Author Interviews, Blog, Sci-Fi Fantasy Blog

Author Interview: B.B. Reed, Fantasy/Mystery

I am B.B. Reed, a fantasy/mystery author, and my most recent publication was DEMON EYE, book 1 of the Blood Witch Saga. Book 2 is currently in editing and forecasted for release in mid-2021!

From Planning to Published

When did you start writing and why?

Author:      I started writing fantasy in middle school after getting immersed in early online fantasy games, though why I did so is harder to answer. Part of it is due to good world building in media like Warcraft or reading The Last Apprentice—those worlds give you so many building blocks to craft stories from! The other part, I reckon, is this was about the time in my life when my older brother wasn’t as large a role in my life. He’d gone off to college and traveled abroad. It was my first time being alone and having nobody around that I could bounce my thoughts off of. So, I started throwing my musings and ideas down on paper, either as drawn art or a mess of words in a notebook.

How long did it take you to finish your first book?

Author:     It took me six years to complete DEMON EYE. Now that I’ve crossed the finish line, I’m kinda kicking myself wondering what took me so long. Honest, though, I had to spend that time teaching myself how to properly write in a novel format, how to make a plot work, how to craft a living world, how to make characters have impacts and techniques on when to raise the stakes.

If you’ve published, how long did your first book take?

Author:      Seven years in total.

(If applicable) Has your publishing timeframe improved at all since your first publication?

Author:      My publishing timeframe has improved SIGNIFICANTLY! Book 2 has taken about a year or two to already be in editing and polishing stage.

Are you indie, traditional, hybrid, or vanity, and why?

Author:      I’m an indie author because I have a story that needs to be told. It’s not one that most traditional publishing houses would want or are looking for. Besides, I did most of the work an agent or copyeditor would have done anyway.

How did you determine your target audience?

Author:      I am still working on that, I think. I know the Dungeons & Dragons crowd would appreciate the fantasy world of Moira, and then the LGBTQ community would appreciate the inclusion of gay characters on the stage. The themes of witchcraft and feminism would draw the wiccan crowd on top of that. It feels like I cast a wide net with this material.

What platforms do you use to publish your works?

Author:      Amazon Kindle is my publishing platform due to convenience and some sentimental tie to the name. My career in IT has benefitted greatly from Amazon’s tech certifications.

How do you get critiques, betas, feedback, and edits?

Author:      I ask, and I ask, and I ask. Anyone, literally, who would put down the time and effort to consume my novels. So far, my primary source of feedback and editing is a dear friend of mine in the UK who coaches me in some of the classics like Dune and Jules Verne.

DEMON EYE is my debut novel, setting the stage for a series of fantasy novels following the adventures of the main character, Halena Maris. She’s a wandering witch in the kingdom of Arram, helping peasant folk too afraid to confront the entities of the night. Halena makes what coin she can to support her nomadic life and her pursuit of knowledge, until she has a chance at the biggest payout yet as a noblewoman contracts her for an investigation. She’s caught between the world of nobles and black magic as she struggles to keep up with a conspiracy against the throne, or risks her demonic secret being revealed.

Marketing

Do you have a platform? What does it consist of?

Author:      My current marketing platform is through Twitter and Amazon KDP exclusively.

What is your launch plan for your works?

Author:      Launch means I turn Twitter and my online Discord communities on blast with my work. I almost feel bad for the massive signal boosting, but it must be done!

How do you get reviews for your books?

Author:      I mostly do grass roots solicitation for reviews. Signed copies, free physical copies, whatever makes a potential reader’s eyes light up. I make sure to inform them how their input for reviews not only helps me become a better author, but also makes the gremlins behind Amazon’s algorithms circulate my work. Otherwise, I post reminders on the regular on Twitter about the importance of reviews for us indie authors.

How do you promote your content?

Author:      I post snippets and one-liners from my book, as well as sharing pieces of non-spoiler artwork I’ve bought over the years that feature my characters from The Blood Witch Saga. On top of that, I divide and conquer. These promotions go through Twitter, Facebook, and my discord communities.

How do you define success as an author?

Author:      You’ve succeeded as an author when you hold your book in your hand and feel yourself compelled to start reading it just as your audience would. Every time I do that, I fall in love with my work all over again.

About Your Work

What type of content do you write and why? Fiction Novels? Poems? Songs? Screenplays? Short Stories? Epic?

Author:      I have begun an Epic Fantasy series with DEMON EYE, and on the side, I do short stories as well. My content usually features dark themes, like the dangers of the esoteric unknown behind magic, or I’ll scrape myself against the grit of war stories to prod at the man vs. man challenges in that theater. I write about these things because I feel like I’ve had a brush with components of those themes. Death, reflecting on your own mortality, what is the quality of a life lived? All the window dressing of fantasy or sci-fi war scenarios helps to frame these themes in more digestible ways.

What genres and subgenres do you write in?

Author:      I write fiction that straddles across Sci-FI, Fantasy, Horror, and mystery

What is your author brand (genre, mood, image, theme, message, etc)? How did you decide on it?

Author:      My brand is definitely Fantasy—especially darker fantasy since I write about witchcraft and magic. However, I hope the message I put out is that despite having an affinity for dark and gothic themes, there is love and acceptance in that. I didn’t so much decide on this as it more just… happened!

How many works have you published?

Author:      One with my second in the works! Goodness, it sounds like I’m talking about kids.

Name some common elements in your writing: villains, magic, red-herring twists, the unfortunate ensign, mysterious phenomena, asyndeton, sentence fragments etc.

Author:      Magick is a huge factor in the Blood Witch series, as well as keeping the reader on their toes as the plot unfolds. I’m also a proponent of maintaining villains that believe they’re on the right side of events.

What was your first goal when you started your journey to becoming an author? Has that changed?

Author:      My first goal was to complete a manuscript draft! But seriously, my goal was to bring a unique and compelling story to the table that someone could reasonably digest. I see no reason in delivering a story that requires a codex to decode heavy exposition. That goal has remained true, I think, and I wish to continue delivering stories that people will enjoy.

What do you want your readers to get out of your works?

Author:      I want readers to pull out Halena’s internal struggle, to feel and empathize with her. Some of the challenges she endures are ones many of us face, whether it’s struggling with mental illness or our neuroses that make us quiver. I want them to see that despite all these factors, having friends and loved ones to turn to is not a show of weakness, but how you must weather those internal storms.

What has been your favorite part of the writing and querying or publishing process?

Author:      My favorite part of the writing process has to be the content generation part of it when making your first draft. You reach those pieces you’ve just been waiting to put down on paper, it’s like riding the lightning! In recent time, however, I have come to love the process of editing too.

Which authors write similar books to yours? How did you find them?

Author:      Kim Wedlock writes magic-focused fantasy like I do and you can find everything you need to know about her work at her Twitter handle (@KimWedlock) or look her up on Amazon!

Have you always read in the genre you wanted to write in? Do you think that’s made it easier or harder to create new stories?

Author:      In the past, I read a lot of fantasy novels, but in recent time I have pulled away mostly because I’m overly familiar with the genre. Reading detective novels by the likes of Jim Butcher or folk tales by Neil Gaiman have been really invigorating. I’m a firm believer that you have to consume media on the regular to generate new media of your own.

What is your writing process, from idea to polished work? Pantster? Plotter? How long does that typically take you?

Author:      I’m a plotter—or an architect—when it comes to my process. I need a rough idea of where I’m going or else I risk writing myself into a corner. I jot down notes for beats and highlights, as well as a few details I don’t want to forget. However, my timeline isn’t very reliable because I outline my stories from high-level end-to-end plot to begin, then outline as I go by story acts. There’s a method to this madness, I swear!

Where do you network most with other writers, authors, and creative types? LinkedIn? Wattpad? Twitter? Facebook? Somewhere else?

Author:      Twitter has been a decent means of networking with other artists and writers, however, I feel it is not a good means of circulating that media amongst ourselves. The company has also made it abundantly clear it has no interest in supporting the creative demographic. Otherwise, I’ve met other creatives through gaming communities through Discord and network there.

Do you sprint-write like a starving cheetah, or are you a totally chill turtle writer? Somewhere in between?

Author:      I sprint when I’m writing a scene I have clear in my head and I just NEED IT to be done. I just can’t wait to see how it turns out! Then, once that rush is done, it’s back to milder and slow-paced writing as I try to figure out how to link all these high notes together in a good way.

Struggles

What has been the hardest thing to overcome on your journey to authorship?

Author:      Imposter syndrome has been the hardest hurdle in my road to authorship. Querying made me feel like nobody wanted my vision, but I remained stubborn to keep on the path. My characters and their story were worth it.

How has the writing and querying or publishing process affected you emotionally? Do you have any tips for budding writers?

Author:      It’s shown me just how true the old phrase, “You eat an elephant one bite at a time,” is in real life. Everything is possible if you remain disciplined and persistent. However, I will say that the querying process has left less-than-stellar sentiments with me. So, for you budding writers out there, please take inventory of your feelings. If something doesn’t feel right, or it’s making you hate the work you love, listen to those feelings.

Do you have any tips or recommendations for those who want to go the final step and become authors?

Author:      Take Neil Gaiman’s writing advice and start writing. You can always edit it later.

If you could do it all over again, what would you change?

Author:      I wouldn’t have wasted a year on the publishing industry’s niche standards and requirements.

Are you a driven & self-advocating author, a gun-shy promoter, or a total marketing procrastinator?

Author:      I’m definitely a self-advocating author and I’m driven to finish my work to release to everyone for consumption. I will admit I procrastinate in my marketing because I’ve found it to be utterly draining to maintain.

How do you keep yourself motivated?

Author:      I make or commission art of my characters from the main cast of the Blood Witch Saga. Seeing them in such a tangible form and the interpretations varied between artists is so fulfilling and it drives me to keep writing their stories.

How do you combat writer’s block?

Author:      I don’t force the block and I set aside time to consume new media, as well as make an effort to express myself through my visual art.

How did your family and friends react to your writing? Was it what you expected from them?

Author:      My heart skipped when my mother told me she couldn’t put my book down, then I was blown away when my church-going cousin bombarded me with all these questions about my world. There was a piece of me that thought they were being nice in supporting me up until that feedback came. Then I knew that I had something worth it.

What assumptions about writers and authors do you think are myths?

Author:      Many tend to think writing is a lonely profession, and while it does require a degree of loneliness to accomplish the great task of crafting the novel, it could not be accomplished without community. People to exchange ideas with, friends and family to reassure you through the hardships, and the criticisms of how to improve yourself. There is no self-made man behind that book, there is him and the hands he held before touching the paper.

Fun Stuff

What do you listen to while you write?

Author:      I listen to film and game orchestra scores. You have no idea how well the 1989 Batman score can set the mood for a scene!

Is there a fun word or group of terms you like to put into your writing?

Author:      Esoteric, yawning, sable, haunt

Where do you write your stories? A tiny office? A loft? The kitchen table? In the bushes while you secretly people-watch like a total creeper? Or a warm café with mocha in hand and feet up on an ottoman?

Author:      In “The Before-times,” I used to sit in a local coffee shop or Denny’s with breakfast and spend a few hours banging away at my laptop. Nowadays, I gotta get that writing machine going at my own dining table.

What book are you reading at the moment?

Author:      I’m reading Around the World in 80 Days right now!

How do you try to “break the mold” and be unique?

Author:      I break the mould by putting fantasy and mystery together, as well as featuring black magic as a force of good rather than being inherently evil.

What have you learned about yourself from the writing and/or authorship process?

Author:      The overlap between my visual artistic pursuits and my literary pursuits came together to make this possible for me.

What is your favorite writing snack and drink?

Author:      LaCroix and Chex Mix

Do you have a writing companion?

Author:      My own black cat named Patty!

My primary haunt is via Twitter:  @WonderBran31

Follow me on Amazon:  https://www.amazon.com/B-B-Reed/e/B08BPDV3LZ/ref=dp_byline_cont_ebooks_1

And you can see a portfolio of my other hobbies at https://bbreedart.squarespace.com/

Blog, Book Reviews, Sci-Fi Fantasy Blog

Book Review: The Unity Game

Book Review: The Unity Game by Leonora Meriel

Genre: Adult Science Fiction

The Unity Game for review postAstoundingly descriptive, beautifully imagined, with unique characters, Meriel will warp your mind, challenge your beliefs, make you wonder, and then want to redefine your understanding of reality.

We begin, following three characters through life-changing moments. Each chapter will follow David on his quest for success amidst visions he can’t explain, Alisdair into his new life only to discover he won’t be staying with the ones he loves, and Noœ-bouk (yes, written with a Latin ligature) in his journey through the last part of his life cycle and what he’s willing to do for a chance to beat his odds.

There are two main plots that run the length of the book you won’t catch on to until the very end. One facilitates the reader’s understanding of the other. It’s a curious monster with philosophies behind our existence and purpose that are enthralling. They lay the framework for the main plot with a twist you won’t expect.

(There are possible spoilers beyond this point)

Muriel really hits home when she breaks down Earth in comparison to the rest of the universe. This is where the Unity Game comes into play. We’re all just, essentially, spirits living multiple different lives in a way to gain experiences to level-up our understanding of the universe and achieve higher status (attain positions on councils etc). The conscious minds take lives on earth as a challenge because it is so unpredictable. The greater the challenge, the more “points” earned. When a consciousness merges with a body on Earth, they forget their “spirit” and won’t remember again until they pass on. Earthlings are described as removing themselves from the God complex (higher understanding of the cosmos) and then denying it exists completely, reducing us to mere “base” structures.

There is little that remains finite about the realms Muriel has created. A Home Planet saved, a granddaughter, a job (repeatedly), and yet there looms this never-ending “now what?” for each character. Even toward the end, passing the knot joining the threads together, there are infinite directions in which the characters’ futures may head, leaving the reader with a sense of hope.

The worlds Meriel has built are beautifully imagined down to every breath the only real measure of time. The three lives/timelines will feel like their own book entirely with raw detail and emotion in every step of their path. Meriel keeps you guessing and searching for patterns on how the pieces will align well into the book. But have faith, she will break your heart, mend it, and trade it out for another all at once in the final pivotal moment.

Be prepared, there are several erotic scenes, particularly with David. While it’s hard to grasp his disloyalty, these scenes will make much more sense when you’ve turned the last few pages. They are raw and primal in an extraterrestrial sort of way. Muriel depicts David’s psychological changes with vivid alacrity: a chaotic blur of images, thoughts, physical sensations, and external reactions that evoke a near-empathetic understanding from the reader.

If you are fans of Socrates, philosophy, or Greek inspired writing, you will love this. Fans of science fiction, fantasy, money, psychological thrillers, space travel, alternate realities, sex scenes, you will enjoy this very much.

This book is not for speed readers. It is meaty and intricate; you don’t want to miss lingering in its depth. It must be absorbed from every angle to truly sense the unity that binds all things.

 

My personal reactions:

The moment that stood out the most was with Noœ-bouk, when he has surpassed his body life and should no longer exist, yet there he is. The parameters around the possibilities are hazy and loose, and some things just happen. But they’re accepted because of the overall theme of consciousness is freedom. I did struggle a bit with the rules of the realms, but that was part of the joy of this book. There really weren’t any rules. It just took some getting used to, some stretching of the mind we’ll call it.

Not having a concept of the plot in the beginning was hard. I didn’t get pick up my first hint until about half of the way through when Noœ-bouk’s Tayr was actually Earth. At seventy-three percent I got my first solid indicator about the Unity Game itself. That’s when the story finally picked up for me and I began to understand the characters, the purpose, and the end goal.

There were a few secondary characters that had segments from their perspectives that I felt pulled me away from the story, but their parts were short. They just didn’t seem crucial to the main plot. But I trusted Meriel had a deeper plan, and I’m glad I did.

It was a bit hard to grasp the collection of these perspectives into the chapters. I believe there’s a theme with the symbols breaking up the parts of the chapters, but sometimes it was in the middle of a perspective, and it wasn’t necessarily for the purpose of a time break. Those were separated by a blank line. I honestly couldn’t catch the pattern despite looking for it. I’m figuring the evolution of the shapes from simple to more complex factors in as well. (Maybe I will understand this on another read-through)

Noœ-bouk’s character was the most critical to the storyline, the most interesting, but also the hardest to connect to. The perspective is difficult to grasp because it is gender neutral, and the lack of emotion makes it difficult to form an attachment. But, the stunning light displays and extraordinary life It has lived keep me hooked.

Toward the end, I figured out Alisdair’s character was more a vessel for explaining to the reader the concepts of the universe, the multi-verse, the lack of actual time, how we’ve all lived thousands of lives already and they’re all happening simultaneously. This was one of my favorite parts. It really scrambles your concepts of “reality” and makes a smoothie out of your brain. But it’s a delight and the places Alisdair and Duncan go are quite magical. The concept of the library without dust and the fact that Duncan created dust with a tap of a finger on a book spine was a nice little detail.

It was mentally thrilling, heart-breaking, and spiritually exhausting. I am definitely going to read this again.