🖤 Write, read, review, repeat 🖤

Author: CatrinRussell (Page 1 of 71)

Author Interview: DB Rook

Check out this spotlight for author DB Rook!

You can find all his links furthest down the page, and don’t forget to check out his books!

1. Hi! Welcome to my humble blog of all things bookish! I would like for us to start by getting to know you. Give us a short bio, please!

Hello! A pleasure to be here. I will attempt to freestyle and avoid the copy and paste approach that is so alluring when talking about myself!

I am a life-long fantasy fan that always dreamt of inventing worlds and imbuing enough life into them that other people could join me in my creations. I have explored many day jobs and have always written on the side. For the last few years, I have been deep in the charity sector, carving out an existence in the field of drugs and alcohol whilst dreaming of presenting my worlds to the… world. I have now secured my first square on the game board by releasing Callus & Crow and I hope to keep up the momentum with the follow up whilst honing my skills and learning from the greats.

2. To get to know you just a little bit better, I’d like to ask you some this or that questions. Answer 5 of these and explain why you chose this or that, or maybe an entirely different alternative!

Cat or dog?

Cat! I love cats, sadly I have a dog, a beautiful, insane pain in the proverbial that is not a cat…maybe that’s why she’s such a pain

Tea or coffee?

Coffee, I am fully dependent on the brown nectar, nothing wrong with tea, but it’s just not coffee

Witches or wizards?

Witches! They’ve had it worse than most over the centuries and I’m down with the sisters. I cant help feeling that witches are slightly more feral than wizards (sorry ladies) and that is a plus for me!

Ninjas or pirates?

Now these are getting hard! Ill go for pirates, maybe as a teenager I would have gone the other way but in my 40s I appreciate the free roaming buccaneer over the honour bound, loyalty driven assassins.

Standalone or series?

At the risk of being called a cheat I’d say each has its place. A good series will have you in a frenzy to buy the next book, to dip your head back into the world you love never to be truly sated. On the other side, there can be a feeling of relief that there is no more, the journey is over, your work here is done. I remember when I finished reading David Gemmel’s Echoes of the great song, feeling a sense that It would have been cheap to read on, that it was created to tell its tale and then end. I loved that feeling but then I would go and read the Liveship traders and fall utterly in love again…ahhh my head hurts!!

3. When you look for books to read, what trope or type of story will always catch your attention?

I like a classic trope with an inventive twist or a new way of telling a story. The most recent series that has really had me by the throat is Anthony ryan’s Draconis Memoria. What an incredible take on a fantasy trope as old as dragons, I cannot praise those books enough.

4. What do you write? Tell us about your current projects and the latest happenings!

I am currently working on the follow up to my Debut, Callus & Crow whilst I find my way around the brave new world of marketing, publicity and general book salesmanship. Im almost ready to unleash a website and am in talks with a small collaborative publisher who may be able to help me learn the ropes and increase my reach. Im also very slowly, I might add, building a collection of shorts set in the Wayward World that I aim to release as an anthology at some point, I would love to explore inviting other authors to get involved but that’s way ahead on the horizon.

5. What is your most recent release? Give us a short presentation, cover, and a link for where to buy it!

Callus & Crow: The Wayward World Chronicles

https://amzn.eu/d/3LN6ulq

Callus & Crow is my latest and only release so far. It is the first of a series all set in the same dystopian world. I guess I’m trying to shake up those tropes (See above). Its got weird west, Vampiric curses, steampunk-like industrial innovation, addiction, Trolls and tyranny. I guess its got everything I want to read in a book but laid out in a semi-plausible way, a way that makes sense to me at least but still relishes the celebrated sum of its parts. Despite all the clever world building and the design of its backdrops, it’s a story about a boy who essentially ends up with a new dad, a less than perfect dad with a crippling addiction to human blood and a hunger for violent revenge.

6. What real-life inspiration do you draw from, and what are your primary fictional sources of inspiration (books, authors, films, music, etc.)? Name a few!

I love film, I love to read and I am a massive metal head! I play drums in a death metal band and have done for many years. I try to take inspiration from all of the above as well as some of the more grounded (and arguably darker) aspects from my day job, there’s a reason that the vampirism in Callus & Crow is more “Near Dark” than “Twilight.”

In terms of individuals that have inspired my work, I have to mention (again) Robin Hobb, the first person inner torment that she wields in her story telling has undoubtedly had an effect on me as a writer. In terms of film, it may be no surprise that I am a massive Star Wars fan. I know, I know, there are a few patchy moments in the series as a whole but I have always loved the universe and how relatable the galaxy wide plight of the downtrodden is and it has space wizards/witches! I could talk for hours about my appreciation for the world building in the Star Wars universe and I am not afraid to admit it.

7. What is your writing routine? If you have one, give us the run-down!

Routine is probably not a word I would use. Sometimes my work ethic is more akin to addiction, I have to vent my brain into my laptop and won’t stop until I run dry. Other times it is a case of very skillfully weaving time from the very busy schedule of a tired nerd with a family and many professional commitments; it can be difficult to get into a rhythm. I go on the premis that even 1% is progress and do what I can, maybe its time to make more time!

8. If you could go back and give yourself one piece of advice as you started out on the path to becoming an author, what would it be?

I guess “believe in yourself” or something as cheesy as that. Not because that is all it takes but more that if you believe and you’re prepared to do what needs to be done you will get where you need to be. Nothing is easy but without the drive you have no chance to begin with.

9. Last but not least: where can we find you? Drop those links!

Mailing list:

https://db-rook.mailchimpsites.com/

Facebook:

https://facebook.com/dbrookbooks

Tiktok:

https://www.tiktok.com/@db_rook?_t=8XREH79D150&_r=1

Email:

DB.Rook@outlook.com

Upcoming (re)release!!

🔥 Upcoming Release! 2 weeks away!! 🔥

The Redeemed, a prequel to The Light of Darkness, will be live in all formats on April 3rd! 🥳🎉 The paperback will be updated, the ebook re-released WIDE for FREE, and the brand new audiobook will be available for FREE on YouTube! 😍❤️ More info to come, including a sales link for everyone who would like to enjoy this standalone novella 😁🙏

🖤 Description:

Outlaw. Thug. Enforcer. Assassin.

Many titles have been granted to Edric’s name throughout the years, more so than he’d care to admit.

Sold as a child to Raven, a cold-blooded mercenary, he’s been long since forsaken by both kin and comrades. A life by the sharp end of a knife is all that remains to him now, as part of the infamous thieves’ band – the Haunted Shadows.

With blood, terror, and death part of the band’s dishonourable trade, Edric is sent to plunder and kill, to satisfy Raven’s innate greed. He scours the capital of the Midlands for valuables, earning his daily keep, yet nothing he manages to bring is ever enough for the ruthless leader.

Raven wants more and forces his crew into an unforeseen direction, striking out against creatures more terrifying than death itself. Men are rattled to the core, and Edric’s fight for survival is wearing thin.

As he clings to life, he wonders how he is meant to go on? And, most of all, will it be worth the effort, to press on and endure? With darkness waiting to claim him, sorrow and despair are all Edric has left. For he seems to have been abandoned by the Goddess Herself.

🖤 The Light of Darkness series is intended for a mature audience, containing sensitive subjects including violence, torture, consequences of sexual abuse, emotional scars, mature language, and steamy scenes.

🖤 The series is perfect for readers who enjoy visceral, gripping Epic Romantic Fantasy with dark undertones and steam!

🖤 Narrated by: Jez Jameson

Author Interview: J. R. Konkol

Check out this spotlight for author J. R. Konkol!

You can find all his links furthest down the page, and don’t forget to check out his books!

1. Hi! Welcome to my humble blog of all things bookish! I would like for us to start by getting to know you. Give us a short bio, please!

A classical pianist and marginal triathlete, J.R. Konkol is permitted to live in the sprawling home of four very large cats. He published his first table top RPG, Of gods and Men, in the early 90s, and has been running games within that setting ever since. He recently returned to writing with the hope of sharing those stories with a wider audience.

2. To get to know you just a little bit better, I’d like to ask you some this or that questions. Answer 5 of these and explain why you chose this or that, or maybe an entirely different alternative!

autumn– I love the shift of the colors, and the cool crispness in the air.


Cat– I’ve grown up with cats all my life. They are my constant companions, and when I’m home, there is always a cat next to me, or on me.

Morning– I’m most productive in the morning. It’s when I practice the piano, when I used to train for my triathlons, back when I had time for that, and it’s when I find myself most creative.


Ninjas– There is so much depth here, well beyond martial artists wearing black costumes. Feudal Japan is absolutely fascinating.
 
Plotter
– I’m writing a massive series, told from multiple points of view. I think the only way to that well, is to plot it out.

3. What do you write? Tell us about your current projects and the latest happenings!

I’m dedicating my writing time, currently, to my Rebirth of the Fallen series. The first book, Citadel of the Fallen, released in October of 2020. The fifth book in the series will be releasing in October of 2023.

4. What is your most recent release? Give us a short presentation, cover, and a link for where to buy it!

The fourth book in my Rebirth of the Fallen series is coming out on 12-29-22.

5. What real-life inspiration do you draw from, and what are your primary fictional sources of inspiration (books, authors, films, music, etc.)? Name a few!

I drew a lot of inspiration for my series from a role playing campaign I ran for a group of my more experienced players. I told them, at the start, that the story they were building with me would become a series, and it did.

6. What is your writing routine? If you have one, give us the run-down!

I do a broad outline of the full book prior to writing anything, and then an in-depth, chapter by chapter outline of perhaps the first fifteen chapters. Once I have the outline in place, I start writing. Every few chapters, I’ll pause and update the outline. Invariably it changes, as my rule is to never let my characters by constrained by the outline… it is merely there to guide them on their paths.

Once I complete a chapter, I print it, and edit the print out. After every 10-20 chapters, I do a full printout, and edit that. I find that I need to spend a few weeks or months away from my chapters before I can get out of my head enough to do that second, stronger edit pass.

7. If you could go back and give yourself one piece of advice as you started out on the path to becoming an author, what would it be?

Go back and rewrite those first three chapters of book one. It turns out, that agents really only read the first three chapters of what you send them. Interestingly enough, the first three chapters of my first book were the first three chapters I ever professionally wrote.

Not surprisingly, they weren’t my best work.

8. Last but not least: where can we find you? Drop those links!

J. R. Konkol | J.R. Konkol – Author (jrkonkol.com)

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08JVFTG1S

Character art of my series!

♡ Character art for my series ♡

♡ For some time now, I’ve been creating portraits of my characters in The Light of Darkness series, and I thought I might as well share them with the world 😅❤️

♡ So, to start off, here is Samael, the dark and broody MMC. He is insanely tall, carries a permanent scowl, and humans and demons alike tremble in his presence. A perfect dark book boyfriend 😈 He’s a character I greatly enjoyed creating and writing 🖤

Book Review: Brute

☆ Review time! ☆

☆ Brute by Kim Fielding

☆ My rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Brute is a brilliant M/M romance with a touch of fantasy and plenty of heart.

Brute is a man who has lived his whole life as a labourer, but when he saves a prince, and a following accident has him crippled, he is sent to live at the royal palace to serve the royal family.

I absolutely loved this book from start to finish. Brute is such a wonderful character, so simple yet attentive and sweet; I couldn’t get enough of him. Then Grey, who has suffered so much, only due to his love for this prince. The relationship between the two can melt any heart. This is a book I will revisit at some point, I’m sure.

Note: I listened to the audiobook, and (even though I felt the narrator was a little monotone at times) he did an amazing job with Grey’s stutter. Also, his voice did fit Brute very nicely, so I can’t really complain. Fabulous book!

Author Interview: Keith Blenman

Check out this spotlight for author Keith Blenman!

You can find all his links furthest down the page, and don’t forget to check out his books!

1. Hi! Welcome to my humble blog of all things bookish! I would like for us to start by getting to know you. Give us a short bio, please!

Hello! Thanks for featuring me, Catrin! I’m Keith Blenman. I write genre bending fiction. Typically my stories are fantasy or urban fantasy with comedy and horror elements. I’m from Metro Detroit, Michigan. When I’m not writing, I’m also an inventory control coordinator for a computer store. I also do a lot of pet sitting, but I wouldn’t call that a career. I just happen to know a lot of people with pets who also know I don’t do much on the weekends.

2. To get to know you just a little bit better, I’d like to ask you some this or that questions. Answer 5 of these and explain why you chose this or that, or maybe an entirely different alternative!

Cat or dog? I’ve always been more of a cat person, but I love both. I have two cats and two golden retrievers.


Witches or wizards? In my own fiction, the gulf between a witch and a wizard is massive.

On a scale of power, Wizards are at the top. They’re angelic beings, born from the soul of the world. They’re ghostly white. Their eyes glow purple. Many of them have pulsing black and gold runes tattooed all over their bodies. They’re constantly tapped  into ancient energies so powerful, they don’t fully understand them. Then there are sorcerers, more common folk who were maybe a descendent of a wizard, or grew up in regions with a lot of exposure to a certain energy. Their magic is naturally gifted, but more honed; healers, necromancers, pyromancers. Folks of that nature with one particular power. Warlocks are people who’ve been unnaturally gifted magic powers. Lastly there are witches, who’ve studied and learned to use magic with potions and externally tapping into that energy. They don’t permanently infuse themselves, but will imbibe and often abuse potions to grant themselves more power. So witches are the weakest and often most lustful for power.

On the other hand, if we’re talking about the difference between say, Dumbledore and Professor Mcgonagall, I’ll choose Minerva most days. Not every day, but most.

Ninjas or pirates? Ninja pirates. Frankly, the world needs a story with a ninja that has a hook for a hand being fired out of a cannon. He flies through the air, slashes his katana through the enemy sails, assassinates the captain, lands in an impressive series of flips, and dives unnoticed into the sea.  Obviously there also needs to be parrot wearing a ninja mask at some point in the narrative but that’s mostly just marketing.

Actually, I’ve already dipped my toe in the ninja-pirate genre. In my book, The Girl Drank Poison, one of the protagonists is a retired pirate.

At one point in the story he’s scrambling for a weapon. The only thing available are nunchaku with silver sickles on the ends, designed for combatting werewolves. When you think about, I’ve probably done more writing on the subject than my most contemporaries. I could very well be the world’s leading authority on ninja pirates.

Mountains or beaches? Give me sandy beaches on sunny days with a longboard and an acoustic guitar. I can neither surf nor play guitar but if there was ever a time to learn, those would be the days.

Pen and paper or computer/phone? Computer. I have Google Docs on my phone so if I ever think of a line or want to jot a few notes, it’s there. I wish I could say I used it more but I also have Instagram and Final Fantasy Tactics on my phone. More often I’ll think of a note and by the time I’ve taken my phone out of my pocket and unlocked the screen, I’ve already forgotten what I was about to write and absentmindedly scroll through social media.

Book or ebook? I mostly read with my Kindle and listen to audiobooks. Hard cover and paperback are great too. I publish in all four formats as well. *wink*

Hero or anti-hero? I lean more toward anti-heroes and all-out-villains. In Necromantica, the protagonists are a thug and a necromancer. The plot is a caper, but the story is a lot more about their shared past and relationship. While they’re villains, they’re fighting a greater evil and it’s easy to root for them because of that history and the love the thug shows for the necromancer. In The Girl Drank Poison, the protagonists are anti-heroes. One is psychotic ferret and the other is landlocked pirate hiding from his criminal past. I think my love of bad guys stems from growing up with 80s and 90s video games and action movies. I was reading Stephen King and Anne Rice a lot in middle school. I also used to teach forensic investigation classes and studied criminalogy for years. So many of my characters are seedy people built to survive in frightening worlds with lots of unnecessary explosions. Action characters with… not necessarily full redemption arcs, but partial ones. Enough of a villianous redemption to get through a day in the life. 

…I answered eight of your binary questions when you asked for five. And nobody could stop me. Bwahahahahaha. There is no limit to my power! Unless you edit out one or two of my responses. Then you’ve set limits to my power. Bahahaha! Ha.

Do I need to edit out another?

Sorry. Just enjoying all that villainy I write about.

3. When you look for books to read, what trope or type of story will always catch your attention?

It’s always a flavor of the moment for me. Sometimes I want tons of action and excitement. Sometimes it’s a deep character study. The one thing I avoid most are power fantasies; stories that the protagonist is perpetually the perfect person for every situation they encounter. I know this is a controversial opinion, but while I love the worlds of The Name of the Wind and Ready Player One, the books drive me up the wall because the protagonists can’t stop winning at life. The problem is you usually can’t catch a power fantasy until you’re too deep into them. For the first half of the book, it feels like character development. It creeps up on you, knowing this book will have no stakes. But you’ve made it this far so you might as well just finish the story. Even knowing everything that follows will feel hollow. I prefer narratives that climax in something earned through struggle.

4. What do you write? Tell us about your current projects and the latest happenings!

I always have a few books I’m working on. I recently started publishing on Kindle Vella, and I think that’s going to be how my stories will initially be released for a while.

My current goal is to have a constant rotation of four to five books I’m updating a chapter a time. Currently I have two. Both take place in the fantasy world of my series, The Vecris. Each book is stand-alone, but fits into a greater narrative. Kind of like when David Mitchell’s uber novel. My current projects are a comedy series, Tales of Lythia, and a grimdark mystery, Reaper.

Reaper opens with the entire southern continent dying  in a single night. There’ve been wars against prcs. There’ve been zombie outbreaks. Then one night the entire empire is killed off in a matter minutes. Rumors spread. There’s a bit of mass hysteria. It takes a few years before the kings on the northern continent launch a voluntary expedition to discover the cause of so much death. The only volunteer is an immortal ferret, Moete, who keeps a murder of crows for pets. So the story begins with Moete exploring these dead lands and seeing the horrors of a fallen nation while also being very ADHD, carefree ferret. The tone is a quiet contemplation of the soul on a sugar high at cocktail hour.

Tales of Lythia I started writing because my other works were so dark. I wanted to write something goofy. It takes place in the same world as Reaper, Necromantica, and The Girl Drank Poison, in the far off Korb Kingdom.

The series is a journal written by a castle guard in the Lythia City. I liken it to classic Adult Swim cartoons like Aqua Teen Hunger Force or Sealab 2021. Each episode is a bizarre, little adventure. There is an overall plot and several ideas for series arcs, but they exist mostly in case I run out of other ideas. I’m more focused on the lives of the characters and their day to day mishaps. In one episode, the narrator, Larg, is attempting to thwart an assassin. In another episode, Larg gives a tour of the dungeons to the local school children. In another, Lythia is surround by an army of titants and Larg fails to negotiate peace. One day, I was totally out of ideas. I wrote an episode about an ostrich standing outside the city gates. That was is. That was the whole story. It’s just silly. Any fans of fantasy would get a kick out of it. And because it’s on Vella, you can read the first three episodes for free. So definitely check that and Reaper out.

5. What is your most recent release? Give us a short presentation, cover, and a link for where to buy it!

Along with Tales of Lythia and Reaper, I recently re-released most of my books with brand new covers created by the Midjourney art bot. Sticking with The Vecris series, Necromantica and The Girl Drank Poison are both grimdark adventures.

Necromantica is set during a battle between orcs and men at the last human city in the Fortian Empire. Two thieves, a necromancer and her rogue companion, brave the battlefield on a suicide mission to steal from a magical relic from a holy king.

The Girl Drank Poison – is the strange and bizarre tale of a bounty hunter ferrelf name Griever. When a barmaid drinks an expired love potion, she’s accidentally turned into a giant monster, rampaging her way through the countryside. Can Griever put a stop to her before she brings the town of Sleeping Bear to ruin?

6. What real-life inspiration do you draw from, and what are your primary fictional sources of inspiration (books, authors, films, music, etc.)? Name a few!

Like I said, I grew up on action and adventure, fantasy, and horror. Along with the other things I’ve referenced in this interview, my latest favorite reads are The Broken Earth trilogy by NK Jemison. She’s brilliant. I listened to that series on Audible three times back to back. I’ve been reading Neil Gaiman. I’ve always loved haunting ghostly vibes in a story. But I also try to draw inspiration from real world events and sources. Recently I read Dope/Sick and Medical Apartheid. Those actually fit pretty well into how elves are treated in my Vecris series. There’s a longtime oppression of their people; genocides, experimentation, and slavery to name a few. An honest look at how we treat our fellow man is always inspirational for grimdark.

7. What is your writing routine? If you have one, give us the run-down! State of mind is always important. I struggle to create when there’s trouble in my heart. I may not be able to solve all of my or the world’s problems, but I can do a few things to help me relax. First, before I even sit down at my computer, I like to bathe in the warm blood of my enemies while listening to my live-in string quartet and sipping pinot grigio. Often I’ll play YouTube videos of frolicking wildlife above the mantle where, yes, a five log fire burns nightly.

Really, in good weather, I like to sit outside with my dogs and a cup of coffee or Coke. I shouldn’t admit this, but I’ve always enjoyed smoking while I write. I quit years ago, but when nobody is around I still like to have a cigarette in my mouth or at least on hand. Otherwise, you can find me at my computer, typing away.

8. If you could go back and give yourself one piece of advice as you started out on the path to becoming an author, what would it be?

I’d cackle and hold a flashlight under my chin and say, “Turn back while ye still may!” Well, flashlight or fleshlight. Which is more frightening?
Other budding authors, I would say the best advice I can give anyone is write what you know. The more you learn, the more you study, the more you have to discuss. Knowledge always makes for strong writing.

9. Last but not least: where can we find you? Drop those links!

First, here are Amazon and Audible links to all of my books. They’re available on paperback, hardcover, Kindle, Vella, and Audible. My regular audiobook narrator, Shaniese Reyes, is absolutely amazing. She has such a talent for bringing my stories to life, so I have to encourage you to check out her readings of my work.

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/s?k=Keith+Blenman&rh=n%3A21165462011

Audible: https://www.audible.com/author/Keith-Blenman/B002GNY3SE

And here are my social media links:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/keithblenman

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/blenmankeith/

Facebook:https://www.facebook.com/BlueDonutBooks

Tiktok: https://www.tiktok.com/@keithblenman

Other WIP update…

♡ Other WIP update… ♡

♡ Okay, so many already know I’m working on 2 separate WIPs. There are a few reasons for this, but one is that my villain romance is just too hard to ignore 🤣

♡ And, in true Catrin Russell fashion, I’m struggling to keep it short. This was meant to be a novella, but I’m already 100 pages (or 30k words) in and, well, let’s just say, I need a few more to finish 😂

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