Interview with Amalie Howard, Author of Alpha Goddess

howardA rising star among young adult writers, Amalie Howard developed a loyal following after releasing her debut book, “Bloodspell,” in 2011. Now, she is returning with five new books that are sure to excite her devoted fans and catch the attention of new readers.

A bookworm from the beginning, Howard grew up on a small island in the Caribbean with her nose buried in books. When she was just 13 years old, her poem “The Candle” was published in a University of Warwick journal, marking a sign of great things to come. Howard immersed herself into other cultures, globetrotting through 22 countries in North America, Europe, Asia and Australia. After moving to the United States, she earned a bachelor’s degree in international studies and French from Colby College in Maine. She also holds a certificate in French literature from the Ecole Normale Superieure in Paris, France. Traveling around the world, Howard has lent talents as a research assistant, marketing representative, freelance writer, teen speaker, blogger and global sales executive.

Howard is a recipient of a Royal Commonwealth Society award, an international youth writing competition. She is also a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. 

Howard’s first book, “Bloodspell” (June 2011, Langdon Street Press) earned rave reviews and was named a Seventeen Magazine Summer Beach Read. Readers will hear more from Howard as she releases a pair of two-book series, “Waterfell” (November 2013, Harlequin TEEN) and “The Almost Girl” (January 2014, Strange Chemistry), as well as “Alpha Goddess” (March 2014, Skyhorse/Sky Pony Press) over the next two years.

Howard lives in New York with her husband, three children and one willful feline that she is convinced may have been a witch’s cat in a past life.

You released your first book “Bloodspell” in 2011, which led to an impressive five book publishing deals. How the heck do you have time to write so much, and what does it feel like to have your work recognized in such a great way?

I am so incredibly grateful that my wonderful editors saw something they loved in my books and wanted to publish them. All three of my upcoming novels—WATERFELL, THE ALMOST GIRL, and ALPHA GODDESS—each brings something different and unique to the table, so I’m really excited that readers will get to sample such a diverse range of what I have to offer as an author.

As far as writing so much, I’m very lucky that I’m a fast writer, so once I get an idea in my head, I just go. I plot a basic outline of my expectations, and then I let the story take me on its journey. And as I always say to my teen creative writing classes, writing is like homework. You have to make time for it and be diligent about doing it.

What will fans of “Bloodspell” like best about your upcoming titles?

Fans of BLOODSPELL will enjoy meeting some very special new characters and being introduced to completely different worlds—figuratively and literally, especially in THE ALMOST GIRL. In WATERFELL, I was particularly excited to share my love of the ocean (I grew up on an island) and surfing! I also wanted to explore the myth of the sea monster and shift it from something terrifying into something beautiful … enter the mysterious world of the Aquarathi!

I’ve always been fascinated by quantum mechanics (even though I was hopeless at physics in high school) and the possibility of alternate universes. In THE ALMOST GIRL, I was able to explore that and more in this book, like the whole concept of nature versus nurture and whether we evolve differently based on harsher environments. I think this book will take readers on an interesting journey.

In ALPHA GODDESS, I wanted to explore some of the stories I’d been told as a child. I also wanted to share some of my experience with readers. My father comes from a long line of Hindu priests, so these myths were a large part of my childhood. The Ramayana is a particularly beautiful love story, and while my novel is a work of fiction, I really enjoyed crafting my version from such an inspiring mythology.

Your next release, “Waterfell,” departs from the world of vampires and witches but stays in the realm of fantasy and science fiction. What do you like about those genres?

Clearly, I love escaping reality. Fantasy and science fiction have always been my true loves. Don’t get me wrong, I love a great contemporary novel as much as anyone, but getting lost in a an epic fantasy world or meeting characters from other planets who have superhuman powers is icing on the cake for me. I like being able to push the boundaries of reality, to create mind-boggling ‘what if’ scenarios … for example, with WATERFELL, what if sea monsters really did exist? And what if they were a species from another planet hiding on ours? And what if they could shift into human form? With science fiction and fantasy, the possibilities are endless.

Like all of your books so far, “The Almost Girl” features a strong, independent female character as the protagonist. What do you hope readers learn from her?

I’m a huge fan of strong female protagonists (that said, I do have a novel with a strong male protagonist so I’m not gender-biased). I do like strong protagonists on the whole, but I also do think there has to be character growth that is transparent and meaningful to the reader. No one’s going to relate to a character who stays the same. With Riven from THE ALMOST GIRL, I love that she has to dig deep down to embrace her emotions. A soldier first, she’s so hard on the outside but still vulnerable on the inside—I really connected with her struggle to just let go of all her rules and be a girl. We build so many walls to keep from being hurt that we don’t allow ourselves to connect with others. I love that she was brave enough to trust her heart. In the end, I’m hopeful that readers will empathize with Riven and learn, as she does, that humans are born to feel, and that being open to life and love doesn’t make you weaker … it makes you stronger.

“Alpha Goddess” is your take on an Indian mythological tale. Where did you first hear about it?Alpha

Although ALPHA GODDESS is a work of fiction, a lot of my inspiration for the characters and the world-building in this novel is based on Hindu mythology. My father is a second generation Brahmin (priest class in traditional Hindu society), so Indian mythology was an integral part of my childhood and religious education. Fascinated by stories and legends of various Hindu gods who incarnated as avatars to avert human tragedy, I wanted to write an epic story that encompassed some of the Hindu mythology elements I enjoyed as a child, like the Ramayana, the story of Rama and Sita. Of course, ALPHA GODDESS is my own invented take on another reincarnated version of these characters, and does not actually exist in Indian scriptures.

You are quite the world traveler. How do you incorporate the cultures you come across into your writing?

I love meeting new people and exploring different cultures. I really believe that traveling the world has helped me to craft my characters, especially the ones that aren’t human (whom I have to invent). How do they evolve? How are they different from regular people? How are they the same? I enjoy using elements and facets from all the different cultures I’ve interacted with over the years to develop compelling scenarios and create robust characters in my writing.

I also like to include some of my favorite cities in my novels, for example, Paris and New York in BLOODSPELL, San Diego, California in WATERFELL, and Fort Collins, Colorado in THE ALMOST GIRL. Although a writer can research anything online, writing about a place I’ve actually been to helps me to picture scenes and places more vividly. It allows me to create more authentic descriptions, so that my readers can feel like they are there, too.

We can only imagine you’re working on something new. Can you give us any sneak peek into the mind of Amalie Howard and what’s to come?

I’m working on several different projects. I’ve just finished writing OCEANBORN, which is the sequel to WATERFELL, and I’ve also just completed a near-future, technological YA thriller/romance, which has a male protagonist that I’m very excited about. That one is now in the capable hands of my agent. In addition to that, I have outlined a companion novel to ALPHA GODDESS, and I am about to start writing the sequel to THE ALMOST GIRL. Lastly, I’m fleshing out a joint project with another YA writer that’s super secret and under wraps for now. So yes, I’m busy, but I’m embracing it all (with a lot of gratitude).

Age Range: 12 and up
Grade Level: 6 and up
Hardcover: 384 pages
Publisher: Sky Pony Press (March 18, 2014)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1626362084
ISBN-13: 978-1626362086
PURCHASE HERE!

The Bifrost Bridge by James Bradley Clarke $25 Book Blast

About the Book

The Bifrost Bridge by James ClarkTitle: The Bifrost Bridge | Author: James Bradley Clarke | Illustrator: Marcus Gran | Publication Date: January, 2013 | Publisher: Wynwidyn Press | Pages: 92 | Recommended Ages: 8+

Summary: The Bifrost Bridge is a Viking princess fairy tale intertwined with Norse mythology. Silya, the feisty ten year old Princess of Norway, eagerly awaits the arrival of her cousin and best friend, Princess Hedda of Denmark. The princesses are both looking forward to the summer solstice celebration, but trouble lurks in their future as magical villains see the girls as being vital for their deadly conspiracy. Hedda and Silya find themselves cast into a dangerous adventure filled with fire giants, female warrior angels and the God of Thunder.

Purchase

Amazon | Wynwidyn Press Books

The Buzz

“A delightful and endearing adventure that winds Norse mythology and two young girls through a whirlwind of danger, friendship and standing up to evil-doers. The Princess heroines, Silya and Hedda, engage the reader with their charming day to day life at the celebrated summer solstice festival in ancient Norway… The book moves along easily and the characters are likable at once. A fun read for the parents, and challenging enough for the children because it may have a few new words and characters they may not know. It is an adorable story that will soon become a favorite.” ~ 5 Star Review, Janet, Amazon

“Bifrost Bridge is a beautiful fairytale, mixing legend and adventure and creating a wonderful reading experience for both children and adults alike. I read this to my 7 year old daughter, and my 10 year old daughter read it for herself; both of them were captivated by the story. My 7 year old loved the idea of two princesses being such close friends, and my 10 year old loved all of the action and suspense in the story. I enjoyed the Norse mythology woven into the tale. It’s a wonderful family story. I will be reading it to my sons next!” ~ 5 Star Review, Rebecca F., Amazon

“When I first looked into this book, I was sure that the world of fairy tales had been overdone so many times that I wouldn’t see much difference between this one & my other classic favorites that I enjoyed over the years with my children… However, I was proven wrong.. This is such a beautiful and entrancing fairy tale! Mr. Clarke takes the often repetitive world of fairy tales and adds an elegant, dramatic twist to it, producing an epic and moving adventure that children will forever cherish! My daughter and I read it together and had many nights where we just didn’t want to put it down! His characters, including the feisty Silya, are memorable and seem so very real! It’s a hard thing to do that with children’s fairy tales and again, I commend Mr. Clarke for releasing a wonderful new fairy tale to pass on to generations to come!” ~ 5 Star Review, Vicky R., Amazon

About the Author: James Bradley Clarke

James Bradley Clarke

James Bradley Clarke

James Bradley Clarke is a graduate of Hiram College, The University of Houston, and the University of Michigan. He currently resides in Oxford, Ohio, where he works as an academic librarian for Miami University. He grew up near Ann Arbor, Michigan, and he has spent most of his life in the Great Lakes region.

The Bifrost Bridge is Clarke’s first work of fiction. The children’s book was first developed as stories Clarke started telling to his two daughters back in the summer of 2003. Both girls shared a love for classic princess fairy tales, so he invented original princess characters for both of them. As residents in Riverside, Illinois, Clarke’s family lived in walking distance of the Brookfield Zoo where the girls regularly admired the Norwegian fjord horses. When he learned this ancient breed of horse was used by the Vikings, a specific medieval setting for the stories came into focus.

As a Hiram College student, Clarke had developed a love for the epic poems of Homer and Virgil, so he chose to borrow from mythology to provide magical elements. The girls became instantly enamored with these stories and they insisted on developing new adventures for the two Nordic princess characters. The first draft of a manuscript was produced during the summer of 2005. Clarke’s daughters were delighted with the bound copy they received as a Christmas gift later that year, so he began the process of becoming an author. Clarke has a love for history and a taste for plot driven stories about extraordinary individualism. Themes of fortitude and self-determination lay at the heart of Clarke’s writing interests.

Facebook (Book Fan Page) | Facebook (Author Fan Page) | Goodreads

* $25 Book Blast Giveaway *

Prize: $25 Amazon Gift Card or PayPal cash (winner’s choice)

Contest runs: February 10 to March 9, 11:59 pm, 2014

Open: Internationally

How to enter: Please enter using the Rafflecopter widget below.

Terms and Conditions: NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW. A winner will be randomly drawn through the Rafflecopter widget and will be contacted by email within 48 hours after the giveaway ends. The winner will then have 72 hours to respond. If the winner does not respond within 72 hours, a new draw will take place for a new winner. Odds of winning will vary depending on the number of eligible entries received. This contest is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Facebook. This giveaway is sponsored by the author, James Bradley Clarke and is hosted and managed by Renee from Mother Daughter Book Reviews. If you have any additional questions – feel free to send and email to Renee(at)MotherDaughterBookReviews(dot)com.

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Different Kind of Knight: Princess of Valendria Series by Mary Waibel

different-kind-of-knight-333x500Through a twist of fate, Princess Gabrielle became First Knight of the King’s Elite Guard, a position always held by the second born male. She’s spent years proving to the Minsters of Faldaera she is capable of leading the king’s Army.

When mythical creatures plague her kingdom, Rielle is sent to capture Captain Brody, the alleged culprit behind the attacks and the man who broke her heart four years ago.

Brody, Crown Prince of Delphine, is living in self-imposed exile, atoning for the sins of his father. But Fate has different plans for him. Tired, beaten down, and ready to give up on life, he is tossed into the path of the one person he would do anything for―Princess Gabrielle.

With a traitor in her ranks, and a mark on her head, Brody joins forces with Rielle, hoping to keep the woman he loves safe.

Happily-ever-after is not guaranteed, and mythical creatures aren’t the only danger the couple face. As battles rage, Rielle has the chance to prove herself a capable leader, but will doing so cost her the love of her life?

Excerpt

Brody lifted his tankard and took a swallow of the bitter brew, wishing he could drown his sorrows away. He knew from experience it was the worst thing to do. Not only would his problems still be there the next day, but if experience held out, they would be worse. A raging headache and upset stomach interfered too much with crewing a ship.

“We could stay here a few more days, if you want,” Ruprecht said.

Brody raised a brow. “Are you reading my mind now?”

“No. I’ve just seen that look before.”

Before Brody could say anything, the door opened. A young woman, dressed in field armor, stepped inside with two knights flanking her. Her gaze swept the room, drifting past him, before returning and locking on him, eyes widening in surprise.

Brody cursed under his breath, recognition dawning as she exchanged words with the two men. The older one shook his head and crossed his arms over his chest. The younger tapped a hand to his chest and slipped out the door. He couldn’t hear what she said, but by the flush that crept into the knight’s face, he was certain she hadn’t liked him disobeying her order.

Of all the people in Faldaera, she was the last person he ever thought to see. She should be at Griffonvul Castle, training with the men, not out for a pint. Surely her appearance here was a coincidence. Or was it? Had his aunt somehow learned of their stolen moment in the garden four years ago? He wouldn’t put it past her to have set something up with the princess.

As she stalked to his table, he took the opportunity to study her. Eyes, like honey flecked with chocolate, looked at him, a flicker of hurt in their amber depths. He wondered at it briefly as he studied the rest of her.

Strands of golden blonde hair pulled loose from her braid. Dirt and dried blood smeared her face and her leathers, as if she had ridden here from the battlefield. She was far from the beautiful princess he had danced with under the stars, but she still made his pulse jump.

“You.”

The derision filled word rang in the room, drawing the attention of his men. They shifted in their seats, hands drifting to weapons. He knew he need only give the sign and they would detain her.

“Princess Gabrielle. What a pleasant surprise.” He smirked, the twist of his lips blossoming into a full smile when her eyes narrowed.

“Surprise?” She laughed, the sound wrapping around him and squeezing his heart. “I don’t think so. What are you doing in Faldaera?”

He took a sip of ale, studying her over the mug. “Just passing through.” When she frowned, he decided to see how far he could push her. “Were you hoping I’d drop by the castle for a visit?”

“Hardly,” she replied, dryly. “Besides, you’d have a hard time finding me there, anyway.”

“Too busy out playing knight?”

“Playing?” The man at her side said, his hands flexing as if he’d like to take a swipe at Brody. “Do you have any idea to whom you are speaking?”

Brody grinned and winked at Rielle. “Oh, I know exactly to whom I’m speaking.”

“Then you should be more respectful,” the knight said.

“I apologize if I have offended you, Your Highness.”

Brody tipped his head forward, a lock of brown hair falling in his eye. He brushed it back just in time to catch Rielle rolling her eyes.

“It would take more than that to offend me. However, my men are a bit touchier on the subject than I am. You’d be wise to be careful with your words.”

Ah, she still had the same rapier wit he’d sampled the last time they met. He wondered if her kisses were still as sweet. If her skin was still as soft. If she would melt in his arms like she had that night.

“My father has requested an audience with you.”

Her words snapped him out of his thoughts. “Me? Whatever for?”

She laughed again, but this time it was a hollow, mirthless sound. “You truly thought no one would put the pieces together and figure it out?”

“Figure what out?”

“Your arrival in Faldaera corresponds perfectly with the increase in creature attacks. Then there’s the trident marking on their manacles. What are you after, Captain Brody?”

He grinned, relieved she hadn’t used his real title. Then her words registered, and he stared, stunned she would think Delphine responsible for what was happening here.

“I thought you knew me better.”

“So did I,” she whispered.

He swore he could see pain in her eyes, and he hated to think he had put it there.

“I have my orders. Will you come willingly?”

He looked at the man at her side again and grinned. “Traveling light, Princess?”

“My other men will be here soon.”

“Ah, but mine are here now.” He leaned forward. “Who do you think would win?”

Her face paled, and for a moment, he thought he’d gone too far.

“You’ve never seen me fight, Captain.”

“There’s a first time for everything. Do you remember our other firsts?” Her cheeks tinged, and she swayed. Brody frowned. “Are you all right?”

She looked up at him, and he saw fear in her eyes. Her mouth opened, but no sound came out.

“Rielle?”

Her eyes rolled back as her body went limp. Brody jumped to his feet, scooping her into her arms before she collided with the floor.

Books in this series:

Quest of the Hart (MuseItUp)

Charmed Memories (MuseItUp)

Different Kind of Knight (MuseItUp, 1/31/14)

Faery Marked (BookFishBooks, 2014)

Visit the author online at marywaibel.blogspot.com

Guest Book Review: The Shadow of the Trojan Horse by Wendy Leighton-Porter

horse

Publisher: Mauve Square Publishing
Language: English
ASIN: B009NUKBRA
Genre: Juvenile fiction, adventure, fantasy, mythology, history
Size: 236 pages
Age group: 10-13

Five Stars

Jemima and Joe Lancelot, along with their talking cat Max, and their best friend Charlie, are off on another adventure. The twins live with their Uncle Richard since their parents’ mysterious disappearance several months earlier. Only the children and Max know what really happened—Mr. and Mrs. Lancelot, with the aid of a mysterious book, have become trapped in the past. Using the book and a special key, the kids are desperately dipping in and out of time to track down the adults. Oddly enough, when Uncle Richard gives them their (eleventh) birthday presents—an Xbox game of the Trojan War for Joe and a special charm bracelet for Jemima as well as a book on Troy—it is more than enough of a hint as to where they are going next. The kids, Charlie, and Max end up in the middle of the Trojan War. They do their best to stay alive, find out more about where the twins’ parents were last seen, and do all they can to turn the tide of events in a war that has been raging for ten years.

I love this series and have become hooked on it since book one, The Shadow of Atlantis. Max is really coming into his own, and the adventures would not be the same without him. This time, Max has a significant role to play, although his efforts to help end in disaster. However, in one of the funniest scenes of the book, he gets the chance to make amends although it’s not quite the heroic role he anticipated. Dressed as Hermes, the winged messenger of the gods, Max tries to intervene to alter the fortunes of war. Alas, one cannot change the past, and those who must perish cannot be saved. Once again, author Wendy Leighton-Porter skilfully weaves a world of mythology, fantasy, and fact, and immerses her young protagonists slap bang in the middle of Homer’s epic poem, The Iliad.

The adventure is a turning point for the kids and Max as they face the reality of brutal war, death, and destruction when Troy falls through treachery. The author conveys a subtle message about violence that will help kids decide what is and is not acceptable. Other life lessons come when they realise they cannot turn the tide of history. For once, they are mere small pawns in a gigantic battle involving no less than the gods of Olympus, who prove to be as weak and fickle as the humans whose lives they dominate. The kids learn about human qualities, some good, some bad: King Priam’s pride and stubbornness; Hector’s bravery, Agamemnon’s cruelty, Cassandra’s compassion and self-sacrifice. I found a change in the series at this point, as the book embraces deeper, darker, and more mature themes. The author does a wonderful job of not sugar coating significant events and life’s realities.

However, all is not lost, history is fulfilled, and the kids return with a fragment of information on the adults’ whereabouts. Cassandra’s gift of prophecy has given them a glimmer of hope. Back home, Uncle Richard—hugely impressed by their avid interest in history and archaeology—provides them with some reassuring facts about the final fate of several characters. In addition, some interesting changes emerge on the domestic front. Uncle Richard and Charlie’s mum Ellen are going out for a drink! Could this be something significant? We’ll have to wait and see what transpires in the next adventure…

A helpful map, pronunciation guide, a list of characters, and the author’s note placing Homer, Troy, history, and Greek mythology in context will add to young readers’ enjoyment. If you are a parent wanting to get your kids entranced with reading, start them on this series. It’s a great learning curve, with fun, action, adventure, and a unique story line.

Purchase at Amazon!

Reviewer’s bio: Fiona Ingram is an award-winning middle grade author who is passionate about getting kids interested in reading. Find out more about Fiona and her books on www.FionaIngram.com. She reviews books for the Jozikids Blog.