Showing posts with label guest post. Show all posts
Showing posts with label guest post. Show all posts

Friday, May 11, 2018

Author Guest Post Ft. Jesse Teller (The Manhunters) -- "The Timeless Enemy"

Today I am excited to share with you all a guest post featuring Jesse Teller, author of Song and Hemlock (both part of the The Manhunters series)! This particular pieces discusses his first time encountering a dragon in television and his eventual journey into writing fantasy.

by Jesse Teller

When I was a boy, my parents took me to the movies. This was back when we had no money. No money at all. We had to fight to get food on the table and we were always strapped. Well somehow, my parents found the money and the time to take us to the movies, and I saw Sleeping Beauty.

I don’t remember much at all. Colors, I think, is all I could take away from it. I was about six and I had no recollection of the story or the images really, but I do remember very distinctly the dragon. I remember the colors, the breath, and the black. I remember this tiny man striving to fight it, and the way it seemed impossible. I remember thinking no force in the world could rival a dragon, and that is all I took from it.

Years later, I was watching TV in the morning on a Saturday, and I saw Bilbo Baggins take the first steps of his journey. The artistry of it consumed me, the way those particular animation artists moved the characters across the screen. They were the same animators that did The Last Unicorn and I will never forget the way they drew the line. The movie The Hobbit was fun until Bilbo and I found ourselves at the feet of Smaug.

So huge that dragon was, nothing Bilbo could do could ever stack up. There was no weapon to grasp to bring death to that monster. No hope, however slight, could be held when the idea of fighting that beast was at hand.

I do not accept the death Tolkien gave to his god of dragons. It is too convenient, too simple. No one arrow ever made could take down the beast I saw in that cavern, no matter how well shot, no matter the target.

I remember thinking if ever a power could exist that could rival a being that great, it would have to be me who found it. No other creator could reach within and pluck out the shred of hope that stood up to a creature so mighty.

Well, of course, I was wrong. Writers and artists have been killing dragons as long as dragons have been around. St. George cast one down centuries before I was born, and people have been doing it ever since. But Smaug stayed supreme in my mind, a creature of such immense power that no one dare stand before him had they not a ring of power.

So then I set to work. I began, time after time, crafting a hero or heroine strong enough to crush the monumental monsters of my mind. Soon wizards. Then warriors. Then one after the next, I began to put together an army of people and beings so invincible that they could stand up to Smaug. They could face the Nefarious, the Tempest and the Wrath of the greatest forces of darkness that any mind could find. Any mind anywhere. With this devotion to craft and heart of a creator, I plumbed the darkness within my mind to find magic.

When I hit teenage years, I wanted warriors. Arislan, Aragorn. Caramon Majere. I found Mycenae Kark and Sai Sibbius Summerstone. One after the next, I sought and found one swords smith, then another, to battle the monoliths of my mind. Twenties found assassins. Thirties, barbarians. One great hero after the next filled my mind, always with one goal in sight.

Crush Smaug.

Pulverize the immense. Bring down the invincible. I write high fantasy. If that means I am not grimdark, then so be it.

There is a boy in here, deep where no one can find him. He is fighting a monster, a monster deeply rooted in the fiber of his mind. That little boy will not let me go small. He has a nemesis. He has a nightmare, and one after the other, he will pump out the mighty and the brave to bring it down. I have never killed Smaug. He is, as far as, I know unkillable.

But Rayph Ivoryfist would get close. Smear Kond could sneak up on him. Dreark would make Smaug tremble. I fear that somehow the mighty, world-moving powers within my books will make me less grim, that I might lose some street cred. I might have readers who shrug and drop me, thinking they want lower fantasy than I am prepared to give them.

To them I say, please forgive. There is a monster in here. He scares me. I must fight him the best I can. Smaug is watching. Smaug is waiting.

About the author:
Jesse Teller fell in love with fantasy when he was five years old and played his first game of Dungeons & Dragons. The game gave him the ability to create stories and characters from a young age. He started consuming fantasy in every form and, by nine, was obsessed with the genre. As a young adult, he knew he wanted to make his life about fantasy. From exploring the relationship between man and woman, to studying the qualities of a leader or a tyrant, Jesse Teller uses his stories and settings to study real-world themes and issues.
He lives with his supportive wife, Rebekah, and his two inspiring children, Rayph and Tobin.

Author links:  Website | Facebook | Goodreads | Amazon | Twitter | Reddit | Smashwords

1st Prize, The 2017 Drunken Druid Book Award
Literary Titan Gold Book Award
Drunken Druid Editor’s Choice, March 2017
Drunken Druid 2016 Book of the Year Short List
Hungry Monster Gold Book Award 

Song (Manhunters, Book One)
"Some of the darkest minds in Perilisc attacked Mending Keep, releasing all its prisoners. Despite his strained relationship with the crown, Rayph Ivoryfist calls old friends to his aid in a subversive attempt to protect King Nardoc and thwart terrorist plots to ruin the Festival of Blossoms. But someone else is targeting Rayph, and even his fellow Manhunters might not be enough to save him."

Hemlock (Manhunters, Book Two)
"The busiest pirate bay in Perilisc is newly infested with vampires. These monsters will soon overrun the world, but the Manhunters must try to stop them in secret. Agents of the king are hunting Rayph's vigilante crew. With one false step, they could all end up at a royal execution."

Hemlock is available on Amazon, Kobo, iBooks, Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords.

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Friday, October 20, 2017

Author Guest Post: Herta Feely (Author of Saving Phoebe Murrow) Tackles Cyberbullying

Author Guest Post:Herta Feely (Saving Phoebe Murrow) on Cyberbullying

As you may or may not already know, October is National Bullying Prevention Month. In honor of this, I have a special guest post today from Herta Feely, author of Saving Phoebe Murrow, which discusses the event that first inspired her to write Saving Phoebe Murrow, how she wrote her novel and characters, and more for you to explore.  More information about the book--and its current sale-- are available below the post!

Author of Saving Phoebe Murrow Tackles Cyberbullying
by Herta Feely

On January 10, 2008, I read an article in the Washington Post about a 13-year-old Missouri girl named Megan Meier who’d been cyberbullied, a cruel incident that led her to commit suicide. Though she thought she’d been communicating and flirting on MySpace with a cute boy named Josh Evans, 16, in fact Josh turned out to be 47-year-old Lori Drew, a neighbor.  Drew hid behind the phony profile to find out what Megan might be saying about her daughter, Sarah, with whom Megan had been friends. One day, Drew, tired of carrying on the charade, decided to end the hoax, using cruel language to demean and belittle Megan, and thus the cyber-bullying gained steam. Several teens, including Drew’s daughter, knew about the phony profile and piled on, something at least some of them would later regret. Finally, “Josh” posed the ultimate challenge by suggesting that Megan kill herself, to which she replied, “For someone like you I would.” And then she did. Her mother and father found her hanging in her closet a few minutes later.

The horror of this situation took me aback. At the time of the article, I was not yet participating on social media and was hardly aware of it, although I knew my two sons did on occasion use Facebook. (It had never occurred to me to monitor their use!) Though horrified, I was also intrigued by the power of this medium, and how it might obscure and complicate relationships. That we might not know who we are actually “speaking” with. Worse yet, that we, as parents, might not know who our children are communicating with, and that those people on the other end of a photo and name might become a menace or actually have predatory intentions.

Another aspect immediately took hold of me too: the idea of incorporating social media into a novel and including a character in the story who might pose as someone else on Facebook. Lori Drew repulsed and fascinated me. How could a mother do something like what she’d done to Megan, a vulnerable and insecure girl only weeks shy of her 14th birthday? And so, slowly, over a period of nearly three years, characters began to emerge in my mind, as did plot and storyline. The novel I planned to write would not be based on Megan’s story, but rather was inspired by it.

Saving Phoebe Murrow revolves around two families, in particular two women and their 13-year-old daughters who are best friends, and all the missteps that ensue, which ultimately leads to a cyber-bullying incident that brings Phoebe to the brink of suicide. Phoebe’s father also plays a key role. He has philandered before and though Isabel forgave him for the lapse she promised herself “never again” and that “actions have consequences.” In the opening pages, we learn that she has a nagging feeling he is behaving the way he had during that previous infidelity.

Once I began to write, the story flowed and I finished the first draft in nine months, the length of a pregnancy. Then I took a couple of more years to revise. I had writer friends read it, and also hired a series of editors to work with me on it. Finally, in 2015, it sold to both a US independent press, Upper Hand Press, and a UK press, Bonnier-Zaffre.

This is the one-year anniversary of the novel, which won the New Apple Award for best general fiction in 2016. Recently, the audiobook was released and is available on Amazon In honor of National Bullying Prevention Month (October in the US), Upper Hand Press and I have reduced the ebook price of the novel to $.99 for two weeks, beginning October 30th. (Thank you for spreading the word to friends who might be interested!)

The novel has stimulated much discussion about social media and cyber-bullying.  Many of my readers and audiences ask me questions about online safety and what parents need to do to protect their children when using social media. As a result, I’ve been interviewed on radio and TV and written articles and online pieces on that issue. Here is a link to one such recent piece: Earlier in the year I wrote a lengthier piece for Juno, a UK magazine on family life. My article, “Cyberbullying,” appeared in their Early Spring 2017 issue. For additional information about bullying prevention, here are two key websites: and

Finally, the novel has stimulated much conversation among women’s book groups, and I have either attended or Skyped with quite a few to participate in their discussions.

Please feel free to contact me through my website,

About the Book:

A story about the timeless struggle between mothers and their teen daughters with a razor-sharp 21st century twist. This heart-wrenching, harrowing debut novel for fans of Big Little Lies (Liane Moriarty) and Reconstructing Amelia (Kimberly McCreight) will make you question what's needed to keep your children from harm. 

Phoebe's mother, Isabel, is precariously balancing her career and her family. Hard-working and caring, worried but supportive, all Isabel wants, in a world of bullies and temptations, is to keep her daughter Phoebe safe. With her busy schedule, though, she fails to recognize another mother's mounting fury and the danger Phoebe faces by flirting with a mysterious boy on Facebook. A cyber-bullying episode aimed at Phoebe pushes her to the edge with horrific consequences. In her search for justice, Isabel, a DC lawyer, sets out to find the culprit behind this cruel incident. 
Saving Phoebe Murrow, set amidst the complicated web of adolescent relationships, tells a story of miscommunication and malice, drugs and Facebook, prejudice and revenge.


Friday, December 9, 2016

Author Guest Post: Airwoman by Zara Quentin

I am excited to share with all of you a wonderful guest post written by Zara Quentin, author of Airwoman! A summary of her novel is provided below, followed by the guest post, in which Quentin discusses what it is like to write a winged character.

I will also be posting my review for Airwoman on December 29th, so stay tuned!

Airwoman by Zara Quentin
Publication Date: October 25, 2016


Jade Gariq is the daughter of a respected Taraqan leader, and the heiress to Gariq Industries—a large, cross-Portal trading company. Her future appears to be set. 

Except for one thing: It’s a life that she doesn’t want.
Jade has always dreamed of joining the Traveller Force—the elite Taraqans who traverse the Betwixt, filled with terrifying beasts, and who protect and patrol the Dragonverse. Despite having been Travellers themselves once, Jade’s parents remain vehemently against risking their only daughter’s life. When Jade’s father dies suddenly, she inherits Gariq Industries, its assets, trade deals and social responsibilities.

It seems as though her fate has once again been decided.

Meanwhile, Axel—her close friend and secret crush—disappears without a trace. Then Jade discovers the circumstances surrounding her father's death are not what they seem—her uncle Zorman suspects foul play. To find the truth and avenge her father's death, Jade travels to an uncharted world, where she will learn more about her family, herself, loyalty, and betrayal than she ever imagined.  

Write what you know—this is typical advice given to aspiring authors. Of course, it’s not meant to be taken literally. Authors aren’t restricted to writing memoirs, after all. Certainly, when it comes to the fantasy genre, that advice is stretched to its limits.

All stories at their essence are about characters. Even if those characters aren’t human, they have human characteristics or traits. Stories about animals are often humanised—the technical term is “anthropomorphism”—when we attribute human traits, emotions and intentions to non-humans. So, for fantasy writers, when we write what we know, we are taking our experience as human beings and imbuing it into our characters, human or otherwise.

The most important part of this advice, of course, is making it believable. How do we do that, when we’ve writing about something we’ve never experienced?

This was something I faced when writing Airwoman, since my main character is a young woman—Jade Gariq—who has wings and can fly. For Jade, though, flying isn’t strange or unusual. Everyone from her world has wings. I wanted to write Jade in a way that was relatable and believable for readers, without making flying a big deal for Jade, since it’s part of her everyday experience.

It was a challenge, but not an impossible one. This is how I approached it.

Dream First…

I’ve always wanted to be able to fly.

A few years ago, when I mentioned this to a family member, they laughed and told me to take a trip in a glider (for those that don’t know, a glider is a plane without an engine. And yes, I have done it.) I had to explain that I don’t dream of flying in a plane—I dream of flying under the power of my own wings.

Flying is such a graceful and powerful activity. It seems so effortless to watch, like floating in the sky. Would it be as effortless as it seems? Maybe when conditions are perfect, though I’m willing to bet it wouldn’t be effortless all the time. Imagine flying in strong winds, or through the rain, or over long distances. Flying probably isn’t nearly as beautiful and graceful in the experience as it seems from the ground. It’s important to imagine that too.

Then Observe…

Recently, on a family holiday to Noosa, Australia, I visited Australia Zoo, the wildlife park founded by Steve Irwin (for those that don’t know, Steve Irwin was an Australian wildlife activist, better known as The Crocodile Hunter). While we were there, I was lucky enough to see an amazing bird show. They had several different species of birds—some unbelievably fast as they circled the stadium, some which glided on incredibly wide wingspans, some brightly and beautifully coloured. The keepers had interesting facts about each of the birds and they set the show to music which increased the dramatic effect. For me, though, the best part was just watching these birds fly. I was mesmerised by it.

I’ve always liked to watch nature documentaries, as I find them so interesting and beautifully filmed. I also like watching birds in the sky. Over the years, my observations of birds in flight—whether it be on television or in real life—has given me a bank of experiences to draw on when I started to write from Jade’s perspective.

And Ask Lots of Questions…

Of course, I don’t actually know anyone who has wings, but in the absence of someone else to ask, I ask myself some basic questions. Why? What? How?

My main character, Jade Gariq, came to me in a flash of inspiration in the middle of the night. She appeared with wings and a tail—more dragon-like than angel-like—and before I knew anything else about her, I knew she could fly. This fact set off a series of questions, starting with:

How would the fact of her wings make Jade’s life different to my experience?

A person with wings has a defining physical difference to a human-being. It would naturally affect the way she lives, dresses and behaves. Why? She has wings sprouting from her shoulder-blades, so that makes wearing traditionally tailored shirts difficult, for example. Also, a tail makes it hard to find a pair of jeans to fit. Why would Jade wear shoes when she never walks anywhere? And sitting in chairs? Forget it.

If you could fly, how would you wear your hair? Tied back, at the very least, but even then, the wind would probably flick stray hairs into your eyes. As someone with long hair, it’s bad enough on a windy day. If I could fly, long hair would probably be unbearable.  I decided that Travelers, even the women, would wear their hair short for practicality.

How would you carry a bag while flying? A backpack would hamper the wings, but something that hung from around the neck or waist would be a drag. Bags would probably be specifically designed for flight, probably either fitted to a harness or slung diagonally across the chest and between the wing-joints at the back. Maybe one kind of bag would be used for short flights, while a harness might be more practical for longer trips?

Why would you build your house on the ground if you can approach the doorway by air? Would you put your doorway in the roof? Or perhaps built your house up high? In a tree, perhaps? Or at the top of an otherwise inaccessible cliff?

Each of these questions helped me to examine the details of what it would be like to live as Jade—as a winged person. Then, as I was writing, I sprinkled some of those details throughout the prose, to make it a more believable experience for the reader too.

Then Use Your Imagination (AKA Dream A Little More)

To write from the perspective of a character with wings, I took all the research I’d done and spent time imagining myself as Jade. While drafting—then revising—Airwoman, I spent plenty of time in front of my laptop with my eyes closed, immersing myself in what it would feel like to have air beneath my wings as I soared through the sky, to see the land and sea stretch out underneath me in every direction, to be tossed around by the gusts of air currents, to battle my way through a strong headwind or to steer using my tail.

Focusing on Jade’s experience of flight helped me to write from her perspective. As a character who is physically different to me, it was an exercise in the imagination. A challenge, but not an impossible one.

What do you think it would be like to fly? Let me know, I’d love to hear from you in the comments.

Zara Quentin is the author of Airwoman, the first book in an exciting new young adult fantasy series. She was raised in Adelaide, Australia, with one younger sister. Zara grew up with a strong sense of adventure, which she inherited from her parents, who took her and her sister on trips to the United States, Europe, and Asia.

Zara has lived in France, London, and Auckland, New Zealand. She is always determined to fit in as much travel as possible, spending time in Europe, the United States, southern Africa, Morocco, Peru, the Pacific and south-east Asia.

Zara now resides in Melbourne, Australia with her husband and three children. She is currently working on the next instalment in the Airwoman series. You can get a free preview of Airwoman by signing up to her email list at You can also connect with Zara on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Goodreads.