Blog Tour – Anika Arrington’s The Accidental Apprentice

Anika Arrington’s the accidental apprentice
The Accidental Apprentice by Anika Arrington


interview with anika arrington

Tell us a little about yourself and your background? I moved to Arizona when I was 4, and I’ve been here ever since. I’m married to the best guy ever! I just gave birth to my sixth child, and he is just scrumptious. I’m a huge believer in self-education and life long learning, so I read all kinds of non-fiction as well as fiction. I studied at Northern Arizona University for three years: political science, communications, and creative writing. Obviously only one of those really stuck.

When did you decide to become a writer? Decide is such a solid, formal word. I guess I decided not to give up on writing about five years ago. I had started writing stories and given up on them a hundred times before, but I was just in a place in my life where I felt I could really make something happen, and I did.

What are your ambitions for your writing career? Well, at the end of it I would like to look back and be able to say, “I never wrote anything that was untrue to myself.” Beyond that, I just want to keep writing, keep putting books and stories out there, and improving as a writer and a person.

Which writers inspire you? Classical favorites include Dickens, C.S. Lewis, Shakespeare, Edgar Allen Poe, and Oscar Wilde. In a more modern context I love Erin Morgentstern, particularly her Flax Golden Tales on her website. Patrick Ruthfuss is another modern favorite. And I find that a good number of children’s writers really resonate with me: Dr. Suess, Avi, Brandon Mull, Shannon Hale, and Tomie de Paola to name a few.

What are you working on at the minute? Raising my babies. I just had my sixth kiddo in August, and he needs a lot of loving on. So with the release of The Accidental Apprentice I am taking a little break while ideas for the sequel simmer, and then I will jump back in come January. And I am never not working on being a better writer, so while I am taking a break from having a WIP I will do a bunch of reading up on writing and practice and play with older manuscripts like forgotten toys.

Have you written any other novels in collaboration with other writers? Well, I did have a short story published in an anthology, so it was great seeing the group effort behind the scenes, but I’m not sure I have the right temperament for collaboration. It would have to be with someone whose style was either completely different than mine, or who was so in sync with me that they could pretty much write the book themselves.

Do you write every day, 5 days a week or as and when? I wish I wrote every day. i want to. Some weeks I can, others I can’t. I have found that the real change in the way I write in the last year or two is that I don’t wait to feel like writing. I do it when I hate it, when I’m too tired, too stressed, too whatever. And in the end, that’s what it takes to get the work done.

Where do the your ideas come from? A small local honey stand in Pine, AZ.

Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer just see where an idea takes you? I love writing by the seat of my pants and seeing what happens. But I was forced with Accidental Apprentice to create an outline. And I didn’t always stick to it, but it was really helpful when I got stuck from time to time.

Do you read much and if so who are your favorite authors? Writers who don’t read confuse me. But that aside, this year has had me in a bit of a dry spell. I am usually a voracious reader, but between my pregnancy, my other kids, and writing my own book my To-Read list has grown rather than shrunk. Though Patrick Ruthfuss’s “The Name of the Wind” and “The Wise Man’s Fear” were so stinking good I wanted to give up writing and become a professional Patrick fan. I actually don’t tend to latch on to a particular author, but rather individual books that speaks to me. Garth Nix’s “Abhorsen” series was truly excellent, his “Mister Monday” didn’t really do much for me. And that’s ok. That’s the nature of art.

What book/s are you reading at present? “The Circle Maker” by Mark Batterson and “Leaders Eat Last” by Simon Senick

Tell us about the cover/s and how it/they came about. Well, I didn’t have much to do with the cover. The amazing Dale Robert Pease read the descriptions I gave him and then went to work, occasionally asking a few questions. The result is one of my favorite scenes from the book brought to life. I’m really happy with it.

What is your favourite positive saying? Really? I’m a great big cynic most of the time, and yet surprisingly optimistic. I find happy little phrases on the trite side. Just doing my best and being alternatively content and joyful (while making fun of the cheerleaders of the world) as often as possible is enough for me.

What is your favourite book and why? Why do people think that any writer could pick one favorite book? Every book is its own work of art, and thus different. We like different books for different reasons and seasons. I reread Dicken’s “A Christmas Carol” every year at Christmas time, but that’s not my favorite. I can recite “Green Eggs and Ham” from memory, but it’s not my favorite. My favorite is whatever suits the mood and the moment. Right now, I would probably say Shakespeare’s “Much Ado about Nothing.”

What is your favourite quote? The word “quote” is a verb. A quotation however, is a noun, and I might have a favorite one of those. “The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing.” Socrates

What advice would you give to your younger self? You’re a writer, stupid. Just go with it. And YOLO is not a justification for anything!

What advice would you give to aspiring writers? Be observant. Ideas are everywhere. Write them all down. Play with writing. Do it constantly and faithfully and don’t stop. Also have a day job. Try a bunch of different things to give you the life experiences that will feed your creative endeavors later on.

Is there anything else you would like to add that I haven’t included? Never try to write up interview questions at night when you are exhausted and the caffeine has worn off.


About The Accidental Apprentice

The Accidental Apprentice by Anika Arrington


An Excerpt from The Accidental Apprentice

The Accidental Apprentice by Anika Arrington


 About Anika

The Accidental Apprentice by Anika Arrington

Find Arrington on the web: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Amazon | Goodreads


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The Accidental Apprentice by Anika Arrington


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Review: Where the Carnies Are

Where the Carnies Are
Where the Carnies Are by Kayla Curry
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This review was done on behalf of The Author Visits: http:theauthorvisits.com

Note – the author provided a copy of the book for an unbiased review in return.

The Magical Land of the Carnival Kingdom. This is a short, sweet paranormal fantasy that is really a fairytale in disguise. Olive Sear is having a REALLY bad day – she caught her boyfriend in bed with another woman, she lost her job, her car stopped working on her way to going back to live with her parents, and it was raining….so when she suddenly finds herself in a bouncy house after taking off across the muddy fields to find a phone, she doesn’t flinch, being already numb from the days events. She continues on into the strange carnival-like place. The first person she mets, Alex, a sword thrower, becomes her guide into this new and fascinating place where she feels strangely at home. A closed, magical kingdom where carnies spend their off-season and retirement lives.

Pros: The characters are likable. A must for me. And plenty of side characters to liven up the place. At the end of the book we are promised “Sideshow,” a collection of 26 flash fiction stories about these side characters, which is what I wanted, although the link didn’t go anywhere at this time. Hopefully they are coming. They interested me, and I wanted more. This world she created was imaginative, and fascinating, and I wanted to step right into it. The author shows great promise, obviously loves a charming story, and a good, solid editor could fix some of the issues mentioned below, and help flesh out some of the people, and the in-between action scenes. I wanted more carny life. Her tone though is perfect for the story, and she obviously knows her knife-throwing stuff. She creates a world you hunger for more of. Who are these carnie folk, how did they come to be there, are they are born carnies, or are there any “new blood” ones? The castle, where a lot of the action occurs, is intriguing, mystifying and perfect for the book.

Cons: First person voice, which jumps in tense in some places. But it works for me, seeing everything through her eyes, even though it isn’t usually what I like. The characters are simplistic, slightly cardboard, and each has a place in the resolution of the story, and sometimes that is all they seem to be there for. There are some inconsistencies in the story, actions left out or skipped over where a page break or something would be appropriate, and places where it was confusing. She asks why her parents didn’t want her to know about carnie life, after just saying that she never knew them (her birth parents). She doesn’t seem to feel alarmed or freaked out as she casually absorbs the workings and people in the carnival kingdom. A normal response for a young woman, who just had a horrendous day, only to be confronted by a wondrous magical place, would either be to break down in tears, or dig in her heels and demand to see someone in charge. But instead, she allows herself to be cared for by the first person she meets, and towed round like a doll.

It doesn’t hurt of course that he is dressed like a pirate for his knife throwing act, and is handsome to boot. She hasn’t been there more than a few hours before she is agreeing to be his assistant until the gates open again in 2 months. Again, no break-down over that either. She is going to be there for two months, and she just accepts it. She takes the attitude that she must have carnie birth parents and so goes right for it. And although there is mention that an “advancer” – someone who can get out of the kingdom when the gates are closed – could get a message to her parents, she doesn’t do so in the month that goes by. Under the guise of “building trust,” she is blindfolded and led around the kingdom. Not sure most young women would go for that, with someone they just met the day before, under very strange circumstances. Her absolute trust in him, so soon, does’t read “real.” By the first few days they are in romance mode, and by the week’s end, in love. Too quick to be believable, but not if it’s a fairy tale. But when she finds out something special about him, instant change – she must be dreaming. Tends to go back and forth. Told she’s in a bubble, not on any planet, and the stars and sun aren’t real, are merely an illusion, and all she says is “Wow. That’s an interesting fact.”

But there is plenty of carny action, and in true fairy tale fashion, the bad are vanquished or rehabilitated, and everyone goes home happy and taken care of.

I think that’s why this became a fairy tale for me. While it can be classified as a paranormal fantasy, it’s slight nature, the somewhat two-dimensional characters, and the neat way everything got tidied up and resolved felt like one of the hundreds of fairy tales I read growing up. But in spite of this, I happen to love fairy tales, and when I had to stop reading in the middle and wait for the next day to finish, I was anxious to get back to the story, and kept thinking about it, always a great sign. The story was clean, love scenes were few and “fade-to-black,” so it’s suitable for the YA crowd. And I loved it’s cheerful, hopeful nature. So, judging it as a YA fairy tale,
My Rating: 4 /12 pixie dusted stars

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Review: DragonFly

DragonFly

DragonFly by Charles A. Cornell

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This review was done for TheAuthorVisits.com, a website devoted to authors and readers.

Here’s the review. It’s a dieselpunk, alt. history WWII story about aerial combat between Germany and Britain. Early on, I was going to give it 4 stars, but I so enjoyed it, and wanted to read the next book, and knew I wanted to reread this one, that I had to give it 5 stars. Very inventive, and with lovely illustrations that can be zoomed in on.

Title: DragonFly (Missions of the DragonFly Squadron #1) Illustrated

Author: Charles Cornell, Jose “Cutangus” Garcia, Illustrator

# of Pages 365 (no pages on ebook)

Synopsis:

Veronica “Ronnie” Somerset, is a ferry pilot of Lancaster bombers from the factories in Canada to England, or flying the ‘grumpy hippo’, the Sunderland flying boat, on mail runs. Known for speaking her mind, she is sent down to Enysfarne, down by Penzance – a radar station and outpost, but also what was to be her headquarters for the duration of this part of the war. It is also the birthplace of the Dragonfly, a “special” plane, highly experimental, and mysteriously powered. Here she will live up to all that was the British spirit of have a cuppa, and save the homeland.

Joining her in this wild ride of a diesel punk WWII alternative history combat story is her best friend Busbee Collins, Dr. Nigel Pennbridge, the inventor of the Dragonfly and it’s special mechanics, and the girls’ childhood friend, Vicki, HRH Victoria, Princess of Wales, and heir to the British throne, who also happens to be a damned fine pilot.

With an assortment of characters on both the British and Nazi side, and a slew of planes both real and invented, this story takes off and doesn’t stop except to refuel. We go behind the scenes with Hitler and his inner circle and his obsession with the mystical, and are treated on both sides to some interesting and inventive inter-weavings of truth and “fiction.”

Cons: Although there were some areas where it could be tightened up, and a few loose threads snipped, a few leaps in action without explanation, a few misspellings that could be British or jokingly said (cow-towing), and a few references that are un-PC, but probably okay for the time period in question, overall it was more than a decent job.

Pros: Here’s why I have them backwards (pros v. cons). Although I noticed most of those cons in the beginning, by the middle of the story, either they disappeared, or I was so caught up in the story, and in the wonderful flying world the author invented, as well as the incredible illustrations that can be blow up much bigger of the “new” aircraft by “Cutangus” that I never noticed any more issues.

I flew through the book like one of the pilots, nimbly jumping from one sortie to another, from Cornwall to Devon, from Jutland to the Baltic Sea, and back to England to be one of the main reasons the great Nazi invasion of Britain was fought back, esp. after the Americans caved, and made a truce with Germany, withdrawing all their aerial support of the B-17s, the Lancaster bombers, and other aircraft in service at the time, leaving England to stand on it’s own, even as most of the royal family, including the King, went via submarine to safety in Canada.

This is a book about WWII, and the planes and aerial combat figure prominently in it, but with the illustrations, and the website full of additional supporting information on the crew and team members of both sides, the aircraft from both (also experimental, but incredible), and the main hero(ines) being three indomitable young ladies with great talent at the stick, this book would appeal to most people. I’m a 50 something woman, and I really enjoyed it, and would give it the highest praise a reader could – I’d love to read more in the series, and I’d read it again!

My Rating: 5 loop-the-loop stars

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Escape Kit

thehouseai:

Here is a good friend’s post on a book that I would enjoy so I thought I’d pas it along. K

Originally posted on The Automatic Cat:

I’m more familiar with William Thirsk-Gaskill’s poetry than his prose. The self-confessed ‘socially inept Northerner,’ ‘the lost love-child of Ted Hughes and Alan Bennet,’ is a very fine poet, and I’m delighted to discover that he’s also a fine fiction writer.

Escape Kit is a novella in five parts and it’s a little gem. It revolves around four characters – fourteen-year-old Bradley, who’s travelling from York to Stevenage to visit his grandparents; his parents, Celia and Edmund, who have recently parted; and a man who is escaping from a German prisoner-of-war camp.

It would be unforgiveably spoilery to tell you exactly how all this fits together – there’s one beautifully-constructed reveal in particular – but it fits together with the precision of a Swiss watch. The characters are very well-drawn, each voice distinct, the prose is economical and unshowy. There’s no fat on the story at all.

It’s a very…

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Review: The Aquatic Labyrinth: A Venetian Mystery

The Aquatic Labyrinth: A Venetian Mystery
The Aquatic Labyrinth: A Venetian Mystery by Alastair Fontana
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I was given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Due to eye problems I am late with it, and apologies to all concerned. This is first and foremost an historical thriller/mystery. Set in Venice, one of the most fascinating cities in the world, in the 14th century, it is a period piece, much like Umberto Eco’s Name of the Rose. The historical detail, and description, as far as I can tell, is well-researched, and even the outlay of the book itself, with illustrations and such, gives it the feel of a more ancient manuscript. I won’t summarize the plot as that is everywhere, but I can say that the characters were well-drawn, and interesting, which is essential in a book to me. The mystery was intricately plotted and added much to the overall gothic feel of old Venice. whose canals create the labyrinth. My rating of a 4 versus a 5 is due to the heavy reliance on historical facts and details, and the Italian parts of the book. They tend to pull me out of a story. That is not just this book, but any book that has much substance. By nature I prefer more action to fact, although he did do a great job of world-building or in this case recreating a world. Would recommend for any who enjoy works such as The Name of the Rose, Kate Mosse, and even Ellis Peters medieval monk series. Great start for this budding writer.

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Europe In Autumn

Europe In Autumn.

Review: The 13th Apostle

The 13th Apostle
The 13th Apostle by Rachael F. Heller
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Another mini-review -This was another in a long line of “artifact” thrillers, with an American cyber sleuth and a biblical translator and former Israeli commando female lead. A lot of the book is spent back in the past, as we follow in the footsteps of one who was “there.” The story is fine, although lacking depth, and the characters were also a little bland for me, and I didn’t connect with them as I would have liked – that really colors how I react to a book. And the ending to me was trite, and sort of too mystical? But it is an okay read for the beach, for a trip, etc. No big shakes, but no major flaws to me.

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Review: Rift

Rift
Rift by Kay Kenyon
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is the first of my mini-reviews, due to a backlog of books I have grown. My computer was dying and it took too long to write them, so I set the books aside. With my poor memory, I can’t give much, but I will try. Eventually I will get caught up, and we will go from there. So, as for Rift, it’s a good solid space story. A multi-generational space station, terraforming gone wrong, and various factions that want to stay up in space, or come down to the surface and keep trying to get it to work, and people who have been living there, and been “changed” as the planet changes. Add in a strange race of aliens who capture human women, and it becomes a somewhat odd story, from many POVs, about finding what is right for the planet, and for it’s inhabitants. I gave it 4 stars for it’s unusual approach, and subjects. Otherwise I would give it a 3 for simply being too far out for my tastes, and too many characters to follow.

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A Sailor’s Dying Wish

A Sailor’s Dying Wish.

Review: The Twelve

The Twelve
The Twelve by Justin Cronin
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The second book in the series, this sequel/prequel to The Passage was very different, but equally good. Splitting it’s focus between the early days of the outbreak, and how it affected a few key people, and the continuation of events in The Passage, it presented a fuller picture of how and why, and fleshed out characters, as they parted ways, came together, found old friends, new ones, etc. Some of the main characters from the first book remained key players, but a few minor ones rose to prominence, and some old ones from the beginning of that book also showed up in the battle against The Twelve. At times mystical, at times gruesome, it is much more grandiose in scope about an outbreak of disease, like the zombies in World War Z, which was a sharp contrast – a slim volume that packed a loaded punch on the zombie war. This is more Micheneresque, broader in scope, and flowing in and around like eddies. When it comes down to it, it doesn’t matter if they are zombies from WWZ or vampires from these – the end result can be the same – the near collapse of civilization, and the loss of hope for some, and the glimmer of it for others. Prose that is both poetical and laconic at times. Descriptive and insightful.

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