-exorcism he performs on himself daily. Over the years, these scribblings have evolved into horror-strewn tales that plot a winding course through the tropes of fantasy fiction.

Q & A with Damien Black

Tell us a little bit about your main characters.
Horskram and Adelko are monks who belong to a religious order that specialises in fighting evil spirits and hunting down warlocks. Rather than go for the usual wizard/warrior hero set-up I thought I’d do the opposite: have protagonists who are essentially pacifists but opposed to wizards of all kinds. Adelko is a promising novice assigned to Horskram, a legendary adept with decades of experience. He is unassuming and humble, but his keen mind and thirst for adventure get him into trouble. Horskram is a former crusader who has renounced violence; he has a dark past that gradually becomes revealed as the story progresses. He is hardy, wise and intelligent, but certainly not flawless! He makes mistakes.

Who designs the covers for your books and what is that process like for you as an author?
Red Raven designed the cover for my book and I love what they came up with! They gave me five mock-ups to choose from, so I put it to a panel of friends to see which ones worked best. We narrowed it down to two and I went for the more understated one as I felt it best reflected the slow pace of the story, which gradually builds over time to an action-packed climax.

Describe your ideal writing spot.
Ooh, tricky! Well I write at home, but anywhere comfortable and warm with the minimum of distractions and noise will do. I believe that writing is fundamentally about what comes from within, location is about finding the best place for you to channel that.

What is the best advice you have been given?
The self-published fantasy author MJ Sullivan advised me to keep writing and not worry too much about sales and publicity in the early stages. He says three books is the magic number, when people really start to take your series seriously and invest in it. That rings true, as I’ve heard both JK Rowling and George RR Martin didn’t really take off until they released the third books in their respective series.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
A writer. Honest!

Which do you prefer: hard/paperbacks or ebooks?
I love paperbacks. Always have done – the cover art, the feel, everything about them appeals, even when they get a bit dog-eared.

If you could have any supernatural power, what would you choose and why?
I think I’d have extended longevity like Aragorn in The Lord of the Rings. The problem with life is there is simply never  enough time. At forty I feel I’m only just getting to know myself. We can waste a lot of years through trial and error, making mistakes. Learning from those is of course part of life’s journey - I just wish we had more time to gain the benefit of those lessons.

What book are you reading now?
Assassin’s Apprentice by Robin Hobb. I like it because it’s a slow burner set in a quasi-medieval world with some very dark elements, but nothing too graphic or obscene. There is quite a lot of violence in my own work, but it’s also nice to read writers who don’t use it so much. 


Book Beginnings: The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller

Book Beginnings is a weekly meme hosted by  Rose City Reader .  Share the first sentence (or so) of the book you are reading, along wi...