Guardian of the Sky Realms by Gerry Huntman | Blog Tour & Author Interview

Book Name: Guardian of the Sky Realms
Author: Gerry Huntman
Genres: Young Adult, Urban Fantasy
Publication date: September 1st, 2020
Published By: Meerkat Press
Book Acquired: ARC, Publisher
Ratings: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Synopsis:

Maree Webster—an “almost-emo” from the western suburbs of Sydney—hates school, has few friends, and is obsessed with angels and fallen angel stories. Life is boring until she decides to steal a famous painting from a small art gallery that has been haunting her dreams: swirling reds, grays and oranges of barely discernible winged figures. There, she meets a stranger who claims to know her and stumbles into a world where cities float in the sky, and daemons roam the barren, magma-spewing crags of the land far below. And all is not well—Maree is turning into something she loves but at the same time, fears. Most fearful of all is the prospect of losing her identity—what makes her Maree, and more importantly, what makes her human. Guardian of the Sky Realms takes the reader on a journey through exotic fantasy lands, as well as across the globe, from Sydney to Paris, from the Himalayas to Manhattan. At its heart, it is a novel about transformation. Book two of the series will be released in 2021.

The Magic Ingredient by Lindy Miller | Blog Tour & Author Interview

Book Name: The Magic Ingredient (A Bar Harbor Holiday Novel)
Author: Lindy Miller
Genres:
 Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Published by: Rosewind Books
Publication date: October 13th, 2020

Synopsis:

The end of summer is approaching, but even at the height of Bar Harbor’s tourist season, Eve Silver is having a hard time keeping enough money in the bank to sustain the family business. Her only hope of paying past due bills is to win the catering bid for the town’s upcoming Harvest Happening Festival. Otherwise, it’ll be lights out for Mount Desserts & Tea by Christmas.

Widower Jeff Parish is moving with his twelve-year-old daughter, Candy, from Manhattan to Maine with one goal: starting over. When sparks fly between Jeff and Eve as the town readies for the annual harvest festival, Candy wishes she had a love potion to help her dad fall in love again.

Will Eve be able to save Mount Desserts & Tea—and open her heart to Jeff—by the most bewitching night of the year? It’ll take a lot of love, a little bit of luck … and just a pinch of magic.


My Interview:

  • What gave you the inspiration to write this book?

I had been playing with the idea of writing a story set in my former hometown of Bar Harbor for some time, but had never settled on the right hook. After years of going back every summer to visit old friends and familiar places, I realized how much like home Bar Harbor still felt, even though I didn’t live there anymore. There is such an incredible sense of community there—a feeling of belonging that never goes away and, when you leave, is always quick to welcome you back. I wanted to write a story where everyone—readers and characters—found their own special home in Bar Harbor, and that developed into the growing universe in the Bar Harbor Holiday Series with Rosewind Books, starting with The Magic Ingredient.

  • Are any characters based on real people you know?

Some, like Eve’s best friends Annie and Allie, are very much based on my two best friends from Bar Harbor, Annie and Amilie, who—like Janae with Candy—took me in when I first moved to Bar Harbor. Others, like Bapo and Doris, remind me of my grandparents and family friends: people who you love dearly even if they sometimes drive you a little batty.

  • What made you start writing? 

I’ve always felt the call to write—be it poetry, stories, or sometimes just research or the random thoughts drifting around in my mind. Writing full-time was a bit of a progression, and I’m very much still a “WIP”, but I wouldn’t have it any other way!

  • What is your writing routine like? Any tips that you would like to share?

I try to write every day, even if it’s just a few hundred words, but other than that I’m kind of all over the place. The one top I would share is to write when you’re inspired, and find what inspiration looks like for you. When writing The Magic Ingredient—and now its upcoming sequel in the Bar Harbor Holiday Series—I basically sat down in front of The Great British Baking Show and wrote. Writing alongside those wonderful bakers, Paul, Prue, Sandy, and Noel was like writing inside a warm hug, and it really helped me get into the mindset of community and friendship that runs through The Magic Ingredient.

  • What is your favourite book genre?   

I read a lot, and pretty indiscriminately. I also tend to read seasonally—ramping up on sweet things in spring, historical fantasy and women’s fic through summer and into fall, then progressively more speculative and spooky through Halloween. I’ve even be known to tuck into the pages of a mystery or two in the coldest days of winter. There are things to love about every genre, though I do have a soft spot for historical fantasy and nostalgic horror, as well as any storyline that has a strong female protagonist and a good sense of humour!

  • If you could date any character from the book, who would it be and why? 

Oh, goodness. It would have to be Bapo. I know he’s got a few years on me, but is there a limit on age to a guy who loves sweets as much as I do and can make me laugh? I think not.

  • If you were in a boat with all the characters from the book, and you could save only 1, who would it be and why? 

First of all, if I was on a boat with all the characters from the book, I am pretty sure Doris Hammond would already have a plan to get us all safely back on land. If I truly was forced to save just one… gosh, I don’t know. I love them all. Could we all just stand in solidarity and go down together?

  • Are there any new books that you are working on?

I am always working on something! Currently I am working on the sequel to The Magic Ingredient, as well as a new collaboration project with a New York Times best-selling author, and a few book-to-film seasonal project. I do like to keep busy!


Author Bio:

Lindy Miller is an author of feel-good love stories that are full of sweet moments and happy endings. She believes the best time to fall in love is during the holidays, preferably over a cup of warm tea or a delicious vegan pastry – two things she can’t get enough of.

A free spirit, Lindy loves to travel and has a soft spot for Bar Harbor, Maine though she grew up at home in the South. She is married to her childhood sweetheart and bakes as often as she can for her husband, son, and pets – especially her golden retriever, Finn, who has a tendency to show up in her stories (and her Instagram!)

Lindy is represented by Gandolfo Helin & Fountain Literary Management and supported by Smith Publicity.

Member Romantic Novelist Association (RNA).

Website / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram

Guardian of the Sky Realms by Gerry Huntman | Blog Tour & Author Interview

Book Name: Guardian of the Sky Realms
Author: Gerry Huntman
Genres: Young Adult, Urban Fantasy
Publication date: September 1st, 2020
Published By: Meerkat Press
Book Acquired: ARC, Publisher
Ratings: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Synopsis:

Maree Webster—an “almost-emo” from the western suburbs of Sydney—hates school, has few friends, and is obsessed with angels and fallen angel stories. Life is boring until she decides to steal a famous painting from a small art gallery that has been haunting her dreams: swirling reds, grays and oranges of barely discernible winged figures. There, she meets a stranger who claims to know her and stumbles into a world where cities float in the sky, and daemons roam the barren, magma-spewing crags of the land far below. And all is not well—Maree is turning into something she loves but at the same time, fears. Most fearful of all is the prospect of losing her identity—what makes her Maree, and more importantly, what makes her human. Guardian of the Sky Realms takes the reader on a journey through exotic fantasy lands, as well as across the globe, from Sydney to Paris, from the Himalayas to Manhattan. At its heart, it is a novel about transformation. Book two of the series will be released in 2021.

My Interview with the Author:

1) Tell us something about yourself that no one knows. A funny secret perhaps?

I’ve been on this planet long enough to have done some silly and stupid things, and have had the odd moment of bad luck. More the former, mind you. While my youth was not entirely misspent, I can give you a little story from when I was about 20. Christmas Eve, going with the boys out for some partying and (insensibly) heavy drinking. At that time scotch and sodas were my preference. Knowing that the bar we went to would close around midnight, I gave the bartender a bottle of whisky to look after for me, and to hand over when I left. This worked perfectly, and instead of being moderate, youthful male silliness took over and in the next half hour I glugged half the bottle. Messed up. Big time. Somehow, I ended up sleeping on the lounge room floor of one of my friend’s (read: his parents’) home. The parents didn’t know I was there, and when they saw me the next morning, and my colour (bluey-white, apparently), they called an ambulance thinking I had died. I was just fast asleep. It took quite a while to shrug off this event among my friends, and to get over the embarrassment with my friend’s parents.

2) When did you start writing?

I actually had the creative urge when I was about 11 or 12 years old. So much so, that I insidiously wrote creative writing stories for some of my friends at school, passing them off as theirs. I also remember, again around that age, sending several short stories (typed and snail-mailed) to a publisher, and receiving a reply (a rejection that very kindly said that they loved the stories and look forward to seeing more work when I was older). When I was in my teens I moved my creative urge to role-playing, and was very active in the field for many years, writing scenarios for conventions and publications. While not ‘writing’ per se, it was a very good apprenticeship, building many of the skills that I use today. I only seriously pursued writing as an adult about 15 years ago.

3) What was the source of inspiration for this book?

Guardian of the Sky Realms is an outlier for me, as I don’t often write juvenile fiction. I was in a fantastic writers group for a number of years and we had a weekly challenge, where each of us took turns setting up challenges to write short stories or vignettes. We could set a task specifically, or ask everyone to write a story based on a photograph, or art piece, or even a song. One such challenge was an abstract painting by a very talented Californian artist, and it instantly inspired me to write a story about a teenage girl who was obsessed with that same painting (albeit in a fictional setting). It was a short piece, and ended with the girl entering an amazing world, through the painting that acted as a portal. It was inspiring enough for me to fairly rapidly convert it into a book.

4) If given a chance to co-author a book with another author, who would it be and why?

I have many author-friends and it makes sense, if I were to imagine a co-operate effort, to consider one of them. One such friend is Jack Dann, who is a giant in the speculative fiction field, and you could say that we are very good pals. I would absolutely love to collaborate with him, and it would definitely be a mature reading piece.

5) If you could be any character from Guardian of the Sky Realms, who would you be and why?

It’s hard to bypass the main protagonist of Guardian of the Sky Realms, Maree. The story is really about her, and she gets the greatest challenges, and is key to these challenges being overcome. This is a middle grade book, focused on adventure, and she is the adventure. By being Maree, I would witness almost the entire tableaux of the story, dive into the moments of sadness and despair, and soar with her successes.

6) Do you prefer hard copies or soft copies while reading?

I prefer hard copies when I read. I really can’t tell you if it is largely related to my generation or not, but I can say that when I read I love holding the entire story in my hands, and being able to read easily lying down, sitting, and so forth.

7) What is your favourite scene from the book?

My favourite scene from Guardian of the Sky Realms is the one that usually makes me a bit teary. Without wanting to give too much away, there is a scene where an important character dies, and another character, a French-speaking gargoyle, sticks with this dying person until the end, despite putting his life at risk. The whole point of this scene, aside from the sad ending and sacrifice of a character, is the point that love is the most important motivator of all. The gargoyle loved this character, and would never abandon a true friend.

8) Your ultimate top 5 books.

Gosh, the toughest question, and always has been. I’ll answer in the context of different periods of my life, to reflect how they influenced me, and my further reading and writing.

  1. The Adventure series by Willard Price – my first exposure to non-graphical stories, and full of escapism and adventure. Written in the 40’s, 50’s and 60’s in the main, they were also products of their time – very much boy’s own adventures. South Seas Adventure was by far the best. This catalyzed my love for reading.
  2. The Lensmen series by E.E. ‘Doc’ Smith – again, old stuff but resurrected in the 70’s with the pulp fiction boom, and amazing, cosmic space opera. I read this stuff in my early teens and just lapped it up, and it consolidated my love for speculative fiction and escapism. The first book Triplanetary, is noteworthy.
  3. The Forever War by Joe Haldeman was the first speculative fiction piece I read (sci-fi to be exact) that didn’t just draw me into the story, but made me think beyond the plot to the extent that I wanted to write like that. I was still in my teens when I read this, and I have a special place in my heart for the novel. A few years ago I had the pleasure of having dinner with Joe and his wife (among others) in Baltimore and had the opportunity to talk about it with him. 
  4. The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R Tolkein. Well, I’m probably not alone, but through my teen years and even into adulthood, this book transported me more effectively into another, imaginary world more than any other. I have read this trilogy more times than any other book or set of books, by a long shot.
  5. I’m very conscious of the lack of female writers in the list thus far, and certainly the first two or three were a product of my environment in the seventies. It’d be wrong, however, to say that I didn’t read superb female writers and many were among my favourites throughout my life, if not, in fact, taking on the greater number of, say, my top 200. Ursula LeGuin, Shirley Jackson, N. K. Jemesin, Katherine Kerr, and the list goes on. All contributed to my enjoyment of this wonderful field. However, if I were to look back at a book or series that, again, had more of an influence on my life than most, and that can be added to the ‘top 5’, I would say the Saga of Pliocene Exile by Julian May fits the bill, and most notably The Many-Colored Land.

9) Are you working on any new projects? When will we see them?

Since becoming a full time writer, my output and my list of projects have grown. Aside from keeping my short story writing simmering on an ongoing basis, the next manuscript I’m due to complete is the sequel to Guardian of the Sky Realms (titled Champion of the Sky Realms) which will be released by Meerkat Press in 2021. I have a mature-reader Fantasy novel near completed, but needing a lot of revision, and I have plans for a science fiction/horror piece which will require a lot of research before the word production can commence. My goal is to see a title come out a year from 2020 onward.

10) Do you have a routine that motivates you? Can you share it with our readers?

I’m answering this question during Stage 4 lock down in the city that I live in, due to COVID-19. It does change routines and it coincided with me turning to full-time writing and publishing. Nevertheless, I have a framework that works for me, and I know will settle better once we are over the pandemic hump. For me, writing every week morning – putting in a good 4 or 5 hours each time, is the backbone of my routine, and generally I will do my publishing work in the afternoons. Weekends are normally set aside for non-professional activities, including the most important family time. When the inspiration in my writing runs hot, then the rules can be broken, but it is a case of making it the exception rather than the rule. 


Author Bio:

Gerry Huntman is  a writer and publisher based in Melbourne Australia, living with his wife and young daughter. He has sold over 50 short fiction pieces, most of which are dark and for mature audiences, but he also has a love for middle grade fiction. He loves travel and gets many of his story ideas from distant lands and culture, but is equally happy with the cafe set in his hometown.

Jax by MLJ Quigg | Blog Tour & Author Interview

Book Name: Jax (Knight Attack Book One)

Author: MLJ Quigg

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Date of Publication: 2nd September, 2020

Book Description: 

Rock royalty.

That’s what people call me.

But all it took was a single phone call to bring me to my knees.

Five years later, my life has changed irrevocably forever.

Though someone lurks in the shadows threatening to tear all that I love apart. 

An obsession of the worst kind. 

Can I keep the woman I love safe?

Or will everything burn to ash… 


My interview with the author MLJ Quigg:

1) Tell us something about yourself.

I am a married mum of 3 adult kids. I live in a smallish country town between Sydney and Australia’s capital Canberra. I have 6 brothers and 1 sister and a half sister. I am a survivor of domestic abuse. Not much more to say. I am me!

2) What made you start writing?

A dream. That’s what started it all. 

3) If given a chance to co-author a book with another author, who would it be and why?

Oh boy, so many choices. I honestly couldn’t say. Either Penny Dee or Leah Sharelle. I’d love to just get in Sherrilyn Kenyon’s brain one day, don’t know whether I’d be worthy to write with her though, I can always dream.

4) If you could be any character from the book world, who would you choose?

Ushara from Born Of Legend by Sherrilyn Kenyon… Oh my god, that girl is awesome!

5) Paperbacks or digital copies, what’s your preference?

For everyday reading – digital

For looking and not touching – Paperback.

6) What was one important lesson that you learned while writing Jax? Any writing tips that you can share with us?

Take your time and make sure you like the story. If you have to go back and re-write, that’s okay. A subpar book is not okay.

Writing tips, research editors. Find one that fits your personality and even talk to other authors they have under them. These are essential, can’t say that enough.

7) Are you working on any new projects? When will we see them?

I am. Writing Dozer (Thorny Devils Book 3) and I hope it comes out soon. Life is crazy at the moment, and I can’t write as much as I’d like to.

8) What is your favorite quote from Jax?

I leave with a light heart,

I don’t feel bad that we’re apart.

My good wishes are with you,

May you reach where you wish to.

You expect me to be sad I don’t have your love,

But I’m returning it to you with a shove.

And I know that must really suck,

But I don’t really give a fuck.

9) Which author do you look up to?

So many. Sherrilyn Kenyon. She is going through hell at the moment and she still keeps a positive attitude and she writes awesome books.

10) A few words for our reader? 

Thanks for taking the time to listen and I hope you enjoy your time here and my books. Peace out.


About the Author:

Australian author MLJ Quigg – lives in NSW, Australia, with her husband, three adult children, and six cats—yes, you heard that right, six. Growing up in a huge family of eight kids was always noisy and didn’t give her enough alone time to unwind. Books have always given her an outlet from the craziness that is her life. Nothing is better than curling up with a good story to take her mind off her surroundings. As a new author, she hopes you enjoy her stories and helps you get out of your world and into hers for a few hours.

The August Fog by A.L. Goulden | Book Blitz & Interview

August Fog
A.L. Goulden
(August Fog, #1)
Publication date: August 1st, 2020
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Women’s Fiction

Monica Waters has 31 days to choose between the love of her life or her soulmate. Juggling an unglamorous Hollywood career and a clumsy injury with an endless cocktail of antidepressants and dull daily routines, Monica moves through her thirties in a fog, avoiding the pain of her damaged marriage, broken body, and fragile mind.

Until he comes along.

When emerging artist Quinn Matthews moves next door, just coping with the downward spiral of life is no longer feasible. Their powerful connection ignites a relationship that will tip the boundaries of their perfectly balanced lives, sparking a mutual obsession and life-altering affair.

Monica tosses her prescriptions, striving to be free of their control, but with each passing summer day, dangerous secrets seep into their quiet suburban life, inching toward disaster. Sometimes the truth is hidden for a reason.

“This is a contemporary tale of a woman’s struggle to navigate love and mental illness, while defining where and how she will land on her own feet.” –Independent Reader

“A raw and honest look at the ugly secrets behind a flawed marriage and the stigmas of depression.”

In talks with Hayley Reese Chow

It’s been a great time reviewing books and I thought why not share a few things about their authors as well. Here’s one of my first author interviews with Hayley Reese Chow, author of Odriel’s Heirs.

Hayley Reese Chow has short and flash fiction featured or upcoming in Lite Lit One, The Drabble, Bewildering Stories, Teleport Magazine, and Rogue Blades Entertainment’s omnibus, AS YOU WISH!

Until recently though, she’s mostly done a lot of things that have nothing at all to do with writing. Her hat collection includes mother, wife, engineer, USAF veteran, reservist, four-time All American fencer, 100-mile ultramarathoner, triathlete, world traveler, voracious reader, and super-nerd.

Hayley currently lives in Florida with two small wild boys, her long-suffering
husband, and her miniature ragehound.

But at night, when the house is still, she writes.

Here’s my really fun interview with Hayley! 

  • Tell us something about yourself.

H – I am the runt of a litter of some pretty cool people. I have three sisters: the one with the Ph.D. in Aeronautical Engineering is an international adventure racer (look for her on Amazon Prime’s 2019 Eco-Challenge), the industrial engineer will be racing in the US Olympic Trials for the marathon this year (@sarahbishopruns), and the nuclear engineer graduated from MIT at 20-years-old, fluent in Mandarin.

So basically, when the universe got to me (the fourth daughter), they were all out of brains and brawn, and I’ve been winging it ever since.

  • What made you want to start writing?

H – After I graduated undergrad, I worked part-time for 6 months before I started my career. I didn’t really know what to do with myself, so I read until I had words coming out of my ears. But still, I just couldn’t find the story that I really needed. Finally, tired of me moping about the house, my father told me to create something. It was like a lightbulb came on—and I finally wrote the story that I had been looking for.

Life got busy after that (career, Master’s, marriage, kids), but six years after putting away the first draft, I decided to try to revise and publish. Then the twitter writing community sucked me in, and I haven’t looked back since.

  • What can readers expect from your book?

H – A fast-paced young adult fantasy with themes of self-doubt, inner strength, and growing up, mixed with a healthy dose of magic, a dash of romance, and a horde of undead to round it out.

  • What is the story behind the imaginative world that you have created?

H – Okarria is a mix of all my favourite fictional places. A land with creatures that seem both familiar and extraordinary and filled with magic that can be both wondrous and dangerous. A continent you could walk for centuries and still find surprises. A place full of diverse peoples with a million stories left to be told.

  • If given a chance to co-author a book with another author, who would it be and why?

H – Oh my gosh, just thinking about this makes me feel nervous—so much pressure! Naomi Novik would be amazing though. Her stories are so beautifully told—I am forever on the lookout for her next book. Her characters are always interesting and the world so perfectly woven. Co-authoring with her would be an absolute dream (and also probably give me a panic attack.)

  • What is your all-time favourite book or series?

H – The Abhorsen series by Garth Nix definitely holds a special place in my heart. Garth Nix’s The Old Kingdom is so unique and vivid, and his magic system is incredibly intriguing. Discovering his books in middle school really opened my eyes to the darker depths that you could delve into in YA Fantasy.

  • If you could be any character from the book world, who would you choose?

H – Hermione from Harry Potter. Seriously, who wouldn’t want to get a Hogwarts letter from an owl?! And she’s brilliant AND brave, so that’s hard to pass up. Even though… I’m not sure I would’ve ended up with Ron. Just saying.

  • Can we expect a sequel or a new novel soon?

H – 2021. My goal as a writer is to publish 1 novel a year. Although Odriel’s Heirs works as a standalone, it is also part of a planned trilogy. I actually started drafting the sequel, Idriel’s Children, as soon as I finished the first book, but then I was advised to wait and see how OH was received. To be honest, I told my husband if even one complete stranger likes it, I’m going to finish the sequel. (Check! 😊) But now, of course, it’s not an only child anymore and has two other WIP’s to compete with! Still, all the positive feedback on OH really has me super excited to get back to the world of Okarria. I’ve grown *so* much as a writer since OH, and I’m definitely looking forward to IC’s planned release in 2021.

  • A few words for our readers.

H – First of all, thank you so much for reading! If you’d like to reach out, you can find me @hayleyreesechow on Twitter or Instagram. I’m always up for a chat about books! And lastly, I’d just like to say: never underestimate the power of your words. A review or comment can be so crucially encouraging or constructive for any type of writer, and we want to hear from you, so don’t hesitate to give a shout!

  • Your favourite quotes.

H – Finally! An easy question! My second most favourite quote is a Banksy line that another writer shared with me on twitter:

“Learn to rest, not quit.”

I feel like this totally revolutionized my writing mindset. I love writing, but it does have to come after my family, my health, and my job that supports us. So, some days, I just don’t have the energy to finish the next chapter. I use this as a mantra to pause and take a deep breath. Taking a break isn’t quitting, and the story will still be there waiting for me tomorrow.

And my absolute favourite quote of all time is from Albert Camus (translated):

“In the depths of winter, I found there was, in me, an invincible summer.”

Isn’t it just amazing? I love reading stories about the resiliency of the human spirit, and I feel like Camus’ words just capture it perfectly. I very much believe that we are all capable of so much more than we know. And if you’re ever pushed to that limit, you’ll find a strength you never knew you had. To me, even the thought of that just seems like… magic.

You can follow Hayley here –

Twitter: @HayleyReeseChow

Instagram: @hayleyreesechow

Facebook: @odrielsheirs