Hex Breaker: An Interview with Taryn Noelle Kloeden


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Forced to decide between her happiness and her pack’s safety, Rayna Myana chooses to protect those she loves. But when shattered promises and dark magic collide, no one is safe…

For six hundred years, Fenear, a land where humans can take wolf form, has warred with Maenor, its neighboring kingdom ruled by a ruthless dynasty. The possibility of peace emerges when the Maenoren Overlord, Rhael, enters negotiations with Fenearen leaders Bayne and Silver, but their niece, Rayna, is skeptical. Yet, when Rhael proposes to her to strengthen the alliance, she agrees for the sake of her country, despite her family’s objections and a blossoming romance with her best friend. Suspicion of treachery changes Rayna’s decision, but before she can annul the agreement, powerful forces subdue her with a sinister hex. Separated from her pack with Fenear and everyone she loves in danger, Rayna must escape and travel to a distant realm to break the hex. Only then can she save her best friend and her homeland.

Lines blur between heroism and recklessness, dreams and reality, even life and death, and Rayna risks losing herself along the way.

1. Thank you, Taryn, for allowing me to interview me today!!! I am so excited to read your first novel in final form. It was awesome when I read it in draft form so I can only imagine how spectacular it must be now. Tell us a little but about it.

Thank you for having me! I can’t wait for you to read Hex Breaker either, as it has really evolved since those early stages. As you might remember, this novel is the first in the Fenearen Chronicles trilogy. Hex Breaker is a YA fantasy about a young woman with the ability to transform into a wolf who finds herself at the center of peace negotiations between her nation and their long-time rival. When she discovers all is not as it seems, she must undertake an epic quest to save those she loves. At its core, I’d say it’s a story about love, family, and the lengths we go to save those closest to us.

2. How did you get the idea for the book? Have you always loved writing or is this a new thing for you?

The earliest kernels of this story come from games I used to play as a child. I loved to play outside and since my siblings and other neighborhood kids were older and had “grown out” of such things, I had to come up with ways to entertain myself. So, I created characters and stories. A few characters in this book including Rayna, Channon, and Gar got their start out there in the woods. I started writing these stories down when I was in middle and high school, eventually leading to the first draft of this novel. I kept writing throughout college, but mostly short stories and creative nonfiction. But when I graduated and eventually joined a writing club, I decided to become more serious about this novel. A few years later, here we are!

3. If your book was made into a movie, what actors would be in it?

Haha, yes, one day perhaps Hollywood will come a-knocking and I’m sure the casting director will be happy to know I have this Pinterest board filled with ideas. Certain characters I’ve always sort of envisioned as specific actors. For example, I have always seen Seperun as Idris Elba and Kellan as Ben Barnes. Other characters though, including Rayna and Bayne, I have a very specific mental image for, and I’ve never quite found an actor that matches. Maybe that means the actors destined to play them just haven’t been discovered yet 😉

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4. Have you always loved animals?

Yes, absolutely. I drove my parents bonkers I’m sure with all my requests for various pets and my tendency to find strays and wildlife in need of rescuing. I was obsessed with Animal Planet growing up and the first job I ever remember wanting to be was a veterinarian (ended up as an anthrozoologist, so pretty close). I was lucky to live in a rural area with lots of wildlife and have many pets (mostly cats) over the years, and for me that love for nonhumans never faded and has become an integral part of my writing and my career.

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5. You recently graduated. What did you study and what is your 9 to 5?

Yes I recently graduated with my M.S. in Anthrozoology, which is essentially the study of human-animal interaction. I specifically am interested in understanding and helping to address instances of human-wildlife conflict. This built upon my undergraduate study in psychology and biology. I will be starting a PhD program in the fall, this time under the label of environmental science but plan to continue my anthrozoological research. One day I hope to be a professor but have held several animal related jobs over the past few years. I’ve worked at wildlife rehab centers and an animal shelter, and now I have a really fun job as a dog swim instructor!

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6. If you could wake up as any animal, what would it be and why?

That’s a tough question. My first instinct would be to say some kind of bird, because birds are absolutely fantastic animals with better eye sight than us and the ability to fly of course, but I also have studied birds enough to know how strenuous their lives can be. I’m not sure I’m hardcore enough to hack it as a bird! My second instinct is to say a wolf or a fox, but they also lead very intense lives, and as someone who only eats plant-based food, I don’t think I’d transition into killing to eat well either. So if we’re being honest, I think I’d do best as some kind of large herbivore, if I had to make the change permanent. If, however, I could shift back and forth like a Fenearen, I think I would have my other form be a wolf or fox 🙂

7. What else are you working on right now? Will there be more Fenearen Chronicles coming soon? And will those also be submitted through “The Tamara Effect”?

Right now I just finished up my Master’s thesis (yay!) so am decompressing for a couple of weeks. After that, I’m going to be working on Twice Blessed, the second in the Fenearen Chronicles trilogy. I hope to publish that sometime next year, and indeed, if she’ll have me, I hope to work with the fabulous editor Tamara Shoemaker once more! The Tamara Effect turned my first book into something far more amazing than I could’ve hoped, and I can only imagine the wonders it will do for my second. Besides this series, I am working on some short fiction and a science fiction project, but those probably won’t see the light of day for quite a while as I focus on finishing this trilogy and starting my PhD.

Thanks so much! This was really fun, and I feel I learned stuff about animals in the process! So excited to read your book!

Here’s where you can find out more about Taryn and her books!

Amazon short link: goo.gl/6M9tjo

Website: www.tnkloeden.com

Twitter/Instagram/Pinterest handle: @tnkloeden

Facebook: www.facebook.com/tnkloeden

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/16521805.Taryn_Noelle_Kloeden

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Unleash the Inferno: An Author Interview with Tamara Shoemaker


Find Unleash the Inferno on Amazon!

INTERVIEW WITH TAMARA SHOEMAKER

Why hello, dear Tamara. So lovely to have you back on my blog today. Our last interview was when you released the second book the Heart of a Dragon series. Tell me a little about your newest release, Unleash the Inferno.

After the Battle at ClarenVale, Kinna Andrachen unites those who spurn King Sebastian’s tyrannical reign, mustering a rag-tag army of soldiers and creatures to face Sebastian’s far larger Lismarian army. Victory is elusive and allies are scarce, but Kinna’s tenacious spirit cannot succumb to injustice. Her fiery heart must learn to lead.

At last mastering control of the four Touches of the powerful Amulet, Ayden finds himself at the center of an epic struggle to destroy the corruption that has tainted the throne of Lismaria for centuries. As time runs out, his options for survival fade, surrendering him to a dark destiny.

Tied to a fate he does not want, Cedric Andrachen resists his inheritance, fleeing the lust for power it sparks in him. As war looms, Cedric faces his choices: will he turn his back on his throne and his kingdom? Or will he enter the struggle against tyranny, bringing the freedom his people have so long sought?

Sebastian sits, at last, on the Lismarian throne, stolen from him twenty years prior. But now the Rebellion, led against him by his niece and nephew, threatens his security from across the Channel, and the Amulet’s promise of power tempts him into even darker shadows. Ghosts of the past brutalize Sebastian’s present until the lines of reality blur with nightmare.

Flames of war ignite between nations. Peril threatens the Andrachen line.
Who will survive the inferno?

Ooh, sounds exciting! Is this the last book in the series?

Yes, the trilogy starts with Kindle the Flame, increases its action and cinematic scale with the second book, Embrace the Fire, and ends in an epic battle between kingdoms with the third book, Unleash the Inferno.

Do people need to read the other books or can they jump into the series at this book?

While I think a well-written book can sort of initiate readers and introduce them to the story without too much of a jar, so much of a trilogy’s rich history is lost if someone begins with the third book. I’ve compared it before to the idea of introducing oneself to the Lord of the Rings trilogy by beginning with Return of the King. You’d get to enjoy the scope and scale of epic warfare and big-screen cinematic beauty… but you miss out on the events that brought you to that point in the story. I definitely recommend reading this trilogy in the order it was written. But if you start with Unleash the Inferno, it won’t be the end of the world.

Heh heh. Or will it? 😉

Oh my. Better read the others, then! What inspired you to write this series?

I’ve always been a fan of epic fantasies, hearkening back to when I was a pre-teen, huddling under my blankets with a flashlight and reading Tolkien’s Fellowship of the Ring. Before I began my Heart of a Dragon trilogy, I had an urban fantasy trilogy out on the market. I knew I wanted to add a fantasy based in a medieval world with knights and horses and battles and dragons and other fantastic creatures. This was confirmed when I went to New York City a few years ago to pitch an urban fantasy to some agents. One of the agents I spoke with listened to my pitch with interest. She invited me to send her my manuscript, and when I did so, she returned this comment: “I had really hoped for a medieval setting with ladies in impractical gowns and knights on horseback.”

Of course, I didn’t scrap my book based on her advice—I went ahead and published it independently (see my Guardian of the Vale trilogy)—but it did cement my desire to write a medieval-setting fantasy. That’s how Kindle the Flame was born.

What do you hope readers will experience while reading Unleash the Inferno?

Oh, loads of stuff! On a surface level, I just want them to get wrapped up in an action-packed, intrigue-filled plot. Beyond that, I want them to appreciate the nuanced and layered characters that fill the pages. Romance fans I hope will enjoy the angsty Ayden and the green-eyed, gorgeous Kinna. Fantasy fans will love those dragons, I think. Literary fiction fans will find some depth in the introspective soul-searching carried out by heroes and villains alike. Anywhere there is a clashing battle of dragons in the skies, there will be cinematic, big-picture beauty. I hope readers get to experience all of these with clear word pictures playing out in their imaginations.

Why are you obsessed with dragons? And have you seen someone about it yet? 🙂

Ha! My psychologist kicked me out and told me never to come back (just kidding). 😉 I love the idea of “good” dragons. I grew up with Smaug and similar ilk in my literature, so the idea of dragons with sympathetic characteristics was intriguing to me. Really, these dragons I included in this trilogy could be overgrown puppy dogs, just with, you know, fangs and Dragonfire. I love the mind-connection I set up between the characters and their respective dragons. It just seemed like a really cool concept.

Your ability to multitask continues to astound me. How do you juggle being a prolific writer and an amazing editor while being the awesome mother of three?

*Shrugs and looks around for an answer to drop out of the sky. 😉

I don’t know, quite honestly. I take one day at a time. I set goals and work my rear end off to reach them. Some days I succeed, some days I fail, but I never give up. I love what I do. I love being a mother, a wife, a homemaker, an author. I love volunteering my time to things that are important to me. I love embracing life. I have no idea how I juggle it; I just go from one thing to the next, and somehow it all works out. 🙂

What’s next for you? What books/series are you working on now?

I’m finishing up another line-edit (Tamara is also my editor and just finished my line edit!!!) for a client during the month of May, and then I’m planning to lay down the first draft for a brand new YA fantasy featuring fairy-tale settings, political intrigue, and world-travel in June. We shall see if it actually happens or not. 🙂

And now time for my fun/silly question. If you were trapped on a deserted island with only three books, what books would they be?

My Bible, Anne of Green Gables (that, when you open it, somehow magically includes the entire Harry Potter series, all Jane Austen books, Jane Eyre, several Gilbert Morris books, and the Laura Ingalls Wilder series), and How to Construct a Sea-Worthy Vessel and Escape Desert Islands Using Only Pages Torn From Books, Sand, and Palm Leaves. I’ve heard it’s a best-seller…

Haha! It’s been great talking with you, Tamara! I look forward to reading your new book!

Find Unleash the Inferno on Amazon!

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Tamara Shoemaker authored the Amazon best-selling Shadows in the Nursery Christian mystery series and Soul Survivor, another Christian mystery. Her fantasy books include the Heart of a Dragon trilogy: Kindle the Flame, Embrace the Fire, and Unleash the Inferno, as well her Guardian of the Vale trilogy: Mark of Four, Shadows of Uprising, and Guardian of the Vale. In her spare time, she freelances as an editor for other works of fiction, chases three children hither and yon, and tries hard to ignore the brownie mixes that inevitably show up in her cabinets.

Follow her on social media:

Twitter: @TamaraShoemaker

Website: www.tamarashoemaker.org

Facebook: www.facebook.com/tshoebooks

Instagram

Ariel: My Interview with Sydney Scrogham


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Back cover copy:  Abuse survivor Ariel Harte doesn’t need anyone. Ever. But her companion animal is infected with a dark, magical force. Only an ancient purification ritual, the mind link, performed with another human can cure this infection.

Ariel must ask her ex-boyfriend, Ryan Tracey, for help.

But she’s racing time. She’s infected, too. All the walls will have to come down so Ariel can heal or she will lose herself to the darkness forever. 

Ariel: The First Guardian is a story of true love that wins over time, the power of second chances, and redemption from abuse. This is a prequel to Chase in the Guardians of Agalrae series but can be enjoyed as a standalone novel.

Preorder it now on Amazon 
Hello, Sydney! I’m so excited about your new book, Ariel, that’s coming out tomorrow, June 17th. I’ve got some fun questions for you. Here we go!
What inspired you to write this book?
In all honesty, it was a bad breakup. Writing for me is a spiritual process transforming painful circumstances into something life-giving that I can understand. That’s exactly what I did with Ariel’s story. I won’t confess what parts are based on real-life events, but this story does hit close to home. As I wrote Ariel’s story and she got her happy ending, I did, too.
 
What other books/movies can you compare your book to?
When it comes to the voice of this story, definitely James Patterson’s Maximum Ride books. And then I took some of the romance aspects from my favorite TV show Castle. This was also kind of my way of ironically striking back at Fifty Shades of Grey. There are a lot of ironic connections between the stories for me, but I’ll leave it up to the reader to figure out how. (Don’t worry, Ariel’s story doesn’t contain any graphic sexual scenes.)
 
Is this the first book you have published? If not, what are some of your other books out there?
This is the second book for me. The first was Chase, published in August 2015 with Koehler Books.
 
I hear you have mild to moderate obsession with horsies…when did this all begin?
Probably when I started writing. 🙂 Actually, it was before then. There’s a picture floating around my family of me as a baby sitting on the back of a gray horse. (Yes, someone is holding me up there.) I got my own horse when I was 12, and I’ve had a horse ever since. Snowdy is my second four-legged child. I met him working at my college’s equestrian center. He picked me as his person, and when the college was ready to retire him from his school horse career, he came home with me a few months after.
 
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Explain the feeling you get when you are riding a horse.
It’s simultaneously peaceful and empowering. My mind silences to focus on a single thing-communicating well with my horse. A horse is always speaking to its rider if they have the ears to listen. When I reach that sweet spot where we’re understanding each other, I feel invincible.
 
What’s your favorite type of horse?
It’s never been about the “type” for me. It’s about the heart. That’s what drew me to Snowdy. He was a rather aggressive lesson horse, very unhappy with life, and I remember the days when people would refer to him with expletives I won’t repeat. That made me so angry. I could see something in Snowdy’s eyes from the beginning, even when he was angry. He was intelligent, always thinking, full of potential, but frustrated. All he needed was someone to believe in him. And in that moment, I saw myself in his eyes. That was it. I was sold. Long story short, I learned Snowdy is a Selle Francais (French Thoroughbred) with a fancy sire and siblings that have gone off to be big names in the show jumping ring. But that was never important to me in the beginning. It just so happens that he has incredible natural talent. He’s been with me for three years now, happy as can be, and though he isn’t mean anymore, he did keep his sass. 🙂 It’s amazing how sometimes all animals (and people) need sometimes is a little bit of love.
 
Finally, what song would play in the opening track of your book turned into a movie?
Funny you asked that. I asked Ariel the same thing when she was teaching me her backstory before I started writing. She told me that her opening song would be “Hero” by Nickelback. The rest of her playlist includes “Hero” by Skillet, “I Know” by Seventh Day Slumber, “Bring Me To Life” by Evanescence, “Invincible” by Crossfade, and “Erase” by Building 429.
 
For more from Ariel’s initial interview with me, check it out: http://www.sswriter.com/lions-tigers-characters-oh-my-interview-101/ 
Thanks so much, Syndney! Can’t wait to read the book!
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SYDNEY SCROGHAM loves creating happy endings. She started writing when she was 12. Her first book, Chase, was published by Koehler Books in August 2015. When she’s not writing, she’s at the barn with Snowdy or catching up on reruns of the best TV show ever – Castle. She lives in Harrisonburg, Virginia with an adorable dachshund named Zoe. To learn more, visit her website at sswriter.com.

Embrace the Fire: Interview with Local Author, Tamara Shoemaker


Wanted by King Sebastian, Kinna, the long-hidden daughter of the assassinated King Liam, flees for her life, determined to seek out her twin brother and free him from Sebastian’s dungeons. Meanwhile, the King holds Kinna’s adopted father as collateral to ensure she keeps her betrothal to a man she does not love.

Once cursed by King Sebastian to turn everything he touched to ash, Ayden suffers from new, searing pain that heats his flesh in a different way. Searching for answers, he digs into the histories of West Ashwynd’s Clans, and his discoveries lead him to the Amulet he’d thought had rid him of his curse. When he finds a rare Mirage Dragon, hope for vengeance upon Sebastian fills him again.

Captured and stripped of his power as Dragon-Master, Cedric resists using his Dragon-speak to advance Sebastian’s political aims. When he escapes the King’s clutches, he resolves to find his twin sister, Kinna. But the enemy has a long reach, and Cedric’s chains are unrelenting.

Ice and agony torment Sebastian, King of West Ashwynd. His fury rages unabated as he prepares for war. When treachery leeches into his ranks, he turns against everyone he trusts. Sebastian believes he cannot be outwitted, but…

Kingdoms rise and fall; wars transform nations—but who can survive the fires of Dragons?

Well, hello, author friend, Tamara Shoemaker, how lovely to interview you again. 🙂 I’m excited to hear all about your newest book, Embrace the Flame. What is the Heart of a Dragon series about and what can readers expect from this second book?

My Heart of a Dragon trilogy dips into the traditional fantasy realm with a medieval-esque setting and fantasy creatures galore (including but not limited to dragons, griffons, sirens, phoenixes, direwolves, ogres, centaurs, and pixies). It follows the footsteps of four main characters, three of whom find themselves oppressed beneath the rule of the fourth, the King of West Ashwynd, a man named Sebastian. Throughout the trilogy, passions collide as Kinna, Ayden, and Cedric fight to bring justice and equality for the mistreated and downtrodden under Sebastian’s rule. Building to an roiling climax, nations clash in epic warfare until the skies light with Dragonfire and justice finds its end. But will those who seek what is right find it without perishing in the attempt?

You’ll have to read the trilogy to find out. 😉

Embrace the Fire readers can expect an uptick in action from the first book, Kindle the Flame. There will be tastes of two countries embroiled in war, more fantasy creatures introduced, a good in-depth look at dragon psychology and reproductive habits, and an increase in romantic tension for two certain members of the cast. Overall, I think it’s one of the best books I’ve written; I can’t wait to hear how readers enjoy it!

 

Will readers need to have read the first book or can they just embrace this new one, hehe?

Haha! How very punny of you. 😉 Granted, Embrace the Fire will make much more sense if you’ve read the first book and are familiar with the world and the characters introduced in Kindle the Flame. That said, each of my books follows an intrinsic plot-line, meaning there is a plot that rises, peaks, and falls in every portion of the trilogy while at the same time maintaining the overarching plot. Readers will be able to follow and enjoy the single-book plot-line, although they may get a little confused about terms like psuche (a person’s soul-connection with a creature) or taibe (magic) or the various kinds of Dragons (Mirage, Ember, Poison-Quill, Nine-Tail), etc. They would still be able to pick up the storyline fairly quickly, though.

 

If your book was made into a movie, who’d play the main characters?

Oooh, I love questions like these! 🙂 And how handy that I made a storyboard for myself complete with the movie characters I picture in these roles. Hence:

Kinna: Emma Watson (aka Hermione Granger of Hogwarts)

Ayden: Jensen Ackles (aka Dean Winchester of Supernatural)

Julian: Ben Barnes (aka Prince Caspian of Narnia)

Lincoln: Chase Crawford (aka Billy LeFever of Blood and Oil)

Ashleen: Priyanka Chopra (aka Alex Parrish of Quantico)

Lianna: Amanda Seyfried (aka Karen Smith of Mean Girls)

Nicholas Erlane: Liam Neeson (aka Oskar Schindler of Schindler’s List)

Sebastian Andrachen: Christian Bale (aka Alfred Borden of The Prestige)

Cedric: Zac Effron (aka Jason of That Awkward Moment)

 

When did your crazy obsession with dragons begin?

It’s a fairly recent thing. I’ve always enjoyed reading about them, of course, but in the same way I enjoy reading about the action that a predator brings to a scene (most of the dragons I met before my trilogy were Tolkien-esque). When I started thinking about this trilogy and figuring out my plots and storyline, my Dragons started taking on sympathetic traits. I view the ones in my books much as I would a pet dog. I just want to hug them, scaly though they are. They’re adorable.

 

If you were a dragon, what kind of dragon would you be and why?

Hahaha! Who says I’m not? 😉 I would totally have to be a Mirage Dragon, as they are, by far, seriously superior to their brethren among the Embers, Poison-Quills, and Nine-Tails. All four kinds have some really cool abilities and traits, but the Mirages are just kick-tushie wonderful. Why would I be a Dragon? I think you’re asking the wrong question. Why would I not be a Dragon? I mean, really. How cool would it be to soar through the skies all day with an almost impenetrable defensive coating that no one would dare attack? 🙂

 

I know I’ve asked this question before but I find myself continuously surprised at your ability to churn out writerly (and let’s not lie, personal) awesomeness time after time. How do you find the time to be such a prolific writer?

Tama ReadingI don’t. I mean, I am a prolific writer, but you’re asking me where I find the time, and I have no idea. I have three young kids and a husband who occasionally enjoy eating and/or a clean house, and I have no idea where my writing time comes from. I sit down during any snippets of freedom I get to write, and sometimes the words come and sometimes they don’t, but I always, always keep plugging away at it. I sometimes feel that if I stop, I’ll never start again, and I can’t imagine that happening, so I never stop.

This is good and bad. On one hand, many books of mine find their way through the publishing process, but on the other, my life seems to have hit a permanent fast-forward button, and I can’t seem to find the normal play option anymore. 🙂

 

Also, as a budding novelist myself, I’d love to hear about how you cracked into the market and how you built up your fan base.

Tama at Book Signing

I’d love to say that I hit the jackpot with millions of readers suddenly lining up at the bookstores for the first copies of my new releases, but that’s certainly not true. In reality, it’s a gritty, slow, tiring, frustrating process. It’s talking to one person and finding later that day that they’ve “liked” your Facebook page. It’s contacting an old friend and telling them what you’re doing, and finding a month later that they’ve read your book and left a review. It’s day after day after day of seemingly fruitless tweets and posts and interviews and contacts, and maybe never hearing anything back.

In the end, it’s the peace of knowing that you’re doing what you love most to do, which is creating a work of art that is truly worthwhile to yourself. If others happen to enjoy it, that’s icing on the cake. 🙂

 

Last but not least, please craft a haiku about dragons. 7/5/7 in case you’re rusty…:-)

Roaring smoke and flame,

Betwixt jaws of all the same…

Roasting marshmallows. 😉

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Tamara Shoemaker lives in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia with her husband, three children, a few jars of Nutella, and a never-ending carafe of coffee. She authored the Amazon best-selling Shadows in the Nursery Christian mystery series and Soul Survivor, another Christian mystery. Her fantasy books include the first two books of the Heart of a Dragon trilogy: Kindle the Flame and Embrace the Fire, as well as Mark of Four and Shadows of Uprising, the first two books in the Guardian of the Vale trilogy. In her spare time, she freelances as an editor for other works of fiction.

Follow her on social media:

Twitter: @TamaraShoemaker

Website: www.tamarashoemaker.org

Facebook: www.facebook.com/tshoebooks