A Lost Hour followed by Napping day, Interviews - Dorothy Winsor & Jarka plus 2 reviews and what
Napping Day is the March 9
It makes sense that we'd want to nap today. Most of us lost an hour of sleep last night courtesy of the twice yearly time change. If time is an illusion, it's certainly something we fall for on a regular basis because we are usually tired the following day.
SO HAVE A NAP - DON'T BE SHY - or just rest and curl up with a good book.
Here are some suggestions.
Interview with Dorothy A. Winsor Hi Dorothy --
What made you want to be a writer?
This is going to sound odd, but I write the kind of novels I want to read. There aren’t enough other writers writing those books, so I was driven to do it myself.
When is the release of your next novel? Name the genre or if it’s part of a series. If your book is part of a series tell the readers about the others that are out for sale.
The Wysman will be out from Inspired Quill in May of 2020. It’s a YA fantasy sequel to The Wind Reader, which Inspired Quill released in 2018. The Wind Reader is about three street kids (Doniver, Jarka, and Dilly), friends struggling to survive in a medieval city.
Doniver is the point of view character and it’s his story. In order to scrape up enough money to eat, he pretends to tell fortunes by means of reading the wind. His fate changes when he accidentally tells a true fortune for the prince and is taken into the castle to be the royal fortune teller. He can’t really tell fortunes, and there’s an assassination plot afoot, so things get sticky.
The Wysman is the second book in that series. Its point of view is Doniver’s street friend, Jarka, who was born with a club foot. At the end of The Wind Reader, the castle Wyswoman takes him on as her apprentice. He’s thrilled by the opportunity, but his former life in the streets makes him notice when street kids start to go missing, and those in power don’t seem to care. He has to defy his mistress and even the king to hunt down the guilty.
I’m working on a third book about Dilly, who’s a trickster.
How important is it to read books when you want to be an author?
If you want to be a writer, it’s overwhelmingly important to read. It’s by reading that you unconsciously absorb how novels are shaped. You increase your mastery of language. Even your spelling gets better because that’s a visual skill and seeing words correctly spelled over and over is what leads you to think a misspelled word looks funny.
Every writer is different but for me, it’s important to read the best fiction I can find. Reading good books seems to stimulate the good writer part of my brain. It inspires me. On the other hand, if I read a weak book, that tends to creep into my head too. I’ve heard writers say that they learn from reading weak books because they analyze what went wrong. That’s not usually the case for me. I tend to wind up thinking that if that writer got away with something, I should be able to get away with it too.
What book are you reading now?
Right now, I’m rereading A Conspiracy of Kings from Megan Whalen Turner’s Queen’s Thief series. The sixth and last book in this series is coming out later this year, and I’m reminding myself of what’s gone on
until now so I can enjoy it thoroughly. I love these books. Turner is tricky, so as a reader I’m often surprised. Even on a reread, I’m surprised because once I’ve seen how the book turns out, I notice all kinds of details I missed the first time. But her characters are also deep and engaging. I am a total Turner fangurl.
Before that I read Sam Miller’s Blackfish City. Every Christmas, I look at the various “best of” lists and pick out a few to ask for. These are often books I wouldn’t have thought to pick out on my own, but because they’re on those lists, they’re well written, and I like to expand my range of reading. Blackfish City was one of my 2019 crop. It tilts more toward science fiction rather than fantasy, so there’s much more tech than I usually like, and I wound up admiring it rather than loving it.
How did you come up with the idea for the book or series, especially the title?
The Wysman is a spin off from The Wind Reader. Jarka sprang to life in that first book without my even trying. I became so interested in him that I had to give him his own book. What would it be like for a kid with a crutch to be kicked out of his home and have to live on the streets? What if he had a chance to escape the streets but might lose that chance because he worries about the kids he left behind? Those were questions I needed to answer by writing about him.
I find titles very hard to create. I often have to ask my writer friends for suggestions because my ideas are so unengaging that they’re like anti-marketing.
How much of the book is realistic and are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
In one way, I used very little material drawn from my life or the life of someone I know. But I like to think the books are “realistic” anyway because the characters and their emotional lives ring true.
Tell us how the atmosphere needs to be for you to be able to write. Example, music on or quiet etc.
I leave my house and go somewhere reasonably quiet to write, preferably the same place each time. I don’t mind a little background chatter in a café, though I can’t write to loud music. But I leave home because if I stay there, I can always find other things to do when I get stuck. That’s when I decide that yes, indeed, I can’t put off cleaning the bathroom for one more minute. I go to the same place each time because it’s like Pavlovian conditioning. I walk in the doors and my brain knows it’s time to sit down and write because that’s what we do when we enter that space.
Which part of the publishing process do you dislike the most? Which aspect do you love?
I dislike rejection the most. No surprise there. I don’t dislike marketing and promotion, but I wish I were better at it.
On the other hand, I love revising. I love thinking of better ways to say something and deeper insights I can offer into my characters. I have a hard time letting the book go because I can always think of one more tweak.
Once the book is in the publisher’s hands, I love seeing the cover. I’m not a very visual person, so I’m always impressed by what artists can do.
Who do you trust to read your finished books before publication?
I go to my weekly critique group for chapter-by-chapter feedback, and a beta reader or two for feedback when I can’t make the full draft any better on my own. I can’t say enough about how valuable their comments are. In my experience, nobody does their best work alone. We’re too close to our work to have any perspective.
It goes without saying that I trust my editor when I’m finally ready to ship it off to her.
Tell us all about your very first book signing.
My first book signing was at an art center in Cedar Falls, Iowa. I was living in the area at the time, and the Hearst Center had an open mic for writers on the final Thursday of each month. Anyone could come and read for five minutes during the first hour, and then there’d be an invited reader for the second hour. I read at open mic several times and then, when my first book came out, they asked me to be the invited speaker. I was thrilled to be asked. All my friends and acquaintances came and I sold out! It was awesome.
Is there a message you’d like to send through your book?
I don’t know that there’s a message but I find I have two recurring themes even when I don’t mean to.
The first is the just use of power. How can power be used in ways that benefit other people? Is that even possible? Or does power always corrupt? I think my interest in power is why I write secondary world fantasies, i.e., fantasies set in a world that never really existed. As soon as you create a world, you have to consider questions of power. Who holds it? How do they get it? How do they use it? What do we think about that?
The second recurring theme is family relationships. They’re so complicated. For instance, I love sibling stories. There’s often both love and hate there, but no one else is stuck with you for their whole life the way your siblings are. I also seem to be hooked on father/son and lately mother/daughter relationships. Maybe those tie into my interest in power because YA fiction is often about young people breaking away from their parents’ governance and striking out on their own.
What kind of advice can you give to aspiring authors?
The most important advice I’d give is write because you find it satisfying. External rewards are often uncertain. You almost certainly won’t earn a lot of money from it. But you control the internal reward that comes from immersing yourself in your characters and their fates. For me, it’s a constant source of joy.
Tell us how we may get a copy of your book. (Kindle, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, paperback etc.) Social media links and websites?
The Wind Reader is published by Inspired Quill, as The Wysman will be in May 2020. Both books are or will be for sale at the IQ website in both ebook and paperback form.
Small presses make more when you buy directly from them. https://www.inspired-quill.com/product/the-wind-reader/
All my books are also available at online retailers. Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/s?k=dorothy+winsor&ref=nb_sb_noss_1 Barnes and Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/dorothy+winsor?_requestid=1385899 Indiebound:
I’m on both Facebook and Twitter and would love to add more friends: https://www.facebook.com/dorothy.winsor https://twitter.com/dorothywinsor
I have a blog where I mostly talk about writing: http://dawinsor.com/blog/
Interview of Jarka, the central character in The Wysman (Inspired Quill, coming May 2020)
1. Go ahead and introduce yourself.
I’m Jarka, and the most unusual thing about me is that I’m a Wind Reader. When wind sweeps across the world, it sees and hears the things people try to keep secret. With the use of a wind box, I can read those secrets.
2. Tell us where and when were you born
I was born in Rin City, the capital of Rinland, during the eighth year of King Thien’s reign.
3. How would you describe yourself?
The thing people notice first is that I was born with a crooked foot, so I have to use a crutch. I’m thin and dark, and no matter what I do, my hair sticks up. I have a sharp tongue, and I have to admit, sometimes I let it run away with me. Through a stroke of the luck that usually passes me by, I’ve been apprenticed to Wyswoman Adrya, King Thien’s chief advisor. She’s teaching me lore so I can become an advisor for Thien’s son Beran when he becomes king some day. I like books, and I’m quick to learn. Maybe my strong thinking can make up for my weak body.
4. Tell us about where you grew up.
Rin City is the capital of Rinland. It’s built on a hill over the Winding River. At the very top of the hill is the castle, where to my surprise, I now live. Legend says the city was built on a site the Old Ones thought was sacred. I think legend is right because I can feel the magic of the elements throbbing under the streets and buildings. Wind, water, earth, fire—they’re all powerful here.
5. How old are you?
6. Did you have a happy childhood? Why/why not?
I remember being happy until my mother died when I was 11. After that, I went to live with my dead father’s cousin, and that wasn’t bad once I had time to stop feeling so flattened by my mother’s death. But then, my cousin married Clovyan. He hated me, and he beat my cousin. When I tried to stop him, he beat me too, and then threw me out to live on the streets.
7. Past/ present relationships? How did they affect you?
Living on my own with no family was like living in a dark hole full of nothing. I need friends to talk to, and to watch my back. And I need someone like Prince Beran to help me out. He’s the one who recognized what I could do and took me into the castle to be trained.
8. What do you value above all else in life?
Right now learning. But I could only value that once I stopped starving and sleeping on the streets.
9. What are you obsessed with?
Getting my cousin Lyssa and her kid away from Clovyan. She tells me to stay away, but I can’t seem to do it.
10. How do your beliefs make life better for yourself and the people you care about?
I don’t think my beliefs in learning or friendship or kindness will make life better for anybody on their own, including me. I need to find a way to force people to live by those beliefs. I need access to power, like what Prince Beran is offering me. But I can also see how power, how using “force” on people, can be a trap to be just as thoughtless and cruel. Power is a tricky thing.
11. Biggest fear?
Being thrown out of the castle and back into the gutter.
12. What line will you never cross?
Hurting someone weaker than me. I saw Clovyan beat Lyssa, and I worry he’ll hurt my little cousin, Izzy. I would never do that, and I have to find a way to keep him from doing it either.
13. What is the best thing that ever happened to you? The worst?
The best thing is Prince Beran getting Wyswoman Adrya to take me as her apprentice. The worst thing is a tossup between living in the streets and my mother dying. Oh, the last beating Clovyan gave me probably has to be in there somewhere too.
14. Most embarrassing thing that ever happened to you?
There’s such a long list of embarrassing events that I don’t know where to start. I’ve been tripped or fallen in public more times than I can count. Sometimes I have to ask for help to climb on something.
15. Biggest secret?
For a long time, my Wind Reading was a secret. I pretended I couldn’t really do it and was just faking it like a fortune teller at a fair. That way I could earn a few coins to live on but not scare people enough to hurt me or tempt powerful people to use me for their own ends. Now, I’d say my biggest secret is how lonely I am.
16. What is the one word you would use to define yourself?
I’m a Wysman, or hope to be anyway. Wisdom is what I want to bring to my life and the lives of others.
17. What is your current goal?
I’m apprenticed to Wyswoman Adrya in the castle, and I want to learn as much as I can so I can be a good advisor for the king one day. At the moment though, I’m worried about the street kids who are disappearing. I can’t get anyone in power to do anything. I think I have to track down what’s happening on my own.
As it happens, I often interview my characters after I finish a first draft, and I did that for Jarka. I’ll paste in some of his answers below on the off chance they’ll be useful.
What's your earliest memory?
I'm lying on the floor chalking letters on a slate. My mother is rocking and knitting. There's the creak of the chair and the hum of the fire and the squeak of my chalk. I smell bread.
What happened to your father? What did your father do?
He was a stone mason in the city. He was working repairing the city wall when he fell off a ladder, broke his neck and died. My mother was pregnant with me at the time.
What did you mother do to support herself and you after he died?
At took me to live with my grandfather, who was a blacksmith. He died an old man's death when I was four. My mother was a midwife.
What happened to your mother?
She died five years ago when I was eleven. She had a fever and she died. After that, I went to live with my father's cousin, Lyssa, and her daughter, Izzy. She married Clovyan two years ago.
Why did Clovyan beat you?
I think he was jealous because Lyssa and Izzy were fond of me. And then I told him the wind box said he would wind up in jail. He was scared of magic and my foot gave him the creeps. What set him off the last time was that he hit Lyssa and I tried to stop him. So he hit me instead.
I didn't want to leave on account of Lyssa and where would I go? But after that last beating, I was laid up for a week. He thought I was shamming and told her not to feed me. He waited until Lyssa was gone and then threw me out though he told her I left on my own and she believed him.
I'm afraid of him, I admit it. I try to help Lyssa now and talk her into leaving but she won't. She's chosen him over me, I guess, and I can understand that. He feeds her and the kid.
How long did you live on the streets?
Only four months but that was long enough. Too long. It was four months in the Eternal Nightmare.
What was the worst thing that happened to you there?
I was hungry and dirty all the time. Once a man tried to rape me but I got away. Twice I got beaten up for a coin I had earned. It was hopeless.
How do you feel about your body?
My mother used to say that my crooked foot was a gift and I should value it for what it taught me. I can see into the deep world, she'd say. But it makes me different, which can be a pain. People pity me or mock me, and I don't know which is worse. I'm not sure if a girl would ever look at me. None has so far.
What's your most prized possession?
The wind box that Beran gave me. It's beautiful and powerful. And it warns off other people because they know Beran gave it to me.
Do you like music? Where does that come from?
I do. I don't know where it comes from. My mother sang as she went about her work, but no more than most people do. But music seems to speak the things I can't. Sometimes it makes me melancholy. Other times it makes me wish I could dance.
Do you trust the people at the castle?
No. Except for Beran, Carl, Grandda, and Lineth. Those four would think of someone else before themselves. The others all have their own concerns and would flick me aside like a flea if I got in the way. Thien and Adrya think their concerns are just and believe they're doing the right thing. They think
they're acting for others, like the ones I trust do, but they can't see others as well. Lots of the others are just out for themselves.
So I have to be careful, but that's no different than it was on the streets. I'm smarter than most of these people and the Powers have given me insight. I can get around them.
Why do you stay there?
You're joking. Where else would I go? I eat regular meals and sleep in a warm bed. And I'm learning lore, reading all the books I never could even see otherwise.
And in the long run, maybe I can be a Wysman, help other kids like me and advise Thien or, even better, Beran, so they're better rulers.
How do you think people at the castle see you?
Most of them don't believe in my magic. They see it as an amusing trick. But they know Beran protects me and Adrya seems to think I'm smart, so they tolerate me as a harmless rube, which is probably safer anyway because they don’t feel threatened by what I might learn.
What's your favorite color?
Blue. The color of the sky when it's high and the river in summer.
What's your favorite food?
Roast beef. Not that I get it very often, even at the castle. So of what I'm likely to get much of, I like roast pork.
Have you ever had a pet?
No. Who can afford to have an animal that doesn't work but has to be fed? Or am I talking about myself
Thaddeus of Venice: Inquisitor - Greg Alldredge.
Thaddeus worked his way to the top of his profession. As an inquisitor to the Doge, he enjoyed all the comforts middle-classed Venice had to offer.
That is until he was saddled with the sniveling scribe from Padua, Geovanni. Now his life had taken a turn for the bizarre.
Given the impossible task of discovering the source of a strange plague, the inquisitor and scribe have been banished from Venice until a resolution is ferreted out.
Strangeness stalks the land, and it isn't the Turks. The pair's first task is to reach the infected town of Udine intact.
Will they be able to find the source, and return? Will they survive?
Read the first book Inquisitor, in the Thaddeus of Venice trilogy, to find out.
My take: I really loved the story. The characters were realistically portrayed and the scenes of the countryside visual enough for me to picture them. I've studied the era myself, and found no glaring flaw in the setting. It's an adventure story and an unlikely buddies tale. Thaddeus the inquisitor doesn't trust Giovanni the scribe and wonders if there's some punishment that the two of them are being sent to find a "witch" causing problems in a distant village. Giovanni parrots the Church teachings of the time - that anything questionable is to be blamed on the Devil and his minions. Thaddeus, having seen firsthand that witches are often innocent had the growing feeling that there are no such things and to privately question his faith.
The adventures on which the two embark are filled with unexplainables that really do seem spiritual or demonic in nature. It's a first book.
My highest compliment is given. When I finished reading, I pre-ordered the next one. You should start the journey too.
Truly Unfortunate - C. A. King
Growing up in Knoll County wasn't easy, especially without any childhood memories. Truly spent her whole life searching for the answers her mind refused to reveal. There might have been horrors in her past, but her current existence wasn't much better than a nightmare itself. After beginning treatments with a new doctor, disturbing visions began to resurface. The stench of death surrounded her, but where exactly was it coming from? Jeff always knew he wanted to be one of Knoll County's finest and had no problem achieving that dream. A part of his ambition stemmed from the death of a classmate at the tender age of nine. It might have been ruled an accident, but his gut told him otherwise. When people start turning up dead in the same pattern, Jeff will be forced to put everything on the line to connect the dots between past and present. But in doing so, will his own future be jeopardized? Truly Unfortunate is a dark paranormal thriller that will leave readers with chills after answering the question: Which is stronger... the boundaries of reality or the safety of one's own mind? Although there are no explicit or graphic scenes contained in this story, some of the subject matter may be considered more suitable for mature audience.
I liked the story, and the clever way the author presented the story of Truly and her childhood filled with abuse and neglect as a story within a story of two young detectives attempting to solve a murder that links to an earlier crime.
There are a lot of twists and turns in the story - characters who seem trustworthy but are not - murders that are comparable and a paranormal connection with characters who are not exactly flesh and blood. A third layer of the story is reminiscent of an X-files team up. It sets the detectives up to become paranormal investigators in their very quirky town of Knollville (which seems to attract the unusual, so there are a lot of cases) This is a welcome to Knollville and a first book - a page turner and a delight.
High Convictions (A Heart Strings Love Affair Book 3) Kindle Edition J. Haney 2-25-20 https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B083J7N4XK/
Only Protector Alphas: A Wolf Shifter Fantasy Romance Series (Rebel Werewolves Book 3) Kindle Edition by Rosemary A Johns (Author) 2-27-20
Untouchable (Saul Imbierowicz) Kindle Edition
by Geoff Habiger
Never Leave a Rockstar (Never Trust Book 4) Kindle Edition by Sarah Darlington 3-4-20 https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07Z5BK9LS/
That's all for this issue. Back in 2 weeks with more interviews, characters, snippets, reviews and personal insights. Til then...