Welcome to my place in the blogosphere!
feel free to explore the Flight Deck and check out my books and website.
Then fasten your seatbelts, sip a glass of something sparkling and let's chat awhile!

Beloved Enemy joined Starquest and Children of the Mist to continue the Destiny Trilogy and I'm thrilled to announce was shortlisted for the R.N.A. RoNA Awards 2017 and nominated for the RONE Award 2017

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Interview with Helen Johannes

It's always a pleasure to welcome a fantasy author to my blog - I love fantasy as much as Science Fiction, and when the author writes delicious romances in this genre, I'm hooked.

So put your feet up,  take a glass of something sparkling and welcome to my blog, Helen. Please. tell us about your latest release and what was your favourite part of writing this book?


My latest release is BLOODSTONE, a fantasy romance retelling of the Beauty and the Beast story. If I had to pick a favorite part of writing this book, I’d have to say it was creating two unusual secondary characters. The first, a blind boy, took me out of my comfort zone because I had to turn off the sense I use most as a writer, vision, and turn on my other senses to imagine how he would navigate the world and perceive the other characters. The second character, a Wehrland she-lion, torments my hero with her enigmatic ways. I had so much fun showing their interaction and engaging all my knowledge of cat behavior to portray her.

Oh that sounds such a great story - and Beauty and The Beast is my favourite fairy tale! Tell us more about your latest release and what you think readers will enjoy about it

Well, let’s see. There’s romance, danger, magic, humor, mystery—oh!—and petrified dragon’s blood!

Bloodstones, drops of the legendary last dragon’s blood, are rare, precious, and powerful. Mirianna and her gem-cutter father want these stones to fulfill a jewelry commission. The Shadow Man, a cursed warrior whose unveiled appearance can kill, makes his living in the wilderness collecting bloodstones and other gems. The only source of these gems is a no-man’s land infested by beast-men, dark magic, and a dead—or sleeping?—dragon. Daytime there is dangerous enough, but the night—the dark—has power of its own, linking lovers in dreams long before they meet. Only in this borderland between good and evil would Mirianna believe a lion might speak to her and she might trust her heart to a man she can only see in the dark.

Wow, what an interesting concept. What comes first: the plot or the characters?
     
I’m a “pantser” so I get a vague idea of plot points and a couple of characters, and then I set out with them out on a journey. Along the way, the characters reveal their secrets—often in surprising ways—and the storyline changes from what I originally thought to what will suit the needs of the characters. Secondary characters emerge to take on roles I hadn’t consciously envisioned for them but that prove to be significant to the plot. When there is a “big reveal” in the plot, it’s usually because a hint a character dropped back in chapter two suddenly becomes integral to the plot and has been simmering under the surface all along. Then I go back and enhance that in the revision process.

Do you have a support system? Do you have a writing community? What valuable lessons have you learned from them?

     I belong to Romance Writers of America, and my particular support group is the small group belonging to my local area. Even though we write a variety of romance genres, we are extremely close-knit and stay in contact by email between monthly meetings. If any one of us needs a quick answer to a question or help with a writing problem, someone will quickly reply. We bring a variety of experiences to the table and are willing to share.
The most important lesson I’ve learned is to listen to everyone. We may not always agree with what we hear, but we need to give it consideration. Sometimes the best ideas and insights come from the least likely sources.

I also occasionally serve as a judge for contests, and I’ve learned a lot from reading and critiquing other people’s writing. Sometimes it’s easier to see a flaw in someone else’s work first, and then I can find it in my own.

You are so right there, Helen.  I've found the same thing myself, when judging conests. Is there any advice, as a new writer, that you were either given, or wish you had been given?

It would be nice to say I was an overnight success. Lesson #1 is that most writers aren’t. It can take 5, 10, 15 years or more to break in, so you have to be both persistent and patient. Remember the tortoise and the hare.

Lesson #2 is that you perfect your craft by both writing AND reading. It’s true that you don’t want to be unduly influenced by other authors’ ideas, but I can’t fathom how some people want to publish when they don’t even like to or want to read. And they can’t be bothered with revision. I was always a reader, and I studied the classics, so I learned craft from the best. But, like all newbies, I thought what I wrote in my first draft was golden. I had to learn to ‘kill my darlings’ because sometimes they just had to die. And, oh gosh, adverbs had to go.

I couldn't agree more.  You learn so much from reading other people's books, and it always makes me want to strive to be as good as they are.  As for revision, I love the whole process and tend to find it hard to know when to stop - and those pesky adverbs are a real challenge!
So...hat do you do for fun when not writing?

I read, watch movies, take walks, and travel as often as I can. I fill my bookshelves with romances (of course), mysteries, and young adult books. My favorite authors include Rick Riordan, Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Nora Roberts, Janet Evanovich, Amanda Quick, Darynda Jones, and Jennifer Crusie, to name just a few. On my keeper shelf you’ll find the Artemis Fowl series, The Wizard of Earthsea, all the Harry Potter books, The Hunt for Red October, Agatha Christie mysteries, Inkheart, and all of the Amelia Peabody Egyptian mysteries, among others. I enjoy being outdoors, especially in the spring, and I love discovering new places and revisiting any place with a castle or beach/ocean access.

That sounds great - you'd love my homeland of Wales, it's full of castles! :)  Thank you so much for being with us today, Helen.  Now while you relax let's have a look at your amazing fantasy novels.

THE PRINCE OF VAL-FEYRIDGE, 2011 EPIC WINNER in Fantasy Romance from The Wild Rose Press - A warrior with a destiny, a woman with a gift. Can loving the enemy restore a broken kingdom?  Or will forbidden love destroy it—and them—first?
BLOODSTONE, 2011 LAUNCHING A STAR WINNER in Fantasy Romance, available now from Amazon and The Wild Rose Press




BLOODSTONE, 2011 Launching a Star Winner in Fantasy Romance, The Wild Rose Press
Blurb:

What if looking at the face of the man you loved meant death?

Years ago, warrior Durren Drakkonwehr was cursed by a mage. Now feared and reviled as the Shadow Man, he keeps to himself, only going to town to trade rare bloodstones—petrified dragon’s blood—for supplies. Though he hides his face, he can’t hide his heart from the woman who haunts his dreams…

Needing bloodstones for a jewelry commission, Mirianna and her father journey across the dreaded Wehrland where the beast-men roam. When their party is attacked, only the Shadow Man can save them. Strangely drawn to him, Mirianna offers herself in return for her father’s rescue.

Living in the ruined fortress with the Shadow Man, Mirianna slowly realizes that a flesh-and-blood man, not a fiend hides there in hoods and darkness. But are love and courage enough to lift the curse and restore the man?

Excerpt:

“What about us? What do we do?”
            Only the hood rotated, cocking with exaggerated deliberation. “Why, you die, old man.”
            Her father blanched. His grip on Mirianna’s arms faltered.

            She saw the Shadow Man turn, saw the muscles of his thighs bunch as he prepared to leap down the hillside, saw, in the corner of her eye, shapes gathering along the tree line below, horrible shapes she’d seen only hours before rushing at her from a darkened clearing. With a shudder, she broke from her father’s grasp.

            “Please!” She reached out to the black sleeve. “Help us!”
            He recoiled at her touch like one snake-bitten. The sudden, sharp focus of his regard staggered her, but she backed no more than a step. No matter how he terrified her, he’d helped her once. She’d been led to him again, and not, her instincts told her, without reason.
            “Please,” she repeated. “Help us. I—we’ll do anything.”

            “Anything?”

            His voice was a whisper that caressed flesh. Mirianna’s stomach quivered. Her breasts tingled. Her mouth grew even drier. Without thinking, she slid her tongue along her lips. Vaguely, she wondered what she’d done. And why time seemed suspended, as if everyone but she and the Shadow Man had been cast in stone and all sound arrested. All sound except the taut, guttural repeat of his question.

            “Anything?

THE PRINCE OF VAL-FEYRIDGE, 2011 EPIC Winner in Fantasy Romance, The Wild Rose Press
Blurb:
A warrior with a destiny, a woman with a gift. Can loving the enemy restore a broken kingdom? Or will forbidden love destroy it—and them—first?
Prince Arn has a destiny—an ancient throne—but he’s not waiting for fate to deliver when he can act now, before his enemies organize against him. The healer Aerid longs for her barely remembered homeland. Marked out by her gift and her foreign looks, she insists she is no witch. The swordsman Naed hopes to honorably defend his uncle’s holding, but he harbors a secret fascination for the exotic healer. Prince Arn’s campaign against Aerid’s homeland throws them into a triangle of forbidden love, betrayal, and heartbreak. Only when they realize love is blood-kin to friendship, and neither is possible without risk, can they forge a new alliance and restore a kingdom.
Excerpt:
Aerid could not recall how she came to be in the Great Hall, or how water and bandages materialized on trestle tables there.
Naed sat slumped against the wall while Yormoc tugged off his tunic and armor. Blood painted Naed’s arm, but she could see the wound was only a finger in length.
“Get me up, fool, or ‘tis your hide I’ll line my chair with!” Her master Dranoel sat up, took in the guards at the door, and his ashen face paled further.
Yormoc examined the cloth he had been holding to his gashed jaw. “They haven’t killed us yet. ‘Tis like they don’t mean to.”
Dranoel visibly fought for control. “Mayhap the bastard Prince has some honor, then.”
“Some honor!” Aerid sputtered. Did no one but she understand what they faced? “Belike they’ll be keeping us for their sport, killing us one by one to feed their savage appetites. These be Tolemaks we speak of, and what be they if not barbarians and
their master a Prince of savages!”
Dranoel blanched at her words. Yormoc froze. Even Naed’s head came up. But not a man of them stared at her.
Cold dread filled Aerid. She whirled.
In the doorway stood a scarlet-cloaked figure so tall his ebony hair brushed the cross-beam, so lean Aerid sensed nothing but bone and muscle and will, a will so strong it emanated from the deep-set, stone-gray eyes. High cheekbones gave his face a noble, arrogant look. The curve of his lips mocked her. The scar cutting across the left side of his face from behind the eyebrow to the corner of the chin mocked nothing.
“Pray, go on.” The Prince of Val-Feyridge planted his boot on a bench and rested a hand on the upraised knee. “Or have you lost your nerve?”

Author Bio:
Author Helen C. Johannes lives in the Midwest with her husband and grown children. Growing up, she read fairy tales, Tolkien, The Scarlet Pimpernel, Agatha Christie, Shakespeare, and Ayn Rand, an unusual mix that undoubtedly explains why the themes, characters, and locales in her writing play out in tales of love and adventure. A member of Romance Writers of America, she credits the friends she has made and the critiques she’s received from her chapter members for encouraging her to achieve her dream of publication. When not working on her next writing project, she teaches English, reads all kinds of fiction, enjoys walks, and travels as often as possible.

Buy Links:
Bloodstone: Amazon: http://amzn.com/B00G8GTHRC
The Prince of Val-Feyridge: Amazon: http://amzn.com/B003JH8CO2
(Available in both print and e-versions from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and The Wild Rose Press)
THE PRINCE OF VAL-FEYRIDGE, 2011 EPIC WINNER in Fantasy Romance from The Wild Rose Press - A warrior with a destiny, a woman with a gift. Can loving the enemy restore a broken kingdom?  Or will forbidden love destroy it—and them—first?
BLOODSTONE, 2011 LAUNCHING A STAR WINNER in Fantasy Romance, available now from Amazon and The Wild Rose Press

Monday, 26 May 2014

Unseasonal War - SF Virtual Book tour - David Englund


It's always a pleasure to welcome an author who writes Science Fiction to the Flight Deck.  I have to say David Englund's book sounds like a wonderful read and is definitely on my TBR list.  
David will be awarding a digital copy of Unseasonal War to a randomly drawn commenter at every stop during the tour.  You can find the other stops on the tour HERE. Remember, the more you comment, the better your chances of winning.
 So strap yourself in, order something sparkling fron the autodispenser, and enjoy the ride.  Let's find out more about Unseasonal War by David Englund


Unseasonal War
by David Englund

~~~~~~~~~~~~
BLURB:

Clark Jackson’s travels, for the first time, put him in touch with an intriguing species remarkably human-like. He becomes instantly fascinated with the Fronents and envious of their advanced technology. Striving to befriend them and learn more, his uncontrolled enthusiasm forsakes the use of appropriate caution and suspicion. Could their cold reception be a byproduct of their war with a vile species in this corner of the universe, or something else?

The magnificent splendor of an unexplored galaxy, new species to encounter and the adrenalin rush of space battle feed Clark’s awestruck hunger for exploration and adventure. Unfortunately, the more he learns the more he questions; including the wisdom of his entangled involvement in their war.

Meanwhile, back home in Des Moines, Iowa, Clark attempts to maintain an inconspicuous lifestyle to avoid attracting the attention of a certain relentless federal agency. His girlfriend’s own secret, however, could unravel it all.

**Even though the book is the second book in the series, it IS standalone

~~~~~~~~~~~~~


Excerpt Tour
 
Clark studied the face before him.  The old creature carried a soft, wise and caring tone during the discussion.  This alien was easy to admire, however, it was difficult to get beyond the ruthless features.  The enormous bulk, massive display of teeth, scaly skin and intense eyes gave Clark shivers.  It would ease the conversation to talk with eyes closed but probably create the opposite affect desired for diplomacy.

Clark forced himself back to the discussion.  “Is this why you live in the caves?”

The pair of alligator eyes saddened.  “We did not always live in the caves.  Many vrems ago we lived out on the plains.  We farmed many fields and grew many crops.  We had villages to congregate in but most of our people lived in the vast openness of the farms.  There were many more of our people back then too.  Then came the aliens.  They destroyed our farms and stole a great many of our people.  We have since discovered that they use our people to work as slaves on their world.”

“Did you already know these aliens when they attacked?”

“At that time we had never had any contact with anyone from the stars.  We know them well now, however.”

“Have you met other aliens since then?”

“Let us stay on the topic of our three races, shall we?  Do your people fight any wars with other races?  How do these conflicts begin for you?”

“Our world has not gotten to the point yet in which we can travel to other worlds, so we have not met any alien races that I am aware of.”

“And yet you are here.”


~~~~~~~~~~~~~

AUTHOR Bio and Links:

David Englund is a storyteller (science fiction author) and teaches economics at North Dakota State University.  His first two titles, Upsetting the Tides and UNSEASONAL WAR are available on Amazon.  Camouflaged Encounters is due out in late 2014 and the fourth and fifth books are in progress.