Review: The Singular and Extraordinary Tale of Mirror and Goliath by Ishbelle Bee

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FROM THE BACK COVER:

1888. A little girl called Mirror and her shape-shifting guardian Goliath Honeyflower are washed up on the shores of Victorian England. Something has been wrong with Mirror since the day her grandfather locked her inside a mysterious clock that was painted all over with ladybirds. Mirror does not know what she is, but she knows she is no longer human.

John Loveheart, meanwhile, was not born wicked. But after the sinister death of his parents, he was taken by Mr. Fingers, the demon lord of the underworld. Some say he is mad. John would be inclined to agree.

Now Mr Fingers is determined to find the little girl called Mirror, whose flesh he intends to eat, and whose soul is the key to his eternal reign. And John Loveheart has been called by his otherworldly father to help him track Mirror down…

In this disturbing fairy-tale for adults, a little girl called Mirror is being chased by a demon called Mr. Fingers. Mr. Fingers is determined to eat her and use her powers to solidify his reign on the Underworld. The only thing between the girl and certain death is a shape-shifter called Goliath Honeyflower.

Set in Victorian England, this book is full of dark characters in darker situations doing terrible things under the guise of being upright citizens. A clockmaker, well sought after, fills his clocks with the souls of children. A boy named Loveheart is taken to the underworld and driven mad. Even the heroine, Mirror, is more than she appears after having been stuffed in a ladybird clock by her grandfather.

There is such a bright and beautiful level of madness in this story. The way the pages are laid out with text that grows and swirls around the page adds to the lovely level of crazy. Our heroes are insane. Our villains are also insane and in the middle is a little girl who isn’t human any more just trying to escape back to Egypt.

I think this is the closest you could come to going mad safely. It has the same feeling as falling down the rabbit hole in Alice in Wonderland but the level of madness is higher, more dangerous and definitely bloodier. The world is well built and easy to slip into. Scents, colors and typography are used to make it into a full body experience.

You are drawn into the world from the first page. Each chapter choses a character’s head to be trapped inside, making you feel closely related to all the characters. Loveheart is more the protagonist than Mirror and he quickly became my favorite character with his flamboyant outfits and black eyes. But Mirror holds her own, aging rapidly to meet the dangers that surround her. And Mr. Fingers is the stuff of nightmares.

For me this was a perfect read. I zipped through the book, caught up in the insane imagery and unusual word choices. It feels very visceral, using all the senses to keep you engaged. If this were a painting you could stare at it for days, the layers would be thick and full of hidden gems.

I highly recommend this book if you are a fan of Lewis Carroll and don’t mind squelchy bloody, gruesome bits in your fairy tales. I would give it five out of five stars. The only thing I can complain about is that it isn’t longer. This story features epic world building with well developed characters.

I am looking forward to reading more from Ishbelle Bee in the future and can’t recommend her enough.

Her website is : http://ishbellebee.com/

Scott Spotson Friend to Wizards & Author of My Wizard Buddy

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I recently sent a lot of emails back and forth with self-published children’s author Scott Spotson. We met on Goodreads and decided to read one another’s books. He was kind enough to read and review my book: Spooky and The Ghost Chorus in return for me reading and reviewing the delightful My Wizard Buddy (Book 1) which he co-wrote with Brian Wu. After I was done I had so many questions I just had to badger Scott a bit.

Writers are curious creatures and I just had to get to the bottom of just what makes Scott tick. We’ll start off with my Amazon/Goodreads Review and follow it up with a short interrogation of Scott Spotson. Enjoy!

My Wizard Buddy by Brian Wu and Scott Spotson is an entertaining magical romp. Tyler is a sad lonely boy who never has any of the newest games and is terrorized by his older sister. But one day he decides to accept an invitation to be best friends with an odd boy named Dirk. That’s when Tyler’s life gets exciting because Dirk is a wizard! Dirk’s magic is more of the wish variety and he and Tyler cause all kinds of fun. There are no real villains in this story except the demons that live in our own minds. Ryan, a popular boy lost his father to cancer. Dirk seems to be dealing with issues he isn’t saying and of course Tyler is dealing with the urge to be accepted. I enjoyed the read. Fun book. I would recommend it to the YA crowd.


KK: Where did you get the idea for your series Wizards Wars?
Scott: The imagination that comes from having an imaginary friend was the impetus behind my wizard series My Wizard Buddy. What if you could have a friend who could make anything happen, but such a friend could be kept a secret from the rest of the world?

KK: What made you decide not to have an antagonist? 
Scott: Many children’s books do not have an antagonist. That’s because children are looking for a slice of life, to reflect their experiences to date. They’re not looking for an ultimate battle, they’re looking for something that perks their interests. Think of several books that show a slice of life, such as Diary of a Wimpy Kid; Judy Blume books such as Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret; Ramona Quinn books; James and the Giant Peach; and The Phantom Tollbooth. 

KK: Why did you decide to self publish?
Scott: I think self-publishing is a good idea, rather than take up too much time of the established publishing industry. If your book is any good, prove it with your sales and reviews, then show the publisher what you’ve done. Makes sense!

KK: When we meet Tyler he is a very lonely boy. Was your intention to deal with issues like bullying and loneliness? 
Scott: I don’t think it was my intention to deal with bullying and loneliness, but rather than these nicely worked into the plot. Definitely loneliness, since that is a reason we often have imaginary friends. Also, I wonder if due to the increase in entertainment and tablet technology, if loneliness among children isn’t increasing. 

KK: In the first book Dirk uses magic indiscriminately. Are there consequences for each spell cast? Loss of energy?
Scott: No, there are no consequences for Dirk. This is not accidental. In all my wizard books, every wizard is infinitely powerful with magic. The only things wizards cannot do is bring people back from the dead, or control people’s minds, and if you think about it, these obstacles actually render wizards pretty powerless with controlling humanity.

KK: Self publishing is risky business. How are you using social media to promote your book?
Scott: I don’t rely heavily on social media. I do have it, but I find that the quality of the books–and getting them out there to start with–are more important factors. I’m very grateful to the marketing whiz of BookBub though, because they listed one of my books, Life II, twice.

KK: Are you currently working on any new books?
Scott: I am ghostwriting three books–one, an epic fantasy; two, a dystopian humour book; and three, a mystery/adventure novel (actually, that is co-authored with another).

KK: Where can people find your books?
Scott: People may go to www.scottspotson.com or just type in “Spotson” on Amazon or Goodreads. 


Bio: Scott Spotson is a novelist who excels in imagining scenes of intrigue and adventure within ordinary lives while daydreaming, then pulls together various plots to create a compelling story. He likes to invent “what if?” scenarios, for example, what if I could go back to my university days, and what would I do differently? What if I could switch bodies with friends I am jealous of, like the guy who sold his software for millions of dollars and does whatever he pleases? What if I had the power to create clones of myself to do my bidding? Scott then likes to mentally insert himself into these situations, then plot a way to “get out” back to reality. This is how “Life II” and “Seeking Dr. Magic” were born, within weeks of each other. He’s still working on dreaming up a situation where he gets to smash a pie in the face of his boss, with no justification whatsoever – how to get out of that one?

Spooky & The Ghost Chorus (Available on Amazon.com)

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I haven’t written anything on my blog since my disastrous time at the greenhouse in Feasterville (not the popular one.) I’ve been in a crazy whirlwind of inspiration and madness. I put my Doctor Who novel aside because frankly I hated it. The plot was hackneyed and it was going nowhere fast. I will be picking it up again for this year’s National Novel Writer’s Month.

So what have I been doing? Well I got a temp gig at a great company. Met a bunch of brand new weirdo friends who I am incredibly grateful to have. But what am I writing? Glad you asked!

While getting sorted with a day job I also wrote a 40,000 word novella in September. After having it professionally proofread, I decided to self publish it through Amazon. That’s right, I went insane and wrote a novel in a few weeks. Not only one novel but I have mapped out a 13 part series for Halloween Hollow the world where Spooky is the Guardian of Halloween and Halloween themed wacky adventures abound.

Check it out here.

It may look like fluff for kids but we all know I grew up in the 80s. Themes abound. Themes like bullying, racism, being different and self acceptance.

The second book is going to be called: Spooky & The Underground Hollow. I have a chapter written already and a second one started. I started almost immediately after the book went to print. I love these characters so much I actually missed them when I wasn’t writing them for a week.

Next thing I will be doing is trying to figure out how to promote my books. I want to do a Blog Tour ( I read about it today…it’s like a world tour for my book the lazy way since I never leave my Ikea desk chair.)

On the Downeaster Alexa…

I haven’t written in awhile. Sorry. I’m in a precarious position where I am flat broke and scrambling. I have to take odd jobs and take on projects and fix pools. I’ve painted houses, made cards for special occasions and for about 4 weeks I worked at a greenhouse. Then they let me go…

It was mental torture. The pay sucked and basically I hated it. But I went out of my way to be pleasant (was told I was rude,) worked my ass off (and kept getting looks like I wasn’t) and basically tried to be a model citizen. There was no sound in the greenhouse. Sometimes the fans kicked on and the silence was relieved for seconds at a time but honestly it was like being in a sensory deprivation tank. And I couldn’t find my MP3 Player.

I did however, remember all the words to ‘Downester Alexa.’  The song is sad and haunting and all about what it’s like when you’re an obsolete human being. He’s a fisherman in a land of no fish and he can’t do anything but what he knows; fishing. So I spent 4 weeks alone, with no sound, working my ass off and singing a song about loneliness. Ha, if anyone had worked with me, seen me or even heard me that might have been cause to get rid of me. Person A – “Tell her to stop singing that song, it’s sad.” Person B – “Let’s just fire her…” But nope. I saw someone at the beginning of the day and at the end..or if I saw the bosses they gave me looks as if I’d peed in their breakfast cereal. It was rough and frankly a relief to be fired.

On the writing side of things, after being fired, I edited 100 pages of my story ‘Life with Amy’ and only have about 20 pages left until I force one of my friends to read the whole damned thing and tell me if it sucks. Maybe I’ll write a story about a greenhouse employee that kills everyone next, as a way of putting my job in perspective… I know I will be spotty on here until I get regular employ. I should be working on a commission right now (3 gods on a field of blue in acrylics–) but I needed to update my playlist to include ‘Downester Alexa’ to remind me that I cannot work in a vacuum.

Feel free to comment with stories of crap jobs you’ve worked. I love being sympathetic and empathetic.

 

Interview with Indie Author Charlie Daye

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I want to be a paid author. So do most of the people reading my blog I’m betting. So why not learn from the people who are already out there doing it? So I sent Charlie Daye a bunch of questions in the hopes of sucking all the awesome knowledge out of her Indie heart.

Charlie Daye began writing at the tender age of thirteen. With an obsession for romance, happy endings and the supernatural she delves into your greatest fantasies and worst nightmares. She will have you laughing, crying, falling in love and getting angry. She will always give you a HEA but getting there is the journey worth taking. Charlie Daye has authored several Paranormal Romance novels including The Hunter Series, Breeders and Request. Going where her muse takes her, Charlie has ventured out of the steamy romantic PNR with her new fantasy series Children of Kria.

KK: What is your process for coming up with novel ideas?

CD: Truthfully, I don’t really have a process. Most of the time, my idea come to me because of something I’ve seen or experienced. And every once in a while it will be because of something crazy a friend has done.

KK: How has your life and personal experiences influenced the creation of your novels?

CD: It’s influenced it greatly. About 50% of my characters are based on people I know and about 25% of the stories come from real life experiences.

KK: So you do base your characters on people in your life?

CD: Absolutely.

KK: How long did it take you to complete your first full length novel?

CD: 3 Months

KK: How many drafts do you typically create?

CD: Just one. I don’t see the need in duplicating my work repeatedly.

KK: When did you decide to become an author? Was there a big ‘Eureka’ moment or was it more of a subtle stumbling into it?

CD: *Laughs* It’s something that just kind of happened, I guess. I’ve been writing poetry and short stories since I was a kid but the idea for my first full length novel came when I was working in a cemetery. I thought it would be cool to write a story about a haunted house and so The House was born.

KK: What made you decide to go Indie?

CD: The thought of signing my rights away to a large corporation for any length of time is unnerving to me. My books are like my children, so it just made sense to keep then with me. Not only that but I’m obsessively picky about the books covers which you don’t really get a say in with most publishers. I think my cover artist secretly hates me! *Snickers*

KK: What part do you think social media (twitter, Facebook…) plays in marketing your books?

CD: I think FB and Twitter are great for getting the word out about my books but think it’s an even better option for my fans and readers to connect with me. It allows them to ask questions or simply converse back and forth with myself or other fans. And yes, I do respond personally to ever post and email I receive.

KK: What advice do you give to new authors starting out or older authors who want to go it alone and publish on Kindle, Nook and other independents?

CD: For the newbies… Keep it up. It’s hard work but if you have the drive it’ll pay off in the end. Just make sure you have honest beta readers and a great editor. For the older authors… you guys know how hard it was to get started and luckily have had some assistance in getting your name out there. As in indie, all that work is now on you so be prepared for tons of leg work.

KK: Where do you write? Do you have a designated area?

CD: I write in what I refer to as my dungeon. LOL. My office located in the basement of my house.

KK: What sustains you through a Fantasy series? Do you plan a story arc or do you wing it?

CD: I write on the fly. I wait for the story starts to bubble over then sit down and right until every last detail is on paper.

KK: What made you choose fantasy as your genre?

CD: Fantasy is actually new to me. Most of my fans are used to my PNR (Paranormal Romance) novels. But when I started writing my first Children of Kria novel, it took on a life of its own which took me from the PNR world right into the world of Fantasy. It’s been a little nerve wracking and am I bit terrified but it’s a new adventure I can’t wait to start.

KK: What is the new series about?

CD: Children of Kria was something I came up with while having a bad day. And since killing people in today’s society is highly frowned upon, I decided to create a world of immortal assassins that seek justice for those who would never get it on their own. Each story focuses on a different character in the world of Kriation and each character responds to a different kind of heart ache. Let’s take the first three books in the series, for example… Fury (Book 1) responds to the betrayal of a man to a woman, Raithe (Book 2) responds to rape, Vengeance (Book 3) responds to slavery and so on.

The stories will differ from character to character. In some instances you made read about how the assassins came to Kriation and in other instances you may read about a hunt they go after already being a Child o Kria and in some instances you’ll get both. The books are action packed thrill rides that are dark and deadly. They deal with issues that some may consider taboo or just downright disturbing.

This will be a new writing style for my current fans who are used to my paranormal romance novels. You will find no romance in these books since they are considered fantasy novels, however, I’ll still give your happily ever after.

KK: How do you approach writing? Do you set a time to write each day or do you write when the mood strikes? Wear funny hats? Play music?

CD: I write when the mood strikes me. I find if I try and write when I’m not in the mood, the story turns out horrible and I have to delete everything I wrote. So, for me, it makes sense to wait.

Check out a sample from Charlie Daye’s new series Children of Kria:

 Whatever was left of my heart had just been destroyed. It was bad enough knowing he married that horrid woman but it was something else entirely when I had to listen to them make out over the phone. The pain in my chest became so intense that I couldn’t breathe. I sat up and reached for my shot glass and the bottle of vodka that was currently sitting on my nightstand. I looked at the glass briefly before tossing it aside and drinking straight from the bottle. I just wanted the pain to stop. I wanted my life to go back to the way it was before I got involved with Gyan. I sobbed. Who was I kidding? I wanted Gyan back. I wanted him so much that the thought of living another day without him had me pulling my pocket knife out of my drawer and bringing it with me to bed. I began to mindlessly slide the blade across my arm. With every slice, the pain of my broken heart began to lessen. I sliced until I couldn’t lift my arm to hold the knife anymore. I slumped over on my bed and stared blankly at the puddle of blood that saturated my floor. A tear rolled down my cheek as the pain in my chest once again reared its ugly head. I closed my eyes and pleaded to the darkness, “Please make the pain go away.” As the darkness began to close in and the pain began to fade, a bright light began to take shape. It was iridescent in color and seemed to twist and turn until a very distinct shape took form. It was a woman with bright red hair and a white gown that flowed around her body like mist. Here eyes were the color of the raging sea during a storm. She lifted me up and cradled me in her arms like a baby. It was the most comforting feeling in the world. I smiled weakly, “Are you an angel?” She smiled and brushed a piece of my long dark hair away from my face, “No child. I am Kria.” Synop: I am a seeker of vengeance; A mender of broken hearts. I respond to the siren call of loneliness and despair. I was once a human woman; Very much like you; Until my heart was destroyed by the man I loved. My only purpose now is to avenge those that have been betrayed. I am Fury… And hell has nothing on me. Tag: Welcome to Kriation, where the brokenhearted come to seek the justice society can never give them.

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If you’d like to get in contact with Charlie Daye, check her out on Facebook, Twitter, Good Reads and on her website.

Destiny!

I am a huge Doctor Who fan. I’ve grown up with the show. It is a big part of my personality, it is so ingrained. Just ask anyone who has tried to perpetuate an injustice near me. I will stand up and try to fight it… I’ve lost a job over it and quit a few more because of it. So it is only natural that I aspire to write Doctor Who Novels.

No, I do not want to put myself in the books. No, I do not want to live out some ‘it should have eneded this way’ fantasies. Yes, I do want to write a solid piece of awesome science fiction. To that end-that’s terrible. Whos says, ‘to that end?’ No one.- I have started working on my novel.

I went to the BBC and read the guidelines: (http://www.bbc.co.uk/doctorwho/classic/books/guidelines.shtml) It was enlightening and hilarious. I really enjoyed reading it. The guidelines were basically, ‘No idiots, please.’ I think if all submission guidelines were written like the Doctor Who guidelines, Twilight may have been averted.

Then I made a page of themes and plots. I did those in red ink because it was more dramatic and I had lost all my other pens… Out of all the ideas, I chose 2 and smushed them together. I then secured my test audience (two of them anyway, waiting on the third.) Tomorrow: Subplots.

Oh, I also had another article accepted on textbroker… But my story at Analog is still marked as recieved. Will it never switch to read? Stay tuned for more writing fun as it happens…