A new book I am VERY excited about!

Lots of authors lately have made the jump to self publishing, and I have found some really great books thanks to these decisions. Here’s one that I am particularly excited about. If you haven’t met this author yet, please take a moment to stop by his blog and say hello. He’s a hard working writer–and just a great person in general, with a personality that won’t quit.

Visit him at: Fiction Favorites

Announcing His Revenge by John W. Howell is now available in paper and ebook on Amazon.

His Revenge front final

The sequel to My GRL titled His Revenge is available and a new story continues where My GRL left off.

His Revenge is available in the US in Paper and Kindle editions

In Canada in Paper and Kindle editions

In the UK in Paper and Kindle editions

Here is the blurb:

America loves John Cannon, its newest hero, and the President wants to present him with the highest civilian medal for bravery for saving the Annapolis midshipman from a terrorist plot to destroy them. While in Washington for the award ceremony, John unwillingly becomes an accomplice in another plan by the same group to attack the credibility of the US President and the stability of the worldwide oil market. There is no way out as John either becomes a traitor to America or causes thousands of innocent people to die if he refuses.

The second John J Cannon Thriller moves from a barrier Island off the coast of Texas to Washington DC, then to Northern California, and finally to Ecuador. John is on the receiving end of an offer he cannot, refuse. His avowed enemy Matt Jacobs now wants John to help him shake the reputation of the US in the world political arena and disrupt confidence in the government at home. If John refuses, Matt plans to murder innocent Americans including John’s latest relationship. John’s only way out is to pretend to go along with the plan and hope for a miracle.

Excerpt from Chapter one

The water rushes over my head. I’m sinking and don’t know why. With my breath held, I have trouble stopping the air from escaping since the pressure drives the air up and out. I try to keep my mouth closed, but the water pressure pushes the air out more and more. Will I pass out? In the distance, the light is dim. To rise to the surface in time might not be possible─I need to breathe right now. Toward ending the pain in my chest, my rambling mind rationalizes taking a deep breath—even knowing it will end my life. In conflict with the irrational thought of ending it, my body won’t let me suck in the water, as it fights to retain the little bit of oxygen left to fuel my brain.

The despair is nearly overwhelming, and my mind considers other ways to battle the feeling. What more could I have done with my life? The pressure becomes more intense, and I’m about to lose it all, and I decide I’ve lived the way I wanted and have no regrets. I close my eyes and hear only the roar of the sea. I’m so tired. Exhausted. Sleep will fix everything, and I want to give in.

Photo by Tim Burdick

About the Author

John’s main interests are reading and writing. He turned to writing as a full-time occupation after an extensive career in business. John writes fictional short stories and novels as well as a blog at http://www.johnwhowell.com. John lives on a barrier island in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of south Texas with his wife and spoiled rescue pets. He can be reached at his e-mail johnhowell.wave@gmail.com, Facebook https://www.facebook.com/john.howell.98229241or Twitter at @HowellWave

My GRL_johnwhowell

His first novel, My GRL is available on Amazon and wherever e-books are sold

Author Help Page Answers: Duncan M Hamilton

Today, Author Duncan M Hamilton is sharing his wisdom and experience with us. Thank you, Duncan! (He really has some great advice!)

You can find Duncan’s Amazon Author Page here:


1. How did you decide to become an indie author?

I’ve been writing all my life, but always as a hobby, and never as something I thought I could make a living at. When a relative fell seriously ill, she said not to get to that point in your life with any regrets. Publishing one of the books I had written was my first thought. It was around the time self publishing was getting some media attention, so I decided to give it a try.

2. What genre do you write in and why?

I write in Fantasy. Historical fiction was always my thing, but I usually hit a road block when historical events wouldn’t allow my story to progress. For that genre, I’ve never liked the idea of playing free and easy with real events, so this was a bit of a problem. One day it struck me that making up my own history would not only help solve this, but would also be a lot of fun! I haven’t looked back!

3. What social media sites do you use and can you offer a tip for each one?

A WordPress based website and blog, Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads author profile, and a Google Plus page that I never use. I’m not great at this stuff, so the main tip I’d suggest is the thing I rely on. I have my WordPress set up so my blog posts are automatically shared on the other sites, populating them with content and saving me a lot of effort!

4. How important is blogging to an indie author in your estimation?

In honesty, I don’t know. I don’t blog that often, and probably far less than I should, because it’s not something I’m particularly good at. When I do, it’s limited to book related news, and things that give me inspiration. I’ve always seen it as a resource for people who’ve already encountered my work to visit, rather than a tool to grow my audience. Not sure if this is the best approach or not. Probably not.

5. How do you go about getting reviews?

For my first book, I spent some time making a list of all the review sites and book bloggers that were open to my genre, then went about emailing them all (it took quite a while!). I mailed nearly two hundred sites, heard back from about 10, of which 4 ended up posting reviews, so it can be something of an uphill battle.

6. What do you price your books at and do you give away free copies?

They range from $2.99 to $5.99. I’ve given away some copies as part of promotions, but I don’t have a permanently free title.

7. Do you use a cover artist or make the cover yourself?

I use a cover artist. In my opinion, the cover is too important not to have expert input.

8. What do you do about editing?

I use professional editors.

9. What do you do when sales are slow to encourage more books to be sold?

Panic! Work harder to get another release ready sooner. This is something I really don’t have much of an answer for. There’s no silver bullet that I’m aware of. If you have one, I’m listening!

10. What do you know now, that you wish you had known before?

I can’t think of anything. There’s so much information out there for writers looking to venture into self-publishing, that a bit of time spent researching can cover most of the pitfalls before plunging in. As with anything, there are minor things I change and refine with each book, but they’re more matters of personal preference rather than anything substantive.

11. Do you use a mailing list or newsletter to promote?

Yes, I do. Conventional wisdom is that it’s pretty important. I can’t say with any certainty how helpful it’s been for me.

12. Any further advice, tips or tricks you think would help others?

If you hope to make a career out of this, behave professionally in all areas and at all times. Only release your work when it has the level of production quality you would expect from a book you buy.

13. Where do you sell the largest majority of your books and do you do just ebooks or print as well?

Amazon, with Kobo in second place. I have my novels available in print through print on demand.

Somebody I used to Know by David J. Bell

Somebody I Used to KnowSomebody I Used to Know by David J. Bell

The breakout author of The Forgotten Girl and Cemetery Girl, “one of the brightest and best crime fiction writers of our time” (Suspense Magazine) delivers a new novel about a man who is haunted by a face from his past….

When Nick Hansen sees the young woman at the grocery store, his heart stops. She is the spitting image of his college girlfriend, Marissa Minor, who died in a campus house fire twenty years earlier. But when Nick tries to speak to her, she acts skittish and rushes off.

The next morning the police arrive at Nick’s house and show him a photo of the woman from the store. She’s been found dead, murdered in a local motel, with Nick’s name and address on a piece of paper in her pocket.

Convinced there’s a connection between the two women, Nick enlists the help of his college friend Laurel Davidson to investigate the events leading up to the night of Marissa’s death. But the young woman’s murder is only the beginning…and the truths Nick uncovers may make him wish he never doubted the lies.

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I really found this to be quite an intriguing book. The mystery is set up in the very beginning and continues to mature throughout the story.

The main character is able to carry a novel like this well enough, and I thought his profession and lifestyle was a good choice. He seemed like a ‘regular guy’ and it made it easy to relate to the way he thought about things and see his side more clearly.

The supporting characters in this book are good, and I enjoyed the various unexpected twists the plot turned. The only issue I had with this book, is that I felt like about 75% of the way through, too much was revealed, and I was able to guess the rest before it happened. The end came off as rather predictable. I’m still not sure if I could logically reason that things would work out so well in the real word–but hey, it is fiction. I did respect the author for spending time describing the importance of the character’s ex-stepson. It was nice to see a bit different relationship dynamic than the usual father protects flesh and blood scenario.

I liked the interactions between the main character and his dog. With all of the intense things happening in this story, I felt that simple thing really helped to ground this story.

Overall, I was impressed with this book. It made me wonder what was going to happen next for a large majority of the story. It made me laugh a couple of times and in the end, the characters and story were memorable.


This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher and provided through Netgalley. All opinions are my own.

Sisters of Heart and Snow by Margaret Dilloway

Sisters of Heart and SnowSisters of Heart and Snow by Margaret Dilloway
Rachel and Drew Snow may be sisters, but  their lives have followed completely different paths.

Married to a wonderful man and a mother to two strong-minded teens, Rachel hasn’t returned to her childhood home since being kicked out by her strict father after an act of careless teenage rebellion. Drew, her younger sister, followed her passion for music but takes side jobs to make ends meet and longs for the stability that has always eluded her. Both sisters recall how close they were, but the distance between them seems more than they can bridge. When their deferential Japanese mother, Hikari, is diagnosed with dementia and gives Rachel power of attorney, Rachel’s domineering father, Killian becomes enraged.

In a rare moment of lucidity, Hikari asks Rachel for a book in her sewing room, and Rachel enlists her sister’s help in the search. The book—which tells the tale of real-life female samurai Tomoe Gozen, an epic saga of love, loss, and conflict during twelfth-century Japan—reveals truths about Drew and Rachel’s relationship that resonate across the centuries, connecting them in ways that turn their differences into assets.

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is a beautifully written and deeply thoughtful story. With dual tales in this novel, one set long ago in the twelfth century and one set in the current day, this book has a lot to offer to both those who love contemporary writing and for those who love historical books.

Margaret Dilloway keeps getting better with every novel she writes. I was not only impressed with her dialogue in this book as it was easy to read and believable, but also with the unusual family dynamics she creates for her characters. This author gives you a reason to want to continue with her books from the very first page.

When reading this, I found that I became very involved in the story of Tomoe, wanting to know more early on. The descriptions used for the setting were wonderful and made it easier to visualise the story. I like the parallels between the modern story and that of the Shogun period.

This book made me smile, made me cry and in the end and is a novel that I happily recommend to others. Margaret Dilloway is quickly becoming one of my favourite authors and a name I automatically associate with above-average fiction.

This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher. All opinions are my own.

Mirror Interview with Tim Therien

“Mirror, Mirror on the ceiling…”

Now that I have your attention, I don’t actually have a mirror on the ceiling. In fact, the only mirror in my apartment is the one in the bathroom. I take a quick look at myself once a day to make sure I’m presentable to the world, other than that I avoid mirrors with the fervor of a vampire. After reading the clever, witty and intelligent “mirror interviews” featured her at “Readful Things” I have to admit to being a little intimidated. For starters I am not a big fan of tooting my own horn. If I took tooting my own horn I might just have to get that mirror for the ceiling. That said; let’s get on to the crux of it, shall we?

On Poetry

Poetry is very near and dear to me and perhaps I will always be a Poet first and a Writer second. I do make a distinction between the two. Both may be mediums of the written word, but I believe Poetry is more akin to Music than to Prose, especially in its connection to the soul. While Prose may be poetic, it does not make it Poetry.

I am a big proponent of writing in Form, or at least having the ability to do so. I don’t think someone should be able to call themselves a Poet without first being able to express themselves in at least one of the Fixed Forms of Poetry. I am not anti-Free Verse, in fact most of what I have written was without thought of form, but I do believe most Free Versed Poems would have been better served being put into Prose.

On Writing

I take writing very seriously, probably more seriously than I should. I was almost illiterate when I left school at age 15 and taught myself to read and write. I take great pride in that accomplishment. People have called me a “Natural Talent,” but they did not witness the long hard years I’ve dedicated to this craft. It has taken more than thirty years to get from barely being able to fill out a job application to penning these words you now read. This in my mind is not talent, but perseverance. Writing has been my Life’s Labour and my Life’s Love.

Writing is so much more than sitting in a room and putting pen to paper. That is only a small part of it. The bulk of writing is living life, experiencing things, seeing, hearing, touching, tasting and smelling. It is these things that allow the Writer to relate to the reader. If someone cloistered themselves off from the world and wrote, none but the humble hermit would identify to the words.

The best advice I’ve ever received concerning writing would have to be “write like you speak.” It was in applying this advice to my writing that I discovered my literary voice. If I were to impart this advice myself, I would expand upon it and say “write what you think, but write like you speak.” In my opinion, just as important as literary voice is to a writer so too is the ability to express the things that are oft not expressed. Also I would tell the would-be writer to challenge themselves in all things writing. Lastly, write with the Reader in mind, but write the story you want to read.

On Editing

I am not a big fan of editing and not too long ago I refused to edit anything I had written outside of spelling errors and typos. I wanted to remain as true to the essence of what I had written as I humanly could. I do believe a lot of the soul of a piece of writing can be lost in the editing process. I write from the heart and rely on my gut and editing in my mind puts both into doubt. Editing is a game of second guessing ourselves and our instincts.

I have since moved on that position, at least as far as prose is concerned, but I still try to keep as much of that original draft intact as I can. I would call what I do now “Shading” and not editing. It is more akin to the artist who works in charcoal, first outlining his form and then filling it in to give it depth and three dimensions. The original lines remain, even if they have been shaded over.

On Marketing

I think it’s ridiculous to think that a writer must personally interact with every reader and potential reader out there. Really, it is unrealistic for an author with even a modest bit of success to be at the beckon call of their target market. It puts too much pressure on a writer. It also takes up too much time, time which could be better used to relate to the reader the way a writer should relate to a reader, through the written word, through Storytelling and through Poetry.

Writing, for me, has never been about commercial success. Truth is I am resigned that my success, if I am to have it, will most likely come after I have departed from this world. Many great and beloved writers have been misunderstood, even loathed in their own lifetimes. For me, my success will be measured by the ability of my words to stand the test of time.

I am not a big fan of self-promotion. It is, I’m afraid, a necessary evil for the self-published author, but it still feels like I’m pimping myself out and prostituting myself when I engage in the practice. So how then to gain exposure without selling my soul? This is something I haven’t found an answer for. I have contented myself with the belief that if I write something and if I put it out there and if it is truly worthy it will find its way into the hands and hearts of the Reader. That is a lot of ifs, but Life is full of ifs.

On Future Works

Since my move back to Toronto, Ontario, Canada, after over a decade in the Eastern Townships in Quebec, things have been very hectic. I have spent most of the summer working on a book of Poetry (“Crossing Main”) and a Romance (“Forever: The First Epoch”) simultaneously and haven’t been getting very far with either. My life has settled down a little now and I have turned my focus to the Romance until November 1st when I will turn my attention to and again take part in NaNoWriMo to write the second installment of “The Scrolls of Sion.” I have also couple of other projects on the back burner that will see light at the first opportunity.

In 2015, at least two books can be expected from me. “The Scrolls of Sion: Broken Bloodlines” and “Forever: The First Epoch.” If at all possible I will also publish “Crossing Main.” Beyond that, I cannot say.

The opinions expressed here reflect the man in the mirror, me and no one else. In no way is what I say a reflection, or judgement of anyone else. In closing, I would like to thank Ionia for having me here on her wonderful blog.

Links to Books



Links to Blogs



Mirror Interview: Martyn Stanley

Mirror: So, what’s the status of your fantasy series ‘The Deathsworn Arc’ now?

Me: I’ve now finally got a proper author website, which I will blog on and occasionally review other books on:- Martyn Stanley – Author of the ‘Deathsworn Arc’ epic fantasy series I’ve also made the books available in CreateSpace POD, Ingram Spark POD and on all digital formats – Kobo, B&N and Smashwords as well as Amazon. I recently made book 1 of the series free on all formats! Please follow the links here:- Deathsworn Arc: The Last Dragon Slayer is now FREE! – Martyn Stanley

Mirror: Free!? Are you mad?! All that hard work you put in! To give it away?! What on earth were you thinking?

Me: Well, to be honest it was a scary decision to make. It wasn’t an easy or quick thing to do. In the end, after experimenting with various pricing schemes, ranging from $2.99 to more, and as low as $0.99… Nothing had really taken off. When I used to do free promo’s on book 1, I got a lot of downloads and I got follow-on sales from those who enjoyed it enough to read through to book 2. Seeing as I was only getting the financial equivalent of a kick in the crackers for book 1 ($0.33) I decided, I may as well offer it for free and let the books pay their way by the read-throughs. I’m not asking anyone to invest any money into book 1 – just their time. I’m asking a bit more for book 2, but I think I only really want those who ‘get it’ and love the series to read on anyway so perhaps that’s for the best?

Mirror: Well, good luck with that, I see it’s doing fairly well at the moment?

Me: It is! It’s top #3000 in both the UK and US Free Kindle Store without any promotion! It’s top #50 for Dark Fantasy and Epic Fantasy in the US and top #50 for Dark Fantasy and Swords and Sorcery in the UK!

Mirror: Dark Fantasy? Is it ‘Dark Fantasy’?

Me: I don’t honestly know! I think so, I think book 2 ‘The Verkreath Horror’ is definitely Dark Fantasy, it’s border-line ‘Grim Fantasy’ at times. They don’t have a nice time in book 2. There is quite a lot of death and misery in the series. I like to kill off at least one character a book.

Mirror: You’re going to run out of characters!

Me: I don’t think I’ll always kill off a character a book. There will be light at the end of the tunnel, though things get worse before they get better I think.

Mirror: The title ‘Deathsworn Arc’ What does it actually mean?

Me: Ah, it’s explained in book 3 ‘Deathsworn Arc: The Blood Queen’ it’s something some of the characters become, I think in book 5.

Mirror: Is the title of book 1 referring to Silus or Korhan?

Me: Both, either, it doesn’t really matter. I suppose for me, at the start of the book it’s Silus, at the end it’s Korhan.

Mirror: Okay, so will Ramon Hern ever make a proper comback?

Me: He plays a bigger part later on in the series.

Mirror: What about Tubol and Tavion? Do they continue their pursuit?

Me: Oh yes, they are tenacious and will NOT give up. They are part of a really big plot element which starts in book 4.

Mirror: Now, Vashni. She’s *ahem* a bit of an evil bitch at times in book 1 – what gives?

Me: There are reasons for the way Vashni behaves in book 1. The reasons are multi-factorial and complex. You really only have a good idea of why Vashni is behaving the way she is in book one once you’ve read book 3.

Mirror: Have you got any idea how long ‘The Deathsworn Arc’ is at this stage?

Me: I think eight books. I have a solid plot for books 4 and 5 and I kind of know how it ends. I haven’t introduced the main villain yet!

Mirror: Who is the main villain?

Me: Ah, that would be telling. I’ll give you a clue, the human helping the Verkreath in book 2 plays a big part in it. He’s also older than Vashni and has gone by many names.

Mirror: When you wrote this, didn’t you worry that the atheistic world would put some people off?

Me: Yes! I did, but I felt like I had to write it anyway. Thankfully nobody has really picked it apart over that aspect of it – except one. A goodreads reviewer didn’t like it:

“Misery. Layers and layers of misery. The team moves from one horror to another all the while losing their religion. I hated this book and am sorry to have spent the time to read it.”

She gave it one star. That kind of annoyed me, but it impressed me too. It was what I was shooting for in book 2 and I clearly evoked a strong emotional reaction in this reader. At least the book would have been memorable to her.

Mirror: Does the feedback you get in your reviews ever surprise you?

Me: All the time! No two reviewers ever pick up on the exact same points. I suppose the common points are the ‘Truth’ – I expected that, the relationship between Korhan and Vashni – I expected that and the moral philosophizing. Nobody really seems to pick up on the atheist theme that much! That DOES surprise me!

Mirror: How important is the atheist theme and ‘The Truth’ to the overall plot?

Me: It’s critical to the overall plot. There are some huge, world-changing twists. Everything hinges on the ‘Truth’. I became a strong atheist by accident, and exploring the loss of faith and the search for a sense of purpose in life in the books was as much as for me, as for my readers.

Mirror: Are you like any of your characters?

Me: No, not really. I suppose I’m a bit Korhan and a bit Brael more so than the others – but even then, not much.

Mirror: This Korhan and Vashni thing – do they ever ‘get it on’ ?

Me: Well, hmmmm, that’s difficult to answer. Things change drastically for both Korhan and Vashni. Their interactions become a lot more complex in book 5, it’s partly to do with the Korhan taking the Oath at the Deathsworn Shringe and the mind inhabiting Harbinger. I won’t say anymore, but it’s a major, major event for Korhan.

Mirror: Do we ever meet any more gravians?

Me: Yes! There’s a new gravian character in book 4!

Mirror: Ahhh, so they remove Brael’s curse freeing him to use magic?

Me: Nope! They feel the same way Elira did.

Mirror: So does he ever get access to magic back?

Me: Pffft! I’m sick of giving spoilers – talk about something else!

Mirror: Okay, who are you?

Me: I recently posted this about myself on a writers group on Facebook;-

You know me! Want to know a bit more? I’m 37! I’m not old. I live in a little village betwixt Staffordshire and Cheshire which has a little castle perched atop a hill – which you can see for miles around. I have two kids, a girl who’s seven and a boy who’s three. I’ve been married for nine years, I’m a second degree blackbelt in Taekwondo, I’ve also done Kung Fu and Kick Boxing at times. I drive a 3.0 V6 Jaguar, but my favorite car I owned is still my old MX5 which I kept for seven years. I used to be an avid video games player before writing took over my life. In my mis-spent youth I played lead guitar in a band called ‘The Liability Crisis’ and smoked a little weed. I’ve been as far west as Florida and as far east as Singapore – but I usually holiday in France and Germany. Singapore and Rome are probably my two favorite cities I’ve visited. I write fantasy books,but I also work full-time as a manager at a manufacturing plant and I’m studying for a degree with the Open University! I’m about to start ‘Creative Writing’ level 2 – theory being if I actually suck at writing, I’ll get better. If I’m already pretty decent then it’s an easy 60 points and I get to learn ‘poetry’. I drink too much, I don’t exercise enough, but I also don’t eat enough so it kind of balances out. I’m not a very sociable person, but I can be good at faking it. I AM prone to depression, writing has helped with that. A sense of purpose is a powerful thing. *Edit – I also built my own house! Well my father-in-law worked on it more than me, but we literally built the house. I took time of work to do it, and worked evenings and weekends on it for three years! So writing a little 100,000 word novel doesn’t seem that daunting.

Mirror: Wow, you’ve fit a lot into your life!

Me: I dunno. I don’t think I have, it looks like it when I write it down – but it doesn’t feel like it. The last few years have been a blur!

Mirror: So how do you know Ionia?

Me: I came across this blog I think and requested a review. We’ve talked a bit since, she’s told me her story, I told her mine. I now count her amongst my elite group of online BFF’s. She’s awesome!

Mirror: Online BFF’s?

Me: Yes! Another is Inge van de Kraats her shared blog is at Bookshelf Reflections she has me in stitches at times! One of the best thing about writing the books has been the people they’ve facilitated me meeting. I’ve met some really awesome people because of the books. Inge and Ionia are just two examples, whom I have a particular soft-spot for.

Mirror: Anything else in the pipeline? What’s after ‘Deathsworn’ ?

Me: I have a few projects in mind – a dark, high concept urban fantasy with angels and demons, a futuristic earth-based sci-fi with some time-travel and a literary fiction series called, ‘The Week’, ‘The Month’, ‘The Year’, ‘The Decade’ and ‘The Century’.

Mirror: The Lit Fic series sounds odd – what’s it about?

Me: Just life, people, relationships – the passing of time. My main inspiration is that titling my books this way will enable me to market myself as ‘Author of the Week’, ‘Author of the Month’, ‘Author of the Year’ and ‘Author of the Century’ :P

Mirror: Haha! So what about your studying – what’s your degree about?

Me: It’s the most eclectic degree ever! I have modules from IT, Maths, Science and I’m doing Creative Writing next! I’m just doing what I feel like and trying to drum up enough points to cash in a degree. I’m doing it for personal satisfaction rather than career reasons.

Mirror: How big a part of your life is writing?

Me: Massive! I write or edit every day, I promote every day. I’m always looking for ways of increasing my readership. I love telling stories. I love reading them, but telling them is even better.

Mirror: Do your kids know about your stories?

Me: They do! Emily is amazed that people around the world have read my stories. She says she can’t believe it! I’ve told them both who the characters are and roughly what happens. I’ leave the gory out though – the stories are rather too dark for a three year old and a seven year old!

Mirror: Did you ever try to get published traditionally?

Me: I had a go, I sent out some submissions and queries. Nobody wanted to take a punt on it. I’ll be laughing when I’ve sold a trillion copies and I’m living in a castle next door to J.K. Rowling! Only joking! I would like to go trad-pub, i think it’s essential for growing my brand and raising people’s awareness of my work. I’ve more or less given up on Deathsworn Arc for Trad-pub though, I’ll maybe try again with one of my other projects. I think I will always write about contentious, deep, thought-provoking issues. Atheism and loss of faith will probably always creep into my work. For that reason I think many agents and publishers will think it’s risky – but I think it’s what people want to hear! I recently stumbled upon Shelley Segal | Singer and Songwriter from Australia I love her music, I love hearing what I think in song. I think people will like reading what they think in fantasy. There’s often a religious mythology in fantasy – so to create a godless world is fresh and new I think. It will resonate with agnostics, doubters and atheists. It’s not a strong theme though, I think very devout or extreme theists will hate it, but those in the middle will just enjoy the story for the characters, the relationship and the action.

Mirror: Now the big question – when are we going to see ‘Deathsworn Arc: The Temple of the Mad God’

Me: I expect, hmmm, late summer 2015? I have to do my course, and write it, then edit it, amdist working and toddler herding. The good news is I have 10,000 words down and I’ve edited it. It’s a really strong opening, I honestly think though book 3 was probably my best so far – book 4 will be even better. I’m really, really pleased with it. I just wish I had more time to write and I could afford a pro-editor. I might use Sophie Playle at some point ( http://sophieplayle.com ). She did me a sample for book 1 and I was really pleased with her work on it. I only didn’t use her because I couldn’t afford to at the time and I had offers from others to do it for free. I wanted ‘The Blood Queen’ to go out as version 1.0 and never need changing. I now think version 1.2 will be the one that doesn’t need changing. I want to make sure ‘The Temple of the Mad God’ is as close to ‘spot on’ as I can before I release.

Mirror: What is the ‘Temple of the Mad God’

Me: It’s a place, I’m saying no more!

Mirror: Okay, thanks for the interview!

Me: Thank Ionia for hosting it for me!

Writing exercise # 2 and # 3

My life would have turned out so much differently if only I had not _____________.


Fill in the blank. See if you can write a paragraph, or fit this in to a WIP that you are stuck on.


Come up with five to ten descriptive words. Then use antonyms of them to write a paragraph.

Opposites are a fun and creative way to get your mind working.


Who is the tallest man you have ever seen? What if he were the shortest?

What was the worst thing you’ve ever eaten? What was the best?

Writing exercise

We all need a little help once in a while getting our brains moving in the “write” direction. So please stay tuned for a series of simple writing exercises you can use to get your mind going, or as a primer for your daily work on your WIP. Feel free to come back and drop a line to let me know what you came up with:)


Write 9 random alphabet letters in your journal or onscreen. Then use those letters, in the random order you wrote them, to build a sentence, the first letter of each word matching the letters you chose.


Here is an example:


G  Y  T  R B W P A  F

Gifford Young tried really bad wing-sauce, putrid, awful food.


Have fun with it and remember that to write well, you must be willing to write poorly first.



Mirror Interview: Graeme Cumming

Graeme Cumming is the author of Ravens Gathering, a dark fantasy thriller that twists and… Well, you get the idea.

Graeme CummingRavens Gathering is listed on Amazon as Dark Fantasy. Is that how you’d describe it?

If it has to be pigeon-holed, then yes, but that’s how booksellers and publishers categorise things. In a sense, it actually crosses several genres, which was the best way to tell the story.

What gave you the idea?

I was driving and spotted a group of birds at the side of the road. More flew down to join them and I commented on the ravens gathering. As soon as I said it I thought, “That’d be a great title for a book.” So the title came first and it lent itself to the creepy stuff followed naturally.

Do you normally come up with titles first?

No, though it’s not unheard of. I remember challenging school friends to give me any title and I’d create a story line. Someone said “Solid Gold”, and within 24 hours I had a plot involving the simultaneous hijacking of two gold bullion shipments and the shady dealings of a US President. (The arrogance of youth…) Thirty-five years later, it’s still waiting to be written, but now the bit’s between my teeth I’m confident it will – though the title needs changing!

Thirty-five years? Why did it take so long to write your first novel?

I’ve written stories since I was a child. One of my English teachers was once heard to say that she’d eat her hat if I wasn’t a published writer by the time I was 25. She’s had time to work her way through the stock of a large milliners since then, so I hope she likes a high fibre diet. The bottom line, though, is that I’ve not been sufficiently driven. It’s what I always wanted to do, but there were always other more pressing things that distracted me. In the early days it was rock concerts, girls and alcohol, but later it became about having to support my family.

So what changed?

I realised time was running out. In my mind I’d developed a fixed idea that I had to write “properly”, which meant doing it consistently every day, which I found difficult with young children, work and an inclination for idleness. So for long stretches of time I didn’t bother because, if I couldn’t do it properly, there was no point in doing it at all. But, as I hit my early forties, I realised I was depriving myself of the pleasure of writing – creating characters, places and situations I found entertaining. So I decided to just write when I could – and, after around six years, I finished the first draft of a novel.

Ravens Gathering?

Good God, no! After five years and long gaps between writing, I had the makings of a novel, but it needed a lot doing to it. And having lived with that one for so long, I needed a change.


So, yes, then I wrote Ravens Gathering. But I’d learnt a lot from the first novel, and I’d steadily become more focused. The first draft took about eight months. A year later it was ready to publish.

And you self-published.

In part it was about wanting to retain control, but it was also to speed the process up. I was fast approaching 50, so I had an increased sense of time passing. I know I probably should have more patience, but didn’t want to waste any more time than I already had.

So presumably you’ve been writing constantly since and must have another book due out?

Ah… Okay, I walked into that one, didn’t I? No, there’s no second book imminent. I went back to the first one – Carrion – and spent a long time editing that, but still wasn’t happy with it. In the mean time, my business began to take over my life and I haven’t written much at all in the last year. But that’s been a wake-up call, and I’ve spent a lot of the last 6 months re-structuring the business to give myself more time. In the next month or so the writing can begin again.

Completion of Carrion?

I’m hesitating over that at the moment, but probably. It’s about time it was given a wider audience than the limited number who’ve read a version of it so far. On the other hand, there are a number of others I’m just desperate to get out of my head and on to paper (or a screen).

It sounds like you could be busy, then. Will it be more Dark Fantasy?

Some of it will, but I just want to entertain. So, whatever I write, you can expect suspense, action, a little humour in places and a few twists along the way. It’s been gratifying that readers have said: “I didn’t see that coming” about aspects of Ravens Gathering.

You’re just trying to tempt us in now, aren’t you?

Of course I am. It’s not often I get the chance to make people aware of the book, so I need to take every opportunity to get them to read it – or at least try the sample on Amazon.

Do you want to provide the link, then?

Thought you’d never ask…

Ravens Gathering Cover










For my home market, it’s:


Otherwise, the best starting point is:


You can also find my website at: www.graemecumming.net. Keep an eye on it. There will be changes soon.

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

Like most things, books are mainly sold on personal recommendations. So if you enjoy any book you read, take a few minutes to write a review on Amazon – and then tell all your friends.

Thanks for reading.


Thank you Graeme! This interview had such a great flow and was so much fun! If you’d like to do an interview of your own for the Wednesday Mirror Interview feature, feel free to email me from the contact page. :) Keep writing–it’s the thing to do.

Mirror Interview #7: Katie Sullivan

Katie Sullivan

Katie Sullivan

It was a nice change, talking to myself as me, instead of talking to myself under the guise of my character/muse/monster, the druid known as D.


Give those who may not know Changelings: Into the Mist a snapshot of the story.

Irish teens Maureen O’Malley and Sean McAndrew are lost to time. Lured from the abbey they call home by the vision of a warrior shadowed by mist, they are tossed between pirates led by Grace O’Malley in 1584 and revolutionaries dreaming of a new republic in 1916 Dublin. To return home, they must defeat the man – the myth – responsible for their misadventures: the tyrannical Faerie king, Nuada Silver Arm. Maureen and Sean are the strongest Changelings in one thousand years, and the king would rather the last of the descendants of Man and Fae remain lost to time forever. Aiding them is the man in the mist: Dubh an Súile mac Alasdair is a warrior-priest to a people 1300 years-dead and the only Changeling the king could not break. With his help, Maureen and Sean will learn to accept the magic in their blood, defy the king who would enslave them, and claim their place in their own time.

When is it available?

Good lord, self, I think you might be channeling D.

Oh dear – my apologies. I wasn’t being facetious; I do think it’s fascinating. Of course, I could be biased. So, about that release date…?

Changelings: Into the Mist will be released on November 11, 2014 on Amazon, Barns & Noble and others (a full list will be available on my website and blog). It will be available electronically as well as in print.

Am I invited to the release party?


Had to ask.

Indeed. And before you beg: yes, you are invited.

Is this a stand-alone or a series?

It is one of two books. Changelings: The Coming Storm will continue (and conclude) Maureen and Sean’s tale. There are one-to-two more books that belong to this particular universe, and timeline, but there are other stories clamoring for my attention. Plus, a break from time-travel might be beneficial for my brain!

How does D feel about that?

Um, I haven’t told him.

Hmm… that’s going to be an interesting day on the blog. So, how did you meet your characters? Were you introduced, did they demand your attention in some innocuous place, or have you known them so long that you can no longer remember life without them?

Sean and Maureen happened upon me during mass when I was 13 or 14. I was day-dreaming, and so was Maureen. Except, during her daydream, she saw a time vortex in the church ceiling. She whispered the rest of her adventures with Sean throughout the next three years.

D was later given to me by my ex-husband. He liked the story, but said someone was missing and told me about this mysterious Druid who lurked at the edges of Maureen and Sean’s adventures. I agreed and stuck the Druid into the story, but since D and I did not get along – compounded by the fact I could not “see” him clearly – it went nowhere.

10 years later, I went to a movie, was inspired by the actor in it and was gifted with a vision of D. The book was completely rewritten 9 months later and D and I started a blog in the meantime. Sean and Maureen are all grown now, and I almost feel like their mother: I’m so proud of where they’ve ended up, and I know I finally did justice to their story.

Which of your characters can you identify with the most?

Maureen, hands down. Maureen was what I wanted to be. I was a shy kid with big, rebellious ideas; it was easy to live vicariously through her. Eventually, I would follow my dreams and move to Ireland, and get over some of that inertia and shyness. I like to think that I, in turn, helped temper her, um, more rash tendencies when I re-wrote the story.

Yeah, rash. That’s a good word to describe that young lady. Anyway, do you have a least favorite character in Changelings?

It would be too easy to say D is my least favorite character, but in truth, he’s my favorite. We just tend to butt heads because he is so … so … infuriating and dramatic and grand and stubborn and…

We get the idea.

Right. Anyway, my least favorite character isn’t even the main villain. It’s a secondary character, Mrs. Mallory, who basically ran the show in the 1916 portion of the story. She was neither easy to write, nor a particularly savory character. Sean and Maureen, while not her responsibility, are in her care, and she puts them into a very awkward and dangerous situation.

If you were in the same situation as your characters, what would you do differently?

I’m not sure I would do anything differently. Some of this story is “what would I do if I were suddenly transported back in time?” The answer: have a grand adventure. I hope I would be stronger than Maureen, more easily able to resist the pull of certain situations, but my younger self would not have been!

So basically you’re saying you’re a reckless—

Oi! Spoilers.

Oh, sorry! What makes you uniquely qualified to write Changelings?

I’m what my father calls the ‘throwback’ member of the family. I got on really well with the older generation of relatives that had come over from Ireland in the 20s, and I took many of their stories to heart. I moved to Ireland when I was 18 and married an Irishman, but even before that I was studying Irish history, the political situation and my family’s connection to it. My grandfather left because of the Civil War in the 20s, and my mother is an O’Malley – and claims kinship with Grace O’Malley. I grew up basically considering myself the child of pirates and revolutionaries.

Good lord. Well, that’s all I have for you today, Ms. Sullivan.

Why, thank you, self. That was a lovely interview.

Don’t just thank me.

Of course not – many thanks to Ionia Martin for hosting us today – and thank you to all of you for reading!

The D/A Dialogues – a blog about the sometimes-fractious relationship between an author and the character in her head as they go about writing a book together.