Virtual FantasyCon – Questions for Jena Baxter- On publishing

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    1. From a publisher’s point of view, how would FantasyCon help you and the authors in your company?
    1. FantasyCon helps by making more people than we would normally have access to, aware of us, our books, our authors, our brand, and our mission.
    1. Can you see online events as part of an author’s role in the writing world?
    1. Absolutely! Authors need to continually put themselves in the public’s (and potential customers’) eye. This is just one more way to achieve that!  Plus it has its advantages.  For instance, an author doesn’t have to actually LEAVE his home, his family, his life to participate, and he/she can potentially reach a MUCH bigger audience.
    1. What do you look for in a good fantasy and sci-fi manuscript?
    1. It MUST have good story flow. You know, the kind that keeps you interested through almost every step of the entire book. It should have a well-rounded story, built with interesting and memorable characters.  It doesn’t have to be action-packed to accomplish this either!  A good plot, characters that seem to come to life, and good dialog around a campfire can accomplish this as well as a good action scene.  It SHOULD have some action somewhere, though.  🙂
    1. This genre is filled with an abundance of sub-genres. In your opinion, what is the future of fantasy and sci-fi? How does this genre stand up against the many other genres in the industry?
    1. Wow, that’s a tough question. My personal favorite is Sci-Fi/Fantasy.  I think this genre has the biggest possibilities, but even a good children’s book is enjoyable if written well.  The future is hard to predict at any time, but I don’t think many parts of Fantasy Genre will suffer.  They have been around a long time, and I think they will continue to interest people.  I think there are a lot more people interested in Fantasy than any others.  The only one that probably compares would be self-help books.  Those get a lot of sales too.  For good reason.  🙂
    1. What draws you to fantasy and sci-fi, both as a reader and a publisher?
    1. I love a good story. I love aliens, and space, and time, and magic. I love interesting characters.  I love ghosts, and anything paranormal.  It’s all so fascinating, and different from the mundane stuff we deal with every day.  I think that is what draws me (and most others) in.  The escape from reality.  We can imagine we are the character, or there with the character, and we can experience things we wouldn’t be able to otherwise.
    1. Can you offer some advice to fantasy or sci-fi writers in the community about manuscript to publishing?
    1. Not much more than I have already said. You need to keep your story moving. If it flat-lines, you need to look at why, and either remove what is causing it, or try re-writing it.  Also, be open to re-writes.  A lot of authors get married to their work.  While this is a WONDERFUL quality that will help you sell books (enthusiasm for one’s own work will draw people), you don’t want to be SO married that you aren’t willing to listen to your editor.  Editors DO know what they are doing, otherwise they probably wouldn’t have their job.  So please be open-minded, and be willing to work with your editor on re-writing parts of your story that might need this.  You do NOT want the reader to lose interest in your book.  Usually once lost, they will put the book down, and never pick it up again.  Another thing you don’t want to do is over-complicate your story.  If you do this, you will make your book hard/frustrating to read, and that will lose you potential sales, or a good review.  One bad review can do 10x more damage to your sales/reputation than the good that 10 good reviews do.

A lovely review for Circle of Five by Marcha Fox

Product Details

“A Circle of Five” kicks off the “Pha-yul Trilogy”, a Young Adult fantasy series. Rather than plunge the reader abruptly into a fantasy world, however, the author slowly transitions to other realms from the daily routine of five “normal” teenagers as they confront challenges encountered following a literal lightning strike which occurs during an after school detention session overseen by the school’s football coach.

The author did an excellent job naming the characters such that they stand out as individuals within a variety of races, ethnicities and financial situations. By the end of this volume you feel as if you know each of them inside and out which is accomplished through the omniscient viewpoint handled in such a way that, to the author’s credit, was never confusing.

Each of the five has his or her own problems, mostly related to their family situation. The details provided for each accurately demonstrate the insecurities and personality issues which can arise from a person’s home environment. These are ordinary teens living anything but a charmed life, other than the fact that most of their parents are affluent or were at some point. Just about everyone should be able to relate to one or more of the situations described from sibling rivalry to neglectful, disinterested or inebriated parents. This factor alone makes this story relevant to both teens and adults, specifically parents, who may see a bit of themselves from the perspective of teens. Life at that age can be overwhelming enough as they try to figure out who and what they are, much less having to do so with a lack of parental emotional support. In today’s world where most homes require two incomes to survive, to say nothing of the financial and emotional struggle of single parents, this situation is probably far too common.

These distinct individuals are not even friends as the story begins. In fact, some of them overtly dislike each other, contributing to plenty of conflict as each character struggles with their own personal issues, dealing with classes, plus being thrust into this exclusive group which involves grueling training they must undergo before and after school. Furthermore, all of this is required without knowing the whys or wherefores of where these abilities came from. While they get a glimpse of what these talents are they cannot control them at will, thus necessitating the training. About all they’ve seen was a quick flash trip to Tibet where they discover the coach is clearly an important figure who reports to a woman even higher in status in that world.

This story is the antithesis of waking up with superpowers and instinctively knowing how to use them, showing it may not be the bed of roses most would expect. The idea that development any skill to a high level requires discipline and hard work is an important concept and life lesson nicely woven into the plot. The teens’ struggles with their daily routine, personality conflicts and typical high school situations brought the characters to life. Their mundane challenges were detailed, realistic and relatable, lending realism to the story but somewhat understating the fantasy element, which the cover and prologue imply. Thus, anyone expecting the book to be heavy on the fantasy side could be disappointed since there is far more reality within the pages than escaping to another realm. The characters as well as readers are left in the dark with regard to various details with a few revelations in the final chapter. Nonetheless, as the first book in a series these questions will most likely be addressed in the sequels which have the advantage of being populated with fully developed protagonists.

Gran-sdur: The Games

Product Details

Review for Gran-sdur:The Games – I forgot how much I loved these characters! The start of the book was a bit slow, but that helped ease me back into the Pha-Yal world nicely. I definitely got a lot more of a feel for Mr Harris as a person this time too, which was a pleasant surprise. Suffice to say he’s actually become one of my favourite characters. As it was before, the team of five kids each bought their own elements to the story, and rounded it out nicely – although I was glad to see some competition challenging those bonds at times. I loved all their reactions, apart from when they grumbled about Mr Harris, and making them participate in the games was a great, adrenaline fuelling addition. Very clever of the author. Oooooh boy, but I can’t wait to see what happens next.

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00OZAEYTY

Scepter by Scott Collins

Product Details

Scepter is set in a fantastical land, but one you can relate to. Two young boys who’ve lost their parents to the realm have incredible powers that are both fascinating and useful. When the time comes for the older brother to be taken away, the younger decides to fight. It is a coming of age story for these two boys, who have lived in seclusion all their lives, hidden from the evil king who rules them. They soon make friends with youngsters as scared, as confused and who are trying to be as brave as them.

Scott L. Collins has made their journey in this book an exciting and fast paced tale, filled with mythical creatures, enchanting fairies and ugly goblins. The children are learning to adapt and growing stronger and braver through the story, brave enough to start attacking the king’s men. I feel the start of a quest here, which I hope to read about in the second book. A riveting read! I love fantasy and this one kept me up all night.

A lovely review for Circle of Five by Steve Lebel (Free right now for Mother’s Day)

Circle of Five (Pha Yul, #1)

Circle of Five, Book 1 of the Pha-yul trilogy is FREE for Mother’s Day. You can pick it up at http://amzn.to/OPW6I6

Here is one of the wonderful reviews for Circle of Five by Steve Lebel, award winning author of Universe Builders.

As the story opens, we are introduced to five different kids: Sebastian, the spoiled rich kid, Ryan, the school jock, Maya, daughter of a divorced doctor parents living with her mom, and Cassie and Sam, brother and sister in a dysfunctional family. They have little in common except the detention they share because of arriving late to school one day. In the days that follow, they puzzle through the mystery of what happened during that hour of detention.

The author, Jan Raymond, has a gift for description, easily creating vivid images of the children, the scenes, and even the family dynamics each child faced at home. She clearly understands students, their doubts and fears, and all the teenage angst that comes with that age. It was fun to watch the children come together as they trained under the demanding regimen of their mentor. I was as delighted as any of the kids when their powers began to emerge and to blossom.

Not just a story of emerging powers, it is a story of children whose training and hard work matures them and makes them better people. As they learn to use, control and strengthen their powers, the plot twists and turns through surprising directions as they discover themselves in a larger web of intrigue in which they face real life and death struggles where they must use their powers to survive. A fascinating story where each child, with his/her own unique personality and ability, has a critical role to play.

I loved the book and I am looking forward to the next book to see what happens next. Five stars!

Check out the other reviews at https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/20801439-circle-of-five?ac=1

Initiation Rayna Noire

Pagan Eyes: Initiation

This is the second book on Pagan culture that I’m reading, so it’s not a new topic. And since I’m already familiar with the Wiccan culture, I was able to appreciate the research that has gone into this book, about the present and the past. To be historically and culturally accurate while spinning a fantastic tale is indeed a work of art. Initiation is a fascinating read, well embellished and nicely crafted.

I like the subtle personality differences between Leah and Arabella and how Leah has to change to cope with the past and all that it brings. This is the first book in this series and I can’t wait to read the next book in the series. A great read!

Rose of Cavendish – Leandri cherry

“A peek into fairyland through the eyes of it’s beleaguered princess. A journey through the world of faeries, dwarves and goblins! A nice story, great imagination. The writing could be honed a bit as it took away from the story. In spite of that it was a good read. First of a series. A nice book for tweens.”