Authors, Friday Feature

Friday Feature: Author Kellie Doherty Interview

Kellie Doherty is a queer science fiction and fantasy author living in Eagle River, Alaska. Her work has been published by Desert Palm Press, Queer Sci Fi, and Pathos Literary Magazine, among others. She currently works full time as an office assistant and part time as a freelance editor. In her (mostly non-existent) spare time, she likes to read, play games, and watch way too much YouTube.


Published Books

Sunkissed Feathers & Severed Ties– Recently released on March 27th!

Losing Hold (Cicatrix Duology book 2)- Published April 2017

Finding Hekate ( Cicatrix Duology book 1)- April 2016

You can purchase all three books at Desert Palm Press here!


Interview

What inspired you to write Sunkissed Feathers & Severed Ties?

Well that’s a little bit of a story, actually! I got the idea for my fantasy series back when I was teenager. I thought it would be fun to have four distinct main characters each with their own stories, their own failures and triumphs, and then have them come together at the end. I started with Sunkissed Feathers & Severed Ties because Misti, my main character, was the first of the four characters to really stand out to me. I knew her the best. I was inspired by the type of magic she wields (though I call it crafting in my world), and she has a really cute companion animal so that helped me, too. So really, I was inspired by my main character to write her story first.

Is there anything you really want readers to know about your recently released novel, Sunkissed Feathers & Severed Ties?

I’d like readers to know that Sunkissed Feathers & Severed Ties is the beginning of a new five-book fantasy series, where, while the story is about Misti during her adventures you’ll also get to meet the other three main characters of the upcoming books. The first four books will be standalones, but you’d probably need to read one of the first four before reading the fifth. The character arcs will be intertwined in some way (think: bumping into one of them on the side of the road) but also unique, too.

Your previous two published novels are science fiction and your recently released novel is fantasy. Do you do any research before and/or during your writing process or is it all from your imagination?

Most of it is from my imagination, but for my science fiction work I did research how certain technology would work and what living on a spaceship would be like. (Oh, and if watching Firefly, Star Trek, and Stargate reruns counts as research then I did a lot of that, too!) For my fantasy work I researched sword fighting vs. dagger fighting styles, mythological creatures from various cultures, fun plant-life, things like that. (I watched a bunch of Critical Role while writing my fantasy work, too, which helped!) I also do research on various worldbuilding aspects—unique foods, interesting fashions, cool settings—and sprinkle that into my writing, too.

As a queer author, how important is representation in books to you?

So, so, so important. I can’t stress that enough! Diversity is a huge conversation happening in the publishing world right now and I am thrilled that we’re finally talking about it—and doing something about it! We need more diversity of all kinds—queer, POC, disabled folk, etc.—in all areas of publishing, writing, marketing, social media, design, etc. Representation is so important to readers, too, being able to see yourself in the books you read. I didn’t get to see many queer main characters in fantasy and science fiction works when I was growing up and even into the beginnings of adulthood so being able to add positive representation is lovely. It’s one of the reasons I write!

What other authors have inspired you?

Wow, there are so many awesome authors out there—V.E. Schwab, Becky Chambers, Tomi Adeyemi come to mind right now. The other authors at Desert Palm Press are constant sources of inspiration for me, and my friends who are yet-unpublished-but-are-amazing-writers are super motivating, too!


Want to Know More?

You can check out Kellie’s website here. She also has a twitter.

wonder wednesday

Wonder Wednesday: The blogging community

Hello lovely readers! I hope you’re having a wonderful Wednesday! Today I was wondering how you participate in the blogging community particularly the book blogging community. Do you participate in reading challenges, do you do lots of blog hopping, or are you someone who prefers to just read a blog or two in your spare time? Do you participate in the community in a way I haven’t mentioned? I’d love to hear your responses!

wonder wednesday

Wonder Wednesday: Where do you get your books?

Hello lovely readers and happy Wednesday! Today, I’ve been wondering where everyone finds new books that they want to read. Do you find all of your book while browsing the shelves of Barnes&Noble, searching for highly rated books of Amazon, through friend recommendations only, or something different?

I can’t wait to here all the places that you find new and great books.

Advice

Beginning Book Bloggers- ARC 101

Hello lovely readers, I hope the day is treating you well! Today I want to talk about ARCs. ARC stands for advance readers copies. This is probably one of the best perks outside of the book community itself to book blogging. It is where you get free copies of a book with the understanding that on some platform you will leave a review. As a lover of books this is amazing! However, it’s also really easy to overwhelm yourself if you’re not careful. In this post I’m going to discuss general ARCs stuff and also some precautions about what I call the ARC trap.

Where can you get ARCs?

NetGalley– my favorite site. Full of professional publishers

Edelweiss+ – also full of professional publishers. Haven’t personally used.

BookSends ARC – sends you an e-mail with ARCs you can choose. Very small selection. The deadline to read is usually very short compared to other sites.

Reading Deals – the first place I ever got an ARC. They’re very clear on book review expectations and etiquette which was nice, but their selection isn’t very good.

I’m sure there are even more than this, but these are the ones I’ve either heard of or used myself. You can also always personally ask the publishing company or author for an ARC though with no following and limited experience you probably won’t have much luck.

How do I get approved for ARCs?

This is the golden question. For smaller companies that handout ARCs like BookSends and Reading Deals anything you request you can usually receive no problem. Fairly straight forward. I’m not really familiar with Edelweiss+ so honestly I can’t really speak for that website, but I’ve heard a lot of people use it so I wanted to include it. NetGalley is where I get all my best ARCs from. It’s a great site! Now, NetGalley is hub for a variety of publishers that receive your requests and then either approve or deny them. If you look at the publisher’s preferences you will see that almost every publisher has the right to approve or deny your request basically just because they want to. However, there are some things you can do to really improve your chances. 1. You need a platform. I’ve been approved when all I had were Amazon and Goodreads accounts, but it’s not the best. A platform such as a blog really tells the publishers that you have a following and that you’re taking this seriously. You don’t even need a large following so don’t worry about having tons of followers! 2. You need to keep an eye on your feedback ratio. Your feedback ratio is the number of books you’ve given reviews for compared to the number of ARCs you’ve received. Some high profile bloggers may be able to get away with low ratios, but starting out I’ve found a low feedback ratio tends to be why I get denied a book.

Beware the ARC Trap

What is the ARC trap you ask? It’s when you requested lots of ARCs, think you didn’t get approved for any of them, and so request more only to later get approved for all of them and then you have six or more ARCs and limited time to read everything. Plus, your feedback ratio is now horrible. Now, if you’re thinking that’s oddly specific then you’d be correct. This has happened to me multiple times and I don’t want it to happen to you. It puts you under a lot of pressure that you don’t necessarily need or want to be under. Publishers are very busy and probably receive hundreds if not thousands of requests for books every day. It can take a publisher anywhere from a couple days to a month to see your ARC request. I didn’t realize this at first at it put me under a lot of pressure to quickly read a lot of books that I didn’t necessarily have time to read. I would encourage you if you’re just starting out as a reviewer to only request one or two books at a time. Most publishers are kind enough to e-mail you that they have denied your request for their ARC so you should usually know if the publisher has seen your request or not.

ARC Etiquette

So, I would say there’s definitely some ARC etiquette I would personally recommend that bloggers/reviewers follow. If you are getting a free ARC it’s important to remember that the author and publisher are giving you a gift. They worked very hard on it and probably put in a lot of love. What does that mean for you? You need to actually take the time to read the book. Don’t skim it, don’t give up on it even if you don’t like it. Read it. Now, there of course can be an occasional exception. I have DNF-ed one ARC, but that should be a rare occurrence. Once you’ve finished it, give a thought out review. It is 100% okay to give an ARC a bad review. Honesty is the best policy my friends and if you’re not being honest then you’re not helping anyone. But, if you’re going to give a single star to a book then there needs to be a reason just like if you gave it five stars. This is part of why you were given the ARC in the first place. Honor that responsibility.

Transparency is also important. If you were given an ARC it’s important to make sure you let readers know you received it as a free ARC. This has personally never changed how I feel about someone giving a review for a book, but again I think honesty is the best policy and letting readers know is a good trust builder.


Does that answer all your ARC questions? Were there things I didn’t cover? Let me know what you think!

Reviews

Haunting- The Wicker King by K. Ancrum

Overall enjoyment: 3/5

World building: 2/5

Characterization: 3/5

Diversity: 3/5

Goodreads Summary: When August learns that his best friend, Jack, shows signs of degenerative hallucinatory disorder, he is determined to help Jack cope. Jack’s vivid and long-term visions take the form of an elaborate fantasy world layered over our own—a world ruled by the Wicker King. As Jack leads them on a quest to fulfill a dark prophecy in this alternate world, even August begins to question what is real or not.

August and Jack struggle to keep afloat as they teeter between fantasy and their own emotions. In the end, each must choose his own truth.

Review

I have confused feelings about this. I feel like I misinterpreted the summary and so had an unrealistic expectation for this book. This book is all from August’s point of view and while Jack does have an elaborate hallucinatory fantasy world that is not really the focus nor in my opinion is the quest. The focus is August’s attachment to Jack and how Jack’s hallucinations not only deeply affect Jack, but also deeply effect August. This was hard book to read, not because it was poorly written, but because it is so well written. This is not a book that makes mental illness look pretty. This book that looks at what the reality of untreated mental illness and it’s hard. This is not a light, fluffy book this is a bit of a wake up call for everyone who doesn’t get it, myself included.

World building. I’m going to be honest. There is next to none. We get a brief description here and there of the surroundings. We’re in our modern world. Jack’s fantasy world is briefly explained. I think this was done very intentionally though. None of the stuff I just mentioned was meant to be the focus of this story and it could’ve taken away from the impact of the real message if too much time had been spent on it. It is a rare day that I will say that minimum world building was a good move for a book, but I think this was an intentional move and I think it was for the benefit of the book.

Characters. Oh, August and Jack. I hurt for them. There are some background characters, but they’re not much worth mentioning. I hurt for the characters, but they were personally hard for me to connect with. I think Jack is a bully and I say that because I think he was that way before his hallucinations really started and August isn’t described as super likable either. However, I think again it was intentional and actually a good part of the characterization. These two have been neglected and the only thing holding them both up are each other. That doesn’t always create a healthy relationship. I would say they both have very distinct voices that stay consistent throughout the entirety of the book.

Diversity. Both August and Jack are bisexual. Jack also has a hallucinatory disease for most of the book. I haven’t read many books with mental illness rep so it was nice to see even though it was hard to read.

Overall, I think the book was very well written. Ancrum does an amazing job. It was so hard to read though and while that was the point of the book I can’t say it was one of my favorites. If you want a book with flawed, hurting characters that gives a realistic view on what serious mental illness looks like I think you could really enjoy this book. If your looking for something more focused on fantasy or escapism this is not something I would recommend.

wonder wednesday

Wonder Wednesday: Enjoyable Blogs

Happy Wednesday everyone! This week I’ve been wondering what attracts you to a blog? Is it the layout that appeals to you? Is it the content, and if so, what content do you really enjoy? Do you prefer blogs to have a set update schedule or are you okay with people updating whenever? Like always I’ve been skimming through blogs though not as much as I usually do and I see some blogs with okay content with thousands of followers vs bloggers who have content I really enjoy with only a couple hundred. Is it a time spent blogging? The longer you blog the more followers you inevitably you get? I would love to know your thoughts not only to help my own blog, but so that others can read and improve their own blogs.

Have a lovely day and I look forward to hearing from you!

ARC

ARC Review- The Bird King

Overall enjoyment: 4/5

World building: 4/5

Characterization: 5/5

Diversity: 3/5

Goodreads Summary:

Set in 1491 during the reign of the last sultanate in the Iberian peninsula, The Bird King is the story of Fatima, the only remaining Circassian concubine to the sultan, and her dearest friend Hassan, the palace mapmaker. 

Hassan has a secret–he can draw maps of places he’s never seen and bend the shape of reality. When representatives of the newly formed Spanish monarchy arrive to negotiate the sultan’s surrender, Fatima befriends one of the women, not realizing that she will see Hassan’s gift as sorcery and a threat to Christian Spanish rule. With their freedoms at stake, what will Fatima risk to save Hassan and escape the palace walls?

As Fatima and Hassan traverse Spain with the help of a clever jinn to find safety, The Bird King asks us to consider what love is and the price of freedom at a time when the West and the Muslim world were not yet separate.

Review

I was given a free copy of The Bird King by Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

I started this novel with some hesitation. The concept sounded interesting, but historical fiction is hit or miss with me. This novel was definitely a hit. I would say until towards the end the novel is fairly slow paced. I enjoyed it, but if you’re looking for some fast-paced crazy action this generally won’t be for you. The amount of love and care that I felt from this book was incredible. Just the amount of historical facts sprinkled within the novel was wonderful and then the fantasy elements just blended seamlessly together.

World building. The detail described throughout the book is wonderful. I read it and definitely could imagine the world. I’m not familiar with that time period in history or that particular area at the time, but it was easy to imagine. As a speculative novel there wasn’t anything to crazy from our normal world when it comes to governments, religion, etc.

Characters. This is what really sells the book to me. Wilson focuses most of her attention on mostly three or four character at a time and its perfect. Fatima is amazing. A concubine who was educated and uses that to power her through a tough journey. Hassan, our devote Muslim who draw fantastical maps. I don’t want to give a ton away, but I feel like you do get to really see into who these characters are and to watch them grow. They’re messy and imperfect, but there’s just something I find so interesting about all the characters we meet in this novel. Maybe it’s the realism, but I fall in love with them.

Diversity. This books diversity is mainly through Hassan I would say. He’s a devote Muslim who also happens to be openly gay. There are other characters in the book who are also Muslim in the first half of the book. Fatima I believe would identify as Muslim if asked, but she’s not very religious.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. The ending left me feeling a little unsatisfied, but I think it was a realistic way to end it and it is probably the best way to end it. Fatima has some great quotes about women that I really enjoyed. I would call her a determined feminist. If you have any interest at all in historical or speculative fiction I would highly recommend this book! It will be released on March 12th.