Giveaways, Meet The Author

Meet The Author: Interview with Vanessa MacLellan

Vanessa MacLellan is a fantasy author born and raised in the farmlands of eastern Washington, works as an environmental engineer, and is an avid birder, naturalist and hiker living in Portland, Oregon. Her first novel, Three Great Lies, an Egyptian fantasy published by Hadley Rille Books.  She loves mythology and tries to slip it into every book she writes. 

Q & A with Vanessa MacLellan

Can you, for those who don’t know you already, tell something about yourself and how you became an author?

Let me start by thanking you for this opportunity to answer your questions. I’m Vanessa MacLellan and I live in Portland, OR, USA.  I write fantasy in a variety of flavors.  My previous book, Three Great Lies, was a portal fantasy/women’s fiction set in ancient mythological Egypt.  Awaken, my current book, is a dark fantasy/horror with a young protagonist set in a frontier fort settled by a Norse-descended people.  I love mythology.  And while not all of my writing includes mythology, it is a component you’ll see often.

When not writing, I’m often camping, birding, backpacking, studying medicinal properties of plants… you get it.  I’m a greenie.  I also just started water coloring.  I’m finding as I’m getting older, I want to create more.

I don’t know when exactly I ‘became’ a writer, but at a very young age I would make up stories for my mother filled with atrocious adverbs.  I wrote fan stories for role-playing game characters and fan fiction for published works.  I’ve done NaNoWriMo 15 times.  One thing I wrote in junior high was a fan fiction poem for Stephen King’s short story, The Mist.  This story is just one needle of inspiration for Awaken.  I am always inspired by the world around me.

What literary pilgrimages have you gone on?

Very few intentionally.  I have been to the House of Five Gables and to Platform 9 3/4.  I drove through Forks and Beverly Cleary has a middle school named for her near me.  I’ve been to the Carl Sandburg house twice, though I’ve never read his works.

What inspired you to write this book?

Great question!  I love moody, thematic horror.  I like seeing the cliff coming for you and wishing you could veer away and knowing you’re going over.  I like sacrifice characters.  I like heroes, who no matter the odds, will do the right thing. 

Heroic fiction.  My happy place.

What can we expect from you in the future?

I have a superhero series I’m working on.  The first book is done and I’m planning on finishing all of them before I publish them.  I also have an environmental fantasy that’s in rough draft phase I hope to polish up next year. 

I have a day job as an environmental engineer, so writing is a slow process for me. I diligently plod along and get the work done.

What’s your process when you sit down and decide to start writing a book and do you have a system?

Years ago I would have answered this totally differently with plans and plots and diagrams.  After having written so many rough drafts, I don’t really have a process anymore.  I find it’s different based on the book, how busy I am, how excited I am, etc.  But I’ll give you my ‘perfect’ process.

* Have the world built before I start.  Ponder it, think on it, daydream on it. Get an idea of what everyday people do. Get an idea of how the magic/power affects day to day activities. Know my characters and their choices inside and out.

* Know my ending and work backwards. This way I won’t write myself into a horrible box canyon… which I have done. This also allows for heightened tension and Oh Damn moments, because I know how they get out of it already, so I can create crazy scenarios that hopefully will keep the readers on the edges of their seats.

* Outline it all, step sheet, focus on emotions and what I want the readers to get out of each scene.

* Sit down and write daily.

Can you tell us a little bit about the characters in Awaken?

Balin is the main character.  He’s 16, the orphan son of a traitor who was gunned down before his eyes when he was 5.  A commoner, he’s given certain privileges because his guardian is the Mistress of the College of the frontier fort they live in.  He’s in a relationship with the only single noble girl his age, Elaine, who is promised to be married to the Hauld’s son, William.  William is like the prince of the keep and he and Balin survived incarceration at the hands of the enemy together, so have a bond through that.  Tristan is Balin’s best friend, second only to Elaine, and also of noble birth.  These four work together to help fix Fort Resonbirg, the sentient keep they live in. 

Then there is the Sallaedi… The Plague Man.  Enda.  Sometimes called Dust.  He wants Balin… but for what purpose?  Read the book and find out!

A lot of this book is held in dreams or in in-between dreamscapes.  Thus, the name Awaken.  Balin just wants to Awaken from his living nightmare. Balin is given choices that at first he refuses, because they are not good options.  But as other avenues are cut away, he soon realizes what he must do.  Balin is a real kid, wishing for a future, hoping for happiness.  And he does what he must do.

How did you come up with the concept and characters for the book?

Have you read The Waste Land by T.S. Eliot?  Please do.

“I will show you fear in a handful of dust.”

This poem played a HUGE influence on this story.  Moody, moody, moody.

Awaken has three major plotlines.  There is Ursulard the Dreamspinner, who is the main external antagonist who lays siege to Fort Resonbirg.  There is the surrounding mist wall and the dragon, Nidhogg, swimming within entrapping them further and feasting on dreams.  And then the Sallaedi and his demands on Balin and his offer of power.  I wanted to do one of those intricate, entwined books with a lot going on.  I hope I didn’t bite off more than I could chew, but it was fun. 

Fort Resonbirg is a sentient building and I love the idea of an intelligent, aware house.  I see it rarely in fiction.  I also loved the idea of an entity feeding on fear and causing nightmares. 

And Balin, my battered bruised boy who still tries and wants to do whats right.  I love that kind of character and I wanted to bring him to life in my story.  I hope he walks strongly in your imagination like he does in mine.

Who designed your book covers?

I went to Crowdspring to get my cover.  Essentially you submit a proposal and people create covers to vie for your contract.  I felt bad for those I didn’t pick, honestly.  Khalid_art20 came out on top with the amazing cover of Resonbirg all misty with the hint of Nidhogg swimming in the mist.  Love the mood it creates!

Where can readers find you and your books?

They can find me at my Author Links.

Website * Facebook * Twitter * Amazon * Goodreads

Anything specific you want to tell your readers?

I hope you enjoy Awaken.  If you like it, please consider giving my other works a read.  Though different, I hope I deliver you quality.  My goal is that you come away from the story with it in your memory, with you thinking about it a few days later, and with you feeling deeply for the characters.

Thank you for having me!  It was great to talk to your followers.

Awaken

by Vanessa MacLellan

Genre: Dark Fantasy, Horror

Balin stands between two great Powers. One will shatter his mind; the other will destroy his soul. Only one of them can save his people.

Fort Resonbirg, a Norse stronghold in the New World, is besieged by the evil sorcerer Ursulard the Dreamspinner. Though their fields are scorched and homes destroyed, the residents and refugees do not worry, because Fort Resonbirg is Awakened with the power to provide, protect, and grow. But not all is as it seems when a wall of impenetrable mist surrounds the fort, and within the mist hunts the dragon, Nidhogg. Nidhogg hungers for more than flesh and bone. It instills nightmares on its prey, feeding on fear and pain, inevitably taking lives.

Balin Tremore, a commoner bound for the militia but hoping to stay by his noble love’s side, never expected to amount to grand things. When the great power of Cradleweaving is awakened within him, Balin unknowingly becomes the one person with the power to pierce the wall of mist and banish the deadly beast within before it destroys them all—if he can master the new power in time. But to master the power, he must sacrifice much. The question is, will it be his position, his Lady, or his very soul?

The Mist meets Nightmare on Elm Street in this classic tale of personal sacrifice.

Book Links:
Amazon * Goodreads

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Giveaways, Meet The Author

Meet The Authors: Interview with M.I.H. McCool and John R. McCook III

M.I.H. McCool grew up in southern Mississippi and currently resides in the little town of Danville, Illinois with her chunky pug, Otis, and her turtle, Roosevelt. When not writing, McCool can be found participating in her community’s rich theatre scene, making decorative color-changing potions, writing nerdy articles for 101 Militia Gaming, and enjoying being the ‘cool aunt’ to her nieces.

John R. McCool III hails from a small town in the great state of Mississippi. He fell in love with writing at a very young age, oftentimes writing stories during class rather than paying attention. He now resides in Danville, Illinois where most of his time is spent attending to the day-to-day operations of a local coffee shop, which is like a second home to him. When not writing or sipping coffee, John loves spending time with his wife and kids who give him the inspiration to pursue all of his dreams.

Q & A with the Authors

What inspired you to write this book?
We grew up on horror. Anything dark and creepy has been sowed into the McCool DNA. For as long as we can remember, there was always something creepy going on in our lives. Whether it was something unexplainable happening, or the occasional ghost hunt, we were always involved in something dark and mysterious.

What can we expect from you in the future?
So much! Two new McCool Mythos books are currently in development, as well as stand alone novels from both of us. We are very dedicated to our writing careers going forward.

What did you enjoy most about writing this book?
Honestly, everything. Horror comes second nature to us, so writing in a genre we absolutely love is such a joy.

How did you come up with the title of the book?
We came up with the name as a good way to show this is a family project. Everything we do create fits into the McCool Mythos in some kind of way. It’s loosely based on H.P. Lovecraft who’s work is commonly known as the “Cthulhu Mythos”.

Anything specific you want to tell your readers?
First we would like to thank all of our readers for the immense support that we have already received. We strive to bring you stories that will take you on an adventure away from reality, even if momentarily. We understand that with life’s complexity that sometimes even the most passionate readers will struggle to read novels due to lack of time or even energy. That is why we feel that well-written short stories are so important, especially in today’s world. We hope that the McCool Mythos series will allow a spooky escape for any that desire it.

Convince us why your book is a must read.
McCool Mythos: Tales of the Dark and Mysterious will interest anyone curious of the oddities shadowed just within the light of the everyday life. These are short, bite sized stories that can be enjoyed individually or binged at once – so there is no wrong way to read this book. Whether you are the avid reader ready to consume altogether or the busy type with only five minutes to spare, this collection is here to take you on a dark journey.

Have you written any other books that haven’t been published?
We are currently working on the next installments in this series – McCool Mythos: Dead of Winter with publication expected for Winter 2022, as well as McCool Mythos: The Wicked Ones in Spring 2023. Individual projects include M.I.H. McCool’s next novel in the Annals of the Common Beyond series, The Immortal Perception, with an expected release of Fall 2022.

How can readers find you and more of your work?

For M.I.H. McCool: Facebook * Twitter * Instagram * Amazon * Goodreads

For John R. McCool III: Facebook * Instagram * Amazon * Goodreads

McCool Mythos: Tales of the Dark and Mysterious

by M.I.H. McCool & John R. McCool III

Genre: Horror

Think carefully before turning the cover…

Prepare yourself for an escape into a world of the harrowing and peculiar. McCool Mythos: Tales of the Dark and Mysterious is a collection of bite-sized tales brought to you by the brother/sister duo, John R. McCool III and M.I.H. McCool in their debut collaboration.

From stories following average people facing supernatural horrors to legends of strange circumstances involving even stranger creatures, each tale is sure to make you think twice before shutting off the light.

Goodreads * Amazon

$20 Amazon

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Podcast

Episode 18 A Weighted Soul by J. L. Willow

Listen to the Episide Here

Hello Reading Friend,

Welcome to Episode 18 of A Reader’s Book Corner!

In today’s episode we are discussing A Weighted Soul by J. L. Willow. This is a short story collection with six stories of dark and twised tales.

*Author bio and other titles

*Overview of book

*Overview of each story

*Favorites out of the six and additional thoughts

Purchase A Weighted Soul at Amazon/ B&N

Visit J.L. Willow at www.jlwillow.com or connect on Instagram / Facebook / Youtube / Twitter

*Announcement of the next book, What You Don’t Know by Bianca Sloane

Connect with A Reader’s Book Corner at IG/ Twitter/FB: @areadersbc

Blog: arbookcorner.wordpress.com/podcast

Until next time,

Happy Reading!

Book Features, Giveaways

Sneak Peek of Gateway to Dark Stars by Kate Haley

Everything shifted. Beneath him, the ground cracked. It began to slide apart. He staggered up. Not fast enough. He slipped into the crack. The sole of his boot hit something hot and wet. The rocky ground rushed away from him on either side. Hot ooze pooled around his ankles. The ground looked up at him. He stood on an eyeball. Its sickly iris swiveled to find him. The rocks rushed back at alarming speed. Vincent leapt. He cleared the edge and crashed onto the rough earth. The world beneath was blinking at him. He rested on the eyelid. It moved back and forward as the veiny eyeball searched for him.

He stayed kneeling as he caught his breath. The air was like needles in his lungs. It prickled and stung like poison. The shock was getting to him more than anything. The universe of the Darkness assaulted his senses – assaulted his mind. It was impossible to stay focused. The grace of the Prince was all that saved him most visits, and this time he had no allies.

He had to do it alone. He pulled himself to his feet. He always did. The eyelid still wavered back and forth under him, but he drove himself on. The knowledge that he was alone in this world kept him strong. It kept him going. There was no one else to worry about here. There was no one else to fear for. That fear had dictated so much of his life. That fear of loss.

A ghostly silhouette waited for him in the shadows ahead. He knew what it was instantly. His thoughts had drawn it here. His fears and desires and the deepest guilt-ridden parts of his nightmares. The figure in the Darkness turned. Vincent felt his heart stop. His blood froze.

Gateway to Dark Stars

by Kate Haley

Genre: Horror, Action, Adventure

Slaying monsters. It ain’t much, but it’s honest work.

In the age of jazz and bootleg liquor, black magic is making a big comeback. Luckily, the scourge of demons and cultists are keeping Doctor Vincent Temple in business. Even the Mafia are having trouble with monsters, and they’ve hired Temple to sort it out. Cash is cash, and the old Doctor has never been one to turn his nose up at a job, no matter who’s paying. This time luck is smiling on him. The gangsters are tangling with a cult Doctor Temple has been stalking over a personal matter, but when reconnaissance turns into rescue can he save the world before things become too personal?

The Witcher meets Cthulhu in this gruesome, high-octane adventure. Snatch up your copy now and get ready to slay some demons!

Goodreads * Amazon

Kate Haley is a speculative fiction author who works predominantly in fantasy and horror.

While currently content to fill her days with writing and table-top RPGs, her grander plans involve world domination. Something akin to the tyranny of the greatest city atop the Disc would be an acceptable standard. She believes a super-villainous overlord would be an upgrade, given that our current villains lack style and imagination.

After all, super-villainy requires Presentation.

If you like her references, consider reading her books. Peruse the website for short fictions and merchandise, and join the mailing list for early access and exclusive cool stuff.

Author Links

Website * Facebook * Twitter * Instagram * Bookbub * Amazon * Goodreads

Personalized signed copy of the book & an art print of the lead character by the illustrator,

$10 Amazon gift card,

-1 winner each!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 Follow the tour HERE for special content and a giveaway!