Interview with A.F. Stewart

Today I am happy to talk with A.F. Stewart about her new trilogy that is finally all out. Check out what she had to say!

Hello and welcome. Tell us a little bit about yourself and what you write.

I’m from Nova Scotia, Canada, and I lead an average boring life. I’m a homebody, a geek, and my great weekly adventure is usually navigating the grocery store. I write fantasy, horror and poetry, watch TV, read, and occasionally go out to the movies. I’ve published a few books that include my epic fantasy trilogy, a few fantasy and horror novellas, collections of short stories, and six volumes of poetry.


When did you start writing and what inspired you to write?

I’ve been writing since I was a child, scribbling stories, poems, even an ill-conceived attempt at songwriting. My imagination doesn’t shut off, and ideas have always bounced around in my head.  


Now I know you like to write horror and dark fiction, what draws you to these darker sides?

The psychological aspects of the darker side of human beings fascinate me. What makes people go to extremes, their motivations for violence, etc. Also, I like exploring the more primal mythologies, the things we fear, the things that go bump in the night.  


You also write poetry, tell us how that affects your prose writing.

I suppose it influences the descriptive passages of my writing, making them a bit more fanciful and flowery. For me, though, they are mostly separate things.


What are some of your favorite themes to write about? What draws you to them?

I like using the theme of consequences in my writing and ideas like obsession and secrecy. Following the thread of one act creating a ripple effect or exploring how one person’s actions can damage the people around them is dissecting the human condition. Most everything we do interacts with or effects someone else, even if it is in small non-consequential ways. I just make those interactions a bit more dramatic than normal.


Who is your favorite character you’ve ever written and why? Tell us a bit about them.

I’ve written several fun characters, but Balthazar (from my Killers and Demons series) is special; writing his character, I can go all out with the evil. He’s an immortal demon who loves his job (he hunts down escaped souls from Hell) and has no morals at all. He doesn’t believe in mercy, hates humans, is vain about his appearance, and loves fine wine. He does, however, have an aversion to cats, cat videos, and cat memes and generally avoids all things feline.


Who is your favorite author and how have they influenced your writing?

I have a tie for my favourite author between Neil Gaiman and Guy Gavriel Kay. They are both marvellous writers and I think their lyrical styles influenced me, as well as Neil Gaiman’s dark themes and Guy Gavriel Kay’s tragic characters. However, the one writer who had the most influence on my writing was Ray Bradbury; his poetic macabre style is brilliant.


What is your all-time favorite book? And why?

It’s hard to pick, but my all-time favourite book would most likely be Sailing to Sarantium by Guy Gavriel Kay. It’s alternate history combined with fantasy wrapped up in this beautiful poetic tragedy and it is brilliant.


Now, you have the third book of your newest trilogy coming out, why don’t you tell us a little bit about the series and about the newest third book.

The series is called Saga of the Outer Islands and takes place in the fictional fantasy world of the Seven Kingdoms and the Outer Islands. The novels follow the adventures of Captain Rafe Morrow (also known as the God of Souls) and the crew of the sailing ship, Celestial Jewel, as they fight sea monsters, dysfunctional gods and a sinister Nightmare Crow. Ghosts, pirates, the navy, witches, and an Oracle also show up in the books.

Book one is Ghosts of the Sea Moon and focuses on gods and ghosts, while book two, Souls of the Dark Sea, has an evil sea monster demi-god, witches, and walking skeletons rising from their watery graves. Book three, Renegades of the Lost Sea, brings the series antagonist, the Nightmare Crow, to the forefront along with some bloodthirsty resurrected-from-the-dead pirates. Also, Rafe’s parents make appearances in book three, particularly his mother, who is Death (and has a backstory with the Nightmare Crow).


What did writing this trilogy in particular teach you?

Most of what I wrote before were standalone books or story collections, so it was a good lesson in plotting out a series.


Where will you go next?

I have several projects in the works, and next up is finishing my new poetry book, Places of Poetry. Then I’ll be working on the first installment of my Obsidian Blade series, a paranormal story of an assassin working in Renaissance Venice. I’ll also be plotting out the rest of my Camelot Immortals series, and working on finishing The Prophecy of Seven, the first book in my fantasy series, Realm of the Fallen. And some time soon, the Hell’s Empire anthology will be released, with my story Infernal Patrol.


Now, where can we stalk you?

I’m over on Twitter:

On BookBub:

I have my own Facebook group:

And I post a bit over on Instagram:

I also have a Patreon page (where I’ll be giving sneak peeks of the Obsidian Blade series):


And lastly, my website:




It is with very real pleasure that I make this announcement today. Along with Isa McLaren and Rebekah Jonesy, I am pleased as punch to say we are launching our new publishing house, Three Furies Press! Three Furies Press already has a focused and dedicated team and authors we are excited to be publishing for 2019 and beyond. Our release schedule starts in April with the re-release of Angelborn on the 11th and the premier release of Heavenfire on the 25th. I cannot wait to get these books out to you and will have more information on these soon. Keep an eye out for buy links for my books and other books published by Three Furies Press.


Three Furies Press is a passion for all of us, and we are taking our experience and expertise with us to this new project. We are dedicated to publishing high quality books and making exciting merchandise. We may expand to other avenues in the future, so keep a watch out for the exciting things we will have coming.


I hope you are all as excited as I am! And look forward to the releases of the Angelborn series coming this month!


In Real Life Events: the setup

IRL Events Continued

A couple of weeks ago we talked about doing IRL events, like signings, talks, and conventions. Now let’s look at what exactly you’ll need for setup. So let’s begin.


What Do You Need?

First you need your setup. This includes things like a tablecloth, runners, signs, banners, a candy bowl, bookmarks, business cards, etc. Let’s take a closer look from here.

Your table setup is super important. It’s what makes you look professional and grabs people’s eye. So make it eye catching while still getting info across. Post excerpts and ads to merchandise for example. Prop up your books on stands as it’s more visually appealing. Show your name off with something like a runner or a banner. Consider making an author logo and/or a series logo for your books to put on your runner or banner. Here’s an example of my signing table at my last event. I often have a sign for my bio with my links on where people can find me online as well as an ad for my merchandise. I do have a runner with my author logo as well. Take a look.


Your handler is the most important thing you’ll need. This person plays a pivotal role. Not only of an assistant to keep the show running smooth, but they will also keep you calm when you’re a bundle of nerves, take photos of you during the event and with your fans, handle the nitty gritty things like collecting the money for your books while you talk to the fans and sign books, and run interference if anything is derailing you. They are also great for talking you and your story up to people who are unsure whether they want to buy. 

You’ll also need things for sales. Change for cash and even a counterfeit pen to check the money coming in. Receipt paper for those who want a receipt. A credit card reader works wonders in this day and age where many don’t carry cash, and they are easy to operate. And a record book to keep track of your sales. 

Other things you may need are things to entice people to your table. Bring cookies or have a candy bowl. Have prizes or swag either to give away or sell. There are lots of different Print on Demand sites where you can have merchandise made. It will draw people over to your table and get them to ask questions about your book. Consider holding a raffle for a prize or two. The prizes could be something as simple as a notebook or coffee mug. Or even a t-shirt. Keep in mind though that you need to make sure you have the right license on your images for your cover before you make merchandise. Otherwise it may cause you legal trouble.


Finally, have what you need to make yourself comfortable. An extra sweater to keep yourself warm, something to drink to keep you hydrated and awake if need be, and snacks to keep your blood sugar up. 


Now you’re all ready for your IRL events! Happy signings!

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Welcome to the big reveal for Heavenfire! Without further ado, here it is!


There’s so much I love about this cover. That the fire looks like wings, which follows the theme we had for the cover of Angelborn. And the colors are amazing! My cover designers did such a fabulous job with this, and I’m so happy with the results.

If you’re interested in learning more about Heavenfire, here’s the blurb:

A divine sword, magic tomes, and uncontrolled power. Can 16-year-old Ginny Gracehurst keep them from an obsessed half-demon?

After retrieving the only thing that could set Jacob’s demon father free, half-angel Ginny has a new mission. She and Aiden are charged with collecting the Eternal Tomes, which teach how to use sigils in the Angelic Tongue.

They are in a race against Jacob and his minions, who can travel anywhere in a matter of seconds. Allowing demonkind to learn those sigils would spell disaster for them all. In order to get what he wants, Jacob needs one more thing besides the Tomes—Ginny herself.

Preorder today for the discounted price at OWS Ink!

In the meantime, happy writing!


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An Interview with Phoebe Darqueling

Hello and welcome to another interview with a great author. Phoebe Darqueling has a couple new books releasing and is here today to talk with us about Riftmaker. So without further ado, let’s get started!

Hello and welcome! I know you from OWS Ink, but why don’t you tell us a little about yourself?


I often refer to myself as a vagabond because I live a very unsettled life. I currently live on the edge of the Black Forest in Germany, but over the past six years or so, I’ve also lived in Bulgaria, Greece, California, Minnesota, and Michigan. Though I love seeing new places, I admit that it does get very tiring learning everything over again. Each new place means different foods, different languages, different friends. When I first heard this song it actually hit me a little too close for comfort…


Luckily for me, being a writer is a completely mobile job and the internet means I get to connect with people no matter where they happen to be sitting at the time.


My background is in Anthropology, Art History, and Museum Studies. I credit Anthropology especially for helping to hone and explore my love sci-fi and fantasy world-building.  


Now, you write a lot in the steampunk genre, can you tell us a little about what steampunk is? What do you enjoy so much about it?


Steampunk got its name in 1987 as a tongue in cheek reference to another literary genre, Cyberpunk. In both cases, the “punk” part of the words referred to taking the status quo and turning it on it’s head. For Cyberpunk, this involved problematizing our growing reliance on computers and how it could shape our society. In Steampunk, it’s the same exercise, only the focus is on the Industrial Revolution and surrounding decades (roughly Queen Victoria’s reign). Steampunk looks to the early sci-fi writers such as Jules Verne, H.G. Wells, and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle for inspiration. After all, they were in the era “punking” it themselves by introducing cutting edge technologies and exploring issues like poverty in their own time. Steampunk continues that tradition, but with the benefit of hindsight.


In the intervening decades, Steampunk has moved off of the pages of books and into lots of different media. Costumes that combine both a modern and Victorian aesthetic are a mainstay of and Steampunk convention. People also build props and gadgets using a mixture of era-appropriate materials, such as wood, glass, and brass, but include battery powered elements and other contemporary tech to achieve the desired effects. You can also go see Steampunk in action on the stage, both as plays and the many different bands that combine the aesthetic and musical styling of the era into their compositions.


And it’s this very complexity that interests me. The history is complex and mired in social issues we have yet to resolve, but then there’s also the fun of creating physical objects and outfits. I love arts and crafts, so the maker side of things is just as exciting to me as the literature. There’s a community aspect to attending conventions, and an effusive positive energy that crackles through the crowd all weekend.  


Do you like to write anything other than steampunk?


If you want to split hairs, my second novel, No Rest for the Wicked, is technically “Gaslamp Fantasy” instead. It doesn’t involve punked tech, and is a bit more like historical fiction with a paranormal twist. I did a ton of research on dialect, train travel, etc. in order to be as accurate as possible. Riftmaker, on the other hand, is total fantasy but does include complicated steam-powered and clockwork machines. So, it fits more firmly in Steampunk.


In general, I am a huge fan of lots of different kinds of science fiction and fantasy, but especially fractured fairy tales. (There’s that “punk” streak again! haha) Later this year, I plan to write a book about a horror movie crew who accidentally awaken some of Grimm’s lesser known fairy tale beasts when they are shooting on location in the Black Forest.


I’m sure I’ll meander between lots of different genres as I go, because I enjoy consuming so many different ones. I’ve got a Dieselpunk art detective on the back burner, and a girl who tames a griffin rattling around in the old noggin, too.


How long have you been writing? When did you get started?


I definitely enjoyed writing from an early age, but I drifted away from it as a creative outlet sometime during high school. I dabbled in songwriting because I love to sing, but it never went anywhere. I started doing more crafting and things like welding, so I didn’t feel as much of a drive to express myself creatively through storytelling. I also was doing a lot of theater and sports at the time. Writing was something I did for school, not for entertainment.


Then in college, my body started falling apart. I was in a drawing class and permanently wrecked my right hand and wrist. Later, my biceps tendon tore and I lost complete use of the right arm for a while. Luckily for me, I could type very fast even with my left hand, and during my recovery from the surgery I started to think about writing again.


Who is your favorite author? Who influenced your writing the most, and how?


Neil Gaiman is my favorite author, no question. However, I have to give a shoutout to Kurt Vonnegut as well because I remember discovering his books and quickly reading his whole canon within a year. In terms of influence, I think I’d have to actually say Joss Whedon, at least when it comes to how characters interact. He has this wonderful ability to create dark situations and diffuse the tension at exactly the right moment to make even the direst of situations still feel fun and whimsical.


What’s your best advice for other writers?


Get off the internet and embrace rewriting.


You live abroad and have travelled a lot. How does this affect your writing?


Some of the buildings in Riftmaker were basically piggy-backed from the architectural design of Barcelona. I have never seen buildings that are also so organic as the ones designed by Antoni Gaudi. Between traveling to new settings and my love of art museums, I have been exposed to so many different settings, and taught me that no matter how small, places have stories to tell.


Do you have a writing routine or ritual?


Oh man, I wish I did! Because of being uprooted about once a year and everything that goes into moving and learning new places, it’s nearly impossible for me to stick to a routine for more than a couple months at a time.


However, some rituals do follow me. If I am having trouble getting focused, I often go for a walk and listen to electronic music. I walk the same route every time and choose a corner or other landmark. When I cross that threshold, I am not allowed to think about anything else except for the next scene I am going to write.


What is your favorite part of writing?


Epiphany. It can come at any stage of the process, but when things suddenly click together, there is no greater feeling. I do mixed media art, so to use an analogy, it’s like having a blank space on the canvas, thumbing through the materials I have at hand, and finding the exact thing to balance the composition.


Tell us about Riftmaker. And what’s the blurb?


On the surface, it’s the story of a dog and his boy. But digging deeper, the central themes are prejudice/acceptance, both of yourself and other people. I use my “Travelers” as a way to explore racism and the social structures that perpetuate it. And all of that is sort of woven in to an adventure story with monsters, unlikely heroes, and unexpected friendships.


Here’s the blurb:


Save his boy, uncover a conspiracy, and master opposable thumbs—a dog’s work is never done.

Buddy’s favorite thing is curling up for a nap at the foot of Ethan’s bed. Then he stumbles through a portal to a clockwork city plagued by chimeras, and everything changes… Well, not everything. Sure, his new human body comes with magic powers, but he’d still rather nap than face the people of Excelsior, who harbor both desire and fear when it comes to “the other side.”

He discovers Ethan followed him through the portal and underwent his own transformation, and it becomes Buddy’s doggone duty to save him. Buddy finds unlikely allies in an aristocrat with everything on the line, a mechanic with something to hide, and a musician willing to do anything to protect her. Using a ramshackle flying machine, the group follows the chimeras deep into the forest and uncovers a plot that could reshape the worlds on both sides of the rift.


Where did you get your inspiration for Riftmaker?


The actual moment of “a dog goes through a rift in time in space” part of the story came from walking my pooch, Gadget. There was this box blowing around in the wind and it seemed almost alive. Then a thought drifted into my head, and I wondered “If he went inside and disappeared, where would he go?”


In terms of the themes, I would say that studying cultural anthropology has really called my attention to the fact that there are so many different ways to be human, and none of them is “correct.” They just exist. And we are as much a product of where we were born as the bodies that we inhabit, probably moreso.


Now, let us know where we can find you online and grab a copy of Riftmaker.


Certainly! There’s just one more day to pick up the e-book for the special $1.99 pre-order price. You can find it at the OWS website, Amazon and a variety of other e-book retailers.


We’re right in the middle of my digital book tour, so you can get more behind the scenes action by visiting my website and checking out the character spotlights, excerpts, reviews, and more.


For people who want to learn more about Steampunk as a genre and stay up to date on my author news, they can sign up for my email list and receive a free copy of The Steampunk Handbook. It’s based on articles I’ve written for and lectures I’ve given at conventions and has a ton of info about the cultural underpinnings of the genre, plus book and movie recommendations to get your gears going.


And last but not least, come and hang out with me in my Facebook group, or find me on Twitter and Instagram.

Thanks for joining us, Phoebe! Be sure to check her out and preorder Riftmaker today! It goes live February 14th!

Happy reading!


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In Real Life Events

In Real Life Events

Being an author is more than just writing our stories. We have to get ourselves and our books out there. A lot of that happens online, but you shouldn’t ignore events that you can do in real life. We talked about book signings last time, but let’s look at some other things you can do.



Now talks are great to do as a way to draw people to your event more so than just by your name or claim (or lack) to fame. I talked about book signings in my last post, so I won’t get too into this here.

Talks are great for advertising purposes. Instead of just saying, “Hey, come meet a local author you’ve never heard of and buy their book!” a talk says something more like, “Learn the different routes to publishing and why an ISBN is important.” Which one is going to appeal more to people? So advertise your event as a talk where they will receive valuable info from you to get them in the seats. And after you give your wonderful talk, they may just stick around to buy some books.

If you attract other writers with your talk, they may not buy your book if they are not your intended audience, but they will know your book’s name and tell others who are your audience. And they may recommend your book to those others they know who like your genre. 

Book Signings

Book signings can be a bit intimidating. They can be a lot like cold calling in sales. You set up your table and hunker down in the store, praying to snag the attention of those walking by. For any introvert, it can be nightmarish. But they can also be a great success. Let’s look at some tips.

If this is like cold calling, get your foot in the door with some help. Have someone introduce you. Whether this is an employee who works at the store you are signing in or your handler. Having someone say something like, “Still need a Christmas present? We’ve got a local author signing personalized copies of her book. They make great gifts,” will get people to come to your table and start asking about your book. Have your pitch ready to give, and you just may get some sales.

If this is a book signing you set up that is all about you, and not just you sitting in a store or cafe, then I really recommend doing a reading before you start signing. You want to hook the people there with a great excerpt so they are chomping at the bit to buy your book.


Release Parties

When your book comes out, it’s something to celebrate. Planning a release party is a great way to celebrate your accomplishment, but also get your book out to family and friends. Let’s face it, a lot of the people we know are lazy. They don’t want to actually go to a website and click on things to buy your book. And they would rather have it signed and personalized by you. So make it easy for them to support you by hosting a release party where they can buy your book and get it personalized. This will incur some costs, but you have to spend money to make money. Recruit help from friends and family to diy as much as possible when it comes to things like food and decorations. Rent a hall or do a backyard bbq. Set up a signing table and a pretty place to take pictures. And get help. This event is for you, so you don’t want to be stressed making sure everything is perfect and be unable to enjoy your own party. 



Conventions are a great place to sell your books. That’s a major point of them in the first place. And they are full of readers looking to pick up their next new favorite. So you can do extremely well at the right cons. Make sure you write in the genre that is represented at the con, and that you have your handler. They will help you with sales and also manning the table so you can do things like go to the bathroom. Most cons will have an estimate of how many attendees they will have, so you can get a good gauge of how many books you should carry. Have bookmarks and business cards for people to take even if they don’t buy a book. Put important links on there, like your website or where they can buy your book.


Workshops/Writing Groups

Instead of a talk, you may choose to do something like run a workshop or writing group. This requires some effort on your part as you have a lot of planning and prep and you have to lead the event. But these can be great fun and really rewarding as you help other authors out.

First, plan what your event will look like. Will you start with a talk? Then move onto writing prompts? Using writing prompts is the best way to get your participants writing. But you will also need to talk about what good critique looks like and how to take critiques like staying silent and not defending yourself. Set up rules before you begin.

Keep track of time. Give them 15 to 20 minutes to write from the prompt and then allot time from there depending on how much time you have for the workshop. Provide plenty of pens and paper for participants, and if you can make the prompts on handouts they can take with them, even better.

And remember, these events are not about you. Yes, you can talk about your books after the workshop, but make the workshop valuable for the participants and not just you talking about you.


Next week we have an interview, but after that we will talk about the nitty gritty details of what you’ll need to set up for these events, so stay tuned.