Indie Spotlight – Jeff McIntyre

Today I am welcoming Jeff McIntyre into the Indie Spotlight.

Jeff McIntyre was introduced to science fiction and fantasy with a three-book collection of A Wrinkle In Time, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and The Lion The Witch and The Wardrobe when he was eight, but his love of the genres took off in high school when he was introduced to The Foundation and The Hobbit. He has been an avid gamer his entire life. Video games, role-playing games, and table-top wargaming. The list of games he’s played is very, very long. His day job is working in Telecommunications, and The Garden Gnome is his first novel.

He currently resides in Omaha, Nebraska, with his lovely wife Deb and 100 pounds of fuzzy dork named Zeus. He’s a Hovawart… Look it up.

Website | Facebook | Twitter

Welcome to my blog, Jeff.

What made you decide to publish your books independently? What was your path to publication?

A lot of research. When I was about halfway through my first draft, I started doing research on what was involved in both traditional and self publishing. Each avenue I went down lead me to the same conclusion. Trad pub is a mess right now and if I wanted to see my book come to fruition in anything less than two years (or ever) I was going to have to do it myself. On the surface, self-publishing is easy. But doing it right takes time, money, and a lot of work. Marketing is even harder. Your book doesn’t find an audience by itself. 

What made you decide to write in your specific genre rather than other genres? Have you ever written in other genres?

I describe my book as a contemporary fantasy with a streak of sci-fi, a side of mythology, and a pinch of Arthurian legend. It’s a melting pot filled with all of my favorite genres. I’ve been reading sci-fi and fantasy since I was eight years old and I’ve always had a love for mythology and history. I didn’t plan on it, but as I wrote the story it included everything I love, and as the series progresses I’ll have plenty of toys to play with.

Do you only read the genre that you write? 

Pretty much! I alternate between fantasy and sci-fi. But I find most of my history and mythology on the internet rather than in books.

What are you currently reading? Watching on TV? Is there a type of music you listen to for inspiration?

I just finished Gardens of the Moon by Steven Erickson and I’m currently working through the Way of Edan by Philip Chase. My wife and I are watching the entire series of Buffy the Vampire Slayer but we’re also watching Season 3 of The Great (so good).

Do you have any advice for aspiring authors? 

Don’t be afraid to DNF your own work. Don’t throw it away, you never know when you might be inspired to work on it again. But if you’re not enjoying what you’re writing, don’t try to force your way through it. Find some other writing project that inspires you. A poem, a short story, or a tv script. Anything to re-energize your inspiration. If you’re not passionate about what you’re working on, it’s going to show. 

What are you working on right now and what can we look forward to seeing from you next?

Lots of things in the fire. I’m 13000 words into Book 2 of the Theory of Magic series. I’m also working on a short story to lure people to sign up for my newsletter. It’s set well before The Garden Gnome, but is an interesting background for a couple of characters from there. I’ve also been putting together the outline and background for a potential duology. I’m excited by the concept so it’s been sucking up my time.

I’m looking forward to reading The Garden Gnome soon. I’m a sucker for stories with gnomes in them.

Thank you for joining me in the Indie Spotlight today, Jeff – Good Luck in the SPFBO competition!

The Garden Gnome (Theory of Magic Book 1)

My self-published novel The Garden Gnome – Theory of Magic book 1, is a contemporary fantasy with a streak of sci-fi, a side of mythology, and a pinch of Arthurian Legend. It tells the story of the return of magic to the modern world and a family caught between an ancient conspiracy and a mysterious and powerful influence.

Where did magic go?

Our world is defined by science, but history tells us that the world was once a much more magical place. Every culture has tales of when the gods walked among us, when strange magical creatures dwelt in the dark, and when users of magic were respected and feared.

We tell ourselves that these stories are myth and superstition. But what if they aren’t?

What if magic were to return? And what does it have to do with a ten-year-old boy and his imaginary friend?

Daniel and Sophia Fitzroy are worried that their son Tony is being bullied in his new school and is struggling to cope.

Leo Schafer is reporting on a new and powerful particle accelerator experiment and the protestors who want it stopped.

FBI Special Agent Debra Kazdin is investigating the protests and trying to keep things from escalating.

Brian Cooke is being inducted into a secret society that knows the truth about magic and will stop at nothing to keep it from returning.

They will be drawn together in an extraordinary confrontation that will change the world forever.

goodreads | Amazon

Indie Spotlight – M. T. Zimny

Today I am welcoming author M. T. Zimny into the Indie Spotlight.

M. T. Zimny has lived her whole life among the mountains, beaches, and trees of western Washington. Armed with an education grounded in human physiology and a love for the literary arts, she set out to write the best kind of novel- one in which teenagers are tasked with saving the world. When she isn’t writing, she’s adventuring with her husband, her daughter, and her golden retriever, whether that means searching out the best dog parks in the Greater Seattle Area or failing spectacularly at the flying trapeze.


Website | Instagram | TikTok | Twitter

Welcome to my blog!

What made you decide to publish your books independently? What was your path to publication?

I’ve always had a passion for storytelling. I used to have this coworker that I would bother when I wanted to put off working. I would tell her all these ideas I had for a YA series that later came to be titled The Apex Cycle. Eventually, she quit, but I wanted to stay in touch, so I started writing my book. I would send her each chapter as I finished it and by the end of the first book, she insisted I share it with others. At that point, COVID had stalled most of the world and I chose self-publishing because it seemed like a fun “COVID Project”. My initial goal was to put something out that friends and family could read, but the first book in The Apex Cycle, BETA, was immediately picked up by a book box and things sort of spiraled from there!

What made you decide to write in your specific genre rather than other genres? Have you ever written in other genres?

So far, The Apex Cycle is my only series so I haven’t had the chance to explore other genres yet. I’ve wanted to write YA for as long as I can remember because those were the books that were so formative to me when I was at such a vulnerable age. I wanted to create something that my sixteen-year-old self didn’t just want to read, but needed to read. In doing so, I’ve ended up with a Superhero Fantasy YA series that appeals not just to young adults, but to readers of all ages. I’ve had several readers over the age of eighty tell me how much they loved reading them! 

Do you only read the genre that you write? 

I read any and all genres as long as there is an engaging plot and characters that are fun to root for! Contemporary Fantasy might be my favorite, but if I only read that, I would miss out on countless amazing books. 

What are you currently reading? Watching on TV? Is there a type of music you listen to for inspiration?

I’m currently reading the Threadlight Trilogy by Zack Argyle and just finished A Little Too Familiar by Lish McBride.As for TV, I’m finishing up The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel as the final season comes to an end, and I am rewatching my favorite anime, Dororo. Plus, it may not count as TV, but I love watching my husband play the new Legend of Zelda game every night while I draw character art on my iPad.

My music tastes are always a grab-bag when it comes to what I like to listen to for writing inspiration. Of Monsters and Men is my immediate go-to, but I played Deathwish by Red Sun Rising on repeat as I wrote EPSILON, the final book in my trilogy. It became the unofficial anthem of that last book for me. I recently had a reader send me links to ten curated playlists to my various books, characters, and ships, which was a huge compliment. 

Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?

Write what makes you happy! If you enjoy writing it, then there is someone out there who will enjoy reading it. You’ll never please everyone, so make it YOUR favorite book.

Also, find your people. It can be hard to make friends in the writing world, but having other authors who will cheer you on while inspiring you with their own works is priceless.  

What are you working on right now and what can we look forward to seeing from you next?

I’ve got my next series locked and loaded in my head, I just need to put pen to paper! It’s a contemporary, alternate-worlds fantasy that I’m very excited to explore. However, first I’m working on developing my audiobooks for The Apex Cycle. Things are a little crazy right now as I just had a baby a few months ago, so I’m still getting back into the swing of things!

Thank you for joining me today – I wish you lots of luck in the SPFBO9 competition!

The Apex Cycle Book 1: BETA

BETA is SPFBO9 entrant and is a finalist in the Cover Art Contest.

Samantha Havardson is not an Apex. She’s completely ordinary with a totally normal family that just happens to be moving to the Apex epicenter of the world- the manmade island city of New Delos. Although she thinks her lack of super Apex abilities will keep her out of the limelight, it quickly becomes apparent that the city has different plans, sweeping Samantha up in a world of secret identities and super powers where anyone, even those closest to her, might be an Apex.

Plagued by missing students, secret Apex teams, and a mysterious man named Adrestus, Samantha searches for answers, causing secrets to unravel about her classmates, her family, and herself that drag her deeper into the secret world of the Apex.

Goodreads | Amazon

The Apex Cycle Book 2: DELTA

Samantha Havardson still isn’t an Apex, but that’s about the only thing she’s sure of anymore. Her family and her identity have splintered and an immortal warrior named Adrestus is at fault. Now, Samantha must scramble to pick up the scattered pieces of her life while juggling high school and being the only kid on Apex Team without super abilities. Things only get more complicated when a cryptic message appears: NEW DELOS WILL BURN.

Samantha’s past continues to bleed into her present, getting in the way of friendships, sword practice, and final exams. While the city runs out of time, Sammy grows increasingly desperate to save the people she loves and her efforts just might land them in more danger than they were in to begin with.

Goodreads | Amazon

The Apex Cycle Book 3: EPSILON

Samantha Havardson is in hiding. All things considered, it could be worse. For the time being, she’s safe from the immortal warrior hellbent on settling a thousand-year-old vendetta against her. However, an unknown assailant has been inside Samantha’s head, turning her into a liability to the very people trying to protect her.

Meanwhile, Adrestus enacts the final stages of his plan, positioning himself to subjugate all of civilization. Options are slim, time is running out, and Samantha must come to terms with the fact that some villains can only be taken down from the inside, even if it means running the risk of becoming a weapon to be used against those closest to her.

Goodreads | Amazon

The Return of the Knights (The Dance of Light #1) by Gregory Kontaxis

The Return of the Knights is entered into Mark Lawrence’s SPFBO9 competition. SPFBO is a competition for self-published fantasy books, judged by groups of book bloggers.

The Palace of the Dawn will soon be stormed. The most ruthless man of all time is one step away from assailing on Iovbridge and dethroning Sophie Delamere. The Queen of Knightdorn is now alone, with neither allies nor an army capable of rebuffing the enemy which is approaching her city. Everything appears to be over, until a mysterious young man, Elliot, makes his appearance.

Entangled in a web of lies and politics, Elliot will try to draw Walter away from Iovbridge and face him in the stronghold of Wirskworth. He will attempt to rekindle relations and revive the old alliance between the Queen of Knightdorn and Syrella Endor, the Governor of Wirskworth. Elliot’s mission will take every fibre of his will and if he fails, so shall the kingdom.

Game Of Thrones meets Greek mythology in this explosive epic fantasy story, packed with war, medieval lore, magic, loyalty and bravery. The first book in the series, The Dance of Light, will take you on an epic journey to a fantasy world of men and mythical creatures which will keep you spellbound till the very end.

Amazon | Goodreads

My Review

The Return of the Knights, Gregory Kontaxis’ debut novel, is a classic epic fantasy style story, which takes place during a war, with a central character who is the ‘Chosen One’, motivated by revenge. At first appearing to be a common villager, he soon gathers together a band of allies to aid him on his hero’s journey to save the kingdom from the evil would-be usurper Walter Thorn.

Elliot, the central character is a highly confident, brave, talented swordsman, trained by a Master around whom there is some mystery, but he is also overconfident to the point of arrogance in the presence of royalty and is sometimes difficult to like. His actual identity is a big secret for most of the book’s first half but it is clear that there is something very special about him. He is really the only fully fleshed-out character in the book. Everyone else seemed to be present only in order to further Elliot’s story arc and didn’t feel particularly ‘real’, but somewhat stereotypical. We have the tragic, lovelorn, beautiful Queen Sophie Delamere, who decides to bring back the previously banned order of knights; an evil, torturous and bloodthirsty antagonist, Walter Thorn and Eliott’s band of companions, who soon become his found family: Long John, a drunk debaucherer; Eleanor, an innocent young woman; Selwyn, the son of a nobleman and Morys, a stolid noble lord. All of them were devoted to risking their lives for Elliot after only a short time of knowing him. People found Elliot arrogant and yet warmed to him quickly, which I found somewhat incongruous. The queen goes from wanting him killed for his insolence to trusting him with saving the kingdom in a fairly short period of time. I felt that the immediate trustworthiness attributed to Elliot needed some further explanation to make it more believable.

The scope of the book was ambitious and had a similar feel for me to that of the Game of Thrones series, with its enormity of scale, depth of politics, history and huge cast of characters.  There is a handy guide to the different factions included at the beginning of the book, but I did not refer to it while reading, as I find that doing so often takes me out of the story too much. It was therefore my own fault whenever I found myself confused by the locations or character names and their relationships to one another. The world created by Kontaxis is rich and varied with many interesting races mentioned: pegasi; elves; elwyn; giants; mermaids and centaurs. The history of their withdrawal from the world of humans was explained well and the connotations for the future, as alluded to towards the end of the story, were intriguing.

“Legend had it that the God of Wisdom lay with the Goddess of the Sea, and she gave birth to a son and a daughter; the boy was the first centaur and the girl the first mermaid. Life endowed the boy with intellect and wisdom, the girl with youth and beauty.”

I did feel that most of the female characters in this book were described in an aesthetic way rather than in terms of their abilities. I think I would have much preferred the book if Eleanor had had a more important role in the battles or if Syrella’s character had played a bigger part. 

There were a lot of long speeches between characters in order to set up historical information and world-building, which I did not enjoy, particularly in the earlier chapters. Once everything was set up, the story itself was exciting and interesting, filled with heroic deeds, traitors and treachery and I feel that subsequent books will benefit from all of this scene-setting having already taken place.

The Return of the Knights is quite an achievement. It was originally written in the author’s native Greek and then translated masterfully into English by Sophia Travlos. It is written in a traditional style which doesn’t always flow well and comes across as somewhat stilted occasionally – but it doesn’t read like a translation, which is an admirable accomplishment.

About the Author

Gregory Kontaxis is a Greek epic fantasy author who writes about medieval wars, mythology, politics and epic adventures.

The Return of the Knights is the first part of his planned pentalogy, The Dance of Light.

Gregory was born on 17th December 1989 in Athens. He studied Informatics and Finance in Greece and the United Kingdom and he has worked as a Financial Analyst in Vienna and London. He currently resides in London, where he is occupied with investment risk management and writing.

Website | Twitter

Indie Spotlight – João F. Silva

Today I am welcoming João F. Silva into the Spotlight.

João F. Silva was born in a small town in Portugal but now lives in London, with his three feline co-workers/bosses. He writes Epic Fantasy, Science Fiction and Horror and has been on the jury for the 2020 and 2022 editions of the Best Newcomer Award at the British Fantasy Awards. His short fiction was published in Grimdark Magazine and Haven Speculative. His novel Seeds of War is the first instalment in the upcoming Smokesmiths series.

Website | Twitter | Email:

Welcome to my blog, João

What made you decide to publish your books independently? What was your path to publication?

About a year ago, I experienced first-hand just how excruciating pursuing traditional publishing can be and started researching self-publishing and gathering information. Three months later, I realized it was something I enjoyed doing—research. While I was initially hesitant because of the upfront costs it normally involves, I figured it was something I could do and in fact, WANTED to do due to the control I could have over my cover, the quality of the editing, and the overall marketing efforts put into making sure the book lands with the right readers. Ultimately, I believe going indie was the best option for me and for my debut Seeds of War, and I’m so glad I made that decision.

What made you decide to write in your specific genre rather than other genres? Have you ever written in other genres?

I write mostly fantasy because it was my first love. I love that I can create and control my own world where I dictate the rules without having to abide by any historical or scientific accuracy, which is extremely freeing and allows me to focus more on whether characters would realistically act a certain way or not. Also, if I have cool ideas for magic systems or plotlines that appear less feasible, I know as long as it’s not totally ridiculous, people won’t mind. I find that fantasy readers can really suspend their disbelief, which I love and can’t be said for readers of other genres.

Do you only read the genre that you write?

Because of my day job, writing and life in general, the time I’ve got to read is very limited, so I mostly try to focus on books within Fantasy, Science Fiction and Horror.  

What are you currently reading? Watching on TV? Is there a type of music you listen to for inspiration?

I’m re-reading LL MacRae’s The Iron Crown on audiobook and it’s just as awesome as it was in written format. I love the characters and the world-building. It’s so unique. I’m not watching much on TV but I recently binged the entirety of The Expanse in a matter of a week… It was that good. I listen to a lot of music for inspiration. I love composer Adrian Von Ziegler as my writing background music, but when I need to get hyped up for action scenes, I tend to listen to heavy rock or metal. A band called ‘The Sword’ is among my favourites.

Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?

Put in the work. And drop the ‘aspiring’. Success is more often than not correlated with the time and effort people put into things. This goes for everything, not just writing and publishing. Athletes who work harder tend to be more successful. Relationships which are cultivated and taken care of last the longest. Writing isn’t any different. Put in the time and effort to hone your craft, to learn about the business, to get involved in the community and I can almost guarantee you will see some form of success, which is subjective since success looks different for everyone.

What are you working on right now and what can we look forward to seeing from you next?

I’m currently working on a prequel novella for The Smokesmiths, which I’m planning to give out to whoever subscribes to my mailing list. It’s called Ruins of Smoke and will be very action-packed and fast-paced. I’m expecting to publish it in late summer. I also have the first draft of Book Two in The Smokesmiths finished. Now I still need to edit it, but I would love to publish it early next year.

Thank you for joining me today in the Indie Spotlight! Good Luck with SPFBO!

Seeds of War (The Smokesmiths #1)

“He ran like the monster he was. And the smoke followed.”

GIMLORE is a single mother and war veteran turned crime boss set on protecting her family and her town.

ORBERESIS is a petty thief pretending to be God to protect a terrible secret.

REDNOW is the world’s most feared mercenary, but his best days are behind him and there’s one job left to do.

In a world of dangerous monsters and devastating smoke magic, the seeds of war are being planted. Allies must be treasured and enemies defeated.

The Smokesmiths is a gritty epic fantasy series with a harsh world of smoke magic, alien creatures and ancient secrets where characters do their best to come out on top. Peace will not last.

Goodreads | Amazon

Grave Danger (The Lavington Windsor Series #2) by Alice James

Today I am excited to be taking part in the book tour for Grave Danger, Book 2 in the Lavington Windsor series by Alice James. Take a look at some of the posts from other bloggers on the tour as listed above. Grave Danger is the sequel to Grave Secrets which I recently read and reviewed here.

More murder. More vampires. More snogging.

Toni Windsor is failing at ‘happily ever after,’ but it really isn’t her fault.

All she wants is true love and the perfect wardrobe, but it doesn’t look like they are coming her way any time soon. Instead, there are murders to solve and zombies to raise, and she’s broken her phone again.

Worst of all, her shiny new boyfriend turns out to be a jerk; maybe dating a vampire wasn’t her best decision ever?

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Add to Goodreads

My Review

I really enjoyed Grave Secrets and was happy to find that its sequel, Grave Danger was more of the same light-hearted paranormal adventure romance. On the cover it says ‘More Murder, More Mayhem, More Romance’ – let’s add to that: more necromancy, more spiciness and more sassy humour and there’s bound to be something for everyone in this romp of a mystery!

In Grave Danger, Lavington “Toni” Windsor is back in an excellent and witty read centring on the mystery of a murdered schoolgirl who bears a striking resemblance to a young Miss Windsor herself. Toni’s brother, a policeman, has once again asked for her necromantic help in raising the victim to find out who killed her – but with no luck this time. There follows a thorough investigation as Toni tries to clear the name of the prime suspect, an eighteen-year-old boy with a colourful home life. Throw into the mix Toni’s propensity to end up in dangerous situations and attract people wanting to kill her and you have a fast-paced adventure which never slows down from start to finish. 

The book begins pretty much where the first book in the series left off, with Toni having moved into her vampire boyfriend Oscar’s mansion and redecorated it tastefully for him. Unfortunately, his taste leans more towards her blood than design styles and she is repulsed by the idea, so their relationship is heading for rocky ground. Toni finally begins to understand how much she is dazzled by good looks, which makes her throw all her common sense out of the window and blinds her to the obvious, time and again. This personal growth and character development was something of a relief to see. It’s very easy to like Toni, but she can be frustrating as she hurtles pell-mell from one dangerous situation to another – luckily she knows some talented healers who are always willing to show up for her!

Toni’s life is complicated, to say the least! At night her life is filled with gorgeous, yet psychopathic vampires, murder investigations and picnics with a devoted zombie, but during the day she is trying to make ends meet as an estate agent in a small Staffordshire village where winter has caused viewings to grind to a halt, while keeping her powers secret. I was pleased to see Bredon Havers still playing a part in her life as confidant, father figure and trusted friend. Benedict, the head vampire, plays a larger part in this story and his fierce and terrifying nature seems to have become tempered towards Toni. As he gets to know her, he seems to be respecting her talents and usefulness more. There are quite a few surprises in this book, relating to members of Toni’s family, which help explain some of her skills and also maybe why Benedict is so intrigued by her. The ending leaves the reader with many questions unanswered, however, and a relationship cliffhanger – I will be eagerly anticipating the next book in the series to see what happens there! 

I was sent a review copy of this book for the tour – thank you very much Alice James and Solaris/Rebellion Publishing. My review is honest and my opinions are my own.

About the Author

Alice lives in a converted chapel in Oxfordshire, England, with three cats and many house plants. She works as a writer, specialising in finance and travel. She was previously a journalist and TV presenter for Bloomberg before becoming press and PR director of a $1 billion US hedge fund for 18 months. That turned out to be the worst period in history for hedge funds, so she retired wounded. Alice has a degree in Maths from Bristol University – and half of a diploma in silversmithing from UCE University because it turns out that making the ladies’ version of the One Ring is a lot harder than she thought.

Alice’s series of whodunits, The Lavington Windsor Mysteries, is studded with zombies, vampires, romance and croquet and you should definitely read it. Today.

Website | Twitter

ARC Review: A Necromancer Called Gam Gam

A grandmotherly necromancer seeking resolution for her past with the help of her loyal entourage: an undead cat and a spectral knight.

A girl on the run from the Eternal Empire for the mysterious power she possesses.

When a chance encounter pulls them together, Gam Gam will do what it takes to protect Mina from the rogue sergeant hounding her–including raising the dead. As long as they’re dressed for the occasion.

Add to goodreads

My Review

Cosy fantasy seems to be the ‘in’ thing right now but I’m not sure I would call A Necromancer Called Gam Gam a cosy fantasy as many other reviewers have done. Yes, there is a cosy warm-hearted relationship at the centre of the story, but there is also the gut-wrenching grief felt by a twelve-year-old girl who has just lost her beloved father, not once but twice, having just got her hopes up that he might be returned to her only to have them dashed. There is fear of her own powers which she believes are the reason for his murder. At the time that she meets the wonderful grandmotherly character, Gam Gam she is terrified – running for her life through the woods from soldiers intent on capturing her in order to use her powers as a weapon. There is also empathetic sadness when she learns of Gam Gam’s grandchildren’s untimely deaths.

I really enjoyed the relationship between the child, Mina and Gam Gam and the easy way Gam Gam recognized another soul in torment who needed an adult to lean on and immediately took her on without question. I also loved the undead animal companion, Nugget!

Gam Gam giving her risen dead warriors rewards in the form of knitted hats, scarves or socks that they didn’t need, but really wanted, was a highlight for me.

I definitely didn’t expect there to be as much story as there was in such a short book and applaud the author for packing an exciting and enjoyable story with unique and engaging characters (both main and side) into a small number of pages. I really hope we will see more of Gam Gam and Mina in the future!

About the Author

Adam Holcombe daylights as a programmer and moonlights as an author. After spending years toying with the idea of writing, he decided to fully commit and work toward releasing his first novel.

Then Gam Gam got in the way, and his first novel became his first novella. The novel will come later.

When he’s not locking himself in a cold basement to type away, he can be found squishing his dog (but not too hard), squawking at his tortoise (but not too loudly), goofing off with his wife (in perfectly ordinary, non-weird ways), DMing for his friends (I even got to play as a character a couple times!), or the usual chilling at home. He is a lover of books, board games, video games, and swords.

Adam is currently working on more Gam Gam stories, as well as the launch of a Sci-Fi series with the novel Bounty Inc.

Website | Twitter

Indie Spotlight – Karl Forshaw

Today I am welcoming Karl Forshaw into the Indie Spotlight.

Karl Forshaw was born in Sheffield, South Yorkshire. After a successful career as a contract software developer and all the travel that came with it, he settled down on the edge of the countryside with his wife, children, and dog, where he now resides. He writes from his basement to a soundtrack of obscure music, drinking too much coffee and watching his fish grow.

Instagram | Twitter | Website

Welcome to my blog, Karl.

What made you decide to publish your books independently? What was your path to publication?

It was an easy decision to self publish, but it boiled down to a few things really: I wanted to have complete control over what I write and publish, and keep all the rights to my work. I also wanted to experience the whole publishing process, from working directly with editors and proofreaders, the cover design, and even the printing. I’ve always been a sucker for a well made book, so I wanted to be able to nitpick over decisions like what paper to print on, or whether or not I had embossing on the cover. Overall I’m very happy with how it turned out, but it was a big push to make it all come together.

What made you decide to write in your specific genre rather than other genres? Have you ever written in other genres?

Renia has been called a “genre-blendy” book. I’m not sure it fits easily into the Fantasy box. It has elements of Steampunk, Mystery, Horror – I think I must have gone quite mad actually, now that I think about it. I do read a lot of Sci-Fi and Grimdark stuff, and I have a love for weird Fantasy – China Miéville’s Bas Lag trilogy had a massive impact on me as a younger bloke. I think Perdido Street Station is somewhere close to a perfect book for me, so perhaps that’s where my mind went when I decided to write Renia. The best thing about writing Fantasy is that there’s very little research to do. You just dream up whatever weird and wonderful (or dreadful) things you can and start typing. I do have a couple of dystopian stories in the works. One of them would qualify as Sci-Fi, but for the time being Luna Ruinam 2 is my primary project.

Do you only read the genre that you write? 

No, not at all. I’ll read anything. I’ve not often read a book from cover to cover and found nothing inspiring in it. Everything has its wonder. One of the great things about publishing a book yourself is that it gives you a deeper appreciation for the amount of work that goes into one.

What are you currently reading? Watching on TV? Is there a type of music you listen to for inspiration?

Right now, I’m reading Titandeath by Guy Haley, it’s one of the later books in the Horus Heresy series and so far it’s fantastic, but all his work is. I’m also reading an interesting book about alchemy called The Philosophers’ Stone, which is giving me lots of ideas. I’m hoping to do a bit of an indie readathon this year as I have made a lot of new friends in the scene. I’ve particularly enjoyed J.C.M Berne’s Hybrid Helix series and I’ve been lucky enough to read two of Rex Burke’s books too. As for TV… I don’t watch a lot of TV, but I do listen to music. Anything goes, really – from cinematic stuff to heavy metal. I just discovered an amazing new vocalist named Dino Jelusick – I think he might have one of the best rock voices I’ve ever heard.

Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?

Grit your teeth! It’s a marathon. Writing a book is an incredibly difficult and emotional journey. There will be times when you wonder why you’re doing it, if you’ll ever finish it, or if anyone will even care when it’s done. Stay the course. If you manage to touch even one person with your work, all of those feelings will abate, and you’ll have this wonderful thing in your hands that came out of your head.

What are you working on right now and what can we look forward to seeing from you next?

I’m working on Luna Ruinam 2, and planning a series of short stories based in the same world that I will publish for free. They will hopefully be episodic, but I’m still trying to figure out how to make that work. I’m out of the habit of doing actual writing at the moment after setting everything up for Renia’s release, so it’s slow going, but I’m getting there! There are also a couple of other stories in my head, as I mentioned. I don’t have much down on the page as of yet, but one is a Sci-Fi novel written from the POV of an AI, and the other is a dystopian drama about a man who is struggling to find a place for himself in what’s left of the world. All grim stuff… maybe I should do something about that.

Thank you so much for taking part in the Indie Spotlight, today, Karl. I wish you every success with your books!

Thank you for having me!


The Halls of Venn are the seat of both knowledge and power in the great continent of Luna Ruinam. Renia, a scribe with a tragic past, spends her days expertly copying books that do little to satiate her desire for knowledge.
When a fateful commission lands on her desk, she finds herself tasked with transcribing a book coveted by assassins from the southern continent. Its theft throws the scribing halls into chaos and threatens to destroy the fragile peace that exists between their nations.
Haunted by dreams of her past, Renia must learn to master her impulses and awaken her long-dormant magical abilities if she is to prevent war.
Fate, it would seem, is eager to grant her wishes. Yet she must risk everything to pursue it, and pay the bloody price it demands.

Buy direct from Author | GoodReads | Amazon US | Amazon UK

Praise for Renia

“This book was just utterly captivating from start to finish and I honestly can’t wait to read whatever else this author puts out next. With a debut that’s this bold and strong, I have no doubts that Forshaw is going to be an author to watch!” — Esmay Rosalyne

“Forshaw’s prose was beautiful. It wasn’t overly flowery, but it was moving and touching, and each character had a distinct voice and attitude, bringing their narration alive.” — Booksblabbering || Cait❣️

“Part twisting mystery, part pure fantasy, Renia rattles along, leaving you chuckling one moment before punching you in the gut the next, and never sure what to expect on each fresh page. With a whole world outside the Halls still to explore, Forshaw and his creations are definitely one to watch.” — Sean Cregan, author of The Razor Gate.

BBNYA Review: Sunbolt by Intisar Khanani

BBNYA is a yearly competition where book bloggers from all over the world read and score books written by indie authors, ending with 15 finalists and one overall winner. If you are an author and wish to learn more about the BBNYA competition, you can visit the official website or Twitter @bbnya_official. BBNYA is brought to you in association with the @Foliosociety (if you love beautiful books, you NEED to check out their website!) and the book blogger support group @The_WriteReads. Today I am reviewing the third-place finalist, Sunbolt by Intisar Khanani, a middle-grade/young adult fantasy.

Publisher: Purple Monkey Press
Length: 152 Pages
Genre: Fantasy
Age Category: Middle Young Adult
Date Published: 17 June 2013

The winding streets and narrow alleys of Karolene hide many secrets, and Hitomi is one of them. Orphaned at a young age, Hitomi has learned to hide her magical aptitude and who her parents really were. Most of all, she must conceal her role in the Shadow League, an underground movement working to undermine the powerful and corrupt Arch Mage Wilhelm Blackflame.

When the League gets word that Blackflame intends to detain—and execute—a leading political family, Hitomi volunteers to help the family escape. But there are more secrets at play than Hitomi’s, and much worse fates than execution. When Hitomi finds herself captured along with her charges, it will take everything she can summon to escape with her life.

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | GoodReads

My Review

Sunbolt is a short book, but it packs a punch and I found it to be a quick, yet highly enjoyable and exciting read, starting right away with a chase through the market. The pace was fast and the world of the market came to life in the description of its vibrant colour and smells of fish and the other items for sale. The author’s world-building skills are excellently showcased right from the start of this book.

Told entirely from the point of view of a fifteen year old female ‘honest thief’ and orphan called Hitomi, a member of the mysterious and secretive Shadow League, we learn that an important family is about to be arrested and the League plans to get them to safety before their arrest. I instantly liked Hitomi, she was brave, but not fearless. We could feel her vulnerability when she was being chased by the guards, her feeling of not fitting in with the locals, since she was not born in the city of Karolene, where the story takes place, but had moved there with her family five years before, becoming an orphan soon afterwards. Her appearance makes her stand out and she is treated as different by everyone she meets.

For all that Sunbolt is only 152 pages, it almost contains two separate stories linked by virtue of having the same protagonist. After the rescue attempt goes spectacularly wrong, Hitomi is captured, along with the children of the diplomat and taken to the home of the evil antagonist, Blackflame where she instantly begins working on ways to free them and herself from the cages they are locked up in.

At this point the magical and supernatural elements of this world come to the fore. We already know that Hitomi has magic but she believes herself untrained and keeps it a secret. When her captor, Blackflame, is done with Hitomi she is gifted to the evil Fang lord, Kol (a vampire).

The second story thread begins in Kol’s castle where she meets Val, a dangerous Breather, or soul sucker and James the werewolf. Her life depends on making a terrifying and unlikely alliance and learning to believe in her powers!

In addition there is travel by portal, blood magic, the introduction of a mystery surrounding Hitomi’s mother and what seems to be the beginnings of a heartwarming mentor/student relationship and the scene is set for what looks to be an exciting YA fantasy series!

Author Bio

Intisar Khanani grew up a nomad and world traveler. She has lived in five different states as well as in Jeddah, on the coast of the Red Sea. Intisar used to write grants and develop projects to address community health and infant mortality with the Cincinnati Health Department, which was as close as she could get to saving the world. Now she focuses her time on her two passions: raising her family and writing fantasy. She is the author of The Sunbolt Chronicles, and the Dauntless Path novels, beginning with Thorn.

Blog Tour Review: Only Prince Charming Gets to Break the Rules by Anne E. Beall, PhD.

Book Title:  Only Prince Charming Gets to Break the Rules: Gender and Rule Violation in Fairy Tales and Life by Anne E. Beall
Category:  Adult Non-Fiction (18+),  148 pages
Genre: Feminist, Fairy Tales, Literary Criticism
Publisher:  Independent Publishing
Release date:  Oct 2022
Tour dates: April 24 to May 15, 2023
Content Rating:  PG + M. Some mature themes, some characters are executed for their transgressions, some violence

Explore the fascinating link between gender stereotypes in fairy tales and real-world life with Only Prince Charming Gets to Break the Rules: Gender and Rule Violation in Fairy Tales and Life. This thought-provoking book carefully analyzes 200 folktales and fairy tales from around the world, uncovering a universal disparity in how male and female characters are punished for breaking the rules. Through a blend of thorough research and literary investigation, the book sheds light on how these stereotypes affect our families, politics, and education. A powerful feminist critique of social norms, this academic yet accessible exploration shows how our most cherished tales shape our cultures.

Buy the Book:
add to Goodreads

My Review

The subtitle of this book is “Gender and Rule Violation in Fairy Tales and Life” and in it Anne E. Beall, PhD. collects together a huge number of folktales and fairytales from all over the world and analyses them against a set of principles she and her team have devised.

The research is meticulous, employing data analysis and statistics to prove her theories, which she lays out in the form of an extensive amount of tables for her readers to share. Anne is a successful business leader in the field of market research and her experience shines through as she presents her findings. She compares the results she uncovers with real-world situations such as well-known teenage rape cases and the way victims/perpetrators are treated along with the language used towards each, the unequal length of prison sentences for men and women committing similar crimes, and attitudes towards Hilary Clinton/Donald Trump during the presidential candidate debates, which proved to be fascinating.

The result is a thought-provoking read, whose results are not all that surprising (and somewhat given away by the title), but go to show that our fairytales may well be sending out strong messages to children of how the different genders “ought” to behave and how differently from one another they will be punished/rewarded as a result of societal expectations.

Thank you to the author, and Lauren at iRead for providing me with a paperback copy to review and the information for this tour. My review is honest and my opinions are my own.

💥💥 USA only Giveaway!!💥💥

Win a copy of Cinderella Didn’t Live Happily Ever After and Only Prince Charming Gets to Break the Rules (one winner) USA only – ends May 22nd 2023

Click here to enter giveaway!

About the Author

Anne E. Beall is an award-winning author whose books have been featured in People Magazine, Chicago Tribune, Toronto Sun, Hers Magazine, Ms. Career Girl, and she’s been interviewed by NBC, NPR, and WGN. Her book, Cinderella Didn’t Live Happily Ever After: The Hidden Messages in Fairy Tales won a Gold award from Literary Titan. And her Heartfelt Connections book was named one of the top 100 Notable Indie books in 2016 by Shelf Unbound. She received her PhD in social psychology from Yale University and is the founder of the strategic market-research firm, Beall Research.

Connect with the author:  website ~ facebook ~ goodreads

Tour Schedule:

Apr 24 – Cover Lover Book Review – book spotlight / giveaway
Apr 25 – Stephanie Jane – book review / giveaway
Apr 26 – Casia’s Corner – book review / giveaway
Apr 27– Rockin’ Book Reviews – book spotlight / guest post / giveaway
Apr 28 – I’m Into Books – book spotlight / giveaway
May 1– Just Another Reader – book review
May 3 – Liese’s Blog –  book spotlight
May 3 – 411 ON BOOKS, AUTHORS, AND PUBLISHING NEWS – book spotlight / giveaway
May 5 – Novels Alive – book review / giveaway
May 5– Gina Rae Mitchell – book spotlight / guest post / giveaway
May 8 – Locks, Hooks and Books – book review / giveaway
May 9 – fundinmental – book spotlight / giveaway
May 9 – Book Corner News and Reviews – book review / giveaway
May 10 –The Phantom Paragrapher – book review / giveaway
May 11 –Sadie’s Spotlight – book spotlight
May 12 –Books for Books – book spotlight
May 12 – Splashes of Joy – book review / giveaway
May 15 –Sue’s Musings – book review / giveaway

Short Story ARC Review: My Grandmother the Dinosaur Hunter (The Grandmother Protectorate Book 1) by Jina S. Bazzar

Cover of My Grandmother the Dinosaur Hunter

Welcome to Cruxil, the planet adjacent to Earth, where horses can fly, dinosaurs exist, and magic is real.
When my sister and I went to Grandma’s for the weekend, I expected to spend my time playing games, eating sweets, and trying not to die from boredom. Little did I know that I’d spend the evening being chased by a dinosaur, attacked by a hydra, much less that I’d cap the night facing off with a giant frog.
I thought Grandma Mimi was a sweet, eccentric old lady with a walking stick and a penchant for gossip. And boy, was I wrong.

Publication date: June 9th | Add to goodreads

ARCs available – contact the author: @jina_bazzar

My Review

My Grandmother the Dinosaur Hunter is a middle-grade short story featuring a fearless grandmother who is able to travel through a woodland portal to a neighbouring planet which has a monster problem that, as guardian, is Grandma Mimi’s responsibility to police. Told in first person perspective by her grandson, the story follows her exploits ridding the native population of these terrifying beasts.

The relationship between Grandma Mimi and her two charges was loving and she had nothing but praise for them for following her through the portal to its dangerous destination, hinting that they were going to make great protogé guardians for her to train.

“When I opened my eyes again, Nora was already seated behind Grandma Mimi, waving at me to let go, while my Grandma, the sweet lady with the quirky personality everyone adored, poked the dinosaur with the large spear.”

The children took everything in their stride and remained remarkably calm despite the unexpected circumstances they found themselves in. When Grandma gets injured the nameless grandson screws up his courage and takes over from his grandmother as guardian. He bravely heads off on the pegasus to close the breach through which monsters are arriving.

“The breach was an ugly pale-yellow shimmer between two large boulders. It hung mid-air like an inflamed wound. The edges were puckered and a darker shade of yellow. I’d thought piercing it with the spear would be easy, that all I’d need was to raise the spear and thrust. I was wrong.”

Full of fun banter from Grandma Mimi who rides a black pegasus and carries a walking stick that turns into a spear as her weapon of choice, this exciting adventure story kicks off almost immediately, with fast-paced action, and its characters will grab the hearts of middle-grade readers.

About the Author

Photo of author Jina S. Bazzar

I’m a freelance writer, a blogger, a mother, a baker, a chocolate fiend, a coffee enthusiast, and sometimes a poet. A wanderer in this vast world, I’m just another body with a passion for the written word. There is no boundary I can’t cross, no limit I can’t push; my mind is my passport, my thoughts my mode of transportation.

I was born and raised in a quiet, small town in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, where I’ve had a happy and fulfilling childhood.

Like most writers out there, my love of books began at a young age, with comic books and alphabet poetry two of my favorite and earliest memories. Growing up, I wasn’t an awkward kid, and I didn’t prefer books to people. Unlike most authors out there, I never aspired to become one.

Soon after high school graduation I developed a chronic disease that caused gradual vision loss. I was blind at the age of twenty-three, and reading became one of many things I could no longer do.

That is, until I learned about screen readers. I picked up reading with vengeance, but soon realized it was no longer enough, and so I started writing.

When I’m not writing or networking on social media, you can find me in the kitchen, listening to loud music while baking (often misshapen) goodies, or cooking favorite dishes.

Twitter: @Jina_Bazzar