Interview with Ann Hunter

It’s not every day I get to interview a ninja who just happens to also be a warrior for teen issues and a horse enthusiast to boot. Oh, and did I mention she’s an amazing author? Ann Hunter and I go back years as authors and fellow writing convention snarky commentators (seriously, we can’t sit next to each other!).

When I asked her to come play on the blog last minute, despite being super medicated for a recent ninja related injury, she was more than eager to say yes!

I googled “ninja horse” – totally not disappointed.

Onto the interview with ANN HUNTER: Mom, writer, ninja (no, really!)

Let’s get to know you better! If you could visit any part of your past for a half an hour, what would you do?

I don’t like the idea of living with regrets or trying to go back to fix something (unless it’s a first draft!). Mistakes make us who we are. I like to say “I never lose. I win or I learn.”
But I guess I would ask for a do-over at the 2018 World Taekwondo Federation National Championships. My score was pretty dang low, but I got a gold medal anyway (because I was the only one in my division). Luckily, I’m competing at State Championships in a few weeks with the hopes of qualifying and going back to Nationals and fixing that score!

Tell us about your newest release and the story behind it.

Dark Horse is the 6th book in my contemporary YA series, North Oak. It deals with the aftermath of rape, the ongoing effects of depression, and PTSD. All while being a teen. It has gotten great reviews, several angry emails (cliffhangers, gotta love them) and lots of ugly crying. I’m looking forward to getting book 7 out quickly (again, cliffhangers)
Also there’s pretty ponies that go really fast! #horseracing
Check out Dark Horse on Amazon

What is the randomest thing you’ve done to research something for a writing project?

With North Oak, I’m constantly researching interesting stuff. When you write what you love, researching turns into a geek fest. I have books on the aerodynamics of race riding, how it’s changed over history, and so on. I recently had to research how a jockey actually becomes a jockey (all the laws and fitness testing, etc). You’d be amazed at what they go through.

And although I love my contemporary teen series, I enjoy my fantasy writing as well– because you make your own rules.

Many of your books include horses. What is your craziest real-life horse story?

Perhaps my author bio for North Oak. I used to run around barefoot and half-naked with a herd of Arabian horses my parents bred when I was little. #truestory Those really early years was when I learned all my fundamental horsemanship– by being kicked, bitten, chased and trampled like any other naughty foal.

Second craziest horse story? That one was how I became a published author at age 12. For English we had to write a short story. Naturally, being the horse crazy girl I was, I chose to write about a horse. My teacher ended up flunking me because the story wasn’t written and formatted the way she wanted. My reading teacher noticed how down I was and asked what was wrong. So I told him. He asked to see the story. I gave it to him… and didn’t see it for a few weeks after.

The next thing I know I’m being called to the principal’s office. Why? Because that story had gone from the reading teacher, to the librarian, to the 8th grade English teacher (who was a published romance author) and brought to the head honcho’s attention. It got published in the paper, in full, and went on to win local awards.

I was transferred out of that flunky teacher’s class, and she later apologized to me the following year.

REGARDING NORTH OAK: I do want to say it’s not just a horse series. I set out with a mission to tackle the really hard, scary issues teens are facing today. The last few books have dealt with bullying, sexuality, depression, and suicide. The horses play more of a backdrop to the drama. Sometimes they even help teach important lessons about miracles and finding yourself.

I hope you’ll give the series a try. There’s nothing else like it on the market!
Check out the North Oak series on Amazon

Tell us about how you prefer to work and a little about your writing space

I don’t have a desk, per say. I typically write on a laptop in bed, or wherever I might be at the moment. Some of my favorite sessions are over lunch with other authors (I love mentoring them or even just being in their company), at Taekwondo while my kids have class– I also do martial arts and I’m just over a year away from my black belt! Or wherever I can catch a break.

I do have kind of a pimped out laptop though. I’ve stickered it to death. You can see one of my favorite stickers here:

Both colorful AND accurate!

What’s next? Tell us about what you’re working on.

Book 7 in the North Oak series, obviously. It’s going to be a bit lighter toned than the last two that dealt with some really solid issues teens are up against in this day and age. I’ve also got my first middle grade horror planned (“Zoo”, it’s going to be a cross between Jurassic Park and Jumanji), a YA standalone inspired by the song “Summer of 69”, some fairytales, and my first couple of romances for a project I’m doing with a few other authors. I’m also contemplating a book about nutrition for diabetics by a diabetic (me– macros and food are another thing I love to nerd over), and a book about getting more writing done without burnout.

About Ann Hunter

Ann Hunter, my favorite ninja

Multi-award winning author Ann Hunter is awesome. And hilarious. She is often told it must be a blast living in her brain. She argues that the voices in her head never shut up. The only way to get relief is to let them out on to the page.

She credits the voices for:

Crowns of the Twelve – A fractured fairy tale series: Moonlight, Blade of Woe, The Subtle Beauty, Fallen, A Piece of Sky

North Oak – a young adult horse racing series that totally rocks! IF YOU’RE A FAN, DON’T MISS UPDATES: Click here to sign up for North Oak updates!

She likes cherry soda with chocolate ice cream, is a mom first and a writer second, has a secret identity, and thinks the Twilight movies are cheesier than cheez whiz (which is why they are her guilty pleasure! And Oh my goodness, have you seen Vampires Suck? Bwahaha!)

She lives in a cozy Utah home with her two awesome kids and epic husband.

Be sure to sign up for her mailing list for exclusive news about upcoming books!

Ann realizes she speaks in third person, and this profile is entirely unprofessional.
But that is why you’ll love her!

Connect with Ann

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Healthy vs Unhealthy Relationships with Dacia M. Arnold


As the holidays are upon us, the stresses of meeting expectations and being around family are very real. I’ve asked friend and fellow writer Dacia M. Arnold to join us today and share an important message about healthy domestic relationships, a message that resounds in her newly released book, Apparent Power.

tour logoDacia’s Message:

Modeling healthy domestic relationships in my novel, Apparent Power, was extremely important to me. I lost my best friend to domestic violence when I was deployed to Iraq the second time. She was killed in her home at 4am on Christmas morning 2010. The phone call home that day is both vivid and a blur of emotions in my memory.

In Apparent Power, readers will recognize the very distinct difference between a healthy romantic relationship and an unhealthy relationship.

The main character, Valerie Russell, is hell bent on making sure her son is safe. Her next priority is to find her husband and, with his help, figure out the next steps. As a wife, I make no major decisions without my husband. Though he respects when I am extremely passionate about something like saving the world, my husband is my sounding board and voice a reason. There is no doubt he would fight with me to the ends of the earth, or run as far away as we could because the decision would be made together. This healthy relationship drives the train through the story. From page one yes, a mom is trying to save her son, but her teammate, partner, and best friend is her husband.

Later in the story, the reader encounters a narcissistic character who is in such a place of power, there seems to be nothing left for Valerie to do but concede to her situation for the sake of the lives around her. I even went so far as to have the main character recognize the abuse and narcissism but feel so inferior to do anything about it. Many people are in the cycle of abuse knowing it should not be that way but feel trapped by money or other circumstances. In the end Valerie finally reaches out a hand to find strength existing within her the whole time. I will leave the rest for the audience to find out.

Love should not hurt physically OR emotionally. Sometimes relationships are hard, but this should not be the majority of the time. There are resources to not only identify domestic abuse, but find resources in your area to remove yourself from the situation. Psychological abuse is just as damaging as being hit, pushed, or raped. Crisistextline.org is free. Text CONNECT to 741741 in the United States. If your texting is monitored you can call the Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233. If you are unsure if you are experiencing abuse you can CLICK THIS LINK to find out what domestic violence is.

5Dacia M Arnold is an award-winning American novelist, freelance writer, mother, medical professional and a ten-year Army Veteran. She is the author of Apparent Power, Reactance and Shifting Power, plus short fiction in the international anthology COLP: The Passage of Time. As a freelance writer, Dacia contributes monthly to the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writer’s blog where she shares her relatively short experience in the literary world.

Dacia spent fifteen months working in Baghdad Emergency room with the 86th Combat Support Hospital. During her second deployment, then Sergeant Arnold managed the busiest outpatient clinic in southern Iraq.

Now, as a mother of two, Dacia incorporates her experiences in all aspects of her life into her writing.  

Apparent Power correctedJust in time for Christmas, the perfect gift for the book loving person in your life (maybe that’s yourself). Apparent Power has been critically linked to Hollywood blockbusters like Divergent and Annihilation by Kirkus Reviews and is available for sale December 11th through all major book retailers including Amazon. 

Connect with Dacia:

Apparent Power on sale December 11th through all major book retailers including Amazon, Tattered Cover, and Barnes & Noble

Tabletop Gaming with Daniel Yocom

Today, I’m thrilled to bring a different flavor of entertainment here to the blog. Friend and fellow writer Daniel Yocom of Guild Master Gaming is an avid reader, community builder, and gamer. I’ve asked him to come discuss his experience with tabletop gaming and what has drawn him to it.

Gen Con Terrain board (Source: WikiCommons)

Here’s what Daniel has to say:

Why Tabletop Games

Socializing—that’s the short answer. Unless I’m involved in a really heavy strategy game, there’s a lot of socializing taking place. In other social situations it can be harder or even frowned on to talk. While playing, it’s also relatively easy to take a break from the game as an individual, or as a group. I seldom play at the level of just wanting to win. It’s about the relationships with people.

The variety of games also means there is something for every person who wants to play a game. Games, like so many other things, are divided up into types and genres. With some friends we play lighter games while with others we get into the deeper strategy games. Some prefer board games, while I have a group that has several on-going role-playing game (RPG) campaigns. There are games for small to large groups. Ones that take only a few minutes and others designed to last for hours.

The differences create mental challenges while providing entertainment. Don’t think a light game doesn’t have strategy, it does. It’s just a different style requiring players to react, think, and play differently.This also means good games can be played time after time and not be repetitive. I try something new with the next playing, just like those I game with. It gives a friendly level of competition.

Experience

I have been playing board games as long as I can remember. That’s over 50 years, and RPGs for about 40 years. I own hundreds of games, and if I combine in the group, I’m willing to bet we easily clear the thousand mark.

I have written material for games since the 1980s, which were some self-published adventures for RPGs. I left writing for some time and didn’t get back into writing about games until the new century. Then, in 2012 I started writing specifically about gaming by writing reviews and supple mental material for Guild Master Gaming and other publications and sites.

Tabletop gaming is a hobby I believe is for everyone. Even if you don’t own the game, gamers like to share their interest and their games.

Daniel Yocom

Bio

Daniel Yocom does geeky things by night because his day job won’t let him. This dates back to the 1960s through games, books, movies, and stranger things better shared in small groups. He’s written hundreds of articles about these topics for his own blog, other websites, and magazines after extensive research. His research includes attending conventions, sharing on panels and presentations, and road-tripping with his wife.

Join in the geeky fun at guildmastergaming@blogspot.comor on Google+, Facebook,and Twitter(@GuildMstrGmng).

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Hi everyone, Jodi here! First, a big thanks for Dan for coming and sharing about his experience. If you need gaming advice, he’s your man. Another thanks to you, dear reader, for showing interest and reading today’s article.

In writing news, I’ve nearly finished writing the first half of the third book in the Stonebearer’s series as part of my NaNoWriMo 2018 project (and it’s so cool!). Once I get all the story pieces finalized for the trilogy, I’ll polish off book two and get it sent in to the publisher, hopefully within the next few months. So much squee!

As for Stonebearer’s Betrayal, I’ve received some amazing compliments from friends and family about how much they’ve enjoyed the book. My favorite is from my 10-year-old niece who was so excited when she finished it she had to text me after bedtime to tell me all about her favorite parts. This is why I write.

Want to see what all the fuss is about? You can get Stonebearer’s Betrayal for free on Kindle Unlimited. It’s also available in print and e-book at all major online book retailers.

Grateful for You

Yes, you, dear reader. I am grateful we are sharing this tiny moment of our day together. I’m grateful you chose to click the link and see what I have to say. Writers can’t exist in a vacuum, we need to know there is someone out there who is interested in what we have to say. Today, in this exact second, that person is you. 

You are the reason I create magical pieces of fiction. You are the reason I stay up at night thinking of how to untangle a difficult story line. You are the reason why I seek out interesting topics to share. If it weren’t for you, I’d probably be doing something mundane like folding laundry or cleaning the kitchen.

Here at the opening of the holiday season I find myself full of conflicting emotions. With Thanksgiving, and it’s focus on gratitude, this is the perfect time of year to reflect what I’m grateful for here at the blog – and what a year it’s been! At this time last year, I discovered my book was going to be published. I dreamed of what today would look and feel like. 

Being here, at this moment, is a culmination of years of dreaming and working. I’m excited about the possibilities the future holds, but also know how much work each of those possibilities require to make real. Everyone wants a runaway success, no one wants to think about how much effort it takes for that to happen.

Which is why I’m grateful for you, dear reader. Every click turns into a number, and while most of you will only be known as a number to me, each number is meaningful, because it means you were here. 

Thank you for being here!

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Last weeks launch party and book signing was a success. A huge thank you to Aaron and the Printed Garden for hosting, to Jordan for bringing his amazing sword exhibit, and to my friends and family who came and supported me.

Missed the Launch? Have no fear, I’ll be signing at The Printed Garden during the Shop Local Saturday event, Nov 24th from 1-4 pm.

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In other news, I’ve been busy connecting with other blogs and podcasts. Here is what was posted this week:

Don’t forget, books make great gifts! Pick up your copy of Stonebearer’s Betrayal now and give it to your favorite fantasy reader for the holidays. 

Amazon 5-star review

Wonderfully crafted story. I really enjoyed how the story unfolded and grew as I read. The characters were well created and brought me into the story, and made me feel all the emotions a good character does. Yes, I even shed a few tears. Well done. Can’t wait for more. – Blyck

Stonebearer’s Betrayal Release Day!

This is it, the day I’ve been waiting and working for since I started this blog ages ago. I’m so excited to share this moment with you.

Stonebearer’s Betrayal is now available for purchase on all major online book retailers.

There, I said it! Squee!

Last night, my 12-year-old finished reading it. He came up to me and said the best thing he could have possibly said.

“Mom, this is amazing!”

Yes, he’s a little biased, but he also reads plenty so I value his opinion.

So, what is Stonebearer’s Betrayal about?

At the very adult age of eighteen, Katira had her life figured out. She knew her place, understood her path, and was destined to be the best healer in the northern Panthara mountains, just like her mother.

That all changes when monsters from legends step into her real life, throw her world into chaos, and threaten to destroy both her and her family. To survive, she must accept that her world is far different from what she ever imagined and she must fight to protect what she loves.

Stonebearer’s Betrayal is a fast-paced coming-of-age story fueled with action, adventure, and danger suitable for readers 12 and up. It’s the perfect holiday gift for the fantasy lover in your family.

Get yours today!

Head on over to Amazon to order your copy –

IMG-6891

OR – If you’d like a signed copy, head over to my online store

Square online store

Utah Locals – There is a release party this Friday, November 16th from 7-9pm at the Printed Garden in Sandy (9445 S Union Square Suite A, Sandy, UT 84070)

I’d love to see you there!

Join me for an exclusive reading, Q&A, get a signed copy, prizes, a sword exhibit, and food! Books available for purchase on site.

Cover Reveal – Stonebearer’s Betrayal

Each phase of the publishing process brings with it a mix of excitement and carefully controlled terror. Excitement springs from completing another step and coming that much closer to bringing your book baby into the world. Terror lurks around each turn, because there is always the possibility of something going wrong.

Whoever compared creating a book to having a baby is absolutely right. Each month of a healthy pregnancy is cheered, each milestone celebrated, but disaster is unpredictable and always a heartbeat away. Until the baby is born, all mothers understand the fear of something going wrong as they carry their child. I know I did with all three of my pregnancies. I’m doing the same now with my book.

But, you can’t allow fear to stop you. In fact, if you aren’t doing something that scares you from time to time, then you aren’t stretching to meet your potential.

Allowing myself to trust my cover artist to create an image that represented the entirety of a project I’d been working on for years was scary. Really scary. I’m glad I did. She did amazing work.

So, here it is. The moment I’ve been teasing about for the last few weeks.

My cover reveal.

(Squee!)

Stonebearer's Betrayal

Isn’t it amazing?

A huge thanks to Ashley at Strange Devotion Designs for creating a magical cover for me.

Here’s the back cover copy:

A secret society of immortals, tasked to protect the world.

A demon bent on revenge.

A girl brave enough to fight for her family when the two collide.

Archdemoness Wrothe stirs the ashes from a long dead war, rekindling a fire that threatens to burn the world. Only the legendary Stonebearers of the Khandashii have the power to stop her, if they catch wind of her plans in time.

Katira didn’t believe the legends. She didn’t believe a person could alter the fabric of reality or live forever. She didn’t believe in the dark mirror realm or in the dangerous creatures prowling there either.

That was before the first shadow hound came for her.

Release date for Stonebearer’s Betrayal is November 13th, 2018. Available at online retailers where books are sold.

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Mini Blog Tour

Two awesome friends from the Twitter #DarkLitChat offered to help spread the word. As a thank you I encourage you to go check out their blogs, not just because I wrote mini articles there, but because they went above and beyond for me to help with my cover reveal.

Elesha at E’s Writing Journey

Rae at A New Look on Books

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