The Rite of Wands – now available in the UK!

9781946006431-Perfect_lo-res

The Rite begins today… “The Rite of Wands” by Mackenzie Flohr. “A perfect fantasy book for MG and YA fantasy lovers.”

Available in paperback and eBook at booksellers, including:
Amazon: http://getbook.at/MackenzieFlohr 
Waterstones: http://bit.ly/2ng09AK

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Interview with R. Castro #Tuesdaybookblog

Today I’m fortunate to present R. Castro author of A Shining Star and Elemental Linx, book one in TheTetrad Prophecy Series.

Hi Rose, thank you for agreeing to this interview!

Question 1) What part of the world do you come from?

41ScoWv1OFL._UX250_Rose: I’m from the USA, the beautiful Pacific Northwest, Puget Sound region. But I’ve lived many places, including Mexico. My parents didn’t like being anchored down for too long, so we moved a bit. I tend to call Mexico home, mostly because that is where we settled the most.

Question 2) What do you think makes a good story?

Rose: Oh gosh! It feels like a loaded question. LOL! OK, in all seriousness, for me it has to be captivating. The first chapter has to hook me to keep me reading. As a prolific reader, I appreciate originality, although, I have enjoyed a few retellings.  

Question 3) What inspired you to write your first book?

Rose: I know this may sound cliché, but I’ve always wanted to write and publish at least one book. As a young child, I’d write short stories, and I moved onto sappy poems in my teens. But it wasn’t until I faced my current health challenges and a lingering threat of going blind that I hunkered down to make my dream come through. I’d researched enough to learn that self-publishing was a viable option. I’ve always been a “dreamer, ” and I’m sure growing up an only child nurtured this, at least for me. I’m the type of person who walks by a mossy evergreen, and a thousand ideas run through my mind. Life inspires me, every moment of every day.

Question 4) What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?

Rose: Oh, I hate to admit to this, but I’m a very undisciplined writer. Most of this stems from my health. So there is no rhyme or reason to my writing. I write when I can, although I do try to write (or right now, edit) a minimum of fifteen hundred words a day.

Question 5) What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?

Rose: I chew on ice. I know! It’s so bad. Disclosure: Please don’t try this at home, kids. LOL! But it’s true. My hematologist say’s it has to do with my blood disorder and anemia. For whatever reason too some of us who suffer from this, ice just tastes SO good. Yes, I know, most people find ice flavorless; I don’t.

Question 6) Give us the title and genre of your latest book.

51Kolib4vzL._SY346_Rose: The title is Elemental Linx, and it’s book one in The Tetrad Prophecy series. It’s my first official work in progress, but this past NaNoWriMo pushed me into realizing A Shining Star, a contemporary inspirational romance as my debut as an author.

Question 7) What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your book?

Rose: It takes A LOT of work. For those who are serious about the craft, whether you have formal education/training or not, you find you are often your worst critic. It’s been an emotional roller coaster ride, for me. I’ve wanted to throw in the towel so many times, but thankfully, I plugged into some superb writing communities where I’ve forged some incredible bonds with very talented writers. It’s helped me recognize this isn’t a simple hobby for me; I’m sincerely driven. If I never make money, I’m OK. The excitement of sharing something I’ve created is enough.  

Question 8) Do you have an excerpt from your current work you’d like to share?

Rose: “That is the Emperor’s family. Today a bloodletting ritual will be performed.”

            I noticed his clenched jawline through the side of his mask, as he fell silent.

            “What does that mean?” I continued.

            “Silence now!  You will displease the Gods with all this questioning.” I had noticed an ancient temple in the distance earlier, and now as we approached it, I could see crowds of ornately dressed people surrounding it.

The clamor grew louder by the moment as we approached the crowd, and I experienced a deep sense of confusion accompanied by a dull pain in my chest; anxiety I thought, as I purposely took long deep breaths in an attempt to calm my nerves.

             Strategically placed fires blazed throughout the city, and beautiful earthenware pottery decorated the walkways. The geometrically designed buildings demonstrated impressive skill and artistry. The numerous canals were beyond belief, even rivaling Venice, but with a more rustic appeal.

             In the distance, I could hear the sound of mournful wailing. It grew louder as we neared the temple, causing me to cringe a little. I noticed Tadeo casting glances in my direction.

            Tadeo gave instructions in a native dialect. I wasn’t exactly sure what the dialect could be. However, he proceeded to explain to me in plain English, that we were taking our positions for the ceremony on the steps of the temple as The Shorn Ones. I suspected this was part of whatever festivity was about to take place.

             A priest led the procession, followed by the Emperor, the Emperors’ family, and finally, The Shorn Ones were now in position. I had no idea what was happening as I searched my memory for various history lessons, and finally settled on Mesoamerican history; The Aztec Empire, of course! I recalled they spoke Nahuatl, a native dialect.

            I was watching the priest’s preparations when a cold realization came over me; I was about to witness a sacrifice, the ritualistic blood sacrifice of a human being.

            “NO!” I shrieked inwardly and felt myself about to faint as Tadeo and a couple of the other warriors pressed in on me from all sides to shield me from the dignitaries and keep me standing upright.

            An ominous voice spoke inside my head. “Birth, death, and rebirth…all is destroyed, one will choose…born again through sacrifice, the cycle will end and bring forth a new age.”

            I felt myself falling.

Question 9) What can we expect from you in the future?

Rose: I have four contemporary inspirational romance novellas scheduled to release, one in each quarter of 2017. Also, I will start working on book two, Five Pendants of Creation, of The Tetrad Prophecy series. That’s already outlined, so I’m hoping this one will go much smoother. 

Question 10) What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?

Rose: For me, it’s both an Editor and Cover Designer. I know my weaknesses when it comes to writing, and there is no way I could put out a product that is close to marketable, on my own. Regarding cover art, well, I’m one of those people who does “judge a book by its cover.” Although I’ll be the first to admit, there are some great reads out there which by the cover alone would not have drawn me to read them.    

Question 11) How can we contact you or find out more about your books?

Rose: Facebook: www.facebook.com/itsrosecastro/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/RoseCastro

Instagram: itsrosecastro

Thank you so much for the opportunity to share a little about myself!

Interview with R.A. Andrade #Tuesdaybookblog

Today I’m fortunate to present R. A. Andrade author of The Field Trip.

Hi Ron, thanks for agreeing to this interview.

Question 1) What part of the world do you come from?

Ron: First, I would clarify that the world I come from is planet Earth to dispel anyB1uXJ7qnXrS._UX250_ rumors to the contrary. I was born and raised in New England, and then moved to Michigan after graduating college.

Question 2) What do you think makes a good story?

Ron: If people enjoy reading a story, it is a good story. What is a story people enjoy reading? I believe everyone guesses at the answer to that question, or write what they like and get pleasantly surprised to discover other people like it as well.

Question 3) What inspired you to write your first book?

Ron: There was a point in time when I became addicted to reading novels at any opportunity. I would read anywhere and anytime, even if only there was only a fifteen minute window. Primarily reading science fiction and mysteries, many of the plots became repetitive and all too familiar. Hungering for something different, the urge to try writing my own story overtook me…so I did. I worked on that novel in the same manner I had been reading…nonstop. When finished, I considered it great; in need of little editing, which I could surely do myself.

Reading through that first novel now, only one word comes to my mind…trash.

Question 4) What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?

Ron: There is no schedule. I write when I make the time, which can be any time of day or night. I usually write daily in blocks of time that fit opportunity and flow of thoughts. This most often occurs late night but the story still works in my mind during other daily activities that allows me to escape to my work. 

Question 5) What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?

Ron: Nothing terribly interesting, but most short fiction I write begins with an idea intending to be a science fiction story. Somehow, I lose control of the stories along the way and the results are something else…a spooky murder where a crow is the victim…Santa Claus straightening out management at a corporate staff meeting…and of course a superhero squirrel tale.

Question 6) Give us the title and genre of your latest book.

Ron: The Field Trip. The back cover states it is “An adventure mixe23702427d with a touch of fantasy. Add a twist of love.” Some readers classify it as science fiction.

Question 7) What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your book?

Ron: That my spelling improved dramatically. This was unintentional since I have always bragged about being a poor speller. Fortunately, there are some words I continue to misspell although used thousands of times.

Question 8) Do you have an excerpt from your current work you’d like to share?

Ron: These are a few paragraphs from an upcoming novel:

Glen backed the Mustang to the park entrance road, and then proceeded in. They passed the deserted collection booth, following the arrows that indicated the route to the lake. Parking at the edge of the lot that would have normally been crammed with a hundred or more cars and trucks on a hot August day, they sat alone.

They all got out of the car, Sunshine and Glen pulling bags, a cooler, and a blanket from the trunk. Traci watched the two in disbelief, her hands on her hips. “The world is coming to an end and you two are going to have a picnic?” She looked down at the T-shirt she was wearing that Glen had found for her, pulling it away from her body. “And who the hell is John Denver? I would die if anyone saw me in this.”

Closing the trunk, Sunshine said to Glen, “When I get my memory back I hope I don’t discover I have children. They are a pain in the ass.”

Traci mouthed “what”, and then yelled, “You know I’m standing right here.”

Sunshine chose a location on the side of a small hill overlooking the lake. Spreading the blanket on the well-manicured grass, she knelt looking across the water. The fog bank traversed the lake, hiding the far shore. She shivered.

Question 9) What can we expect from you in the future?

Ron: A novel entitled, “Sunshine at the Oasis.” The excerpt in the last question is from that story. It may be science fiction, or maybe a mystery, or maybe….

Question 10) What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?

Ron: That is an easy question. Undoubtedly, the money spent for my laptop. It transforms thoughts into printed words. All I need to do is place my fingers on the keyboard and it writes stories for me. Very cool.

Question 11) How can we contact you or find out more about your books?

Website: raandrade.com

Goodreads: R.A. Andrade

Amazon: Author page

Now Available – The Rite of Wands

The Rite begins today… “The Rite of Wands” by Mackenzie Flohr. Available in trade softcover and eBook at booksellers everywhere.

Available at booksellers everywhere, including:
Amazon: http://amzn.to/2lLil7T
Barnes & Noble: http://bit.ly/2neguFt
Waterstones: http://bit.ly/2ng09AK
Kobo: http://bit.ly/2ndXNBP
iTunes: http://apple.co/2n7Bi4F

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Interview with @assaphmehr #Tuesdaybookblog

Today I’m fortunate to present Assaph Mehr author of Murder In Absentia.

Hi Assaph, thank you for agreeing to this interview.

Question 1) What part of the world do you come from?

assaphCurrently living in Sydney, Australia. I grew up in Israel, though. I think I owe my love of history in part to that. My favourite day trips were always to the old crusader forts that dot the country. Everywhere you dig, you are bound to uncover some site from the roots of civilization.

I’ve taken my kids there a few years ago. We went to the old city of Jaffa. Around the walls (Ottoman in origin) were arranged cannons dredged up from the bay, which date to Napoleon’s siege. At the top of the hill is a dig site and archaeology centre. You go down through the Ottoman and Mameluk layers, to the Roman settlement, which sits atop the Greek. Under it you can find traces of earlier Egyptian temples. And let’s not forget that when you go back out and look out to the sea, the rocks jutting out of the water are called Andromeda rocks – as according to legend, these are the rocks that Andromeda was chained to, to appease Poseidon and his sea monster Cetus. Don’t worry, she was rescued by Perseus, who flew to her rescue on the back of Pegasus.

Growing up like that, how can one not love history?

Question 2) What do you think makes a good story?

In a large part, that is a matter of taste. Things that are quoted as absolutes – good characterization, solid plot, strong voice – actually have more to do with the reader’s interpretation of them than critics would like to admit.

For example, I have received a feedback that one character in the novel sounds like a cardboard cut-out, completely unrelatable. Another reviewer said of the same character that he is a great example of a man of their class, with a unique voice that just jumps off the page. That same reviewer pointed at another character as “lacking agency”… a character that the first reviewer absolutely adored.

The upshot is simple. Read and learn about the art of writing, but don’t get so bogged down in it to the point that you are not actually writing. Consider critique of your work as a learning opportunity, not as an attack on you nor as gospel that must be adhered to. You will never please everybody. Instead of trying, make sure that your story is the best that you can make it, that it’s good in your eyes. You can then find the right audience for it.

Question 3) What inspired you to write your first book?

Honestly, I’ve always wanted to write a novel. Seeing my name in print has been onmurder my bucket-list for as long as I can remember. Then two years ago my wife complained one evening that she finished all the books she wanted to read, so I sat down that night and started writing a book for her – and I haven’t stopped since!

The idea behind the book itself has been kicking around in my head for a while. I knew when I started what the surprise twist to the mystery was, even if the details were not formed. When I came to write it, I can safely say that I was inspired by a several authors writing Roman-era detectives (Lindsey Davis, Steven Saylor and Ruth Downie come to mind). I love ancient Rome and historical detectives in general, as well as reading classic and urban fantasy, so writing an historical-fantasy was a natural choice.

Question 4) What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?

These days I write mostly on the train ride to and back from work. This is a hobby, and it get prioritised accordingly. In terms of overall process, I have the start and the end of the story in mind. I work towards that ending, but I enjoy discovering the twists and turns in the middle for myself as I write. I then go back and edit as needed. I spend about as much time in editing passes after completing the manuscript as I do in writing the first draft.

Question 5) What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?

Historically-accurate food. Well, mostly historically accurate. I love cooking and food in general, and that seeps into my writing. I enjoy tremendously researching old recipes, and integrating the dishes into the story. Who wouldn’t be impressed by a feast serving dishes of brain-and-jellyfish custard? Or buying fried dormice in honey and poppyseeds from a street stall? And let me assure you, that these are historically accurate dishes.

Then again, there are also some adjustments for the fantasy aspects of the world. One of my favourite scenes to write was just such a feast.

Question 6) Give us the title and genre of your latest book.

My published novel is called Murder In Absentia. It’s an historical-fantasy mystery, or as I like to subtitle it – a story of Togas, Daggers, and Magic.

My current work in progress is Titles In Numina, a story of haunted houses and household gods.

Question 7) What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your book?

I’ve learned a lot whilst researching Roman culture and building a fantasy world. I’ve learned the art of storytelling. I’ve learned about book production and marketing. I am not sure what I would qualify as surprising, though.

Question 8) Do you have an excerpt from your current work you’d like to share?

The following excerpt (about 800 words) is froreviewsm a scene near the middle of Murder In Absentia. Felix finds himself on a ship attacked by pirates at night. This is one of my favourite scenes, for several reasons. First, I get to write a fight scene, and as Murder In Absentia is primarily a detective mystery there aren’t a lot of them. I have also done a lot of research into realistic sword fighting techniques, and I get to write one properly, which is always a good feeling. Second, is that as a writer I get to play with the tempo of the story. By carefully choosing words and crafting sentence lengths, I hope to evoke the feeling of urgency and breathlessness that occur within a fight. I will let you be the judge of the results.

I woke up to urgent yells from heavy slumber. Not bothering with clothes, I grabbed my dagger and ran outside to the deck. A ship larger than ours was heading straight at us under power of oars. Their crew were silent, no drums to keep pace and no shouts. That they were pirates was evident from the vessel itself. A fast and decked bireme, its prow was painted with large blue eyes, slightly slanted to give a menacing look as they stared at us. Its sail was folded and the mast down, the pirates were ready for battle and boarding. A row of men stood at the railing, armed and ready with ropes and planks.

The pirate ship was perhaps three hundred paces from us, and by their angle and equipment I knew that they did not intend to ram us, but rather angle next to us and board us. Piracy does not make profit by sinking treasures — these come from the robbery of goods, selling the crew to slavery and holding any notable passengers for ransom.

Our crew was frantic, everybody suddenly awake after last night’s celebrations. Margaritus was yelling orders, the sailors were hoisting the anchor and going to the oars. Aulus Didius looked particularly dishevelled, not yet recovered from yesterday’s enchantments, and seemed unable to focus on the events storming around him.

With two hundred paces between our ships and us barely moving, it was becoming obvious that they would gain on us and that we would have to fight if we wanted to escape capture. Margaritus had broken out the weapon stores, and the crew and divers each grabbed a tall oval shield and a short gladius, and braced on the side facing the pirate ship. I picked up a shield and grabbed the handle inside the shield’s boss with my left hand, though I elected to remain armed only with my trusty dagger.

Margaritus yelled at the remaining crew to put up the sail with the hope that Didius Rufus could conjure sufficient winds, as the oarsmen armed themselves instead to prepare for boarding. I stared out across the dark waters watching the moonlit vessel closing in on us rapidly. At this distance I could make out the individual faces of the pirates and the murderous intent written on them. I wondered what mess I had gotten myself into and whether I would live to see the morning.

With fifty paces to go, the pirates banked oars, grabbed ready bows and let a volley go. All of us in the front lines raised our shields and managed to absorb most of the volley. Only two of our men were hit, though from the quick look I cast in their direction the wounds seemed slight. Our ship did not have a means to return fire — it was not a navy vessel, and was designed for the specific operation of the divers. It relied on speed generated by its resident incantator, who unfortunately seemed in a state of battle shock like a green recruit. The lack of a proper night guard could only be blamed on Margaritus.

Thirty paces to go, and another volley of arrows. This time one man fell down when an arrow that ricocheted from a shield lodged itself in his neck. The deck became slick with the blood spurting from his wound. Margaritus was shaking Didius Rufus by his shoulders, yelling in his face to get the wind up.

Ten paces, and the pirates cast ropes with hooks onto our rails, dragging us closer. We dislodged the hooks and struck at the ropes, but within the space of a deep breath the pirate ship bumped into ours, shaking the deck under our feet. The two ships screeched like racing chariots colliding.

The pirates were upon us. With wild cries they jumped from their ship onto our deck, swinging swords, axes, hooks and clubs. I braced my shield, and as the pirate who targeted me tried to land his curved sword in a neat arc from above straight on my head I took a step back, causing him to miss his mark and forcing him to stumble as he landed, and immediately with my full weight behind the shield I jumped and slammed into him, forcing him backwards and the boss of the shield knocking the wind from his lungs, yet still with his back against the ship’s rail he tried to raise his sword to protect himself, but I knocked it aside with my shield and plunged my knife deep into his chest. His eyes widened and a gurgling, rattling sound came from his throat as he lost balance and fell overboard, splashing into the waters in the space between our ships.

What followed was a mad free-for-all battle. The pirates were ferocious, the deck was slick with blood and the air was heavy with the din of fighting, the shouts of enemies colliding, and the cries of the wounded and dying.

The first few chapters of Murder In Absentia is also available as a sample through Amazon Kindle and Goodreads.

Question 9) What can we expect from you in the future?

More Felix mysteries. I love the blend of ancient Roman culture and a fantasy world. After completing Murder In Absentia, I’ve written a few short stories (available freely on my blog), and I’m now drafting the second full length novel. I have ideas for at least two further full length novels (each is an independent mystery), and several short stories.
I expect that by the time I work through all of them I’d have ideas for more, but there’s this nagging need to retell the Crimean War from the Russian side… with steampunk elements. Who would enjoy a young and dashing Count Tolstoy with a mechanical arm?

Question 10) What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?

Without a doubt, a professional editor and cover artist. These two things make the biggest difference in the quality of the final product. Don’t think you can get by with just winging it yourself, or relying on friends. Pay for professionals if you want to stand out as a professional author.

Question 11) How can we contact you or find out more about your books?

Easy! My blog is where you can find samples of my writing (short stories) as well as other information. I’m also active on Twitter and Facebook, and to a lesser degree on other social platforms. However you choose, I’d love to hear from you!

Website: http://egretia.com
Blog: http://egretia.com/news
Facebook: http://facebook.com/AssaphMehrAuthor
Twitter: @assaphmehr
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/14422472.Assaph_Mehr
Google Plus: http://plus.google.com/+AssaphMehr
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/assaph/
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/assaphmehr
Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/Assaph-Mehr/e/B015U1F3NC
Murder In Absentia on Amazon: http://amzn.to/1XbfKN1