Chatting about “Dear Author” with Laura A. Grace

K.A.:
Laura A. Grace is here today talking about her new release, Dear Author: Letters from a Bookish Fangirl!

Welcome, Laura! Tell us about Dear Author.

Laura:
Eeepp! I would love to! I am SO excited to be here today!

My book is called Dear Author: Letters from a Bookish Fangirl, and it is fifteen letters with six illustrations (yes, six because I’m a big fan of books needing more illustrations these days) that are specifically written to indie authors. I wrote about all the emotions a fangirl like myself feels while reading their books and what I would love to say to authors personally as they labor over their works-in-progress.

Laura:
Here is the official blurb for my nonfiction motivational read. :)

Think your words might not matter? Think again. Words have the power to change lives, especially when they are used to create meaningful stories. In this collection of letters, bookish fangirl Laura A. Grace addresses topics related to every writer’s journey. From “character conversations,” to embracing one’s unique writing style, to celebrating a release day—there is a letter for every author no matter where they may be in sharing their story with others. “Dear Author” includes six illustrations by Hannah S.J. Williams.

A Hannah S.J. Williams illustration from Dear Author.

K.A.:
Where did the idea for Dear Author come from?

Laura:
Earlier this year, it became blatantly apparent I was struggling deeply with postpartum depression after my third child was born due to a lot of stress. In order to focus on my mental health, I felt like I needed to stop book blogging as well as pull back from a few other commitments I had.

To say it broke my heart is an understatement. I am extremely passionate about supporting authors and was scared I would be unable to blog for a time. Because of that, I decided to write a letter to my author friends, pouring out my heart of why I cared so much for them and their stories (and wanted them to keep writing). It was sort of a moment of me asking, “If I could say only one thing, what would it be?”

However, after that first letter, I didn’t stop. I was deeply moved by what I had written and continued sharing all of what was in my heart. It helped me handle the days when I felt lonely and missed being active online.

K.A.:
That’s tough to step away from something you love, especially when you’re already hurting. But it’s important to take care of yourself. And it’s such a brave step to honestly face a situation like that, take action, and then share those emotions with others—reaching out to them from a deeply personal place. Wow. *hugs*

K.A.: So, how did these personal letters transition into a motivational book? What was the thought process behind it?

Laura:
“Hey, what if we actually shared this with more then one author? That would be so cool, especially if it could encourage more than one author!”

That was totally my initial idea to really consider publishing these letters and not just letting them sit on my computer. LOL! The idea made me excited because not only could I continue to encourage authors (just in a different way), but I could also share a book that encompassed my whole fangirl heart. It was like me, but on paper!

K.A.:
Did you make any discoveries about yourself writing this book?

Laura:
I LOVE writing by hand!

Seriously, it birthed me actually loving writing and has transformed my view of writing by A LOT. I was not one of those writers who has written stories since they could hold a pencil or daydreamed about being a published author in high school. I started writing because I felt called to write and most likely wouldn’t otherwise because I LOVE reading. *hides bashfully*

When my friend suggested I physically write these letters and not just type them, I never imagined how much I would deeply love the process. It’s relaxing and somehow refreshing. There is no stress for me to “pound out” a certain amount of words or even perfect words. Just me, paper and pencil, and a willingness to discover. :)

A Hannah S.J. Williams illustration from Dear Author.

K.A.:
Writing by hand can certainly be a good way to quiet the inner critic! Has writing this story changed you?

Laura:
That’s a tough question! Maybe that I can write and publish future stories? For so long I felt my own fears of writing would make me incapable of actually penning a story.

However, concerning this book, these letters only reaffirmed that I am indeed extremely passionate about supporting authors. I already knew this beforehand, but now, it’s something I am really acknowledging and embracing. I make plans in my weekly schedule to make sure I’m sharing all the indie book love instead of trying to push it away because “there are more important things to do.” (Ha! Soooo not true! *winks*)

K.A.:
What do you hope readers gain from your story?

Laura:
When I was brainstorming messages I wanted or could include in the front of Dear Author with my signature (which is still SUPER surreal by the way), I knew I wanted to convey something that could sum up my book in one sentence.

It turned out to be two (LOL), but it was this: “Keep dreaming! Keep writing!”

I would definitely say that is what I hope readers will come away with when finishing Dear Author. I want them to be encouraged to keep dreaming about their stories and writing them down because there are readers waiting for a story only they can share.

K.A.:
Do you have a favorite line or moment in the book?

Laura:
Ooo another tough question! I have a few, but I think this might be my favorite:

I want to be someone like your hero is. Someone who is brave, bold, and shows others through their actions and words that people are worth fighting for. I want to step out of my “bookish” worlds and enter our “real world” to make a difference in someone’s life. I feel I only need to look at the friends, family, and strangers around me to leap into action.

It captures a bit of the power I feel books have on readers and how I have personally gotten inspired time-and-time again from the books I read. <3

Laura:
Thank you SO much for letting me share! I had a blast and am so blessed by your support!

K.A.:
Dear Author: Letters from a Bookish Fangirl is available on Amazon and at other book retailers.

And if you want to learn more, check out the other Dear Author blog tour stops here.

K.A.:
It was so good to have you here, Laura. Thanks for sharing your heart and reaching out to encourage others through your book, Dear Author: Letters from a Bookish Fangirl.

About Laura A. Grace

Laura A. Grace had a lifelong dream of getting to know authors behind the covers of her favorite reads. Little did she know that one day she would become an author too! Now an avid book blogger at Unicorn Quester and writer of clean, Christian manga, Laura creatively balances her passions of supporting indie authors and feeding her readers new stories. In between, she wields plastic lightsabers with her children and binge-watches anime with her husband. Join her quest to find wandering unicorns for your favorite authors at unicornquester.com!

You can also connect with Laura on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter. Or sign up for her newsletter.

*** View past features here. ***

 


C.M. Banschbach’s Oath of the Outcast

Enter the Blog Tour Giveaway (details at the bottom)!

K.A.:
C.M. Banschbach is on the blog today talking about her newest release, Oath of the Outcast!!

Last year, while this story was in its early stages and known under a different title, I had the privilege of reading the first few chapters. And, man, did it hook me. The characters, the conflict… C.M. is a talented writer.

K.A.:
Glad you’re here, C.M.! Before we launch into all the behind-the-scene fun, tell us about the story.

C.M.:
It’s a New Adult Fantasy-Adventure. Perfect for people who want something more than typical YA fantasy, but don’t want everything that comes with current adult fantasy. Good for fans of Stephen 
Lawhead and Michael J. Sullivan.

C.M.:
A lost brother. 
An unwilling outlaw. 
A rising enemy. 
An unusual alliance. 

Years ago, Rhys MacDuffy was brutally cut off from his clan, stripped of his name and inheritance, and banished to the remote Dragon Keep. Perched high above the Shang Pass in the land of Alsaya, he assumed the mantle of the Mountain Baron, serving out his sentence as the overseer of the worst outlaws and outcasts. 

But one day he receives a desperate message from the clan who disowned him: MacDuffy’s Seer—his beloved brother—has been taken by their enemies. 

With his band of Mountain Brigands and an unwelcome sidekick, Rhys leaves his mountain stronghold to find and rescue his brother. The tide of war is rising amongst the Clans of Alsaya, fueled by the magic-wielding sect of Druids who seek to unleash a dark force the world has long forgotten. 

Can the bond of blood run deeper than banishment?

K.A.:
Rejected by his family, cut off from the only life he’s ever known, and exiled to a land of the worst criminals and outcasts. That’s a hard life. Where did the idea for this story come from?

C.M.:
Driving in foggy weather, funnily enough! Because my brain is always hyperactive, it plopped the image of a man riding down a foggy mountain. All I knew about him was that he had a massive chip on his shoulder about something, and was less than happy to be leaving his mountain keep. The rest of the morning at work was spent sorting out information this guy, now known as the Mountain Baron/Rhys MacDuffy, graciously dumped in my lap.

K.A.:
What research went into writing this story? Did you venture into any new areas or topics?

C.M.:
I…maybe shouldn’t admit this, but I don’t do a lot of hard core research usually. But some things I did look up were – voodoo dolls/voodoo in general (didn’t spend a whole lot of time there because it’s super weird lol!), sword fighting videos, lots of castle floor plans, time spent calculating distances/how fast and far horses can realistically run at a time (because chase scenes…) and sandstone. 

K.A.:
Lol. I would have never guessed. Your stories feel so authentic and immersive.

What’s the most interesting discovery you made writing this story?

C.M.:
The most interesting discovery was actually about myself (kind of cheesy, I know!). I was about a third of the way through the initial draft when I realized that Rhys/The Baron and I were working through a lot of the same issues. That really helped me dive deeper into the story and it kind of became the story of my heart as I tackled some of my own scars head on after several years of thinking I was fine, and starting to actually process/work through things.

K.A.:
Not cheesy at all. It’s a beautiful sentiment, C.M.. Heart stories are special.

K.A.:
Okay. I’m a huge fan of Easter eggs. Any hidden references, details, or tidbits readers should keep an eye out for? ;)

C.M.:
Back when I was first writing this book, my sister was doing some research on Robin Hood and outlaws. She was telling me about outlaws being known as wolf’s heads, and I loved that, and worked it into the book! (See what you can spot on the map!)

K.A.:
How cool! Before we go, share a line from the story you love.

C.M.:
“Rhys MacDuffy died on that beach and it was Brogan that killed him. The Clans have forgotten him, and so should you.”

K.A.:
Oath of the Outcast is available from Crosshair Press or from other retailers, like Amazon. Grab a free copy of a prequel story by signing up for C.M.’s newsletter and join the celebration giveaway. Details about the giveaway, as well as the blog tour schedule are posted at the bottom.

K.A.:
Great to have you here, C.M.. Thanks for giving us a backstage tour of your latest release, Oath of the Outcast!

About C.M. Banschbach

C.M. Banschbach is a native Texan and would make an excellent Hobbit if she weren’t so tall. She’s a pizza addict, a multi-faceted fangirl, and a firm believer in being authentic—even if it means acting like a dork sometimes! When not writing fantasy stories packed full of adventure and snark, she works as a pediatric physical therapist where she happily embraces the fact that she never actually has to grow up.

She also writesYA/MG fantasy-adventure as Claire M. Banschbach.

You can connect with her at her website, or on Instagram, Facebook, or Goodreads.

 

Giveaway

Open internationally!

  • 2 ebooks
  • 1 paperback
  • 1 combo pack of a bookmark and a map postcard

Enter the giveaway here: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/d11da96b6/

Blog Tour Schedule

 


Books, Debates, and Lightning: The Scepter of Knowledge World Building

Today’s post features a behind-the-scenes look into the world building for Sekastra’s Scepter of Knowlege as part of the blog tour celebrating the release of Faithless by Janeen Ippolito (available October 18th). More about Faithless, the author, and the blog tour, including details about a Facebook party with the author, games, and giveaways, is included at the bottom of this post.

Pick up an autographed copy of Faithless directly from the publisher: here.

***

MapOfSekastra

Each of the four Scepters in Sekastra have their own focus areas—commerce, pleasure, knowledge, and industry. Lawless: The Ironfire Legacy Book 1 focused on the Scepter of Commerce, as did Priceless: An Ironfire Legacy Novella (1.5). While it was fun spending all that time in the same city-state, I was ready to dive into a new place in Faithless: The Ironfire Legacy Book 2.

The Scepter of Knowledge is in northwestern Sekastra, next to the Cresida Inlet and near the ocean. My inspiration for the climate was a combination of Seattle, Acadia, Maine, and Boston—all of those great northern coastal areas. The city-state features buildings of stone and red brick, paneled with creamy white pinwood from the Pinwood Forest to the north of the city. There is perpetual mist and fog and sea breezes flowing through the streets, and fish and other seafood feature prominently in local cuisine.

Picture1Unlike the Scepter of Commerce, which is run by a nominated council and the largest businesses, the Scepter of Knowledge is run in a sort of democratic republic, with citizens electing representatives, but also taking part in direct electoral processes. The highest authority is the Meritas, and this individual can be displaced by debate courts and elections. Because of the dependency on elections, private and public debates are a major part of the political process, and all citizens are expected to be educated on many matters to vote with discernment. This system also means things can move very slowly. Even after twenty years, the Scepter of Knowledge is the only city-state that has not officially entered the dragon-human war, because the decision is still tied up in the debate courts.

Other inspiration for the Scepter of Knowledge was the late 1700s Enlightenment period, especially in the northeastern United States with the focus on new ideas, improvement, and experimentation. For the steampunk angle, I opted to add lightning rod electro-carriages and feature three summer festivals featuring different inventions that might not work in practice, but look really cool. In terms of fashion, the Scepter of Knowledge is more conservative and typically Victorian than the Scepter of Knowledge, with very high collars, stiff corsets, long skirts, hats, and all the rest. As a throwback to the 1700s, I had the city maintain the tradition of men wearing stockings with breeches—partly because it’s a fun throwback and partly to annoy the male characters a teense.

Picture2A final major part of the Scepter of Knowledge is the libraries. There are have huge libraries in tall buildings for every single topic imaginable. When you’ve checked out a stack, auto-wators transport your books directly to your door so that the paper isn’t damaged by the damp air. If you love reading, be prepared to get lost in this city-state! But made sure to emerge from your bookish hermitage for a hot beverage at one of the many coffee and tea shops. One shop features twenty-six different flavors of tea.

Books, hot beverages, seafood, and fresh salty air—the Scepter of Knowledge definitely has a lot to offer!

Thanks for joining me today on this brief tour.

About Faithless

FaithlessCoverSmall_optOne wild night, Shance Windkeeper discovers he’s married to a death unicorn.

But that’s the least of his troubles.

As an agent for the Lawless, Shance is working with dragonshifters Kesia Ironfire and Zephryn Nightstalker, trying to end the dragon-human war and the organization that masterminded it. While on a mission in the Scepter of Knowledge, the Lawless is hit with a devastating death unicorn attack.

Out of the wreckage new allies emerge: Lirome Ukerys, and his twin sister Maira, the death unicorn queen – Shance’s long-lost wife.

Recently freed from captivity, Maira is fighting to regain control of her herd. Lurien Alistil, a rogue death unicorn, has bespelled the Scepter of Knowledge and taken Maira’s son. When Kesia unexpectedly challenges Lurien to a public debate over the fate of the city, the Lawless has a chance to break the usurper’s hold. To obtain vital information they must infiltrate her lair – and as the husband of the death unicorn queen, Shance Windkeeper is the perfect prize to go in.

But Lurien’s power is stronger and more insidious than they realize. And if the final pieces of her plan fall into place, not even Shance’s newfound Talents and knowledge will be enough to stop her.

A steampunk fantasy adventure with much intrigue, unexpected romance, sudden tragedy, and a snarky cat-dragon.

Faithless is available from AmazonBarnes & NobleKobo, and iBooks. Or pick up an autographed paperback directly from the publisher here.

Add Faithless to your reading list on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/41743098-faithless

About the AuthorJaneen-016_opt

Janeen Ippolito believes words transform worlds. She creates writing resources and writes steampunk fantasy. She’s also an experienced teacher, editor, author coach, and the editor in chief of Uncommon Universes Press. In her spare time, she enjoys sword-fighting, reading, food, and making brownie batter. Two of her goals are eating fried tarantulas and traveling to Antarctica. This extroverted writer loves getting connected, so find her on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and at her website: janeenippolito.com

Blog Tour Schedule

FACEBOOK PARTY!

Celebrate the launch of Faithless: The Ironfire Legacy Book 2 with featured author Janeen Ippolito and guest authors Angelique Anderson and R.J. Metcalf! Get your fill of steampunk, dragons, adventures, and more (re: death unicorns and a cat-dragon) with this fun-filled evening that includes giveaways, games, and an exclusive reveal or two.

Hosted by Laura A. Grace of Unicorn Quester and Uncommon Universes Press!

Facebook Party Link: https://www.facebook.com/events/1123291547833648/

Faithless FB Party Banner