Monday, February 18, 2019

Naomi Jackson on Otherworld: The Book of Things That Are

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Naomi, welcome to Homeschool Authors! Tell us a little bit about yourself.
Hello, thank you for having me! I’m Naomi Jackson, a proud homeschool graduate and the author of two children’s books—Hobo Stew and Otherworld: The Book of Things That Are.

Everyone’s homeshooling experience is different. What do you think made yours unique?
One thing that made my homeschooling experience a little different is that for a time I was bedridden. I have a couple of chronic conditions, from about eleven through almost thirteen I really struggled physically. Being able to learn when I was able and fit lessons around my much bigger physical needs made homeschooling a really good fit for me and a huge blessing.

How did being homeschooled prepare you to write?
You know, being homeschooled often means that not only are you a student, but you also function as your own teacher sometimes. That aspect of being homeschooled taught me how to be self-motivated and to set my own schedule and pace myself.  I think those skills have been some of the most important to my work, because being a freelancer means you are your own boss.

What caused you to start writing?
I started writing when I was seven for a school assignment, and I’ve not stopped since!

What inspired Otherworld: The Book of Things That Are?
Otherworld grew out of my love for children’s fantasy and my desire to sort of put a whole bunch of magical places and characters together and see what would happen. When I started writing Otherworld, I thought it was just going to be this amazing joy ride. You know, a sweet and simple story. In the end, though, there are some very bittersweet moments in it. I think it ended up being a lot more about the love and loss between siblings than I knew it would be.

Would you give us a synopsis?
Sure! Here’s the back of the book description:
Someone is granting Mavis’ wishes.
Desperately tired of being bed-ridden, Mavis wished she could go on an adventure. That very night, a ticket appears on her pillow. Train 627 is departing the garden shed at midnight—or so it appears. The destination?
Otherworld
Otherworld is better than Mavis or even Roger could have imagined. There’s the train station and the Gullumgall’ad’s Cave and the Moon. There are Lay Agatha and Esperanza and Harnswiggle and Bollygoggle. Even better, there are so many stops left to explore!
Unfortunately, Mavis makes a dangerously careless wish. And Roger does a very brave and yet very foolish thing to save her.
Will they be able to find The Book of Things That Are and change what is written in time?

Who will enjoy Otherworld: The Book of Things That Are?
You! xD But in all seriousness—Otherworld is a children’s fantasy marked for eight to twelve-year-olds that is being enjoyed by entire families. So it’s cliché, but it really is a book for the young and the young at heart!

Where can people buy your book?
Otherworld: The Book of Things That Are and my first book, Hobo Stew, are both available on Amazon.com.

Do you plan to write more books?
Yes! I am writing a new book currently and have a tentative publishing date of October 2019.

Where can people connect with you online?
You can find my blog at naomijacksonwrites.com. There are some cool short stories published there so you’re really going to want to check it out!

I’m also on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook for those of you who like to hang out on social media!


Do you have any final thoughts?
Homeshcooling was a great opportunity for me, and I’m very grateful to my parents for investing so much time in my education. So I’d just like to say to all the homeschooling moms and dads reading this—keep going! It’s so, so worth it.
And to all of the homeschooling students considering going into writing themselves—read as much as you possibly can and write as much as you possibly can. It’s the best advice I’ve ever been given for this career!

Monday, February 11, 2019

Amariah Dixon on How the Magic Began

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Amariah, welcome to Homeschool Authors! Tell us a little bit about yourself.
My name is Amariah Dixon, and I am a homeschool graduate.  I was born and raised in Carrollton, GA.  I am a senior at the University of West Georgia.  I enjoy archery, reading as many books as I can, and spending time with family and friends.

Everyone’s homeschooling experience is different. What do you think made yours unique?
I attended a homeschool academy called Lighthouse Classical Academy.  It was a rigorous, classical education program which was excellent preparation for college.  We put on our own plays and learned about many different topics, including those which are not typically taught in other schools. 

How did being homeschooled prepare you to write?
I had a wonderful teacher, who also happened to be a close friend of our family, come to my house to teach me high school English and grammar, which paved the way to help me realize just how much I enjoyed writing and that it was something I really wanted to do.

What caused you to start writing?
I have always loved telling stories as a child, and would draw the characters for them.  Eventually, I decided to write these stories down on paper. 

What inspired How the Magic Began ~ The Star?
It just came to me one day while at a friend’s house when I was about 11.  Drawings that I created also played a big part in the characters.  Growing up, I lived in the woods, and so this, along with the adventures I had as a child—traveling, reading various books, being with family—had a significant effect on me.

Would you give us a synopsis?
Riley is an ordinary boy living an ordinary life . . . until something extraordinary happens. One morning, just like any other, Riley wakes up, begins to get ready for school, looks in the mirror and . . . he sees the image of a star around his eye! Why has he been marked with this symbol and for what purpose? Everything begins to change soon after as he and his friend, Kelly, stumble upon a door in the forest which leads to a fantastical world, a world inhabited by very unusual beings. As they explore, they encounter two creatures who become their companions; one is a benevolent little vampire by the name of Joseph—fortunately, he is not the bloodthirsty type, and the other is a kindhearted “mizzer” named Kelvin. Together, the four travel to the Zefan castle, and shown hospitality by the princess who resides there and rules the land. Upon entering Zefa, Riley is oblivious that he is being hunted down by a demonic evil of another world. The same being who, many years before, had sent forth his minion to wipe out the “People of the Symbol” civilization. When he does learn about this, however—and with the help of an elder magician named Dorobonn—Riley is determined to somehow bring back the civilization and to find out why he has been mysteriously marked with this symbol . . . despite the many threats that block his path and are determined to do away with him.

Who will enjoy How the Magic Began? 
Preteens, Young Adults, Adults of any age — anyone who enjoys fantasy, adventure, and Christian Fiction.

Where can people buy your book?
Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Do you plan to write more books?
Yes.  I am actually hoping to have the sequel to this series published in the fall.  I am currently working on the third book as well.

Where can people connect with you online?
I have a Goodreads account and, https://sites.google.com/a/my.westga.edu/how-the-magic-began-the-star/, which is my blog.

Do you have any final thoughts?
Writing is a skill in which I give glory to God for.  I wish to reach out to people with my.  I do it for entertainment, but most of all, as a way to point to the Lord.  The people in my life have contributed greatly to my stories, and have helped me significantly!  I am thankful for what they do and for all the blessings God has given me.

Saturday, February 9, 2019

Kelsey and Rebekah chat about King's Ward

Kelsey Bryant and Rebekah Stargazer chat together and answer questions about E. Kaiser Writes's new book King's Ward! which released today and is now available on Amazon!  https://www.amazon.com/Kings-Ward-Five-Gems-Book/dp/1795056118




What do you think the most impactful aspect of King's Ward is?
Rebekah: Fia never gives up, no matter how hard her life gets. And that was pretty cool to watch, don't you think?

Kelsey: Yes! I think that was the most impacting aspect of the book, too. Fia comes across as an ordinary girl, like the rest of us, and yet she holds fast to her duty and to what is right and that turns into extraordinary results. Pretty inspiring!

About the depth of King's Ward... Fia goes through really hard things. I can't say too much and give away the plot, but just the beginning where she has to leave all that's familiar would be a difficult situation for anyone. And that's the easiest situation she faces. The others get progressively more serious, even life-or-death. But she deals with each one in stride, even though they're overwhelming. She relies on God. King's Ward is deep because it delves into her mind and heart as she learns to overcome.


What was your favorite aspect?
Rebekah: My favorite aspect of King's Ward is the setting with the grasslands and the village. I also loved that Fia is starting to step out into her role as something like a spy.

Kelsey: I have to give two of my favorite aspects just like you did, Rebekah. And they're very similar to yours. One is the wonderful world-building. Erlandia is a Hungarian-esque horse nation on the grasslands and feels so real! Then I also loved Fia's development and her interactions with her friends and family. I'm curious, Rebekah, what was your favorite part of the Erlandian culture? Mine was the way they rode so many horses at one time!

Rebekah: The horses thing was definitely cool! I just loved the horsey-ness of the culture--the cavalry, the rodeo-like competitions, how easily and how well the people ride them. It was pretty epic. I also loved their clothes--I know that sounds shallow, but I grew up with a Hungarian book with illustrations and so the clothes at the festival in King's Ward brought back images of those dresses and jackets and it was kind of nostalgic.


What did you think of the villain?
Rebekah: The villain. . . is a creep. A complete and total creep. But deep down inside me I felt sorry for him. There were a lot of feels involved. This story really shows that there is just no joy in seeing even the worst villains get their due.

Kelsey: I was rather dismayed to see the villain up to his tricks again. He's so good at getting out of binds that until the last, I wasn't sure what would happen with him. And I know what you mean, Rebekah, I did feel a little sorry for him. Fia's thoughts about him showed how his deluding of himself caused so many problems, which is a warning for the rest of us. I can't help but think about what he could have been like if he had chosen to take the right path for his life.

Rebekah: Yes, the story definitely leaves us with things to think about, as well as being a fun and enjoyable story.


Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Sale!

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Get Jeweler's Apprentice for free HERE

Get Traitor's Knife for $0.99 HERE

Eight Reasons Why I Loved Traitor's Knife (Guest Post)


Note: This post contains a Word Puzzle Giveaway! There is one letter to find in each of the below paragraphs and the total of eight letters form two words. Your only other clue: this is a lot easier than it sounds.  To enter, sign up for E. Kasier Writes's Newsletter: https://ekaiserwrites.webs.com/contact and leave the answer to the puzzle in the comments! Everyone who signs up and solves the puzzle will win a printable PDF coloring page from E. Kaiser Writes's Horses of the Elements Coloring Book.
Eight Reasons Why I Loved Traitor's Knife: Five Gems Book 2
(review by Rebekah Stargazer)

1) Fia, our brave heroine! She's brave and has spunk, but she's just a sixteen-year-old girl. She'll cook and do laundry and watch other people's children with the most ordinary of them. But her knack for overhearing other peoples conversations can be . . . quite dangerous. She's a lovable heroine and I was so rooting for her.

2) Ilido, the stable boy! A little mysterious, a little grave, and a lot sweet. He can also be quite sad and keeps secrets. And he just might be in a lot of danger. I absolutely loved him and he melts my heart.

3) Varied characters! Unique and intriguing characters wander around between the pages of this book. From the old woman who is the master jeweler, to little orphaned children, a Spymaster, a princess, a dangerously curious sister, a cook, the jeweler master's middle-aged son, and the new messenger. Each of the characters has their own personality and adds something cool to the story. There are many plot twists and turns, and some interesting developments regarding certain characters. And one of them . . . may be a traitor. There are a lot of feels involved!

4) Everything about the setting! Snow, pines, sheer icy cliff-side paths. This book will make you feel like it's winter outside. And there's even a deadly snow leopard.

5) Gorgeous jewelry. Fia, our resident jeweler's apprentice, comes into contact with a lot of beautiful gems. I loved reading about her learning the craft of jewelry making and watching her etch designs in wax for practice. There are a lot of lovely details in this book! <3 p="">
6) Equines are everywhere. So many cute horses! If you're a horse girl you will love the horsey-ness. If you know zilch about horses (*cough*me*cough*), you're in for an education. But either way you will LOVE our horsey hero, Happy. Fia rides him a lot and he is such a fun animal to read about!
7) Much fun. The characters, the dialogue, the mystery and the unwinding plot threads make for a very enjoyable read. There is even a large dose of suspense!

8) Summing up: this book has adventure, friendship, snow, feels, horses, betrayal, secrets, spies, danger, and a dash of faith! It's a rollicking read best enjoyed by teen girls, but there's no reason why the whole family wouldn't love it too. It's 100% squeaky clean, but there is a bit of blood and some action/fighting. It's a lot of fun and I thoroughly enjoyed it! I think you will too. :)

Monday, February 4, 2019

E. Kaiser on the Five Gems series


Welcome back to Homeschooled Authors, Elizabeth! What has been going on in your life?

Well, about two years of my creative life were pretty much swallowed up by a 14 hr. one way, move of the ranch operation; lock, stock and barrel, to a different state. So, we’re in Missouri now!
Lots more rain, which equals more grass... also more bugs, which I’m not a fan of. But I am closer to a lot of writer friends which I’d known online before, so have been able to meet in RL which has been great.
 Also, worked out so that Realm Makers 2018 was in St. Louis, and writer friends were going, so I was able to attend and met a whole lot more online friends face to face, so yes, lots of new adventures!
 I did keep plugging along with my writing during those two years, though I didn’t have time or energy to even think about releasing anything. So, now that the construction phase is wrapping up on the farm, my team and I have been able to focus on getting another book out to the reading audience. And I just want to say how thankful I am to every one of them who took the time to tell me they needed the next book in Fia’s journey, and that they’d enjoyed the earlier two in the Five Gems series. That was like streams in the desert for a weary soul!

Tell us about your Five Gems series?
I started the series with Jeweler’s Apprentice, which I wrote for my youngest sister, Abi, as a present when she turned 16.
Abi isn’t as voracious a reader as I was as a kid (I’d read anything, anywhere, and explored widely) and she’s a particular reader. So I knew I had to create something really different to keep her interest, since she deathly despises cliché’s and also will sit and ferret out a detail if she thinks its missing. (She rarely re-reads, but she read Anne of Green Gables twice solely in search of Anne’s age, and ended up roundly denouncing Lucy Maude Montgomery for never committing on that! J )
   To avoid the trope-ish “sweet sixteen and everything happens” I made Fia nearly seventeen, and assigned her interest jewelry-making since I had some knowledge there. I also ended up sharing with her my personal experience with post-horse-accident fear of riding, and in a Renaissance-style fantasy period, that’s built-in conflict right there, because Fia ends up compelled to ride quite a bit! So all the horse-related parts are based on my own experiences, but of course she gets to do much more heroic things than I have in real life. Day dreaming, yes, probably about the same. 
J
I wrote it to be a stand-alone, and never thought it’d be otherwise. I was really burnt out by the time I’d finished it, my first totally completed novel, and I gave it to her with a sense of defeat. Sort of “Here, I made this for you, but you may not like it, I’m sorry it’s not better. It’s the best I could do.”
But to my surprise, she loved it, and devoured it right up. Then, to my great discomfort, she started hounding me for sequels. I was so burnt out, I never wanted to see any of it again!
But all that summer, she talked about what could/should happen next, and how we could improve JA’s plotline, and how to add this detail and that element, and by the following winter I sort of gave in and we started revisions on JA and also detailed note-taking on the series.
I often say, if not for Abi I wouldn’t have accomplished any of these, probably; because she really did become the impetus for my writing to result in books; both as whip-cracker and cheerleader.
 And here we are... King’s Ward, third in the series!

I understand you are making some updates. Could you tell us about them?
When I released Jeweler’s Apprentice in 2011 after several years of revisions, I was really just trying to “fail forward” in the publishing world, very much an overwhelmed newcomer. Someone had told me about e-books, how I should just get out there and take that step, and so I did.
And in 2014, when we released Traitor’s Knife, we had a little better idea; but were still very much finding our way through formatting and cover design and all those overwhelming requirements; so while we were blessed to find some readers who latched on and became enthusiasts, it was more to their credit than our planning!
 Now, seven years after that first release, our journey has really taught us so much, and we’ve sort of congregated an amazing, authentic, core readership we can go to and ask their advice, and then try to take it as best as we can. And we’ve really been enormously blessed through those relationships, creatively and personally; which we’d never have without first “plunging in at the deep end” with the first version, of the first book.
So, now for King’s Ward release, we’ve also done a re-edit of the earlier books, catching any little thing that slipped through previously, and a re-cover of them, too. So we’ve got a whole new look, they’re so pretty and we’ve tried to make them very representative of what you’ll find in the story. And also, a bit better branding, with a more cohesive appearance which we’ll carry on to the next books we produce as well.


I'm really excited about the third book. Could you give us a synopsis?
Yes!
“Knowing too many royal secrets, Fia’s position is compromised, so she is made a ward of the king and sent away yet again; this time into the grassland kingdom of Erlandia, north of Othira and as yet at peace.
But her journey amongst the horse folk takes unexpected turns and trapped within tawny walls she faces two men from her past... one she fears might murder her, the other may die of plague unless she wins the battle for his life.
With the Sunlight Stone traded for troops, how long will Erlandia’s peace last?”
So Fia is older now and more experienced, and she’s put into positions in this book where she really has only herself to rely on.
 She started out as a “reluctant heroine”; I set her up to be sort of the Bilbo Baggins type, wishing she was back home with the kettle starting to boil. But through the course of events, she’s pulled into scary situations and she has to react, and that’s a question we all would like to know... if crucial events hinged on our actions, how would we perform under that sort of pressure?
Especially as youngsters, we really wonder what we’re made of, and although we all dream of adventure, I think a large part of us really hopes we never have to find out. J
But Fia does have to, and fortunately for those around her, she reacts heroically to the various dangers, and she does it only because she immediately sees the threats to those she cares about and is utterly unable to allow anything to happen to them. So she steps up and does whatever is in her power to protect her friends and family.
In King’s Ward, she’s immersed into a new kingdom, Erlandia; an environment greatly inspired by Rohan in Tolkien’s work, and also the plains horsemen of Hungary. I loved mining the rich traditions of the Magyar-culture, including the “three up, Roman riding” as a competitive event for the Erlandian festival; which is something still done by Hungarian horsemen showing off their skills.
All this I translated via my own experiences growing up a’horseback in Montana, Wyoming, Nebraska, and a bit of the Dakotas, so that was a lot of fun to get to really celebrate a grassland, horse-centered way of life.
And of course for Fia, this is a bit distressing, so there’s that, too! J


Where can people go to learn more about you and your books? (website, social media links, newsletter)
I love visitors, and I even more love notes, so everyone, please don’t hesitate to connect with me on any of the platforms. J




@EKaiserWrites on Twitter

E. Kaiser Writes on Goodreads



 What is your favorite quote from the Five Gems series?
Oh, that is tough. That’s an aspect of being a “discovery writer”, where you don’t know what it’s going to be until you write it! It’s easy to surprise oneself this way!

"She wished she could change things, put a stop to the war that uprooted families and scattered friends. But something she’d read in a book echoed in her memory.
“You go forward. There is only one way to live life and have it retain any real worth. It’s true what they say: The only way out, is through.”
Then through was where she would have to go."

But some of my favorite lines are descriptions...

"The inhabitants seemed a cheerful, carefree sort, but their very congeniality was heavily laced with the stubbornness and determination to survive no matter what the sky might throw at them. There was an almost reckless bravado in the eyes of the young, as if growing up in the face of all that emptiness had expanded their impressions of self to stretch out to both horizons and take it all in as part of their soul."

Some of the most humorous are from the villain's perspective... things like; 

   "
It had always amused him to escape certain death. [...]
Lady Luck had always been his very favorite flirt.
  
And... 

"[...]as he headed out for the pass that would see him in fresh territory.
Territory where no one knew him… yet."


Any final thoughts?
Writing Fia’s adventures as she grows into adulthood is really sort of a waltz between what I know now, and the things I struggled with growing up. It’s got a beautiful, fantasy setting and thrills to keep things exciting, but I always want to be representing real aspects of life which a reader can absorb and be helped by if they happen to need that.
I find my ‘center’ creatively when I aim to reach who I used to be, who Abi used to be, the sort of book those versions of ourselves would have enjoyed, but also been encouraged by.
And when I hear from readers that they loved the books, that is just the best, indescribable, feeling; because I know that these readers aren’t being served by the current publishing world, and I’m able to take my dissatisfaction with the books commercially available, and turn that into a driving force to create something that others have their need met through, and that’s a real blessing.
This world is filled with discouraging things, so to find little jewels of beauty and connection, the darkness makes such gems shine all the brighter for it. J

Monday, November 5, 2018

Deadly Obsession Book Review


Find it on: Goodreads | Kindle | Paperback | Audiobook
Age Appropriate For: 15 and up
Best for Ages: 15-20
Description: As a teenage FBI agent Kennedy Stevens has put her life on the line numerous times in order to catch criminals. She believes it's her purpose in life, but every time she helps to put one predator away it seems that ten more are waiting to take their place. Kennedy has pretty much seen it all in her life on the job but past events in her personal life have caused her to turn her back on God and the faith she grew up with. Kennedy is used to people trying to kill her, it's all part of the job, however when someone begins stalking her, things get personal. Will Kennedy allow the world to make her bitter? Or will she give it all to God? Will a killer's Deadly Obsession with Kennedy prove fatal? Find out in this breath taking new inspirational suspense novella from author Caitlyn Santi and prepare yourself for a thrilling ride that will bring you to the edge of your seat.

I think one of that hardest thing for me, as both a lover of books and an author, is to rate first novels. This book is no exception. Santi has so much talent and the book, but it lacked some of the polish of an experienced writer. However, she isn’t an experienced writer, so it isn’t really that surprising.

First off, this book deals with older men preying on young girls. This is done in a non-graphic way. However, I wouldn’t hand this to young or sensitive readers. However, older teens will find this an appropriate read.

This story has a very classic, yet fun set up. A young person doing a job that normally only adults do. While it isn’t a huge secret, her classmates don’t know. She is leading a double-life so that she can help others. It may be classic, but it works and is fun. I liked that it felt less like Kennedy was lying to her school friends about what she was doing and more like her work and her school life were separate things. I get tired of most books/movies that are full of deceit to keep this kind of storyline going.

The faith message was good for the age group that this is targeted for. For older readers, it will probably feel too simplistic. Dealing with why bad things happen to good people, and anger toward God are some of the things dealt with.

Did I mention that there is an awesome sibling relationship? Well, there is. Kennedy works with her brother. Her brother is protective, loving, and tries to help Kennedy deal with the pain in her past. They also have loving, and supportive parents.

There is a lot of tense scenes in this, a lot of action, and you probably won’t want to put the book down. The villain is pretty evil and scary. As I said before, this isn’t a book for young or sensitive readers.

As I listened to the audiobook, I also have to say that the narrator, Peggy Sowersby, did a wonderful job. While not a youthful voice, she gave the story a very youthful feel.
I recommend this book to teens who like action, suspense, with a dash of faith.


I received this audiobook from the author for the purpose of writing a review. I was not required to write a positive review. All the thoughts expressed are my own.