Renee Writes

Posts in category Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Into the Air by A.K. Downing

Welcome to this week’s Friday Author Spotlight! Today I have A.K. Downing visiting with her fantasy novel, Into the Air. She has been kind enough to do an interview with me, so keep reading and enjoy!

A. K. Downing author of Into the Air

A.K. Downing grew up in the hills of southwestern Pennsylvania and spent her summers exploring the fields, woods, and orchards of her grandparents’ farm. She studied graphic design at Kent State University and currently works as a Creative Director. Her young-adult, dystopian fantasy novel, Into the Air, was a category finalist in the 2017 National Indie Excellence Awards. The story follows teenager Mia Bryn and her father as they escape the safety of their underground compound and try to survive in a world no one has inhabited for more than a hundred years.

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About the Book

When Mia Bryn escapes her underground compound, she never imagines her world will explode. Separated from her father and attacked by lethal creatures she never knew existed, Mia tries to survive in a dangerous land she’s only dreamed about. As she battles for her life, Mia finds an abandoned girl, discovers a link to her mother, and is captured by Archer, a cunning, golden-eyed guard. Together, Mia and Archer unravel an evil plot to overthrow the Provinces and Mia realizes she must find a way to save herself and those she loves…or die trying.

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Keep reading for an interview with the author:

What is your favorite book?

I love to read different genres, but YA is my guilty pleasure. A few of my favorites are: City of Bones | A Court of Thorns & Roses | Life of Pi

What is the most recent book you’ve read?

I’m finishing “A Court of Mist and Fury” by Sarah J. Maas. Somehow I JUST discovered Maas and can’t seem to get enough!

Who is your author role-model?

I love the wit of Charlaine Harris, the epic story telling of Diana Gabaldon, and the teen-age angst of Cassandra Clare.

Where is your favorite place to write?

In the car. It’s when my head is clear and the ideas flow. Ideas do come to me all the time, though. I keep notebooks everywhere!

How do you read a book – cover-to-cover or last page first?

I read cover-to-cover, although I skip ahead sometimes to make sure someone isn’t dead!

What is a writing goal you have?

To finish The Air Series before my daughter is in high school. Look for the Book 2 in Spring 2018!

If you could sum up your writing style in a word or phrase what would it be?

Into the Air doesn’t neatly fit into one category. It’s a post-apocalyptic story, but takes place a century after “the catastrophic event,” and focuses on a healing earth. It’s science-fiction in the sense that it takes place in a future world, but it doesn’t rely on new technology. And it’s fantasy because my main character has “powers.”

Your book has such a unique plot. Where did you find your inspiration?

A few years ago, my husband was watching “prepper” shows. During one episode, a man built an underground compound for his family in case there was a “catastrophic event.” The idea stuck with me and filled me with questions: How long could people survive underground? How would they know it was safe to enter the outside world again? Shortly after, I started writing “Into the Air.”

Will we get to read more about Mia and her adventures above ground?

Yes! There are two more novels. The second will release Spring 2018 and picks up a week after the first ends. Mia struggles with her increasing importance, grows closer to Archer, and is reunited with someone she thought was dead.

How do you describe Mia’s experience in the air?

Mia’s experience is a contrast in opposites. She’s thrilled to escape her compound, but almost dies trying survive in the outside world. She’s terrified that her father has been taken, but discovers a connection with Archer. She thinks her life is ordinary, but discovers she’s more important than she ever imagined.

I am rooting for Mia and Archer. What’s next?

Mia and Archer come from two different worlds. In some ways their worlds collide and in other ways, they remain separate. It’s a romance that will keep you guessing.


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Author Spotlight: The Thousand Scars – A #Fantasy Novel by Michael R. Baker


Welcome to another Friday Author Spotlight! This week I have Michael R. Baker visiting with his fantasy novel, The Thousand Scars, the first book in his Counterbalance series. He’s also shared an excerpt from the book, but first let’s get to know Michael.

Michael R. Baker studied history at University of Sunderland, and at last he found a use for his degree. The idea for Counterbalance came off the back of an exhausting bus journey, ironically starting an even longer voyage into writing and publishing fantasy. Alongside his passion for storytelling and worldbuilding, Michael is an avid video gamer and cartographer, bringing his fantasy world and others from the mind onto paper reality. The Thousand Scars is Michael’s debut novel, and the first of the epic fantasy series.


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About the Book

What is Counterbalance?

Counterbalance tells the brutal story of a land in turmoil, as two desperate superpowers battle for survival in a war of terror and clashes of morality. A complex series, it involves bloody battles and sieges, vengeful necromancers, rampant mercenary companies, a young man desperately searching for a new home, and powerful conspiracies.

For good or evil, The Thousand Scars shall bleed the world…and they will save it. Or will they? The first book of the series releases on December 9th, the opening book of this epic fantasy series.

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Keep reading for an excerpt:

War will reach us soon. The white haired patriarch of Valare, Lazarus Oltor, sat at his wide, oak desk, his already wrinkled brow furrowing. He glanced up to the window. Outside lay the city, blanketed in a dense cloud of fog. It was quiet, sounds muffled, the normal hustle and bustle subdued. Even Lancil, his pet falcon, was not his usual vocal self.

Footsteps rang out on the marble floor. Piez Vertigen entered the Atrium. He stopped before Lazarus’ desk, bowing low, his eyes puffy and grey. He’s tired. They all were.

“Morning, my Jaal.” The youthful man’s perfunctory smile did not reach his eyes.

Lazarus grimaced. The formal title of Valarian leadership still sat queer, even after twenty years. “Please, there’s no need to call me that.”

Piez chuckled. “Just force of habit, Lazarus. Apologies . . . my Jaal.” His shrewd eyes gleamed and this time the smile was real.

Piez Vertigen was young for a chancellor. His father Samuel had died during the siege when he was just a baby, and Lazarus had become something of a surrogate father to the boy. He was a good man, and intelligent. Just like his father. Although Lazarus was the supreme leader of Valare, most of the day-to-day business of running the city was down to Piez. That suited Lazarus. Valare belongs to him, not me.

“I’ve recruited another two hundred men into the Keep Guard,” Piez said.

“Good. They can join Cassel for training drills. It’s essential we hold the port.”

Piez shivered, looking pointedly at the open windows. Lazarus’ chambers were cold, but he didn’t feel it, in spite his old age. “I apologize for the chill.” he added. “Should I call for a fire?”

Piez shrugged. “No need. I won’t take up much of your time.” He glanced over the table where Lazarus was sitting. It was littered with old letters, maps, and details on the city’s defenses.

“Anything from across the Tangent?” Lazarus asked, as he did every day. Instantly, Piez’s face darkened.

“Not today. We’ve kept a lookout across sea. I sent out the few warships we have left, though I fear they won’t see much in these conditions.” He grimaced. “The Dominion has already broken the lines and attempted invasion. The Empire’s forces cannot hold the tide much longer.”


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Author Spotlight: MIND: The Beginning – A #SciFi Novel by Jenn Nixon


Welcome to this week’s Friday Author Spotlight! Today I’m happy to welcome Jenn Nixon to my little home on the net. She’s here to share her science fiction novel, MIND: The Beginning with us. She has also shared an excerpt, but first, let’s learn more about her.

Jenn’s love of writing started the year she received her first diary and Nancy Drew novel. Throughout her teenage years, she kept a diary of her personal thoughts and feelings but graduated from Nancy Drew to other mystery suspense novels.

She often adds a thriller and suspense element to anything she writes be it Romance, Science Fiction, or Fantasy. When not writing, she spends her time reading, observing pop culture, playing with her two dogs, and working on various charitable projects in her home state of New Jersey.

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About the Book

Dina knew being a psychic meant her life would always be different and dangerous. After she loses telepathic contact with her twin brother and stumbles onto his covert government group policing psychics, she thought she’d seen it all. Then she meets Liam of Shria, a self-proclaimed “alien”, and with his help learns she’s much more than the typical psychic.

Get it today on Amazon!


Keep reading for an excerpt:

“I had a feeling I’d see you again,” the voice called.

Dina looked around the wooded area, feeling confused for a moment. It seemed familiar. Across the marsh, Liam was leaning against a tree, casually dressed, hair slightly less shaggy than it had been last time, hands shoved in his skinny jeans. A light mist lingered over the grass, a taste of salt in the air. How did she get here?


“Didn’t think it would be this soon,” he replied with a shrug.

The Gut surrounded her. She didn’t remember coming here, yet she was in the Bay Hook. Solid ground beneath her feet and the stench she breathed in, all real. “Why, uh . . . did you come back?”

“The real question is why did you call me here?”

“What are you talking about? You were already here, and I didn’t call. I don’t even have your number.”

“Want it?” he asked, smirking, then shook his head. “No, wait . . . oh. Uninhibited speech, foggy backdrop, extra flirty. I get it.”

“Get what?”

“We’re dreaming. You’re asleep right?”

“No,” she spat, spreading her arms, twisting in place. She pulled a cattail-punk out of the ground and shook it at him. “We’re in the Hook, hello, don’t you see the trees? Can’t you smell the marsh?”

“You must have been thinking about me, which is normal, frankly, given the circumstances. But how the hell are you keeping me here?”

“I’m not doing anything.”

“Dina, did both your parents have psionic abilities?”

“Only my father, why?”

“Curious,” he said, moving toward her, gray eyes sweeping up and down. “What about his parents, either of them?”

“I don’t know. What does it matter?”

“People don’t normally share dreams. You’re strong—”

“Why does everyone keep saying that?” Dina threw her hands up in the air and walked away. “Who cares if I am or not? There’s some dude out there burning up people, and I don’t have time to tramp around the swamp with E.T.”

“What did you say?”

“Nothing. Doesn’t matter. I’m outta here.”

“Wait, Dina,” he said, catching up and surpassing her. He grabbed both her arms to stop her. “You really are dreaming.”

Everything around her was too real to be a dream. She felt the pressure of his fingers, even the sinking feeling of her feet on the soft ground. “So this isn’t the Gut, it’s a dream? Right, and you’re sharing it with me, sure.”

“You’re amazing!” He laughed boyishly. “Even after all you’ve seen, you’re still questioning everything.”

“Then prove it to me. Call me, here’s my number,” she said, mentally sending the digits to his head.

Liam smiled at her. A sweet, sincere smile that made her smile back before shrugging.


Her eyes popped open. The ceiling of her bedroom stared back. “Oh, what the hell?”

Dina sat up, brow furrowed. She reached toward the nightstand for her phone. Was it going to ring? It had felt as if she had been there, standing in the grass with Liam. She shut her eyes, trying to bring the images back, but they were already fading.

Had she just shared a dream with Liam?



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