Tag Archives: fantasy

Author Interview: Robert J Franks

Author Robert Franks is eccentric, geeky, and currently rebelling noisily about approaching the age of 50 far too rapidly. Please welcome him here on No Wasted Ink.

Author Bob FranksMy name’s Robert Franks. I’m currently 49 going on 15. I’m a huge geek for anything to do with fantasy, superheroes or science fiction, and world mythology. I live in Darlington, England, and work full-time as an assistant manager in a budget shop.

When and why did you begin writing?

I’ve always had a love of writing and wrote my first fantasy novel at the age of fifteen. Reading it now it’s cringe-worthy! But some of the characters I created all those years ago stuck with me, and when I was made redundant in 2009, I found once again my love of writing, and they re-emerged in The Glass Apple.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

I can pin it down to two occasions: the first was sitting at my parents’ dining table (I was a regular visitor when I was unemployed), surrounded by research books and various scraps of paper with little snippets of dialogue and plotlines scribbled on them. I remember going to make a coffee and coming back and realizing: “Wow. I’m actually working. For me!”

The second was when I received my first reviews on Amazon. There was something just so thrilling about that. Like a child waking up on Christmas morning!

Can you share a little about your current book with us?

The book follows the adventures of Ethelbert Gobswistle, an elderly gentleman with memory problems. He has a rather quaint Texan accent but speaks like an English Butler. He also, though he has little memory of this, used to be Merlin. He still has his Anguinum (Druid Stone) – the Glass Apple of the title. He becomes the caretaker of his three grandchildren; Jason (11), Kylie (10) and little Anna, who is 4, after their mother has a heart attack while driving.

He has a nemesis. The Medb (Pronounced Mave). She has a history similar to Gobswistle, but whereas Gobswistle always tried to do good, the Medb always sought power, and control, and more than anything, she sought Gobswistle’s Anguinum.

What inspired you to write this book?

My love of world mythology. Reading up I found it interesting how many different mythologies and religions had a very similar basic structure of an old man teaching peace. And a lot of mythologies had hints of magical travel and portals. So in the first instance, I created Ethelbert. He is 7000 years old. He no longer remembers anything from his childhood – his parents, his origins or anything – but he kind of remembers being Merlin. And Myrrdin. And Lailoken. And Michael Scott. The Compte de St Germaine is in there somewhere, as is John Dee. In fact, if you think of any wizard/Wise Man or halfway decent conjuror in history, it was probably Gobswistle.

And in the second instance, I created The Portal, an old scifi and fantasy trope I admit, but great fun too. It means I can put my characters at any point in history. I love including Easter Eggs in the books in the form of names or situations. If people aren’t into them it doesn’t affect the story at all, but it (hopefully) adds something to look up the meanings of the names of various characters or to realize an event/war/location actually existed.

Do you have a specific writing style?

I like writing humour, and this forms a great part of the books. It’s not heavy prose – I wanted something that anyone could dive into and enjoy. I don’t aim for slapstick comedy though, and there are chapters that are very dark. Hopefully, the two balance each other out.

How did you come up with the title of this book?

When I used to smoke, I had a green Murano Glass Apple ashtray. I thought it was beautiful and quite quirky looking. I don’t know what influenced me to use it, but it became (in my mind at least) a perfect representation of Merlin’s Druid Stone.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

I guess, if I had to say there was a message in the books, it’s to accept people for who they are. Because the mythologies used in the book come from very diverse cultures I’ve used people from those cultures to help inhabit the stories. Whether people are black, white, ochre, or sky-blue pink with yellow polka dots, they’re still people.

Are experiences in this book based on someone you know, or events in your own life?

Honestly? All my family, friends and the occasional work colleague has helped to shape the characters in this book. I just haven’t told them yet … Shhh!

What authors have most influenced your life? What about them do you find inspiring?

You’ve made me think about answering this one! Okay, there are three authors that have inspired me, from three different decades. And yet the reason they inspired me is very much the same. The authors are:
Armistead Maupin, J K Rowling and Jim Butcher.

They inspired me because they write such well fleshed-out characters and because they can find humor in the darkest of situations. Humor is a survival tool, and so many authors forget this.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

The hardest thing about writing is that first minute you sit down in front of your desk to write. Procrastination, and that little voice that whispers ‘you know you’ll never do it’ are the two biggest obstacles you’ll ever have to overcome.

Believe me, those dishes CAN wait!

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

If you like action-adventure, magic, comedy, time-travel, and the occasional cliffhanger, you’ll like The Glass Apple!

 

Book Cover The Glass AppleRobert J Franks
Darlington, England

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Author Interview: Hannah Steenbock

Hannah Steenbock is a German writer of Speculative Fiction. She uses both her native German and English as languages for her tales, as she loves English and tends to think in that language when plotting Fantasy. She lives and works in Kiel, the northernmost state capital of Germany. Her other pastimes include strolling along beaches, talking with trees, and devouring as many stories as time allows. I’m honored to introduce her here on No Wasted Ink.

Author Hannah SteenbockI’m Hannah Steenbock. I’m German, living in Germany, but writing in English, mostly. I’m 50+, and I wear many hats: I work part-time in a civil service job, I run a small practice as therapist and coach, and of course, I write.

When and why did you begin writing?

I wrote fan fiction as a kid. But I seriously started writing in January 2000. I know this so well because it was such an exciting experience to start writing out a scene stuck in my head and finding that I did 30 pages of work before even getting to it – and the whole thing eventually built into several novel-sized adventures of my fantasy hero and heroine. Those novels need a lot of work before I’ll publish them, but they were the beginning of my writing career.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

I got my first outside validation by signing a contract with an agent in 2004, on the strength of the first novel in that fantasy series. That was when I thought I might actually be good enough. They didn’t sell a single book, and I ended the contract five years later… and then started self-publishing.

Can you share a little about your current book with us?

I’m going to talk about “Dorelle’s Journey”, the first book in my Cloud Lands Saga. That’s the first series I wrote about dragons, even though I’ve been in love with dragons since I discovered Pern in the school library during my exchange year in California. It took me that long to write dragons… I was always afraid that it would be called a copy of Anne McCaffrey.

I love Dorelle because she’s an independent woman, firm in her beliefs and her love of her dragon. And she’s willing to risk her life for others. In the book, I challenge her a lot… and she came through it all with flying colors. So did her dragon.

What inspired you to write this book?

#takes a deep breath#

Originally, I started out writing a novel with three different main characters, and three different timelines. They were supposed to meet in the Cloud Lands (that’s one large area in my world) and turn from enemies to friends. I got stuck on that one… ( it’s the base for my second series that will be called The Cloud Lands Wars, though.)
Even so, my mind stayed in that world, and I found a shorter story about how the Cloud Lands actually were discovered – basically a generation or so before that ill-fated novel. And the result is “Dorelle’s Journey”.

Do you have a specific writing style?

I don’t think so, to be honest. But most of my stories are “feel-good” stories. I see so much destruction and darkness in the world around us that I don’t need to put that into my stories. It’s unlikely you’ll see anything dystopian by me.

How did you come up with the title of this book?

I thought about it. 😉 No, seriously, most of my titles are just short descriptions of what happens in the books. And in this one, Dorelle takes a heck of a journey – and back. I try to make my titles short and powerful, though.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

Yes, there is. Underlying the whole struggle in the series – Dorelle’s trouble with her Wing Commander and everything else – is the big question: How do we treat our dragons? They are an intelligent species, but their abilities are not valued everywhere, beyond their flying and fighting. There is a lot of discrimination going on. In this case, it’s speciism, and not racism, but the result is very similar. There are similarities to slavery…

What authors have most influenced your life? What about them do you find inspiring?

Anne McCaffrey, for introducing me to dragons and amazing worlds. Pern was my favorite, but I read most of her books. Rosemary Sutcliff and Judith Tarr, for their writing style. Both know how to pack an emotional punch with few words. Even with simple words. I adore that ability. And I adore Judy’s Lippizans. Rita Mae Brown, when she described why she wrote “Riding Shotgun”: She was stuck in a cabin with nothing new to read, so she sat down and wrote what she wanted to read. Isn’t that powerful?

If you had to choose, is there a writer would you consider a mentor? Why?

I don’t really want a mentor for writing. I guard my own voice. I want it to be me, not a watered-down version of someone else. When I’m writing intensely, I don’t even read fiction. However, I would love to learn marketing and fan interaction from Hugh Howey. #laughs#

Who designed the cover of your book? Why did you select this illustrator?

The cover design is by Ashley Fontainne. I used to be in an FB group with her, and when I wanted new covers for the series before publishing the last part, I realized she had been doing covers for a while. I like hers – they are dynamic and dramatic, so it was an easy choice. Working with her was very awesome and totally easy.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Write. Stop reading writing advice. Stop taking the next writing class. Sit down and write. Write more. Publish what you write.
And learn about the trade. Learn copyright. Learn grammar, spelling, pacing – by reading lots. Soak up the language of your genre. So read and write. Very basic.

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

I love you all. I’m so grateful you’re reading my books, and I love hearing from you, too. I’m an avid reader myself, I know all the joy that comes from books – and I hope I can feed that joy for you.

Dorrelle - Ebook_D2DHannah Steenbock
Kiel, Germany

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Cover Artist: Ashley Fontainne

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Author Interview: Angela Ashley

Author Angela Ashley writes to make sense of her world and to create one she can dwell in that is better than her own. Through her characters, she seeks to create people of depth, grace, and bravery, struggling like everyone to survive, and ultimately, to find love and meaning. She is also from my own home town of Lake Stevens, WA. It is a small world indeed! It is my pleasure to welcome Angela to No Wasted Ink.

Angela Ashley 1My name is Angela Craig, and my pen name is Angela Ashley, which was my birth name. I’m a single woman, born and raised in the Pacific Northwest. I loved reading books from a very young age. As a child, I loved books about animals, especially The Black Stallion series by Walter Farley. After having seen Star Wars in the theater and reading The Dark is Rising series by Susan Cooper, I fell in love with the science fiction and fantasy genres. When I attended Seattle Pacific University, I knew I should choose a major that would pay well, but I followed my heart instead, graduating with a B.A. in English Literature and a minor in Writing. I wanted to be a book editor but ended up being a home loan processor instead. I spend my free time reading, writing, and posting funny memes on Facebook when I’m not watching TV or movies with my boyfriend and my two cats.

When and why did you begin writing?

I’ve written poetry for years, but my job was so stressful that I found it drained most of my creativity away. And to be honest, I didn’t believe in myself enough to try my hand at writing more than poetry. But when the opportunity came to retire early, I knew what I wanted to do. I began to fill notebooks with my ideas that summer, and for months afterward. I fought through my fear and wrote my first chapter, and then another, and I surprised myself. A part of me had known I had this ability all along, but I’d pushed that voice down, until that moment. Now, I can’t imagine living without writing fiction. I’ve finally found who I am.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

I’ve considered myself a writer of poetry since my teen years, but the first time I realized I was a fiction writer was three years ago. As a perfectionist, I didn’t want to try and fail, or even try and just do okay. When I wrote that first chapter, my muse came out in full force, and I haven’t stopped dancing with her since.

Can you share a little about your current book with us?

I would describe it as Game of Thrones meets Dances With Wolves meets The Hunger Games meets Downton Abbey. The main character, Little Squirrel, is a native-American-esque teen who has come of age and must go on her Vision Quest. Her situation is unique because she’s of mixed heritage — her mother was First Daughter of House Mystalora in the Queensrealm, a woman-dominated society, while her father was a warrior of the People. While on her Quest, she is attacked and finds she has a very unusual ability. Her adopted brother and her best friend, both of whom are in love with her, find they do, as well. Meanwhile, in the Queensrealm, Kella is falling for Jaereth, a slave, even though their love is forbidden. They, too, realize they have strange abilities. Soon, they all find out they’re pawns in a game, pitted against each other and others, and that only one can survive. This game was created by unseen beings, seemingly for their amusement. But soon, it becomes clear that the real motive goes very deep, and the consequences of this ‘game’ will affect all of humanity.

What inspired you to write this book?

So many things. I’ve long been fascinated by native American culture and spirituality, and I wanted to pay homage to it and explore it with my writing. My grandma used to tell me we had native American blood, and it made me daydream about who they were and how they lived. I love the idea of shape-shifting, and I felt it would work well with the native American themes. But I found I couldn’t stop with that ability; they’re all so fun and provide so many opportunities for mischief. I also love strong female characters and a good dose of romance. But the number one inspiration was that I couldn’t find any more books that I wanted to read. They were all beginning to sound the same to me. So I decided to create my own world and the kind of characters I love, and just live in that world and let the characters inside me out.

Do you have a specific writing style?

I listen to my characters — who they are, what they want to say, and what is important to them. They are real people to me in that sense, and I respect their voices when I write. Oftentimes they surprise me by the directions they take, but I trust them. I know it sounds strange, but it’s the truth. They have a life of their own.

How did you come up with the title of this book?

It came from one of the later chapters of the book. The villain, Malyse, talks about the reason why she began the game. She and seven others had been transformed in an accident and become almost like gods in some ways, and she explains that just as the gods play with human lives on their chess board of life, she intends to play with the lives of others, and “sometimes a gambit must be made, a sacrifice offered, in order to win a game between gods.”

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

My characters talk a lot about love and whether it makes you stronger or weaker, and about whether people can truly be good or evil. I want my readers to draw their own conclusions on these subjects, of course, but I like these kinds of philosophical questions. I’m not one to just take concepts like good and evil for granted; I want to really look at what makes a person one or the other. In my book, several characters had tough childhoods, and one had a wonderful childhood — you would expect the former to be evil and the latter to be good, but it’s quite the opposite. We become good or evil depending on what’s inside of us, not because of what has happened to us.

Are experiences in this book based on someone you know or events in your own life?

They are most definitely based on events in my own life. Writing this book was great therapy for me. Father Daven, the priest who mistreats young Wilde, is built from my alcoholic Stepdad, Dave, though the abuse Wilde experiences are much worse than the abuse I experienced. The five sisters locked in a closet came from the fact that my grandma and her four sisters used to get locked in the closet as children, and some of the names are the same. My experiences with narcissists created my villain, Malyse, and the fact that Little Squirrel comes from a broken family unit and feels like an outsider is a direct result of my own childhood, though I wish I had a father figure like Miklos, as she does.

What authors have most influenced your life? What about them do you find inspiring?

The idea of being “Chosen” and having special abilities likely came from Susan Cooper’s The Dark is Rising series. Later in life, the Game of Thrones series by George R.R. Martin fired my imagination, and I took the idea of each chapter title indicating which character perspective that chapter would be from, from that series. I loved the first person present perspective from Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games and enjoyed how real it made the action feel, so I borrowed that, too.

If you had to choose, is there a writer you would consider a mentor? Why?

I would have to choose Suzanne Collins. The immediacy and nitty-gritty realness and imperfection of her characters and the action, plus their bravery in the face of terrible odds, really changed the way I looked at and approached fantasy fiction.

Who designed the cover of your book? Why did you select this illustrator?

My beautiful cover art was created by Loraine Van Tonder of Ryn Katryn, Digital Art in South Africa. I decided to search on Facebook for a true artist since I thought so many of the self-pub covers coming out nowadays were so one-dimensional and uninspired. Her artwork, in contrast, was so beautiful and nuanced. She was so easy to work with and friendly and had wonderful ideas that really took my cover to the next level. The colors immediately grab your attention and draw you in, and the character renderings make you want to know more about them. Seeing her cover art for the first time was one of the highlights of my life. She managed to capture the magic, somehow.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Don’t listen to that little voice that says you can’t do this. You can. Fill a bunch of notebooks with ideas, then sit down and start writing. Just start. That’s the hardest part, and once you do it, keep going. Don’t stop, ever. It’s the hardest thing you’ll ever do, but it’s so worth it, I promise you.

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

Welcome to my world, and I hope you love it as much as I do. Thank you for believing in me, and please, tell others. I’d love to hear from you, so don’t be afraid to reach out on Facebook, Goodreads, or Twitter, though I don’t use Twitter much. I’m always looking for new friends.

Gambit of the Gods Book CoverAngela Ashley
Lake Stevens, WA

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Cover artist: Loraine Van Tonder of Ryn Katryn Digital Art

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Author Interview: Saoirse O’Mara

Author Saoirse O’Mara tries to follow her heart with her children’s stories. Her goal is to make her readers smile, laugh, guess, and be entertained until the end, and to think about her intriguing stories for a long time. A goal worthy of any author! Please welcome her here to No Wasted Ink.

author-photo-saoirse-omaraI’m Saoirse O’Mara, also known as Theresa Berg. I write under two different names because I write in two different languages. Books written as Theresa Berg are originally German, books written as Saoirse O’Mara are originally written in English. I live in Berlin, Germany, with my American husband and our two cats, Tüte and Kami. Our household communicates in fluent Denglish (mix of German and English) of course. When I’m not writing children’s books or mystery, I’m studying languages and linguistics, currently Sanskrit and Latin. So yeah, I’m a complete language nerd. I’m also a gamer; I love playing pen and paper RPGs like The Dark Eye and Pathfinder, but also video games like League of Legends, Titan Quest, and others.

When and why did you begin writing?

I think I started writing as soon as I was able to write coherent sentences. I just had so many stories to tell, and a very creative mind (teachers may have called me out for daydreaming). I also loved reading, and when I was still in kindergarten and was finally able to read books on my own (my parents taught me to read before I entered school), I decided that when I grew up, I wanted to be a writer too.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

This is a difficult one. I actually don’t remember, but it was probably after finishing my first manuscript. I was twelve or thirteen, and the story was a lot like Enid Blyton’s Famous Five books. This manuscript is still hidden away somewhere at home, and I even revised it a few years later, but it’s nowhere near publishable. It did show me, though, that I am able to tell a story from beginning to end and write it down.

Can you share a little about your current book with us?

The book shown here, Miro the Dragon, is a children’s book about friendship and courage. In four stories, the tiny and scared dragon Miro has to learn essential dragon skills like flying, breathing fire, swimming, and hunting. He befriends a human girl who helps him believe in himself and later befriends one of his classmates at dragon school, the big dragon Botsch, who teaches him to swim. The book has fans ranging from three years old to over sixty years old, but the recommended age range is four to eight years old.

What inspired you to write this book?

I was at a medieval market in my home town and started talking to the storyteller, who complained about a lack of dragon stories for young kids, and who, after learning that I am a writer, asked me whether I could write her a story. I agreed, but after I had written Miro’s first story, she never responded to my email about licensing and payment, so I decided to instead turn it into a book. Miro told me a few more stories, which I faithfully wrote down, and once I had four stories written, I looked for an illustrator to capture him and his friends.

Do you have a specific writing style?

I actually don’t know. I rather think I have several writing styles, depending on what I write, and in which language I write. I do tend to avoid long descriptions and story “padding”, though, which is probably why my books are all rather short.

How did you come up with the title of this book?

That was actually pretty easy; Miro told me. What was more difficult was coming up with fitting titles for the individual stories. I sometimes wrote the whole story before the right title came to mind, and at other times, the title was the only thing I had and the story followed.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

It is okay to be afraid. And if you are too afraid to even try something new, maybe a friend can help you overcome your fear. Sometimes, all it takes is to finally try it.

What authors have most influenced your life? What about them do you find inspiring?

Two of my greatest influences were Enid Blyton, whose books I devoured as a child, and Agatha Christie, the queen of British mystery. I love the stories they told, and the characters they created.

Who designed the cover of your book? Why did you select this illustrator?

The cover and illustrations for Miro were done by the amazing artist Svenja Liv, who is also a friend of mine. We met in a writer’s forum online and I simply fell in love with her style. She was able to bring Miro and his friends to life with her drawings. She also did the covers for my middle-grade mystery/fantasy series A Rogue’s Tale. A few years ago, we finally met in person.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Don’t give up. Try out different things. Follow your heart. Listen to your characters (they’re always right, you know). But most importantly, have fun.

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

Thank you for all the feedback you’re giving me, either through reviews or personally. Thank you for letting me know that you (or your kids) fell in love with my characters. Thank you for spending your precious time with my books.

Miro-Cover-web (2)Saoirse O’Mara
Berlin, Germany

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Cover Artist: Svenja Liv

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Author Interview: Melissa Cuevas

Author Melissa Cuevas describes herself as “A little scatterbrained, but hopefully quite creative.”  I will vouch for the creative side!  Please welcome Melissa here on No Wasted Ink.

Author Melissa CuevasMy name is Melissa Cuevas (pronounced kway’vis…the Spanish word for caves). My father was career military so I grew up moving every few years. I was born in New Mexico and have lived in Idaho, the UK, Arizona, Utah and Texas. That made it very difficult to keep friends, so I spent a lot of time reading by myself. I am married and have two adult children. I have lived in rural Southwestern Wisconsin for the past twenty or so years. I play video games, write fanfiction, cosplay and attend the occasional convention.

When and why did you begin writing?

I’ve always been a reader, and the thought of becoming an author seemed like a way to go. It was the dream job idea that survived into adulthood with me. As things went on and I started to come up with my own stories, I realized that the voices in my head…the snippets of head movies that played over and over in my brain as daydreams could be silenced…for awhile at least, if they were written down.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

I think I took myself a little more seriously as a writer in 1999 when I finished my first novel. Before that, I had started numerous, numerous projects and every single one of them failed at about page 15. Then I started ‘The Emperor’s Finest’, assuming that it would also die young. It kept going, so I told myself I would take it seriously at about, oh, one hundred pages, never thinking it would make it that far. So when it started to approach that, I started looking at submission requirements and realized that I had not been measuring it correctly, by word count instead of pages. The second epiphany was that the formatting was completely wrong and the work that I thought was short was much larger than I’d thought and I was nowhere near done with it.

Can you share a little about your current book with us?

The Book of My World is a portal fantasy turned on its head. I’d read and heard about many stories that involved game players getting sucked into their games and trying to fill their characters’ shoes and becoming heroes, but I haven’t really heard many stories that involve a game character who is not the human player’s character getting out of the game world to go find their beloved friend (the player).

What inspired you to write this book?

I was honestly sitting around and working on a video game based fanfiction and musing over my character’s in game companion/love interest for that series and how much time and ‘love’ can be invested in a fictional character. Then I started to think about leaving a game, or losing access to a game and the idea of abandoning a companion that, as a player, I could have devoted hours of gameplay to making them care about me, be loyal to me, or even, love me, and how devastating my player character’s sudden disappearance would be to them if they were self-aware. Then I asked myself what they might do in that circumstance, and that become The Book of My World.

Do you have a specific writing style?

I am a terrible pantster. I plan nothing. I know the beginning, have a vague idea of some points in the middle, and usually have a good idea of how it’s supposed to end when I start writing. The Book of My World was a bit of a technical challenge to me because, although it is third person, it is not split narration. The main character is the only point of view throughout the book. I’ve done that with first person, but never third.

How did you come up with the title of this book?

The title is actually the title of a book in the book, it belongs to Tiernan’s beloved Dyre. My World is a translation of the name of the game that Tiernan comes from.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

I guess I’d have to go with ‘You can’t have courage without fear.’ because Tiernan is often overwhelmed and frightened, but he still does what he thinks he should do.

Are experiences in this book based on someone you know or events in your own life?

It’s based on my experiences as a video game player, but no, it’s not based on any real life occurrences or people I actually know.

What authors have most influenced your life? What about them do you find inspiring?

Growing up, I definitely loved Anne McCaffery. She had an amazing ability to transport me into her world and keep me transfixed.

If you had to choose, is there a writer would you consider a mentor? Why?

An actual mentor? No. I kind of live in my own little bubble. As for a writer I respect and hope one day to become somewhat as good as, it would be S.M. Stirling. Although I know his style is vastly different from mine, I really appreciate his character building and storycrafting skills.

Who designed the cover of your book? Why did you select this illustrator?

I chose the stock images for my cover, sent them to the wonderful Rachel Bostwick and cried “Make me a pretty cover out these; please, please!” And she did.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Read. And then write. And then read. Wash, rinse, repeat.

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

I love them all. Even if I don’t know who they are.

bomwcover1Melissa D. Cuevas
Argyle, Wisconsin

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Cover Artist: Rachel Bostwick 

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