What’s in a difference?

Author Katrina Jack talks about The Silver Flute Trilogy. What sets her YA Urban Fantasy series apart from other books in the genre? What makes her characters unique? Read on to find out…



As an author of YA urban fantasy, I use some of the criteria that applies to fantasy overall. For example, my characters have a goal or quest they must fulfil in order to achieve their destiny. They have certain powers that help them in their journey. They fight mythical creatures and they combat weird and horrifying enemies who get in their way.

midnight 2

But of course thousands of writers do the same, no matter what genre they write in. So what did I do to make my work different? Well, the lead protagonist in The Silver Flute Trilogy is mute. How did I make him communicate, not only with his fellow characters, but with the readers too? Obviously it was neither practical or desirable to use swathes of description of sign language, apart from the odd gesture. I overcame this by simply not putting inverted comments around his dialogue, but instead…

View original post 329 more words

Categories: authors to watch, dark fantasy, fantasy, urban fantasy, young adult adventure, young adult fantasy | Tags: , , , , ,

Autumn Reads: Island of Lost Forevers


When a mysterious island appears off the coast of San Francisco, two intrepid academics risk everything to discover its secrets. Literature professor Catilen Taylor has struggled all her life with the ability to sense others’ emotions. The only person comfortable with her eccentricities is Damian Cooke, who studies an ancient art he calls ‘magic.’

Beyond the military barricade they discover paradise unspoiled by modern advances, ruled by the enigmatic Sentomoru, who invites them to share the wonders of his bathhouse. But as the travelers strive to unravel the island’s secrets, danger stalks their every step. Is the island the paradise it promises? Or does a nightmare lurk beneath the surface?

Island of Lost Forevers Purchase Links:


About Megan Cutler:

Megan grew up in a small town in central Pennsylvania where books offered an easy escape from the mundane life of a rural highway town. She started taking books to the playground with her and, later, started sneaking a second notebook into class to write stories. In 2003 she married the love of her life and moved to Canada, though she has yet to develop proper ice crystals in her blood. Megan started writing full-time in 2011 and has since published three novels and several short stories. Her characters keep her up late and wake her up early, but she loves them anyway.

Connect with Megan:

Categories: authors to watch, book feature, book of the day, books, fantasy | Tags: , , , ,

Autumn Reads: The Dead Planet


A dead planet. A rogue AI. A secret mission.

Tara Royce’s first day as the Academy’s newest Earth Defense Engineer was anything but ordinary. If humanity has any hope of returning to the dead planet in the next few thousand years, that is assuming it regenerates at all, they must first protect it from alien attack – and the Defense Engineers are its first and last line of defense. Aliens aren’t the only thing the new Engineer needs to look out for, though, and she soon discovers that the stakes are much higher than she ever could have imagined.

Amazon reviews:

“This is a great intro to what promises to be a very interesting scifi series. It’s got a little bit of everything without going overboard on anything, and more than that, it’s a solid premise with far-reaching implications to a future society we’re not even introduced to yet. Fans of scifi without all the hard science or too much techno-jargon, that focuses more on character and crisis will enjoy this for sure.”

“I didn’t except so much action and mystery in such a short story.”

Available on Amazon:



“I want to thank you.”

The hatch closed behind her with a snap-hiss and she started down the handrails to the bottom level. “Thank me for what?”

“For not disclosing the parameters of our mission.”

“I don’t think this is ‘our’ mission, Aiden. That would have to mean that you let me in on it from the beginning. Instead, you’ve kept me in the dark this whole time, remember?”
He was silent until she opened the door to the bottom levels. “Then I want to thank you…for keeping my secret from Engineer Tyrese.”

“Sure, Aiden. Whatever.” The hall down here was dimly lit, with strips of light on the floor that led to the separate sections.

“I would not have liked Tyrese to know what we are doing.”

The armament section was the first door on the right. “Why would you care what Tyrese knows or doesn’t know?”

“Because…I do not like him.”

A sense of forbidding creeped up her spine. Aiden was doing it again. Sounding far too human and far too…interested in her. “You don’t like Tyrese?


“Aiden, you don’t know him.”

“I know he wants to see you. I don’t like that.”

She bit down on her lip. She was definitely going to have to inspect Aiden’s programming, whether he wanted her to see him naked or not. For the moment, she chose very carefully to not ask any more questions. She didn’t want to know what he was going to say next.
Instead, she opened the door to the section where the weapons tubes were charged and loaded and maintained. Usually an Engineer would never have to come down here. The flash lasers were maintained by the droid crawlers on the rare occasions when something went wrong. Only Tara wasn’t looking for something wrong. She was looking for something that shouldn’t be there.

Inside, among the standard configuration that she expected to see from the simulations and technical data specs, among the massive cable lines and sleek black tubes that carried the energy for the flash lasers, was something that definitely should not have been there.
Twice as long as she was, sheathed in a spiraling metal shell, with four direction jets built into the fins at the back. A device perfect for launching through a planet’s atmosphere to the surface, and then retrieving it from there again.

“Beautiful,” Aiden’s voice said to her. “Isn’t it?”

She had to admit, it kind of was.

“All right,” she said after another moment’s consideration. “Let’s go find out if the Earth is worth saving.”

Amazon link:

Author bio:

TJ Ryan is a Canadian author, born on the rainy West Coast (or is that wet coast?) of British Columbia. He spent his early years travelling the world, obsessing over new cultures and culinary experiences. Preferring spaceships to airplanes, he has now settled into his little slice of rainforest paradise, escaping reality through Science Fiction.

He is known for packing high levels of action and mystery into his writing, and his latest book The Dead Planet has a growing number of 5 star reviews. TJ has a number of exciting new sci fi books planned for this year, including the second book to his Broken Earth Saga space opera series.




Categories: authors to watch, book excerpt, book feature, book of the day, fantasy, science fiction | Tags: , , , , , ,

Autumn Reads: Till Death


In a world where rogue necromancers control the dead and turn them against the living,
The Independent Necromancers’ Bureau works to keep law and order.

This first introductory short story in the Independent Necromancers’ Bureau series, plunges you in to the world of Cassie Dune, a world filled with ghosts, zombies, and necromancers.
When some uninvited guests show up at a wedding party, Cassie Dune— an agent with the INB— must fight to stop them. With the aid of Detective Inspector Luke Baron, Cassie must stop a rampaging horde of zombies before it’s too late— an act that causes her to learn more about her power and its origins.



Excerpt from Till Death:

Working as an agent for the Independent Necromancers’ Bureau had its perks, but spending the night in a haunted house, miles away from civilisation, wasn’t my idea of one. Easy job, Thomas had said. Yeah, sounded great until you considered the angry shade screeching and snarling in my face. I’d rather face a horde of zombies.

At least, enclosed within my circle of protection, no harm could befall me. I might cook—I could swear the temperature in the room was so high, I started to smell like bacon— but the spirit couldn’t touch me.

My brow furrowed and my head pounded. The throbbing echoed through my bones, and I wanted nothing more than to call it a night, head home, and curl up in bed with the cat. I wanted to, but I didn’t. Instead, I set my shoulders and kept my focus on the link Jim Maybin’s spirit still had with his remains.

With the realisation that his tactics of fear and intimidation were failing, Jim attempted a new trick. Images of a young man and woman, too young to comprehend the future that awaited them, bombarded my mind. They stood on a balcony, as close as two people could be. The couple smiled and laughed underneath a purple dusk sky, wrapped up in the moment, storing every detail within their minds, and etching it into their souls. The memory was so complete, I felt the slight breeze that caressed their skin and brought with it the sweet scent of lavender. Crickets chirped, and the wind rustled through the leaves of a great oak, standing as a testament to the perseverance and resilience of life.

The man reached into his pocket and pulled out a box before dropping to one knee and presenting the ring. ‘Rachel,’ he said as her hand flew to her face in shock. ‘I have loved you from the second I laid my eyes on you. You are my whole life and I can’t imagine spending a second of it without you by my side. Will you marry me?’

Jim shared with me one of the happiest moments of his life. His memory burned with emotion and tears streamed down my face, a mirror of those that flowed from Rachel’s eyes. Sure, having your heart ripped out of your chest and fed to you on a platter along with some cheese and pineapple was emotionally draining, but this wasn’t my first day on the job. No way would I buckle. My determination strengthened. With each breath, I drew the shade closer to his cremated body. The thread that linked Jim’s spirit to his ashes grew stronger, drawing him in and containing him within his remains.

I opened my eyes and looked at the man before me. He wore the khaki brown battledress he had died in. A remnant of the war that robbed him of his life.

‘This is the way it needs to be,’ I said to Jim. ‘You can’t stay here any longer. Rachel needs to know you are gone, so she can follow.’ With those final words, I allowed the intricacies of his existence to flow through my mind, and then severed the thread connecting Jim to his mortal body and the world of the living. His spirit left instantly, free to go to whatever afterlife awaited him.

Amazon link:



Discover other books in series:

A Matter of Death: A second stand-alone short story in the Independent Necromancers’ Bureau Series. Available for FREE through newsletter signup.

When Dylan turns up at agent Cassie Dune’s house just before sunrise, she knows something is up, and anything that bothers a two-hundred year old ghost, is sure to be bad news for Cassie. A necromancer has imprisoned the spirit of Dylan’s friend Elizabeth. Can Cassie find her and save her soul?

The Death of a Friendship: The first full-length novel in in The Independent Necromancer’s Bureau series will be available November 2016.




About Victoria DeLuis:

Victoria DeLuis has been writing since a young age, but never had the courage to pursue writing as a career. When her daughter was born in 2010, Victoria decided that she wanted her daughter to grow up and follow her dreams, and the best way to ensure this was to have parent who followed theirs. Victoria, therefore, returned to University part-time, to study creative writing. After graduating in June, it was time to put all her study and hard work into practise, and the Independent Necromancers Bureau was born.

Victoria lives in Wales with her husband, daughter, three cats, and one dog.

Connect with Victoria: 

Categories: authors to watch, book deals, book excerpt, book feature, book of the day, books, fantasy | Tags: , , , , , ,

Autumn Reads: A Glimmer of Destiny


How can one moment in a young man’s life become the turning point between doom and deliverance for an entire world?

Aiden Finn is an orphan, comfortable in his quiet life working at the School of Breen when everything is turned upside down by a casual bet between two young nobles. One that cause him to use the forbidden Glimmer Stones which create constructs of physical light, and by law only nobles are allowed to touch.

Threatened with death by duchy law and evil forces intent on capturing him and his dark secret, Aiden is forced to learn how to control this emerging power to save all that he holds dear. However, will that which saves him also be his world’s downfall? The dreaded Mourning Lords, beings that came from the dawn of the Cataclysm four thousand years earlier once more walk the land, searching for an answer to their torment. Will Aiden learn how to become a master of Glimmer Steel or will the mystery of the Cataclysm and the destruction of technology drown him as surely as it nearly cracked the world in half?

A Glimmer of Truth, Book 2 of the Glimmer Stone Saga will be available in September 2016. (Chapter 1 of book 2 is included as a sneak peek!)
A Glimmer of War, Book 3 of the Glimmer Stone Saga will be available January 2017.


Author Bio
It has been a fantastic two months since my first novel has been published. I am on track for book 2 of the Glimmer Steel Saga to be released in September, which I sincerely hope many of you will be looking forward to.

I grew up as an army brat for twenty years and lived in such auspicious places as Japan and the middle of Oklahoma. When I finally moved out, I was living in Hawaii which is a beautiful place filled with friendly spirits. Who can argue with wearing shorts and T-shirts every day? Apparently, I was, since I then moved to Portland, Oregon in 1996. The trees and green were just calling to me, and a friendly, laid-back city is where I naturally find my place. I couldn’t just do things normally, and was heavily involved in the SCA which is a friendly, medieval recreation society where you can pummel your best friends with heavy sticks while wearing armor. Much fun! It is good for sword fighting scenes, as well. Not that Aiden, the star of my current series, IS a fighter yet, but eventually he will get frisky enough.

I am also a single dad, just entering the twilight of my parenthood with one child out on her own, and another at seventeen. Let me tell you, it is an accomplishment and honor to have raised them.

I am also of the school of thought that getting your book out within 3 months is not only do-able, but also slow. If someone ever tells you 1000 words a month is ok, they are lying to you. Push the publish button! You can do it. Enjoy!

Connect with Spencer:

Author Page:

Q&A with Spencer Pierson:

What inspired you to become an author?

Truthfully, I’ve wanted to be an author for many years but have never had the gumption and knowledge to pull it off. Late last year, I had come to a decision point in my life that required me to take a leap of faith. I also ran into an old friend who had done a considerable amount of research into self-publishing. I published my first two short stories on my birthday in November. Now, I am happily writing Fantasy and Sci-Fi, telling stories, and watching people smile.

What was the worst day in your writing career?

The day one of my beta readers told me that I wasn’t a writer yet. They said they could not even get through the first chapter. That was hard. It took me about three or four days to recover. Once I did, I examined some of her feedback and used it in a positive way. It also helped that other beta readers had gone through the book fast and loved it, but that was a hard critique to take.

What was the best day in your writing career?

Pushing the publishing button for the first time. That was a good day.

In your latest book, what was your favorite scene?

In my second book, my favorite scene comes toward the end. One of the protagonists’ companions defeats someone who has been terrible to him throughout his life, and then the girl he’s falling in love with saves him from a side attack, and they kiss.

Tell me what you love to hate about your antagonist?

He’s conflicted. He wants to be defeated, but cannot bring himself to give up. His clothes are also some sort of creature that moves by itself. Fun.

Categories: author feature, author interview, authors to watch, book feature, book of the day, fantasy | Tags: , , , ,

Author of the Week: Barbara G Tarn

The Author of the Week is Barbara G Tarn. Welcome, Barb. Can you tell us a little about yourself?

I was born in Rome half a century ago and wrote in Italian until the 21st century, when I decided I’d rather explore the English-speaking market. I started with the attempted conquest of Hollywood, feeling it was easier to write screenplays than prose, then by 2010 I went back to my first love, prose, and the following year I started indie publishing, mostly in English.

When did you begin writing?

I spent 8 years abroad in the 1970s – Paris and Geneva, so I grew up bilingual Italian/French, studying English at school – and when I came back I was 13. Not the best time to be uprooted. I hated everything and everyone and started writing stories. I was very prolific and loved to make up stuff (mostly unbelievable and by now unreadable, but I quickly poured out my million words of crap in Italian). Only with the new millennium did I realize there were actually creative writing courses and rules one was supposed to follow… but I didn’t throw away the previous 25 years of writing. I just kept going…

What is your chosen genre?

My favorite is fantasy, but I’ve tackled science fantasy, historical, contemporary, romance, YA (when I was YA and the term didn’t even exist yet) and m/m stories. Currently I have an adult unconventional fantasy world, Silvery Earth, a science fantasy universe, Star Minds, and I’ve just started an historical fantasy series of vampires through centuries. I also have some contemporary stories and magical realism (body switches). And some m/m romance.

Can you please tell us about your most recent release?

Rajveer the Vampire is historical fantasy. The history is real, but vampires… you decide. There are different kinds of vampires in my personal mythology. The western ones don’t need to kill to drink blood and turn their victims by giving them their blood to drink. The Indian ones are more demonic – their bite is poisonous and it either kills or turns the victim. In further books there will be also almond-eyed vampires and black vampires of different kinds.


What was the most challenging aspect of writing the book?

Finding English textbooks on the Indian middle ages. Luckily my wonderful cover artist is very learned and she helped me nailing the culture. I also had to wade through The Element Encyclopedia of Vampires by Theresa Cheung (HarperCollins UK, 2009) – a loan from my offline beta-reader – to try and make up all the various vampires taking things from various mythologies and folklores. But the most challenging aspect was sticking to history and making it real, in spite of the non-historical creatures wandering the country!

Of all your published books, which is your favorite and why?

It’s usually the latest “baby”. I am still quite prolific, and the latest story is usually my favorite. Once I release it, I move on to the next, that will become my next favorite! I’m married to Mr Writing and we have so many children… I have favorite characters, though. Kol-ian and Ker-ris of Star Minds, the group of protagonists of Books of the Immortals – Air, Kurt the left-handed warrior, Lost and Oliver (who are not lovers – and the original story is from 1993), Yash and Ryo (who become lovers), Kilig the Sword… And coming soon my sleeping beau and his savior (Beautiful, a retelling of Sleeping Beauty slashed – or m/m version – will come out as soon as I get the manuscript back from the proofreader, sometimes around mid-November)!


What is your primary goal as an author?

Keep writing until my hands and eyes (and brain) fail me. And then publish and move on, until I’m able to quit (part-time) DayJob and live off royalties.

Which authors and/or books have inspired you as a writer?

Brunella Gasperini, the adventurous books of Emilio Salgari (might be considered the Italian Jules Verne, that I also read when attending French schools) and a collection of fairy tales from around the world, illustrated, that is still at my parents’ – all read in my teens, when I started producing stories at a steady pace. I’m also influenced by movies, (TV when I still watched it, i.e. until the early 1990s), and comic books (manga, bandes dessinnées, comics or fumetti, whatever you want to call them – including strips).

What projects are you currently working on?

The Sleeping Beauty slashed will be followed by a Snowhite retelling m/m romance + three short stories from openings I wrote for a writing workshop (contemporary stories) + a short story inspired by my trips with tour groups that will be set in the Star Minds universe (aliens visiting future Earth), and then I’ll get back to my historical vampires. I’ve started a novella about two secondary characters of Rajveer the Vampire. So while the other writers are busy with NaNoWriMo, that’s my writing plans for November!

What advice would you like to share with new or aspiring authors?

“Never give up, never surrender.” Don’t look for perfection. Write with your creative brain and don’t waste too much time “polishing”. Write, finish what you write, edit and release. But mostly, have fun! Entertain yourself first, and your readers will be entertained too! Happy writing!


About the Author:

Barbara G.Tarn had an intense life in the Middle Ages that stuck with her through the centuries. She prefers swords to guns, long gowns to mini-skirts, and even though she buried the warrior woman, she deplores the death of knights in shining chainmail. She likes to think her condo apartment is a medieval castle, unfortunately lacking a dungeon to throw noisy neighbors and naughty colleagues in. Also known as the Lady with the Unicorns, these days she prefers to add a touch of fantasy to all her stories, past and present – when she’s not wandering in her fantasy world of Silvery Earth or in her Star Minds futuristic universe. She’s a writer, sometimes artist, mostly a world-creator and story-teller – stories comprise shorts, novels and graphic novels. Her novella “The Hooded Man” has received an Honorable Mention at the Writers of the Future contest. Used to multiple projects (a graphic novel is always on the side of the prose), she writes, draws, ignores her day job and blogs at:

Connect with Barbara G. Tarn:




Author Central

Find the author’s books:

Publisher’s page with info on all the books: (each book has a page with the buy links and sometimes optionals such as maps, character interviews, etc)

Categories: author feature, author interview, author of the week, authors to watch, fantasy, vampires | Tags: , , ,

Author of the Week: Joni Parker

Today, I’m happy to re-introduce Joni Parker. She has previously appeared on Authors to Watch and I’m thrilled that she’s come back to share her newest release with us.

Spell Breaker 1

Welcome, Joni! Can you tell us a little about yourself?

In 1998, I retired from the U.S. Navy with 22 years of service.  My husband and I moved to Las Vegas, Nevada and bought a house.  However, we fell in love with a motorhome and sold our house.  We spent several wonderful years criss-crossing the U.S. including a trip to Alaska until my husband passed away in 2001.  Not long after that, I went back to work for the federal government and learned to live my life over again.  I retired for a second time in 2010 to devote my time to writing.

When did you begin writing?

I had my first feature article published in the school newspaper when I was in the first grade.  After that, I wrote short stories and poems through elementary school.  When I got to high school, all that stopped and I didn’t start writing again until I was 57.  It was a long dry spell.

What is your chosen genre?

I enjoy the fantasy genre because it allows me to create my own world and populate it with the people I want.  Sometimes, my characters are mere mortals, but they can also be Elves, Dwarves, Titans, or other creatures.

Can you please tell us about your most recent release?

My latest book is called “Spell Breaker: The Chronicles of Eledon Book One.”  For a thousand years, no one has been able to leave Seaward Isle because of a spell that created a ring of storms around the island.  As the book opens, Lady Alexin Dumwalt (Alex) uses her magical powers to break the spell and frees the inhabitants to escape to Eledon, the World of the Elves.  But her success will come at a cost.

What was the most challenging aspect of writing the book?

The most challenging aspect was keeping the book size manageable.  I kept adding more details along the way and had to keep cutting the book back.  As it is, it’s the longest book I’ve published so far.

Of all your published books, which is your favorite and why?

This is like asking which child is your favorite.  “Spell Breaker” is now my favorite because it presented so many challenges.  The first draft my editor received was significantly different than the final version.  It took me an extra year of editing to get the book the way it ended up.  I used what I learned to change “Blood Mission” (Book Three of the Seaward Isle Saga, the previous series) before it went into print form.  Then I withdrew the first ebook version and published a second edition.

Are there certain themes or lessons you tend to explore in your books?

Not intentionally.  My main character is still very young so she’s learning as she goes.  Lessons and themes come out of it.  In “Spell Breaker,” she learns some very important life lessons the hard way, like the need to give and take, especially when she argues with her grandmother.

What is your primary goal as an author?

My goal is to become a better writer and utilize my brain for as long as I can.  Writing doesn’t have a mandatory retirement age, so I intend to write for a long time.

Which authors and/or books have inspired you as a writer?

Last year, I attended a seminar by Donald Maass.  He owns a literary agency and has written several books on writing a good novel based on what he looks for as an agent.  The seminar was three hours long and was held before the DFW Writers’ conference.  In addition, he also taught several breakout sessions and gave the closing speech.  I bought two of his books, “The Fire in Fiction” and “Writing 21st Century Fiction,” but I also found his “writing the BREAKOUT NOVEL Workbook” to be very useful.  If anyone has a chance to attend one of his seminars, do it.  You’ll be inspired, too.

What projects are you currently working on?

I’m working on book two of the Chronicles of Eledon.  It’s with my editor now.  I also have drafts of the next two books in the series that are nearing completion.  I’m also toying with a memoir and considering a historical fiction novel.

What advice would you like to share with new or aspiring authors?

Rewriting can be one of the most creative aspects of writing.  I know there are some authors who hate it, but I love the process.  Sometimes, I come up with better ideas the second or third time around.

orig_27374_022 (885x1024)

Author Bio:

Joni was born in Chicago, Illinois, but her family moved to Japan so her father could pursue his dream of becoming a professional golfer.  Her dad achieved his dream and the family returned to the U.S., settling in Phoenix, Arizona.  Joni graduated from Camelback High School and attended Arizona State University until she dropped out and joined the Navy.  She completed a three-year hitch in Naval Air Station Lakehurst, New Jersey and got married to the love of her life.  At first, she followed her husband’s career and returned to college, attaining a Bachelor’s degree in Accounting and an MBA.  A few years later after her husband’s retirement from the Navy, she returned as a commissioned officer, completing 22 years of active duty service.  While in the service, she also earned another Master’s degree, Master of Military Arts and Sciences, from the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College.  In 2001, her husband passed away and Joni went back to work for the federal government in a civil service job until she retired for a second time to devote her time to writing.

Connect with Joni Parker:

Buy Spell Breaker: The Chronicles of Eledon Book One:

map parchment

Categories: author interview, author of the week, fantasy | Tags: , , , , ,

Book of the Day: The Chosen One (Grimsley Hollow)

Today’s Book of the Day is:


by Nicole Storey

This book is the first in a middle-grade series that features a very unique hero. It’s also #FREE on #Kindle, so grab your copy now before the special promotion ends.


Eleven-year-old Gage Gilbert is autistic, loves Halloween, and has no friends. He longs to share real adventures – not just those conjured in his head.

A mysterious key leads him to Eve, a young witch from another world called Grimsley Hollow. It’s a place where all magical beings live in safety and peace, but their realm is in trouble. Gage is the only one who can save them from a nefarious witch who has taken control.
And the human world is next on her list.

With Eve’s help (along with a potty-mouthed pixy, a trouble-making werewolf, a half-vampire, and a couple of dragons) Gage travels to Grimsley Hollow and together, they embark on a journey that will change them all.

It’s a deadly race against evil, where extraordinary creatures stalk the land under a harvest moon and nightmarish monsters take form.

Gage wanted friends and adventure, but had no idea they would come at such a dangerous price.

Download free on Kindle from Oct 14th through Oct 18th:


Categories: fantasy, free books, young adult adventure, young adult fantasy, young adult paranormal | Tags: , , , , ,

Interview with Laurel A. Rockefeller

Today’s guest is Laurel A. Rockefeller, author and historian. She’s here to speak with us about her numerous publications and the mind-blowing amount of research that goes into each work.

Great Succession Crisis Third Edition web

Hi Laurel, and welcome to Authors to Watch. Can you please tell us a little about yourself?

Hello everyone!  I am author-historian Laurel A. Rockefeller.  I was born, raised, and educated in Lincoln, Nebraska USA.  I am a graduate of the University of Nebraska at Lincoln with a bachelor of arts in writing, psychology, and history.  My first national publication was a sonnet called “Why Bilbo?” in 1991 with the American Tolkien Society.  I started writing professionally in 2011 when I began work on my first novel, “The Great Succession Crisis” (now in its third edition).  That book published on 12 August 2012.  Since that time I have published a total of twenty book titles across multiple non-fiction and fiction genres.  I also have two of my books out in Chinese translation and two are out on Audible thanks to the talents of British voice artist Richard Mann.

When did you begin writing?

I started as a singer-songwriter actually.  I had an especially violent childhood and I coped by making up songs.  As soon as I learned to read, I started pecking the lyrics to my songs out on my father’s typewriter.  Though I maintained a focus on my poetry until around the age of thirty, I spent my summers as a teen writing fan fiction novels to favourite science fiction television series.  Majored in writing with focus on stage and screen writing.  But I was under fierce family pressure to get a “real” job, especially upon graduation from university, so I stopped submitting scripts for production and started working any job I could find.  I continued to write as a hobby, but did not consider it a profession again until I lost my job in Manhattan right after the big crash of 2008. Even then I looked for “real” work and even started a couple small businesses which failed quickly.  Finally in March 2011 I felt I had nothing to lose by pursuing writing as a profession.  I took about a month working out the physical details and social structure for planet Beinan and the Peers of Beinan series was born!

House personal heraldry collage small

You’re a very versatile author. You write both fiction and non-fiction. Can you tell us about The Peers of Beinan Series and how you came up with the idea for it?

Like so many great science fiction and fantasy series, the Peers of Beinan Series was originally conceived as fan fiction.  In this case, I wanted to write prequel stories to the short-lived “Benji, Zax, and the Alien Prince” from 1983 which was my favourite show as a tween.  The original title of the series (which was supposed to be just one novel) was “Prince of Antars” and it was supposed to explore the character Trask and his relationship with both the royal family and with the evil Zanu.

My prince quickly became a princess though and Trask mutated into the very different Lord Knight Elendir (Ghosts of the Past).  Though there is of course a “revolution” like there is in BZAP, the Peers of Beinan Series bears very little resemblance to Benji, Zax, and the Alien Prince.  As a matter of fact the only detail I kept from that series really is the number 2.337 – the number of Beinarian shir-ors (hours) in one Earth day.

The Peers of Beinan Series itself is world building at its finest.  I literally built both the planet and the society from the ground up using what I considered the best elements from classic science fiction and fantasy and combining that with my history background.  Key influences include the Dune series by Frank Herbert, J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle Earth, the original Star Trek series, Babylon 5, and the original Battlestar Galactica.  The idea for the heraldry came from a combination of my twenty years experience in the Society for Creative Anachronism and seeing heraldry used in the SciFi channel’s adaptation of Dune.

Who is your favorite character from this series and why?

Lord Knight Elendir.  He’s a very flawed hero.  In chapter one of “The Ghosts of the Past” both of his parents are murdered by terrorists and he grows up in the Ten-Arian monastery.  After he comes of age and becomes a knight, he begs his best friend Prince Kendric for permission to investigate his father’s death.  Along the way his youth and youthful bad judgement is used by the villains to sidetrack him from finding the truth about his father.  Through their manipulations he is also tricked into creating the very monster who kills most of the people he loves, including Kendric himself.  Elendir redeems himself in “Princess Anyu Returns” of course but it is his journey from reckless youth to wise sage that makes him so real and easy to relate to.

20040828 021748 P3216 Luxembourg

20040828 021748 P3216 Luxembourg

Okay, let’s switch gears. I’m intrigued by The Legendary World of Women non-fiction series you’ve written? Can you please give my readers an idea of what this series entails?

The Legendary Women of World History Series explores the lives of women from across history who still touch ours today.  These are role models, women of great intelligence, courage, and conviction who made a real difference.

Each book is a short – from 30 to 80 pages plus extensive “suggested reading” bibliographies and usually other reference materials as well.  Most of the books have a timeline; Boudicca does not because we don’t have precise enough dates for most of the events in her life.

Unlike most biographies you’ve seen, these are creative non-fiction.  That is the content is strictly non-fiction but I use a fireside storytelling narrative format.  Reading or listening to these books is like sitting with your mother or grandmother and listening to a true story about something that happened to them or someone they knew.  It’s putting the story back into history with all its passion, humour, and drama.

People who detest non-fiction and history in particular LOVE these books.  And the best part:  the more times you read/listen to them, the more you learn.  I’m very concise.  You really cannot tell how much information is in these few short pages until around the fourth or fifteen reading/listening when it finally hits you!  It’s learning without effort while you are having fun.  Does it get any better?

What age group would most benefit from reading this series?

The reading level for the books is around the fourth grade – which is usually when most schools first introduce social studies to students.  But seriously the books are so carefully crafted and beautifully rendered that I think there’s something for absolutely everyone in them – no matter how old or young.  Instead of telling our children fairytales from the cradle, I think we should be reading/listening to these biographies.  True stories are the best kind.  Certainly as a child I preferred hearing a story that was true over something that was made up.

Kids in particular have razor sharp instincts when it comes to sugarcoating things or leaving out important information.  So while I respect that many parents and educators want to shield children from the parts of life that are unpleasant, I think we do children a disservice when we fail to be open and honest about history and current events.  We don’t have to be graphic (and I am careful not to be), but we do need to be honest with children about the good, the bad, and the ugly parts of the past.

That said, in my experience and based on reviews across all four books adults actually learn from and appreciate better these books than children do.  They really are a great family bonding experience with something for everyone.  I put the equivalent of a university thesis into each one, so there’s always something new to learn each time you read/listen to the books.

What inspired you to write this series?

In early March 2014 I ran an informal poll asking Americans and British to name five to ten women from history as part of Women’s History month.  When less than 10% could do so, I found myself really upset.  But instead of fuming, I decided to do something about it.  Three weeks later I published Boudicca:  Britain’s Queen of the Iceni.  Two months after that, I posted Boudicca to ACX (Audible’s publishing platform) for audition.  Very fortunate that British voice artist Richard Mann decided to join ACX the very same day.  After listening to the auditions I received I chose Mr. Mann to narrate the audio edition which came out 9th September 2014.  Absolutely one of the best decisions in my life.

Which historical person have you enjoyed writing about the most?

You know that is really hard because I write about women whose stories really speak to me.  Boudicca is I think the most inspiring of the four women I’ve directly covered.  She achieved what very few people, female or male, have ever done in truly uniting Britain against a common enemy – even Winston Churchill was not quite as successful as Boudicca was, even with all his advantages like modern technology to aid him.

Catherine de Valois overcame tremendous adversity to become one of the most courageous of English queen consorts, right up there with the highly celebrated Eleanor of Aquitaine. After Henry V’s death on 31st August 1422 Dowager Queen Catherine defied an act of parliament and remarried for love, a love that ultimately led to the unification of England and Scotland 202 years after her birth.

Then you get into Queen Mary Stuart and Queen Elizabeth Tudor, two of some of the most fascinating and celebrated women of all time.  Like most of you, I thought I knew who these women were before I started only to discover that I was gravely mistaken there.  The real women I met sing and dance through the pages in ways I certainly have never seen or heard done before. Literally. The pages of Mary Queen of the Scots and Queen Elizabeth Tudor: Journey to Gloriana are filled with period music.  Chapter one of QET opens with “Sumer Is Icumen In” in Middle English which was actually one of the first medieval songs I ever learned to sing – along with “Greensleeves” which Queen Mary sings as a lullaby to her son James.  The music and dance really make the two interlacing biographies a lot of fun!

Queen Elizabeth Tudor web

Which book required the most research?

It’s a tie between Mary Queen of the Scots and Queen Elizabeth Tudor.  With MQS I had to start from the very beginning – with ancient Scotland and then move forward from there.  You see that research reflected in the opening poem to the book called “Of Scotland Forgotten.”

Woe to thee, oh Scotland

Our Pictish mothers’ tears like highland rain

For the queens of old are forgotten

Their valour now seen as depraved.

Where is your love for your queens

For Picts and Scots, Gaels and Brigantes?

For fair Mary your queen — cast aside

And praised instead the Puritan’s hateful hand.

You drove the fairest queen far away

To die disgraced on an English axe

Spilling the fairest and most Scottish blood of all.

And with her died the Scottish heart: brave and free.

With Elizabeth I used more sources.  Part of that was there is so much out there about Elizabeth that there are a lot of contradictions to sort through.  Not everything you read about Elizabeth is accurate (that applies to all the subjects of the LWWH, but especially toward Elizabeth) and there is a lot of commentary and opinions.  So of course when I see disagreement, I have to do a lot of sifting to find the consensus and ultimately decide what really happened.

On average, how much time do you spend researching each book?

On average a book takes from two to four months.  Research is about 80-90% of each book, so it’s very time intensive.  The results of course speak for themselves.  The research shows in the quality of each biography.

Chromolithography : second part of the 19th century A portrait of Christine de Pisan, a italo-french lady from the 15th century known for her high intelligence and knowledge

Chromolithography : second part of the 19th century
A portrait of Christine de Pisan, a italo-french lady from the 15th century known for her high intelligence and knowledge

What’s next for this series?

Next is Empress Wu Zetian which actually was intended to be the third book.  That plan shifted with the audio release of “Catherine de Valois” two months ahead of schedule and the need to have another book ready for audio production at Richard Mann’s convenience.

For those who have never heard of her, Empress Wu was the only woman to rule China completely in her own right.  She lived in from 655-683 CE, ruling as part of the Tang dynasty.  She was bright, highly educated, and very wise. She patronized both arts and sciences including and especially agricultural sciences.  The perception by most Chinese that the Tang dynasty was a golden age is largely due to her wisdom and able governing and the intellectual flowering that came through her policies.  Though we probably do not think about it, there is not a life born in the last one thousand years who is not touched in some way by her courage and wisdom.

Can you tell us about other books you’ve written?

To date I have published twenty titles across four book series. Two of those are flash fiction and forever free on Smashwords, iTunes, and Barnes/Noble.  “American Poverty: Why America’s Treatment of the Poor Undermines Its Authority As A World Power” took me out of my comfort zone as I explored the relationship between poverty, public policy, and foreign policy, a topic raised by Russia’s recent aggressions towards the Ukraine and America’s inability to dissuade Vladimir Putin from continuing to undermine Ukrainian sovereignty. It’s a powerful book grounded in data collected from top sources like Forbes, CNN Money, the New York Times, and American Express.  Best of all it’s completely free to Kindle Unlimited subscribers.

By contrast “Preparing for My First Cockatiel” takes me into one of my favourite subjects in the world:  BIRDS.  Probably the first thing anyone learns about me personally is my love and adoration for birds, especially my cockatiels Mithril and Arwen who are the joy of my life.  I always have my birds close to me and feel their absence intensely if I’m away from home for any length of time.  I’m very dedicated to my birds and that shows in the book.  In this book I explore everything a new or potential bird owner needs to know before taking home your first bird with focus on the specific needs of cockatiels. I look at proper housing for your birds (primary, hospital, and travel cages), play spaces, toys, food, food dishes, and beyond.  Plus I share my thirty five years experience living with and loving these birds with personal stories and lots of photos so you get a clear idea what you are getting yourself into when you decide to add cockatiels to your family.

And then of course we hit the bulk of my book titles in the Peers of Beinan and Legendary Women of World History which we’ve touched upon just a little.  The Peers of Beinan really does have something for every taste.  The universe is grounded in science and in classic science fiction, integrating the ideas I feel really work (like units of time, distance, and physical details unique to planet Beinan) and avoiding the things I really think do not work  –  like Earth references when you are not on Earth. Beinarian society is a futuristic feudal culture (a Frank Herbert influence) grounded in my knowledge of British history.  You encounter heritage weapons (like crossbows) and modern weapons (like laser épées).  The Poisoned Ground is social science fiction ripped right from the headlines:  the story of an environmental disaster triggered by corporate greed and government corruption takes Lady Abbess Cara away from the safety of the Ten-Arian monastery as she investigates the real cause of the sudden plague of cancers attacking the city of Nan-li.  It’s a powerful story with important messages that resonate right here on Earth.

Finally I would like to call everyone’s attention to the second LWWH biography, “Catherine de Valois.”  Princess Catherine is not the household name that Boudicca, Queen Mary Stuart, and Queen Elizabeth Tudor are, but she should be.  Born in 1401 to King Charles VI of France and Queen Isabeau of Bavaria, she survived her father’s mental illness, a civil war at home, and King Henry V’s vicious war with France to become one of the most courageous of English queen consorts.  She lived at the heart of some of the most violent and turbulent events in French-English history in an environment that would normally crush the spirit of most people.  I am very proud of the audio edition.  My narrator Richard Mann went outside of his comfort zone to sing in Medieval Latin in the book, expertly performing in English, French, Latin, and German.  It’s a beautiful audiobook that deserves more attention than it’s received since its release in May.

Is there a particular period of time you find most fascinating that you haven’t written about yet?

I’ve always loved medieval history. So I’m looking forward to working on the biography of Empress Matilda of England (daughter of Henry I and mother-in-law to Eleanor of Aquitaine) who was the first woman to claim the throne of England in her own right. Queen Emma, wife of Canute, is another woman from the medieval period I would love to cover.

If you could go back in time to a certain setting and time period, what would be your first choice?

Well if I could go back and change history, I would certainly go back to the year 59 CE and warn Boudicca that the Romans were going to murder Prasutagus and perhaps help prepare her better for what the Roman strategy would be.  The entire fate of Britannia rested on ONE military decision.  Boudicca believed so strongly in the rightness of her cause (which most of us would agree with  –  freedom and equality for all people over the slavery, racism, and sexism of the Romans) that she was blind to the trap set for her by Governor Gaius Suetonius Paulinus.

If I were going back in time just to observe, I think I would like to be a lady in waiting to Anne Boleyn, both as a young woman in the French court and through her adventures and misadventures back in England which, sadly, eventually cost her life.

If you could sit down to dinner with five historical figures, who would you choose?

Anne Boleyn, Queen Mary Stuart, Alan Turing, Margaret Thatcher, and Elizabeth Cady Stanton.

What advice would you offer to new or aspiring writers?

There is no substitute for experience. The more you know, the more of the world you see and experience first-hand, and the more you write, the better your writing will be.  Imagination is great, but you have to ground your work in FACTS.  When I write, I always assume that the people reading my work know more about a given topic than I do.  That’s important grounding and it’s served me VERY WELL professionally.  I’ve had numerous academic challenges from scientists, historians, you name it!  And I’ve passed all these challenges because I’ve been very careful to be accurate in my work.  You cannot shortcut this and you certainly will never write your first book as you will your twentieth.

There’s a learning curve to all of this and you must approach this craft and this profession humbly, especially when marketing your finished work.  Remember that you are your brand.  So be careful to conduct yourself online in a way that positively reflects on your work.  If they like you, they will buy your books. Be likeable!

2004 Halloween

To learn more about Laurel A. Rockefeller, please visit the following links:

Social media:

Buying Links:
The Legendary Women of World History Series
Boudicca — kindle
Catherine de Valois — kindle
Mary Queen of the Scots
Queen Elizabeth Tudor
The Peers of Beinan
Goodbye A672E92 Quintus
The First King (forever free)
The Poisoned Ground
The Great Succession Crisis
The Ghosts of the Past
Princess Anyu Returns
The Legacy of Princess Anlei (boxed set)
The Complete Series (boxed set)
Preparing for My First Cockatiel
A New Start In the Niobrara for Mr. and Mrs. O’Malley (forever free)
American Poverty: Why America’s Treatment of the Poor Undermines Its Authority As A World Power


Categories: author interview, fantasy, history, non-fiction | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

The Mark of Noba: Book Review

The Mark of Noba banner

I’m thrilled to be part of The Mark of Noba book blitz organized by Lola’s Blog Tours. If you’d like to catch up on earlier stops in the tour, you can view the complete blitz schedule on the website of Lola’s Blog Tours: Before I post my review of this wonderful book, let’s have a look at gorgeous cover and the blurb:

The Mark of Noba Cover (1)

The Mark of Noba (The Sterling Wayfairer Series #1) by GL Tomas

Sterling Wayfairer has one goal for his senior year: make his mark. He’s been slipping into the background his whole high school career—distracted by his mother’s mental health, unsettled by the vivid dreams that haunt him at night, and overshadowed by the athletic accomplishments of his popular best friends. But this year is going to be different. He’s going to break a few rules, have some fun, and maybe even work up the nerve to ask his crush out on a date.

But things don’t go exactly as planned. Students are disappearing, Sterling starts losing time, and it all seems to center around Tetra, a girl no one else seems to notice but him. When he finally tracks her down for answers, they aren’t what he expects: He and Tetra hail from a world called Noba, and they’re being hunted by a Naga, a malevolent shapeshifter that’s marked them for destruction.

Tetra and Sterling have distinct abilities that can help them fight back, but their power depends heavily on the strength of their bond, a connection that transcends friendship, transcends romance. Years apart have left their bond weak. Jumpstarting it will require Sterling to open his heart and his mind and put his full trust in the mysterious Tetra.

If he doesn’t, neither of them will survive.

You can find The Mark of Noba on Goodreads:

You can buy The Mark of Noba here:

Noba teaser 5

My Review: Sterling is always in trouble. His parents are furious he’s broken curfew – again. Something weird happened at school, and he was blamed for it. And there are strange lapses in time he can’t explain. But things are going to get worse. Much worse. When Tetra begins popping in and out of his life, Sterling fears he’s losing his mind. She claims to be from another world and says the two of them share a unique bond. If they are going to defeat their enemy, Sterling is going to have to accept the truth of who he is and learn to control the power inside him.

I loved this book so much, it’s hard to know where to begin with this review. I’ll start with Sterling because it was his unique voice that hooked me from the very beginning. He’s such a fun character. He’s clever, engaging, and easy to relate to. In addition to typical teen struggles (trying to fit it, not being as athletic as his friends, crushing on a hot girl who seems to have him in the friend zone), he’s also dealing with a mentally ill parent. Sterling’s point of view is often amusing and always authentic. His character is very well written.

Tetra is harder to relate to. She’s from another world, so her tone is more formal. Her way of looking at the world and relating to others is the opposite of Sterling, so their alternating points of view really work in this story. As Tetra learns to adjust to the world she’s in, she shows the vulnerability hidden behind her strength.

In terms of diversity, this book earns an easy five stars. It’s refreshing to read a book where diversity is the norm and color of skin has nothing to do with race. Sexuality is dealt with in a matter of fact way, and gender roles are explored through Tetra’s introspection.

The world-building in this book is among the best I’ve ever seen. It’s a very well-written book I would highly recommend. I can’t wait to read the next book in the series!

My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars!!!

banner Lola's Blog Tours

Categories: #WeNeedDiverseBooks, blog tour, book review, fantasy, young adult | Tags: , , , , , , ,

Blog at