Author Interview: Mackenzie Flohr

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Today I have the privilege of interviewing the wonderful Mackenzie Flohr, author of the incredible YA magical fantasy novel ‘The Rite of Wands’. 

We had a very cosy chat, and we’re now the best of friends.
Here’s the interview, hot off the press. 

What inspired you to write?

I don’t really have anything per say that inspires me to write. However, what motivates me to write is being told I won’t succeed. I know that sounds odd, but I’ll elaborate.
Back in 2006, I was at the airport in Orlando waiting for the plane to arrive to take my Dad and I back to Cleveland, OH. I was working on a scene, which happens in a later book in the series. There was a young girl who looked about my age with her Dad sitting across from us. They asked what I was writing about, so I mentioned a little bit about it. Afterward, my Dad smiled and told them that I was writing a fantasy series, and that I would never finish it. I was shocked, embarrassed and hurt by the outburst. Even as I am recalling that moment now, it still angers me! But that’s where he went wrong. Not only did I write it, not only did I finish it, I found a company to PUBLISH it!

Well done you! That’s the spirit!
What’s your favourite thing that you have written?

To answer this question a bit more specifically, I really enjoyed writing the scene in The Rite of Wands between Queen Anya and Mierta when the queen was trying to convince Mierta to help her. It felt like they were an old married couple!

What’s the best book you’ve read this year?

The Carrigan Painting: Mysteries of Billamore Hall Series by BJ Richards

I’ll have to look it up on NutBooks!

NutBooks?

Yeah! You… haven’t heard of NutBooks? 

No… but I’ll go look them up when I get home!

Good idea. What are you working on writing now?

I am releasing a special hardbound edition of The Rite of Wands this June.

I also just finished writing a short story for an anthology, which I am still waiting to hear if it’ll be accepted. I am also working on the beginnings of the next book in The Rite of Wands series and a new futuristic sci-fi series.

Wow! You’re a busy lady!
What movie can you watch over and over again?

The Back to The Future trilogy.

When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?

Apparently for the garbage company LOL! My mother is notorious for saving papers I have filled out throughout my childhood, so even though I don’t recall ever feeling this way, I’ve seen it on paper!

What’s your favourite season? Why?

Summer. I love having sunlight till 9 PM and warm temperatures. Living in Michigan, it is rare to have sunlight all year round, and I honestly really dislike snow and cold weather.

Yeah, I try to sleep through most of that, too…
Who are your three greatest literary inspirations?

J.R.R. Tolkien, J.K. Rowling, and Michael Ende.

What would you like people to know about being an Indie author?

A lot of people have this belief that Indie authors get their marketing taken care of for free, but this is far from the case. Indie authors have to do their own marketing and pay for services, too. The best method of marketing for an Indie author is word of mouth.

So, if you know an indie author and have read their book(s), leave a review! Many times this leads to at least 4-5 additional sales for the author.

Name two things in life that you wish were easier.

Selling books internationally

Juggling time between my outside of the home full-time job and writing

Like I said, you’re one busy lady!

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I sure am!

 

Where can we find your book?

You can find The Rite of Wands through all the major retailers including Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Waterstones, Kobo, Books-A-Million, IndieBound, iTunes.

Where can readers follow you on social media?

Facebook

Twitter

Instagram

Bookbub

Author Interview: Debbie Manber Kupfer

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Hey everyone, your favourite squirrel is back with another fabulous author interview!

Today I’m talking with Debbie Manber Kupfer, author of some great books all about paws!
Hi Debbie! Obviously I’m all for promoting great paws… tell me about your books?

Hi Squirrel! P.A.W.S is a series of Young Adult fantasy books, which features a secret institute of shapeshifters hidden deep beneath the Jewel Box in Forest Park, St. Louis.

Oh. Not about actual paws then… that’s a little awkward.

I also have stories in several anthologies, including FauxpocalypseStardust, Always,
Winter Wishes, and Sins of The Past, and I’ve published a book of puzzles, Paws 4 Logic, with my son Joey.

Hey, that’s awesome!

Thanks!

That’s a cool accent you have there. Why don’t you tell me a little about yourself?

Well, Squirrel, I grew up in London, but since then I’ve lived in Israel, New York and North Carolina and somehow ended up in St. Louis.

Hey, I’ve got a cousin in St Louis! What do you do there?

I work as a writer and a freelance puzzle constructor of word puzzles and logic problems. I live with my husband, two children and a very opinionated feline.

Cats, huh?

Yeah.

So, Debbie, you sound busy! When do you find time to hoard your food for winter?

*laughing* I believe that with enough tea and dark chocolate you can achieve anything!

What inspires you to write?

Anything and everything. I’ve been writing ever since I was small and find that many of my everyday experiences end up in my stories. Also I’m an avid people watcher and often write interesting folk I see into my books.

What’s your favourite thing that you have written?

Probably P.A.W.S. As it was my first published book it definitely holds a place in my heart. It was where I first was introduced to my characters who have since become old friends.

What’s the best book you’ve read this year?

E.A. Copen’s Guilty by Association, an awesome urban fantasy. I’m currently on book 2 of her series.

What are you working on writing now?

I’ve got book 4 of P.A.W.S. which is going to be called Londinium out with my beta readers at the moment, so in the meantime I’m getting a start on book 5. I wrote the first 30K words during Camp NaNoWriMo and hope to continue writing at least 1K words a day.

What’s the best vacation you’ve had?

The best, but also the saddest, was the last time I traveled with my father before he passed away. My daughter and I traveled to London (where I grew up) and met my parents there. (They lived in Israel at the time). For my dad it was his last hurrah. He knew it too and he loved that trip and especially getting to spend time with his granddaughter.

When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?

I wanted to be a journalist. I went on to do a gazillion different things including teacher, secretary and market researcher, but writing was always in the back of my mind. I never did work in a newspaper, but I’ve been a puzzle editor for Penny Press and today divide my time between writing fiction and writing puzzles so I’ve sorted ended up in the field I wanted as a kid.

What’s your favourite season? Why?

Spring and autumn. Not fond of extremes in either heat or cold. Missouri’s weather this year has been rather odd though. We didn’t have much of a winter and have had some really hot days in March and April. Global warming, I guess.

That climate change stuff is bad news.

It sure is!

Who are your three greatest literary inspirations?

JK Rowling, Douglas Adams, and Terry Pratchett.

What would you like people to know about being an Indie author?

It takes a village to publish any book. You need an editor, beta readers, a cover designer, and a support network of friends to keep you grounded. You can’t do this on your own.

It’s fun, truly it is. And really rewarding too. I started off traditionally published at a small press. It was a good start, but switching over to indie was the best decision I could have made. I love having control over my work. Release dates, prices, covers, sales. Everything. Yes it can be frustrating too, but it’s truly worth it.

Plus the indie author community is beyond awesome. I’ve made so many good friends since I started this journey. Writing can sometimes feel like a lonely pursuit and it’s true that a lot of the magic takes place behind closed doors. But once your books are out there having a network of author friends to cross-promote with is invaluable.

Name two things in life that you wish were easier.

Getting more readers and getting more reviews!

If I had a nut for every time I heard a writer say that, I’d be a happy squirrel!

I hear you.

 

Where can we find your books? 

The P.A.W.S. Saga – P.A.W.S., Argentum, Umbrae

Amazon US – https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01N34LR1F

Amazon UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B01N34LR1F

And paperback everywhere – if they’re not in your local store or library, you can ask them to order them.

Where can readers follow you on social media?

Paws4Thought: http://debbiemanberkupfer.wordpress.com/

Facebook Author page: https://www.facebook.com/DebbieManberKupferAuthor

Twitter: @CiciCat42

Book Review: ‘Souls Discovered’ by Miranda Brock

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Ohmygosh. What??
I’ve just finished this book and I have no words.
It’s SO good though. Extraordinarily good.
Highs, lows, plot twists, and every emotion conceivable… this is your fate if you pick up this book.  And if you do… you won’t be sorry.
You will love the characters, you will love the story, you will scream and cry and try to slam on the brakes as you ride the rollercoaster of this plot. And you’ll read, and read, and read, until it’s done. And then you’ll have no words either.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go and curl up in the corner and rock until the sequel is delivered.

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‘Souls Discovered is available as a paperback or eBook from Amazon.

Author Spotlight: Jesse Frankel

Author Spotlight 2017-04-09 Jesse Frankel

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Jesse Frankel is a prolific writer of YA novels who was born in Canada and now lives in Japan, where he writes YA novels in addition to teaching English and being a family man.
As if that doesn’t keep him busy enough, he also enjoys weight training, watching movies and listening to music.
His novels feature highly original and exciting story lines that explore themes and issues relevant to teens and young adults today while upholding important values such as respect, loyalty and friendship. The characters are relatable and realistic, so that readers can identify with them and the situations in which they find themselves.
In a recent author interview, Jesse explained his reasons for choosing to write YA fiction:
ScreenHunter_411 Apr. 09 17.07                                                                                                   from Kelly Smith Reviews
You can follow Jesse on twitter and Amazon, and on the following websites:

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Jesse’s books are all available on Amazon.

Author Spotlight: Alex Dunn

Author Spotlight 2017-03-27 Alex Dunn

Alex Dunn is the author of some great YA reads, including ‘Crazy for Alice’, ‘School Monitor’ and her latest release, ‘Dating Down’.

Alex writes with a highly readable and relatable style, which has made her YA fiction novels widely popular not only with teens and young adults, but also with adult readers.

If you have not yet read the Book Squirrel review of ‘Crazy for Alice’, you can read it here.
Alex will soon be launching a new series:  Alchemyne: The Blackest Phase, which follows Captain Franklin Tennant, a fifteenth generation warrior who must defeat an army of undead, led by a vengeful spirit.

If you, or the bookworms in your family, like edgy, cleverly written YA fiction, you should give Alex Dunn’s books a try.

In fact, right now is a great time to grab ‘Dating Down’ as the kindle edition is currently free on Amazon.

You can follow Alex on social media:

twitter: www.twitter.com/AlexDunnAuthor

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/AlexDunn

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Alex-Dunn/e/B001KHVNS0

Book Review: ‘Miriamne the Magdala’ by J.B. Richards

This is a wonderful book that gives the reader a rich2016-10-22-12-11-02
and rewarding reading experience.

The reader is taken on Miri’s journeys of discovery,

love, anguish and coming of age as the story progresses, sharing in her thoughts and secrets as a close confidante. Richards’ portrayal of Miri as a strong, faithful and somewhat feisty young woman gave a new and quite captivating dimension to this young woman, whose character is quite one-dimensional and only briefly touched upon in Biblical accounts. An important note is that the novel does not purport to be a retelling of any Biblical story, nor does it seek to preach or “convert” anyone: this is  historical fiction, and must be understood as such. Comparisons with the Bible must be put aside when one picks up this book and enters the world of Miri, Yeshua and their families.  It is a considerable achievement on the author’s part to have succeeded in blending historical traditions with fiction to craft such a powerful and beautiful story.
The fabric of the novel is woven seamlessly. Events, relationships and challenges interweave to create a compelling story that develops against the backdrop of first-century Galilee. The entire cast of characters is vibrant and realistic, each richly portrayed through expressive writing and magnificent imagery. Every setting is vibrant and full of life, feeding the reader’s imagination with enough detail to allow each scene and environment to evolve in the mind as one reads. This novel offers rich sensory experiences – sounds and smells abound with the narration, and the reader experiences both the heat of the day and the coolness of a tiled floor underfoot with equal impact.
One of the most enchanting elements of this novel is the dialogue, which almost speaks itself aloud in one’s mind as the story is read. The reader can hear the voices, the laughter, and the feeling between characters as they converse and tell their own stories through the pages of the book.
The mystery and questions that develop throughout the novel also serve to keep the reader  engrossed, always wanting to know more and to discover the answers that they, and the characters, are seeking.
I thoroughly enjoyed ‘Miriamne the Magdala’ and look forward to reading the next book in the series.
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‘If I Wake’ by Nikki Moyes

‘If I Wake’ by Nikki Moyes is a really powerful and confronting book that speaks directly to the issues of bullying, peer pressure and suicide among kids and teens.

if-i-wakeIt’s a journey through Lucy’s world of despair that is punctuated by moments of joy and hope along the way.  Her times of escape are a respite for both Lucy and the reader.

As someone who still grieves one of my own senior high students who took her own life just five months ago, I found this really compelling reading. I wept and, at times, sobbed. I felt angry and defensive, feeling very protective of Lucy and her alternate realities. Lucy isn’t flawless; in fact, she’s portrayed quite realistically. While she’s not perfect, she certainly doesn’t deserve the cards she gets dealt by either her peers or her family.
“If I Wake’ made me want to reach into the world of the book and change things to give Lucy some hope for her future. To be honest, I wanted to be able to mete justice on some of the characters, which worked very effectively in keeping me
hooked right to   the end of the book.
However, that’s not how life works. ‘If I Wake’ firmly places the responsibility on those who make life so desperately hard for others, and demonstrates that their behaviour cannot be excused, regardless of whatever might be going on in their own lives.
Eventually, in something of a coup for the author, I was led to experience some compassion for the personal circumstances of some – but only some – of the characters who gave Lucy such a difficult life. This is really a testament to the power of Moyes’ writing.
I recommend ‘If I Wake’ for every teen, every parent, and every teacher. I’d love to see it as compulsory reading on every school’s book list.
Six stars out of five for ‘If I Wake’. ratings-1482011_960_720-4 ratings-1482011_960_720-2unnamed
Don’t tell me I can’t do that.  I was never good at counting.