Renee Writes

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Author Spotlight: Rise of the Darkwitch by Ziv Gray

Welcome to another Friday Author Spotlight! This week I have Ziv Gray with the first book in her series, Rise of the Darkwitch.

Born in Belfast on the seventy-fifth anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic, Ziv Gray writes for inclusion.

Passionate about issues of mental health and LGBTQA+ rights and representation, Ziv seeks to highlight social issues – but can’t resist the allure of sci-fi and fantasy.

Ziv lives in Northern Ireland with husband Barry, rescue Lurcher, and four guinea pigs.


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About the Book


Emmy’s a freak. They call her a Darkwitch. A demon.

All her life as an abused apprentice in Krodge’s Apothecary, she’s wondered: who am I? When the Masvams attack, Emmy loses her home, her mistress, her life – but the changes bring more knowledge about her heritage than she ever dreamed of knowing.

The Masvam crown lies at the tips of Prince Mantos’s fingers, but his brother wants it more. Bandim will stop at nothing to get what he wants. He’ll use dark magic. He’ll even kill.

There’s more to Emmy than the moons’ light shows.

Mantos faces a dark choice: kill his brother, or be killed.

Both must answer the question:

Who are you?

Get it today on Amazon!


Keep reading for an interview with the author:


Why did you decide to be a writer?

I’ve been writing since I was fourteen, and found it to be the best way to cope. I had difficult teenage years, dealing with mental health issues and being queer in a Catholic school. The easiest way to work through my problems was to write. The habit stuck, and sixteen years later, I’m a published author.

What genres do you write?

Young adult fantasy primarily, but also historical fiction.

What inspires you to write?

Helping young people to deal with their own issues. My aim is always to let young LGBTQIA people see themselves in fiction, not as victims, but as protagonists with epic storylines.

How often do you write?

Every day, without fail. Sometimes it’s only a few hundred words, but I do write every day.

How long does it take you to write a novel?

Six months from start to final edit, usually.

What authors and books have most influenced you?

Cliché as it is now, the Harry Potter series. Also David Eddings’s Belgariad and Malloreon books. More recently, George R.R. Martin.

What is the biggest obstacle you face as an author and what do you do to overcome it?

Self-publicising. Self-publishing is essentially easy. You follow the steps and boom, your book it out there. Getting people to actually buy it is the difficult bit, and I’m not very good at getting people to do that.

What made you decide to self-publish?

I decided to be brave and just go for it! It hasn’t been easy and I’m still learning a lot. Essentially, I was fed up of waiting to be found.

What fears do you have about writing and being an indie author? How do you cope with your fears?

I fear I’ll languish in the bottom of the charts until the end of times… Or that I’ll waste a huge chunk of money on advertising that does not thing for me.

What is your writing process?

Bum on seat, earphones on, 25 minute timer set–and go! Repeat until exhausted.

What are you working on now?

The sequel to Rise of the Darkwitch.

What inspired your current work?

It’s turning out to be a YA inspired by Game of Thrones and Harry Potter. Perhaps a strange combination, but there’s magic and murder. Just not as much as in A Song of Ice and Fire.

What was the hardest part about writing your latest book?

I suppose it was having the courage to persevere and get it done. It’s so hard when you have no idea what the outcome will be. There’s nothing worse than seeing ‘zero sales.’

How do you market/promote your work? Have you found something that works really well for you?

I find this to be the most challenging part of the indie publishing process. I’m not good at self-propelled. I’ve found that playing around with my price point has worked to stimulate sales. Also, offering the novel free on KDP for a week was helpful, although I don’t know if I’ll be re-enrolling for another 3 month term.

Author Spotlight: The Sand Prince (The Demon Door Book One) by Kim Alexander

Welcome to another Friday Author Spotlight! Kim Alexander is returning today to share the new cover for the first book in The Demon Door series, The Sand Prince. Before we get to the book and new cover, let’s learn more about Kim!

Kim Alexander grew up in the wilds of Long Island, NY and slowly drifted south until she reached Key West. After spending ten rum-soaked years as a DJ in the Keys, she moved to Washington DC, where she lives with two cats, an angry fish, and her extremely patient husband. She began writing when she ran out of authors to interview (and they pulled the plug on her channel, Sirius XM Book Radio.)

Kim was in her twenties when she finally read a book not prominently featuring spaceships and/or wizards. Turns out Jane Austen was pretty funny!

The Sand Prince is Kim’s first novel and begins a fantasy series called The Demon Door. Her husband tells her she needs to write at least ten more books if she intends to retire in Thailand, so thank you for your patronage.

If you’d like to know more about Kim, keep reading for an interview below.

Connect with the Author

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About the Book

Two worlds, bound by magic, divided by a door.

On the war-ravaged demon world of Eriis, Hellne, the fierce young queen, fights to keep her people alive…

On the green and gentle human world of Mistra, the demons have faded into myth. Only a handful of old men and children still guard The Door between the worlds…

Rhuun, the Prince of Eriis, uncovers a forgotten book written by a human, sparking an obsession with the other world. When he is forced to flee Eriis, he must escape through The Door or pay the price in blood.

The humans of Mistra are not what Rhuun was expecting—and one insufferable young woman in particular is about to find out that the demons of Eriis are not mythological after all…

Get it today on Amazon!



Keep reading for an interview with the author:

What genre do you write?

I write epic fantasy. I love exploring other worlds.

Is there a genre that you’ve been wanting to experiment with? If so, what is it?

I have a short novel about to come out which is my first stab at fast paced urban fantasy–it was a lot of fun to write! It’s called Pure and it’s a re imagining of The Unicorn in Captivity.

How long does it take you to write a novel?

Because this is a full-time thing, I can write a long novel in less than a year. When I say ‘long’ I mean roughly 120,000 words. I can do a shorter one (35,000 or so) in about four months.

If you could be one of your characters for a day, who would it be and why?

My MC’s best friend Ilaan, a demon of Eriis, is extremely clever, has an unusually high degree of power, is in a happy relationship with his boyfriend, and is an all around badass and pleasure to be around. At least in book one.

What authors have most influenced you?

Let’s see….Anne Rice for deliriously lush prose, Frank Herbert for world building, China Mieville for fearless writing, Neil Gaiman for being alive in the world…I could go on (and on!)

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

My last career was to interview authors for Sirius XM Book Radio. I was fortunate enough to have literally hundreds of mentors (whether they realized it or not.)

What is the best compliment you’ve ever received as an author?

Someone on Goodreads compared my work to Katherine Neville, who is a hero to me. Honestly, all compliments are welcome. I still cry when I get good reviews. We’re sure not in this for the money! (Yet.)

What is the best writing advice you’ve ever received?

You can’t fix what you haven’t written. Sadly, I can’t remember who said it, but it’s the truest thing in the world.

What made you decide to self-publish?

My publisher (Booktrope) went out of business! I got my rights back and got back to work. It’s not easy but I certainly don’t do it alone. I have an editor, Carly Bornstein, who knows what I mean even when I clearly do not, and a writing girl gang called The Fictionistas. You have to have a team!

Are you a pantser or outliner?

I’m a pantser. And now that I’m wrapping book 3 of my series and diving into the fourth and final book, I’m kid of regretting that decision! I finally broke down and put up the serial killer wall of post it notes and string in my office.

Have you ever gotten an idea for a story from something really bizarre? Tell us about it.

My series, The Demon Door, has at least 40 named characters, two worlds, multiple time lines, tons of politics and world building, and is hugely difficult to boil down to an elevator pitch. I joked with my editor that my next book would be about time traveling crime fighters. One thought led to another, and I actually started writing that series. (It’ll have to wait to see the light of day, though!)

What are you working on now?

Book three of The Demon Door series. It’s called The Glass Girl. Everyone cries.

What was the hardest part about writing your latest book?

Figuring out where on the ‘stage’ all the characters are at this point, who knows what, when they learned it, what they’ll do with it, and how many of them to kill off.

Blog Tour: The Fell by Lyndsey Harper


Let’s welcome Lyndsey Harper with her first “official” novel, The Fell, book 1 in The Naetan Lance Saga.

Lyndsey is a brilliant author you’ve likely never heard of, Superwife, and award-winning mother living life in leggings in the expensive and overcrowded state of New Jersey. She is fluent in Spanglish and Sarcasm and enjoys watching Arrow, Supernatural, Psych, and The X-Files repeatedly. You can find her either in the grocery store buying laundry detergent, Tylenol, and cat litter, hovering near her Keurig coffee brewer, or shaking her fist at the heavens in front of her computer. Occasionally, you may spot her on the beach or out shopping (when she actually has money to spare). However, you should avoid approaching her at such times as she is likely enjoying a rare moment of relaxation and can become moody if interrupted. If you decide to engage her during any one of these activities, approach with caution and a sizable cup of Starbucks in hand to avoid any ill effects.

More about Lyndsey…

How old were you when you started writing?

When did you know you wanted to be an author? I have been writing ever since I can remember. It started with a newsletter I wrote each month for my next-door neighbor about my pet rabbit, and then turned into poetry, fan fiction, songs, and eventually original work. I didn’t always want to write, though, despite my natural inclination toward it. My mother saw my future in writing well before I did. When I was younger, writing wasn’t glamorous enough for me. I thought it would be a boring career choice. Can you imagine, writing as a boring occupation? (LOL) It wasn’t really until high school that I embraced writing fully.

What inspired the current or most recent story you’ve completed?

There were a few inspiration sources for “The Fell,” namely “The X-Files” for its grit and mystery, and the conflict of defining truth. I also drew inspiration from “Star Wars,” and ancient Greek tragedies for character interactions, some themes, and backgrounds. I looked a lot to Scandinavian and Nordic geographies and cultural elements while writing, and that is reflected a lot in the story.

How often do you write?

I just committed to a personal 1k A Day goal for writing in 2017, so if I keep on track, the answer should be every day. I’m sure life will happen, and days will be missed, though.

Do you have a muse? If so, please elaborate. If not, what inspires you?

There are a lot of people in my life that act as mini muses for me. There is something about them that speaks to me – their look, their voice, or their hobbies or habits. When I can, I also people watch; studying the way people conduct themselves in various situations fuels my inspiration.

How do you come up with your character names and geographic location / business names?

Naming comes from a combination of research and browsing. I pick names that speak to me, either for what they remind me of, or for what they mean. About 90% of the time, I used a slightly different method for naming the creatures in my story: I would look at what animal or insect was the closest to what I saw in my mind, and see the number of syllables each name had. Then, I would base the new name off of a characteristic of the “real” animal or insect, using however many syllables I had. If I didn’t apply that method, then the names derived from just a characteristic, or from completely unrelated “nonsensical” words that stuck with me for whatever odd reason. For locations, I based a lot of the geography off Scandinavian and Nordic landscapes, so I played with consonant and vowel arrangements often seen in those areas.

Do you have any “must haves” to help you write? (i.e., a full cup of coffee, a view of the ocean, etc.)

A full mug of hot coffee. An absolute must. If someone wants to provide me a view of the ocean, though, I would certainly be grateful.

What is the quirkiest thing you do or have ever done when writing?

I have had my husband stand in and move through physical motions with me, especially for a battle scene. It really helps to make sure the movements are realistic. I also read dialogue aloud a lot, which is a little embarrassing.

If one of your books became a movie, who would you choose for the “perfect cast” of main characters?

If we’re basing it off looks, I’d choose Penn Badgley to play Leer (permitting he changed his hair color, of course), Kaya Scoldelario for Astrid, and Colin O’Donoghue for James. But whoever is able to capture the real essence of each character would be perfect. 😉

Connect with the Author

Amazon Author Page

About the Book

After the brutal death of his mentor, Leer Boxwell’s only desire is vengeance. However, his belief that the murderer is the mythical Grimbarror has made him the laughing stock of the Vale. When Leer witnesses the beast steal away the princess in an unexpected attack on the royal city, he volunteers to hunt the creature. Battling self-doubt and ridicule, while struggling to control a mysterious power within that he does not fully understand, Leer must decide whether his convictions are worth the sacrifice the Fell demands.

Get it today on Amazon!

Keep reading for an excerpt:

A hush fell over the inn; the fiddle music screeched to an abrupt halt.

Bilby’s eyes narrowed. “What did you say?” he asked.

“I said,” Leer repeated, “I wish to know everything you know about the Grimbarror.”

Callous laughter exploded through the men and few barmaids present, ripples of mockery piercing Leer’s ears.

“You well-washed loon,” Bilby cackled, slapping his knee through his amusement. “You wish to hear fairy tales, is that it?”

Leer’s jaw flexed as he clamped his molars together. “I seek the truth.”

“Hah!” Bilby screeched. “Would you like a cup of warm milk to go with your bedtime story, Boy?”

Leer squeezed his eyes shut briefly, trying to push away the reverberating voices around him. “Are you, or are you not, the Marcus Bilby that Finnigan Lance spoke of?” he demanded. “The one whose life he saved?”

Another wave of eerie silence fell over the inn. Bilby leaned in, gripping the table with white knuckles. “What name did you say?” he asked.

“Finnigan Lance,” Leer enunciated.

“Curse you for speaking that name,” Bilby snarled, spitting on the ground.

“Cheating scoundrel, he was,” a man bellowed from the rear of the crowd.

“Nothin’ but a drink bloated habbersnitch.” another agreed.

“You’d better have good reason for speaking that name in this place, Boy,” Bilby warned, leaning forward.

“He wasn’t a cheat,” Leer snapped. “You peddled furs with him. You worked with him, and he saved your life from insurgents. And I do believe you owe him a favor.”

A murmur trickled through the crowd, sending Bilby into visible panic as his peers reacted to the revelation.

“And what?” Bilby retorted with a scoff. “Lance has come back from the dead to claim it?”

Leer’s jaw flexed. Finnigan’s death was still fresh in his mind; it had not been long since he found his bloodied, mauled corpse. “Nay. You’ll pay your debt to him through answering my questions.”

Bilby’s eyes narrowed. “And just who are you to lay claim to any favors?”

Leer held his gaze. “His son.”

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I do Author Spotlights every Friday, and I'll be glad to be a host for blog tours and guest posts. Get the details if you're interested.

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