Author Interviews, Fiction Blog

The 2016 2K Indie Book Tour: Bill Hoard

We’re into the last week of the 2016 2K Indie Book Tour (co-hosted by Kate Evans and myself). Kicking off week three is fantasy/fairy tale author Bill Hoard.

715UTRPTgxL._UX250_Bill Hoard is possessed of two superpowers: he can sleep almost anywhere at almost any time, and he reflexively forms an opinion on any topic within seconds of hearing a single fact. He writes, teaches, ponders, wonders, teaches a little more, and generally makes a nuisance of himself on social media. He suffers from a debilitating appreciation of pipe smoke, old books, and tweed.

Here, Bill shares a bit about his fairy tale, The Dagger and the Rose:

An adopted princess, a dark stranger, and a kingdom of masked souls. The king brought Iris into his castle when she was only days old, but on her sixteenth birthday she will be swept into an adventure which threatens to uncover or destroy her home, her life, and her very identity.
The Dagger and the Rose is a contemporary take on the great fairy tales. Illustrated in striking water colors, it evokes the wonder of the great bedtime stories.

Now, here’s our interview with Bill:

What was the inspiration behind your book?

I have been a reader of fantasy, myth, and fairy tale for a long time. With The Dagger and the Rose I wanted to take a shot at exploring some of the great mythic themes which are present in some of our most archetypal fairy tales. I have also been following the critique that a lot of our recent pop-culture fairy tales, tend to treat the princess as a flat character who is really just there to be rescued by the heroic prince. Some of the most recent fairy tales (particularly from Disney) have tried to get away from that but they often do it by just shifting the princess into a different role. I wanted to see what would happen if I told a classic fairy tale story entirely from the perspective of the princess. What are her motives and how does she grow, change, and direct the story?

So The Dagger and the Rose is a classic style fairy tale but it breaks with tradition by focusing on the motives, decisions, and agency of the princess.

Those old fairy tales are so often beautifully illustrated (checkout Arthur Rackham’s work on the original Peter Pan stories, you won’t regret it!) that I knew I wanted to have The Dagger and the Rose illustrated as well, but as a poor independent writer, there was no way for me to afford full illustrations up front (Dagger has 12 full page, color illustrations as well as number of woodcut style inserts). I ended up contacting a tremendous up and coming Illustrator (Leah Morrison) who was willing to help me run a successful Kickstarter campaign to fund her work as well as the other costs of publishing a fairy tale.

Who is your favorite character?

My favorite character is Princess Iris. It is her story after all.

What is one thing you want readers to know or “get” about your book?

I really hope that readers are able to see themselves in the main character. I would love for them to really enjoy the classic traditional fairy tale plot and themes through a more nuanced lens.

Who is your ideal reader? Or, who will enjoy your book?

The Dagger and the Rose is for everyone who enjoys fairy tale fantasy. There is some violence in it which may make it a little rough for readers under 10 or so, but as with any classic fairy tale, it is intended for readers of all ages.

What three writing tips do you have for aspiring authors?

First, write what you love. I have found that I can get through a first draft of all sorts of writing but unless I really love what I am working on it is tremendously difficult to come back and give it the polishing a good story deserves. This also entails reading a lot. It is incredibly important to expose yourself to a great diversity of writing, classic and contemporary, fiction and non-fiction, literary and popular, because you never know what you might find yourself jiving with so much that it inspires a new project or takes a current one in a fresh and exciting direction.

Second, if you can, write in a community. I didn’t start really writing well until I got involved in a writers/philosophers/lit-crit group called Pints and Prose with some awesome people who could encourage me, throw ideas out, and hold me accountable to finish sections and re-write or polish rough points. We still meet every other Monday night and I feel like my best work happens on Tuesdays just after a meeting. It was also through my writing/creative community that I was able to get an incredible team (Twelvesteed Productions) to produce the promo video for my Kickstarter campaign. And, of course, it was after a Pints meeting that Ben Y. Faroe asked me to co-author the Hubris Towers series with him. Everything just works better in community.

Third, diversify your projects.  I write because I love stories. It is really important to me that I always have a project on deck which I can be excited about working on. This can slow you down (and I’m sure the more disciplined folk out there are shaking their heads) but I think it keeps the writing process fresh. I am a firm believer that well executed projects of passion are always better than well executed projects of pragmatism. Keeping several different projects on board (I write fairy tales, urban fantasy, humor, and a little theology), increases the quality as well as the scope of my work.

Dagger Rose CoverWhere can readers buy your book? 


Barnes and Noble:

Clickworks Press:



Where can readers learn more about you? 

I’m on Facebook and twitter . I also just started building my own website and can be found at Clickworks Press The Kickstarter page for the book is still available (the campaign has ended) as well

Book Reviews, Fiction Blog

Indie Book Review: A Convergence of Worlds: An Anthology of Fantasy Short Stories


A Convergence of Worlds: An Anthology of Fantasy Short Stories by Dawn Chance, Dave D’Alessio, C. Scott Davis, & Dan Thole
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Disclaimer: One of the book’s authors provided me with a code to download a free version of this book in exchange for an honest review.

A Convergence of Worlds: An Anthology of Fantasy Short Stories is a fun and quick read. It contains four short stories, each by a different author, which fit snugly in the fantasy genre. Each story occupies a slightly different niche within the fantasy genre—some being more fairytale and others being a bit more high-fantasy or dark fantasy. Similarly, each story has a very different tone and feel from its book-mates. The variety keeps the anthology feeling fresh and leaves each story memorable in its own way.

However, a rather large issue in the stories’ variance is their formatting. In the version I read (.mobi file obtained from Smashwords), the stories are not formatted in the same font size or style, which can make reading them difficult. Likewise, there are no paragraph indentations (nor blank lines between paragraphs) to provide any distinction between paragraphs, which also makes reading a challenge. On a brighter note, I found the cover gorgeous.

Story One: “An Evening with Luke and His Fairy Godmother”

This story begins from a unique perspective—Luke visiting his mother, a reporter, as she interviews a mermaid. The newsroom setting provides an overview of the various magical creatures in the story’s world as well as gives the reader a sense of time and place. However, after the newsroom scene, the story begins to jump around unexpectedly. Luke’s fairy godmother shows up out of thin air (admittedly, as fairy godmothers tend to do), and they go on an adventure.

Unfortunately, the adventure is glossed over and Luke and his fairy godmother flit from scene to scene with far too many details crammed into a small amount of text for the reader to fully comprehend what is happening. The story would really benefit from being fleshed out into a longer piece with more space for explanation and less summary. The characters speed through the story, and a definable plot line is established toward the end.

The conclusion of the story is sweet and satisfying. It puts a new spin on a fantasy figure from childhood. I wish the story would have expanded more on this character and his transformation, because that part is truly imaginative and worth exploring. Overall, “An Evening with Luke and His Fairy Godmother” is fun with a gem of an ending, but the reader definitely must pay close attention to keep up with the pacing.

Story Two: “The Last Campfire”

Of the stories, this one was the darkest. It is set in a fictional world and describes soldiers on a night before battle. The story unfolds at a steady pace, providing the reader with information about the setting and characters on an as-needed basis. It is difficult to comment on the plot without revealing spoilers, so I will simply say that the story is mythological, mysterious, and compelling. It keeps the reader guessing until the end, at which time the reveal is satisfying and creative. This story is the most well-written and complete of the four.

Story Three: “What Happens at the Ball Stays at the Ball”

This story is by far the funniest of the group. In essence, it is a gender-bender of Cinderella, where a male peasant goes to a ball with the help of his fairy godfather and pursues a princess. The story is charming and a fresh take on an old fairy tale. The only aspect about the story that threw me for a loop was that the fairy godfather is a Greenbay fan. While I appreciate the Packers nod, the rest of the story seems to take place in a world that would not contain football, either because the sport would not exist at all or would not yet be invented. Beyond this minor detail, the story is a consistent, fun read that made me laugh out loud multiple times.

Story Four: “The Veil”

To be fair, I feel that I must say I felt a little out of my depth with this story. Of the four, it was the most “high-fantasy,” with creatures with which I am not at all familiar. However, much like the first story in the anthology, this story jumps around from scene to scene rather quickly. The plot of this story is clearer from the beginning, but the characteristics of the magical creatures and “rules” of the world, so-to-speak, are very unclear. Perhaps regular fantasy readers would be more familiar with Veils and Dryads, but I was not, and the story seemed to assume that the reader would not require much explanation.

From a writing standpoint, I had two main issues with this story. First, the gender pronouns used for the protagonist, Wren, kept alternating between male and female, which made it difficult to understand when she was acting or when another character was acting. Second, the dialogue felt a little flat, and like the narration, did not provide enough information for the reader to truly feel like a part of the story.

Overall, this story is definitely inventive, and I appreciated the darker tone and more serious themes it addressed. However, as with the first story in the anthology, I believe it should be expanded on to give the reader time to orientate him/herself in the world, get to know the characters, and pick up on the subtler nuances of the plot.

A Convergence of Worlds has earned a three star ranking from me, because I think it has a lot of potential. Each story is creative and unique, and they complement each other well as a collection. With a re-formatting of the text and a bit more clarity and “in-scene” writing from the first and last stories, I think this could be a truly strong collection that encompasses several of the lively sub-genres of fantasy.

View all my reviews

convergenceIf you are interested in reading A Convergence of Worlds and would like to help sponsor my writing and research, you can purchase it at my Amazon Associates Store. By doing this, you will not pay a cent extra, nor will the author receive a cent less, but I will receive a small commission on the sale. Simply click the book’s title or the book’s image.