Thursday, July 24, 2014

Rereading the Classics

Yes, I read and then reread books over and over again.

So this past week, I reread the 1930s classics, When Worlds Collide and After Worlds Collide.

Sometimes it's hard to read older books. There's terms that we don't use any more and plenty of social/political beliefs that are completely outdated and, honestly, offensive.

And omg, the books are so, so White. Not that there's anything wrong with being White, but except for a mention of a "Negro" singing (at least they didn't use the N-word), and one continuing character and the Japanese bad guys who were continuously called the "J-word," the characters were so, so, well... White!

No Native Americans, no Arabic peoples, no East Asians, no Pacific Islanders, no other Asians, no Africans, no African-Americans (that were mentioned anyway)...

I wonder if these books are out of copyright yet?

I'd like to do some judicious editing and reprint them, and then add a couple more books to the series, like the South African spaceship that was briefly mentioned, and maybe an Aussie and also a South American group that included indigenous peoples. Pick up the story upon landing on Bronson Beta, maybe on the other continent, and their struggles to survive, since they don't have the large cities built by the extinct original inhabitants. (Gets hotter underground, hmmm, live in mining facilities or deep caves maybe, where it would be warm, and set up a power plant with the remains of the spaceship(s) for lights, etc?)  

It would be interesting, huh?

I have an idea for an anthology too, based on something Andre Norton mentioned in two of her books, but NOT using Norton's stories or characters. Just the idea. But that will have to wait until I can afford to do it right.

So, back to my crime noir meets urban fantasy book. I'm only at 3400 words, so I have a longgggg way to go before November!

Or back to making money. One of the two... 

Friday, July 11, 2014

Another Work in Progress

Yes, I'm a great one for starting books.

Despite the fact that I already have three works in progress, I started a fourth and also am working on a story for a cyberfunk anthology. The new book has a short story to whet your whistle, so when I'm ready to publish the story I started last night, you'll have a free sample to download, and then a whole new book that kicks off the crime noir meets urban fantasy series.

When I get it done.

Meanwhile, I still have a Native American urban fantasy/fantasy series,  a dystopian end-of-the-world as we know it Christian science fiction, and a steamfunk set in California that I'm working on. Inch by agonizing inch.

AND three websites to maintain: Alien Star Books, New Bridges, and The Griffith Girls

AND, I'm still writing non-fiction articles for money. So, since I still have to pay for hockey, I'd best get myself back to work on the money part of the equation...

Yeah, I did buy a Megamillions ticket for tonight. LOL, but I'm not holding my breath...

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Yahoo Voices Is Done

Yes, another writing site bites the dust. Yahoo Voices is ending at the end of this month. All rights revert back to the authors.

Darn. I just got my very first residual check from them and it ends. Well, I'll try not to spend that $1.93 (or whatever it was) all in one place LOL!

I've already saved my two articles and I'll be posting them on my own website New Bridges. Which I need to add a LOT more content and get that free newsletter going.

This turn of events really sucks for some of my writer friends, who were getting $100+ every month in residuals. They have to scramble to save their articles because at the end of the month, it's all going to be GONE. And then they have to find a place to put those articles. Hubpages and other websites are going to have an influx of new articles.

In the meantime, though, if you have Yahoo Voices articles bookmarked, you should go to the articles and locate the author's name and contact info, blog, or website so you can find the articles after he/she reposts them elsewhere.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

A List of Teen Science Fiction and Fantasy Books with Black Main Characters

As everyone knows, diversity in science fiction and fantasy is a passion for me.

I recently put together this little list of books for teens that features Black main characters. Now, if you're looking for other races/colors/ethnicities/aliens/non-humans, you should check by Alien Star Books and see what I've got listed. It's an ever-growing ongoing project, so I'm always adding more books...

Anyway, you can find that list of books over in the Alien Star Books blog:

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Night Broken by Patricia Briggs -- Five Stars!

Anyone who knows me well knows that I'm a HUGE fan of Patricia Briggs' Mercy Thompson and Alpha and Omega series. Night Broken is the eighth Mercy Thompson book and if you ask me, except perhaps for the first book, Moon Called, this latest book is the best in the whole series.

New and interesting characters, Coyote, the Fae and Tad, more troubles with the pack and OMGosh, the way Mercy handled Adam's ex-wife, Christy! I can't say too much or I'll give it all away. Let's just say, I got this book for my birthday and I'm already on the third reread. Yes, it's that good!

Check it out!

Monday, April 21, 2014

Shadows of a Fading World Anthology - Four Stars!

Like all anthologies, I liked some of the stories in Shadows of a Fading World better than others. I'm delighted that there were no "stream of consciousness" writing styles, every story was plotted, crafted and well written. I especially liked Neal Litherland's and Ian Creasey's stories. Each had its own defining moments and plot twist that brought the tale above the other good stories in the anthology and the genre.

I highly recommend this anthology to anyone who's looking for some new and different tales in sword and sorcery. At approximately 146 pages, it's a quick read, perfect for a summer afternoon or an evening by the fire. 

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

The Unnaturalists by Tiffany Trent -- Five Stars

 This young adult steampunk novel revolves around Vespa Nyx and the Museum of Unnatural History -- and the possibility that she might be the only witch left in this world of magic and technology.

The city, New London, is the fault of Saint Tesla, whose experiments tore loose whole sections of Victorian London, thrusting them into a magical land where an assortment of legendary creatures and the Tinkers live. The Tinkers are reduced to poverty by the time of the story. According to Trent, “…the Tinkers in this book are heavily based on my experiences living in the Sichuan highlands of China with the Baima people, an ethnic Tibetan tribe.” I actually thought that they were based on the Roma but later decided that they were of Asian heritage, so I was happy to read that I wasn’t too far off in my assessment.

The story moves along briskly, following Vespa through her trials with her father, work, aunt, New London society and a young Pedant, who might not be who he claims. While magic is illegal, children in the city are sometimes born with powers -- and abandoned or disowned by their families. The story is filled with mysterious events, magical creatures called Elementals, a dangerous and destructive Waste, plenty of intrigue and a romantic thread that doesn’t muck up the storyline at all. In fact, it’s essential to the story. The famous scientists of our world -- Tesla, Newton, Darwin -- are Saints in the city of New London, where magic is forbidden and the technology depends on a dust called myst.

The threads that tied the story together weren’t obvious and many were subtle hints and portents of things to come, unlike most YA literature. Even the story elements that seemed familiar often ended up in completely different places; the tale took unexpected directions. There were a few spots that I was able to predict what was coming next, but I’ve read hundreds of books; I wouldn’t expect a teen or YA reader to pick up on those nuances. In general, it was not predicable or heavy handed at all, including the ending.

The formatting of the story is interesting, with alternating chapters told in first person, present tense, by Vespa, and third person, past tense, by Syrus, a Tinker. It took me a minute to adjust to this style, but I think that it actually enhances the story line. You’re never trying to figure out which character’s point of view is being followed -- it’s obvious at a glance.

The weaving of fantasy and technology within a Victorian New London make this a unique addition to the world of steampunk. I stayed up until 2 am to finish this story and honestly, I’m looking forward to rereading the book to pick up details that I might’ve missed during the first reading.

The Tinker King by Tiffany Trent -- Four Stars

I was lucky and received an ARC copy of the book in an online drawing.

The sequel of The Unnaturalists picks up shortly after the first book. In this book, the Tinker, Syrus, is the main character. His chapters are first person present, while Vespa’s chapters are third person past tense.

With the destruction of much of New London and myth now illegal, the four young leaders of the new society are trying to rebuild their technology, using Syrus’ Tinkers knowledge of machines. But now new troubles threaten them and an ancient enemy rises to oppose their efforts to rebuild.

Again, the twists and turns of the story line are not predictable. I enjoyed this book but I’m hoping that since I read an advance copy, a few details have changed with the publication of the book.

I was a little disturbed at a few spots. For example, at one point there’s a huge disaster, but there was no indication of regret by the main characters of those who didn’t make it through. And the Elementals that were saved simply disappear, with only a few references and questions as to their fate. Also, the ending felt a little rushed.

Other than those details, I once again stayed up much too late while finishing the book. I couldn’t put it down. The details, wonderfully expressed and yet not overdone, including Syrus’ eating utensils, again led me to the Asian heritage of the Tinkers. The story moved right along, keeping me wanting to turn the pages and find out what happens next.

I highly recommend this book, not just to young adults, but to adult steampunk and fantasy fans as well.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Summer People by Neal Litherland -- Five Stars!!

Now, I’m not a fan of romance in any form, not classic, not historic and definitely not paranormal. But I was pleasantly surprised, while there are romantic elements in Summer People, it’s not what I’d call a romance. No, not at all.

To make this clearer -- I LOVED it!!

Litherland’s writing evokes the lyric prose of Ray Bradbury, Patricia McKillip and John Bellair’s classic, The Face in the Frost. As I read Litherland’s words, I could literally see the cafĂ© and smell the pastries, teas and coffee.

Yet there was always a sense of something lurking, behind the peaceful scenes of summer and oncoming fall that Neal painted of this New England town. Something ancient and whether for good or evil, the undercurrents slip between the characters -- hidden pasts and secrets that lie just out of sight, amid sunlit leaves and under the streetlights at night. Of music that speaks of beauty and darkness.

Litherland starts off with the peaceful scenes of early morning in the cafe and then slides us subtly into a world of magic and mystery, of the potential of young love, love triangles and awakenings, and then, little by little, shares with us the darkness that lies behind a smile and a promise.

Nope, you don’t get a spoiler, you have to read this lovely tale yourself. It’s just the right length to sit in front of a crackling fire, tea at your elbow, and savor the plot and prose before you go to bed and dream of magical lands just out of sight, just past the trees and meadows of the mundane world.

I have just one small criticism of the story. It wasn’t long enough!! 


Sacrifices by Alan D. Jones -- Four Stars!

This fascinating prequel to “To Wrestle With Darkness”, Sacrifices, which is book two of the trilogy, follows the four sisters -- Cil, Deborah, Ruth and Sarah -- who have a destiny to fulfill.

I’m not usually a fan of stories that leap back and forth in time, from the 1700s to the present, but in this case, Jones did a masterful job in not only keeping the story on-track through the centuries, but as the book drew to a close, it all became clear. The story really was in sequence, although at first it didn’t look that way at all

From slavery to sacrifices to victory, the story of the family and their journey from the past to the future is deeply imbedded in not just Christianity, but also ancient mythology, Sacrifices tells us of both Faith and the consequences of actions and reactions, whether well-meant or knowingly stepping off the path of righteousness.

I not only thoroughly enjoyed this book, I’d read it again, and again. There’s depths to the story that will only reveal themselves on rereading, and I’m looking forward to the journey.

The author generously provided a copy of the book for review.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Vote Them All Out!

Now I usually don't get too political on my personal/book blog, but this is an issue that I've been looking at for some time.

There's a lot of screaming and shouting and downright lying being done by Congressional representatives. To be honest, I'm sick of it. The President, like it or not, won by about five million votes. He's doing what the President does -- doing the best that he can despite the opposition from "the other side."

If you're as tired of this as I am, then start paying attention and planning your votes now. There's representatives coming up for reelection. Do you REALLY want those same clowns that aren't looking our for your interests back in office for another term? Or are you ready for a change?

I've even done a T-shirt and you can join me in expressing my dissatisfaction with our current Congress.

So, the way this works, once 25 shirts are preordered, your credit card will be charged and you'll get your shirt. You have 21 days to order your shirt or hoodie.

If this does well, my next T-shirt designs will fund my son's Junior Hockey fees because, well, it's expensive and I'm just a single mom.

Yes, there's a child support order in place. Put it this way, if that guy won the Lotto, I'd be able to pay off all my bills and pay for Junior Hockey until the boy is 21 -- and then send him to college too. But in the meantime, that $20 that the last of the big spenders puts on his child support every month doesn't even cover the interest. SMH

Friday, January 17, 2014

And Another Kindle Blog!!

Oh my, Neal is busy today!

His other blog, Improved Initiative, is also available as a subscription through Kindle, so you'll never miss a post! At only  99 cents a month, you can stay on top of the latest in the tabletop RPG world!

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Read Blogs on Your Kindle!!

I'm pleased to announce that my fellow writer and friend, Neal Litherland, has made his blog The Literary Mercenary available via Kindle. For only 99 cents a month, you can get his latest posts on the craft and business of writing, downloaded immediately to your Kindle and ready to read.


And, just as an FYI, you can also subscribe to this blog, Razzberry Jam, the same way!

Amazon has a number of blogs available for subscription, so if you don't have time to peruse the Internet looking for your favorite blogs, you might want to check and see if they're available on Kindle.