Back in April I introduced you to the up and coming author, Alison Aldridge. Well, the time has come for her debut novel, Ocean Heart, to be released on December 1st. Last year I was lucky enough to read an early copy of Ocean Heart as a beta reader, and I can’t wait for you all to read it, and to pick up a paperback for myself.
High school teen Mariah’s life is anything but simple. Between a crush on her best friend and a rivalry brewing with the swim team star, her powers awaken early. When Mariah’s guardian meddles in her life with magic, she causes more harm than good. The soul reapers are coming and there’s a werewolf hungry for merblood. All secrets wash ashore sooner or later, and Mariah’s about to discover hers. Mixing a messy love life with deadly powers will whip up a storm of trouble. Can Mariah contain it or will she be swept up in its wake? A gripping story about a mermaid, self acceptance, and romance that literally sparks.
Here’s what Ally had to say about the writing of Ocean Heart.
What inspired you to write Ocean Heart? My current project has been inspired by my personal experiences; my hometown, an image, other stories, and music.
I married my best friend, but getting together wasn’t easy. The complications of a best friend romance is one of the challenges my MC faces.
I was very inspired by Rachel Vincent’s werecat series. I loved how she integrated fantasy into real life. I wanted to do something similar, but in the UK, with teens and create my own secret world.
Ellie Goulding’s song, Starry Eyed, was playing on the radio and it inspired my main character, Mariah; A teen, first love and a no control over her lightening powers.
I’m a huge fan of The Little Mermaid. As a child, I got teased for my red hair. Luckily, my best friend Jo loved my hair. We were about age 7 when we went to the cinema for my birthday to watch the movie and she said, “Ariel is beautiful, like you”. Those words meant so much to me and comforted me when others were mean. I think a lot of teens experience changes that cause them to question where they belong. I wanted Mariah to be a misfit that learns to accept her uniqueness. It made sense for her to be a mermaid with red hair.
Early in the process I found an image online that inspired a scene in my book. It was a pair of tangled legs underwater. The girl is wearing a red silk dress and the boy is wearing denim jeans. When I saw the image, it inspired a key scene in the novel.
Fancy an excerpt? I thought you might!
Keen to know more? Head to allyaldridge.com for all the details hot off the press. You can check out my full interview here but, I did have one final question that I think you’ll want the answer to.
Is there going to be a follow up to Ocean Heart? Yes. The next book is Sky Heart and follows Kiely.
Kiely is the nemesis in book 1, but I always believe there are two sides to every story. Kiely is rebuilding herself after hitting rock bottom.
I’ve almost finished the first draft. I know what must happen but I struggle with endings. As Ocean Heart is my primary project, Sky Heart is on hold. Hopefully when I get back to Sky Heart, I’ll get those last chapters finished.
My plan is for the series to follow different shifter/spiriter types. There will be an optimum order but can be read as a stand-alone. There may be spin off novellas too. I have endless ideas, it’s always time I’m short of.
Ocean Heart will be out on December 1st and is available for preorder now! Stay up date with Ally over on Instagram.
This month’s Author Q&A is with indie author and cosplayer, Xander Cross. Check out Xander’s Instagram,Facebook or Twitter and see for yourself the amazing images peppering the pages. Better yet, you can dm or message him for signed copies of his books!
Xander Cross mostly lives a boring life with his spouse and cat. He holds a bachelor’s degree in History, which he uses to write his paranormal fiction. A lifelong enthusiast of Japanese culture and folklore, Xander cosplays as a kitsune yōkai on occasion, and photographic evidence can be found on Instagram and Pinterest under @ayakashi_fox. He’s also published a short novella series as an adjunct to “The Atlas Dystopia Apocalyptica,” entitled “Come by Night” on Wattpad.
Getting to Know You
What motivated you to become an indie author? My main motivation for going indie with “The Atlas Dystopia Apocalyptica” is due to the controversial nature of its content. I need the creative control for the main character to say and do things that I can’t imagine a mainstream publishing house being comfortable with. And I also love the control over the book’s appearance.
When you’re not writing, how do you spend your time? I’m always busy. If I’m not writing, editing, and publishing TADA, I’m working on a major side project, like “Come by Night” novelettes. In my spare time, I beta and review read for my fellow indie authors, make digital art, and anything else that pops up. I work from waking to sleeping.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you? I adore the second edit. I adore reading the book I essentially wrote for myself, and my OCD loves tweaking it. But the best of all is publishing, holding my book in my hands, and getting my beloved characters out there. When someone tells me that they connected with what I put out there? Over the moon.
The Writing Process
What is your writing process? It’s difficult to explain how I create what I do. I usually see an image that sparks a desperate yearning within me. It fills my heart to almost bursting, you know? So I play with it and daydream adventures/dialogue. Eventually, I write down the scenes I love most, I suppose to make them tangible. Then I start writing the rest in chronological order, more or less. I am renowned for jumping ahead as the inspiration strikes or if I get stuck. I write the first draft, give it a few weeks, edit to second draft, give it to my editor, edit again, beta test, edit again, then I read it into a microphone and give the manuscript its final polish. Then I do all the steps required to publish.
How do you get inspired to write? I just sit down and make myself do it. But if you are referring to the act of creating? It is an amalgamation of images that I see with music. Sometimes the music creates the scenes, sometimes it enhances ones I have. A lot of my work is stitched perfectly to music.
What’s your advice for aspiring writers? I would say: don’t try to get it perfect on the first draft. You’re going to have to edit it anyway, so be prepared to read your manuscript quite a lot. If you want to be a writer, write, even if it is three sentences a day. It adds up, and over time the daily word count will increase. Your endurance will improve. Never give up and keep at it — but take it seriously. Set aside time each day and make yourself do it. You are the only one who can tell your story your way, and it deserves to be told.
What are your five favorite books, and why? I never do well at “favorites” questions because I like lots of things for a variety of different reasons. However, these five authors were the most influential to me as a writer:
Robert Greene, — “The 48 Laws of Power,” “The 33 Strategies of War,” and “The Art of Seduction” (and more!) I read these books as research for my current WIP, but I will be applying all this to my trunked series this spring. Not only is this great for characterizations and layering your plots and making incredible villains, but they are life-transforming on their own merit. I plan to read more titles by this author in the near future.
Chris Voss (former FBI Hostage Negotiator) — “Never Split the Difference” I just started this one as research for TADA Book 3, and it is already a favorite. Profoundly life changing.
George R.R. Martin — “A Song of Ice & Fire” The storytelling style of the first three books of “A Song of Ice & Fire” were influential when I wrote my trunked trilogy, because that is a multi-POV WIP involving political intrigue and war in a medieval setting. I think the third installment of Mr. Martin’s series is the best. The energy, arcs, the wind up… it was captivating. I learned a lot about putting a book together just by listening to the first three as audio books read by Roy Dotrice repeatedly during the summer of 2006.
Jim Butcher — “The Dresden Files” I have to admit Butcher is my literary influence for putting together a fun and thrilling action-adventure in first person. I adore “The Dresden Files.” The 14th book in this series is my favorite.
Sharon K. Penman — “Here Be Dragons” When it comes to historical fiction done brilliant, I have to go with this author. She makes the past engaging, knows political intrigue, and really gets into the psychology of her characters, which happen to be historical figures.
How do you discover the books you read? These days, I find everything via word of mouth, usually written by my indie friends. My TBR is a mile long.
What books are on your reading list this year? Right now I’m reading “Omega Rising” by Douglas Pierce. On the list: “Aspiring” by Astrid V.J., “Divided and Enhanced” by M.J. Unger, “The Burn’s Fire” by N.M. Thorn. “The Hunted Maiden” and “The Seedling’s Song” also by Douglas Pierce. And that’s just the tip of iceberg.
The Dragon Game: Book Two of The Atlas Dystopia Apocalyptica Book
It is spring 2121, and the Council of Dragons is gathering in New Tokyo for their twelve-year conference. There’s just one problem: the ancient rulers of the Far East believe Youta is a filthy usurper. They seek to destroy the younger dragon for disrupting the old order — and his defiled shrine fox with him. As chief of security for Youta Clan, Hayate cannot afford for anything to go wrong…
Except, a saboteur is on the loose and she has a vengeful spirit on her side. To discover the culprit, Hayate must ally with Konan, a cybernetic human mercenary, and hunt down the diabolical sorceress in a hotel full of enemy dragons and demons before she unleashes her legion of ghosts to destroy them all!
A Supernatural/Cyberpunk Fantasy – rated AD+ for mature content.
What inspired you to write The Dragon Game? “The Atlas Dystopia Apocalyptica” series was inspired by several things. The first was a post-apocalyptic nightmare and the dream that followed it back around 2004, inspired by Charles de Lint’s “Svaha.” The nightmare featured a plague that is in my series, while the dream was about a male kitsune in that same future world. I never wrote it, and I scrapped the idea because I have a red fox kin character in my trunked trilogy. But in 2016, I saw an image that led me to an anime called “Kamisama Kiss,” which has a white male kitsune leading character. I fell in love with the concept to the point that I realized I kinda wished I could be that thing. I asked myself what an immortal life would be like in the world that we are creating, and TADA was the answer.
Is there going to be a follow up to The Dragon Game? TADA is a twenty book series, mostly planned out already with a little room for inspiration on the fly [confirmed plantser]. The plan is to release each book every autumn. Last year it was “The Origin of the White Wind,” which introduces Hayate and his terrifying world. “The Dragon Game,” coming out on October 16th, takes place a little over a year after Book One ends.
The Dragon Game: Book Two of The Atlas Dystopia Apocalyptica Series is available from Amazon now!
Our September Author Q&A features indie author, Grace Herbst. Check out her Instagram page and see for yourself her love of Disney, The Babysitter’s Club books and the escapades of her bestie, Molly.
Growing up in a small town in Illinois didn’t hinder Grace Herbst’s creativity or her passion for storytelling. Instead, she was even more inspired to write about the close-knit community of a small town. Since 2010, she has used her creativity to dive in to fanfiction and turned the worlds of television shows One Tree Hill and Grey’s Anatomy upside down.
Overcoming obstacles and seeing a light at the end of the tunnel has always been a prominent theme in her stories. When she’s not causing chaos in the fanfiction world or her original stories, she’s fighting off her weakness of chocolate. She currently resides outside of Detroit, Michigan with her Wonder Dog, Molly.
Getting to Know You
What motivated you to become an indie author? I researched the pros and cons of both being traditionally published and self-published. For me, the pros of being self-published outweighed the pros for traditionally published. I wanted to have complete creative control. I wanted to write the story I wanted to write without following a certain trend. Yes, it was going to be challenging but I was prepared for the journey.
When you’re not writing, how do you spend your time? When I’m not writing, I am losing myself in a great book, or playing with my lovely writing companion: my dog Molly. I also have a part-time job that takes me away from writing, but I’m learning to balance my time to be productive.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you? Using my creativity to come up with stories that people enjoy reading.
The Writing Process
What is your writing process? I’m a proud pantser. For my first draft, I just write whatever comes out of my head. When it comes to my second draft, that’s when I really read my story and figure out what scenes go where. My third draft is when I include descriptions and actions. Then I send it to my editor before I write the fourth draft.
How do you get inspired to write? I’ve always had a passion for writing. Ever since my childhood, I have been writing little stories. I have thought about pursuing my dream, but I didn’t know how to take that first step forward. It wasn’t until I began researching about the different options of publishing that I really pushed myself.
What’s your advice for aspiring writers? I’ve learned this from another author: the first thing to do before you start this journey is to define your definition of success. Do you want to see your book on a bookshelf? Is your goal from this is to make lots of sales? Or do you (like me) want to focus on improving your craft and building a loyal fanbase? Answering the question will help you determine which path you want to go on.
What are your five favorite books, and why? I don’t know if I can just choose five books. The Harry Potter series is up high on the list because I just fell in love with that world. The characters. Magic spells. The plot. I don’t think I could write a better plot than what the author did.
One of the more recent books I read that easily became one of my favorite books was The Rural Diaries by Hilarie Burton Morgan. I knew Hilarie as an actress, but I never knew her as a person. Her book really gave me a new perspective of her and it made me respect her even more.
The Shadow Demons saga is also on the list. It’s an urban fantasy series by Sarra Cannon, a self-published author. I have never been so addicted to reading a series before. I love fantasy so this was right up my alley. It has witches and demons. Twists and turns. They are page turners. I highly recommend the series if anyone loves urban fantasy.
How do you discover the books you read? I always had gone to the library and look through books there. After I began self-publishing, I started to look at other self-published authors to see if I was interested in reading their books. The search also included social media once I joined bookstagram.
What books are on your reading list this year? I love Allison Brennan. Her next book is coming out soon: Cold as Ice (Lucy Kincaid #17). I’m looking forward to Jenn McKinlay’s next book in the Library Lover’s Mystery series: One for the Books. I am also interested in reading the Twisted Tales series that tells the “What if” Disney stories.
Behind Closed Doors Book 1: Brave New Girl
Skipping school. Drinking. Partying with a fake ID. Taking the school’s driver’s education car for a joyride. It was all fun and games until a car accident changed everything.
Now Ashley Meyer was determined to forget her wild sophomore year and start anew. No more hanging out with Roxanne Spencer. No more rebelling against her father and new stepmother. No more counseling. In a new town with new friends, Ashley hopes to leave her troubled past behind and move on to a more promising future.
But not everyone is welcoming to the new girl, and Ashley begins to wonder if moving to a new town really is the key to a better life…or whether things would be better if she went back to the city after all.
Take a look at where the series began with Brave New Girl.
What inspired you to write Confident New Chloe? Without giving away the plot, I wanted to write a story about how one person’s actions had consequences that affected the whole family. And, I wanted to try and get everyone’s perspective on this event.
Is there going to be a follow up to Confident New Chloe? Confident New Chloe is my third book in my YA book series dealing with social issues. There are plans for a fourth book that I’m planning to publish in spring 2021.
Behind Closed Doors Book 3: Confident New Chloe will be available from Amazon very soon!
Welcome to a brand new feature where I get to spend time with some of my characters and play good cop/bad cop as I ask the questions everyone wants to know. First up is Mary. Luckily, I managed to catch her at the church owned by Lucas before she had to leave on some mission. Here’s a mini bio to get us started.
Known only as Mary, any other names have been forgotten to time. She was born in 1542 and was once one of Mary Queen of Scots’ ladies in waiting.
Mary is 5’5″ tall with a slight figure and her most striking feature is her long banner of bright red hair.
I’m sitting in what looks like an old room used for storage. Benches line the walls and, like many of the rooms in the church, there is a stunning stained glass window depicting an angel. Mary glides into the room and takes a seat opposite me, crossing her legs with the grace of a ballet dancer.
Jodie: Hi Mary, it’s great to meet you properly. I hope you are well? Mary: As well as can be expected, I guess. (She shrugs with a small quirk of her lips.)
J: Mmmm… (Tapping my pen on my notepad) It was touch and go there with Tory for a while. How worried were you? M: Her injuries were quite severe. If she didn’t make it… No. It’s not worth thinking about. She’s alright now, which is the main thing.
J: You seem to look on the bright side most of the time. When Tory is conflicted, you are able to help her reason things out and allow her to reach her own conclusion. Have you always been that way? M: (She smiles brightly.) In a way, I had to be. It was drilled into me from an early age due to my position in society. As a courtier, yes, we were afforded some luxuries, but everything was a balancing act. One step out of place, a look taken in the wrong way, a comment or piece of advice that was taken out of context, and you would find yourself packing your bags and out on the street, or worse.
J: Talking of court, how long were you with Mary Stuart? M: From the beginning to the end (She sighs wistfully with a faraway look). By the time she was executed, I’d already been turned.
J: You must have had amazing self control as a fledgling vampire to remain in service and be surrounded by people. M: Mmm, I’m sure there are still a few mysteries from the time that are yet to be solved (She lifts an eyebrow pointedly and we both laugh). In all honesty, it helped that we didn’t have all the electronic devices that we have now. There are a lot of things us vampires have gotten away with over the years that we wouldn’t dream of doing now. It’s just not worth the risk. But you could say I was one of the lucky ones. My maker remained close to me, helped me, mentored me.
J: So, who was your maker, and why did they turn you? M: Good questions, but not something I want to go into. (I can’t hide my disappointment but she shrugs with a small shake of her head.) It’s no secret, but I’d rather not say until I’ve spoken with someone. They don’t know and I’d rather be the one to tell them, so they don’t hear it along the grapevine. I just need to find a quiet moment. As for why, I still don’t know the full reasons. I think they were looking for some companionship and were also sympathetic of my situation. It was possible that I would suffer the same fate as Mary.
J: What did you do from there? The 1500s were a long time ago. M: True, but time also has a way of passing by. To protect me from questioning —there’s only so long you can put the lack of aging down to good genes— we travelled to a remote part of France. I learned so much. Up until that point, I’d lived as a Lady. Suddenly I was able to wear men’s clothing, go hunting, tracking and foraging, use swords and fight. I never looked back, only forwards to the next adventure.
J: You’ve known Kylan for some time and seem quite friendly. When did your paths cross, and how close were you exactly? M:(She tucks some hair behind her ear, a half smile tugging at one side of her mouth.) Yes, we’ve known each other a while, since the end of the 1800s. We met in Blackpool, and it’s a long story involving the circus and some other events that I’ll leave to Ky to discuss. They aren’t my secrets to tell. Over the years, we have somehow managed to find our way back to each other despite the size of the world and lack of communication. It’s gotten better in recent years. To answer the real question, we have been very close. There was once the possibility of us being something more, but circumstances conspired against us.
J: Would you still like there to be something more between you? M:(Letting out a long breath, she takes her time to answer and I’m on the edge of my seat.) Yes… and no. Is there still an attraction? I think so. I mean, have you seen him? And it’s not just looks. He’s really sweet and caring, but there’s also this brooding, troubled side to him that is very appealing. When we were together, there was undeniable chemistry. But, he’s with Tory now. I’m not the kind of person to go steaming in and destroy a relationship. Besides, I do really like Tory and, seeing them together, despite the age gap, they are good for each other.
J: But, aren’t you a few hundred years older than Ky? M: You’ve got me there. (We both laugh until there is a knock at the door. One of Lucas’ staff calls to Mary that it is time.)
J: Well, thank you so much for allowing me to interview you, Mary. M: No, thank you for having me. I just hope that we can do it again sometime in the future.
After Mary leaves the room, it suddenly feels so much colder. It’s true that she brings a warmth with her, like a big hug. Whatever mission the group are going on, it sounds intense. Let’s keep our fingers crossed that they all return.
Welcome to my August Author Q&A, and I’m excited to introduce you to N.M. Thorn. After meeting through Instagram, we quickly became friends in the writing community, a place you really need to explore if you are a budding writer. I’m currently five chapters into The Burns Fire, the first book in Thorn’s Fire Salamander Chronicles, and I can definitely say that it’s a gripping read. Being the creative genius behind my book cover for Sorceress of Truth, I think we can all agree that N.M. Thorn is a very talented lady!
N.M. Thorn is an author of the Fire Salamander Chronicles, Urban Fantasy action-adventure series. Currently, she lives in South Florida with her husband and son. Owner of a digital marketing agency by day and a writer by night, she loves spending her time creating new worlds, paranormal planes of existence and anything that could be described as supernatural.
When she is not busy working with everything digital or exploring fantasy worlds, she spends time with her family, reading, painting or practicing martial arts.
Getting to Know You
What motivated you to become an indie author? What if I told you I have no answer to this question? Looking back, I don’t know why I started to write, and what motivated me to open a Word document and type in the first word. It was some internal drive that cannot be explained. A burning need to do it, no matter what. It took me a while to publish my first novel. My husband and my friend, who’s a successful indie author, convinced me to publish my first book. Since I’ve never considered the traditional route, indie publishing was the only choice for me.
When you’re not writing, how do you spend your time? My husband and my son are my biggest supporters, and I enjoy spending time with them. I love art and anything creative. Digital art or hand illustration is something I do for a living and as a hobby. Besides that, I practice a few different styles of martial arts, but I hold a black belt in Tae-Kwon-Do. The best decision I’ve ever made was to share my love for Martial Arts with my son.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you? It is the response from my readers and the communications with them. Answering emails and messages on social media is the favorite part of my day. Knowing that people read my stories and enjoy them makes me incredibly happy. I hope that in the current situation, my books provide at least some escape from reality, allowing my readers to take a break and relax.
The Writing Process
What is your writing process? I always start with the research. Every book of the Fire Salamander Chronicles starts with either a real historical event or a legend, and until I complete my research, I don’t move forward with the writing. I don’t do a detailed outline. However, before I start writing, I make sure I know where my story is going and how it will end.
My editing never ends, and it begins with the first word I put on the paper. I know it is not recommended to edit while writing the 1st draft, but that is exactly what I do, and it works for me. Once I complete a chapter, I read it over. Once I complete an act of my story, I go back and revisit everything I’ve written so far. Not so much to catch the typos, but to make sure I didn’t leave or introduced any holes and that everything, including the dialog, makes sense. I do catch typos and correct them, too. After the first draft is complete, I put my work through three-four more rounds of editing before I finally format the manuscript.
How do you get inspired to write? I don’t wait for inspiration, I just sit down and write. Every day. No matter how I feel about it. In most cases, the inspiration comes while I’m writing.
What’s your advice for aspiring writers? Believe in yourself. Give yourself some credit. Trust that you can do anything you put your mind to and don’t let people’s negativity stop you from doing what you love. Read, learn the craft, write, and then keep writing. This is the only way to improve.
What are your five favorite books, and why?
Storm Front by Jim Butcher. Actually, any book of The Dresden File series. These books are what made me fall in love with the Urban Fantasy genre in the first place.
The Witch World by Andre Norton. This was the book that introduced me to the Historical Fantasy Genre. The writing style is absolutely beautiful, and the story keeps you at the edge of your seat all the way to the last page.
A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. Le Guin. I would read anything written by this amazing writer, but the The Earthsea Cycle Series is my favorite.
The Iron King by Maurice Druon. My love for historical fiction started with the Accursed Kings series. It is still one of my favorite series in this genre.
The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexander Dumas. Historical fiction action-adventure. Please don’t watch the movie. Read the book. Even in translation, it is an amazing masterpiece.
How do you discover the books you read? At the moment, I read mostly books written by Indie Authors. Most of them I discover through Instagram, but I do read books recommended by family and friends.
The Fire Salamander Chronicles
When you’re a supernatural weapon of mass destruction, it can be hard to walk in the world of humans, especially when you work for the FBI…
Zane Burns–a.k.a. Gunz–is a Fire Salamander who works for a secret paranormal division of the FBI. After receiving a late-night call from his boss, Zane gets involved into a multiple homicide investigation. Little does he know, he is headed right into a storm of supernatural mayhem powered by dark magical forces.
Chased by supernatural thugs and blackmailed by the Russian mob, soon he becomes entangled in a web of lies and intrigue, making it impossible to tell who is friend and who is foe. Time is running out. The stakes are growing. And if he is to survive, he must push himself and his abilities further than he ever has before.
The Burns Fire – The Fire Salamander Chronicles Book One
What inspired you to write The Fire Salamander Chronicles? The idea of the Fire Salamander was born while I was working on the character of Kal, the Fire Elemental. I was researching all possible magical beings who could represent the magnificent Fire Elemental and came across Salamanders in medieval lore. That’s how the idea of the Fire Salamander came to life. The character of Gunz (Zane Burns) was introduced in a trilogy that hasn’t been published yet, but the Fire Salamander Chronicles is the spin-off from the trilogy.
Is there going to be a follow up to The Burns Enigma? Yes. If everything goes as planned, I am planning to release the sixth book of the Fire Salamander Chronicles in September.
The Fire Salamander Chronicles are available from Amazon, and free on Kindle Unlimited. Sign up to N.M. Thorn’s newsletter for a free novella prequel to The Fire Salamander Chronicles, The Burns Path.