Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Book Trailer: WOLVES ON THE WEST SIDE

YA fantasy, set in Northeast Ohio!
Published by Mundania Press -- also set in Ohio!


Monday, August 29, 2016

Off the Bookshelf: THE BLOOD OF OLYMPUS, by Rick Riordan

Alas, we come to the end of the Heroes of Olympus series by Rick Riordan, the further, expanded adventures of Percy Jackson and his demi-god companions from Camp Half-Blood.

The blood in the title refers to the blood of two demi-gods that must be spilled before Gaea, the earth-mother, the vicious, vindictive ancient proto-goddess can arise and essentially wipe all life off the planet. She's kind of ticked at having been put down by several generations of her offspring and if Momma ain't happy, ain't nobody happy.

Percy and Annabeth and Jason and Piper and the rest of their team on the Argo II face one fast-paced perilous mission after another, while Reyna and Nico and Coach Hedge are scrambling to transport the recovered statue of Athena to Camp Half-Blood before the Roman demi-gods from Camp Jupiter can attack. It seems some misguided egotistical self-proclaimed prophet believes that if the Romans wipe out their Greek cousins, then the big mental/emotional problems the gods have, constantly torn between their Greek and Roman personalities will settle down, and then they'll be able to deal with Gaea. Well, Octavian is an idiot, as is proven by his well-deserved demise.  Unfortunately, it appears that one of our seven heroes is taken out at the same time ... maybe ... prophecies aren't exactly written in stone, y'know.

Whew! Lots going on, and I have to admit I was sometimes lost, because it has been so long since I read the last book in the series, that I forgot some of the adventures referred to. Major fun. One of those books you need to set aside huge chunks of time, so you can just keep reading. Satisfying ending. Although I must admit, I wouldn't mind more adventures. Although, just like on Stargate ... how many times can they save the world before it gets kind of ... redundant? Kudos to Riordan for satisfying characters and scenarios.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Monday, August 22, 2016

Off the Bookshelf: THE PRO WRITER MINDSET, by Jennifer Blanchard

Want to read a book that gets you fired up about your writing career -- and intimidated at the same time? Want to be inspired -- and groan every time you come to the homework section of the book?

PROFESSIONAL WRITERS ... gotta do a lot of things they don't like. Face it. Yeah, it's more fun to sit in your quiet corner -- or the local coffee shop, or wherever you write best -- and just write and dream about fame and glory. Well, there's work involved in being a professional. Pull up your big girl pants and get to work! Learn to LIKE all the non-writing stuff. Make it automatic. Be a professional in your brain, attitude, and actions.

You need to think like a professional, according to the author. Put your mind in the place where you're already acting like someone who does the hard work and practices the discipline. Act "as if" -- meaning putting into action the things you want to happen, as well as already living as if your success is there.

Well, that's my interpretation of the lessons. I just finished reading the book a day ago and there's still a lot swirling around in my mind. A lot of groaning over exercises "do I GOTTA?" put into practice. One little mind trick I need to figure out how to apply is what she calls "working from" instead of "working toward." I want to be a specific place in my career, but instead of figuring out how to get there, I figure out what it's like already being there, and kind of work backwards. Okay ....

There's a lot to devour, a lot to apply, and a lot of exercises to analyze yourself and motivate yourself, packed into this little book. One big hurdle I need to overcome is my classic response to advice people give on promoting their books: "WHO has the TIME?" Well ... a professional writer makes the time for all that stuff.

Aarrgghh .....  So, here we go!

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Spotlight Saturday: THE HUNT, Book 1: DAWN MEMORIES


This month, the book featured in the giveaway on Goodreads (www.Goodreads.com) is the first book in the YA fantasy series published by Writers Exchange (www.writers-exchange.com): DAWN MEMORIES.

It was a blast in more ways than one. The explosion that could have killed Dawn actually ignited a fiery trail of long forgotten memories, all leading to the point where it all began.

Yes, she remembered.

She was not from Earth at all. She was the daughter of one of the
ruling families from another world in another dimension, sent to Earth by her parents to protect her from a galactic despot who wanted all the rulers' children as hostages.

She was from The Hunt, branded as such by two thin white lines on her wrist caused by the Hounds of Hamin: interdimensional guardian beasts that held the children's wrists in their mouths as they pulled them through the vortex from their world to Earth.

But Dawn remembered something else. Someone else. Stayn, her best friend and her betrothed.

Where was he? Could he rescue her from the 'safe' house where she was currently guarded by Federal Agents? And could they rekindle what time and distance had torn apart?

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.


Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Book Trailer: VIRTUALLY DEAD

Virtually Dead is a Khybors story, during the Rebirth period of the Commonwealth Universe, the SF series published by Writers Exchange.



Monday, August 15, 2016

Off the Bookshelf: WORLD-BUILDING FROM THE INSIDE OUT, by Janeen Ippolito

Every once in a while, a book comes along that you know you're going to re-read multiple times because it's so useful and what it covers is an area where you need to keep going back and refreshing what you've learned.

This is especially true and priceless when it comes to some writing books.

WORLD-BUILDING FROM THE INSIDE OUT is one of those books. Honestly, it's common sense, but something a lot of writers (guilty!) don't think about until we run into a problem. Usually about halfway through the 2nd book in a series, or the 8th in a series we didn't realize was going to be a series until we got one of those brainstorms of, "Hey, if I change this name and this relationship and tweak this bit of history, Book A is pre-history to Book C, and they both tie into Book B, which influences what happens in Book D ..." Get the picture?

God can wing it when it comes to building worlds (because face it, He's GOD and He isn't restricted by fiddly little things like time!), but writers shouldn't. Dang, I wish I had run into Janeen a lot earlier and she had made this book available like 20+ years ago. It would have saved me a lot of contradictions and headaches trying to make history and details and geography and other fiddly details actually line up and behave, between one book and another. Yeah, you know what I'm talking about.

The book tackles topics that are absolutely necessary, and some that you don't think about until draft 4, when you're wondering what the hero's childhood was like, because you need something in his background to explain why he blew up over something that his friends think is trivial, but the explosion is a necessary plot point. Know what I mean? Yeah, you've been there. This is all common sense, but so many of us don't think about planning these details out ahead of time. Kind of like knowing a quote you want to use in some climactic scene, but you don't get it right and you don't realize it until your editor sends the book back to you with the quote marked in red highlighter and a note that says, "This ain't right!" And then because the quote was so mangled, you need to rewrite the whole scene. If you had done some research and checked it ahead of time, you wouldn't have that problem, would you?

Do the work ahead of time, and your world will fall smoothly into place and probably help with a lot of minor plots points at the same time. Chapters deal with: Religion, Government, Societal Structure, Art/Media, Technology, Naming, Food, Appearance and Location, with appendices covering Health and Medicine, Military, and Education.

The great thing about this world-building book is that it has an accompanying WORKBOOK. She removes even more of the headache and hassle by organizing the questions you need to ask yourself about the society you're putting together, and giving you space to brainstorm and then record it all. Organization! What a revolutionary concept. (Well, for ME, anyway...) I received both books in PDF, which made it easy to print out the workbook and put in a ringbinder, to fill in as I go through the process, and then keep for future reference.

You can get the book online, or go directly to Janeen's website for more information and resources: www.janeenippolito.com. Or Uncommon Universes Press, the publisher: www.uncommonuniverses.com


Saturday, August 13, 2016

Spotlight Saturday: THE HUNT (wanna win some books?)

Starting this week, you have a chance to win print copies of THE HUNT, my YA urban fantasy series.

What do you have to do? 

Go to GOODREADS, and search through the hundreds of book giveaways they have listed to find the HUNT, and then put your name in for the prize drawing. August, September, October and November, Goodreads will randomly draw the names of the winners, give me your address, and then I will ship your book and other goodies out to you. What could be easier?

Do you KNOW about Goodreads? It's an incredible site to go to learn about books, read reviews, meet authors, join discussion groups and yeah -- WIN books! www.Goodreads.com

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.

In coming weeks, you'll learn about the different books as they become available for the giveaway,

Good luck!

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Book Trailer: ZYGRADON

From the Arthurian Fantasy series published by Uncial Press.



Monday, August 8, 2016

Off the Bookshelf: BLOOD FOR BLOOD, by Ben Wolf

Okay, here's the deal -- I don't do vampires. Or zombies. They both have too much of the "ick" factor, you know? Yes, I enjoyed "Buffy" when it was first on the air, and I don't mind catching reruns when I'm feeling nostalgic and too brain-dead to write. And yes, "Van Helsing" is always fun to giggle through. But get the picture? Vampires are the BAD guys. They need staking and dusting.

So for me to read a book where a vampire is the hero? That's really out of my comfort zone. Like, double ick. So why did I read this vampire book? Well, Ben Wolf is a fellow Realmie, as well as the mastermind behind Splickety Magazine (there are three "flavors," so if you want to try flash fiction, there should be something for your taste). Reason enough to trust him.

Interesting take on the whole conundrum of what exactly a vampire is, if there is a soul left, or if the vampire has to regain his soul, and just how do you develop a 12-Step program to get off the addiction to blood? (Besides the abstinence program advocated by the vampires in Terry Pratchett's Discworld series?)

Then there's the long-lasting effects of seeking revenge, learning to forgive, doing what is right no matter how much it hurts, and ultimately trusting in and obeying God. Then there's the concept of Jesus' blood being enough to overcome a vampire's bloodlust. Quite enough twists and turns and "hmmmm" moments to make up for the ick factor. Even if you're not into vampires, you might just want to investigate this story that steps back a century or so, and investigates what happens when a lonely, desperate, hungry vampire runs into an old-school Italian evangelist and his family.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Book Trailer: THE HUNT, YA Fantasy series

The Hunt, YA fantasy series published by Writers Exchange.

Note that the cover art has been changed since this video was created. It'll be updated one of these days ...


Monday, August 1, 2016

Off the Bookshelf: WRITE YOUR NOVEL FROM THE MIDDLE, by James Scott Bell

Haven't read many books lately on writing. This has been my "book to read while waiting" book on my Kindle.

James Scott Bell bids fair to be the writing guru of this generation, with all his books on so many aspects of writing.

This short and sweet little book is quick and to the point, with a surprising number of examples to illustrate and prove the point he's making.

Writing from the middle involves answering some specific questions about the main character, the goals and problems and background and reactions. When those questions are answered, you know how your character will react to whatever situation -- good or bad -- you throw at him or her. In a sense, the story writes itself. At least, it will if your character stays true to himself.

Honestly, this is such common sense, and it's useful for the plotters as well as the pantsers. If you know your character, how he thinks, how she feels, her hopes and dreams, his secret fears, then figuring out all the other questions about the plot, the "dark moment," the resolution, the climbing action, and all the other pieces-parts of the writing craft become just that much easier.