Monday, April 28, 2014

Off the Bookshelf: GEARS OF A MAD GOD by Brent Nichols

Warning: I am doing research for a Steampunk series I want to write, so I am reading all the Steampunk books I can get my hands on. (special thanks to the authors who offered their books, short stories, sample chapters for free on B&N -- my Nook has been feeling neglected, up until now!)

GEARS OF A MAD GOD by Brent Nichols is sub-titled: A Steampunk Lovecraft Adventure.

Thank goodness we didn't get a visit from Cthulu (am I spelling it right? ) in this book, but readers get a lot of close encounters from the homicidal lunatics in service to Lovecraft's truly creepy creation.

Colleen is an independent young woman who fixes things -- from clocks to annoying young men to mad pursuers to broken down old factories. An orphan, she is waiting for her young man to propose, but life is interrupted when she gets word that her uncle, her only living relative, has died. As she journeys across Canada of the last century, she receives bits and pieces that make her wonder what is going on. That and several men who keep showing up, following her, then chasing her, or poking their noses into her business ... it's enough to make an independent young woman itch for a wrench to do extremely unladylike things to said irritants. When she finds out the events of the days leading up to her uncle's death, the mystery gets even stranger. If you like tough chicks who are good with wrenches and cogs and steam boilers, this is the novella for you.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Off the Bookshelf: THE SON OF SOBEK by Rick Riordan

Ever wondered what would happen if Carter Kane and Percy Jackson met up?

Rick Riordan gives us a short story of one encounter, and maybe a hint of future stories to come. Or else he's just being a nasty tease, laying the groundwork for two of his heroes from two different stories -- and two different mythologies and cultures -- coming together. And then not DOING anything with it! (Please, don't be cruel! )

Carter from the Kane Chronicles is hunting a giant crocodile before it causes harm to innocent bystanders. He runs into Percy Jackson from the Percy Jackson and the Olympians and Heroes of Olympus books, who is doing the same. Since neither side knows that the gods from Greece and Egypt seem to be co-existing in our modern world, they seem to be speaking two different languages, rather than ordinary English ... and that kind of handicaps them in fighting the nasty old croc.

They conclude that someone is out to foment trouble between Greece and Egypt ... but who? I hope Riordan does follow through -- at least with more short stories, if not full-length books.

Monday, April 7, 2014


This book by the editors of Writer's Digest is kind of like a toolbox. Each chapter by a different author deals with different aspects of writing. For instance:

In the CHARACTERS section, you have chapters on "Emotion-Driven Characters" or "Three Techniques for Crafting your Villain."

Under FOCUS ON THE WRITING LIFE you have "Creative Lollygagging: Work Harder at Working Less," or "Beating Writer's Block."

In PLOT AND CONFLICT you have "Story Trumps Structure" or "Rescue Your Story from Plot Pitfalls."

Instead of an entire book focused on one aspect of writing, such as hooks or revision or plotting, this "toolbox" offers nice bite-sized chunks of advice that deal with specific aspects that might just be troubling you in writing your book or short story. Well worth the time to read straight through, and then go back and visit on a regular basis, just to brush up on things.