When three strangers are brought together by the discovery of a common enemy, they must fight to keep the magic of the Phoenix out of dangerous hands before their world is destroyed forever. The Three must learn to unite in spite of what separates them, and unlock the magic of three stones that seem to harm as much as they help. But uniting will not be easy for Nicolai, the simple peasant with a powerful secret; Marcellus, the warrior prince who’s no longer heir to the throne; and Corren, a gifted wizard whose ambitions threaten to ruin them all. Full of magic, mystery, and a touch of romance, Gift of the Phoenix is an epic fantasy that takes the reader deep into the heart of a wondrous world and the three men destined to defend it.
Praise for Gift of the Phoenix
“An incredibly impressive book that grips you from the very start. There is plenty of action in the story, some wonderful characters and magical, atmospheric settings. Donna has created a fascinating realm in this story which, even if you don’t consider yourself a fantasy fan, you’ll definitely enjoy.” – Excerpt of Stephanie Dagg’s review at Books Are Cool.
“As an avid reader of fantasy, I often encounter boring or overused plotlines—this was neither! With a fresh new take on fantasy adventure, Cook constructs an enchanting world of magic, kingdoms, rebirth, and death.” – Excerpt a review by Artemis at Fantasy Book Lovers Unite
“Gift of the Phoenix reminds me of a mix of Paolin’s Eragon and Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, but stands on its own as a unique fantasy-adventure. Cook creates a magic system that is intricate and unique, which can be hard to do in a genre littered with magic. The story is very complex, and yet very easy to follow… layers upon layers of intertwined plots that all culminate to a fantastic ending. I would recommend this book to anyone of any age.” – Excerpt of a review by Will Wortner at Zero2Fiction
Gift of the Phoenix has won several awards, including Semifinalist in the Kindle Book Review Book of the Year Awards, and Notable Read in the Shelf Unbound/Half Price Books Indie Book of the Year competition
Donna Cook is an Arizona native transplanted to Boise, Idaho, where she is delighting in the change of scenery. When she’s not writing she spends her time chasing the kids, exploring delicious eateries downtown, and dancing with her talented husband. Her fantasy adventure, Gift of the Phoenix has won several awards, including Semifinalist in the Kindle Book Review Book of the Year Awards, and Notable Read in the Shelf Unbound/Half Price Books Indie Book of the Year competition. It was also nominated for the Whitney Award, which recognizes LDS writers. She’s currently working on the sequel to Gift of the Phoenix.
What is your favorite flavor of ice cream?
I’d never been a big ice cream fan, until my husband introduced me to Häagen-Dazs Sea Salt Caramel Gelato. Now I have one more thing to resist when I’m trying to diet.
Cow brains. *shudder*
Any other books in the works? Goals for future projects?
Other books? Lots! I’ve decided someone needs to invent a USB port I can attach to my brain so I can download the stories in my head that much more quickly. Here’s what’s on my plate:
Even though I wrote Gift of the Phoenix as a stand alone, I left room for myself in case I wanted to visit that world again. I’m working on the follow up now, tentatively titled The Hidden Branch. A reader requested more about Nashua, a character who’s in the first couple of chapters of Gift of the Phoenix, so I’m in the middle of a series of four novellas about her. Nashua’s Choice is already out as an eBook. Nashua Alone is nearly complete. Once the novellas are finished, I’ll release the entire Nashua Chronicles in print. I’m also ready to start writing an unrelated YA fantasy, The Crossroads; the story is just waiting its turn in the queue, along with a potential YA urban fantasy series. Lastly, there’s a literary novel simmering on the back burner. I imagine it’ll be several years before I’m emotionally ready to tackle that one. It’s a blessing so many other books are in line ahead of it.
Tell us your most rewarding experience since being published.
This is going to sound trite, but truly the most rewarding thing has been the response from readers. I worked so hard on this book, and I just love it. It’s been gratifying to hear from readers who are in love with the story and can’t wait for the next one. I already feel quality storytelling is the most important thing when I write a book, but knowing there are fans out there waiting for the next book inspires me to work even harder so I can deliver a book they’ll be happy to read.
When you were little, what did you want to be when you “grew up”?
An author. Sure, I went through my ballerina phase, but really, I’ve always wanted to be an author. Now that I’m finally an author, I have a new goal. A few weeks ago I gave a presentation at my local library. In the front row was a woman in her 80s (I think) who’s written something like 62 books. When I heard how many books she’s written, I looked at her and said, “I want to be you when I grow up.”
What’s the best advice anyone has ever given you?
To learn from the mistakes of others. It’s inevitable that we make our own mistakes, but if we can spare ourselves a little misery by learning from the mistakes of others, why wouldn’t we?
What was your favorite children’s book?
Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson. That was the first real book I read again and again. It made me cry every time. It still makes me cry, as I discovered when I read it to my son many years ago.
What book do you love that doesn’t get a lot of hype?
These Is My Words by Nancy Turner. I adore that book. I’m not a big re-reader but I’ve read that book five or six times. Sarah has to be one of the best female characters ever invented. Go check it out.
Only counting the ones on my nightstand? 14. I have more in my office. I buy books faster than I can read them, but that’s okay. You can never have too many books.
How do you react to a bad review?
I’ve only had a few so far, but they don’t bother me like I thought they would. I think it’s because I’m a reader as much as I’m a writer, so I understand not every book is going to be universally loved, even among fans of the genre. If my overall percentages of good reviews vs. bad reviews were different, I would take that as a good indicator that the book still needed work. But since my average rating is high, I don’t worry about it if someone doesn’t like the book. I definitely don’t respond. I’ve heard of authors doing this and I think that’s a bad idea. Readers are perfectly entitled to their opinions without the author weighing in on it.
If you were a super hero what would your kryptonite be?
Chocolate. It’s my greatest weakness now, so it only makes sense…
If you could have a signed copy of any novel what would it be and why?
First edition, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. Because JK Rowling is the one who got me writing again, after 10 years of silence. She also reminded me that storytelling is supposed to be fun. (I talk more about this experience in a guest post later in the tour.)
You have won one million dollars what is the first thing that you would buy?
Please reference the kryptonite question. 🙂 Okay, really, a trip to Italy. Now that I’ve published a book, going to Italy dominates the top of my Bucket List. I’d love to spend a good year there, really soaking up the culture.
Finish the sentence- one book I wish I had written is….
…The Book Thief. Brilliant. Beautiful. Touching. Creative. The first time I read that book, I remember being absolutely stunned.
How long do you generally let a story idea ‘marinate’ in your brain before you start the book?
For a full-length book, my pattern so far has been years. Crazy, I know. But that’s how it’s been. I pull ideas out from time to time, develop them as far as I can until I get stuck, then leave them to marinate again. Sometimes as long as a year or more. Then one time, I’ll pull out the idea and everything falls into place. It’s ready to go and I get all zingy because I can’t wait to get it down on paper. This process has lent itself to a slow publishing schedule here at the beginning of my career, but once I get the next book out, things will pick up. My “ready to write” projects will keep me busy while my newer ideas marinate. By the time I’m done with my current projects, the next ones should be ready to go. I wish I were one of those prolific writers that churn out a new story every 3-6 months, but it does no good to fight my creative process. So long as I’m writing every day, I’m making solid progress. That has to be enough.
Do your characters really talk to you?
They don’t talk to me, but I hear them talking to each other. I also see them interacting with each other, like scenes in a movie. Sometimes I see a scene in my head and wonder what in the heck is going on. Taking the time to find out has led to some fun plot twists.
If you could take over the world, would you?
Like I don’t have enough to do. No way.
Do you prefer to write in silence or with music?
It varies depending on my mood, but once I’m in the zone, I don’t hear anything anyway. As my husband and children will attest.
What’s your biggest challenge as a writer? How did you overcome it, or how are you working to overcome it?
Honestly, my biggest challenge as a writer is probably the same thing a lot of people struggle with regardless of profession: finding balance. My children are all still at home, so that alone keeps me busy. I work part-time as a freelance book editor. I’m working on the next novel, not to mention marketing the first one. (Hello book tour!) In general, authors have a lot of “platform-building” to do that can quickly turn into a time suck if you’re not careful. Not to mention the time it takes to develop myself spiritually and take care of myself physically. It gets very overwhelming at times.
To combat this, I try to follow some general principles: I try to remember my most important priorities and make sure my time is spent there first. I try to keep expectations for myself reasonable. I can be my own worst task master, cracking the whip over myself, demanding more than can reasonably be done in a day. And I try to remember that life is meant to be enjoyed right now, for there is no guarantee for tomorrow. Besides, joy really does come from living in the moment. I’ve robbed myself of too much joy by fretting about the future or sorrowing over the past, instead of enjoying where I am right now. It’s a constant battle to remind myself of all these things, but I try.
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