Monday, December 30, 2013

Review: The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

Includes minor spoilers (or almost-spoilers).



Blurb:

"It is 1939. Nazi Germany. The country is holding its breath. Death has never been busier, and will become busier still.

"Liesel Meminger is a foster girl living outside of Munich, who scratches out a meager existence for herself by stealing when she encounters something she can't resist--books. With the help of her accordion-playing foster father, she learns to read and shares her stolen books with her neighbors during bombing raids as well as with the Jewish man hidden in her basement."

Review:

An unforgettable experience. Unique in so many ways. It's been a while since I've read a book that I did not want to put down, that I set aside whole afternoons to devour.

*** Newsflash ***

This book will earn 5 of 5 magic wands.

No surprise there, given my preamble. At LegendFire, we writers discuss books. What else does one do at a writing forum? Over the past few years the title The Book Thief kept cropping up. I was like, yeah, but I've never heard of Markus Zusak, and because I'm one of those scaredy-cats who rarely ventures out of her comfort zone, I didn't bother looking for the book.

Until this autumn.

*** A Lesson Learned ***

Reach out, take a chance,
pull the book off the shelf,
experience something new
and extraordinary.

I finally told myself, "Self, you have got to expand your horizons. Go to the bookstore and pick out several books by authors you've never read before." Zusak was the first author I reached for. When I read the first couple of pages and discovered who our narrator was going to be for the long haul, I rolled my eyes. "How gimmicky," I said. Yes, I said it aloud. My fear was that the book was going to be cheesy, an author trying too hard to tell an old story in a new way, and I wondered if I would be able to stick with it.

*** A gimmick ***

Death himself is the narrator.

I'm always ecstatic when my fears are proved to be unfounded. It was Zusak's startling, poetic writing style (I learned new ways to use verbs, for one) and the glimpses of our young book thief that kept me reading for the next few pages. And soon even the narrator won me over. Death is troubled by humanity. How can humans be so beautiful and so horrendous, so good to one another and so cruel? How can they keep getting up when their wounds are so deep? He is tired of war; he is tired of plucking souls from bombed-out basements and battlefields. But every once in a while he crosses paths with a human who gives him hope. One such person is the book thief. Their paths cross too many times during the early years of World War II, and every time, the book thief is able to distract Death from his tiresome and disheartening duty.

Eventually, it becomes clear that Death's struggle to understand humanity, his desperate and jaded search for some redeeming qualities are as much a part of the story as the book thief's struggle to learn how to read, her discovery of the detrimental power of words, the saving power of words, and her friendship with the Jew hiding in her basement.

Conclusion:

I could go on and on about what makes this book memorable, but short and sweet is best these days. If you can stand a heartbreaking story, grab a copy, grab the box of tissues, and settle in for a remarkable journey.

Obviously, others thought the same. The movie version was released this year. I suppose I shall add it to my to-watch list. Geoffrey Rush and Emily Watson among the cast? Yep, I'm sold.

Rating:

5 of 5 magic wands, as was foreshadowed...



*** An apology ***
For stealing Death's narrative inserts for this review
and reviewing a book that is several years old.
Comfort zones cause one to miss out.

Next up, something new:
The Valley of Amazement
by Amy Tan. Stay tuned...


Monday, December 16, 2013

SPARKS by RS McCoy: A Book Release Blast





Blurb:
"Everyone in the world has a spark, a light inside that guides them, keeps them alive.”

Myxini School for Children specializes in training young men and women who have powerful sparks. Strikers are taught to manipulate fire. Trackers learn to find animals in the most formidable terrains. Handlers are instructed in communication with large predators. But forty years have passed since the last time they had a Readera student with the ability to read minds.

When Lark Davies enrolls at Myxini, he knows there aren’t many like him, but he doesn’t realize just how rare his abilities really are. He thinks nothing of being asked to keep his spark a secret; after all, he can barely control it. Thoughts and emotions flood unbidden into his mind until he can scarcely walk or hold a conversation. But just when he needs it most, his ability fails him.

Lark meets Khea, a small frightened girl who mysteriously insights his protective nature. He has no explanation for the curious strength of their relationship, and it doesn’t help that she is one of the few people in the world whose thoughts can’t be read. As he struggles to get to the root of their unique bond, Lark begins to unravel more power than even his mentor expected, but in the process makes himself a target to political leaders eager to take control.


Teaser:
Wearing only my loose brown pants, I crawled into the most comfortable bed I had ever known and sank into the soft down pillows. I had just started to drift off when I heard a knock at the door. I’m going to kill Avis.

“What do you—” I started until I realized it wasn’t Avis. It was a stunning blonde with blue eyes. Khea.

“I’m sorry to wake you. I justI had to see you.” Her arms moved to wrap around my waist and hold me tight as I questioned if I was really sleeping or not.

“Uh, do you want to come in?” We both knew the rules about being in someone else’s
room after hours, so I pulled her in and sat down on the edge of the bed, still a little surprised she was there.

In the dim light her hair looked a little darker, but her face was still sweet and there was no denying that the last two years had done her well. Who would have thought such a beautiful young woman would come from that skinny little girl in Lagodon?

“How’d you know I was back?” I asked her, trying to appear less tired or shocked than I was.

“A friend told me.”

“I didn’t think you—” Cared? It wasn’t the right word, but I was beyond amazed that she was interested in my whereabouts. I hadn’t seen her since that night at the Moonwater and it had changed everything for me since then. But for her, I wasn’t aware that she had been affected in any way.

“Ride with me tomorrow?”

“Uh, yea, of course.” It was a struggle to cover how little I wanted to wait. I would have given anything to have her stay.

A wide smile erupted across her sweet lips as she said, “meet me at the lake at noon.” With a lingering kiss on my cheek, she walked back through the door and disappeared into the dark stone corridor.

What just happened?

I hadn’t seen her in person in years, and we were hardly close before that. And now she arrived in my room in the middle of the night and kissed me on the cheek. Was it a kiss like a friend would give another? Or more? I couldn’t make any sense of it, but there was only thing I was sure of. I would be at the lake at noon if it was the last thing I did.

Praise for Sparks:

"...spellbinding..."
                "...fantastic characters..."
                                       "...imaginative and creative..."
                                                                    "...simply could not put it down..."



About the Author:

RS McCoy didn’t ever plan on being a writer. With a career teaching high school science, writing is the last thing she expected. But life never goes the way you think it will. 

While battling cancer, she picked up her laptop and let the words flow out. One year later, her first published fantasy novel has been released on Amazon and her second novel is in the works. 

She is a wife, mother of one with another on the way, a scientist, baker, gardener, and life-long science fiction and fantasy addict.


Connect with RS McCoy

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

SONS OF THE FALCON now available!

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Hallelujah! It's done. A year of writing and feeling like the novel would never be finished, yet here it is. Finished already. Sons of the Falcon, Book 2 of the Falcons Saga, has been uploaded, approved, and is now available at Amazon and CreateSpace.

It feels amazing, like releasing lead balloons and seeing them fly weightlessly into the sky. And now? Do I ever need a vacation. My brain is shot, so I plan to spend the holiday months reading, refueling the brain cells, and maybe writing a couple of short stories if the inspiration strikes me. Then in January, I hope, work on the last book will begin. Fury of the Falcon is going to be quite a beast, let me tell you. Probably the longest of all the volumes, and the old draft is full of issues that must be fixed, which means lots of changes. Can you tell I'm trying not to be intimidated? But for now, I shall bask in the feeling of accomplishment...

Currently, the print edition of Sons is only available at CreateSpace. It will take a few more business days for it to become available at Amazon. It's priced competitively at $14.99. And like both volumes of Book 1, Sons is only .99 cents for a digital download. This weekend (Friday through Sunday), however, it will be available for FREE! So be sure to keep an eye out and an e-reader on hand, so you can download yours.
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Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Countdown for the Release of Sons of the Falcon

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This Thanksgiving, I will have something unexpected to be thankful for. The formatting, uploading, and reviewing process for Sons of the Falcon went much quicker than I expected. Instead of releasing the second book of my Falcons Saga at Christmas, I get to release it before Thanksgiving! I am thrilled, I tell you.

But what happens before then? I mean, when already?

Well, my mother unhappily reported that Blood of the Falcon had several typos, especially volume 2. So with her help, I have devoted the last couple of weeks to correcting those and other issues with the text. As of yesterday, the 2nd Editions for Blood of the Falcon are now available for Kindle (volume 1 is found HERE. Volume 2 is found HERE). Print editions will soon follow, as soon as I receive the proofs and approve them, which should happen in the next few days.

Then, this weekend, starting Thursday, both volumes of Blood of the Falcon are going to be available for FREE! Free is good, right? We like free stuff. So if you haven't downloaded your copies yet, you will have a chance between Thursday and Monday to do so.

Lastly, toward the end of the free promo weekend, I plan to upload the Kindle version of Sons of the Falcon. Hopefully that process will go smoothly. *crossing fingers* Once Amazon has approved it, it will be up for sell immediately. At that time, I will also click the button to approve the print version of Sons.

Good thing this time is that there's only one book. No more confusion about whether this book is book two or book three or is this the whole story? Sons is Book 2, and it's not the the whole story. There will be one more book after this, Fury of the Falcon, which will conclude the tale of my twins. Hopefully, Fury won't take me much more than a year to rewrite.

But this is about Sons. And it's a beauty, let me tell you. Another chunky epic with a beautiful cover. It feels great in my hands. Weighty and beefy and full of mystery, violence, forbidden love, monsters and magic. All the best stuff fiction has to offer. Mark me, I didn't say mine was the best fiction. I said my fiction was filled with the best kind of stuff. The stuff I enjoy most, anyway.

Point is, I'm currently shooting for November 20th as the official release of Sons of the Falcon. Hurray!

Is it ironic that one of the "sons" referred to in the title is actually a girl? I would like to say, "I hope you like Carah as much as I do," but honestly, I'm not sure I like her all the time, either.

Here's the final cover for your viewing pleasure:

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Thursday, November 7, 2013

Interview: Devon Winterson, author of The Perfect Player

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Recap of The Perfect Player:

“A forbidden tryst exposes a threat and sets a secret plan in motion, and twenty-year-old Marisa of Mynae discovers her life is all a lie. But even as a cryptic journal reveals her true purpose and a trail of hoofprints leads her to a demon renegade, Marisa balks at fate's course until evil devours her people and imperils her father's life. Only then does she learn what it takes to play—and win—a deadly game of predator versus prey.” – Imagination Ether Press

Meet the Author:

Two weeks ago, I posted a review of The Perfect Player, the upcoming dark fantasy novel of Connecticut author Devon Winterson. Currently Devon has several novels in the works, most of which take place in the world of Caendoria. Other projects include co-writing a middle-grade novel with her son, editing for a small publishing company, and moderating at Writer’s Beat, a growing online community for writers, for which she contributes to the quarterly e-zine. She also happens to have a passion for golden retrievers.

This week Devon graces us with a brief interview. While reading The Perfect Player, two questions kept springing to mind. Where did this come from, and where is it going? I suppose I’m fascinated with the mysterious, vibrant labyrinths of other writers’ minds. Read on for Devon’s crackerjack replies:

The Interview:

Court: The whole time I was reading The Perfect Player, I kept wondering what initially inspired this world and the story. So can you tell us a little about how this world came to be and how these characters sprang out of it?

Devon: Initially, this all started with a short about a young woman who severely injures someone after driving home drunk. She consequently dies in the crash, and is sent straight to the underworld to “pay her dues,” where she meets a sympathetic demon who hears her plight, reasons things out, and sends her back so she can set things right.

The Perfect Player and its subsequent stories kind of just morphed from there, I suppose, into what it is now: Nothing like the original short story—at all. Except for the demon and the young woman, who eventually turned into Locrian (the demon) and Marisa of Mynae.

See, my muse led me down a totally different direction with those two, and from there, everyone else took shape. I planned nothing at the outset—neither the world, nor the people. I just sat down and wrote, and story events simply started to materialize. So I wrote them all down as I saw them pop into my imagination. Of course they were all jumbled and stupid at first, with half the events completely illogical and my writing skills at basically zero. But over the span of a decade I learned, listened, and practiced, then honed the first story into what it currently is.

In fact, starting on November 9th, I’m hoping to post up a successive trio of blog posts leading to the November 11th release of The Perfect Player, wherein I tell the (not-so-true) story of how everything came about, muse included. It’s a humorous take on it all, and it kind of shows my crazy side.

Court: *laughs* I’m looking forward to reading those posts. Now, The Perfect Player ends with full resolution, yet it's open-ended too. Without giving away any spoilers, can you tell us where you see the world and these characters headed in the future?

Devon: Honestly, I see them all going backwards. Throughout my entire series, I work with a retrograde timeline where The Perfect Player (first book) is actually the finale to an overarching set of events; the middle trio of tales take place numerous years before the various happenings in The Perfect Player and all occur at the same time, told through different points of view (the reader meets these characters in The Perfect Player); and book five, the last tale, is what starts it all, sets everything into motion, told through the viewpoint of the world’s creator, wherein various scenes from the previous books are revisited with a fresh understanding and interwoven through the creator’s own story. The last one I project will be one huge, huge book, probably a handful of volumes, I suspect, if not more, and very hard to construct as that particular main character is horribly cryptic and difficult to figure out.

Conclusion:

So it seems we readers have a lot more to look forward to. The vibrant world of Caendoria is about to flood the Indie market with magic, darkness, and adventure. Look for The Perfect Player on November 11 at Amazon, both for e-readers and in print. In the meantime, keep an eye on Devon’s blog at The Ether of My Imagination for those upcoming posts about her novel, and find collections of her short fiction at Imagination Ether Press, Goodreads, and Smashwords.
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Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Review: The Perfect Player by Devon Winterson

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Blurb:

"A forbidden tryst exposes a threat and sets a secret plan in motion, and twenty-year-old Marisa of Mynae discovers her life is all a lie. But even as a cryptic journal reveals her true purpose and a trail of hoofprints leads her to a demon renegade, Marisa balks at fate’s course until evil devours her people and imperils her father’s life. Only then does she learn what it takes to play – and win – a deadly game of predator versus prey." 

Review:

I had the privilege of reading a pre-release copy of Devon Winterson’s debut novel, The Perfect Player, which is due out on November 11, 2013—or, as I’m sure Devon would say, “On the eleventh day of the eleventh month at the eleventh hour.” Devon is a moderator at Writer’s Beat, an online community for writers, and her often hilarious and witty anecdotes and gracious interviews of indie authors can be found at her blog, The Ether of My Imagination.

As with all indie books I read, I started The Perfect Player as a skeptic, but soon became a believer. Granted, the hook in this dark fantasy comes a bit late. I didn’t feel fully engaged in the story until Marisa’s “crazy” mother makes an appearance toward the end of Chapter 2. After that point, there were times when the story was so intense that I could not put my Kindle down. While I read, I’m sure my eyes were bulging out.  

What I loved most about The Perfect Player were the layers of history and backstory woven into the plot. I kept saying to myself, “Wow, this is really complex.” The life Marisa thinks she is being prepared for is only a fa├žade masking what really happened in the lives of her parents, and even events as far back as the creation of the world. These secret events provide a delectable puzzle to be worked out, both by the reader and Marisa herself.

Now, I did find some of my pet peeves in the writing style, and on occasion, the villains and the heroine speak lines that are just short of original in flavor. But most of the time, Devon’s writing is poetic, powerful, and rife with treats to the senses. She has painted a vivid world in which Marisa walks through lavender grasses with bare feet and drinks scented, opalescent elixir instead of water. Her characters soon spring off the page, full of flaws, complexity, hidden motives, and deep unfulfilled desires.

One of the most rewarding elements is that none of these characters are safe, not even the heroes we come to love. Unexpected twists and sudden loss make The Perfect Player a page-turner. Who will survive until The End? You’ll want to add this debut novel to your to-read list and find out on the eleventh day of the eleventh month at the eleventh hour.

I give The Perfect Player 4 out of 5 magic wands:


Purchasing information: The Perfect Player will be available on Amazon, in print and for the Kindle, on November 11, 2013.
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Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Janis Accepted!

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Who doesn't love Janis Joplin, eh? I mean, really. The wailing, the rebellion, the angst, the soul in that whiskey voice. A year ago, I posted about the Janis story I was writing, and in the months since I have been trying to sell it. We finally got a bite. Voluted Tales, a lovely subscription-only ezine, has picked up the story and will publish it on October 25th.


Thanks goes to my critiquers at LegendFire. Undoubtedly, they helped me work out the kinks. The success is theirs, too.

Now it's time to raise a glass of Southern Comfort and celebrate. Cheers, all.
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Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Bearded Scribe's 500/1000 Follower Giveaway!

Greetings, Beardies!

A while back I had mentioned on Facebook (and by default, Twitter) that, in honor of reaching 500 Likes on our Facebook Page and 1000 Followers on Twitter, I would be holding a Giveaway.

A Giveaway, there shall be...and it's a doozie! We have some great prizes, donated by some great authors. In addition to their generosity, I've decided to donate a prize of my own.


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The Prizes & Their Benefactors:
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Joshua Allen Mercier is the Founder and Executive Editor of The Bearded Scribe.  He is a passionate reader and an aspiring author currently shopping his first manuscript, The Assassin of Aldarhaij. He studied Creative Writing at Alma College and is a self-confessed nerd, linguaphile, and Grammar Nazi. He believes that Oxford comma is not optional, and that its absence is a punishable crime. 

World-Building Critique & Feedback. With this service, I'll review your world-building material and notes for consistency and clarity, discrepancies and weaknesses, strengths and uniqueness, among other factors. I will offer a thorough critique with detailed feedback, pointing out places in your world that need work or reinforcement. The service includes the initial email exchange of your notes, my critique and feedback, and two, thirty-minute sessions via Facebook or iMessage (in addition to an initial 30-Minute Consultation).  Prize valued at $70

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Cidney Swanson is the author of The Ripple Trilogy and the Saving Mars series.  She has always had a thing for words. At an early age, she knew she’d be a writer. Her dad taught literature, and her mom made sure she and her sister had library books.

Her parents took the sisters to see Shakespeare plays as well, and as a seven-year-old, Cidney interrupted the actors performing The Merchant of Venice when one of them lied to another in Elizabethan English. Cidney recalls seeing the actors onstage breaking into choked laughter when she called out, “You liar!” No one mentioned to her that Shakespeare was difficult to understand, so she simply followed along, commenting when she couldn’t stand the fibbery anymore.

By the time she turned nine, Cidney read and wrote stories constantly. She found Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women and became convinced the author had modeled her character “Jo March” after her. As a teen, she fell hard for fantasy and science fiction and soon wrote her futuristic tales in Tolkien’s Elven script. (Which also came in handy for hiding journal entries from her sister.)

Cidney traveled with her teacher-parents every summer, driving through Alaska, Canada, Mexico, and a dozen European countries by the time she reached high school age. She was able to travel abroad three out of her four years in college as well, adding Israel and Eastern Europe to her list.

Through her twenties, and into her thirties—which she describes as her “decade of giving birth”—Cidney journaled, wrote poems and essays, and started novels that were never finished in between chasing chickens and changing diapers. She also started two successful businesses and home-schooled her kids with her husband’s help. She describes those as great years for taking in life, an activity she highly recommends for any aspiring writer.

Cidney lives with her husband and assorted animals and kids in Oregon where she writes full-time, planning her next novel and her next international adventure with equal enthusiasm. She no longer, however, interrupts theatrical performances. Even if someone’s lying.


One (1) copy of Defying Mars.  One winner will be handsomely rewarded with a copy of Defying Mars, the second book in the Saving Mars series.
Jessamyn has escaped Earth with food for her starving world, but her troubles are just beginning. She must rebuild her life without Pavel, the Terran boy whose kiss haunts her. Her success is further tainted by the loss of her beloved brother. Ethan disabled the deadly lasers orbiting Mars, but this has created a fervor to re-open trade with Earth which Jess knows would be disastrous. Add into the mix a secret which could launch an interplanetary war, and Jess finds herself at the center of an intrigue where, in order to save the world she loves, she must defy it.

Five (5) Specialty Saving Mars Bookmarks.  These collector bookmarks, inspired by the cover from the first book in the Saving Mars series (aptly titled, Saving Mars), are from a remaining limited quantity, generously donated by Cidney.

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Lana Krumwiede’s first name rhymes with banana, and she pronounces her last name KRUM-widdy, as in a clever bread fragment. But don’t worry too much because she’s not touchy about it.

In third grade, Lana wrote in her autobiography that she wanted to be a mother, a writer, and the church organist. The organist thing didn’t work out very well, but the other two dreams made up for it. Her work has appeared in Highlights, High Five, Spider, Babybug, The Friend, and Chicken Soup for the Child’s Soul. Freakling is her first novel. She also has a picture book under contract with Candlewick.

Before she remembered she wanted to be a writer, Lana worked as an office manager, a stay-at-home mom, a preschool teacher, a Spanish teacher, a bilingual kindergarten teacher, a swimming instructor, and a reading tutor. She lives in Richmond, Virginia with her husband and youngest daughter. Her three older children are off having adventures of their own.

Lana has tried psi many times, especially in association with cleaning house, but could never make it work. She does have a few mildly supernatural abilities, which include untying knots, peeling oranges, and dominating in board games. Her perfect day would include reading, writing, swimming, cooking, telling jokes, spending time with family, and pie.


Two *SIGNED* Copies of Freakling.  
In twelve-year-old Taemon’s city, everyone has a power called psi — the ability to move and manipulate objects with their minds. When Taemon loses his psi in a traumatic accident, he must hide his lack of power by any means possible. But a humiliating incident at a sports tournament exposes his disability, and Taemon is exiled to the powerless colony. The "dud farm" is not what Taemon expected, though: people are kind and open, and they actually seem to enjoy using their hands to work and play and even comfort their children. Taemon adjusts to his new life quickly, making friends and finding unconditional acceptance. But gradually he discovers that for all its openness, there are mysteries at the colony, too — dangerous secrets that would give unchecked power to psi wielders if discovered. When Taemon unwittingly leaks one of these secrets, will he have the courage to repair the damage — even if it means returning to the city and facing the very people who exiled him?

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Brian Rathbone is a former horse trainer and computer programmer.  He used his old world knowledge and love of fantasy fiction to create The World of Godsland fantasy series, which begins with The Dawning of Power trilogy.  


Brian began working from home, finally finding the time to write down the story that had been growing in his mind for over a decade. At times he felt like a juggler in motley while he balanced the writing of code and the writing of fiction, but it’s all been worthwhile.

He is currently working on writing Fifth Magic, the seventh book in his World of Godsland series.


Two Copies of The Dawning of Power trilogy, the first three books of his World of Godsland series.  Echoes of the ancients’ power are distant memories, tattered and faded by the passage of eons, but that is about to change. A new dawn has arrived. Latent abilities, harbored in mankind’s deepest fibers, wait to be unleashed. Ancient evils awaken, and old fears ignite the fires of war.

In times such as these, ordinary people have the power to save the world . . . or destroy it.


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Paige W. Pendleton. The secrets of the Red Paint People have haunted Maine for 7000 years. Paige is busy writing those tales.

She is currently working on The Keeper and the Scimitar of Salaman, the third installment of her Black Ledge series.


Two Copies of The Keeper and the Rune Stone.  An unholy ritual, a ticking clock. Four children discover that there are things that go bump in the night...

Centuries ago a group of Elves committed an unholy ritual. But the ritual was a spectacular failure. It transformed the Elves into the Noctivagae - the beings we know as vampires.

Striving to maintain a fragile peace, the ancient Elves and Dwarves negotiated an accord, which they've renewed every year on the summer solstice. The ceremony depends on the magical Rune Stone, but it's missing. If it is not found—and quickly—the consequences could be dire, and not just for Elves and Dwarves.

Four children, Rob, Jack, Eleanor, and Flora, stumble into the fantastical excitement when they happen across a wise being who inhabits a nearby cave. He is the Keeper of the Realm. He befriends the children and enlists their help.

The adventure that follows is based on my suspicion that Elves and Dwarves came to Maine with the ancient Norse in the time of the Red Paint People. The story is filled with suspense, magic, adventure, and charming supporting characters. It’s both heart-warming and heart-pounding.

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Gregory S. Close has lived on both coasts of the United States (and that wholesome corn-fed part in-between) as well as Dundalk, Ireland and the tiny islands of the Kwajalein Atoll.
Greg loves travelling and sampling the native cultures, foods, customs, and beers of the world. Greg is married to a rocket scientist and lives in California with his two daughters, a cat, and one and a half dogs.

Three Copies of In Siege of DaylightThis new epic literary fantasy follows Calvraign, who is an apprentice to the king’s bard. His studies are filled with prophecy, romance, mythic enemies, and magic, and he contents himself with such fantasies until the day that he is suddenly called to the capital city. His best friend, Callagh, the most skilled huntress in their village, senses something isn’t right with Calvraign’s hasty summons and follows him. Her instincts prove true, as his arrival throws the king’s court into chaos, and the two are abruptly torn from their simple country life and plunged into a real-life version of Calvraign’s tales. A menacing prophecy reveals that an all-encompassing dark magic has already been loosed upon the world, and there is only one way to stop it. Calvraign must reverse the Darkening before treachery takes the life of the crown prince and plunges the kingdom of Providayne into chaos. And Callagh must keep him alive long enough to do it….
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Daniel Harvell wrote one short story at the age of 10 about a pit on the moon laden with poisonous hamburgers, and suddenly he was an author. That’s the way he saw it when “Murder on the Moon” became an instant hit with his fourth-grade classmates. He’d always been a voracious reader, but upon sharing his little yarn with friends, Daniel suddenly realized the freedom (and power!) of becoming the storyteller. Over the next few years, he would go on to write several short stories, mostly involving murder mysteries and his schoolmates.

The thrill of whodunits subsided when he discovered the long and (theoretically) rewarding payoffs of the soap operatic style of telling tales, which was followed quickly by his unearthing of the superhero fiction genre (which is just soap operas in spandex). Fast-forward to Daniel's last semester at Florida State University, where he was starting to regret my decision to pursue a business management degree instead of something more literary. He had big stories in his head. Instead of second-guessing his educational path, however, Daniel used his free time to pursue his passion. A few months later, his first novel had arrived in the world—and it wasn’t pretty. Like all writers, though, he had to start somewhere.

Daniel went back to the drawing board with his ideas for The Survivors—a contemporary fantasy story about what would happen if real people found themselves empowered with superhuman abilities. But The Survivors wasn’t so pretty either. The concept was fun but the execution was rough. It was temporarily shelved while he set out to learn how to be a better—and publishable—writer. And 10 years later, Daniel thinks he may have learned a thing or two.

He wrote another novel in the interim years (more on that soon!), but The Survivors will always be his baby. In many ways, the work of an artist is like his or her child. Now his little one’s ready to play with the big kids. After the many years of edits and rewrites, Daniel is proud of the novel into which it has grown.

Two Copies of The Survivors.  When seven strangers impossibly survive a horrific airplane crash, they find themselves changed in remarkable ways. The survivors are endowed with powers that defy explanation. Some are blessed. Some are cursed. 

Going their separate ways, they adapt their extraordinary "gifts" to their ordinary lives. The results, however, aren't always pretty—particularly when one of them engages in a killing spree. With little more to go on than the psychic link that they all share, the survivors seek out one another to uncover the murderer and bring him or her to justice. 

The fireman, the grandmother, the psychiatric patient, the basketball player, the mute girl, the rich blonde, and the man in the wheelchair—they all have secrets worth hiding. They can't trust each other. They can't even trust themselves.

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S.M. White has read a metric ton of text in his life. You could probably crush a dozen men beneath the weight. He studied creative writing at Spalding University, which turns out is simply reading and writing; that was nice. He has spent countless hours watching fantasy films, at times awed and at other times disappointed. He has held swords and shields and dead things. He once undertook a daunting quest to recover the stolen car keys to his mother's station wagon. Maidens have handed me favors ranging from bracelets to perfume-drenched letters to lengths of fake hair. When he encounters dragons, he keeps his wits about him and his gold coins close. He is a liar. He is a thief: he has stolen words out of men's mouths and claimed them as fictional musings. His friends often question him on his whereabouts (they seldom check Medieval Outfitters). He is not a serious person; of this, he is serious. He spent his formative years training to be a ninja. In this, he can don dark clothing and climb the tallest trees, he can do a front roll and a cartwheel, and he can fashion a smoke bomb from a tennis ball and match heads. If you were to ask him a question, he would instantly become evasive and confusing (mostly as a product of his uncertainty, but also because he's super mysterious).

Say something poignant, the Internet says.

Very well. He has won many insignificant things and has lost many precious things. This, he feels, is important. It is one thing to hold an object in your hand knowing its worth is a paltry measure in regards to what you might have been holding. This idea of loss is a vibrant and living thing. It lets you see that what is offered is not always what should be taken, and that what should be taken is hardly ever offered. And there waits cynicism, the most powerful of writerly attributes. If you don't know hopelessness, or dejection, or heart ache, you do not know conflict. Pain can be observed on television, or read about in the paper. But to live it, that it what molds a heart and moves a soul. His writing can be dark and terrible and harsh. This is not a product of formal training, or awards, or degrees. It is a result of his humanness, of his longing to understand agony and love and how the two survive in the same world. His stories are studies of the human heart, of humanity's need for good, and of the dreadful movements of evil as done by minds capable of love.

Three Copies The Lonely Man: The Witch's Price. A man responsible for the downfall of a nation. The nation responsible for the downfall of a man.

Mhets and six other greedy men quested to steal the Chained God’s treasure. They were successful. The gods, in their fury, took the lives of Mhets' companions one at a time, and now seek to snuff out the remaining thief. To survive, and to further spite the divine for their part in taking the love of his life, Mhets finds refuge in a witch’s hand. But the vile deal he enters into promises nothing but trouble. Sorcerers, mercenaries, and death wait on the horizon as he moves to complete his end of the terrible bargain. Journeying at the behest of the witch, Mhets learns just how black his heart has become, and how that darkness inside him might spell salvation for the world.

This installment starts the tales of Mhets Sorrowbringer, a man wronged and angered in life. He owns a past riddled with atrocity, betrayal, and death, but here is where his true story starts. Here is where the man called Mirthless Mhets begins to write his legend.

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The Tour Hosts:
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I Heart Books is a page whose focus is on the promotion of reading, books, and their authors. They provide service for both trad-pub and self-pub authors of all genres. They strive to bring their readers fun and positive posts, while keeping up with current news in the “book world."

Good Choice Reading focuses mainly on Young Adult, New Adult and Romance in all genres. The blog is coordinated by a wonderful group of girls who love to read and share the love they have for books with others!


Diamonds & Coal Book Reviews is run by Anna, an unrepentant 23-year-old nerd. She loves all different sorts of books, has watched too many movies to count, and is always happy to discover new music. That said, her graphic novel/superhero passion knows no bounds. (Hellboy is her favorite—you'll never convince her any other superhero is better!) When she's not at work in the Electronics Department of her local Target, every waking moment revolves around her blog. Come and join her in finding more of the interesting, shiny things in life.


Fae Books is run by Sarah Fae Graham, a 24-year-old Army wife who lives in Catterick Garrison in the United Kingdom. Fae Books is all about promoting authors, bloggers, writers and everything bookish in between. It hosts a lot of giveaways as well as free book posts, excerpts, interviews, and guest blog posts from the people with whom Sarah Fae is working. She runs a reviewing team who are in high demand and tend to book six months in advance. She's also in the process of beginning her own Tours. You can find more information on Sarah Fae and Fae Books by clicking on the above banner—it's never too soon to get Fae Books involved.


Alexis Holcomb is currently a writer, but aspires to one day be a full-time author. She specializes in fiction and loves inspiring others to follow their passions and dreams. She's a hands-on type of person that can just as easily fix a 3 course meal for a group of friends as she can do maintenance on her or her husband's vehicles. She's proud to be an Air Force sergeant, a wife, a mother, a teacher, and a writer.

Alexis is also a contributor at The Bearded Scribe.


Wordweaver. A child of the American Great Plains, Court Ellyn moved wherever the oil industry took her family. Born in the panhandle of Texas, she has lived from one end of the Lone Star state to the other, as well as New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Indiana. She is settled at last, or so she hopes, in a growing town southwest of Oklahoma City with her husband, her fat cats, and her writing.

Having to move frequently, drove her to fill her playtime with characters and stories that, at first, she acted out with her sister. Then, when she was fourteen, she began writing what she calls “poor and unrealistic historical fiction,” primarily because her mother discouraged her from reading and writing in the fantasy genre. But because of films like The Never Ending Story, The Princess Bride, and Willow, her fate was sealed. Throughout high school her tastes gravitated toward the fantastical until she secretly purchased her first fantasy novel at a gas station. Her mother warned her, “Be careful.” And so Ms. Ellyn has been carefully reading and writing fantasy ever since.

Ms. Ellyn attended the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma, which she claims provided an excellent liberal arts education but failed to dispel the dragons. She graduated Summa Cum Laude in 2000 with a degree in English and History and an emphasis in Creative Writing. Shortly after, she married her high school sweetheart and determined to write professionally. Sadly, she learned the hard way that a college education does not guarantee book sales. Regardless, Court’s stories have since appeared in numerous magazines such as Kaleidotrope, Silver Blade and the Dead Robots’ Society’s Explorers: Beyond the Horizon anthology. In the spring of 2012, she celebrated the publication of the first novel of a fantasy series, over which she labored for a more than a decade. After a literal outpouring of sweat and tears, both Volumes of Book 1 are available at CreateSpace and at Amazon.

Court is also a contributor at The Bearded Scribe.


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The Giveaway:
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a Rafflecopter giveaway



Good Luck to Everyone!  And have FUN!

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Sneak Peek: Sons of the Falcon

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I am pleased to announce that my website has been updated to include a sampling of Book 2 of the Falcons Saga. Yes, you may read the first chapter of Sons of the Falcon at this link.

I never expected the kind of response these novels have received, and so this is for all of those readers who have asked me how the next book is coming along and how much longer they must wait for its release.

The date keeps moving, and I have stopped being optimistic by saying Christmas of this year. I will be much farther along by then, but not finished. Alas. This is a one-woman show, after all, and that includes all the design, layout, and finding as many typos and incoherent rambling as my aching eyes can. I could rush it, but I would not be proud of it. Therefore, in the meantime, may this peace offering satisfy a little of your curiosity, but not all of it. ;)

(Remember, this book is still undergoing revision; while I am currently happy with how Chapter 1 has turned out, there will likely be some textual changes in the final version. Also remember, no copying or reprinting this sample at all without my written permission. I shall send Athna to bombard any pirates I find.)
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Thursday, July 11, 2013

Cat Immortal

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RAPHAEL

October 14, 2005 - July 8, 2013

Well, I meant to get a chapter+ written this week, but on Monday morning I woke up to find my most faithful companion sick. He died at noon. I'm still sick over losing him. Caring about the scene I need to be working on comes and goes in fits, so I write when I can focus on words. 

It's really amazing to discover how many habits I had that revolved around this little guy. Very strange adjusting to a different way of doing and thinking. The worst part was Monday evening dinner time. I went to the garage with my two other cats in tow, and looked down at the floor where three bowls waited to be filled. I had to decide which one to pick up and set aside. Raphael always got his bowl of food last because he was too sweet to steal a bowl from the other two, and because Gabriel and Sonora don't like each other, I have to separate their bowls at arm's length, then I would set Raphael's bowl down in the middle. So I picked up the middle bowl and put it on the shelf, sobbing the whole time, of course.

I've had too many pets during my lifetime to get sappy over most of them, and I am usually not the type who posts sappy obituaries about an animal on my blog, but this one was different. I won't be replacing him any time soon.
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Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Review: Wool by Hugh Howey

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I have jumped on the Wool bandwagon. It's rare that a self-published book keeps me reading to the end, but Wool by Hugh Howey managed to pull it off.

A full review of this post-apocalyptic novella is up at The Bearded Scribe. I usually like to write a second version of these reviews to post on my own blog, but time is a luxury these days, so I invite you to head over to Joshua's fabulous blog and read the review there.



Blurb:

"Thousands of them have lived underground. They've lived there so long, there are only legends about people living anywhere else. Such a life requires rules. Strict rules. There are things that must not be discussed. Like going outside. Never mention you might like going outside.

Or you'll get what you wish for. "

In Brief:

Suffice to say that this short read does not disappoint. There is a good reason why it has attracted the attention of Simon & Schuster and 20th Century Fox. If I'm any judge, we'll be seeing a lot more of Wool and its talented author Hugh Howey. Check it out for yourself. The download at Amazon is currently free.

I give Wool 4 out of 5 magic wands.


Anyone who has followed Wordweaver for a while knows I'm a sucker for great art. Check out these other gorgeous covers for Wool:

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