Interview with Bestselling Author Helen Carey

I am so pleased to introduce the talented fiction author, Helen Carey. Helen is best known for her popular Lavender Road series, which is set in South London during the Second World War. The Lavender Road novels include Lavender Road, Some Sunny Day, On a Wing and a Prayer, London Calling and The Other Side of the Street.

Helen started writing about the war when she met a neighbour at a bus stop in London who pointed out where the air-raid shelters used to be on Clapham Common. That sparked an interest in the Second World War, especially for lesser known details, which now appear in Helen’s spell-binding novels.

Having lived in London, Germany, Switzerland and the West Indies, Helen now lives in Newport, Pembrokeshire in Wales, on a small coastal farm which she and her husband run as a conservation project. She is also a prize winning artist and has made a gallery out of a converted goat shed. As well as painting and writing she teaches Creative Writing at various universities and currently has a Royal Literary Fund fellowship at Aberystwyth University.

She has also written the exciting thriller novel, Slick Deals, which really piqued my interest due to its settings!

Helen, as the author of the popular Lavender Road series, a saga set in London during the WWII era, what inspired you to write Slick Deals, a thriller novel set in London and West Wales?

I was inspired to write SLICK DEALS after going out on a dolphin survey boat in Cardigan Bay just off the beautiful coast of Pembrokeshire where I live. We had a wonderful day, during which we saw masses of seabirds, gannets, terns, puffins, Manx shearwaters, and over a thousand dolphins. But on the way back we passed an oil exploration vessel, and we all agreed how terrible it would be if oil drilling was allowed to spoil such a fragile and beautiful environment. I used to work in the oil industry at one time so I knew the dangers. So I decided the best thing was to write a novel! As well as flagging up the local issue, I thought the conflict between the oil industry and environmentalists would make a good basis for an exciting crime thriller.

That sounds like some amazing inspiration with wisdom to back it up! Was there any particular inspiration behind the American character, Nick Jardine, who is the ‘irritatingly cool environmentalist’?

I suppose he’s a mix of various people I have met over the years, some Brits, some Americans. Yes, he is very cool, and a bit too laid-back at first, but only in a deliberate attempt to provoke the oil trader heroine of the story, Ella Crossley! In the end, of course, he turns out to be pretty tough, but I liked the idea of him pulling the wool over her eyes. I wanted to show that environmentalists aren’t all as ‘hippy-dippy’ as the media sometimes makes out. By the end of the book I was half in love with him myself!

Slick Deals also has a strong romantic suspense element, which seems to work very well in this novel, and many readers have asked for a sequel. Are you considering writing one, and if so, what can we look forward to in the next instalment?

I would love to write a sequel! I actually do have an idea in mind for another crime thriller, but at the moment I am finishing off my Lavender Road series. Once I have done that, and had a nice long holiday (!) I might well turn my attention to Ella Crossley and Nick Jardine once again.

Being a resident of West Wales yourself, your own experiences and familiarity with the countryside must have helped with writing the scenes in Slick Deals a great deal. What about Wales has drawn you to make it your home?

Yes, indeed, I don’t think I could have written Slick Deals without knowing the area and the varied mix of people who live here. The Welsh are extraordinarily tolerant and welcoming people. I think that’s partly why so many so-called ‘hippies’ settled here in the 70s!

The other reason that so many people come to live here in Pembrokeshire is that it is one of the most beautiful and unspoilt places in the world. My husband and I live on a small organic farm which we run as a conservation project. From our house, which is tucked under Carn Ingli (Mount of Angels), we have views out over Cardigan Bay and the Irish Sea. There are many other parts of the world that I love, but in the end I always want to come back here!

I can really picture Pembrokeshire as the perfect home for a writer! Are you planning another novel, and if so, can you tell us a little bit about it?

My next novel will be VICTORY GIRLS, the sixth in my Lavender Road series. It is set in the last year of World War Two. Like most of my books it is essentially about women trying to make their way in a male dominated world.

Helen de Burrel knows how dangerous it is in war-torn France, but it’s a long time since she heard from her French fiancé, André Cabillard, and now she has decided to go back to try to track him down.

Her friend Molly Coogan is finding it hard to stop thinking about a Canadian pilot she met while nursing overseas. But Molly wasn’t ‘good enough’ for him, and now she is back in London, determined to discover the truth about her family history, especially about the mother who gave her up for adoption when she was four years old.

The war may be nearly over, but the women of Lavender Road still have battles to fight!

As a prolific writer of seven novels, do you ever experience writer’s block, and if so, what tools and tricks do you use to overcome it?

I have never really experienced writer’s block, although that might be partly due to the fact that I have been commissioned to write most of my novels, and there is nothing more motivating than a publisher’s dead-line!

However, in between novels I do sometimes find myself floundering a bit and I have found Julia Cameron’s book, The Artist’s Way, very helpful for getting me back on track.

My other tip for writers is to know your ending. Novelists, in particular, often get stuck when they don’t know for sure where they are headed. I spend a lot of time working out my plots, and that helps enormously, because I always know (more or less) what needs to happen in the next scene.

That’s great advice. I noticed that you are also a traditionally published author. What has been your experience with the traditional publishing industry?

Yes, my Lavender Road novels are published in the UK, Europe and Commonwealth by Headline Books, a major London publisher, and the audio version by Isis Soundings. I was previously published by Orion, another big London publishing house.

There are obviously plusses and minuses of being traditionally published and being an indie author. The plusses of the traditional publishers are that the books are professionally edited, and distributed into bookshops and libraries much more widely than I could do myself. I also get a nice fat advance on royalties!

The advantages of indie publishing are that I have much more control over content, covers and pricing.

I think the way I have it at the moment, retaining the US rights on my books, is a good compromise.

Helen, thank you so much for sharing your inspiration for Slick Deals and your insight on writing with us. Where can readers find your books and learn more about you?

I love hearing from readers.

You can visit my website: http://www.helencareybooks.co.uk

My books are all on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Helen-Carey/e/B0066LDO96

Or you can find me on Facebook and Twitter: @helencareybooks

 

Best Fiction Books Set in Wales

If you’re looking to escape to a far-off, magical land via the printed page, what better place to slip away to than Wales? There are so many great books that I could add to this list, but in pulling together the best fiction books set in Wales, I aimed for relevancy plus a little variety. Most of these books are not only set Wales, but have a Welsh theme. Some are based on historical facts and actual events. You’ll find these novels span several genres, from romance to historical fiction, fantasy and even thriller.

Leap the Wild Water (The Megan Jones Trilogy Book 1) by Jenny Lloyd 

One of the most glittering gems of indie author talent, Jenny Lloyd has written a brilliant trilogy inspired by her Welsh heritage and ancestors.

Brother and sister, Morgan and Megan Jones, share a dark secret. One snowy night, six years before, Morgan did a terrible thing and he is haunted by the consequences. His sister Megan wants to put the past behind her and is planning to marry Eli Jenkins. Morgan risks losing everything, including absolution for his wrongdoing, should Megan get what she wants. Morgan is a desperate man, there is no telling to what lengths he may go to get his own way.

As their paths diverge, the personal choices they make will have grave consequences for each other and for others. Meanwhile, a little girl suffers abuse and neglect at the hands of the woman paid to raise her. Too late, Megan realizes her mistake in thinking she could keep her secret safe. Her past begins to catch up with her and the only choices left to her are ones of life and death.

The first book in the Megan Jones trilogy, Leap the Wild Water is a tense, suspenseful novel set against the harsh and beautiful backdrop of early 19th century, religious, rural Wales. Leap the Wild Water is a story of treachery, betrayal, love and redemption, and the enduring strength of the human spirit.

What readers are saying:

“The writing was a delight – controlled, structured, poetic, well-paced and authentic. I loved the descriptions of the Welsh countryside in all weathers – beautifully brought to life by an author who both loves the land and knows the art of good writing. It held me mesmerized to its breathtaking ending. All the time as I read, I could see this story making a riveting TV series.” –Malla Duncan, Amazon Reviewer

“Ms. Lloyd weaves a poignant tale of family with a beauty and grace that takes your breath away. We are taken into the minds of sister and brother, Megan and Morgan, and without being consciously aware, the reader feels sympathy to both, drawn in by the skillful depth of their characters. Leap the Wild Water transports the reader to a different time, letting us feel the rush of the water, the wind in our hair, the riotous colours of vegetation on a Welsh mountain, the harsh reality of child abuse and the hopelessness of just being free, as a woman, in an unforgiving time.” –Megan Denby, Author

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Daughter of Time (The After Cilmeri Series Book 1) by Sarah Woodbury

A medieval man with an uncertain destiny, Llywelyn, the Prince of Wales, faces treachery and deceit at the hands of friends and foes alike …

A modern woman with a troubled past, Meg’s life is in tatters when she slips through time and into medieval Wales …

Only by working together can Meg and Llywelyn navigate the shifting allegiances that threaten the very existence of Wales–and create their own history that defies the laws of time.

Daughter of Time is appropriate for teens to adults and is followed by Footsteps in Time, Book One in the After Cilmeri series.

What readers are saying: 

“While a time-travel romance, the relationship between Meg and Prince Llywelyn of Wales is not cliché. It’s truly two people struggling to overcome their different backgrounds and the current political climate of 13th century Wales to follow their hearts. The completely fresh storyline of a Daughter of Time is one of the strongest aspects of this story.” –The Kindle Book Review

“Daughter of Time gives a picture of medieval Wales and using known history, the author weaves a romantic tale where two people from different times come to love one another. Sarah Woodbury does an excellent job with the setting, history, and emotions of both main characters and I look forward to reading more of this series.” –Jane Jones, Amazon Reviewer

Also see Sarah’s author interview on the Welsh-American social network, Americymru.

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Voices of the Stars by Rowena Whaling

“Voices of the Stars” is a sweeping, heroic saga – presented in an Arthurian setting in a very historically accurate Post-Roman land of the Britons. It is a fantasy, action/adventure, metaphysical, psychological, myth and magic, tragic romance, medieval warfare, historical fiction novel.

“Voices of the Stars” is the true, in-depth, eye-witness chronicle of the world of the King, Arthur, and his compatriots of his Alliance of the 5 distinct cultures living on “These Our Fair Isles”: the original Old Dark Tribes, the Celtic Clans, the Roman-styled Britons, the Picti and the original, ‘legal’ Saxons, whose land was obtained through barter with Vortigern. It is also the real story of Arthur and Morgan’s tragic, Star-crossed love for one another, the devoted loyalty of their brother of the heart, Bedwyr, the strength of their mother, Igraine, Great Seer of the Old Dark Tribes, the treachery of their other sister Morganna le Faye, and the never before told story of the only child of Arthur’s blood, Mordred. Woven into the rich Dark Age tapestry of this magnificently complex, emotionally charged novel – the first in its series – are the Old Ways, The Old Gods, the Great Goddess and the Goddesses Nine, Magic, Seers, Enchantresses, Druids, Dragons, Ancient Rituals, medieval warfare, and the Leonardo DaVinci of his day – Gwyddion, the Merlin.

What readers are saying:

“An epic poetic tale…mesmerizing from the first page to the last. This is the history behind the Arthurian legends but no less intriguing and carried over generations. The perfect ensemble of history, knowledge, eloquent writing, magic, and mystery to keep every page turning. The characters come to life upon the pages as you live through them and experience the past from many perspectives. I can’t wait for the next of the series to be published!” –Ryan S., Amazon Reviewer

“BEST Arthurian Novel EVER…This take on the Arthurian Saga is told totally from Ancient British and Welsh sources, so there is no Lancelot or other later or French trappings. And I loved it!” –Stharp28, Amazon Reviewer

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I Let You Go by Clare Mackintosh

On a rainy afternoon, a mother’s life is shattered as her son slips from her grip and runs into the street…

I Let You Go follows Jenna Gray as she moves to a ramshackle cottage on the remote Welsh coast, trying to escape the memory of the car accident that plays again and again in her mind and desperate to heal from the loss of her child and the rest of her painful past.

At the same time, the novel tracks the pair of Bristol police investigators trying to get to the bottom of this hit-and-run. As they chase down one hopeless lead after another, they find themselves as drawn to each other as they are to the frustrating, twist-filled case before them. Elizabeth Haynes, author of Into the Darkest Corner, says, “I read I Let You Go in two sittings; it made me cry (at least twice), made me gasp out loud (once), and above all made me wish I’d written it…a stellar achievement.”

What readers are saying: 

‘“On the level of the movie The Sixth Sense for its cleverness…This kind of sharp, cunning writing makes one eagerly look forward to Mackintosh’s next novel.” —Shelf Awareness

“Chilling, compelling, and compassionate.”—Paula Hawkins, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Girl on the Train

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Here Be Dragons: A Novel (Welsh Princes Trilogy Book 1) by Sharon Kay Penman

Thirteenth-century Wales is a divided country, ever at the mercy of England’s ruthless, power-hungry King John. Llewelyn, Prince of North Wales, secures an uneasy truce by marrying the English king’s beloved illegitimate daughter, Joanna, who slowly grows to love her charismatic and courageous husband. But as John’s attentions turn again and again to subduing Wales—and Llewelyn—Joanna must decide where her love and loyalties truly lie.

The turbulent clashes of two disparate worlds and the destinies of the individuals caught between them spring to life in this magnificent novel of power and passion, loyalty and lies. The book that began the trilogy that includes Falls the Shadow and The Reckoning, Here Be Dragons brings thirteenth-century England, France, and Wales to tangled, tempestuous life.

What readers are saying:

“A masterful picture of Wales in the thirteenth century . . . vividly pictured as grandly beautiful, its people volatile, stubborn, and mystic.” —The San Diego Union

“I absolutely loved learning about Wales and their history in more detail… Oh my where to start with this review. This trilogy captivated me even more than the Plantagenet series. I absolutely loved learning about Wales and their history in more detail. I cry through the trilogy a lot so I can’t really read in public (lol) and even after 50-100 times reading I still cry when I read about Joanna. I always hope for a different ending but I know it’s not to be. I laughed at some parts too especially at one standout moment with Joanna – won’t give it away for people who haven’t read it yet.” –Veronica H., Amazon Reviewer

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The Grey King by Susan Cooper

There is a Welsh legend about a harp of gold, hidden within a certain hill, that will be found by a boy and a white dog with silver eyes — a dog that can see the wind. Will Stanton knew nothing of this when he came to Wales to recover from a severe illness. But when he met Bran, a strange boy who owned a white dog, he began to remember. For Will is the last-born of the Old Ones, immortals dedicated to saving the world from the forces of evil, the Dark. And it is Will’s task to wake-with the golden harp — the six who must be roused from their long slumber in the Welsh hills to prepare for the last battle between the Dark and the Light.

What readers are saying:

“This is my favorite book out of the series, and a large part of that is because it’s set in Wales. I have a weakness for the place, most probably because I’m part Welsh, and the places she has used are all described so perfectly. Cooper is a master bard.” –eirian_evenstar@buzzle.com, Amazon Reviewer

“I love this series probably more than any other I’ve read. It could be because my fifth grade teacher read part of this series to us and it was what got me truly interested in reading. This particular book is gorgeous. The imagery and romance of Wales! I remember after reading this I wanted to learn the language and go visit! :).” –Liz, Amazon Reviewer

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Rape of the Fair Country by Alexander Cordell

The first volume in Alexander Cordell’s classic trilogy of mid-nineteenth century Wales.

Set in the grim valleys of the Welsh iron country during the turbulent times of the Industrial Revolution, this unforgettable novel begins the saga of the Mortymer family – a family of hard men and beautiful women, all forced into a bitter struggle with their harsh environment, as they slave and starve for the cruel English ironmasters.

But adversity could never still the free spirit of Wales, or quiet its soaring voice, and the Mortymers struggle on even as the iron foundries ravish their homeland and cripple their people.

Rape of the Fair Country launched the bestselling career of Alexander Cordell in 1959 and went on to sell millions of copies in seventeen languages throughout the world.

What readers are saying: 

“An engrossing, heart-rending, and savagely beautiful book. Written from the perspective of a young boy growing to adulthood in early nineteenth century industrial Wales, the story leaps at you from the very first page and holds you utterly enthralled until the last.” –Mike Williams, Amazon Reviewer

“A period of history that should not be forgotten… This is an excellent book. This is the kind of history that should be taught in Welsh schools. Apart from that, I agree with all the well written (5 star) reviews. Da Iawn!” –Dieter Von Wolfswinkel, Amazon Reviewer

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Between Two Fires: A Novel (Queen Branwen) by Mark Noce

Saxon barbarians threaten to destroy medieval Wales. Lady Branwen becomes Wales’ last hope to unite their divided kingdoms when her father betroths her to a powerful Welsh warlord, the Hammer King. But the fledgling alliance is fraught with enemies from within and without as Branwen becomes the target of assassination attempts and courtly intrigue. A young woman in a world of fierce warriors, she seeks to assert her own authority and preserve Wales against the barbarians. But when she falls for a young hedge knight named Artagan, her world threatens to tear itself apart.

Caught between her duty to her people and her love of a man she cannot have, Branwen must choose whether to preserve her royal marriage or to follow her heart. Somehow she must save her people and remain true to herself, before Saxon invaders and a mysterious traitor try to destroy her.

Branwen’s story combines elements of mystery and romance with Noce’s gift for storytelling.

What readers are saying:

“A spirited ride through a turbulent slice of Welsh history!” –Paula Brackston, NYT Bestselling author of The Witch’s Daughter

“A fast-paced read that has a wonderfully visual style and some memorable characters. Mark Noce combines Welsh history with a touch of folkloric magic in this promising debut novel. Lady Branwen is a strong and engaging narrator and the turbulent setting of early medieval Wales makes a fine backdrop for an action-packed story.” –Juliet Marillier, Bestselling author of Daughter of the Forest and Wolfskin

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The Lost Welsh Kingdom: What was to become of Gruffudd ap Llywelyn’s Queen? by John Hughes

“Another epic novel from John Hughes.” –Norma Penfold, Gwales

Set in the period of the reign of Gruffudd ap Llywelyn (1039-63), a violent, determined man who became the undisputed king of all Wales, “The Lost Welsh Kingdom” follows the life and times of young Elen. Very much against her will, her life becomes embroiled with that of this most powerful of Welsh kings at his capital in Rhuddlan. Will she survive such a life of misery? Or will she embrace the fate that has befallen her…

Amazon UK

Y Lolfa Publishing: Paperback

 

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Sacrifice: Book One of y Ddraig (The Dragons of Brython) by Gwendolyn Beynon

528 A.D. Cymru (Wales)

Melangell is a Lifebringer, a dragon-maiden learning to protect one of the land’s most ancient mysteries, y Ddraig. She expects to pass her years as have a score of teachers before her—sequestered, safeguarding an egg that barely moves from year to year, never using the deadly skills she’s been taught in secret. But the King’s relentless pursuit of this most sought after relic throws her into the middle of war and, adept or not, Melangell enters captivity with the egg to defend the sleeping dragonling within.

Her abductor is Cai ap Cynyr—fierce warrior, loyal brother and sword-arm to the King. He’s been hunting all of Cymry for the treasures Artwr demands to ensure triumph against the invading Angles. He uses the intrigue of the Lifebringer to master his armsmen, but when he spirits Melangell and the dragon egg further into seclusion, she grows captivated by her captor.

But she is a Lifebringer, sworn only to y Ddraig. And fierce Cai must deliver the dragonling to Artwr to at last drag himself out of his brother’s deep shadow. And all the while the egg readies itself to emerge.

‘Sacrifice’ is the first in a series of three books based around ‘y Ddraig’ (the Dragon) set in sixth-century Arthurian Wales, featuring characters based on Welsh myth and history.

What readers are saying:

“Gwendolyn Beynon’s fast-paced and utterly winning debut is a mix of historical fiction and fantasy… Seamlessly blends the fantasy elements of her story with well-grounded pre-history, and the result is the beginning of a first-rate new series. Recommended.” —Historical Novel Society

“I’ve never read a story like this!  I was completely entranced by this story. Nothing is sugar coated and the the details are consistent with the life at that time… Trust me, you want to read this book.” –Book Born, Amazon Reviewer

Best Young Adult Celtic Fantasy Adventure eBooks

When I look for good reads in Celtic fantasy, I always seem to find myself hunting around on Amazon forever. This is a niche genre and somehow the best books get buried under all the other types of fantasy out there. I took some time to pull the really awesome ones together in one place. Here are 10 gems of Celtic fantasy not to be excluded from your list of Kindle favorites.

Three Wells of the Sea by Terry Madden and Digital Fiction

When Nechtan, warrior king of the Five Quarters is murdered, he leaves his land on the brink of civil war. His closest adviser, the druid Lyleth, has a price on her head and the evidence to condemn the real killer. Seeking to unify the land, she strikes a bargain with her green gods and weaves a forgotten spell to summon her king from the land of the dead.

Hugh Cavendish is torn from his life as a high school English teacher and pitched back into the turmoil of his previous life as king Nechtan. If he and Lyleth fail to regain his throne and prevent civil war, the ice-born reaver known as the Bear waits to snatch up the scraps of the kingdom. As Hugh clings to life in our world, in the other he must face the rebellion as well as the Bear. If he lets go of life in either world he will lose not only his kingdom but the woman he loves.

What readers are saying: 

“If you are a fan of Celtic literature, or have fond memories of To Green Angel Tower in particular, pick up Three Wells of the Sea as fast as you can.” — New Myths Magazine

“For fans of the dual worlds of Stephen R. Donaldson’s ‘The Land’ and Stephen King’s ‘The Talisman.’ Let’s welcome Terry Madden’s Five Quarters to the world just outside the one we live in. It has a spark of wonder, indeed.” — Rusty Clark, April 2016

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The Treasure of Gwenlais: The Rienfield Chronicles Book I by M.T. Magee

Can a reluctant Princess fulfill her destiny to heal the torn Kingdoms and the heart of a battle hardened warrior Prince? Join Laurel on an extraordinary journey of discovery, danger, wonder, and finding a love she only dared dream of. Come with her to find the truth of who she is, and those who will do anything to stop her from making the words of the Olden Scribes a reality. A love story that will leave you breathless and believing in the wonder of Scottish and Irish folklore and fairy tales.

Come and experience the beauty, danger, and romance of an epic historical medieval fantasy that whispers of Celtic legend.

Multi Award Winning International Amazon #1 Bestseller #1 Best Fantasy Romance (not urban) On Listopia.

What readers are saying:

“This book is amazing! It has everything. Love, betrayal, action, all of it. I can not wait for the next book to come out! You have out done yourself it is truly a magnificent work of art.” — Jaime King, Amazon Reviewer

“She has created lovable characters that suck you into the Kingdoms of Gwenlais and Heathwin, and has imagined wonderful fantasy elements to create a world that you won’t want to leave.” — Reviewed by Brittney Rossie for Readers’ Favorite 

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Finn Finnegan by Darby Karchut

Finn (not bleedin’ Finnegan) MacCullen is eager to begin his apprenticeship. He soon discovers the ups and downs of hunting monsters in a suburban neighborhood under the demanding tutelage of the Knight, Gideon Lir. Both master and apprentice are descendants of the Tuatha De Danaan, a magical race of warriors from Ireland. Scattered long ago to the four corners of the world, the De Danaan wage a two thousand year old clandestine battle with their ancient enemy, the Amand, a breed of goblin-like creatures. Now with the beasts concentrating their attacks on Finn, he and his master must race to locate the lost Spear of the Tuatha De Danaan, the only weapon that can destroy the Amand, all the while hiding his true identity from his new friends, Rafe and Savannah, twins whose South African roots may hold a key to Finn’s survival. Armed with a bronze dagger, some ancient Celtic magic, and a hair-trigger temper, Finn is about to show his enemies the true meaning of fighting Irish.

What readers are saying:

Funny, action-packed, wonderful! I loved this! I can’t possibly describe how giddy reading this book made me feel, but I’ll still give t a try! — Lydia Perversius, Amazon Reviewer

Finn Finnegan brings classic adventure into a modern day setting for a great read. The Celtic lore in the story is fascinating and gives it an extra richness. This will appeal to all those readers (myself included) who love the idea of a hidden and dangerous world within our own sometimes too ordinary world. — Dee Garretson, author of Wildfire Run and Wolf Storm

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The Forged Prince (The Chronicles of Tethera Book 1) by Michael Laird

For his own part, the boy named Llew intends to show the self-styled Queen of Deceit that even a weapon forged for evil can turn in its maker’s grasp and strike in an unexpected direction—most especially a weapon with a mind of its own.

Forced to venture forth through the wilds, to usurp a throne he does not desire, to save a kingdom he has never seen, Llew at once finds himself pursued by an ever-growing array of deadly enemies. Although he has gone forth to do the impossible, it now seems impossible he will live long enough to even try.

Fortunately, Llew is impossibly optimistic . . . and fairly handy with a sword.

This is the first book in the Chronicles of Tethera. It has been praised by readers as a very well written and gripping tale with compelling characters that each speak in their own voice, plenty of action and adventure, and all of it set in the deeply imagined world of a Prydein that never was.

What readers are saying:

“I really enjoyed reading the story. I read a lot of fantasy and mysteries. I am always looking for a new author and new stories. I like sequels – so I am looking forward to the next installment.” — Amazon Reviewer

“Five Stars. Can’t wait for the next book in the series!” — Rebecca S. Pandas, Amazon Reviewer

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The Tales of Tanglewood: The Curse of Satyr Stump by Scott Michael Kessman

The Tales of Tanglewood fantasy series melds together influences of Celtic and Irish mythology with modern-day folklore. In the second tale, “The Curse of Satyr Stump”, Colin, Blood of the Fey, returns to Tanglewood shortly before Sahwen night, a time when the magic of the ‘wood has a strange effect on all things within it. Things have entered the ‘wood that should not be there, and the pathways are no longer safe. The blackberries have spoiled, a pooka roams the ‘wood, and a strong calling pulls Colin close to Satyr Stump, where Fionn the satyr has been cursed by Grainne, the Grey Lady. Tasked to face the dark druidess and help break the curse upon Fionn, Colin seeks help from the druid Bairtlemead Muffingrow, the ferrish Ailfrid, and the elfin girl Deidre. But it will be the satyr chieftain himself who joins Colin, seeking to help restore another piece of Tanglewood that has been claimed by deiney corruption. But the Grey Lady will not yield so easily, and Colin and Fionn are both nearly powerless in her domain. Colin learns very quickly that during Sahwen, Tanglewood can be a very dangerous place indeed.

What readers are saying:

“Can’t wait for the next one! An excellent series that keeps the reader guessing and waiting for more. The plot keeps on going and the characters become more interesting as the series progresses.” — No, Amazon Reviewer

“Good read (or listen). I really enjoyed listening to the first two stories in the series. If you want to read about a child that discovers the magical world of the fey, this is a good read or listen. I listen to books while I work and want to thank the author for an enjoyable story!” — Marc in Texas, Amazon Reviewer

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Knights of the Red Branch by S.A. Archer and S. Ravynheart

Only one thing stands between Sin and her knighthood, Finley Connelly – The golden boy of the Red Branch School. Defeating him with his superior Sidhe magic and quick bow is near to impossible, so the school’s patroness offers Sin an alternative final exam; to complete a quest in the woods of the Dryad of Death. This is a worthy mission, one fraught with dangers, which is exactly why Finley won’t let Sin go it alone, never realizing that there are greater stakes at play than just Sin reaching graduation. They’ve become pawns in a bigger game, and all sides seem ready to sacrifice them to further their own agendas. When death takes its toll, and Sin has no one but her enemies to turn to, she has to weigh what she wanted for herself against what she must become to survive.

What readers are saying:

“As usual, S.A. Archer has created incredible characters that grab you and drag you into their world.” Kelly — Reading the Paranormal review blog

“I don’t think these guys can write anything I don’t love!” Cassie — Gathering Leaves review blog

“S.A. Archer keep them coming! I am hooked!” Kira — The Book Lover’s Realm

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Celtic Forest (The Farnir Chronicles Book 1) by Vivette Hauser

Between slavery and freedom…
…lies hope and the faith to cast off your shackles.

Cut adrift by his sister’s death, the young warrior Lugus races to warn the Council of the Wise: the leaves in Celtic Forest are about to fall, exposing Lugus and his people to the threat of slavery under the Noxen rule. Thrown together with a maiden with no memory, he has to fight his own disillusionment to rally the Celts before they destroy themselves.

And as they fall to your feet…
…look at the world crumbling around you.

Change is upon more than just Celtic Forest. A slave boy breaks his bonds to stumble upon a pocket of resistance hidden in the mists of Farnir. As the Celts stir, the Noxen kingdom itself is crumbling from within. Winding through a finely spun net of intrigues the slave lords, military and senate are moving to seize the power of the complacent royal family for themselves.

The players are assuming their positions…
…where will they stand when Celtic Forest crumbles?

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The Second Battle by Jennifer L. Gadd

According to the prophecy, Lugh is destined to kill his own grandfather. Determined to escape his fate, he runs the risk of drawing all of Ireland into war.

The story of Cath Maige Tuired has enthralled readers since the 9th Century. With this fictionalized retelling, the exciting story of the Battle for Ireland between the Tuatha Dé Danann and the Fomori reaches a new generation of young adult readers.

What readers are saying: 

“A Compelling Retelling of Celtic Myth. It is no easy feat to create a modern narrative encompassing a series of Celtic myths, but Ms. Gadd sure pulls it off.” — Justine Manzano, Amazon Reviewer

“This was terrific! The author has an easy and captivating writing style that keeps you engaged throughout her work. The story is compelling, and despite the challenges of working with Celtic source material, Ms. Gadd has created a full myth cycle with beautiful continuity. Very well done. Highly recommend!” — Melissa S. Ashton, Amazon Reviewer

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Myfanwy: First Book of the Myfanwy’s People Series by Joseph Liaigh

Tom is dragged unhappily from the Australian surf to go to London in the middle of an English winter. His unhappiness increases when a mysterious figure magically appears on Westminster Bridge and tries to kill him. Tom is soon fighting bullies, being hunted by a psychotic magic user and kidnapped by a secret government agency. At school, he meets Myfanwy, and discovers that she can do magic, just as she discovers that he is immune to all forms of magic power. Their initial fear and distrust soon turns to friendship and Tom discovers a whole world of magic, beauty – and danger. This very friendship, however, threatens to upset the delicate power balance in the magic realm.

Tom and Myfanwy must get together to save the world, perhaps even the universe. But how can they, when the whole magic community is trying to keep them apart?

What readers are saying:

“Myfanwy is a charming book in every sense. It explores the magic of reality and the reality of magic. It uses great humour and suspense. It is fantasy of the best kind, the kind that sheds light on your own life as it keeps you turning the pages.” — Michael McGirr, Best selling author of The Things You Get For Free and The Lost Art of Sleep.

“A refreshingly unique story, Myfanwy invites the reader to explore intriguing characters embroiled in age-old conflicts between good and evil in an exciting and modern setting. I am looking forward to my children reading Myfanwy and growing to love it’s carefully created, layered world, while developing their own faith and exploring fundamental questions of right and wrong.” — Riny Davis, Librarian and mother of four.

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Fae Horse: A Faerie Tale by Anthea Sharp

Accused as witch, Eileen must flee for her life, leaving her village and true love behind. With her pursuers closing in, she chances across a strange black horse – but does she dare to pay the price of escape?

Fae Horse is a short story of 5k words (about 25 pages) in the traditional dark faerie tale style.

What readers are saying:

“It was so BEAUTIFULLY written.” — Taunya L. Clark, Amazon Reviewer

“This is a lovely short story based on an Irish legend or fairy tale. The imagery of the night and the wild ride on the horse was fantastic.”  — Diana Vincent, Amazon Reviewer

Interview with Award-winning Author, D. Hart St. Martin

D. Hart St. Martin is one of my favorite authors of Young Adult Fantasy, and I am thrilled to be able to share her insights about writing with you today.

Hart is the author of the award-winning Lisen of Solsta series. In these incredible books, she pulls off the near impossible by creating a virtually genderless society of marsupial humanoids on another planet. When I say she “pulls it off” I mean she really, actually pulls it off, by writing about the characters and their world in a completely believable and compelling way.

Hart, I can definitely say the Lisen of Solsta series is not your run-of-the-mill fantasy on planet Earth. What  inspired you to write such unique fiction?

I began with the premise of a world with no sexism. It took me many years to figure out what that must look like, with little bits of the culture and the physiology required, I felt, for such a world to exist settling into place over time. I believed that the manner of procreation was the key. If men and women were to share equally in the nurturing of the child before birth, their brains might be hard-wired differently than on Earth. That’s when I came upon the concept of the marsupial pouch, but for both sexes. This was the final touch, believe it or not.

I think my favorite moments were writing what it was like for Korin to pouch and carry Rinli. I enjoyed watching him soften while still remaining the soldier he’d always been. I also loved comparing his experience and reaction to it with Lorain’s. He was joyful while she was simply performing her duty. Their two “pouching-ins” gave me the opportunity to fully explore many of the aspects of this thing that would be so strange to humans.

As for the setting, I read once that Tolkien placed The Lord of the Rings in an English/European setting because he felt that England had little to nothing in the way of mythology of its own. I thought why not set my story in a place I knew well–California, specifically Southern California. With the beautiful ocean communities to the west, a wide stretch to the mountains then into the desert to the east (well, sort of).

The characters in your series are remarkably real, even though both males and females have a “pouch” on their abdomen, and a member of either gender can carry the baby. How do you go about developing your characters so well? Do you make character sheets, charts, etc., or do you have a different method?

I am a sloppy writer. Not exactly disorganized, but I do little in the way of immortalizing my characters on paper (or in a document) before beginning the actual writing. I have a spread sheet of sorts that lists the name, age, hair color, eye color, height (tall or short when not average for this world), special notes (like which eye is Korin missing–it’s his left) and the scene in which the character first appears. My characters usually reveal themselves to me best not so much when I write a scene from their point of view but when another character’s POV shows me something new I hadn’t seen before.

It surprised me in the beginning when reviewers and readers would mention how true each character’s voice was to that character. It was only later that I realized that the reason it didn’t feel like I’d made an effort to accomplish that was because I was able to slip into a POV character’s skin when I wrote a scene through their eyes.

What is it about the Young Adult Fantasy genre that most appeals to you as a writer?

I fell in love with Science Fiction and Fantasy when I was in my teens, way back when there were little-to-no female heroes. I would always reconfigure things in my imagination so the hero had a sister or a daughter who would carry on the story. I have continued to read YA Fantasy (as well as other books with YA protagonists) because there is something redeeming in watching a young person come into their own while dealing with impossible odds.

Since you have written a successful series which is adored by fans – and won awards, no less! – is there any advice you can offer aspiring authors?

Wow. I think the hardest thing about writing is the fact that we sit alone in a room for months or years at a time–no cheerleaders, no fawning fans–and write our souls out. You can’t do it for the money because there are too many books and too little money out there. You have to do it because you can’t not do it. And you absolutely have to be honest. Whatever the genre, whether fiction or nonfiction, the most important thing is to speak your truth.

I love that answer, and I can see how you’ve sown your truth within the steps of your characters’ journeys. Does the story of Lisen teach us a moral lesson of any kind?

Well, obviously what the reader takes away from any story is up to them, but my hope is that a better understanding of how equality of the sexes without division of roles based on gender stereotypes will be the take-away. I made a point of showing families interacting–more so in book 4, Protector of Thristas, than in the first trilogy–because when I began writing this, Phyllis Schlafly, the antifeminist rabble rouser, was claiming equal rights for women would destroy the family. I wanted to prove it didn’t have to.

I’ve heard different schools of thought on the subject of what we should choose to write about. One is “You need to research the market and write what is selling.” Another is “Write what you would want to read.” Which do you think is correct, or do you have another philosophy?

The way I see it, the market is constantly changing. It takes months or, more often, years to complete the writing of a book. What is trending today will most likely not be trending when you’re ready to market your book. Write the best book you can, write the book you’d want to read if you saw it on the shelves of a brick-and-mortar book store or on Amazon, and then convince an agent, a publisher or your potential readers if you self-publish that they want your book. Were books about boys who discovered they were wizards trending when J.K. Rowling started writing the Harry Potter books? Were books about teen-age vampires trending when Stephenie Meyer began Twilight? No. Write what moves you to continue writing. If you go with what’s trending, you’re as likely to get bored and give up as to finish the thing.

How much time would you say you spent in the beta-reading and editing phase per book before you published each one? Do you have regular beta readers, or do you get new ones each time you produce a new work?

This is probably the hardest question to answer. Let’s start with Fractured and Tainted, books 1 and 2 of the series. I initially put pen to paper (literally) back in 1977. It took me 3 years to write what was essentially the very first draft of those books. I didn’t know what I was doing. The current incarnation of the story began taking shape in 2005 when a character named Ann became Lisen. I didn’t send her to earth then bring her back again until 2008. I relied on a writing group I belonged to at the time, and they were invaluable in guiding my edits. Hence, I never sent those books out to beta readers.

When I began Blooded, I decided to hire an editor, Todd Barselow, who is very good and very reasonable in his pricing because he believes in indie writers. I’d done my own proofing on books 1 and 2 myself, something everyone will tell you not to do (and they’re right), but in my case it worked. I have a complicated answer for why I can proof my own work, but let me simply say that it has to do with my former work as a medical transcriptionist. After three drafts, I sent Blooded off to Todd. He gave it his full attention but found very little to change. So, with Protector of Thristas, I decided to rely on beta readers only–a couple of author friends online and my sister (who is very, very picky).

Do you think you will write another Young Adult Fantasy series, and if so, what are some of the ideas you have?

Right now I’m working on the last two books for Lisen. I have found an ending that satisfies me and hopefully will satisfy the reader. The second three books are more New Adult than YA and have allowed me to explore an adult Lisen as leader, spouse and parent. As for a future beyond Lisen, there is a paranormal romance I finished some time ago, and when I hit a block with the current work in progress, I formatted that and have published it as a Kindle only. Beyond that, I have a couple of ideas, one a fantasy with dragons and the other a dystopian tale that takes place in the near future.

What has been the most rewarding thing about being an author?

Writing is bliss. Writing is that moment when you form a sentence or a paragraph and beam at its precision and beauty. Writing is the revelation that comes in the middle of the night solving a hole in the plot that’s been bugging you for months. Writing is living inside a character’s head and knowing you’ve nailed the narrative. Writing is life, about life, making life. I am a writer, a novelist who makes short stories long.

Where can readers find your books, blog, and website?

I have a website, but I haven’t touched it in months (shame on me). But you can find current info at these other places.

Amazon author site: https://www.amazon.com/St.-Martin-D.-Hart/e/B0099S9GWW/ref

Blog: https://dhartstmartin.blog/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DHartStMartinAuthor/

Thank you very much for the interview, Hart! I look forward to reading more of your work in the future.

      

Your Free Crime Thriller Novel

No good deed goes unpunished…

Two months after his fiancee, Elizabeth Reinhardt, leaves him with no explanation, broken and confused, Trent Lemend is forced to pack up and start over in rural Georgetown, Texas. Believing his life could get no worse, Trent attempts to bury the inner demons of his past.

But when he stumbles upon a terrifying crime scene, Trent’s troubles are only just beginning. Discovering that one of the victims, an emaciated, blood-covered woman, is still alive, changes his life in ways he never thought possible.

Saving the woman destroys all that he’s ever known. Suddenly, as a witness, he’s the killer’s number one target. With the murderer on the loose, nobody is safe–especially Elizabeth, the only woman he’s ever loved. Now, it’s up to Trent to save his ex and reclaim his life. But will he discover a dangerous dark side of his own?

New Release: Blood Red Winter

I’m really excited about my newest release and I’m grateful to be able to share it with you. Okay, so a heads up right off: this isn’t a Young Adult Fantasy novel. Just for fun, I wrote a thriller novel and entered it in the #StoryTellerUK2017 contest. Why on earth would a fantasy author write a thriller novel? Sometimes it feels good to change gears, and I wanted to experience writing in this genre at least once, since it’s so popular.

My inspiration for the book was the area of Texas where I used to live: rural Williamson County, near Georgetown. My husband and I loved how beautiful it was, and the fact that it was so peaceful and removed from the city. We had a sheep field right next to us and sometimes we’d see roadrunners as close as twenty feet from our door. At night the coyotes would howl from somewhere in an adjacent cattle pasture. We were out in the country and that was fine by us.

Here are the details about the book. Let me know what you think!

Winter in Central Texas is seldom white…

Two months after his fiancée Elizabeth leaves with no explanation, Trent Lemend moves from Austin, Texas, to rural Williamson County just outside Georgetown. He buries his inner demons in the cellar of his subconscious and makes the best of his new life. Working on a local cattle ranch helps pass the days, and he tries to leave painful memories behind in sprawling pastures of mesquite trees, prickly pear, and brittlegrass.

On a gray winter walk like any other, a call from his boss, Tim Corbin, leads Trent to discover a shocking crime in an abandoned house on County Road 118. As he stands beside the barbed wire fence, images of what he’s just witnessed assaulting him, something happens that can only be described as a miracle. One of the victims, a young woman, is still alive, and he stares in disbelieving silence as her emaciated, blood-covered body is carried out on a stretcher. Though this is beyond his expectations after seeing the horrors in that filthy back room, Aria Owen’s survival marks Trent for murder.

Deputy Sheriff Reyes urges him to relocate if possible and lay low until the killer is caught, but Trent soon finds himself dragged into a deceptive game. As Trent loses his job, his security, and his sanity, he is clutched by the grim realization that he enjoys the rush these new dangers provide – he has a dark side of his own. But when threats against Elizabeth force Trent to protect her, a secret from his past comes back to reclaim what was lost in a way he never thought possible.

Amazon US
Amazon UK

Why Should You Write?

Besides the happiness and personal satisfaction writing generates, you write to communicate something. You have something to say and your unique communication is unlike anyone else’s. In the final analysis, the success of the finished product (novel, textbook, article, etc.) is more or less proportional to the quality of your communication. How well did you create the scene in the readers’ minds? Did you stir their emotions, changing them forever? Did you make them believe that the world you created was actually a real place? When readers love your book, you know that you communicated to them, and you feel successful. When readers hate it, not so much.

During moments of inspiration, tapping away at your work in progress can bring you great joy, even exhilaration at times. There will also be times when you don’t feel inspired, but you should go ahead and write anyway. As authors, writing is our job, and like any professional we should train ourselves to push through our mental blocks and bad days. We learn to persevere and hone our craft to the polished brilliance it was meant to be. That’s the only way it’s going to get done.

I’ve found that the biggest obstacle to my success has nothing to do with the outside world, really. Some of those barriers might be valid too, but only in minor ways. The “it” reason I haven’t achieved my writing goals is that I underestimated the amount of work it was going to take. Call it a gross miscalculation of how much effort would be required to really do it. Realizing this has realigned my purpose in writing.

Several years after writing my first novel, I’m now aware of what’s wrong with it. It bears the scars of all my rookie mistakes, all the distracting descriptions of dialogue (“We’ll do it!” she declared excitedly.) and other no-nos. I could spend several paragraphs listing them out, but anyone who’s written a book knows exactly what I’m talking about. This isn’t something to lose sleep over. It’s not a crime to write a fiction novel that isn’t perfect. The point is, you will make mistakes, but you’ll learn from them and will come away with more ability, which can only be acquired by doing.

Why should you write? You should write because your communication and integrity matter. You should write because achieving your goals is more important than momentary setbacks. You should write because you have taste. Most of all, you should write because it’s what you want to do.

Quote by Ira Glass

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Peter’s reality has been shattered…

Every day seems the same to Peter. He walks to the bus stop, listening to music or daydreaming. He sits or stands while he is jostled to work each morning, avoiding conversation. He goes through the motions of accounting at the CPA firm almost automatically, without having to think about it. Sometimes he feels like more of a spectator in life than a participant, and nothing ever changes.

Until today. On his walk after work, Peter sees something shocking. He doesn’t want to believe it, but he just can’t look away. Terrified, sleepless, and not knowing where else to turn, Peter seeks the aid of Father Radcliffe at St. Anthony’s Catholic Church. The knowledgeable priest seems to have an uncanny knack for finding deeper applications of the Bible, and unexpectedly, he appears to believe Peter’s story. But once Peter reveals all, will the holy man still help him – or will Peter have to consult a strange man who knows too much to be trusted?

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Get the 3 Books of the Copper & Cobalt Trilogy, for FREE…

A story of friendship, time travel and haunting adventure in ancient Wales.

“The ultimate, satisfying teen fantasy adventure. An original and engrossing novel… if you love all things Celtic and/or Welsh, that’s an added bonus.” — MF Miller, Amazon Reviewer

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