Featured Author

Mackenzie Flohr

author of The Rite of Wands

Debut spotlight on fantasy author Mackenzie Flohr!

Who is Mackenzie Flohr? 

Mackenzie Flohr is a young adult fantasy author from Strongsville, OH, now residing in Hartland, MI. When she’s not writing, she’s usually at her outside of the home job playing the role of a phone bank representative. She is a huge animal lover and has helped tame and earn the trust of several feral cats in her lifetime. Right now she’s a bit obsessed with watching various eagle pairings raising their young. She also loves to travel to and explore different comic con conventions. She is a big fan of the Sony PlayStation and will play just about anything, though she has to admit she is absolutely terrible at first-person shooters (unless it’s Uncharted!)

You just released your debut novel, exciting! Tell us about it:

The Rite of Wands is the first in a new YA fantasy series, coming out on March 10th in both paperback and eBook through BHC Press/Indigo

About The Rite of Wands

One boy…one Rite… And a world of deadly secrets that could change the course of history—forever.

And so begins the tale of Mierta McKinnon. When a horrible fate reveals itself during his Rite of Wands ceremony, he must find a way to change not only his destiny but also the land of Iverna’s.

Forbidden from revealing the future he foresees to anyone, he is granted a wand and his magical powers, but still must master the realm of magic in order to save himself and those he loves.  
But Mierta is not the only one with secrets…especially when it’s impossible to know who to trust.

What’s your most memorable “author moment” so far?

I wanted something to have to remember my series by so I contacted Magical Alley in Washington to replicate the wand of one of my main characters in The Rite of Wands. What’s “magical” about the whole thing is this particular character I was inspired to write for actor Matt Smith, hoping someday I may be lucky enough to see him perform it on screen.

Right around the time my wand was being crafted, I discovered he was going to be at Wizard World Cleveland Comic Con, which was near the area I grew up. I ended up bringing him the wand, hoping he would sign it. When I set it on the table, he looked down at it and said, “Oh, wow.” I really wanted to tell him the story behind it, but I held my tongue, because I didn’t want to come across as a crazy fangirl (I don’t even know how to fangirl honestly!). He ended up signing it and just before I stepped out of line, he picked it up, had the biggest boyish grin on his face, and swung it at me and said, “Swoosh!”

What makes The Rite of Wands stand out from the crowd?

Witches and warlocks are not born with their magical powers. They must endure a harrowing ritual in order to obtain them.

Do you have any upcoming events?

I will be appearing at Brain to Books Cyber Convention and Book Expo 2017 – April 7-9th. For three days, Brain to Books shines the spotlight on authors not seen in bookstores as a means to welcome in the new season of book releases. They're giving away books, presenting readers with never-seen-before content, and featuring the world’s largest collection of undiscovered talent available today. Explore and participate in blog hops, panels, discussions, contests, games, prizes, story time, book readings, sales, etc., and exclusive content only available for these three days. They already have 180+ authors signed up and are expecting at least 5,000 readers. Come join the fun!

Any upcoming giveaways, swag, street raffles, contests?

Yes, I have something exciting planned for late spring though I can’t go into specifics yet. Follow me on Facebook and Twitter to be the first to know the details as they become available.

What are some of your favorite books?

Someone recently asked me a similar question on Goodreads about having a top ten list, so here it is!

1. A Brave New World - Aldous Huxley
2. The Neverending Story - Michael Ende
3. The Lord of the Rings - J.R.R. Tolkien
4. Harry Potter - J.K. Rowling
5. In The Lake Of The Woods - Tim O'Brien
6. The Things We Carry - Tim O'Brien
7. The Shining - Stephen King
8. The Count Of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas
9. Night - Elie Wiesel
10. Dead Even - Brad Meltzer 

The Rite of Wands would most appeal to book or movies fan of:

It will appeal to fans of The Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, and even Doctor Who (specifically fans of the Eleventh Doctor).

Are you open to guest blogging, author interviews, events? If so, which and how should inquirers/fans get ahold of you?

I’m still fairly new to blogging, however, my blog features interviews and book reviews of other authors besides my own. If you would like to feature me, or would like me to feature you, please send an email to mackenzie@mackenzieflohr.com.

What’s the best joke or story you ever heard?

I am going to nominate actor John Barrowman for his ability of telling the best stories about his time on the set of Arrow. If you are a fan of Arrow, and haven’t heard the story, go to YouTube and find any of his recent convention appearances and you will be rolling by the end. I would go into more, but I have no idea what kind of audiences are going to this blog lol! 

Thanks for chatting with us Mackenzie and best wishes on the success of The Rite of Wands!  PAGE DROPPERs, Mackenzie's title is a contestant in our COVER OF THE MONTH contest, if you'd like to vote for her cover this month to show your support.  

I had the opportunity to meet Mackenzie several years ago when I was doing a Wizard World event and she first told me about The Rite of Wands, so I share in her excitement to see this story brought to life. I can tell you first-hand she is a wonderful, enthusiastic, kind-hearted human being and I wish her every success, plus I can't wait to start my copy of her book!

-Drea, site admin

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Featured Author

John Darryl Winston

author of the IA series

And a big welcome to YA author John Winston!

Who is John Darryl Winston?

John Darryl Winston is a guy who didn’t always like his middle name because when he heard it, it usually meant he was in trouble. But now it distinguishes him from the Star Trek guy and that talented Beatle. He’ll try almost anything once as long as it doesn’t put his physical body in danger (I only got one shot a this) or compromise his moral compass. He loves all sports but only as a participant not a spectator. He first discovered his love of storytelling in a high school auditorium on a first date watching Superman the movie. He doesn’t remember the date, but the movie would forever shape his destiny. I’m … I mean he’s also a musician and songwriter.

Tell us about your most recent/upcoming work:

I’ll encapsulate my most recent/upcoming work into my IA trilogy that I’ve ‘sort of’ just completed. I say ‘sort of’ because I just received the suggested changes for Union, the final book in the series, from my editor. But… in the process of waiting, I was compelled to write a novella/graphic novel that falls, timeline-wise, somewhere between book 2 and 3 in the series. I’m calling it Firecracker IA 2.5 for now, but we shall see. The story follows a secondary character (Harvis) in a first-person present day narrative as he follows the main character of the story (Naz) on a dark quest. I like it so far.

What makes the IA series stand out from the crowd?

It’s not the individual elements that make IA unique but the combination and structure of those elements that make up the whole. Add to that, elements of magical realism and a solid framework of diverse characters, and I think IA stands out on its own from the crowd, but at the same time feels familiar. Indeed, I don’t find books very much like mine in Barnes & Noble, and if you or your readers do, please point me in their direction as my students need more of them.

The IA series would most appeal to book or movies fan of:

IA would most appeal to the fans of the Harry Potter series that have an affinity for science fiction, as well as fans of Batman and Superman. But it’s all about the origin story at its core.

When and where do you write your best?

I can’t think, right now, of a best time or place when the muse comes and the spirit moves me to create. I’ve created a pretty cool writing space in my home in which I write, maybe half the time. Other times, I like to travel about to nowhere in particular, hear the sounds of the world, the pulse of the streets. I do "try" to get up early every day and be writing by 4 a.m. With my busy schedule, that guarantees I get some quality writing in daily.

Do you have any favorite books?

I have three favorites in no particular order: Catching Fire, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, & Carrie.

What’s your most memorable “author moment”?

Presenting at the 2016 Las Vegas Writer’s Conference was my most memorable author moment. I gave a one-man panel on my journey from recording artist to published author to a banquet hall full of attendees and then present workshops on world-building and infusing music into fiction. I had to make the people believe I knew what I was talking about. Then, I realized something; I actually did. Eureka!

Rod Stewart, Denzel Washington, and Stevie Wonder – you have to run a restaurant with one, rob a bank with one, and fight an army of demons with the other….Go!

Wow! Here goes, straight from the heart with no hesitation. Never was a fan of Rod Stewart although I did like some of his songs. I’m gonna run the restaurant with him and give him the final say as I know nothing about the culinary arts, and am not a big eater. Oh, and I never thought he was sexy either.

No doubt, I’m recruiting Stevie to help me with my bank heist, and you guessed it, Stevie’s driving the getaway car. May as well have fun with it. I never really believed he was blind anyway. When we get caught (and we will get caught), Stevie’s big bank account will get us a reduced sentence of doing a six-month tour of juvenile detention centers, and I get to be Stevie’s guitarist (I am a big fan).

And finally, I have to have the greatest actor of all time at my side when I’m fighting an army of demons. This is a no-brainer. Denzel can walk on water, so demons will be a walk in the park. And he can guarantee victory. 

You have a lot of other projects going on…tell us a little bit about some of them:

There’s the Adopt an Author program that I’ve developed, working with students in the classroom using my fiction to foster the love of reading and writing. And there’s my next story, Ultima Humana, a YA sci-fi tale about the last human, and how she uses her humanity and morality to show a race of immortals the true meaning of life. Although I’m still in the world-building stages, I’m having fun with this one. It’s pretty much worked out in my head, and I hesitate outlining, opting to let the characters and setting dictate the direction and flow.

What’s the funniest thing that happened to you as an author?

I was text messaging and not pay attention as usual (my ADHD) at a graduation ceremony at Wilkes University (I was graduating at the time) when I vaguely heard someone call my name. I assumed I was being scolded for not paying attention, my early school years invading my memories. Apparently I had won something. I was like, huh? All my classmates were trying to hold back their laughs. “You have to go on stage,” one of them said. They had to explain to me what was going on. It was hilarious. I had just been awarded the Beverly Hiscox Scholarship. I accepted it, of course. Hehe.

Do you have any upcoming events?

There’s always something almost weekly these days, especially with March being National Literacy Month. I’m doing several author appearances at area schools in Detroit, as well as a few book clubs and local libraries. I’ll also be giving a few writing workshops on world-building, poetry as lyrics, and platform-building starting in April. Exact dates, times, and locations will be posted on my website.

Thank you John! Glad to have you share your stories with our members. Page Droppers, be sure to check out John's award winning series IA. I have personally read it and think it is a must for YA and adults and I don't say that about just any book.  

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