Monday, December 31, 2012

Melissa McPhail talks about making magic on Gladiator's Pen

Please enjoy this guest post by Melissa McPhail, author of the spellbinding epic fantasy, Cephrael's Hand. Then read on to learn how you can win huge prizes as part of this blog tour, including a Kindle Fire, $450 in Amazon gift cards, and 5 autographed copies of the book.  

My Take on Magic Systems

A guest post by Melissa McPhail

  One of the most enticing aspects of writing fantasy is developing a magic system. The author’s magic system is inextricably woven into their world and contributes greatly to the reader’s vision of the world overall. The way a system is created either makes the world seem real or unreal, depending on how well the author has grounded the system with laws and limitations.

For example, scientists in our own world have defined laws—inertia, gravity, the periodic table—that describe the physical limitations and properties of energy. We don’t expect a stone to rise upwards when we throw it, but we might believe it could float if it were somehow made of helium. Likewise in a fantasy world, it’s important to codify the system with laws and rules (and to stick to those rules once established), to set boundaries for what the magician can and cannot do with magic, and to establish consequences for and ramifications of magical misuse.

 This all shows that magic systems require significant thought and research on the author’s part to develop realistically. Yet for all of this, the manner in which one might design and describe the magical process is potentially limitless—there are as many magical systems as there are fantasy novels, and equally as many readers eager to pontificate on their pros and cons and/or to organize the systems into categories and types. 

The one thing most magic systems have in common, however, is that they all handle energy. Whether that energy is spiritual, omnipotent, corporeal, or derives from physical objects or living things, the working of arcane arts surrounds the manipulation of energy.

I designed the magic in Cephrael’s Hand based on scientists’ existing understanding of electrical fields. The process of thought has been scientifically proven to produce energy, and human bodies are known to generate electrical fields. For the magic in Alorin, I proposed that all living things produce a metaphysical energy which is formless but which flows across the world in natural currents. This energy is called elae. This is the energy a magician of Alorin uses to produce arcane workings. How he does this is the creative part.

In Cephrael’s Hand, all things are formed of patterns. A single leaf derives its pattern from the larger pattern of its motherly oak. The snowflake harbors the pattern of a storm. Rivers form patterns that mimic the pattern of the world, and a living man harbors within him the pattern of his immortality. These inherent patterns collect and compel energy (elae) toward a certain purpose—growth, action, states of change.

To compel energy, a magician of Alorin (called a wielder) must learn to first identify and then usurp control over the pattern of a thing in order to command it. This is a laborious process requiring a lifetime of study. 

Unlike wielders, the Adepts in Cephrael’s Hand are born with the ability to manipulate certain patterns. Adept Healers can see creation patterns (life patterns) and mend them where they’ve become frayed. Truthreaders can hear certain thoughts and read minds to see what a man saw versus what he says he saw. Nodefinders have the ability to move long distances with a single step by traveling on the pattern of the world. And Wildlings tap into a variant aspect of the lifeforce called elae to shapeshift or even skip through time, among other intriguing talents. The last type of Adept can sense the patterns of nonliving things—stone, air, water, fire, etc.—and use those patterns to compel the elements themselves.

Adepts are limited by nature of their birth—they can only inherently work one category of patterns. They are limited by their training, their inherent intelligence, talent and ability. And of course, like us in real life, they are limited by their own vision of their capabilities.

Above all of these limitations, we find Adepts limited by “Balance.” The concept of Balance draws from my studies of Eastern philosophies. It is the high governing force, the yen and yang, karma, cause and effect, fate. It’s as esoteric and arcane as these concepts imply. How far can the Balance be pushed in one direction without lashing back at the wielder? Which actions stretch it and which ones defy it? Balance is a complex and complicated subject—as difficult to define as our own world’s myriad competing religions. The only real agreement on the subject of Balance is that all magical workings stretch the Balance to some degree. Understanding how far they can be stretched without snapping is central to survival in the arcane arts.

The concept of Balance provides, well, the “balancing” force to all magical workings in Cephrael’s Hand and is central to its plot. You see, the entire realm of Alorin is out of Balance and magic is dying—and the Adept race dies along with it.

As part of this special promotional extravaganza sponsored by Novel Publicity, the price of the Cephrael's Hand eBook edition is just 99 cents this week. What’s more, by purchasing this fantastic book at an incredibly low price, you can enter to win many awesome prizes. The prizes include a Kindle Fire, $450 in Amazon gift cards, and 5 autographed copies of the book. All the info you need to win one of these amazing prizes is RIGHT HERE. Remember, winning is as easy as clicking a button or leaving a blog comment--easy to enter; easy to win! To win the prizes:
  1. Purchase your copy of Cephrael's Hand for just 99 cents
  2. Enter the Rafflecopter contest on Novel Publicity
  3. Visit today’s featured social media event
About Cephrael's Hand: Two brothers find themselves on opposite sides of a great battle, neither knowing the other is alive... A traitor works in exile while preparing for the disaster only he knows is coming... A race of beings from beyond the fringe of the universe begin unmaking the world from within... And all across the land, magic is dying. Cephrael's Hand is the first novel in the award-winning series A Pattern of Shadow and Light. Get it on Amazon or Barnes & Noble. About the author: Melissa McPhail is a classically trained pianist, violinist and composer, a Vinyasa yoga instructor, and an avid Fantasy reader. She lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband, their twin daughters and two very large cats. Visit Melissa on her website, Twitter, Facebook, or GoodReads.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, December 21, 2012

Weird Weather, Twin Souls and the Natural Balance of Things a guest post by author Vanna Smythe

We welcome guest Vanna Smythe, author of the Anniversary of the Veil series. Enjoy her post today and don't forget to show some comment love. 

 Weird Weather, Twin Souls and the Natural Balance of Things by Vanna Smythe

This year it rained all through spring and early summer where I live.  This is not normal weather for late May and early June.  And when I say raining, I mean pouring. First grey clouds cover the sky, moving fast and angry, right before releasing sheets of cold water. Just as quickly as it starts, it stops again, and the sun comes out from behind the clouds, and for a few minutes, perhaps an hour it is as it should be, summer. Then the wind brings more dark grey clouds, and the cycle starts again.

Such odd, uncharacteristic, ominous weather is precisely the sort of thing Joinings, as described in my debut fantasy novel Protector (Anniversary of the Veil, Book 1), can prevent. In the world I created in Protector, the energy released as two who love each other truly come together, can be used for many ends. The two that make such a pair are called a Beacon and an Answer, and it is the Catalyst who releases their energy, then guides it towards the wrong that needs to be righted. 

However, such an arrangement is not natural.  The energy of true love is being used and abused, made to flow at the bidding of people. 

The main question raised in Protector is whether true love is stronger than any of the rules imposed, stronger than over 1000 years of tradition. 

Yet at the heart of the story are the characters. They are the ones who must deal with these issues and whose decisions will ultimately lead to the final answer.

There is Protector Kiyarran, or Kae, whose whole world unravels in the first few days after his biggest dream comes true.  He becomes a Protector of the Realm, an elite soldier, only to find out that the secrets they kept from him are enough to make the world an entirely different place. To top it all off, out of nowhere, he now feels strong love for Princess Issiyanna.

Issiyanna, or Issa, is to wed a man she does not love.  There is another whom she dreams of most every night and he is the one she loves beyond all.  That is because she is a Beacon, and people have been sent to collect her.

Will natural love blossom, or will the world continue as it has for the past 1000 years? Will true love still be used as only a tool, a means to an end? 

Well, I’m not going to tell you that right now.  Those answers will come at the end of the Anniversary of the Veil series, of course.

Where can you find Vanna?

Website and Blog:
Twitter: @Vanna_Smythe
Protector (Anniversary of the Veil, Book 1) on Amazon:

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Amber Kallyn's Birthday Bash with Presents for Readers!

Today Gladiator's Pen helps to celebrate author Amber Kallyn's special day so grab a pointy hat a slice of cake and let's get the party started!  Happy Birthday Amber! 

Welcome to Amber Kallyn’s Birthday Bash. We’ve got some great giveaways for you to win!

I love the holidays, but not necessarily having my birthday fall smack dab in the middle of them, LOL. But this year, I’d like to do something special for my readers. Over 25 authors and bloggers have come together to celebrate my 24th birthday (I won’t mention how many years I’ve turned 24 again ;)

We have some wonderful prizes, and all you have to do is leave a comment at the participating blogs to win. Easy.

And don’t forget, Bloodstorm (Heart of a Vampire, Book 1) is currently free right now for an early present 

Grand Prize
 One commenter will win their choice of a NOOK Simple Touch™ with GlowLight or a Kindle Paperwhite (Up to $140 value)

Ebooks from the following Authors
            Paloma Beck            (Coming Home, Contemporary romance)
            Jami Grey                  (Shadow’s Edge and Shadow’s Soul, Urban fantasy)
            Zrinka Jelic               (Paranormal romance)
            Christine Fairchild   (An Eye For Danger, romantic suspense)
            Marian Lanouette    (If I Fail, Mystery)
            Sylvia Hubbard        (5 Ebooks)
            Kenra Daniels          (Safe Heart and Kassern, Paranormal romance)

 A $40 Gift card to either Amazon or B&N
 Plus, there will be giveaways at some of the other blogs : )
How to win
The contest is open from Dec 19th to Saturday the 22nd. Hop to all the blogs. The winner will be chosen from the commenters on all participating blogs. Leave a comment at each blog for additional entries to win. That simple : ) Winner will be drawn on Sunday the 23rd.
Enjoy meeting new authors and book bloggers, and good luck on winning the Birthday Bash Prizes.

Monday, December 17, 2012

A Gladiator, Tardis, and The Great Liebster Award

This author has been given the honor of being nominated for the Liebster Awaard. I was nominated by Mary Ann Bernal, author of the Briton of Dane series. This award is a fantastic opportunity for the nominees to share a part of who they are outside of their usual posts.

Let’s start the fun with 11 questions from Mary Ann to her nominees.

1.  Tell us about any fun or unusual thing that has happened to you since you became a published author.
I think the most fun I have as an author is attending events. It’s great to talk to readers and authors see the displays and enjoy the different talks or workshops going on. I always learn something new to take away from each event.

2.  Are there any characters, fictional or otherwise, that you'd like to run away with in one of your novels?
I’d love to spend some time ghost hunting with Aaron Hewitt, parapsychologist from my first novel In the Dark. Aaron is smart, sexy, sweet, and dedicated to his studies and those he loves.

3.  Your favorite author has a new book that has been made into a motion picture.  Will you read the book before you see the movie?  If so, why or why not?
Yes! Reading the book before hand makes me feel like I’ve got the inside scoop. There are some things you can’t always put on film, like a character's inner thoughts. The reason behind an action or decision may not be completely clear, but in the book you may have gotten to ‘hear’ those inner thoughts or fears leading to it, giving more impact.

4.  Doctor Who's infamous telephone booth (TARDIS*) is outside your door.  What will you do?
*Time and Relative Dimension in Space time machine and spacecraft
Run inside and let the Doctor know his companion is ready for adventure. Doctor, can we go see the gladiators first? I’m sure the Cybermen won’t attack until we can get back.

5.  Your cover as a government operative has been blown and capture is imminent.  Facing torture and death, your choices are:  a) take the L-pill (cyanide), b) take your chances and make a run for it, c) give up, but agree to be turned, d) feign submission and release your grip on a grenade hidden in your jacket pocket.  What is the right answer, or is there one?
Gather what intell I can on my way out and run like hell. No sir, she went *points down opposite hall… that way.

6.  Do you prefer to cook or eat out?
I enjoy cooking, but I also enjoy someone else having to do the cleaning up :)

7.  You're marooned on a desert island with all the amenities of home, except company.  If you could invite one person to join you, who would you choose?
Just ONE? I would have to say my Sis Rose, we talk and write together every day. She’s my lifeline to sanity some of those lol. If I can sneak someone else it would be Russell Crowe, do I really need to expand on that?  Tee hee

8.  Who is your favorite sports team?
I have two both Rugby :) South Sydney Rabbitohs and the Jacksonville Axemen. I started to check out the sport when Russell Crowe bought interest in the Bunnies. Yes, very fangirl thing to do :). But I started watching the games and learning a bit and fell in love. It’s a kick ass (literally) sport. I was able to see the Bunnies in action one time, when they came to Jacksonville for an exhibition game with the Leeds Rinos and our very own Axemen. I don’t think I’ve ever screamed and cheered that much at a game. Lol. These men don’t wear pads, you can hear the impact of the hits up in the stands, so you know they’re not just taking it easy. Awesome experience I hope soon to repeat.

9.  If you could assume the persona of your favorite hero/heroine, who would that be?
Robin Hood. Okay maybe a lil corny, but he’s been my hero since I was a kid. A man who stands up for all that’s just. A man who will do anything to protect his love and his people.

10.  Do you prefer to read, listen to music or watch a movie?  Depending on your choice, what is your favorite book, song, film?
Another hard one, I really don’t have a preference, it depends on my mood and what I’m doing so I’ll list a fave for each one :)  Book fave, Aubrey- Maturin Series by Patrick O’Brian. *sighs Jack :)  Song: I don’t think I actually have a fave song. I love big band music though, it makes me smile and tap my toes.  Film: I have two, Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World and High Spirits. Bet you thought I would say Gladiator. :)

11.  Lastly, if you were permitted to choose which century you could live in, which era would you choose and why?
I think I would have to say the 1800s Life was hard back then, especially for women, but the nation was growing and changing quickly it would be an awesome thing to see and be apart of that history.

Now for the 11 Random Facts about Elise VanCise
1. I have been a huge Elvis fan all my life I have almost every book written about him and made my dad take me to Graceland when I was 14.
2. I was a volunteer firefighter
3. I lived 4 blocks from Johnny Depp in Mirimar, Florida when I was a kid.
4. I love ghost stories, can’t get enough of them
5. One of my favorite destinations is St. Augustine, Florida. Oldest city in the US and very haunted :)
6. My First Doctor was Number 4, Tom Baker.
7. Museums are some of my favorite places to explore.
8. My first job was the camera department of Eckard Drugs
9. I collect pencils from all the places I visit
10. I am also a photographer. Check out my photos on Redgage
11. I write for Examiner Travel and DVD articles so go here and subscribe ;)

Now for the fun part passing this prestigious award along to fellow writers/bloggers. Nominees for the Liebster Award are….

And here are the 11 Questions for my nominees

1. In your writing, what do you feel is your greatest strength and weakest point?
2. Do you have a favorite writing tool?
3. If you could have a writing retreat anywhere in the world, where would it be?
4. Dark Chocolate or Milk Chocolate?
5. What do you think of the 50 Shades of Grey phenomenon?
6. Do you have a favorite character, from books (your own or others), movies, or television and what makes them your fave?
7. Do you prefer character driven or plot driven stories?
8. Kindle or Nook?
9. How do you deal with a bad review or critique?
10. What book/s are you reading now?
11. Zombies attack, you can use 3 things from where you are sitting right now to defend yourself. What are they and could you survive?

Now the torch has been passed and the muse awaits me in the arena to battle the empty page. *Grabs gladius and looks around…. Now where did I put that shield?
You really didn't think I'd let the opportunity to post a gladiator pass now did ya?  *big grin* 

Friday, December 14, 2012

Last Day of Book Club Bash Last Chance to Enter and Q&A with author Jane George

Today is the last day of Book Club Bash sponsored by Novel Publicity. We're winding up the week with a short Q&A with author Jane George about her latest release X-It. Enjoy the chat and don't forget this is your last day to enter the raffelocopter giveaway at the bottom of the post! 

Why did you choose New York City as the setting for X-It?
‘Young people with a creative bent who make a pilgrimage to New York City’ is a common theme among many novels.  New York has a vibrancy, and a meanness, all its own that can provide a certain amount of validation to those who seek to make a name for themselves. And that dynamic has only grown over time to include a lot of cultural myth and illusion. With all that going on, how could I resist setting a novel in New York City?

The story takes place during 1980 and 1981. Why is that time period significant?
Events such as Reagan’s election, Lennon’s assassination, Princess Di’s wedding and the first space shuttle launch are mentioned in the book. That time illustrates the push-pull between the beginning of the “Greed is Good – get your slice of the pie or you’re a chump - Era,” and raw, punk rock authenticity. I lived in New York City in the early Eighties and it left a strong impression. Many landmarks mentioned in the book, such as the lighted Maxwell House sign, no longer exist. So consider X-It my love letter to a snapshot in time.

Is X-It autobiographical?
X-It is a work of fiction. Like all writers, I pull from my observations and experience of the world. There are parallels anyone can draw between the book and my life: I did work as a mannequin painter in Williamsburg, and my father did suffer a brain injury in an airplane accident when I was ten, for example. However, while fed from my experiences, the story itself is fabricated from my imagination. That’s pretty much my definition of art.

Why did you write X-It?
Because there’s a lot of illusion, manipulation, and bullshit that young adults must sift through once they’re on their own. And because people DO prevail over all that mess. Not always, but it happens.

About Jane George
Author and illustrator Jane George lives in the San Francisco Bay Area. She holds a BFA in illustration from the California College of the Arts and has won awards for her art.
A dedicated writer for over a decade, she produces and publishes her YA fantasy and literary titles under her personal imprint, Paper Grove Publishing. Find out more at:

About X-It
In 1980 NYC, eighteen-year-old J.J. Buckingham is an uptight trendoid. Working as a mannequin painter and a counter girl, she moonlights as a creature of the nightclubs. J.J. falls for aloof, crazy-talented artist and bicycle messenger X-It. In order to win his love, she succumbs to the dark machinations of drug dealer Marko Voodoo. X-It will love her if she’s the queen of underground Manhattan, right? Her plan backfires with horrendous consequences. J.J. must scrap her way out of a maze of drugs, clubs, and danger before she realizes she’s worthy of a better life. And true love might just come in the form of a clean-cut geek in Buddy Holly glasses.

Purchase Links:
Kindle Edition:
Paperback Edition:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Anderson O'Donnell talks about the importance of book clubs for Book Club Bash Day 3

In the ludis today we have Anderson O'donnel, author of Kingdom guesting for the Book Club Bash sponsored by Novel Publicity. Don't forget to enter the contest below the post for a chance to win free books, Amazon gift cards and more. 

It Take a Village: The Importance of Book Clubs to the Creative Process by Anderson O’Donnell

I’ve got a dirty little secret to share: When I published KINGDOM, it wasn’t finished. Sure, there was a beginning, middle, and an end. The narrative made some semblance of sense; I did a half decent job following the classic hero arc. And yes, it was edited and had a sexy cover and some snazzy typeset, but even after it was released, it was still just words on the page. Something was still missing—something critical, that thing that would breathe live into the words I threw down on the page: Readers.

And I don’t mean customers who buy the book and let KINGDOM languish on their Kindles; I’m talking about readers—the people who devour books, dissecting them and freeing the characters from the author’s constraints and allowing the artistic process to continue. It’s never really done; but there is only so much the artist can do before the job becomes communal. To paraphrase Hillary, real art takes a village.

Why Readers
As the writer, the creator, I mold the characters, give them their personalities and their conflicts, and then I set the narrative in motion. But these characters, as well as the story itself, are never fully realized until the writer sets them free—until that moment, they are still too much a product of the author’s own psyche. In order to function as art that is capable of transcending, and therefore, transforming—the ultimate goal of any creative endeavor, including, of course, literary fiction, the author must relinquish control. This can be a painful process, but one that is ultimately necessary if a writer’s creation is to reach its full potential: the artist is ultimately limited by his or her own perspective. The best we can do as writers is start the process—and that’s no small feat. We apprehend the story, snatching it out of the ether and giving it form. But then we must step aside, and allow the community to take our creation and claim it as its own.

Salvation Through Book Clubs
 Nowhere is this communal creative process more apparent than book clubs and reading groups. One of the most overlooked aspects of the digital publishing revolution is the ability of readers across the globe to engage in conversations about literature. Even traditional book clubs are flourishing, as members use various forums and social media to continue the conversations begun in living rooms. While individual readers can, of course, continue the creative process described above, it’s these communal readings and discussions that are capable—through discussion and passionate debate—pushing the writing process toward its completion, freeing the characters from my own limitations.

I’ve done what I can as the artist. And so now, it’s with great excitement that I turn KINGDOM over to the Book Club Bash—to passionate readers ready to continue the creative process, and finish the process I started in my basement, so many years ago.  

About Kingdom
In a secret laboratory hidden under the desert, a covert bioengineering project--codename "Exodus"--has discovered the gene responsible for the human soul.

Somewhere in the neon sprawl outside the nation's collapsing economic core, a group of renegade monks are on the verge of uncovering a secret that has eluded mankind for centuries.

In a glittering tower high above the urban decay, an ascendant U.S. Senator is found dead--an apparent, yet inexplicable, suicide.

And in the streets below, a young man races through an ultra modern metropolis on the verge of a violent revolution....closing in on the terrible truth behind Exodus--and one man's dark vision for the future of mankind.

Welcome to Triber City.

About the Author

Anderson O’Donnell lives in Connecticut with his wife and 2 sons. His debut novel, Kingdom, a dystopian, biopunk thriller, is now available in paperback and ebook format. Kingdom is the first part of the Tiber City Trilogy. Look for part two, Exile, in the summer of 2013.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Book Club Bash Day 2 Lenore Skomal asks Can those in a coma hear us?

Welcome back to day 2 of the Book Club Bash sponsorned by Novel Publicity. Today Gladiator's Pen is hosting BLUFF author, Lenore Skomal. She's asking an interesting question to readers today. Don't forget to enter the contest below for a chance to win some great prizes and leave a lil comment love. Now welcome Lenore Skomal to the ludis.... 

Can those in a coma hear us? By Lenore Skomal

It’s the pivotal question that launched BLUFF. Not a revolutionary or new question, but one that persists and is debated in the medical community, for one, and the world at large.

In doing the research for BLUFF, I spoke to many physicians and caregivers, and my straw poll indicates the group was evenly divided. While most doctors acquiesce that they don’t rightly know, their druthers list toward the “no, not likely.”

While my mother wasn’t in a coma, technically, she was in a deep, morphine sleep toward the end of her life, thanks to a losing battle with bone cancer. She drifted in and out of long periods of consciousness, and it had me wondering, perhaps obsessively so, about what exactly she was aware of. Her primary care doctors were sensitive about not talking about her condition in front of her, even when she was snoring. I appreciate this more than they will ever know. There was a level of respect that I bow to.

After I wrote BLUFF, an in-law of mine was admitted to the hospital and kept in a medical coma for a month. When I asked him about it later, he wasn’t comfortable discussing it, other than to say, “I don’t remember a thing.”

Others who have come out of comas have had similar responses. But they are not the norm. Actually, there are those documented cases of coma patients who do remember, and can even recall the offhand words of a careless doctor or insensitive nurse telling loved ones that they’ll never come out of it. Those cases are what keep the right to life movement fueled, especially in desperate cases where there is no hope. Oddly, however, there are no numbers to prove the case either way.

By creating this dilemma for my protagonist, I wanted to push the envelope and explore not just the idea that a comatose patient could hear, but much more. I wanted to know what it might be like to be trapped in one’s body, with no visible means of communication. And not just be trapped, but forced to face the decisions you’ve made and live with those outcomes while not being able to defend or explain yourself. My protagonist, Jude Black, finds herself in that position. And as she lies there, immobile, some strange things happen. One of them is that she actually finds herself communicating and developing a friendship with someone she loathed in her waking life.

As with most of my writing, this unusual outcome underscores something much larger and pervasive—a human frailty—basically, our tendency to judge one another. When everything is stripped away—social setting, class-consciousness, petty differences, toxic gossip—sometimes that’s enough to truly see someone. And find a commonality that can create a relationship, a bond. I played with this theme in the book, and I think you will agree that the unlikely friendship that transpires between Jude and Mary Shannon is not just poignant; it’s heartfelt and true.

To be certain, the question about just what someone in a coma can experience won’t be answered definitively by BLUFF or by me, that is unless I find myself in a hospital bed one day in a persistent vegetative state. And if that happens my friends, you can rest assured—I will get back to you about it.

 To the medical world, I was a host body, surviving only to bring a new life into the world. And while I wanted to die more than anything in the world, I never wanted this. No, I never wanted to cease to exist. This was the worst death of all.

Jude Black lives in that in-between, twilight place teetering on death but clinging to life in order to bring her baby into this world. Only she knows the circumstances surrounding her mysterious fall off the bluff that landed her in the hospital being kept alive by medical intervention. Only she knows who the father of her baby is. In this poignantly crafted literary novel, the mystery unfolds and the suspense builds as the consequences of Jude’s decisions 

About the Author 
Lenore Skomal is the author of the recently released novel Bluff. As an author, Lenore wants you to eat her books. She wants you to chew them in your teeth, savor them on your tongue, breathe them in, and feel her words in your skin. Her passionate desire is to touch your heart, inspire you, and luxuriate in the world of the written word. Winner of multiple awards for blogging, literature, biography and humor, Lenore Skomal’s catalogue spans many genres. With 30 years of writing experience, over 17 books published and a daily blog, the consistent themes in her work are the big issues the human experience and adding depth and voice to the intricacies involved in living a multi-dimensional existence.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Book Club Bash begins with author Pavarti K Taylor Behind the Veil

Today begins the Book Club Bash sponsored by Novel Publicity. The next four days Gladiator's Pen will be host to authors celebrating new releases and giveaways. Be sure to check back every day for what's new and enter for awesome prizes.  Kicking off the event is author of Shadows on the Wall, Pavarti K Tyler. Pour a cuppa and enjoy the read. 

Behind the Veil: My Experience with Hijab by Pavarti K Tyler

Hijab is the headscarf some Muslim women wear.  There is great debate over the need, use and appropriateness of the hijab, which has fueled cultural debate and conflict. In Islam there is a cultural practice of covering a woman’s hair and neck, this is considered modest dress and the roots of the practice are based in the Qu’ran.  There are multiple surahs (verses) and hadiths (oral histories) which are used to explain the need for men and women to dress modestly.

The specifics of what needs to be covered is controversial.  Some say only the hair must be covered, others say everything but the eyes and hands should be.  From Burquas in Afghanistan to hijabs in France, it seems everyone has an opinion.

In 2001, right after 9/11, I participated in an event called “Sisters for Solidarity.”  The sponsoring group was an interfaith movement for social awareness.  Over 200,000 women in the US donned hijab for Eid Al-Fitr, a celebration that marks the end of the fasting month of Ramadan.

Somewhere in the depths of my basement there is a picture of me with a beautiful red-and-gold scarf covering my hair and neck. For three days in November, 2011, I went to work, the grocery store, church and everywhere else with my hair covered.

I could discuss the political reasons for doing this, or my own religion beliefs, but what I learned during those three days has nothing to do with either. I donned a headscarf for very personal reasons, which I believed deeply and still hold dear.  And every moment I wore it, I felt stronger in my convictions.  Something about a physical declaration of my beliefs was empowering and liberating.

I also felt a part of something.  Other women in hijab would stop, smile and speak with me no matter where we were.  It was a kind of sisterhood I haven’t experienced in other parts of my life.  Even when they found out I wasn’t Muslim, the kind response I received for what I was doing was deeply touching.

Simultaneously, I found the covering very oppressive.  It was hot under there, and kept slipping.  This was probably mostly due to my inexperience, but I found it physically cumbersome and something that needed constant monitoring.  I was also very surprised to find that a number of co-workers with whom I had been close to did not speak with me during the days I was wearing hijab. I received sideways glances on the bus and subway, not the usual smiles and commuter camaraderie I was accustomed to.

There are three female characters in my novel, Shadow on the Wall.  Each has an opinion of and relationship with wearing the hijab.  I pulled on my short experience to inform how I wrote these characters. Rebekah, Darya and Maryam - each of them represents a different archetype of Middle Eastern women.  While it's certainly not an exhaustive representation, the issues of gender and the veil are explored in depth through the course of the story. 

What I learned during the Sisters for Solidarity movement - and what I hope Shadow on the Wall conveys - is that covering is a deeply personal experience. Ideally each  woman would be able to decide for herself without the pressures of politics, family or cultural assumptions.  Unfortunately, we don’t live in that world, which is what makes the discussion so volatile. 

I’m curious as I move into publishing Shadow on the Wall how readers will feel about these women.  Which will they respond to?  With which will they identify?

Behind the Veil
Recai Osman: Muslim, philosopher, billionaire and Superhero?

Controversial and daring, Shadow on the Wall details the transformation of Recai Osman from complicated man to Superhero. Forced to witness the cruelty of the Morality Police in his home city of Elih, Turkey, Recai is called upon by the power of the desert to be the vehicle of change. Does he have the strength to answer Allah’s call or will his dark past and self doubt stand in his way?

Pulling on his faith in Allah, the friendship of a Jewish father-figure and a deeply held belief that his people deserve better, Recai Osman must become The SandStorm.

In the tradition of books by Margaret Atwood and Salman Rushdie, Shadow on the Wall tackles issues of religion, gender, corruption and the basic human condition. Beautiful and challenging, this is not a book to miss.

 Purchase Links:

About the Author
Pavarti K Tyler is an artist, wife, mother and number cruncher. She graduated Smith College in 1999 with a degree in Theatre. After graduation, she moved to New York, where she worked as a Dramaturge, Assistant Director and Production Manager on productions both on and off Broadway.

Later, Pavarti went to work in the finance industry several international law firms. She now operates her own accounting firm in the Washington DC area, where she lives with her husband, two daughters and two terrible dogs. When not preparing taxes, she is busy working as the Director of Marketing at Novel Publicity or penning her next novel.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, December 3, 2012

Gladiators tug at Karen S. Moore's Heart Strings

Today in the ludis we're tugging the Heart Strings of Karen S. Moore. Refill your cuppa, sit back and enjoy our chat about the author and her latest release. 

Tell us 3 secret things about Karen Moore:
One of my ambitions is to own a donkey. 
People often get the impression that I am quite reserved but I love to sing, dance and laugh as much as I can!
I live in a house over 150 years old . . .

You began writing at a young age. What drew you to write then and now that you’re all grown up?
At 7 years old, I was given a Scooby-Doo notepad.  I was a huge Scooby fan and I remember thinking that I'd like to write him some new adventures.  Having written one story, I think I may have suggested to my parents that I send it to the program makers!  They quickly disillusioned me and tried to explain that there was already a team of writers in operation.  Ah, the confidence of youth!

And since I grew up . . . hmmm, I'm not sure I ever did truly grow up.  I think, that's an important part of writing and keeping your motivation.  You have to continue to be excited by life and allow yourself to play with words, characters and plotlines.

You’re celebrating the release of Heart Strings with us today. Tell us about it?
'Heart Strings' is a collection of ten short stories, united by their strong emotional content.  The book spans a mix of genres, including Mystery, Ghost Story and Fantasy but the overriding themes are Relationships and Romance. 

Throughout the pages, some colouful characters emerge, including: Athena, a reclusive lover of literature, Marina, a thoroughly Modern Witch and Bill, a cynical writer, forced to embrace the Festive Season.

Do you have a favorite story in the book? What makes it so?
I think the story I am most satisfied with is the opener: 'Athena'.  The whole story grew from this very strong, yet vulnerable female lead.  Athena has given up work due to illness and now amuses herself with cake-baking and other people's lives.  She watches everything from her window, between turning the pages of the latest crime novel.

The fact that her world is so small makes for an intense study of the relationships within her family and the new friendship she forges with her enigmatic neighbour.

Out of all your books, which one would you spend a day inside of? What would you do or whom would you spend time with?
'Heart Strings' is the only long length work of fiction I have published apart from Poetry Collections.  I don't think I'd want to spend time inside them, too many random words, swirling around!

At this moment, I think I would hang out with Bill from 'Rewriting Christmas'.  He's throwing a Christmas party, heading to Santa's Grotto and playing in the snow.  With the approach of the Festive Season, it would be great to rediscover my inner child! 

What do you feel are key elements when writing romance?
The relationship between your leading female and leading male is central. 
Dialogue is very important, the way your couple interact and look at each other, what they have in common, or disagree on.  There has to be a spark between them, as in a real life romance!

What inspired you to write the stories of Heart Strings?
I've been writing a lot of short stories since moving from Wales to Ireland so it must be something to do with the location!  I do think a significant change in your personal life can aid inspiration.  You find yourself in different surroundings, meeting new people.  I also live in a very quiet countryside location these days. I have to write to amuse myself!

How do you choose what stories go into a fiction collection? Were there some that didn’t make the cut?
I did wonder whether to include two of the stories in this collection: 'The Professor's Child' and 'Ghost Writer'.  I wrote these, back in Wales, when I was running a small publishing company and they were released as individual booklets as part of a 'Mini Lit' series. 

The tone in these stories is a little more serious than that of the others.  However, I feel in a collection like this you can get away with offering different genres and viewpoints.

Is there a character in the book you would like to be romanced by? Who and what would he do for you?
I think the character closest to my ideal man would be Luke from 'Roadtrip'.  He and Jenna are best friends who become lovers.  As my husband is my best friend, I think some of the conversations the two of them have echo our own closeness and banter. 

Do you have any up coming projects or events that you would like to share?
I've started work on a new book inspired by two of the stories in 'Heart Strings': 'Return to the Country' and 'The Move'.  The stories are set in a small Irish town and feature many compelling characters from the local community.  I feel these characters are crying out to be developed and given stories of their own, so it's looking like it could become a novella! 

I'm also going to be teaching a workshop called 'Story Wise' from February onwards, in a range of locations, across the Southeast of Ireland.  I'll put the details up on my website and Facebook Page, when confirmed.

Where can we find Karen Moore and your books? 
Download Heart Strings at: (Amazon UK)
                                        or: (Amazon US)
 Visit me at:
My Website:

Thank you for joining us Karen you're welcome back to the ludis any time! Show Karen some comment love, have  you read Heart Strings or any of her other titles?