Monday, October 31, 2016

Off the Bookshelf: A FAIRY BAD DAY. by Amanda Ashby

I just stocked up on gobs of YA and NG books. Half Price Books had a humongous sale at the fairgrounds last weekend, where everything was $2. A bibliophile's dream! And torture, because how in the world can you look at every single title in two huge interconnected barns, filled with long rows of tables? Impossible. Especially since they restocked every day. While you're looking at the books already on the tables.

So anyway, that was just warning that I'm going to have a lot of YA and NG book reports. If you don't know what YA and NG designations are ... does it really matter? Because a good book is still a good book!

A FAIRY BAD DAY tells the trials and tribulations of Emma, who goes to a special school for the sighted -- meaning those who can see the evil magical denizens of our world. Meaning magical creatures who slipped through the gate from their own world before it was closed and sealed. These kids, at academies all over the world, are trained to hunt and fight and destroy those creatures, to protect the rest of us who aren't sighted. Emma's mother was a legendary dragon-slayer, and since Emma showed an affinity for dragons from childhood, everyone rightly assumes that will be her role.

Not so fast. When the day comes for everyone in her class to get their designations, Emma gets ... fairies. Yeah, little creatures with wings and snarky attitudes who devour Skittles and hang out at the mall, causing mayhem. Emma first gets herself in trouble when she tries to convince the principal that the tests are wrong and she is better suited to fight dragons -- then gets in even more trouble when she sees something really nasty threatening the school and nobody else can see it. When she tries to fight it, everyone thinks she's faking. Can you say "detention" and possibly even "expelled"? Then it gets even worse when she's teamed up with the cute guy who got "her" dragon designation and it's pretty clear -- to her, at least -- that he's embarrassed to be seen with her. The school's golden girl is suddenly a clod and klutz and delusional in the bargain.

Yeah, this was a fun one, and I'm gonna do some searching to find more books by this author. I sure hope she wrote more books about Emma and her gang as they finish training and protect the world from nasty things we can't see.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

The War Room

Yes, I've been so busy with deadlines and projects and just being disorganized that I missed by scheduled Wednesday check-in.

Which is good, in some ways. Being busy. Although right now, with the gobs of books I picked up at the Half Price Books sale at the Cuyahoga County Fairgrounds last weekend -- everything was $2!!! -- I just want to take an entire day to curl up and read a book or two cover-to-cover. Maybe this weekend...

I'm delighted -- and relieved -- to report that I finished the next draft of SANCTUARY, the next scheduled book in the Guardians of the Time Stream series. I would dearly love to turn it in ahead of schedule, just because I have so many other things going on. Deadline is December 1 -- goal, November 15.

I made a little bit of progress in FIRST LAW, the next Commonwealth Universe novel, dealing with the Khybors as they develop brain-ships, at the point in history when they shift to being Leapers. I had one of those bad brainstorms this morning -- I realized that I might just be messing with the timeline of the Commonwealth and the history of First Civ .... so I have to go back through the books that have already been published and take notes and make sure I know what happens when and who is alive and what I've said in other books about the Downfall era. Yes, I know, I've been saying for years that I need to create a guidebook to the Commonwealth Universe, listing all the people and places and technology and events. The page on Commonwealth history on my website just gives an overview, and is what I've been working off for years. But here's the problem: as I WRITE the stories, I get a more detailed view of events and it's starting to get complicated.

More on that later.
Would anyone be interested in getting a copy of the Guidebook to the Commonwealth Universe if I ever put it together? You'd need to get regular updates ... hmm, maybe that can be something exclusive to Croo members, or at least people who check in on my website regularly .... Bribery!

Two big things happen in November!

An activity of Samaritan's Purse, Christmas Child involves filling shoeboxes or plastic boxes the size of shoeboxes, full of gifts for a child in a foreign country -- school supplies, hygiene supplies, toys -- to give them for Christmas and demonstrate the love of Christ. I have the best fun shopping for the boxes my Mom and I do every year. Here's a table-full of goodies for this year. I still have to get pads of paper. We already have toothbrushes and toothpaste, soap, pencils, crayons, stuffed animals, rubber balls, cinchsack backpacks, and more!

Check out Samaritan's Purse for info on Operation Christmas Child and consider putting together a few boxes, won't you? You'll be glad you did!

Otherwise known as National Novel Writing Month. When thousands of people around the world commit to write at least 50,000 words in the month of November.

This year I'm going to work on the next novel set in Neighborlee, Ohio. The Neighborlee books are published by Uncial Press. Right now we're gearing up for GROWING UP NEIGHBORLEE, told from Lanie Zephyr's point of view, to come out in April. You've met Lanie in other stories -- the newspaper reporter who does comedy on the side, has some "extra" talents, and sees life from doorknob level because of an accident where she broke her back. My NaNo project is GROWING UP NEIGHBORLEE: Book 2. It will end with the accident where Lanie breaks her back and proves she is definitely one of Neighborlee's guardians.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Off the Bookshelf: ORDINARY MAGIC, by Barbara Satow

Don't you just love watching a friend's kid grow up from newborn through middle school and high school and then graduate and go out into the wide, wonderful, sometimes frightening world?

This is how I feel about ORDINARY MAGIC.

The author is a friend. We met at a Vo-Ed school writing course and when the class ended we kept meeting with a third student from that course and pursued our writing dreams. She was there when I won Writers of the Future and I was there when she was invited to pitch script ideas over the phone to Star Trek: The Next Generation. I got to hear her work through the ideas and then the scenes and the problems and plot turns for ORDINARY MAGIC.

This is fantasy and romance, an adventure, with some humor and a mystery. Just great fun. The essential story line combines a feisty young upperclass woman who runs away from the marriage her penny-pinching bully of a brother-in-law tries to force her into (with a fat lecher), with a duke who's been accused of high treason and is trying to clear his name while preventing his best friend, the king, from making a huge mistake that could hurt the kingdom. Their flight across country, running into trouble, battling evil magic spells and interfering idiots is great fun from first to last.

And even though I knew practically every scene that was going to appear in the book, there were still some surprises, some changes, some characters and developments that all combine to make this a success.

Dang -- I stayed up until 2am reading it. Is that endorsement enough for you? Even more -- I was reading this during Game 3 of the ALCS between the Indians and Blue Jays. Well, yeah, I only read during commercials and when Toronto was batting, but still ....

I happen to be "in the know" that Barbara plans several more books in the adventures of Emma and Wesserick, their friends, their daughter, their country. Do me a favor -- after you read the book, leave comments on Facebook and other places urging (nagging) her to get the other books finished and published. I guarantee you'll want to read them, too.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

The War Room

Progress report:

A good start on FIRST LAW, the next Commonwealth Universe novel. SF.

About 1/3 of the way through the next draft of SANCTUARY, the next book in the steampunk Guardians of the Time Stream series. Have you looked at ODESSA FREMONT or THE BLUE LOTUS SOCIETY yet? Might want to.

I've been brainstorming like crazy some ideas to pitch to various publishers.There's some SF, some near-future set-on-Earth ideas, and this morning I got something that looks like it's influenced by the upcoming Halloween season and all the ads for haunted houses and monster movies. Kind of taking horror tropes and mixing them with faerie tales and setting them on their heads. Or ears. Or something you don't expect.

Feedback question: If life is restored to a body that's been dead for a while, and the decay is reversed, what guarantee is there that the person who was there before will come back? What might "move in" if the original owner doesn't return?

Feedback question #2: If someone had the power to restore life and reverse decay, would they consider it a gift or a curse?

Speaking of BLUE LOTUS SOCIETY, I will be launching a promotion on Story Cartel in the next week or so. The deal is that ebook files for the book will be offered free for download, in the expectation that you will post a review of the book. So look up Story Cartel and register and find out what's up with the whole deal. It looks like a great place to get free books -- as long as you do your part and write reviews! That's how people find out about our books -- word of mouth and reviews.

Speaking of word of mouth ... would you consider joining my CROO?
I have a private Facebook page/group called the CROO. Other writers refer to this as their street team -- people with inside info, sneak peeks at upcoming books and cover art, a chance to ask questions, maybe get word ahead of time about things like free downloads, etc. I would really love to have some people step up to help me promote my books, and if you like what I write, and you wouldn't mind some goodies once in a while, maybe T-shirts, customized mugs, things like that ... sounds like a deal, right?
Contact me on Facebook and say you want to join the CROO, and I'll send you an invitation.
I would be ever so muchly grateful!

Monday, October 17, 2016

Off the Bookshelf: ASHES and RISE, by A.C. Williams

Why two books by the same author?

Because they're e-short preludes to the book, NAMELESS.

The two stories are from the viewpoints of two different men on board the ship, Prodigal. Talon, the captain, and Devon, one of the team of bounty hunters.

Yeah, bounty hunters. With a super-tough chick for first mate. The shorts are very short, just detailing some "turning point" moments in the lives of the crew, taking on a new crewman and going after two fugitives to make payroll to pay the bills. Reading them will give you a hint of what is probably going to happen in the book. Might leave you feeling just a little apprehensive, and eager at the same time, with a healthy dose of, "Whoah ... okay ... interesting..."

Someone said, "Think Firefly," when they were talking about the shorts and the full-length book. Yeah, Firefly was gritty, and Serenity was even grittier, darker, messier ... and if you don't know what I'm talking about (what rock have you been living under?), first look up Joss Whedon's filmography, then rent the TV series and the movie -- in that order.

Then seriously consider reading these two shorts and the full-length book, which is in my to-be-read queue on my iPad.

It's a dark, dangerous, filthy, grim world in the future. This band of bounty hunters and their ship have caught my attention.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

The War Room: Launch

Today is the first of what I hope -- HOPE -- to be a regular, weekly update on what's going on.

As in my writing, various related activities, promotions, etc.

Be afraid. Be very afraid. It's a strange world inside any writer's head, and since there are so many universes struggling to expand inside mine ... lots of chaos here, folks!

Why do I say I HOPE this will be a regular, weekly update? Because anyone who checks back here regularly will see that first, my Monday book reports don't appear every Monday. It's pretty sad when I'm so dang busy that I can't even read ONE book each week. I remember back when I rode the bus to work three or four days a week, with an hour-long ride each way, depending on the bus schedule, and I would plow through two or three books each week. Ah, the glory days!

And for another ... I had planned on launching the War Room ... yesterday! Yeah, that's how busy.

But it's a good busy, in this case. I had a goal of finishing the first draft of JENNIFER, Quarry Hall book 11, by the end of the week. Since I had finished an editing assignment, I pushed everything else aside and concentrated on JENNIFER all day yesterday. Ah, ecstasy -- I wrote nearly 11K words. My progress averaged under 2K every day since I started roughing this book at the start of September. It was kind of vital that I get this rough draft done in a timely manner because JENNIFER has to be turned in January 1, for release in May. Keep that date in mind!

My projects for the rest of October:
2nd draft of SANCTUARY, the next book in my Steampunk, Guardians of the Time stream series from Desert Breeze Publishing, which also publishes the Quarry Hall books. Due date for SANCTUARY is December 1, with a release in April.

Speaking of Guardians of the Time Stream .... last week I announced that THE BLUE LOTUS SOCIETY had just released. Well, I'm delighted and proud to announce that the cover art for BLUE LOTUS is in the cover-of-the-month contest at In D'Tales magazine -- the Creme de la Cover contest. Would you all be darlings and go over there and vote for BLUE LOTUS? Gwen, the cover artist for the whole series is a lovely, talented person who is currently on maternity leave (talk about creative!) and this would be a lovely present for her, to have another cover win! ODESSA FREMONT, the prequel for the Guardians of the Time Stream series, won its week a couple of weeks ago. Let's go for two out of two!

Thanks muchly.

And my new project, which I will work on in the mornings before going to the office (because that's how I get so many projects written, by rough drafting in the morning, earning a living in the middle of the day, and revising a different project in the late afternoon and evenings) is a new book in the Commonwealth Universe SF series, published by Writers Exchange. Finally -- and my publisher is going to be glad to hear this -- I'm starting on FIRST LAW. Yeah, I kept promising Sandy I would get to work on it, but life sometimes gets in the way, and deadlines for other books, and .... you know how it goes. FIRST LAW is from the beginning of Commonwealth history, before the Downfall, when the previous galactic civilization was called the Central Allied Worlds. Not a nice place at all. The Khybors, ancestors of the Leapers, have a long-range goal of finding some place far, far away from the prejudice and fear and abuse that seems to follow augmented folk from colony to colony as the CAW expands. In the previous book, SLIPPING THE WEAVE (currently in pre-production at Writers Exchange), we saw the genesis of brain-ships, and the first hints of Khybor pilots being able to pierce the fabric of space-time with their minds, augmented by their ships. The ability to escape those who want to destroy their entire race is within their grasp. In FIRST LAW, they will start making allies, while dealing with some traitors within their midst.

I'm kind of excited about getting to work on this new project, which will take me the rest of the month, and probably into November to get the first draft done. But doggone it, I was planning on doing the next Neighborlee, Ohio book for NaNoWriMo in November ... better get writing FAST, you think?

Want to be part of helping to promote my books, and find out ahead of time about free downloads, new releases, sneak peeks at cover art in the development stage, and a chance to win goodies -- essentially being my street team? Contact me on Facebook and ask to be invited to Michelle's Croo, a private Facebook group. You can also follow me on Twitter @MichelleLevigne (though I admit I'm not chatting much there....), and I'm even on Pinterest. You can look through my boards and see pictures I'm saving to give me inspiration for current projects, and a board called Future Scenes, that I think would make cool settings in upcoming projects.

That's in for now.
Are you afraid yet?

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Spotlight Saturday: BUTTERFLY, The Hunt, Book 3

This month starts another giveaway -- that means you have a chance to win a FREE BOOK from Goodreads -- and from me, of course.

Go to Goodreads and click on the information for giveaways, and look for BUTTERFLY, the 3rd book in the YA fantasy series, THE HUNT.

Who are the Hunt? Children sent from an endangered world in another universe/dimension of reality, to protect them from a despot who wants to command their Talents. Given into the keeping of the Hounds of Hamin, the members of the Hunt have been separated by time as well as distance. They know each other by the scars--rows of teeth marks--on their wrists. Some have been in our world for decades, others have only been here for a few years. They have to find each other--and soon, before more enemies show up to destroy them--and find a way back home to save their world.


Beth considers herself a geek, one of the invisible and awkward in her school, too smart for her own good, part of the Gifted and Talented program. During a summer internship at a government weather station, she notices strange weather patterns. The storms remind her of the ones when she was brought to Earth by the Hounds of Hamin. Remembering that she is a member of the Hunt, Beth sets out to remake herself, to be ready when the gathering of the Hunt occurs.

When she returns to school in the fall, she is a new person, physically and mentally, and she attracts the attention of another member of the Gifted and Talented program: Tommy DiCorsi, supposedly one of the "bad boys" in town. As their friendship grows, and Tommy protects her from trouble and learns about the Hounds and the Hunt, Beth learns he isn't at all what he appears, either. Then another member of the Hunt shows up, and both their lives are changed forever.
ISBN/EAN13: 1922066648 / 9781922066640

Tuesday, October 4, 2016


Now Available!!!
THE BLUE LOTUS SOCIETY: Guardians of the Time Stream book one, is NOW out at Desert Breeze Publishing: 


A traveling exhibit of Egyptian artifacts is threatened by thieves.

Pinkerton agents, including Ess Fremont, are providing protection. A midnight vigil brings Ess face-to-face with the reason behind the thefts -- and the two groups seeking what is hidden within the artifacts.

Encountering her missing grandparents' allies, Ess can reclaim her heritage, but hesitates. They aren't being honest with her. How can she join a battle affecting the entire world when she doesn't understand the reasons for the war? There is more to the Blue Lotus Society than protecting Egyptian history and culture.

As the exhibition crosses the country, Ess approaches the tipping point, when her decision could be made for her. Who can she trust? Who is lying to her and using her? When the enemy strikes, she discovers that making the right choice can't always wait for answers.

Monday, October 3, 2016

Off the Bookshelf: APPRENTICE IN DEATH, by JD Robb

Let me start by putting in a plug for Overdrive, the app that lets me get ebooks from the library! This allows me to indulge in reading new books in series that I love, without breaking my rule (sometimes very hard to keep) that I won't buy new books until I've reduced my to-be-read pile (mountain!) by a decent percentage.

APPRENTICE IN DEATH is chilling, more than many of the books in the In Death series. Why? Because the attitude of the villains are portrayed so clearly in the news every day. The self-righteous, "the world revolves around me and I have the right to punish anyone who doesn't give me what I want" attitude. The people who insist that the world must follow their vision of it, and refuse to take responsibility for their stupid choices. The ones who get angrier and angrier when their choices just make things worse for them.

As the title indicates, the suspect is learning to kill. Or that's the first impression. A teacher skilled in killing, training up a pupil, an apprentice, in the attitude and techniques of death. Until Dallas and her team get inside the lives of the victims, and intended victims, and get access to the killers' plans. Then it's a tossup who's the apprentice and who's the master -- who's the teacher, who's leading, and who's being used as a tool.

Of course, the great character interaction is still a big draw to keep reading, the continuing development of people's lives, the friendships and partnerships, the little clashes between people who work and live together, the growth, the inside jokes. The characters are the best part -- but the police work and the struggle to identify and capture the manifestation of pure, selfish evil makes this another great book in a must-read series.

The scary part is that this scenario is too believable. Let's just hope that there are more smart, dedicated cops out there like Eve Dallas who can track down and stop more selfish, egotistical killers like this pair before more people suffer.