girl reading book supernatural pixels

You can be supernatural too

I have learnt to listen to my mind, body and soul. The last thing a creative person needs is a burnout. Our work dries up and comes to a grinding halt. Exasperated, the original problem is prolonged. Meaning, the journey to getting back on track is even harder.

What should we do when life reveals it’s self as a broken fairy-tale? Unlike a fantasy novel, there is no Dark Knight to save us. The first step is realisation. Our realm is what we make it.

magic mystery forest girl ballet pixel

 

I’ve had my share of experiences to wonderland and back. I’m keen to keep myself on an even keel. In pursuit of more knowledge I stumbled across this enlightening YouTube clip.

Psychological well-being by Nina Ellis-Hervey at TED

Nina is an inspirational woman. Who has learnt valuable lessons from her failures and strives to encourage others, that they too, can achieve anything they put their minds too.

So to all of my fellow writers, as Nina says: Dream big or not at all.

Share your favourite inspirational quotes or sites with me. We all need encouragement from time to time. 🙂

Author Cait Ashwood

Author Interview ~ Cait Ashwood

A huge thanks to Cait for taking the time to answer my questions. Warning to future fan’s this post contains spoliers (Don’t worry too much, Cait gives plenty of notice.) If you havn’t read Caits debut novel The Seekers (Order of the Lily Book 1) then check out my review. Plus Cait has given us a excerpt from Order of the Lily Book 2, Wow!

Banner The Seekers Author Cait Ashwood

1) What drove you to write fantasy?
Fantasy is where I grew up and have spent the bulk of my time as an adult. It seemed the most natural place for me to write, as it’s what I’ve been reading. That, and I often grow weary of reality. Give me something fantastical to occupy my hours, and I’m a happy girl.

2) Who are your favorite authors, and what genre do you enjoy reading the most?

Sherwood Smith, R.A. Salvatore, Mercedes Lackey, and J.R. Ward top my list of favorite authors. I’ll spend time in epic fantasy, romance, PNR, and just about anything else that catches my interest, including softer sci-fi.

3) Do you remember the first story you ever read and the impact it had on you?

The earliest memory I have of reading a book was most likely a Little Bear chapter book, and the only impactful thought I had about that book was that Little Bear got in trouble with his mom, too.

4)  How did you come up with the idea to write about The Seekers and the Chosen?

This started off as a daydream of mine, about a simpler time. Obviously, the more time I spent in this little daydream of mine, the more complex and complicated it got. I had never thought to write it all down; it just kept growing and expanding in my head. It was my escape when life got too real. Then I met this crazy lady with explosive brown curls tapping away madly on an iPad. When I asked her what she was doing, she said she was writing a novel. Those of you who participate will understand my meaning when I say that this auspicious meeting occurred in November – that’s right, I had run into one of my area’s two MLs for NaNoWriMo. The first draft took two years, and then I floundered about attempting to edit it for six months. I took another two months, read every book on the writing craft I could, got a few good critiques and suggestions, and re-wrote the entire (then) one hundred and twenty-four thousand word manuscript. The re-write took two and a half months. A month and a half later, and my little world floated out onto the internet to sink or swim on its own.

Author Cait Ashwood The Seekers

5) Is being a writer a gift or a curse?

Always a gift. The curse is the number of hours in a day and those pesky things called bills.

6) Where do you write? Do you have any unique or quirky writing habits?

I have a few places I write. My NaNo group meets weekly year-round at a local Panera. My bestie writes weekly at a local cafe on open mic night. Then…there’s my desk with Muse the black moor goldfish and Calliope the snail for company.  As for quirky habits, my muses have this fun thing they like to do where they make me work and fight and claw for every word before 10:30pm. After 10:30, it’s like they clock into work and I can finally get some work done. I can occasionally woo them with some wine, but that’s hit or miss.

7) Do you have any further romantic plans in the future for Audrey?

Why yes, yes I do. While trimming for spoilers, I’ll share an excerpt from Order of the Lily with you. If you haven’t read The Seekers yet, you may have no idea who the mystery man may be.

“How…how long?” His voice broke on the words, and more emotion showed in his eyes than she’d ever seen.
His grip on her bicep was strong, but she didn’t even feel the discomfort, nearly hypnotized. “I don’t know, really. It’s like,” she paused, fishing for words, “it’s like it was always there, but I never dared to hope—”
She didn’t get to finish as his lips crushed down on hers. She froze for half a second in shock, then responded, letting her eyes flutter closed. This was no romantic kiss; this was a claim staked.

Order of the Lily Cait Ashwood

8) Which character from your novel do you most identify with?

I have to go with Audrey on this one, as she’s the only character I’ve created to actually sort of be based on myself. Everyone else is different and unique but Audrey…she’s mine.

9) Out of the world you have created, where would you most like to spend the day, and why?

This is actually our world in the future, so a lot of things we have today are ruins. Still, I’d love to have a Seeker whisk me off around the world to see all of the great archaeological feats that are left standing, and all of the beautiful places with pristine lagoons. And at the end of the day, I can sleep in my own bed with no jet lag. Best of both worlds.

10) Did you find any specific challenges in writing The Seekers, and what would you do differently next time?

Honestly, I had no idea what I was doing the first time around. I had no plot, no outline, just a super vague plan. I ended up cutting out the first four chapters, re-wrote my beginning about four or five different ways, and didn’t have a villain until I randomly decided to change a character into a bad guy half way through, simply to fill the void. This messed up a lot of the dialogue, as the character was originally sugary sweet and then seemed bipolar when they were revealed as a villain. It was a disorganized mess! I’d definitely do all of my character sheets in advance next time I’m writing in a new world, because starting with everyone as a blank slate, there was a lot of distance. I couldn’t connect with them. By the time I finished writing the first draft and started on the re-write, I truly knew who they were and could bring some life into them. I’ll definitely make sure to do some practice writing and character sheets ahead of the actual writing of the novel next time so that I don’t have that awkward dissociative phase to work through.

11) If you were a Chosen, which power would you wish to have?

I love animals, so I’d definitely choose to be an animal seer if I had the choice.

12) Give us an interesting fun fact about The Seekers.

Semi-spoiler warning, but not a horrible one. Hound was actually originally supposed to die samurai-style upon his discovery of his condition. My alpha reader and bestie literally begged me to let Hound live, no matter what the cost. Especially during the re-writes, this enabled me to give him a lot more of a story arc, and I really like the finished product and how everything turned out. It’s definitely had a series-wide impact but is probably one of the best changes I’ve made to the manuscript.

13) Were there any scenes that you found particularly challenging to write, and why?

This may sound silly, but the hardest scene for me to write was when Audrey has to leave Mia behind. Mia is based on my own Great Dane, Naomi, and the thought of ever having to leave her behind like that made me cuddle her for about an hour straight after writing that scene.

14) What got left out of the final draft?

The first original four chapters, for certain! The biggest casualty there was the description of Audrey’s bathroom in her house before she goes back with the Seekers. Gosh, that place was heavenly. If my books ever make me rich and famous, I’m building her bathroom for myself.

Author Lorraine Ambers Banner

15) Were there alternative endings you considered?

Well, Hound was originally supposed to be dead. The other answer is going to have a spoiler, so don’t read it if you don’t want to know.

Are you still with me?

You sure?

Okay. Hound originally wasn’t supposed to be able to work for the Seekers at all. Once Gretta took control of him, he was supposed to be their man, through and through. While writing that, I decided I really couldn’t do that to him. He was supposed to be leading the opposing forces at the Battle of the Institute and, despite my alpha reader’s pleas, I still hadn’t decided if he was going to survive the battle. As I sat down to do the re-write, Audrey decided to skip ahead and figure things out faster than I’d intended, but it made sense with the plot. This meant that she had a chance to tell Hound about himself and free him from Gretta’s control before the actual battle, so he no longer had to lead the enemy in the attack against his own brethren. After that, he was going to decide he was too dangerous for society and seclude himself in a cave and become the Ghost of Calanon, preying on bandits on the main roads. He became sort of a mythic figure that Gwyn (who originally was quite a bit more assertive) searched for until she found him. Book 1 ended with Gwyn being the first to lay eyes on Hound since the Battle of the Institute. Her mission was to slowly begin healing him and convince him to return to the fold.

16) What’s next for you? What are you working on now?

I’m currently working on the sequel to The Seekers, Order of the Lily. It’s about half-way written at this point, and time has been reserved with the editor to get cracking on it. Exciting things are afoot!

Cait loves to have new followers, this is where you can find her:

www.caitashwood.com

www.facebook.com/cait.ashwood

www.instagram.com/ashwood.cait

www.twitter.com/caitashwood

book novel review Fey young adult fantasy romance YA

Review ~ The Seeker by Cait Ashwood

I missed the deadline to receive the full copy of this novel. But I was given the first three chapters, which I loved and had to buy the full version.  Here is my honest review.

Back Page Blurb:

The seekers novel cover cait ashwoodAudrey’s always felt there’s more to life than being stuck in the same old 9-5 routine. When a black-clad stranger says she meets the criteria for his recruitment program, she can’t help but be intrigued. The fact that he’s from nine hundred years in the future only adds to the appeal.

Hound has been searching for ancestors of the Order his entire life. The power to heal the earth resides in their blood, and they are all that stands between humanity and starvation. But protecting Audrey isn’t an easy task, not when her uncontrollable talents only paint a target on their backs. Doing a head count after the latest in a series of disasters, Hound comes up two short– Audrey and his right-hand man are missing. What would make Ace take the strongest Chosen of the era away from the safety of her group, and even more troubling, why wasn’t he informed?


 

 

I award The Seekers 4 stars

My review: The Seeekers (Order of the Lily Book 1)

What I loved:

Audrey has the perfect blend of flaws and talents, making her extraordinary gifts believable. I love all the seekers and their individual, complex characters. Together their personalities drew me into the story and kept me engaged until the end. There’s the tantalising idea of romance that built anticipation.

The world building is natural and simplistic. It complements the stories theme, showing the balance between life and death. The author creates vivid scenery. Her voice is authentic, a gentle balm, lulling me into her story. There were fantastic plots, leaving me unsure of which characters to trust. A week later and I’m still thinking about Audrey, Ace and Hound. A fantastic story.

What I disliked:

There was no plot resolve, which made the final scenes melodramatic. Leaving to many unanswered questions about the antagonist. (Unresolved novels are becoming a pet peeve of mine!) I’m sure they’ll be answered in the following series. I can’t wait to read it.

I recommend this book to lovers of fantasy, who want to fall in love with the characters and follow their journey.

Cait Ashwood

 

How to title your book

This is no easy task. In fact my novel has had several working titles over the development of the book, none of which are any good or of any use.

I’ve researched my genre, found the running themes to my novel and brainstormed for your hours.

There’s nothing more disheartening than having an excellent title in mind only to discover it’s already in use. Not the smartest move, especially if the other Author is a run away success.

Or when your friends tell you it sounds like an erotica novel. (This happens a lot, I guess I have a dirty mind 😳.)

Thankfully I came across Kim Chance’s awesome YouTube channel with advice on this matter. 

Definitely worth a look. 

Review – The Leigion Awakes by J.R.Handley

I recieved a copy of this novel from the author J.R.Hadley in exchange for an honest review.

Back Page Blurb:

The Legion Awakes (The Sleeping Leigion Book 1)

The Legion Awakes J.R.Handley

A century ago, all but two members of Lance Scipio’s unit were executed.

Now he is woken into a strange new time, and tasked with whipping into shape the worst squad of misfits in the entire Human Marine Corps.

THE PRICE OF FAILURE: DEATH!


2565AD. Tranquility-4 near the frontier of the White Knight Empire. Guided by mysterious orders, the authorities at the Human Marine Corps base of Beta City thaw Lance Scipio. In 2441, an entire Marine company was executed with the exception of Captain Grimgerde and Sergeant Lance Scipio, the usual punishment for running in the face of the enemy. But these two were preserved… as if they would be required in the future.

Scipio is not expected to escape execution for long, but he has been given a slim chance. For a Marine, a chance can be all that’s needed to change the fate of worlds…


The Sleeping Legion is a breakneck new sequence of military science fiction novels set in the worlds of the international bestselling series: ‘The Human Legion’.

My review:

If I’m honest, this type of book is not my cup of tea. It’s graffic in the art of warfare, a subject I’m not comfortable with. My personel prefference has coloured my judgment and rating. Otherwise it would have recieved 4 stars.

I award this book 3.5 stars.

What I loved:

Sgt Scipio is a dedicated and professional solider who puts the welfare of his troops as top priority. Sgt Scipio prepares his squad for the harsh reality of battle. I was immersed in the life of a solider, it was brutal and gritty. The author’s military knowledge gives an honest account of a soldier’s life.

The world building and artificial intelligence is brilliant. The novel reveals clear, vivid setting throughout. I enjoyed the story arc, it was enthralling. Keeping me interested during the course of the book. I also want to applaud the quality of writing.

This novel gave me a first-hand experience of what it’s like to be a soldier. How they think, act and adapt, to become who they must to win.

What I disliked:

The long names of the squads became tedious, I ignored most of them. I had to back track to get a sense of place during the training scenes. The story nature requires a high number of characters, sometimes their introduction pulled me from the story.

I recommend this book to sci-fi fans, who appreciate the gore and tactics of a military life.

J.R. Handley