Interview with J. L. Clark, Author of The Avalon Relics: Lilith Links

J.L. ClarkDr. Jennifer Yen Clark, or J.L. Clark, began her writing career in the fourth grade, when her teacher took the detective story she wrote and turned it into a short printed book as a gift to her. The encouragement of her teacher, as well as her love for reading and telling stories, kept her writing about the worlds that existed in her imagination. In her young adult years, J.L. began writing short stories, poetry, and fan-fiction starring strong and intelligent girls and women. J.L. was recently inspired to write The Avalon Relics after being introduced to several young adult series that depicted weak heroines and unhealthy relationships. Recalling her own young adult reading experience and the dearth of relatable heroines, she set out to create a series of books that would not only engage and entertain, but offer a refreshing and empowering take on fictional heroines.

J.L. Clark resides in Houston, Texas with her family. She splits her time between academia and private practice, specializing in child and adolescent psychiatry. She is an assistant professor of psychiatry at UT Health Medical School, and a clinical assistant professor at Baylor College of Medicine. Outside of work, she is continually contributing to her body of work, posting short stories and fan-fiction on social media outlets for enjoyment.

Her latest book is the YA fantasy, The Avalon Relics: Lilith Links.

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Where did you grow up?

I moved a lot as a child.  I was born in Taipei, Taiwan, and lived there with my family and extended relatives until I was just shy of eight.  I then immigrated to the United States with my parents, and lived briefly in Chicago, Richardson, and finally, Plano, Texas.

When did you begin writing? 

I started writing in the fourth grade, after a wonderful teacher of mine began encouraging me to express my imagination through words.  After I had gifted her a short mystery story to show my appreciation, she came back with a printed copy for me to keep, and read it to the class.  

Do you write during the day, at night or whenever you can sneak a few moments?

I have a full time job as a doctor, so I do pretty much write at night, or on the weekends when I have downtime.  Sometimes if the story is begging to be told, I will sneak in some sentences between patients!

What is this book about? 

This book follows the life of Sophia Bennett, a young woman who discovers on her eighteenth birthday that there is a hidden world inhabited by half-fairy, half-human beings called faeids.  She is quickly drawn into an ancient battle between good and evil through a series of shocking events, and ends up joining forces with a group of faeids trying to save their realm from the Dark Ones.  Along the way, Sophia discovers that everything she thought she knew about her life was wrong, and must come to terms with who she really is. 

What inspired you to write it?Lilith Links 2 

I love to read, and when the surge in YA books began several years ago, I read them just like everyone else.  Although the stories were very entertaining, it bothered me that there were so many lead female characters that were one-dimensional, flat, and helpless.  For those that started out the story with a perfect life, they make poor decisions that jeopardize themselves.  For those who start out struggling, they found their happy ending only after getting involved with someone.  Very few of these characters were realistic, like the teenagers that I see every day at work, and rarely did any of them grow without the help of someone else.  I really wanted to write a story that resonated with my readers, with characters that were fundamentally flawed but real, and take them on a journey that would allow them to come into their own and become empowered and confident.  I especially wanted to make sure that I had strong female leads who are not afraid to stand up for what they believe in, but at the same time fall on their face and have to pick themselves back up.  Strength comes from being able to recognize what you’ve done wrong and learning from it, and I want my readers to know that it’s okay to make a mistake without being a bad person. 

Who is your favorite character from the book? 

I would have to say Sophia, because she is the girl I would have loved to have been when I was a teenager.  She might not start out as the person she wants to be, but she overcomes challenges and learns from her mistakes as she grows into her own. 

Was the road to publication smooth sailing or a bumpy ride?

I self-published these two books, but I am now working with an agent to get them into the hands of traditional publishers.  It’s definitely been quite a learning experience, but I wouldn’t trade it for the world.  If nothing else, I can say that I scratched off a bucket list item and have books to show for it!

If you knew then, what you know now, is there anything you would have done differently?

I think the only thing I would consider changing is to possibly split Lailan Crown into two books.  It is already quite long as is, but I feel like I left out so much rich backstory behind the characters that you meet along the way.  Maybe one day in the future, I’ll rework it and give my readers a peek into their lives.

Where can readers purchase a copy of your book? 

The first two books in The Avalon Relics series, Lilith Links and Lailan Crown, are available in print or eBook on Amazon and Barnes and Noble (online store only).  You can also get the eBooks from Google Play. 

Do you have a video trailer to promote your book?  If yes, where can readers find it?

We will be working on that soon!  If you want to know about it first, make sure you connect with me via a social media outlet!

What is the best investment you have made in promoting your book?

I have to say that investing in my agent has been the best decision in promoting my book.  It is a tough situation to be a self-published author, and having someone who knows the ropes and can make the connections really helps.  Having an agent who genuinely believes in you and your work gives you a powerful ally who will advocate for you.

What is one piece of advice you would like to share with aspiring authors everywhere?

I get asked a lot about how to start writing your own book.  I find that it’s really helpful to start with a character.  Imagine what you want that character to be like: their appearance, their personality, and their quirks.  Once you have that character in mind, think about where they came from, what their family is like, who are their friends, and what is going on in their lives.  Once you start thinking about those things, a story may unfold in front of your eyes and take you to down the path to your book!

What is up next for you?

I have a lot going on!  I am about to start work on book three, entitled Amulet of Morgana, which will pick up where Lailan Crown left off.  I am so excited for my readers to see the final product, which I promise will be just as exciting, if not more, than the last two books.  I also am collaborating with a local gaming company here in Houston to author a series of origin storybooks for their newest tabletop game, Fairytale Games: Battle Royale.  I will be providing all the backstories for their characters, as well as providing the dialogue and storyboarding for the mobile RPG they will be developing from the same game.  As a sneak peek, I am also toying with a dystopian science fiction YA series idea that has been banging around in my head recently.  So much to do, so little time, and I can’t wait for all of you to be part of it!


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The Adventures of Princess Janai and the Warrior Maidens of Quinu: The Cities of Tonga and Tongia by Sherel Ott

book coverAll Janai wants is to be just like everyone else. Being the Princess and having to try out for the Warrior Maidens is just part of her problems. She has the present Warrior leader unhappy with the fact that she is trying out, because that means her time is almost up and she enjoys her “status” too much to give it up without a fight. Not to mention someone just froze two of her guards into living statues with the fabled Mist Flowers of Tonga. Now she and a small group of warriors must travel to a forbidden city and obtain the antidote before the two guards are lost forever…all in 24 hours. Is she capable? Will she make it in time?

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1st Prize: $50 gift certificate and signed copy of The Adventures of Princess Janai and the Warrior Maidens of Quinu: The Cities of Tonga and Tongia
2nd Prize: $25 gift certificate and signed copy of The Adventures of Princess Janai and the Warrior Maidens of Quinu: The Cities of Tonga and Tongia
3rd Prize: $10 gift certificate and signed copy of The Adventures of Princess Janai and the Warrior Maidens of Quinu: The Cities of Tonga and Tongia

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An eclectic collector of animation movies, Sherel Ott is a writer of fantasy and romance stories. One day while watching an animated movie, she noticed that DSC_1557 Headshot2athere weren’t a lot of movies or books with girls of color in leading roles…as heroines, adventurers or with strong moral characters and wondered… Where were the influential leaders, doctors, lawyers or royalty of color? Why weren’t there any strong black female characters where a girl of color could be proud of her skin color and the type of person representing and say … “I want to be like her!” Wanting something more for her own nieces to look up to and strive to emulate, other than what girls of color were currently being portrayed as or should settle for is how her book initially took form. She wanted to show that there are black princesses, warriors, adventurers of all walks of life. That she should be and can be recognized for what she does and who her true self is, not be prejudged by what color her skin was.

As a fan of all fantasy, magical, mystical, celestial and other worldly creatures, Sherel began reading sci-fi/fantasy stories at a young age.

“I have always been a sci-fi and fantasy type of person. I always felt as a child that I belonged in those types of worlds rather than here. Reading them had always been my way of escaping from my shyness as a child.” Sherel Ott. She had started collecting fairies of all types and now has a mini collection of collectible faery ornament to decorate her Christmas tree every year.

Sherel creates her stories first by writing them out and then typing them on the computer. She feels she gets her inspiration greatest when she writes and from nature itself. She strives to present her stories in a way that anyone can relate and identify with no matter how old or young…with a little fun, a little action/adventure, yet with a hidden message. Writing since the age of 14, her first published book–Adventures of Princess Janai and the Warrior Maidens of Quinu: The Cities of Tonga and Tongia — brings a story of strong African American females. It’s an adventure series particularly geared towards girls, although boys will also find it an enjoyable read.

When Sherel is not writing, she is working as a full-time Family Nurse Practitioner and has been so for the past 17 years. She presently resides in Felton, DE.

Social Links:


Facebook:  Sherel Ott Author

Twitter:  @SherelOttAuthor


New Release: Famous Last Words by Jennifer Salvato Doktorski



Sixteen-year-old Samantha D’Angelo has death on the brain. Her summer internship at the local newspaper has her writing obituaries instead of soaking up the sun at the beach. Between Shelby, Sam’s boy-crazy best friend; her boss Harry, a true-blue newspaper man; and AJ, her fellow “intern scum” (aka the cute drummer for a band called Love Gas), Sam has her hands full. But once she figures out what–or who–is the best part of her summer, will she mess it all up?

As Sam learns her way around both the news room and the real world, she starts to make some momentous realizations about politics, ethics, her family, romance, and most important–herself.

  • Age Range: 12 – 18 years
  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Square Fish; Reprint edition (July 28, 2015)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1250063124
  • ISBN-13: 978-1250063120

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’89 Walls by Katie Pierson


’89 Walls by Katie Pierson is a must read for young adults who want a moving, emotional read that speaks to issues that were important then and remain so today.

Quinn has a charmed life. She’s a beautiful, upper middle class young woman from a conservative family, and has a bright future ahead. Oh, and she has a great boyfriend too. It’s that cynical, liberal guy from her social studies class that could derail all that.

Seth knows college is just a dream. Between working his minimum wage job to put groceries on the table and caring for his mother who has MS, there isn’t time to think about anything else. He knows Quinn is out of his league, but he can’t help but carry around that frayed love note he wrote so long ago.

Their romance takes them by surprise, and when politics becomes personal, neither one of them is sure their love will survive.

As I said earlier in the week, this book has beef. Late ’80s politics plays a big role in this book, and I feel the author did a superb job of handling those issues and making them relate to all the characters. This is when the Cold War is ending, Apartheid is in the news, and the Berlin Wall comes crumbling down. This is an intense book both for the characters and for the world as it was back then.

By the end, I was crying. And I have to admit, the author made me consider an issue in a different light. I can’t share it without revealing an important plot point, so I’ll just tell you that this is a fabulous novel and I would highly recommend it.

Rating: :) :) :) :) :)

Paperback: 264 pages
Publisher: Wise Ink Creative Publishing (June 8, 2015)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1940014557
ISBN-13: 978-1940014555

I received a copy of this book from the author through Pump Up Your Book. This review contains my honest opinions, which I have not been compensated for in any way.


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’89 Walls by Katie Pierson


Today was supposed to be my review of ’89 Walls by Katie Pierson. I’m only about halfway through with it, because I was playing catch up with reviews on vacation. Since we’ve returned home, I’ve been working crazy hours. Here’s a bit about the book:

College is not in the cards for Seth. He spends his minimum wage on groceries and fakes happiness to distract his mom from the MS they both know will kill her. It’s agony to carry around a frayed love note for a girl who’s both out of his league and beneath his dignity.

Quinn’s finishing high school on top. But that cynical, liberal guy in her social studies class makes her doubt her old assumptions. Challenging the rules now, though, would a) squander her last summer at home, b) antagonize her conservative dad, and c) make her a hypocrite.

Seth and Quinn’s passionate new romance takes them both by surprise. They keep it a secret: it’s too early to make plans and too late not to care. But it’s 1989. As politics suddenly get personal, they find themselves fighting bare-fisted for their beliefs—and each other—in the clear light of day.

Let me just say that my lack of progress has nothing to do with its content or ability to engage the reader. I love what I’ve read so far. Not only does the story take place when I was a mere twenty-one years old (making it nostalgic), but it reminds me of what school used to be like before standardized exams turns educators into unimaginative zombies teaching to a test. There’s “beef” to this book. It’s not just boy likes girl but it will never work. Real conflict is involved: personal conflict and societal conflict.

I’m eager to keep reading and see what happens between Seth and Quinn. Hope you’ll check back on Friday to read my complete review.

Katie Pierson freelances for local non-profits, using her background in public policy and grassroots organizing to overthrow the patriarchy one introverted step at a time. When she’s not writing fiction, she returns library books, makes soup, and tries to be cooler than she really is by hip-hopping at the YMCA. She earned a Bachelor’s Degree in American History from the University of Pennsylvania (where she dabbled briefly in being a College Republican) and a Master’s in American History from the University of Minnesota. She grew up in Lincoln, Nebraska, and now lives with her family in a suburb of Minneapolis. ’89 Walls is her first novel.

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Free for Kindle: True Calling by Siobhan Davis



Planet Novo, nestled in space twelve hundred miles above the surface of the Earth, is the new home of 17-year-old Cadet Ariana Skyee. Confused by the government-sanctioned memory erase and distressed at her impending forced marriage and motherhood, Ariana’s plans for the future are thrown into complete disarray.

As the traumatic events within her family life enfold, Ariana grows increasingly alarmed at the authorities apparent pre-occupation with her and feels progressively more isolated and alone.

Her growing feelings for fellow Cadet Cal Remus intensify as the recently announced pageant, ‘The Calling’, gets underway. Struggling to comprehend the continuous, inexplicable dreams of the mysterious Zane, discovering the past helps shape her future, with devastating personal consequences.


File Size: 961 KB
Print Length: 410 pages
Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
Publisher: Siobhan Davis; 2 edition (January 28, 2015)
Publication Date: January 28, 2015
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
Language: English
Purchase here!

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