Thursday, June 29, 2023

Bittersouls by L.A. Morton-Yates

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. L.A. Morton-Yates will be awarding a $20 Amazon or B/N GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

Why do you write juvenile fiction? What draws you to it?

I don’t always write juvenile fiction, and I don’t usually adhere to a lot of the tropes normally associated with the YA genre. While Bittersouls is definitely a YA book, it isn’t set in a school of any kind—a trope that I personally find pretty tired. That said, it is about a 19-year-old character and her coming-of-age journey—a fundamentally YA subject.

I think what attracts me to the coming-of-age story is that it focuses on a transformative period in the character’s life. A strong character arc is an important part in most narratives, and with a coming-of-age story that’s essentially built in to the essence of the story. I think everyone—regardless of their age—can and should be in a constant state of growth and change. Having fiction reflect this has always seemed important to me.

What books were your favorite as a youth and why?

Probably my top two were The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss and Feed by M.T. Anderson. The first is a beautifully written fantasy book. The language really captures the imagination and gives a sense of the magic of the written word. It’s simply beautiful. The latter is a very poignant soft sci-fi that tells a compelling narrative at the same time as subtly critiquing the direction society and technology is headed. I definitely recommend them both, but be warned that Rothfuss doesn’t look to be finishing his series any time soon.

What’s your favorite sweet treat?

I’m a sucker for maple pastries of all kinds. Donuts, scones, etc. Something about that flavor just feels like home to me.

What would you write in a letter to your teen self?

Stop trying to avoid making mistakes. Mistakes are how you learn. Try things, take chances, and make those mistakes. Don’t bemoan every time you miss something or do something wrong—that’s exactly what you’re supposed to be doing at this point in your life. Reflect on your mistakes, learn from them, then let them go and move on. It’s the best way to keep on growing.

Favorite TV show from your childhood?

I’d have to say Avatar: The Last Airbender. Everything about it is beautiful, from the writing to the animation. It has some amazing characters and probably the best redemption arc I’ve ever seen in film or TV. The worldbuilding is elegant and well presented. For anyone who hasn’t seen it yet, I strongly recommend it. Though it is technically a “kid’s show”, it has a number of excellent lessons for writers to take away from it.

Favorite hot beverage. Why?

I drink a lot of coffee, and not just for the caffeine. I actually commonly drink 1-2 cups of decaf during the afternoon just because I like the taste of it. I especially like using the bitterness of coffee to contrast the sweetness of something else—from pancakes to pie and ice cream.

You’re stranded on a desert island—which character from your book do you want with you? Why?

I’d have to pick Talon. He has a ton of knowledge and experience with survival, hunting, and trapping. Assuming I could convince him not to kill me, he’d probably be my best chance at long-term survival.

A Shade. A Storm. A Soul.

Cursed with forbidden knowledge, 19-year-old Dela must hide her secret from her nomadic tribe or face exile into the frozen wasteland of the Bitters. When she becomes separated from her people during a blizzard, a mysterious and dangerous wanderer named Talon promises to help her find her way back to them. She quickly learns that nothing is what it seems, that her curse may actually be a gift, and that the Bitters are far more dangerous than she could have imagined.

Packed with unexpected twists, Bittersouls is a mixture of survival, adventure, and slow-burn romance that is sure to get your heart pounding.

Read an Excerpt

A Soul

[Dela] rounded the corner, stepping into the mouth of the cave. As she expected, she wasn’t alone. But the man who leaned against the far wall of the cave, watching her with a wild and savage curiosity, was not a man she’d ever laid eyes on before. He wore a stark, white roughcloak. To Dela’s eye, it looked to be fashioned from a Jackal’s fur. The head of the beast encircled his own as a hood, the angular snout coming to a toothless point a few inches past his forehead. His arms were crossed over his chest, pushing the sides of his rough out enough to reveal a tattered and patched network of leather garments, ugly and indelicate, but which looked to be sturdy and thick. At his sides, an array of bone hooks much like her own supported various tools and weapons.

But what caught her eye most was the fiery array that spread out around him, stemming from the center of his back. Unlike those in her congregation, whose entities kept small and close and wrapped themselves around their humans, his spread all four of its ghostly appendages out behind him like crimson wings, swaying gently as though breathing or being brushed by the wind. If the congregations’ were simply alive, his was awake.

“Interesting,” the man mused. His voice was low and scratchy, as if from months or years of disuse. Dela realized she’d been staring at him for some time.

“Interesting?” she repeated. Who was this man? What was he doing out here? He’d been so close to their group… and she’d followed him out here. Alone. Had that been his plan?

The man shrugged, stepping off the wall and approaching her with footsteps too quiet to hear over the din of the storm. “I had expected another—”


About the Author:
A life-long lover of the magic of storytelling, L.A. wrote his first story at the age of 7 and has been writing ever since. Speculative fiction, particularly fantasy, has always held a special place in his heart for the uniqueness of the places and the questions it can address. Though veiled by apparent strangeness, he has always seen it as capable of revealing deeper truth about our own reality.

L.A. graduated from Montana State University in 2015 with Honors in Biochemistry and a minor in Music Composition. This helped nurture his critical thinking and research skills which continue to be instrumental to his writing. During his collegiate years, he also met the love of his life, Julie, whom he later married. At once his greatest supporter and his staunchest critic (when he is wrong, which is more often than he’d like to admit), she has been an integral part of his creative process ever since.

In February of 2018, L.A. became the father of his first son, Griffin. His second son, Tiber, was born in December of 2019 and his third son, Malachi, was born in January of 2022. Though life has become considerably busier since he became a family man, L.A. continues to work on writing in what little spare time he can find. He hopes to one day pass on his love of literature to his sons.



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Monday, June 5, 2023

Tales of the Forgotten Founders by C.W. Allen

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. C. W. Allen will be awarding a $10 Amazon/BN GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

Who or what was the inspiration behind this book?

I find that, rather than a single source of inspiration that sparks an idea, most of my writing is really bringing together a fruit salad of different elements I find interesting.

The setup and world building for the Falinnheim Chronicles series came from a lot of places. I loved puzzle mysteries like The Westing Game as a kid, so these books are my attempt to give something back to the genre I love. Anime adventures like Bleach inspired Falinnheim’s shape-shifting slipsteel inventions. I had a large and comically-misbehaved dog years ago, so I wanted to incorporate the humor from that experience into Nyx’s character.

Tales of the Forgotten Founders is the series conclusion, so I needed to wrap up all the mysteries and explain how the world got started. Louis Sachar’s novel Holes and Kate Milford’s fictional city of Nagspeake gave me the idea to present this foundation as a story-within-a-story that the readers could dig into alongside the characters. I knew even before I wrote the first book that the backstory involved the ancient library of Alexandria, but as I did more research in preparation for this third book I discovered that political leaders fighting for control actually led to the famous library’s downfall, not a fire or a war as I had imagined. That conversation about book banning is incredibly relevant for today’s readers, but it wasn’t a theme I intended to explore until I was halfway through writing Tales of the Forgotten Founders—it emerged organically as I researched the real history of Alexandria.

Bastian, a new character in this book, was a lot of fun to write. Falinnheim and the “other earth”—or the real world, as we know it—each see themselves as the regular, normal, logical way to be. So I thought it would be fun to contrast those perspectives by having Bastian read “fairy tales” about what life is like in our world, which he sees as strange and foreign. Characters in Neil Gaiman’s Stardust experience a similar shift in perspective when Victorian England collides with the magical land of Stormhold—each sees the other as otherworldly.

I had a fantastic time in the world of Falinnheim, and I’m so excited to share the conclusion of Zed and Tuesday’s adventures!

Zed and Tuesday ought to be living the good life. After all, it’s not every day two kids take down an evil dictator and their mom gets put in charge of an entire dimension. But after moving into Falinnheim’s palace, they learn that life as royalty isn’t as carefree as they’d imagined.

Mysterious hidden passages aren’t the only secrets lurking within the palace walls. When the siblings discover a stash of banned books, they realize everything they’ve been told about Falinnheim’s history might be a lie. And though contact between worlds has been cut off for centuries, returning home might not be as impossible as their parents claim.

Could the adventures of a runaway monk, a reluctant viking, a silent ambassador, and a rebel librarian hold the solutions to both problems? To find the truth, Tuesday and Zed will have to learn the stories of Falinnheim’s forgotten founders.

Read an Excerpt

For some odd reason, Bastian started laughing. “Now you’re just messing with me,” he said, wagging an accusing finger at Tuesday. “London’s imaginary!”

Tuesday stared at him, perplexed. “No?”

“Oh come on,” Bastian insisted, “London’s in a bunch of stories. Peter Pan and Sherlock Holmes both talk about London, and they aren’t real either, you know.”

“Wait, now you know Sherlock Holmes, too? He wasn’t in any of the books you showed us.”

“That’s because he’s not from a book,” Bastian said with a shrug. “Here, see for yourself.” He scooted over to the jumble of papers on the crate shelves and pulled out a dog-eared magazine. He flipped past several black and white illustrations until he found the page he wanted, then handed it to Tuesday.

“The Valley of Fear,” she read aloud, “a new Sherlock Holmes story by A. Conan Doyle.” Her eyes flicked to the page heading. “The Strand magazine. January, 1915.”

“See?” said Bastian smugly. “London’s just a place from stories. Like Oz, or Neverland.” He laughed again. “I mean, it’s not like there’s really a land called India full of talking animals, just because The Jungle Book says so.”

Zed tried to break the news to Bastian without making him feel stupid. “Look, we know the stories are made up, but those are all real places. Well, not all of them—Neverland and Oz are imaginary—but India and London are real.”

“Have you ever been there?” Bastian argued.

“Well, no,” Zed was forced to admit. “But I’ve seen them on maps.”

Bastian just rolled his eyes. “Stop trying to prank me. Next you’ll be saying there really are giant wind storms in a place called Kansas.”

“There are!” Tuesday protested.

About the Author:
C.W. Allen is a Nebraskan by birth, a Texan by experience, a Hoosier by marriage, and a Utahn by geography. She knew she wanted to be a writer the moment she read The Westing Game at age twelve, but took a few detours along the way as a veterinary nurse, an appliance repair secretary, and a homeschool parent. She writes long stories for children and short stories for former children. When she’s not writing, she helps other writers hone their craft as a board member of the League of Utah Writers.

Her debut novel Relatively Normal Secrets is the winner of the Gold Quill Award, being named the best children’s book of the year by a Utah author. The Falinnheim Chronicles series continues with The Secret Benefits of Invisibility (Cinnabar Moth, 2022) and Tales of the Forgotten Founders (Cinnabar Moth, 2023). She also has shorter work published in numerous anthologies. Keep up with her latest projects at

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