THE WORD CHANGERS

by Ashlee Willis
Christian Fantasy, Young Adult

Escaping from the turmoil of her home, fifteen-year-old Posy finds herself at her usual haunt … the library. When she chooses an unfamiliar book from the shelf, she does not devour its words as she usually does.



Its words devour her.



Posy is pulled into the pages of a fairy tale in turmoil. Characters whisper of rebellion against their Plot. And Posy must find a lost princess whose role in the story is crucial, before her own role in the book comes to a horrible end.



With the Prince Kyran as a reluctant companion, Posy ventures past the Borders of the Plot, into the depths of the treacherous Wild Land forest that lies beyond. Secrets are buried there, dangerous and deadly.

  Yet the deadliest danger of all is the one Posy carries within herself.

  Soon it’s clear that finding the lost princess is the least of Posy’s concerns. The Author of the book must be found. His Plot must be put to rights again, his characters reminded of who they were first created to be. Only then will the True Story be written, both for Posy, and for the tale she has now become a part of.

"I loved this story from cover to cover. I cannot even begin to tell you how original, fresh, unique, and intriguing it is! So many of the concepts and plot twists in this book blew me away and enchanted me in the same breath."~Amazon reviewer

"It takes the reading experience to a whole new level!"~Amazon reviewer

"This book has a great Christian allegory. If you like C.S. Lewis, this book is for you."~Amazon reviewer

Available on Amazon and through Conquest Publishers

CIR: What inspired this unusual tale?
WILLIS: When I was a child, I would peek through the gaps of books on the shelves of my local library and pretend that I could see the “worlds” of books there beyond them. I even went so far as to picture the characters of the books, miniature-sized, walking along the edges of the bookshelves, emerging from the pages. I think that was the true beginning of my inspiration for The Word Changers, although over the years, and especially after I began writing it, it evolved into something deeper and more meaningful.

CIR: What themes do you address in this book?
WILLIS: The Word Changers is a Christian allegory, similar (in that particular way) to the Chronicles of Narnia. In my book, the Author of the book that Posy falls into wants his characters to trust in the story he has written for them, instead of trying to take control of it themselves, which only ever leads to ruin. There are strong themes of forgiveness in this book, as Posy struggles to understand the difficulties of her broken home, and navigate her way through a fairy tale that is crueler than she ever could have imagined.

CIR: What do you hope readers will take away from The Word Changers?
WILLIS: I love to read fantasy myself. But what I always look for in my absolute favorite books is a deeper meaning that I can carry with me long after I close the book. I hope that The Word Changers is a tale like that – one with not only an entertaining story, but with a lasting message that can be taken to heart.  I would like readers to see hope and forgiveness in their own lives as they read about it in Posy’s. And I hope that, even in a small part, The Word Changers will give them a bit more courage to search for their own stories, the ones they were created for.

Learn more about Ashlee Willis and her writing on her website.

MURDER OFFSTAGE

by L. B. Hathaway
Cozy Mystery, Historical



When Posie Parker’s childhood friend is robbed of a priceless jewel and becomes a suspect in a cold-blooded murder case, budding detective Posie vows she will clear his name.  Aided by her seriously gorgeous assistant Len, Posie soon realizes things are not quite as they seem, and the darkly-glamorous world of London’s theatre and glittering nightclubs proves far more dangerous than she ever could have imagined. 

Just who exactly is the dangerous Lucky Lucy Gibson? And why has she killed the first violin player of the local theatre? And more importantly, what on earth has happened to Mr Minks, the much-loved office cat?

"If you enjoy a fast-paced cozy 'thriller' which doesn't stop to dissemble with graphic scenes and doesn't distract with eye-damaging language, you'll love Posie Parker in Murder Offstage."~Amazon reviewer

"Funny and touching by turns."~Amazon reviewer

"This novel is well-written, well-edited, a first class cozy worthy of Agatha Christie."~Amazon reviewer

Available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble

CIR: Where did you get the inspiration for this mystery?
HATHAWAY: Murder Offstage is set in 1920s London. I grew up in London; I worked in London and I fell in love in, and with London. For me it remains a truly magical city, full of teeming colours and stories, not to mention the people you meet everyday.  London is a hugely fertile place for a historical novel (or in my case a series of novels) to be set in.  I have always loved cozy- crime novels, and especially  Golden Age of Crime novels and for me the 1920s and 1930s is a particularly special and interesting time in English history. The decision to base my Posie Parker Cozy Mystery Series during that time-frame and in central London was therefore relatively easy. It seemed a perfect match.

CIR: Tell us about Posie Parker.
HATHAWAY: Posie Parker, a budding detective and lead character, is a girl who has managed to get through the First World War shaken but not stirred. But, like almost 2 million other women in the UK, she has lost nearly all the men in her life, including her brother and her boyfriend. She has also lost any financial stability she once had. Forced to start over again, she sets up a Detective Agency in the centre of London town.  She’s feisty and brave with it, and she has to look out for herself. She’s looking out for love too, perhaps impossibly... who knows?

CIR: What would you compare the book to?
HATHAWAY: Anything by Agatha Christie, period cozy crimes such as those written by Frances Brody, Nicola Upson or perhaps even the Masie Dodds series.

CIR: What do you hope your readers get out of this book?
HATHAWAY: A good cozy crime for a start! But also a sense of London in the 1920s: what really fascinates me about 1920s London just after the First World War is that you have all these girls who have to re-invent themselves, one way or another. It's a time of huge opportunity (women had just got the vote!) not to mention huge doses of glamour (the dresses! the music! the Charlston!). But it's also a time of sadness and re-adjustment too-a whole generation of English men had just been wiped out, after all. 

Learn more about L. B. Hathaway and her writing at www.lbhathaway.com

THE LOST ROAD CHRONICLES

by J. Leigh Bralick
Young Adult Fantasy


Book 1: Down a Lost Road

Every family has its secrets. For 16-year-old Merelin Lindon, the only secret her family ever had was the reason behind her father's mysterious disappearance, four years ago. But when an old family friend gives her a small artifact that once belonged to her father, Merelin discovers just how deep the family secrets run. Without any warning, she finds herself swept into a strange world mysteriously linked to Earth's mythical past—a world with no remembrance of its own history, tottering on the brink of a devestating war with an enemy it cannot recall. As Merelin begins to understand her own place in this world, she learns that her father may have held the key to unraveling all the mysteries. With the help of a fascinating and sometimes infuriating young man named Yatol, she chooses to hazard everything, to suffer things she never imagined, in a foolhardy quest to rescue her father and save his people. But it may cost her more than she can imagine...

"Tolkien-esque in the style of writing. Has the potential to be quite the epic fantasy series."~Amazon reviewer

"The characters really came alive in my imagination."~Amazon reviewer

"I only purchased the book a few months ago, and already I've read it several times."~Amazon reviewer

Available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble (E-book versions are free!)


Book 2: Subverter

Arah Byen stands on the edge of disaster. A year has passed since the judgment of the Ungulion, and Merelin Lindon is beginning to believe she will never return to the world she loved. But when she begins to suffer from strange visions of a life and a love she left behind—visions that grow darker and harsher with each passing day—she begins to understand that her role in Arah Byen is far from over. A new enemy has crept from the shadows, plotting the overthrow of all that Merelin holds dear. And at his side is the rhesep, a mysterious, deadly assassin who challenges everything Merelin believed to be true. With everything turned upside-down and nothing as it seems, Merelin must discover whose side she is really on, and who she can trust, before it is too late. But how can she know who to trust, when she isn't even sure she can trust herself?

"Very intense and extremely entertaining. I couldn't wait to see what was going to happen next."~Amazon reviewer

"As I read, I could feel the anxiety, loneliness, excitement, desperation and hope of the characters."~Amazon reviewer

"The universe J. Leigh created is rich and fascinating."~Amazon reviewer

Available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble


Book 3: Prism

They called her Prism, as if that was her name. Forced to take on a new identity to protect herself from a still-angry people, Merelin Lindon wants nothing more than to help bring the world of Arah Byen into some kind of balance. But nothing is going as planned. Just when Merelin believes things can't get any worse, she is framed for a terrible crime, and deserted by those who should have defended her. But Merelin soon realizes that she is not the victim of a horrible plot, but just one more pawn in a deadly game she never really understood. In the game immortals play, nothing she has seen or learned can prepare her for the truths about to be revealed. In the coming war she cannot stand alone. But can she bring her allies together before it is too late?

"It really transports you everywhere the characters find themselves. I have never found such an enjoyable, exciting or interesting series."~Amazon reviewer

"This was a well thought out plot with characters that were witty and easy to identify with."~Amazon reviewer

"She paints such a vivid picture with her words that you just become a part of the world she creates. One of my new favorite authors!"~Amazon reviewer

Available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble

CIR: What is the main character like?
BRALICK: Merelin Lindon is a feisty character with the bad habit of saying the wrong thing at the wrong time (which often gets her into trouble).  She starts out with a lot of uncertainty and self-doubt, doing her best to accomplish a mission she doesn't really understand in a foreign world she doesn't really know.  As the series progresses, she comes into her own, finding herself in this new world, and learning that she is strong.  Yatol, the other main character, is one of those guys who puts on a good show of being strong and confident, while inside he is really a bit broken and haunted by his past.  I had a lot of fun with the Kindle version of Down a Lost Road because I wrote a couple of scenes from his perspective which are linked from within the story.  It was fascinating to get inside his head a bit and see what was really going on there.

CIR: The reviews are very good.  What do you think makes the series outstanding?
BRALICK: I would say that the world of Arah Byen is pretty unique.  I had gotten a little bit tired of the rather standard medieval-style fantasy worlds, and "medieval" didn't fit the backstory/mythos of this world at all, anyway.  So Arah Byen is much more ancient.  It feels a bit like a fusion of ancient Greek, Egyptian, and Middle Eastern cultures -- but at the same time it's totally unique, with a beautiful, alien and sometimes harsh landscape.  Its history weaves in some interesting mythology too, including the Atlantis myth and even J.R.R. Tolkien's invented mythology.

CIR: What themes do you address in this book?
BRALICK: Identity is a huge theme in the series, from Merelin learning the truth of her own history in the first book to her discovering (and accepting) her purpose in Arah Byen through the rest of the series.  Even Yatol, who seems so sure of himself on the outside, is always fighting to come to terms with his identity (and his past).  Friendship and loyalty are also important themes -- do you abandon your friends even when they appear to have abandoned you?  How much would you sacrifice to protect the people you care about?  And finally, forgiveness and redemption are two themes that recur throughout the series, sometimes in subtle ways, sometimes dramatically.

CIR: Is there any content that some readers might find questionable despite the overall "clean" feel of the book?  
BRALICK: The books are pretty squeaky clean.  There is an occasional very mild expletive.  There is a quiet romance that slowly grows throughout the series, but it's very understated, very much "hands off"...one reader described my approach to romance as "slow burning relationships to the point where you're just dying for them to finally get together."  There are some mildly intense moments with some evil characters, especially in the first book (which is a bit more fantastical than the next two), but they are not explicitly grotesque or horrific.

CIR: Reviewers were split, half thinking the series is over, half begging for more.  What's the verdict?
BRALICK: This is a complete trilogy, but I may be revisiting the world of Arah Byen in future books, either as prequels to this series, or finding new and interesting stories from other time periods in its history.

Learn more about J. Leigh Bralick at www.jleighbralick.com