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A blog about books and other things speculative

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SPFBO 5 Semi-Finalist Review - Blade's Edge by Virginia McClain


The Qwillery is pleased to announce our second Semi-Finalist: Blade's Edge by Virginia McClain.


This also means that the following books have been eliminated:

Stone Bound (Chaos and Retribution 1) by Eric T. Knight;

The Borrowed Souls by Paul B. Kohler;

Broken Crossroads (Knights of the Shadows 1) by Patrick LeClerc;

Skies of Olympus (The Immortality Trials 1) by Eliza Raine;

and

Heavy Dirty Soul by A. A. Warne.



Blade's Edge
Chronicles of Gensokai 1
Artemis Dingo Productions, January 23, 2015
eBook, 314 pages
 Also available in Hardcover and Trade Paperback

SPFBO 5 Semi-Finalist Review - Blade's Edge by Virginia McClain
Mishi and Taka live each day of their lives with the shadow of death lurking behind them. The struggle to hide the elemental powers that mark the two girls as Kisōshi separates them from the other orphans, yet forges a deep bond between them.

When Mishi is dragged from the orphanage at the age of eight, the girls are unsure if or when they will find each other again. While their powers grow with each season-cycle, the girls must come to terms with their true selves--Mishi as a warrior, Taka as a healer--as they forge separate paths which lead to the same horrifying discovery...

The Rōjū council’s dark secret is one that it has spent centuries killing to keep, and Mishi and Taka know too much. The two young women have overcome desperate odds in a society where their very existence is a crime, but now that they know the Rōjū’s secret they find themselves fighting for much more than their own survival.


Phil Parker's Review:

The success of this story comes from its originality and vivid portrayal of life for two orphan girls in medieval Japan – at least a fantastical version of that country. I quickly became fascinated with not just the plight of Taka and Mishi, but by the culture in which they lived. The world created by Virginia McClain is so utterly realistic. Beautiful. Violent. Unfair.

The author lived in Japan for some years and her love for the country and understanding of its distinctive culture is apparent in every aspect of the story. It’s so easy to assume that the challenges the girls face are no different to those of a few hundred years ago. The only difference is that in this story, magic exists. It’s what makes it such an original story. Magic operates in harmony with the natural world, derived from fire, water, air, and the earth.

And this is where the inherent tension is derived. Females are not allowed to possess magic. Discovery of their ‘kiso’ at birth leads to their death. Taka and Mishi survive only by the help of people desperate to eliminate this barbaric practice. The story follows the girls’ journey (both physical and allegorical) as they develop their distinctive kiso while growing up into women capable of fighting in this underground movement.

We quickly sympathise with the girls’ plights, we cheer those who support them and despise those who use violence to maintain the repressive and immoral Roju regime. World building is highly detailed. It takes time to familiarise yourself with so many terms for roles, clothes, weapons, rituals and the like but this is one of the features that makes the story so unique. Ms McClain sets her story on the imaginary island of Gensokai. This medieval land is vividly drawn, using language which is rich and vibrant, immersing you in its landscape, ecology, cultures and society.

And yes, there is even a dragon.

I really enjoyed this book. Read it within a few days. It’s not filled with battles and swordplay, there are no wizards and even the dragon is restricted in its involvement. It is a story of great subtlety. The two protagonists are not the inevitable ‘kick-ass’ type that pervade fantasy stories either. Their disciplined development is painful, harsh and mirrors the process of acquiring finesse in any martial art. It’s just that the finesse includes magical expertise too. These are real women, with flaws and doubts, but with the determination to fight inequality. In this respect this is a story which resonates with our own world and that makes this book an even stronger, more commercially viable, product as a result.

SPFBO 5 Semi-Finalist Review - Knight and Shadow by Flint Maxwell



SPFBO 5 Semi-Finalist Review - Knight and Shadow by Flint Maxwell


The Qwillery is pleased to announce our first Semi-Finalist: Knight and Shadow by Flint Maxwell.


This also means that the following books have been eliminated:

A Triad in Three Acts: The Complete Forester Trilogy by Blaine D. Arden;

A White Horizon (Stars and A Wind 1) by Barbara Gaskell Denvil;

Sea of Lost Souls (Oceanus 1) by Emerald Dodge;

Apprentice Quest (Ozel the Wizard 1) by Jim Hodgson;

and

Masters of Deception (A Legends of Tivara Epic Fantasy) by J.C. Kang.



Knight and Shadow
March 2019
Trade Paperback and Kindle eBook, 268 pages

SPFBO 5 Semi-Finalist Review - Knight and Shadow by Flint Maxwell

Many years ago Ansen Kane prevented the end of the world by killing an insane king. Instead of praise, Kane and the rest of his order were shunned for their efforts.

Now he is the last living gun knight.

With a price on his head bigger than anyone in the kingdom of Aendvar, Ansen Kane traveled west, toward the Infected Lands, where he’s been hiding ever since.

But in the capital city, evil rises again.

And whether he likes it or not, Ansen Kane will be forced to pick up his weapon and fight.


Melanie's Review:

Ansen Kane is the last Knight of the Gun and  hiding out in the Infected Lands barely eeking out a living.  Many years ago Kane saved the world by killing an insane and malevolent king but rather than being celebrated as a hero Kane was hunted, all of his companions killed. He is alone and vulnerable. When the evil force rises again Kane is a target and his life is in danger.

On the other side of the continent Issac Bleake's 17th birthday ends in tragedy. His mother is brutally murdered on the eve of his birthday by a shadowy creature. With her dying breath Issac's mother gives him a mysterious gun and tells him to find Ansen Kane, in the Infected Lands. A long an perilous journey awaits the teenager as he travels across the country in search of the last Knight of the Gun. He better be quick as time is running out.

Maxwell sets a frenetic pace for his characters with a brutal murder and rise of evil in the first few pages. Issac's journey across the continent is action packed but not as action packed as what awaits Ansen Kane in the Infected Lands. I liked these characters and Maxwell develops the story quickly and well. My main criticism with this story is that it is far too short. The majority of the story sets up Ansen and Issac as characters and then it ends rather abruptly after the first main battle. I felt kind of ripped off and that this was a plot to get me and others to buy the next book. It was good but I don't think I want to invest in a story that is a bit of a drip feed.

SPFBO 5 Interview: John A. Pretorius, author of Living in Times of Dragons


Please welcome John A. Pretorius to The Qwillery as part of the Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off 5 Interviews. John has submitted Living in Times of Dragons to SPFBO 5.

Follow the fate of all the entrants at http://mark---lawrence.blogspot.com/2019/06/spfbo-5-phase-1.html



SPFBO 5 Interview: John A. Pretorius, author of Living in Times of Dragons



TQWelcome to The Qwillery. What is the first fiction piece you remember writing?

John:  When I was ten I wrote a book about people exploring a strange island. Because I was ten there were a lot of bad puns in it, and I thought I they were very clever.



TQAre you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid?

John:  I'm a hybrid. I plan, but I don't plan it out blow for blow usually. When I do, I don't always keep to it. Writing for me is ultimately intuitive.



TQWhat is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

John:  Rewriting. It's easier to lay a foundation than to build on it.



TQDescribe Living in Times of Dragons using only 5 words.

John:  Bizarre, gut wrenching, and dark.



TQWhat inspired you to write Living in Times of Dragons?

John:  I created the character for a crime novel that I never finished... or really got anywhere with. One day I imagined this protagonist, Roger, looking out a window and him seeing a dragon. The dragon then begins to chase him.



TQPlease tell us about the cover for Living in Times of Dragons.

John:  The artist is known as PhanDuy, and is from Vietnam. It doesn't depict any deliberate event in the story, but has the feel of the first section.



TQIn Living in Times of Dragons who was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why?

John:  The protagonist, Roger, was the easiest to write. I had started two novels with him that went nowhere, but in the second novel I managed to nail the feel of the character and create a backstory. By the time I wrote this novel he was fleshed out in my mind, and I could put him to paper with ease.

Hardest was his son, Ian. Ian was a character I struggled developing, and in the first draft he had the personality of a wooden plank. Considering he's important to the story this was a huge problem. It took several rewrites for me to nail down a personality for him.



TQDoes Living in Times of Dragons touch on any social issues?

John:  Not directly.



TQGive us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery quotes from Living in Times of Dragons.

John:

My hands were free and I began to feel around inside the mouth of the beast. I reached and touched a huge canine, then my other hand went in under the tongue. Suddenly its sharp teeth pressed down gently upon my shoulder and calves while the tongue pressed my stomach onto the roof of the mouth. Then I heard a voice in my head. "Don’t try anything, Atuor."

The fear that it had somehow gotten into my head, that it was invading my thoughts and feelings and poking its own mind where I was not wanted, made me angry. But I called its bluff. “You wouldn’t kill me,” I said. “You want me alive.”

I felt its teeth momentarily press down very hard into my calves again, this time hard enough that I could feel it cut my skin. Its voice then came; its tone darkly humorous. "Indeed we do, Atuor. We need you alive, but we don’t really need your feet. Now stop squirming."



TQWhat's next?

John:  I'm working on the sequel, which is 90% done as a first draft. I'm also reworking a short story I wrote that got accepted for an anthology which was never published.



TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.





Living in Times of Dragons
The Remnant King Book 1
Februry 22, 2019
eBook and Trade Paperback, 437 pages

SPFBO 5 Interview: John A. Pretorius, author of Living in Times of Dragons
"...as with everything in my life all this began with dreams..."

American ex-pat, father and widower, Roger Rommel, did not believe in dragons. Unfortunately they did not return the sentiment.

After returning from a self-imposed exile to his adopted country of South Africa, Roger is confronted by these legendary fire-breathing reptiles who risked exposing their hidden world simply to hunt him. Gifted with the ability to create and enter dreams, as well as to see the future, he tries to survive and protect his son from enemies he does not understand.

But the past is alive, and he finds himself linked to a conflict thousands of years old. The world he knew is now stranger, more fantastic and terrifying than he truly knew, especially when everyone is out to get you.





About John

John A Pretorius was born in 1981 in South Africa, in the city of Pretoria, where he still lives. Currently he works as a salesperson, but has been writing in his spare time since highschool.

Living in Times of Dragons is his first novel, but Pretorius is working on more which he hopes to publish soon.


Twitter : Goodreads : Facebook

SPFBO 5 Interview: Joyce Reynolds-Ward, author of Klone's Stronghold


Please welcome Joyce Reynolds-Ward to The Qwillery as part of the Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off 5 Interviews. Joyce has submitted Klone's Stronghold to SPFBO 5.

Follow the fate of all the entrants at http://mark---lawrence.blogspot.com/2019/06/spfbo-5-phase-1.html



SPFBO 5 Interview: Joyce Reynolds-Ward, author of Klone's Stronghold




TQWelcome to The Qwillery. What is the first fiction piece you remember writing?

Joyce:  I was about eight years old and wrote a short story about Mighty Mouse. Several years later I wrote a novel about a girl and her palomino Thoroughbred filly that won the Triple Crown. After a few horse girl books, I moved on to writing science fiction and fantasy, and have been writing off and on since then.



TQAre you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid?

Joyce:  Most of the time I am a plotter. But my current work-in-progress, CHOICES OF HONOR (third in the four-book Goddess's Honor series) decided that it didn't want to cooperate with plotting. As I wrote it, I realized that was because my original concept was too big for one book...so it's a four-book series, not a trilogy.



TQWhat is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Joyce:  Sometimes it's just finding the time in the spring and summer. I've become quite active in my small community and juggling everything, along with seasonal stuff we're doing, can be difficult. And then there's marketing.



TQDescribe Klone's Stronghold using only 5 words.

Joyce:  Family secrets can be dangerous.



TQWhat inspired you to write Klone's Stronghold?

Joyce:  While driving over one of the passes in Oregon's Blue Mountains, I noticed a road sign for Klone Lane. The isolated location with known Sasquatch sightings nearby intrigued me, and I started thinking about mad scientists hiding out in the Blue Mountains. But how to write about it? Then I thought of JANE EYRE, and FRANKENSTEIN'S MONSTER, and the concept grew. But Reeni is no Jane, and Reed/Zander Klone contains his own complexities. Throw in some experiences camping at several Oregon music festivals, and hey...off the story went. There's also a strong influence from Zenna Henderson's PEOPLE stories.



TQPlease tell us about the cover for Klone's Stronghold.

Joyce:  Roslyn McFarland is my amazing cover artist. She has done the cover for one of my Netwalk Sequence science fiction books as well as the covers for my Goddess's Honor books. The front cover is a representation of Reeni, the main character.



TQIn Klone's Stronghold who was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why?

Joyce:  Reeni, the main character, was the easiest to write. While she's been beaten down by an abusive ex-husband and controlling religious parents and family (with--ahem--deeper reasons that it appears on the surface), she's bouncing back and she's got more than a bit of sass about her. I like to think that her former job as a special education teacher gave her the boldness to break free.

The most difficult? Several characters, really. Alexander Reed Klone was very reclusive and didn't want to show me much about himself--and Soraya didn't want to reveal much initially, either.



TQDoes Klone's Stronghold touch on any social issues?

Joyce:  Various forms of discrimination, spousal abuse, religious fundamentalism as a mask for domination and control. Treatment of developmental disabilities.



TQGive us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery quotes from Klone's Stronghold.

Joyce

"Don't get too comfortable," Trina cautioned as we drew closer. "There's more than the usual protestors--oh crud."

Right then I almost threw up. "What?"

"Anti-supernaturals." She peered closer. "And they're not all white--shit! Reeni, get down! Religious and I think I see your uncle!"

"Shit!" I lay flat on my side in the back seat, pulling the just-in-case blanket over be. "Anyone besides Jayanesh?" I asked, once I was certain I was covered. Dread cinched tight on me. This weekend was supposed to be fun. Not a family intervention.

"Sheriff's keeping them back," Trina said. "But yeah. Pastor Ananda's there."

"My parents?" I choked back the sick bitter taste in my mouth.

"No--wait. Your father."

Great. My fists clenched tight as the car inched ahead. I heard the shouts as we drove by--not specific words but the smooth, silky tones of Pastor Ananda's voice almost made me retch.



TQWhat's next?

Joyce:  I am working on the third book in the Goddess's Honor series (PLEDGES OF HONOR, CHALLENGES OF HONOR), CHOICES OF HONOR, and intend to have it out by September. The final Goddess's Honor book, JUDGEMENT OF HONOR, will be out in December/January.



TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Joyce:  You're welcome, and thank you!





Klone's Stronghold
June 2018
eBook and Trade Paperback

SPFBO 5 Interview: Joyce Reynolds-Ward, author of Klone's Stronghold
In a world of supernatural beings, not knowing what you are is dangerous.

After Reeni Dutta's ex-husband Karl attacks her at a music festival, she finds a refuge teaching cryptid construct children at Klone's Stronghold in northeastern Oregon's isolated Bucket Mountains. But things are not as they seem at the Stronghold, from the older proprietors of a nearby store and the Stronghold's leader Alexander Reed Klone, to Reeni herself. She discovers it's not just Karl who seeks to control who and what she is, but forces from her past that threaten her present. Can she learn the truth about herself and do what is needed in time to defend the Stronghold?





About Joyce

Joyce Reynolds-Ward is a speculative fiction writer who splits her time between Enterprise and Portland, Oregon. Her short stories have appeared in Well...It's Your Cow, Children of a Different Sky, Steam. And Dragons, Allegory, River, and Fantasy Scroll Magazine, among others. Her books include Shadow Harvest, Alien Savvy, Netwalking Space, Pledges of Honor (2018 Self Published Fantasy BlogOff Semifinalist), Challenges of Honor, and Klone's Stronghold. Projected 2019 book publications include Beating the Apocalypse and Choices of Honor. Joyce has edited two anthologies, Pulling Up Stakes (2018), and Whimsical Beasts (2019). Besides writing, Joyce enjoys reading, quilting, horses, skiing, and outdoor activities. She has been a member of Soroptimist International of Wallowa County since 2017.

Website

SPFBO 5 Interview: Virginia McClain, author of Blade's Edge


Please welcome Virginia McClain to The Qwillery as part of the Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off 5 Interviews. Virginia has submitted Blade's Edge to SPFBO 5.

Follow the fate of all the entrants at http://mark---lawrence.blogspot.com/2019/06/spfbo-5-phase-1.html



SPFBO 5 Interview: Virginia McClain, author of Blade's Edge




TQ Welcome to The Qwillery. What is the first fiction piece you remember writing?

Virginia:  Well, I still have a collection of very short stories that I wrote in crayon about some hedgehog knights and their dragon adversaries. The spelling is very creative. I was about five or six. The stories are all illustrated. I'm sorry to say that my drawing skills have not improved over the years, but I like to think that both my writing and spelling are substantially better off.



TQAre you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid?

Virginia:  These days I am a firm hybrid. I was a pure pantser for quite a while, but I've gotten a bit more methodical over the years. My first novel started with nothing more than a vague idea of a character and a single scene and then I was off and running. These days I do detailed character sheets, and vague outlines before I start any book. It tends to leave me with less work when it comes to revisions.



TQWhat is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Virginia:  I have a 2.5 year old so these days the hardest thing about writing is finding time to write without distractions. My daughter is wonderful, but if she's in the room it's generally difficult for me to get anything done besides advertising and graphic design work.



TQDescribe Blade's Edge using only 5 words.

Virginia:  Estranged friends united against corruption.



TQWhat inspired you to write Blade's Edge?

Virginia:  I was living in Japan, spending a fair bit of my time visiting the local shinto shrines and buddhist temples, and began to wonder what things would be like if the shinto spirits came out to interact with people regularly and if something like zen meditation were the key to magical practices. That was the first spark of the idea that turned into the world of Gensokai and the characters within.



TQPlease tell us about the cover for Blade's Edge.

Virginia:  The artist is the fabulous Juan Carlos Barquet (I ran a Kickstarter just so I could hire him to do the cover) and the artwork is sort of a combination of a few different elements from scenes in the book, not an exact rendering of a particular scene.



TQIn Blade's Edge who was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why?

Well, [spoiler redacted] was the easiest because [spoiler redacted] but [spoiler redacted] was the hardest, because [spoiler redacted]. So, [spoiler redacted] [spoiler redacted] [spoiler redacted]. Yeah.



TQDoes Blade's Edge touch on any social issues?

Many. The most prominent are governmental corruption and systemic misogyny.



TQGive us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery quotes from Blade's Edge.

Virginia:

       "Sachi narrowed her eyes at Mishi and tilted her head to one side. She thought for a moment before she replied.
       “Kuma-sensei once told me that the family we choose is even stronger than the family we’re given.”"



TQWhat's next?

Virginia:  Well, Blade's Edge's sequel was released in 2017, and since then I've been working on a humorous urban fantasy series called Victoria Marmot. I'm currently working on the fifth and final book in the series and plan to release both books four and five in the fall of this year. After that, I plan to start work on a third Chronicles of Gensokai book (the same series that Blade's Edge starts).



TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Virginia:  Thank you!





Blade's Edge
Chronicles of Gensokai 1
Artemis Dingo Productions, January 23, 2015
     eBook, 314 pages
Also available in Trade Paperback

SPFBO 5 Interview: Virginia McClain, author of Blade's Edge
The Kisōshi, elite warriors with elemental powers, have served as the rulers and protectors of the people of Gensokai for more than a thousand years. Though it is believed throughout Gensokai that there is no such thing as a female Kisōshi, the Rōjū ruling council goes to great lengths to ensure that no one dares ask why.

Even as young girls, Mishi and Taka know that they risk severe punishment - or worse - if anyone were to discover their powers. This shared secret forms a deep bond between them until, taken from their orphanage home and separated, the two girls must learn to survive in a world where their very existence is a crime. Yet when the girls learn the dark secret of the Rōjū council, they discover that much more than their own survival is at stake.





About Virginia

SPFBO 5 Interview: Virginia McClain, author of Blade's Edge
Virginia thinks dangling from the tops of hundred foot cliffs is a good time. She also enjoys hauling a fifty pound backpack all over the Grand Canyon and sleeping under the stars. Sometimes she likes running for miles through the desert, mountains, or wooded flatlands, and she always loves getting lost in new places where she may or may not speak the language.

From surviving earthquakes in Japan, to putting out a small forest fire in Montana, Virginia has been collecting stories from a very young age. She works hard to make her fiction as adventurous as her life and her life as adventurous as her fiction. Both take a lot of imagination.

She recently moved to Winnipeg with her husband (a Manitoba native) and their dog.

Website  ~  Facebook  ~  Twitter

SPFBO 5 Interview: Rafael Hohmann, author of SunRider


Please welcome Rafael Hohmann to The Qwillery as part of the Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off 5 Interviews. Rafael has submitted his novel Sunrider to SPFBO 5.

Follow the fate of all the entrants at http://mark---lawrence.blogspot.com/2019/06/spfbo-5-phase-1.html



SPFBO 5 Interview: Rafael Hohmann, author of SunRider




TQWelcome to The Qwillery. What is the first fiction piece you remember writing?

Rafael:  Oh goodness, some awful zombie story back in my high school years. I had delusions of grandeur that the book would net me millions within a few months and I would see my picture on the Times magazine within the year. I had two friends and my mom each buy a copy of the book. Good times. I still have a dust-covered copy in my office somewhere.



TQAre you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid?

Rafael:  A detailed outline plotter, with moderate pantsing as I write and hit my plot key-points.



TQWhat is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Rafael:  Time management. I've got a full-time job, little kids, and a college degree I'm working toward. But writing is my passion and so I do what I must to get my hours in each day.



TQDescribe SunRider using only 5 words.

Rafael:  Unworthy mortals obtain godly powers.



TQWhat inspired you to write SunRider?

Rafael:  I got tired of reading politicized fantasy that kept drawing me back to modern worldly problems. I wanted escapism. Also I was tired of dwarves, elves, and dragons.



TQPlease tell us about the cover for SunRider.

Rafael:  I was both a 3-D animator and digital artist for a few years and had both the tools, programs, and know-how to create the cover myself. After a lot of fan feedback and reiterations, I have the cover you see today (the print edition is only ever so slightly different). I also put cool maps in the book series.



TQIn SunRider who was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why?

Rafael:  The easiest character to write has also been at times the hardest. Wahala, who is a main antagonist and a female lead, is only second-in-command to "the true baddy of the story". She wants to usurp him and take charge over her people. Her character development, her corruption and slow change as she becomes more and more like the very person she hates the most has been easy because I really love her as a character and am invested in her, but difficult because plotting her slow ideological shifts and her growth in power need to be done so carefully.



TQDoes SunRider touch on any social issues?

Rafael:  Social to the fantasy world I created. I understand having issues that readers can connect to, but there is a fine line that needs to be balanced between creating believable societal conundrums vs. adding our Earthly dilemmas. I didn't become an author to preach, I became an author to allow readers to escape away from Earth's issues for a while.



TQ:   Give us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery quotes from SunRider.

Rafael:  
“Leave those of ye that are wise, stay those of ye that are fools! For if I won’t budge, a fool I be, marching through Lenova, sword in hand, defending those that can’t fight! A fool shall I be on the day I die by the weapon of my foe! A fool shall I remain, from now until the end of all time, having challenged unstoppable enemies, unbreakable armies, even fate itself! And when Mal’Bal is at his highest, he will be defeated by the greatest fools of all.”

Tuliah laughed. “I still got a hop to my step, don't I?” She frowned and tapped her lips. “Granted I wasn't really there...”

“Wait, so I was dancing by myself? In front of everybody?” Finn yelped, feeling his cheeks grow even hotter.

“I suppose so!” Lady Tuliah said with a giggle not appropriate for her age. “But everyone was drunk anyways. I doubt they'll remember!”

Finn put his hands over his face, shaking his head. He could hear the elder woman laughing uncontrollably on the other side of the wall.

“If—if you had seen your face as I had! Dancing about and gyrating with no one near you, your rear bouncing along like two lopped potatoes in a sack!”


TQWhat's next?

Rafael:  I'm currently in book three in the SunRider Saga and I will be continuing the series until it is finished, but I have many other book ideas ready to go afterward!



TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Rafael:  Thank you! It was my pleasure!





SunRider
The SunRider Saga 1
July 27, 2017
    Kindle eBook, 454 pages
August 1, 2017
    Trade Paperback, 452 pages

SPFBO 5 Interview: Rafael Hohmann, author of SunRider
I have seen men become Gods and I have seen Gods become dust...

Magic pieces of armor rain from Lenova’s skies, granting common men God-like abilities. These individuals have been dubbed the Star-Children, and their magical suits of armor can reshape land, nations, and the future of man. Each of them wield a seemingly random and distinctive power: the
capability to create clouds of gems, the skill to bend lightning by command, the means to suck the air out of one’s lungs. They are marked by the bracers they wear: a single piece donning their arm, a piece which shifts and slides, forming their unique armored suits of might.

"A perfect mix of super-powers and fantasy!"

No one knows why these bracers have fallen from Lenova’s skies, picking seemingly random individuals to hold such power. In the absence of knowledge and with superior beings now in existence, chaos reigns. The few Star-Children with morals wield their powers with honor, those with darker intentions...seek blood and conquest.

In the midst of this emerging chaos, teenager Finn SunRider only cares for escaping the mines within the burning desert of the Crust and exploring the world he lives in. When an ancient bracer different from those which have fallen from the sky grafts onto Finn’s arm and the last of a dead race
warns that albeit no future is certain, he will be thrust in the middle of godly battles and mystery, Finn’s plans of freedom take a different turn.

From flaming, coal-covered vat-worms and two-directional streams to floating cities and slagged landscapes, follow a fantasy adventure of epic proportions!





About Rafael

SPFBO 5 Interview: Rafael Hohmann, author of SunRider
​Born near the oceanic coast of Brazil and inside the dungeon of a castle, Rafael moved to the United States at the age of six. He spent his young years cliff climbing, exploring abandoned mines, and drawing strategy maps to survive the zombie apocalypse. Obsessed with sharing stories with others, he writes daily and talks a bit too much about books. You can often find him gorging on sushi and quoting The Office. He is an epic fantasy author whose SunRider series has been number one on Amazon. He's helped the fantasy writing community through teaching at conventions and sharing his knowledge with those who dream of creating their own books. His works have inspired epic musical compositions by famous composer Will Musser and his focus on monsters and lore have garnished him praise by his peers.

Website  ~  Facebook  ~  Instagram  ~  Twitter

SPFBO 5 Interview: Palmer Pickering, author of Moon Deeds


Please welcome Palmer Pickering to The Qwillery as part of the Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off 5 Interviews. Palmer has submitted her novel, Moon Deeds, to SPFBO 5.

Follow the fate of all the entrants at http://mark---lawrence.blogspot.com/2019/06/spfbo-5-phase-1.html



SPFBO 5 Interview: Palmer Pickering, author of Moon Deeds




TQWelcome to The Qwillery. What is the first fiction piece you remember writing?

Palmer:  A short story when I was eight or ten after I saw a burnt spoon in the bathroom at our church and I thought it was a heroin cooking spoon (I grew up in the 70's when there was a lot of drug culture on TV). It scared the heck out of me. And so I wrote about it. The story was something from the perspective of the woman who I imagined owned and used the spoon. My friend's mother read the story, and was so freaked out by it, it scared me away from writing fiction for several years.



TQAre you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid?

Palmer:  Mostly a pantser, but I've become a bit of a plotter to save myself the pain of extensive pruning, transplanting, and weeding. I love the creative zone/mental state of free-form creativity. That realm is where most of the best stuff comes from, for me.



TQWhat is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Palmer:  Stopping.



TQDescribe Moon Deeds using only 5 words.

Palmer:  We are descended from aliens.



TQWhat inspired you to write Moon Deeds?

Palmer:  One Christmas, my brother gave me a gag gift of a deed to land on the moon. Parchments complete with property rights, a map, and the coordinates of my parcel. I said to myself, "What if this is legit? What would be the most extreme future scenario where my descendants would REALLY need this deed?" At the same time, I was collecting "Lemurian" crystals, which supposedly contain encoded data of the Akashic records, or alien history and technology. Again, I wondered, "What if it were true?" That is how Moon Deeds was born.



TQPlease tell us about the cover for Moon Deeds.

Palmer:  Jake Caleb Clark (JCaleb Design) did the cover. It shows the two main characters, twenty-year-old twins, Torr and Cassidy, looking up at the moon.



TQIn Moon Deeds who was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why?

Palmer:  Easiest: Cassidy. I guess because she's most like me. We're both female, first of all. She's strong and logical and courageous, but also believes in unseen forces. She is painfully empathic and sensitive to the energies of those around her. She is a healer. She finds herself in compromising situations because of her fearless nature.

Hardest: Torr. He's a male soldier who sees combat and suffers from PTSD. I am none of those things. I had to do a ton of research on everything: assault rifles, sniping, and hand-to-hand combat; I read autobiographies of Navy Seals to get into a warrior's head; I got some friends who are recent combat veterans from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars to read the book and make sure I was not way off on tactics, culture, and mindset. I basically second-guessed myself on all those things, and so it took a long time to construct even a simple paragraph.



TQDoes Moon Deeds touch on any social issues?

Palmer:  Yes. Military dictatorships. War. Human and sex trafficking. Rape and war crimes. Cross-cultural and racial strife.



TQGive us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery quotes from Moon Deeds.

Palmer:

"The path to power is cloaked in shadows, so if you avoid all the shadows, you'll never learn anything."



TQWhat's next?

Palmer:  I am in the final content review of "Light Fighters," Book Two of the series (Star Children Saga). It's due out in 2020. Books Three, Four, and Five are half-written. Yes, it will be a long series, broken up into trilogies, plus a parallel story from the point of view of the "Star People." I also have a Sword and Sorcery tale that's pretty much done. It's a completely different universe -- pure fantasy with castles and horses and swords and mages and princesses and such. It's a lot of fun. The working title is "Heliotrope" and will probably come out after "Light Fighters." You can see brief descriptions at www.mythologypress.com (that's my own indie press).



TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Palmer:  You rock!! Thanks for supporting the world of speculative fiction.





Moon Deeds
Star Children Saga 1
Mythology Press, March 7, 2019
    Trade Paperback, 598 pages
Mythology Press, May 25, 2019
     eBook, 487 pages

SPFBO 5 Interview: Palmer Pickering, author of Moon Deeds
It's 2090: the last outpost of freedom is the moon, the best defense against technology is magic, and the only hope for humankind rests in the hands of the Star Children.

Twins Cassidy and Torr must save Earth from a ruthless enemy at a time when the only force more powerful than alien technology is magic. Moon Deeds launches the siblings' journey across the galaxy, where they must learn their power as the Star Children, claim their shamanic heritage, and battle dark forces that threaten humankind.

The Star Children Saga follows Cassidy and Torr as they slowly awaken to their destiny as the twin Star Children, born every millennium to reconnect with the source of all life. They come to discover the sheer enormity of their task: to find our ancestors on a lost planet across the galaxy and save humanity from a spiraling descent into darkness. The powers they must wield to accomplish this task are truly frightening and put at risk everything they love.

Come along with 20-year-old twins Cassidy and Torr, who inherited deeds to land parcels on the moon. They want to use their moon deeds to get off Earth and escape a brutal dictatorship. But first they must unlock their shaman powers.

A rollicking yet poignant adventure in the not too distant future, when we have colonized the moon and nearly lost Earth to a dictatorship. Only the shamans remain free, plus the lucky ones who escaped to the moon.

Join the adventure! An addictive space opera, science-fantasy series.





About Palmer

SPFBO 5 Interview: Palmer Pickering, author of Moon Deeds

Palmer has been writing fiction since she was eight. She received her BA in American Studies from Wesleyan University, with concentrations in Religion and Race Relations.

She currently works in Silicon Valley as an Innovation and Technology Manager for HP, Inc. In addition to her career in high tech, Palmer holds a certificate in Chinese Acupressure, is a certified solar panel installer, and studied Tibetan Buddhism with the 14th Dalai Lama.

She lives and writes in the magical redwood forest of the Santa Cruz Mountains, California, and has a second home in Nashville, Tennessee, where she dabbles in songwriting.

Website  ~  Facebook  ~  Twitter

SPFBO 5 Interview: Monica Zwikstra, author of Alban's Choice


Please welcome Monica Zwikstra to The Qwillery as part of the Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off 5 Interviews. Monica has submitted her novel, Alban's Choice, to SPFBO 5.



SPFBO 5 Interview: Monica Zwikstra, author of Alban's Choice




TQWelcome to The Qwillery. What is the first fiction piece you remember writing?

Monica:  It was probably something to do with being able to travel. I was fascinated as a child by the idea of flying rugs, or brooms, or beds. I wrote dozens of stories throughout my school years. It was not until I was retired that I decided to do the thing I enjoyed as something more than a hobby.



TQAre you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid?

Monica:  I would say a plantser, or a hybrid if you prefer. I plan the broad outlines but the rest is simply writing.



TQWhat is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Monica:  Time. I tend to over commit to community activities. Carving out time for myself and my writing can be challenging at times.



TQDescribe your Alban's Choice using only 5 words.

Monica:  Classic, Epic, Adventure, Mature, Bloody. (I'd have to qualify that last one with in several parts of the book it is quite bloody)



TQWhat inspired you to write Alban's Choice?

Monica:  I wanted to write something that reminded me of why I love to read.



TQPlease tell us about the cover for Alban's Choice. Does it depict a scene from the novel?

Monica:  Yes. It does depict a scene from the book. The cover was created by Amy Queau of Qdesign



TQIn Alban's Choice who was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why?

Monica:  Both Alban and her sister were the easiest. Because i could relate to them both. They are two sides of the same coin. As for the hardest ... The father James. I suspect it was because saw him from the girls perspective throughout most of the book.



TQDoes Alban's Choice touch on any social issues?

Monica:

1    The girls are deliberately capable, strong, and independent young women.
2    There are a few conversations, scenes, that deal with some, social issue topics.



TQGive us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery quotes from Alban's Choice.

Monica:

“Once the battle begins, the plans of mice and men grow wings and fly away. Instinct and training will keep one alive to fight another day.”

"What would have happened if, when I was in search for the cure, I chose to go west first instead of east? Would I have found the staff or would Darrius be dead and the staff gone? I tell you, Rayhan, we make decisions every day in our lives that change our futures."



TQWhat's next?

Monica:  I'm working on a few more short stories and of course my next novel is about halfway done. It is about Twenty-year-old Jen who is at the heart of two prophecies.When the magicians of Skalea attack her land, a realm devoid of magic, and slaughter its leaders, Jen must find a way to save her family and her people from extinction.

She could fight the Skaleans’ magic with nothing but the strength of her loyal people, or she could save the dragons, secure the magic that she needs, and accept the possibility of love.

The futures of three lands depend on her.



TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Monica:  Thank you for having me.





Alban's Choice
May 2019
Trade Paperback and eBook, 270 pages

SPFBO 5 Interview: Monica Zwikstra, author of Alban's Choice
When their brothers die, Alban and her sister, Rayhan, must take up the roles of heir and wizard. While facing their own personal struggles, they must save their family, their world, and magic.

Magic has been banned in the north, the same magic that holds back the demonic myst that would devour their world.

Wizards are dying.

AND Alban’s and Rayhan’s new husbands have been poisoned.

Alban risks her life on an untried path to become a wizard so she can search for the cure, while Rayhan leads her armies into bloody battle.

With old magic newly found, battles fought, and difficult choices made along their journeys, they discover their strengths and talents.

And, we hope, survive.





About Monica

SPFBO 5 Interview: Monica Zwikstra, author of Alban's Choice
I am a writer and author of fantasy and a member of the Crowsnest Critters.

We are located in the Crowsnest Pass, Alberta, Canada.

I love gardening, cats , ASL, and dragons.



Website  ~  Facebook  ~  Twitter @monicasaglezwik

SPFBO 5 - Our Slush Pile and Who Has What


SPFBO 5 - Our Slush Pile and Who Has What

The 5th Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off has commenced as of July 1, 2019. The Qwillery is one of the blogs assigned a 30 book slush pile. We're putting on our agent hats to find that one book we believe (hope) can win!

How will this work at The Qwillery? Each of us has been assigned 6 books randomly. Out of those 6 we will each pick at least one Semifinalist and out of those Semifinalists we shall pick our Finalist after we all read them and politely discuss which book is the best of our best. Rejected books will more than likely receive mini-reviews - a brief discussion of why it was rejected. Semifinalists will receive full reviews, but no score. Only the Finalist will receive a score.

In order to give each of us a range of books I looked at Goodreads ratings and broke the books into 5 groups starting with the 6 lowest rated books, and moving up to the last 6 books that had the highest ratings. So 5 groups of 6 books each were created. Then I put each groups' book titles in separate containers and pulled out 1 from each group to create 5 assignable groups of 6 books each. This way we each get some high rated books, some middle rated books and some low rated books. I realize of course that Goodreads does not have a perfect rating system but it's better than completely guessing.

Those five sets of books were then labeled A, B, C, D, and E. Our names were put in a container and slips with A, B, C, D, and E were put in another container. Then slips were pulled out of each so that everyone was assigned a group of books. A little complicated by better than one person getting all the most highly rated books and someone else getting the lowest rated books. And as I said it's not foolproof but it's better than guessing.

So who has which books?

Note: All book description are from Amazon and you can click on the covers to enlarge them. Books links are also to Amazon.

You can follow what is happening with the Slush Pile at The Qwillery's SPFBO 5 page here.





Elizabeth

SPFBO 5 - Our Slush Pile and Who Has What
Oblivion (Rakkan Conquest 1) by Andy Blinston

Once a god, now a target

Darius wakes surrounded by blood. Most of his mind has been stolen, and the dark figure that took it wants the rest.

Caught in a raging war between the human empire and fiery rakkan invaders, he soon learns his fearsome powers have made him an enemy to both.

Unable to tell friend from foe, he must fight to escape a fate worse than death. His only helper is a mysterious female warrior who promises to restore him to former glory. Too bad she may be out to betray him…

Who he was and why they want him, he doesn’t know. Is he ready to discover the horrifying truth?

If you like Epic Fantasy full of mystery and action, you’ll love this fast-paced sword and sorcery series.


SPFBO 5 - Our Slush Pile and Who Has What
The Dark Yule (Pumpkin Spice Tales 1) by R.M. Callahan

Monsters do taste better than kibble--but this cat may have bitten off more than she can chew.

Pumpkin Spice—Maine Coon cat and part-time familiar—is happy to chase the odd evil spirit off her witch’s property...

...until she finds a night-gaunt perched above the baby’s window. The terrifying creature is worlds away from the dreamlands: how did it force its way to the material realm?

Spice is sure something is fishy in Kingsport, and not in the good, tasty way. Someone is deliberately blurring dimensions, building toward an explosion of power on the winter solstice.

But why? Spice is on the hunt for answers—but the longer the nights grow, the faster reality unravels.

Only Spice’s sharp wit (and claws!) can save her oblivious humans from the Dark Yule...if she isn't already too late.

You’ll love this book because everyone loves a cute cat who can also kick serious magical tail.
Get it now.


SPFBO 5 - Our Slush Pile and Who Has What
Quest (The Sylvalla Chronicles 1) by A.J. Ponder

New adventure from A.J. Ponder- in the tradition of The Princess Bride and Terry Pratchett. !

Sylvalla escapes Avondale castle, and the life of a princess, in search of the adventure she’s always wanted.

Once found, adventure bites back.

Fortunately Sylvalla is not alone – Unfortunately, her new-found companions are less than heroic.
Jonathan would rather make money.
Dirk would rather live a long and happy life.
And at 150, Old Capro would rather stop gallivanting and harangue unsuspecting students about his glory days over a nice cup of tea.

Quest has everything, heroes, monsters, chases, escapes and a complete lack of true love. 

A quirky and original celebration of fantasy for everyone who loves fantasy adventure - buy your copy today!


SPFBO 5 - Our Slush Pile and Who Has What
Love, Lies & Hocus Pocus: Beginnings (A Lily Singer Cozy Fantasy Adventure 1) by Lydia Sherrer

Saving the world is such a bother when it makes you late for tea.

Wizard Lily Singer is kept busy managing library archives, studying magic, and trying to keep her witch friend Sebastian from dragging her into trouble. Unfortunately, he loves adventure even more than she loves being left alone.

She doesn't want to investigate a malignant spell in a haunted house, but Sebastian is promising rare books as the reward. She also doesn't want to hurt her family, but is tired of being lied to about her past. And she definitely doesn't want to get stuck in a dangerously unstable time loop, but Sebastian is in trouble--again...

Strangling her friend, as satisfying as it would be, won't fix her problems. If she wants answers, and to not miss tea, she had best find the right spell for the job--before everything goes to hell, and takes them all with it.

With 300+ five star ratings on Amazon and Goodreads and over 30,000 copies downloaded, this urban fantasy series full of adventure and snarky humor is guaranteed to cause loud snorts of laughter, tea cravings, and sleep loss. Don't start reading at night or you'll never go to bed! Great for fans of urban fantasy from Harry Potter to Harry Dresden. Pick up Book 1 and enter your magical escape today.


SPFBO 5 - Our Slush Pile and Who Has What
Tooth Goblins by Ash Toroid

Ever wondered what happened to the teeth that you left under your pillow?

When Ellie's older brother is turning thirteen, she wants to see the 'transformation' into a teenager for herself. Ellie hides in a cupboard and waits. She is shocked to witness her brother kidnapped by goblins and replaced with a clone. A passing Tooth-Fairy is drawn by the use of magic and gets caught up in the commotion, to discover that Ellie is descended from the legendary Merlin. Together they embark upon an adventure for Ellie to rescue her brother, whose destiny begins to take shape as he must attempt to incite a rebellion against the goblins that try to enslave him. The siblings' combine their efforts with the fairies in their fateful struggle against the Tooth-Goblins.


SPFBO 5 - Our Slush Pile and Who Has What
Alban's Choice by Monica Zwikstra

When their brothers die, Alban and her sister, Rayhan, must take up the roles of heir and wizard. While facing their own personal struggles, they must save their family, their world, and magic.

Magic has been banned in the north, the same magic that holds back the demonic myst that would devour their world.

Wizards are dying.

AND Alban’s and Rayhan’s new husbands have been poisoned.

Alban risks her life on an untried path to become a wizard so she can search for the cure, while Rayhan leads her armies into bloody battle.

With old magic newly found, battles fought, and difficult choices made along their journeys, they discover their strengths and talents.

And, we hope, survive.





Jennifer

SPFBO 5 - Our Slush Pile and Who Has What
Heart of Dragons (Chronicles of Pelenor 1) by Meg Cowley

Stolen magic. Rising evil. When orphan Harper discovers a legendary Dragonheart, her life changes forever.

USA Today Bestselling Author and 2018 SPFBO Semi-Finalist Meg Cowley returns with a stunning new epic fantasy trilogy set in the same world as her acclaimed Books of Caledan series.

Magically flung to the faraway country of Pelenor, where magic, dragons, and elves rule, Harper must find her place - and fast.

Searching for the elven King's missing Dragonheart is his ruthless Spymaster Dimitri, who has his own agenda to revolutionise Pelenor, and free it from the King's greed.

Harper is thrust into a web of intrigue beyond her knowledge, and her newfound companions - a roguish elven thief and his ragtag band of companions - might not be the trustworthy friends she thinks.

When Harper and Dimitri's paths collide, the only thing more dangerous than lies might be the truth, yet either might destroy them. Harper is forced to ally with the hated spymaster - but Dimitri is equally displeased that his fate rests in her unworthy hands.

Harper and Dimitri must work together to ensure both of them survive the King's wrath in a court where betrayal is as easy as breathing. The Dragonheart is key to both their successes - but only one can possess it, and the king will not suffer its loss.

Who will drown in deceit, and who will rise triumphant?

If you enjoy epic fantasies with vivid characters and complex plots, you'll love the Pelenor Chronicles. It's perfect for fans of SJ Maas' A Court of Thorns and Roses series and Jeff Wheeler's Kingfountain series.

Read Heart of Dragons now.


SPFBO 5 - Our Slush Pile and Who Has What
The Pact by Adam Craig

Betrayal tore Liatrix from her life as a succubus, leaving her scarred and trapped in a realm where discovery of what she is means death. Until a chance encounter with an elf named Alvar offers her an opportunity to gain an ally and take revenge.

After forcing him to choose between a life of service to her in exchange for the life of his sister he forms a pact that will alter both their lives forever.

Her obsession for revenge sets them on a path filled with danger and bloodshed. Leading each to question the decisions that brought them here and the feelings they have begun to develop for one another.

Along the way Liatrix discovers the change she wanted from her life in the Lower Realm she may have already received and her obsession with revenge may be slowly turning her into one of the things she hated most.


SPFBO 5 - Our Slush Pile and Who Has What
Bloodlight by Edward Nile

A magic uprising. A city in chaos.

In the city of Delstad, in the slum known as Crow's Quarter, a mage Awakens.
Possessing a dangerous power he doesn’t yet understand, Ludin fights to stay ahead of human forces who seek to exterminate him.

For Riuna, it’s just another job. Kept as the city’s pet mage, used as a tracker to help find and kill her own kind, she doesn’t dare question her place. Running away means death.

Drük has always hated mages, making him the perfect choice for Delstad’s resident Magehunter. But after years working with Riuna, he realizes there’s one mage he doesn’t want dead.
And she’s the one mage he must be ready to kill.

As Ludin grows more powerful by the day, Drük and Riuna’s loyalties are put to the test.

Will Riuna fight for her own kind? Or stay with the man she knows and trusts, a man sworn to kill her if given the order?

While a mage revolution plunges the city into turmoil, and a plot to undermine both sides rears its head, Drük will have to make a choice.

Kill the girl he cares about, or betray his deepest beliefs.

A blood-soaked, bullet-strewn thrill ride. Fast and brutal, right to the end.


SPFBO 5 - Our Slush Pile and Who Has What
Litany of Wrath by Levi Pfeiffer

The world burns. The gods are remote, offering little aid. One man stands between the world and destruction.

For nearly five years Reuben has tended the barrier between his damaged city and the lands of cinder and smoke, and now the veil is fading. Neglected by his gods and his allies, he seeks to understand why the army of fiery knights and their savage followers are destroying his homeland. From soldier to priest to reluctant hero, Reuben must battle his enemies and his own anger to save a world that would rather ignore the danger.

His home destroyed and his new city ungrateful, all Reuben wants is to be left alone. Yet danger follows him closely, and he must join with new allies and unexpected friends to find a way to save the world from the encroaching fires.


SPFBO 5 - Our Slush Pile and Who Has What
Lykaia (Sophia Katsaros 1) by Sharon Van Orman

"We are the terrors that hunt the night.And we have never been human"

In Greek mythology there’s a story of King Lykaonas of Arcadia and his fifty sons who were cursed by the father of the gods, Zeus, to become wolves. The very first Lycanthropes. Forensic pathologist, Sophia Katsaros, receives a cryptic phone call from Greece telling her that her brothers are missing and leaves to search for them. With the help of Illyanna, her brother’s girlfriend, Sophia examines the evidence but cannot accept a bizarre possibility: Has one or both of her brothers been transformed during the Lykaia, the ceremony where Man is said to become Wolf? Who is Marcus, a dark stranger that both repels and excites her? And what is the real story behind the 5000 year old curse of King Lykaonas?


SPFBO 5 - Our Slush Pile and Who Has What
A Time of Turmoil (In the Eye of the Dragon 1) by N. M. Zoltack

Tenoch knew peace long ago when the dragons three ruled over the evil, susceptible peoples. Now, however, the dragons are long since dead, and humans rule.

For better or worse.

The king is a broken sloth. The crowned princess doesn’t want the throne. The prince is intellectually delayed. The younger princess is vain and spoiled.

The queen committing adultery sets off a chain of reactions that will leave the world in a time of turmoil. Will peace ever return to the land?





Melanie

SPFBO 5 - Our Slush Pile and Who Has What
A Triad in Three Acts: The Complete Forester Trilogy by Blaine D. Arden

“There is always a way.”
Kelnaht, Taruif, and Ianys are meant to be together, but old promises and the decree of the elders prevent them from claiming each other openly at Solstice. Kelnaht can investigate murder and foul play, but he can’t see how he can keep both his lovers without breaking the rules. But if he believes in the guide’s words and trusts his faith in Ma’terra, they will find a way to clear the fog and puddles from their paths.

The Forester
Kelnaht, a cloud elf, is a truth seeker caught between love and faith, when a murder reveals an illicit affair between two tree elves he desires more than he can admit. Kelnaht’s former lover Ianys once betrayed him, and the shunned forester Taruif is not allowed to talk to anyone but the guide, their spiritual pathfinder.

Lost and Found
A stripling goes missing from the tribe, and heavy rainfall hides all traces of his whereabouts. With days creeping by without a lead, it’s hard to keep the tribe’s spirits up, more so when Kelnaht’s own future depends on the elders. Taruif has been shunned for almost twenty turns, but now that a possible forester’s apprentice is coming of age, the elders consider reducing his sentence. Taruif could be set free.

Full Circle
When several children fall ill with more than a summer bug, truth seeker Kelnaht is assigned to investigate. What he finds is deadly and threatens the life of every underage child in the tribe, including Ianys’ daughter Atèn. Then a wounded traveller is found in the forest, left to die after a vicious attack.


SPFBO 5 - Our Slush Pile and Who Has What
A White Horizon (Stars and A Wind 1) by Barbara Gaskell Denvil

In the cold frozen north, the smell of magic was in the air.

A fugitive princess. An assassin in pursuit. Can she outrun a curse she never cast?

Norway, 804. Viking princess Skarga hides her insecurities behind a cover of strength. And after the young girl’s cruel father puts a price on her head for false claims of black magic, she’ll need all the might she can muster. Fleeing the family fortress with her adopted child by her side, she vows to survive the brutal winter.

With a notorious assassin on her heels, one wrong step could spell their doom. For the hunter who chases her is more than he seems… and in the frozen tundra evil takes many forms. Can Skarga uncover the frightening truth before she and Egil meet the bloody end of a sword?

A White Horizon is the first book in the epic Stars and a Wind Norse fantasy trilogy. If you like determined heroines, rugged wilderness, and heart-wrenching twists, in a world where magic is hidden, then you’ll love Barbara Gaskell Denvil’s original adventure.

Buy A White Horizon to escape into a dark Norse fantasy today!


SPFBO 5 - Our Slush Pile and Who Has What
Sea of Lost Souls (Oceanus 1) by Emerald Dodge

Freedom lies on the open sea. Danger lies within it.

Rachel Goldstein dreams of the vast oceans, and her job in the Navy seems to offer her everything she’d ever hoped for. Her heart seeks adventure, but her mind is still ashore, where the last time she saw her parents, they had a fight that left everyone in tears. She wants reconciliation… which becomes impossible when she dies in a tragic aviation accident aboard her aircraft carrier.

When she wakes up aboard a ghost ship, her new shipmates offer Rachel her only chance to seize adventure again, and she knows what she must do. Aboard this impressive and fearsome vessel is her opportunity to find new freedom — if she can survive it. The ghostly high seas are fraught with danger, from devious officers to murderous pirates. And lurking underneath it all is Scylla, the mythological monster set to destroy anyone who encroaches on her aquatic territory.

Normally ready for anything, Rachel will have to find out if she’s stronger than her enemies and the beasts that lie below the waves. And at the end of it all, can she pierce the veil of death and reach through to the world of the living, and to her parents?

Fans of K.F. Breene’s paranormal fantasy, Greek mythology, and Jessica Jones will love the action-packed nautical fantasy of Emerald Dodge’s Sea of Lost Souls! Pick up your copy and join the crew today!


SPFBO 5 - Our Slush Pile and Who Has What
Apprentice Quest (Ozel the Wizard 1) by Jim Hodgson

A hopeful orphan. An incredible wizard. One boy must do the impossible to change his life forever…

Ozel wonders if he'll ever escape his angry, fat caretaker. As the orphan hopes for a better future, a mysterious wizard gives him the gift of an apprenticeship and some unbelievable magic. But when Ozel discovers he's the lone heir to a massive fortune, he'll need more than a few spells to claim it.

After learning his portly caretaker plans to steal the money first, Ozel races through a forest of blacksmiths, witches, and even the undead to protect his birthright. If he survives the treacherous Tangul forest, the orphan and his wizard may just have to stop a twisted mage to go from zero to wealthy hero.

Apprentice Quest is a fantasy novel full of action and humor. If you like powerful wizards, twists and turns, and coming-of-age tales, then you'll love Jim Hodgson's worthy successor to the magical genre.

Buy Apprentice Quest to cast an entertaining spell today!


SPFBO 5 - Our Slush Pile and Who Has What
Masters of Deception (A Legends of Tivara Epic Fantasy) by J.C. Kang

Only an orphan half-elf and a conman can prevent an ancient evil from returning to the world.

Hunting a traitor to the clan that raised her, half-elf spy Jie just wants to complete her mission and return home. Instead, she finds herself trapped in a foreign port, where warring crime factions vie for control of the city’s pyramid.

Cassius Larusso, a local diviner and conman, knows why: atop the pyramid sparkles a Dragonstone, preventing the Orc Gods from returning to the world. His family’s thousand-year mandate to protect the ancient artifact is almost as important to him as filling his coffers with gold, his stomach with delicious food, and his bed with a different type of delicacy.

Joined by Sameer, a paladin pursuing his forbidden love, and Brehane, a sorceress seeking her lost teacher, Jie must choose the right side in a game of shifting alliances and deception. Cassius will lie, cheat, and steal to get her to pick his.

A wrong choice doesn’t just mean that Jie can’t go home; it could lead to the downfall of humanity.


SPFBO 5 - Our Slush Pile and Who Has What
Knight and Shadow by Flint Maxwell

Many years ago Ansen Kane prevented the end of the world by killing an insane king. Instead of praise, Kane and the rest of his order were shunned for their efforts.

Now he is the last living gun knight.

With a price on his head bigger than anyone in the kingdom of Aendvar, Ansen Kane traveled west, toward the Infected Lands, where he’s been hiding ever since.

But in the capital city, evil rises again.

And whether he likes it or not, Ansen Kane will be forced to pick up his weapon and fight.





Phil

SPFBO 5 - Our Slush Pile and Who Has What
Stone Bound (Chaos and Retribution 1) by Eric T. Knight

The Dragon Queen of Chaos sends her minions to prepare the world for her return...

And all that stands in her way are three children with the powers of Stone, Sea and Sky.

Fen is only a boy when his city is sacked by enemy invaders. His mother is cut down before his eyes. Yet somehow, when the blade is turned on him, he survives without a scratch. But the attack awakens something inside him, something that killed his father years ago.

Karliss was touched by the wind at birth, destined to be the greatest wind shaman his people have ever seen. But he is careless with his power and he ignores the warnings about the madness that afflicts those who don't protect themselves against the spirits in the wind. When a ritual goes wrong and strikes down his mentor, Karliss suddenly has to deal with the true responsibilities of power.

Aislin came from the sea, her origins a mystery. Within her is an innate power over water, as natural as breathing. But she lives in a world of her own, emotionally isolated from everyone else, including Netra, the woman who is raising her. Bullied by the other children, Netra fears that one day Aislin will turn her power on them.

These three can stop the Dragon Queen, but only if they can learn to master, not just their powers, but themselves...

Grab your copy of Stone Bound and begin the epic adventure today! And be sure to watch for the upcoming sequel series, Dragon Queen of Chaos.


SPFBO 5 - Our Slush Pile and Who Has What
The Borrowed Souls by Paul B. Kohler

In the afterlife, can anyone hear you scream?

He killed himself ... or so he thought.

After an uncommonly bad day, Jack Duffy makes the biggest mistake of his life—one that will propel him into an entirely new world—he’ll face challenges much more difficult than any he’s ever faced before. Assigned to collect souls, Jack begins to realize the true impact of his own life choices. With each new soul, another layer is revealed. The deeper into the afterworld he gets, the more power he discovers. With his trainer to guide him, Jack is driven to the edge where he must decide who gets to live and who will lose their soul.

The Borrowed Souls blurs the line between the moral and the unjust—his eternal commitment or the forfeiture of his tremendous power. Which will Jack choose?


SPFBO 5 - Our Slush Pile and Who Has What
Broken Crossroads (Knights of the Shadows 1) by Patrick LeClerc

The city of Laimrig, once a mighty hub of commerce and a seat of power sinks into corruption and decay. Slavers, crime lords and corrupt officials hold sway while the ruling nobility wallow in decadence. War rages beyond the borders, while within rebellion simmers and sinister plots unfold.

Trilisean is an acrobat turned burglar. Conn is a jaded former mercenary. Against the background of deadly blades, subtle schemes, glittering treasures, dark sorceries and fell servants of forgotten gods, fate has thrown them together.

Fate has a sense of humor.

Broken Crossroads is a fast paced, witty, swashbuckling modern pulp fantasy adventure in the tradition of Fritz Leiber and Robert E Howard.


SPFBO 5 - Our Slush Pile and Who Has What
Blade's Edge (Chronicles of Genzokai 1) by Virginia McClain

Mishi and Taka live each day of their lives with the shadow of death lurking behind them. The struggle to hide the elemental powers that mark the two girls as Kisōshi separates them from the other orphans, yet forges a deep bond between them.

When Mishi is dragged from the orphanage at the age of eight, the girls are unsure if or when they will find each other again. While their powers grow with each season-cycle, the girls must come to terms with their true selves--Mishi as a warrior, Taka as a healer--as they forge separate paths which lead to the same horrifying discovery...

The Rōjū council’s dark secret is one that it has spent centuries killing to keep, and Mishi and Taka know too much. The two young women have overcome desperate odds in a society where their very existence is a crime, but now that they know the Rōjū’s secret they find themselves fighting for much more than their own survival.


SPFBO 5 - Our Slush Pile and Who Has What
Skies of Olympus (The Immortality Trials 1) by Eliza Raine

A young woman who has outrun her brutal past must stand and fight in this fast-paced, action-filled debut novel readers are calling addictive and original.

What if Hercules wasn’t the hero we all thought he was?

Once, everyone knew who Lyssa was. Her famous father made sure of that. But she has left that life behind her, bad memories included. Her battered smugglers ship, the Alastor, flies under everyone’s radar and that’s just how she likes it.

The Gods have a different plan for her though. They’re about to break one of their only rules and grant a worthy hero a chance to win the ultimate prize – immortality. And Lyssa’s one of the lucky heroes offered the chance to compete.

Twelve gods, twelve realms, twelve trials. And for Lyssa, they’re about so much more than an eternal life. They’re about facing the monster from her past and stopping him from becoming truly untouchable.

Lyssa never wanted to let the world know that she inherited some of her father’s immense power. But maybe it’s time to show them all. How else can she compete with giants, centaurs, demi-gods, warriors and the strongest man in Olympus?

You’ve never read Greek mythology like this before…


SPFBO 5 - Our Slush Pile and Who Has What
Heavy Dirty Soul by A. A. Warne

A love that transcends Death. A curse that defies Time.

Bold, independent Ivy is a witch. In a time of rampant hysteria against witchcraft, Ivy is an easy target.

After she wins the heart of Thomas, the town's most eligible bachelor, Ivy's rivals burn her at the stake.

Her death unleashes a powerful curse, forcing Ivy and Thomas to relive their doomed romance throughout the ages.

But this is no love story...





Qwill

SPFBO 5 - Our Slush Pile and Who Has What
Someday I'll Be Redeemed (The Chronicles of Lorrek 1) by Kelly Blanchard

Would you sell your soul to clear your name?

Sorcerer Prince Lorrek discovers he has been wrongfully accused of a heinous crime. He is one of three people who know actually what happened, but one died and the memories of the other have been erased, so now only Lorrek remains. As Lorrek goes to clear his name, the kingdoms around him dissolve into war, but he can't go home yet to help them. He wants his accuser to admit to the lie, but even that comes at a price. Will paying the cost for his redemption pit Lorrek against his family in the war?

'Someday I'll Be Redeemed' is the first book in a fantasy/sci-fi series where medieval magic and high technology strive against one another, mysteries abound, and difficult choices must be made. If you like an unpredictable story, realistic male and female characters, a new take on old familiar tropes, and a tale that is different from any other, you will love Kelly Blanchard's page-turning series.

Buy 'Someday I'll Be Redeemed' to launch into Lorrek's compelling tale today!


SPFBO 5 - Our Slush Pile and Who Has What
Fractions of Existence by J Lenni Dorner

Once they were humanity's exalted protectors— now they are being hunted.

Xavier will weigh all human life against Gwendolyn's ignorant happiness.
The good news is that her choice can blow his away.


Omnipotent beings find each other while playing an online game. Xavier has been searching for Gwendolyn, his true mate and the missing member of the Existence. Only if reunited can the group regain the rest of their memories and access all of their powers. Hidden in plain sight, disguised as humans, they help who they can, as best they can, when they can.

The Eyes in the Shadows, a religious sect, has been trying to free humans from the “prison” of life on Earth for millenniums. The Existence has always been able to thwart them… until now. They've discovered a way to end the world that no one will see coming.

Gwendolyn has her future all laid out. There is a plan. She knows what her parents want for her and how to get it. Then Xavier, a friend from a virtual game, makes her question everything. He's full of secrets, one being an understanding of her fear of the wind.

She tries to suppress her intense attraction to the mysterious and frustrating Xavier. She's engaged, after all, and the thoughts she's having aren't proper. Gwendolyn is swept into a whirlwind of secrets, danger, and a forbidden attraction. She'll drive across the country in her beat-up old car, not knowing if he is genuinely interested or just being polite. (He refuses to kiss her!) Gwendolyn's journey is full of self-doubt, sacrifice, and dark visions that invade her sleep. Will she uncover the truth about herself?


SPFBO 5 - Our Slush Pile and Who Has What
A Shard of Sea & Bone (Death of the Multiverse 1) by L.K. Engelmeier

Artysaedra Veiyel is a liquor-loving, street-fighting, foul-mouthed soldier with a temper—everything the Infinite Royal Family’s first daughter shouldn’t be. Suddenly forced to bow her family’s stifling rules and expectations instead of storming the battlefields she revels in, Artysaedra finds her reprieve when three deities of the multiverse, known as Guardians, disappear without a trace.

Only to turn up dead. Eyes gouged. Hearts ripped out. Souls missing. And all in apparent suicide.
Now, a fourth Guardian has vanished.

Slipping away from her protective detail, Artysaedra sets out to uncover the truth of the alleged suicides before the next can occur, joined by her best friend, Naliah, and her brothers, Kinrae and Draven, but their investigation soon plunges them deep into the Realm of Black Waters, a dimension where cities have been devastated, all wildlife has mysteriously died, and mutilated bodies are heaped by the millions, with no cause to any of it in sight.

Artysaedra and the others confront a startling realization: something greater and darker than they ever imagined is at work in the multiverse, and now, they’re all in its path.


SPFBO 5 - Our Slush Pile and Who Has What
A Wizard's Dark Dominion (The Gods and Kings Chronicles 1) by Lee H. Haywood

Condemned for using a forbidden spell. Imprisoned in a cell buried deep beneath the earth. One wizard will make his captors regret their choice.

When Demetry, a promising young wizard at Taper Academy, discovers a fire-damaged book hidden in the headmaster’s study, he can’t contain his excitement. The book is the Paserani Haote, an ancient spell book that contains the original teachings of the gods. Eager for a challenge, Demetry delves into the book’s dark arts. But when he fails to control the book’s most treacherous spell, it sets off a deadly chain of events that rocks Taper Academy to its core.

Although Demetry’s crime is punishable by death, his life is inexplicably spared. Instead of being sent to the gallows, he is sent to Coljack, a fortress prison built to house the kingdom’s most dangerous criminals. After the prison warden begins to put Demetry through a series of brutal tests, Demetry realizes the prison isn't what it seems, and the key to survival might be his mysterious new cellmate, an ancient wizard who stole a weapon capable of reshaping the world from the king.


SPFBO 5 - Our Slush Pile and Who Has What
Husk by D. P. Prior

Set in the world of Annals of the Nameless Dwarf...

A powerful demon known as a husk crosses the mountains, leaving a trail of the dead in its wake. When efforts to track the killer end in disaster, the task falls to a man not expected to succeed: the Maresman, Jebediah Skayne, Lothario, hustler, hunter of nightmares..

Jeb has been hunting husks his entire adult life, but there’s something different about the trail leading to the fishing town of Portis on the shores of the Chalice Sea: no spoor, no footprints; nothing save the unmistakable feeling of wrongness.

Finding a husk in Portis would be near impossible for someone who didn’t have the sixth sense, but the instant Jeb arrives, all trace of the creature vanishes, save for the victims it leaves behind: men mostly, half-dressed, killed in the throes of passion.

Forced to rely on more mundane methods of investigation, he starts to uncover a town rife with corruption, where a man will kill you for looking at a woman the wrong way; a town that’s seen its share of incursions from the land of nightmares before.

As events start to slip from his control, he realizes the husk he's come to kill is one step ahead of the game, and it holds a secret that will shake his world to the core.


SPFBO 5 - Our Slush Pile and Who Has What
The Blackbird and the Ghost: The Boiling Seas by Hûw Steer

The Boiling Seas are the mariner’s bane – and the adventurer’s delight. The waters may be hot enough to warp wood and boil a hapless swimmer, but their scalding expanse is full of wonders. Strange islands lurk in the steamy mists, and stranger ruins hold ancient secrets, remnants of forgotten empires waiting for the bold… or lying in wait for the unwary.

On the Corpus Isles, gateway to the Boiling Seas, Tal Wenlock, the Blackbird, seeks a fortune of his own. The treasure he pursues could change the world – but he just wants to change a single life, and it’s not his own. To reach it, he’ll descend into the bowels of the earth and take ship on burning waters, brave dark streets and steal forbidden knowledge. He’ll lie, cheat, steal and fight – but he won’t get far alone. The ghosts of Tal’s past dog his every step – and one in particular keeps his knives sharp.

The Blackbird will need help to reach his goal… and he’ll need all his luck to get back home alive.


Hûw Steer is an author, historian and sketch comedian from London. You may have seen him with the UCL Graters at the Edinburgh Fringe, read his theses on ancient Roman science-fiction, or even read one of his short stories. You probably haven’t, but at least you’re reading this.

Hûw has previously been published in ‘Making Monsters’ (The Future Fire, 2018), and the UCL Publisher’s Prize anthologies for 2018 and 2016. This is his first published novel.



Stay tuned for interviews, mini-reviews and more! And Good Luck to our Authors!

Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off (SPFBO) 5


Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off (SPFBO) 5

The 5th year of the Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off starts on July 1, 2019.

We shall put on our agent hats and go through the 30 books assigned to The Qwillery looking for that 1 novel that we think can win!

Each of The Qwillery's 5 agents will be randomly assigned 6 books out of the 30. Each agent will pick a Semi-Finalist from those 6 books. Then every agent will look at the 5 Semi-Finalists. We'll share our thoughts with each other about the books and out of those 5 books a Finalist will be chosen. Semi-Finalists will get reviews but no score; only the Finalist will receive a score. Note: there is always the possibility of more than 1 Semi-Finalist per agent! That depends on the books!

The Qwillery has the following 30 books in its Slush Pile. You can follow what is happening with the Slush Pile at The Qwillery's SPFBO 5 page here.


The Qwillery's Slush Pile

Author Title
Arden, Blaine D. A Triad in Three Acts
Blanchard, Kelly  Someday I'll Be Redeemed
Blinston, Andy Oblivion
Callahan, Rebecca The Dark Yule
Cowley, Meg Heart of Dragons
Craig, Adam The Pact
Denvil, Barbara Gaskell A White Horizon
Dodge, Emerald Sea of Lost Souls
Dorner, J Lenni Fractions of Existence
Engelmeier, L.K. A Shard of Sea & Bone
Haywood, Lee H.  A Wizard's Dark Dominion
Hodgson, Jim Apprentice Quest
Kang, J.C. Masters of Deception
Knight, Eric T. Stone Bound
Kohler, Paul B. The Borrowed Souls
LeClerc, Patrick Broken Crossroads
Maxwell, Flint Knight and Shadow
McClain, Virginia Blade's Edge
Nile, Edward Bloodlight
Pfeiffer, Levi Litany of Wrath
Ponder, A.J. Quest
Prior, D. P. Husk
Raine, Eliza Skies of Olympus
Sherrer, Lydia Love, Lies & Hocus Pocus: Beginnings
Steer, Huw The Blackbird and the Ghost
Toroid, Ash Tooth Goblins
Van Orman, Sharon Lykaia
Warne, A. A. Heavy Dirty Soul
Zoltack, N. M. A Time of Turmoil
Zwikstra, Monica Alban's Choice



The Agents

The Qwillery's SPFBO team is made up of Qwill/Sally, Melanie, and Jennifer from The Qwillery and 2 guest agents:

Beth Tabler of  the Before We Go Blog and author Phil Parker! We are thrilled and delighted to have them!


About Beth

Who Am I?
My name is Beth. I am originally from Las Vegas but now reside in the pacific northwest with my husband, daughter, and dog named Handsome Jack. I run a website called before we go blog that talks about all things books, and writing.

I love books and everything about them. I pretty much always have a book in my hand. I read science fiction, fantasy, urban fantasy, young adult, and everything else that looks great. I am a big fan of indie authors, and I run a weekly column called #indiespotlight highlighting a different writer every week.

Where to find me?
beforewegoblog.com
instagram.com/elizabethtabler
https://www.pinterest.com/scottveg3/
https://www.goodreads.com/Scottveg3
https://www.facebook.com/scottveg3/



About Phil

Phil Parker had been a teacher of English and Drama for an eternity until starting a new life as a writer. (It's life, Jim, but not as we know it). He's written 3 non-fiction books, a regular column in an education newspaper for four years and last year self-published his Knights' Protocol trilogy. Its first novel, The Bastard from Fairyland, was an entrant in SPFBO4. Phil blogs at https://www.philparker-fantasywriter.com/ which includes his reviews. Phil also created the British & Irish Writing Community which has a section in his blog. As a judge in SPFBO5, Phil aims to bring his experiences as an author to make sure his reviews are honest, fair and constructive. In his spare time, Phil consumes pizza and red wine and longs to be in Italy while he's doing it.

Twitter: @PhilSpeculates
Facebook: www.facebook.com/philparkerfantasywriter


You can find out more about Qwill, Melanie and Jennifer on the "About Us" page here.
SPFBO 5 Semi-Finalist Review - Blade's Edge by Virginia McClainSPFBO 5 Semi-Finalist Review - Knight and Shadow by Flint MaxwellSPFBO 5 Interview: John A. Pretorius, author of Living in Times of DragonsSPFBO 5 Interview: Joyce Reynolds-Ward, author of Klone's StrongholdSPFBO 5 Interview: Virginia McClain, author of Blade's EdgeSPFBO 5 Interview: Rafael Hohmann, author of SunRiderSPFBO 5 Interview: Palmer Pickering, author of Moon DeedsSPFBO 5 Interview: Monica Zwikstra, author of Alban's ChoiceSPFBO 5 - Our Slush Pile and Who Has WhatSelf-Published Fantasy Blog-Off (SPFBO) 5

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