Wednesday 19 February 2014

Interview With Author Ben Ireland

Today we have another Xchyler Publishing author stopping by, Ben Ireland. He's here to chat about his debut novel, Kingdom City ~ Resurrection, his short stories, and writing. Plus, there's a short blurb about the book at the end. Enjoy.

Interview With Ben Ireland

Why don't you begin by sharing a little about yourself.

Hi, thanks for having me, AF. I’m a 33 year old systems administrator (IT guy) living in Houston with my beautiful wife and three amazing children. In my free time I sleep.

Your debut novel, Kingdom City ~ Resurrection is about to be released. Would you care to reveal a bit about the book?

Kingdom City ~ Resurrection is the first in the Kingdom City trilogy. It’s a science fantasy novel set in the near future in the peaceful —totally normal— metropolis, Kingdom City. Six months prior to the opening of the novel a terrorist attack rocked the city by killing a quarter of its police force. Things start to fall apart when they don't stay dead.

Did anything surprise you about the process of writing your novel?

The details. Kingdom City is the first novel I've ever seriously attempted to write. It’s been in the process for about 10 years now. What I realized is that you can't throw in details just because they sound cool. A character’s limp isn't just an interesting quirk, it has a story behind it. At first I found this overwhelming, but as I continued, I realized what a great opportunity the details give you for giving the story color and depth. If done right, the details will enhance a story without distracting from it. I just hope I've done my details right.

You've also had some short stories published, can you tell us about them? In addition, do you find writing short fiction easier, or more difficult than writing a novel?

Kissed a Snake appeared in the Xchyler thriller short story anthology, A Dash of Madness, in 2013. It’s about a young man looking for answers about why his father abandoned him—and to kill him if he doesn't like what he finds.
Fairykin appeared in the Xchyler fantasy short story anthology in January, Moments in Millenia. It’s about a tribe of fairies struggling to survive on a planet where nature has been eradicated.
I find both styles to present their own challenges. Short stories give you a great opportunity to tell a worthwhile story. The challenge there is to tell the whole story in a limited amount of words.
Novels allow you to explore more sweeping tales, but that’s when the volume of details can become a problem if not managed properly. I’m certainly drawn towards bigger stories, the more sweeping, the better.

Your primary writing focus is in fantasy fiction or science fiction. What draws you to those genres? What is the hardest part of writing in the sci-fi/fantasy genres?

There are a few answers to ‘why fantasy.’  The best answer I have is because it’s the coolest genre. I also love being presented with a completely unique idea, and then watching the author explore that idea in unexpected ways.
The hardest part about science-fiction/fantasy is the details. If you’re going to make a new world for your reader to explore, it has to be consistent. I've found myself putting down books when the author breaks their own rules for the sake of convenience. As an author, I've found myself tempted to break the rules because it would be the easiest way to reach the conclusion of the story. But every time that happens, the story falls apart. I can’t believe in my own world if I can't stick to my own rules.

Can you tell us about your writing process?  Where do your ideas originate?  Do you have a certain writing routine?

My writing process is, as soon as a story hits me, I write down all the ideas accompanying that idea. Then I’ll line up the ideas in a logical order until I have the story ordered from beginning to end. Then I'll expand on those details, writing conversations and scenes that are on the tip of my mind. Then I'll go back and flesh everything out. 
My ideas come from everywhere. Conversations I overhear, sometimes someone says something to me and I think they said something else, one time I walked into my kitchen and the character just popped into my head and told me who he was.
Routine. Ha! I wish. I write in between doing what I have to do to keep my kids fed.

What is your greatest challenge as a writer?

Time and money. I have a good day job as a systems administrator, but it’s not where my heart lies. I’m sure many know that feeling.

When did you realize you wanted to be a writer?

I've always enjoyed creating stories, but the idea of making a career out of writing always seemed too luxurious and impractical. The idea didn't seem to click as an actual possibility until I won a place in my first short story contest. So here I am, giving it a shot.

What’s next for you?

More writing and less sleeping. I’m working on an urban fantasy series currently (The protagonist of which was the one that introduced himself in my kitchen.)  I hope to shop that around some time this year. Kingdom City ~ Retaliation (working title) will be pounded into life this year, and released, hopefully, sometime in 2015.

Thank you for having me. It’s been a pleasure. 

Kingdom City ~ Resurrection by Ben Ireland

With the death of Kingdom City's chief of police in a terrorist attack, Autumn Stevens lost the only man who could save her from herself. Still paralyzed by grief after six months, the last thing she expected was his return--along with three thousand of his fallen comrades. As confusion turns to violence throughout the city, Autumn discovers the lengths she will go to protect her family, and right the wrongs carried out in the name of security and prosperity--especially those committed by her own hand.

Saturday 15 February 2014

The Bloody Valentine After Party

The Bloody Valentine After Party

Yesterday’s blog hop was great fun, with a wonderful selection of “love gone bad” posts. Some of my personal favourites were Chris Verstraete , Nina D'Arcangela, Jennifer Greene, and L.G. Keltner, but everyone who posted did a fabulous job. I hope everyone had as much fun as I did.

Now on to the my Bloody Valentine contest winner.
The Rafflecopter widget has pulled a name from its magic hat, and the lucky person who won my four ebook and digital artwork package is:

Nina D'Arcangela 

Congratulations, you shall be receiving an email shortly.

And thanks to everyone who participated, and to all who visited the blogs. See you next year for some more bad love.

Friday 14 February 2014

Welcome to the Bloody Valentine Blog Hop

Greetings to all, and welcome to the second Bloody Valentine Blog Hop. 
A place where the red roses have died and the chocolates are poisoned.
So down with love, and on with the fun!

I have a variety of dark treats for you on this stop of the hop, plus as part of the celebration I'm holding a contest to win some books and some artwork.  And don't forget to check out the other hoppers when you're done here. There's a list at the bottom of this post. Just scroll way down to find it.

First up on the menu is a devilish assignation. This story features my character, the demon Balthazar, from Killers and Demons (and the upcoming sequel, Killers and Demons II: The Return). Here he's visiting an old romantic acquaintance:

Wicked Intentions

His thin hand lifted the wine to his lips and he sipped, savouring the flavour. A delicious vintage, a perfect complement to the company. Balthazar smiled at his companion, the attractive creature calling herself Mrs. Crocker.
“A lovely red, my dear.”
“A French vintage.” She returned his smile.
The pair sat in chairs facing each other, perched on the velvet upholstery of Mrs. Crocker’s parlour. The crystal decanter rested on the table between them, and a cozy fire crackled in the hearth.
“It’s been a long time, Balthazar. Not since that mess in Ireland. I’m looking forward to rekindling our acquaintance. The last time was quite… rigorous.” She laughed softly and licked her plump lips. “It was also quite memorable.”
“Yes, it was that.” An odd note of sentimentality crept into his voice, “I always had a weakness for you, Hala.” He stopped smiling and set down his half-empty wine glass.
“However, renewing our familiarity is not why I sought you out this evening.” He stood. “You know, I believe I may actually regret this. That will be a first for me.”
He could see the fear forming in her eyes; the grip on her glass tightened and she shivered.
“What’s going on, Balthazar?”
“He knows, our mutual employer knows. About your transgressions. And he sent me here to punish you.”
He snapped his fingers, and in a breath, demon fire engulfed her.
With horrific screams she burned, her body shuddering, flailing, sizzling, but for once Balthazar took no pleasure in a death. He simply watched stone-faced, until she became nothing more than ash scattered over the unsinged blue velvet of her chair and the parlour floor. Her wine glass fell, cracking, and left a red stain on the carpet.
With a sigh, Balthazar took his leave.

For the second course a small bite of a marriage ending in tragedy:


Sally Benson prepared herself to die. She stretched out on the bottom of the lifeboat and closed her eyes. The water lapped against the side of the boat, the air passed over her with the faint scent of salt and fish. And in the distance, she heard the sound of a motor.

Two months later, she finally felt comfortable at home; a remarkable recovery from her ordeal everyone told her. Her rescue from the bobbing waves of the ocean by the Coast Guard had become a media sensation. She was heralded a hero, the lone survivor of the sinking of the yacht, and given deepest condolences on the tragic death of her husband.
Through her tears, Sally put on a good show with a brave smile. She answered the questions of the Coast Guard and the police, giving them the answers they wanted to hear, relieved when they ruled the sinking an accident.
Sally just wanted the truth to stay buried, submerged on the bottom of the ocean with her cheating, murderous rat of a husband. She didn't want anyone to know how her husband rigged the boat to sink, how he tried to kill her, tried to make her death look like an accident. She escaped though, even if the life raft she chose had a busted motor. Her bad luck she picked the wrong one.
And she needed one more truth to stay hidden. The truth she beat him at his own game of murder. The truth that a poisoned glass of champagne trumped a sabotaged boat.

And to finish, we end with some poetry:

Bittersweet Symphony

this taste on my tongue
as your fine chocolates
melt in my mouth.
I hear the strains of music,
something romantic,
a gift from you.
I breathe in the scent
of the soft, red roses
you gave me yesterday;
“My Valentine,” you said.
But, that was yesterday
when I believed,
when I lived the lie,
before this morning.
Before I watched you
kiss her.

Now I wait for you
with my bittersweet love
and my gun.

Black Rose

You gave me a rose
black as night, to match your heart
and I am alone

Here's the Contest:

Enter by the rafflecopter entry widget below for a chance to win a prize pack of four of my Smashwords ebooks, Fairy Tale Fusion, Reflections of PoetryKillers and Demons and Gothic Cavalcade, plus some of my Bloody Valentine digital artwork, including the Black Rose poem seen above. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Here's a list of participating bloggers and what the hop's all about.

Thursday 13 February 2014

The Bloody Valentine Blog Hop Starts Tomorrow!

Tomorrow, February 14th, the disturbing and deadly aspect of romance takes center stage with the darkly delightful, blood dripping, Bloody Valentine Blog Hop. This Valentine's Day blog hop combines horror with romance, where it's down with the idea of candy and flowers. For one day twenty plus writers and bloggers will dispense with the sappy romance, and show you the bad side of love. 

We will be celebrating heartbreak, love gone wrong, romantic mayhem and tragedy, hopefully with that little splash of humour and blood.  On the Bloody Valentine Blog Hop you will find out what happens when the rose petals die, the candy melts, and lovers are looking for payback.

So come back here on Valentine's Day where we kick things off, and then continue hopping on through the trail of broken hearts...

Thursday 6 February 2014

Interview With Author D. W. Wilkin

Today, we go back in time with author D. W. Wilkin, to discuss the Regency Era, Jane Austen, his books and writing. Read on, and enjoy...

Interview with D. W. Wilkin

Why don't you begin by sharing a little about yourself.

I have hit my middle years, which I think gives me some perspective as an inhabitant of earth, as well as a writer. I see through these eyes the person I was twenty and thirty years ago and know now that that person then needed to go further in their journey to be complete. I see a lot of young people who need better guidance and advice then society has provided. And I read my writing from my earlier days and, groan…

I live in Southern California and have travelled all over the world. One of my grandfathers was English so have been to England more than once. I feel that I am well read, with a personal library of over 6000 books. (But then I haven't read every book in my library yet.)

You write historic novels predominantly, quite often set in the Regency Era. What is it about that particular time period that inspires you?

Writers of Regencies make the period much more charming than it was. We hardly ever write about the dingy side of London. We spend our time in drawing rooms and at Balls, talking of the Ton, which was the 10,000 most important people of the Empire.

When watching Lord Laurence Olivier portray Fitzwilliam Darcy in Pride and Prejudice, at first, I did not like the period, but it grew on me until I began to be a historical reenactor of the time. Even teaching the dances of the time, and attending balls now where we all dress as members of the Ton and dance the night away.

Can you tell us a bit about your latest book, Beggars Can't Be Choosier?

Beggars Can't Be Choosier is the story of an English Earl, Brian Forbes Pangentier, who is Cleaned Out, has no money. His father not planning very well, and all the estates are rented to pay his debts. Katherine Chandler inherits a fortune when her father dies, a man who made it in the India Trade. She is not of society, and is snubbed by it. She decides that marrying a lord is her way to respectability. And she can afford to do so.

Katherine and Brian begin to make a home and life for themselves, but once children arrive and the title is secured, part of their agreement is that they will separate and even divorce. Allowing both to look for love in their lives. That money could often buy a title throughout the ages is a concept often used. Divorce and separations also did take place in the Regency. (Though divorce had to be handled with extra care.) I don’t want to give the ending away, but seeing as this is a Regency Romance, you would be correct in expecting love to make its way into the tale at some point.

You've also written a sequel to Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice using some of the secondary characters. Was it intimidating or tricky to continue that particular story?

It was a little tricky. It had always struck me as a wonder why not more was said about the war that raged across Europe at this time. Austen had brothers who went off to serve in the Navy and became admirals as well. It took me some time to see that Jane had developed the book over the course of many years so leaving exact dates and the occurrences that were happening in the world out of her tales was easier for her.

With a man titled as Colonel and his father an Earl, it became clear in my mind that Colonel Fitzwilliam as we met him through Jane Austen’s writing must have been a man who led a regiment. His commission bought and paid for by his father. Adding to his tale, for it intrigued me (I also historically reenacted as a member of a Victorian Era regiment) was something I wanted to do. I also wanted to tell the tale of Kitty too.

The War however lasts a great deal longer than one season, and a young lady did not stay available for many seasons before being On The Shelf (too old to marry.) Using the device of letters from those home in London and England, to Colonel Fitzwilliam, away on the Peninsula fighting for England and Wellington, I thought would be a good device.

How do you research your books? What are the challenges in deciding which historic tidbits to include and what to leave out?

I have a degree in history from UCLA, so I used to start with my books on the Era. And then the internet became ever more powerful. I have a chronology of events of the Regency years at:

But I also go to Wikipedia and then index articles there quite often for what I need. My historicals use the reality of history as a background to the tale. I have one story in first draft that is about the Peninsula War where the events make the characters secondary, so they are completely accurate and the fictitious additions are to make the tale into a story that is compelling to read.

Can you tell us about your writing process?  Where do your ideas originate?  Do you have a certain writing routine?

I start with an idea, that I then flesh out in a note, now on my iPad. I then take the note, which has become a plot outline with beginning, middle and end and start actually putting two to four sentences of scenes for each chapter of the tale. I use a program that emulates an index card. That imports into my writing program and I can see, as I start writing each chapter, my plan for it in the upper right of the screen. I try to write up to 20 pages a day as I go at my first draft.

I think most ideas come from dreaming and sleep. I used to keep a journal by my bed and have hundreds of ideas I transposed to the computer. The best ones can be fleshed out into full novels. And as I mentioned age giving perspective both as a member of the race, and a writer, I can craft better conflict, action, dialogue now. My routine is to get on the computer in the am and check for correspondence, add to the blog, clean up things, and then start the days writing. Break for lunch, and then back to it until it is late afternoon and my mind has fogged over.

What is the greatest problem you've faced as a writer?

Getting the word out, and selling. My writing has reached a level that it has a style, and I find (like the toothpaste commercial) 4 out of 5 readers like my style when they read it. But they have to discover me and then stick with me to the last page. (In Regencies we have authors who wait till the last page for the first kiss. That is where I have generally fallen, though Beggars Can't Be Choosier is not quite one of those.)

Who has inspired you as an author?

As a writer you must read Stephen King’s On Writing. That is totally inspirational. For what I write, Charles Dickens, Jane Austen, Georgette Heyer, Sharon Kay Penman and even Robert Jordan. And then really a great many others. Not all the writers I read are great, nor all are inspirational, but some who are either one or the other have given me examples of how to tell a better tale.

What’s next for you?

I have been developing a trilogy concept for Xchyler Publishing based on my characters, Wilkins Micawber III and Daniel Copperfield, and the adventures they would have in the Royal Dirigible Corps, fighting for the Empire in Southern Africa. I hope to have a green light and that we will see these Steampunky characters again soon.

Beggars Can't Be Choosier:

When a fortune purchases a title, love shall never flourish, for a heart that is bought, can never be won.

The Earl of Aftlake has struggled since coming into his inheritance. Terrible decisions by his father has left him with an income of only 100 pounds a year. For a Peer, living on such a sum is near impossible. Into his life comes the charming and beautiful Katherine Chandler. She has a fortune her father made in the India trade. 
Together, a title and a fortune can be a thing that can achieve great things for all of England. Together the two can start a family and restore the Aftlake fortunes. Together they form an alliance. 
But a partnership of this nature is not one of love. And terms of the partnership will allow both to one day seek a love that they both deserve for all that they do. But will Brian Forbes Pangentier find the loves he desires or the love he deserves?
And Katherine, now Countess Aftlake, will she learn to appreciate the difference between happiness and wealth? Can love and the admiration of the TON combine or are the two mutually exclusive?

Author Bio:

Mr. Wilkin, the author, is a student of the English Regency. He has written several books and we can expect more to come this year and in the future. A student of history, Mr. Wilkin graduates with a bachelors from UCLA. In later years he continued his studied after college and applied himself as a re-enactor of history. A member of several societies that pursue the study of history through reenacting, Mr. Wilkin is a well known figure in his circles covering history from the middle ages to the present.
Along the way, Mr. Wilkin became a teacher of dance from former times. Several of those dances from the periods of history that are covered and mentioned in his novels are spelled out at the Regency Assembly Press website. 
After his first novel, The End of the World, a short interview was published with Mr. Wilkin. Mr. Wilkin writes in several disciplines, but maintains that writing Regencies is his favorite. Not only does he find drafting his own quite rewarding, but the sequels to the work of Jane Austen  equally gratifying.

You can find out more about the author and his books at these websites:

Also, you can find Beggars Can't Be Choosier on Amazon:

And on Smashwords:

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