Book Review: Fortitude

Hello readers! Last week you got to meet Carrie Dalby a bit. Today I’m going to talk about one of her books, Fortitude. This book was actually the first time I’ve read a historical fiction for fun, and now I’m totally hooked on the genre.

Carrie does an amazing job of painting a vivid view of the South in the late 1800’s during the Spanish-American War. This story touches on some very sensitive racial issues and handles them brilliantly. Fortitude’s passionate approach to real issues entertains while educating. Would I recommend to others? DUH! Heck yeah! I’m making my youngest daughter read it now!

CampLife

So, what’s the book actually about? In Fortitude, you follow alongside main character Claire O’Farrell and her Creole best friend, Loretta Davis as they travel to Tampa, volunteering as nurses for the soldiers in the war. With the two being different races in a time where each color stuck to their own, they are slammed into a reality that is heartbreaking and eye-opening.

What’s my favorite part about the book? Well, I kind of know secrets that the world hasn’t been privy to yet. Two of the story’s characters continue on in Carrie Dalby’s newest series yet to be released.

If you want to check out Fortitude, which I highly recommend, click here.

Thanks readers!

Fortitude jpgGrowing up with a Creole best friend, sixteen-year-old Claire O’Farrell held little regard for the Jim Crow laws and the consequences of befriending those of a different color. But once she leaves the haven of her home on Dauphin Island, the reality of racial intolerance can no longer be ignored. Though she’s underage, Claire makes the bold decision to serve alongside Loretta, her best friend, in the “colored camp” hospital tents during the Spanish-American War, but her idealistic attitude and choice of working location immediately puts her in danger. Claire gives her heart to a soldier in the camp, only to find herself caught in the racial violence besieging the area. When the intolerant attitudes and stigma follow her home, she clings to her faith to navigate through her social isolation and find the path she was meant to travel.

 

 

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Guest Blog – Carrie Dalby

 

Hey guys! Today we have author Carrie Dalby guesting on the site. Yay! Carrie is a good friend of mine and amazing writer. I’ll be talking more about her book Fortitude later this week. For now, say hi to Carrie!

Thanks for having me and hello, Legendary Readers. I’m happy to share a bit about my search for visual writing inspiration with you all today.

Seeking Inspiration

For a person who deals with words, I’m extremely visually oriented. From finding photographs of settings to collecting character images, I’m always on the lookout for pictures that represent my stories. My two published novels (so far) have somewhat abstract titles but they embody the theme of each book. In daily life I look for examples of Fortitude and Corroded (young adult books available from the Surge imprint of Anaiah Press.) When found, I feel an instant connection to these stories through the visuals representing them.

Nature is a great place to find fortitude. Check out this tree in my backyard that didn’t let a fence stand in its way.

2014 tree1

2014 tree2

What could have halted progression became woven into its life, making the core stronger—it’s survived several hurricanes. Not only is the tree still growing, its providing a craggy surface for other living things.

 

 

I find the patina of corroded metal beautiful. The trials and weather of life turns bland metal into a gorgeous display of colors and textures, like this retro playground slide.

2015 corroded2
2014 corroded1

Sometimes it takes looking closer to the world around you to find your inspiration. It can be as large as a rusted roof or as small as a nail.

 

 

 

 

 

Where will you find inspiration today?

 

Thanks Carrie for guesting today! If you guys want to learn more about this awesome author, just click here!

author photo 2016 small

While experiencing the typical adventures of growing up, Carrie Dalby called several places in both San Diego and Santa Cruz counties home and has lived on the Alabama Gulf Coast since 1996. Her two young adult novels, Fortitude and Corroded, released in 2015 and 2016 by the Surge imprint of Anaiah Press.
Currently she is writing a Gothic family saga for adults.
When Carrie isn’t reading, writing, browsing bookstores/libraries, or homeschooling, she can often be found knitting, volunteering, or attending concerts.

Dinner, Board Games, and ME!!

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Saturday, I will have the great pleasure of hanging out all day at one of my all time favorite places, Gamers n’ Geeks in Mobile, Al.

From 1 to 10, I’ll be signing and selling at the best gamers store in town. On top of that, Gulf Coast Gaming will be bringing a HUGE selection of board games for us all to try out! Dinner will be served from 3 to 6 by Godfather’s pizza. It’s going to be an insane day of fun.

Oh, did I mention the CW is coming and filming live for 3 hours! They’ll be giving away PensaCon tickets and awesome swag!!! (Is it bad I’m rooting for my family to score some of these sweet treats?)

If any of you guys live close by, you should totally come check it out. It’s going to be an awesome time! For more info, click here.

Hugs, readers! Hope to see you there!!

A Sit-Down With Lilian Oake

Good morning, readers! Today we are going to interview Lilian Oake!!!

Hey, Lilian. Could you tell the readers a little about yourself?

lilian oakeHey MeLeesa! Thanks for having me!

I am an author of adventure fantasy, which is pretty much for all ages. I do have one book that I would say is more YA. I’ve been writing for 10 years, and published for 8. John Flanagan of The Ranger’s Apprentice is the writer I want to be when I grow up. Figuratively. I live in North Carolina with my husband, Joshua Robertson, who is an award-winning author of dark fantasy. We have nine kids between the two of us, and work full time in the writing bizz.

What first drew you to writing? Are there any instances that stand out where you’ve pulled from your real life?

My very first line in my very first book was written in my biology class in ninth grade. I was reading a lot of random books at the time—nothing that comes to mind specifically, besides Jeremy Thatcher, Dragon Hatcher by Bruce Coville. I spent a lot of my time daydreaming about dragons.

I spent most of my middle grade years and early high school years feeling very lonely, as I wasn’t one of the kids many others wanted to talk to. I was socially awkward, likely from growing up semi-isolated within a strict, religious community. Most of my young life was spent coming up with story lines about how I came from another world, and that’s why I felt left out all the time. Surprise, surprise, that’s the premise of my coming series! Minus religion.

What’s the number one thing you hear from your fans?

I hear a lot of things from my fans, but most of it has to do with how apparently “crazy” I am. But they assure me they mean it in a positive sense. I’m outgoing—odd, considering the kind of kid I was.

Outside of personality, I am often told that I write along the lines of the Grimm Brothers fairytales.

You have a new project coming out, can you tell us a little about that? I hear it takes place in the same world as some of your other work: Bounty of the Everdark, An Ogre’s Tale, and Nahtaia.

Yes, The Chronicles of Jaydür is a portal fantasy that takes place partially within our modern day world, and partially within the fantasy world called Jaydür which is the same world the other stories take place in.

The four Voices of Jaydür are four goddesses who were created as the mediators between the many races of Jaydür, among other things. When the Voices of Jaydür are found slaughtered, Caia, a she-elf, is called upon by the Elders to take the place as the esteemed Voice of Apan (or, water). Glim’Ruk, the one who killed the Voices, wants the entire lineage dead, and threatens to absorb Caia’s godly essence—and she’s the last in that line. Against her will, Caia is hurled by the Elders through a portal to another realm, having her memories and powers shielded in a desperate attempt to keep her safe. Now, without any knowledge of her true nature and purpose, her bodyguard and mentor from Jaydür has sought her out to help her rediscover her lineage as a Voice to return home and help restore peace among the people who are torn by Glim’Ruk.

Wow! That sounds awesome!!! In your new project, who is your favorite character?

Archai. He’s as old as the original Voices, and has a very cynical view of life. He’s spent his eternity essentially “beyond the veil,” so he knows what life is and should be about, and finds the emotions and aspirations of people living on Jaydür (and in earth) completely ridiculous.

Who has been the most fun to write?

Again, Archai. I love being able to delve into his mind, and really stretch my imagination to the point of grasping eternity—or trying to, at least! It makes me feel all twisted and small in the world.

If you could be any character in your stories, who would you choose?

Probably Kieren, a large, white panther who is basically the gatekeeper between the worlds. He has more faith in Caia as a Voice, and always has some wise words to offer. He gets to help her when she needs help, and watch her as she matures into the Voice of Apan. Plus, he has access to both worlds and all the existing traveling mirrors! Who wouldn’t want that?

I so can’t wait to check it out! Any idea when it will be available?

I should be releasing at the end of April.

Thank you so much for letting me interview you! Good luck with your new project. I can’t wait to read more of your work!

Thank you so much for having me again! I had fun! I’ll be sure to announce to the world when it’s ready for you all!

Well readers, keep an eye out for that announcement and look back next week for a new author interview. But don’t worry, later this week I’ll have a personal post to let you know how I’ve been doing!

Hugs guys!

Book Review: The Dragon Cager

Hello, all!

A few days ago, you heard from fellow author and friend, Lilian Oake on writing battle scenes. I promised a review of one of her books was coming soon, and here it is.

Dragoncager

The Dragon Cager, by Lilian Oake is a teen/YA novel about a young woman who is pushed from the world in which she has grown, to the harsh outlying areas where she is abducted by a cager—men who can turn from dragon to human form. These cagers, are the stuff of children’s nightmares, and Evie (the main character) must find a way to survive the most dangerous creatures of her land.

Lilian Oake does an amazing job of taking her readers on an emotional and physical journey in this tale. With steamy (but fully clean and appropriate) scenes and magic-imbued fight sequences, this book gets 4 out of 5 stars for me. I’m definitely voting for a second book. There are so many places this story can go, I look forward to finding out what lies ahead for our main character, Evie.

Remember, The Dragon Cager is currently free on Amazon Kindle, but the sale ends Saturday, so check it out before it’s over!! And, next week, I’ll be interviewing Lilian Oake and finding out more about this awesome writer. If you have a question you want to ask this author, leave it below and yours could be chosen to join our list. I look forward to hearing what you say, but please keep it clean. Any inappropriate comments will not make it to the page.

Check back soon! Hugs!!

Guest Blog – Lilian Oake

Hey guys!! I promised that I’d introduce you to some of my favorite authors and friends, and today is the first in the series. Today, you’ll be reading a guest post from one very talented Lilian Oake. Lilian writes a variety of teen fantasy. In fact, you’ll soon be reading my review of her book The Dragon Cager. I will also be posting an interview with her over the next week or so, but all that’s in the future. Now, I’m gonna hand over the post to Lilian as she talks about writing epic battle scenes.

lilian oake

 

 

Hello readers! Thank you for stopping by and taking a gander at what the random, crazy redhead is doing on the blog of MeLeesa Swann! I do hope to impart some helpful bit of info here.

 

 

 

 One of the greatest struggles in fantasy today, is keeping the reader engaged without constant epic-battles. Yes, the reader wants to start a story with action. No one wants a new story to start out slow and boring. Yes, war does touch on the senses and brings thrill to the reader. No, war is not the only way to bring on these feelings of excitement.

Some key points about battles in fantasy:

  1. If the reader isn’t already invested in the story for a solid reason pertaining to the plot, you’re bound to lose them before you even reach the first battle. Or soon after.
  2. The battle itself has to have purpose. If you’re just throwing it in there for the sake of delivering short-lived excitement, the reader is going to get frustrated, confused, and worst of all, have their suspension of disbelief ruined. If that happens, it’s not easy to keep your reader(s), in this book, or the next.

Character development should be your main focus—besides the plot itself. When the reader is invested in your character, then any and every experience conveys emotion. You want your reader to feel like they are the character, so they feel the clenching teeth of frustration with the MC. The palpitations of excitement. The sweaty palms of shame, or the set jaw of suspicion. With that connection, something as simple as silently climbing through treetops to spy on an enemy could keep your reader delving into your books just as well as any battle would. And this will keep the reader entertained, and enthralled enough to come back for more books.

Well, I hope these words speak to someone, and maybe even helps one of you readers figure out how to work through your own fantasy-writing problem you may be having. If ever you find yourself having an issue you can’t seem to work through, talk to someone about it! (I’ll even leave you my personal email here!) Sometimes, that’s all it takes—a good chat about your book and goals with a good listener.

Lilian

Lilianoake@gmail.com

 

As always, thanks for reading, guys! To find out more about Lilian Oake, just click here. AND her book The Dragon Cager is currently FREE on Amazon Kindle, but download fast. The sale ends Saturday! I’ll be posting a review of the book SOON, so check back. 

Hugs!!

 

 

 

 

A Peek at What’s to Come

This year, my blog site is going to undergo some awesome changes. Starting next week, I will host special blog posts introducing you guys to some of my favorite authors/friends. Also, I’ll be reviewing other books and letting you peek in on what I like to read. Hopefully, these ideas will help you get to know me better.

BUT I also want to learn more about you guys and what you enjoy. Look for more interactive posts where I seek opinions and offer polls. Some of the concepts could even make it into future books!! So don’t be afraid to post.

Finally, I will post one personal fact about myself at the end of most of the posts. Keep an eye out for those too. You never know when the information will come in handy, which bring us to…

This year I will be holding random contests for various prizes. Some may be questions that you have to answer to win, some may just be putting your name in a hat. Be sure to keep your eyes open!!!

To start us off, the first personal fact (PF) : Last year was the first time I’d ever been to a Con, and I’d never felt more at home. ❤

Christmas 2017

christmas

Christmas is over. Santa came to town. And it was a Merry Christmas indeed.

Just a recap of some of the great things that occurred over the recent holidays:

  • We all went to a Renaissance Faire. Prince had tea with the Queen, I held a huge fricking snake, Kara had her fortune told (that was hilarious), Archer got in a balloon swordfight, and Hubby drooled all over the swords.

  • We went to visit the parents for Thanksgiving and played with our new baby nephew. It was amazing.

  • After Thanksgiving, the Christmas rush hit and so did a horrible virus that kept us all in bed for over a week.

  • One of our nieces (now referred to as Princess) came to live with us a few days before Christmas. She seems to be an amazing fit and we’re loving her presence.

  • Christmas Day was awesome! Prince became an actual Lord and owns a piece of land in Scotland. Archer got a new phone. Kara got two art mannequins she’s been dying for. Princess got an amazing art kit. Hubby’s wish came true with a copy of Xanathar’s Guide to Everything. And I was gifted with Flash items that totally made my day.

So, now you guys are all caught up. How were your holidays? Hope they were just as awesome.

Now, however, it’s time for me to get back to teaching the kids and working on Lex2.

Hugs to you all!!!

It’s Here!!!!

Legendary_Lex_Cover_for_Kindle

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s finally available!!! Click here to get your paper copy or here to download to Kindle. I can’t wait to hear what everyone thinks about it!! Love you all!!!

Back to Reality

QuestCon is over, so is the visit to the parents, and Halloween is past as well. Now I’m sitting back at home and revving up my writing brain. Before I completely say goodbye to the fun times, I thought I would send you guys a few pics of my awesome time.

 

My QuestCon adventures.

 

Family visits…

 

Halloween was spent fighting a cold and taking care of 3 sick kids, so we didn’t get any great pics of that, but we did have a blast with all of our other events. Now, it’s back to reality.