This is a VERY fun week. Thank you to Steve Wiley for agreeing to be on my blog AND to Enchanted Book Tours for putting us all together.

About this fabulous book…

In Chicago, a secret L train runs through the mythical East Side of the city. On that train, you’ll find a house-cat conductor, an alcoholic elf, a queen of the last city farm, the most curious wind, and an exceptional girl by the name of Francesca Finnegan.

When we first encounter Richard K. Lyons, he is a man who has long forgotten the one night, when he was still a boy called Rich, when Francesca invited him aboard the secret L for an adventure though the East Side. The night was a mad epic, complete with gravity-defying first kisses, mermaid overdoses, and princess rescues. Unfortunately for Rich, the night ended like one of those elusive dreams forgotten the moment you wake. Now, Rich is all grown up and out of childish adventures, an adult whose life is on the verge of ruin. It will take the rediscovery of his exploits with Francesca, and a reacquaintance with the boy he once was, to save him.

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The Fairytale Chicago of Francesca Finnegan Interview

  • When and how did you know you were a writer? Did any books help you along the way?   I think storytellers are just born that way.  I don’t remember having a moment where I said, “I want to be a writer.”  I’ve just always like to tell stories.  For this book, Peter Pan and Alice in Wonderland helped the most.  I wanted a Wonderland for Chicago.  Chicago needs a Wonderland, badly.
  • Writers often have colorful histories and discarded careers along the way. What was your favorite past job? If you weren’t writing what else can you picture yourself doing and why?   Favorite past job is difficult. I’ve hated most jobs I’ve had.  I’ll say college lifeguard (part-time), because after work we’d party and swim and nothing is better than partying and swimming, for a college kid at least.  If I weren’t writing I wouldn’t be happy –  I’d have to do something writing related.  I was a managerial consultant for years, and I wrote all day in that job.  I was the ‘writer’ guy.  Whenever we had a writing job it was mine.  So, if I wasn’t writing, I wouldn’t be happy.
  • The Fairytale Chicago of Francesca Finnegan has some very distinctive, eye catching illustrations. What made you decide to include pictures and how did you go about finding an artist to bring them to life?   I didn’t decide on illustrations until after I’d finished the story.  After I’d finished, I realized the book could really be strengthened with pictures.  And so, one night at a party I met my future illustrator.  I didn’t know he was an artist, but we started talking about art, and I showed him the background on my iPhone, which was El Greco’s View of Toledo (Google it if you don’t know it!), and the rest is history.  He did an amazing job.  I was just super lucky to have bumped into him at this party for a mutual friend. 

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Funny you should bring up that particular painting- it is one of my all-time favorites! Bravo!

  • Can you share one resource: website, marketing strategy, social media medium that you feel has most helped you and could help other writers on their way?   We’re  donating half of the profits from this book to Chicago Public Schools.  That little fact has gotten the book a lot of favorable attention.  I was recently featured on WGN Radio here in Chicago, and that was something they wanted to talk about.  So, I think authors should consider strategic partnerships to help sell their books. 
  • What do you wish your readers could know about you?  I would defer that question to the readers.  There isn’t anything I’m dying for people to know about me, but I’ll throw some interesting facts out there for this interview: I once swam through Buckingham Fountain on a dare (in the middle of the day), my wife has reported me missing (like Richard in the book), and my mother was a nun.  That’s a start!
  • Do you have any new projects in the works? What should we be eagerly anticipating from Steve Wiley?  I’m all marketing all the time lately.  I’ll start my next project likely in 2018, once the smoke has cleared from this book.  Expect the unexpected, in the form of a book.
  • Who’s your favorite super hero and why?  I’m a Wolverine guy.  The more flaws in the super hero the better.  Perfect characters just aren’t as interesting. 
  • Favorite meal, health concerns and calories aside, if you could just enjoy anything what would it be?  Oh, easy question.  Lou Malnati’s deep dish pizza and a coke, last meal every time.  That’s probably the answer half of Chicago would give you.
  • Please share three things you have NOT done yet on your Bucket List. 1) Write a story for my son 2) DMT 3) Write a story for my wife
  • And lastly… what is your favorite reward after a long day of writing—that little treat you give yourself?  Book and a beer!  I like reading and drinking, but only after I’m done playing with the kids, and have gotten them to bed. 

Author Bio

Steve Wiley, Author

Steve is a father, husband, uncle, brother, friend, and purveyor of fairy stories. He grew up in and around Chicagoland, where he still lives with his wife and two kids. He has been published in an array of strange and serious places, from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in Washington, D.C., to Crannóg magazine in Galway, Ireland. This is his first book. He has an undergraduate degree in something he has forgotten from Illinois State University and a graduate degree in something equally forgotten from DePaul University. You can email Steve at Lavenderlinepress@gmail.com, or visit thewileymancan on Instagram.

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This post was written by Erika Gardner. She’s a native Californian, lifelong lover of fantastical adventures, and a dedicated Whovian. If you enjoyed it, please sign up to receive updates on www.erikagardner.com   Or you can follow Erika on Twitter @Erika_Gardner, “Like” her Facebook page Erika Gardner- Writer and Storyteller.Or check out her contributions to the BBB Blog.

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This week’s song comes about from one inescapable fact- Life goes on. Music is a huge part of my life, as evidenced by this blog, the shows I go to, even many of the friendships I’ve formed and kept over the years. I have enjoyed some truly exceptional music over the years. Here’s the thing though… bands age, musicians die (as we saw this past week with the passing of Asia & King Crimson’s John Wetton at just 67), and before you know it your playlists are occupied by ghosts.

This doesn’t make their music any less amazing or cease to touch my heart. However, over time one misses the anticipation of a new album from a favorite band and the excitement of a live act, especially an act introducing and passionately performing fresh music, not simply trotting out their greatest hits list. Mind you, I love the hits, bring on those classics. Still, with 2016 being such a devastating year for musicians (we just lost so damn many good ones) my dear concert-going friend, Michelle, and I came to one inescapable conclusion… we needed fresh meat. Time to find some new bands to augment our musical, metal storm of joy.

Turns out, that’s not so easy. The 1970’s produced some amazing hard rock, the 1980’s were the glory days of metal, and the 1990’s saw plenty of innovation. Nowadays, sure metal is being made, but less so than some other genres.

God bless northern Europe!

Power metal is enormously popular there. Thanks to strong concert attendance, merchandise sales, musical downloads, and a thriving festival scene (I so want to attend Wacken) bands can survive, even thrive. Consequently a number of bands are carving out impressive careers. So much so that they can afford to travel the United States. *huge grin* Last year Mitch (yes, I call her Mitch) and I went to see Delain, Nightwish, Blind Guardian, and Sonata Artica. (Not all on the same bill.) These bands are actively composing and touring with passionate, complex, melodic music.

I’m sharing with you a favorite, I Have A Right by Sonata Artica out of Finland. Yep, Finland. Man, do I love northern Europe. Thanks, guys.

This song was written about child abuse (as the video shows), but considering the vaudevillian antics of American politics I believe it works well for the rights of the American electorate. And that’s all I’m saying about that right now.

 Please enjoy their video here.

This post was written by Erika Gardner. She’s a native Californian, lifelong lover of fantastical adventures, and a dedicated Whovian. If you enjoyed it, please sign up to receive updates on www.erikagardner.com   Or you can follow Erika on Twitter @Erika_Gardner, “Like” her Facebook page Erika Gardner- Writer and Storyteller.Or check out her contributions to the BBB Blog.

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This week’s interview is with the wonderfully dynamic and endlessly joyful Jordan Bernal. I met Jordan through TriValley Writers Group, an organization I highly recommend for local authors looking to connect and educate themselves. http://www.trivalleywriters.org/

Jordan and I both write, in very different ways, of dragons. In addition we are both of Irish descent and have a lifelong love of Anne McCaffrey. Naturally, I’m thrilled to be able to introduce you all to her and her fabulous book,

Jordan, thanks so much for stopping by this week!

The Keepers of Éire

The Keepers of Éire is a modern-day fantasy. For centuries dragons have protected Ireland, their existence kept secret with the help of earth magic and their human riders. Now that secret is threatened as the bodies of four riders are found at sacred Irish sites. Christian Riley, a man with secrets of his own, is haunted by vivid dreams of each slaying. An American searching for her Irish heritage and the meaning of an inherited dragon ring, Devan Fraser, stumbles into the mystery of the murders. Christian’s only memento from the mother who gave him up for adoption is a dragon pendant that matches Devan’s ring. Together they discover their destinies, the truth of dragons, and the depth of honor and loyalty to which people will go to protect the ones they love.

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  • Important stuff first… what do you like to raise a glass to and what is your favorite way to toast?

Family and friends are important to me, so celebrating their achievements are a must. I’m not a big drinker, but I do love a properly built Guinness. I like to toast by saying a brief bit about what is being celebrated, then wish everyone health and happiness, and end with Sláinte (pronounced ‘slawnt-cha’, which means Cheers)!

  • When and how did you know you were a writer? Did any books help you along the way?

It’s so clichéd to say I’ve always written, but I will say I’ve had a love affair with reading since I was quite young. In elementary school I claimed to have trouble reading just so I could have an excuse to read more. I loved making up stories, and once—when I was about seven-years-old—I challenged myself to write a whole story with each word starting with the letter T. I wrote about taking a ride on Timothy the Train. Perhaps the real beginning of Thomas the Train? I used to be a technical writer in my past life. Vastly different type of writing than I do now. I have lots of books about writing fiction. My two favorites are Christopher Vogler’s The Writer’s Journey: Mythical Structure for Writers and Jordan E. Rosenfeld’s Make A Scene: Crafting a Powerful Story One Scene at a Time.

  • The Keepers of Eire has recently been released in a YA format. What differences can readers expect from this new version?

I started writing my ‘Celtic Keeper’ fantasy series for adults because there didn’t seem to be a lot of good, new adult fantasy to read. I figured there were plenty of good YA fantasy books, and I was gobbling them up, so I concentrated on a story with adult content. At book fairs, The Keepers of Éire drew attention, but buyers wanted something their teenage children/grandchildren could read. So for the YA Edition, I removed the more blatant adult scenes (sex) and toned down some of the language. The story didn’t change, I didn’t adjust the age of the main characters, and I didn’t change the major theme of the novel.

  • Is there another genre that you enjoy- just as a pure fan? What is it?

I enjoy a variety of stories, though not horror. I particularly enjoy romantic suspense, a good mystery/thriller, and entertaining travel books that take me to distant lands.

  • Can you share one resource: website, marketing strategy, social media medium that you feel has most helped you and could help other writers on their way?

I believe writers should have a website where they can communicate with their audience. At the very least, you (the writer) should promote your achievements in writing—book releases, other publications, events, etc. If you are an expert, or have a passion for something, then share that knowledge with your audience. The more you share, the better chance of building an audience. And isn’t that what most writers want—to have their stories read and enjoyed?

  • What do you wish your readers could know about you?

Okay, most of my writer friends already know this, but readers don’t: I’m a plotter—I plot out the key scenes of my novels and keep track of my characters using character cards. Having an outline helps me stay focused on the story. That being said, I’m usually pleased with the outcome when a character takes over a scene and alters my outline—not by a lot, mind you. Also, because of ongoing medical issues with my arms, I write using voice recognition software, Dragon for Macs—how appropriate! Writing this way does take longer, especially since I use some Gaelic in my writing, and the software requires me to vocalize all the formatting and punctuation as I talk in the scene. Editing can be tedious.

  • Okay, BESIDES dragons, what fantastical creature would you like to write about and why?

I am also fascinated with the phoenix. Who wouldn’t want to be reborn from the ashes? In a sense, that’s exactly what I did after leaving my technical writing job and restructuring my life due to long-term medical issues with my arms. My rebirth as a writer brought me out of the ashes and onto the back of a dragon.

  • Denim versus leather- compare and contrast. It’s an argument that may never be settled. What’s your preference and why?

Denim for trousers and leather for a jacket. I love the feel and look of supple leather in a bomber jacket.

  • If you had to choose… Japan or Spain… where would you go? Why does your choice speak to you?

Spain, most definitely. With a surname of Bernal…let’s just say I have roots in the Basque region of Spain I’d enjoy exploring, as I have my Celtic heritage.

  • And lastly… what is your favorite reward after a long day of writing—that little treat you give yourself? 

I wouldn’t really call it rewarding myself, but…I enjoy losing myself in a good story.

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Author Bio:

When Jordan Bernal says she was born on the wrong planet, she’s referring to the third planet in the Sagittarian Sector, known as Pern. So clear and descriptive was Anne McCaffrey in her Dragonriders of Pern series, Jordan was transported into the body, mind and soul of Anne’s characters. Jordan came away knowing she was destined to be a dragonrider; to hop from one foot to the other on the hot sands of the hatching ground awaiting a dragon of her own. She fantasized about the air currents lifting the dragon she rode, soaring over cliffs and chasms, embracing the joy and freedom as together, they broke gravity’s harsh leash. And most of all, Jordan knew she was meant to create stories of a new set of dragons and dragonriders.

Jordan is the author of The Keepers of Éire, a dragon fantasy that encourages adult readers to let their imaginations take flight. Jordan’s enduring love of dragons and her pursuit of her Celtic heritage inspired her to write and publish her debut novel in her “Keeper” series through her independent press, Dragon Wing Publishing. The Keepers of Éire is the 2104 Global Ebook Gold Award Winner and the Bella Online Gold Award Winner. In 2017, Jordan released a YA edition of The Keepers of Éire.

Jordan lives in the Tri-Valley region of Northern California, and has been a member of the California Writers Club Tri-Valley Branch since 2010. She enjoys reading, traveling, photography, and spending time with Roarke, her Pomeranian. For more information on Jordan’s current projects, visit http://www.jordanbernal.com.

Buy Links:

The Keepers of Éire—YA Edition                                        The Keepers of Éire

By: Jordan Bernal                                                                             By: Jordan Bernal

Published by: Dragon Wing Publishing                          Published by: Dragon Wing Publishing

 

Retail Price for Print: $15.00                                                         Retail Price for Print: $17.00
Print ISBN: 978-0-9910134-2-5                                                  Print ISBN: 978-0-9910134-0-1
Retail Price for eBook: $5.99                                                        Retail Price for eBook: $7.99

eBook ISBN: 978-0-9910134-3-2                                                 eBook ISBN: 978-0-9910134-1-8
Both versions are available for sale at: Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and most bookstores worldwide. Kindle ebooks also available.

This post was written by Erika Gardner. She’s a native Californian, lifelong lover of fantastical adventures, and a dedicated Whovian. If you enjoyed it, please sign up to receive updates on www.erikagardner.com   Or you can follow Erika on Twitter @Erika_Gardner, “Like” her Facebook page Erika Gardner- Writer and Storyteller.Or check out her contributions to the BBB Blog.

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This week’s song might not make a lot of sense at first, but bear with me… yes, I KNOW it’s NOT Monday.

Over our kids’ Winter Break we visited Maui. We had a great time, but I have to admit… it’s getting harder to keep the kids’ attention. They are almost 18, almost 16, and almost 14. The siren songs of their peers, social media, and online video games call to them. You’d think that an island paradise with beautiful beaches, fabulous restaurants, amazing activities, and parents willing to spend money would at least TEMPT them, but not always.

Imagine my surprise when one of the best moments of the trip came as we were stuck in traffic south of Lahaina, trying to return to the Kaanapali Beach and our resort. Because we clearly weren’t going anywhere fast, we put David (our oldest) in charge of the radio. He treated us to some of his playlists.

My husband and I exchanged shocked glances when he busted out some favorites from the Disney Days… and not only did David and I sing, but his sisters and dad joined in– all of us singing at full voice. Words I didn’t even remember that I knew. Dorks. Happy dorks. A return to the days of cartoons, legos, crayons, and play-doh. Good times.

So for a little while in the traffic on Maui I had my babies back again- all of us, singing, badly, off key, but happy. A great vacation moment.

Here is the Colors of the Wind from the cartoon, Pocahontas. Hope you enjoy it as much as we did!

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Here we are on top of the world… dorky but happy! May all your vacations be as joyous!

This post was written by Erika Gardner. She’s a native Californian, lifelong lover of fantastical adventures, and a dedicated Whovian. If you enjoyed it, please sign up to receive updates on www.erikagardner.com   Or you can follow Erika on Twitter @Erika_Gardner, “Like” her Facebook page Erika Gardner- Writer and Storyteller.Or check out her contributions to the BBB Blog.

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Winterskin Interview

  • Let’s start at the beginning… what is your favorite way or language to say hello in? And why?  Aloha! It just sounds so friendly and Hawaii is such a beautiful place.
  • When and how did you know you were a writer?  I was around twelve when I started writing short stories and submitting them to my school’s newspaper. Funny thing is, I didn’t really like writing all that much back then–at least not creatively. I liked to write essays–if you’d believe that! When on deployment to Korea, after a long hiatus of not writing a darn thing, I started back to writing short stories while on duty as a way of keeping me awake. But after that, I was hooked.
  • Looking at Winterskin, I see a gorgeous dark fantasy that speaks to many influences but I have to ask… what is your favorite Grimm Fairy Tale (because I know you have one)? And why does that story call to you? Of course I have one! It might sound a little obscure though. “The Girl Without Hands” is my absolute favorite because it shows the wit and cunning of everyday people in the face of the supernatural.
  • Where did your very distinctive title come from? By the way, I adore it!  Thank you! Originally, it’s working title was, “Locks of Rubicose” but once the novel was complete I realized that red hair didn’t really embody the narrative anymore. Winterskin became the novel’s new title because it accentuates an ability of the protagonist’s.
  • I am thrilled to cheer on a fellow strong female writer—what would you like to see from our fellow women in the writing world?  I’d like to see more characters that are morally gray. I’d like to see more tragedies and women writing in the fantasy genre. Most of all, I’d like to see some sci-fi fantasy written by awesome women.
  • As fantasy writers we see certain tropes used again and again- what fantastical creature would you just love to see featured and why? (For me? It’s totally Big Foot- we haven’t seen any pictures in a while… I hope he’s okay.) Dragons! Who doesn’t love dragons? They may feel a bit overplayed to some, but to me whenever a dragon is featured in a novel I am always awed as if I haven’t read about one in the last fantasy book I’ve charged through.
  • Can you share one resource: website, marketing strategy, social media medium that you feel has most helped you and could help other writers on their way?

Heinlein’s Rules. Link: http://www.sfwriter.com/ow05.htm

Whenever that feeling of writer’s block, or simply being stuck in a scene, comes up to bite me, reading through Heinlein’s rules usually helps me regain that fire for writing that I’ve lost. Another pointer I’d give for getting over being “stuck” while writing, is simply taking a break. I know many writers fear that–if you stop writing, you may never write again–but that isn’t true. If you’re a full time writer like me, writing is basically your day job. Two days off from writing can do wonders for your writing spirit!

  • What do you wish your readers could know about you? That’s a tough one. I wish my readers knew they could come to me with ideas for what they’d like to see and I’d gladly novelize it, or make a character. I’d like them to know that I’m open to suggestions and absolutely love it when they email me about how much they love certain things.
  • We’re just a month out from the Holiday Season- if you could give EVERYONE a gift… and expense or transportation was no object- what would you give them?  A puppy. I’ve never had one before until this year, and puppies just make life so much brighter. And if you don’t like puppies…maybe a kitten?
  • Mimosa versus Bloody Mary- the debate rages on… compare and contrast, please. Mimosa! I can barely tolerate ketchup…much less a Bloody Mary. Mimosas are just like Hawaii…tropical and sweet.
  • If you had to choose… mountains or sea… what would you choose as a home base and why does your choice speak to you? The mountains. Putting aside my fear of water, a mountain to me is synonymous with peace. Peace and quiet are two things I thoroughly enjoy (I’m also planning on going mountain climbing in West Virginia sometime soon).
  • And lastly… what is your favorite reward after a long day of writing—that little treat you give yourself? My reward to myself after a long day of writing, is picking up a book and reading with a nice cup of ginger tea close at hand. It’s the perfect close to a perfect day.

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Title: Winterskin

Author: C.M. Estopare

Genre: Dark / Epic Fantasy

The Path.

Perilous. Brutal. Deadly.

It is said that if a man journeys in alone, he’ll never return and there will be no corpse to bury.

Thousands of lives hang in the balance. Braving the Path is the key to saving them, but their survival is not guaranteed. For the Path is brimming with flesh ravenous monsters and the threat of a sinister presence known only as “the Lady”, an eerie entity dwelling deep within the confines of the black forest.

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C.M. Estopare is a full-time author, avid yoga enthusiast, and veteran of the United States military. She is the author of HEARTFELT SOUNDS, a young adult coming of age fantasy about the enthralling power of one young woman’s voice.

KINDRED SOULS is a five part epic and dark fantasy series hitting Amazon and Kindle Unlimited beginning in February 2017. Look out for the first book, WINTERSKIN, debuting February 9th, 2017. 

When not writing, C.M. Estopare enjoys reading about the fantastical worlds in the minds of others. She also enjoys playing around with her puppy,Duke, and adventuring with her husband. 

Links

http://cmestopare.blogspot.com/

Twitter-@CMEstopare

This post was written by Erika Gardner. She’s a native Californian, lifelong lover of fantastical adventures, and a dedicated Whovian. If you enjoyed it, please sign up to receive updates on www.erikagardner.com   Or you can follow Erika on Twitter @Erika_Gardner, “Like” her Facebook page Erika Gardner- Writer and Storyteller.Or check out her contributions to the BBB Blog.

 

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