Change is Here!

So, lovely people, for a while I’ve been struggling to run both of my blogs. I would focus only on one, then on the other. After some health problems, I’ve decided to merge both blogs together on my original and most personal one, unhingedandunenlightened.

For those of you who are used to seeing me here, it can be a bit of a shock to read me on there. I curse, I swear, I get political. But I feel far more honest and open there than I do here. So in order to try and feel closer to my audience, I’m shifting things there.

I hope you’ll join me there 🙂

Author Interview with Ellen Jane

Greetings, lovely ones, and welcome to our very second author interview! Today we are interviewing Ellen Jane, author of the short story “A Match Made at Christmas” that I just recently read&reviewed.
So Ellen, hi and welcome! Tell us a little bit about yourself. Where were you raised, you know, give us the goods!
Ellen: I’m an Australian writer, so I’ve grown up in and around the sparse bushland of the Australian outback. I used to hate it as a kid, and I longed for rich English forests, but I love it now. It’s starting to creep its way into my books more and more as a setting (though it isn’t in this one because I needed snow!). I don’t have any major events from childhood to share, but I have been affected by mental health issues in both myself and my loved ones since I was young, and I think that is probably the thing that has shaped me most.
Oh interesting. Could you tell us a bit more about that?

Ellen: I’m an HSP (Highly Sensitive Person), and so having that trait while being surrounded and affected by mental health issues growing up has made me think deeply about people—what connects and separates us. It makes my stories have a strong focus on internal growth and connection.

Yes, I definitely noticed that in your writing. So speaking of writing, what inspired you to start writing?

Ellen:  I’ve written stories for as long as I can remember, but I never shared them until I fell into fanfiction a few years ago. Fanfiction gets a bad rap, but I’ll never be ashamed of it. It’s this brilliant space where there is no separation from writer and reader—you’re all just fans together, no matter who’s putting the words together—and so it removes a lot of the ego you might otherwise develop. You start to approach stories from a communal perspective as something to share instead of something to own; it’s really cool.

Huh, I’ve never heard it described in such a way. I like your point about the removal of the ego. Could you explore how ego affects you a bit more? Is it a stumbling block for you?

Ellen: Yes! Especially working out if I’m writing for myself or others. We live in a world that encourages us to attribute self-worth to performance, and I’ve been slowly reshaping that because I think focusing on performance leads to short-term happiness rather than a genuine sense of self-worth. Writing lives in this intersection of art and commerce, whereby you need to sell your books if you want them to exist anywhere beyond your head, but at their root, they’re nothing more or less than a form of self-expression. Trends come and go, and if you’re constantly chasing what’s popular, there’s no sense of personal satisfaction. But then, it’s a little selfish to sell books that are written without others’ enjoyment in mind. It’s a balance.

Interesting I like how you see it as a balance. Another thing that authors have to balance is character development and plot. Which is more important to you, character development or plot?

Ellen: Definitely character. I’ll read through any amount of clunky writing if a book has a good character. If I truly can’t stand the plot or writing, I’ll sometimes rewrite it in my head as I go just so I don’t have to walk away from the character.

Hahaha, okay! That’s very fanfiction-y but it does show what matters more for you! Now let’s switch tracks a bit. Tell us a little about your writing. What makes your work and this one in particular special?

Ellen: The romance in this book—and often any that I write—is perhaps a bit unique in that it’s more about emotional intimacy and vulnerability than an earth-shattering kiss. It won’t be for everyone, and I completely respect that; I find myself more drawn to romances that emphasize a voluntary and shared vulnerability than romances that have strong heat (though I’ve definitely written those too). I don’t see those romances in published fiction very much, so it was cathartic to write. It’s also pure fluff and lesbians, which the world needs more of.

Can you tell us a little about what happened ‘behind’ this book? Any funny stories that occurred to you?


Ellen: No funny stories, I’m afraid! I was inspired by The Little Match Girl as one of my favourite Hans Christian Andersen stories, but I always bawl my eyes out when I read it. So, I wanted to bring those vibes in and give it a happy ending. Pure wish fulfillment on my part.

What was the most difficult thing about writing this book?


Ellen: Burnout. It’s been a long year for everyone, and along with writing burnout I’ve had a lot of life upheaval this year, not to mention the political climate of the world. I wanted to write some LGBTQ Christmas fluff because I needed it, but even though it was only a short story I struggled through almost every word. But I’m thankful I wrote it because, despite the difficulty, it became the story I wanted it to be.

Awww that’s sweet. I think we’re all glad that you wrote it. 🙂 Is there anything personal that  you used/put into this story?


Ellen: Nothing major, but little elements do creep in. The car alarm going off happened to a friend; the sound of pots and pans clattering at one point was because I was writing on a vid chat with a friend and that was in the background; Elise was involved in wedding planning because I was a bridesmaid this year. It’s fun for me to re-read a story and remember all those little life moments as I go through, even though no one else will notice.

Ah-ha! So there’s a little bit of your life in there! Now what objective material did you use? Did you do a lot of research?

Ellen: God, I’m so not a Ravenclaw. I researched snow? And by that I mean, I went to the snow for the first time recently and was shocked by how cold it is. Astonishing, I know. Apart from that, I mainly focused on how to squash my Australianisms and replace them with British terms (“lie in” instead of “sleep in”; “in the hole” instead of “up the creek”).

That’s funny! Yes, as a Canadian I can confirm that snow is cold haha! But I’m afraid we’ve got to wrap this up. Any final takeaway words or lessons from this book?

Ellen: There’s a line in there: maybe real change isn’t becoming something new but becoming something real. (Or something like that; I can’t remember now!) I think that was the idea I was exploring most. We can be so focused on trying to fix things by turning everything around, but sometimes it’s just about letting go and being authentic, even if it scares you.

New Videos!

As some of you may have noticed, I’ve read “A Match Made at Christmas” by Ellen Jane and done a written review, as well as a little author interview. This means *drumroll* it’s time for the video versions!

So here we have it y’all. My book review video version and my totally new and fresh Author Interview with Ellen Jane!

Check them out! Let me know what you think<3 I hope they cheer up your day a little bit!

Book Review “A Match Made at Christmas” by Ellen Jane

So I’ve had a lot of reading to do. I feel swamped. In the last few days I’ve felt like, ehh, maybe I’ve bit off more than I could chew. So then, just to try and knock something off my list, I picked out a short story that I was interested in and started reading it.

And it was dull. Derp. At the beginning I actually put it down,walked over to where my poor wifey was innocently eating, and sat down and complained about the woes of being a book reviewer. Spoiler?: she wasn’t very sympathetic.

So this morning, just a scant few hours ago, I picked up my ebook again and decided to give it another go.

And again, the beginning was dull and a bit listless. But hah! Once the magic began (literally, there’s magic in the story) – the magic began. Harr harr harr, see what I did there?

Y’all I LOVED this short little cutesy story. It was adorable once the magic started and the action began. I literally didn’t see parts coming and it was just so great!

What was good about it? Cutesy. Adorable. Happy. Fluff. Magic. Adorable life lessons neatly packaged in easy-to-understand tidbits. Lesbian. No obnoxious male characters. No obnoxious ‘but we’re gay’ wailing throughout.

Nope. Just happiness and Christmas-ey joy and magic all throughout. I loved it.

Now what’s not to like about it? If I was to zap myself into the author’s room, sit her down, and give her a solid talking to, what would I tell her to fix (becauseI’m obviously the world’s greatest editor and know-it-all when it comes to writing)?

Well, I would advise to somehow get the story started faster. Maybe that’s just me complaining, maybe I was just depressed last night (I was, actually, and am fighting depression a lot these days so I can be jaded). But I found the story slow to start and dull. There was nothing that hooked me in the first page or so and compelled me to keep reading. I read because I had to. Were I to be scrolling through an online bookstore (like Smashwords, cough cough) I  would have read the beginning of this short story and closed it and moved on with my life. Boo. Not good. Books are supposed to hook people in at the beginning. Short stories even more so.

But what else? Not much, really. There were few tropes, good character depth, and believable interactions combined with hilarious fantasy happenings. I wished the story was longer but appreciated the short quality of this story.

All in all, I really really liked this short story. I highly recommend it, especially to anyone who likes Bridget Essex’s writings. This author is one to keep an eye on! Find it HERE.

How Has Life Been?

Well, first of all, in case you didn’t notice, my book is up for pre-order! Join my throngs of fans (I’m joking, haha) and get yourself a copy NOW!

Second of all, I’ve hurt my wrist. Ouch. Not so pleasant. Writing hurts, doing dishes hurts but I’m still doing all that. Because I’m stubborn.

Now, on the upside, I’m proud to announce that in the coming year I am committed to rewrite and self-publish a fantasy story that’s been mulling in my head since I was a child (literally!). This will be it’s third rewriting, and hopefully the last! Yaaayyyy! Last night it felt like something clicked in the air and I was finally able to get the story started again – for good!

So yes, Farfadel and it’s shenanigans will be getting published, but that’s not what I will be working on. I will be working on a story about mental health, coming of age, racism, and mysticism all at once! And magic. Always magic 🙂

 

Pre-Orders Available!

Hey everyone! Guess what? YES! “A Tale of Two Queens” is available for pre-order NOW!

Described by one fan as “A mixture of Tolkien and Terry Pratchett” (yes, I have some fans already!), the world of Farfadel is about to explode over you the moment you get a hold of this book! So don’t hesitate! Jump, run, squeal, and rush over HERE to pre-order yourself a copy just in time for the holidays!

And once you’ve done that, head over HERE to join the reading group dedicated to those reading Farfadel’s novels! Goodies and awesomeness will be posted soon!

Wishing you all a very lovely day y’all! Much love your way ❤

 

It’s A-LIIIVE!

My Youtube Channel is now live! I’ve put up my book review as well as a parody of my interview with Tori Fletcher. Please go and show it some love! ❤ Of course, also let me know what you think, what you’d like to see done, and any other ideas you have!

Lots of love,

Michael

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Author Interview – Tori Fletcher

Hi everyone and welcome to our very first Author Interview! Today’s guinea pig/author is Tori Fletcher, author of “In the Shadows of the Pyramids”.

So Tori, hello! Tell us a little bit about yourself. Where were you raised, what major childhood events marked you, and what major adult events have shaped you?

Tori: I was born and raised in Louisa, Kentucky, a tiny little map dot in the south. A major childhood event that marked me was my thirteenth and fourteenth year. In which, I attended six funerals for loved ones. It led to a lot of darkness and a very extended bout of depression. Adult events that have shaped me is doing things on my own, staying away from relationships, toxic and otherwise. I’ve learned volumes about myself, my own demons, my own ghosts in the last three or four years, which led me back to my writing.

Interesting! And how have these major events affected your writing?

Tori: The deaths that I mentioned earlier basically shoved me into darkness, as it did my writing. For the first year or two after the deaths, I continued writing, but I stopped soon after. I spent my entire high school career only writing when my English classes demanded it. It was one of the biggest mistakes I’ve made to date. But, thankfully I picked it back up and reignited my passions for reading and writing. Thus far, I’ve learned how to harness the darkness I face into my writing. My latest writing professor told me my work was reminiscent of Poe, which was the highest praise for me.

Oh, Poe! What a compliment indeed! But what inspired you to start writing and When did you start writing?

Tori: It may sound cliché and broken record-ish but reading made me want to start writing. I was in love with book as much as I am now when I was little, so I spent a lot of my time in the library. I remember being in my elementary school’s library, I was looking for the Spiderwick Chronicles and thought, how cool would it be to see my own name on these shelves? So, I began writing, mostly nonsense, fairy tales and fan fiction, but it began and hasn’t ended, however grateful I am for that.

I think we’re all grateful you’ve kept writing 🙂 Now, what’s been your personal biggest stumbling block when it comes to writing?

Tori: It’s definitely my eagerness to spoil my own plot twists. I get into my writing so fast, that my characters let every secret come tumbling out of their mouths. I’m working on lengthening my work, ITSOTP is the first nearly full-length book I’ve written, edited, finished, and published. An even longer one (hopefully) is in the works right now.

Well congratulations on that! I really hope your works can lengthen up the way you want them to. But, what is more important to you, character development or plot?

Tori: Character development, for sure. I find that if my characters, my people, aren’t relatable, aren’t actually people, then the story they’re telling isn’t going to matter. I myself enjoy reading a book the most when I can connect with a character, so that’s what I try to do for my readers as well.

What makes your work and this one in particular special?

Tori: I believe that the combination of my gentle, want-to-please-everyone nature and the fierce darkness mix well together. I think it makes my work good, emotional even. ITSOTP is special in this way too because my characters sometimes let their emotions get in their way, sometimes they use them to their advantage and others’ demise. I’ve never read a story like it, even though I may be the smallest bit biased, I honestly believe I’ve never even heard of a story about Egyptian slaves turned vampires.

True, haha, I’ve never really read anything like it either! So, what happened ‘behind’ this book? Any funny stories that occurred to you?

Tori: The ‘behind the scenes’ of this book isn’t very interesting, I’m afraid. The story dawned on me as I was watching The Prince of Egypt for the millionth time. Coincidentally, I’d just finished binging The Vampire Diaries, and I thought, what if I were to combine the stories (sort of)? Of course, I didn’t follow the movie exactly, or even closely. I simply used the setting, theology, as well as the stories of the slaves in that movie. I didn’t follow The Vampire Diaries either, as it were. But, I feel like those two things were the driving points in creating this story. While I was writing it, the story started out simple, but as the characters grew, in history and numbers, it became more complicated in a good way.

Complicated can be hard though! What was the most difficult thing about writing this book?

Tori: The most difficult thing about writing this book was discovering that one of its main themes was death and overcoming your own circumstances. Like almost everyone, I fear death the most out of everything, so it was difficult to face down the chasm that yawned open as I was writing ITSOTP. I’ve only had the minimal circumstances, I know that, but I felt these characters’ grief, heartbreak, and other emotions like I feel my own, so it felt real. It felt like I’d experienced everything, and while it was amazing, it was also scary and difficult to put myself through that. But, I don’t regret it and I look forward to diving back in with my current work in progress.

Sounds intimate. What personal elements did you draw upon to write this?

Tori: Almost all of my characters experienced either the death of a loved one or the loss of love. In both cases, I’ve had my fair share of experience. The funerals, the breakups, even the disappointments that I’ve been through all aided me in the writing of ITSOTP.

Alright, personal aside! What objective material did you draw on for this novel?

Tori: I researched all I could about Egypt, how the pharaohs ruled, and their gods so I could create my own Egypt-like landscape and theology. I don’t think I can ever read another vampire book with all I’ve read in research to create my vampires. The mix some Dracula, The Vampire Diaries, and Twilight in order to come up with my glorious beasties. The research was cumbersome, but the outcome is amazing.

Nice! Any final takeaway lessons from this book?

Tori: The final takeaway lesson from ITSOTP is don’t be scared of the darkness inside of you. It can be scary at times, but everyone is a little bit monster. Keep family close, even if they’ve wronged you, left you, abandoned you. It may not seem like it, but they can help you. Whether it be helping you keep the darkness, the monster inside at bay, or embracing it, it’s never better to do it alone, lest it swallow you whole.

Well on that inspiring note, we have to depart. Thank you very much Tori for opening up to us and sharing so much!

And for all of you out there reading, you can find Tori on Instagram and Twitter here:

Instagram: @torimaelynn_author

Twitter: @ToriM_Author

And her book “In the Shadow of the Pyramids” is available on Amazon here Link: https://www.amazon.com/Shadow-Pyramids-Battles-Lore/dp/1973467593/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1544410946&sr=8-1&keywords=in+the+shadow+of+the+pyramids

Book Review “In the Shadow of the Pyramids”

“In the Shadow of the Pyramids”, or ITSOTP as Tori shortens it, is one of the first indie books I have read in my life, and my first I’ve finished as a book reviewer. And I have a confession to make…

I thought it was a romance. I thought it was going to be a happy exercise in fluff.

You see, little birdies, my wife went away for a week to travel with her family when I started this novel. I was lonely, miserable, and wanted something to cheer me up.

Well, spoiler alert! It’s not a fluffy romance. ITSOTP is a dark, angst-filled novel about vampires killing things while having anxious and gruesome flashbacks about their lifes and deaths all while doing anxious and gruesome things.

It did NOT cheer me up. In fact, I had a hard time reading it because it’s just not my genre. I don’t like angst, vampires, or much dark stuff in general. I even like cream and sugar in my coffee. So let’s say I’m perhaps not the target audience for this novel.

But personal tastes aside, what can be said about ITSOTP?

It’s a quirky book. It wasn’t entirely predictable because of this. There was funny moments, there was some twists and turns. I liked the descriptions of bizarre body languages and the sleeping on the ceilings.

It’s dark. Gratuitious murder for the sake of it? Sure, why not?

It’s fantasy. I need to point this out because the mythology doesn’t stand a snowball’s chance in Hell, nor does it reflect any sort of cohesive mythology. I also highly doubt a celebrated general would be wasting their time whipping slaves on a work field.

Light, easy, morbid read? Sure, why not.

Is everyone going to love it? No, probably not. I certainly didn’t. But, if you do like violence aplenty, death and morbid monologues and angsty flashbacks then maybe you’ll like this.

What I do have to say is that it’s definitely a different read. It fits into the vampire genre, but with a twist of ancient pseudo-Egypt.

 

 

Someone’s Publishing a Book!

Harken ye, harken ye, I am spreading the word! Erin Crocker is publishing a novel!

Why should you care? Because it’s a horror lgbt+ novel, that’s why! Also, this author has been on NailedIt!, and that’s a badge of honor (also my favorite show).

When can you get ahold of this here ye not so olde book? Today! Verily, preorders are now available for Erin Crocker’s “Forbidden” at (one of) these here yonder links! Clicketh thee and verily, the book shall… magickally appear? Or maybe you’ll get a rat. Who knows?

https://www.facebook.com/authorerincrocker/

https://twitter.com/authorerink

https://www.instagram.com/authorerincrocker/?hl=en

Preorder link: https://amzn.to/2rs3Sy7

What else, verily? Ah, dearest reader, holdeth thy bosom! Clutcheth thy buttocks! For LO and BEHOLDETH! A teaser sentence~

“Does evil lurk in Devil’s Creek, or are residents of Paradise Grove manifesting a darkness far more sinister?”

And that was that!

So dearest readers. Get on yon’ horses. Get on yon’ donkeys. Get off yon asses. Read this book!