Author Talk with J.W. Garrett

Recently, I had the chance to interview BHC author of Remeon’s Destiny, J.W. Garrett. Here’s what she had to say.

 

How long have you actually considered yourself a writer in a professional sense and was there a defining moment or a gradual process that gave you that distinction?

Although I believed her back in elementary school when my teacher confirmed that I was indeed a writer, it wasn’t until much later that it was confirmed professionally. I had some work published in college, but my 1st piece of published fiction was a short story in 2016. I would say though, that I consider it a gradual process as we as writers grow into the words we write.

Ooh, we grow into the words we write. I love it, and teachers can have such an impact. This, Remeon’s Destiny, is your debut novel, and quite a unique one I might add. What was your inspiration behind the first book in the Realms of Chaos series?

I grew up in the mountains of Virginia, so I guess it’s not surprising that I chose that backdrop for my novel.  My inspiration for the main character Thomas was my father. But through his development throughout the novel, Thomas definitely becomes his own unique character.

Yeah, I can see that. Soon or later, characters tend to find their own way. What is it that drew you to the fantasy sci-fi genre? Do you see yourself writing in another genre in the future?

I read fantasy and science fiction as a kid and was drawn to its unique characters, settings, and plot – so much less predictable than other genres. I love speculative fiction so I’ve also dabbled in horror as well. I enjoy historical romances, so I could see myself writing a romance or two with a dash of time travel mixed in.

Yesss! Can’t miss with time travel. What motivates you to write, and what has been a stumbling block that you have overcome or are overcoming?

The developing story and the characters all compel me to write. I’ve not found motivation to be a problem. The stumbling block has been trying to turn it off at times. Finding a structure to conform writing within, as well as my characters, has been an ongoing challenge.

So, it’s all about holding J.W. back a bit, not a bad problem to have, I’d say. What are your views on the different avenues of publishing i.e. self-publishing, indie-publishing, hybrid publishing, traditional publishing etc.?

There are more opportunities than ever before out there, but also, it’s extremely competitive. Start with researching the basic models: self-publishing, traditional and hybrid. Determine what works for your individual scenario and then pursue it with a passion. With changes in the publishing landscape happening so fast writers must continually re-evaluate and adapt to make sure they are still on target with their own personal goals. More and more I think we’ll see the lines blur between self-published authors, traditional and hybrid.  All are fighting to keep market share as this business continues to shift and evolve to meet today’s market needs for the reader.

Monster answer! What are some of your favorite novels and authors and why?

First, The Hobbit, since it was the novel that opened my world to fantasy. Tolkien is, of course, a master. The Earthsea series by Ursula LeGuin introduced me to her talents when I was a teenager, and I haven’t looked back since. Her insights into humanity are profound and never-ending. Jean Auel and her Earth’s Children Series, beginning with the Clan of the Cave Bear has been a lifelong love of mine. The Outlander series is another one of my favorites. Diana Gabaldon gives her characters such emotional depth there’s no way you won’t come back for more.

Love the Outlander series. Nowadays it doesn’t matter how you’re published, and even with a great publisher like BHC, to some degree, you are also acting as your own PR and marketing team. How are you finding that process? Were you prepared for it when you began your journey as an author? What would you tell other authors who find this side of things intimidating and/or undignified?

I’m still navigating these waters. I’m not sure you can be prepared without going through it. I find I’m learning new things every day, which is great. What I wasn’t prepared for was the seemingly endless traffic of internet noise attempting to vie for my marketing dollar. That is difficult to sift through, and before you know it you can waste hours and hours of time with no redeeming benefit or value for that time spent.

True story! One of the things I really like about Remeon’s Destiny is the Juxtaposition of settings, from a rural Virginia town to an off-planet world, light years away, and the inclusion of the historic 1947 was genius. Tell us how all of that came about.

The story has been brewing in my head for decades. I just kept putting off writing it down, searching for the “perfect” time. And as I mentioned above, rural Virginia has a solid place in my personal history. I spent many carefree summer days on my grandparents’ farm soaking up the family stories and learning some of the inner-workings of farming life. History intrigues me, especially its circular nature. So I enjoy mixing the past with the future and melding those influences.

I’m big on characters in story, and you have quite a few powerful ones. From Thomas to Arista to Whisterly (awesome names) to Simon, you go hard with character. What did you draw on to draft such powerful souls, and which one most reflects your own personality and in what ways?

Initially, I typically start with traits of individuals I know. But as the story and characters develop they morph into their own unique personas. I love how that happens! If I had to pick one character, probably Arista most reflects my own personality. Her determination and drive are traits I see in myself, but also her short-sightedness and lack of focus I can identify with as well.

I must say you did a masterful job of making this novel stand alone in a big way, no nagging cliff-hangers. But when I heard this was a series I was elated. What can we expect next from J.W. Garrett overall, and when will the next Realms of Chaos book drop?

You can expect more books!! I don’t have a date as yet though, beyond 2019.

Tell us something different and unique about J.W. that you haven’t said in any other interview.

Let’s see…. I share my love of writing with my father. I didn’t learn that fact until I was in college. It’s always amazed me since, that when we spoke of poetry and other writings we had in the works that we had a special bond and I didn’t realize it. He was creative in many other areas, music specifically. His attempt to share that talent of his with me didn’t go so well. And after him trying multiple instruments in my hands he settled on the ukulele, which I dutifully and painstakingly learned to play. And when I had the first opportunity, subsequently quit playing. However, he reached his goal. I did play music with him on many occasions. Now, thinking back, I cherish those memories.

Beautiful!!! Thank you so much, J.W. for sharing. It’s been fun, revealing, and stimulating. We look forward to your next efforts.

Since this interview, I’ve heard from J.W., and I’m pleased to write that the second book in her Realms of Chaos series is set to publish, June 2019. So, that gives you plenty of time to grab the first book, Remeon’s Destiny and experience the magic. I promise you won’t be disappointed. I’ve included the links below to assist in that process. Ciao! 

books2read.com

Goodreads

Twitter

Facebook

Instagram

Website

Book Tour

 

 

 

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An Interview with S.D. Mayes

Marquette’s Review of Moana: My First Guest Blog Post!

Marq has been my inspiration for 14 years now and whether it’s a main character in my IA book series or my excuse to spend half a grand on a Fender guitar, she’s the Sparks that keeps me stoked. So believe me when I say there’s no one I’m more excited about being my first guest blogger then my old soul of a daughter, Marquette. Plus I need another movie to show my kids when my gym is being used for some program other than gym. Oh. I’m a physical education teacher by day.

Without further delay,

I give you Marquette Winston, unedited (well maybe a little).  🙂

 

Moana is continuing to give a good name to animated films. From the intriguing plot to the astounding soundtrack, Moana brought tears to my eyes at least three different times throughout the movie.

 

Moana takes place around 3,000 years ago on the island of Polynesia. The main character is 16-year-old Moana who is the daughter of the chief of their tribe. She has to face the typical obstacles, like finding out who she is, choosing between right and wrong, and listening to her brain or her heart.

 

The soundtrack helped put this movie over the top. Lin-Manuel Miranda, who is the writer and star of the Broadway musical Hamilton, is responsible for Moana’s soundtrack. The music was island themed and kept the viewers tuned in. I, being a huge fan of Hamilton, loved the way the music was similar to the musical. This is my opinion, but Moana is one of the best singers a Disney “princess” movie is yet to see.

 

This movie is fun and hilarious, but also pulls at the heartstrings. Moana teaches morals and shows a different side of Disney.

I give Moana 9 out of 10 fist bumps.

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Movie Review of Arrival … Pay Attention!

This is one of those movies that you have to pay close attention to ‘cause there are no pretty colors, chase scenes, or exploding buildings, just story. And make no mistake … it is deep! We jump right into it with the aliens already in position to do whatever it is they’re planning to do. And that’s the gist of it, the question, the premise of the movie, why are they here, and figuring it out through language.
This one is cerebral and just about everything on the screen matters so don’t go to the bathroom. Get your refreshments ahead of time. Try not to fall asleep. Don’t even blink because you could miss something important. You may be tempted to get a few winks in because the movie is slow, but don’t. You will miss something. You’ll find that the Aliens are a small part of the story, something to distract you from what’s really going on, the filmmaker’s slam dunk. Think sixth sense, only bigger … and smaller. You should figure some of it out, but not all of it until it gets there.

The performances are all solid. Amy Adams (Batman v Superman) is haunted as the pic-for-arrival-reviewtalented linguistics professor. Jeremy Renner (Avengers) is plenty arrogant as the scientist who plays opposite Adams and Forest Whitaker (Rogue One: A Star Wars Story [YAY!]) rounds out the cast and the diversity quota as a no nonsense, all-about-business Colonel. He’s fast becoming one of my all-time favorite actors.

 
This is one of those films that if you can sit through it twice, you’ll want to watch again to see what you missed or if you got things right. Arrival was refreshing in a sea of action/adventure films but could’ve been a little faster. Great on the concept, meh on the story. Think Sixth Sense, but you still won’t get it. It may seem like nothings happening, but there’s a lot going on in the background so pay attention.

I give this movie 8/10 fist bumps!

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Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

I’ll try and give nothing away in this review because I think that’s the beauty of seeing Rogue One: not knowing what to expect. Let’s start with how the film looked. Just when you think special effects can’t get any better, they do. The sets were breathtaking and awe-inspiring and maybe too many to keep track of, but it didn’t detract from the film. The story, which of course is king, was well thought out and not too complicated. The film paid homage in subtle ways to the legendary films that came before it. It was definitely Star Wars, but different … a little darker in all the right places. Even the music was, for the first time, different, but when it was called for, those themes we’ve come to know and love showed themselves, again in subtle ways.

Complete with all the action, adventure, and nick-of-time scenes, Rogue definitely measures up in that respect. Being a Star Wars fan, I had high hopes for something unique, courageous, and spectacular. I think I got it for the most part. With all that Rogue is attempting, it’s difficult to develop a new cast of characters into the Skywalkers and Solos we’ve grown familiar with in just over two hours. But the performances were substantial just the same.

Felicity Jones was resilient and non-wavering as Jyn Erso, and Diego Luna as mv5bote0mji2ndczml5bml5banbnxkftztcwmtgwmdgymg-_v1_uy317_cr20214317_al_Cassian Andor was both conflicted and committed. The two create a questionable chemistry on the screen that I found acceptable considering the tasks before them.

mv5bmtqzmdi3ntg2ov5bml5banbnxkftztcwntgwmzg5mg-_v1_uy317_cr130214317_al_Forest Whitaker continues to amaze as the unpredictable and formidable Saw Gerrera, and comic relief in this dark exhibition goes to Donnie Yen as Chirrut Imwe. And … I must say it was a multicultural extravaganza.

I kept wanting this movie to be better than The Force Awakens, and toward the end, I was sure it wasn’t. But the last 30-45 minutes of Rogue One was like Usain Bolt in the last 20 meters of a hundred meter race; about the best I’ve seen. Two words: Darth Vader.

I give Rogue One 8.5/10 fist bumps.

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My Review of the Movie Dr. Strange … Not So Strange

But … more of the same. If you’re a Marvel fan and like the recent influx of superhero movies then this is your film. For me it was at best mildly entertaining, complete with all the pretty colors, special effects, and trademark chase scenes. In all fairness, Batman Begins of the Dark Knight trilogy is my measuring stick for origin stories, and this first installment of Dr. Strange didn’t quite measure up.

Let’s start with the performances. After watching a riveting performance by Benedict Cumberbatch as Khan Noonien Singh in Star Trek Into Darkness and reading the rave reviews on the various sites by fans and critics alike, I was stoked.

Actor Benedict Cumberbatch poses as he arrives for the world premiere of "Anna Karenina" at the Odeon Leicester Square in London

But instead of the talented Cumberbatch giving us something unique or memorable we get a bad imitation of Robert Downey Jr’s Tony Stark. That’s right, almost witty, almost funny, and almost brash. As near as I can figure his gift is his photographic memory.

I had, what I considered, both the advantage and disadvantage of knowing absolutely nothing about this character or the story, (sorry comic book world) so I had no preconceived notions, only the desire for a great story with well-developed characters (can one exist without the other?).

I never saw from this rendition of the story a clear motivation as to why this reckless, egotistical Dr. Strange becomes the leader of the sorcerer’s portion of the Avenger’s world just for the sake of being a good person. It doesn’t match up with the character we’re introduced to at the beginning. And … I get the smarts with the photographic memory, but how’d he become such a skilled fighter so fast?

Chiwetel Ejiofor as Mordo just seemed to be there, not a good or bad performance but no depth, chiwetel-ejiofor-1_240x340_9workmanlike to fill the diversity quota, and I appreciate that, filmmakers.

I did like Tilda Swinton’s performance as The Ancient One. It was believable and captivating throughout even when we find out her motives are mv5bmtm4nzmzmtkwnv5bml5banbnxkftztcwmzu4mdg1mw-_v1_uy317_cr190214317_al_not as altruistic as we were first led to believe. Her strength at first and later vulnerability ground the film and gives it an emotional and human quality.

I really liked the red cloak or was it a cape? I gotta get me one of those.

Another meh point in the film was the villains. Dull, lifeless, and contrived, they didn’t add that hurdle element needed to make the protagonist’s journey worthwhile and satisfying. But wait! They did take manipulating buildings on the set to a new level. Instead of just destruction we have buildings actually bending, transforming, and morphing into … something else? If you like that sort of thing, you’ll love this, reminiscent of the film Inception.

At the end, I didn’t care about the good guys, so I didn’t find myself rooting for them. I didn’t fear the bad guys, so there was no worked up tension inside me when they appeared on the screen, only a “not these guys again.” And the mega-villain at the end was almost comical and childish when he discovered the hero’s resolution, which I also thought, was at best, cheesy.  I did like the music. It awakened my spirit at times but didn’t match the spectacle on the screen.

That’s all I have.

I give this movie 7/10 fist bumps.

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My Review of The Book Thief

There is no shortage of great reviews for the “The Book Thief.” Just the same, I’ll pile on and add one more to the mix. “The Book Thief” is a book for readers who like a great story wrapped in great writing. What I mean by that is, if you don’t like literary devices like metaphor, simile, personification and the like, don’t read this novel.

 

Make no mistake; the story shines through bravely, but Markus Zusak is the master of these literary devices among others, and he weaves them throughout. Sometimes there’s just story and sometimes, beautiful prose it seems for beauty’s sake, and sometimes the two are combined. Zusak tells a story, three years in the making, of foster girl, Leisel Meminger. The Book Thief is set in Nazi Germany 1939, that’s right, smack dab in middle of the holocaust. Through Zucac’s talented pen we get to see what this time must have looked and felt like through the expecting eyes of an innocent, brave, and resourceful girl.

 

If you’re a writer looking for an authentic lesson in great literature, read “The Book Thief” but not as a page-turner, read it slowly, a section at a time. Let the experience have its way with your literary sensibilities. Unless … the spirit moves you, then forge ahead and let the words rush in. I liken “The Book Thief” to the film, “Titanic.” It’s not a book about death (although death is its narrator), but a love story at its finest, a love story about a girl and her family, a girl and her father, a girl and a boy, a girl and a book.

I give this book a solid 9/10 fist bumps.   4762497fb6463d5b9c76d665f52f66f74762497fb6463d5b9c76d665f52f66f74762497fb6463d5b9c76d665f52f66f74762497fb6463d5b9c76d665f52f66f74762497fb6463d5b9c76d665f52f66f74762497fb6463d5b9c76d665f52f66f74762497fb6463d5b9c76d665f52f66f74762497fb6463d5b9c76d665f52f66f74762497fb6463d5b9c76d665f52f66f7

https://www.amazon.com/Book-Thief-Markus-Zusak-ebook/dp/B000XUBFE2/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1480531322&sr=1-1&keywords=the+book+thief