The Door Keeper Blog Tour The Final Day

Final day of the Blog Tour! What a great week. Ready for tomorrow!

Today I’m fortunate enough to be featured on 2 different blogs! First up, a big thank you to Rachael at https://rachandbooks.wordpress.com/ the review and interview!

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I was lucky enough to receive an ARC of The Door Keeper by Steen Jones from Royal James Publishing and read the book within two days! It’s a very unique Fantasy book that is all about navigating your destiny, the unbreakable bond between mothers and daughters, family, love, grief, loss, and courage in the face of adversity and the unknown. Not to mention a cast of characters that you will certainly root for the entirety of the book. I have not read many (or any?!) Fantasy books with a single mom as the protagonist and it was genuinely refreshing to read about. The story pulls you in from the beginning, and once you get to the meaning behind the title of the book, the story becomes even more enjoyable, fun, and incredibly intriguing. And the traveling between worlds is always a big ‘ole plus in my book! 😉 Steen is an enchanting, creative, and compelling writer and I will definitely check out the next book in this series. And I am delighted to say that I conducted an interview with Steen below that dives into her life and more about this debut novel! Check it out!

Interview:

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Hi, Steen! Can you tell us a little about yourself?

Hi, Rachel! Well, I’m a southern girl who has lived in Georgia my entire life, yet for some reason sometimes ask questions with a British accent. I’ve been married for over 15 years to my amazing husband and a mom to two incredible kids. I completely love Jesus, but sometimes get frustrated with the institution of religion. Within the last three years, I’ve become an avid dog lover, adding 2 pups to our family. I love to read, watch movies, paint, and sit in the sunshine any chance I get.

How do you spend your time when you’re not writing?

In the winter, you’ll find me cuddled on the couch with the dogs and my husband drinking wine and binge watching shows on Netflix. That’s about it for winter, I tend to go into hibernation. But in the summer, I’ll be outside at the pool soaking up the sun and relaxing by our pool. I love to garden, growing vegetables, and colorful flowers. I’ve recently taken to cooking and baking, sometimes getting lost in the kitchen for hours. (Too bad I don’t have a house elf to clean up after me, though.)

Where did you get the idea for this novel?

That’s actually an interesting story! About 7 or 8 years ago, I noticed a door on the edge of a field close to where I lived at the time. It was a freestanding door that lead seemingly nowhere, but of course, with my imagination, I immediately decided it went to Narnia. Every time I drove by it, I’d add a little something to the story in my mind, then would forget about it again. Finally, I jotted some notes in my phone and over the next few years, the story developed into a different version than what it is today. Finally, almost exactly 2 years ago, bored one day, I wrote an outline. After that, I simply couldn’t stop. FYI, the door is no longer where it originally was, because it now is in my backyard! (Great story for another time.)

Tell us about the cover for The Door Keeper and how it came about.

The book cover was very important to me. As an artist, the visual picture is almost as critical for me as the words of the story itself. I wanted the cover to feel a bit vintage, something that reminded the reader of older, more simpler time. For me, this story is like a grown up version of The Chronicles of Narnia, so I wanted to cover to reflect that. I have a friend, (the most talented Meg Brim,) who created the logo for my business many years ago, and I knew if anyone could capture my vision for the book, she could. And boy did she. I am so incredibly happy with the cover and the beautiful introduction it gives my readers to this story.

Give us insight into your protagonist, Eden. What makes her unique?

I think what makes Eden unique is the tension she wrestles with. I’m not sure I have read a fantasy book yet where the protagonist is a mother and feels torn between what lies ahead and what lies behind. She has so many responsibilities in this world, it makes it difficult for her to pursue her destiny in others. She can’t just jump in feet first, she has to hesitate, question, and attempt to balance the increasing complexities of her existence. I think this tension is unique in the fantasy book world, but not in the real world of working mothers. I feel this tension resonates with many of us moms that want to make our mark on the world.

Was there a real-life inspiration behind your characters?

Um…heck yes. They say write what you know, and I definitely did that. I think that is why I’m so nervous about this book coming out. Yes, it’s a fantasy book about magical places, but the characters and relationships are all very personal. Almost every character started based on people in my life, but I will say most morphed into their own beings. The people who know me and my family personally will recognize everyone immediately. What can I say? The people around me are fascinating and interesting characters.

What drew you to the Fantasy genre?

I love fantasy because of the grand, epic story lines. I adore all things magic and the escape that fantasy provides. There is nothing I enjoy more than getting lost in another world and my imagination being stimulated. There are no rules in fantasy unless you want there to be. My entire life, I’ve daydreamed, and this gave me an opportunity to actually call it work.

What did you enjoy most about writing The Door Keeper?

I loved the research aspect of writing this book. My imagination would take me somewhere, then I would have to allow my brain to catch up so I could do it justice with words. Some of my most favorite days were days I spent Googling things and researching. I also loved the moments when I solved a plot problem or that moment that a new world was born. Those sparks of inspirations that immediately clicked into place with the story.

What was your favorite part of the story to write and why?

I think my favorite part was writing Eden’s first entrance into her home world. I’d been waiting and looking forward to writing it for months. I love all things sunny and hot, so of course, her homeland encompassed those things. I remember the day I wrote it was freezing and there was snow on the ground. I woke up so excited because I knew that day was the day, and there was nothing more I wanted to do that day than pretend to be warm and toasty in Caelum.

Is there a certain type of scene that is harder to write than others?

I would say that for me, the hardest scenes to write are the set ups. The times I need to catch the reader up without being able to use dialogue. I like writing actions and conversations, but sometimes you just have to get some info to the reader without those things. Those are the most difficult for me, and I’m still trying to figure out how to do them well.

Did you have a favorite world in The Door Keeper and are you planning on revealing more worlds in the sequels?

Of course I’m planning new worlds for the sequels! I’m extremely excited for 2 new worlds in the sequel specifically. Terra Arborum will always hold a special place in my heart for being the first world I created, but Caelum is my favorite. If I’m being honest, if I were actually from a different world, I think it would be Caelum. Maybe that’s why I created it for Eden.

What research went into writing this book? Did you travel for any research?

I wish I could say that I did. Positano is the one place on this Earth I want to be more than anywhere. I had already planned my dream vacation there before I started the book, so I already knew it relatively well. Of course, I spent days and days researching restaurants, villas, and blogs of travels there so I could do it justice. Villa Le Sirene is an actual place you can rent to stay. I reached out to the owners, letting them know I was using their place in my book. One day, I will hand deliver them a copy.

Did you plan to write The Door Keeper as a trilogy from the beginning?

Yes, I did. I knew there was a ton of story to tell. Honestly, I see it being sets of trilogies. The first revolving around Eden and her family. Because of the different worlds I’ve created and the time table established, I can see there being other trilogies featuring other Door Keepers, perhaps in other times or based in different worlds. We will see how this one goes.

Is there a message in this book that you hope readers will grasp?

Great question. I hope that people read The Door Keeper and walk away with a reminder that fear can twist you and your decisions if you let it. Fear is manipulative, and it can rob you of adventure, love, and your destiny. I have a necklace I love that says, “fear keeps life small.” For me, that is a huge take away from the book.

Is there anything you can tell us about the next book or something to look forward to?

Besides new worlds, and interesting new characters, you will finally see why Eden’s mother put her on the path she did, and the fulfillment of Eden and her family’s destiny. There will be a lot more action and adventure in the sequel, now that the characters and worlds have been established. I seriously can’t wait!

Everyone give a round of applause to Steen because those were some awesome answers that give us some more insight into her brain, life, and the world(s!) of The Door Keeper. Make sure you pre-order and read it when it comes out on February 20th! Thanks again to Royal James Publishing and Steen Jones!

Next up is my friend over at Happy Meerkat Reviews!

Thank you to C at https://happymeerkatreviews.wordpress.com for the interview.

Today I am pleased to announce I am once again taking part in The Door Keeper Blog Tour and have an interview with the author of this great book Steen Jones!  I’ve already reviewed The Door Keeper as part of the blog tour and after thoroughly enjoying it I wanted to find out more about the author.  As well as an interview below there are also a couple of giveaways happening so please stay tuned and keep scrolling down!  First the interview! 🙂

1. What was the inspiration for The Door Keeper?
 The idea for this book came from a real door that I saw on a regular basis. About 7 or 8 years ago, I noticed a door on the edge of a field close to where I lived at the time. It was a freestanding door that lead seemingly nowhere, but of course with my imagination, I immediately decided it went to Narnia. Every time I drove by it, I’d add a little something to the story in my mind, then would forget about it again. Finally, I jotted some notes in my phone and over the next few years, the story developed into a different version than what it is today. Just in case you were wondering, the door is no longer where it originally was, because it now is in my backyard! (Great story for another time.)
2. The book focusses on Italy and the descriptions are so vivid, did you have personal experience with the place and if so what’s your favourite part? (if not would you like to go?)
 I wish I have been there! I’ve been wanting to go to Italy for as long as I remember, and only a few years ago discovered the coastal city of Positano. In answer to your question, I have detailed and planned an extensive 10 day trip to Italy starting in Venice, traveling through Tuscany and ending in Positano. One day, my husband and I will take that trip.

3. Did you do a lot of research for this novel?

I did a ton of research. I wanted the parts of the novel that took place in this world to be as real as possible, so I used actual places. All of the sights you read about in Italy and Georgia actually exist, so I wanted to do these places justice. Also, I found myself researching herbs, flowers, and medicinal properties a decent amount when writing parts about other worlds.

5. The worlds that are visited in the book are really well imagined, was it easy or difficult to come up with so many original places?

Thank you! I would definitely say that some parts were easier than others. Most of the worlds I have created began from a single inspiration. With out giving too much away, Caelum was sparked from my sitting on the beach and watching an unusual set of waves flowing into each other. World building is absolutely one of my favorite parts of writing, day dreaming and imagination are part of my life long strengths.

6. You decided to publish your book with Royal James publishing. Have you had any problems with the publishing process and what made you choose this method of publishing?

I decided to publish with Royal James because they are a smaller start up business. I loved the idea of being a collaborator in the process rather than have my hands tied with a larger publisher and I knew this way would give me a better chance with that. I wasn’t scared of the “start up” part because I’ve worked with start up over the last 5 years and I know that no one works harder or has more to prove. There is of course trial and error with a starter business because you have to learn the best way to do things, but I have to say that working with Royal James has been worth it! They have allowed me to be a part of the process, from designing the cover to the Blog Tour and hosting giveaways.

7. Are you working on anything new or taking some time off?

I’m excitedly working on the sequel to The Door Keeper!

8. Does anyone inspire your writing?

I would absolutely say that my family inspires my writing. The door may have inspired the fantasy side of the story, but my family and our unique trials of life inspired the relational story of The Door Keeper. They also helped serve as inspirations for many of my characters.

9. Do you have any favourite book(s)/ author(s)?

I love C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien. (I’m obsessed that these two were friends.) I also like Rick Riordan, he is so gifted with intertwining mythology and the modern world. I am currently reading the Harry Potter series for the first time, so J.K. Rowling is blowing my mind.

10. Any advice for new and aspiring authors?

I still consider myself new and aspiring. 🙂 But, as far as advice in general, I’d say that patience is the most important aspect of following your dreams, no matter what they are. It’s the toughest thing to learn and everyone wants it, but no one wants to learn it.

Some fun questions:

11. Cats, dogs, meerkats, nothing or something else?

Absolutely dogs. I have a beagle and a bassador. (Half basset hound and half lab. He looks like a white dragon.)

13. As a British tea drinker I’m always curious: Tea, coffee or something else?

Coffee every morning, but every now and again I enjoy a cup of exotic tea with honey in the evenings.

14. If you could live in any book which would it be and why?

It sounds corny, but The Door Keeper. I adore the idea of being able to cross worlds. Although, who knows…maybe the doors do exist and we are ALL currently living in it.

Thank you so much for your time Steen! 🙂

The Door Keeper Blog Tour: Review of The Door Keeper by Steen Jones

Super thankful for this honest review from a blogger in the UK!

Happymeerkatreviews

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Today I am pleased to announce that I am taking part in The Door Keeper blog Tour.  I will be posting my review for this book and be holding an interview with the author on Sunday 19th!  The Door Keeper is fantasy book and the first in a trilogy and will be released on February 20th!  There are two giveaways happening so stay tuned and keep scrolling down past the review, but first let’s take a look at the book cover followed by my review.

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I was kindly sent a free digital ARC copy of this book for the review.

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Eden’s life with her daughter Gabby is a normal and quite happy one. But with dreams of her mother’s death plaguing her, she can’t ignore the truth anymore and goes in search of answers to who her birth mother was. Her quest leads her to find a key, one that will open up more than…

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The Door Keeper Blog Tour Day Five

Thank you to Vik Tory Arch for giving an extensive review on her blog for The Door Keeper! Warning, spoilers below. 🙂 Follow her website https://followingthegoldenquill.wordpress.com/ to keep up with her reviews.

My thoughts: 5 stars out of 5

Spoilers Alert: Precede with caution, spoilers might be spotted here and there. If spoilers are you pet peeves, then disregard this review altogether by going directly to Amazon for a purchase or further examination.
Without any shadow of the doubt Eden’s story has been quiet great and unique adventure. Bravisimo to Steen Jones’ debut novel. The author outdone with the characters and the plot development. Characters are charming, except the hostility some exuded, and well-placed in the plot. My favorite, of course, is Gabby. For 10 year-old girl, she knows and acts as typical middle school-er with sleepovers, school projects, and questions, but with her own sense of humor, especially around her mom and the new dude, James.
Another favorite is Eden. She comes as one of the main characters of the novel. Her life filled with weird dreams and often reoccurring nightmares, makes life even harder. She still has many questions about her family…
Eden is forced to have a look into her past, which opened the door to her destiny. Unknown key, strange doors had opened up new territories. Will she pass the fear not test and walk into her past, present, and future?
One of the strong landmarks of this novel are doors which are guarded by the Door Keepers… the different lands, the places realistically subjected to wars and times of peace. With a rightful queen returned to Caelum’s throne, will the life and peace be brought to usual rhythm?
The ways of treason, imprisonment, and more secrets weaved into Eden’s life, threatening to destroy all she knew and cherished.
Will fear factor ruin the legacy?
I love that the story ended on the sweet mystery. Gabby, Eden’s daughter, went from ten to almost eighteen years-old. But when her mom disappeared again, only Gabby holds the key to the rescue. Will she believe the wild story her uncle told her, and with the mother’s journals will she be fast enough to use her gift to unlock the place of her mom’s disappearance just in time?

The Door Keeper Blog Tour Day Three

Thank you so much to Marilyn for featuring on her amazing blog. You should check out her blog http://thesalonnieresapartments.com/. Her thoughtful review of The Door Keeper is below. You should also follow her on Instagram, her pictures with reviews are beautiful and almost always themed to the book.

 

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A little while back I interviewed author Steen Jones about her upcoming debut book, The Doorkeeper. The book is due for release on February 20 and I was lucky enough to snag an ARC of the book to review!

Eden Saunders is an artist and single mother about to open her very own art gallery. She’s happy, busy and contented, and ready to put the tragedies of her past behind. But that’s all about to change when her daughter Gabby starts asking questions about Eden’s parentage. Eden always knew she was adopted and there were mysterious circumstances surrounding her birth, but she was more than happy to let sleeping dogs lie… until now, especially with the recent dreams she’s been having about her birth mother. All this prompts Eden to head to Italy in an attempt to find out more about who she is and where she came from. Little does she know, there’s a lot more to this than she realized and it’s all connected with a mysterious door in the middle of a field which Eden has long been drawn to.

The Doorkeeper is touted as a fantasy book but it’s more than that – it’s also a tale of the bond shared between mother and daughter. The relationship between Eden and Gabby is heartwarming and delightful, and a big part of what drives the story. In fact, more than anything, it is the relationships between Eden and her friends, her family and the people she would meet along her journey that truly drives The Doorkeeper. As you can guess, there is also a strong female arc, for it is Eden’s desires and that of the other women of the book which set things in motion, for better or for worse.

Jones isn’t afraid of tackling tragedy either – Eden lost her husband early on in her marriage and she must also deal afresh with the loss of her birth mother, two incidents which make her simultaneously eager yet cautious to tackle the new experiences that lie before her. There’s her daughter to consider too – and it’s interesting seeing how Eden balances her desire to rush into new worlds with the responsibility she feels to keep her child safe at all costs.

Did I say new worlds? Let’s not forget the fantasy aspect of The Doorkeeper! Jones has created a number of different worlds, both quirky and dark, playful and sinister. And she doesn’t just stop at fantasy worlds either, breathing life into earthly locales such as Positano, Italy, so much so if she hadn’t confessed it in her interview, I wouldn’t have realized she’s never actually been to the place herself!

The Doorkeeper is a story about love, family and trust, loss and grief and finding courage in the face of our fears. It is a story about a woman’s journey into new and fantastic worlds, yes, but even more so it’s a story about the age-old realization that, more than anything, no matter where we are, it is our loved ones that make a true home for us.

The Door Keeper Blog Tour Day Two

Thank you so much to Michele for being a part of my blog tour! Below is her review of The Door Keeper, but you should follow her for more insightful book reviews at https://wreckedmyeyesreading.wordpress.com/.

 

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The Nitty-Gritty:
I had so much fun reading this book. The different worlds that Steen Jones has created are so beyond anything that I’ve ever read before, and I had so much fun traveling with Eden to those different worlds. I also had so much fun traveling with Eden to Italy. This is definitely one of those books that inspires you to purchase a plane ticket. I need to go now.

Not only did I love the physical journeys that Eden went on, but I also loved the emotional journey that she took. Eden is a wonderfully complex and dynamic character, and I loved watching her come to terms with everything that she was learning about herself. Seeing her struggle with how her new role conflicted with her life as a mother, as well as the family she had created for herself in Georgia, was fascinating.

Normally I hate epilogues. I feel like too often authors use epilogues as a way to tie up all of the loose ends in a neat bow because they don’t trust their readers to understand the world or the characters enough to accurately imagine where they could end up. But the epilogue for this book was so good. Honestly, the epilogue made me really sad that I had received an ARC of the book because it means that I’m going to have to wait that much longer to read the next book in the trilogy. I just want it now, alright?

The Verdict:
The Door Keeper is an excellent debut book. It’s a fun read, and I absolutely cannot wait to get my hands on the next book in the trilogy.

The Door Keeper Blog Tour Day One

Day 1 of the Blog Tour!

A huge thank you to Darcy Lewis at https://darcylewisdesign.wordpress.com/ for her awesome review of The Door Keeper!

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As you know, I have a very long and very passionate relationship with books.  I have a list on this blog of my favorites – a list I made because I read so voraciously that friends always ask me for book recommendations.  My mood is often dictated by the book I am currently reading and what is happening to the characters – I get so engrossed in their lives that their reality is at least as clear to me as my own.

Thus, I was thrilled to join the Royal James Publishing’s blog tour for their new book, The Door Keeper, the debut offering from Steen Jones.  (As a disclaimer, while I received a free e-advanced reader copy of the book, my review is entirely independent.)

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I admit I was a little wary of the novel when I read the blurb, “Adventure. Love. Destiny.  Single mom Eden Saunders has learned that tragedy is simply a part of life. Her mother died during childbirth, and her husband was killed just three years after they married. On a journey to discover where she comes from, Eden inherits the key to unlocking new worlds from her deceased mother—including the world that should have been her home. The only thing stopping her from exploring them is the fear of leaving her daughter behind. Caught up in the circle of legacy, Eden discovers the mother-daughter bond that even death cannot break.”

It sounds like the moving family story full of angst and emotional discovery that I usually avoid, to be honest.  However, I was thrilled to find that it was a very engaging, very exciting story that I couldn’t put down.  While this book reads like a debut novel (you can see the author’s development of her writing voice as the book progresses), it is nonetheless a remarkable start to what is to be a trilogy.  Ms. Jones has a wonderful knack for describing scenes and breathing real life into her characters.  Her description of Sorrento, Italy was so vivid, I had dug out my passport and was on my way to the airport before I came back to reality!

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Seriously, doesn’t this make you want to run for the airport?

Eden is a very sympathetic and believable heroine – building a life for herself and her young daughter as an artist and owner of a new art gallery, adopted under circumstances she’s never inquired about.  Her daughter’s family tree school assignment touches off Eden’s search for her birth family and a stunning secret about parallel worlds and her own unearthly origins. Her adventurous forays into these parallel worlds (particularly enjoyable for those of us who love quantum theory and Schrodinger’s Cat Paradox, though these worlds are non-paradoxical) bring into question her own identity and whether she must subsume her own personal goals and desires to be a good mother.  Those readers who love strong female leads (like myself) will be relieved to find that Eden comes to terms with an identity that is as complex and 3-dimensional as real women are.

The Door Keeper straddles several genre categories, but defies neat pigeonholing.  It has fantastical elements, but is not really a fantasy novel.  It has a strong female lead learning about her life, but is more than “chick lit” (a term I hate, coined to disparagingly dismiss ‘books that women like’).

The epilogue feels a little like an afterthought, but does neatly set us up for book number two, and I can hardly wait!  I am really looking forward to seeing Ms. Jones’ continued development as a writer and she is definitely an author to watch.  The Door Keeper comes out on Feb. 20th, and you can preorder it from Amazon here or from Smashwords here.  You can also find it on Goodreads.