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Venus and Lysander Interview

Venus and Lysander cover

About the Book

Title: Venus and Lysander

Author: Yoshiyuki Ly

Genre: Historical Romance / Fantasy

Living as a nobleman and as a woman, Valerie of Lysander is sick of waiting for the world to change. The discrimination she suffers as an outcast builds into resentment. Once Val takes matters into her own hands, the whole Empire of Tynan feels her brand of justice. The Emperor’s adviser, Lucrezia of Azrith, wants more of Val’s ruthlessness—for revenge against the unjust, and for her own desires. Venus and Lysander is an intricate romance set in the fictional Victorian city of Eden, 250 years after the events in The Scorpion’s Empress.

Lucrezia is Lady Chancellor for the Emperor and a sorceress-in-hiding. She is forced to conceal her identity from the religious public for fear of death. As she learns to trust in Val’s chivalry and affections for her, they both fall for the softer sides behind their similar bulletproof personas. Lucrezia receives a mysterious warning about a sadistic enemy threatening the Azrith and Lysander families. Once they discover their nemesis’ true motive, Val and Lucrezia’s tyrannous devotion for one another is all they can count on to survive.

This week I am happy to welcome Yoshiyuki Ly to my site. I thank her and Enchanted Book Promotions for bringing us together.

  • Let’s start at the beginning… how do you like to say hello? Do you have a favorite greeting? Are you a hugger?
    I usually say “hey” or nod my head. Not much of a hugger unless I know the person well and haven’t seen them in a long time.
  • I’m finding the character of Val fascinating. A woman living in a man’s world is at once very timeless and completely modern. Shades of Orlando. What inspired this character? Can you give us a glimpse into her head?
    I was inspired by my own androgyny as someone who looks feminine but thinks and sometimes acts in masculine ways. She doesn’t fit in. She knows that the binary ways of seeing gender end up causing issues for most people in the world, and not just her. But because she’s affected by this mentality more so than others, Val is the one who’s compelled to change the world “for the better,” even though she’s inherently self-motivated.
  • Fantasy can be so all-consuming (in such a good way) for readers- why did you choose the Victorian era to color your world? What can you tell potential readers about why they should visit the city of Eden?
    I played a lot of Bloodborne while writing this story. It’s a horror action role-playing game with Lovecraftian themes, set in a fantasy Victorian setting. The stark darkness of that setting compelled me along with the soundtrack. Eden doesn’t feature the horror from Bloodborne, but there’s a lot of history from the institutions there: it’s a hotbed of history-in-the-making with a revolution for civil rights at its tipping point.
  • What is next on your writer’s journey? What goal do you have in your sights next?
    Working on a distant sequel for this book that ties everything together.
  • Have you had any cool fan interactions? Have any of your readers’ responses particularly touched you?
    Most of my current fans have been with me since I wrote fanfiction. A few of them are my friends today. Forming those unexpected bonds was nice for me.
  • Can you share three new, relatively unknown books? We all love recommendations so choose three awesome titles to champion. (No fair picking your own!)
    I’m not sure about new, but anything by Pixelnyx, my favorite author, is worth my recommendation.
  • 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 keep a blog that I update regularly with my writing process and anything else that I’m up to. I think it helps readers stay connected with me.
  • What do you wish your readers could know about you?
    Nothing they don’t already know. I’m a private person.
  • If you could play Fairy Godmother for one night and give three people a gift, which three would you visit and what would you give them?
    It would be three specific people that I don’t speak to anymore. I’d like to give them a smile for once—something they rarely got from me.
  • Mimosa vs. Bloody Mary- the debate rages on… compare and contrast, please.
    I actually don’t think all that much.
  • If you had to choose… country music or rock and roll… what would you choose and why does your choice speak to you?
    I can’t think of any country songs I like, so rock and roll. If it includes alternative rock like Radiohead and IAMX, then that’s perfect. I tend to like a blend of genres.
  • And lastly… what is your favorite reward after a long day of writing—that little treat you give yourself?
    Actual sleep. I have a bad habit of not sleeping for days at a time when I’m working on a series of chapters. Not because I’m avoiding sleep—the insomnia takes over when I have too many ideas and my mind won’t shut off. It’s a blessing and a curse.

Author bio

Yoshiyuki Ly was born in San Diego, CA. She lived there until moving away to college. In high school, she began writing fanfiction as a serious hobby. Her pen name represents her multiracial heritage and a unique, diverse outlook that reflects in her work. She is a writer and a gamer.

The Links


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   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. Erika’s debut novel, The Dragon in The Garden can be found at Tirgearr Publishing.


Hell Holes- What Lies Beneath Interview


About the Book

Title: Hell Holes: What Lurks Below

Author: Donald Firesmith

Genre: Apocalyptic Scifi / Horror

It’s August in Alaska, and geology professor Jack Oswald prepares for the new school year. But when hundreds of huge holes mysteriously appear overnight in the frozen tundra north of the Arctic Circle, Jack receives an unexpected phone call. An oil company exec hires Jack to investigate, and he picks his climatologist wife and two of their graduate students as his team. Uncharacteristically, Jack also lets Aileen O’Shannon, a bewitchingly beautiful young photojournalist, talk him into coming along as their photographer. When they arrive in the remote oil town of Deadhorse, the exec and a biologist to protect them from wild animals join the team. Their task: to assess the risk of more holes opening under the Trans-Alaska Pipeline and the wells and pipelines that feed it. But they discover a far worse danger lurks below. When it emerges, it threatens to shatter Jack’s unshakable faith in science. And destroy us all…

On to the nitty, gritty… Thank you so much, Donald Firesmith, for being on my blog! And to Enchanted Book Tours for setting this up!

  • Let’s start at the beginning… how do you like to start your mornings? What does an ideal day look like for you
    I’ll restrict my answer to weekends when I get to start my day with my author hat on. I wake up around seven, cook a ham and cheese omelet that I eat while watching 30 minutes of news, then enter my home office, fire up my computer, and start writing. I try to get in about four hours of writing before lunch when my wife usually rises. With luck, I manage an additional three to four hours of writing and an hour of book marketing over the course of the rest of the day.
  • I love that you did a book trailer. Can you tell us something about the process? What words of advice can you give writers looking to create their own and what, if anything, would you do differently next time?
    I started by spending several hours browsing book trailers on YouTube to discover what I liked, what was possible, and what was practical within my budget, skill level, and the software tools I owned. I would have loved live actors, but I clearly couldn’t justify the cost, especially given the book’s setting in Northern Alaska. I would have also loved having a voice actor but decided against it for my first trailer, once again for cost reasons. Once I settled on a basic slide show with music, I started by writing a script and searching for appropriate graphics. Then, I found a company to create the actual trailer that had successfully produced similar trailers, was reasonably priced, and promised to work with me until I was satisfied with the result. While I am pleased with the results, I am considering upgrading the trailer with a voice over and commissioning a trailer for the second book.
  • SciFi is a genre that seems to become more difficult to stay ahead of as technology continues to advance at an ever increasing pace. How do you as an author stay ahead of the curve?
    I don’t have that problem with my Hell Holes series because it takes place in the immediate future. Due to my day job helping the US Government acquire software-reliant defense systems, I am aware of current military technology and have also developed relationships with military technical advisors. For example, Hell Holes 3: To Hell and Back will involve small military UAVs, a plague virus, and tactical nuclear weapons, all three of which have been relatively easy to research to the level of detail needed for my books.
  • What is next on your writer’s journey? What goal do you have in your sights next?
    In addition to completing Hell Holes 3: To Hell and Back and finalizing the plot outline of Hell Holes 4: A Slave in Hell, I am currently completing a non-fiction book titled Free and Low-Cost Book Marketing for Indie Authors.
  • How does your work as an engineer inform your writing or is writing an escape from your day job?
    I believe that by making the real parts of science fiction and fantasy books as realistic as possible, I make the paranormal and fantasy parts more believable. In addition to all of the systems and software engineering reading I do as part of my day job, I also do a great deal of reading of popular science and technology magazines, journals, and books. These often trigger ideas for science fiction books and short stories. Writing is definitely a skill that is improved by practice, and it goes both ways. Writing non-fiction improves writing fiction and vice versa. And I must admit that there is a certain amount of escapism in reading and writing speculative fiction,
  • Can you share three new, relatively unknown books? We all love recommendations so choose three awesome titles to champion. (No fair picking your own- we all know you love that one!)
    I recently had the very good fortune to meet Marry Robinette Kowal, who is not only a great writer but also a wonderfully interesting public speaker. I just finished her book of short stories titled Word Puppets, which I highly recommend. Her stories are very creative with wonderful characters. I especially recommend “For Want of A Nail,” “The Consciousness Problem,” and “The Lady Astronaut of Mars.”
    Currently, I am really enjoying the first two books in Cyberpunk Tales by A.L. Hunt and J. R. Forrest. In addition to a real kick-ass heroine, they have created an absolutely fascinating future world run by corporations where the vast majority of people live in underground slums also populated by the cybernetically, genetically, and psychically enhanced. Finally, I am really into the steampunk graphic novel series Girl Genius by Phil and Kaja Foglio.
  • 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 have been collecting all of the book marketing material that has helped me into a book that I am incrementally making available on my author website. Until I finalize it this summer, my fellow indie authors can download partial drafts (updated each weekend) for free. All I ask is early feedback so that the final book is as good as I can make it.
  • What do you wish your readers could know about you?
    That in spite of the current mini Dark Ages we’re going through, that I believe the future is going to be more like the early Star Trek universe than an apocalyptic dystopia. In spite of being an older white man whose day job involves national defense, I am a socially liberal progressive who favors progress over conserving our not-so-great past. Having lived overseas twice and visited nearly forty countries, I have a decidedly international rather than nationalistic viewpoint. I am pro-science and technology, and if I were in my twenties, I’d get in line to join Elon Musk and the Space X colonization of Mars.
  • The world is full of problems. If you could fix just ONE… and expense or transportation were no object- what would you fix and why that one?
    I would make a major disease-causing germ or virus go extinct. I think that the eradication of smallpox was one of the greatest achievements of modern science.
  • Paper vs. eBook- the debate rages on… compare and contrast, please.
    I have a huge collection of physical books including many autographed books and books over a hundred years old. Nothing feels quite like holding a fine leather-bound volume in your hands. And you really need large format paperbacks for graphic novels. That being said, I have gotten very used to being able to carry around hundreds of books in my Kindle Fire and iPhone. You can’t beat the cost, convenience, and instant gratification. To me, it’s not a case of one or the other, but of both.
  • If you had to choose… mountains or sea… what would you choose as a home base and why does your choice speak to you?
    I love both. I grew up in the Pacific Northwest (Portland, Oregon and Vancouver, Washington), where the coast was an hour to the west and the mountains were an hour to the east. I’ve lived on the beach and at the base of Mount St. Helens. I used to spend all weekend hiking alone in the Cascades with only the animals for company, and I would love nothing more than spend a week scuba diving in the Caribbean. Sorry. Sparks flying from ears. Can’t choose. Must move on to next question….
  • And lastly… what is your favorite reward after a long day of writing—that little treat you give yourself?
    Probably either reading or watching science-fiction on TV. However, my favorite reward for writing is not something I give myself. It is a thoughtful book review posted by a new fan who enjoyed reading one of my books. Making a reader care enough to take the time to write a real review, explaining what they liked and even what they didn’t like, is the best reward any author could ask for.

About The Author:

A computer geek by day, Donald Firesmith works as a system and software engineer helping the US Government acquire large, complex software-intensive systems. In this guise, he has authored seven technical books, written numerous software- and system-related articles and papers, and spoken at more conferences than he can possibly remember. He is also proud to have been named a Distinguished Engineer by the Association of Computing Machinery, although his pride is tempered somewhat worrying whether the term “distinguished” makes him sound more like a graybeard academic rather than an active engineer whose beard is still more red than gray.

By night and on weekends, his alter ego writes modern paranormal fantasy, apocalyptic science fiction, action and adventure novels and relaxes by handcrafting magic wands from various magical woods and mystical gemstones. His first foray into fiction is the book Magical Wands: A Cornucopia of Wand Lore written under the pen name Wolfrick Ignatius Feuerschmied. He lives in Crafton, Pennsylvania with his wife Becky and his youngest son Dane.


The Links:

Amazon, Apple iBooks, Barnes and Noble, CreateSpace, Goodreads, Indigo, Kobo, Smashwords

The Book Trailer:

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   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. Erika’s debut novel, The Dragon in The Garden can be found at Tirgearr Publishing.



Okay, Fantasy fans- buckle up!!! I’ve got a fun new series for you and you are going to LOVE it! Yep, you’re welcome…


Lizard Queen Volume 1

300 years ago, in a nameless world, a prophecy passed unfulfilled. A secret society that formed to prevent its occurrence believed it was their doing, while the secret society created to ensure that the prophecy came to pass wasn’t certain it had been stopped at all. Eventually, the prophecy of Lacáruna, a female from another realm and the only being who can read the Lizard Queen’s language, fell into legend.  What no one realizes, however, is that Amy Darlidale is just a tad late.



Taking a break from a stressful workweek, Amy, a recently divorced CEO, goes out for a morning jog and crosses paths with an orange lizard. Suddenly, she finds herself under a starless sky confronted by oddly marked and strangely colored people who claim she’s there to rescue the world from evil’s grasp and expand it once again. But not everyone wants that to happen so there’s a price on her head. This is far from the relaxing weekend Amy had intended.



Along with the young companions who found her, Licha and Jandro, Amy has accompanied the swaggering Colonel Dack Sangcertigre—a member of the Trotéjo, the secret society sworn to protect her—to his home nation in search of a plan to fulfill the Promise of a New Morphósis. As the body count rises and she is confronted with raving rulers, military machinations, and crafty clergy, she quickly realizes there must be much more at stake than merely finding the prophecy.



The sense of order in this mysterious world continues to collapse. Fires rage, clans are being slaughtered and townsfolk massacred, and leaders have proclaimed a great evil has returned. As Amy searches for clues within the first mythic journals of this world’s origins, she’s begun seeing visions and receiving messages from forces unknown. While she’s trying to understand the extent of her power others have become aware of it as well. Soon a new group with its own mysterious agenda believes Amy may have another fated purpose and only she can save herself from their terrifying trap.


A huge thank you to H.L. Cherryholmes for appearing on this blog- I am super excited to have such an innovative and fresh author to showcase. Hope my readers enjoy this interview just as much as I did…


Easy stuff first- tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you begin writing? What fills your life and lights up your days?


Born and raised in Albuquerque, New Mexico but I’ve lived in Southern California most of my adult life. I started writing when I was very young, mostly to entertain family and neighbors. About that time I also learned to change the names to protect the innocent. Storytelling has always been important to me and I’m never as happy as I am when I’m in the thick of writing a story. Even editing makes me happy.

Your books begin in our ordinary world and take us to new world “under a starless sky.” How does each world color and shape your protagonist, Amy Darlidale?


In our world, Amy is a CEO of a non-profit company. She’s recently divorced and just celebrated her fortieth birthday. She is fairly content and, most importantly, feels entirely in control of her life. When she finds herself under the starless sky she’s completely out of her element and feeling at a loss. Nevertheless, she’s still the same strong woman and works hard to take charge of her new predicament.



How has each world, real and imaginary shaped you as a storyteller?


The imaginary world is very much shaped by my real world experiences, particularly my travels. Amy keeps discovering places and things that are very familiar to her, albeit not exactly the same. It’s been so much fun to incorporate places I’ve visited into my writing. I think it’s made me a better storyteller because it’s taken me out of my comfort zone, which pretty much is my apartment.


Can you tell us a bit about your publishing process? Are you agented? Self-published? How did your book come into being?


I’m an indie-writer. I spent many frustrating years trying to go the traditional route by getting an agent and one day I decided that what was most important to me was having my stories read. Self-publishing a book is so incredibly easy these days, which is why more and more authors are going that route. My series came into being when I decided that’s what I was going to do. I chose to wait until the entire series was done, however, before releasing the first two books.



What were the benefits and challenges that you found along your journey? And do you have any words of advice for your fellow writers- things to do? Pitfalls to avoid?


The benefit for me was being able to work the entire story out before anyone read it. That was also the biggest challenge. As I’m sure any author will tell you, it’s a lonely vocation often and the only validation you get is what you chose to give yourself. One word of advice—the most important, in my opinion—is you must have a professional editor. Thinking you can shape everything on your own is the biggest pitfall to avoid.



Where do you find your sources of inspiration? Does your muse vary from project to project or do you find the well-spring is fairly consistent?


Inspiration most often comes from something I’ve read or watched, or even overheard. Usually it’s just a spark of an idea that pops up and either I’ll pursue it or tell myself I should write it down to look at later but then decide I’ll surely remember it. That’s when the muse snatches it away. You’d think I’d learn, but no.



Have you learned anything from your readers? Or had a response that especially touched you?


What has touched me and meant the most to me are any of the readers who have gone along (or are going along) Amy’s journey. Reading a series is a serious (see what I did there?) commitment so I greatly appreciate anyone who is willing to take it on. Hearing that they’ve loved how the story ends has been especially satisfying.




We all have our fan boy (or in my case, fan girl) moments. If you could get your books of anyone, celebrity, historical figure, etc. who would you choose to have read them? Please share one man and one woman and why.


Anne Rice and Stephen King and both for the same reason: They are master world-builders and both appreciate a strong female protagonist.



Do you have a favorite book that you wish you had written? What is it and why do you wish you had created it?


I can’t say that I do. I love stories and I’m the type of person that goes into any story, be it on the page or on the screen, with an open mind and heart, ready to follow what tale I’ve been offered. I do my best to keep myself out of it and just let it be what it is.



We all reward ourselves with little treats- after a particularly productive day- what is your favorite indulgence? I’m always looking for a new treat!


When I finish a draft of a book my favorite indulgence is a cupcake with buttercream frosting from Magnolia Bakery. And a vodka martini. Not necessarily in that order and never together.



Author Bio

H.L. Cherryholmes, author of The Lizard Queen Series, Come Back for Me, and A Slight Touch was born and raised in Albuquerque, New Mexico but has spent most of his adult life in Southern California. He has a BFA from University of New Mexico and a Master’s degree in Playwriting from the University of California, Los Angeles. Currently, he lives in Los Angeles and Palm Springs with his husband, Ron Cogan.




Amazon Author Page:



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   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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