Author Spotlight: Donna Usher

donnausherToday, I’d like to introduce you to Donna Usher whom I met (virtually) through one of my Facebook groups. We got talking and I was fascinated by her story. It resembles the journey of many, many writers, don’t you agree?

The book she’s presenting today is the first in her trilogy. You can get it on Amazon for 99ct or for free on her website if you leave her your eMail address. The choice is yours, but you should really be reading this.

Why did you become an author? Was it a childhood dream?
I kind of accidentally became an author. I always enjoyed writing, and I loved reading, and I actually started writing a book when I was about 8. But then I had an English teacher that put me off and I kind of forgot about writing for a long time.
After I sold my dental practice I had a few months off and I started writing during that time. It took me a few more years before I actually sat down and wrote my first novel.

What’s your greatest obstacle in writing?
I don’t really have many obstacles with writing. I guess that makes me lucky. I’ve learnt over the years to recognise the signs that there is something wrong with the plot – that normally can cause what some people might call a writer’s block, but what for me is writer’s confusion. So now I go for a long walk and let the book play in my head like a movie and I normally work out pretty quickly where I have gone wrong.

What makes the world of your novel different from ours?
Well Faery Born is set in England, but it is a magical England where witches live freely with humans. There is also an overlay land in which the faeries live. And although there are cars and televisions and other modern conveniences, there are no weapons of mass destruction and no firearms.

Who is your favourite Indie author?
There are too many fantastic Indie Authors out there, and I have to admit often I’m not sure if what I am reading is Indie or not. But I really enjoy Shannon Mayer’s work.

Who is your favourite traditionally published author?
There are so many. I think Jim Butcher would be in a neck-and-neck tie with Stephanie Meyers. And lately I have been loving Kim Harrison’s Rachel Morgan Series.

If you could change one thing in your life, what would it be?
Hmmmm – More hours in the day, or to need less sleep. I think one of the things I am so jealous about in the Twilight Series is that the Vampires don’t need to sleep. I could get so much more done it I had that extra 7-8 hours a day.

faerybornAbout her Book

It’s been thirteen years since the Dark Years ended. Thirteen years since the mad War Faery responsible was imprisoned in stone. Now, with goblin attacks on the rise it seems Galanta, the Goblin Queen, is intent on returning the land to chaos and terror.

Isadora Scrumpleton is trying not to think about the Dark Years. She’s just been chosen by her ‘familiar’, found out she’s half faery, and discovered she’s dating the second-in-line to the Faery Throne. That’s enough for one teenage witch to handle. But when goblins attack her village, Izzy is forced into action, ultimately joining the elite Border Guard and attracting the attention of the Goblin Queen.

As Galanta weaves a web of deceit, Izzy struggles to control her powers. Will she be able to stop the Goblin Queen in time, or will the world be plunged into a dark new reality?

A few words from Donna Usher

Hi there, I’m Donna Joy Usher. I started writing my first novel when I was seven. With no idea about plot or character development (I mean I was only seven) my storyline quickly disintegrated into a muddled jumble of boring dialogue between two horses. Disillusioned, I gave up writing stories for quite a while after that. Instead, I concentrated on my studies, eventually graduating as a dentist.

After many years of ‘drilling and filling’ I turned to writing in an effort to escape the seriousness of my day job. During that time I created my first book, The Seven Steps to Closure, and discovered that I love nothing more than making other people laugh. Well that, and my husband and two miniature schnauzers, Chloe and Xena.

I currently live near the beach on the Swan River in beautiful Perth. When I am not working or writing, I love to paddle board, walk along the river and sip chai lattes at the local cafe.

Good-bye, 2016 … Hello, 2017!

I’m thrilled to announce that WDM Publishing has released my final SPUN YARNS Short for 2016: NEW YEAR … just in time for the arrival of our real New Year: 2017 😀

NEW YEARnewyear-2x3
by Debbie Mumford
Audience: Science Fiction | General Audience | Short Story

A mother’s agonizing attempt to come to terms with the death of her beloved daughter turns to excitement as she realizes her adult child has solved the riddle of time travel

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Buy Now: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Smashwords

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Indie Authors’ Advent Calendar

Indie Authors' Advent Calendar

Today is the 4th of December and silly me forgot to let you know that the annual Indie Authors’ Advent Calendar has opened its doors again. If you love a surprise story every day, it’s THE place to bookmark. And if you sign up for the alert, you’ll get a bonus every day (a picture, a poem, a recipe or another story), and the eBook with all stories and bonuses on Christmas Day.

Have a wonderful Advent and do come by and read the stories. It’s completely free.

a near miss

(cross posted from my personal blog)

I sent in one of my fairy tale retellings (an adaption of Cinderella) to the Writer’s of The Future Award, one of the best known competitions in the US where hundreds of aspiring authors present their manuscripts every quarter. Naturally I had hoped for the best, but I didn’t count on it, being a non-native speaker/writer. And now this (self-explanatory):
Certificate from Writers of the Future
I’m bursting with pride and had to tell you right way. Go on, celebrate with me. Here’s sparkly wine (German naturally, but I’ll have still water please) and chocolate (yummy). 😀

Reflections on an Epic

Kat has me so happy over on my own site I’ve seldom posted here in the past year or so, but today I’m thinking about a major milestone in a chronicling career, celebrated this week. It’s just another book, I suppose. But The Eye of Kog is that most fabulous of monstrous beasts, that legendary chimera so many seek and never find.

It’s an epic fantasy sequel.

Hooked from the Start… Make that Tangled

jt-full-amazon-webThink about two tales, two seemingly-separate plot lines. That’s what I thought I had, when I finally decided to chronicle the Lands of Hope back in 2008. As I was drawn into Solemn Judgement’s early days, and looked more closely at how he came to Hope and began to influence the history of the Lands, I figured there would be a novel-length tale about his deeds. Other things were happening, there’s always more. But my dull brain couldn’t see beyond the part that was “Judgement’s tale” at first.

It was just the ending that was killing me.

All’s Well, When it Ends with All

By the time Solemn does his best against the worst, I could no longer ignore the fact that there were these other guys around. A whole party of them, candidly. And even more frustrating, the people Judgement met on his journeys, when he walks a circuit of the northern Kingdoms in the second half of the tale, kept popping up and… well, doing things,  things that were important to understanding the stakes, dare I say the theme of the darn thing. Assuming it all belonged in another book somewhere, I kept trying to juggle some excuse to introduce them in the last few pages. Long entries in the Kingdom Chronicle– ahm, no, even the Children of Hope don’t read that thing before Anteris takes it up. I tried for the minimum– no soap, each element of summary and recap just pulled on threads that extended further and further back, into “Judgement’s tale”, but really not separate from it.Created with Nokia Refocus

I broke down at last, of course. Two novels, entwined, telling both stories at once (well even that’s a simplification, telling the whole story in order). Without Treaman, Gareth, Linya, Pol and the others, I would never be able to show the story of Solemn Judgement at all. Sleeves rolled up, shoulder to the wheel, nose to the grindstone… just try getting any work done in that position! But then I sat my butt down and started to type. All the threads into one tapestry: and I think the results have been worth it.

Created with Nokia Refocus

Even today, every time I think to myself “that tale is told” I feel a kind of shock, as if I’ve gone over a hill on a rollercoaster. I re-read the whole thing on the polishes, and again on the edit, and each time I’ve had that wonderful feeling authors get, that strange sense that someone else must have written about your characters. {Oh yeah, that bit where two knights and two squires fight a pair of giants by the salt pool, that was pretty good stuff!} Why did that poor girl in Hollinsfen have to die? You’re telling me she’s a ghost now too? And how ironic, when the Chosen Wanderer is down and wounded, only a grey-clad gate-walker who’s tramped five hundred leagues can get past the knight’s fierce warhorse to help him, because Solemn knows Quester by name.

All here, woven together: the lost city of Oncario, travel through time, the curse of lycanthropy, miracles of restoration in the middle of the chaos-lands, a falling crimson star, warriors who can disappear at will, one king crowned and another going without; and naturally, a desperate race againVuth2.JPGst time and the odds. There’s a lot more than “Judgement’s tale” in The Eye of Kog: Solemn is still there, a bright grey thread that runs through the center. But now he’s in his proper place, sojourning in search of knowledge beyond the world that has not yet adopted him, a drumbeat to the symphony ushering in the Age of Adventure for the Lands of Hope.

With this book, most likely the longest and most complex chain of events that needs to be told about my world is on paper. Hardcover first, for anyone who likes to prop open a fire door after reading. And I dedicated this sequel to you, the readers, because with all my heart I believe that this, reading an epic, is an heroic feat in today’s world. I hope you will attempt it, and believe you will find the effort well rewarded. I know I have.

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More New Releases

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I admit, it was a little quiet on this blog, but we’ve all been extremely busy behind the scenes. Many of us prepared new releases. Last week, you may have noticed that Debbie announced a Halloween anthology. And today, I’ll show you what I’ve been up to (beside writing nearly 100,000 words and translating them).

51ydyl5cnrlThe first of my new publications is already available. It is book #7 in the fairy tale retelling series, Treasures Retold (German versions of #1-6 are in the middle of the banner above). “Royal Swans” is an adaption of “The Wild Swans” by Hans Christian Andersen, and I wrote it upon a request from a German blogger. It tells the story of Prince Laurent and his siblings when he angers the princess of the visiting neighboring royal family by rejecting her proposal.

The next release is, naturally, a horror short story. It will be available in time for 51kivdr5pdlHalloween. “Insider” shows us the other side of death as a scientist discovers the truth about the light at the end of the tunnel (Beware, this story is NOT meant to be read by children or sensitive people).

coverIn November, you can become an active participant in a non-linear time travel story. “Troubled Times – Time Troubles” is a branching, interactive short story with several different endings where you can choose the path through the story. It started as an experiment after I had been asked in which time forms and points of view I’d already written. I found that I’d covered most combinations except second person and future tense, so I tried to find out if that could lead to a valid story. My beta readers thought it did, so here it is. An experiment for you. Do you dare? Look out for it by mid-month.

coverNaturally December is reserved for all things seasonal. Since I’m not overly fond of the commercial push Advent and Christmas get these days, expect something more subtle from me. My short story collection “The Christmas Dragon and other Seasonal Stories” will be available on December 6th, 51r9htcyytlpreceded on December 1st by the eighth fairy tale retelling “The Challenge“, an adaption of “The Cold Heart” by Willhelm Hauff where a charcoal burner wants to improve his lot in live and makes a mess out of it. In my version the two magic entities that complicate the charcoal burner’s live are featured much more strongly.

And right after New Year, I will publish the most complicated story I ever wrote: an interactive non-linear murder mystery novel that tells a complete story. What do I say, it tells several complete stories. There are more than 20 endings for the reader to explore.grimm-e.jpg

As a child I loved “Choose Your Own Adventure” books, but I hated the second person point of view and the lack of a story line with a vengeance. So when I set out to write this novel, I was determined to tell a story of connected events in one of the more traditional points of view (he or I) and settled on 1st person. This/these story/stories were a lot of fun to write but a nightmare to revise. It took me several years to get the novel into a shape where it could go to my editor. But now it’s nearly there, and I hope you’re just as excited as I am.

Maybe one of the books will make a nice gift for you, before, for, or after Christmas. Let me know what you think before I head into NaNoWriMo (a November writing challenge).

New Release: MORE GHOSTS and GHOULIES

Just in time for Halloween, WDM Publishing has released my latest Deb Logan short story collection! MORE GHOSTS AND GHOULIES continues the tradition of spooky fun for younger readers I started with GHOSTS AND GHOULIES. Grab your copy now and be ready for the spookiest night of the year!

MORE GHOSTS AND GHOULIESmoregg-2x3
By Deb Logan

Audience: Juvenile | Paranormal | Short Story Collection

Another volume of spooky, supernatural stories for younger readers. This collection of five short stories includes two Dani Erickson tales (“Family Daze” and “Challenging Daze”), two flash stories (“Rush!” and “On Guard”), and an urban fantasy tale (“Terrors”).

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Electronic Edition Publication Date: October 2016
Buy Now: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Smashwords

Binge Reading

With video streaming services like Netflix and Hulu, it’s become popular to watch a whole television series at once, instead of waiting for a new episode each week. The term for this is now “binge watching” and I admit that I do it myself sometimes, like when Netflix releases an entire season right at the start of a weekend. (I know that I’m clearing my calendar for Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life in November!) But the other day, one of my friends asked a thought-provoking question: is there an equivalent for “binge reading?”
I would say absolutely yes—I’ve been doing this my whole life, long before there was a name for it. Back in those carefree days of childhood, I loved to go to the library, check out an entire series of books at once, and sit down to do (almost) nothing but read for a weekend or a vacation. As an adult, I have less free time to read a lot, but I still make the time for a good “binge read” every now and then—and sometimes I don’t get to pick when it happens.
Sometimes a book just grabs me and I can’t put it down. This happened to me a few months ago when I discovered the Towers Trilogy (Radiant, Defiant, and Towers Fall) by Karina Sumner-Smith. I was only about two-thirds of the way through the first book when I went online and ordered the other two books, because I knew I had to know the rest of the story. Fortunately, I was traveling at the time, and sitting on an airplane or in the airport was the perfect time to pick up a book.
Ebooks make it even easier to binge read because you don’t have to wait for the next book—you can just click a button and download it in seconds! Sometimes, you can get an entire series at once in a “box set” which is awesome, especially when they’re on sale. And I admit that I have at least one subscription which lets me read an unlimited number of books for one monthly fee. Sometimes it’s reassuring to know that I’ll never run out of books to read . . . but on the other hand, sometimes it feels overwhelming. How will I ever find time to read all of these books?
rorylibrary

Rory Gilmore freaks out when seeing a library and realizing how many books she has yet to read.

We have a lot of options for entertainment in our modern world: there’s an endless stream of movies, television shows, video games, websites, music, and more, all competing for our attention. We only have so much free time that we can spend on enjoying the things we love, and I know that a lot of people simply stop reading after they finish school because they’d rather watch TV or do something else for entertainment. And I feel sorry for them because they don’t know the joy that comes from getting lost in a book world.
deadtreehallucinate

I actually enjoy doing both!

And for those of us who still love to read, I think this is the best era ever for reading. We have so many choices, whether we like ebooks, print, or both! It’s so easy to get books, whether new or old, and you can always find great recommendations from reviews on Goodreads and blogs. So binge read away!

An interesting read needs your help

A friend of mine is running a kickstarter campaign to fund her next release. Her calculation is moderate, and all money she’s getting will be used on the project, not on her. So I decided to help her out. Let her introduce her project to you (I promise, it is a cool one, and I love the cover). Welcome Thea van Diepen.

Like Mist Over the Eyes, n.

An outlaw battling unwelcome dreams must hold herself together amid an ancient feud between fairies and humans or else lose all hope of finding a cure for her insane unicorn.

Synonyms: The White Changeling series, book 2.

See also: The Kickstarter campaign to fund Like Mist Over the Eyes.

TheaAfter I’d outlined the first story in the White Changeling series, Hidden in Sealskin, I knew that I wanted each book in the series to center around a different fantasy creature, and I already knew which one I wanted to feature in Like Mist Over the Eyes:

Fairies.

I’ve wanted to tell a story about fairies, ever since I first read about them in folklore. You know, where they steal babies, make you go crazy, send you back to your home to find 100 years had passed all because you ate their food.

But what kind of story would I tell with these fairies? I wanted to get into something that I felt was essence du fairy – a common plot involving fairies in folklore that I could stick into the world I’d made up and which I could put my characters into, thereby making my own thing out of it.

Naturally, I went with kidnapping.

*she says oh-so-casually*

Or, rather, capturing people through trickery. Which is basically kidnapping.

In the first book, it’s made very clear that the main character, Adren, considers humans to be evil and magical creatures to be good. So what if fairies captured her?

What would she do then?

How would she reconcile that with her rigid view of the world?

And what if we throw in Nadin, the teenage boy she meets in the first book who might be human, but also might be part fairy (and who she, thus, doesn’t know whether to trust) – what if he keeps helping her, just like he did in the first book, without any hint of turning on her?

Throw in some disturbing dreams (or memories?), a fake severed hand that seems awfully important to the fairies, an age-old feud between fairies and humans, and some pretty intense magic and you get Like Mist Over the Eyes.

In order to have the funds to publish this book, I’m running a Kickstarter, and it’s nearing its end. If this is a book you want to be real in your life, pledge here. Also, please spread the word about the campaign.

IMAGINE THIS: Faeries and Families

FaeryUn-2x3One of the first stories I ever wrote was based on the idea of a family curse (?) passed from grandmother to granddaughter down through the ages. It skipped every other generation, so the mother of the next to inherit had no idea about what was happening, but her mother did! I sold that very first story (Deirdre’s Dragon) to an online magazine…my first sale! But that initial story didn’t quench my thirst for the idea. I needed a larger format. A novel! And so, my first novel FAERY UNEXPECTED was born 😀

I still love these characters and may eventually find my way back to Claire’s world and discover just exactly what happened next. But in the meantime, I hope you enjoy meeting Claire in these opening pages…

FAMILIES ARE GREAT, but there are times when they stink. I mean, I love my mom and dad, but wouldn’t you think they’d at least have asked me if I wanted to spend a month on the French Riviera with them? Honestly! I could’ve made arrangements to go, even studied while sunning in the south of France. The first few weeks of high school aren’t that important. But the parents refused to listen to reason. Instead, they arranged for Gran — Mom’s decidedly weird mother who never went anywhere without her even weirder toy dragon — to stay with me while Mom and Dad defected to Europe to laze in the sun. I figured by the time I survived the first week, I’d have earned a vacation of my own.

What a rip. I’d been searching for a solution to my high school dilemma, and they’d handed me the answer and then snatched it away, all in the space of a two minute conversation. Man! My first day at Jefferson High was racing down on me and I still didn’t have a concrete plan for leaving the middle school nerd behind. I didn’t need to be the most popular girl at school, but I definitely wanted to improve my social standing.

In middle school I’d been a dork, and Danielle, the cheerleader-from-hell, teased me mercilessly about my good grades, happy family, and that stupid book report on fairies I’d done in seventh grade. Hello, I’d done my Shakespearean research, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, anyone? But that didn’t matter. She called me ‘Fairy Clairey’ for the rest of middle school. Even got her friends in on it. Made me sound like a complete idiot.

For a whole, shining minute I’d had my answer — before my parents ripped it away by uninviting me on their little European jaunt — but if I closed my eyes I could still picture the beautiful vision: me swaggering through the front doors of Jefferson High three weeks into the first term; my usually pallid skin crisp from a month of sun and sea; my unruly mop of short, curly black hair fashionably styled in the latest Paris do; my outfit straight off a tres chic fashion runway… Danielle would have a cow, and I’d be the reigning queen of the class. I might even have a chance at getting a boyfriend.

But no. Instead I got stuck with crazy Gran and her bizarre stories of dragons and centaurs and the magical adventures of her childhood. Gag!

So here I sat on the first day of September at Portland International Airport with my parents, waiting for Gran to show up. I stared out the window, watching her jet unload. I leaned my forehead against the glass and listened to my parents’ quiet conversation.

“Relax, Emily,” said Dad, a tall square man sporting thick glasses and a warm smile. “She can’t get lost. Everyone from the concourse channels past this waiting area. We won’t miss her.”

I glanced at my parents, but kept my forehead against the cool glass. Mom was dressed in creased gray wool slacks, ice blue blouse and a gray cardigan embroidered with small birds and vining leaves. She smiled and tucked a strand of dark brown hair behind her ear. “I know, but it’s hard not to worry. I just can’t get over feeling like I should’ve gone to get her. She’s so helpless without Daddy. He did everything for her when he was alive…she never even had to fill the car with gas.”

“Yes, he was old-school to the core,” Dad agreed. “But I think he underestimated your mother. Don’t make the same mistake, Em. Deirdre is tougher than you give her credit for.”

A flash of golden light out of the corner of my eye made me glance back at Gran’s jet. For a moment, I swear I saw something hovering over the plane. More than simple heat haze rising from the tarmac, something shimmered in the air above the airplane, like a window into another world. I blinked, and it disappeared. But the green-blue after image burned behind my eyelids…a castle in the sky.

Great. Just the thought of Gran’s stories and I was already getting all stressed out and weird. Give her a month and my elevator wouldn’t go all the way to the top.

I used to love having Gran visit, but that was before I grew up and realized she was a few sandwiches short of a picnic. What little kid wouldn’t love a grandmother who told them dragons were real and made them believe they could ride the wind on the back of an awesome, intelligent beast? Every kid wants to believe in magic.

I scootched lower in my seat, found a cooler bit of window for my cheek, and tried to convince myself that it wouldn’t be so bad having Gran around for a month. I’d be at school all day during the week. I’d just have to make sure I had plenty of invitations for sleep-overs on the weekends. My birthday might pose a problem, though. What if she decided to throw me a party?

Oh. My. Gawd. I could just imagine what my friends would say if Gran started telling dragon stories. I’d have to head her off. Maybe let it slip that my heart’s desire would be dinner and a movie…just us girls!

I didn’t have time to hatch a better plan because Gran came striding purposefully around the corner. My heart thumped, and I jumped to my feet. She might be weird, but she was family.

“Gran,” I shouted above the general din of other sons and daughters, grandkids and friends calling to their loved ones.

“Here, Mother,” called Mom. “We’re over here!”

“Deirdre,” boomed Dad, visibly restraining himself. I knew he itched to grab her carry-on luggage out of her hands, but couldn’t do anything until she moved past the security barrier.

And then she sailed through the gate and we hugged and tugged, a mass of flailing arms and clutching fingers, until we managed to bob out of the stream of excited humanity into our own quiet pool of reunion.

“Claire! Look at you,” cried Gran, breaking from the jubilant tangle to hold me at arm’s length. “You’re practically a grown woman.

“You’ve blossomed, my dear,” she said with a wink. “But I’m pleased to see you haven’t overblown.”

Well! Nice to know my understated cleavage pleased someone.

“You look wonderful, too, Gran,” I said with a forced smile. She did. If you liked the psychedelic look of the sixties crossed with demented dandelion. Gran sported a cheese orange rain poncho, lime green rubber boots, short, wiry gray hair that sprang from her head with no discernible style or direction, and Roddy, the ever-present two-foot long toy dragon attached to her shoulder on his Velcro perch. But her eyes sparkled merrily and her smile illuminated the dreary waiting area.

My frosty welcome melted and I hugged her with genuine appreciation. After all, blood is blood. She might be a dingbat, but she was my dingbat, and I loved her.

“We’re going to have the best month of your life,” she whispered in my ear. “Just you wait and see!”

“Peter, if you’ll get my bag,” Gran said, taking charge. “Claire, bring Roddy, please, and Emily, tell me all your news!” She disentangled herself from me, dropped the toy dragon in my abruptly empty arms, grabbed Mom by the elbow and headed for baggage claim, her head close to Mom’s.

Dad and I exchanged glances, shrugged, and carried out our assigned tasks. I held the toy dragon up to my face and stared into his beady green eyes. “Okay, Roddy,” I said, only half teasing. “Here’s the deal. You stay out of my way and I won’t accidentally knock you into the trash compactor.”

Dad laughed, grabbed Gran’s rolling duffle in one hand and dropped the other on my shoulder.

“You’re going to be fine, Claire. Just fine.”

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