Category Archives: Just Begin!

NaNoWriMo: It’s Here Again! Will You Be Joining In?

NaNoWriMo Participant-2014-Web-Banner

Yup, it’s that time again and I’m ready for it! I wasn’t sure if I could handle NaNo and still work on my novel (The Sword Bearer’s Ascension: Book 4) and get it finished for publication early next year, but I think a specific goal of reaching 50 000 words in 30 days will encourage me to set aside a few hours every day to do both NaNo AND Book 4 and complete them by the end of November. Hey, I’ve never done anything in small measures in my entire life and I’m not about to start now!

The South African Flag

The South African Flag – SA, my first home on this earth.

Moving from South Africa to the UK was utterly exhausting, as you can imagine. Picking up your entire life and dumping it in another country is not for the faint of heart and should not be attempted too often in one’s life. Exhaustion aside, I am thrilled to be here in a country that appreciates fantasy and science fiction authors more than they do in SA. Sad but true. I was told by an agent in SA that the fantasy genre is a difficult sell in our country, local author or not. As it is, there isn’t much room for the arts in any form there unless the community does all the work and finds private funding. Thankfully, there are the handful in each field, including a few corporations, that have the passion to make things happen in the face of ignorance and apathy; our leaders have no idea that without the arts a nation has no soul and will soon die. They are oblivious to the enormous potential of its highly skilled and talented people, of which there are thousands, therefore these struggling artists get no recognition or support from their useless, unaware leaders.

I have many South African author friends and they are doing fantastic things on their own and raising awareness in their field. They love what they do, and despite how hard it is to be an artist in SA they are thriving because they’re doing what they love. They make me proud to be a writer and an artist.

Make time to write every day even if it's just for a few minutes! Feed your soul!

Make time to write every day even if it’s just for a few minutes! Feed your soul!

NaNoWriMo is growing in leaps and bounds, and I am proud to be part of it again this year. South Africa did brilliantly last year and I just know they’ll do even better this year. I will always support and encourage them. This year I am thrilled to be part of a huge writing community in the UK that is participating in NaNo. Hello, Kent! This year I am sticking to a scifi novel. As I work on finishing my epic fantasy tetralogy I am looking forward to having new projects to focus on next year, and since I will have two novels – one, a mixed genre of fantasy, scifi, horror, and western from 2012 – and this year’s scifi, along with another horror/scifi short story, I will have lots to keep me busy in 2015.

So tell me, dear Writer, are you participating this year? I would love to hear what you have up your sleeve and which tactics you will be implementing to succeed. Do share. If you need to chat and discuss issues and even your fears of not making the word count goal then let’s chat about it and encourage one another. I wish you luck and word count success by the 30th! I will keep you updated on my own progress right here. Now, go write!

When Life Interferes with My Passion

Make time to write every day even if it's just for a few minutes! Feed your soul!

Make time to write every day even if it’s just for a few minutes! Feed your soul!

So, those of you who follow my blog might have noticed that I haven’t written a post for a while. The reason? My job, and I don’t mean writing. I mean that thing I do that pays the bills. And every day I cannot get to my computer and focus on my first love, my passion, my creative outlet, and drug, to put it mildly, makes me grumpy and miserable.

I enjoy teaching ballet, but there comes a time when it all becomes too much, especially when I can’t find time to spend writing or editing for even just a couple of hours. My mood sours, my husband complains I’m not as cute and cuddly as I usually am when I manage to spend a few hours a day feeding my addiction, my hunger to create and unleash what churns inside!

I share my teaching week with another teacher, who is also an international examiner and tutor. As a result of her status, she frequently travels all over the globe  leaving me with more classes to teach and less time to write. The month of March was insanely busy for me as I taught six days a week as opposed to the usual three. Hey, I received an incredible salary at the end of the month so no complaints there, but I can’t help but feel robbed of time with my beloved characters; you know, spending quality time with them in their world.

I know I don’t really have to ask you this, dear Writer, but do you not also feel a sense of separation when you cannot be with your characters, especially those you’ve written four or more books about? For me, it hasn’t only been the last five years of penning their story. No, try thirty-seven years!!! Yup, my epic fantasy tetralogy was born when I was a wee kid, and the story has evolved over all that time, growing, morphing, evolving, until it eventually found its voice in 2009 when I decided to share it with the world. These characters have lived with me practically my entire life, so when I can’t spend time with them every day it feels like I’m ignoring them and my relationship with them suffers. I lose the connection with them and their story, never a good thing when writing an emotionally charged tale!

My writing and blogging have taken a back seat this past month but I hope now to finally kick it up into gear again and finish editing The Sword Bearer’s Ascension: Book 4, the final installment and the end of a thirty-seven year journey. My characters are waiting for me to finish telling their story so that the world can read it, so that they can become part of the hearts and minds of those who choose to read it. I also hope to blog more regularly, and I want to thank all my followers for your support and interest in what I have to say. It means a lot to me that you read this humble blog, and I hope that in some way you are inspired to never stop writing every day no matter what life throws at you.

I have determined to make an effort to write every day even if it’s just for a few minutes. My soul sings when I create; how could I be so cruel and deprive it of  such joy and expression?

I love reading your thoughts. Have you also had times when the mundane necessities of life have interfered with your first passion? Please share!

What Would You Attempt To Do If You Had No Fear?

QuoteWith the new year spread out before me and nothing yet written – both figuratively and literally (and I am talking new works here) – I have the power to create not only new literary works but my very life, and the message I’ve been reading and hearing about the most since 2014 began is that I have the power to decide what I want and how to go about getting it.

Whatever your faith, whether you believe in God or the Universe or your own creative power, I know that this is possible, and therefore I have presented myself with a challenge: This year will not be a year of negating or doubting my skills as a writer, creator, student, teacher, and wife. I want this year to be different to last year. Oh, I accomplished a lot last year, but by the time December rolled by I had a distinct sense of non-achievement. I could have done more, achieved more, written more, learned more, and become more.

The Cover Image for The Sword Bearer's Ascension: Book 4 courtesy of Jon Sullivan

The Cover Image for The Sword Bearer’s Ascension: Book 4 courtesy of Jon Sullivan

So, this year I am going to achieve great things. I am going to improve my writing skills; I’m going to finish rewriting and editing The Sword Bearer’s Ascension: Book 4 and get it published, and then rewrite and edit the book I wrote for NaNoWriMo in 2012! Yes, I haven’t had time to do it yet because my tetralogy had to be completed first and I’ve never been the kind of person to handle two writing projects at once. That’s just how my brain works! I give all my attention to one main project and if an idea comes along for another book I jot it down to come back to it later.

Now, some of you may think that all this is a simple case of procrastination, but, unfortunately, it’s worse than that. Feeling despondent because I’m not selling as many books as I’d like, or because more people are interested in 50 Shades of Grey than epic fantasy, is quite simply an excuse to not to keep focusing on what I want! I began writing my Sword Bearers tetralogy because it needed to be written; it needed to be read and shared with the world – even if that world was only a handful of people.

When I started, I wasn’t as skilled as I am now. I made mistakes and I had to learn as I went along. I read excerpts from Book 1 now (The Sword Bearers) and I pick up those small mistakes, things that a rookie might do their first time out. But you know what, I’m so proud of that first book. I nicknamed it The Beautiful Monster because it was both beautiful and a monster in that it took so much out of me – blood, sweat, and tears, as it were. But I did it! It was one of the greatest achievements of my entire life! I didn’t give in to the fear of public opinion or my lack of knowledge or the fact that I was writing in a genre that wasn’t as popular as romance or thrillers or the paranormal.

Book 1 in The Sword Bearers tetralogy

Book 1 in The Sword Bearers tetralogy

My writing career began in 2009, and by the time 2013 came along I had read hundreds of blogs by experienced writers and editors and publishers, enough to make me doubt myself that the fear I defied writing Book 1 suddenly reared up and took hold of me and I started slowing down. There were too many people telling me what I was doing wrong and, the worst, not to publish until my work was perfect! Perfection? Really? I didn’t know that perfection actually existed in the human race!

Thank goodness I didn’t listen to those ‘perfect’ bloggers and experts but rather to the writers who had tried and failed, tried and failed, tried again and failed again, and how they kept going and finally succeeded. Those are the people I gravitated towards because those are the people who were like me. They had faced their fears and had snubbed their doubts and had pushed ahead and had conquered not only their fears but their shortcomings regarding their skill as writers.

So, this is what I have decided for 2014: No resolutions, but rather a decision to approach my year with the same fearless tenacity I had when I decided to write my first novel. I have grown so much as a person and a writer since The Sword Bearers: Book 1. I am a better writer – more skilled, more knowledgeable, braver, and more confident – and armed with these truths and a determination to create my future, I will accomplish a lot more than I did last year and the year before that and the year before that!

My message to you today is to defy your fears, your doubts, your concerns, and those people who say you can’t and press forward with new determination. If you need more knowledge then go get it; if you have a weakness then face it and deal with it; if you have lack in a particular skill then find out how to improve it. But whatever you do, do it with no fear!

Truthfully, there isn’t really anything that exists that you can’t accomplish this year. You just need to believe it, and then hold on to it as you approach every new project.

Personally, I have to rewrite and edit The Sword Bearer’s Ascension: Book 4. Writing this incredible story, a story that began in 1978 when I saw Star Wars for the first time, has been a thrilling, joyous, and often tearful journey as I’ve told the tale of the characters that have lived with me for over thirty years! Coming to the end had me sobbing, and I mean sobbing! But typing that last sentence filled me with such a sense of accomplishment and joy and all because I started it with no fear!

I love hearing your thoughts! Tell me about your fears and doubts and how you overcame them. Do you still face any? Maybe I can help.

NaNo and 36 years of Preparation!

The Cover Image for The Sword Bearer's Ascension: Book 4 courtesy of Jon Sullivan

The Cover Image for The Sword Bearer’s Ascension: Book 4 courtesy of Jon Sullivan

It’s been just over a week of NaNo and I’m ahead of schedule. Yay!!

Last year I decided to write an entire novel in a wad of different genres – sci-fi, urban fantasy, western, fantasy, and horror – and the precious file sits awaiting a rewrite and edit since then. Now, this isn’t because I’ve been procrastinating or anything, it’s because I had to finish The Sword Bearer’s Awakening: Book 3 (published in May this year), and then I needed to complete The Sword Bearer’s Ascension: Book 4 by the end of this year, the final installment of my epic fantasy tetralogy.

This year, NaNo for me is about drawing to a close the 36-year project that has lived with me, grown with me, evolved with me, and then, finally, was birthed from me when the pen-to-paper journey began in 2009. And this November is the month I complete this incredible story and lifelong adventure. It’s a very emotional time for me because these characters, especially Khyri/KC, my main character, have lived with me nearly all my life.

English: Opening logo to the Star Wars films

Star Wars was the catalyst of this marvellous, exciting adventure and I have to give praise and thanks to Mr. George Lucas for inspiring me to the extent that the future Sword Bearers tetralogy bore me through tough times, good times, happy times, and, most especially, the sad times. That kind of inspiration that makes your heart soar and your soul sing is very rare, indeed. But I was blessed beyond youthful understanding when I beheld the magic, mystery, and thrill of Star Wars.

Movies like Star Wars and the countless books and superhero comics I devoured as a child, all contributed to helping me develop into a successful, “genius, brilliant” (the words of friends and reviewers) storyteller and I couldn’t feel happier and more fulfilled! So, thank you Marvel Comics, DC Comics, all movie makers of sci-fi and fantasy films, authors of great adventure stories, and mom, who allowed me the freedom to discover my passions and pursue them. Mwah!

This November sees me finishing 36 years of one story that I have had the incredible privilege of writing. It came to me with great power and it is being completed with great power – magic, mystery, adventure, facing demons and monsters and defeating them, and then, when the ending is ready to be written, I will be in tears as I write that which must happen the way it was always meant to happen. By the end of November Khyri’s story will find its rest and so will I. It’s been a long journey, and my life has dictated this story’s path from the very beginning – all my trials, victories, challenges, and losses are all part of Khyri’s journey, as are my beliefs and the knowledge about the mysteries of life I have gained along the way. Book 4 is an ending and a beginning, for Khyri and for me, and to find out how and why you’ll have to read all four books!

Pen on Paper

I wish you all the best, Dear Writer, as you face this month-long challenge. Remember why you love writing when things get tough and your eyes can’t focus and you just want to sleep; go back in time and revisit that exact moment when you knew with absolute certainty that you are a storyteller. Then, use that passion to cross the finish line and celebrate yet another great accomplishment.

I’d love to hear about your 2013 NaNo project. Please share in the comments and let me know how things are going!

Trust your passion and talent and let nothing stop you!

A 5-Star Review of The Sword Bearer’s Awakening: Book 3!!

Cover for Book 3

I just read this fantastic 5-star review of my third book, The Sword Bearer’s Awakening: Book 3, by Ruthi Kight from R&M Fab Book Reviews!!

“It has been a few months since I read the first two in this series, but even now the story has stuck with me. When I was given the chance to read book three, I knew I had to jump on it!
I’ve said this many times: I’m not a huge reader of fantasy, but THIS series will forever be one I will recommend to others. The story is absolutely fantastic!
From the first page, the reader is enveloped in the story. Granted, this story is LONG. Over 700 pages! So it took me a while to read all of it. But there were none of those points where I just wanted to give up. I’ve had that happen with many books.
The characters are fleshed out and so unique. While you’re reading, you can actually picture having each one of them in your life. The descriptions are fantastic! Seriously, I’m in love with the beautiful world that Ms. Rockliffe has painted for us.
Just so you know, once again, I don’t rehash stories. I give my opinion. And in my humble opinion, I’d definitely say check out this series. It’s fast and fun, engaging, and seriously should be made into movies. But that’s just me. I want to witness this story on the big screen.”

Go to www.amazon.com/author/moniquerockliffe now where you can read other reviews of my work!

Visions, Understandings, and Prophecies

Magic by Gioradi sxc

No, I’m not getting all religious on you, but I am going to chat about the absolute vital act of believing in yourself and your abilities, because unless someone makes you think about it and ponder it, you most probably won’t even give it a second thought.

When I started writing I was so new and so ignorant of many things that my first novel, The Sword Bearers: Book 1, began as an act of love and passion that slowly bloomed into a project of obsession that taught me how to be a good writer. I made a few mistakes (and I’ll probably end up rewriting and editing somewhere along the line), yet not for one second do I second-guess my abilities and my passion to be a storyteller.

In just about all my posts I have mentioned at least once that you, dear writer, have to have absolute faith in yourself if you want to make that dream come true. Now, hearing that cliché makes me want to roll my eyes. Yes, yes, yes, I want to make my dream come true, but until I do it creates a certain frustration inside me because it hasn’t happened yet. And that is where the problem lies. As soon as I begin to focus all my attention on what I don’t have yet instead of what I want and where I want to end up, I establish a habit of bad thinking and self-doubt that only escalates and, on bad days, gets totally out of hand!!

My first novel and my greatest joy!

My first novel and my greatest joy!

You see, if we perpetuate wrong thinking and allow self-doubt to permeate every waking thought then that is what we will end up getting. If I look at my first novel and focus on what I left out or didn’t do as well in Books 2 and 3, I can make myself go crazy!! Instead, I learn and change and study and read as much as I can and focus on the successes of the greats and in so doing slowly but surely begin changing into a better, more knowledgeable, more masterful writer every time I sit down at my computer and write the next line, chapter, book.

Daily I take time to imagine where I want to end up, what I want to achieve, and what I want to accomplish. I envision the future with as much clarity as my limitless imagination can conjure, and I bathe in the joy, excitement, and glory my visions bring. And as I connect to my bigger self, the one that is without ego and, in fact, my true self, then I begin to understand my place in the universe and I begin to see the big picture. It takes but a few minutes out of my day to imagine the biggest dream I can and allow my emotions to stir into a frenzy. Doing this every day brings me encouragement and a deeper understanding of my abilities, that they are in no way limited, except if I get in my own way and sabotage the destiny I have been given.

This is not fantasy, dear writer, but truth as I have personally seen this work in my life many times, and I believe absolutely that I will reach my end goal, and then go beyond it. As I’ve also said many times in other posts, I am constantly learning and improving my craft, and I make sure I do it passionately and without limiting my thinking in any way, no matter how tough or frustrating it gets.

The greatest gift you can give yourself is this: Always be teachable! Never think you’ve arrived. Believe that your talent is limitless and your potential eternal. Do not put your mind or spirit in a box and say you have nothing left to learn, but rather crave knowledge, crave insight, crave a deeper connection to your Source – whatever or whoever you believe that to be. But never stop being open and willing to receive even more than what you already have.

I started small, and today I can truly say that I have become someone bigger, stronger, and way cleverer than that very first day I put words on paper.

Even the Superstars Started at the Beginning!

Even the Superstars Started at the Beginning!

NEVER despise the day of small beginnings!!! You can only go higher, further, deeper, and wider from there.

I hope this post has inspired you. It was something I had to share because I know we all need to hear as often as possible that we’re awesome and beautiful and gifted, and that there is nothing we cannot do or achieve if we but believe in ourselves and the gifts we’ve been given in never-ending abundance.

And what exactly is prophecy? It is man seeing and understanding what’s on God’s mind through His eyes as it pertains to His creation. You’ve been made for greatness. You’ve been born to impact the world. You have been gifted with a unique voice, and it is up to you to use it. Either it can be small and insignificant, or it can be heard across the world and beyond. The choice – the amount you believe in the truth – is entirely up to you.

So, what are you going to choose: greatness or a mediocre existence? Create your own prophecy. Choose to make your life and career as glorious as it was meant to be the day you were conceived. Me? I’ve chosen greatness because I believe that it is my ultimate destiny.

I love hearing your thoughts. Do you have any self-doubts? Do you need to chat about them? I’m here if you do. I’ve been through every high and low you can imagine, and learned to recognise when I’m pulling myself down with wrong thinking. Sometimes it takes work to pull yourself out of a slump, but it is so worth it!!

Top image courtesy of gioradi

Passion, Knowledge, Failure, and Success – What I Learned About Writing

“I used Grammarly to grammar check this post because, as you will read below, passion must always be balanced with knowledge!”

Writing Inspiration

I never had a clue! Going into my first ever major writing project held great excitement, and my passion was never in question. I was, however, keenly aware of my lack of knowledge when it came to punctuation, which was (and still is) a constant challenge to get just right, including other details regarding grammar and style.

I did have one thing going for me, though, and that was the enormous amount of reading I’d done since I could read as a child, and the conscious, and unconscious laser-like attention I paid to how a writer wrote, how he/she brought across his/her story, and how he/she pulled me in by using only words and no pictures. I was fascinated with the ‘how’ every time, and it didn’t take me long to realise that I had developed a burning desire to do what they were doing, too.

The Six Golden Rules of Writing

But the last time I went to school was over twenty years ago, and there was no way I remembered all that boring English stuff. So, I had to start from scratch and pay more attention while I read. To my great advantage, the writers whose works I read were superb in their craft, masters and word technicians to envy, and that is literally (pun intended:) ) where my re-schooling began.

Paging through my first novel, I sometimes cringe when I come across things that I now know – with my vastly increased knowledge – that need to be rewritten and changed and re-edited. Grrrr! Why didn’t I see that when I wrote it? I ask myself. Because you just didn’t know there was a better way, I remind myself.

Now, I could rant and rave and die of embarrassment, or I can laugh about it, learn from it, and simply become better. And that, dear friends, is what I decided to do. The Sword bearers: Book 1 is fantastic story – to which my 4 and 5 star reviews will attest – and that’s what gives me peace and encouragement about being a storyteller. I am good at it and my readers love what I create and how I deliver it, but I can always be better at it!

I have spoken often in my blogs about having a balance between passion and knowledge and I still stand by that. I write my first draft with my heart leading the way, and then when I rewrite and edit I let my mind, and all the knowledge it has gained to this point, take control and make it sharper, clearer, tighter, and even more fantastic.

I, for one, don’t write for the critics. I have always been passionate about making my readers excited and enthralling them and taking them on a journey they will never forget. I’m good at that; I’m a natural storyteller. However, the nitty-gritty is what makes my books greater. I have to pay attention to the details – the punctuation, the flow, the style, the correct language usage in the right way. Simply put, how I present my work to the world is as important as the story if I want to make my mark on the world.

Re Criticism for Writers

I don’t actually see the small mistakes in Book 1 as failures; I see them as learning curves, and I encourage you to do the same. It’s easy to give in to feelings of regret and embarrassment, but once you go down that path it is very difficult to see yourself as a talented, significant writer with something important to say and share with the world.
My first novel is brilliant the way it is because it represents all of me and who I was at the time. It contains my heart and soul, tears and blood and as such cannot be better than what it is.

People might be quick to criticise and point out the faults in your work, but don’t listen to them unless their observations are valid and you can improve your writing as a result. As an example, when I published my first sci-fi short story, The Door, and another author read it, he was quick to point out that I used the word ‘wander’ instead of ‘wonder’ and it appeared on the very first page. I was mortified and angry with myself for missing it during editing and I quickly corrected it, feeling much better and relieved for doing so. Now, initially I was peeved about someone pointing out my mistake because my ego loves to wallow in self-pity and self-recrimination, but then I told myself to grow up! This man had helped me improve my writing and had helped me become more dogged in finding such errors, ergo be a lot more meticulous in the future. Because of him I now pay more attention to all those words that look so similar.

The point is, when you learn from your mistakes then you are already a success. When your writing improves because you listened and took note of constructive criticism, then you are a success. You only fail when you refuse to pay attention, when you allow your ego to control you, because then you can move forward instead of standing still!

It takes a lot of conscious effort to not allow my past lack of knowledge affect me now when I am so much better at what I do. And I am getting stronger and better every single day I sit in front of my computer and write! You’ve got to believe in your ability to grow and learn because when you do there is only one direction you can go from where you currently find yourself: Up, up, and away to greater success!

Freedom!

Have you allowed past mistakes to affect you? Do you cringe and berate yourself because of them or do you stubbornly refuse to acknowledge what can cripple your creativity and keep you from becoming a master of your craft if you let it?

I love reading your thoughts. Please share your personal experiences with us.

Cover Reveal for The Sword Bearer’s Awakening: Book 3!

Cover for Book 3

Yay!! Here it is! The gorgeous cover for Book 3 in my tetralogy, The Sword Bearer’s Awakening! I am thrilled to share it with you guys. My publisher has been given the go-ahead from me – after scrutinising the final galleys etc for hours! – to release the ebook and printed versions (paperback and hard cover), and they should be available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble (go check out my product pages) within four to six weeks! I will let you know the moment they become available for purchase.

I’d love to hear your comments about the cover so please feel free to do so. Here’s a short synopsis for Book 3:

“She’d never experienced such agonising loss before, not even when she lost everything to the demon on her home-world, Theras, five years ago.

Driven into the darkness of emotional torment and despair, KC, the Sword Bearer, slowly struggles up towards the light to try find a way to continue on with her life after losing the one person who made it possible.

But her lust for revenge may yet undo her – and if she succumbs to it and loses sight of who she is, then the entire Universe may forever fall into the claws of Drakoor s’et, arch demon and destroyer of worlds!

Happy weekend, everyone!

Book 3 Out in May! Read All About It in This Rockin’ Interview!

The Cover Image for Book 3: The Sword Bearer's Awakening

The Cover Image for Book 3: The Sword Bearer’s Awakening

Yay!! Finally, the postal strike in Joburg is over and I will be getting my sample printed copies to check before giving the final go-ahead for printing. Then the ebook will follow, and hopefully by mid-May The Sword Bearer’s Awakening will be available!

It’s been another year of incredible excitement and hard work and an emotional rollercoaster of note, but, as always, I’ve loved every minute of it! What’s not to like about creating and seeing your world and your characters come so vividly to life? Seven hundred pages is quite an accomplishment, I’m sure you can agree :), but when I love what I do so much it’s always way more pleasure than pain.

Scott Richards, fantastic writer and blogger, did a  great interview with me a little while ago on his site The Shroud Between (you can view the original interview here), and I’d like to share that with you now so that you can get a better understanding and more insight into Book 3. Enjoy!

cover-for-book-2.jpg

It’s rude to start without small talk, so how the heck are ya?

Very well, thanks, Scott! I’m crazy busy editing my third book in The Sword Bearers tetralogy and loving it!

How long have you pursued writing?

I’ve always loved to create stories since I was a kid. If I didn’t write them down I’d use my overactive imagination and make up stories and characters in my head! But I began doing it fulltime in 2009. My hubby was actually the one to give me a kick in the heiny and told me to put down my story on paper.

What’s your favorite genre to read? What do you love about it?

Well, I love fantasy, naturally, and science fiction, basically anything that can take me far, far away. I love Stephen King – especially his Dark Tower series – and other writers that have excellent storytelling abilities like Clive Cussler and Dean Koontz (who mix action/adventure with a hint of supernatural and the paranormal), to name but two of my favourite writers. There are many more.

What’s your favorite genre to write? How do you put your personal flavor on it?

Again, fantasy is my favourite because there are no limits to what I can create. The choices are endless and there are no rules – I can do anything to anyone in any given situation, as long as the reader can picture it happening.

Concerning my personal flavour, I believe that is where style comes in. Even though my books are long they read very fast because as a person I don’t like wasting time, and when I’m reading someone else’s story I hate getting bogged down in pages of backstory or explanations or descriptions. Therefore, I write the opposite to that. My stories are always full of action and more than enough detail, but the reader never gets bored. My stories are also character-driven with a lot of dialogue (which I just know readers love), and it’s important to me to get an emotional reaction from my reader – joy, excitement, sadness, anger, and frustration – and help them experience with great intensity what the characters are going through. When that happens then I’ve succeeded at being a good storyteller; I’ve succeeded at being an author.

If you had to pick five of your favorite books and/or series, what would they be?

It’s VERY hard to pick just a few, but I’ll list the ones that made the most impact on me as an author/storyteller: The Dark Tower series by Stephen King; The Magician trilogy by Raymond E. Feist; all of Terry Brooks’s books; The Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan; and the Odd Thomas series by Dean Koontz. These are all such excellent, powerful, moving stories, and helped me to become a better writer.

Speaking of books, let’s talk about yours!

What’s yours called?

The one I’m currently editing is The Sword Bearer’s Awakening: Book 3 of my tetralogy. (I’ve begun writing the final installment already and it will get published early next year.)

The story continues with a great battle (the Final Battle) fast approaching as the main character, KC – the mighty Sword Bearer of the Sword of Heaven, a weapon capable of destroying entire worlds – has to come to terms with great loss and learns to fully embrace who she is and understand what she is capable of doing. She is the most powerful mortal in the Universe, and in Book 3 she goes through a learning process both painful and fulfilling, and she eventually overcomes her self-doubts and accepts the truth about herself. But even as she grows in understanding and power a malevolent arch demon, Drakoor s’et, is trying very hard to capture KC and obtain the Sword of Heaven in order to free his imprisoned brethren from the Void, a place Kurrn (the Creator God in this story) cast them eons ago when they rebelled against Him.

Is this your first or just the latest?

This is the latest. The first one, published in 2010, is called The Sword Bearers and the second, published in 2012, is titled The Sword Bearer’s Journey.

Genre?

This tetralogy is an Epic Fantasy. It contains no elves, wizards, gnomes, fairies or the like, and the only dragon is Drakoor s’et, arch demon, when he morphs out of human form and becomes a massive, scaly beast. There is high adventure with beautiful settings and a hint of the supernatural, and in Book 2, The Sword Bearer’s Journey, the story takes off into N’varda, the galaxy where the story takes place. Here science fiction melds with fantasy and you find a wonderful combination of both genres. Alien worlds and races and galactic battles for dominance and survival take the stage. The next answer will give you an idea of the story’s style and visual setting.

Star-Wars-3-4-star-wars-34339535-403-500How’d you get the idea?

I first saw Star Wars when I was eight-years-old. This incredible movie, way ahead of its time, opened my mind and stirred my already voracious imagination into overdrive! I was amazed by the imaginations of others to be able to create such brilliance like Star Wars and the incredible adventures of the unique characters in space, and I wanted to be able to do it, too! I begun rearranging the story and coming up with characters of my own – and, of course, I was the heroine in every scenario. I was the female version of Luke Skywalker, because why couldn’t a girl have a lightsaber and be a powerful warrior, right?

From these imaginings The Sword Bearers story began to take shape, and it never lost its influence and power as I moved through life and became an adult. The story morphed and rearranged itself over and over again as I grew in maturity, until in 2009, after hearing me go on and on about how fantastic it would be to make a movie about my story, my hubby suggested I start by writing it down. And, voila, The Sword Bearers tetralogy, once just thought, became tangible, and now I’m already writing the last book!!

You have two sentences to hook us into reading it. Go!

Driven into the darkness of emotional torment and despair, KC, the Sword Bearer, slowly struggles up towards the light to try and find a way to continue on with her life after losing the one person who made it possible.
But her lust for revenge may yet undo her – and if she succumbs to it and loses sight of who she is, then the entire Universe may forever fall into the claws of Drakoor s’et, arch demon and destroyer of worlds!

If you had to pick a favorite character in the book (good guy or bad), who would it be and why?

My favourite character is definitely Talis. He’s a Shadow Weaver. His race, thought long extinct by mortals and thus pure legend, appears mostly as shifting shadows or wraiths and very rarely become solid. But Talis is different: he is half-human, half-Shadow Weaver for reasons I can’t go into here without giving away too much of the story (sorry, guys). He is KC’s best friend after the two meet in Book 2, and a formidable warrior. He is fiercely loyal to KC and will do anything for her. Saying that, he has a deeply hidden secret of his own he only reveals to KC in Book 3, which tests their friendship to the limits. Because of his human side he has to regenerate for a few hours each day in pitch darkness and in shadow form or he grows too weak. He can transform into shadow at will and transport others with him for short distances by ‘wrapping’ them in his shadow and moving faster than the eye can see.

Is it available now? Link it! If not, when?

I am hoping it will be available in April, depending on how I do with editing. In the meantime, your readers can go to the Amazon or Barnes and Noble link below for Books 1 and 2!

Anything I forgot to ask that you wanted to talk about?

I have also written a sci-fi short story called, The Door, which is available on Amazon, B&N and Smashwords.
Later this year I plan on releasing the novel I wrote during NaNoWriMo last November. It’s a story that has blended a number of genres like urban fantasy, western, science fiction and horror, so will appeal to a larger number of readers. It’s called Avalin: A Vymparii Legend.

And that’s it, guys!

I love hearing your thoughts! Please leave a comment and share what projects you are working on or what’s about to be released!

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The Next Big Thing Blog Hop – Yup, it’s my turn!!

Image courtesy of Jeff Whelan

Image courtesy of Jeff Whelan

This is the first time I’ve done a blog hop, and, I must say, I’ve had such fun! I am also honoured to be included with such fabulous writers today, and I want to thank Jared Anderson for inviting me to participate in this blog tour and follow on from him. Jared posted last Wednesday, the 9th, and here’s the link to his blog: http://jsascribes.wordpress.com

Jared is working hard on his first novel, The White Room (or he might still call it Cadence). It’s a horror/thriller with an erotic edge.

His second novel, Beautiful Monster – a collaboration between himself and his mentor, author Kim Williams-Justesen – has been accepted for publication. I wish you great success with both novels, Jared!

The Cover Image for Book 3: The Sword Bearer's Awakening

The Cover Image for Book 3: The Sword Bearer’s Awakening

Now, time to get down to business and answer these fun questions!

What is the working title of your book?

I’ve decided to speak about my third book in The Sword Bearers tetralogy because it’s about to come out around March/April. It’s in the editing process at the moment and taking shape. It’s titled: The Sword Bearer’s Awakening.

Where did the idea come from for the book?

This is an interesting question because even though this is the third book I actually wrote it first. The crux – more like the emotional crux – of the story is in this book. It is the most powerful and moving out of the four so far because of what happens to the main character, KC, who is the Bearer of the Sword of Heaven, a powerful, supernatural weapon that resides within her body and is capable of destroying entire worlds!

This story has been living with me since I first saw Star Wars when I was eight-years-old. The scope, the imagination, the power of that film blew me away and I realised even at such a young age that there is nothing my imagination can’t dream up. The characters and their plights, the antagonist and his relentless evil and power, and the struggle of the heroes to overcome victoriously made a huge impact on me as a kid. My imagination – always busy and utterly boundless – exploded after seeing Star Wars and I began to create my own world and characters. It only took me around 35 years to get it down on paper!!

What genre does your book fall under?

It is an Epic Fantasy/Science Fiction fusion (I love mixing genres :)) filled with high adventure, action, grand galactic battle scenes, passion, romance, loss, victory and defeat, and, of course, revenge. It has it all!

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

Because nothing else on earth could match me seeing my story in the big screen I have already given some thought to this question in the past. It has taken this blog hop, however, to make me sit down and really think about it. Here are my initial choices:

KC/Khyri Vindor’hien: my main character is extremely complex. She requires an actress who can portray a carefree teenaged princess that gradually – into Books 2 and 3 – turns into a young, troubled woman carrying and learning to cope with a great burden she never wanted any part of.  In Book 1 she goes from being that happy teenager into a despairing, angry mess because of being cruelly betrayed by those she loves. Later, she falls madly in love and slowly emerges out of her shell, but throughout the story a constant, simmering anger hides just beneath the surface. The actress has to be able to express immense grief and, in Book 3 especially, gradual insanity and inner torment. But KC learns to overcome it all and in Book 3 prepares to face the demon, her arch nemesis. The actress needs to be capable of extreme physicality and well-trained in fighting techniques with sword, knife, and hand-to-hand combat as KC is an incredible warrior with skills that are preternatural in their execution.

The only actress that is the right age and can act brilliantly and has the physical capabilities for this part is Saoirse Ronan. She was superb in Hanna. If someone can suggest anyone else then please be my guest. Kate Beckinsale or Milla Jovovich would have been perfect if they were younger.

Ahloren Vindor’hien (KC’s mother; she is Sword Bearer in Book 1 before passing the Sword on to KC, and Cai’rin (High Queen) of her Territory, Theras): the perfect actress is none other than Cate Blanchett (Lord of the Rings). She has a very brief but emotionally charged scene in the beginning of Book 1/the movie.

Khyl Vindor’hien (KC’s oldest brother): here I was thinking of Chris Hemsworth (Thor).

Brahn Vindor’hien (KC’s second oldest brother): Chris Pine (Star Trek) would be perfect!

Aa’rel Beloruuis (KC’s cousin – a princess): I can see Amy Adams (Enchanted) in the part – beautiful and strong.

Jae’el Beloruuis (KC’s cousin and Aa’rel’s brother – a prince and warrior): I seem to like my Chrises :), but I think Chris Evans (Captain America) for this part would be great.

Korin Beloruuis (KC’s uncle, king of Verai – one of the largest Territories in the galaxy of N’varda – and leader of the Alliance of Territories, the most powerful opposition against Drakoor s’et, the arch demon, who’s after KC; father of Aa’rel and Jae’el): Neal McDonough (Band of Brothers; Desperate Housewives; Minority Report) has the bearing and those expressive eyes and magnetic persona!

Drakoor s’et (arch demon and the main antagonist, who appears in human form most of the time): no doubt in my mind for this one – it’s Michael Fassbender (X-Men: First Class; Prometheus). He carries off psychotic very well!!

Yanec/Jaryth (KC’s youngest brother turned into a monster by Drakoor and Bearer of the Sword of Shadows – he’s twisted, has no conscience, and is completely insane): another hard one, but I do like Logan Marshal-Green (Prometheus) for the part.

Ren dei Pal’din (KC’s first love and mate – a prince from Theras and a warrior of great skill): Orlando Bloom (Pirates of the Caribbean) has just the right look and bearing for this part, and he’s quite nice to look at, too 🙂

Talis (KC’s partner in Books 2-4 and a powerful warrior – he’s a Shadow Weaver capable of existing in solid form and transforming into shadow form at will – intense, quiet, and mysterious): I think Timothy Olyphant (Hitman) has the right intensity for this part.

Devad Tanesin (First General of Verai in charge of security for the Alliance of Territories as well as its military leader – he becomes very important to KC in a way I can’t reveal here without giving away too much of the story): my choice for him is Damien Lewis (Homeland; Band of Brothers).

And, of course, directing these fabulous actors can be none other than the visionary Peter Jackson!!

These are the main characters for Books 1-3 so I’ll leave it at that!

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

The only hope of the Universe lies in the hands of one broken-hearted girl, and if she fails to accept who she really is and doesn’t allow herself to fully understand and embrace who she was created to be, then the entire Universe will be annihilated by the greatest evil ever unleashed.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

I have published Books 1 and 2 through Xlibris Publishing (a self-publishing company), therefore to maintain consistency in look and style I will be publishing Books 3 and 4 with them, as well.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

I would say about six months.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

Although my story and characters are completely unique, I have been influenced through the years by some of the great Epic Fantasy writers. If I did compare my books to other authors’ works it would have to be J. R. R. Tolkien, Raymond E. Feist, Tad Williams, the late Robert Jordan, and George R. R. Martin to name but a few, and then some of my other favourite writers David Eddings, Terry Brooks, and Stephen King. But unlike these writers’ stories my story doesn’t stay on one world – it moves across the galaxy and back, a little like Games of Thrones in space with kings and queens vying for power, planetary and galactic war, a great malevolent evil to overcome, and enemies amongst those you thought friends and allies!

Who or What inspired you to write this book?

As I mentioned earlier, seeing Star Wars when I was eight-years-old, my mother’s shared love for Fantasy and Sci-Fi movies, plus my voracious hunger for reading since I was old enough to pick up books and superhero comics, all contributed.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

Even though my books are long – true to the Epic Fantasy genre – they read fast. I don’t waste time on long, drawn out explanations and backstories, and I don’t spend pages and pages on descriptions and setting up a scene, although I don’t neglect anything, either. My story is character-driven and a lot happens very quickly, keeping the reader fascinated and completely involved in the adventurous and action-packed tale. Emotionally, it is a very powerful story and every scene written is vital to what happens next. Nothing is wasted and there’s no waffling. The characters grow and learn constantly, and especially KC who, across Books 1-3, gradually learns to accept who she is – the Bearer of the Sword of Heaven. In Book 3, she finally comes to understand why she was born, and in Book 4 she learns the truth about her real identity (and it’s not what the reader thinks they know about her in the first three books 🙂 You’ll have to read Book 4 to find out what I mean!!!). The reader shares in her struggles (and those of her family and the other rich characters) and partakes of first her failures and then her victories – a truly inspiring tale of overcoming great loss and suffering.

I will be posting right here when Book 3 is released, and I’ll also inform everyone on all the Social Media platforms when the book is available. In the meantime, please go to my pages below to view Books 1 and 2 and purchase your copies 🙂

Here are my book and Social Media links:

Amazon Author Page

Barnes and Noble

Facebook

Twitter

Goodreads

Tumblr

StumbleUpon

LinkedIn

These are my four extremely talented tagged authors to follow on after me for The Next Big Thing Blog Hop. Between them they cover a fantastic range of genres. Please support them next Wednesday, the 23rd!

Ruth Watson-Morris

Scott Richards

Roy Hudson

John C. Scott

Thanks for taking the time to share in my first blog hop!

I love hearing from you. Please leave a comment or any suggestions you might have. If you have questions you’d like to ask about me or my books please feel free to do so in comments.

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