Spotlight: J. Lyon Layden

IntrIMG_1647oducing J. Lyon Layden who has recently signed his young adult heroic fantasy filled with ogres and ancient Chinese lore entitled The Unnamed Bears Favor with RCPIt is slated for release in September of 2018 under the imprint Legion. Rio will handle cover design. Editing, map-making, and more will soon be underway. For now, get to know J. Lyon Layden as an author.

 

 


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?

Being told I should be a writer and wanting to be an author are both among my earliest memories, so it’s foggy which came first. I used to create stories for my toys and make up skits with my siblings, and I’d tell ghost stories to scare my cousins. I remember being told I should be a writer when adults looked at my drawings as well, so I’m glad I took their feedback the right way! Later on in school, I made up stories with my spelling words instead of just writing sentences for each one, and we had to read those assignments aloud in class. The kids got a kick out of it and the teachers encouraged me, so maybe those early nudges set me on the path.

What inspires you to do what you do? Who are you?

I dropped out of college as an English major going into his senior year because I’d found a new love—music. Also because I could barely afford to take the bus to class. I worked as a freelance music journalist and musician for years while also holding a job as a cabinet designer or installer, and gave up the construction and journalism about the time the housing bubble burst. People always need music and bars, even during a depression, so music kind of saved me financially. These days I tell ghost stories or play music for a living, depending on the night, and this gives me my daytime hours to write.

But the real reason I began writing fiction again is because I finally have the information I need to tell the story that’s been bugging me since I first learned about Neanderthals and Megafauna as a child. I was first made aware of these prehistoric creatures by the same person who’d read The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings to me, my dad. One night, while we watched Ripley’s Believe it or Not or something like it, my dad said “With all these different cultures describing ogres and trolls and goblins living in the woods, there had to be something to it. It was probably Neanderthal Man… or something like him.”

At the time, however, civilization was only supposed to be 5000 years old, whereas Neanderthal Man was thought to have died out 35 thousand years ago, so no one would have taken such speculation seriously. But the more I learned about ancient hominids and megafauna, the more I realized they’d eventually be found at much younger dates. So I sort of had to wait until the science caught up with my dad’s theory in order to write these novels.

In the 20th century, man tried to use science as a tool to disprove the myth. In only the first few decades of the 21st century, science has proven many aspects of myth a reality whether man likes it or not. I believe science will continue to do so in the years to come. It’s about time—like Joseph Campbell said, modern man is in dire need of myth and legend. I’m compelled to share the great news with my fellow fantasy fans that the creatures they’ve dreamed about since youth were real after all… and that magic does exist, despite what the 20th century tried to tell us.

I feel driven in this endeavor because the scientists aren’t doing a great job of explaining the implications of their recent findings to the public yet. A few of them have called our prehistoric world a “Stone-age Middle Earth” or a “Fantasy World” in news articles, but no one has really connected the dots for the public or brought the findings into the limelight. No one has really brought it home to the fantasy fans like it should be, and I believe the best way to do this is through fiction. So my stories are the result of over 20 years of research into our mythological and prehistoric past, and I’ve worked hard to make sure every creature, technology, and culture depicted therein actually existed on the same continent during a particular period in our prehistory.

“The Unnamed Bears Favor” is set sometime between 8000 B.C.and 10,000 B.C. in a Pengtoushan village on the Yangtze River, where giant megafauna and archaic hominids still roamed the forest just miles away from walled settlements with primitive moats. The people inside these settlements practiced types of spiritual technology now lost to us, and in fiction, we can call this “magic.”

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

Not only is the world in these stories based on conservative, peer-reviewed science but there’s a small chance the stories themselves could be true. I consulted the I Ching about the character arcs and plots.

Stan Gooch lost his tenure and died in a camper because he insisted we’d mated with Neanderthals in the 20th century when it wasn’t cool to say so, and predicted many other things we’re only now discovering to be true after all. He believed the I Ching to be one of our only surviving remnants of the neanderthal’s “intuitive” technology. I thought it would be fitting to let the oracle tell it’s country’s tale if it could, so I’ve used it for the outlines of all the stories in this series. The I Ching has its roots in oracle bone fortune telling, and what the oracle bones tell the boy at the beginning of the story is similar to what the I Ching told me about him when I began to write his arc.

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

I know you guys publish quality fiction because I had the good fortune of winning a critique from Amber Duell on Twitter, and she gave me some excellent suggestions. A few months later, you can imagine how stoked I was that RCP liked my pitch during one of the Twitter events, especially when I saw you’d only picked a few from the thousands posted that day.

Diverse fantasy to me can mean the work is outside the cliche of the European medieval setting. Neolithic China, with its walls and moats, seems on the surface to have similarities with the feudal society that’s become familiar to fantasy fans, but underneath the veneer, the cultures are vastly different. The peoples of this time period were unlike any who exist today, in both appearance and behavior.

Diversity can also be about giving a voice to the cultures and peoples who have gone extinct, who don’t have a voice to be heard anymore, mostly because our civilization silenced them. Remnants of their genes and traditions can be found scattered among many different modern populations with diverse backgrounds, but as a people, these populations are gone forever. There’s still a lot to learn from them, however, and their story is not only fascinating but may prove useful to our own society in the future.

My protagonist in “The Unnamed Bears Favor” is an altogether unexpected hero, but that’s also part of the twist I can’t reveal, and I’m thinking this may have been the reason the tale caught RCP’s eye.

What do you think makes a great historical fantasy story?

I like the fantasy aspects to be just on the edge of civilization, just on the edge of reality in a sense but it needs to be plausible fantasy. I’m with George Martin when he says dragons should have only two legs, at least if they evolved on the same planet as the two-legged amniotes, whether someone wants to insist they’re really wyverns or not. I want at least pseudo-scientific explanations for fantasy elements, whether it’s the creatures or magic systems, in order to retain my suspension of disbelief.

But a great story also needs a powerful character arc and a mind-blowing twist. The latter can be tough when you’re trying to stay true to reality, but when I have a good one I know I also have the potential for a great story.

How do you think your piece The Unnamed Bears Favor fits into or varies from that description?

I can tell you that even though this will seem like a bizarre fantasy world to most readers, such a world existed right here on Earth not too long ago. I believe my protagonist’s transformation will resonate with most readers because their ancestors likely went through something similar and a piece of our ancestor’s experiences remains inside of us if Rupert Sheldrake’s experiments and Carl Jung’s archetypes are any indications.

I don’t want to give away the twist though—that’s the whole problem with convincing people your story really has one! How has writing affected your outlook on things? Has it made you take chances or see things in a different light?

Many people use the terms “prehistoric” and “primitive” interchangeably when talking about human culture, but those two words aren’t really synonymous. The cultures I write about existed in the Neolithic or Paleolithic Periods, both considered prehistoric because they predate recorded history or the written word. I think it’s important to remember that some of these cultures only predate written records because we haven’t been able to decipher their forms of proto-writing yet. Paleolithic man had symbols we can’t translate, cultures in Neolithic China used a type of proto-writing called Jiahu script, and other East Asian and Pacific cultures used a form of artificial memory involving the knotting of string. It may have been similar to the Celts use of leaves on a string to make sentences.

Many aspects of civilization arose during our prehistoric period, and the ancients used methods of making glue, fire, cement, and megaliths that were either unable to duplicate or only just now learning to duplicate in the 21st century.

For some of these cultures, like the Pengtoushan of China or the Natufian of West Asia, we’ve recovered as many artifacts as we have for historic cultures, who’s writing we are able to read. However, we know history is written by the victors and is often exaggerated, so it’s possible we don’t know any more about what really happened 5000 years ago on the Tigres and Euphrates than we know about what happened 10,000 years ago on the Yellow River. Yet one is historic and the other prehistoric.

Paleoanthropologist don’t speculate like historians do, and they rarely combine scientific sources to paint a vivid picture of what life might have been like for a neolithic priestess. We think we know what ancient Romans looked like. In contrast, scientists are loath to speculate on what Pengtoushan people looked like before 90% of Y DNA haplogroups died out during the spread of later agricultural societies. Likewise, at least one population of hunter-gatherers in Spain had blue eyes and brown skin before the Agricultural Revolution. Their fossils are 10,000 years old and we’ve extracted their DNA, but their Y Haplogroup is present in only a fraction of a percent of modern Europeans. They only found the marker after they extracted the DNA, and did a search for the haplogroup in modern peoples. This represents a whole genomic population that was absorbed by the spread of agricultural, and their innovations and struggles are lost to us. Europeans didn’t look anything like modern Europeans until the Iron Age and the invasion of the Beaker culture. The paternal ancestor of most modern Europeans lived in Central Asia during the Ice Age, and before that in South-East Asia, and before that in Africa. So there are whole populations of people in our prehistoric past whose cultures were wiped away by the Agricultural Revolution and later events.

I think these lost cultures are important, and I think a lot of speculative fiction writers subconsciously try to fill the gaps in our past often with clues from our mythos.
Even more amazing, Archaic hominids survived in Sri Lanka, China, Mongolia, Africa, and South East Asia, and maybe even Europe and the Americas right up until the dawn of civilization. We don’t even have names for all of these peoples yet, mainly because some are thought to be homo sapiens sapiens/archaic hominid hybrids and may or may represent separate subspecies from homo sapiens sapiens.

The public has no idea about many of these new finds, and scientists vehemently debate their various implications. So, since science has refused to give us an adequate model of these time periods, even though the evidence is available in scattered sources, I’ve been forced to use logic and reason to deduce which scenarios prove most likely. That’s the only way I could piece together a sufficient model to write novels with.

Because I’m looking at these things from a perspective of a writer and journalist rather than as a scientist, I can use the laws of probability, logic, and reason rather than just the scientific method, so I think it’s given me a unique perspective that’s allowed me to figure out some really intriguing realities about mankind’s mysterious past.

What are you most excited to share when it comes to The Unnamed Bears Favors? Ex). The world, the characters, a specific scene?

The ogres of Chinese legend existed and liked to steal women just like the legends told us. They began transporting homo sapiens sapiens women into the Tibetan plateau 10,000 years before the first male descendant of Mito Eve and Y Adam even arrived there. Because of this, modern Sherpas have a Denisovan gene that allows them to thrive at altitudes at which most of us would not be able to survive. But similar occurrences happened the world over during our prehistoric past, and from this we may derive our fear of the dark. Also, ancient rights of adulthood held more magic than the modern mind gives those rituals credit for.

Finally, do you have any advice and or tips for aspiring writers out there, especially those who are experimenting with multimedia?

I believe we live in an exciting time for writers, not just because publishing has become easier and we have more ways to market ourselves, but because tools to enhance and draw attention to our work have become more available. We have freeware like GImp, Blender, and Audacity to produce quality videos and audio. If you can’t read your own audiobook or create art and music to supplement your work, you can find talented artists for cheap on Fiverr.

Fiverr is a good place for Beta readers if you need something critiqued in a rush. I’d also encourage everyone to embrace social media, from Twitter to Youtube. Whether you’re going the indie, traditional, or self-publishing route you’re going to need to grow a following if you want staying power. Plus, Twitter still has many opportunities for writers. Both presses publishing my works next year found me on Twitter Pitch Parties. I’d also encourage spec fiction writers to enter the Writers of the Future Contest. Concentrating on short stories can really hone your skills, and winning is probably one of the easiest ways to a publishing deal.

Cover Reveal: Ignited (Dance of the Elements, #1) by A. M. Deese

Hardcover

ISBN-10: 1-946024-02-3

ISBN-13: 978-1-946024-02-2

Trade Paperback 

ISBN-10: 1-946024-12-0

ISBN-13: 978-1-946024-12-1

eBook (ePub Edition)

ISBN-10: 1-946024-13-9

ISBN-13: 978-1-946024-13-8

Audiobook Edition

ISBN-10: 1-946024-03-1

ISBN-13: 978-1-946024-03-9

ASIN: COMING SOON

AppleID: COMING SOON

BN ID: COMING SOON

Release Date: March 27, 2018 (February/April of 2018)

Synopsis:

A NOBLE DAUGHTER.

A FORMER SLAVE.

SCORCHED EARTH AND DANGEROUS GAMES.

“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.

Advance Praise:

Ignited is an amazing new fantasy where knowledge is power, but having dragons and shadow dancers on your side certainly doesn’t hurt” – Melody Greene, Goodreads Reviewer

“Defiantly recommend for anyone who loves fantasy. [I]f you read The Winner’s Curse trilogy and loved it…then you will love this book” – Fan-Girl-Tabulous

Cover Reveal: Old Hollow by Ambrose Stolliker

Audiobook

ISBN-10: 1-946024-19-8

ISBN-13: 978-1-946024-19-0

eBook (ePub Edition)

ISBN-10: 1-946024-18-X

ISBN-13: 978-1-946024-18-3

ASIN: Coming Soon!

Release Date: February 27th, 2018 (February/April of 2018)

Synopsis:

Come Forth, O Dark Ones, and Avail Thee of Our Blood.”

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 General 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 scenes of senseless slaughter he has endured from Antietam to Gettysburg. On a dark, rainy night, Lawson’s party of scouts stumbles upon a large group of Rebel cavalry. All Hell breaks loose. Only Lawson, Sergeant Jordy Lightfoot and Corporal Emil Boyd manage to escape into a thick forest.

There, Lawson discovers the young corporal has been gravely wounded. Determined not to lose another man under his command, Lawson heads for a small town called Old Hollow in the hopes of finding a doctor who can help the dying boy. What he finds there is far more terrifying than anything he’s 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.

Advance Praise:

FROM THE EDITOR

The Civil War has left scars both physical and unseen. Few towns in the South have escaped devastation, but one has been left mysteriously unscathed. After Union scouts survive a harrowing battle with Rebel soldiers, they seek help for a wounded man in Old Hollow. Instead of aid, they encounter a nervous woman who warns them to leave, a doctor who seems strangely reluctant to help, and a preacher who ministers to his congregation in a most unusual way. There is evil in Old Hollow, but it may not be solely supernatural. It may also be in the deeds people do to one another and the lengths they will go to to save their own skins. –Luann Reed-Siegel

Cover Reveal: Object Relations: A Novelette by Rebecca Lee

 

Trade Paperback

ISBN-10: 1-946024-06-6

ISBN-13: 978-1-946024-06-0

eBook (ePub Edition)

ISBN-10: 1-946024-07-4

ISBN-13: 978-1-946024-07-7

Audiobook

ISBN-10: 1-946024-28-7

ISBN-13: 978-1-946024-28-2

ASIN: B0716RHFHS

AppleID: 1253619936

BN ID: 2940157338435

Release Date: May 9th, 2017 (May/June of 2017)

Synopsis:

Object Relations Theory: A form of psychoanalytic theory postulating that people relate to others in order to develop themselves.

Through long divisions of interpretation, words sectioned into sentences. Uncomfortable, they bunched together, worried their independence lost. Together, all the words decided they should be bound in unison forever. Their books stain the beliefs that we continue to hold.

Rebecca Lee’s collection of vignettes demonstrates the various imaginary relationships of personified objects. From door knobs to smartphones, everyday encounters come alive.

Spotlight: A. M. Deese

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.

SCORCHED EARTH AND DANGEROUS GAMES

“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.

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

IMG_9916

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.

Gods and Goddesses: Astra

Realm of Astra, Goddess of Love

White and gray columns held up a balcony that ran the entire length of Astra’s two-story square palace. A frosted pink and white skylight shone down on the double staircase in the foyer. Crystal chandeliers hung in each of the two-hundred rooms, and someone was always playing a musical instrument. It could be heard almost anywhere with sheer curtains billowing from glassless windows.

Despite the lack of belief, Astra would visit the mortals on a regular basis. Her walled-in temple was surrounded by six sets of four pillars. The five alcoves belonging to her siblings were each set at the top of a separate staircase inside. An infinity symbol carved from marble served as her altar before the pit with a wide, single-wick candle at its center. A river flowed near the entrance with paddleboats waiting by the dock. Flowering trees grew across the hilly landscape. A stone path lined with always-blooming cherry blossoms could be followed throughout the realm.

Most residents preferred to spend time in the common areas: pillows covering the flat roof to enjoy the stars at night or the atrium that opened to the entire first floor with a deep-set pool at its center. With seventy-five servants remaining along with seven husbands, there was always company to be found in either place. While Astra loved each of her sacrifices equally, she hadn’t truly accepted any husbands in the last nine hundred years. If the men chose to stay, she honored their sacrifice and encouraged them to find love elsewhere in the household.

 

Cover Reveal: Fragile Chaos by Amber R. Duell

Hardcover

ISBN-10: 1-946024-24-4

ISBN-13: 978-1-946024-24-4

Trade Paperback 

ISBN-10: 1-946024-00-7

ISBN-13: 978-1-946024-00-8

eBook (ePub Edition)

ISBN-10: 1-946024-01-5

ISBN-13: 978-1-946024-01-5

Audiobook Edition

ISBN-10: 1-946024-25-2

ISBN-13: 978-1-946024-25-1

ASIN: B071CYFGJV

AppleID: 1253613072

BN ID: 2940157306519

Release Date: July/August 2017 (July 11th, 2017)

Synopsis:

A GOD OF WAR SEEKING RESTORATION.

AN UNWILLING SACRIFICIAL BRIDE.

BETRAYAL THAT COULD DESTROY THEM BOTH.

“[E]very fiber of my being is woven from the rage of mortals.”

Theodric, the young God of War, has a talent for inciting conflict and bloodshed. After being stripped of his powers by his older brother, King of Gods, he sets out to instigate a mortal war to prove himself worthy of being restored to power.

“I loved Kisk once; it was my home… But that was before. This is now.”

Sixteen-year-old Cassia, like many in the modern era, believes gods and goddesses to be just a myth. Enemy to her country and an orphan of the war, she has no time for fairy tales. That’s until religious zealots from Theo’s sect offer her up as a sacrifice.

Can Cassia and Theo end the mortal war and return balance to the earth and heavens? Or, will their game of fate lead down a path of destruction, betrayal, and romance neither of them saw coming?

“You’re the only war I can’t win. The only war I don’t want to.”

Fragile Chaos is Amber R. Duell’s debut novel invoking the myth of Cupid and Psyche, and Persephone and Hades, with a modern mythological twist.

“It feels as if my soul has detached, soaring away from my body toward his.”

Advance Praise:

“[A] great book for anybody who loves the myth of Cupid and Psyche…I loved the…mashup of modernity with the mythological” – Abby Reed, Author of When Planets Fall (Soul Mate Publishing)

“Loved Theo’s complex character… Cassia was a really brave and sassy character who always had her head firmly on her shoulders…” – Kariny, kariny’s book frenzy

“…[T]his book was absolutely amazing…!” – Words I Write Crazy

“Amazing, thrilling and unique…” – Booklove

“This mash[-]up of modern times and mythology combines elements of Beauty & the Beast and Hades & Persephone to create a totally original retelling” – Kati, To Be Read

“If you love…myths and retellings than this mash-up is one you shouldn’t miss… Action, Adventure, Fate[,] and D[e]struction are all tied up in this [wondrous] novel that I just couldn[‘t] put down!” – Crossroad Reviews

“A story full of romance, betrayal, and chaos is sure to attract those teens that enjoyed Percy Jackson but are ready for something more mature” – Jenny, Goodreads Reviewer

“The slow smoldering romance that Theo and Cassia can’t deny greatly pushes each page with anticipation” – Tawney, Twinning for Books

“Filled with folklore, violence, epic battles, and tons of drama, Fragile Chaos is a gripping thrill ride” – Jordan, YA Book Madness

Fragile Chaos is a great story of the follies of pride, the consequences of abusing power, and the power of love to heal all wounds” – Liza, Quite the Novel Idea

“If you love a good young adult romance, mythology, and a story with high[-]stakes then you definitely need to read Fragile Chaos by Amber R. Duell” – Olivia Chanel, Galaxy of Books

“This author[‘]s first novel is an extreme display of promise” – Rachel, Rachel’s Book Reviews