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Book Nerd Meets YouTube by Toi Thomas

Book Nerd Meets YouTube by Toi Thomas

I love books. Really. I love to read books and enjoy the stories or information within them. Being the geek girl that I am, I have room in my heart for music, movies, and TV too, but books are my first love. In the year 2022, there is so much more to being a book nerd than carrying an armful of books everywhere you go. These days, we have options.

I read hardcover and paperback books, ebooks in many formats, comic books and graphic novels, and even listen to audiobooks when I’m in the mood. I never leave home without a library of books between my e-reader and cellphone. But no matter how I get my read on, reading doesn’t have to be a solitary activity anymore. You can join a book club, do a buddy read, or dive into social media with cool apps like Goodreads and The StoryGraph, as well as the book communities on Instagram and Tik Tok. But the ultimate book nerd kick for me lately is Youtube.

Aside from YouTube being the ultimate entertainment spot for niche content, communities form quickly and grow quickly, such as #booktube and #authortube. As a book nerd, I’m all for both of these communities.

Booktube is where readers read and share their experiences and invite others to be part of it. This is a great way to find out about new and or trending books, watch book reviews, and share comradery with other readers.

Authortube is where writers and authors share their experiences of being a writer, often giving details about their process and their works, while also providing tips and advice to others seeking to publish in some form or fashion.



I knew I had to find a way to be part of these communities, so I launched my own channel and have never looked back. Every month, I look forward to updating viewers on how my reading challenges are going and then sharing my book reviews with them. Remember, I’m a geek girl, so I also throw TV and movie reviews in there from time to time and share Hauls of the geekish things I’ve acquired. I enjoy giving a monthly update on my writing. I also share an interview series where I have a conversation with authors from my local area as well as authors from around the world.



Like other authors out there, I also post book trailers and promotional content when it’s relevant. One of my favorite things to do, from time to time, is to share the blessings in my life. It helps keep me grounded. Maintaining my Toi Thomas YouTube channel is just another part of my bookish life. Perhaps, if you love books as much as I love books, you’ll stop by and check me out along with all the other amazing people in the #booktube and #authortube communities.

© Copyright 2013 CorbisCorporation
© Copyright 2013 CorbisCorporation

A self-proclaimed techie and foodie, Toi Thomas was born in Texas, U. S. A. but considers Virginia, U. S. A. to be home. She enjoys reading, cooking, painting, geek culture, collecting vinyl records, and spending time with her family. Currently working as a behavioral clinician, Toi and her husband, Eric, share their home with a tortoise named Betty and a Redbone Coonhound named Margie.

Toi writes clean, adult multi-genre fiction ranging from science fiction to romance (as Glorie Townson), nonfiction, as well as writes and illustrates children’s picture books. Toi Thomas is also the founder of Lit Carnivale and the creator of Carnie the Bookworm.

Find Toi online here: Visit her channel: Visit her blog: The ToiBox of Words – Find her on Amazon:

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How Books Learned to Love Video Games- A Guest post by Joshua Pantalleresco

Joshua Pantalleresco

He writes stuff…and podcasts too.

The end.

Okay, fine.

He lives in Calgary where he goes to achieve his goals of being a successful writer and podcaster. His podcast, Just Joshing airs on Itunes and can be located at Just Joshing

As for his writing, he’s written epic poems about children wandering in a post apocalyptic world. His main character in his next book is being chased by zombie mobsters and unicorns that fart rainbows. Stories, he believes, exist everywhere.

As well as he can write, he doesn’t draw so well. His stick figures revolt (but that’s another story…)

The End.

Once Upon a Time

Once upon a time, books were a great source of entertainment. Perhaps the greatest of them. For books had the power to transport your imagination to fall away realms that existed inside the mind of the writer creating them. Radio and television try as they might couldn’t capture the feeling and experience that books did. Television was visual yet unimaginative, and while radio certainly was creative, it didn’t create images with the same sensations.

Little did all the art forms know that a new form of expression came to threaten them all. People laughed at the sprites on the screen when Atari was released. And don’t even get me started on pong and Commodore 64s.  But as the bits and bytes and sprites became more sophisticated and programmers figured out new ways of creating worlds, terror slowly spread to the other mediums.

Books you see, were troubled the most. Television required far less effort than video games. Books required an investment of time.  After all, you have to spend time with a book to appreciate it. So in time, books came to fear video games. It’s a borderline unhealthy fear. Actually, upon further reflection, it’s more like books are jealous of video games. Never mind that video games are like a cooler, younger generation that’s more in touch with the times. They look sleek, have awesome advertising prescience.  Their companies spend more dollars on them than publishers traditionally do. They take care of them.

But it’s not a matter of money envy. It’s because video games can do something books simply cannot do. Books know this, and dread this truth.

This writer loves video games. They’ve been a part of his life since he got that Nintendo system back in 1990. Double Dragon, Rush N/’ Attack, Mike Tyson’s Punchout and Mario Brothers were as much the cornerstone of developing his imagination as anything else. The Super Nintendo followed in 1991 and Josh became hooked forever. Three of his favorite fantasy games of all time, Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, Final Fantasy VI (Then called 3) and Chrono Trigger all rocked Josh’s world.  Fun, story driven games, that changed how I approached storytelling.  Later in life he would fall in love with Persona, Final Fantasy 13, and any of the Tales games.

He didn’t fully understand the gap between games and literature until very recently. On his podcast Just Joshing, in which Josh interviewed Vox Pop Games about their new platform (which is awesome for indy games by the way), an epiphany struck Josh and shook him to his core. The answer was interaction. Video games don’t just read well, they tell their stories with how the game is played.

It can be anything. It can be something crazy like Borderlands or Grand Theft Auto. Street fighter and Mortal Kombat have incredible mythologies to them. Also, new concepts such as Dark Souls, Demon Souls and Bloodborne changed the idea of how games can convey stories, and overcome obstacles. Try as books might, books can’t quite do that. Books tried to capture with choose your own adventure books, yet alas, that proved to be too shallow a pool. When you can have games like Into a Dream or Nino Ku ni out in the world, you can capture deep narratives that synergize with a player’s empathy, much like the Wheel of Time can snare you with Robert Jordan’s elegant prose, or whisk you into worlds close to home like Charles De Lint.

Only video games have interaction on top of storytelling. They have a sense of accomplishment that books can’t do. So books became jealous of this fledgling art form. They would hide their feelings of inadequacy by talking down to video games. Video games would feel bad, and a little ashamed. The truth is, video games are a wonderful form of entertainment that can build confidence in people. If you can beat a level, or solve a problem on a platform, you learn vital skills that will make you a better human being and more confident one.

Books can’t do that

But books can learn from that.

Josh wanted to learn from video games.  So when he wrote the Cloud Diver, Josh’s goal was to capture the flavor of a video game inside his novel. He couldn’t make the book interact, but I could give that same kinetic vibe that some of my favorite games have. He could world build and create a surreal place that readers would want to experience through Johnny’s eyes. He would use first person voice, to lead the reader into feeling just a little bit more like a player. Finally, Josh would create wondrous and terrible obstacles for my heroes to overcome.

There was a party that was on quest to do good. The villain was the evil VoidLife corporation, which had ties to another game Josh enjoyed as a kid called Shadowrun. The action would move quickly, the characters would be quirky, all of them based on some familiar video game stuff Josh grew up reading as a kid.

Finally, books and Josh had a final revelation in finishing his story. It turns out books could interact with readers in a way video games couldn’t with players. Imagination. Readers had to imagine the worlds described on the page. Readers didn’t have maps or sprites or graphics to display the worlds that companies and developers created. This was all the child of a writer’s brains and experiences. Video games found that there was one thing that it could learn from books.

And in time, books and video games got along. Video games learned to respect itself just a little more. It would produce some incredible games, and some bad ones too. But much like books, the power of a good video game is in the story it tells either through the story or the way the game is played. It had dimensions books couldn’t match.

But with books you could imagine. And in that, they were different enough that both could find spaces for each other.

And they lived happily ever after.

Do you enjoy Josh’s unique style of story telling?

You can grab his newest release for preorder right now.

Want to learn more about Josh, his podcast, and his other works? Sign up for his newsletter Let’s Get Dangerous.

Until Next Time,

Keep Reading!

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An Author’s Adventure: Visiting Poland and Germany to Retrace Henry’s story

An Author's Adventure: Visiting Poland and Germany to Retrace Henry’s story

Hello Lovelies, 

Remember when Katrina Shawver came by for an interview and told us about her historical nonfiction book, Henry, coming soon? Well, I am so intrigued! I asked her to do a guest post to tell us a bit about the research she’s been doing. And she brought me far more awesome (as in amazing, not as in cool) research than I expected. I am so excited to share it with you today. It is a haunting look into our past, one that some people like to pretend didn’t happen. But it did, and here’s what she learned. 

In October 2013, I combined a research trip and vacation to visit Poland and Weimar, Germany. In order to finish my debut book Henry: A Polish Swimmer’s True Story of Friendship from Auschwitz to America, I needed to retrace the steps of Henry Zguda, my main character, and see for myself what he had described so well. We spent a week in historic Kraków (pronounced KRAK-uff,) four days in Warsaw, and then three days in Germany.           

Katrina and husband Rick in front of Wawel Castle in Kraków

I found Poland to be a prosperous and beautiful country. Polish currency is zlotys rather than Euro. Consequently, Poland was far less expensive to visit than Germany. All tour guides speak both English and Polish fluently, must pass a rigorous test, and are licensed by the government, so they are incredibly knowledgeable. For many reasons, Kraków is a major, worldwide tourist attraction. During World War II, the invading Germans admired the city so much, they claimed it as their capital. Governor Hans Frank took up residence in the famous Wawel Castle, while the best of Polish art and cultural symbols were shipped back to Berlin (think of the movie Monuments Men.) Few people went unscathed during the war, but unlike Warsaw, that was eighty-five percent destroyed, they never bombed their capital of Kraków. Thus, the city remains one of the few cities in Europe whose buildings still date back to the 1300s, including the gorgeous St. Mary’s Church that anchors the main square. Nearby the Wieliczka Salt Mine contains huge underground rooms painstakingly and intricately carved by salt miners dating back to the 1700s. It is must-see destination in Poland.           

The Palace of Culture and Science in Warsaw

Visitors flock to the city for another key reason: Auschwitz is a one-hour drive away.

​​The German concentration camp remains one of the largest of all the thousands of concentration camps and is a UNESCO world heritage site. In 2015, more than 1.72 million people visited Auschwitz, guided by educators in almost twenty languages. As the best-known concentration camp, and largest German death camp, it has become hugely symbolic of the entire Holocaust. When I visited Auschwitz, there was little that shocked me. Unlike most visitors, I had pored through photos and texts for years, and I came with stories from a survivor. My mission was to see with my own eyes what I’d heard of, grasp a sense of space and distance, and verify facts. At the end of the cold, dark, day, my husband and I stood with our private tour guide as the only people at the entrance to hell, known as Birkenau. What I hadn’t expected was the ghosts of nearly a million murdered souls who called to me “Do not forget us.”            

After a short, train ride northeast of Kraków we arrived in the capital city of Warsaw. When we stepped out of the train station two sights immediately greeted us – one a symbol of Russian communism, and another of modern capitalism. The Palace of Culture and Science, constructed in 1955 of cement and square lines, was a ‘gift’ from Russia, meant to appease the Polish population. It is still the tallest building in Poland, and one of the tallest in Europe. Around the corner, stood the biggest McDonald’s I have ever been to. The two-story, glass-walled structure held a huge crowd as my husband and I maneuvered into line. Here the food was listed in Polish, but who can’t order a Quarter Pounder with Cheese and fries in any language?

Electric fence - Buchenwald

​​ After a few days, we flew to Berlin and found the train station where we would take a train south to Weimar. I could not resist the smell of good German pastry as we passed a bakery in the three-story mall-with-a-train-station-attached. We visited Weimar for one reason: it’s home to Buchenwald concentration camp, where Henry spent nearly two years. The next day, we toured the camp in a cold rain, and later visited the archives. My thoughts and impressions of two concentration camps would fill a chapter, however what struck me most was how much smaller, unknown, and hidden the Buchenwald is, hidden in the middle of a thick, lush forest. It represents a different kind of evil than Auschwitz. No spoilers – you will have to read my book.           

Of the two countries, Poland was my favorite. Throughout our time there, the history geek in me kept making mental and written notes so I could incorporate the sights, sounds, and reality of these places into my story. The tourist in me still has a long list of other Polish cities to visit: Gdansk, Wroclaw, Zakopane in the Tatra Mountains, and more. I now know why anyone with a Polish heritage will always be Pole at heart, regardless of where they live.
All Photos courtesy of Katrina Shawver. Enjoy some additional images from her trip:

The McDonalds in Warsaw

Katrina Shawver holds a B.A. from the University of Arizona in English/Political Science and has excelled at the School of Trial and Error. In addition to variety of previous careers as a journalist, software support, the paralegal profession, tax preparation, and answering phones for a forensic psychiatrist, she has presented at the community college level on Poland Under Hitler and Stalin. She lives in Phoenix, Arizona with her husband and still wishes sweet potato fries counted as a vegetable. Her debut novel, Henry: A Polish Swimmer’s True Story of Friendship from Auschwitz to America is available for pre-order and releases November 1st  Learn more at 

Until Next Time, 

Keep Reading!

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The Music Behind Riftmaker

The Music Behind Riftmaker

A guest post by Phoebe Darqueling

Hello Lovelies, 

Today we have a delightful guest post from steampunk and portal fantasy author Phoebe Darqueling, as one of the stops on her tour for her latest novel Riftmaker. This is such a fun post as we haven’t had anyone talk about music recently. I hope you enjoy! 

There are a few topics that come up in online writing groups over and over again. How to get over writer’s block in its various iterations takes the #1 spot, but the question of what music people listen to while writing easily comes in somewhere in the top 5. While many people prefer silence, I am definitely one of those people that needs a little something extra going on in the background in order to find my flow.

Movies and Soundtracks

While I was writing Riftmaker, I had two methods for creating the right environment for writing this adventure about a dog who wakes up in a human body after falling through a rift in time and space. The first was to put on movies in the background. No just any movie would do, though. I would cycle through the Harry Potter films, then all of Lord of the Rings, then Pirates of the Caribbean. Then it would start all over again. This would drive a lot of people absolutely insane, but for me, it just worked. For one thing, I’d seen them all several times already, so I wasn’t distracted by the plots. But I also think a huge reason for their appeal was that they had soundtracks that captured the kind of mood I wanted to write.

Hans Zimmer, who wrote the music for both Pirates of the Caribbean and the recent Sherlock Holmes films, immediately comes to mind. He has a very old world feeling that really lends itself to writing Steampunk/Gaslamp Fantasy. The Harry Potter films had various composers, but one thing that’s true for all of the movie soundtracks I enjoy writing to is that there are string instruments involved. I never played the violin myself, but I find that it speaks to me in a way that really gets my creative juices flowing.

Old Meets New

Which brings me to the other music that inspired Riftmaker. Around the time I started writing this book, I also discovered Lindsey Stirling. She’s a fantastic musician who mixes her classical violin training with contemporary music styles like electronic dance music and dubstep. It was love at first listen, and I started building a playlist on Pandora around her music. Soon, that led me to artists like Caravan Palace and Beats Antique, that borrow from older musical traditions and mash them up together or with new beats.

The songs of movie soundtracks and of the artists I mentioned have two important things in common. They rarely have words and they always have a driving beat. I find this kind of stimulation propels me forward to the next sentence, and pretty soon I’ve got a paragraph, and then a chapter.

More than Just Background Noise

But the influence of these string/electronic mashups didn’t stop at just helping me feel motivated to write. When I sat down to start Riftmaker, I was sure of two characters, but the rest just sort of showed up of their own accord.

I knew that one of these people needed to have a best friend, but I hadn’t gotten any farther than that when I had to idea to make him a musician. Suddenly, Jeremy sprouted fully formed from my brain and the scene that opens the book fell into place. (If you’d like to find out more about Jeremy, you can check out this character spotlight I did earlier in the blog tour.) I’d always heard that music could be inspiring, but I’d never realized how influential it can be in the turning points of creating a story. From a electronic remix of Bach’s Fugue in G Minor, I gained a whole person, and Jeremy’s complicated feelings about his friend and his place in the world became central to telling my story about prejudice, acceptance, and finding your way to who you want to be as an adult.

For your listening pleasure, I created a Spotify playlist with just a few of the songs that are the soundtrack of this book. Listen now.  If you don’t already have Spotify, you can sign up for free and listen on your computer or phone. Find out more.

Riftmaker is available for $3.99 from Amazon and a variety of other e-book retailers. Print price is $18.99 from Amazon and the Our Write Side store.

Find more character spotlights, book reviews, guest posts, and interviews with Phoebe Darqueling during the Riftmaker blog tour, Jan 24 – Mar 6.  

Do you like free books? Sure you do! Sign up for Phoebe’s monthly emails and get a FREE COPY of The Steampunk Handbook right now.


Phoebe Darqueling is the pen name of a globe-trotting vagabond who currently hangs her hat in Freiburg, Germany. In her “real life” she writes curriculum for a creativity competition for kids in MN. She loves all things Steampunk and writes about her obsession on She’s been part of several Collaborative Writing Challenge releases, and you can also find her short horror retelling of Pinocchio in The Queen of Clocks and Other Steampunk Tales. Her first novels, Riftmaker and No Rest for the Wicked, are hitting shelves Spring 2019. You can find more of Phoebe’s antics on her website, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Thanks so much for joining us! Look forward to a review from me shortly on Riftmaker as I have thoroughly enjoyed reading it.

Until next time, 

Keep Reading!

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Haunted by the Nameless Boy a Guest Post by Jesse Teller

Haunted by the Nameless Boy

It’s all in the name. One name can propel a story for me. One fantastic name can make or break it all. I have gotten lucky and created a few great names. Saykobar Hesh, Volacha Brinchay, Kolaster Vagan, Rayph Ivoryfist—all these names crafted the character for me. They all brought that character to life. But not like this one.

I had a perfect dream. As a writer, I don’t dream about my books. Some do. I don’t. Never had it happen to me– until this one dream came in a pretty box with a bow on it. In one night of restless sleep, I had dreamed a novel perfect and complete. When my wife came to wake me up, I looked at her and said, “His name is—” and I said it. The greatest name for a character I had ever heard. It gave me goosebumps just to say the name. It had power. It had mystique. It brought me awake and thrumming, and guys, it felt so good to say it.

He was a young boy, an orphan, grubby and uneducated. He worked for change performing tricks on a train that traveled from the mainland out to an island where everyone worked. Tricks and flips and stories he told; jokes and tumbles and card games he played; and the people, entertained and in love with him brought food and candy. They brought him warm clothing and gave him fistfuls of change. They all loved this orphan with the perfect name. Until one day, on his twelfth birthday, he disappeared.

The atmosphere of the train changed that day. What had been happy and light, filled with laughing and camaraderie, became sullen and petulant. The commuters stopped talking. An air of discontent rode the wind, and for long years, the train fell silent. Everyone hated the ride. Then the boy came back.

He was sixteen now, tall and charismatic. He was the perfect image of a beautiful young man. The people grinned when they saw him and fell in around him to hug him and laugh. But he had not come alone.

The boy with the inspiring name had brought others with him, darker folk, angry and quarrelsome. These people begged openly for money. When it was denied to them, they grew restless. They grew villainous, and they looked to their leader for aid.

The boy was definitely their leader. He walked these gypsies with humor laced in rage. He led with a cruelty the riders of the train had never seen in him before. Because, see, the boy was furious. He had been living on the streets when the passengers had brought him scarves but he needed a home. They brought him gloves when what he wanted was a family. He had been abused by the life of the homeless, and now that he was powerful and smart, now that he had a crew and a voice, he was here for payment. Payment in misery.

Violence. The boy wanted violence. He intimidated the people to get what he wanted. He stole from them and commanded them about. He pulled a knife on an old man one day when the man accidentally stepped on his foot. He reached out and plucked a woman’s purse out of her hands, rifled through it in front of her, and dropped it when he found what he wanted. His gypsies were worse. And the ride back and forth to the island was hell.

One day, something sparked it. I know not what it was. It was a small thing, though, no punch to the gut, no taking of some innocent rider’s pride. One tiny little injustice provoked the commuters, and the train erupted with an uprising.

People were beaten. Blood and horror, the darkest things a man can do to another man, broke out in the train. The gypsies pulled guns, and bedlam rode free on the speeding train.

Someone started a fire, and within the flames, everyone died. The train crashed and the station shut down.

For years, no train. But after nearly a decade had passed, the people of the mainland and the people of the island erected a new train. On a stormy day, on its maiden run, just when the cloudy skies parted for a bit of sunlight, the engineer looked out his window to the image of a train on fire shooting straight at him. Hundreds of faces hung out the windows, wailing, and on top of the train, wreathed in flames, sat the boy with the perfect name, screaming in horror and hate.

But I never wrote that story. That one slipped past me. I was writing sword and sorcery. I was writing high adventure, and this story did not fit in my genre. It did not fit in my plans, and I shoved it away. I packed it up and put it somewhere.

The name is gone. I have searched my mind for it for years. I would like to write that perfect dream novel. I would love to tell that little boy’s story. But for me, the name is everything. And without it, I cannot gain the momentum to put it all down.

But every now and then, I will be sitting and thinking of a book or driving some street I have known for years. I will be on my deck, grilling pork steak, or in the shower, and I will see before me a flaming train filled with screaming death and a nameless boy riding the top, shrieking in my face.


Jesse Teller fell in love with fantasy when he was five years old and played his first game of Dungeons & Dragons. The game gave him the ability to create stories and characters from a young age. He started consuming fantasy in every form and, by nine, was obsessed with the genre. As a young adult, he knew he wanted to make his life about fantasy. From exploring the relationship between man and woman, to studying the qualities of a leader or a tyrant, Jesse Teller uses his stories and settings to study real-world themes and issues. Want to learn more about Jesse? Check out his website

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Why We Should Read Diverse Books a Guest Post By Helen Birk

Why We Should Read Diverse Books

People stop thinking critically when they give up reading. If you do not read, you stop enriching your vocabulary, knowledge and reduce total brain productivity. One of the best advantages of books is that they help to involve and develop the imagination and pitch the creativity. The author of the book depicted his own point of view with his own words and expressions. And a reader interprets this moment under his personal feelings, emotions, and experiences. Reading is the best habit in the world. If you get used to browsing diverse books, your brain will always function properly it will be easier for you to suss out the existing problems. Are you still hesitating whether you should or shouldn’t read diverse publications? Are you trying to start learning on a daily basis, but still cannot devote some time to reading? We have found the top 5 reasons we need diversity in books.

To Enrich the Vocabulary

There are dozens of methods and approaches for children to make them want to read. Why do the parents do their best to inspire their children for reading? Why is it important to read since childhood? The reason for that is that by inspecting diverse publications, we enrich our vocabulary. We may transform the famous proverb into the next expression: tell me what you read, and I would tell you who you are. Do you notice that people who read sophisticated books always speak in this manner? They have exquisite language. Varied publications are the sources of knowledge – each new piece presents you some specifications and language peculiarities that are very helpful for your language.

To Expand Knowledge

It is essential to read as it broadens your horizons on various topics and fields of life. Any book is a separate story which shows advantages or disadvantages of this or that side of life. It teaches good manners and prevents from danger. It helps mentally travel around the world and visually visit the most distanced places on Earth.


To get Inspired

One more reason for reading is that diverse books inspire us to be the authors of our own story, hence, we are the only ones who are responsible for our lives. We create our stories, our destinies, or even essay writing website that show different real examples, approaches and people’s experiences.

To learn to Feel Empathy

While scanning different books, we get acquainted with new characters. Getting familiar with their stories helps to walk in a character’s shoes. This is how we learn to feel empathy since the very first pages until its ending.

To Encourage Learning Foreign Languages

Multicultural books, stories that describe unique foreign culture, encourage people to learn foreign languages to understand other nations and folks better. When we read a multicultural book, we dive into a foreign atmosphere, which broadens our horizons and helps realize the truth: the more languages you know, the more you experience as a human being.

​​ Helen Birk is a blogger and freelance writer. She enjoys writing about studying, motivation, travel, and adventure, her motto is: “Do what you love, love what you do, never give up and be always true.”
Twitter: @HBirk12

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Aaron-Michael Hall on Audio Books

Aaron-Michael Hall on Audio Books

Hello Lovelies,

I am so excited to introduce you to Aaron-Michael Hall, a Speculative Fiction author (Epic Fantasy and Science Fantasy with an EDGE) originally from southern Illinois. Since August 2015, she has written eight full-length novels and published four. Her first novel, The Rise of Nazil has won numerous reader awards.

Now, when she is not interviewing indie authors on her Desu Beast Blog, being super mom, wrangling stampeding miniature dachshunds, or managing her 9 to 5, she is interweaving genres, creating languages, and adding just the right edge to keep you turning pages.

Aaron-Michael created the Mehlonii language for her diverse Epic Fantasy series. Along with intriguing characters, multilayered plots, new species, deities, and creatures, the Mehlonii language adds that fantastical element missing from most modern Epic/High fantasy. You can listen to samples of the spoken Mehlonii language on her website’s Mehlonii page.

When asked why she wrote this series, Aaron-Michael simply said, “It needed to be written.”

It is her hope that the readers enjoy the wonders of Faélondul and Ahmezurhran even more than she enjoyed writing about them.

I met Aaron as part of last year’s B2B CyCon, and I loved the covers the moment I saw them! I immediately added them to my TBR. Now she has her books available on audiobook! 

 And as part of the excitement of launching on audiobook, she is offering a very exciting giveaway! 

You can enter the giveaway here! 

Until next time, 

Keep Reading!

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The Hope of the Nation- a Guest Post by Jesse Teller

The Hope of the Nation

Hello Lovelies, 
I am excited to welcome back Jesse Teller to the blog, as you may recall, he spent some time with us earlier this year with Heart of the Broken, and an Author Interview
Enjoy another guest post!

On October 5th my fifth book Song will be released. The cast is led by a wizard named Rayph Ivoryfist. Many and varied are the shades of his personality, and wild and rampant are his powers. He is scary to write for many reasons. How do I challenge a character this powerful? How do I show growth in one this ancient? How do I define a race with a person who largely hides who he is? All these are issues for me, but none of them inspire the kind of apprehension and fear I feel when writing Rayph as much as this simple fact: I named my son after this character.

Rayph Teller, my first-born son, was named after Rayph Ivoryfist long before I wrote the books that fill this trilogy. When I crafted Ivoryfist, his past, his life and his future, when I brought to life his personality and his flaws, I had to keep in mind that I put a bold target on his back, telling one of the most important people in my life: Here, look at this man. Here is an image of what I was thinking when I named you. Look to him for inspiration, for what I want for you and from you.

​​Terror is too strong a word for what I felt when I wrote Rayph Ivoryfist. But not by much. I had, for a long time, no idea what to do with this book when I thought of my son and what I was saying about who he is, how I see him, and what I want for his future. How do I approach building this man that will help direct my son’s life?

I started with faults.

One of the greatest things we can teach our children is that no one is perfect. If I show my kids nothing but perfection, and they think that is possible, then when they make mistakes, they will flail themselves. I spoke to this when I wrote a different book by creating a perfect character and then giving him a mistake that nearly destroyed him. That book is coming, but in this one, I wanted to steer clear of that lesson.

So, I made Rayph Ivoryfist arrogant.

I do not think my son has this problem. He is one of the most humble people I know. But I wanted to show him how ugly this aspect is in a person. My Rayph is smart. He is strong. He has many of the attributes of a person who might think himself perfect. As he grows, he will learn this about himself. I am raising him to be a king of men, and with every lesson I teach him, I give him a great amount of power. I needed to curb this aspect of his life as soon as possible without pointing at him and saying, “You are being arrogant.” So why not show him this fault in someone else?

Rayph Ivoryfist underestimates his enemies. He has a tendency to think himself overly powerful and his foes weaker than they are. This gets him in a lot of trouble. It is an aspect of his arrogance, but more specific. He has this tendency with everyone but his friends. His inner circle he deeply respects, but those outside of it, not as much. This is not my son, but it is a trait some people have to their own detriment.

I started with faults, but didn’t stay there long. I needed to craft a role model who could inspire my son to greatness. I started piling things on this character that I wanted for my Rayph.Utter loyalty to friends and family. This is a defining characteristic of Ivoryfist. There is no favor too large for a friend. There is no danger he would not face for a loved one.

Love of country. I want my son to love his people and his nation, and I instilled that in the character. But at the same time Ivoryfist is the Hope of the Nation, he has a desire to hold its king responsible for his actions. He is involved in the fate of his nation and holds its authority accountable as he fights to protect it.

Ivoryfist has a sense of duty. He does not see a thing that needs done and wait for another to do it. He is the kind of man who sees a need and fills it. Honor. Love. Respect. Power, real and terrible, and the reserve to know when not to use it. I built all these virtues into my son’s namesake. I did it because writing gives me a voice. It allows me to point and direct people’s attention at the things I believe in.

I am building the Hope of my Nation, the Hope of my Family and the Hope of the Future I envision, for myself and the world at large, every time I speak to my son. This is just another tool to do that with.

But that doesn’t mean it is not a scary thing to do.

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

Want to learn more about Jesse? Check out his website, follow him on facebooktwitter and Goodreads. Want to keep up with what books he is releasing, follow his Amazon author page. 

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Roy Huff Shares Tips from Think Smart Not Hard!

Roy Huff Shares Tips from Think Smart Not Hard!

Hello Lovelies, 
Roy is back with us to share just a couple of the first tips in his new self-help book Think Smart Not Hard. Enjoy the great advice!

Life’s too short to left fear crush your awesome life or let the wrong mindset kill your dreams and smother that amazing relationship you’ve always wanted. Stop the nonsense now.
If you’re happy and fulfilled with your life, fabulous. But for most people, there’s usually one or more parts of their lives they want to improve, and that’s why I wrote Think Smart Not Hard. I won’t go into all 52 principles here, but I do want to hash out a few.

Principle 1

The first principle in Think Smart Not Hard is to forgive those who don’t deserve it. It’s key to developing the right mindset. It’s hard, but rewarding. As I say in the book. You’re not doing it for them. You’re doing it for you, to eliminate the dead weight that’s been dragging you down, not to forget, but to break free from the shackles that have enslaved you.

Principle 2

The second principle is to accept responsibility. Most people never get past this point. Instead of being proactive, they allow their past and current obstacles to paralyze their present and hide life’s opportunities. Once you accept responsibility, you’re free from the anger that’s kept you from turning life’s failures into learning opportunities for explosive growth.
This is where things get exciting. The next set of principles show you how to create a high octane plan with clear milestones that work together in all areas of one’s life. Since most people claim they don’t have enough time, I destroy that myth with a blueprint on how to multiply your time instead of spinning life’s endless hamster wheel.

What I mentioned here is just the tip of the iceberg. I’ve packed the book with personal history of my own colossal mistakes along with the tools I used to overcome those disasters. If you’re reading to take action in your life, take a peek inside Think Smart Not Hard and start taking notes. Your ideal life is yours for the taking.

– Roy Huff is a research Scientist by day and an author by night. The author of The Everville Series and Think Smart Not Hard. Learn more about his books on Amazon

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The Ghoul-Poet a Guest Post by James Dorr

The Ghoul-Poet

“On a far-future, exhausted Earth, a ghoul–an eater of corpses–explores the ruins of one of its greatest cities in hopes of discovering what it was that made its inhabitants truly human.” Thus began my first answer in Heidi’s interview of me on January 9, introducing my novel scheduled for June from Elder Signs Press, Tombs: A Chronicle of Latter-Day Times of Earth. But let’s hear the word from this ghoul-poet himself:

Death was what ghouls ate.
But was that not itself a poetic thought, the Ghoul-Poet wondered, one based on abstracts? That one that eats corpses–because that’s what ghouls did. Ghouls were the world’s scavengers. That one who does that then in some way consumed death too?
The ghoul looked about him, at buildings fallen, at others still standing but long ago emptied. In what had once been a vibrant, bright city, not like the ruins that ghouls had always lived in. This was the New City, a stronghold of humans, but humans all deceased. . . .
(and, later)
Yet he continued on, reading. Devouring. Another poetic thought, that one might eat words. The abstracts behind them. 
The legends he picked out, the themes repeated in tale after tale, history after history. The power of love. The joinings together. And yet of death also–there was even, here, a legend about ghouls! And of a great storm, but how both human- and ghoul-kind survived it. And of the great world beyond even the river that separated New City from the Tombs, there where all New Cityers strove, in time, to go.  
The above are from the openings of Sections I and II, respectively, in the novel. There are five sections in all, each introduced by more of the Ghoul-Poet’s own tale, joined by an Entr’Acte between Sections III and IV that offers a snippet of an even earlier history. The hoped for effect should be that of an “ubi sunt,” or “where are they now,” story set generations in the future of the “Tombs” stories proper, but interwoven among them to act as a “glue” to bind them together (much as, in the tale of “The Beautiful Corpse,” a chapter-story from the first section, a Curator speaks of a “balance” that binds the parts of the soul and the body together in life, that “That is what death does . . . [I]t sunders this balance, sometimes at the slightest of disturbances”). Thus the unity, first within the sections themselves (that is, loosely by theme), then of the sections into a novel. 
And so the ghoul, who might seem an unlikely choice to be a poet from his own admissions, at least apparently understands one thing, going back all the way to Aristotle. That a work of poetry, or prose, needs a certain unity. In fact that’s something I touched on myself in my discussion here on structure and the “novel-in-stories,” citing Edgar Allan Poe, on  February 9. But there’s another kind of structure alluded to just above, which the poet seems to sense as well. This has to do with the choice of legends to be presented and, equally important, the order they will be presented in.      

​​The themes of each section are patterned on what’s sometimes called “Five-Act Dramatic Structure,” that of classical plays like those of Shakespeare (if the “Contents” page of Tombs itself should happen to look a bit like a playbill, this is the explanation), of “Exposition,” “Rising Action,” “Climax” or “Turning Point,” “Falling Action,” and “Resolution.” Thus in Tombs: A Chronicle of Latter-Day Times of Earth we have (along with our Entr’Acte) “The Founding of Legends,” “Life, Death, and Love in the World of the Tombs” (warning: as decadence is a part of this, some actions may be of an “adult” nature), “Intimations of Future Disaster,” “The Future Becomes Near” (as far-off catastrophes start to impinge), and “Approaches Toward Reconciliation” (as individuals seek their own hopefully satisfactory conclusions), with the Ghoul-Poet helping us out by acting as sort of a guide.
Do you love what James is laying down? Follow his blog, join him on Facebook, and subscribe to his author page on Amazon to find out when he releases new books. 

Take a peek inside.

Until next time, 

Keep Writing!