Review: THE BLACK FLEET – The Crimson Deathbringer Book Three (Sean Robins)

The third book in the series, The Black Fleet, continues to satisfy.  It’s not quite as complex perhaps as the previous two (The Crimson Deathbringer and The Golden Viper), but it still delivers—with brisk action, campy humor, and the crazy cast we’ve grown so fond of.  They abound with zealousness (or is that insanity?).  The threat this time deals with the fate of the future.  Scary!

There’s protagonist Major Jim Harrison—with new wife, Ella, a career military woman—and his nemesis/alter-ego, Venom.  Jim’s still an ace fighter pilot but is also the author of well-selling autobiographies; not only have they granted him a certain level of fame but have bolstered an ego that was rather big to begin with.  Comrade Kurt returns, as does prankster Tarq, but the “insect” seems a little less dynamic than previously.  General Maada takes a pivotal role and gives Jim a run for his money, er, space fighter, er . . . .

Sean’s characters are well crafted and alternative planets and lifeforms—like the Akakies, Volts, and Talgonians—are thoroughly detailed.  It’s easy to visualize the action in all its explosive fervor.  Energy and danger overflow as heroes/heroines and enemies engage in thrilling skirmishes.

I looked at Earth, visible from the front window, and admired its magnificent beauty for the thousandth time. No matter how often I saw Earth from orbit, this view always made my breath catch and my spirit lift. My planet, where all my loved ones lived, including my unborn child. In this wide universe, this was the only place I called home, which incidentally I’d helped save a couple of times, along with the rest of the galaxy.

If pride really were a deadly sin, then I was going straight to hell.

And now new baddies were coming for her. Well, guess who was standing in their way. But first, there was a minor issue I had to deal with.

“You know what, Tarq?” I said conversationally. “It’s just occurred to me you never answered for the seven hundred million humans you got killed.

Another thrilling ride to be sure, one that leaves you longing for another.  Lucky us—there’s a fourth one to come.

A definite 4 out of 5!

savesavesavesave

What about Sean Robins?  As may be evident from the Crimson Deathbringer books, he’s a huge fan of Marvel, Game of Thrones, Star Wars and Star Trek.  He’s a university/college-level English teacher and has lived and worked in six different countries, including Canada.  Sean has met people from all around the world, which is “probably why my characters look like the bridge crew from Star Trek”.

His favorite author is Jim Butcher (The Dresden Files), which is why he ended up writing in first-person POV with the same light-hearted, funny tone.  The fact that his MC’s name is Jim is purely coincidental, and has nothing to do with Captain James Kirk either.

Please check Sean out on Amazon, Goodreads, Twitter (@seanrobins300) and/or Facebook (facebook.com/seanrobins300).

Aloh-hawaii

A new posting assignment from Boss Lady (as opposed to “The Boss”), otherwise known as Cousin Reynalda.  She thought posts about Hawaii would be a pleasant change (uh, we haven’t had any of late??).

Linda took it one step further and suggested we write about our favorite Hawaiian author or Hawaiian-themed story.  I liked that idea but Rey not so much (she doesn’t read a lot).

It’s JJ, just in case you weren’t sure, and I’ll go first (Rey’s still scratching her head and uttering words best left unwritten).  I have to go with Kaui Hart Hemmings’ The Descendants.  I loved the movie, as I once posted, so much so I finally read the book.  It was everything I expected and wanted—a great character-driven story.  The book, as an FYI, is told from a man’s POV, yet written by a woman.  It works; it sounds natural and flows well.

The storyline revolves around Matt King, a well-to-do [somewhat self-absorbed, or is that workaholic?] lawyer who is the descendant of a Hawaiian princess.  He’s also a husband who finds himself having to play father/parent when his wife ends up in a coma.  The two daughters, pre-teen Scottie and seventeen-year-old Alex, prove a handful . . . and make him realize how out-of-touch he’s been with his family.

Parenting skills take time to master, but thrust into the role of mother as well as father, Matt begins to develop as pater and person.  Soul-searching accompanies him on the journey for truth and self.  Yes, it sounds like it might be a heavy read, but it’s not; there’s humor . . . even during dire moments.

I look at the photo, which looks like those joke snapshots everyone takes of someone sleeping. I don’t know why we think they’re so funny. There’s a lot that can be done to you while you’re sleeping. This seems to be the message. Look how vulnerable you are, the things you aren’t aware of. Yet in this picture you know she isn’t just sleeping. Joanie has an IV and something called an endotracheal tube running out of her mouth to a ventilator that helps her breathe. She is fed through a tube and is administered enough medication to sustain a Fijian village. Scottie is documenting our life for her social studies class. Here’s Joanie at Queen’s Hospital, her fourth week in a coma, a coma that has scored a 10 on the Glasgow scale and a III on the Rancho Los Amigos scale. She was in a race and was launched from an offshore powerboat going eighty miles an hour, but I think she will be okay.

The Descendants is a great, easy read, something pleasantly diverting to hunker down with on a stormy day or evening.  If I were giving stars, I’d give five out of five.

Aloha, my friends.

Michele’s Seamless Fishnets

I’m referring to Michele E. Northwood’s “seamless” smooth-reading Fishnets in the Far East: A Dancer’s Diary in Korea It was a great, riveting read that compelled me to give it a five-star rating (please see last week’s review).  I’d gotten so involved in the three women’s lives and mis-adventures, I found myself wondering what transpired after they’d returned home.

I contacted Michele and asked if she’d be interested in doing an interview—she was!  If you’ve not yet read Fishnets, please do; you won’t regret it.  And if you have and you’re curious to find out more . . . here you go, my friends . . .

An obvious question: do you still keep in touch with anyone from the Fishnet days?  If so, who?  Do you reminisce?  Or do you just not go there?

I’m still in touch with Louise via Facebook.  Occasionally, we share photos and reminisce, but as I mentioned at the end of my book, the memory fades and we tend to obliterate the bad experiences and remember the good ones.  Although it’s impossible to forget some of the experiences, we usually talk about funny or pleasant times and ignore the negatives.  Occasionally, the name of our agent pops up, but I think time mellows a person and I hold no malice towards him.  

When did you begin writing the book?  What served as the “trigger” to write it?

To answer that question, I have to go back to my time in Korea.  I knew from the first couple of days being in that country that we were living through a unique and once-in-a-lifetime experience, so I kept a detailed diary of every single day.  I came across the two notebooks I had filled a couple of years ago, and when I sat down to read them again, I realised that it would make an interesting book.  I thought that the uniqueness of the situation would be eye-opening, not only for other dancers but for readers interested in travel and the Far East, as well as appealing to anyone with a curiosity to discover the not-so-idyllic truth behind a dancer’s life.

It took me over a year to write the book and it was released in 2019.

 What were your takeaways from the experience?  Any regrets?  Lessons learned?

I have no regrets about doing the contract.  Although I went through some unpleasant experiences, the three of us dealt with each episode with a lot of laughter, something that I also wanted to get across in the book.  It wasn’t all doom and gloom; we had some good times too.

The experience made me mature and become a much stronger person.  I was an extremely naïve twenty-year-old who was thrown into a seedy world that I was ill-equipped to deal with.  I soon realised the need to stand up for myself if I hoped to see this contract through to the end.  But I was lucky to have Louise as my friend, as she was much more worldly-wise and mothered me for the first few months of the contract.

Some readers have asked me why I didn’t just go home.  This would have been impossible.  I was on the other side of the world at a time when cheap airfares were nonexistent and a one-way ticket back to the UK was eight hundred pounds.  This was a huge amount of money for me at that time, and with our intermittent salary being literally drip-fed to us by our agent, the thought of saving up enough money to buy a ticket home was an insurmountable task.

I think we were all committed to seeing the contract through, regardless of the circumstances. As I said earlier, in between the bad experiences, there were some good times too. These positive experiences kept us all going.

I have no regrets about my time there, I think I grew as a person, particularly mentally, and I learnt to accept that throughout life there is always a Ying and a Yang. We all experience good and bad events throughout our lives and we have to deal with whatever life throws our way.    

That’s a great, sage outlook.  What happened after?  How did the experience affect you?

Well, believe it or not, I went on my next contract with the same agent!  This time I travelled to the island of Hokkaido in Japan!   (In fact, I’ve just released the second book in the Fishnets series. Here is the link: https://www.amazon.co.uk/s?k=Fishnets+and+Fire-eating&i=digital-text&ref=nb_sb_noss_2

I guess I felt that if I could cope with Korea, then Japan couldn’t be any worse.  Japan was a totally different experience.  I enjoyed the contract, but once again I experienced some daunting experiences along with a lot of laughter and weird experiences.  To whet your appetite, here is the blurb from the new book:

MichelleNewBookabcThis amusing, true story tells the tale of four young, professional dancers who travel to the island of Hokkaido, an area steeped in mystery, myths and legendary beasts.  When the quartet discovers that they are living next door to an ancient Japanese Indian tribe, they drunkenly decide to conduct a Ouija board session and, from that night onwards, things never seem quite the same again.  Not knowing, understanding or really appreciating the ancient Japanese traditions, culture or etiquette, the quartet finds themselves in some hilarious situations as well as living through some shocking real-life experiences.  They stumble their way around massage parlours and maternity hospitals, museums and temples, learning the intricacies of the hot baths and the Japanese green tea ritual.

The girls are plunged into a world of secrets and mysteries where nothing appears to be what it seems.  People vanish without a trace, and there is the strange disappearance of a large amount of money. What is the big secret on the island?  Who is in control?  Will the girls manage to keep themselves safe?  And will they ever uncover the truth behind these mysteries that seem to enshroud them all?

Sounds intriguing!  You’ve certainly sold me; I can’t wait to read it.   . . . Have you returned to Korea since?

No, I have never returned. I sometimes imagine going there out of curiosity, to see how it must have changed since 1989.  It would be interesting to visit the same old haunts, but as I have a terrible sense of direction, I´d probably never find them again!

How did your sister’s time in Korea go?

As I mentioned in the book, she seemed to have hit the jackpot compared to me.  Her agent seemed attentive to the trio and their accommodation was almost palatial compared to our digs.  However, her relationship with her agent also turned sour.  He became abusive towards the girls and my sister eventually left, leaving the two other girls she was contracted with to work as a duet.  She started modelling in Korea which was more lucrative and on her return to the UK, she never danced again.

Good for her; a happy ending, indeed.

Thanks so much, Michele, for sharing this captivating insight into yourself and your fantastic journey.   You’ve certainly piqued my interest and I’ll be looking for Book #2!

A few more fascinating facts about Michele—she:

◊  was not only a dancer, but a magician and fire-eater who toured the world for 20+ years in theatre, musicals and circus    ◊  went back to school upon retiring from the entertainment world and now has a First Class Honours degree in Modern languages, (English and Spanish)    ◊  has been in the Guinness Book of Records, during her years in entertainment for being part of the world’s largest Human mobile while working for the circus of horrors as their first “Girl inside a bottle” (wow!)    ◊  rubbed shoulders with Sting, Chris de Burgh, David Copperfield, Claudia Schiffer and Maurice Gibb from the Bee Gees    ◊  worked as a knife throwers assistant; assisted a midget in his balancing act; and also taken part in the finale of a Scorpions’ concert.

Michele currently lives in Spain with her Spanish husband, Randy, two dogs and two cats, and is an English teacher, preparing students for the prestigious Cambridge English examinations.

A great concern of Michele’s is climate change, the abundance of plastic pollution, and hates the way man unkindly treats the other species that inhabit this beautiful planet, which we are slowly destroying.   She loves living in the countryside with views of the sea and likes nothing better than to sit on the terrace at the end of the day, looking up at the stars and contemplating.

She can be contacted/followed at:

https://www.facebook.com/michele.e.northwoodauthor

Twitter : @northwood_e

Pinterest board: michele e. northwood pinterest.es https://www.pinterest.es/nextchapterpub/pinterest-board-michele-e-northwood/

Books by Michele:

Fishnets in the Far East: A Dancer’s Diary in Korea (a true story)

Fishnets and Fire-eating: A Dancer’s True Story in Japan

The Blood Red Retreat (coming soon)

The Circus Affair

Review: Fishnets in the Far East: A Dancer’s Diary in Korea by Michele E. Northwood

I’ve embarked on a reading frenzy these days (won’t last much longer, but it’s fun)!

Michele E. Northwood’s Fishnets in the Far East: A Dancer’s Diary in Korea has received great reviews—for obvious reasons.  It’s a fascinating real-life tale.  Usually, I find autobiographical accounts rather flat and dry, but Michele’s flows smoothly, like a gently rippling late-spring stream.  It’s entertaining, engaging, a can’t-put-down read.

Here’s a bit from the Amazon blurb:

Set in 1989, a year after the Olympic Games in South Korea, this is the true story of Michele, a young dancer, whose naïve dream of working in the Far East quickly turns into a nightmare. She finds herself in a host of situations for which she is ill-equipped. Dancing her way across Korea with Louise and Sharon, she is—among other things—propositioned by the Mafia, turned away by the British Embassy, caught in a student riot, and taken to Korean brothels. Both shocking and humorous, this Double Award Winning Memoir takes you on a rollercoaster ride of emotions as you follow the life of a timid young girl caught in a male-orientated world of alcohol, sex and seedy nightclubs.

If that doesn’t pull you right in to Michele’s well chronicled story, nothing will.  This last paragraph of the first chapter makes for foreshadowing . . . as, indeed, fate does take its course.  

This struck me as a bit odd and rather deceptive, but I did not voice my opinion. The deed was done. I had signed the paperwork, so all I could do was let fate take its course.

From the get-go, you’re compelled to accompany the threesome on their crazy journey.  

I equated our situation to how animals must feel when loaded into a cattle truck heading for slaughter. I could not help but feel as though we were heading for the same fate – comparatively speaking. What did destiny have in store for us now?

Our author has a disarming narrative manner; description, characters, and dialogue are convincingly presented.  It’s easy to visualize the various venues (like dim or dirty bars with daft or dangerous customers), appreciate the fluctuating feelings as Michele and her colleagues interact with sordid sorts, and hear the emotions as they discuss dilemmas and incidents. 

WPFishnetstwitterDOTcomAs the dancing trio travel around the country, they deal with dubious agents and managers, meet some pervy people, and encounter lascivious males.  Work is often an “audition” and money is tight (if at all).  Food is sometimes scarce and hotel rooms are rat- and insect-infested.  You know things will go from bad to worse before they get better—and there are moments where you wonder if they truly will improve—but you hang in, needing to learn what transpires.

Funny moments intersperse the drama; Michele, Sharon, and Louise share humorous moments and situations just as they share grim ones.  It takes strength—perseverance and persistence—to contend with what they did.  Hats off to them!

The editor in me usually deducts a half point or so when there are typos or the like; but in this case, I so enjoyed Fishnets, I have to give it a 5 out of 5. 

Rating:  savesavesavesavesave

Please check out Michele at:

https://www.facebook.com/michele.e.northwoodauthor

https://www.nextchapter.pub/authors/michele-e-northwood

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/18794280.Michele_E_Northwood

By the By . . . By Gaslight

It’s rare that I get to pick up a book just for the pleasure of reading—what little novel-related “me” time I have is devoted to reviews for authors I’ve come to know through Next Chapter or social media.

When I picked up By Gaslight (lying on a friend’s coffee table) and read the back flap, I had to borrow it.  I was intrigued.  Very.

LONDON, 1885.  In a city of fog and darkness, the notorious thief Edward Pinkerton, the son of a famous detective, is determined to drag the thief out of the shadows.  Adam Foole, haunted by a love affair ten years gone, has returned to London in search of his lost beloved.  But when these two are drawn together in their search for answers, what follows is a fog-enshrouded hunt through sewers, opium dens, drawing rooms, and séance halls.

How could you not want to read Steven Price’s thriller?  Obviously others were of the same mind, because the book (published by McClelland & Stewart, 2016) was a Canadian National Bestseller and on the prestigious Giller Prize Longlist.

Price has an enviable way with description—he writes eloquently, evoking vivid images.

It was a wide tunnel high and well ventilated and the waters moved at a steady drift, muscling past, scraping the filth and detritus of a world city against its bed.

(Can’t you just feel the layers of rubbish and smell the wretched stench of waste?)

This is far from a review, simply a suggestion: if you’re search for a good [long] riveting read, this book is for you.  The one thing that takes getting used to: no quotation marks denoting dialogue.  It’s not unheard of . . . but it is . . . weird.

Regardless, as the Toronto Star called it, it is a darkly feverish page-turner . . . or, even better, as Anakana Schofield advised, a poetic, persuasive pea-souper.  Love it!

The Stand-Alone Sequel—A Review of Hiding Cracked Glass

I’ve never been one to read a sequel without having read the prequel.  Not my preferred reading tactic.  So, when I volunteered to read/review Hiding Cracked Glass by fellow blogger and writer (and wearer of numerous hats) James J. Cudney IV, I’d decided to read both—decided, but then didn’t.  I was curious to see if a sequel could stand on its own.  You know what?  It can. 

Something I should share—I loathe tales/books that:

  • stay within a tight timeframe (an afternoon, a day)
  • provide an overabundance of different characters’ stories or perspectives.

Oddly enough, while Hiding Cracked Glass does both, I didn’t mind either, not one bit.  In fact, the way the accounts intertwine and the events flow, it worked very well.  There are a also few flashbacks that provide insight into what makes who tick: relationships (affairs, divorces, marriages), vices and illegalities.

A brief summary per our esteemed author:

An ominous blackmail letter appears at an inopportune moment. The recipient’s name is accidentally blurred out upon arrival. Which member of the Glass family is the ruthless missive meant for? In the powerful sequel to Watching Glass Shatter, Olivia is the first to read the nasty threat and assumes it’s meant for her. When the mysterious letter falls into the wrong hands and is read aloud, it throws the entire Glass family into an inescapable trajectory of self-question. Across the span of eight hours, Olivia and her sons contemplate whether to confess their hidden secrets or find a way to bury them forever. Some failed to learn an important lesson last time. Will they determine how to save themselves before it’s too late?

Will they indeed?  I won’t provide clues as to the outcome <he, he> but I’m sure, like me, you’ll find yourself riveted as the plot twists and turns through and around the intriguing characters.  Olivia Glass is the matriarch, a strong woman, who knows that one son, now deceased, was switched at birth.  Now, on the day of her birthday celebration, it appears someone has sent a menacing letter that speaks to revenge . . . a devastating letter that soon becomes known to all.

I rather enjoyed following Olivia’s attempt to unravel the mystery.  Who sent the letter?  Who might have shared the information re the son’s true lineage?  What will transpire as a result?  How will the family be impacted?  I also liked the afternoon soap opera feel: every character has a story, history, a setback or dilemma.  Life is not always designer champagne and long-stemmed roses, no matter how wealthy you are.  There are cracks—imperfections—in these “Glasses”.

Jay’s come a long way.  He’s always been dedicated and diligent—this is his ninth book in three years!—but he’s also someone who absorbs and applies what he’s learned.  He’s always been a good writer, but with Cracked, he’s become a great one.

What can I say but a 5/5.  Well done, my friend!

Rating:savesavesavesavesave 

Please check out Jay at:

♦ Website:  https://jamesjcudney.com/  ♦ Blog:  https://thisismytruthnow.com  ♦ Amazon:  http://bit.ly/JJCIVBooks  ♦ Next Chapter:  https://www.nextchapter.pub/authors/james-j-cudney  ♦ BookBub:  https://www.bookbub.com/profile/james-j-cudney

WP1jaytourlogo. . . And a quick thank you to Shalini of digitalreadsblogtours.wordpress.com for organizing the blog-book tour.  She’s done an amazing job.

Please enter the raffle to obtain a copy of this suspenseful sequel (that can . . . stand alone):

https://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/e5ee1a9220/?

Making Memories with a New Novel – Memory Makers (Debbie De Louise)

Today, I’m pleased to feature Debbie De Louise and her new mystery novel Memory Makers (part of the Silver Dagger tour).

Twenty-five years ago, Lauren Phelps, age three, and her sister Patty, age five, were kidnapped from their Long Island backyard. Lauren was fortunate enough to escape her captor; Patty, sadly, was not.

Since then, Lauren has suffered from nightmares featuring the “Shadow Man”.  In an attempt to recall his face—and avenge her sister’s murder—Lauren, now a kidnapping investigator, enrolls in a clinical trial for a new memory drug.

At the California offices of Memory Makers, she receives injections of the company’s special serum and starts to experience flashbacks re repressed memories.  Occurring in tandem with the flashbacks: threats from an anonymous source that point back to that wretched childhood trauma.

As she recalls moments from her past, she confronts facts about her relationship with Patty and her parents that she’d not previously, consciously, acknowledged.  Patty had always been her parents’ favorite.  “Baby Doll” to her father, she’d always been the one who got to choose which game to play, book to read, or place to go.

In addition to suffering survivor’s guilt at her sister’s death, Lauren experiences jealousy from a hurtful, harrowing childhood she must come to terms with.  There’s more on Lauren’s laden plate than finding “Shadow Man” (possibly before he finds her).  It’s about finding truths . . . and herself.

A little about Debbie . . . besides being an award-winning author and reference librarian on Long Island, she’s an active member of International Thriller Writers, Sisters-in-Crime, and the Cat Writer’s Association (she has three lovely fuzzy felines).  Published novels include four books in the Cobble Cove cozy mystery series: A Stone’s Throw, Between a Rock and a Hard Place, Written in Stone, and Love on the Rocks.  There’s also a paranormal romance, Cloudy Rainbow, and a mystery thriller, Reason to Die.  And let’s not forget the psychological mystery, Sea Scope.  She has also published a romantic comedy novella and written articles and short stories for several anthologies of various genres.  Impressed?  I am.

Please visit Debbie at:

Website:  https://debbiedelouise.com / Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/debbie.delouise.author / Twitter:  https://twitter.com/Deblibrarian / Bookbub:  https://www.bookbub.com/profile/debbie-de-louise / Amazon:  https://www.amazon.com/Debbie-De-Louise/e/B0144ZGXPW / Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/2750133.Debbie_De_Louise

A Plug for a Pal

James J. Cudney IV is a fellow blogger/writer I very much admire—not only for his writing talent, but for his personableness (yes, it’s a word, LOL) and support—but for his commitment to his craft.  He’s currently doing a blog tour for his latest book and I felt compelled to jump on the bandwagon and provide a plug.

His new offering is Hiding Cracked Glass and it is available for pre-sale soon and will be officially published early October 2020.  For those not in the know, it’s the sequel to the family drama Watching Glass Shatter.  I’m stealing a bit of the blurb from Goodreads (I hope you don’t mind, Jay):

The wealthy Glass family lost its patriarch, Benjamin Glass, sooner than expected. Benjamin’s widow, Olivia, and her 5 sons each react to his death in their own way while preparing for the reading of his will. Olivia receives a very unexpected confession from her late husband about one of their sons that could shatter the whole family.

Intrigued?  I certainly am.  The sequel sounds no less riveting . . .

An ominous blackmail letter appears at an inopportune moment. The recipient’s name is accidentally blurred out upon arrival. Which member of the Glass family is the ruthless missive meant for?  In the powerful sequel to Watching Glass Shatter, Olivia is the first to read the nasty threat and assumes it’s meant for her. When the mysterious letter falls into the wrong hands and is read aloud, it throws the entire Glass family into an inescapable trajectory of self-question.

I can’t wait!  If you haven’t read Watching Glass Shatter—or Father Figure or any of Jay’s Braxton Campus mysteries—I heartily recommend you do.  You won’t be disappointed.  Every book is a solid, absorbing read (the mysteries being lighter and quite entertaining).

WPJayABesides being an author and blogger, Jay’s also a reader and reviewer, genealogist and researcher, and thinker.   Can you spell p-r-o-l-i-f-i-c?

Please check him out at:

Website:  https://jamesjcudney.com

Blog:  https://thisismytruthnow.com

Amazon:  https://bit.ly/JJCIVBooks

Next Chapter:  https://www.nextchapter.pub/authors/james-j-cudney

Interview with the Imaginative Jina S. Bazzar

Fellow writer and blogger, Jina S. Bazzar, is the imaginative author of the Roxanne Fosch series.

She’s also a mother, a baker, a chocolate fiend, a coffee enthusiast, and an occasional poet.  A wanderer in this vast world, she’s another body with a passion for the written word. There is no boundary she can’t or won’t cross, and no limit she can’t push.  As Jina avows, her mind “is my passport, my thoughts my mode of transportation”.

A little background: Jina was born and raised in a small quiet town in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, where she experienced a happy and fulfilling childhood.  And like most writers, her love of books began at a young age . . . but, unlike most authors, she never aspired to become one.

Thankfully, she did, however . . . so let’s learn a little more about Jina the writer.

How do you get your creativity to flow (mine’s a few blasts of caffeine, LOL)? What motivates you to keep writing? 

I need that caffeine to simply function on a daily basis, so I’m not going to count it. My imagination runs wild when I’m doing household chores, baking, listening to loud music, or even exercising. Basically, I need to be doing something. As for what motivates me, I guess it’s the same thing that makes me reach for a book – the need to put things behind and go elsewhere. It could be escapism, but it’s also the pleasure of imagining and exploring endless possibilities. And when I have that first draft, messy as it is, the sense I’ve accomplished something is great. I love patting myself on the back 😉

A common but significant question: what, or who, has inspired you the most as a writer?

I’m not really sure. I’ve read so many books, I’ve admired so many writers, I can’t say one or two have inspired me. To be honest, becoming a writer was a surprise, even to me. When I first began writing, I had absolutely no desire to let anyone read it, much less get published.

Do you have any writing idiosyncrasies? If so, what? 

Not really. I’m the kind of writer who lets the story be guided by instinct. I don’t pause to correct mistakes or plug in holes (though if I decide something in the plot should change, I leave a note between parentheses on the current page). Once my muse slows, I might go back a chapter or two and try to kick start the lazy beast. It usually works, but if not, I get to tidy up some plots. When I’m done with several drafts, and the story is more or less smooth, I like to go back to the beginning and turn on my screen reader to automatic. It’s amazing how many things you can catch just by the way the story flows.

If you had the opportunity to live anywhere in the world—real or otherwise—for a year while writing your next book, where would that be and why?

Somewhere where it’s quiet, the weather is moderate, and nothing requires my attention. If you know where that is, let me know!

What do you believe is most important to a story: dynamic characters, intriguing or exciting plot turns and twists, superior dialogue, or spectacular locations/backgrounds?

I think a great book needs all the above. But if I were to choose, I’d say great characters and a great plot are crucial.

Do you have a preferred genre to read and write?

Fantasy is my favorite, and so far, all my published works lie in that area.

Which of your Roxanne Fosch covers do you like best?

They’re all variations of the same cover, with different fonts and coloring, so it’s hard to choose.

On a similar note, which of your Roxanne Fosch books is your favorite?

Heir of Ashes took longer to write, and I can honestly say I have entire scenes memorized – that’s how many times I read it. Heir of Doom has all the scenes and actions I wanted to write for Heir of Ashes but that wouldn’t make sense as a first book. And Heir of Fury has the romance, the friendship, and all the truths. I’d say we have a tie.

What about your favorite character in the series?

I’m assuming the main character doesn’t count? I’d say Diggy, Vicky and Zantry are my favorites. They all have a special place in my heart.

Please share how you came to write this series; where did your inspiration came from?

Heir of Ashes began as a pastime project, something I felt compelled to do when I was in a reading slump. No book I picked was the right one, so I decided to create the right one for myself. It was clunky, full of holes, bad grammar and typos and flat dialogue. When I picked it up to read, the plot held me, and I began making changes and fixing mistakes. By the time I was on the sixth or seventh draft, the story sounded good, but it was still clunky. The first chapter I wrote for Heir of Ashes is now the third, while the third was the first. The last few chapters didn’t exist either, as well as some chapters in the middle. It took years for the story to resemble a book. I’d pick it up, fix a chapter, a scene, or add something new to the story, then put it away for months. And then, one day, I picked it up and found that the story was better than some of the books I read. And that’s when I decided I was going to get it published. I actually believed all I needed was send my query off and the publisher would be dying to publish my book. And when I discovered publishers didn’t accept unsolicited manuscripts, I only shrugged and looked for the most famous literary agency (because you try the best first, right?) and queried exactly one agent. When that didn’t work, I queried another, then ten or fifteen more. Sadly, they all rejected my brilliant work, so I put it aside. It took me a few months before I pushed up my sleeves and decided I’d do it myself, and here I am.

What would you like others to know about Jina the writer . . . and Jina the person?

Hmmm. The writer in me is actually outgoing and enjoys interacting, while Jina the person is an introvert who’d rather stay isolated (I’m fairing pretty good with the pandemic, by the way). We’re both persistent. In my day to day, if there’s something I want, I’ll keep at it until I get it done. The writer in me is the same, I’ll keep pecking until I get the writing done. In my day to day, I’m a multi-tasker, able to stay attentive and observant while doing other things (I.e., keep an ear out for the mischief the kids are causing while talking, listening to music and so on); but the writer tends to shut everything down when working on a book. My thoughts are never linear, meaning there’s usually a bunch of things going on in my head at the same time. The writer is the same, able to listen to multiple voices at the same time, pick up conversations and follow it down the line, discarding it if it clashes with something in the plot, all while typing. Because of that, if I stop or get interrupted, I tend to completely forget my thoughts.

And that made me sound completely insane, I know 😉

Disclaimer: If I’m crazy, it’s because my kids drive me crazy and I’ve memorized the directions without their help, and not because of the voices!

WPJinaUseIf you haven’t read any of Jina’s books, I highly recommend them.  They’re “fantastically” fantastic—taking you to another realm for that much-wanted, much-needed escape.

https://www.nextchapter.pub/authors/jina-s-bazzar

https://www.amazon.com/Jina-S.-Bazzar/e/B07B2989VT%3Fref=dbs_a_mng_rwt_scns_share

Unabashed Shameless Promotion . . . for Me and My Pal

Yes, another post related to shameless promotion—but it’s not all about me today.  While an interview re yours truly appeared on Julia Sutton’s blog recently (see link below), I’m actually posting about Julia, a lovely woman who has graciously interviewed a number of authors.

WPjulias2AJulia, for those not familiar with her, hails from Wolverhampton in central England, and is an author of contemporary romance and picture books for kids.  She’s penned The School of Dreams series: Book 1 – The School of Dreams, Book 2 – Visions of the Heart, Book 3 – Student Affairs.  Book 4 is in progress.

On a personal note, Julia is happily married with two children and is the proud owner of a Border Collie and two chinchillas.  An avid reader, she also enjoys drawing, cooking, walking, watching films, and drinking lots of tea.  Interests also include animal welfare, looking after the environment, and being kind to people.  How awesome is that?

I’m sure she’d love you to visit.  Please connect with her at:

Facebook Author Page:  www.facebook.com/booksbyjulia1972

Twitter:  Julia Sutton Books @booksbyjulia72

Instagram:  Julia Sutton Books

WordPress:  juliasuttonauthorblog.wordpress.com

. . . And, if you’re interested in seeing my interview, please go to:

https://juliasuttonauthorblog.wordpress.com/2020/05/24/author-interview-with-tyler-collins