The Lamplighter’s Special {review}

CROWN OF PHOENIX TOUR

Lizzie and her sister are forced to work in a huge manor and on a steamship to support their family.

They are caught up in several mysteries:

The squire’s oldest son cannot leave the attic
An old typewriter seems to move time and space
A passenger hides in a secret room
A beautiful visitor is plotting against them

And Lizzie discovers that she has a strange, new ability.

She and her sister must discover the secrets of The Lamplighter’s Special before their enemy catches up with them.


This story, third in Alison DeLuca’s Crown Phoenix series, was a fun, delightful little read that I found a great relaxation after the rush and bustle of the past two weeks in my life. Sometimes, you need to just dive right into someone else’s world as an escape from your own. This was a world that I had no problems dashing into.

First, a disclaimer–I have not read the other two books in the Crown Phoenix series and came to The Lamplighter’s Special with little prior knowledge of the story. I mention this because DeLuca doesn’t seem to rely on knowledge of the first two novels to establish the story and characters in Lamplighter. There were a couple light references to the others (and I did finish it thinking that I will go back to read the others simply because I enjoyed the third so much) but this is a piece that could be read as a standalone quite easily.

There was much to enjoy about this story. The setting is rich, reminding me of a movie that my daughter loved in her younger years, “A Little Princess.” It is definitely has the character of that period without all of its darker undertones. Though DeLuca does reference some of the problems of the era (class issues, in particular), she doesn’t dwell on them. In some respects, this was for me a slight disappointment as I would like to see what she would do with more emphasis on those themes but at the same time, this is not the novel for that story to be told.

I feel that this book fits neatly into the YA genre. Despite the historical setting mentioned earlier, the characters are likable and the language easy to read without being simplified for our own times (not an easy feat!). Lizzie and Ninnie are endearing characters, ones that female readers especially will relate to with their close relationship. It is the bond of family that adds the emotional impact to Lamplighter, something that kept me engaged throughout the course of the story.

All in all, I found this novel to be a good read and would recommend it to those who like a pinch of magic and mystery with their Austen or Burnett. You can pick it up (along with the first two in the series) at Amazon.


Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book for review from First Rule Publicity from the author as part of a virtual book tour. I was not compensated nor was I required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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Character Interview: Autumn Augustus of Heaven’s Fate

Today I’m pleased to be interviewing Autumn Augustus, a character from Andre Alan’s epic adventure, Heaven’s Fate.

A little about the novel:  

Thame Elliot, an expert Rietsu martial artist, is consumed with thoughts of avenging his father’s death and rebuilding the legendary Tundra Sword. Little does Thame know that his aunt, the first empress of the human continent, Eioda, Autumn Augustus, has set the nation on a course that can only lead to war with the Orcs. The mystical inhabitants on the planet, Threa have been plunged into a struggle for the ancient artifacts buried in the mysterious, Consummate of the Trust. Not only that but his aunt is hell bent on marrying him to a corrupt military admirals daughter while Thame’s spiritual guardian, Masaya from the Astral Plane tries to manipulate him in order to keep the heavens from falling apart. The fate of mankind rest in Thame’s young hands but does he even want the responsibility that goes along with being the chosen one? Or will Thame’s spiritual twin, imbued with dark powers granted by the evil one, assassinate him before he can fulfill his destiny?

Without further ado, I’m happy to present Autumn Augustus!

Gwen:  Tell us a little about yourself, Autumn.   Where have you come from?  What do you want out of life?

Autumn: As you wish, my name is Autumn Clementine Augustus. I am from Las Anglas, Eioda where I served as Rear Admiral of the Western Fleet before joining Parliament.

What I want is tough to answer since my job for so long has been to take orders. Now as empress, I seem to take orders from the Eioda people. But what I wish for is simple, for my people to prosper and for my family to be happy and healthy.

Gwen:  The novel opens with talk of your brother Alexander being a traitor.  What’s the real story there?

Autumn: Alex was a hero, a patriot, a one of a kind leader. He was betrayed, plain and simple. That day was like a living nightmare. I blame myself though. If I would have done more than he could still be here with his son, Thame.

Gwen:  Your nephew, Thame, refuses your offers of help.  What do you think motivates him?

Autumn: Revenge motivates him. A white hot hatred over losing his parents at such a young age. I believe that he is also angry at himself for not being able to help more I think, but he was so young.

Gwen:  How do you feel about Thame’s behavior?

Autumn: Well I don’t think there is anything too extreme about his behavior. Sure, he can be a bit snarky at times, some may say that he is a little selfish, and a bit of a jerk but he truly does mean well. I blame myself for spoiling him growing up.

Gwen:  If you could change anything about your current situation, what would it be?

Autumn: If I wanted more time, then I would wish to be born in a different age but if I could change one thing, it would be fate. If I could change anything, it would be to have Alex alive. I would change the fact that the Tales of Arcadia have come to incorporate everyone that I care about.

Gwen:  What do you think lies ahead for Thame?

Autumn:  I think that Thame will accomplish all of his hopes and dreams. I think it will be a rough road ahead, full of bumps, ups and downs but overall a great career and a long, happy life.

To check out this novel (and hear more of the characters’ stories), visit Heaven’s Fate at Amazon.

You can find out more about Andre Alan, the author of Heaven’s Fate, at one of these places:

Twitter: @AndreAlanAuthor

Excerpt: Oblivion’s Forge

Simon Williams returns to the blog after yesterday’s interview with an excerpt!  As promised, here’s the first chapter of Oblivion’s Forge, the first in the Aona series.  This novel is available on Completely Novel and Amazon.  

More information about Simon’s novels can be found at his website, www.simonwilliamsauthor.com.

I – A Single Word

I

 As the blackness closed before him, and the fury of the void flung him half-broken to the rocky ground, he thought for a certainty that this would be his last moment.

A dull red sun hung in the distant west, on the point of dissolving into the dusty horizon. Behind him, a scream that seemed to come from the earth itself was cut short savagely, and the black portal that had spat its fury at the unwilling watcher vanished from the world forever.

Vornen opened his eyes hours later, with the sun a faint memory in the west and a biting cold wind tugging at his ragged clothing. Already the first hint of frost settled upon the ground.

Continue reading

Author Interview: Simon Williams

It is my great pleasure today to have Simon Williams on the site, author of the Aona series. As part of a two-stop visit, today I feature an interview with him. Tomorrow, we’ll get a chance for a sneak peek into his novel, Oblivion’s Forge.

Gwen: It’s good to have you here today, Simon! Tell us a little bit about the Aona series.

Simon: It’s a series of what may well end up being five books- the first two are completed and pubished and I’m working on the third. Hopefully I’ll have to available by the end of the year. The series could be described as “dark fantasy” but is also technically futuristic (albeit very distant future) – although this becomes apparent quite gradually.

Rather than a standard chronicle of “good versus evil”, the Aona books are really more about what happens to the characters that make up the story when faced with the threat of evil on all sides- two great forces preparing to do battle. As one such character points out bleakly: “Light and dark, but all of it evil.”

So it’s also about survival and battling against seemingly insurmountable odds, set in a fantasy world which also has elements of “tech” in it (particularly as the story moves on and we learn more about the actual nature of this world and how the various races came to be here).

Gwen: Your first book, Oblivion’s Forge, is about what happens when a race of beings find something that they’ve been searching for for a long time. It’s a classic theme of literature but I’m wondering, was there anything in your own life that sparked the choice to write an exodus story? Any personal anecdotes behind the creation of Aona?

Simon: Not personally as such, but to an extent, although I wasn’t consciously influenced by any pre-existing works of fiction, I was influenced to an extent by films such as Blade Runner and Terminator 2. That may seem a little odd given that they’re much more sci-fi than fantasy, but anyone who reads the books will see soon enough that the influences are there (somewhat tenuous influences but there nonetheless!)

Gwen: Your world is decidedly dark, with weakening wizards and characters who must make difficult choices. The story is beautifully written but as a writer myself, I know how wrenching it can be to tell these kinds of tales. Were there any moments that you struggled with as you wrote Oblivion Forge and Secret Roads?

Simon: Oddly enough I have no trouble at all writing the dark / disturbing scenes, but I struggled a little for a time when I was putting the characters together and developing their relationships. It wasn’t a major obstacle, but in the third book, The Endless Shore, some of these relationships become more serious, and I need to find a way of making them real, making them work with the story. By this time, with the relationships having become more involved, “deeper” if you will, I’m hoping that they will be easier to visualize. But it’s a part of writing that doesn’t come especially easily, perhaps because of its complexity. The solution is simply to write it, write it again, write it a third time- and keep writing and keep visualizing until it’s there and until it works.

Gwen: With that in mind, as you worked on these stories, did you find that writing them affected your own view of the world or of the people around you?

Simon: It’s the other way round really. I think every writer’s view of the “real” world (and it’s becoming increasingly difficult to distinguish what is “real” or “true” from what isn’t, given the ever-increasing pace of information) helps shape their works, whether they’re a fantasy writer or not.

Gwen: To talk a little about the book’s mechanics, I know that you’ve recently made the choice to make the Aona books available for Kindle and it seems to have been a hard decision. Tell us a little bit about that.

Simon: It was one of those “if you can’t beat ‘em…” decisions. I’m still a fan of physical books, and I do find it a little sad that authors have been often reduced to selling their books for next to nothing via Kindle, or even giving them away- but that’s the way the world is, and there’s no going back, so I decided to make Oblivion’s Forge available on Kindle- and Secret Roads will also be available soon.

I guess also I like the idea of physical books in that they linger on long after a writer has ceased to exist; somehow, the idea of someone in some future time coming across a hard copy and reading it seems a nice one than thousands of free copies floating pointlessly around in cyberspace…

Gwen: That is a sentiment I definitely agree with. It does make one wonder what books will linger three generations from now.

Switching subjects a bit, do you have any new projects on the horizon?

Simon: There are *always* new projects on the horizon! Aside from the third Aona book, which is progressing well, I’m compiling an anthology of short stories- some older ones that were published a while back, but also some new ones- although I haven’t a clue what to call it yet.

And my other project is a book called The Spiral, which is an experimental work that I can’t even adequately describe as yet! But I’m quite excited about it.

Gwen: How can readers find out more about you and your books?

Simon: My main site is www.simonwilliamsauthor.com but my blog site at www.worldofaona.com is updated much more frequently.

And there are tasters of both Oblivion’s Forge and Secret Roads available on Completely Novel.

Behind the Villain: Ellette of Morning Star

I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to interview Desiree Finkbeiner, author of the recently released Morning Star, the first volume in the Ethos series.  Ethos is a great new YA fantasy series that has inspired a lot of conversation between Desiree and I over recent weeks.  Among the things that I find so intriguing about Desiree’s work are the many facets of her characters, particularly the villain Ellette.  Because I had so many questions about the character, I asked Desiree to allow me to “interview” first her villain and then herself to learn more about the concepts behind Morning Star and the world that she has created.

First, I present the interview with Ellette, the fallen warrior of the Ethos series.

Gwen:  Ellette, what is the strongest emotion that drives your actions?

Ellette:  Fairness. Life is cruel and unfair to those who try to do the right thing. I did everything I was told to do; gave up my chance at happiness so that others could be happy, and look where it got me. What’s the point in sacrifice if it carries no reward? The universe is unfair to those who sacrifice, giving the spoils of their labor to schmuck who stands in line behind them with their hands out.

So I’ve taken it upon myself to be the great mediator, the one who makes it fair for everyone. Rather than a select few carrying the weight of the universe on their shoulders, why not force everyone to do their share? No one gets off without contributing to the greater good. Since life will be unfair to everyone, therein lies the fairness. No rich, no poor. Thus, no one will be special and no one will be left behind. I’ve a plan that will be the great equalizer of the people. In my name, all will be fair, unlike the balance of the so-called universe, which is really nothing more than the illusion of fairness.

Gwen:  Creating a fair world, by any definition, is not an easy task and requires making hard decisions.  I imagine that you’ve had to make quite a few in your life.  If there is one thing that you regret, what is it?

Ellette: I regret the time I wasted in the service of others who didn’t appreciate the sacrifice I was giving for them. All the wasted time and life energy I could have used on pursuing my own dreams, wasted on ungrateful souls could who could care less.

Portrait of Ellette by Desiree Finkbeiner.

Gwen:  As you think about all of those that you spent your time on,  was there someone who affected your life profoundly?

Ellette:  Aziza. Her name meant, cherished, beloved. And love her I did, as if she were my own. I met her in Africa while I was on post to watch over the mushroom. Aziza was the daughter of a very rich man, from the tribe of the small village where I traded for supplies. He had six daughters, and she was the fairest, the youngest. Perhaps about four of your human years in age. Never had I met a soul so filled with life and adventure before Aziza. She had given me so much, and filled my heart with love, something I had never experienced before. Because she had given me the gift of trust and friendship, I responded to her love with a gift of my own.

One night, on a full moon, I came to her as the village slept, so she could see me in my true form. I took her for a night fly, soaring high into the sky so she could feel the wind in her face. It was to be our secret, something we shared between us. Each time the full moon came, we did this until her family grew suspicious. She had spoken of my magic to her sisters and made them promise not to tell, but she had broken my trust by breaking her promise to keep it secret.

It broke my heart, so to teach her a lesson about loyalty, I told her I would not be visiting on next full moon. But she came seeking me, snuck out in the night all alone. I told her never to seek me because the land had been plagued with cobras and jackals. She didn’t listen, and it cost her life. Of course, I was blamed for her death and they rounded up a posse of their best warriors to hunt me, calling me the white winged demon.

I was heart broken and I regret ever loving her… had I not loved her, she’d have grown into a beautiful woman.

Gwen:  A tragic story.  Have you kept anything of her–even something that remains secret?

Ellette: I still have a lock of Aziza’s hair, taken from her corpse, as a reminder why love is dangerous.

After hearing Ellette’s story, I asked Desiree to expound upon what her creation was like from an author’s perspective.

Illustration from the forthcoming print edition of Ethos: Morning Star.

Gwen:  One of the most difficult challenges a writer faces is creating a great villain. What was your greatest struggle as you developed her character?

Desiree: The hardest thing was looking back into my past at who I was when I was younger. I absolutely loathe who I was from about age 17 to 20, I was a terrible person and made some poor decisions (wrote a book about it in high school but deleted the file later on, now I wish I could go back and read it). I really do feel that I was a wicked young woman at that time in my life; manipulative, controlling, prideful, stuck-up, attracted to darkness, seduced by the occult and dark arts. I based my villain off of myself. It was a time in my life where I was estranged from God and sought after worldly aspirations. I was spiritually dead to light, lost in a very dark place. But it’s because I have experienced falling and losing my path, that I’m able to craft a dark character from a realistic perspective.

I know Ellette’s demons all too well, for I had created my own hell and it took a miracle (and a lot of prayers) to free me from the prison I had built for myself. And though those experiences are very personal, let’s just say, I’m grateful for those who didn’t give up on me. Ellette is my flipside… So the hardest part was revisiting my past to allow that character to live once more in my fantasy world.

Gwen: Did you find it easy or difficult to relate to the choices that Ellette made?

Desiree: Obviously, I relate completely. I understand heartbreak and what it’s like to desire power over others. I also understand how easy it is to let hatred and bitterness canker the soul. Luckily, I also know what it’s like to embrace light and let forgiveness heal the wounds of past transgression.

Gwen: How do you, as a writer, reconcile yourself to writing “evil” or “dark” characters?

Desiree: Evil is a part of us all. Some of us embrace it, and some of us seek to cast off works of darkness to embrace light. Unfortunately, sometimes life requires embracing darkness before we can appreciate light. One cannot know love and joy without first having passed through loss and sadness. So those two ancient enemies (good and evil) are necessary for us understand the universal question “Why?”. Without evil, there could be no good, and vice versa… so in order for there to be balance in the universe, the two must constantly oppose one another and stand for their cause.

I like to look at it this way. Wherever there is light shining its rays to illuminate an object, there is also a shadow cast by the object where light cannot pass through. In order for something to be completely filled with light, it must first become transparent. But when something is transparent, it no longer has visible form to be considered beautiful by the naked eye. So the shadows cast by light actually create beauty in the world around us. One simply cannot exist without the other. So in order for there to be a hero, there must a villain of equal power to oppose the goodness and light, otherwise, there’d be no adventure… and no point for anything to exist.


Desiree Finkbeiner, author of Ethos: Morning Star

Desiree Finkbeiner attained a bachelor’s degree in Graphic Design from Missouri Southern State University (2006) with a heavy background in business, marketing, music and fine art– She was heavily involved in campus affairs and served actively in several committees focusing on campus entertainment and events. She performed with musical acts/bands in rock and electronic genres, released seven studio albums, performed in 11 states and has written hundreds of songs. Her band, Carbon Star, was a finalist for VH1’s “Bands on the Run” reality TV show in 2000. Then she performed with Pointy Teeth until finally leaving the music industry for the quiet life.

Continuing education is a constant adventure for Desiree with topics of interest ranging from civil and corporate law, history, political conspiracy, homeopathic medicine and spiritual healing. She prefers to read non-fiction, especially on topics that educate and broaden her perspectives on controversial issues.

With thousands of completed art works in her archives, most of which appear in private collections worldwide, Desiree hopes to focus more on publishing, marketing and licensing her work so she can leave a legacy behind.

To find her work, visit her author page at Hydra Publications.  Ethos: Morning Star is currently available on Amazon.

Before & After: Rachel Hunter

Rachel Hunter

Rachel Hunter is the focus of today’s Before and After, a new feature on this blog. In Before and After, we will hear from new authors before the publication of their novel and then follow up after the book’s publication to find out how the experience went.

Rachel’s first book is A Llathalan Annal: Empyreal Fate, coming out this spring from Hydra Publications. Rachel has also just released the short story, “Perfect Nothing,” about her battles with anorexia nervosa. Proceeds from this story will be donated to Give Kids the World. It is available now on Amazon.com.

Gwen: Welcome to the blog, Rachel! I always like to start out by having the author tell a little bit about their book. Can you share with us what the book is about?

Rachel: Greetings, Gwen!

Thanks for featuring me on your blog. I would be delighted to share a bit about my book: Empyreal Fate – Part One of my Llathalan Annal fantasy series.

Filled to the brim with forbidden love, an ancient evil, and a nation in disrepair, Empyreal Fate is a tale of riveting bravery and mortal corruption.

The land of Llathala lingers on the brink of war between men and elves, a dark history surrounding each race. Stirred by tensions of the land, a shadow of the past reemerges, taking precedence in reality and consuming the very soul of mans’ mortal weakness. Darrion, the son of a poor laborer, is ensnared in a hostile world, forced to choose between loyalty to his king or the counsel of the elves. Yet Fate has other plans in store, tying his course to Amarya, an elven royalblood of mysterious quality and unsurpassable beauty. But this forbidden connection incites betrayal from members of their own kin, marking them as traitors to the crown. In a land torn asunder, only Fate’s decree can allow such love to coexist with an ancient enmity.

Behold: A Llathalan Annal: Empyreal Fate – Part One.

I won’t give away much of the details here, but Empyreal Fate basically sets the stage for a great war between the races of man and elf. Part One focuses on developing a crucial piece of the story (which the reader will unravel as he ventures forth), and it establishes the basis through which the characters will learn and grow. I find a story comes to life when its characters mature and express marked wisdom. Indeed, as my Llathalan Annal series progresses, I hope the reader is able to make those connections and also tie himself in Llathala’s realm as well.

Oh – and just a word of caution… Keep an eye on the young one. She’s not always as she seems.

Gwen: What inspired you to choose fantasy as your genre?

Rachel: Fantasy – a beautiful word against my lips! What could be more magical than transporting oneself into realms of the impossible – the enchanting? Since I could but only grasp onto the covers of a book, I have been reading to my heart’s content. Although I enjoy works spanning all genres, I have found that fantasy beckons my attention far above all. There’s something in the nature of the fantastical that draws me in; there’s something about the feel of alternate worlds and mystical planes that ensnares me. And this is why I’ve chosen fantasy as my own genre. I want to make others feel the way I do about words: to breathe in awe at their elusive connectedness – to marvel the fluid way in which they bind. It’s this internal delight that delivers life upon a sheet of parchment. And it is this feeling I wish to instill.

I wish to add a side note here, as I have also a penchant for poetry. ‘I dance with words,’ as some may say. As a poet, I have incorporated my fascination of speech within Empyreal Fate, thereby bringing to light the lofty language and mystical tongue of an epic world. Every sentence I wrote flowed through my head along with a beat, and I recounted my tale accordingly. Thus, I wish to share with all the beauty of words and the unique way in which they breathe.

Gwen: I know that I myself was reading fantasy from a young age—the first book series that really captured my imagination was the Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis. Reading so much fantasy–particularly those novels with their use of metaphor and subtle discussion of religious themes–definitely influenced me as a writer. Have you had a similar experience with any books that you’ve read? Is there any theme or aspect of a novel you read early on that just sticks with you?

Rachel: Vivid words and breathing characters. Regardless the genre and regardless the message, if these crucial elements are for lack, the tale will hardly hold together. Fantasy-speaking, I do well enjoy political references and spiritual subtleties. In fact, when I wrote Empyreal Fate, I sewed in some ties of my own spiritual quandaries. I would definitely say that having read other works throughout my life has inspired me to intertwine such concepts. The most important part I gleaned was how – despite the message or whether I truly believed it– the influence or ‘readability’ of the characters was key. In fact, I believe The Shannara Series – by Terry Brooks – was the first truly epic fantasy collection I read, and I was immediately intrigued by the character dynamics. Without that connection, the inner workings of the novels would not have been as profound.

Gwen: When we write, there is often an idea behind it that we want our readers to discover (and we’ll talk more about that in our “After” interview). As a first-time novelist, however, what ideas did you uncover in your own work? Did you learn any lessons from your own characters?

Rachel: Indeed – as I wrote, I delved further into the histories of my races: how they came to be and why, etc… At first, I had only a rough outline in my head, but as I progressed, the details blossomed anew. Needless to say, I could hardly keep up! I had so many ideas rampaging at once. I suppose that’s where the subsequent parts to series will come into play…

As for my characters – they instilled in me the importance of virtue, of love, and of truth. (I would say more, but for fear of spoiling anything, I shall refrain.) I will, however, suggest that one takes note of the Cauychin. Now there’s a witty beast with heart to tell.

Gwen: Let’s shift gears a little and talk about one of the hardest things that any author has to do—finding a home for the work when they’re finished. What was the most difficult part of this process for you?

Rachel: Oh – goodness! Where to begin? I would definitely say that querying agents and publishers (in general) was the most difficult part. It seems everyone has different procedures that must be followed; and to break a single ‘rule’ in the process is a one-way ticket for rejection. Patience is key. It was difficult to fathom the fact that publishers generally look for reasons to decline a book – especially if they are swamped with submissions. So… yes… I would have to say that finding a publisher who met my needs – as well as found interest in my novel – was the hardest part. (Especially finding a publisher with whom to trust. A completed manuscript is like a babe – you cannot simply sell it to just anyone on the street.)

Gwen: How did you come to choose Hydra Publications for your book?

Rachel: Actually, I was offered two contracts for Empyreal Fate within roughly the same week. It became readily apparent, however, that the first company was not the right ‘fit.’ Therefore, Hydra graciously accepted me into their family, and I could not be more pleased – nigh, honored!

Gwen: Do you have any expectations about what will happen once the book comes out? Any special plans for other projects?

Rachel: Well, with college and various academic endeavors, it is difficult to find the time to specifically plan things. I do, however, hope to attend more writing conventions, assert myself further via social media, and perhaps participate in blogs/interviews such as this! Of course, I also plan to polish the rest of my series, but as for a schedule – it’s up in the air! We’ll see where Fate takes me. So far, the journey looks promising.

Gwen: What has been the most rewarding part of your experience thus far?

Rachel: Meeting new people – immersing myself in the collective wisdom of my peers. Simply experiencing the joy of fellow authors and readers claims my heart. It rewards me most of all when I can share my opinions with others – whether about novels, poetry, or life in general – and, in turn, gain insight of my own. I’ve learned a lot from others throughout this process thus far. And I, too, wish to inspire. I wish to awaken the muse in those who seek its majesty. You never know what one may discover within.

Gwen: If readers want to follow your work or find out more about you as an author, what’s the best way for them to do that?

Rachel: As of now, one can find me on my blog, websites, Facebook, and Twitter. Also, be sure to visit Hydra Publications’ Website, where I can be found – as well as a plethora of other amazing and talented authors: http://www.hydrapublications.com.

Some of my links can be found below:

http://www.rachel-m-hunter.blogspot.com/

http://www.rachel-m-hunter.yolasite.com

http://www.wix.com/rachel_hunter/author

http://www.facebook.com/people/Rachel-Hunter/713230996

Again, thank you for having me! ‘Twas a pleasure indeed.

Cover proofs for the Universal Mirror

I realize that the book has been out in e-format for a couple of weeks now but there is something magical about seeing the cover for the actual print version.  I’m normally the first to jump on new technologies but nothing will ever replace the feel of a solid book in your hands or the sensation of rapidly turning one page to get to the next.

 

Image

Worldbuilding: Extinction Events

Blood: The Brotherhood Saga

I am pleased to introduce to you my first guest blogger, Kody Boye, author of Blood: The Brotherhood Saga. Kody and I first connected on Facebook where I discovered this novel and became rapidly engrossed by the work (expect a review forthcoming). It’s currently available at Amazon. If, like me, you enjoy epic fantasy, I recommend picking up a copy.

But for now, on to the post!

* * *

Extinction Events
A guest post by Kody Boye.

It became prevalent early on within the writing of the Brotherhood saga that much of the world and the sentient creatures that populated it had already died off. Due to human encroachment, disease, mass extinction events or all-out genocide, several races that bore intelligent thought within the world of Minonivna perished or are in the process of dying off as the first book begins.

You might be wondering after reading the introductory paragraph: Why?

Why did entire species have to die off, you ask? Simple: they just did.

If we are to follow what the fossil record shows, there have been many a man (or things resembling men) that have fallen to the greater acts of nature. Who can forget the Neanderthals that roamed parts of Europe and Asia or, more recently, homo floresiensis (better known as the Hobbit) in Indonesia? These are only two of the many examples of sentient, human-like creatures that existed on planet Earth throughout its billions of years of existence, yet they died out. Nature is a cruel and savage beast, as she whittles out many a creature either through predation or natural disaster. Many a theory has been proposed about how the Neanderthals died out (climate change and lack of food, interbreeding with or being killed off by homo sapiens.) Even the Hobbit is believed to have been wiped out by a volcanic eruption that completely annihilated its species, so to think that such species-killing disasters are common are not entirely out of the question.

However, though history has shown that life on Earth has a tendency to die out, what does that mean for life in a fictional setting? Why kill of entire races of creatures when a world builder can avoid such atrocities?

There’s a few reasons.

Reason numero uno is simple—I wanted there to be depth and realism to the world. Earth’s history has shown that life, especially dominant or intelligent life, has a predisposition to death. I wanted to explore the concept of mortality within the world I call Minonivna, particularly because it’s interesting to see the demise of grand creatures, but also because it makes a more well-rounded world for there to be extinctions.

The second reason, and possibly the more complex of the two, is the idea that humanity may have played a role in killing off some of their fellow sentients. This theory has been proposed particularly for homo erectus (what we modern humans are.) We have, over the course of several millions of years, hunted dozens upon dozens of animals to extinction. Off the top of my head in but a moment alone, I can name: the Moa bird in New Zealand, who was killed by foreigners by stealing their eggs after settling on the island; the Thylacine, who was hunted to extinction in Australia; the Yangtze River Dolphin, who was killed for food and poisoned by garbage dumps in China; and the Passenger Pigeon, which was wiped out in a mass hunt in North America. These are only a few of the creatures who, though not sentient in any way, were wiped out by humanity. Since there are no modern examples of humanity wiping out something that is capable of thinking intelligently and with a conscience, I wanted to explore the idea of human cruelty or ignorance and how, through rash choices and decisions, our actions may have killed off creatures that may have compared to us emotionally.

What kind of creatures were or are in the process of being killed off within the Brotherhood universe, you ask?

Allow me to demonstrate.

The Centaurs were a race of humanoid equine creatures that existed within a part of the world southwest of the Northern Coastline called The Whooping Hills. With a human torso connected to an equine lower half, they lived in tribal structures and hunted local wildlife. Called ‘abominations’ by modern humanity due to the belief that they were ‘created by horse demons who slept with women,’ they were hunted to extinction.

Further southwest, beyond the Whooping Hills, exists a place known as the Abroen Forest—a vast, sprawling forest that is commonly known as the home of the Elves. Within the forest exists a multitude of intelligent or somewhat-sentient life. A race of rat creatures known as the Unclean were hunted to death in a mass genocide by the Elves. Known as the Great Hunt, the creatures were hunted to extinction because the Elves could not prevent the creatures from preying on and killing their children.

Beyond the coast of Minonivna, in an arctic wasteland known as Neline, a race of upright-walking bear creatures known as the Kerma are afflicted with a flesh disease that creates tumors along the body that rot through flesh, bone and, eventually, the matter of the inner body. Though not yet extinct within The Brotherhood Saga, the creatures’ numbers are rapidly declining. No source to the disease has been found, though it is believed by the Kerma people that human settlers brought the illness to the island that is ultimately decimating their numbers.

Within the world of The Brotherhood, I tried to create a realistic background in regards to not only humanity, but the creatures that coexist or have coexisted around them. It’s a harsh stretch to destroy entire creatures that could have added a positive dimension to the story, but as a writer, and as a world builder, I believe killing them creates a more well-rounded, three-dimensional world.


Kody Boye

Kody Boye was born and raised in Southeastern Idaho. Since his initial publication in the Yellow Mama Webzine in 2007, he has gone on to sell nearly three-dozen stories to various markets. He is the author of the short story collection Amorous Things, the novella The Diary of Dakota Hammell, the zombie novel Sunrise and the first book in The Brotherhood Saga, Blood. His fiction has been described as ‘Surreal, beautiful and harrowing’ (Fantastic Horror,) while he himself has been heralded as a writer beyond his years (Bitten by Books.) He currently lives and writes in the Austin, Texas area.

E-release of the Universal Mirror – Get it Now!

The e-edition of my novel, The Universal Mirror, has just been released! Free to Amazon Prime members (though the lending library) and $2.99 for your very own e-copy.

About the book:

On the island of Cercia, the gods are dead, killed by their followers and replaced with the study of magic. Magicians are forbidden to leave their homeland. Laws bind these men that prevent them from casting spells on the living—whether to harm or to heal.

Quentin, a young nobleman, challenges these laws out of love for his wife. His best friend, Asahel, defies authority at his side, unaware that the search for this lost magic will bring them both to the edge of reason, threatening their very souls. The Universal Mirror shows how far two men are willing to go for the sake of knowledge and what they will destroy to obtain it.

If you enjoy fantasy stories with a focus on magic, head on over and check it out. Hey, it’s less than a cup of coffee. 🙂

(And please feel free to spread the word!)

http://www.amazon.com/The-Universal-Mirror-ebook/dp/B006VYHLNS/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1326328979&sr=1-1