Interview with Jared Garrett

Last weekend was the annual Spring into Books mega author signing where all of us authors got to have a mini writerly family reunion. It was there I learned that my buddy Jared has a brand shiny book coming out soon – Red Prince, a mesoamerican fantasy (very cool). So I had to grab him for an interview!

Fun fact! Jared keeps Anduril, the Flame of the West at his writing space, among other interesting things.

On to the interview!

First, let’s get to know you a bit better. How would you feel about being stranded on an uninhabited tropical island and what are the three items you’d bring?

I would be all right with being stranded on said island for a limited period of time. If it was permanent, I’d probably have to register a complaint with my travel agent. Yes, yes, yes, yes. Also, New York’s hottest stranding has every item you could need: a hatchet for cutting, hammering, and being the steel to spark off of for fire; a jet-ski which is that thing where you can ride around in bodies of water and do sweet tricks; and plenty of gas for the jet-ski.

What I’m saying is that all I’d need is a hatchet and a conveyance off the island. To stick to the conventional rules, I would bring a hatchet, a big spool of bailing wire, and 10 lbs of dental floss. And if someone could have a big slice of cake ready for me after I was rescued- that’d be great.

What are two pet peeves of yours that make you want to flip the table?

I have a lot of these, so I’ll narrow them down to things that happen at tables. I get pretty frustrated when the people I’m eating with aren’t paying attention enough to the group to hear when they should be passing things to folks asking for the steaks or mashed potatoes or what have you. Granted, I have a +13 on Passive Perception, so I hear everything being said, but folks need to tune in and maybe not slip into their endless private conversations about string theory, Breath of the Wild, or what have you.

Another table-related pet peeve is a wobbly table. You sit there and lean on the table and you just see-sawed your companion’s food into their face. No bueno. This really makes me want to flip the table over and fix the dang leg.

Okay, in truth, all joking aside, I have two actual major pet peeves. First is when someone leaves trash or mess. How hard is it to clean up after yourself? How inconsiderate can you be to not care about the people you share that space with that you leave a mess? Second, someone eating or drinking while they’re on the phone with me or anyone else. That makes me want to flip the table, chop it to pieces with my hatchet, then burn it. Is this civilization or isn’t it?

You’ve written in multiple different time periods and genres. Which one is your favorite and why?

My debut was a novelization of my own childhood in a cult that splintered off of Scientology in the sixties – which I happily escaped from when I was 17. So that’s a modern, coming of age story. And I loved writing it. I have a few more like that in my folder of projects to get to. That book is probably my favorite since I poured five years of my writing life into it. That said, it’s a blast writing in a speculative future where I can riff on modern technology and try to come up with cool evolutions of today’s tech, societal trends, and governments. But it’s a lot of work to put real science into science fiction. Which is why I tend to stick to fantasy. I tried writing fantasy set in a sword and sorcery world and it went okay, but felt very derivative of masters like Mercedes Lackey, Terry Brooks, and R.A. Salvatore. So now I write fantasy in our world, with the fantastical elements being largely influenced by world religious mythology and legends of the regions and times I write in. This stuff lands in the sweet spot of where I like to speculate based on all of my studies and reading about world cultures and history. So I’m happy in my fantasy stories right now– writing fast-paced action filled with big heroes who get the stuffing beaten out of them and keep going. It’s a lot like if you mashed up Tarzan or Princess of Mars and Die Hard.

All that said, I’m planning an espionage thriller series set in our modern day. I adore Robert Ludlum and other espionage masters, so it’s high time I give it a whirl.

Whatever I’m writing, what readers will quickly learn I love is to write about flawed, determined, tough people who choose to stop evil at great cost to themselves. And the good guys always win. And there’s always some romance.

What’s the most surprising thing you’ve learned about yourself while writing your books?

That I don’t write for an age. For the longest time, I thought I was a YA author. But I write for all ages and literally everyone. I have a couple books that are used for reluctant readers. I write clean enough for anybody to read. It was a great thing when I had my “I don’t care about age categorization” epiphany. I could break free from some of the goofy baggage attached to some of the age categorization sub-cultures, which was very good. I don’t feel weighed down by having to be careful of this or that crowd. I just write awesome stuff now, with zero worry about the opinions of self-appointed gatekeepers.

Another thing that was surprising to me was that when I tried to write a love triangle in Beat and Push, it didn’t work. It didn’t ring even close to true. It occurred to me that in my, admittedly limited, experience, I’d never encountered a love triangle. And I read YA books that were awash in angsty love triangles and it turned out I didn’t believe them.

As for learning something about myself- I have learned that if I want to write stories that make me proud, I have to put my all into it. It’s scary to have such ambitious ideas for my books, but screwing my courage to the writing point has been a valuable exercise. I feel comfy in my skin now that I’ve learned to write the story the way it is in my head and heart. Without skirting or taking the easy way out.

I ask this question to everyone – what’s the most interesting item you have in your writing space and what’s the story behind it?

I have Andúril, the Sword of Kings, reforged by Elrond for Aragorn to wield in the ultimate battle against the dark forces of Sauron. It hangs on my wall. So does Sting- the sword not the singer. I have a fancy picture of the Serenity and one from Battlestar Galactica. I have a huge print of Frazetta’s Death Eater glowering at me. I’ve got a six inch tall, beautiful sculpture of Gollum looking over my shoulder and the Argonath looming over me from a bookcase behind me.

But the most interesting thing to me is the six bibs and completion medals from the endurance races I’ve done and a print copy of every book I’ve published. These remind me that I can do the hard things, and not only that, I love doing the hard things. I thrive on pushing past what I thought were my limits. The bibs and books remind me of that and keep me going.

What’s next? What are you working on?

I’m querying for my memoir and am on the last possible submission place for my Old West Gunpowder fantasy with dragons and monsters- if the place I’ve sent it doesn’t want it, I’ll self-publish it. I am outlining my espionage series. And for actual new words, I’m finally going to write the rest of Passenger to Carthage, my steampunk time travel story about a woman trying to save Joseph Smith from assassination so he can become president. For entirely secular reasons. She thinks Manifest Destiny is one of the worst evils ever and wants to save the indigenous peoples from it- and Joseph Smith was opposed to Manifest Destiny. This started as a short story and is going to be at minimum a novella.

Also, my newest book, Red Prince, is out on May 31st. It’s the third in a mesoamerican fantasy trilogy and it is no holds-barred fun.

Red Prince, coming May 31st!

About Red Prince

Lakhoni and his family are in search of a home away from the blood, evil, and memories of Molgar and his plans to rule two nations. Alronna’s dreams are leading them north, to a land of abundance and peace.

But when they come upon a slaughtered village, the chase begins anew. Gadnar, Molgar’s, powerful brother, escaped the showdown at the end of Usurper and is spilling blood everywhere he goes. He seeks the final ancient Relic, certain it will give him power over the land.

Setting aside their quest for peace, Lakhoni, Alronna, Simra, and their companions track Gadnar, determined to end his reign of terror. But as the source of his power becomes clear, they will have to face down an evil as ancient as creation. If they fail, monsters beyond imagination will enshroud the land, putting all the people under thrall. But to succeed, they will have to pay the ultimate sacrifice.

Sneak peak!

Alronna dropped onto the smooth log next to Lakhoni. He flinched. “Alronna. Haven’t seen you much.”

She nodded. “I’ve been trying to figure out these dreams.” Her face, lit orange and yellow by the flames, looked confused. “I know what they mean and know I’m going to listen to what they’re telling us to do—go north. But why am I having them?” She grew quiet for a moment. The next thing she said was so quiet he almost couldn’t hear. “And why do they only come if I’m holding the Sword while I’m sleeping?”

“What?” Cool tingles slid down his neck and back. “You never told me that.” Lakhoni’s eyes dropped to her side. The Sword of Nubal hung there, resting and poking out somewhat awkwardly on top of the log.

“I realized it only a few days ago and tested the idea.” Alronna swallowed. “I’m sure. If I sleep with one hand on the Sword, the dreams come. If not, they don’t.”

“So don’t.”

“You mean ‘so do.’” Alronna shifted and gave Lakhoni a sardonic smile. “Why would I not have the dreams if they’re guiding us the right way? What else could they help us with or warn us about? Why would I ever let go of the Sword?”

“So you can have a peaceful night’s sleep.” Lakhoni took in his sister’s face—no longer gaunt from slavery, but not young and soft like before she had been taken. Now she looked like a warrior woman, a lot like Anca and Marana of the Azarites to the northwest. She looked strong. Unstoppable. But right now, she also looked worried and confused.

Excerpt from Red Prince, by Jared Garrett

He’s in plaid, he’s got grace, he’s got a beard on his face – it’s Jared!

About today’s guest:

Jared Garrett is the author of the number one bestselling scifi thriller Beat and a bunch of other lies in book form. He is a family man raising seven kids with his best friend and wife of two decades.

Jared had an odd childhood in a nomadic cult, which he left at seventeen. He’s worked as a firefighter, a BBQ restaurant manager, a cowboy theater actor, a bellman, and as a rubber vulcanizing engineer, among many others.

His favorite authors are Terry Pratchett, Robert Ludlum, Katherine Paterson, Douglas Adams, Patricia McKillip, Brandon Sanderson, Mercedes Lackey, R.A. Salvatore, Robert E. Howard, Edgar Rice Burroughs, and many more. If you ask him where his story ideas come from, be prepared for a lengthy discussion about inspiration dust, hauling a towel wherever you go, and dogs. Lots and lots of dogs. No, seriously. Dogs.

Looking for Jared’s books? Look no further –


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Interview with Jana S. Brown

When I heard the news that Jana was releasing a new book next week, I had to grab her for an interview. As friends and fellow authors, Jana and I have bounced around at various Utah writing events together and had plenty of fun. I was super excited to learn more about her journey and inspirations in this interview.

Photo by Arash Asghari on Unsplash

On to the interview!

To kick things off, tell us three things about yourself that most people don’t know.

I always love these questions. There are so many odd things to delve into.

Well…first of all I ran a medievalist fighting group for seven years in my college and post college days. I specialized in archery and sword and shield fighting.

My first job in the publishing world was as an Executive Secretary and jaded reader for a small magazine. I opened all of the envelopes – yes this was in the very early internet days – and read all the submissions for content and rejected anything that didn’t fit the magazine’s standards. Then I organized the rest of the subs and prepared them for reading groups.

I love to travel! I’ve been all over the US and visited Norway, Hong Kong, Singapore, England, Scotland and Wales. I’ve also been trapped at the airport in Amsterdam twice, but I don’t think that counts for much.

As a writer, what would you choose as your spirit animal and why?

My fuzzy killer cat is my spirit animal. She’s a little older, like me. She’s a little cranky, like me. She’s occasionally a murder hobo…erm…no comment. But when she chooses someone as her person she’s kind, fuzzy, loyal, and phenomenally loving.

You have a new shiny book coming out! Tell us what it’s about and also the journey leading to its creation.

Said in Stone is my new book baby! It comes out April 9th and I’m so excited. This book kicks off a sister series to my Sentinels of Essence series which begins with Fallen Stone. When I introduced the world of Fallen Stone there were some great secondary characters who I really wanted to tell stories about. However, the Sentinels of Essence series is in tight third person and there just wasn’t a way to expand without breaking that. So I created the Chronicles of Alexandria for short stories that happen in the same world, but involve the other characters.

Said in Stone contains six stories about our heroes dealing with: zombies, a Borg-like collective, gremlins, hellhounds, a specter, and the unseelie court. I love these close character stories where I can focus on moments in these character’s lives, and toss in some surprises for people who read both series at once. You can read the Chronicles separate from the Sentinels of Essence, but together they make a much richer story world.

Every author has a favorite character they’ve created. Who is yours, and what inspired you to make them the way they are?

I have to choose one?!?! That’s like asking me to choose my favorite kid. I love them all, but if I had to select a favorite it would be Dianna McDunna. Dianna’s story hasn’t been published yet, though it will have its day soon. Dianna began as a character in an online RPG where I played for years. I love her because she’s got that kick-ass confidence we love in a UF heroine, but she’s a little older with all the baggage that means. She leads a group of supernatural hunters and takes their welfare very personally.

What is the most interesting thing you keep on your desk and what is the story behind it?

Hah. Near my desk are skeins of yarn and half finished crochet projects. When I’m stressed, or my subconscious needs some time to ponder something I’ll pick up a yarn project and start working. I find crochet tremendously soothing and when my hands are busy my muse gets a chance to work without the pressure of the screen in front of me. I give away some of my projects, sell some, and others are donated to cancer centers, hospitals, and children’s organizations. I figure my frustrations can help others!

Tell us about what you are working on next!

On the schedule for this year are two more novels. The next book in the Sentinels of Essence which is titled Fallen Leaves and a paranormal romance which is going to have a title one of these first days. 🙂 I am playing around with the idea of a pen name for that one, but we’ll see how things go!

I have presentations coming up for several conferences so I’m also sketching out PowerPoints and handouts, definitely all part of the writing dream!

Thanks for having me!

Jana, the Magical Princess of Writing Conference Craft Services
(Seriously, she’s amazing.)

About Jana S. Brown

Jana S. Brown has been involved in publishing as an Author, Editor, Presenter, Slush Reader, and grundle of other positions (Yes, grundle is the technical term) for over 20 years. She writes the weird and the wonderful with smoochies and prides herself at being a jack-of-all-trades and master of enough.

Connect with Jana:

New Release! Said in Stone by Jana S. Brown

About Jana’s Newest Book, Said in Stone

When the cat’s away the mice will… Play? Fight? Fall in love?

Featuring six short stories from the supernatural world of Denver, Colorado and the mystical Library of Alexandria, the answers are Said in Stone:

Zombies Don’t Play Baseball: What happens when a book on necromancy falls into the wrong hands after the Cubs win the World Series?

Welcome to the Collective: A glimpse into the Heart of the Library where dwells something more than books.

Convention Shock: All Peter Haas wanted was a day off at the DenCon fan convention. What he got…gremlins, lots of gremlins.

How to Train Your Hellhound: Angel the Hellhound goes to obedience school and finds a life of crime.

Merry Christmas to You: One haunted opera house and one visionary storyteller. Can they create sweet music?

The Door to the EverGold: When books are in trouble and knowledge about to be lost, there’s only one place to turn. Librarians to the rescue.

Special Sneak Peek from Convention Shock

Haas closed his eyes, forcing himself to process her words. He allowed her to pull his arm away from his chest and heard the sound of ripping fabric as she tore his sleeve away. It occurred to him that now he really looked like Kirk after an away mission with torn clothes and mussed hair. Though for Kirk the blood was colored corn syrup.

Soft fingers patted his cheek. “Come on. Stay with me.”

Haas blinked a few times. “Bridge to Engineering, please stand by.”

“What?”

New Release Special Offer!!!

Jana’s book, Fallen Stone, the first book in the
Sentinels of Essence series, is ON SALE for $0.99 from April 5-12.

Pick up your copy here!

Fallen Stone, book one in the Sentinels of Essence series

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Featured Artist: Danielle E. Shipley

For this month’s featured artist I’ve chosen the inventive and feisty Danielle Shipley. Danielle and I became acquainted when we were both part of the same fantasy anthology THE TOLL OF ANOTHER BELL, published by Xchyler.  Not only does she write terrific short stories, she also writes novels and posts all sorts of cleverness and snark over at her blog Ever on Word. Trust me, go check it out and follow, it’s bundles of fun.

Now for the part you’ve all been waiting for – The cover reveal of Danielle’s latest offering!

Surrogate Sea Launch Week Tour Pics, Novella

The Surrogate Sea is the sixth installation in the Wilderhawk Tales series and follows along in it’s predecessor’s fairy tale footprints. There are princes and princesses, kings and kingdoms, and magic found in the strangest places.

About – 

The Surrogate Sea is about the pursuit of love and the many misunderstandings that can take place along the way. Young Princess Liliavaine has outgrown her childhood love and seeks a man with whom she can make a life with. However, her childhood love has feelings of his own and instead of dimming with the years, it has only grown stronger. The interaction of these two causes ripples throughout the entire world, including the realms of the elemental beings that rule over air, water, and land.

In this world, it is possible to mix humankind with elemental kind. Liliavaine’s sister wed the lord of the moon himself. In fact, one of the other books in the series deals with the bout of insanity caused by looking into the moon’s face. One of these elementals is Muirigan, the great sea who falls in love with a prince.  However, she is trapped by her own beaches and cannot seek him out. She finds another to take her place (thus the title, the Surrogate Sea) and the problems spiral out from there. Throw in a spiteful South Wind, and you have quite a story.

Surrogate Sea Launch Week Tour Pics, Excerpt

Surrogate Sea Launch Week Tour Pics, Review

I love a fanciful and innovative fantasy story and so The Surrogate Sea was a delight to read.  My favorite aspect of the book are the interactions of the elemental characters with the human folk.  Danielle excels at making fascinating and well-rounded characters, this is especially true when it comes to her more magical characters.

I’m not crazy about complicated love triangles, but I know a good one when I read one, and this one has enough twists and turns to keep you guessing how it’s all going to work out.

There is always a concern when reading a book in a series without reading the earlier books. I hadn’t read the earlier books in the Wilderhawk Tales and so there were several references in this book that I didn’t fully understand, only because I hadn’t read their stories.  However, the book is well enough constructed that it is still very readable without having to read the rest of the series first.

Overall I give the book 4 out of 5 stars – The beginning starts slow as we wait for all the characters to be re-established and re-introduced. The true heart of the conflict isn’t revealed until much later.  Once you get there then you can’t put it down.

If you like fairy tale stories, love triangles, unique magic, princes and princesses, and a whole lot of mischief, then this book is sure to please.

I received a copy of Surrogate Sea in exchange for an honest review.

Surrogate Sea Launch Week Tour Pics, Author

While you’re here check out Danielle’s Linkies: Website ~ Blog ~ Facebook ~ Twitter

Want to buy The Surrogate Sea? Here are some handy links!

Surrogate Sea Launch Week Tour Pics, Giveaway

Advance Review: On the Isle of Sound and Wonder

On the Isle of Sound and Wonder by Alyson GrauerI’ll admit, one of the coolest perks of being a writer is having access to books before their official release.  I received a copy of Alyson Grauer’s novel On the Isle of Sound and Wonder in exchange for a fair and honest review here on this blog and on other book review sites.

First and foremost, check out the trailer-

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On the Isle of Sound and Wonder by Alyson Grauer

On the Isle of Sound and Wonder by Alyson Grauer

On the Isle of Sound and Wonder by Alyson GrauerThis is a book that has something for all audiences. There is action, adventure, peril, magic, love, loss, and a kiss of steampunk – just to keep things interesting. For those students of Shakespeare, this is a delightful romp through the classic story of The Tempest.  The characters have been renamed and reimagined to appeal to today’s readers.

There are very few books that capture my attention where I find them hard to put down, this was one of them.  Grauer has a knack for creating vibrant, well-developed characters that are a treat to read about.  Everyone from the brooding magical Dante to the mechanical man Gonzo has an intriguing history where their motivations and desires feel natural in the development of the story. The story itself is well written with plenty of twists and turns to keep things interesting.

I loved Isle of Sound and Wonder and I look forward to reading more from this author.

On the Isle of Sound and Wonder by Alyson Grauer

Find Grauer on the web: Facebook | Twitter | Amazon | Goodreads | Pinterest

On the Isle of Sound and Wonder by Alyson Grauer

Don’t forget to enter the Rafflecopter giveaway! There’s lots of awesome stuff being given away.