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Juniper Grove Presents: The Soul Stone by Jamie Marchant

Published August 20, 2015 by admin

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It’s a two-tour week! Today we’ll be looking at the new book from Jamie Marchant, plus she’ll join me in an interview to talk about her writing process!

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Title:  The Soul Stone

Series:  The Kronicles of Korthlundia #2 (Standalone)

Author: Jamie Marchant

Published:  June 25th, 2015

Publisher:   Black Rose Writing

Genre:  Epic Fantasy

Content Warning:

Recommended Age:  18+

Synopsis:  In this sequel to The Goddess’s Choice (Reliquary Press, 2012), the Crown Princess Samantha and Sir Robrek struggle to solidify their rule in the aftermath of the king’s murder and Duke Argblutal’s attempt to usurp the throne. They are thwarted at every turn by those who seek power for themselves and desire to prevent their marriage. Just when they think their problems are solved, a deadly curse begins to spread throughout Korthlundia and Samantha becomes pregnant.

In my sword and sorcery novel, The Soul Stone, Samantha must fight off priests, enemies, and her closest advisors while Robrek discovers the reason the goddess chose him as king, to defeat the Soul Stone, a stone capable of sucking the soul out of its victims, which threatens to obliterate all life in the joined kingdoms. Their archenemy, the Bard Alvabane, awakens the Soul Stone and plans to use its power to reclaim Korthlundia for her people (a people driven out over a thousand years ago by the hero Armunn). Armunn had to sacrifice his life and soul to contain the Soul Stone. Will Robrek have to do the same? Will the young couple have only a few short months to love each other?

Although having read The Goddess’s Choice adds depth to The Soul Stone, it is not necessary. The Soul Stone is a complete story of its own.

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Excerpt:

At bedtime, Alvabane sat at her dressing table brushing her long hair. It had once been a bright, rich red, but it had dulled with age and was now mostly grey with only a few strands of color to remind her of what once had been. It seemed a metaphor for her life—small flashes of color to remind her of her once bright purpose.

One of those flashes, Erick, set her nightly goblet of fortified wine next to her hand. She needed the strong alcohol to dull the pain of her joints so she could sleep. Erick had served her for ten years. When her former servant had died, he’d been sent by her people, despite the fact that she’d only been a disappointment to them.

She turned to thank him, but the words died on her lips as she saw the reproach in his eyes. Alvabane turned back to her mirror. Tonight was the night of the new moon. She should have been preparing to perform the rites of the dark gods, not preparing for bed. “They have forgotten us,” Alvabane said. “The Soul Stone does not live.”

In the mirror, she saw Erick’s eyes narrow. He was not yet twenty and still had the optimism of youth. He still believed the Stone would come to life again when the gods willed it. He believed it would again be the weapon it had once been. Created in the far past by magic which had since been lost, it had been used by her people to protect themselves from the barbarians that now ran free over Korth and Lundia.

“I will perform the rites next month,” she promised, but so had she promised last month and the month before that. The stairs to the bottom of the East Tower were agony to her knees. Erick made a mewing sound, reminding her what he’d sacrificed to serve her and the dark gods. She herself had cut his tongue from his mouth when he came to her as a ten-year-old child. He had surrendered it stoically. Only the Bards were allowed to sing the rites of the gods. All others who heard them had to be rendered mute so they couldn’t repeat music not meant for their tongues.

“Do you think you have sacrificed more than I?” She turned to face him. “I submitted to the brutish duke’s bed for years. I gave birth to a child of rape. All so I could remain near the Stone. I performed the rites faithfully every new moon for decades. And for what, I ask you? The power of the Stone remains trapped behind the shield the demon Armunn created from his own soul. That shield can’t be destroyed. I have dedicated my life to trying, but it is impossible. The Soul Stone won’t live again!”

Erick mewed again and looked toward the tapestry on the wall. It showed the map of the desert of Sehra, to the south of Korthlundia, where her people had lived in exile since Armunn and his hordes had trapped the Stone and then driven them from their homeland. Blinking back tears of despair, she turned from him. “Do you think I have forgotten? Every generation fewer of our children are born. Only by returning to the land of our birthright can we be strong again.”

She got up and went to the tapestry, touching it lovingly. “Do you not understand? The dark gods have found me unworthy to be their messenger. I once thought I was the child of the prophecy, the one who would drive the descendants of Armunn’s hordes back across the mountains into Korth and reclaim the land they call Lundia as our own. But I was wrong. I’m an unprofitable servant, an unfit vessel.”

Soul Stone

SJ: Every writer has some sort of process. Give us a glimpse into yours. Do you meticulously outline? Do you write depending on what calls are out there?

JM: Outlining is for far more organized minds than mine. I’ve never written an outline for anything that wasn’t required by a teacher, and even then I usually wrote the essay first and then outlined it. My process is far more chaotic. Generally, the ideas for stories live in my head for sometime, some times years, before I ever write them down on paper or on the computer screen. In my head, the stories germinate. When I feel so inspired, I begin to write them as the ideas come to me, often in a very disorganized fashion. When the flow stops, I go back and revise and reorganize. Then I revise again and again and again before I’m satisfied with it.

SJ: Bonus question – Do you put on a cape and do a chant before hunkering down to work? Sacrifice anything? Along with your process, what’s your quirkiest writing habit?

JM: I find sacrificing the first born child of a field mouse to the goddess Sulis particularly helpful, but it is very difficult to find such an offering, so I usually just pour out an offering of wine and grain. Other than causing wine stains on my carpet by these repeated offerings, I’m not sure I have any quirky writing habits.

SJ: Are you a meticulous planner or do you believe in the muse? Where do your ideas come from? Do they filter in through your dreams? Do they show up at inopportune times and whap you upside the head? Do they result in a shady deal with a dark power?

JM: I’m not at all a planner. The muse must strike for me to write. Most ideas come simply through living my life. Something will happen that sparks an idea in my head.

SJ: bonus question – If your muse had a physical manifestation, what would he or she look like and how would she or he act? Is it a sexy superhero version of Callisto? A sharp-tongued rogue? A reptilian alien? Do they have a catch phrase?

JM: My muse resembles a cat, sometimes pure white and other times as dark as ebony. She will set on my shoulder and whisper into my ear. However, like most cats, she only does this when it suits her. It is impossible to force a cat to behave. My muse is the same.

SJ: If you could only write one genre ever again upon pain of being sacrificed to Cthulhu, what would it be and why?

JM: Even if becoming a human sacrifice weren’t at issue, I don’t see myself straying far from the fantasy genre. Since I was a small child, it is fantasy that has captured my imagination and helped me to envision a new and different world. I find fantasy both more real and more creative than other genres. The creativity of the setting somehow allows the characters to better reflect real people and real human emotion. Not having to focus on a realistic setting frees up the mind to capture the human spirit.

SJ: What’s your biggest frustration as a writer? What do you consider the downside, or is there one? Is there any cliché that makes you want to wring people’s necks?

JM: I’m not sure there is much of a downside of being a writer. The downside is being an author. The difference being that the writer creates, and the author must bring what is created to an audience. I’d much rather simply write the material and have someone else sell and promote it. However, that isn’t how the process works. If the author doesn’t sell and promote the writer’s work, no one does. While I do believe that a writer should write first and foremost for her own pleasure, I’d really like a broader audience, so as a writer, I must also be an author. I’m better at being a writer.

SJ: If you had to be stuck in one of your own books/stories for the rest of your life, what would it be and why? If you had to stick a loved one in one of your own books, what would it be and why? An enemy?

JM: I certainly don’t relish the idea of being stuck in any of my books, and I’d even less like a loved one to be. I’m not always kind to my characters and tend to make their lives difficult. I enjoy a more much peaceful life than I allow them. Of course, my life wouldn’t make a very good novel. Remember the Chinese curse: May you live an interesting life. An enemy, on the other hand, I’d put in The Soul Stone. In my latest novel, the villain attempts to wipe out all life in the joined kingdoms. I could let my enemy deal with the Dead Lands.

SJ: Do you think it’s possible to develop a sure-fire recipe/formula for success as a writer? Would you want to, or does that compromise the art or the fun of it?

JM: Some people seem to have done it—Danielle Steele, Louis L’Amour, and others write the same story over and over again with a couple of twists and quirks and make a lot of money doing it—so it must be possible to develop such a sure-fire formula, but I don’t have any interest in trying to do so myself. I write what fills my imagination and would grow bored of writing the same book again and again. I write, as I believe all aspiring writers need to, primarily for the love of the process, the joy that creating brings to me. I think such a formula would suck all the joy out of being a writer.

SJ: Everyone has words of wisdom for young writers, so I’m not going to ask you about that. With a few unknown writers becoming success stories, a lot of people seem to think it’s an easy career choice. What would your words of wisdom be to these people?

JM: Becoming rich at writing is about as likely as the high school basketball player’s dreams of going pro. It is extremely difficult to get published, and of those who are published, very, very few make even enough to live on. Sure, you have amazingly successful authors like J. K. Rowling, just as there are amazingly successful basket players like Michael Jordan. But both the Michael Jordans and J. K. Rowlings of the world are a rare occurrence. If you are going to write, you must do it because it is a part of who you are and doing so makes you happy. If you make money, that is an added bonus, but don’t count on it.

SJ: It seems like everyone likes to gang up on certain genres as being inferior, less meaningful, or cheap entertainment (especially if it’s speculative in nature). Make a case for the genre you write.

JM: I’ve already done this somewhat in answer to a previous question. The freedom of the fantasy setting allows the writer to delve deep into the human consciousness and truly explore what it means to be human. I think the most important role of literature is to help us understand others who are not like us. Fantasy, when it is well written, does this beautifully.

SJ: What do you want people to instantly think of when they hear your name or your work mentioned?

JM: Fantasy, adventure, strong women, and what it means to be human.

SJ: Please tell us about your latest/favorite work or a little bit about what you’re working on right now. It’s plug time, so go for it!

JM: I’m not sure I have a favorite work of my own, but the novel I’m working on now is taking me in a new direction. It is urban fantasy rather than high fantasy like my previous novels. The Bull Riding Witch tells the story of a princess from a parallel realm who is placed in the body of a rodeo bull rider from Alabama. Both Daulphina and Joshua are completely lost in their new environments. It has a lot more humor than The Kronicles of Korthlundia and is overall a lighter book.

Jamie-Marchant

About the Author:

Jamie Marchant lives in Auburn, Alabama, with her husband, son, and four cats, which (or so she’s been told) officially makes her a cat lady. She teaches writing and literature at Auburn University. Her first novel The Goddess’s Choice was released in April 2012 from Reliquary Press. She released Demons in the Big Easy in January 2013. The sequel to The Goddess’s Choice, titled The Soul Stone, will be released in June 2015 from Black Rose Writing. Her short fiction has been published in the anthologies–Urban Fantasy and Of Dragons & Magic: Tales of the Lost Worlds—and in Bards & Sages, The World of Myth, A Writer’s Haven, and Short-story.me.

Amazon Author Page | Facebook | Twitter | GoodReads | Website

Giveaway Details:

There is a tour wide giveaway. Prizes include the following:

  • A Soul Stone pendant & copy of The Soul Stone (winner’s choice, print or ebook if US, ebook if INT)
  • a $10 Amazon gift card (INT)

 Enter the Giveaway Here!

JGBS Host

Author Interview: Stephen Zimmer

Published December 16, 2012 by admin

I’m so thrilled to finally get Stephen Zimmer here on my blog! Not only is he an incredible, amazing writer, but he’s a great guy who puts up with my shenanigans way too much (and encourages them. God bless him). He also has a lot of great insight on a lot of different aspects of writing – not only is he a writer, but he coordinates the literary track for Fandom Fest, heads up the con’s blog Fandom Scene, and is one of the three people behind First Rule Publicity. Safe to say, he knows what he’s talking about (and should remember all the nice things I’m saying about him as July gets closer, heh…)

Suffice it to say, he’s a busy guy and I’m lucky to have gotten his attention for long enough to answer my interview questions, so let’s hear what he has to say!

StephenZimmer-smallSJ:  Every writer has some sort of process. Give us a glimpse into yours. Do you meticulously outline? Do you write depending on what calls are out there?

SZ: I always like to say my approach is a bit of a balance between the Plotters and Pantsers, as they say!  I do believe, especially when you are writing novels that are part of a series, that some structure and direction is imperative.  You really need to know where you are heading with things.  Otherwise, it is far too easy to write yourself into a corner.

That being said, I also believe you have to allow for some room to breathe, and new ideas to be added.  My style is very conducive to this, as I write in a multi-threaded style involving an ensemble cast (George R.R. Martin is a popular example of a writer that uses this general style).  

During the course of writing a story, I often get new subplot and character ideas, and there is always room to add a new character or thread into a an epic-scale novel.  That’s one advantage of writing the “big books”, without a doubt!   Yet I do have the core elements of the main plotline mapped out, so integrating new characters or threads can be done smoothly because I have a firm grasp on the overall roadmap. 

SJ: Bonus question – Do you put on a cape and do a chant before hunkering down to work? Sacrifice anything? Along with your process, what’s your quirkiest writing habit?

SZ: I write on a computer separate from the one that I go online with and do my social media, promotions, and other business on. My writing computer is purposely kept disconnected from the internet.   Over time, I’ve found that when I sit down at a space exclusively set aside for writing, my brain kicks into “writing mode” very quickly.  

I do listen to music, mainly all varieties of hard rock and heavy metal, when writing, as it forms a background shield against exterior noises, like sounds on the street that might otherwise be distracting.  I keep my mobile phone out of the room as well.  My focus is 100% on the writing.

Most often, I have a can on Monster Energy nearby that I slowly savor throughout the writing session!

SJ: Are you a meticulous planner or do you believe in the muse? Where do your ideas come from? Do they filter in through your dreams? Do they show up at inopportune times and whap you upside the head? Do they result in a shady deal with a dark power? 

SZ: As a matter of fact, my dream world is a huge part of my inspiration when it comes to ideas.  The other part is gleaned from observing the world and the kinds of processes that occur in every generation, no matter what technology is available.  From those seeking power over others, to those who hunger for freedom, all generations have struggles and conflict.  Like Black Sabbath said so wisely, “On and on, it’s Heaven and Hell”.  The clash between good and evil, freedom and authoritarianism, and other such wide contrasts takes many forms across the span of history, and this can be reflected in any kind of story you are writing.

The ideas can certainly “whap you upside the head”, which is why I keep an idea file handy to jot things down right after I think of them or dream them.

SJ: bonus question – If your muse had a physical manifestation, what would he or she look like and how would she or he act? Is it a sexy superhero version of Callisto? A sharp-tongued rogue? A reptilian alien? Do they have a catch phrase?

SZ: My muse would be a female with a strong, calm presence. Supportive, yet tough, and always up for adventure.   Definitely able to kick rear, but not one to resort to that unless absolutely necessary! LOL

SJ: What’s the book/story that’s closest to your heart? Is there a piece that you clearly feel is a piece of you? Do you play favorites?

SZ: I really feel all of my stories that are out there are pieces of me.  It is extremely hard to pick pieces that are closest to my heart, but I can tell you the two most difficult scenes I’ve written.  One is in Crown of Vengeance, involving the loss of Janus’ father.  It is very similar to what I went through with my own father, and I held nothing back when approaching that scene. 

 The second most difficult piece to write was “Gift of Light”, my third Harvey and Solomon steampunk story for Dreams of Steam III.  It was written after Harry, who Harvey is based upon, passed away in August of 2011, and I found myself working through some very severe grief when I finally started writing this tale.  It took me months just to steel myself to do a new Harvey and Solomon story, but in Harry’s honor I was not going to let those tales come to an end with his passing.  They are a real tribute to a wonderful four-legged being and member of my family, and I will do everything I can to bring more of them out there in the future!

CrownofVengeance

SJ: If you could only write one genre ever again upon pain of being sacrificed to Cthulhu, what would it be and why?

 SZ: Epic Fantasy.   Epic Fantasy is what lit the fires of my imagination when I was a child and inspired me towards becoming a writer.  It is definitely at my foundation, and it offers an unlimited environment for storytelling.    I know I could continue to be happy as a writer even if forced to write in just one genre if it was Epic Fantasy.

SJ: What’s your biggest frustration as a writer? What do you consider the downside, or is there one? Is there any cliché that makes you want to wring people’s necks?

 SZ: Biggest frustration as a writer is the absolutely chaotic publishing climate.  To give it a more positive tone, I believe it’s only going to get worse! hahaha

 There are no gatekeepers anymore, which might seem like a good thing at first glance, but there is also the fact that there is an avalanche of new releases flooding the market every month.  I can say with certainty that a large percentage of these new releases are not being put out there with professional approaches. 

Good self-publishing means you should treat it like a publisher would, in terms of making sure you have professional level editing, layouts, cover art, and promotion/marketing.  However, so many do not want to take the time and effort, and spend the necessary money, to do this, and what it results in is a flood of sub-standard material that makes it that much harder for those who do give it all they’ve got to have their work seen and considered.

 Even more annoying is the undeniable fact that there are many “writers” out there who see the eBook world as a get rich quick scheme.  Even if the fact remains that making a living as an author is getting harder than ever, you still have droves of individuals flinging new titles up with a priority of getting rich.

 I don’t see things easing up in these areas either, unfortunately.  It is something that those who do things right, and put a huge investment of time, research, and effort into their work, are going to have to deal with for years to come. 

SJ: If you had to be stuck in one of your own books/stories for the rest of your life, what would it be and why? If you had to stick a loved one in one of your own books, what would it be and why? An enemy?

SZ: For myself, probably the Fires in Eden Series, as that was inspired by my own personal, Narnia-like fantasy of stepping out of the mundane world we live in and going into a fantastical, medieval-esque one where magic and the supernatural are boldly present.  

I haven’t thought about where I’d place loved ones or enemies too much, but it would be hard to pick as all of my worlds, except for the setting of my Hellscapes short stories, have both daunting and pleasant environments and elements.   As for the Hellscapes stories, I’m not sure I could consign even my worst enemy to such a fate.   Then again … LOL

SJ: Do you think it’s possible to develop a sure-fire recipe/formula for success as a writer? Would you want to, or does that compromise the art or the fun of it?

SZ: No, I don’t think there is, or ten million writers would be doing it.  You can take a room full of writers who craft the very same kinds of stories, who are relatively equally skilled, and who all do everything right in promotions, and one will succeed tremendously while all the others struggle.  Sometimes it is the worst writer in the room who succeeds.

 Put it this way, there are many writers who have much better writing with stories on the same themes as 50 Shades of Grey, yet the latter is a major press hit.  The hard truth is that sales are not a measure of quality.  There is a luck factor in what becomes a trending item, and many fantastic, brilliant works never get attention.  As such, the idea of a sure-fire recipe for success is in the realm of the fantastical, I’m afraid! LOL

SJ: Everyone has words of wisdom for young writers, so I’m not going to ask you about that. With a few unknown writers becoming success stories, a lot of people seem to think it’s an easy career choice. What would your words of wisdom be to these people?

SZ: In terms of people thinking this is an easy career choice, they are paying attention to the couple of success stories and ignoring the tens of thousands of newer writers who are struggling.  It is kind of like the way Lotteries work on people’s minds.  There are a few that strike it, and the lure of being one of those few is strong on the vast majority that do not get the winning ticket. 

This is the most difficult of the entertainment industry fields to making a living in.  It is even harder than making a living in the movie or music worlds.  The only thing you can control is working to be the best writer you can be and presenting yourself and your work as professionally as possible.   Beyond that, there is a luck factor involved.  

Put yourself in the best position possible for that luck to find you.   Strong books and good promotion will serve you well in that regard.  But you had better have a passion for being a storyteller at heart if you intend to do this for the long haul. 

SJ: It seems like everyone likes to gang up on certain genres as being inferior, less meaningful, or cheap entertainment (especially if it’s speculative in nature). Make a case for the genre you write.

SZ: I have given public speeches and written essays precisely on this topic, but it all boils down to the fact that speculative fiction does two very important things.  It gives you the broadest range possible for your imagination, as there really are no creative boundaries in speculative fiction, and it also gives an incredible writing challenge. 

To bring the fantastical things to life, a writer must bring a reader to an effective suspension of belief.  With fiction of a non-speculative nature, a reader can reference or go find the kinds of things depicted, whereas they cannot draw a reference to dragons, werewolves, or starfighters in their day to day lives.  The art of making those latter things believable, when the reader has no frame of reference in their own life experience, offers writers a tremendous literary challenge.  I feel this is strongly overlooked when evaluating the literary merits of speculative fiction. 

SJ: What do you want people to instantly think of when they hear your name or your work mentioned?

SZ: An idea of quality work that contains heart, and has lots of effort and care put into it!  That’s what I want my name brand to represent! 

 SJ: Please tell us about your latest/favorite work or a little bit about what you’re working on right now. It’s plug time, so go for it!

SZ: Right now, I’m working on the fourth Rising Dawn Saga novel.  I’m also finishing a batch of new short stories, including tales for the Chronicles of Ave, Annals of the Rising Dawn, and Hellscapes collections (fantasy, urban fantasy, and horror respectively).  I’m also working on the first book of a new cross-genre YA series, and readying to sketch out something a little longer than a short story for Harvey and Solomon (hint hint!).   Later next year I hope to get a new Fires in Eden Book out as well.    As you can see, things will be busy!
TheSeventhThrone

 

 

To learn more about Stephen Zimmer, check out his links!

Facebookhttp://www.facebook.com/pages/AuthorFilmmaker-Stephen-Zimmer/221620254562078

Twitterwww.twitter.com/sgzimmer

websitewww.stephenzimmer.com

Google+:https://plus.google.com/u/0/100849770378524116148/posts

Blog: stephenzimmer.blogspot.com

 

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