Reality Check For Authors #26:


It is what it is#26: It Is What It Is

There are no guarantees that life will go smoothly, or that when you least expect it the universe won’t throw you a curve ball you are ill prepared to catch: one that interrupts all your best laid plans, writing deadlines and social media schedules.
Reality Check #26: It Is What It Is. Life happens, so be prepared to make adjustments to those hard held deadlines. Cut yourself some slack when the muse refuses to be moved. Stop beating yourself up because you didn’t make your daily word count. And remember, the world won’t end because that two-per-year-book you promise you made a vow to complete, isn’t going to happen – at least not now.

Reality Check For Authors #2: ‘Cowboy Up’


“I love deadlines. I love the whooshing noise they make as they go by.” ― Douglas AdamsThe Salmon of Doubt

It’s 4 AM and the alarm goes off. But you were reading what’s its new ‘free’ eBook until 1 AM,  and now the only thing you want to do is hit the snooze and roll over. And why not? You’re a writer for cryin out loud. It’s what you do for the 9-5 or 6 or 7 or 8 or 9 hours a day you sit in front of a laptop. A techno gadget that has become more familiar to you than your spouse, significant, other or mom.

Now if this had been the only time this week, or even in the last 2 or 3 days, that you’d stayed up past the self-appointed  curfew of let’s say, 10 PM – not a big deal. It was a justifiable trade off we authors like to call ‘research’. You were simply ‘researching’ ideas for your next novel.

But like all legal and non-legal forms of addiction, at some point, you’ve crossed the line between an occasional offender, and  a habitual one.

That’s right! You my fine cursor, blinking, friend, have joined the ranks of thousands of late night research novelist’s, most of whom are spending way too much time reading other people’s stuff, than working on their own. Matter of fact, the epidemic has become so pervasive, in many cases when asked to talk about your work, you recite the other guys instead.

So today’s Reality Check For Authors: ‘Cowboy Up’ and get that lazy bum out of bed. If you’re gonna read until all hours of the night, than suck it up, and get up when that alarm goes off. As lovely as it is to get to read free eBooks, it should have occurred to you by now, the author your reading, finished writing theirs.

Song of the Seraphim


Angel Time; 2009 by Anne O’Brien Rice; Alfred A. Knopf; New York, NY

I’ve been a fan of  Anne Rice since her break away 1976 novel “Interview with a Vampire“.  For me she was the pioneer of romance – gothic fiction; combing the horror of the living dead with the romanticism of  history. Reading one of her novels is like taking a guided stroll through time: from the antiquities of ancient Egypt, to the reasoning of Rome;  up the dark towers of Middle Age Europe ,  down the sleepy bayous of the South and  up the heights of Ashbury Park into good old fashion rock and roll.

I won’t say I like everything she’s written, such as her Mayfair Witch series  or those under her pseudonyms of Anne Rampling, or A. N. Roquelaure. The witch series (except for Merrick) gave me the quillies and her erotica…well it’s the prude thing (just can’t see mudding up my mind with images I’d rather not have).  But regardless of the personal issues  I have with some of her work,  it’s always about content, not style or talent (though my disappointment with “The Wolf Gift” had more to do with her main character rather than either content or style)

Toby does have to accept that God can forgive any sin, and I think most people have trouble accepting or believing this, too, especially people fighting very bad habits of what they consider to be sin. It can be hard to believe one is worthy of God’s forgiveness. But all things are possible with God, and anyone and everyone who repents can be forgiven. – Anne Rice

Anne Rice has a cadence to her writing that is uniquely hers  and shows up in everything I’ve  read. I’m not sure if it’s because most of her work is written in the first

person (and therefore she’s able to capture the readers ear in a way other POV’s can’t) or that the verse and rhythm of her prose  has given her characters the ability to bring to life a piece of art or the warmth of a sunset;  the way light and shadow fall across the translucent flesh of the un-dead,  or the passion  of someone who will never see the sun rise again. Whatever it is, taking a journey with one of Rice’s characters is never boring or lacking in vibrant creativity.

Two books I just finished were   “Angel Time“(October 2009), and Of Love and Evil (November 30, 2010): Anne’s newest “Songs of the Seraphim” series. Both stories are told around  a disheartened assassin  named Toby O’Dare, who has been enlisted by the seraphim Malchial to earn his redemption by traveling through angel time; using his skills as an investigative killer to save the lives of the faithful.

Now a story about angels and assassins, in and of themselves,  probably wouldn’t have floated my boat if it hadn’t been for Anne’s ability to use her talent for story telling  as a way of exploring mankind’s need  to know, and be known, by Someone beyond themselves.   I particularly appreciate her sensitivity towards  man’s passion to understand what it is that drives him toward Divinity;  her capacity to go far beyond the obvious religious claptrap of so much of today’s landscape  and see the Holy as both personal as well as vulnerable.

And of course there is always the pleasure one derives from reading a story in which every character, every theme, and every plot-line feels as though it’s been painted rather than written. To spend an evening reading an Anne Rice novel is to  smell the musky  scent  of magnolias on a warm New Orleans night,  fly through the heavens pressed against the chest of marble like flesh,  or feel the splash  of water against your pant leg as a taxi’s  tires slap down onto pock marked asphalt.

On a scale of one to five, I’m giving “Songs of the Seraphim” a four.

Dana Stabenow


Book Review: Restless in the Grave; Dana Stabenow; 2012 Saint Martin’s Press, NY

The nineteenth murder mystery book in the life of Alaskan native, Kate Shugak; PI, park rat, Aleut – five –foot – nothing of female wiles and intuition.

Author Dana Stabenow has yet to disappoint; whether she’s writing about Kate Shugak, Liam Campbell,  or branching out with stand alone like Blindfold Games or Prepared for Rage, her ability to weave mystery, social relevance, and character development never ceases to amaze me. Except for killing off some of my favorite characters and making me cry, I’ve yet to finish one of her books and found it wanting.

In this newest Shugak mystery  “Restless in the Grave”, Stabenow has once again  managed to write about the personal and political intrigues that govern the great state of Alaska without boring me to tears; making even the historical background of tribal politics palatable. Matter of fact, she is one of the very few writers that doesn’t make my eyeballs roll to the back of my head the moment I read words like statehood, association, politician and WWI – II.  She  is a master at weaving murder, bad – behaving – politicians,  Native American history,  and family conflict into murder, buried mystery, and just enough romance to keep hope alive.

“Over a third of the Newenhan population was under eighteen,which didn’t make his job any easier, the hormonally challenged being terminally and all too often fatally prone to acts of stupidity.” ― Dana StabenowRestless In The Grave

Liam Campbell novels

And best of all, being the prude that I am, I can still get through the scattering of sexual encounters (usually brief and to the point) as well as  potty mouthed character portrayal,  with barely a flinch; particularly as the author is brilliant at using one or both as enhancements to her story, rather than fill in props for poorly developed plot lines.

Let’s face it; Stabenow makes even law enforcement potentially sexy.

If you want a great read, and enjoy reading about characters that have more life in them than your Uncle Carl and Auntie Susie, then I highly recommend not only Dana’s newest Shugak mystery, but going back to the beginning with “A Cold Day for Murder

For continually keeping me entertained and wanting more, I give “Restless in the Grave” 4.5 stars.

Georgette Heyer: 1902-1974


Pioneer of Regency Romance Genre

In 1989 authors Teresa Chris & Arthur Barbosa published a detailed look the world  Heyer’s wrote about in: Georgette Heyer’s Regency England (Sidwick & Jackson; 1989).  More than fifteen years later Jennifer Kloester took another look at Heyer’s detailed author notes in her books: Georgette Heyer’s Regency World (London: Heinemann; 2005)and Georgette Heyer: Biography of a Bestseller (London; Heinemann; 2010); as well as a great fan website.

It is said that Georgette Heyer is the one who began the genre known as “Regency Romance” and in her lifetime wrote: 34 Regency Romance novels; 6 Historical; 4 contemporary; 12 thrillers and 16 short stories (as well as several non-fiction articles; “Books About the Bronte’s” and “How to be a Literary Writer”)

But this review is not so much the history of Heyer’s but a nostalgic look at work that heavily influenced my desire to become an author.

 

I discovered my first Georgette Heyer romance novel “The Masqueraders” when I was fifteen and was instantly captivated by her ability to weave history, plot, humor, and romance onto paper in such a way that immersed the reader into the flamboyant lifestyle of 1800 century England.  She was so convincing with the details of the time period and characters she wrote about,  that I remember thinking to myself  that God had somehow miscalculated the trajectory in my birthing timeline by at least one-hundred-fifty years.

Now I’m not naïve to think that the majority of men (maybe even women) will give a rip about a review on one more Regency romance author (all hail Harlequin Romances), but before you hit the delete button on this post, hear me out.

The reason I decided to write this wasn’t about reliving my childhood fantasy’s (thought there are a few I still might) or even about reverting to an earlier genre preference. No the whole reason I’m taking time to jot this down is, that when I went back and re-read “These Old Shades” (William Heinemann LTD, London, 1932);, it’s sequel “Devil’s Cub” (E.P. Dutton & Co., INC., New York, 1966) and “The Masqueraders” (E.P. Dutton & Co., INC., New York) I realized what it was that caught my attention as a kid: Georgette Heyer’s was a brilliant author – period.

In more than fifty years as an avid reader, I have never come across an author who developed character or dialog better than her. Bar-none. Though her plots are generally good, it is her ability to use detail (without becoming boring) and nuance  in the dialog and description of her characters that makes her truly brilliant.

“Remind me one day to teach you how to achieve a sneer, Hugh. Yours is too pronounced, and thus but a grimace. It should be but a faint curl of the lips.”
― Georgette HeyerThese Old Shades

One of my favorite aspects of writing is dialog,  and so it was with a sense of awe and wonder that I realized just how damn good this gal was. She didn’t just use dialog to move the story along, she used it as a tool to mold and paint her characters,  so that when you were finished with the book, each one was as familiar to me as the person I saw every morning when I looked in the mirror.

So among-st all the other “must read” stacked on the surface of almost every imaginable area of my office, I’m taking out my collection of Heyer’s, dusting off the jackets and sitting down to re-educate myself on prose that is not only clean and humorous, but demonstrates  what really great character  development and dialog  actually look and sound like.

From the laptop of an uncensored dreamer;

SSpjut

Such Wicked Intent


by Kenneth Oppel

Kenneth Oppel; Simon & Schuster; 2012

Once again Oppel has managed to successfully lead me down the dark and twisted pathways of the heart and mind of the young Victor Frankenstein in such a way, that even now, twenty-four hours after reading those hateful words, “The End”, I have yet to decide whether to embrace the main character in hopeful love, or toss him in an asylum for the criminally insane before it’s too late. I don’t know whether to applaud his willingness to explore all the possibilities to try  and save his twin, or resign myself to the fact,  that regardless of how honorable Victors intentions may seem, the bottom line is,  in the end, all things serve his god-like  purposes.

Even if those purposes are to bring his twin back from the dead.

From start to finish, the author has enriched us with his ability to bring to fruition the life of one of literatures most classical figures in a way that we might mistakenly think that it was Oppel, and not Shelley,  who was the original author and creator of Victor Frankenstein.  So full and colorful are the protagonist-antagonist’s narrative of himself, his comrades,  and the events surrounding his baptism into arcane things better left alone, that he makes the reader forget that they are merely observers of the events,  rather than its participants.

“If my heart were a compass, you’d be North.”  ― Kenneth OppelSkybreaker

If there had been a Book Three,  to “The Apprenticeship of Victor Frankenstein” series waiting  on a library shelf or Amazon Kindle reader, I’d have already gone out and bought it. But since there isn’t, I’ll just have to content myself with the hopes that it won’t be too long until I can rejoin my newfound friends on their quest to uncover the dark and forbid magics of necromancy.

On a scale of one to five, I’m giving “Such Wicked Intent” a five; as I found it even better written than its predecessor.

Book One: The Apprenticeship of Victor Frankenstein: “This Dark Endeavor”

From the laptop of an uncensored dreamer,

SSpjut

Re-Blogged: Musings of a Monster Librarian


Here’s a great muse I discovered @monsterlibrarian about>with the author.  This looks like a great site for my fellow information junkies when looking for additional publishing spots, book reviews, links etc. I’d bookmark this site if I were you.  I’m including a copy of their “About Us” @ the end of Oppel’s comments.

Teen Read Week: It Came From The Library! Kenneth Oppel on Frankenstein

Published by Kirsten on October 15th, 2012 – in Uncategorized

Kenneth Oppel is the author of  two novels (so far) about the young Victor Frankenstein, This Dark Endeavor (reviewed here) and Such Wicked Intent(reviewed here). He has also written many other books, and received a Printz Honor Award for his novel Airborn in 2004. We asked him to share what influenced him to write the story of Victor Frankenstein. It was pretty neat to learn that Frankenstein is one of his favorite books! You can see what he wrote back to us below.

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 From Kenneth Oppel:

Frankenstein is one of my favourite novels, and I wish I’d written it. Unfortunately, it was written two hundred years ago by a 19-year old genius called Mary Shelley. Arguably, Frankenstein is the first science fiction novel, the first monster novel, the first horror novel. Not only is it an incredibly gripping read but, like all the best literature, it tackles weighty themes: reckless human ambition, the ethical implications of scientific pursuit, the creator’s responsibilities to his creations, and the perils of really, really bad parenting. All things that are still relevant today.

A couple of years ago, while re-reading the novel, I was struck by how quickly Victor Frankenstein’s youth is described – and one line in particular stuck out: “No youth could have passed more happily than mine.” Now, remember that this is a kid who goes on to dig up corpses, chop them up, sew the body parts back together, jolt them with electricity in the hopes of revivifying them, and creating life from death. Doesn’t sound like a very happy youth to me. What might have happened to Victor to lead him to become the “mad scientist” we all know? That, I thought, would make an interesting story.

A few pages later, Shelley goes on to give a helpful clue: “I entered with the greatest diligence into the search for… the elixir of life…. What glory would attend the discovery, if I could banish disease from the human frame, and render man invulnerable to any but a violent death!”

Right away I had an image of a teenager who was curious, ambitious, arrogant, and probably obsessive. Obsessions are a staple of literature — every great character has one. Whether it’s a desire or an aspiration, or the simple will to survive, there’s something that drives every hero — and every reader to keep turning pages.

Sixteen year old Victor Frankenstein is a fantastic character to work with. He’s the embryonic form of the man who will go on to dig up corpses, chop them up, suture then back together and jolt them with electricity to try to create life from death. Now that’s an obsession! When you read about people who create a work of genius, whether it’s an invention or a work of art, there’s often a strain of compulsion or even madness that motivates them and keeps them working tirelessly towards their goal — often at great emotional cost to themselves and those around them. Off the top of my head it could be as various as Howard Hughes (with his movies, or his Spruce Goose), or Francis Ford Coppola (Apocalypse Now) or Philip K Dick (who wrote himself to death).

Victor’s search for The Elixir of Life makes for an excellent quest. But it seemed to me there had to be something more behind it. What if Victor needed the elixir for a personal purpose? Was he himself ill? Or maybe a friend, parent – or a beloved sibling?

And so, in my alternative Frankenstein mythology, I decided that Victor Frankenstein had a twin brother, Konrad — who has an entirely different personality, and is a much steadier sort than Victor — and just that much better at everything.

It was tremendous fun to learn about the real Mary Shelley and her sources for Frankenstein. I’m sure plenty of my readers will pick up on all the references to the real Mary Shelley and the fascinating and tragedy-filled life she led. From my point of view, all this material was source material for me. I used Mary Shelley’s family as a basis for Victor’s – and stole characteristics from her husband (Percy Shelley) and friend Lord Byron to build Victor’s personality and backstory. When you’re reimagining a literary classic, you want to preserve the tone of the original, and this was one way I could do it.

And I loved writing Victor. As a writer I think you strive to create characters that exercsie the full range of human behaviour and emotion — and often these things are not heroic or noble or attractive. Victor is certainly a larger than life characters. He’s smart, arrogant, rash, selfish, but also loyal and loving and brave — in short, he’s no more an antihero than most of us on the planet. It’s huge fun to let loose a character with a temper, but also with a passion and a plan. I think you sympathize with Victor’s sense of inferiority around his perfect identical twin, and any reader would sympathize with someone who tries so hard to be good at things, in the shadow of another. Sometimes envy makes people do rotten things. So Victor’s not always nice, but you always want to watch him — and I think you want him to get what he wants, even if it’s a bit appalling. I mean, he’s Victor Frankenstein, not Harry Potter.

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About MonsterLibrarian.com:

The Monster Librarian welcomes you! This site is dedicated to all the books that are creepy, scary, and give us the willies.  It is meant to be a resource for readers and librarians. For readers of horror, this is designed to be a site where you can find other books that fall into the horror category that you might be interested in reading.  For librarians, this site provides tools to help in collection development, readers advisory, and program planning. While the site will have  information on current mainstream horror it will also include in the various lists older books that may be of interest.   This site has no other agenda than encouraging people to read, and supporting readers of the horror genre.

Intimate Life Lessons:developing the intimacy with God you already have.


5.0 out of 5 stars

A Lifestyle of Intimacy With God, July 14, 2012

This review is from: Intimate Life Lessons (Kindle Edition)

When I read this book I was struck by how simple Linda makes developing a lifestyle of intimacy with God the Father. Growing up in traditional church, I was taught that everything is about Jesus (which it is), but the fact that He came to reveal the Father was sadly neglected.

Linda helps the reader regain a childlike relationship with the Father God that He intended for us to have all along. Each chapter contains easy to follow suggestions for overcoming doubt, erroneous traditions and our own wrong imaginings. She guides the reader from the outer court of our minds to the inner court of our hearts,  and helps us become, once again,  introduced to the one who loves us so much,  that He sent His only Son to die for us as proof. SSpjut

Intimate Life Lessons: by Linda Boone

Everyone tells you that you need to be intimate with God but no one tells you HOW. Finally a how-to book on intimacy.

This book takes the mystic out of intimacy with God and teaches it in simple terms with simple exercises.

Each chapter will give you: a short explanation or training on the how-to; an intimate moment section, which is a word from God to you; and an activation exercise. Group discussion guide also included.

God desires your heart and longs to give you His. He invites you on a journey of the heart. Linda Boone: Real Love Stuff.com: Encounter His Love Ministry

The Noble Dead Series


Barb & J.C. Hendee

From the Author:  From Wikipedia

Barb & J.C. Hendee live in a quirky small town just south of Portland, Oregon. They are the authors of the Noble Dead Saga. Learn more at: http://www.nobledead.org

Barb is also the author of the Vampire Memories series and the upcoming Mist Torn Witches series. Learn more at http://www.barbhendee.org

J.C. and Barb share a home office with their desks pushed up against one another.

They garden year-round and grow a good deal of their own food.

They also seem to spend a good deal of time researching myths and folklore about vampires.

The Noble Dead Saga’s:

I discovered The Nobel Dead Saga’s: One & Two; about four or five weeks ago. As you know, I’m a voracious reader, so once I find an author I really like,  I”ll devour everything they’ve ever written. So between Kenneth Oppel’s – Victor Frankenstein Apprenticeship – and Stephen R. Lawhead’s latest series “The Bright Empire; Book 3, The Spirit Well, I just finished “In Shade & Shadow” (Series Two),  and am getting ready to delve into “Through Stone & Sea”.

There are several reasons I enjoy reading Hendee’s work. First off,  I love fantasy, vampires, and everything elves, dwarves, and alien lifeforms.

Secondly, the authors (husband and wife) are talented enough writers,  that they are capable of telling a story without overused profanity (not that I’m against profanity, just the substitutionary use of it when the author is either too lazy,  or too ignorant to look for something better)  or explicit sexual content (I image they just assume I have an imagination and I’m not afraid to use it).

“Whether he accepted the way Wynn saw the world or he believed any part of what she saw to come did not matter. If he ever wanted her, he had to want what mattered to her. It was necessary to believe in her. 

If he were ever to mean anything more to her, she had to be the heart of his faith.” Chane; Of Truth and Beasts. 

Thirdly, they  just tell good stories with continually evolving plot lines,  that are both entertaining and imaginative. After fifty years of Tolkien, Brooks, Anthony, La Guin and similar fantasy fiction writers, it can’t be easy coming up with a new slant on an old story. Yet somehow Barb Hendee and her husband did; damphirs, noble dead, fey dogs and Forgotten Wars.

There were one or two times (especially in Traitor to the Blood), when I got a little tired of reading about the whining desperation of Leesil trying to locate his Elven mother. But the authors managed to weave enough additional sub-plots into the stories framework,  that I was able to get over myself and keep going.

All and all I enjoyed Series One, and working my way through The Noble Dead Saga – Series Two.

The Vampire Memories Novels:

Once again Hendee has managed to put a new twist to an old tail: Vampire families with telepathic gifts. But in this series of tales, the vampire population is on the down swing and unless someone manages to eliminate the antagonist (Aren’t all vampires antagonist’s?) Julian, there won’t be any left to worry about.

The Vampire Memories are a great romp in fiction; something to take outside and read while your soaking up rays and throwing back ice cold tea. The characters are deep enough to engage your imagination, yet not so deep that your upset when one of them bites the dust (literally – vampires turn to dust when they’re killed, and it can be really challenging to breath  if your near one when it’s head gets whacked off).

So from “Blood Memories” to “Ghosts of Memories” I prophecy that the reader will have at least five great novels  to entertain themselves with.

Terry Brooks


All Things Shannara

ALL THINGS SHANNARA:From the first Shannara book to the last I have been an avid follower of Terry Brooks. There’s just something about elves, dwarves, druids and good old fashion other worldly things that I just love.  I can hardly wait for the new Wards of Faeirie series to come out. May the elves be with you Terry. http://terrybrooks.net/