Ronesa’s 2015 Excellence in Writing Awards: Top-Five Picks

December 26, 2015

Have you read a good indie book lately? No? Why not? Independent and small-publishers have produced books vastly superior to many of the Big Five super-hyped books. The difference why our books are not as widely read vs. the Big Five boils down to marketing and reviews. The Big Five has tons of money and lots of clout. Many places refuse to review indie books, without even giving this vast group of wonderful authors a chance. We have to scrounge for reviews and tout our own horns. I’ve read a lot of books this year, and none have been the “popular” ones. Here’s my list of favorite authors I’ve read this year. I’ve read so many that my selections are based on authors who are exceptional and ones I’ve read more than one of their books. So here goes, in order of when I discovered the writing of these fabulous authors.

 

Jana Petken

I LOVE all of Jana’s books. I’ll read anything further she writes, without looking at the book blurb. I’m a big historical fiction fan, and after reading The Errant Flock, I was hooked on Jana’s writing. She takes you back in time to whatever era she writes about. This particular book is set in 1491, in Valencia, Spain, during the time of the Spanish Inquisition. A quote from my review: “From beginning to end the author’s extensive research about how the people lived permeates the fine details of the story as well as the overall setting of the time.”

The Errant Flock by Jana Petken2015 Excellence in Writing

 

 

 

 

 

Check out Jana Petken’s Amazon author page for all her books, including Guardian of Secrets and the Mercer Carver series: http://www.amazon.com/Jana-Petken/e/B00I2WAUVC/

Or visit her website: www.janapetkenauthor.com

 

C.N. Lesley

What brought my attention to C.N.’s writing was the word “Avalon.” As well as being a historical fiction fan, I read whatever I can about King Arthur, whether it’s historical or fantasy. C.N. takes gives the Arthur legend a new twist: sci-fi. This Shadow series of books (Shadow over Avalon and Sword of Shadows) is set far into the future. I’ve only read two of them because, alas, the third book has not yet been published. I’m eagerly waiting for its release. A quote from my review: “ ‘Sword of Shadows’ is more than a sci-fi rendition of the tale of King Arthur and the Knights of the Roundtable, however. It has a deeper meaning about how our lives are destroyed by the gods we let rule our lives–whether it is technology or otherwise.”

Shadow over Avalon by CN Leslie2015 Excellence in Writing

 

 

 

 

 

Check out C.N. Lesley’s Amazon author page for all her Shadow series books, as well as others, including “Darkspire Reaches”: http://www.amazon.com/C.N-Lesley/e/B00HTV3GV8/

Or visit her website: http://cnlesley.com/

 

Hannah Howe

Love a good detective story? Then you’ll want to dive into Hannah’s Sam Smith series. You’ll love enquiry agent Samantha Smith. She’s perfect in her imperfections. Abused as a child and even more so as a wife, Sam lacks confidence in herself, except when it comes to solving crimes. In that respect, she dives head first, or sometimes “foot-in-mouth” first into her work. You’ll love this spunky, petite woman, bent on improving the world and her own self. The books in the Sam Smith series have deeper meaning than pure entertainment. Be it prostitution, eugenics, drug abuse, insanity, or other social issues, the books delve into the human psyche. (And The Hermit of Hisarya takes place in Bulgaria, so I HAD to read that one.)

The Hermit of Hisarya by Hannah Howe2015 Excellence in Writing

 

 

 

 

 

Check out Hannah Howe’s Amazon author page for all the books in the Sam Smith series: http://www.amazon.com/Hannah-Howe/e/B00OK7E24E/

Or visit her website: http://hannah-howe.com

 

Mansel Jones

It was a tossup which of Mansel’s books to include here. Since I’ve already discussed Arthur above, I opted to write about Tangwstyl: A Medieval Mystery instead. Nope, I can’t pronounce “Tangwstyl” either, but that doesn’t distract from reading the book. This is another historical fiction masterpiece. The setting is Kenfig (in Wales) in 1399. It weaves the story around a prophecy about Tangwstyl, the daughter of the future “Arthur.” (Okay, so it does have a slight Arthurian theme.) The story doesn’t have a lot to do with Tangwstyl. Her birth is rather the catalyst that eventually leads to an uprising. The book covers a span of eight days, but they are packed with historical fact and depict the struggle against the Church and unjust kings.

Tangwstyl by Mansel Jones2015 Excellence in Writing

 

 

 

 

 

 

Check out Mansel Jones’ Amazon author page for all his other books, including “Pendragon”: http://www.amazon.com/Mansel-Jones/e/B0044RKLZO/

Or visit his website: http://jonesthebook.com/

 

Ellie Midwood

Set in Germany during WWII, The Girl from Berlin series is told from the perspective of a fictional woman who becomes Nazi Ernst Kaltenbrunner’s mistress. The problem is that he hates Jews, and she has hidden from the world the fact that she is a Jew. To appreciate this series of books, you have to be able to distance yourself from the Nazi atrocities, and look at the events from a more historical aspect. What is the other side of Ernst Kaltenbrunner, the one that a woman who loved him would see? What can you make of his proclamation of innocence of atrocities at the Nuremberg trials? These books attempt to answer those questions.

The Girl from Berlin by Ellie Midwood2015 Excellence in Writing

 

 

 

 

 

Check out Ellie Midwood’s books on Amazon:

http://www.amazon.com/Girl-Berlin-Standartenf%C3%BChrers-Wife-ebook/dp/B015BNZWNK/

http://www.amazon.com/Girl-Berlin-Gruppenf%C3%BChrers-Mistress-ebook/dp/B016FTEU14/

http://www.amazon.com/Girl-Berlin-War-Criminals-Widow-ebook/dp/B018L3WM6C/

 

April Adams

I know. I said my top-five picks, but here’s a bonus look at my favorite series of books I read in 2014. “The Legends of Runes” trilogy is a fantasy. The world needs a savior. Will this role fall to the battered woman who can’t recall who she is, but finds herself in a magical place? From my review of Shattered, the first book in the series: “This fantasy has your traditional gathering of elves, gnomes, and such, but it has a religious twist that makes it fall along the lines of C.S. Lewis stories. The world building includes lands where the elements reign supreme: wind, fire, water and earth.”

Shattered by April Adams2014 Excellence in Writing

 

 

 

 

 

Check out April Adam’s Amazon author page for all her books in “The Legends of Rune” trilogy: http://www.amazon.com/April-Adams/e/B00CHRCD8G/

Or visit her website: www.writerapriladams.com

Spotlight Blog Tour – April Adams

March 13, 2015

Please welcome the Rave Reviews Book Club Spotlight Author for March 2015, April Adams. April is the Author of “Shattered”.

Emotion, the Seventh Sense

Good profile picTaste, touch, sight, sound, smell, intuition, and emotion. Every single scene should have a good mixture of these things. Smell is often overlooked in writing, but emotion is sometimes nonexistent! On the other hand, too much emotion ruins a scene.

In my first draft of Shattered, there was a scene where Glenn was furious. I had originally written this scene as follows:

“No!” Glenn shouted, tossing the scroll into the fire. I lunged forward a little bit, my hand outstretched to snatch it back, but it was aflame in seconds. “No I tell you!” His long fingers grabbed the fabric around Gable’s neck and pulled hard, bringing them nose to nose.

Gable laughed like fingernails on a chalkboard. “Oh? You would bring about the destruction of the entire world?” he stared back at his brother, completely nonchalant.

“I will not surrender her to your care. Not for every life in this realm.” Glenn growled.

“Wait, what?” I asked, realizing what he had said. “What did that paper say?”

Gable reached up, pried Glenn’s furious hands from his clothing, smoothed his shirt and turned to me. “It said that under the authority of Ambius the wise you are hereby ordered to accompany me to him at once, there to discover what you must do.” He answered.

“No!” Glenn roared again, turning from him to me, his look changing from venom to kindness. “I will not let you go with him.” He whispered forcefully, taking both my hands in his and falling to his knees in front of me. His blue eyes held no hint of tears, only determination. I searched his face and found nothing but what he wanted me to see. He thought Gable a danger to me, and he would not leave me to his care.

“Glenn Elambil.” Gable said, rising to his feet with a drunken wobble and sucking in wetly through his lips. “For disobedience to the Watcher of the Eastern Lands I hereby place you under arrest.”

“No!” I said to him, defiance rising into my throat.

Glenn squeezed my hands and winked at me. “Yes.” He said, affecting defeated tones. “I have burned the words of the Watcher, and must be brought before him.” He explained to me, resigned. Then he smiled, and my heart skipped a beat. “Which means, I believe, brother,” he turned and directed this last to Gable, “that I’ll be coming with you.”

But that’s a little too much emotion. So, I tweaked it to this:

adams“No,” Glenn said in a voice like steel, tossing the scroll into the fire. I lunged forward slightly, my hand outstretched to snatch it back, but it was aflame in seconds. His long fingers grabbed the fabric around Gable’s neck and pulled hard, bringing them nose to nose. I was shocked by this sudden escalation and pressed myself into the back of my chair.

Gable laughed like fingernails on a chalkboard. “Oh? You would bring about the destruction of the entire world?” He stared back at his brother, completely nonchalant.

“I will not surrender her to your care,” Glenn said, matter-of-fact.

“Wait, what?” I asked. “What did that paper say?”

Gable reached up, pried Glenn’s hands from his clothing, smoothed his shirt and turned to me. “It said that under the authority of Ambius the Wise you are hereby ordered to accompany me to him at once, there to discover what you must do,” he answered.

“No,” Glenn said again, turning from him to me, his look changing from cold steel to kindness. His eyes were honest. He thought Gable a danger to me, and he would not leave me to his care. I felt a cold chill tingle down my spine. Gable didn’t strike me as a good man, but I hadn’t thought him dangerous.

“Glenn Elambil,” Gable said, rising to his feet with a drunken wobble and sucking in wetly through his lips, “for disobedience to the Watcher of the Eastern Lands I hereby place you under arrest.”

“No!” I said to him, defiance rising in my throat, standing in objection.

Glenn winked at me. “Yes.” He stood with rounded shoulders, affecting defeated tones. “I have burned the words of the Watcher, and must be brought before him,” he explained, resigned. Then he smiled, and my heart skipped a beat. “Which means, I believe, that you’ll have to take me with you.”

You can see the difference for yourself. Don’t be afraid to write emotion, hust don’t make it too “drama club” like I did in that first draft. Yeesh. First drafts are the worst!

 

Find me online!

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/April-Adams/e/B00CHRCD8G
Twitter: @apriladamsnovel
Facebook:   www.fb.com/apriladamsnovel
Website: www.writerapriladams.com
Goodreads: www.goodreads.com/apriladamsnovel

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