Spotlight: A. M. Deese

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Introducing A. M. Deese who has recently signed her young adult fantasy novels Ignited, slated for release in 2018, and Submerged, slated for release in 2019, with Radiant Crown Publishing. Desiree DeOrto Designs will handle cover design. Editing, map-making, and more will soon be underway. For now, get to know A. M. Deese as an author and the world of the Dance of the Elements series.


Synopsis:

A NOBLE DAUGHTER.

A FORMER SLAVE.

DARK MAGIC AND VOLATILE ALLIANCES COLLIDE IN A WORLD ON THE BRINK OF COLLAPSE.

“Jura imagined it sounded like rain.”

Juggling death is nothing new for seventeen-year-old Jura, daughter of the First of the Thirteen, successive rulers of the Republic of the Sand Sea. However, when a blood chain ensnares her father, she is thrust into the seat of power and forced to rule her elders.

To Tylak, water had never tasted sweeter.”

Jura must track down her father’s assassin and balance a country on the verge of collapse. To find the Prince of Shadows and uncover the truth, Jura puts her trust in Tylak, a former slave accused of stealing from the Everflame—a man she once condemned to death.

In a world where water is currency and enemies lurk around every corner, Jura will use her wits or risk igniting a world war.


1. First, tell us a little about yourself. When did you want to become an author? What inspires you to do what you do? Who are you?

I’ve never wanted to be anything else. My aunt (who is only 8 months older than me) learned to read before I did and I remember being insanely jealous of the skill. I wrote my first story when I was around four or five years old. It was about dinosaurs. I’m pretty sure my grandmother has that yellow legal pad floating around somewhere.

2. What are some quirky and or unique aspects about you and your writing?

Well, when I get consumed by a scene it’s hard to think of anything else, I must write the scene down immediately! However, I don’t plot out my stories, I prefer to let the characters tell me what to say. Unfortunately, I’ve found that the characters don’t always know what’s best for the plot. Whenever I find myself stuck in a scene I go outside and pace around my deck, usually while on the phone with my (oh so patient) sister. I’m trying to get better at outlining but I fear it will always be a struggle for me.

3. RCP “was founded in 2016 to showcase quality fiction, diverse stories, and unexpected protagonists.” What does that mean to you?

I think in today’s world it is increasingly important to share diversity in fiction. We’re so fortunate to live in a world that can share information faster than it takes to whisper Google. I think readers are ready to meet unique characters who are a departure from the genre stereotypes. I find it easier to connect with protagonists with realistic flaws; no character is purely good or heroic and no character is purely evil. Ignited has several different points of view and readers discover its world through the eyes of characters from varying characters each with their own unique outlook on the plot.

4. What do you think makes a great young adult title? How do you think the first two books in your four book series Ignited and Submerged fit into or vary from that description?

If there is a formula for what makes a great young adult title I’d like to know it! I suppose what makes a title great is in its ability to clearly and quickly excite the reader and hint toward the book’s plot. I hope Ignited and Submerged give the reader a sense of action and excitement as well as give hints toward its plot.

5. How has writing affected your outlook on things? Has it made you take chances or see things in a different light?

Writing has given me a wider perspective, I tend to look at things from different points of view because I love diving into the minds of two differing characters. I also think it has affected me in the sense that everything is a story to me. I see or hear something and my natural reaction is what if

6. What are you most excited to share when it comes to Ignited and Submerged? Ex). The world, the characters, a specific scene?

I’m probably most excited to share my world. As a child, a favorite game of mine was “pretend.” Pretend I’m a unicorn, or pretend the ground is lava, pretend I’m a wizard… I suppose I never grew up in that way, I enjoy the process of creating a unique new world and sharing that vision with others. I hope the world of Ignited is a new experience for my readers. I want them to be intrigued by the mysteries of the world and lose themselves in its exploration. Although, I do also have a soft spot for a few of my characters, Kay already has a spin-off series dancing in my head.

7. Finally, do you have any advice and or tips for aspiring writers out there, especially women?

Don’t listen. Don’t listen when someone tells you you’re not good enough or when you receive a rotten rejection letter. Don’t listen to the inner guilt at the hours you spend writing (when you could be a better daughter, wife, mother, etc) Don’t. Listen. And never give up.

Fragile Chaos: The Realm of the Gods and Goddesses by Amber R. Duell

Gods of Old

Long before the world came into existence, there lived three Old Gods. But, as they began to fade, they regretted never having created anything worthwhile and feared being forgotten. With the last of themselves, they created a pantheon of six siblings that would do what they never had:

Ebris to guide the siblings.
Drea to create a world teaming with life.
Brisa to rule the unpredictable seas.
Leander to help souls find their place in the afterlife.
Astra to aid in matters of the heart.
Theodric to steer the living through their conflicts.

Ostran War

For thousands of years, the mortals worshiped their gods and goddesses, but with each generation, fewer believed in their existence. Ebris, like his creators, feared being forgotten, and pushed his siblings to do more for their worshipers. Drea, Brisa, Leander, Astra, and Theodric went along with their brother’s requests out of respect for him, but everything changed when Ebris ordered the continuation of the Ostran War.

Theodric began the conflict to reward the Ostran Emperor by extending his territory, but with every victory meant to end the war, Ebris forced Theodric to press forward until the entire east was embroiled in the bloody conflict. It wasn’t until the mortals assumed the war was a sign the gods had abandoned them that Ebris ordered its end.

Ebris ripped Theodric’s power away, calling him reckless and impulsive. None of the siblings dared stop Ebris for fear he would turn on them next. But, while no one crossed Ebris, the ordeal ruined their trust of one another. The gods and goddesses began to work as separate entities instead of one, and it wasn’t long until the disconnect caused mortals to turn away from their creators completely.

The 2017 Kármán (100km) Chapbook Prize Winner

The 2017 Kármán (100km) Chapbook Prize winner is L.C. Douglass! Her chapbook, Dark Palace, will debut next year. Stay tuned for more updates.


BIO: L.C. Douglass’ debut collection Ink of the Palimpsest will be published soon. While studying history at the University of Oxford, Ms. Douglass has published several poems and pieces of short fiction, including “Blind Silvester,” anthologized in Cyberwit’s 2017 volume, The New English Verse.

Gods and Goddesses: Theodric 

Realm of Theodric, God of War

A dirt path led away from the circular stone temple at the edge of Theodric’s realm, winding through a grassy field, and up a hill. A gray stone mansion at the top was surrounded by a circular wall. Passing under the entryway, the packed dirt gave way to fine black gravel that circled the interior courtyard. Turrets capped the corners of the twenty-eight room mansion.

Most of the rooms were covered in dust, and used for storage. Two bedrooms and a bathroom were used on the second floor by Theodric and his advisor, but the war room was occupied most frequently. High windows covered the back wall with seats beneath each. On either side of the doors hung an array of weapons—swords, guns, throwing knives—and, to the right, maps were tacked from the ceiling down. Books and scrolls lined shelves. The war table stood useless in the middle of the room. Theodric moved the colored glass pieces across the black base out of habit now instead of necessity.

Even in times of peace, Theodric was preparing for the moment that harmony shattered, but without his full power, he was no longer able to see things like he needed to. Hundreds of spies were scattered across the world to keep him updated. Three hundred male sacrifices were left living inside the outer wall. A sacrificial bride had never made it out of the main chamber of the temple.

Behind the mansion stretched a wide forest. Animals were no longer present, but a small brook laced through trees. Upstream, a waterfall spilled over the edge of rocky cliffs, filling a pool and feeding the brook. A mountain range began at the edge of the tree line, and didn’t stop until it reached the Between—a dark abyss holding the six god and goddess realms together. The threat of being banished into the nothingness was usually more than enough for Ebris to keep everyone in line.

Spotlight: Ambrose Stolliker

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Introducing Ambrose Stolliker. He will be the first author in our eBook and audiobook imprint Legion next year. Abbie Waters has just completed the first round of proofreading and more edits are coming soon. Till then, get to know the author behind this Civil War themed horror story!


Synopsis:

Spring, 1865. The Southern armies are close to defeat. Union Cavalry Commander Philip Sheridan has loosed his scouts into the Virginia countryside in search of an opportunity to intercept and destroy Gen. Robert E. Lee’s Rebel army and bring the war to an end.

One such scout is Captain Benjamin Lawson, a man haunted by the burden of command and the scenes of senseless slaughter he has endured at places like Antietam and Gettysburg. His sole desire is to see his men survive the final days of the terrible conflict that has engulfed the country for five bloody years.

The fortunes of war, however, have another fate in store for Lawson and his men, Sergeant Jordy Lightfoot and Corporal Emil Boyd. On a dark, rainy night, Lawson’s party of scouts stumbles into a large group of Rebel cavalry. All Hell breaks loose. Two of his men are killed outright, and Lawson, Lightfoot and Boyd barely manage to escape into a thick forest.

There, Lawson discovers that the young corporal has been gravely wounded. Determined not to lose yet another man under his command, Lawson heads for a small, out-of-the-way town called Old Hollow in the hopes of finding a doctor who can help the dying boy. What he finds instead is far more terrifying than anything he has witnessed on the battlefield. Soon, he and his men are in a fight for their lives against a twisted preacher who has struck a diabolical covenant with an ancient, unspeakable evil.


1. First, tell us a little about yourself. When did you want to become an author? What inspires you to do what you do? Who are you?

I think I’ve wanted to be a storyteller from a very early age. Like many people in their early to mid-forties, my love of storytelling was born on a warm, summer day in 1977 when my mother took me and my older sister to a movie theater to see Star Wars. The movie and the story made an indelible impression on me. The story and mythology of Star Wars were presented on such a grand scale, how could it have not made an impression on me? From then on, I loved listening to and telling stories. Not long after, I developed a deep love of reading, especially fantasy, science fiction and horror. I wrote my first book, an unfinished fantasy novel, at the age of nine, and have been pretty much writing nonstop since then, either as a newspaper and magazine journalist or as a fiction writer.

2. What are some quirky and or unique aspects about you and your writing?

I spent twelve years banging out 12-inch to 20-inch news stories in noisy newsrooms at daily and weekly newspapers. You’d think I’d be able to work in just about any environment and still write and write well, but when it comes to fiction, I can’t. I need silence. Some writers can listen to heavy metal while they write, but not me. I’ve got to have quiet, which isn’t always possible when you’ve got a rambunctious four-year-old boy in your house. Luckily, I have a nice, quiet office where I can close the door and focus on the work.

3.RCP “was founded in 2016 to showcase quality fiction, diverse stories, and unexpected protagonists.” What does that mean to you?

Hopefully, it means we’ll see more stories featuring characters and themes that are outside the normal clichés we see in so much writing today. The best stories always feature characters that do the exact opposite of what’s expected, or what society as a whole perceives as the norm. I think great writing challenges our preconceived notions about the world we live in and the lives we lead.

4. What do you think makes a great horror story? How do you think your piece Old Hollow fits into or varies from that description?

I’d characterize Old Hollow as a classic horror story set during the Civil War. I think any horror story worth reading has to do two primary things – gradually build a feeling of suspense or dread and tell a story wherein the reader becomes invested in the fate of the main characters. Almost as important, I think, is setting. It just so happens that I am a Civil War buff and have spent a great deal of time reading about and researching the conflict that defined so much of who we are as Americans today.  Being well versed in that particular time period makes it easy (and enjoyable) for me to create evocative settings for the reader. Old Hollow is not the first Civil War story I’ve written, and I’m pretty sure it won’t be the last.

5. How has writing affected your outlook on things? Has it made you take chances or see things in a different light?

Well, every time a writer puts pen to paper, asks someone to read something they’ve written or submits a story for publication, they’re taking a chance at being rejected. In one sense, I think my career as a journalist helped me develop a pretty thick skin where my writing was concerned. It just became part of my everyday life to receive and absorb criticism of the material I’d turned into my editors. For the most part, I knew their criticisms always came from a good place – either a desire to make the story better for the reader, or to make me a better writer, or, under the best of circumstances, both. So, when I started writing fiction and submitting it for publication, it never really fazed me when the rejections started rolling in. Like most writers, I had moments of self-doubt that I would ever get published, but I never really considered giving up. Now, my ambition is to be able to write horror fiction full time, and I’m not there yet. Sometimes, I worry I’ll never get there. But that doesn’t stop me from writing.

6. What are you most excited to share when it comes to Old Hollow? Ex). The world, the characters, a specific scene?

The characters, first and foremost. Writing about Benjamin Lawson, Jordy Lightfoot, Emil Boyd, Nan Forrester and Preacher John was a lot of fun. Each one brings something different and important to the story. Lawson and Jordy are probably my two favorite characters in Old Hollow because they’re both so very different from one another. At the same time, they complement one another in critical ways, and function well together as they try to navigate and survive the war and the situation in which they find themselves in Old Hollow. I love the dialogue between the characters too, especially Jordy’s dialogue. His voice and patois were really fun to write. Finally, I love the themes that emerged as I wrote and revised the story over three separate drafts – the danger and inherent hypocrisy of religious fanaticism and fundamentalism; the sense of brotherhood and comradery that is developed between soldiers during times of war; the notion that one’s word and personal honor stand for something, even (and perhaps especially) when given to someone we might consider an enemy; and the importance of protecting those who cannot protect themselves.

7. Finally, do you have any advice and or tips for aspiring writers out there?

Easy. Write as often as you can, and read as much as you can. I try to write at least 1,000 words a day, five days per week. I don’t always accomplish that, but that’s my goal. I don’t think one can become adept at anything if one isn’t willing to practice and put in the time necessary to develop one’s craft. Also, I’ve learned over the years, both as a journalist and a fiction writer, that the real work begins with the second draft. First drafts are easy. First drafts are fun. You’re basically just vomiting the words, story and characters onto the page, and not thinking too much about plot, or how good the writing is – at least that’s how I approach first drafts. But revision? Revision is hard. And essential. Finally, you’re going to face a lot of rejection and criticism. I started writing seriously in my early thirties. I sold my first story when I was 36 or 37. It took about seven or eight years to make that first sale. Then I had to wait another year or so for the second. I’m 43 now, and STILL not writing full-time, so that should give aspiring writers an idea of what it takes to make it in this business. I consider myself marginally successful in having secured a dozen or so publishing credits that netted me any kind of money. It’s a long haul. It’s natural and even healthy to get discouraged once in a while, but the one thing a serious writer can absolutely not do is to stop writing. So, don’t.