Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Book Review: Darkmage by M.L. Spencer

Darkmage is a dark fantasy, richly written, and filled with fascinating characters. The action starts
almost immediately and takes the reader on a journey through a detailed and nuanced world.
Darien Lauchlin is an acolyte, called back to Aerysius, the city of the mages after a stint on the frontier guarding against the enemy in the Dark Lands. It is his time to rise up to the level of mage, an occurrence marked treason from within and the destruction of Aerysius as the Well of Tears is opened and chaos reigns supreme.
Darien has incredible powers but is bound by his oath as a mage not to unleash his magic despite the temptation to do so. Accompanied by the priestess of Death, Naia, and his new acolyte, Kyel Archer, Darien sets out to save his world without losing himself at the same time.
The detailed world-building is amazing. It is very easy for the reader to picture each scene in the various lands they travel through. The characters are diverse and always engaging. There is great poignancy in the romance between Naia and Darien, as well as his lost love, Merien, who was sacrificed to open the Well of Tears. The pressures on Darien are immense, but his responses are believable as well as his befuddled acolyte, Kyel.
I can't wait to read Darkstorm and the other coming books in the Rhenwars Saga. If you like dark fantasy, this is a book you want to read.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Cover Reveal: Alive at Sunset by Kayla Krantz

The sequel to Dead by Morning!

"My mistake was that I didn't kill you."

Join the Facebook Event for Alive at Sunset:

And pick up a copy of Dead by Morning!

Obsession is deadly. No one learns that better than Luna Ketz, a pessimistic high school senior. She wishes more than anything to graduate but things don’t always go as planned. Luna quickly finds herself trapped in a web of lies and murders, spun by the least suspected person in her hometown. It’s not long before she realizes she’s being targeted by the person she despises most in the world. When Luna figures out who is behind the killings, things make a turn for the bizarre when she is contacted by a friend she has not heard from in years. It is then Luna realizes she is very much in danger, but although she can avoid the killer in reality, she cannot avoid him in her dreams.

Dead by Morning - now on Amazon

Monday, September 19, 2016

New Release: The Brave Jungle Kitty by Angelique S. Anderson author and Angel Esqueda, illustrator

In 'The Brave Jungle Kitty' we meet an amazing kitty who was adopted by four loving little girls. They soon find out she is no regular kitty, and charming antics ensue! A great read aloud for children and parents, alike. You'll want to know all about this feisty gray kitty!

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Giving Feedback to a Writer

Almost every writer I know has at one time or another thrown some writing out in social media or a critique group and asked for feedback. Most of the time, it’s a useful exercise and very helpful to the writer.

Occasionally, the scenario goes like this:
I write:
It was a dark and stormy night.
Now I wait anxiously for feedback to my masterpiece.

The first one comes from my friend known as the Red Baron.
This is better: Clouds roiled through the darkness and lightning slashed the skies.
Hmm, I think. That sounds pretty dramatic and if I’m honest, much better than what I wrote. Still, it’s not “me”, not what I wrote. So while I like what the Red Baron sent me, I’m uncomfortable.

I get another response from my friend, Snoopy.
I like what you wrote, but there’s a lot of telling. Show me how the night was dark and stormy in your own words. Use your five senses – what sounds do you hear? What do you see? How do you feel?
Right away, I feel better. Snoopy’s response gives me some ideas in how to rewrite the line myself and improve it. I think a bit, then go ahead and rewrite it myself in my own words and style.

I was drenched by the pouring rain. Lightning lit the path in front of me as the sound of thunder made me jump.
I study what I wrote and compare it to the Red Baron’s suggestion. Not quite the same, but the second one is ‘Me’. I’m not only happy with what I’ve written, but I also learned something about the craft of writing in the process.

I understand that these are very simplistic examples of giving feedback. I can also sympathize with those who don’t want to spend precious time writing out how to do something when it can be much easier to write it oneself.

The definition of feedback (from the Merriam-Webster dictionary) is helpful information or criticism that is given to someone to say what can be done to improve a performance, product, etc. If someone just writes it themselves rather than helping the author, I think that the feedback is no more helpful than just replying ‘Good job’ or ‘Needs work.'

Feedback is the opportunity for a teaching moment, a chance to help a fellow writer improve their craft. Just imagine if your editor didn’t just correct your writing, but rewrote your novel. You would be irate. As an editor, I’ve made suggestions for different wording in places, but I strongly believe that to do anything further without trying to work with the author and teach them to write it in their own style is not editing but ghostwriting.

Of course, it is always the writer’s prerogative to opt not to make the changes you’ve suggested. But isn’t that better than that writer taking your writing example and putting it in their manuscript?

“Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.” – Benjamin Franklin

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Book Review: Walk Tall in the Wind by Dennis Swan

Walk Tall in the Wind is a fictionalized account of the settling of Eaton Rapids in Michigan in the early 1800's.  If you like history, then you will thoroughly enjoy this narrative.
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Simon and Olive Chatfield are Quakers who ran a tavern along the Erie Canal in New York state. When the opportunity arises, they pick up and move to the Michigan territory and build a trading post. Olive is aided in the birth of her youngest child by Indians who live nearby and the family becomes very friendly with them.
The story is told through the viewpoint of different characters and some flashbacks to older occurrences: Simon's experiences in Tecumseh's wars or Olive's ancestor who was a spy in the Revolutionary War. As more people come to the little settlement, attitudes to the Indians change though the Chatfields remain firm friends.
I learned some new bits of history; for example, I knew about the Aroostook Wars, but I hadn't heard of the Patriot War of 1837 and found it very interesting.  I hope the story of the Chatfield family is continued in another book. I'd love to read about what happens to them in the Civil War.

About the Author:

Dennis was born sixty years ago on a dairy farm in Brookfield Township in Eaton County, Michigan on land his ancestors took up from the government. He attended Eaton Rapids Schools and worked the family farm with his father after graduation. Dennis started working at the US Post Office in Eaton Rapids after his marriage to his wife, Kathi. Soon after, they switched from dairy to raising beef cattle. That gave them time to pursue their passion for antiques. They became dealers with booths in several antique malls, as an outlet for the treasures found that they no longer had room for. They soon opened their own shop in the old grist mill in Eaton Rapids. Poor health forced them to close their shop, and retire from the Post Office. Dennis always had a love for history, especially local history. He knew his family had lived in the area for a long time, from the stories he heard growing up. Through genealogical research conducted by Kathi, which is her love, he soon found out his forefathers were some of the first settlers in Eaton County. One was the first lawyer in Eaton Rapids, started the first newspaper, became the prosecuting attorney and went on to be a State Representative. Since Dennis has been an avid reader since a young child and comes from a long line of storytellers, he decided to spin a tale of what might have happened. Using what history he found by researching the local library, he blends together historical facts and fictional characters. With no diaries to read or journals to aid his research, he had to use his imagination to what it was like living on the Michigan frontier in 1835, and what kind of people would have been living there, among the Native American Indians to weave a charming tale of life in the early days of Eaton Rapids.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Virtual Book Tour: 4Ever Girl by Marian Cheatham and Review

Young Adult Contemporary
Date Published: July 14, 2016

4Ever Girl, Book Two in the Stratford High Series. Inspired by Shakespeare’s controversial comedy, The Merchant of Venice.
 Benji Merchant, has only one desire – to take the beautiful and spirited, Portia Belmont, to their senior prom. But first, Benji must win her heart. He enlists the help of his twin sister, Toni Merchant, in a wild scheme to impress Portia. Toni has reservations, especially when she learns that her brother’s plan involves the elusive tattoo artist, Shiloh Lender. Shiloh agrees to help Benji, but only if Toni concedes to Shiloh’s unbelievable terms. Will Toni accept the challenge and support her brother in his quest for Portia’s love? Or will Toni refuse Shiloh’s conditions and let her brother down? 
This cute and clean high school romance is based on Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice. It has all the attributes of his comedies with various couples involved in different schemes as Senior Prom approaches. Shiloh has a crush on Toni whose brother Benji likes Portia, but Toni has a long term boyfriend though there isn't much of a spark between them.
They work out a deal where Toni will go to Prom with Shiloh if he details Benji's car so he can impress Portia. The story is told in multiple POVs so you see what all of them are thinking. There's also a sweet puppy love between Toni's English bulldog and Shiloh's dog.
The story kept me reading; it was nice to see teenagers acting their ages for a change. This is a fun YA romance novel that readers of all ages will enjoy.

Marian Cheatham is a full-time writer of YA novels and screenplays, part-time everything else - spouse, homemaker, volunteer, and animal guardian of five pets. In her free time, she loves to read, walk, garden, and travel. Not necessarily in that order. She and her husband work hard (and have fun) ticking off items on their Bucket List.
Her YA series, Stratford High, revolves around modern retellings of Shakespeare’s plays. Ruined, Book One, is inspired by the Bard’s classic romance, Much Ado About Nothing. 4Ever Girl, Book Two, is inspired by Shakespeare’s controversial comedy, The Merchant of Venice.

Marian’s debut YA, Eastland, is based on the real-life story of the 1915 Eastland boat disaster in Chicago.

Purchase Links


Ruined and 4Ever Girl will be $0.99 on Kindle during the week of 9/06 - 9/13

Barnes and Noble:

Saturday, September 10, 2016

New Release: Bestial by Arielle K. Harris

Yvaine was once a spoiled child reigning terror on her parents and servants alike until an enchantress changed her into a creature whose bestial form matches her beastly nature. 

Beau is a young man of singular beauty and virtue who must look after his family when misfortune brings them into a ruin of their own making. 

Beau and Yvaine’s ill-fated paths will meet, and they will change each other irrevocably. But how can love last when lovers change beyond recognition? 

This is the story of a Beauty and a Beast, only not as you know it. Set in a pre-revolutionary France where magic abounds, the tale does not end with the Beast’s transformation. In many ways, it is only the beginning…

About the Author:

Arielle K Harris spent her formative years in Scotland, which has irreversibly confused her accent and spelling conventions. Lately she has returned to her hometown in Massachusetts, where she finished her first novel, Bestial, and is raising her young son. Arielle writes stories which focus on the human experience through the lens of fantasy, posing questions about reality through the means of unreality.