Divine Counseling by Nikolai Wisekal
There are a lot of things I love out there in Vella land, and by things I mean people and the amazing stories they've crafted for us.
Today I get to tell you about 2022 Feathered Quill Award author Nikolai Wisekal who will be a hybrid author with the publication of this anthology.
First, congratulations, Nikolai! Am I excited about this new anthology? The answer to that question is yes! If I was a bit younger I would be one of those jumping for joy people attempting to click my heels.
While I'm not here to geek out over the award or the short story that was submitted for publication, and also not the amazing Galaxy Waffles, another project available by Nikolai which I think our readers would enjoy... today.. I'm here to discuss Divine Counseling!
It's no secret that one of my favorite authors in the world is Kevin Hearne. The Iron Druid Chronicles and the stories from the world Kevin Created, including side series Ink & Sigil and the hilarity of trusty, sausage loving, side kick Oberon the Wolf Hound in Oberon's Meaty Mysteries and The First Dangle collections feature characters that will leave you laughing hysterically. (Even better if you listen to the audio books which are narrated by the epically talented Luke Daniels).
Why am I telling you so much about these works by another author? That's because they're comps! They'll give you an idea as to the kind of writing, filled with humor, well rounded and amazing characters that are similar to Nikolai's humor complete with incredible world building that brings to light a world in which the Gods of old still roam the Earth.
Over the last ten days, the Kindle Vella Book Clubs group on FaceBook has read and discussed this amazing serial which comes complete with five reviews to help lend a voice to what other readers thoughts. It features drama, mythology, comedy, marriage counseling, relationship trials and tribulations in an urban fantasy setting where the Gods have come to sit down for family and marriage counseling. Bob and Emily really don't know what they've gotten themselves into.
If you're interested in the most recent episode without spoilers and want to see what you may or may not be getting yourself into, check out a TikTok for it here.
I don't know about you, but I'm a audio/visual person and find book trailers to be something that I thoroughly enjoy.
What can I say that I haven't already in the intro. Sometimes, the best parts of a review show up there and not down here in the nitty gritty.
Hopefully there won't be any sort of disappointment for potential readers looking for something amazing to read. You already know that one of the best comps out there to Marriage Counseling is the Iron Druid Chronicles by Kevin Hearne which offers not only drama, but comedy as well (and a talking dog.. kinda.. but that is neither here nor there even though I kind of wish after a few episodes that Bob had a therapy animal for his clients because wouldn't that be hilarious... ooops Goddess of the Hunt killed your therapy dog... it was glaring at her and she got uncomfortable...) Nope! Back to work!
In Marriage Counseling we find Bob (poor Bob!), a therapist and his encounters with the Gods and Goddesses of Olympus during various sessions addressing both marital and family disfunction.
As a story teller, I recognize that there was a potential to for this entire idea to go side ways. A complete hokey train wreck (corny, noticeably contrived, a completely and utter sardoodledom to add a few other descriptive words to get the point across).
But also as a story teller, I recognize that this didn't happen.
Instead we have to take a moment to suspend our disbelief and recognize the power of the Gods and Goddesses of old. There are even a few moments in early episodes that this power is teased for readers in such away that a plausible drama unfolds. While humorous, we find Bob and his clients behaving in a way that seems to be almost normal. A husband and wife bicker... they fight, argue over fidelity. We're given the opportunity to experience their power through Bob in a way that feels real and genuine.
We are reminded that in this setting, despite Bob's ability to assist others in healing their emotional wounds, that he is the one with the disadvantage. One comment taken the wrong way and our poor Bob is gone, leaving Emily a widow and the world facing a crisis that could bring about an unescapable apocalypse that would make Thanos' Avengers Snap look like someone sneezed all over the universe. We're even reminded in episode six just how delicate Bob is in comparison to his clients! They're even taken bets on his survival!
What can I say, I'm all for life and death situations, and perhaps an impending war! All of these things come from within the episodes of Divine Counseling in addition to a unique style of humor that had me sending my morning coffee out my nose on more than one occasion.
Have you ever shot coffee out your nose? It burns!
The long and the short: Divine Counseling is a brilliant blend of comedy and realism with the fantasy of the real life Gods and Goddesses in situations that could be considered ordinary. Five Stars! Ten out of Ten, will and am reading again, this serial is binge worthy, token worthy, and also worthy of every little bit of coffee that may or may not still remain trapped in my sinuses. If you need laughter to bring you out of your pandemic funk, this is an amazing place to start and you can quote me on that.
In addition to the reviews below, here are some comments from readers within Kindle Vella Book Clubs:
If you don't want to take my word for it, or those of the readers above, I encourage you to check out the reviews below.
Kitty: What was your favorite book growing up? Has that changed as an adult?
Nikolai: I grew up on Russian folktales and out of those many fairy tales The Little Humpbacked Horse was my favorite. It had adventure, wit, and a bit of romance. It will always be special to me but as an adult I still love the Fantasy and Sci-fi genres for the worlds, characters, and adventures therein. A recent favorite is a LitRPG series called Dungeon Crawler Carl. It has an impressive blend of video game mechanics, snarky humor, bleak reality, and technology functioning as magic. So as an adult I've branched out to almost every genre of Fantasy and Sci-fi I can get my hands on because I love the stories.
Kitty: Who is your favorite author?
Nikolai: Oh always hard to choose just one but currently I'd have to say Brandon Sanderson for the amazing depth and variety of his Cosmere series.
DO NOT GOOGLE the spoilers will run deep and thorough.
If you'd like a suggested starting point Mistborn is a YA trilogy with great visuals, characters, and magics. If high fantasy is more your preference definitely check out the Stormlight Archive series.
Kitty: Have these books or authors influenced your writing style? Nikolai: Very much yes. The wonder and sincerity of fairy tales mixed with Sanderson's complex magic systems paired with the level of quality he puts into his worlds, character development, and plots is amazing. I aspire to put the same passion and quality into all my stories. Kitty: I can’t even begin to tell you how much I may have laughed while reading Divine Counseling, often inappropriately at the situations that the Gods have found themselves in. What inspired you to write about their modern day counseling? Nikolai: Myths and retellings often focus on human characters which makes sense but to me the drama, politics, magic, and everything involved with the Gods themselves was a huge draw but how do you make them relatable? Talk about their relationships! The idea was so simple that the more I thought about it the more I liked it. I hadn't heard or seen anyone writing this perspective so I created a human character with a skillset related to it and from that came Divine Counseling. Kitty: Which of these deities has been your favorite to write? Nikolai: Oooooooo good question. Gotta say Athena, both for her personality and designing her piece of Olympus. Balancing her aspects of wisdom and war makes her very fun to write. Actually balancing all of them has been, learning how they were actually perceived vs how we've portrayed them has been awesome. Kitty: I know this may be an inappropriate question to ask, but did you base any of these Gods on real life people? Nikolai: No problem with the question at all. I didn't think of specific people so much as types of people. Templates of personality and appearance that I blended with the mythology of each deity. This allowed me to basically take realistic people and then crank their personalities and decisions up to 11! Kitty: Is there a deity you haven’t written about yet that you would love to bring into the mix? Nikolai: Oh so many! I've hinted at some of them in a few episodes but definitely looking forward to diving into the Loa, Yudi, and Slavic mythologies just to learn and share the varieties out there in relationships/marriages. For singular deities though that would definitely be one that is going to be featured in a prequel short story to Divine Counseling I am calling Divine Revelation. Who is he? What is his focus? Why is his tea so delicious? Well that would be telling. You'll have to read and find out. Kitty: Is there a modern day situation that you are itching to throw the gods into just to see how they will react on paper? Nikolai: Had to think about this one but I have to say I can't wait for you to see Hermes at his coffeeshop. Kitty: Do you have a favorite serial that you would like to recommend to other authors? Nikolai: I've got two! The Museum by Cherry Stark is a fun blend of tech and magic that I am greatly enjoying. We also have Myriad Jaunt by Loran Cook, an Urban Fantasy action series that just sucked me in right away! Kitty: How do you feel about Kindle Vella? If there was one thing you could change about it, what would it be? Nikolai: On most days I am 50/50. I love the serial format, the feedback, the Vella community, and how my writing productivity has skyrocketed. The thing is all those things are self made or community driven. Vella itself is following Amazon's model of non-communication. This has been frustrating for me and several fellow authors. TLDR I would change how they are handling communication.
Reviewers comment: The best place to get consistent information and to actually get things looked at is the Kindle Vella Forum.
Kitty: Do you have plans for serial fiction outside of Kindle Vella? Nikolai: I do thank you for asking! I plan to develop Divine Counseling and Galaxy Waffles into audiobooks with me as the narrator. I love the format and based on my research it is absolutely allowed within their terms and conditions. Kitty: If you could go back in time and tell yourself anything about becoming a writer and your writing career, what would it be?
Nikolai: A bunch of shockingly obvious things. 1) It's a marathon not a sprint. 2) To get better you have to write 3) Networking with writers/industry people is crucial 4) Indie publishing exists. That last one in particular because I like many others was convinced traditional was THE way and ONLY way to go but have learned otherwise. Kitty: Finally, if you could tell your readers anything about yourself, what would it be? Nikolai: That I am just getting started. I have so many series and ideas in my head I might need to learn time travel to get them all done. For now I'm planning on writing till my last day on this earth, and I hope you give me and other indie writers a chance, we love stories as much as you and always want to do the best we can.
Dragons Within Embracing Her Fire:
To receive a signed and dedicated version of this anthology reach out to the author at firstname.lastname@example.org. Free keychain included with every purchase!
This weekend we're nominating Vellas for our next round of Book Club! On Monday, we'll be throwing the recommendations into a random drawing and picking our next read. Want to get on the fun? Head over to our group on FaceBook and join. After the next Book Club adjourns, our chosen Vella will be reviewed here. With each Book Club cycle lasting about 2 weeks for reading and discussion. We also have a review coming up for The Traveller's Inn by Travis I. Sivart. Complete with amazing puns that will out dad any dad joke, Travis brings our adventures to life via an inter-dimensionally traveling inn. This one may or may not include some commentary by the amazing Zombie Phreak.
All this and more, coming up in the next few weeks! For now, stay warm and may you and yours have survived Snovid 2.0/The Snowpocalypse where we even found snow plows wandering the world outside of their natural habitat. That's right. Plows.. in TEXAS??????