Thursday, January 28, 2016

Takhayyal 28: Open the Door


Welcome back Ladies and Gentlemen, Artists, Poets, Writers, Authors, Dreamers, Friends and Family; Welcome EVERYONE to Nadaness In Motion's bi-weekly picture-prompt writing challenge Takhayyal.

Arabic for Imagine, Takhayyal is a challenge for writers of all ages and genres; a place to spark creativity.
Your post can be in English or Arabic, prose, poetry, short story, flash fiction; you name it and write it.


By Ilya Rashap. Picture found online.
  



General rules:
·        No nudity, violence, and/or abuse.
·        Leave the link to your post in comments below OR post your piece as REPLY to this post
·        Your piece MUST be inspired in some way or other by the above picture
·        Multiple entries allowed
·        It is not required but it is a nice and encouraging gesture to comment on others' pieces.
·        Feel free to add your Twitter handle (@....) so I can tag you in my tweets!

Let's IMAGINE!

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Children of Lightning - Book Review


Children of Lightning by Annie K. Wong is what I call a strange story. There are a lot of characters. There were some interesting aspects like how the names given at birth have a significance and changing them could affect the life of the person – or creature involved. I also enjoyed the use of poetry and songs.

"Power unchecked is ultimately self-destructive." This quote probably best describes the novel and the main character.

The description of some of the characters in the novel, all of whom are creatures, was weird throughout. There are Plurans, which are Medusa-like creatures that for some reason can't have male children and accordingly have to mate with one of seven Ophidians. The latter are snake-like creatures but throughout the novel I could not really picture them; I also felt the description given to them was constantly changing.

The mating ritual is considered a 'deadly dance'. "Lonely and sorrowful, the pluran grieved in song and the Ophidians were charmed. They agreed to help the pluran conceive if she would serve them. Thus began the covenant that inspired thrill and dread for all plurans."

Although all the creatures in Children of Lightning were created from the "Lucerie Lightning" (a kind of comet that hit their land), there is obvious class distinction. The plurans are looked down upon most of the time.

One of the main themes of the novel is the names given to the plurans. The mother described in the early chapters begot a daughter, whom the ophidian named "Wriven" meaning "fierce". However, the mother did not like the name changed it – without the child's knowledge – to "'Tithren' meaning 'Victory'".
The novel also focuses on destructive ambition, particularly Tithren's.

"All seven of these serpentine monsters lurked in the Shadowlands, preying on living beings. They would eat anything, including a snake-haired pluran like Mother."

I liked that Tithren had clear flaws, which were greed and a temper, but there was no development, which was one of the main aspects that bothered me in the novel. The narrator constantly said that Tithren "couldn't control it." (It being her killing spree and selfishness).

After her first kill, Tithren goes on a killing spree. She also seeks to become something like a Rend Apex – the one in charge, which makes her short-tempered, stupid and a murderer.
Continuing with the character development part, I thought that after learning her real name Tithren would become fierce and wise, but she just become blood-thirsty and stupid. She is also extremely selfish - to the point of insanity for her and to the point of ridiculousness for the reader.
"Confused and careless, she pulled the dagger out. Blood poured from the wound like a waterskin punctured."

The fight scenes were awfully strange. I couldn't picture any of them. The colours of the ophidians were bright and dark at the same time. It could just be me, but I just imagined a big blob of colours some with spider legs, some with a snake body.
There was also a lot of gore, and mixed with the colours – it didn't go so well.

Starting part III, the time frame begins to get jumbled. Nine years and a war have passed, which we don’t know was between which species.

There are hardly any likable characters, just Junpo and probably Tithren's mother.

The novel kept me going and I wanted to reach the end to see what would happen but I felt the ending wasn't strong enough. I also didn't like the main character, Tithren, and it's hard for me to enjoy a novel, where the protagonist isn't likable – and more like obnoxious.

There are several interesting quotes in the novel, which was fun: "We came as one, a diamond from the sky. Together we must stand, or we will all perish like a teardrop shed and evaporated."

At the end of the day, I ask myself: would you recommend this book to others? In the case of Children of Lightning, my answer is No.


Note: I received a free copy of this novel in 2015 as part of a blog tour, but because I didn't like the novel, I had to withdraw from the tour as I could not promote a book I didn't like.


Sunday, January 24, 2016

The Drago Tree Excerpt & Interview with Isobel Blackthorn

Book: The Drago Tree
Author: Isobel Blackthorn
Published: 29 September 2015
Publisher: Odyssey Books 

Synopsis:
Haunted by demons past and present, geologist Ann Salter seeks sanctuary on the exotic island of Lanzarote. There she meets charismatic author Richard Parry and indigenous potter Domingo, and together they explore the island.
Ann’s encounters with the island’s hidden treasures becomes a journey deep inside herself as she struggles to understand who she was, who she is, and who she wants to be.
Set against a panoramic backdrop of dramatic island landscapes and Spanish colonial history, The Drago Tree is an intriguing tale of betrayal, conquest and love, in all its forms.


Below is an exclusive interview with author Isobel Blackthorn

Q: What genres have you covered so far in your writing and what genres would you like to experiment with in the future?
Isobel Blackthorn: So far I have written my version of a tragicomic drama and a tragicomic romance, and a suspense/thriller and a Gothic horror novel. I’m currently at work on a mystery crime novel. I plan to write a romp, but I think I’ll have to find myself in a very lighthearted mood to do it. I’d like to experiment with magic realism one day.

Q: How much research did you have to do for The Drago Tree?
IB: There was an enormous amount of research involved, everything from the history of the setting, through to the geology, the geography and the culture. Fortunately I used to live on Lanzarote, one of the Canary Islands off the coast of Morocco and where the story is set, but that was twenty-five years ago. I trawled through scores of websites in English and in Spanish, watched Youtube videos, read numerous books and spent a lot of time on Google maps. I did my absolute best to be accurate about every single detail.

Q: How many drafts do you go through to reach the final version of your book?
IB: I write a first draft, which takes me several months. This version is usually sketchy and there is much to develop. I set that draft aside for a few weeks or months while I work on something else. To get the story to a second draft phase and ready for beta readers, takes me three runs through. I attend to revisions, embellish where needed (my first draft is generally only about 45,000 words), next I craft the sentences and paragraphs, then I go through the text looking for anything that jars.
Once I have some feedback from my beta readers, I go through the text twice more, the last time perfecting every single thing I can find. If I still find things to fix on every page, then I go through it again and again, until looking at it makes me feel physically sick. That’s when I decide to send it to my publisher.

Q: What are you currently working on? 
IB: I am working on a mystery crime novel. It’s the sequel to The Drago Tree. I had started out thinking I’d try my hand at crime, which scared me quite a bit as crime readers are a very exacting group and there are numerous fabulous crime writers out there. Once I’d started to re-engage with my characters, I, or rather we, decided to head more in the direction of mystery. Although there is certainly an element of crime and so far the story seems to have the energy of a crime novel too. I’ll have to see how it turns out.

Q: You mention in your bio that the occult tends to find a way into your writing, which of your novels have that theme? Would you consider writing a full paranormal novel?
IB: There are elements of the paranormal in The Drago Tree. At the time of writing, I was captivated by Isabel Allende’s The House of the Spirits, although I wouldn’t call my novel magic realism. I don’t know if I would write a paranormal novel but anything is possible! The occult features most strongly in my next novel, A Perfect Square, due for release in 2016.

Q: What countries would you like to visit in the future?
IB: I am about to fly to back to Lanzarote, the first time in twenty-six years. I’m also visiting Scotland, which I am very excited about. I’ll be staying in Edinburgh, a city I have not yet visited, and I’m told filled with bookshops! I adore beautiful scenery and dry climates. I’d love to visit Canada and Eastern Europe. Then there’s North Africa – Morocco perhaps. And I’m more and more fascinated by the Middle East, with all of its rich cultures. A tragedy what’s happening there.

An excerpt from The Drago Tree

Heading back to Haría, Ann took the circuitous route, driving north along the coast road that skirts the edge of La Corona’s outpourings. The solitude—there was no other car in sight—interrupted by that annoyingly cautionary school mistress lodged in her head, berating her for accepting Richard’s invitation.
Before long, La Corona swept into view to the west, singular in the landscape, a decapitated cone of russet-black rock. Ann drove slowly, taking in the malpais, a lava plain sustaining only lichens and euphorbias, the shore-side broken now and then by pockets of creamy sand. With La Corona in view to her left, the ocean to the right, the scene was primordial. Travelling by car seemed out of joint with these surroundings. She felt an impulse to throw her arms wide and yell into the wind. Yet there were few places to pull over.
Another kilometre and she spotted a turning up ahead. She slowed and eased the car into a small and empty parking bay. She left the car and followed a narrow path through boulder and scree to a lick of white sand nearby. The beach felt desolate, the silence cut by the wind and the slap of small waves.
She stood at the waterline, watching the gentle swell, the black terrain closing in all around her, and the misgivings she felt in accepting Richard’s dinner invitation gave way to a familiar moiling. She yearned to expunge the hurt that had taken up residence in her heart like an unwelcome lodger. Running away from her marriage hadn’t achieved much. She had distance, but she was still who she was, who’d she’d allowed herself to become. Two decades of study and research, in recent years wading through the murky waters of the Isis, all the while paddling about in the murk of her personal life and suffering the occasional flood. He’d frightened her this time, with that frustrated fist of his in their final row. What was that about? Burnt toast? It might as well have been. They’d been arguing the same old ground. It always came down to her career and his ego.
She wanted to forget. Let this atmosphere of tremendous isolation consume her. She thought she must be the only living creature on this beach; she saw no birds, no lizards, no crabs, not even a fly. She took a deep breath of the cooling ocean air then slipped off her sandals and paddled her feet in the wash, enjoying the chill and the gentle push and pull.
Her thoughts wandered back to the night before she left Willinton for the airport. Too distraught to stay another moment in her house, she spent those hours ensconced in her office with nothing to occupy her frazzled mind. So she’d researched the island—its topography, its geology, its history—trawling the tourism sites, frustrated by the shallow summaries and contradictory information, eventually stumbling on a book freely available with the noble title The Canarian. Two pages in, immersed in the journals of two priests who had set sail on the voyage that conquered Lanzarote, she’d forgotten the Hydrology Centre, her tattered marriage, the tumult of her heart.
Now she was here, it was easy to imagine that past. Beyond the bay, the wind and the ocean swell pushed south, the flow of the Atlantic perfect sailing for the ambitious conqueror, Juan Bethencourt. The year was 1402 when he set sail, determined to take possession of the Fortunate Islands on behalf of any kingdom willing to strike a good deal.
Marauding Spanish adventurers covetous of the profits procured from dyes and slaves had long favoured Lanzarote. Beholding the ocean, she could imagine the sickening undertow in the bellies of the beleaguered islanders each time they saw a ship on the horizon. Guadarfia, the island’s king and ruler of a peaceful and amiable tribe of one thousand islanders, was understandably tired of the pillaging and enslavement of his people. When he met with Bethencourt he granted permission for the conquering party to stay and build a fort in the island’s south in exchange for the islanders’ protection. It must have seemed to Guadarfia a reasonable agreement. Neither man could have foreseen the treachery that lay ahead.
She walked along the shore with her feet in the shallows, picking her way around the smattering of black boulders, scanning about for a small rock to take with her. She went out on the flat rocks that flanked the bay, then slipped on her sandals and picked her way into the malpais. She didn’t get far. The terrain was impossible.
Returning to the waterline, she ambled about some more. She wanted to take with her something distinct but, like the tourists, the rocks were uniform. Eventually she settled on a pebble of grey-black basalt partially embedded in the sand. The pebble was smooth and cold and oddly comforting. She put it in her pocket and went back to the car.
After another sandy cove, the road curved east and she drove towards the barren massif that ran along the western coast. The sun backlit the massif, the ridge silhouetted against streaks of apricot merging into the azure of the sky. Several calderas pimpled the land to the southwest. The lava plain, to the south of her now, rose to meet its mother, La Corona, a monolith of black in the fading light.
She felt herself expand in the face of what she saw. Ever since her first geology field trip in the Lake District she had known there exists something profound and ineffable in the relationship between nature and the human beholder, a capacity to feel exhilarated by nature’s beauty, as if she could transcend her little life in the face of the earth’s grandeur. A picturesque scene of rolling green and copses of oaks; a paradise of tropical rainforest meeting turquoise lagoon; the drama and majesty of rugged mountains and cliffs; the desert plains of Australia, vast and unchanging in every direction; or like here, a simplicity of contrast. Nature never failed to seduce Ann with its charm.

Add The Drago Tree on Goodreads.
Follow Isobel Blackthorn on Twitter and add/follow her on Goodreads.

Note: Book review of The Drago Tree to come soon, but from this excerpt I have a big feeling I'll enjoy it!


Thursday, January 21, 2016

Cover reveal for Ariella Moon's The Beltane Escape


The Beltane Escape by Ariella Moon
(The Two Realms Trilogy, #1)
Publication date: February 2016
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Cover design by: AMDesignStudios


Synopsis:
Lady Fenella, ever surrounded by guards, knows only responsibility and duty. She believes Merlin and the Lady of the Lake are myths, Gran’s warnings about Fairy are superstition, and Fairy was invented to make children behave.

But then Gran brands her, Lord Argonshire kidnaps her, and the Lady of the Lake makes her a pawn. The Highland heiress must betray her newly betrothed and fend for herself when she dives into a wormhole to save her cousin. She lands in a part of Fairy even fairies avoid, and joins forces with Talfryn, a half-Viking/half-Fairy.

Fenella must use her wits to find her cousin, free the Lady of the Lake, and reach the wormhole in Glastonbury by Beltane. Nine days to unshackle herself from a sorceress, prevent a war between rival clans, and decide in which realm—and with which lad—she truly belongs. Oh, and The Most Powerful Wizard stands in her way.



Pre-order The BeltaneEscape.

About the Author:
Ariella Moon draws upon her experiences as a shaman to create magical Young Adult fiction. Her Two Realms Trilogy is a medieval fantasy adventure series with romantic elements. The Teen Wytche Saga is a series of sweet contemporary paranormal romances. 
Ariella spent her childhood searching for a magical wardrobe that would transport her to Narnia. Extreme math anxiety and taller students who mistook her for a leaning post, marred her youth. Despite these horrors, she graduated summa cum laude from the University of California at Davis. Ariella lives a nearly normal life doting on her extraordinary daughter, two shamelessly spoiled dogs, and an enormous dragon.

Ariella loves to hear from her readers. You can reach her at:


Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Stone Legacy: A series of modern world Mayan heroes & more


Stone Legacy Series #1-3 by Theresa DaLayne
Published by: Limitless Publishing
Genres: Paranormal, Romance, Young Adult


Synopsis book 1 - Mayan Blood
Their empires have fallen, but their mythology lives on…

Zanya Coreandero is a seventeen-year-old orphan with only a single friend and no hope for a normal life. Diagnosed with anxiety and night terrors, no one believes her cuts and bruises are a result of an evil entity, and not a brutal case of self-harm.
With the only home she’s ever known being the isolated institution—where breakfast is a handful of medications, the psychiatry sessions are mandatory, and her every move is watched—the only relief is her red-haired roommate named Tara, who’s more like a little sister than her best friend. 

Free will is strong, but destiny is stronger.

When Zanya is kidnapped, she meets a group of gifted Mayan descendants, each with a unique ability. Gone from a nameless castaway to the only hope of mankind, Zanya is forced to make a grueling decision: bond with an enchanted stone and save humanity from raising underworld forces, or watch helplessly as Earth falls victim to a familiar dark deity from her dreams. This time, he’s playing for keeps.

A wicked secret hides behind a handsome face…

When Arwan, a dark-eyed timebender, takes interest in Zanya’s mission, it’s unclear if his intention is to help, or if he’s on a hell-bent mission for revenge. Wary of falling for another guy with major secrets and a tainted past, Zanya fights to keep her distance. If only her heart gave her a choice.

Synopsis book 2 - Interlude
Tara may have spent years in an asylum, but that doesn’t make her crazy–just fearless.

Dropped in Moscow with a the group of enchanted Mayan descendants, seventeen-year-old Tara is forced to wait on the sideline while her best friend—the Stone Guardian— battles to reclaim a friend’s soul trapped in the underworld.

It sucks being ordinary when everyone else is superhuman…

A mortal girl with a tainted past, Tara is left to deal with an overwhelming sense of inadequacy. Her boyfriend, Peter, is a healer. Her best friend is The Guardian, and everyone else is a powerhouse of awesome strengths. Meanwhile, she struggles to leave her childhood of abuse in the past, and while Peter picks her up every time she falls, it becomes clear he deserves better.

When they opened Pandora’s Box, hell came pouring out…

When she’s given a chance to aid in the group’s mission, Tara is eager to pull her own weight, even if it means uncovering buried memories of being held prisoner by the underworld general. Now haunted with flashbacks of torture, Tara wanders from the safety of Peter’s arms into a city of depravity and corruption. And amidst all this evil is a young man with an agenda of his own, who leads her down a road that will either prove she is a hero at heart, or drag her into a world she’s always feared.

He wants revenge, she wants redemption. And in an underground ring of missing girls and bloody sacrifices, only the fearless can survive…

Synopsis book 3 - Lights of Aurora
After living her entire life in an orphan asylum, Zanya fears she may actually be losing her mind.

Following the discovery of her ancient Maya bloodlines, eighteen-year-old Zanya Coreandero is faced with a daunting responsibility. She must protect the relic stone while Sarian, the underworld general, ceaselessly drives her to the brink of insanity.

With the approach of an ancient bonding ceremony, Zanya struggles to control her abilities—and her desires…

As the winter solstice approaches, it brings an onslaught of unexpected side effects. While Zanya struggles to seize control over her supercharged powers, she must also face an overwhelming suspicion that her boyfriend, Arwan, is hiding a secret so dark it could destroy them both. And with her powers finally taking root, the struggle to pace their relationship takes on a life of its own.

Just when she thought life couldn’t get more complicated…

With the arrival of a surprise houseguest, Zanya’s deepest fears about Arwan are confirmed. And when middleworld deities intercede, the group of gifted Maya descendants are confronted with hardships they never saw coming—including an enemy more deadly than they have ever faced.

Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned. And when that woman has no soul and a taste for revenge, they will need the powers of every surviving ancestor simply to stay alive.

Add the book to your Goodreads' to-read list: https://www.goodreads.com/series/158487-stone-legacy

Check out the trailer of Stone Legacy here. https://youtu.be/I_6PC-AjhxA




A quick author interview about writing and the author's works in progress

Did you always want to be a writer? If not what did you want to be?
Theresa DaLayne: No, not even close. In fact, in grade school I was a terrible reader and had very bad grades. I had to go through additional tutoring in order to read simple stories and struggled for years with literacy. Only when I was in high school did I fall in love with writing. It started in journalism and branched out from there.
When did you first consider yourself a “writer”?
Theresa DaLayne: When I read an article—can’t remember which one—that said, “If you love to write, you’re a writer. You have something important to say. Something others want to hear. Don’t ever forget that.” I had to believe that or I wouldn’t have made it through some of the struggles I faced as a self-taught writer. And you know what they say: If you think you can, or you think you can’t, you’re right.
Do you do another job except for writing and can you tell us more about it?
Theresa DaLayne: Yes. In addition to writing, I also manage an online Amazon store, and I also write the official book blurbs for Limitless Publishing. It’s a fun mix and I love it.
Who is your publisher? Or do you self-publish?
Theresa DaLayne: I have two fantastic publishers. Bloomsbury Spark who published my new adult contemporary romance, The Edge of You.
Limitless Publishing has both of my series—The Stone Legacy series and a new young adult inspirational series, The Five Pillar series.
What can we expect from you in the future? i.e. More books of the same genre? Books of a different genre?
Theresa DaLayne: I have a ton of releases coming up, which is SO exciting!
·        Book 1, Mayan Blood releases 29/12
·        Book 2, Interlude, releases 12/1
·        Book 3, Lights of Aurora, releases 26/1
·        Book 4, Anarchy, releases 23/2
·        Book 5, Birthright, releases 19/5
Also, in February, I have another release of a young adult inspirational under my pen name, Theresa Mae—If All Else Fails. There will be two more books to follow.
What genre would you place your books into?
Theresa DaLayne: Mature young adult paranormal romance.



There is also a quick character interview with Thresa DaLayne about one of the main characters of the novel, Arwan.
Character Name: Arwan
Character Bio:
Orphan and gifted Riyata, Arwan grew up at Renato’s estate in Belize after his mother was murdered by an underworld enemy. For years he has denied his Mayan ancestry and shunned his bloodline. Now that Zanya—the Stone Guardian—is back and bonded with her stone, he must face the darkest part of his soul in order to find the revenge he continues to seek.
I don’t have a photo of Arwan, nor do I want to assign one. He is a unique looking twenty-something year old with tan skin, dark eyes, sharp cheekbones, long-ish dark hair, and a keen talent for martial arts. He also has a very rare ability called timebending, which he does not often use in fear of changing the course of history and affecting the future in negative ways that he cannot undo.
Describe yourself what is your worst and best quality?
Arwan: Focus. Normally that would be a good quality, but I tend to be overly focused on a goal and do not stop perusing it until I’ve accomplished it.  Maybe that’s how I earned Zanya’s affections. Once I knew I wanted her, I couldn’t stop until I made my best effort to earn her trust.
Have you earned her trust?
Arwan: It’s a work in process.
Do you think you deserve her trust?
Arwan: No. Not in the least.
What about your best quality?
Arwan: I would say patience. I need patience while training—especially with Peter due to is lack of practice. He spends far too much time with Tara and not enough time in the dojo.
It sounds like you’re angry with him.
Arwan: Angry? No, I’m not angry. Just…concerned. I don’t want him to fall behind. But knowing Zanya now, I can’t blame him for being hesitant to leave Tara. It’s hard to be away from the person you care about.
What are you most afraid of?
Arwan: Failure. I’ve worked my entire life to prepare for the moment I can finally avenge my mother’s death. Plus, now I have more than just myself to protect. There’s no one else to lead the rest of the group, and I have to be there. It’s my job, and I can’t fail.
What do you want more than anything?
Arwan. Peace.

GIVEAWAY

Courtesy of the author and as part of the blitz, there is a blitz-wide giveaway for several items: two $5 Amazon GC (open internationally), 4x Mayan Pendants (US only), two FREE e-book copies of Mayan Blood and a FREE e-book of LORE anthology.


a Rafflecopter giveaway



Purchase links:

About the Author:
A long-time enthusiast of things that go bump in the night, Theresa began her writing career as a journalism intern—possibly the least creative writing field out there. After her first semester at a local newspaper, she washed her hands of press releases and feature articles to delve into the whimsical world of fiction.

Since then, Theresa has been married, had three terrific kids, moved to central Ohio, and has been repeatedly guilt-tripped into adopting a menagerie of animals that are now members of the family. But don’t be fooled by her domesticated appearance. Her greatest love is travel. Having traveled to over a dozen countries—not to mention an extended seven-year stay in Kodiak, Alaska—she is anything but settled down. Wherever life brings her, Theresa will continue to weave tales of adventure and love with the hope her stories will bring joy and inspiration to her readers.

Author links: