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AUTHOR INTERVIEW: Meredith Mansfield author of The Shaman’s Curse

Author bio:

Professionally, I’ve been a financial analyst and a visual basic programmer. I also have a paralegal certificate, although I’ve never worked in that field. It’s anybody’s guess what I’ll be when I grow up.

Imagining stories and writing have always been an important part of my life. It’s one I finally could get serious about while I cared for my mother who had Alzheimer’s disease. 

Book title:  The Shaman’s Curse, Dual Magics Book 1

Genre:  Sword and Sorcery/Epic Fantasy

Synopsis: 

The two kinds of magic have always been totally separate. Until now.

Vatar risked his life to try to save his friend–and failed. Now he has an implacable enemy in the shaman, who blames Vatar for the death of his only son. He’s forced to flee his home, at least until the shaman’s thirst for revenge cools. 

Taking shelter with his mother’s people in one of the coastal cities, Vatar learns more than he bargained for. He agreed to learn to work iron and steel, but he never suspected to find a magical heritage as well. 

And that’s a problem. A huge problem. Because unlike their own Spirit magic, his people regard the city magic as the work of Evil Spirits. If the shaman ever found out about this, it could be the weapon he needs to destroy Vatar. 

And yet, finding a way to accept the other side of his heritage may be the only way Vatar can ultimately defeat his enemy and win more than his freedom.

Publish date: July 2014

 

Extract up to 1000 words: 

Vatar collapsed, exhausted by his effort. The adrenalin leaving his body left him shaky and weak. Vatar sat down to collect himself. When he gathered himself and stood up, the sun had set. He wasn’t sure how much time had passed. It felt like hours, but he was sure that it hadn’t been that long. Vatar looked longingly toward the shore, but the moon, only at first quarter, wasn’t bright enough to illuminate the rocky beach. Vatar couldn’t tell whether the tide was coming back in or not. He was trapped here until morning, now.

Vatar turned back to explore the small islet. The moon cast enough light to glint off of the copper torc set on top of a rock near the center of the small island. Vatar picked it up and put it on, feeling that he had truly earned it. The islet was tiny and mostly rock. Near the center there was a small hollow with a tufty patch of beach grass which appeared to be the softest place available. Vatar settled onto the grass.

There was no food or water on the Dragon’s Skull. Now that he had accomplished the hardest part of his task, Vatar was acutely aware of not having eaten since before dawn. He was nearly as tired as he was hungry, though, so he decided to try to sleep.

Despite his exhaustion, Vatar slept fitfully. The grass barely softened the abrasive rock of the islet. He was hungry and thirsty. The wind had picked up after the sun went down, making him shiver in his wet clothes. The chill sea wind seemed to seep into his very bones with every breath. The salt, drying on his skin and clothes, itched and his cuts still stung fiercely. He had never spent a more miserable night. And he was lonely. He realized that he had never spent so much time totally alone before. Even the dimly-felt Spirit of the Lion didn’t help.

Before dawn, Vatar gave up and just sat waiting for the sun and low tide. The moon, such as it was, had set. There was only starlight reflected on the water and the rhythmic sound of the waves washing the islet. It was hypnotic.

As Vatar sat there in the dark, he felt himself slip into a calm, focused state that he had previously only experienced while working at the forge. His thoughts slipped away to the east, to the people he cared most about. He could picture Pa and Mother, lying close together in their double bedroll. Across the room, his sister Kiara curled on her side. Even his cousin Arcas snoring slightly on the opposite side, where Vatar usually slept. He almost felt he could touch them and smell the familiar scents of a Dardani sod hut. Enough to recognize the slightly different odor of the sod at the autumn village.

He could be there right now. Safe, warm, fed. At the Lion Clan’s autumn village, he wouldn’t even have to worry about Maktaz and his crazed suspicions. He wouldn’t have had to even think about that until the clans gathered again next summer at the Zeda waterhole. Just thinking about Maktaz made the hairs on the back of his neck rise and the peaceful, reassuring scene began to dissolve. Vatar reached, trying to sharpen his focus and hold onto the dream. It was the closest he’d felt to his family since they left him here.

For an instant, the scene seemed to sharpen. Then his view shifted. He saw someone else in his mind’s eye. A girl with flame-red hair and green eyes. She seemed to focus on him, too. There was interest and curiosity in the beautiful green eyes.

“Who are you?”she asked. It seemed like he heard her voice inside his own head.

“Vatar of the Dardani,” he replied aloud. “Who are you?”

“Thekila . . .”she answered as the vision faded.

Vatar gave himself a shake. He felt odd, not quite like himself. Older. He must have dozed off. It was dawn and the tide was going out. He stood up and waded back to the beach. Going into the water was not nearly as hard this time, even the waves seemed to be pushing him back to shore.

What a wonderful. excerpt! Thank you and welcome to Behind the Pages with Author Meredith Mansfield! Come sit, get comfy, and let’s talk about … well, you!­

What other writing have you done?

In addition to the four books and two short stories of the Dual Magics series (The Shaman’s Curse, The Voice of Prophecy, Beyond the Prophecy, and War of Magic, plus “Modgud Gold” and “Becoming Lioness”), I’ve written and published seven other novels and a few shorter works. 

The two novels and prequel novella of the Become series (Become: To Catch the Lightning, Become: To Ride the Storm, and Become: Brothers) inspired by the Greek legend of Hercules.

Three stand-alone young adult novels—one sword and sorcery (Fire and Earth), one historical fantasy (The Bard’s Gift), and one fantasy romance (Daughter of the Disgraced King).

And two books in the Chimeria series, a portal fantasy/urban fantasy/paranormal romance (Blood Will Telland Blood Is Thicker). Don’t be fooled by the titles, they’re not vampire stories. 

And, of course, a few things that weren’t quite good enough—at least not yet.

What makes your writing unique compared to others in the genre?

No two people given the same idea would write the same story. Still, unique is a big claim. Let’s see:

  • Rather than letting my characters put their lives on hold and go off on a quest, I tend to make them have to deal with real life—falling in love, making a living, raising children—andgo out and save the world, or at least their corner of it, at the same time. 
  • The world of the Dual Magics has six different cultural groups, who interact with each other in different ways—or sometimes don’t interact with each other at all.
  • And there are two entirely different kinds of magic—one inherited and externally focused, the other gained by initiation and more internal, perceptive. And the two kinds of magic are possessed by two of those groups who don’t normally meet each other at all. Until one young man ends up with both kinds of magic, with some surprising, synergistic results. 

What’s the story behind your book title?

Titles are hard. The title of the first book in the series, The Shaman’s Curse, can have three different meanings in the story—the difficulties the shaman’s vendetta causes for Vatar, the way pursuing the vendetta damages the shaman himself, or the actual curse he attempts. The series title refers to the two, completely different, forms of magic in this world. 

Have you used any real events or places as inspiration for your writing?

Oh, yes. For one thing, having lived all my life on the West Coast, I seem to be constitutionally incapable of creating a world map that doesn’t have the ocean on the west and, often, a mountain range to the east. Also, places I know or have been turn up in my world building, too, not just coastlines. It’s not as obvious—or specific—in the Dual Magics series. In the Become series a major part of that world is modelled directly on Princess Louisa Inlet, BC, Canada and the forests of that area. With the addition of some giant sequoias, which, in the real world, occur much farther south and at higher elevations, but I’ve taken a little liberty, there.

I’ve used a few . . . well, I wouldn’t call them historical events. Not in the sense that I’m drawing inspiration from, say, the Wars of the Roses. But aspects of history, cultures, and historical institutions all get picked up and stirred around into new combinations. Well, except for that one historical fantasy, The Bard’s Gift. I tried to keep as close as I could to the actual way of life—as far as it’s known—in that one. Of course, aside from the fantasy elements. 

Do you have another job outside of writing?

Yes. I presently work part-time as a crossing guard, making sure kids get to and from school safely. This leaves a good chunk of the day for writing. And, for bonus points, gets me outside and walking. Of course my dog, Sadie, does that, too.

What are you working on now?

I should be working on Mage Storm, the first in a new series. A world in which a mage war killed most of the magic users, but the magic is still there and occasionally . . . infects new mages who then have to scramble to learn to control it before it destroys them. If they can manage that, they might be able to heal some of the damage done by the mage war. I hope to make some real progress on it over the next couple of months. 

What do you do when you have writers’ block?

Good question. Usually a block indicates something wrong with the story. Either something I haven’t thought through enough or I’m trying to force a character to do something he or she just wouldn’t do. Or something else along those lines. So, generally, taking a step back and giving myself a chance to figure it out—and how to fix it—usually works.

Otherwise, I might start working on another project until the breakthrough occurs and I know what I need to do to get around the block on the first project. 

Sometimes, neither of those work and I have to go play in another creative sandbox for a while. 

How did you go about developing your cover artwork?

I do my own covers. I started out that way because at the time it was all that I could afford. Honestly, those first several covers were awful. And, unfortunately, they will live forever on Goodreads. But I learned to do better. 

Now, I go on a search for images, usually on Dreamstime.com. Of course, I usually have something in mind. And just as usually, I can’t find what I’m looking for. Sometimes I see something else that catches my eye and save it, either for that book or for later. Sometimes the search turns up an image that leads me off in another direction. 

The Shaman’s Cursewas particularly hard. I had *pauses to look at my directory (where almost nothing is ever deleted)* sixteen different mock-up versions. Some had landscapes, or an image of the character, or horses (these tended to look more like a Western genre than fantasy). Some had all three. The final cover is composed of two separate images. The background with two colors of lightning colliding nicely symbolizes the two kinds of magic finally coming into contact with each other. The spear . . . well the spear represents something important from the book and helps to brand the story as fantasy. I used the background colors—either lightning, smoke, or flames—for all four books of the series, though the foreground images are specific to each story.

What is your favourite quote?

“Some prices are just too high, no matter how much you may want the prize. The one thing you can’t trade for your heart’s desire is your heart.” Lois McMaster Bujold, Memory.

Where do you like to travel to?

Living five miles from the ocean, I usually want to go visit the mountains. Or, really, anyplace with a lot of trees. Redwoods of either variety a bonus.

What’s your favourite pet?

Well, the obvious answer to this is my current one, of course. Sadie is a five-year-old Cardigan Welsh corgi. (Picture included as resident home office dog.) I’ve only had her a few months. She’s my third cardi. Until recently, I’d have said that my first cardi (and second dog ever), Aliza, was my heart dog. And Aliza was that, but Sadie has been steadily worming her way into that same space. I think I have a second heart dog, now. 

Besides the dogs, I’ve also had several cats over the years. Of those . . . oh, my. I don’t think I can pick just one or two. Christian (after the character in Cyrano de Bergerac, because he was mostly silent), Beethoven (who wasn’t silent), Peso (shiny as a silver dollar), Buttons (who had to be hastily renamed when we realized he wasn’t a female after all). Probably I should stop there. 

What’s your experience of the Fantasy Sci-Fi Readers’ Lounge?

It’s a great place to find out about authors and books I hadn’t known before. 

Quick quiz for the readers to get to know you:

Favourite thing to cook: Probably vegetable beef soup. Everyone seems to like that and compared to the cooking time, the prep time is relatively small. And, since I make a big pot, I don’t have to do much other cooking for a while. But that’s a hearty winter food and it’s summer, now.

Best holiday spot: Possibly because vacations for me have almost always been road trips, skipping from one place to another, I just can’t pick a single destination. 

Most played song: That’s far too dependent on my mood. Now, for the one I most often played on my harp (way out of practice at the moment), probably “Greensleeves”.

With writing, are you a plotter or (seat-of-your) pantser? Pantser, mostly, but I tend to map out a few signposts (major plot points) before I start and I often use a sort of rolling outline three to five chapters ahead. The actual ending, the denouement, almost always comes as a surprise, though. 

Do you prefer to read SciFi or fantasy: I like both, but I read more fantasy than science fiction. In science fiction—well, in both, really—I prefer character-driven stories.

Best superpower: I’m a crossing guard. I stop cars with a flimsy red sign. (I’m still waiting for the model with the magical force field.) 

Number one thing to do on your bucket list: I have always wanted to visit Australia and New Zealand. 

Links for Readers to Find You!

Website

Facebook

Goodreads

Twitter

Amazon

Any others?

Universal link

(If The Shaman’s Curseis not free where you are, please use this link to find it free elsewhere. And please report it to Amazon so, hopefully, they’ll make it free, too.)

Amazon Author Page

Summer 2020 Plans

I know, I know…summer is barely over for 2019 and I’m over here planning next year already. Ya darn skippy I am. Literary Love Savannah is and will be my yearly convention that I attend. So every July I will go home and enjoy a small vacation of books, readers and other authors.

For a few days, you can have one on one time with some favorite authors or new to you ones – meet other readers who loves books as much as you and join into a great big family!

Each meal is themed and no one knows who is sponsoring which table – so you pick the theme you want and be surprised!

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An unpopular opinion

While. the country mourns for the losses from our most recent mass shootings, I see people sending prayers and thoughts.

Here is where the unpopular opinion will come in – prayers and thoughts will do no one any good but the person sending them and usually even then its not done.

Prayers and thoughts won’t stop the madness infecting our countrymen who think it’s okay to take out their frustrations by pulling triggers and killing people.

Prayers and thoughts won’t bring back a single soul who was taken from this world and sent on their next journey.

Prayers and thoughts won’t change the laws or the mindset of our politicians.

What we need is civil action – NON VIOLENT responses but in your face responses. Want to make a change – think of solutions. Whether you blog about it, write your politicians, have a sit-in, or a rally – get the attention of those who can make the changes by listening to the people they work for.

I’m all for having guns – handguns, rifles, and shotguns BUT I am NOT for any gun that is able to put out rapid fire in seconds – those are military weapons and should be kept as such. Walking around with a gun on your hip won’t change what another person decides to do.

Support mental health coverage, support against bullying!

DO NOT support hate, racism, or anything that alienates someone due to their differences.

Our society needs to learn respect and restraint. Just because someone got their feelings hurt or feel that something or someone isn’t right is NOT a reason to go on a killing spree.

If you THINK or HEAR or SEE anyone behaving in such a manner that would be interpreted as dangerous to themselves or society – DO NOT HESITATE to call for help! I’d rather there be a hundred extra not needed calls for help then missing the one who really did need it and went out and killed 20 people.

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AUTHOR INTERVIEW: Carmilla Voiez author of Black Sun

Author bio: Carmilla Voiez is a proudly bisexual and mildly autistic introvert who finds writing much easier than verbal communication. A life long Goth, she is passionate about horror, the alt scene, intersectional feminism, art, nature and animals. When not writing, she gets paid to hang out in a stately home and entertain tourists.

Carmilla grew up on a varied diet of horror. Her earliest influences as a teenage reader were Graham Masterton, Brian Lumley and Clive Barker mixed with the romance of Hammer Horror and the visceral violence of the first wave of video nasties. Fascinated by the Goth aesthetic and enchanted by threnodies of eighties Goth and post-punk music she evolved into the creature of darkness we find today.

Her books are both extraordinarily personal and universally challenging. As Jef Withonef of Houston Press once said – “You do not read her books, you survive them.”

Carmilla’s bibliography includes Starblood (Vamptasy Publishing, Dec 2018), Psychonaut, book two of the Starblood series (Vamptasy Publishing, March 2019), Black Sun, book three (Vamptasy Publishing, June 2019), Starblood the graphic novel, Psychonaut the graphic novel, The Ballerina and the Revolutionary, Broken Mirror and Other Morbid Tales. Her short stories have been included in Zombie Punks Fuck Off (Clash Books), Slice Girls (Stitched Smile), Another Beautiful Nightmare (Vamptasy) and Sirens Call Magazine.

Gothic girl in red corset summoning horde of skulls

Book title:  Black Sun, book three, the Starblood series.

Genre:  Dark Fantasy

Synopsis: Murder, magic and obsession tear the heroes from the bliss they deserve. Star and Satori are being hunted; something is playing with their lives. Star found her power in another world, but will that be enough to save them? In a game of revenge, lovers and friends are moved around a cosmic chess board; death and madness are the final penalties for defeat. Who can judge whether the self-destructive human psyche or obsessed demon-child is the more dangerous force?

Publish date: June 12, 2019

Publisher:  Vamptasy Publishing

 

 

Extract up to 1000 words (optional): 

Satori’s eyes shine in excitement. In the half-light, one seems to glow red. Star shudders. She has seen this manic look before: the look that says anything is possible. Star swallows hard. She cannot argue the point. A few hours ago she was dead. Now she lies here in his arms. Her heart beats and her lungs draw oxygen from the air. Anything is possible.That is his law, not hers, and yet her reality confirms its validity in the same way the law of gravity is confirmed by her inability to float above this itchy and uncomfortable bed. For one second she hates him for being right. 

Star sits up, her back rigidly straight and stares at the metal door. ‘Run? I feel that’s all I have ever done. Maybe it’s time I stopped?’

‘We’ll figure it out.’ He places his body between her and the door, smiling gently.

She strokes his beautifully pointed face and gazes into his eyes. One sparkles with deep grey brilliance. The other is damaged. She wonders when that happened then remembers his aborted rescue attempt in the mountains. A battle with Lilith for her soul, if she remembers correctly, lifetimes ago. She kisses his lips and snuggles into his chest. His steady heartbeat calms her.

A fluorescent strip light flickers above them like a strobe on a dance floor. Energy crackles around the room, making their hair stand on end. Star clings to Satori as freezing air whips around the cell, like a hurricane. Satori sits up and touches her shoulder, instructing her to stay down. Star feels cold and unnaturally exposed in her nakedness. The light flickers again then fails and the cell falls into darkness. The air feels thick, almost solid. It punches Star’s ears and throat and chills her skin.

‘Satori!’ she screams. 

‘It’s okay.’ Satori grips her shoulders and pulls her up towards him. They sit on the narrow bed together, shaking.

Air crushes her and she struggles to catch her breath. A vortex of wind drags Star from Satori’s arms to the centre of the room. She cannot feel or see him. She stands up, alone. Air surrounds her, separating her from him. Her heart hammers and her legs shake. Wind swirls around her. She spins with it, not knowing which direction she faces when suddenly the spinning stops and she is pushed to the floor by a heavy blow. Crying out, she tries to push herself back up against the weight of air. The room stinks of blood and decay.

‘What’s happening?’ 

‘I don’t know,’ Satori answers. 

He sounds far away. Resting on her knees and one hand, she reaches into the space in front of her, searching for him. She cannot find him. Her fingers flail through the bitter wind. 

‘Where are you?’ she yells.

‘I’m here, Star. It’s going to be okay.’ 

‘How can you be sure?’

‘Because we survived, I found you and we survived. We’re not about to die here.’ 

She shakes her head. 

‘Talk to me,’ he says. ‘Keep talking and I’ll move towards your voice.’

‘Fuck! When will this punishment end? I don’t deserve this. We don’t deserve this. I never meant to hurt anyone. I don’t know why things happened the way they did. It was like being in a dream.’

Satori’s fingers brush against her knee. ‘Here you are.’ He moves to her side and puts his arms around her, squeezing her towards his body. ‘It’s going to be okay, I promise.’ 

As their eyes adjust to the dark, shapes take form in the air around them. Three terrifying faces, with hollow eyes and gaping mouths, drip blackness onto the floor. They move like reflections in agitated water. Arms appear, reach towards Star and Satori then vanish again. The faces remain: soulless, angry and tormented.

‘I think I know what this is,’ Satori says. ‘They opened the vessel.’

Welcome Carmilla, what a wonderful excerpt of your work. You and your books sound fascinating. Let’s get comfy and get started, shall we?

Do you have a pen name and why?

Carmilla Voiez is a pen name, but one I’ve been using since I owned a Gothic clothing company – Drac-in-a-Box. I simply wanted a more exotic name to go with the brand I created. 

Very exotic and unique! What makes your writing unique compared to others in the genre?

My stories are female orientated with central characters usually bisexual women, however my characters reflect my belief that men and women are in their essence very similar creatures. Themes include the struggles towards self-acceptance and freedom.

Your characters sound very real and I imagine that makes them very relatable. What made you choose this genre?

I’ve always loved horror and I believe the political themes in my books are best shown through horror and fantasy. Magic is an obsession of mine, as is this disparity between different people’s perception of reality. Fantasy is a brilliant way to explore these ideas.

I do love it when things of everyday nature are twisted into fantasy for us to see them from another view. What’s the story behind your book title?

Each book in the Starblood series is named after the title of a piece of music I love. Starblood by Cranes, Psychonaut by Fields of the Nephilim, Black Sun by Dead Can Dance, Ribbons by The Sisters of Mercy, and Pariah by Danielle Dax. I suppose it’s a respectful nod to a genre of music I love while at the same time I find it amusing.

How creative! What’s the basic plot of your book or series?

A group of Goths splinters when Star leaves her lover Satori. Due to arrogance and false confidence Satori tries to win her back with magic, but instead brings Lilith (mother of demons) to Earth. What Lilith does and how her presence affects the lives of the whole group is the crux of the story. Star falls in love with Lilith, while Satori tries to save his ex from herself.

How do you develop your characters?

I have a good understanding of who each character is before I start writing. In many ways the characters dictate the story by acting in ways that, while sometimes shocking, are true to who they are. I want to know their history and how it affects the decisions they make in the present day. All of my characters are very flawed. As Star says “There are no heroes in this fairy tale.” 

Having flawed characters makes them very relatable! Which one of your characters would you like to be (a picture would be great if you have one)?

It’s not as though I want to be Star, more that she suffers from many of the self-doubts and much of the self-hatred I battle with myself. Her story revolves around her identity. She’s confused about who she is and afraid of how evil she may be if she achieves self-actualisation. She feels torn between the roles she’s expected to play – daughter, lover, friend, mother and woman. 

Putting in those personal experiences with your characters, give them a more real feeling to the readers. Nicely done! Have you used any real events or places as inspiration for your writing?

Many of my stories are based in Bristol, the city in the South West of England where I grew up. The Starblood series and The Ballerina and the Revolutionary are both set there. Bristol is a cosmopolitan urban area with a huge disparity between wealthy and poor and a very dark history connected to the slave trade.

What advice would you give to someone wanting to write a book?

Do it, but do it well. As you’re writing the first draft of the story you can forget about quality and let your imagination lead you to unexpected places. However, you owe it to yourself and your readers to never release an unpolished book. Rewriting and editing are at least as important as the story. Ensure that your message is clear, your characters believable, the story engaging, and the sentence structure easily understandable.

Fabulous advice! What are you working on now?

I have a few projects on the go. I’ve sent book four of the series to my editor and I am currently working with an artist to create a graphic novel based on book three. I am also jotting down initial ideas for book five, and writing a short horror story based on the element water for submission to an anthology. 

Sounds like you stay busy! What do you do when you have writers’ block?

I go for a walk or take a shower. I find both are great ways to kick start my imagination so I can return to the book. If that doesn’t work and I’m not on a strict deadline I will start a different project and return to the first book when I start thinking about it again.

What do you write about in your blog?

I mainly blog reviews of books I’ve read and about the process of writing. When I stray from this it is usually to share something personal about my life. We all have chequered histories and I frequently blog about experiences I’ve had, what I think about news stories, and my mental health.

Are there any writing styles or genres you dislike?

I am not a fan of sweet romance. I can suspend my disbelief for magic and demons, but not hearts and flowers. I guess I’m a cynic.

Quick quiz:

Favourite thing to cook: Stir fry with tofu.

Silliest saying: I told you so.

Best holiday spot: Brugge

Most played song: Moon Over Marin – Dead Kennedys

With writing, are you a plotter or (seat-of-your) Pantser? Pantser, I let my characters worry about plot.

Do you prefer to read SciFi or fantasy: Fantasy. I thought I didn’t like SciFi until I read Octavia Butler, Ursula LeGuin and Margaret Atwood.

Best superpower: Invisibility (at least my books are close to invisible)

Number one thing to do on your bucket list: Finish my creative writing degree.

Links For Readers to Find You!

Website  

Blog

Facebook

Goodreads

Twitter

Amazon

Youtube book trailer

Book Likes

Instagram

 

Thank you Carmilla for joining me today! You are an absolute pleasure and I do believe I’ve added some new books to my ‘to be read’ list!

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AUTHOR INTERVIEW: Ally Shield author of Guardian Witch Legacy Series

For anyone who has kept up with the reviews I’ve done, Ally Shields is no stranger to my screen! I find her to be an exceptional author and was honored when she agreed to come to the Pages and be interviewed! First lets get to know her a little and her newest book!

avatarAuthor bio: Ally Shields is a Midwestern writer with a love for mystery and the paranormal. Following a career in law and juvenile justice, she took up full-time writing. In 2012 her first urban fantasy was published, and she has a total of sixteen titles to date.  Shields loves to travel and often makes use of those settings in her novels. She welcomes reader feedback. You can reach her via her website, Facebook or Twitter (@ShieldsAlly).

 

Book title: Ring of Fire (Guardian Witch Legacy Book Three)

Genre: Urban Fantasy/Paranormal/YA/NA

Synopsis:

She stands between a daemon’s revenge and earth’s survival…

With her eighteenth birthday approaching, Rayne Calin-De Luca is feeling the pressure. Marked as the Chosen by an ancient prophecy, she and her parents—Guardian Witch Arianna and vampire prince Andreas—have desperately searched the world for the secrets behind the coming battle, when the ancient plague daemon Maelrad will break loose from Hell to wreak worldwide vengeance. So far, the means to defeat him have eluded them, and the inevitable conflict draws nearer with each passing hour…

As Maelrad’s power grows stronger, the demon’s poison is seeping through the veil and polluting the earth with violence. His minions openly stalk Rayne, her family, and friends. As things turn from bad to worse, Rayne’s confidence wavers. How can one novice witch defeat a centuries-old master daemon? She knows the terms of the prophecies forming the Esielen Triad cannot be changed. Armed only with her magic and a dagger, she is destined to face Maelrad alone.

For fans of kickass witches and the compelling men who fight alongside them comes the final book in the Guardian Witch universe. Ring of Fire winds up the action-packed sequel trilogy to the original series with an explosive conclusion.

RingOfFire_ByAllyShields-453x680

Publish date: May 24, 2019

Publisher: Etopia Press

A little tease of the book for ya…

 

CHAPTER ONE

“Yay. Rah! RW High! Kiss my ass and say goodbye!”Raucous laughter and giggles accompanied the verbal middle-finger outburst and the loud slapping of jeans and shorts.

Rayne Calin-De Luca grinned as she and her companions rode on the tide of noisy senior classmates exiting Riverdale West High School. It was her last day. A make-up day forced by too many winter storms. Loud voices, disordered bumping, and good-natured shoving reigned as the halls vibrated with barely contained energy.

The compulsory pomp and circumstance of graduation had been held yesterday, so this was really the end. The double-doors clanged behind them. A wild cheer erupted. The surging crowd stopped at the circular drive, then everyone was suddenly saying their goodbyes intermixed with animated chatter about summer plans. The demands to “call me” or “text me” were nearly drowned by the enthusiastic sharing of longer-range dreams: Cal Tech, MSU, the local community college, the Naval Academy, marriage, the hoped-for jobs.8153768 - the beautiful young woman holds a sword in a hand

Amid the clamor, Rayne exchanged empty promises to stay in touch with classmates she barely knew before linking arms with Stacy and Jerome, her only real human friends. The door was closing on the most conventional chapter in her life, and a fragile sense of belonging was already slipping away. In truth, she’d never been part of it, just a visiting witch-in-disguise, and their talk of future plans slammed her back into reality.

Rayne forced a smile. She did share some of the excited buzz. Yeah, really. She was happy for them. But couldn’t quite rally the optimism. Her own future was…chaotic? On a good day.

Rayne frowned, her feet glued in place, unaccountably hesitant to cut the cord completely. Attending full-time classes with non-magical kids had been funky at times—and mostly hassle-free. Well, once she’d gotten past a shaky beginning with the school’s mean girls. She’d nearly outed herself as a witch until RJ interrupted by dragging her away before she bespelled them or worse.

But she’d quickly learned to hide her abilities…and her attitude. From September to June she’d been just another teen for eight hours a day. The rest of the real Rayne, she’d kept tucked away. While girls’ locker room gossip about guys, rock stars, the latest fashion or nail treatment could be weirdly out of step with the darker talk at home of demon sightings and world-changing prophecies, it was also fun.

“Hey, Rayne. See you at the senior party.”

“You bet.” She nodded, not even sure who’d said it.

RW High hadn’t been a total culture shock. Despite the grinding hours of private training at home on magic spells and potions, martial arts, and weaponry with her three Otherworld mentors, Rayne had attended part-time public school since kindergarten. It wasn’t until last spring that the Riverdale Education Department put its foot down, requiring full-time attendance her senior year…or no diploma. Rayne had shrugged. So what? Who needed it? She had this freaking destiny to fulfill.

But Mum had insisted. And what Mum wanted, she got.

 

Get your copy today:

Amazon  Kobo  B&N  iBookstore   GooglePlay

Youtube book trailer: https://youtu.be/QdgJCWZhs7E

 

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So, Let’s not waste another minute! Readers, welcome Ally Shields!

Cheryllynn: Do you have a pen name and why?

Ally: Ally Shields ismy pen name. It’s a form of my mother’s maiden name, so it was easy to remember in the beginning. Now, it’s as much a part of me as my given name.

I originally thought I’d write mysteries and thrillers under my own name. When my first book turned out to be an urban fantasy, I wanted readers to know what kind of book they were getting, so I chose a separate pen name for those. As it turned out, Urban Fantasy has kept me so busy I haven’t had time to do anything with the mystery/thrillers.

Cheryllynn: Isn’t it funny how one name or another can turn into something fantastic! What was the defining event that made you start writing?

Ally: When I was nine, the impetus was running out of Walter Farley horse books to read. So I handwrote a one hundred and fifty page story of Golden King, a wild palomino stallion who befriended a nine year old girl. Imagine that! The story has been—fortunately or not—lost to posterity. Then school, family, work, and life intervened. Not that I didn’t collect boxes and drawers full of story ideas and partial chapters over the years. In 2009, I finally had time to return to writing, and my first urban fantasy was published in 2012.

Cheryllynn: Oh, how we’d love to see those first pieces! What made you choose this genre?

Ally: I didn’t. It chose me…or rather my character did. When I began that first novel, I intended to write a police procedural, pulling from my years in law and working within the law enforcement field. But on day three, my character announced she was a witch, and I had to reassess the entire story, beginning with some serious world building. I didn’t get back to the writing stage for three months while I created the backdrop for the Guardian Witch books.

Cheryllynn: Well, as a reader of this particular gem of a series… I love it! You did great and really hope the rest of the world figures out just how good you are! What song would you choose as the theme song of your book?

Ally: The Climb by Miley Cyrus. This could be the theme for the entire 10-book series. https://youtu.be/NG2zyeVRcbs

Cheryllynn: Did you say ten? Oh my, my kindle is ready and waiting! What are you working on now?

Ally:  I’m taking a sidestep and writing an historical mystery taking place during the Regency period in England. So far no paranormal characters have inserted themselves into the story. 🙂

Cheryllynn: How interesting! I may have to check that out when it’s ready.  How did you go about developing your cover artwork?

Ally: Normally, I don’t do anymore than fill out forms with some general ideas. By contract my small press publisher has total control over the cover. I never talk directly with the artist, nor do I know what goes on behind the scenes.

Oh, they always show me a draft cover and might make small changes regarding color or fonts, but several covers weren’t what I would have chosen.

Ring of Fire was different.

Rayne’s mother Arianna was the main character of the original 7-book series, and some likeness of her appeared on each of those covers. Because of Rayne’s young age in the first two books of the sequel trilogy, Ari continued to hold the limelight. But Ring of Fireis Rayne’s story, and I wanted her on the front. I argued strongly against the first two cover drafts and finally was allowed to choose the model photo (from a specific website). I wanted Rayne to look like the strong but still developing young woman she is. I think this one comes very close.

Cheryllynn: Wow, to let someone else have total control is a lot of trust! If you could only take three books with you through an interstellar portal, what would they be?

Ally: The Lord of the Rings trilogy by J.R. Tolkien. They’re incredibly well written, they’re long, and they are so complex you could re-read them many times and always find something new.

Cheryllynn: I personally haven’t read them but and told they are great! Who are your five favourite authors?

Ally: Only five? This changes so often it’s hard to choose. I read in several genres. Currently, C.S. Harris would be at the top. (I love her Sebastian St. Cyr historical mysteries.) All time favorite would be J.R. Tolkien. Three other favorites are Kim Harrison (Hollows series), Terry Brooks (Shanarra series), and Vince Flynn (Mitch Rapp spy thrillers). Since I read so widely, I could go on and on…

Cheryllynn:  Picking five is hard! What is your favourite quote?

Ally: It has been Carpe Diem (sieze the day) since I saw the 1989 movie Dead Poet’s Society. Powerful movie.

 Cheryllynn: Nice quote. What do you write about in your blog?

Ally: My Ally Shields website is dedicated to urban fantasy/paranormal (mostly my books and related topics), but the attached blog has a much wider range. My only consistent posts are the Coffee Chats on Wednesdays, when I do an interview similar to this of authors writing in a variety of genres. I love meeting new authors, hearing about their interesting backgrounds and about the books they write. As a result, I have a longTBR list.

I also announce my own new releases and occasionally write posts regarding writing, reading, marketing, or something else I think might be of interest to readers or writers. On the weekends I might have guest book spotlights for authors with new releases or wanting to give their backlist a boost.

Most of the guest authors/books are urban fantasy, mystery, and/or romance, but I welcome most mainstream genres. I keep it PG-13 for younger readers.

Cheryllynn: That is a nice blend of things, I’ll have to stop in and see what’s there! Do you prefer ebook or hardcopy?

Ally: I still have my traditional library filled with favorites, but I’m afraid I’m an ebook convert. Easy to buy, easy to read, and a cinch to store. My kindles (I have four) make it sooo simple to always have a great story at my fingertips.

Cheryllynn: For kindles! Wow and I thought I was bad!  I have the Kindle and iBook Apps pretty full!

Okay here is a little fun quick quiz for the readers to get to know you a little better:

Favourite thing to cook: Anything that goes in the microwave.

Silliest saying: My favorite silly saying is “Good friends don’t let you do stupid things…alone.”

Best holiday spot: Disney World in Florida. It’s so diverse.

Most played song: The Daughtersby Little Big Town (currently)

With writing, are you a plotter or (seat-of-your) pantser? pantser

Do you prefer to read SciFi or fantasy: fantasy (but I’m addicted to Anderle’s Kurtherian world)

Best superpower: teleportation

Number one thing to do on your bucket list: Return to London

 

Ally, you are an absolute pleasure! Than you so much for stopping by and joining me! I do hope the readers take the time to do a little social media stalking (following and liking and sending love) and pick up a book or two of yours to devour.

Find and follow Ally Shields at any of the links below!

Website: https://allyshields.com

Blog: https://allyshields.com/blog.html

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

Goodreads:http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6527209.Ally_Shields

Twitter:  http://twitter.com/ShieldsAlly

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Ally-Shields/e/B009AKNDZU

Email Newsletter: http://www.allyshields.com/contact-menewsletter.html

 

 

Learning your limitations

All my life I had to be very independent and yet now life makes me very dependent on others.

In the last few years, that need has grown exponentially. I’ve started having neurological issues and was diagnosed with peripheral neuropathy of both upper and lower limbs. Before that I had had two ankle surgeries to correct issues that has plagued me since I was a teenager. I’ve had more medical surgeries, tests, and appointments in the last four years that I’ve had all my entire life…forty seven years!

My mobility is limited. I’m not allowed to lift more than ten pounds which means technically I should never pick up a single one of many grandchildren. I can’t pull or push things that are too heavy as it strains my back that is now (as the doctor describes) a ‘ticking time bomb’ because in the last year and a half my L5-S1 has gone from minor to severe with issues. I can’t walk a mile without major pain. I can’t run or jog or jump, not even squat! I’m not able to sit or stand for long periods of time…and can barely lay on one side or my back without being in pain.

This lesson is a hard one to learn. I’ve had to accept that I am no longer the stronger version of myself that I once was, at least physically.

The lesson I am learning is that no matter what life was it will never stay the same and that at some point you will have to depend on others to help you.

Supporting more than stories

Ever find a an author and want to support them just a little more than you are? On patreon, that is possible! For as little as one dollar… yes, $1, a month you can support me and get some great goodies. If you want to do more, you can. The more support you give the more I give back to you!

Your support will help me continue to write and publish amazingly unique stories that not only entertain but also inspire uniqueness.

Wonder what your support would get? Take a look at the amazing tiers I’ve made for you:

$1 a month- Roaming Spirits – You will receive regular updates and get to see excerpts first along with mostly digital wallpapers created by me.

$3 a month – Sprites – You get what Roaming Spirits get as well as an eCopy of Calastan

$5 a month – Fairies – All that come before you as well as weekly updates and monthly chapters for as long as you are a Fairy.

$10 a month – Angels – All that Roaming Spirits, Sprites, and Fairies get as well as eCopy of each new release for as long as you are an Angel.

$25 a month – Gods and Goddesses – All that come before you get as well as signed copies of each newly released book as long as you are a God or Goddess.

$100 – a month or One time – TITAN – All that come before you get as well as an honorable mention in the next released book or each newly released book for as long as you are a Titan. I’d love your support.

What some readers say about me:

**The author is amazing. This is not the first book I’ve read by her and I can promise you it won’t be my last. This author has an amazing talent with taking a topic and giving her own unique spin to it. Think you’ve already read an x amount of books just like it? You’re wrong! I fully recommend this author to those who haven’t tried her before!

**Cheryllynn does a great job with her characters and makes you want to continue reading about them after the book in finished.

**Dyess has a lyrical way of bringing both the setting and characters to life. She’s wonderful with words. 

Thank you in advance for any support you give, even if its just a share!

Patreon

Then and Now

I’m sure you are wondering why I use such vague titles. Well, the shorter the title the shorter the URL. That’s really why! Plus it intrigues people and then they tend to want to see what I’m up to!

In relation to my social media life

Then…

I was very quite about politics and religion on all social media platforms. Kept to sharing basic emotions and nothing too high on the scale of creating a stir.

I always felt religion and politics were fire intensive and didn’t want to kick the hornets nest.

Now…

I post about everything. The whole point about this blog was for readers to get to know me…the real me. The me behind the pages of my work, behind the closed door of my life. To know me is to know my passions and understand why I write the way I do.

I’m temperamental, easily triggered (although not as much as even ten years ago), and I feel like I’ve found my voice again. Watch out world, haha.

So, when you see me on social media…be it here or on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or anywhere else – I will be less filtered. I will be more open.

I’ve always told people don’t ask me a question if you aren’t ready for the answer I am going to give. I am brash, upfront, and DON’T sugar coat a thing. Well, that still holds true now BUT I’ve learned to ask before answering, “Are you sure you want me to answer you?” or “Do you really want to know what I think?”

So that is me, then and now, in a nutshell.

***edited to add, I will always show respect in what I say and share

Acceptance

When you are finally allowed to be yourself an get complete acceptance its the most amazing feeling ever.

Growing up I was always the ‘black sheep’ along with one of my cousins. Her and I were the two outsiders in our family. We didn’t look like anyone in our families and we got worst of the treatments from many of the elders in the family.

As adults we’ve worked hard to break the cycles of accepting the difference in our family members and most our children. Acceptance allows the individual to grow with positive self-esteem and allows them to grow into better adults.

Remember to always respect the differences of others and accept them for those. Knowing that I am accepted for who I am without reservation gives me strength to show the world, and not hide behind a facade. The more real a person can be the better that person will be.

Support Service Started

So I’ve done something new and exciting. I created a Patreon! If you love my writing and would like to support me, please visit and join a tier – https://www.patreon.com/cheryllynndyess

You can support me for as little as $1 a month – Each tier gets their own special perks!

$1 a month- Roaming Spirits – You will receive regular updates and get to see excerpts first along with mostly digital wallpapers created by me.

$3 a month – Sprites – You get what Roaming Spirits get as well as an eCopy of Calastan

$5 a month – Fairies – All that come before you as well as weekly updates and monthly chapters for as long as you are a Fairy.

$10 a month – Angels – All that Roaming Spirits, Sprites, and Fairies get as well as eCopy of each new release for as long as you are an Angel.

$25 a month – Gods and Goddesses – All that come before you get as well as signed copies of each newly released book as long as you are a God or Goddess.

$100 – a month or One time – TITAN – All that come before you get as well as an honorable mention in the next released book or each newly released book for as long as you are a Titan. I’d love your support.

Thank you on advance for any support you give.

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Scavenger Hunt

Playing hide and seek has been a fun game for since I was a child and now I’m doing it again!

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FSF Readers Lounge Presents its first ever Solstice Scavenger Hunt.

Running from June 16th to June 29th – 19 authors joined forces to offer readers a chance at $75 cash via PayPal and 19 eBooks as a Grand Prize! 38 secondary prizes (an eBook from one of our participating authors) will be given to randomly chosen participants with the correct answer.

To play for a chance to win you must go to each of the authors sites listed below, collect the “hidden” word(s), unscramble them, and then enter to win!

Entering does not enter you into anything! You have the option to choose who to subscribe to and who to follow – the only requirements are 1- you must follow the Facebook page for the Readers Lounge in order to get the winners announcement and -2- use the link to enter the giveaway, but I hope you choose to follow the wonderful authors participating in this hunt!

Grand Prize

$75 Cash via PayPal

19 eBooks

Make sure to visit all the sites to gather all your words! Happing Hunting!

Rennie St. James  Marie Andreas  Selina J. Eckert   Linn Tesli

Marsha A Moore   Kasper Beaumont   PJ MacLayne

D.L. Gardner    Katie Cherry   Dora Blume   Odin Oxthorn

Charity Bradford   Eileen Schuh  Noelle Nichols  Alison Lyke

Mae Baum   Melinda Kucsera   Stacy Overby

To find my word – Go to Home and find the eclipse, collect your word, unscramble the quote and then Enter Here

Good luck! Happy Hunting!

New directions

Over the last few years I have worked hard to hone some of my digital skills – this includes formatting the interior of books, designing book covers, as well as designing other graphics such as business logos, and also designing websites.

Well, today I took the leap and filed for a trademark for this new venture. Cybele Digital Services is now a real deal thing! I will also be offering my services to those who need help scheduling and posting to various social media platforms.

I wanted to create  name that held my legal name initials but without using my name. So with the help of my best friend, and my husband… Cybele was chosen.

I always tend to go with pagan gods and goddesses for names of things and Cybele embodied all of that and many of personality traits – She was early on worshipped as a goddess of the mountains and the Greeks identified her with Rhea and Demeter.

So, Cheers to this new direction and addition to the paths that I take!

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