2019 Writing & Reading Goals

Welcome to the New Year everyone! With the beginning of a new year, it’s time to start planning ahead for what we hope to accomplish in 2019. 2018, as was the case for most of us, was a year full of turmoil and heartache. While there are no guarantees that the year ahead will be better, we can only hope. As an author and blogger, I have been planning out what I hope to accomplish in the coming year. That’s why I’m going to publicly outline my goals for 2019.

Build Website

I hope to continue building my website that you guys are currently visiting. While I want to get more viewers and followers, my ultimate goal is to provide more exposure for other authors, review and preview amazing books coming in 2019, and meet some new and amazing friends in the author community. 

Read 150 Books Or More

I will make this public on Goodreads as well, but I more than surpassed my goal of books read in 2018, and so I want to challenge myself to read 150 books or more in the coming year.

Enter 2-4 Writing Contests

Writing is going to become much more frequent and a part of my life. In 2018 my own personal writing took a step back. Between my day job becoming much more frequent and a priority, building my website and taking on more responsibilities in my personal life, my writing fell to the wayside. I did publish a short novella and began working on the third novella in that series. I also wrote the fourth book in my Nightmare Wars series. However most of that writing has fallen to the wayside, not edited or reworked or even getting a second draft. 

That’s why in the coming year, I want to further my writing goals and enter at least 2-4 writing contests. This will give me the motivation not only to write, but edit and rewrite these stories and put them out there for others to see and judge. 

Submit 2-4 Stories For Anthologies

Similar to the contests, I want to submit 2-4 stories for anthologies. I get notices all the time for publications putting anthologies together and I’d love to collaborate and work with other authors in this way. 

Edit 1-2 Books Previously Published

One thing that I’ve learned in my years as a writer and blogger/reviewer is that there is always room for improvement and more lessons to be learned. When I was first starting out, I definitely failed to edit and flesh out the stories I wrote as a young writer. I want to take some of the stories I still love that I published prematurely in my writing career, and go back and fix them. I want to bring the stories to life and edit them so that readers will appreciate them more the way that I do.

Write 1-2 Novels

I have so many series in the works and so many stories floating around in my mind, that it’s time to put some of them down to paper (or a computer screen). I hope to write at least 1-2 novels in the coming year. 

Write 2-4 Short Stories

In addition to the 1-2 novels, I hope to write 2-4 short stories (not including the contests or anthologies I plan to write stories for). 

Adapt First Graphic Novel

I would love to adapt one of my novels into a graphic novel. I plan to study and learn how to write a graphic novel, and hopefully will find an artist who is willing to collaborate on the project.

Research, Investigate and Write Book On Southern California Haunting Claims

This is a passion project I hope to pursue in the coming year. My mom and I are deeply passionate about the paranormal, more specifically finding the right science behind the paranormal (we are not religious and believe there is a science that has yet to be discovered in regards to the “spirit”). One thing we have dreamed of is going to places around the world, investigating and writing about what we found/discovered. Our goal in 2019 is to try and do this by writing our first book together on local haunts in the Southern California area. 

Monthly Vlogs on Author Anthony Avina Channel

This is not specifically a writing goal, but it is related. I used to have a vlog channel called Avina Vlogs, but after all of the turmoil and changes to YouTube, I left it behind. However I loved making videos, and want to do it again. So not only will I be filming and uploading a video each month to my new YouTube channel, Author Anthony Avina, but I will be uploading them to Facebook, Instagram and hopefully my website as well. I’m doing monthly vlogs as I have a full schedule and filming daily is not an option at this time. I may look into restarting my podcast again or creating a new one, but that is not confirmed at this time.

What are your writing goals in 2019? Any books you hope to tackle in the coming year? Leave your comments below, and to keep up on whether or not I hit my goals, be sure to follow me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and here as I post my progress.

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Firstborn (Descendants of the House of Bathory #2) by Tosca Lee Review

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

The truth of Audra Ellison’s past is revealed, and now the fight for not only her life but all of her people can truly begin in author Tosca Lee’s second and final book in the Descendants of the House of Bathory series, Firstborn. Here is the synopsis.

The Synopsis

Face-to-face with her past, Audra Ellison now knows the secret she gave up everything—including her memory—to protect. A secret made vulnerable by her rediscovery, and so powerful neither the Historian nor the traitor Prince Nikola will ever let her live to keep it.

With Luka in the Historian’s custody and the clock ticking down on his life, Audra only has one impossible chance: find and kill the Historian and end the centuries old war between the Progeny and Scions at last—all while running from the law and struggling to control her growing powers.

With the help of a heretic monk and her Progeny friends Claudia, Piotrek, and Jester, Audra will risk all she holds dear in a final bid to save them all and put her powers to the ultimate test.

The Review

This book does what all sequels should do. It builds upon the foundation laid by the first book and ups the ante in big and unexpected ways. Firstborn does an amazing job of seeing Audra fully embrace herself after her long journey to discover who she is. In the series conclusion, we see a more confident and determined Audra emerge, a hero risen from the ashes and set on ending a centuries long war that has claimed too many lives.

The book moves at a fast pace from the first page, keeping readers on the edge of their seat as they race right alongside Audra on her journey. What really drew me into the story was the way the author challenges readers to think about history itself. After reading the book I dug into the history behind Elizabeth Bathory, and some of the details of her case really have me challenging what I thought I knew.

Time and pop culture have made her into a terrifying monster, embellishing the number of her victims and the crimes she was accused of. Did she really kill all those people? Or was she the target of a King’s ambition? After reading this fiction book, I am definitely intrigued enough to look into this case further, and encourage others to do the same. That’s the power this author has over readers. She challenges readers to look at life critically and examine all sides of any situation.

The Verdict

Overall I loved this story. It has a heart pounding journey that leads to a shocking and satisfying conclusion. Readers who love the first book will not be disappointed, and it not only makes you want to delve into the true history of this story but has you feeling connected to Audra and her friends as if you have lived this journey with them, marking a truly captivating story and author. If you haven’t yet, pick up your copy of Firstborn by Tosca Lee today!

Rating: 10/10

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1476798672/ref=x_gr_w_glide_bb?ie=UTF8&tag=x_gr_w_glide_bb-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=1476798672&SubscriptionId=1MGPYB6YW3HWK55XCGG2

About the Author

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Tosca Lee is the award-winning, New York Times bestselling author of Iscariot, The Legend of Sheba, Demon: A Memoir, Havah: The Story of Eve, and the Books of Mortals series with New York Times bestseller Ted Dekker (Forbidden, Mortal, Sovereign).

A notorious night-owl, she loves watching TV, eating bacon, playing video games with her kids, and sending cheesy texts to her husband. You can find Tosca hanging around the snack table or wherever bacon is served.

Tosca’s highly-anticipated new thriller, The Progeny (May, Simon & Schuster) is available now!

Social Media Links

https://toscalee.com/

https://twitter.com/ToscaLee

https://www.facebook.com/AuthorToscaLee

https://www.instagram.com/toscalee/

Check out the review for book one, The Progeny, here!

Boylord: Genesis by Nathan Peabody and Manuela Soriani

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

A beautifully crafted and illustrated world brims with life and death in author Nathan Peabody’s Boylord: Genesis. Along with illustrator Manuela Soriani, these two amazing creators bring to life the story of Ettan the Boylord, a child born into an alien race gifted with special abilities. Here’s the synopsis:

The genesis story of Ettan the Boylord, and his mystical journey to become part god, part cat. Born into an alien race with advanced powers, Ettan is abducted by a demon lord, and has his soul tossed into hell. His family rallies to save him in an epic adventure. The story is original, and full of surprises.

This book 1 contains a mixture of space opera and fantasy genres. Float away into a new world with 200 pages of gorgeous, full color, art by Italian artist, Manuela Soriani. Book 1 is the genesis of Ettan’s superhero powers, when a war-goddess enlisted to help find him in hell unwittingly endows him with powerful abilities. In book 2, Ettan starts to discover these powers. In book 3 and beyond, Ettan starts to use these powers to turn evil infested humanoid planets into good, and healthy, planets. 

An exciting blend of science fiction, fantasy and even at times horror, this adult graphic novel features some of the most creative storytelling I’ve seen in the graphic novel realm in years. Blending demons with alien races, distant galaxies with hell dimensions, and the lengths not only a kingdom but a parent is willing to go to in order to save a child is explored wonderfully in this story.

The definite highlights of this book are the wonderful world building done by the author and the gorgeous illustrations done by the artist. When blended together these two elements help bring a whole new mythos to life in ways you wouldn’t expect. The special blend of magic and technology in this story reflects in the blend of illustration and story that the creators went through in this novel.

Overall I loved this book. The characters are exciting and adventure seeking, and the worlds in which the writer and illustrator mesmerize the reader with are so full of light and darkness that it’s impossible to look away. With an open ended final chapter that leaves readers wanting more, this reviewer can only hope we get to see a book 2 in the near future. If you haven’t yet be sure to pick up your copies of Boylord: Genesis by Nathan Peabody and Manuela Soriani today!

Rating: 10/10

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1719105995/ref=x_gr_w_bb?ie=UTF8&tag=x_gr_w_bb-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=1719105995&SubscriptionId=1MGPYB6YW3HWK55XCGG2

www.boylord.com

artist: Manuela Soriani

manuella

Manuela lives in the same small town in northern Italy where she was born in 1979, in the heat of summer and fog in winter, near the river Po. Manuela studied to become an accountant, but Art asked to be part of her life. So she answered the call, found a teacher (and later, friend), and became an artist. After six years in comic books, Manuela began creating both traditional paper books and animated apps for electronic devices. Around 2013, she added comic book projects back into her daily job, alongside children’s books and cover arts. She uses cutting edge technology to deliver the most brilliant artworks she can, adding details to make her illustrations full of life.

Follow her on Facebook and Patron.

View her latest work on Deviant Art.

creator/ writer: Nathan Peabody

Nate photo

Nathan lives in the San Francisco Bay Area, where he has recently embarked upon a new career in teaching. In Nathan’s spare time he has been writing the story Boylord, which has been rattling around in his brain for quite some time. In elementary school he was obsessed with comics, Dungeons and Dragons, and Star Wars. In undergrad at UC Berkeley he was infused with a variety of spiritual beliefs, including nonviolence. His passions include insects (his PhD was in Entomology from the University of Hawaii at Manoa), Chi Kung/Kung Fu (which he practiced in a Chinese cemetery in Hawaii), and hiking in ancient sequoia forests.

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Interview with Author Philip Bencel

Check out my latest #authorinterview with Philip Bencel, author of Freedom City, a dystopian novel set in a world way too similar to our own… #interview #bookblog

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

I’ve been a private investigator in Washington, D.C. for almost twenty years. I’ve written stories since I was a kid, but I didn’t publish my first books until I was in my mid-thirties: Introduction to Conducting Private Investigations and Principles of Investigative Documentation. I returned to writing fiction last year, when I took a sabbatical from my investigations company to write a novel.

2) What inspired you to write your book?

The book I aspired to write last year was called Order of Damaged Souls, set around the 14th century Flemish peasant revolt. I finished that book, but I ultimately decided it was too dark for mainstream consumption. While bemoaning all the time that I “wasted” on Damaged Souls, I had an epiphany about just how demoralized I was about the American disaster marked by Donald Trump’s presidency. This soul-searching led me to re-read The Monkey Wrench Gang, a campy novel written by Edward Abbey about a band of misfits who sabotage stuff to protect the environment. I thought, ‘I should write something like that, but set in post-Trump America!’ Thus inspired, I wrote Freedom City in about three months, rushing to get it out before Trump’s impeachment. [Laughter].

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

I don’t know if I can curse on your blog—but fucking hell, what we’re living through right now is the resurgence of fascism, plain and simple. I know the left is often too loose with the word ‘fascist,’ and that’s regrettable, but there is nothing else to call attacks on the press, on the judiciary, and outright distain for the rule of law by the so-called President of the United States. So, Freedom City is a serious book about a very serious topic, but I really tried to bring it down to a level where I’m not just screaming incoherently out the window. The thing is that, when you take a deep breath, Trump and his enablers are evil in an almost inept-comic-book-villain sort of way, so there is actually a lot to laugh about in the situation. The one thing I hope people get from my book is that we must kill them with laughter. That’s their biggest weakness, which is why the right has been so up in arms the past few days about Michelle Wolf’s scathing comedy routine at the WHCD.

4) What drew you into this particular genre?

Well, my first novel was historical fiction, which is what I often like to read. Freedom City, I suppose, is contemporary literary fiction, but I’ve really struggled with whether to call it satire or dystopian fiction. It’s a little of both, actually, more like a tragicomedy. Like I said, I didn’t really set out to write it, but as a longtime private detective who lives in D.C.—I can literally see the fucking U.S. Capitol out of my window—I was probably the person best situated to write a novel like Freedom City.

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

I admit that I struggled a bit with Clare Swan, the main female protagonist. Some female readers have pointed out her promiscuity, and that’s certainly a fair critique. But while my book might not pass the Bechdel test, nobody (so far) has accused me of being anti-feminist. Actually, I’m a diehard feminist. It’s just that I have an active imagination, so when I write female characters I sometimes imagine ways I might sleep with them. [Laugher]. Ultimately, I think Clare turned out to be a delightfully complex human being and a righteous warrior. But if I could talk to her I’d ask if she feels I did her justice.

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

That’s a great question. I had already developed this public persona as a private investigator, and by far the biggest platforms for that are LinkedIn and Twitter. Because of that professional following I already had from my non-fiction books, I’ve gotten the most traction so far from those sites. However, I’m super excited about Instagram—which I confess I wasn’t even on until a few months ago. As I’m someone who loves readings and events, it really gives me a chance to chronicle the “buzz” around my book and hopefully help it, one day, take off.

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

So much of the advice aspiring writers get is to clichéd. I mean, I could say ‘don’t be afraid to suck’ or ‘join a writing group’—both sage pieces of advice—but instead I’ll say this: Write about the things buried deep in your soul that you think might scare your friends to know about you. Just do it. They won’t scare, and you’ll be writing honest shit.

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

I’ve got a couple irons in the fire, including a continuation (sort of) of Freedom City. Lately, however, I’m back to doing investigations, so I don’t have all the time to write I had last year. That’s okay though, because now that I recognize impeachment isn’t happening anytime soon I can take the time to make the next book longer and even more snarky.

 

freedom

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Dark & Darker Faerie Tales by Two Sisters Review

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

If you thought the fairy tales of the Brother’s Grimm couldn’t get any darker, then you thought wrong. In Dark & Darker Faerie Tales by Two Sisters, the stories we all grew up on are twisted in shocking and creative ways. Here’s the synopsis:

Inspired by Brothers Grimm and other sinister tales, Dark & Darker Faerie Tales is a collection of dark stories about evil faeries, corrupted heroes, vengeful innocents and malicious monsters. Delving into the darker side of fairy tales, each story offers a twisted journey that’ll make you wish for a happy ending.

Written and illustrated by Two Sisters, witness an unlikely friendship in “The Woodcutter and The Oak Tree,” discover what happens next to Little Red Riding Hood, and learn why it’s so important to be wary of who you meet in the woods.

This is one of the most unique story collections of 2018. The dark twist on tales like Red Riding Hood made for highly entertaining and nostalgic reading all at once, while tales of evil witches and heroes turned villains made the stories become even creepier than you could have ever imagined. The writing fit perfectly in line with the classic fairy tale style, while bringing a much darker horror twist into the genre. The stories are rich with vivid imagery, each page dripping with twisted characters and surreal settings that only a fairy tale world could bring to life.

Overall I loved this story. In fact so far it’s one of my top reads of 2018. The stories managed to be original and unique while paying respects to the fairy tale classics. Taking these stories in fantastically unexpected ways, this is the fairy tale collection horror fans around the world have been waiting for. If you haven’t yet, be sure to pick up your copy of Dark & Darker Faerie Tales by Two Sisters today!

Rating: 10/10

Video Review: Spirits of the Heart by Claire Gem

Valentine’s Day Book Giveaway!

I wanted to let you guys know that two of my books will be free starting today and ending on the 17th! The first is Blood and Romance and the second is At First Glance.

At First Glance: A Frightening Romance Novel https://www.amazon.com/dp/B008X0NK56/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_umVGAbMERH74E

Blood and Romance: A Book of Poetry and Horror https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0042P5DP6/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_4mVGAbAWZFY7K