Another Scavenger Hunt #Ritetoreign

>> Tuesday, November 20, 2018

I had a lot of fun with the scavenger hunt I did earlier. I LIKE encouraging people to check out places they wouldn't nominally go, find out more about my books and more about me, by extension.

So, I'd look to do that again, only this time there's going to be twenty questions and a bunch of prizes so more than one winner. .I'll also be sending you on quests to look at books by Mirren Hogan, my coauthor on Incantation which we wrote together for the Rite to Reign book bundle (coming out in just a few weeks). If you preorder, don't miss these great freebies. This will run until the Rite to Reign release date (December 11) and I will notify winners no later than December 15 2018. Just gather the answers and send me an email to stephanieebarr at gmail dot com.

As prizes I have five large black V-neck t-shirts, which are cool beans. I bought some for relatives and I have five extra.

 I also have ten codes for a free audio book version of Ideal Insurgent, my space opera full of rockets and EVA and badass cats and fire-breathing dogs and smart people. Smart people are my favorite and if they're smart asses, even better. I've got you covered with Ideal Insurgent.

Unfortunately, both are limited to the US. Sorry, folks.

I will choose fifteen winners of those who send correct answers and you can choose between codes or shirts until one or the other runs out.

For these, I'll be mostly using universal links, but you should be able to get the answer at any retailer's site you like. If you need a specific site, I'll make a note. 

Now, for the questions:

 1) In my my rollicking space opera Ideal Insurgent Bryder's well suited as a subversive, a chaos agent with laser-sharp instincts, a grudge against the Empire and what other commodity?

2) Tander in Curse of the Jenri, one of my epic fantasies, is bringing all the essentials you'd need on an epic quest: Skills, weapons, volatile fighting companions. Who else is he bringing on his quest you don't normally associate with an epic fantasy quest?

3) In Mirren Hogan's epic Dragonhaze, dragon riding is allowed but what's illegal?

4) What is on the cover of my poetry book, Musings of a Nascent Poet?

5) In Incantation, there's a plethora of critters. Using clues from this blog post, name four (see graphic).

6) Among the freebies for Rite to Reign, there are fifteen ebooks by various set authors and what unique item?

7) In my various books, I have quite a few shifters, not just your standard werewolves. Beast Within, book one of the Bete novels which specializes in shifters, has an MC that's not your average shifter. What does Xander shift into? (Bet you can tell from the cover)

8) The second Bete novel, Nine Lives, obviously involves cat shifters. Humans are a threat in this book and Laren hates humans, so why is Laren's choice to hook up with Darma so odd?

9) In the Rite to Reign book bundle, how many books are listed as having more than one author, like ours, Incantation, is? (Do include our book in your count)

10) How many flying cars are there in Incantation?

11) I have several precursor mini-anthologies available for each of my novels or series. For The Taming of Dracul Morsus, it's Second Slavery. For the Bete Novels, it's Power Struggle. For Tarot Queen, it's King of Swords. For Curse of the Jenri, it's Delicate Dangerous Queens. For Saving Tessa, it's Technical Difficulties [actually, this one is a sequel, not prequel]. What's the precursor mini-anthology for Ideal Insurgent?  [hint: if you use this link for smashwords, you'll get a some help.] Note also that all the mini-anthologies are free everywhere but amazon (and you can download files for your kindle at smashwords).

12) Speaking of free, I have another full up anthology, Conjuring Dreams, which showcases my earliest prose and how I taught myself to write and includes several great stories. There's also my poetry book, Musings of a Nascent Poet. Both books are free everywhere but Amazon. I have managed to get one of my freebies free on Amazon. What book is it?

13) I have a monthly newsletter, where I talk about writing, give updates on what's going on and include a free story every month. You can sign up in the little side box on this blog (top right) but it's not required for this question because the newsletters get posted on my facebook page. I sent out a newsletter on my birthday, November 19. What was the name of the story I included?

14) Although there's a bit of romance in most of my books, Tarot Queen is among the steamiest with my indomitable (no, really, don't let the first chapter fool you) Tarot Queen, Roxelle. What's the name of her significant other? If the link doesn't work (blogger is giving me fits) go to or use the link on #11.

15) If you love mythology, The Taming of Dracul Morsus is full of a new and varied pantheons of gods and goddesses and dragon and all matter of crazy things. Xana takes Dracul Morsus from his comfort zone. In fact, she drives him where? More than once.

16) I you like things a little closer to home, Saving Tessa is an action packed SF set only a few decades in the future. When Tessa gets kidnapped, what do the Maxcom folks want from Dylan?

17) In Mirren Hogan's Daughter of Shadows, Ataryn the keref shifter risks everything to become what?

18) How much does it cost to preorder the entire Rite to Reign set?

19) Here is a jigsaw of Incantation. There are no wrong answers: Just tell me your time.

20) Obviously, Mirren Hogan and I rub shoulders with a number of well-regarded authors. Our last question has to do with one of their offerings. So, how many heroes are there (not counting our heroine)?


New Release: Sovadron

>> Friday, November 16, 2018

So, I was talking to Christina "DZA" Marie about her new release (out today!) of a graphic novel that goes alone with a previous graphic novelization and several novellas. She's passionate and then some about writing fiction that says the right things and makes the kind of social statements she thinks need to be made. And is another one out there proving that doesn't mean you can't write entertaining kick-butt literature.

Did I mention there are DRAGONS?

But, hey, here's what she had to say:

1. Tell us how you see yourself, first as a person, then as a writer.

I’m a partially over-caffeinated zombie who started the blog Dragons, Zombies & Aliens while being an extremely over-caffeinated zombie in college, because everyone else was stressing about finals and I needed somewhere to gush about all the fantasy and sci-fi books, movies, and shows that I love. Full-time I work as a community support staff—that’s job coach and PCA for people with disabilities—and when I realized I had no social life decided to volunteer for the Sexual Violence Center in Minneapolis.

As a writer, I adore fantasy and science fiction and am apparently incapable of writing anything without throwing some degree of magic or highly improbable science into it. The last few years I’ve written about LGBTQ+ angels, witches from Minnesota, and Canadian cannibals from the future.

2. Many people going the traditional route in particular make a point of leaving social commentary out of their work. You're not one of them. Tell us why.

Two reasons.

The first is that most great SFF works do have some sort of social commentary in their writing. Star Trek made a point to have its cast be as diverse as possible in the era of the Civil Rights movement and criticized the Cold War. Harry Potter talks a lot about prejudice and how it can be wielded as a weapon by people in power. Rick Riordan has recently been tackling LGBTQ+ and POC issues in his Percy Jackson and Magnus Chase series. So handled properly, social commentary makes good writing even better.

The other reason is because stories that don’t grapple with some sort of issue seem really...hollow to me. Social issues such as racism, sexism, religious persecution, ableism, homo/transphobia, and so many others affect all of us every day of our lives. Why wouldn’t you write about it?

3. What put you on the path to writing?

I’ve been writing since I was twelve, though I’ve only been getting published since I was twenty (so, three years now). Some people think my writing passion is genetic, as both of my parents are also published authors, but I like to think it would have happened even if I’d been born into a family of mechanics. It’s too much a part of my life to imagine being without it.

Mostly, I started writing because I was getting sick of seeing all the stereotypes and lack of relatable women in my media. Even at age twelve, I saw far too many girls and women in books, shows, and movies who cowered in the corner while their boyfriends saved the day. And someone—it was probably my mom—said that I should write what I want to read. So I did. The first (several) manuscripts sucked, but it got me going.

4. Why graphic novels?

Graphic novels are a new thing for me. Originally, Sovadron was designed as a traditional novel. But then I realized the story just didn’t have that rhythm, so I opted for a series of novellas. But at the time of that realization I was working with Endless Ink Publishing on their sci-fi illustrated novella series Earth’s Final Chapter (see above: future Canadian cannibals) and thought, You know? My work would be pretty epic in graphic novel format. It’s something I’ve never done before and I love sinking my teeth into projects like that. You have to shake things up from time to time.

5. Was there anything in particular that inspired your stories and novellas?

Everything inspires my stories and novellas. Usually historical or contemporary social issues (another reason I can’t write SFF without throwing some of that type of commentary in there).

Specific to Sovadron, that was inspired by my family’s Dungeons & Dragons adventures. The five major characters we meet in the series—Shakairra, Rain, Elkvein, Gundar, and Kyne (who was originally played as a guy named Quarrel-Kyne)—were characters played by me, my dad, and my brother. I loved our adventures so much that I decided to write them down, but quickly grew tired of the same old medieval European setting. After some trial and error and a bachelor’s in history that focused a lot on the United States, I settled on creating a world inspired by post-colonial America (late 18 th /early 19 th century), and then just let the characters loose.

6. How do you manage your time to write?

A question for the ages!

Honestly, a lot of it comes down to “write whenever you can,” since I work full-time, have been working a temp part-time position with a local political campaign, and have recently started volunteering. I carry my laptop with me everywhere.

I’m scheduled to be a PCA for one of my clients all day and she’s taking a nap? Time to write.

Sitting in the crisis unit with no phone calls or paperwork? Time to write.

It’s one in the morning and I can’t sleep no matter how hard I try? That is prime writing time.

7. What are your favorite things to read, either genres, authors, or any other descriptor.

Honestly, I read pretty much anything. Fantasy is my personal favorite, though I’m usually reading a history book alongside it. Partly for research for my own stuff, but also simply because I love learning new things.

Some of my favorite authors to date are Rick Riordan, George R. R. Martin, Robyn Bennis, Sara J. Maas, Margaret Fortune, and April Daniels. That’s YA urban fantasy, grimdark fantasy, steampunk military, YA(?) epic fantasy, hard sci-fi, and superhero genres, respectively. I’ve got more favorites listed on my website.

8. Do you consider yourself a character writer or is there something else you focus on?

Character writer, definitely. I find stories that are not driven by characters to be incredibly boring. If a character isn’t doing anything and is just going along with the flow, they either need to die or just not be in the story at all. I get that there are some stories—and real-life situations—where someone is initially kind of thrown into the plot or dragged along against their will (i.e. Hunger Games), but so long as they turn around and start actively contributing to what’s going on relatively quickly, then it’s all good.

9. Tell us what projects are exciting you at the moment and why.

Oh, boy, what isn’t exciting me at the moment?

Obviously there’s Sovadron. Right now we’re chugging along at publishing just one chapter at a time because budgets suck and I thought it’d be a great idea to self-publish this. (I still stand by that, but it’s a pain.) But I believe there’s some real potential in this story and people are going to love it. It’s new, it’s engaging, and full of action, adventure, and violence.

Outside of graphic novels, I work with a small publishing agency called Sic Semper Serpent doing a series of short stories called Twisted Tales. Basically, I re-write classic fairy tales into something a little more feminist. So far we’ve done The Little Mermaid, Rapunzel, and Beauty and the Beast—now completely free of Stockholm syndrome! Currently I’m working on a short for them called “Tower of Dragons,” basically a flip of the traditional “princess trapped in the tower must be rescued by valiant knight who slays the dragon and marries her” plotline.

And early next year I’ll be returning to Earth’s Final Chapter. I left the Canadian cannibals on a hell of a cliffhanger so they’d hire me for some sequels. Worked like a charm. 

10. Why should we not read your graphic novel Sovadron?
  • It’s illustrated by John Hawkins, who is way better at art than anyone has any right to be.
  • It’s an epic fantasy not based on medieval Europe, instead using a completely different setting.
  • Due to budget restraints we can only publish it one chapter at a time at a snail’s pace. (At least until enough people buy it or become patrons on my Patreon page.)
  • Girl turns into a super-strong werewolf and crushes the skull of a giant in the first chapter. Giants’ brains are icky.
  • In the prologue, the immortals are stupid enough to curse the super evil goddess Sovadron to sleep forever in a coffin beneath the world she literally just tried to take over, because that never goes wrong.
  • On a related note, I may have stolen some plot points from Rick Riordan.
  • And some grimdark elements from George R. R. Martin.
  • It’s full of powerful women, characters of color, characters with disabilities, and characters who identify as LGBTQ+. Anyone who’s ever sympathized with Nazis or been called a “broflake” should probably stay away.

Bonus: What does the "DZA" stand for?

Dragons, Zombies and Aliens! The name of my blog for fantasy, horror, and sci-fi.

Thank you so much for interviewing me!

Want to learn more: Here's how to find her!

Blog: and 


Sovadron page: 




John Hawkins:  


#Ritetoreign Scavenger Hunt Winner: Miss Missy

>> Sunday, November 4, 2018

So the winner of the scavenger hunt prize, is "Miss Missy" and I'll be sending her an email.

Congrats and thanks for so many of you to actually do a scavenger hunt. I felt vindicated!

And don't forget to get your copy of Rite to Reign!



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