Author Anthony Avina's Blog

Good books don't give up all their secrets at once. – Stephen King

Today I have a fun YA series that is on sale now that you guys should check out. It’s the Dragon Dreamer series by J.S. Burke. Check out all the info/press release below!

 

Now Available on Sale from Jan 20th – 25th

DRAGON LIGHTNING TRAILER: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PpOMIn09AzI&feature=youtu.be

DRAGON DREAMER BOOKS ON TV 1st time:  http://news4sanantonio.com/sa-living/time-to-hit-the-books     

DRAGON DREAMER BOOKS ON TV 2nd time:  http://news4sanantonio.com/sa-living/great-book-picks  

 

THE DRAGON DREAMER by J.S. Burke

BLURB

The Dragon Dreamer is a fast-paced adventure with flying dragons, an undersea world, and an unlikely friendship. It’s a science fantasy layered for readers age 9 to 99.

 

Arak is a misfit dragon called “Dreamer”. Determined to prove himself he leaves on a dangerous quest, is caught in a fierce sea-storm, and crashes on ice. Wounded and alone he faces death. Then a fearless undersea shape-shifter named Scree heals him and an unlikely friendship begins. When an undersea volcano erupts it triggers a towering tsunami and a deadly chain of events. Can Arak use his unique talents to save the dragons?

 

The Dragon Dreamer is the first book of the award-winning Dragon Dreamer series. These science fantasy books are connected, but each can be read as a stand-alone. The Dragon Dreamer won the IAN Award for Best FIRST NOVEL and was an IAN Finalist for Best FANTASY, Best SCIENCE FICTION, and Best CHILDREN’S Book. It’s an upbeat story with deeper meaning, for all ages.

DRAGON DREAMER by JS Burke front cover.jpg

PURCHASE LINKS

Amazon Universal:  http://authl.it/B00K9DHTU2?d

Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22886684-the-dragon-dreamer

Nook:  https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-dragon-dreamer-j-s-burke/1120629824

Kobo:  https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/the-dragon-dreamer

ITunes:  https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/the-dragon-dreamer/id933034842

 

DRAGON LIGHTNING by J.S. Burke

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Drakor seems like a normal young ice dragon with a talent for making lightning swords. But he alone feels the changing heart of his island Volcano. It destroyed his beloved sire. Now he foresees their doom, but none will listen. As he seeks proof, the Volcano shakes him off into the frozen sea.

 

Arak was mocked as a worthless dreamer until he and Scree, a fearless undersea misfit, saved the dragons. Now dragons and octopi sail north in search of mythical ice dragons. They find Drakor and a terrifying reality. When Scree enters the abyss to check his volcano, she discovers everyone is in peril. Can this crew of unlikely friends save three realms?

 

Dragon Lightning is book 2 of the award-winning Dragon Dreamer series. These science fantasy books are connected, but each can be read as a stand-alone. Dragon Lightning won the Pinnacle Award for Best Science Fantasy and the IAN Award for Best Science Fiction. It was also an IAN Finalist for Best Fantasy and Best Children’s Book. This fast-paced adventure is layered for readers age 9 to 99.

COVER DRAGON LIGHTNING 9_20_16 RGB - Copy

PURCHASE LINKS

Amazon Universal:  http://authl.it/B01MA1ZOJ6?d

Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/32598789-dragon-lightning

Nook:  https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/dragon-lightning-j-s-burke/1124857029

Kobo:  https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/dragon-lightning

ITunes:  https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/dragon-lightning/id1166420789

 

FANTASY SNOWFLAKES COLORING BOOK by J.S. Burke

BLURB

De-stress and unwind with hand-drawn mandalas. These original snowflake designs are created from animals and plants, with a nature theme. Color 24 pictures and 24 ornaments. Let your imagination soar! Drawings range from simple to detailed. Learn to fold and cut out lacy paper snowflakes to hang as unique decorations. The Fantasy Snowflakes coloring/activities book was inspired by the award-winning Dragon Dreamer series: Science Fantasy Adventure with dragons and an undersea world.

FANTASY SNOWFLAKES COLORING BOOK front cover by J.S. Burke 2017 17-09-88  10_11_17 used ISBN and as pdf.jpg

PURCHASE LINKS

Amazon Universal:  http://www.relinks.me/0996042555

Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/36677251

 

GOODREADS GIVEAWAY (free to enter): https://www.goodreads.com/giveaway/show/269108-fantasy-snowflakes-coloring-book

Rafflecopter giveaway: ​​

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/e73fc5bf0/

AUTHOR BIO

  1. S. Burke is an author, artist, and marine biologist, studying creatures of the dark abyss and diving on coral reefs. The award-winning Dragon Dreamer series grew from her years at sea, a fascination with clever, alien octopuses, and a love of dragons. It’s Science Fantasy Adventure with dragons and an undersea world, layered for readers age 9 to 99. Burke’s stories blend imagination with real science and author experiences. The deadly sea storm that threatens Arak is one she survived.

 

J.S. Burke was a Georgia Author of the Year Nominee. Dragon Lightning won the IAN Award for Best Science Fiction and was an IAN Finalist for Best Fantasy and Best Children’s Book. Dragon Lightning also won the PINNACLE Award for Best Science Fantasy. The Dragon Dreamer won the IAN Award for Best First Novel and was an IAN Finalist for Best Fantasy, Best Science Fiction, and Best Children’s Book.

 

Fantasy Snowflakes Coloring Book has original, hand-drawn snowflakes that her dragons grow, with designs woven from wildlife. There’s a Unicorn flake, Dolphins, Tree-of-Life, Seal-of-Approval, Turtles, Dragons, and more! Burke and her dragons love chocolate!

J.S. BURKE DIVER IN ROUND FRAME crop

AUTHOR LINKS

AMAZON Author Page:  https://www.amazon.com/J.-S.-Burke/e/B00NVRVHWE/

FACEBOOK Author Page:  https://www.facebook.com/Jenny-S-Burke-721518861218158

GOODREADS Author Page:  https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8283255.J_S_Burke

WEBSITE:  http://www.jennysburke.com

BOOKBUB:  https://www.bookbub.com/authors/j-s-burke-49b143b6-fbae-4b3a-a5c0-7571b588de62

TWITTER:  https://twitter.com/TheDragonDreamr​

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Hello there everyone!

I’m excited to announce that I am going to be an official judge for this year’s Your Laugh Line Book Contest. I will leave the official details below, but I wanted to share this with both my readers and supporters of this blog and my own writing, and to any authors out there who may be interesting in entering this contest. I’m so excited to be participating in this event and honored to have been asked to judge what I’m sure will be a great assortment of books to read. I will keep you guys posted when I get more info on the event, so stay tuned. For now, enjoy the official press release from Your Laugh Line!

 

Press Release:

 

Strap in!  It’s going to be a hilarious ride!

Starting on February 1st, Your Laugh Line begins its official search to find the funniest books written in 2017.  It’s like a quest for the Holy Grail (Monty Python or otherwise) but more important!  Our hope is that this book is so funny that it will end all war.

Okay.  Maybe not.

But we are looking for the best, hilarious books written last year. 

The contest has two components. One is a Reader’s Choice Award. Readers can log onto https://yourlaughline.com/vote and enter the author and book of their choice. The author who receives the most reader votes will win $250 and an assortment of promotional help from Your Laugh Line.

 

The other component is an adjudicated contest for books submitted by authors and/or their publishers.  The form is available at https://yourlaughline.com/laugh-line-humorous-book-awards.  The cost to enter the competition is $20 per book. Those books will be judged by a panel of expert book reviewers. The winning author will receive $500, plus an assortment of promotional help from Your Laugh Line.

 

Authors can enter the competition between February 1st and April 30th.  Reader’s Choice voting runs from February 2nd to August 15th.  Books making it past the first round will be announced on July 1, second round list on August 1, and the final winner on September 1. Honorable mentions will be made for category-specific books.

 

Author or reader – come and help us find last year’s funniest book! 

 

About Your Laugh Line

Your Laugh Line was created to help funny authors find an audience who appreciates funny books. Knowing the power of laughter to help alleviate stress, to provide the necessary mental distraction to give the brain a break, and to make people feel silly, Your Laugh Line is committed to making the world a better place through humorous books.

www.yourlaughline.com

 

 

The complicated story of a father trying to reunite with his son continues in author Simon Williams Torn 2: The Continued Story of an Undeserving Wallaby Drowning in a Septic Tank. Here’s the synopsis:

What is the only thing that could inspire someone to willingly walk through hell on earth? When we are prepared to die we stop apologizing for who we are, what we have done, and what we go through.

For Simon Williams, his bizarre journey through life found him looking over his balcony in his mid-forties contemplating the end. What happens next is a heartbreaking, gritty and remarkable tale told with sardonic wit, frank honesty, and a unique perspective on life as Simon struggles to rediscover the meaning of happiness.

The second book in an eye-opening series about what it means to savor every day of your existence and believe in yourself to overcome all odds. An inspirational story for anyone who faces tough times. After reading what this man goes through you will know what facing up to fear is and realize you have the power to do whatever it takes to tackle any issue in life head on.

Book two of this often humorous but constantly heartbreaking tale focuses on the continued fight to regain custody of a son from another country that refuses to recognize the rights of a parent not from that country. Using unfiltered and honest language and a blend of funny life stories, common sense fails from the world around him and emotional struggles to reunite with a son he hasn’t seen in years, the book does a great job of connecting the reader with the narrative. The novel does a great job of continuing to showcase the vast differences between the United States and the rest of the world, from the tragedy of the US healthcare system to the reality of politics and the politicians that represent us. It also shows the continued struggle for equal representation in the eyes of the law in various nations and the physical and emotional toll of a father fighting to hold his son in his arms once more.

Overall this was a wonderful read. Full of wit, honesty and a small glimmer of hope for book three in the series, Torn 2 does a great job of bridging the continued story of a passionate father trying to bring back his son and using his life experiences to connect to his present reality. If you haven’t yet be sure to pick up your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair, honest review. All opinions are my own.

Slight trigger warning: For anyone triggered by storylines involving dementia or the death of a loved one, reader discretion is advised.

A man’s struggle to keep his family and his life from falling apart plays out artfully in author Daniel Blake Smith’s upcoming novel Mr. Wonderful. A dramatic look into the life of modern academia and the struggle of a family man with an ailing father, a troubled adult son and a strained job put him on a path of self-discovery. Here is the synopsis:

In spite of the world’s struggle and sorrow, life sometimes shows us the wonderful.

Brian Fenton’s life is falling apart. A professor at a bankrupt “directional school,” Brian suddenly learns he must either take early retirement or double his workload. As he confronts the embarrassment of his job going south, Brian discovers that his loopy son, Danny, is paying a surprise visit—which can only mean a hand out for money and a need to crash. To top it all off, Brian is fielding frantic calls about his aging father who’s declining rapidly with dementia.

Once a family doctor in Juniper, the small Texas town where Brian was raised, “Doc Fenton” is going down fast—forcefully reminding Brian of his own mortality and the painful issues separating him from his domineering father—a man only his loving wife could call “Mr. Wonderful.”

When Brian’s father passes, the gathered Fenton family partakes in a volatile small-town Texas funeral—at once hilarious and poignant—which produces startling revelations about Doc Fenton that propel Brian and the whole family into a new direction, a new path forward.

In the engaging vein of Ann Patchett’s Commonwealth and Jonathan Tropper’s This Is Where I Leave You, Daniel Blake Smith’s debut novel is at once a comic and heart-wrenching family saga. It offers a piercingly honest window into how we struggle to make sense of ourselves, our families, and our life purpose. If we’re lucky, we discover Mr. Wonderful.

This book was fantastic. The writing was honest and vivid in it’s imagery. Delving into themes of hope, dreams and challenging the definition of family, this story takes the reader on a journey with the characters to not only discover themselves but their place in the world. I’m sure many people in the world can relate to that feeling of staleness and restlessness in both your job and your life. This book captures the essence of these feelings perfectly, making you feel every frustration and painful emotion the characters emote in their dialogue both inner and outer. What struck with me was the story of Brian’s father, as he struggles through his last days. I lost my grandfather five years ago and he was suffering from dementia while in the hospital, and so the raw emotion and pain of dealing with a loss after months of dementia hit an emotional wellspring within me as a reader.

The characters are what made this story flow as smoothly as it did. The contrasting points of view between protagonist Brian and his son Danny showcase two very different views of life, and how two paths on the road to life can converge in unexpected ways. It’s a breathtaking study of family relationships, the complicated ties we have to family and how the past can affect the present and the future.

Overall I loved this book. Due out this Friday, January 19th, 2018, the novel Mr. Wonderful by Daniel Blake Smith is a brilliant read that deserves your attention as the year begins, so if you haven’t yet either preorder or buy your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

Buy the Book

Author’s Website

Twitter: @dblakesmitty
Facebook:
YouTube Trailer

 

I received a free copy of this book from the author in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

Trigger Warning: This book deals with the subjects of suicide, mental health and more. It also features strong language.

Torn: The Story of an Undeserving Wallaby Drowning in a Septic Tank is the story of Simon Williams. The author himself writes about the troubling circumstances that led him to contemplate the end of his life, and the struggles of life in general. From adjusting to a life in America much different than the one he grew up with in Australia to the pitfalls of the American Healthcare System and the heartbreaking realization that the person you love can be the ultimate source of betrayal. Here’s the synopsis:

Ever wonder what could drive a young man to suicide? Mental health is very much a taboo subject. Who wants to admit to the world that they are struggling with it?

For Simon Williams, his bizarre journey through life found him looking over his balcony in his mid-forties contemplating the end. What happens next is a heartbreaking, gritty and remarkable tale told with sardonic wit, frank honesty, and a unique perspective on life as Simon struggles to rediscover the meaning of happiness. He realizes that only when we are prepared to die do we stop apologizing for who we are, what we have done, and what we go through.

The first book in an eye-opening trilogy about what it means to savor every day of your existence and believe in yourself to overcome all odds. An inspirational story for anyone who faces tough times. After reading what this man goes through you will know what facing up to fear is and realize you have the power to do what it takes to tackle any issue in life head on.

This was definitely one of the most creative and unique memoir style tell-all that I’ve ever read. Filled with rich imagery, humorous and sometimes perilous stories that relate to the main story of the author, and a unique outlook on life many in America would never recognize. The book does a great job of showing how people from around the world adjust to life in America, which is not always an easy thing. It also showcases the mindset and outlook of an Australian native thrown into the chaos that is the United States. Delving into subjects like US Healthcare, US Immigration and the hardship of marriage, this book is a powerful insight into the struggles of everyday life, and finding meaning when your life seems meaningless.

Overall this was a great read. Filled with heart, humor and passion, the story was well written and deserves to be read. With two more books in the series, the story of one man’s struggle to reunite with family and find a purpose in his life is a must read. If you haven’t yet be sure to pick up book one of Torn by Simon Williams today!

Rating: 8/10

 

1) Tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you get into writing?

Writing started out as an extension of reading for me, continuing the same activity. I’ve been doing it for as long as I could write my name, even if it took a long time for the scribbles to mean something.

2) What inspired you to write your book?

My interests in fin de siecle England, when social attitudes among the aristocracy were changing as wealthy Americans penetrated their ranks, and the occultism practiced during that period.

3) What theme or message do you hope readers will take away from your book?

How both good and bad people can be driven to do horrible things through no fault of their own, because of social pressures in no way designed to inflict the pain that they do.

4) What drew you into this particular genre?

My love of fantasy novels I grew up reading, in particular the Alice books (the best in the genre), John Crowley’s great Little, Big, Mervyn Peake’s Gormenghast books, Peter Straub’s underappreciated Shadowland, Mark Helprin’s Winter’s Tale and Swan Lake trilogy, Hope Mirrlees’s Lud-in-the-Mist, and many others.

5) If you could sit down with any character in your book, what would you ask them and why?

I would ask my lead character Christine if she believes she could ever earn Allie’s forgiveness.

6) What social media site has been the most helpful in developing your readership?

Facebook. It’s the easiest way to reach like-minded readers and to keep them engaged.

7) What advice would you give to aspiring or just starting authors out there?

Read, read, read. Read the current market, read the classics, absorb as much as you can.

8) What does the future hold in store for you? Any new books/projects on the horizon?

I’m just finishing another historical fantasy, this one centered on Renaissance Europe.

@OfficialBachman
1) Tell us a little about yourself. How did you get into writing?
I got into writing a month or two after I had planned to end my life, but I started to really write after I lost a friend to suicide. It was my way of coping.
2) What inspired you to write Forest Floor?
Forest Floor was first inspired by my Wildlife class. It was intended to be written for bonus points, but I instead found it complicated to write about nature in my style. So, I went along and just added poetry while keeping the title.
3) What themes do you hope or think are important for readers to take away from your poetry?
I hope readers take away the message that everything will be okay. Maybe not today, or tomorrow, or even a week from now, but it will be. I’m a survivor and I still struggle, and it’s okay to struggle.
4) What drew you into poetry in particular as a writing genre?
I used to write stories but found myself adding so much description that it took away the liking of my readers. When I came across poetry, I instantly knew that was what I wanted to write. I never believed I was good at writing stories, but poetry was the one thing I found my hope in, and I stuck with it.
5) If you could sit and talk with any writer or poet, who would it be and what would you ask them?
One of my favorite poets is Shelby Mcleroy, aka @slm_poems on Instagram. I would sit down with her and just ask her, How? How did she survive and how does she write so bloody well?
6) What social media site has been the most helpful in developing your readership?
I believe Instagram has really helped build my readership. It’s much easier to reach people and to find people who really love my work. 
7) What advice would you give to any aspiring writers or authors out there?
I always say write from your heart. Put the raw emotions down onto paper and just let it all flow. If you do that, you have already become one of the best writers ever. 
8) What’s next for you? Any writing projects in the works?
 I have planned to reach out to a publisher after I graduate and to have them publish my longer, completed work Dear Nobody. As of right now, though, I am writing another collection called Salt and Sugar. 
Links:
• Instagram.com/tears.of.porcelain

1) Tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you get into writing?

My name is Faye Hall and I am an Australian Historical Romance author.  My books are set in North Queensland, Australia during the 19th century.  I got into writing as a young child when my parents encouraged me to write down the stories I was forever telling them.  When I reached high school my senior English teacher told me I would never be good enough to make it as a writer.  It gave me the incentive to send my first manuscript to a publisher just to prove him wrong.  I’ve been working as an author ever since.
2) What inspired you to write your book?

My latest book, Indulgence & Temperance, is book number 2 in the Sins of the Virtuous series.  I have always wanted to write a book about the seven deadly sins, but it is a subject that has been done to death.  So I decided to incorporate heavenly virtues into each book as well, kind of like a good vs evil and using the characters to explain each sin and virtue.  Indulgence & Temperance takes the reader on a journey of Hellfire clubs, kidnapping, laudanum addiction and a passion driven love affair that is threatened to be ripped apart.
3) What theme or message do you hope readers will take away from your book?

I want readers to take piece of Australian history with them.  As far as Romance novels go, Australia is still very much a new setting.  I want to show readers my country has just as much of a passionate history as every other.
4) What drew you into this particular genre?

My love of history is what started it, but as I traveled through my teenage years I realized as much as I loved the suspense in my writing, I wanted more.  I wanted to create that ‘happily ever after’ that you read about in fairy tales.
5) If you could sit down with any character in your book, what would you ask them and why?

It would be Beth Meridian from Indulgence & Temperance.  I would want to ask her just exactly what she got up to when she worked in that Hellfire club.
6) What social media site has been the most helpful in developing your readership?

It would have to be Goodreads or Instagram – I end up chatting to quite a few people on there.  
7) What advice would you give to aspiring or just starting authors out there?

To not give up and to not be afraid to let yourself grow as a writer.
8) What does the future hold in store for you? Any new books/projects on the horizon?

More writing!  I’m almost finished book 3 from the series, and I’m onto the second draft of book 4.

Author Bio:

Come on a journey with me through 19th century North Queensland, Australian and explore the passions and hardships of unique characters.
There is corruption, deceit and murder, as well as cattle rustlers, slave traders and hell fire clubs. Explore townships of Jarvisfield and Inkerman, as well as Ravenswood and Bowen. One book even incorporates my great grandmothers cattle station ‘Inkerman Downs Station’.

As well as an author, I am also the most spoilt wife in the world, and a very contented mother.
Come and discover all the passion and drama of North Queensland history with me

Book Blurb:

Indulgence and Temperance by Faye Hall

 

Would you abandon the woman you love for your own indulgence?

 

Beth Meridian has returned home, hoping to leave her sordid past behind her and settle into a quiet life. When her childhood friend, Hannah Raeburn, offers her a place to stay, Beth knows it won’t be long until she runs into Hannah’s brother, Daniel. What she doesn’t expect is for him to reignite feelings deep in her heart, reminding her of the kiss they shared before she left town.

 

Daniel Raeburn’s past is scandalous, his sinful indulgences allowing him more wealth than he could ever need. Still, he wants more, and his gluttonous appetite for wealth and women leads him to buy into a partnership at the local hellfire club.

 

When Hannah goes missing, Beth and Daniel follow her trail through the Australian outback. Witnessing the womanizer Daniel is, Beth flees on a cattle train headed north. Desperate to explain his actions, Daniel follows her.

 

Arriving in the small town of Jarvisfield, Daniel is shocked to learn that Beth is now the owner of the largest cattle company in the area. He’s even more shocked to discover that the preacher controlling the town, and stealing from the townspeople, is his once business partner William Maxon. He’s convinced this man is also responsible for his sister’s disappearance. When he learns William has Beth picked out as his next victim, Daniel knows he must do whatever it takes to make her listen to the truth. But she has no interest in hearing anything he has to say.

 

Faced with losing the two women he loves, Daniel is forced to choose between their freedom and the possessions and wealth he has hoarded over the years. But even if he gives it all up, he still might lose everything.

 

Content Warning: contains sex, strong language, and some violence

 

 

Genre(s): Historical Romance

 

IndulgenceAndTemperance_Large.jpg

You can learn more about the author at her social media links here:

Links

Buy links

http://beachwalkpress.com/faye-hall/

http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B00DPIMSMW

https://itunes.apple.com/us/author/faye-hall/id1104960880?mt=11

https://www.kobo.com/au/en/search?query=Faye%20Hall&fcsearchfield=Author

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/%22Faye%20Hall%22?Ntk=P_key_Contributor_List&Ns=P_Sales_Rank&Ntx=mode+matchall

 

social media links

website https://www.faye-hall.com

blog http://www.faye-hall.info

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/pages/Faye-Hall/174774709247649

https://www.facebook.com/faye.hall.3363?ref=tn_tnmn

Twitter https://twitter.com/FayeHall79

Goodreads http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6882637.Faye_Hall

Tumblr http://fayehallauthor.tumblr.com/

Pinterest https://www.pinterest.com/fayehall79/

Instagram https://www.instagram.com/fayehallauthor/

Flipagram http://flipagram.com/fayehall79

Youtube https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCoS8vLrlO0XZT80xTuJnrkA/videos

 

 

1) Tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you get into writing?

 

Like a lot of authors, I’ve been writing in one form or another for most of my life. When I was very young, I started putting together little stories about anthropomorphic animals (a la The Church Mice books, if anyone remembers that series). I even illustrated my tales—very badly, of course, since I can’t draw at all. From there, I kept writing and eventually expanded to plays and screenplays through high school and college before circling back to my first love of fiction writing. In between, I explored a ton of other fields too: psychology, filmmaking, fashion design, teaching, nonprofit management, event promotion, travel blogging. I always like to challenge myself, so at the very least, I’ve rarely had a boring moment.    

 

2) What inspired you to write your book?

 

Since I was a kid, I’ve loved folklore and urban legends. As corny and on-the-nose as it may sound, I remember when the movie Urban Legend came out back in the 1990s, and how excited I was to see it. Spoiler: it’s not necessarily a great movie, but it was a great starting place for me when I was young and wanted to learn more about these strange modern myths we tell each other. The next Christmas, my parents got me an entire encyclopedia about urban legends, and after that, it became something of an obsession for me.

It wasn’t until a little over a year ago when my husband and I were discussing folklore that I realized how often the name Mary comes up in these tales. We went through and listed as many as we could think of, and I was shocked at how prolific that name really is. I hadn’t explored too much about urban legends in my writing up until that point, and I figured spinning a tale about these characters—who they are and how they got that name—would be a perfect place to start.  

 

3) What theme or message do you hope readers will take away from your book?

 

I had so many ideas and themes in mind when I first started writing the book, but perhaps the biggest one for me was the notion of family and how sometimes the people closest to us are not our biological relatives but instead those we happen to find along the way. The Marys cobble together a family in their decrepit haunted house, and this bond is key to getting them through what’s to come.

Also, the power of resistance, of fighting back, even when the odds might seem insurmountable, was incredibly important to me with this story. The world can be so cruel, especially to those who are different, and I wanted to tell a tale about characters who are fighting to be heard despite a force trying hard to drown them out. In everyday life, I’m often hopeful to a fault, so I tend to believe that even in the worst times, all is not lost, which is certainly a major theme in Pretty Marys.  

 Pretty Marys All in a Row.jpeg

4) What drew you into this particular genre?

 

Horror has always been part of my life—literally, my entire life. My dad was very happily reading me Edgar Allan Poe while my mom was still pregnant. Horror in my family goes back even further than that too; my grandfather was a big Poe fan, and he shared that love of all things macabre with my father, who then of course passed it on to me. Growing up, there was always a Hammer movie on the TV or a book of horror short stories on the dining room table. I was reading Poe and Bradbury in elementary school, which was always a point of pride for me. (Although it could be hard sometimes to be the “strange kid” in a small town, I still relished my weirdness too.)

As I got older, my love of horror never waned, so I knew I had to become part of the genre in some way. This choice definitely changed my life. I even met my husband back when we were both struggling horror filmmakers. When I finally decided to switch gears and go back to fiction writing, it very much felt that I found my place in the world.    

 

5) If you could sit down with any character in your book, what would you ask them and why?

 

I love this question! I’ve never thought about it before, but I guess if I could sit down with anyone from Pretty Marys All in a Row, I would probably go with Rhee (Resurrection Mary). I’ve already spent so much time with her, it seems, because she’s the narrator of the book, so she would be the one that I’d love to meet in person. As for questions, I think I’d just ask her about her day. That probably sounds boring, but I would love to hear the little details about what’s going on with her and how her afterlife is different from everything we as the living would take for granted.    

That being said, if I was just in the mood to hang out, I’d probably choose Lew (Mari Lwyd). She’s so feisty and always has a bottle of booze hidden somewhere, so that would make for a good party anytime!  

 

6) What social media site has been the most helpful in developing your readership?

 

I’ve had some good luck with meeting readers and fellow writers on both Twitter and Facebook. There are things I like and dislike about each site, so it probably depends on the day as to which I prefer. Also, if I’m entirely honest, I’m not as social media savvy as a lot of writers. In fact, I’m not very tech savvy at all (I still have a flip phone from circa 2009), but I do my best to muddle through. Even for a Luddite like me, it really is wonderful to be able to connect with others in real-time online, and the friendships I’ve built on social media have definitely helped during the times when writing gets difficult. And at some point, it always seems to get difficult!   

 

7) What advice would you give to aspiring or just starting authors out there?

 

Keep going. Keep honing your craft, and keep learning both what works and what doesn’t work for you in your writing. Not every piece of publishing advice out there is going to be helpful for you, and that’s okay. Figure out what does work, and go with that. Don’t give up, even when it gets hard. Especially when it gets hard. Your voice is needed in this world. Keep going.

 

8) What does the future hold in store for you? Any new books/projects on the horizon?

 

I try to keep pretty busy writing—it helps to keep me mostly sane—so I usually have a few things in the works at any given time. Right now, the biggest project on the horizon is my debut novel, The Rust Maidens, which is due out later this year from Trepidatio Publishing, an imprint of JournalStone. The story is set in Cleveland, primarily in the year 1980, and deals with my Rust Belt roots as well as themes I’ve explored in my short fiction: coming of age, body horror, and unlikely friendships.

 

I also have several short stories slated for release this year too, including my horror tale, “An Elegy for Childhood Monsters,” which should be out soon in Grey Matter Press’s Suspended in Dusk 2. That anthology has a table of contents filled with horror authors I greatly admire, and I’m still in awe and shock that I get to be part of that lineup.

 

Finally, my collaborative novella with author Emily B. Cataneo, “In Her Flightless Wings, a Fire,” will be appearing in the forthcoming Chiral Mad 4. So there will definitely be several places to find my work over the next year if you’re so inclined!

In the meantime, you can also find me at my author site (http://www.gwendolynkiste.com/). On my regular blog, I share a monthly roundup of open submission calls and posts about writing tips along with a series of interviews with up-and-coming authors and artists. There’s always so much great stuff going on in the publishing world, so it’s certainly an incredible time to be a writer.

 

And Her Smile Will Untether the Universe