November 12, 2014

The Never Hero

What if when you died, no one would ever know you were all that stood between man and the enemy? When Jonathan Tibbs awakes in a puddle of his own blood, there isn't a scratch on him to explain it. In the weeks to follow, he comes to find he's been drafted for a war with a violent otherworldly species. A war that only he can remember. Now, the man Jonathan imagined himself becoming is no longer the man who can endure his future. The first installment in this science fiction action adventure series, The Never Hero is a gritty and honest look at the psychological journey of a man forced to forge himself into a weapon. Abandoned with little guidance, and at the mercy of a bargain struck far outside his reach, Jonathan races to unlock the means to surmount the odds, and understand the mystery behind a conflict raging outside of time and memory. In the end, the real question is what Jonathan is willing to become to save a planet that will never see his sacrifice.

I was given this book in exchange for an honest review.

 This book was fantastic.  Jonathan's journey as a hero is well-written and thought provoking.  I loved Jonathan.  I flew through the pages, invested in his development as a character.  The plot had me chewing on my fingernails throughout the book.  There was enough action to keep me interested, almost Marvel worthy action.

The concept was unique, the perfect blend of sci-fi and the modern world.  It's definitely a different kind of sci-fi than I have encountered before, but it was well done, and compelling.

If you enjoy strong male heroes, action, and sci-fi- this is your book!  Give it a read and let me know what you think in the comments.

November 5, 2014

Author Interview - Rival Gates

I don't know about any other writers with a publishing dream out there, but I find author interviews inspiring.  Learning about an author's journey from fresh page to published manuscript is EXCITING!

Rival Gates, author of Quest for the Red Sapphire (see the review I did on it here) agreed to do an author interview.  He gives some awesome insights on his work and great advice to future authors.

How long have you been writing?
I have been writing in contests since grammar school and have been working on this series since I was 13.  My father inspired me to start writing.  He was an editor and he would have a piece in every one of his magazines that he had penned personally.  I used to get so excited to read my father's name in print.  Even when he was the editor of an atomic energy magazine and I had no idea what he was writing about, it was just such a thrill to read something my father had created.  I dreamed of writing something of my own and one day seeing my name in print.

How did you get the idea for Quest for the Red Sapphire?
It actually came from an idea I had about a sword.  I imagined a living blade with the soul of Talana, the Queen of the Falcons residing within after her body had been destroyed.   The weapon would be impossible to break or dull and would never become lodged in an opponent, just like a talon on a predatory bird.  It would be light as a feather which meant its master could swing it more quickly and put more force behind the blows.  Thus the name of the blade fell into place; Falconfeather.  From there I created characters around it and then needed something fantastic for them to seek out.  The story snowballed from there.

Describe your writing process.  Are you a plotter or pantser?
I'm definitely a plotter.  I've tried writing by the seat of my pants and I always end up leaving out critical information.  I lay it out in bullet point fashion and then follow the plan as I write.  Sometimes I am inspired while writing and will add something that strikes me but I mostly stick to the plan.  Everything stays in order that way and I don't end up repeating myself.

Do you ever experience writer's block? What do you do to get past it?
Writer's block has never really been a problem for me.  I have been blessed with a good deal of ideas.  My problem comes down to choosing what to write and then forming it like clay into a coherent thought in written form.  When I am overwhelmed I usually lay down, go to church or go somewhere else completely silent and work through them.  When all the distractions are gone I can usually focus on one point.

Do you ever imagine Quest for the Red Sapphire being turned into a movie?  If so, who would play Linvin?
It is my dream to have the series made into movies.  If I had to have someone play Linvin it would be someone like Chris Hemsworth.

What was the hardest part of writing Quest for the Red Sapphire?
The hardest part was knowing where to stop.  It always seemed like there was one more thing I wanted to say and I finally had to end it.

How long did it take you to write this book?
I hand wrote the first draft in two years.  Then I put in in a drawer and worked on it occasionally for over twenty years more.  Only when my mother made me promise before she died to publish it did I finalize the book.

What books/authors have influenced your writing?
I was naturally influenced by Tolkien and his Hobbit/Lord of the Rings series.  The real source of my passion for the genre and my writing came from reading C.S. Lewis and the Chronicles of Narnia.  I read various science fiction greats but C.S. Lewis made me want to write.

What book(s) are you reading now?
Right now I'm reading "Tempered Throne" by Ray Owen.

The cover art is beautiful, I may just have to give it a read as well!

Are you a full-time or part-time writer?  How does that affect your writing?
Right now I am a part time writer.  That is something I hope to change in the near future and is one of my goals.  It sometimes makes it hard to pick up where you left off in the story because it can be a while between writing sessions.  It is at times like that that I appreciate my storyboard.

What was it like to get published?  What was the process like?
It took me a year and a half to find an agent and a year and a half to find a publisher.  After all the work that went into that process it was so gratifying to finally be published.  The absolute joy I felt was like nothing I had ever known.  My work was finally out there for the world to see.  The stories that I had been telling to individuals would now be told to everyone.  What could be cooler than that?

What writing or publishing advice do you have for other aspiring authors?
Get a good agent and trust their advice.  A lot of people try to go it on their own because they don't want to pay a percentage to an agent.  That leaves you at the mercy of the publisher.  If the publisher will even read your work, you don't know if the contract they offer is good or bad.  You need someone in the room working FOR YOU.  Take the cut in pay.  It is better to have someone watching out for you when you're swimming in deep water.

About Quest for the Red Sapphire:


The book centers around Linvin Grithinshield, a half-elf general called home from the goblin wars to
run the lucrative family trading business after his father's disappearance. Only after his mother's murder does he discover his destiny is to be the Master of the Red Sapphire, the most powerful magic any mortal can possess. Together with his wise but mysterious Uncle Anvar and his infuriating cousins Bander and Rander, Linvin must flee the would-be assassins and find the gem before the sinister forces from whom he flees find the stone and take it for a dark purpose.

About the author:

Rival Gates

I was born in the USA and moved to Canada when I was 5. My mother was American and my father was originally Canadian before trading his citizenship. I lived in Canada until I graduated high school. I returned to the United States where I graduated from Michigan State University. While I was there I met the most wonderful woman on this earth and amazingly she agreed to be my wife. We have been married well over 20 years and have three beautiful children.

I began work on my series of books at age thirteen during a difficult time in my family's and my life. Instead of wallowing in self-pity, I decided to escape to another of my own creation where I could create the characters. What started as a short story turned into a novel and then a series.

I sat on my work for years, sharing it only with my immediate family. Then my mother was diagnosed with terminal cancer. The longest supporter of my writing made me promise to publish my work and finish the series. This is my attempt to keep that pledge. Enjoy the ride!