Interview with Virginia McClain author of Blade’s Edge February 23, 2015Posted by heidi skarie in Book Review.
Tags: Blade's Edge, fantasy, fantasy art, Juan Carlos Barquet, Virginia McClain
Book Review: Star Rider, On the Razor’s Edge January 31, 2015Posted by heidi skarie in Uncategorized.
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Interview with Iva Kenaz, author of The Witch Within January 30, 2015Posted by heidi skarie in Uncategorized.
Tags: book interview, fantasy, Iva Kenaz, spirituality
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I just finished reading The Witch Within and greatly enjoyed the main character’s journey both physically and spiritually. The following is an interview with the author.
What inspired you to become a writer?
I’ve been fascinated with storytelling since childhood. I wrote many simple hand-written books and in my teenage years I wrote a three-part novel about past lives. I often had repetitive dreams and visions in which I experienced stories from another person’s point of view and felt compelled to note them down. I keep returning to these dreams for inspiration. Writing is something very magical and sacred to me. I believe that it’s a divine communication between the author and the worlds beyond.
What is The Witch Within about and what is the major theme?
The Witch Within is set in 16th century Bohemia and is about a sixteen-year-old gifted healer, Talitha who has been charged with witchcraft.
Talitha escapes to the abandoned Cursed Lands and seeks the ancient cave of her ancestors where her grandmother lived. In the mystical woods, she starts to remember her ancestral lore of healing and magical symbolism and receives guidance on how to survive from the local spirits. But then she is captured by two men who were sent to bring her back to the local justice. One is a brute, but the other one is fatally attracted to her.
After Talitha manages to escape them, she finds her ancestral cave, but also another one at the highest peak of the forest where a group of refugee women have established a camp. By facing both the dark and bright side of her kin, Talitha learns that what she thought was her curse, may yet become her gift.
The major theme is survival, both in physical, emotional and spiritual sense. It’s about overcoming one’s fears and limitations and becoming empowered using primordial inner wisdom.
What kind of research did you do for the book? What made you pick the 16th century in South Bohemia?
The story is inspired by repetitive dreams and visions I used to have and partly by a book called The Secret History of Czech Lands (by A.Cesal,O.Dvorak and V.Matl) that focuses on the long-gone mysteries of my home country.
During the 16th century the witch-hunts became more serious all over Europe but I decided on that period mainly symbolically, as the story is made up and thus remains a fantasy.
I was also inspired by the beautiful magnetic countryside of South Bohemia, particularly mountain Kleť, which could translate to Cursed or Mountain of Curses. In the middle ages many landscapes of South Bohemia were feared and some of them even drowned under lakes and ponds. People considered them cursed and haunted, however, those places had rich pagan history and concealed the wisdom of Celtic, Slavic and Germanic tribes.
How does Talitha, the main character, grow and change in your book from her experiences?
Talitha starts off as a gifted healer but she has a very low-self esteem and feels guilty about the death of her brother. She believes that her choice of herbs caused his death. It’s only once she manages to heal one of her captors that she realizes she is truly able to save lives.
Eventually, she also becomes initiated in the magical and healing power of runes and a part of her soul that used to be conscious of such ancestral mysteries begins to re-unite with her present self.
Her spirit is also greatly tested by the shadow side of magic but in the end Talitha learns to understand that the witch within her might not be a curse but an actual virtue.
What writing project are you working on now?
I’ve been working on a stand-alone sequel to The Witch Within that focuses on Talitha’s granddaughter, Berkana, and delves deeper into the mysteries of the natural spirit, runes and sacred geometry.
Iva Kenaz’s Bio.
I’m an indie author and a devoted student and practitioner of Sacred Geometry, Astrology, Tarot, Runes and Channeling. My novels are mainly visionary/metaphysical and are greatly influenced by spirituality, symbolism and philosophy.
In June 2014 I published my first novel The Witch Within and later that year also a personal confession titled My Melancholic Diary. I studied screenwriting at a film university in Prague, FAMU and MA Creative Writing at London South Bank University. Currently, I’ve been working on a stand-alone sequel to The Witch Within as well as doing a research for my non-fiction book about archetypes in storytelling.
Here is Iva Kenzaz’s website.
Writing Red Willow’s Quest led to an unexpected revelation January 22, 2015Posted by heidi skarie in Book Review.
Tags: action/adventure, American Indian, love story, Red Willow's Quest, Shoshoni, spirituality, vison quest
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Every novel has a story behind it—a reason the author felt drawn to write it. When I started writing Red Willow’s Quest I decided to write a fantasy story of a young woman who was on a spiritual quest. I began writing the story as fantasy because it was close to the genre I’d written my other novels in. However, after writing several chapters, I realized I was writing about a culture that was much like the Plains Indians. I debated starting over and writing the book as a Native American story. While I was pondering this, I was sent a manuscript. As soon as I started reading it, it seemed as if the universe was speaking to me, for the story was about a woman who remembered her past life as a Native American woman. I wondered if the story I was writing was based on my own past life as a Plains Indian.
I had to take my daughter to her flute lesson so I put aside the manuscript and went outside. There I found a hawk feather in the yard. It was standing up and in perfect condition. On each of the next two days I found another hawk feather in the yard. For me finding three hawk feathers was a significant spiritual sign that I should start over and write the story of my own past life as a Native American maiden.
Later, I heard a talk by a spiritual leader who said that to some Native Americans the cry of a hawk meant clear spiritual vision and flying above the mundane world. This was further confirmation that I was on the right track.
Once I’d made the decision to write about my own past life, memories of that life started coming through especially as I began doing research on the Plains Indians. It was as if the reading I was doing opened the door to this past life. My memories revealed much about that life, but I didn’t know the time period or place where that life took place, nor did I know what tribe I’d been part of.
I knew that the story took place in the mountains, so I started out by figuring out what mountains range I lived in. Through my readings and looking at photographs, I soon realized that I had lived in the Rocky Mountains. I had always felt a deep affinity and love for the Rockies that I now realized came from that life. As a child my family had made many trips Glacier National Park where we had gone camping and hiking. Later as a young adult I went backpacking in the Rockies. On these trips I always had the feeling of being home.
My research also revealed that I was a Shoshoni Indian. Their culture, clothing and food matched what I remembered from that life. One book I read about them was entitled The Shoshonis, Sentinels of the Rockies because of where some of the tribes lived.
The time period where that life took place turned out to be fairly easy to establish because in the story Red Willow and her companion go to a fort on the mouth of the Big Horn River. Research revealed that in 1807 John Colter and Manuel Lisa built a trading post called Fort Raymond in that location. The fort was only in existence for one year. John Colter was one of the men who was a part of Lewis and Clark’s expedition to explore the Louisiana Purchase. He built the fort after the expedition was completed.
More pieces of the puzzle of that lifetime fell into place as I continued my research, such as figuring out which people attacked Red Willow’s village. When I traveled out west, I also found out that a name I thought I’d made up for a tribe was the real name. I’ll talk about these discoveries in the next post.
Here is a review of the book from Amazon posted on Jan. 21,2015
I could not put this book down. The action, suspense and awesome detail of life as a native American of that time period totally absorbed me. From the first page I was enthralled. Red Willow’s courage (as a 16 year old!) to hold to her visions and implement her dreams despite enormous resistance and danger gave me an entirely new insight into the depth of commitment that is possible in this physical life. It’s a story about living truly on the edge and being faithful in every respect to one’s principles and spiritual mission as revealed through visions and the counseling of one’s spiritual guides.
I can say that Ms Skarie’s story deeply inspired me. There was no room for compromise nor weakness, nor even for what might appear to be pragmatic. Always there was the decision made to follow the star of spiritual vision and the goal of accomplishing one’s mission in life. No quarter was given to personal attachment or ease. That kind of vision clarity is so rare. It was a delight to see it so clearly illustrated in this novel.
It would seem to me that this story would be recommended reading for any young person seeking to discover her/his own spiritual purpose in life or to build confidence and courage in living through the challenges of the modern world. Finding one’s core and staying true to it despite all objections of family and tradition is a worthy goal for anyone serious about their life’s purpose.
As I became increasingly captivated by the spiritual strength of the main character, Red Willow, I found myself identifying with her and literally absorbing her strength and centeredness. Something in me shifted to a greater acceptance of and commitment to my own mission. My guess is that if you read this book with a desire to know yourself better and be true to your own visions you will come away a changed person.
If you’re interested in buying the book click here to get a link to Amazon.
Great fantasy novel: interview with Michael Diack January 22, 2015Posted by heidi skarie in Book Review.
Tags: action/adventur, elves, fantasy novel, Shadows in the Sand
What inspired you to become a writer?
Writing has always made me happy and I’m motivated by a personal sense of achievement not a financial one. It’s great to see your hard work pay off by having one of your own books in your hands. I still have a day job that I love and that pays the bills, but it’s great to have a hobby.
How did you come up with the idea for the Shadows in the Sand?
I used to work in Oman in the middle of the desert. I was there for nearly five years on a seismic crew looking for oil and gas. Everything in Shadows is inspired by the Omani landscape: the rolling dunes, the rugged mountains, the lifeless voids of endless flat terrain and, of course, the snakes, scorpions and other creepy-crawlies!
The world you have created is very detailed how did you come up with it?
I am inspired by the environment I live in. I’ve had a lot of good feedback about the descriptions of the landscape and that’s because I essentially lived in the world of Shadows in the Sand. I sweated in the heat, felt the hot, desiccating wind and I know what’s it like to be alone on top of a sand dune with no sound but your own breathing. I consider myself very lucky to have experience an environment like Oman and in this modern world of big cities and hectic noise, it was very other-worldly to be in terrain like that. I think my descriptions are strong but character dialogue is something I need to work on for future novels.
How do you come up with good names for your characters and beasts?
Again, some of the names have an Arabic feel to them while others are normal Western-style names. I actually find it hard to think of strange names for the beasts and I usually just write a list down while a little half-drunk and then see if they make sense when I’m sober!
This is part of series called Empyria. How many books are in the series and how do you plot your books?
There are actually only two books, the final being The Light and The Glass. I found the second book much more fun to write as I had already set up all the plot in book one. So book two is basically one non-stop epic of huge battles and life-changing scenarios. As for plot, I have a general sense of where the storyline is going but I’m never too detailed. I usually find that when I’m in the ‘zone’ and writing thousands of words each day the book just takes on a shape of its own. However, that’s not to say it is perfect as it’s usually editing that is the very hard part and ironing out the plot-holes you find and sticking points.
Do you know the ending to the series?
I must be honest though, the ending to Book Two does leave open the possibility to writing more. I never actually specified how large the world of Empyria is as I only talked about the one continent. Perhaps there could be another land, inhabited by other monsters or another race, on the opposite side of the world. That’s the great thing about writing fantasy, you are unrestricted and there is no limit to the scope of your imagination or world-building. I know I said I’m not motivated by money but the truth is it also costs a lot to self-publish if you’re putting quality work out there. A good thousand dollars for paying an editor to proofread your 75,000 word novel and then the cover design. I’m simply not making the sales from Empyria to justify writing a third and paying to have it edited again. I appreciate that’s negative talk but you have to prioritize everyday life and rent!
What fantasy authors have inspired you?
I’m a huge Tolkien fan. I think my entire bookcase is taken up by almost all his works. It’s incredible how one man created so much detail and even a language. I also find that Tolkien’s books are the only ones I regular re-read and never get bored of. As a child I also enjoyed Brian Jacque’s Redwall series about heroic mice and other animals taking on the evil rats and similar foes!
My name is Michael Diack and I’m from the UK, but currently living and working in Denmark.
I studied geology at the University of Manchester and, after graduating, I was lucky to find a job in the Middle East working for a geophysical company.
My favorite authors are Haruki Murakami, JRR Tolkien, Markus Heitz and an Italian author called Niccolo Ammaniti. I love fantasy books but I’ll read almost any genre that catches my eye, yet it is the world of Middle-earth that fills up my bookcase.
I released my debut novel, The Super Spud Trilogy, back in April 2012 as a paperback and e-book for Kindle. Book 4 of the Super Spuds – Over Land and Sea, was released on Kindle in December 2012. In July 2013 I branched out from writing about magical crisp packets and released Shadows in the Sand, the first part of my fantasy series Empyria – a survival story set in a dystopian world in the desert.
I’ll happily interact with any readers through Twitter, my website or on Facebook.
Be sure to check this book out on Amazon. What are your favorite fantasy and science fiction books ?
“The Sign of the Eagle” by Jess Steven Hughes is Roman historical fiction at its finest December 3, 2014Posted by heidi skarie in Uncategorized.
The Sign of the Eagle sounds like an enjoyable read. I have a special interest in “British” Celtic women as the heroine of my novel Annoure and the Dragon Ships (which I’m in the final stage of editing) is also a Celtic woman from what is now known as England. The Sign of the Eagle is well researched and has an exciting plot.
Originally posted on The Quill of Tacitus Book Blog:
The Pursuit of Justice in a Violent Age
August 25, 2014 by Gregg Zimmerman
Imperial Rome, starting with the first emperor Augustus, spanned about 500 years, and was ruled by approximately 65 emperors (depending how you count usurpers, upstarts, and self-proclaimed tyrants). So the average tenure of a Roman emperor was a little less than 8 years, and few of them died of natural causes. The Sign of the Eagle is set in the early reign of Vespasian, who took the throne during the chaotic year of four emperors (69 A.D.). This was an era of barbarian invasions, sinister political plots, and military unrest when any given general stationed in the provinces could declare himself emperor and advance with his army upon Rome on any particular day. This is the backdrop of The Sign of the Eagle, a fast-paced and extremely enjoyable historical novel. Protagonist Macha, the daughter of a…
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Coincidences: Messengers of Truth November 11, 2014Posted by heidi skarie in Book Review.
Tags: Coincidences, detective story, historical fiction, Jacqueline Winspear, Maisie Dobbs, mystery, World War 1
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This fall I went to the Minnesota State Fair with my husband and Asher, our one-year-old grandson. We took Asher to see the farm animals and afterward sat down to color a picture. A woman came over and said the picture could be entered in a contest.
When I told her my grandson’s name, she said, “Is he Nick’s son?” Turns out, she used to work for my son-in-law. Thousands of people were at the State Fair that day. What were the chances we would run into someone who knew Asher’s father?
Coincidences happen regularly in our lives, but are we paying attention to them? In a book I read recently, Maisie Dobbs by
Jacqueline Winspear, the main character is a detective in 1929 who pays attention
to coincidences in her line of work. As the story progresses, we learn that Maisie worked for a wealthy London aristocrat when she was thirteen. Her employer, Lady Compton, soon realized how bright Maisie was and had the young woman’s education nourished by Maurice Blanche. Under his influence “Maisie had taken to pondering just about everything that happened in the course of a day, seeing coincidences and patterns in the life around her” (p. 101).
Maurice takes her to see Dr. Khan from Ceylon, a man of wisdom and insight. From Khan she learns to sit in deliberate silence and still the mind. Later that skill serves to help her stay calm when she becomes a nurse in the Great War, serving on the front line. “But for now, Maurice Blanche told Maisie, it was no small coincidence that she often knew what a person was going to say before he or she spoke, or that she seemed to intuit an event before it had occurred” (p. 108).
The story moves seamlessly through the past and present. In the present Maisie tries to solve her first case, which appears to be a simple case of infidelity. Instead it leads to a much deeper mystery that takes her back to the horrors of war and has her dealing with her own unfinished past.
The book is the first in a best-selling series about a lady detective. It is also a historical novel and coming-of-age story. But what I found really interesting is the way Maisie uses her unique abilities to help solve the case and how the case is part of a deeper pattern that helps her face her past and move on.
The book reminded me of the larger patterns in my own life, such as running into a woman who knew Asher at the State Fair. We can call chance happenings coincidences, but what if they are anything but a coincidence?
Have you experienced a coincidence that led you to see there’s something beyond your everyday life? I’d love to hear your stories.
Enemy Women by Paulette Jiles October 6, 2014Posted by heidi skarie in Book Review, Past lives.
Tags: Civil War, Enemy Women, Missouri history, past lives, Paulette Jiles
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I recently read a book about the Civil War entitled Enemy Women by Paulette Jiles. The novel is about an aspect of the war I didn’t know about. In Missouri, southern guerilla fighters fought the Union. In response, the Union declared Missouri under martial law, sent in the Union militia and denied the citizens their constitutional rights. In Missouri martial law continued for two years after the war.
The militia used their authority to steal from local people and burn their houses. After three years of war almost the only people left in Missouri were women and children. Some women were accused of aiding guerilla soldiers and were arrested, then sent to prison or hung. Under martial law, the women weren’t entitled to a trial nor was any evidence needed to arrest them.
Each chapter in the book begins with an actual letter or newspaper article written at the time of the Civil War, relating what was happening in the story. This added an element of realism. The novel is well written with detailed descriptions and a spunky heroine who is imaginative and outspoken.
The story is about a brutal period of time and follows the experience of Adair, an eighteen-year-old Missouri woman. Her widowed father remains neutral during the war, but three years into it the militia comes to their farm. Adair’s brother, who has a crippled arm, sees them coming and hides. Adair’s father is beaten and arrested by the militia. The soldiers then steal the family horses, livestock, possessions and try to burn down their house.
After the militia leaves, Adair and her two younger sisters travel north on foot to find out what happened to their father.
When they arrive at a northern post, Adair is denounced as being a Confederate spy and sent to prison in St. Louis. While imprisoned, she’s interrogated by Major Neumann. He tries to get her to reveal information about the Confederation. Instead she writes about her life on the farm in Missouri, which doesn’t include anything about the war.
Over time Neumann falls in love with her, but she gets seriously ill and he is transferred to active duty. The story then follows both their adventures and is well worth the read.
The American Civil War took place in the 1860s. Some people who fought in the war have now reincarnated with memories of it. As children, they might have had nightmares of the suffering they experienced or caused others. They may remember injustices on a subconscious level and still feel anger and hatred toward the North or South.
Some people attend reenactments of the Civil War, visit Gettysburg, read books about Civil War battles or watch movies on it. They are drawn to the war because of their past lives, even if they don’t consciously remember them.
This world is a spiritual school and through experiences, such as war, we learn to become more loving, compassionate beings. All the lives we have lived are meant to polish us as Soul and help us reach greater levels of love and compassion until we eventually return home to God.
Do you have strong feelings about a particular place and a particular time? Can you see how this might connect to a past lifetime? Have you had especially vivid dreams about your possible role in that lifetime?