Sunday, May 3, 2015

Book Review & Giveaway: From the Ashes (Legend of the Liberator #1) by Shelby K. Morrison


Barnes & Noble


** 4/5 **

Ari is on the cusp of her 18th birth and living the good life of a Highborn. She is burdened by a heavy secret and must always maintain control- she's a Bender. She has the power to control aspects of nature and her kind is either sucked of their power or killed. Adopted at a young age, she is constantly tormented by her adoptive brother. Her emotional switch is broken one day and she does the unthinkable- she exposes herself and she's off, running to save her life. Ari is put into an insane dilemma of facing her worst fears, finding family, friends, and learning who she truly is. Oh, and she has save the empire from itself...

Overall a very engaging and fun read. Ari is a likeable character and the fantastical world is built very well and eagerly detailed. The plot was an easy trial to follow. My attention got caught in snags when the action waned here and there, but it didn't happen often. Toward the end of the book, I was able to really see the author mature as a writer; the end of the novel's details and characterizations flowed much easier and were very emotional. A definite read for fantasy folks, especially YA! I could see a teen diving straight into this book.



Tell us a bit about yourself:
I'm twenty-five, or at least I will be by the time this interview is read. I am married to the love of my life and we have two beautiful children. They like to make a mess in the morning and bark when the doorbell rings, but we love them. I currently live in Utah but dream of one day moving to Oregon where I was born. I miss my greenery. I love staying busy so writing is the perfect career for me, there is always something to do. When I do have a moment away from my books you can find me either starting a DIY project or learning some other hobby like painting or crocheting. I could be considered “crunchy” as I am pro organic and all-natural everything. I have a weakness for teriyaki bowls, overcast days, and opportunities for costumes. I have a terrible fear of crabs and heights. I love Japanese culture and have recently begun teaching myself Japanese. My husband is a gamer so some rare occasions you can find me playing a video game or two as well. I suppose that's it for now. Feel free to ask more!

When did you begin writing?
I began writing in junior high. I had an insatiable appetite for books and any area of creative release I would try. I began with poems and songs. Then once I wrote my first short story, it was pure love.

Have you ever been discouraged in regard to your writing ability and if so, how did you get past it and move forward?
Of course! Who hasn't? Writers are their own worst critic...most of the time. 80% of the time we think what we write is garbage. That only lessens to about 70% with rave reviews telling us it isn't. Writers are always compared to other writers. It's difficult not to be discouraged a lot of the time. But what get's me past it is my passion. I never have a lot of faith that what I write is good. But I tell myself it's okay, I'm going to get better with time, and this is what I was born to do. If you give up, you'll always be the level you were. But I know if I push through, keep trying, keep writing, that I will without a doubt get better, even if I don't see it myself.

What's your favorite thing about writing?
The creating and brainstorming. I just turn on the faucet and let the ideas rush forth. There is no filter, just creativity. I love seeing the ideas pour out of my head. I surprise myself sometimes and those are the best moments. Writer's aren't often proud of themselves, but once in a while they'll come across a twist, a character, a passage, a piece of witty dialogue, and they'll smile. I find that most often with brainstorming. It really is the best part about writing.

What is your writing style? Do you like to outline or just write as you go?
I must outline. I have a big board in my office with my three act plot and all the bumps along the way I require. I outline like you wouldn't believe. I must. Some can just get in the car and see where the road takes them. Not me. I have a map with seven highlighters and a dozen sticky notes so I know exactly how my trip will be all along the way and where I'll be at the end of the road. I have my goal in site at all times. This is a method I'll continue to perfect as the years go one. Each book is getting easier and cleaner to write everything as the method molds itself. I'd be lost without my outlines and notes.

Do you have a favorite spot where you like to write?
Currently, not really. I imagine someday I will. But right now my options are limited. I have my writing desk and that's where the writing happens. Occasionally if I'm editing I'll do it in bed or in a comfy chair. But I imagine someday of having a little shed just for my writing. My writing place.

What is something you've written that will never see the light of day?
Hmmm...I don't know if I intend on keeping any of my stuff out of the light of day. Take for example, From the Ashes. This is one of my original stories when I was a teenager, gutted and given new life. But the bare bones premise of the story is there. I have considered doing that to many of my unfinished works I started in my early years of writing. Or at least bringing them into the sun for my writers to see some of my early work, even if it's not published. I'd say of anything, the stuff that won't see the light of day would be my poems. Those will stay nice and comfy on some old dinosaur computer.

What is your writer food?
Unlike most writers, I do not survive on coffee or caffeine. I also don't drink. *Gasp! I know!* So I can scarcely call myself a writer. Just kidding. I do survive on my drink of choice though. Cinnamon Dolce Cream Frapp from Starbucks. Be still my heart. As for my snack of choice, bring on the Riesens.

What's the hardest thing about writing for you?
The hardest thing about writing...editing for sure. You stare at your work, the work you've made as good as it can be and you tell yourself “Make it better.” We writers must be kidding ourselves. How can we make something better when we don't know what's wrong with it? It's a headache. So revising/editing, as well as getting feedback. It is a grueling, terrifying experience. We give our baby to another to read. And with the flick of a pen, they can destroy it. Or, if you're lucky, they bless it. Definitely the hardest part.

What inspires you to write?
Somewhere inside is a little person. A person that tells me that writing is my calling, that I was born to do this. Could be one of my characters for all I know, tricking me to getting them on paper. But something just comes alive when I write, something inside tells me this is what I was made to do. I can't explain it other than that. I just can't imagine a better career for me.

How many books have you written and which is your favorite?
Written? About a dozen half finished ones. Published? One. Two after From the Ashes. And it will be three by the end of the year. But I can easily say, the Legend of the Liberator series is my favorite. It's my first fantasy since junior high. And old ways have reignited my passion for writing that my fiction books couldn't. Something about fantasy is very liberating.

What are some of your favorite books?
I love Jurassic Park, Mistborn, Harry Potter, Pride and Prejudice, Peter Pan, Little Women.... I am a big fan of the classics. And I love a good thrill.

What authors do you like to read?
I don't have a lot of favorite authors. I think it's too limiting. I like to try a huge variety of authors. I am fond of Crichton though. Also Preston & Child. I'm a fan of Sanderson too.

What inspired you to write From the Ashes?
As I mentioned above, From the Ashes has the heart of a story I partially write as a teenager. The inspiration simply came from wondering how much a simple piece of jewelry could connect someone.

If you could choose a dream cast for From the Ashes, who would you pick?
Aia: Karen Gillan
Cole: Nick Bateman
Emperor Stephan: Charles Dance
Dove: Amanda Seyfried
Illcina: Jennifer Connelly
There are more characters (this is fantasy after all) on my pinterest board. Feel free to check them out, along with other pics for inspiration.

Would you say you relate to any of your characters? If so, which one and why?
I usually always relate most to my leading character. Aia is strong, she has ambitions and plans for herself and doesn't let statistics or people's opinion get her down. She is determined to be her own person. She has a weakness for those who can't defend themselves and has passion for whatever she is doing. I like to think I can see myself in her and can relate to her.

This or that.
Sweet or Salty? Salty! I seriously crave chips all the time.
Naughty or nice? Nice! I like my presents!
Cats or dogs? Dogs! So much more laid back.
Vanilla or chocolate? Swirled! Life is to short to pick.

If you were deserted on an island, which author would you want to be stranded with?
Hmmm....well apart from being insanely awkward, probably, George R. R. Martin. He's got a way of writing that keeps readers coming back for more, even when he hurts them by killing off favorite characters. His worlds are a live. I want my worlds to be alive. Course he could help me write a brilliant book but I'd be on a stinking island and couldn't share it and couldn't share it with anyone. That would be the worst!


Shelby K. Morrison is the author of Shattered, devout member of the Pointless Research Addicts support group, and was voted Most Likely to Be President in high school. She believes fiction should be an escape and any great escape involves a world of wonder, characters you wish you knew, and good food. She can usually be found in three places; her office, the couch or....well just those two unless an overcast day calls her out of doors. She has a particular weakness for animals, Studio Ghibli movies, and Flamin' Hot Cheetos (resulting in a frequently stained keyboard). She is not opposed to tokens of appreciation, particularly edible ones. But if you really want to make her smile, drop her a line!



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