Saturday, 28 January 2012

Author Interview - Arshad Ahsanuddin

Arshad Ahsanuddin, author of the Pact Arcanum series, took time out of his incredibly busy schedule to answer a few questions for us.

You can find more information on Arshad and his books on Goodreads, and you can purchase his books from from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords.

Arshad, thank you for taking time out for us today!  When and why did you begin writing? What inspired you to write?
October 2009. I always intended to write a novel, and I had it all planned out beforehand, but I decided I needed to write something simple first to get used to the idea. For practice, you understand. So I wrote down the vampire story that I had been playing with in the back of my mind for fun. Then things got out of control.

When did you first consider yourself an author?
When I called my editor for an update, and he didn’t recognize my name immediately. Then, it clicked and he said, “Oh, Arshad Ahsanuddin, the novelist?” That’s when it hit me.

How has your environment/upbringing colored your writing?
My parents were fairly liberal about religious and social issues, and let us make up our own minds about our beliefs. That allowed me the mental flexibility to posit shifts in society’s attitudes that might be acceptable in the future.

How do you come up with the titles for your books?
My books are about vampires and vampire slayers, so there is a tension between who rules the night and the daylight. Sunset and sunrise are moments of duality, caught between light and darkness, like many of my characters.

What tools do you feel are must-haves for writers?
A good ear for spoken language, a competent grasp of grammar, and at least some education in narrative structure.

If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
Sunset has been through over one hundred minor drafts, comprising 5 major revisions. Even now, when I look at it, I kept seeing things I wanted to change, which was the reason I had it re-edited and released a second edition.

Which character did you have the most fun writing? Do you like one more than the others?
The character Lorcan was fun to write. He started out as an amalgam of four minor characters from the original draft, but then he seemed intriguing enough that I beefed up his role considerably into a major character.

Do you ever suffer from writer's block? If so, what do you do to get over it?
Writer’s block is an illusion, created by a lack of direction and planning. If you know the overall structure of your story, then you won’t find yourself floundering in the middle.

You have written multiple books. Do you have a favorite?
People tell me that Moonlight is some of my best work so far, but I don’t have a personal favorite.

What are you reading right now?
Reamde, by Neal Stephenson.

What were your feelings when you first saw the finished product of your first book?
I was tired, but elated. It was a long time coming, and a tremendous amount of work. The learning curve was VERY steep, and I'm still picking up new skills as I go.

Thank you Arshad! We wish you all the best of luck with your current and future novels.

To find out more about author Arshad Ahsanuddin, check out his author profile on Goodreads, visit his website, or follow him on Twitter.

Bloodlust, desire, supernatural gifts, and conflicting passions ignite on every page of Sunset, the groundbreaking vampire drama by Arshad Ahsanuddin. With millennia-old magic, emerging romance, and ever-shifting allegiances, this inventive new series unveils a scintillating, homoerotic world of Nightwalkers, Daywalkers, Sentinels, and Humans, who battle for world dominance in the not-too-distant future.

In Sunset, the first book in the Pact Arcanum series, the action starts in Los Angeles in the year 2040. The terrorist Medusa and her followers lay siege to a star-studded celebrity awards ceremony, complete with a nuclear bomb. One individual, the vampire Nicholas Jameson, must come forth in all his supernatural might to thwart the imminent mass destruction.

Nick, a Daywalker, serves in a supernatural society that exists in the shadows of human existence. When he takes on the terrorists, he exposes his powers and advanced technology that had been heretofore unknown to humanity. In the wake of the confrontation, the fragile peace between the races hangs perilously in the balance.

For tens of thousands of years, the vampires, called Nightwalkers, had been entrenched in a bitter feud with their enemies, the Sentinels, those born to destroy the Nightwalkers with magic and steel. The battle drew to a close once the Redeemer offered the two sides a new path, allowing the Nightwalkers to step back into the sunlight as Daywalkers, in return for giving up the sword.

It is incumbent on Nick to uphold the Armistice that exists among these tenuous factions. As conflict escalates for the imperiled Armistice, Nick must undertake whatever means necessary to secure peace for his family, friends, and the world as he knows it.

Can Nick overtake the dark forces and guide the humans and metahumans into coexistence? As clashes rage and desires smolder, Sunset offers a gripping tale of other-worldly intrigue certain to pique the passions of vampire fans and hot-blooded romance devotees alike.

Sunrise, the action-packed second book in the groundbreaking vampire saga by Arshad Ahsanuddin, once again amps up the bloodlust, desire, supernatural powers, and conflicting passions that converge—and violently clash—in this world torn asunder by warring factions.

The scintillating prequel to Sunset charts the rise of the Armistice. Takeshi, Rory, and Anaba assume their supernatural statures as the Winds of Earth, Air, and Fire, and fall prey to vampire predators.

San Francisco, 2015. The three musicians of the band Nightfall are out celebrating the long-awaited triumph of their debut album. Their destinies are forever changed when a sudden attack in a deserted alley propels them into a millennia-old battle that tries their allegiances and changes the very nature of their beings.

When their festivities are cut short by the approach of two strange young men, what begins as an ordinary mugging quickly spirals out of control as the frightened trio attempt to defend themselves against the assault and discover that their attackers are not human at all. Death looms for all three, until they are rescued by a man watching from the shadows, who leaves behind only a mysterious and prophetic message to guide them.
After the attack, the three are thrust unwillingly into a nightmarish society of vampires and vampire hunters, each chosen to play a pivotal role in this supernatural underworld. Takeshi is born to be the Wind of Earth, leader of the Sentinels, mystical soldiers in an endless war of extermination against the Nightwalkers who prey upon humanity. Anaba is transformed into the Wind of Fire, the strongest spellcaster of her generation. Rory becomes the Wind of Air, a psychic of unparalleled power, but is taken by their enemies and forged into a weapon to bring them down.

Can the three put aside their differences to defeat the bloodthirsty evil they face, or will their fledgling alliance be destroyed by the dark forces that have aligned against them? With bloodlust, passion, and fantastical intrigue, this gripping tale of vampire romance is certain to get your own blood pumping and heart racing.

"Magic requires sacrifice."

Alexandria, Egypt, 2008. The Sentinel assault on the vampire citadel was broken by a spell that consumed the caster and destroyed everything around him. Three of the four Sentinel leaders and all of their strongest allies perished in the conflagration. Only two of the vampire hunters walked away: Antonio Martinez, last of the Winds, and Edgar Jameson, his trusted lieutenant.

Afterward, the two parted company. Antonio set out to rebuild the Sentinel forces that had been decimated in the failed attack. Edgar renounced his Sentinel heritage and retired to raise his family. Circumstances drew them together again, eventually. Will the Sentinel curse bring them down just as it has all who came before them, or can the choices they make trump destiny?

The sequel to Sunset picks up the tale through the eyes of Tobias Jameson, who must match wits with both the enemy he knows, and a new menace arising from the virtual world.

Washington, DC, 2042. Nick discovers that Andrea Daniels, daughter of the President of the United States, has a dangerous supernatural destiny as a future leader of the Sentinel race. Forced into the unenviable position of restricting her freedom, her father accepts Nick’s brother Toby as her protector. Toby has other things on his mind than babysitting duty, but everything changes when the Court of Shadows learns of the latent Wind in his charge and moves to eliminate her.


 “Mortals die. It’s what they do.”

Rory understands. The death of his lover Takeshi is a devastating blow from which he can’t bear to recover. Lorcan takes it upon himself to coax his friend and ally back to life. Then an innocent gesture of affection places them both in the center of an explosive scandal, forcing them to make choices they might otherwise never have considered. Magic requires sacrifice. Will their friendship survive the pressure of Nightwalker politics, or will their relationship be just another casualty of war?

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Author Interview - Eric Edstrom

We had the opportunity to speak with Eric Edstrom, author of Undermountain, a YA adventure, and ask him a few questions about his book, work life, and upcoming projects. 

Six teens and a grizzled old guide embark on a ten day expedition into the wilds of the Canadian Rockies. Some came for adventure. Some came to learn. Two came to escape.
For sixteen year old Danny Michaelson the hike is a chance to escape—if only for short time—his troubled home.

For Breyona Lewis the hike is an escape from a terrible memory—of an assault she denies even to herself.

But when Danny and Breyona encounter a creature out of legend—an enormous beast they immediately tag as "bigfoot"—the hike suddenly becomes a race for their lives.

Swept into a secret underground city and told they may never leave, the hikers find themselves in the middle of a war between the bigfeet and their rebellious servant race, the tangoga. In their desperate attempt to escape, Danny and Breyona uncover the terrible plans that both races have for Earth.
To escape, to live, to save the Earth—Danny must fight. Breyona must surrender.

You can find Undermountain here:

Thank you Eric for taking the time to talk with us.  How would you describe Undermountain to someone who has never heard of it?
It starts off as a simple camping trip for six teens. It's kind of like an Outward Bound excursion in the Canadian Rockies. They're led by an experienced mountaineer who has seen just about everything the mountains have to offer. But then they encounter a creature they tag as "bigfoot" and the real adventure begins. They end up in the city of Undermountain, where the bigfeet live. There's a lot of adventure, a little splash of scifi, a dash of romance and a lot of "run for your life!" It's not Harry and the Hendersons, that's for sure. It's a YA adventure.

Were the characters in your book created around people in your life? How did you decide on the character names, Danny and Breyona?
Danny was not based on anyone in particular. He's more a product of his situation. His dad is not in his life and his mom is dating. He particularly hates his mom's new boyfriend. He's also turning sixteen in the book, which is a huge milestone age. So Danny is your average kid with normal problems.

Breyona is an upper class girl from Chicago. In the first draft of the novel her name was Beyonce! I knew it was a placeholder name because the name brings too much along with it. I don't mind if readers picture Breyona as a sixteen year old Beyonce though.

Do you have a favorite character? Which character did you have the most fun writing?
I loved writing both Danny and Breyona for different reasons. They have very different world views and histories, so the things they notice and the way they interpret events tends to be very different. I enjoy experiencing the crazy world they end up from those different perspectives

I also really like writing scenes with the tangoga creatures. Because they have two heads (don't worry, it's cool), they argue with each other a lot. I think they are hilarious, even though many of them are terrible villains. In a way, I identify with these weird guys because in real life I'm often of two minds about things. The tangoga literally have two personalities, and they have to find a way to get along with each other. It's a metaphor for the human condition, and part of the theme of the book.

What was your main source of inspiration for the story?
I just had this thought one day. "What if bigfoot isn't some kind of missing-link ape creature? What if he's part of a technologically advanced species that lives in secret city deep under the mountains. I followed that little thread and uncovered an amazing adventure.

Is there someone in your life who inspired you to write? Was there another author or a teacher who encouraged you?
My desire to write came from reading fun books. I spent endless hours reading fantasy novels as a kid. Anne Mccaffrey, Raymond Feist, Dennis L. McKiernan, Terry Brooks, Stephen R. Donaldson, Lyndon Hardy. I'm also still somewhat obsessed with Star Wars. There are a few Star Wars "easter eggs" in the book. My editor caught one or two of them.

I wanted to write a story that I would want to read. It was that simple.

What tools do you feel are must-haves for writers?
There are some practical tools that I love: OmniOutliner is software I use for outlining my stories. I love it. I then transfer that outline to Scrivener, which is where I organize the actual prose. Finally, my digital recorder is essential because I dictate my first draft. I find that it's much faster and helps me get the first draft out of the way. I hate that part of the process, so I like to get it over with quickly.

What is your work schedule like when you're writing?
My process is evolving, but I consider my outline to be an alpha draft. It's much more detailed than a mere outline of "this happens, then this happens, then this happens." It contains all the plot points, plus bits of dialogue and the big emotional beats I want to include. I'm very much about mood and pace, so I encode those ideas into the outline. For the next book, I'll spend about six weeks in outlining mode. I'll get it broken into pretty detailed chapters and then I'll dictate the story. I really like to do this because when you're dictating, you can't see what you just wrote. When I type I always go back, endlessly tweaking each paragraph. When I'm dictating, I can't see it, so I push forward. Getting to "the end" is the most important goal. That doesn't mean I accept crappy writing or storytelling. I'll revise pretty heavily, but it feels like I'm polishing at that point.

Many people say, "I could never do that." That's what I thought. It took me quite a few tries before I got into it. Getting over the self-consciousness is the first obstacle. After that, it's training yourself to not compose sentences. You have to just speak as if you're telling your friend a cool story. If you stumble over a description or a bit of dialogue, keep going. You can always say, "note to self: that scene sucked. It should go like this …"

Once you forget the recorder and the words start flowing, you can get huge word counts in very short amounts of time.

If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in Undermountain?
There are few things I wish I'd included in it to better set up some things coming in the final two books.  But they are not big deals, just details that only I would ever notice.

Are you working on another book? Can you tell us a little bit about it?
Of course! Undermountain was conceived as a trilogy. I know how much I hate waiting for sequels, so I'm committed to getting them finished as quickly as I can. My plan is to launch book two this summer and book three around Christmas. If I can do it faster, I certainly will. In addition, I have numerous ideas for short stories brewing.

What are you reading right now?
I'm reading Kevin J. Anderson's Saga of Seven Suns series right now. I'm currently reading book two, A Forest of Stars.

What were your feelings when you first saw the finished product for Undermountain?
Immense satisfaction followed by anxiety about how it would be received. So far the feedback has been positive, so the task now is to make people aware that it exists!

Thanks again Eric for taking time out of your busy schedule for us.  Hopefully we can help get word out of your book.  We wish you all the luck with your future novels!

You can find out more about Eric and Undermountain on  Eric's website. 

Feel like stalking Eric?  You can do that here:  Twitter or Facebook.

Friday, 20 January 2012

Author Interview - A.M. Hargrove

I had the pleasure of interviewing A.M. Hargrove, author of two YA paranormal romance novels, Survival, book 1 of The Guardians of Vesturon series, and Resurrection, book 2 of The Guardians of Vesturon series.

You can find SURVIVAL here (FREE!):
"Maybe I was caught between the two worlds. I was having serious trouble distinguishing fantasy from reality."

While on a backpacking trip in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park, nineteen-year-old Maddie Pearce finds her world has been thrown into a vortex and is madly spinning toward the impossible. Abducted by a mad psychopath, Maddie narrowly escapes with her life. But that is only the beginning. Her mysterious rescuer introduces her to a world that Maddie has difficulty accepting as reality. Will this strikingly gorgeous stranger be the key to her future or will she return to her mundane world, scarred from her experience? Follow Maddie as she is forced to make difficult decisions that carry her to mysterious places only to find that perhaps it was all for nothing.

  You can buy RESURRECTION here:
"Maddie knew she was dying. Her life started to flash before her. She had visions of running down the soccer field, scoring a goal, eating her mother’s yummy, homemade, sticky cinnamon rolls, standing in her foyer listening to the police tell her father that her mother had been killed in a car accident. Each vision was disturbingly clear—as if it was happening again."

Rayn Yarrister, the first-born son and Leader of The Guardians, has been imprisoned on Vesturon for breaking their most sacred of covenants. He is suddenly jolted by Maddie's telepathic pleas for help, as her life hangs in the balance. Can he alert The Guardians in time to save his soulmate? Or will he face his trial alone and broken without his one true love?

In Resurrection (Book 2), The Guardians of Vesturon are facing their biggest challenges as Earth is threatened by an invading species from a distant planet intent on destroying it for its resources. The Guardians, as protectors of the universe, have been assembled to defend not only Earth, but other vulnerable worlds as well. The Yarrister family is threatened by an unknown entity intent on discrediting them. Will they uncover this plot in time to save themselves from ruin? Will The Guardians succeed in stopping the Xanthians, or will Earth be invaded and ravaged by this marauding species?

**We are also giving away a copy of Resurrection, newly released on January 18, 2012, to one lucky winner. See below for give away details.**
A.M., thank you for stopping by the Making Connections blog and taking the time to talk with us!

1. When did you first know you wanted to be a writer?
I always enjoyed writing and minored in journalism in college. I have always been an avid reader and had all sorts of story ideas but after college, I got caught up in pursuing a career that totally veered away from journalism. My major was Public Relations but I always toyed with the idea of going to medical school. I actually went to work as a pharmaceutical sales rep and then moved up the ranks into management. Honestly, I would still be there today if the company I worked for hadn’t been bought by a larger firm. My job was eliminated so I looked at that as my opportunity to make a break and go for a major career change. I think I’m the only person in the world that looked at her job loss as a good thing!

2. Do you have a favorite character in Survival? Which character did you have the most fun writing?
Most definitely. All of them J! Actually, I don’t really have a favorite. I love writing about all of them. I have distinct pictures in my mind of each and I love to see where their personalities take me. I know that sounds the opposite of what you think I would do, but when I start writing, my characters take on a life of their own and often times develop in different directions than what I had originally intended.

3. What is your work schedule like when you're writing?
I like to write about four hours everyday. However, when I am deep into the book I am writing, I could stay there for twelve hours. My hands can’t work the keyboard fast enough. Mind you, I am talking about the roughest of drafts! I am now coming off three weeks of intense activity. I was on a deadline for Resurrection and I am getting ready to launch a website ( simultaneously. It’s been a bit crazy here :D

4. What was your main source of inspiration for your writing?
This sounds crazy, but running inspires me. I have created almost every one of my characters and plots while I’ve been running. I listen to music and just go and by the time I get home, I have all sorts of ideas that are eager to move from my head to my Mac.

5.  What is the hardest part of writing a novel?
Editing and revisions. Editing makes me insane. There are times I want to scream. When I write, I often edit as I go along, but the book is still a rough draft. When I move into the crucial edits is when I get crazy. It’s like I know a part needs to be changed, but when I start changing it, the whole story somehow gets mucked up. So then I have to go back and rearrange a bunch of stuff. Not much fun at all.

6. Is there someone in your life who inspired you to write? Was there another author or a teacher who encouraged you?
My husband really was the one who encouraged me to go for it. He had more faith in me than I did initially. Also, I had a couple of journalism professors that pushed me. I say I minored in Journalism, but I was only one class short of a double major, so I wrote a ton in college.

7. Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Lots of them actually. First off is the strong female. (Possible spoiler here—you’ll see that come out more in Resurrection.) Second, sometimes there are things out of your control that have drastic effects on your life. How you handle those situations can set you apart from everyone else. Third, the whole sex thing…(possible spoiler here—the MCs couldn’t have premarital sex because of the Vesturion covenant. I wanted to show that sometimes waiting can be a good thing. Knowing your partner, trust, honesty, integrity, etc can save you a ton of heartache in the end). Fourth, there are some really good guys out there. Just be patient and keep looking if you haven’t found the right one. Fifth, sometimes a higher power can be at work when you least expect it.

8. What, in your opinion, are the most important elements of good writing?
First off, a good story. If there isn’t a good story, no matter how good the writing is, everything flops. Second, good character development. I like to be able to see and picture the characters I read about. Third, conflict. I LOVE conflict. Well, I’m sure most readers do, but I will read a book that everyone seems to love and I’ll be disappointed in the lack of good, solid conflict. Last, I want the story to move. Sometimes I find I have rushed through writing a scene because I fear it is moving too slow. I have to temper myself many times.

9. Can you share a little of your current work with us?
I am currently writing Book 3 of The Guardians of Vesturon, which is at this time, untitled. The main male character is Rykerian so all of you Rykerian fans will be glad to see him move to center stage. I can’t tell you much more than that though.

10. What do you do to unwind and relax?
I love to cook and eat! I also love to camp and backpack. Much of what was written about the Smokey Mountain National Park in Survival came from my own experience on the trails. It’s an incredible place and I’m fortunate enough to live very close to it. I also love to snow ski (which I only get to do a couple of times a year). I live in the south so I usually go out west for my snow skiing thrills. I know none of the above sounds relaxing, but it all takes me away from all the stresses of life.

11. What book are you reading now?
I’m getting ready to start 50 Shades of Grey. I just finished Blood Warrior. I have so many books in the queue it’s crazy!

A.M., I want to thank you again for taking the time to talk with us. I wish you all the best for your future novels!

You can contact A.M. Hargrove or find out more about her books at any of these places:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, 8 January 2012

Enchantment by Charlotte Abel

Channie Kerns is a 16 year-old girl, bound by a chastity curse that inflicts unbearable pain upon any boy that desires her. Josh Abrim is a BMX racer with Olympic dreams and dangerous secrets of his own. When they fall in love, she turns to dark and forbidden magic, hoping to break the curse keeping them apart, and unleashes a malevolent force with the power to destroy everything they love ... including each other.
Tana's review
4 of 5 stars 
November 1, 2011

Reading this story it reminded me of young love and the wanting and dreaming of meeting your very own Prince Charming. This is one of those stories that you see the story unfolding and you turn every page to make sure it’s going to happen. The writing is great, easy to read, words flow so you just keep reading till you reach the end.

The story begins with Channie (Enchantment) moving to a new city with her family, her father is on the run from a very powerful family, he owes them a huge gambling debt, this family is well known and will not just want money they may even kill Channie’s (Enchantment) family to get revenge on her father.

Starting at a new school is hard enough but to be living around non magic humans is a whole other complication. Channie (Enchantment) meets Josh and their amazing almost fairy tale story begins.

All I can say is this book is well written its about love, magic, awful parents, dreams, hopes and its touching funny and you just want the best for Channie and Josh.

I will be keeping an eye out for a sequel.

If you’re looking for a heart warming read this is the book to read.

Charlotte Abel is an amazing author/storyteller.

Goodreads review

View all my reviews