Friday, May 22, 2020

Weekend Reads (Katie): Until June and the TBR Pile

Weekend Reads (Katie)

Until June by Barbara Britton

Hi fellow explorers (of Lands Uncharted...get it? No? Oh. Sure. Let's move on...)! Today I want to talk about the book I just finished reading as well as two books on my TBR pile that I'm about to start (yes, I sometimes read more than one book at a time).

When seventeen-year-old seamstress, Josephine Nimetz, agrees to take care of a WWI amputee in a remote Alaskan lodge, there's enough friction to melt the Mendenhall Glacier. Her position is only until June, and it pays well enough to overlook the hardship of managing a rustic home and a shell-shocked veteran.

Geoff Chambers makes it clear that he isn't too fond of the runt sent to take care of his needs, nor of her painful mistakes. Dealing with a depressed and addicted veteran pushes Josephine to the brink of leaving, if not for the money her salary brings.

But Josephine is a perfectionist, determined to get Geoff back on his feet—figuratively...Although, sending a rich, handsome veteran back into society may cost Josephine the man she has grown to love.

My Thoughts

I absolutely loved this book! When I first read the description , I was immediately interested for the mere fact that it's set in Alaska and my family happens to have a trip booked there in 2021.

Within the first couple pages, though, I knew I had made a good choice in picking up this book, and by the halfway point I was hopelessly devoted and couldn't put it down.

The story is beautiful. The characters are real, and their problems are real--but the entire story is handled with such HOPE. I loved it, start to finish.

Until June gets two big thumbs up from me.

You can find it on Goodreads here!

On To the TBR Pile!

The Story Peddler by Lindsay Franklin                        

This book isn't new, but it's one I've wanted to read for a long time and haven't gotten around to it. So, I'm excited to dive in!

Here's the description:

Tanwen doesn’t just tell stories—she weaves them into crystallized sculptures that sell for more than a few bits. But the only way to escape the control of her cruel mentor and claw her way from poverty is to set her sights on something grander: becoming Royal Storyteller to the king.

During her final story peddling tour, a tale of treason spills from her hands, threatening the king himself. Tanwen goes from peddler to prey as the king’s guard hunts her down . . . and they’re not known for their mercy. As Tanwen flees for her life, she unearths long-buried secrets and discovers she’s not the only outlaw in the empire. There’s a rebel group of weavers . . . and they’re after her too.

Magician's Rivalry, Book 1 in the Spellsmith & Carver Series by H.L. Burke

I've been reading lots of H.L. Burke books lately (and loving them!). I've already started into this one and I can't wait to keep going! Here's a little more about it:

An estranged son. An adopted heir. A magical attack that forces them to work together.

The disappearance of Auric Spellsmith’s mother has strained his relationship with his father to the breaking point. Now, after five years away at the Magicians’ Academy, Auric returns home, determined to prove himself to his father and claim his birthright.

Apprentice Jericho Carver has held Spellsmith Manor together in Auric’s absence. Now his master’s son is back, and if he can’t get rid of Auric, Jericho will forfeit his career and lose all hope of wooing the master’s enchanting daughter.

Neither man intends to back down.

But then Master Spellsmith vanishes into the mysterious Fey Lands. With Fey magic threatening the mortal realm, Auric and Jericho must work together to save the man they both see as father.

So, what about you? Have you read any of these books? What have you been reading?

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Dear Characters, I'm Tired: Writing with Chronic Illness

"Dear Characters, I'm tired."

A phrase used by most, if not all, writers at some point. Those of us living with chronic illness probably use it even more frequently. It is a battle that I am very familiar with personally. I am a full time writer who lives with a chronic illness known as Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome, POTS for short.

I've lived with my illness for about the same amount of time that I've been writing. One could even say I pursued writing as a means of coping with the struggles of a chronic illness emerging and being properly diagnosed. In the years since my journey as both writer and chronic illness warrior began, I've learned a lot about coping with my POTS and how it affects my writing.

One of the most difficult things about a chronic illness, especially POTS, is the fact that anything can act as a trigger for flares. Flares are when the symptoms take on acute and constant pain that directly impact and interfere with navigating life due to your energy being sapped. It is very difficult some days to work through the increased pain of a flare, much less summon the creative energy necessary to produce the worlds and characters inhabiting our books. Sometimes this turns a designated writing day into a brainstorming or plotting day, for me that's lighter work than the actual draft stage. Other times I have to concede the day to rest and recovery, something that can definitely be frustrating when I'm on a deadline.

However, I've learned that if I want to finish my books in a timely manner, I need to push through the tiredness and the pain when possible. I'm currently working on Book #28. Book #27 went live a bit over a week ago. These two books and the next one in my production queue will finish out the urban fantasy series that started it all in 2015. It also happens to be the series I thought I'd be finishing last year. I had to bump my production schedule down due to an extremely pronounced and extended chronic illness flare setting me back because I was simply too sick to write. So I'm very familiar with the frustrations of chronic illness and the negative impacts it can have on your writing schedule. And it's not always possible or wise to push through a flare, which is when you are forced to delay releases.

The thing about writing with a chronic illness is it's pretty much impossible to take every bad day off if you want to finish in a timely manner. I've written three books since the beginning of the new year despite dealing with bad flares because I know when to push and what tricks to use to help with writing through a flare. I've learned how to tweak my writing process where I follow specific steps for prep work before I start drafting, which allows me to have non-writing options for lighter work days. The brainstorming and plotting can be as simple as figuring out names and species for some future series. Or, I could take a plot and expand it into an outline. It may progress a little slower than usual but every little bit adds up in the end. I also use sprints, which usually allows me to make a decent word count dent in an hour or two even if I'm not able to write anything else that day.

Every day is a guessing game when you have a chronic illness. You can't predict if you'll have a good day or if one tiny thing will change a good day into a non-working one. The most effective thing anyone can do is treat every day with the intent to write words and have your backup plan ready for whatever your chronic illness throws at you. Every day is a challenge and an opportunity to rise back up. It is not easy and some days writing 20 words is all your brain can offer but even those 20 words count as a victory because it's 20 words you didn't have at the beginning of the day.

Sometimes, the best way to move forward is to adjust the language you use.

"Dear Characters, I'm tired. Let's switch to this short fun scene for the next sprint."
"Dear Characters, I'm tired. Let's finish this conversation and see what happens next."
"Dear Characters, I'm tired. I'm going to rest and will see you tomorrow."

Chronic illness, like being a published writer, demands a lot. Some days it will be a little too much. Other days you hit the day's goal and are wiped out. And the best days are when you have a good day full of words where one more sentence is a tantalizing reward instead of the tired mantra. It's never easy and you have to learn your own limits as well as how to adapt to still reach your productive days. When writing, you can't wait for inspiration to come find you. You have to hunt it down by showing up to your desk even if the only thing you do that day is backreading. With a chronic illness, you cannot wait for the good days. You have to show up at your desk even if all you do is backread through what you've already written.

To my fellow chronic illness writers, keep being brave and keep putting words on the page.

Kimberly A. Rogers

Friday, May 15, 2020

Weekend Reads: Inkworld Trilogy [Heather]

Do you have a favorite go-to when someone asks for a book recommendation that is "as good as Narnia or The Lord of the Rings"? Okay, maybe no one will ever write books THAT good again...but I think we are all looking for the next riveting, too-good-to-put-down series. Personally, I have a couple of favorites that I will recommend, but I'm only going to share one and save the others for later!

The Inkworld trilogy by Cornelia Funke is one of those series that I gobbled up! I'm not entirely sure how I came across it the first time, but I believe it was through browsing my library app Libby (formerly Overdrive) which allows your to check out three audiobooks at a time and, I believe, a dozen ebooks. For free. (Hint: you need this app!!!).

It's an older series (early 2000s) but somehow it missed my radar at the time. It would've been such fun to read it aloud to my kiddos when we homeschooled! The series asks the question, "What if you had the power to bring a book to life, simply by reading it aloud?" (I know...we all kind of wish we had that superpower!).

The books (translated from German) follow twelve year old Meggie and her father, whom she calls Mo, as they attempt to outrun and outwit a devious, heartless villain named Capricorn. Meggie's mother has been gone since she was small, and she and her father are quite close. He lovingly restores old books, and the two live in a house surrounded by stacks and stacks of them.
"If you take a book with you on a journey," Mo had said when he put the first [book] in her box, "an odd thing happens: The book begins collecting your memories. And forever after you have only to open that book to be back where you first read it. It will all come into your mind with the very first words: the sights you saw in that place, what it smelled like, the ice cream you ate while you were reading it . . . yes, books are like flypaper--memories cling to the printed page better than anything else." A favorite quote from Inkheart by Cornelia Funke
One rainy night, Meggie spies a mysterious man standing in the rain, staring up at their house. She wakes her father who let's the man inside. His name is Dustfinger and her father seems to know him. Dustfinger refers to Mo as Silvertongue. Meggie is confused by these odd monikers and slightly afraid of this man with the scarred face and a furry creature called a Marten living in his backpack.

Before dawn, Mo is packing Meggie and their belongings in an old camper and moving them, with Dustfinger in tow, to an Aunt Elinor in Italy. This aunt has even more books than Meggie and her dad. It is also the perfect place for Mo to hide a certain, secret book that he's trying to hide from both Capricorn and Meggie.

When she confronts her father about his new penchant for secrets and lying, she begins to uncover truths that she never expected and her father always feared.

When Dustfinger convinces Meggie to ask her father why he never ever reads to her aloud, Meggie learns why Mo's nickname is Silvertongue. His words have the power to pull characters out of the story and into reality, with the added danger of pulling things from his world and putting them into the world of the book.

What develops is complicated and enthralling! The world of the secret book and Meggie's own world become intertwined and inseparable. Both are richly imagined and their characters are evocative and unforgettable.

Though this is a middle grade book, it's one that any fantasy lover will appreciate. It would be a great read-aloud for a family as it's clean, though there may be some tense moments here and there to be cautioned about. This is one series that I'd like to buy in hardcover to add to my library. 

Of course, as with my other weekend reads, this is another that I've listened to as audiobooks. Interestingly, each book has a different narrator, though the POV never changes. The first book, Inkheart, was narrated by Lynn Redgrave. The second book, Inkspell, was narrated by actor Brendan Fraser who also portrays Mo in the film adaption, and the final book, Inkdeath, was narrated by Allan Corduner.

Yes, Inkheart is actually a movie, which you may have already seen! Somehow, I missed that too, back in 2009. Here's a link to the trailer to give you a WEEKEND WATCH in case you need that too! I was disappointed to find that they crammed all three books into the one film, which left viewers with only a weak sampling of the plot. I understand artistic license and blah, blah, blah, but it really did these books a disservice, in my opinion. I suppose if you were to watch the movie first, you wouldn't know what was missing and might enjoy it more.

Have you already seen the movie or read the books? What did you think?

Thursday, May 14, 2020

You Have to Start Somewhere by Special Guest Lydia Craft

Friends!! We have a guest post with some fantastic writing tips today, AND we have exciting news! We are thrilled to welcome Lydia Craft to Lands Uncharted - not only as a special guest, but as our newest contributor! Lydia is an Associate Editor for Monster Ivy Publishing and will be sharing her encouragement, writing tips, and knowledge of the publishing industry in her new section of the blog, Editor's Alley! (Find out more on her bio page.) Welcome, Lydia!!

You Have to Start Somewhere

How Should I Begin? 

You’re snuggled up in your favorite spot. In one hand, you swirl a mug filled with something rich, aromatic, and caffeinated. With the other, you rifle through page after page of notes. No more procrastinating. You’re finally going to do it. You’re officially starting your first draft. Yet, as your fingertips arc over the keyboard, everything goes blank. Hours pass. Before you know it, you find yourself scrolling through memes while binge-watching a show you’ve seen a hundred times. And, in the background, the document remains open. Empty. Its blinking cursor still longing to taste your first choice words.

Beginnings are tough. Especially in fantasy. Not only do you have to introduce characters, setting, structure, and narrative, but in many cases, you have to build a whole new world from scratch that no one has seen before. With so many pieces to juggle, your plot can easily get lost in the details.

So how should you start your story? Whether you’re a pantser or a plotter, of if you prefer to write your beginning chapters first or last, here are some pointers to help get those creative juices flowing:

Use the Familiar: 

Instead of trying to reinvent the wheel, start with something familiar and make it your own. Whether your target audience is Middle Grade, Young Adult, or Adult, using well-known tropes or story structures is a quick and easy way to help expedite the process of world building. For inspiration, seek out and study other novels that match your story, target audience, and style. This way, you can establish a solid framework for your beginning, blending together a delicious mixture of your own creativity alongside nostalgic story-beats.

Some classic approaches to fantasy beginnings include:

The Prologue/Preview: There’s no shame in a classic fleshed out prologue or one-page preview. These can be effective tools, allowing you to provide a taste of your world, history, background, and rules. You can even use this format to deceive your reader and give them a false version of events, building up to the truth later.

Before the Storm: Open with an idyllic scene where everything seems perfect. Then, unleash the storm, forcing your characters to suffer tragedy after tragedy.

In the Middle: Throw the reader straight into the middle of a conflict, whether physical, emotional, or both. Some classic “In the Middle” openers include things like chase scenes, battles, action set-pieces, or emotional climaxes.

The Aftermath: Start by showing your character suffering from the consequences of a dramatic event. Then either travel back in time to tell the story up to this point, or move forward, showing how the character will overcome their circumstances.

Winds of Change: Begin with a character living life in monotonous or miserable circumstances, then introduce a plot device that brings the character much-needed change or hope.

Craft Your Tone: 

How do you want the reader to feel at the start of your story? Excited? Anxious? Sad? Whimsical? Focus on the tone you’re going for and let everything (from the setting to the characters, to the very mood of your piece) emulate this specific emotion and voice. Don’t tell your audience that things are bad or that they should feel miserable, show them how terrible things are and make them feel misery. One of the easiest ways to craft tone is to determine your starting point, then decide whether you want the emotional tone of the narrative to rise or fall.

Two of the classic styles of tonal direction include:

The Comedy: where the story, setting, and characters start in tragic conditions, then things take a turn for the better.

The Tragedy: where the story, setting, and characters start in ideal conditions, then things take a turn for the worse.

Set the Pace 

Creating a narrative that has a steady, but exciting pace can be incredibly difficult. Here are a few points to help you maintain momentum:

Keep Tension High: No matter how you choose to end your first few chapters, always make sure something is left unresolved. If you character has something they desire, prevent them from gaining it. If the plot has a goal to achieve, make it fail. Build up the challenges for the protagonist to overcome at the beginning, that way when they finally achieve their goals at the end, the pay-off will satisfy your readers.

Create a Chain-Reaction or Domino Effect: For this, make sure that plot devices, characters, story beats, and events have a noticeable impact from chapter to chapter. Weave together a sense of continuity. Create a snowball effect, where the plot points you introduce begin to build on top of each other, resulting in even greater consequences with each new chapter. This will maintain your momentum as you work your way up to your central conflict and climax.

Trim the Fat: If the scene is not essential to the plot or to the individual character arcs, cut it. If there is description or information repeated several times, cut it. If you can convey the same sentence or paragraph in a more concise manner, then trim it down. This is one of the most difficult things to do, but it will ultimately streamline your plot and prevent the story from dragging.

Limit Flashbacks: Unless your narrative is built on traveling back and forth to different points in the story’s timeline, reduce the number of flashbacks and backstory. Large chunks of backstory can interrupt the present narrative, slowing down the present story line to a crawl. Instead, strive to show information from the past in the present, so that the timeline continues along a linear path that keeps your reader engaged and moving forward.

Find Your Voice 

Express yourself. Dig down deep and uncover the most raw essence of your emotions, thoughts, experiences. Throw in all your favorite vocabulary words. Personalize each character so they pop off the page. Bring in as much of your personality to the narrative as possible. Because your voice will ring louder and truer than any trope or classic theme.

Write, Write, Write 

And when in doubt, just write. Even if it’s the most cliché writing in the world. Even if the words make you want to cry, write it down. You can also go back later to polish and refine. But you can’t perfect what isn’t written. Even if all you have to start with is “Once upon a time,” go for it. After all, you have to start somewhere. So, what are you waiting for? Go forth and let your own story begin!

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Story Snippets: Guardian Prince (Lauricia)

Greetings all, and welcome back to Lands Uncharted. I hope you are all doing well, and that you’re mastering your new normal with pizazz in whatever way that looks like for you.

I’m super thrilled because I get to share another story snippet with you. Today, it’s an excerpt directly from my upcoming release, Guardian Prince, which is the sequel to The Healer’s Rune. I’m afraid I don’t have a release date yet, but as soon as I get one from my publisher, I’ll be sure to let you know. If the excerpt below interests you, the best way to learn about the release date is to join my email list via the signup form at

That said, here’s the excerpt.  It’s a snippet from chapter one, where Sabine first rejoins the Aethel who rescued her at the end of book one. I hope you enjoy!

“Human,” a deep voice called from nearby.
Sabine glanced up to see Koen standing a few feet away, his bright, leaf-red hair contrasting sharply with the deep black feathers of the raven perched on his shoulder. She fixated on the sight of the raven's talons sinking into the shoulder of the Dryht’s leather jerkin. Recalling the weight of the bird when he had landed on her lap, and the sharpness of his talons against her leg when he had sprung off, Sabine reasoned the Dryht must be stronger than his remarkably tall, lean frame suggested.
The raven turned his head to one side, regarding Sabine and her dog with a large, bright blue eye. Then, turning his head to the other side as if for a better look, he studied them with his bright green eye. A fraction of a moment later he shrieked a raucous call and fluffed his feathers. Instinctively, Sabine clutched a fist-full of Bree's fur, to keep the dog from jumping at the bird, but Bree did not even tense. Amazed, Sabine watched the dog and the bird politely disregard each other, as if they were used to spending great amounts of time together.
“The others are waiting for you,” Koen prompted politely, but with a slight air of command. “The Rüddan could be upon us at any moment. Follow me.”
Sabine nodded and did as the Dryht requested, but unease stirred within her. She had thought she would be safe after she fled from Khapor. “The portal is still under attack, then?  Or are they coming at us from another direction?”
Koen stopped and turned back to her, his eyebrows arched. “We are half a world away from your village, Human. The portal is the only way they can reach us now.”
Sabine frowned. Half a world away from Khapor?  She did not understand how that could be, but she did not want to appear foolish in front of this Dryht, either.
“Portals are not like normal doors,” Koen explained, as if reading her expression. “With any doorway, the distance from one side to the other is a mere step. For portals, however, the distance is much greater. When you passed through our gateway last night, you traveled from your tiny island village to the largest continental forest in Ceryn Roh.”
“But don't the Rüddan know where we are?”
Koen shook his head. “Before the War of New Dawn, all portals were originally created and maintained by the Dryht. Although the other races used them, only mine understood them. They were destroyed by the Rüddan in the War, but we have spent the past three hundred years restoring them. Even if the Rüddan knew how they work, they have no idea where any given portal leads. As far as they know, we could be anywhere in the world.”
Sabine nodded. “So the only way to get to us is to cross over from Khapor.”
“Exactly,” Koen said. Turning, he began once again to lead her to the others. “And while no portal has ever fallen when it was attacked, that doesn't mean it can't, so no more delays.”
Sabine fell into step beside the Dryht, following closely as he guided her through a forest that appeared equally maintained and unkempt. The trees seemed to grow in large clusters: a variety of cedar, pine, and oak gathered here, a knot of willow and elm over there. Creepers, ivies, and shrubs twined around and through each thicket. The spaces between them, while not completely empty of bushes or trees, had a sense of being designated walkways.
Koen led her to one of these stands a short distance away from where she had slept, a large copse of rowan, ash, birch, and willow. Pausing just outside the cluster, he pushed aside a thick curtain of vines to reveal a narrow entrance, which he gestured her to pass through.
She did, realizing too late that Bree had followed her in. She would have shooed the dog back outside, but Koen was right behind her, his tall frame filling the doorway. He did not seem to notice the dog, and the raven still sat on his shoulder, so Sabine let it go, hoping nothing would come of it.
Inside, the stand of trees looked like a large room. As with the other buildings she had been in since last night, the trees grew closely together, their varying shapes and sizes tiling among, against, and over each other and the surrounding foliage to form walls while their branches intertwined to weave a roof. Muted, dappled sunlight filtered through the leaves overhead, illuminating a long, narrow table that filled the center of the room where a group of men and women appeared to be conferencing over breakfast. Much to Sabine's surprise, she recognized most of them.
Aodhan, the Aethel prince she had rescued and nursed back to health, sat at the head of the table, flanked on his left by Gaelan and his right by an Aethel man she had never met before, but who appeared vaguely familiar. Aodhan’s sister, the Lady Diera, sat across from him at the other end of the long table. Amala, her lady-in-waiting, sat to Diera’s right, attending her blind mistress. Aodhan’s cousin Taylion, whom Sabine knew as Tayte, sat near the center of the table on one side. The chairs across from him and to his right were empty.
Koen directed Sabine to the spot beside Tayte, for which she was glad. Of everyone seated at the table, he was the person she had known the longest and the best. He was the reason she was no longer enslaved to the Rüddan.
The conversation stopped abruptly as she approached, giving her the impression that whatever they had been discussing somehow involved her. Their silent stares unnerved her, causing her stomach to clench. Squaring her shoulders, she kept her head up and met each gaze and glimpse as levelly as she could. They wanted her here, she told herself. They had attempted to rescue her not once but twice. Still, the reminder did nothing to ease the sense of being weighed and judged.
Tayte nodded to her, catching and holding her attention. The shape-shifter wore his Aethel form rather than his Human appearance, his smile warm and gracious. The knot in her stomach eased a bit.
“Good morning, Sabine,” he said expansively. His voice filled the silent room, reminding her of the tone her mother used when indirectly commanding her and her sister to be polite in front of the company. As he spoke, he rose to pull her chair out for her. “Welcome to our table. Please, join us.”
Sabine gasped softly, concerned that her friend should put so much weight on the leg he had broken during last night's escape. She glanced at his shin, then looked again, startled to see no cast. Tayte followed her gaze.
“It is healed, my friend,” he said gently as he motioned her to sit, then inclined his head toward the Aethel seated beside him and to Aodhan's right. “Kyar saw to it last night.”
Stunned, Sabine nodded in greeting, finally recognizing Kyar as the mysterious stranger who had tended Tayte's unconscious form the night before.
Kyar regarded her silently, his dark eyes so cold and piercing that she could not look at them for very long. Unsure what else to do, she adjusted her cloak slightly to allow herself to sit and accepted the chair Tayte had offered.
Koen joined the table, as well, his raven flying to a nearby tree limb. He took the seat across from Tayte and began filling his plate with food from the dishes laid out over the table. “Help yourself,” he said, gesturing in Sabine’s direction with his plate. “We do not have the time to tarry.”

Friday, May 8, 2020

Weekend Reads: Random Walk by Rachel Lulich (Lizzie)

I occasionally read out of my normal genres, and a recent excursion brought me to the hard science fiction novel Random Walk (Fractured Galaxy Book 1) by Rachel Lulich. I would classify the read as a very thrilling and enjoyable trip. One clear out of the solar system. :) Basically, it's a modern day Apollo 13 with a black hole instead of the dark side of the moon. Enough said, right?

Random Walk tells the story of three US Air Force Space Command astronauts, Derek Williams, Jacob Mendez, and Vicky Abrams, as they test an experimental engine on a flight to Mars. Things go wrong, of course, and they travel much farther than they thought possible, or wanted to go.

The book started a little slow for me, but then I wasn't used to hard science fiction, but once I got used to all the detail, I began to enjoy it. The research was spectacular, and I feel like I know what it's really like to be an astronaut or to be in mission control (this part really made me think of Apollo 13 and Hidden Figures).

I wanted to be an astronaut when I was a kid, and have always been a science nerd, so I enjoyed the realism and science of it. I also like the diverse array of characters, the clever solutions, the awe of being in space. There was tension with the troubles they found themselves in, a realistic amount of interpersonal getting-on-one-another's-nerves (which we can all relate to, especially during quarantine) but nothing overly dramatic, and some exciting danger. I don't want to say too much so I don't spoil anything, but I've very much looking forward to the next book.

If you like hard science fiction or want to branch out and read something different, check out Random Walk (Fractured Galaxy Book 1) by Rachel Lulich.

Thursday, May 7, 2020

Interview with Tori V. Rainn

We are so excited to welcome Tori V. Rainn to Lands Uncharted to celebrate the release of her debut novella, Curse of the Blacknoc Witch! I had the opportunity to read an early version of this story (and to work with Tori on our critique group's anthology of fairy tale retellings, Encircled), and her writing is always full of creativity, humor, and heart. Today, this lovely lady took the time to answer some questions for us - enjoy!

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I’m mostly a fantasy writer but also dabble in other genres like horror and sci-fi. I’m the youngest in my family of two old brothers. I grew up in a small town in Texas and have always considered myself a bit of a nerd - DC and Marvel fan and lover of video games. My love for writing and reading came in my teens.

What prompted you to start writing? Are you one of those authors who knew you were meant to write since childhood, or did it come as a discovery later in life?

I would say no. Writing is never something I’d imagined myself doing. I didn’t discover my crazy imagination until in my teens when I had a story idea for a video game that was adventurous. Not long after that idea was born I decided to instead start a novel. I wrote my first three chapters of that novel and never picked it up again, haha, mostly because I didn’t know a thing about writing. It wasn’t until I took a writer’s course when my writing journey took off and I began writing countless short pieces that eventually led to novels and novellas. When I saw that this writing flame of passion wasn’t dying any time soon I realized it was something I should be doing.

You do have an incredible imagination! Which fictional character (book or movie) do you most relate to, and why?

I have trouble relating to most characters so I will mention a character I admire, which is Angelina Jolie’s Maleficent. After being betrayed, she’s set to inflict harm on the one who caused her pain. She takes pleasure in the harm she’s inflicted but the walls she’s put around her heart slowly crumble when she falls in love with Aurora. She sees Aurora as her daughter. Not only is the relationship between Maleficent and Aurora beautiful but the transformation of Maleficent’s heart is admirable.

I still need to see that movie! We’re all about exploring new worlds here at Lands Uncharted—if you could choose one place to visit, real or fictional, where would you go?

It would either be New Zealand or Ireland. I don’t know why I’ve always been attracted to those places but every time I see pictures of those beautiful places I just want to go there. I wouldn’t mind touring a castle or staying in a manor in Ireland. How amazing that would be? It’s a dream of mine.

Ooh, that would be amazing! What advice would you share with an aspiring author?

Write what you love. Others may or not agree with what you write but you must stay true to yourself. Don’t follow trends. Follow and make your own path. Procrastination is your worst enemy. You will do yourself the biggest favor by finding a way to get ahead of procrastination. Remember, you’re a writer when you’re doing one thing: writing.

Great things to keep in mind! Your debut novella, Curse of the Blacknoc Witch, released in April! Congratulations!! What inspired you to write it?

I love stories with good vs evil themes and I’m especially fond of monster/ghost stories so Curse of the Blacknoc Witch is the product of my personal interests that’s held together by one core idea I really wanted to tell in this story. That core idea was showing characters facing their monsters, something the reader doesn’t necessarily have to take literally from the story. I also wanted to focus on showing the reader that just because you may feel like a monster, doesn’t mean you are one. Samuel’s redemption is a testimony to that.

I love that, Samuel is such a great character. Did any of the events in the book surprise you as you were writing?

Probably everything surrounding the curse surprised me. I had no clue how to go about developing the curse. The supernatural elements that made up the curse took me by surprise. It was dark and twisted just like the witch, and while it seemed fitting, it still wasn’t what I expected. I'm happy to say I'm pleased with the end result.

It's definitely a dark curse, but it makes the story so cool! Can you give us any insights into your next project?

Yes, of course. My 60k fantasy is about two siblings who are chosen for an ancient challenge. They must compete against other groups and use their powers to capture magical animals roaming the forest and to fight against ailiarants who completely detest everything the siblings stand for.

Ooh, I'm intrigued! Thank you so much for sharing with us today, Tori! Congratulations again on your new release! Here's the back cover blurb for Curse of the Blacknoc Witch:

Samuel dreamed of being a lot of things, but a monster trapped in a forest realm never entered his mind. The Blacknoc Curse wasn’t supposed to be true, only a children’s story meant to persuade them away from evil. Yet, here he was tasked with hunting cursed kids. There’s nothing left for Samuel except the horror surrounding him. Layla, a young girl tormented by the same curse, is dropped into the terrifying forest every night, running from the monsters intent on taking her life. She meets Samuel and vows to save all the children, especially Samuel, from their torment. Working together can they defeat the Blacknoc Curse?

You can find Curse of the Blacknoc Witch on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Goodreads. And make sure to connect with Tori V. Rainn on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and her website!