Renee Writes

Posts in category Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Clara’s Return by Suzanna J. Linton


Welcome to another Friday Author Spotlight! This week I have Suzanna J. Linton with the second book in her Stories of Lorst series, Clara’s Return. Clara, the main character of the book, has agreed to an interview, which I’ll be sharing later, but first let’s learn more about the author.

Suzanna J. Linton grew up in the swamps of the South Carolina Lowcountry, where she was fed a steady diet of books, tall tales, and catfish. She started writing poetry from an early age before transitioning to fiction. While in high school, she was introduced to the Dragonriders of Pern Series by Anne McCaffrey, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and The Animorphs. From those Suzanna gained a deep desire to write about tough women heroes.

In 2002, she attended the summer program at the South Carolina Governor’s School for the Arts of Humanities and graduated from Francis Marion University in 2007. She has three books published and her latest novel is Clara’s Return. Suzanna continues to live in South Carolina with her husband, their two dogs, and a cat. They don’t own the cat; the cat owns them.

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About the Book

Clara, lost and disillusioned from the civil war, hopes to discover answers about her lineage and abilities in the quiet village of Bluebell, where she once lived before being sold into slavery. However, as she and the Captain of the Royal Guard make their journey, a new threat to the kingdom arises in the form of a traitor.

Patiently brewing since the fall of the sorceror-king Marduk, there are careful plans now coming to fruition. Riots break out, a giant is sighted, and double agents quietly take their places. King Emmerich’s struggles with his new role and his ever-present nightmares leave him feeling inadequate to the task. What he needs most is Clara.

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Keep reading for an interview with Clara from Clara’s Return:

Where were you born, and what was it like growing up there?

I was born in a small village called Bluebell in the Larkspur Mountains. I lived there with my parents until my mother sold me into slavery. I was, I think, in my ninth or tenth year. I don’t remember a lot about the village. What I do remember was nice.

Did you have a close relationship with your family?

I was very close to my Da. He drank too much but he loved me. He told me funny stories. My mother… Why are you even asking about this? It’s not important.

What is the happiest memory from your childhood?

Going to services at our local temple. There was a very beautiful statue of the Mother there.

If you could compare yourself to someone from another novel, who would it be? What are your similarities and differences?

*stares at author*
*author nudges Clara*
All right! I suppose I’m similar to this person called Lessa from the Dragonriders of Pern series. My author thinks we have similar personalities. But I’m not like that woman because I’m not crazy enough to ride a dragon.

Who is your enemy?

My enemy is anyone who threatens Emmerich. Currently, it’s a man named Remus. But that’s also a little more complicated and I really don’t want to talk about it.

Tell us a little about your world, and where you fit in?

I don’t fit in it. I’m a Seer. People either are in awe of me or they fear me. I serve in King Emmerich’s Court but I’ve left there for a quest of my own. In my world, I live in a kingdom called Lorst. We are at odds with our neighbors to the east, the kingdom of Tier. We have the sea to our west, mountains to the north, and plains that become deserts to the south.

What are your goals?

I would like to understand myself, my gifts. I want to know where I came from. I want to know why I am what I am.

What is the most important lesson you’ve learned about life?

That it doesn’t kill you to trust someone.

What is the strangest situation you’ve ever found yourself in?

I found myself cowering in a cave while a giant walked by. Is that strange enough?

That’s definitely strange. What is the greatest obstacle you have ever had to face?

A sorcerer-king named Marduk. He had no conscience and he was insane. That makes for a very large obstacle.

Where is the best place to visit in your world?

The Larkspur Mountains are the best. They are not stifling hot like Bertrand in the summer, which lies on a plain. There are beautiful flowers and the mountains themselves are lovely. And there are few things like watching it snow there and listening to the silence.

If you could meet someone from another novel, who would it be?

There’s a novel in our world about a man who defeats a giant sea monster. I wouldn’t mind meeting him. But you mean in my author’s world, don’t you? I suppose I would like to meet a woman named Mercy Thompson. She fixes these things called “cars” and I would like to know how to do that. It looks like magic but it isn’t really.

Do you have a secret you’ve never told anyone? Would you tell us?

Yes. *pauses* No.

What do you own that would be hardest to part with?

The first novel I ever read on my own. I stole it from Castle Dwervin before we left and I carry it with me wherever I go.

What was the most exciting adventure you’ve ever been on?

The quest I’m on now is currently my most exciting adventure. If I make it through it, I may go on another one.

What do you regret most in your life?

I regret–Well, I’m tempted to say I regret not acting on the vision that warned me I was about to be sold into slavery. However, if I hadn’t been, then I probably would have continued living in Bluebell and never met Emmerich again. I don’t have anything else I may want to regret. Regret is useless.

Author Spotlight: Kingdom of Darkness (Kingdom Journals Book 2 – Camille’s Story) by Tricia Copeland


Welcome to this week’s Friday Author Spotlight! Today Tricia Copeland is returning to tell us about her book, Kingdom of Darkness, Book 2 in her Kingdom Journals series. She’s shared an excerpt, which we’ll get to soon. First, let’s get reacquainted with Tricia.

Tricia Copeland grew up in Georgia and now lives in Colorado with her family and multiple four-legged friends. Her books include the clean new adult Being Me series, Is This Me?, If I Could Fly, Think You Know Me, and the final installment, Being Me. Her young adult reads include Drops of Sunshine, a paranormal novella, and the Lovelock Chronicles, Lovelock Ones: Native One, a dystopian novella published in The Butterfly Box, and the Kingdom Journal series.

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About the Book

Kingdom of Darkness
Kingdom Journals 2 – Camille’s Story

… the previous night’s vision, or whatever it was, ended with a name I heard clear as day, as if the people were in my room. Ivy, the girl and boy recited together. –Camille
Could her dreams be real? Is she the key to freeing witches from their curse? Of course not, right? Thinking that her only chance at a normal life lay in a new treatment, Camille joins Dr. Antos and a group of teens for a month long camping trip in Iceland. There she meets Jude, a fellow schizophrenic. Dr. Antos invites Camille and Jude to extend their work with him on the island of Sardinia. Camille is suspicious of Dr. Antos’s intentions but and her dad goes missing, leaving her no choice but to travel to Italy. Is she walking into a lion’s den or has her illness invaded her reality?

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Keep reading for an excerpt:

“That must have been some dream last night. Was the guy hot?” Tyler taunted me as he sat down at the breakfast table.

“It’s not like that.” I slapped him on the shoulder.

“Camille, Tyler, seriously,” Mom scolded. “Don’t start the weekend fighting?” She squatted down so we were eye to eye. “You had a dream? Why didn’t you say something?”

“It wasn’t a big deal.”

“Well, what was it about? Who was in it?”

The dreams had started four weeks before, but I hadn’t told Mom because I knew she would freak out and double my counseling sessions. The first was a scene with a girl and her mother at a library. They studied a boy who sat at a table reading. The next day the girl and boy met at the library again. I never heard words, only saw pictures. It wasn’t like I thought the dreams were real, but it fascinated me the way the storyline continued.

I’d had imaginary friends when I was younger. My pretend scenarios got so out of control, Mother put me on medication. She moved us from Los Angeles to the Arizona desert, seeking a healthier environment. Then she relocated us to Cheyenne, Santa Fe, and Bismarck, trying to find a solution to my health problems. Bismarck had been better but still not perfect, and we packed up and relocated to Iceland, the healthiest country on the planet. Tyler had pushed for Honolulu, but in the end, cost of living won out.

Reykjavik seemed to have solved all my problems. We’d been there over a year, and I hadn’t had any episodes. Then the dreams started. Granted they were just that, fictitious stories created by the overactive limbic part of my brain. My research indicated this to be the emotional part that gets highly active during REM sleep, when our prefrontal cortex, the mastermind of the brain, rests. The limbic portion of the human brain causes emotional, vivid, irrational scenarios to play out in our sleep.

My dreams were more like a silent movie, continuing where they’d left off the previous night. The plot included a girl who didn’t eat normal food save sushi, avoided human contact, and had witch-like powers. The boy developed these powers, and he and the girl assembled an army of vampires and witches to fight another group of witches. So, of course, the scenarios playing through my head each night couldn’t be real.

The whole issue was that, even with medication, I’d had visions of my imaginary friends after we’d left Los Angeles. The girl and boy, Violet and Chase, searched for me and sat outside my door waiting for me to come play. The doctor switched my medication, and the hallucinations stopped just before my fourth birthday. I hadn’t seen Violet or Chase since, but the characters in my dreams had similarities to my imaginary friends. Maybe their features wouldn’t have stuck with me so vividly, except each time we moved I saw a new psychiatrist. He or she always reviewed my history, so I had to relive being three every other year or so. Violet’s reddish-brown hair, her milky white skin, and Chase’s dark hair and eyes, became etched into my brain.

For the past month, I’d watched the characters on mute. But the previous night’s dream, or whatever it was, ended with a name I heard clear as day, as if the people were in my room. “Ivy,” the girl and boy had recited together. It was the pretend name my Violet and Chase used for me. As soon as the sound of the name vibrated through my head, I’d woken with chill bumps covering my body.

Sitting up, I wrapped the blankets around my shoulders, wondering how the girl and boy in the dream knew my nickname. A buzzing sound, like the type you hear just before you pass out, grew in intensity until I thought my eardrums might explode, and then it stopped suddenly and images filled my head.

Author Spotlight: The Rite of Wands by Mackenzie Flohr


Welcome to another Friday Author Spotlight! Today I have Mackenzie Flohr with her book The Rite of Wands, the first book in her series of the same title. Later I will share an interview I did with Mackenzie, so keep reading.

Mackenzie Flohr grew up in the heartland of America, chasing leprechauns and rainbows and dreaming of angels. Her parents nurtured a love of fantasy and make-believe by introducing her at a very young age to the artistic and cultural opportunities that the city of Cleveland had to offer.

From the time she could hold a pencil, Mackenzie was already creating pictorial interpretations of classic stories, and by the age of nine, she and a childhood friend were authors and reviewers of their own picture books.

While following her love of adventure, Mackenzie found a second home, the Beck Center for the Arts Children’s and Teen Theater School. It was there that a world of wonder was only a script and a performance away.

Yet it wasn’t until she was on a trip to Indiana, viewing a Lord of the Rings exhibit, that the innermost desire of her heart became clear to her. She wanted to write a fantasy of her own, one that could inspire imagination in others and lead them into a magical world of their own making. She hopes The Rite of Wands will do just that.

Wherever we live and wherever we come from is our individual heartland. Anything is possible and everything can happen. Pure imagination is in all of us—we only need to discover it, and sometimes story telling helps.

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About the Book

One boy…one Rite… And a world of deadly secrets that could change the course of history—forever.

And so begins the tale of Mierta McKinnon. When a horrible fate reveals itself during his Rite of Wands ceremony, he must find a way to change not only his destiny but also the land of Iverna’s.

Forbidden from revealing the future he foresees to anyone, he is granted a wand and his magical powers, but still must master the realm of magic in order to save himself and those he loves.

But Mierta is not the only one with secrets…especially when it’s impossible to know who to trust.

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Keep reading for an interview with the author:

Where are you from?

I’m originally from the Cleveland, OH area, but now reside in Hartland, Michigan.

Does your area have a good writing community?

I am part of a fantastic writing community called the After Hours Group. They meet once a month to share writing and critique each other’s work. They have been extremely helpful to me.

What genres do you write?

Fantasy, Scifi and Horror

What is the oddest thing you’ve ever researched for one of your books?

Slugs. Slugs that go to your brain!

If you could choose an author to be your mentor, who would it be?

If he was still alive, definitely it would be J.R.R. Tolkien. I’d want to know more about how he creates his languages.

Do you feel the support of family and friends is helpful to you as an author?

Absolutely! Being an indie author, I depend on the word of mouth from my friends and family to tell others about my book, help me gain sales, and to read and review my book. Without them, I would be destined to remain an unknown in the writing world.

What book or series do you enjoy reading over and over again?

The Neverending Story by Michael Ende

Do you prefer ebooks, print or both?

I like both, but there’s something special about being able to hold a book physically in your hands.

What made you decide to self-publish?

I wanted more control over my series rights.

Are you a pantser or outliner?

I’m honestly a bit of both. I did work from an outline, but I found the character Mierta had to be written on the spur of the moment. That actually made writing the book challenging and fun because I never knew where he was going to take the story!

What was the hardest part about writing your latest book?

Honestly, it was figuring out how and when to specifically start the story. I’ve lost count how many re-writes I’ve done!

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