Andy Peloquin

I am an artist – words are my palette

Month: January 2015 (Page 1 of 2)

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Book Review: Legacy of Darkness by Dawn Peers

Yet another high fantasy book for review, this one written to be a bit darker than your average “sword and sorcery”…

 

Legacy of Darkness

For hundreds of years, the Vaians waited for revenge. It was deserved. Many of their kind were killed when mankind drove them out hundreds of years ago. The Vaians don’t just want their land back, though. They will spill blood, and take souls, to get what they want.

One of their own kind, Haelyn, knew what the Vaians were like, and what they wanted. Pregnant, she escaped, desperate to give her child the kind of life she knew she could never have. With the help of Idirin, her bodyguard, she left the Vaian lands. Soon after, she died. Vaians cannot simply leave their lives behind. Haelyn knew this; she sacrificed herself, so that her daughter would not be brought up in her world of bitter isolation.

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Twenty years after Haelyn’s death, the Vaians returned. Idirin had promised himself he would be ready for them. He was not.

Join him in his desperate quest to save the life of Haelyn’s daughter, before her estranged father can kill her. Join Idirin’s headstrong daughter, Arroryn, a thief with a reputation and the willpower to match it. Together, as the only influential fae left in human lands, they have to unite the races against a threat that many believed had died in to legend.

Under the apathetic rule of the unscrupulous King Ryn, a man blinded by greed and ignorant of his sons’ feuds, the final battle between the Vaians and mankind will begin. Legacy of Darkness introduces the reader to this world, and to the struggle Arroryn and Idirin face.

They have to stay alive. Otherwise their souls, and the souls of all mankind, are doomed.

 

My Review: 3 Stars

Written/Reviewed by Samuel Denberg

This is a difficult book to judge. It has a lot of promise and intrigue, it’s more of a “set the stage” book than the intro to the world–the kind of story I expect from a prequel. It’s a “look-back to see where our characters came from and what they did before”, written as if we already knew who to root for and why the rules of the world are the way they are.

As the opening book for a series, it’s lacking in that “hook” to draw us in. From the beginning, there’s no primary character or point of view. The narrative bounces between a king who behaves like a spoiled child, his son who rebels with classic teenage drama, Threnedir the villain, Arroryn the thief, and her father Idirin. Prepare for VERY long paragraphs of narrative, broken up by far less dialogue than you might like.

The only character we really get to know well is the villain Threnedir, who is so blatantly “evil” and selfish he’s almost a comic book villain. Threnedir seems to have no motive other than greed, envy, and a blind lust for power. It is stated several times that he wants to kill certain people to prevent them from threatening his power base. However, it is never explained why those peoples existence threaten him or how their deaths might help him.

This book needs to define its characters motivations, magic rules, and political system. Too much is left unsaid and undefined. The basic story and plot are good, the world is intriguing, and the story has lots of potential–just needs to be tightened up!

 

Here’s a Taste:

Swinging his eyeless head from side to side, Arroryn could see scratchings on his face, lines standing white in the darkness of the dried blood. There were circles and triangles gouged in to both of the cheeks and words she couldn’t make out scratched in to his forehead and seeing this she knew exactly what she was facing. Behind her fear was every nightmare story her father had ever told her. With every bloody iron-soaked breath the creature panted in to her face came the simple warning. Run. If you ever see one Arroryn, run. You don’t know why it’s there and who has sent it and you don’t want to wait to find out. Bindings do not think, they obey. Just run. She breathed in sharply as it made a sudden move towards her, sniffing at the air as Dozy’s fresh blood dripped from his chin. Its face came to within inches of hers and turned to one side, the good ear seemingly being used to try to isolate where she now was. Slowly the man brought his head back round, the snarl turning to the most evil grin she had ever had to witness. His wordless hiss brought the putrid stench of flesh and blood rolling over her senses and her stomach again roiling, she rolled her head away resisting the temptation the close her eyes against the horror in front of her.  Only her years under Idirin’s tutelage meant that she saw and recognised the slight change in stance and the unconscious roll of the shoulder as the dagger was brought round to strike in to her belly. Only her instincts brought her remaining short sword out of its sheath to meet the clumsy strike. As she pushed the binding to one side she used the momentum of its swing to push it off balance, and he, it, she didn’t know what any more, fell to the forest floor.

She didn’t wait to see how quickly it would get up again, as she only knew that it quite simply would. This thing was killing anything it found alive and the next thing it wanted was her. Arroryn turned heel and ran for her life, the adrenalin masking the headache that had been starting to take hold before her brief few slips of the thawroot which was now left behind, bag open and forgotten with its contents trampled into the undergrowth of the forest floor. The sun was fading quickly but there was nothing and no one that Arroryn would stop for in flight away from the binding and home to the safety of her kin.

 

About the Author:

Dawn Peers is a UK-based author of fantasy and horror. She also writes under the pen name Warren Fielding.

A lifelong reader of most types of fiction, she has always had a passion for writing. Legacy of Darkness is the first book in a fantasy series called The Graces, which Dawn has been trying to write in some guise or another since she was sixteen years old. Now in denial about turning thirty, she plans on bringing the rest of the series out by July 2015.

Dawn was born in Warwickshire, and now lives in West Sussex. Whilst still enjoying reading, she also spends much of her days telling people to turn their computers off and on again. When she isn’t being a professional geek, she is being a casual one. She blogs, reviews, and enjoys mountain biking and running.

 

Find the book here: http://smarturl.it/GracesOne

Tweet at Dawn Peers: @dawnpeersauthor

Or connect with her via Facebook: www.facebook.com/dawnpeersauthor

 

The Struggle to be Normal

I am painfully aware that I am not the average man in his late twenties. I’m not talking about my above-average height or weight, but I’m talking personality-wise.

Where most men my age are trying to live up their final days of youth by partying, drinking, and doing crazy things, I’m the kind of guy who would rather stay home and watch TV, play a game, or–and this is what I really want to do–write.

I’m reminded of my abnormality all the time when I see others–many twice my age–doing all those “young people” things that I “should” be doing. I hate to say no when the missus wants to go dancing, but the truth is that I HATE dancing at nightclubs even more.

It’s hard to force myself to do things like this, but that’s part of being “normal”, right? So I put on a smile and go out of my way to do the things asked of me so that I can maintain friendships, keep up with appearances, and avoid offending people.

But the truth is that my situation is not unique. Sure, the combination of challenges I face are definitely unique to me, but that doesn’t mean I am alone in my struggle to be “normal”. Everyone has that same struggle.

Everyone fights to keep up with the things that others think they “should” do with their time or their lives, even if it means going against the things they want to do. It’s why so many people look so bored at the myriad bars, clubs, and “hot spots” around town. 90% of them would rather be anywhere else and doing anything else, but they are forced to be there just to appear “normal” to the people around them.

But what is YOUR normal? Is it sitting at home on a Friday night and writing your latest short story, or is it driving to a firing range and shooting at practice targets? Would you rather be at home watching TV instead of at the club, or would you prefer to be enjoying a meal with friends?

Don’t let other people dictate what your “normal” is or should be. If they are truly your friends, they will accept what your normal really is, and they will love you despite the myriad oddities and quirks that make you who you are. You are the only one who can decide what your normal is!

 

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Book Review: The Dragonscale by J.E. Feldman

It’s Book Review Wednesday, one of my favorite days of the week. Today, we’ve got a story that blends dwaves, elves, vampires, sorcery, and so much more into one epic fantasy book…

 

The Dragonscale

The Dragonscale amulet could be the key to Arbedenion’s survival…Vampires have ventured out of their caves in the north to wreak havoc on the peaceful races. Their Queen will brutally slaughter thousands and push the races to extinction if something isn’t done. Someone must rise above the masses and lead the war against the Vampires as members of each race tell their nightmarish journey to their uncertain fate.

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My Review: 3 Stars

First off, I have to say that the premise of the book was absolutely awesome. Vampires tend to be cast in urban fantasy books, so bringing them to epic/high fantasy was a move I could get behind. The main character of the book was the kind of person I could get behind, and there were a lot of things about the story that I highly enjoyed. For the story alone, I give it a 4-star rating.

Sadly, I can’t judge ONLY on story, but I have to take the writing into account as well. This is where the book fell a bit flat.

The story looked like a “rough draft”, without all the polish and shine that makes a story readable. I had a hard time getting past the VERY simplistic writing, and it completely ruined my enjoyment of the story. You’ll see in the excerpt below what I mean.

The book had quite a few anachronisms–for example, there was a “Bengal tiger” in a land where there is no India or Bangladesh to give it its name. The speech patterns were a bit off. Some situations that should have been formal were far too informal, and the personalities and character traits often clashed with each other.

A few clichés were present (dwarves being named after rocks being just one of them), and A LOT of typos and grammar mistakes. For the writing alone, I have to give it a 2-star rating.

Which leaves us with a 3-star rating–GREAT story, iffy writing.

 

Here’s a Taste:

Six days later, Tashtym asked to meet with the king that morning and upon seeing Dlecott, insisted on having one more day to supply the soldiers.

“What else is left to do?” Dlecott inquired, allowing the Head Warlock to lead him towards the armory.

“Not enough food has been gathered and all of our warlocks are too exhausted from helping the blacksmiths. We’re having all of the children and the wives who aren’t going to war prepare as much food as possible while our warlocks rest.”

“Will the warlocks be able to travel after all of that work?”

“Yes, sire, but we won’t be able to protect the entire army from a very strong magic attack,” Tashtym replied as the group turned a corner.

In the next moment, a Dwarf crashed into Tashtym and Dlecott, knocking them over. Most of Dlecott’s Royal Guards immediately assisted their king and Tashtym back to their feet as another two grabbed ahold of the Dwarf responsible who was apologizing continuously. The Dwarf was young but what worried Dlecott is that the Dwarf’s face was white and his eyes were wide as if he’d seen a ghost.

“What’s wrong?” King Dlecott demanded, though not unkindly, while the young Dwarf tried to catch his breath.

“You’re both needed…at the Main Entrance.”

“Why?” Tashtym demanded as the group changed their course and rushed towards the summoning point. It was only a ten-minute walk but at the pace they were going, it would take them less than five.

“Dragons have come,” the messenger replied. Dlecott, Tashtym, and Gabbro all exchanged looks. “You did summon them, didn’t you?” the young Dwarf questioned.

“Not exactly,” Dlecott replied after several moments and it seemed that the young messenger would ask another question but the group had abruptly burst into the Main Entrance. The sight that met them was astonishing.

The Main Entrance was two miles high and was two miles wide. Lucky it was so large because there were three dragons waiting there. In all of Dlecott’s life, he had only set eyes on a dragon once but that had been from a great distance. As the small group drew closer to the dragons, the power emanating from the creatures was almost overwhelming. The Dwarven guards were still standing off to the side and Dlecott waved them back to their duties as the king, his guard, and the young messenger halted in front of the dragons. King Dlecott didn’t know where to begin.

     You are King Dlecott Rhyolite? a female voice questioned inside the king’s mind.

Dlecott looked up and met the eyes of the silver dragon who towered over them all. He knew immediately that it was she that had made contact with him. The torchlight glittered off of her scales creating the illusion that she was larger than she actually was.

     I am, he confirmed. Why are you here? Dlecott inquired.

     It is for the obvious. To help in the battle for Vleamontus.

 

About the Author

Born to a loving family in South Carolina, Jade Feldman began to show an interest in reading and writing at the early age of 3. As the years passed by slowly with many adventures of travel and new friends, her stories amassed to a great number. At the age of 15, she decided to create a Fantasy Writers group as a safe haven and family-like networking. This helped her to reach the outside world and discover other authors hiding in the shadows. Thus the getting published urge became a wonderful reality after years of hard, not-so-organized work.

Find the book on Amazon: http://tinyurl.com/JEFeldmanTDS

Connect with her on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/dragonqueen321

Or visit her Blog: https://dragonqueen3.wordpress.com/

Writing Has Taught Me Organization

I’ve always been a fairly organized person. Even when my work desk looks messy, I can see that everything is put in its proper “area” so to speak. My slight OCD-ness makes it easy for me to be organized when it comes to my desk.

But I used to think that creativity had to come from within, without any rhyme or reason. I wrote my first book–In the Days: A Tale of the Forgotten Continentlike that. I just let the story flow, without writing any notes or plotting any story line. I think it came out as a good finished product, but my goal isn’t just good–I want GREAT!

So when it came time to write The Last Bucelarii (Book 1): Blade of the Destroyer, I figured I’d approach it from a different angle. I laid out a fairly rough structure for the story, and made sure that it adhered to my basic plan as I went. There were a few changes in the creative process, but by the end of the book, it still resembled the beast I had laid out in my notes.

Since then, that sort of organization has come naturally to me. I’ve got four or five documents for a single WIP, each with important notes on the character, callbacks to the last books, plots for future books (yes, I’ve already got most of Book 3 planned), and the character development I want to keep going. It has helped me to keep the overall story progression in mind, leading to a much more cohesive story.

Don’t think the organization ends there! I have my daily work planned out so that I know pretty much when I will be done with my day job, and I’ve got my gym workout down to a science. Fitting in my 1,000 words per day is much easier because I have my afternoon organized (I’ll try to write when the missus hits the gym in the PM).

You may not think that creativity is organized, but most artists NEED some form of organization in their lives. Without organization, your art will meander all over the place. It will never be as consistent as it needs to be, and you’ll end up with characters with multiple personalities, dramatic twists in your plot that never lead anywhere, and MASSIVE plot holes.

That’s not to say that everyone needs to write down every detail of their story before writing it. Creativity needs room to breathe, and too much organization can quickly stifle a great story. But a modicum of organization can make all the difference between a good story and a GREAT one.

 

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Book Review: Oblivion’s Forge by Simon Williams

I’m a huge fan of epic fantasy, which is why I’m so thrilled to bring you a fantasy book on this Bonus Book Review Saturday!

 

Oblivion’s Forge

Oblivion’s Forge is the first book in the Aona series of dark fantasy novels which chronicle the struggle for supremacy between two ancient forces, and the lives of the people trapped between them as chaos grows across the known world. The younger races of Aona will all be swept up in a struggle for survival, as their ancient, malevolent masters, guardians of all the world’s greatest secrets, rise to do battle with their foes, remorseless destroyers of world after world throughout the known Existence.

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My Review: 3 Stars

I would have loved to give this a higher review, but I found the story VERY hard to follow. The plot was pretty solid, but the writing style and manner of presentation made me want to put the book down.

The book is VERY wordy–two out of every ten words could be cut (adjectives, adverbs, flowery phrases, etc.) and would make the book much easier to read. The pace of the book is a bit odd, and it’s hard to stay in the mood of the action or slower scenes thanks to the pacing.

Inner dialogue is used a lot, almost too much. The inner dialogue communicates more than a normal person would, so it seems a bit unrealistic. There are a number of typos and grammar mistakes that make it a bit hard to read.

The author uses the “info dump” a lot. There are a lot of FASCINATING facts about the world in which these characters live, but the way we learn about them is a bit odd. The characters don’t get solid back-stories until much further into the book than I’d like, but we learn more about unimportant characters and things than necessary.

In a few places, it was difficult to know whether the author was writing about the current action or some flashback the character was having. It wasn’t clear, forcing me to read over it and find where it changed from present to past.

At one point, we were introduced to the person who served as a sort of villain of the book, but there was nothing about him to hint at anything more than a passing figure. I had a hard time feeling anything for the characters, as there was nothing to connect me to them. Their personalities sometimes seemed a bit disjointed, and their conversations were occasionally vague.

Big things happen with absolutely no buildup, and I felt it lacked the ups and downs that I look for in a good book.

The story definitely earned high marks–fascinating, rich, and complex–but the presentation dropped my rating down to three stars.

 

Here’s a Taste:

Tears of rage and frustration rolled down Kian’s cheeks as she leapt up onto the window ledge and remained straddled there, one leg either side, peering into the gloom of the castle chamber, and then out into the greyish half-light of the Mirk. She dared not go any further at this point; not until she had gathered her thoughts and perhaps found herself an excuse.

Shimlock would be patiently awaiting her return. Kian shuddered as she thought of him sitting in his decayed inner chambers, neither eating nor even moving for days on end, upon his face the rictus-like smile of a man who had lived- after a fashion- too long in shadow. She was his eyes and ears to the world, but he seldom seemed to listen to any of the tales she brought back to the Mirk of events elsewhere. And in turn, the world had long since ceased to remember Shimlock, let alone any of his kin. To the people out in the surrounding lands, the Mirk was simply that: a vast swampland clad in the perpetual grey of a mist that never lifted. Perhaps it held the remnants of an old city; perhaps it did not. Maybe, like whatever lay below the waterline- and not even Shimlock himself could remember that- everything that still reached out into the mist would in time be reclaimed by the swamp.

Kian shivered and hugged herself as tendrils of fog snaked into the bare chamber. Shimlock might well be furious at her failure to bring back anything of note from Fistelkarn’s tower, depending on whether or not he was having one of his more lucid moments. He was patient enough when it came to awaiting her return, knowing that the journey there and back was a long and arduous one- but that patience would swiftly evaporate when he found out that all she had managed to bring back were the useless trinkets she had absently stuffed into her pockets before conducting her search properly.

She had always known that she would never feel entirely comfortable here in Mirkwall. She was twenty-two years old, barely full-grown for a du-luyan, and had been brought here, according to Shimlock, by a man and woman- her parents- who had for some reason given up their child to the decrepit mage, and then either left or become lost forever in the Mirk. Kian often wondered why they had abandoned her. Had she been hideous in some way? She cautiously thought of herself as pretty enough whenever she looked into the mirrors here, but perhaps she had been less becoming as an infant. From what she knew, it happened quite often that ugly children grew up to be pretty whereas those blessed with looks in their first years might easily become plain as they matured. And she knew du-luyan to be a proud, vain people; she might not have grown up amongst her kin, but she had met a few of them.

Kian sighed; this was far from the first time she had pondered the matter, and it would not be the last, but the answer seemed as remote as ever.

She thought briefly of the people who had disturbed her and ruined her chances of leaving Fistelkarn’s tower with anything useful. She had never seen du-luyan and humans together before, and certainly not du-luyan, humans and luyan all together. That was especially odd. She was sure that someone had once told her that the luyan were supposed to be the enemies of her race, but could not recall who it had been, except that it had been a human woman. Human folk all seemed to think themselves experts in everything- certainly they held opinions on everything- but Kian reckoned they were no better than average at most things.

She had often contemplated never returning to the Mirk, and instead spending the rest of her life wandering, and learning more about the world. Only the thought of what Shimlock had done for her- he was terrifying, otherworldly even, but he had raised and protected her- kept her from doing just that. She had no idea how old he was- he said centuries- but he was growing more and more frail in the twilight of his long life. Looking into those haggard features, Kian would have said he had bought more years, more decades even, than his body would allow, using whatever strange forces he called upon to prolong his dismal life. In her gloomier moments she sometimes wondered why he persisted at all, in the grey silence of a mostly-abandoned fortress, and she had no idea whether he would last another month or another year. Perhaps, to a point, it was up to him.

His temper- weaker though it had been of late- worried her, but nowhere near as much as the creatures that she had seen, or glimpsed at the periphery of her vision, around the castle. Creatures that were there one minute and gone the next, shadows flitting away before she could figure out what they were. Shimlock denied that they existed, and would say no more about them.

On very rare occasions she had caught a proper glimpse of one or two of them, and wished immediately that she hadn’t; these were odd, constantly shifting shapes that looked like long, voracious worms, glistening deep red, moving with a deadly grace and horrifying speed.

Kian took a deep breath, willing herself into the castle chamber and then down the long, lonely corridors in search of her stepfather. Once, Shimlock had told her, these passageways had been grand and opulent, and men and women other than himself had wandered their lengths. Kian had asked what became of them, but Shimlock could not remember, or perhaps chose not to. The Mirk takes us all in the end, he had said with bitterness. Whatever we do, and for however long we persist.

 

About the Author:

Simon Williams is an author of fantasy, science fiction and speculative fiction. He is based in the UK. His first book for children and teens, “Summer’s Dark Waters” was published in 2014 and a sequel is planned for late 2015. His Aona dark fantasy series is comprised of three books published so far with a fourth due out in February 2015. A fifth and final volume in the series is also being written.

 

My UK friends, find it here: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Oblivions-Forge-Aona-Book-1-ebook/dp/B0082XW04G/

While those of you in the US can get your hands on it here: http://www.amazon.com/Oblivions-Forge-Aona-Book-1-ebook/dp/B0082XW04G/

Visit his website at: http://www.simonwilliamsauthor.com

Tweet at the author: @SwilliamsAuthor

Or hit him up on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Simon-Williams/167649143291810

 

Who are You Doing it For?

Last week, I was highly annoyed at the fact that I had to drive my daughter to a friend’s house for a party, and one of my sons to another friend’s house for a hang-out. All I wanted to do was to sit down and write, and these activities were getting in my way.

I found myself thinking, “Man, if I didn’t have a family, I would have SO MUCH MORE time to write.”

But then I analyzed that thought. If I didn’t have a family, yes, I truly would have a lot more time to write. I would have all day long–aside from the few hours I would need to work to cover my expenses–because I would have no one to make me wash the dishes, clean the house, drive anyone anywhere, and so on.

That word “alone” is the one that stands out, however. If I was alone, I would have all the time I wanted, but why would I be writing? Sure, there’s always the passion of writing, but passion wanes quickly when faced with hard work. Without a family, I don’t think I would put as much into the writing as I am today.

See, the fact that I have very little time to invest in my writing means that I need to make the time I have count. Instead of getting distracted, I shut out everything but my music and my book, and I use the little time I get to be as productive as possible. Even if it’s just an hour, by God, I’m going to make it the best hour I can.

If I lived alone, I would have no need to be productive. I could allow the story to flow and write as I saw fit, taking a break when I lost the desire to write and coming back to it when I “felt it” again. But if I did that, I doubt I would ever get anything done.

Having a family is what drives me to be the best writer I can be. I am currently supporting my family of six, but I’m tired of my day job. I want to support my family doing what I love, which is writing fiction. In order to do that, I have to earn enough money to cover our expenses. To earn enough money, I need to have a book or books that sell well. If I want my books to sell well, they need to be top quality products. Hence me putting in the work of making the books as EPIC as I can.

Another thought struck me that same day: if I didn’t have a family, I would have no one to share my achievements with. Even if I wrote a best-selling novel and became a millionaire overnight, I wouldn’t be able to turn to my wife (like I can now) and say “Look what I did!”

So, while my family may stop me from writing, they’re also the thing that pushes me to be the best writer I can be. Without them, I’d be nothing, and they make me what I am today. They are the reason I am doing it.

Thank you all!

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Book Review: The Sibyl by Cindy D. Witherspoon

It’s Book Review Wednesday, my favorite day of the week! Today, we’re mixing a bit of Greek mythology with TV and ghost hunting. Say what?

The Sibyl

Some tragedies are best left forgotten. Eva McRayne wanted a steady paycheck, not a television show. But when Elliot Lancaster hands her the opportunity to discredit his paranormal findings on camera, she finds it impossible to turn him down. Her life changes in more ways than one after she goes to New York to learn more about the theories she will be shooting down on television. Eva McRayne encounters a Sibyl desperate to be free of the shackles which bind her to Apollo. Shackles she binds onto Eva – a disbeliever who learns the hard way just how real the paranormal can be. unnamed

My Review: 4 Stars

This is not something I say often, but I will say it here: I was quite captivated by this book. While I was skeptical going into the story, by the time I reached the third or fourth chapter, I had a hard time putting it down. I wanted to know more about this “sibyl” thing, how the Greek mythology (I’m a huge fan) tied into it all, and more.

The ending was a bit disappointing, without any sort of satisfying climax. This seemed like the first 50 to 75% of a longer novel, and there was no real villain or threat to speak of. The character just discovered her powers, but there was no real danger in the entire book. I think it took too long to get to the main part of the story–the passing on of the Sibyl power. Had the power been introduced earlier, it would have given the story more time to build up and perhaps would have allowed for a better climax. The characters are solid, the story is very well-researched, and it’s got a very good plot.

The writing style is a tad simplistic, but there are only occasional typos and errors–I’d give the writing a solid 4 stars. It is clearly a Book 1, but it was one that left me with only mild interest in reading Book 2. There was nothing that made me think, “Ooh, I want to know more about THAT!” Still, the quality of the story and the interesting theme may convince me to get my hands on Book 2 when it comes out.

 

Here’s a Taste

“Eva, is it? That’s nice.” Kathy reached over to the table to pick up a heavy hand mirror. “The spirits are telling me you don’t believe in them. You detestthe paranormal. Is this true?” 

“Honestly?” I looked to Elliot, then to the scryer. “No, I don’t detest the paranormal. I just think you are all here to make money.” 

“And you? Isn’t that why you are here as well?” 

Touché. 

“I really need to get going.” I tried to ease away from her, but this woman was quick. She grabbed my arm again to hold me in place. 

“Then look into this mirror. If you see nothing, then I will release you.” She handed it to me with the care one would preserve for a child. “Yet if you see anything – anything at all – you must tell us at once what you see.” 

“I am going to see my reflection. Nothing more, nothing less.” I shrugged. “I hate to break it to you, but that’s how mirrors work these days.” 

“Indeed.” Kathy pushed the mirror against my hands. “Well, then. The sooner you take a look and do as I say, the sooner you can sit back down with your love over there.” 

Love? Who did this lady think she was? Her assumption made me angry. I couldn’t explain my sudden anger, but I felt defensive towards her. I wanted nothing more than to snatch the mirror from her hand and smash it against the carpet. Yet, just as I wrapped my hands around the handle, I remembered thecontract I’d signed saying I would put myself in these exact same situations for money. 

Damn it. 

“Alright, but only if I get to leave after this.” 

I was surprised at how heavy the mirror was as Kathy Carter released her grip. It was obviously old with carvings along the rim and handle. I flipped it over so the glass was facing me. I saw what I always see in a mirror. 

“I see myself.” I handed it back to her. “I’m not sure what you were trying to prove, but I don’t think it worked.” 

“Tell me you are willing to do this.” Kathy Carter was shifting from foot to foot, locking her hands in front of her as she refused to take it back. “You must be willing.” 

“Well, I’m not.” I thrust the mirror in her direction. “So take this back.” 

“Please,” The scryer closed in the distance between her and clasped her hands over mine holding the mirror. “Just try. Be willing to try.” 

“Try what exactly?” I frowned. “You’re not being very clear.” 

“I can’t explain it. No human can explain what happens with mere words. Just please, say what I tell you to say.” 

Kathy glanced at the audience and I got it. She was using me to make her little presentation more dramatic. The scryer was probably making such a scene to fill in the time gap since I broke her laptop and subsequently ended the PowerPoint she would have shown to us. I was so relieved I almost laughed. 

“Alright, fine.” I tugged my hands free from the woman. “I’m willing to play along with your act. What do you need me to say?” 

“I take thee, mirror, to be my own.” 

I turned towards the audience and waved the mirror like a flag. “I take thee, mirror, to be my own.” 

The scryer clapped her hands together with obvious excitement. “Apollo, bless my eyes to make me see. Allow me to hear the words unheard by the living to learn from the dead. I am your daughter. Your messenger. Your servant for time immortal.” 

“Ok.” I faced her and repeated her mantra. When I was done, I tried to give her the mirror once more. “Can I go now?” 

“Close your eyes, child. Your world will change the moment you open them.” 

“Whatever it takes to get this over with.” 

I let out an exaggerated sigh as I closed my eyes. I felt the woman grab my hands, holding them so tight against the handle it was hard for me not to cry out as the carvings cut into my palms. Kathy Carter started whispering, her words getting lost to my ears as my hands began to burn. This time, I did cry out. But the woman had a grip on me. One she wasn’t going to let go of easily. 

I felt the heat rising up from my hands as it traveled up my arms. I was so focused on getting away from the scryer I barely heard the applause erupting through the room. The fire engulfing me didn’t stop until it reached my eyes and my ears. The horrible woman started cackling like a witch in a fairy tale just as the pain from the heat become unbearable. She released my hands as she called out so that the entire room could hear her. 

“It’s over! Thanks be to the gods, my time is over.” 

I opened my eyes trying to seek out Elliot’s familiar face in this sea of strangers. Instead, my gaze was trapped by the mirror glowing red. The glass seemed to be reflecting the fire engulfing my mind. I wanted to look away. I needed to look away. Yet the color captivated me as a strange white noise filled my ears. 

Elliot pushed Kathy Carter out of the way. He took hold of my chin to force my eyes away from the strange shades of red and black. I could see his lips moving. I knew he was asking me if I was alright. 

I couldn’t hear him. I could hear nothing as the white noise shifted into a furious whispering much like what the scryer had done. I turned my attention ontothe mirror as a face formed in the darkness. I knew this face was the one whispering to me. It was a man; young and just as beautiful as Kathy Carter. His golden eyes shimmered as he smiled. This was the voice filling my ears. 

“Your soul is now mine, Sibyl.” 

I dropped the mirror just before I passed out. 

 

About the Author

Cynthia D. Witherspoon is an award winning writer of Southern Gothic, Paranormal Romance, and Urban Fantasy. She has been published in numerous anthologies since 2009. Her work has appeared in several award winning collections including Dark Tales of Ancient  Civilizations (2012) and PellucidLunacy (2010).

Get the book from Barnes and Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-sibyl-cynthia-d-witherspoon/1120310137?ean=2940046138146

Or from Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Sibyl-Oracle-Book-1-ebook/dp/B00NMN3IAQ/

Cynthia posts regularly on her website:  http://www.cynthiadwitherspoon.com

Hook up with her on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Cynthia-D-Witherspoon/315516345297331

Writing Has Taught Me Communication

It’s amazing how much is lost in translation! From the thoughts in my head to the words coming from the mouth to the things you hear to the way you interpret what you heard, there’s a lot of ways for things to be totally misunderstood.

But thankfully, writing has taught me a bit more about how to communicate like a pro.

If you think about it, writing is ALL about communication. I’m using words to describe the image that I see in my head, and my goal is to use words that will help the reader to see what I’m seeing. If I don’t choose my words just right, the picture they see will be TOTALLY different from the picture I see.

As a writer, your goal is to choose the best word to fit what you are trying to describe. If you are trying to describe something that is a specific shade of green, you don’t just stick with the word “green”. Instead, you use words like emerald, olive, lime, forest green, etc. If you are trying to describe a very tall man, you use words like giant, mammoth, or colossus.

You need to choose your words carefully when you speak, as well as when you write. If you throw about words carelessly, you could end up communicating a totally different message than what you’re trying to say. The words that come from your mouth may not jive with the picture in your head, and they may be interpreted a completely different way when they reach the other person’s ears and mind.

Just like you have to be selective with the words you use in your writing, be selective with the words you use when you communicate. You make your characters very expressive, very elaborate, very deep people, so use a bit of your creativity on yourself. Instead of just letting words flow from your mouth in a steady stream, think about what you would say if you were the character in your book. “Write” your own dialogue before speaking, and you’ll avoid A LOT of miscommunications that way!

TheChroniclesofFireIce1eBookAmazon

Book Review: The Revealing Print by Dexx Peay

It’s Bonus Book Review Saturday! Today, we go a bit outside of our comfort zone and read about superheroic teenagers…

 

The Revealing Print

Marcus and Dylan were born right into the middle of a three thousand year old war. Only problem, they didn’t know it existed.

My name is Marcus Peterson, the kid who plays with fire…

My parents gave me up for adoption, and left me with nothing. Eighteen years later, I collected my inheritance: a set of ancient journals, the power to shoot fire from my hands, and the secret to who I really am—a Xarponian.

TheChroniclesofFireIce1eBookAmazon

I’m Dylan Perry, the coolest kid in town…

It was cool when I found out I could shoot ice particles from my hands. Something like the Avengers —until the attacks started. Having random people try and kill me was not on my list of things to do. I don’t even know why they want me dead, I am not like them. I’m not even marked. I don’t know what I am.

With the War of the Xarponians and Qihar taking place on Earth, Marcus and Dylan must learn to harness their new found abilities while balancing being sons, students, but most importantly, best friends.

 

My Review: 3.5 Stars

This book was a bit hard for me to read, I’m not going to lie. The writing is very solid, but there are a lot of “young” expressions (at one point the MC’s phone was “blowing up”) that take the level of intelligence down to a YA level. It may be meant as a YA book, but perhaps the writer could have kept things a bit more intelligent.

It’s definitely geared to a younger audience, so adults may want to avoid it. It’s great for teenagers or older children who want an interesting read. The characters are fairly relatable, though they tend to be a bit shallow. There was no real character development throughout the story, but it was just a great adventure story.

Some of the things that the story focused on seemed a bit inane to me, and the writer’s inexperience shows through. There were no typos or visible mistakes, and there is a lot of promise in the writing. It may not be the best YA book I’ve read, but it’s not bad at all.

 

Here’s a Taste:

I watched my best friend’s hands and eyes on fire. Immediately I went with my first reaction and grabbed him at the wrist. Steam quickly filled the space between us. I must have somehow extinguished the flames because they were gone and so were the fiery eyes.

“Fire and Ice,” I whispered still holding onto his wrist.

“What are you doing,” Marcus squealed, snatching his arm away from me.

“You were on fire that’s what just happened.”

“Explain how you put it out then.” Cupping his hand around his mouth, he stared at me and began to examine my face. I’d seen that look before.

“How did your eyes get blue?” he asked.

“Is everything okay in there?” Mrs. Peterson said, banging on the door.

“Yes Mom we’re okay. No need to come in,” Marcus panicked.

“How long have you been setting things on fire?

“About two months,” Marcus said pouting, plopping down on his bed.

“WAIT! The pool, it was you heating it up, I knew it.”

“Shhh! Keep it down. It all started when I noticed the temperature would increase around me and sometimes things would catch on fire, but never my hands. I was a little freaked out cause for the most part I wouldn’t remember what happened that’s why I didn’t tell anyone. What about you?”

“For the past few weeks my eyes would turn blue at random, but prom night I froze—”

“What did you freeze?”

“I froze a cup of water I was drinking, and then just now.”

“What do we do with all this?”

I started to grab my belongings and headed to the door with the biggest smile on my face.

“Where are you going?” Marcus asked.

“You can stay here but I’m going to find the professor and join the X-men.”

“What? Dylan this is no time for games.”

“Yeah you’re right, The Fantastic Four could be a better fit for us, but they already have the human torch so you may be out of a job.”

“DYLAN forreal. Let’s be serious about this.”

“Awe man this is the coolest thing to ever happen to me.”

“Why us though?”

“Whoooo caressss…”

“Wait can you be serious just for a split second. If we both have these…”

“Superpowers.”

“Right, these superpowers, then there has to be others out there with different abilities too right?”

“Well that makes sense, but how will we find them?”

“What if they don’t want to be found? Dylan I don’t think we can share this with anyone.”

This was amazing! What teenage boy doesn’t wish that he and his best friend would wake up one day with superpowers? Amazing as it was, I had to agree with him. I’d seen too many movies where people with superhuman abilities were hunted down or experimented on by government agencies.

“I agree. I don’t think we can tell anyone, not even our parents. How do you think we even got these powers? I don’t remember falling into any kind of toxic waste or being an alien from a distance planet,” I said.

“Let’s just go on with our normal everyday lives and try to not use these powers okay”, Marcus urged.

“Try not to use these powers? What if someone said you couldn’t run track because you were naturally fast? It’s not everyday people wake up and realize they’re so different they’re on a whole other level. We can be heroes Marcus! Just a minute ago you were saying how you wanted to give people second chances at life. Here it is, this is your chance.”

“Relax. After graduation we will figure this whole thing out.”

“I’m so looking forward to graduation.”

 

About the Author:

Dexx was born in Germany, grew up in Tennessee, educated in Alabama, and now residing in Texas. As a child his imagination was forever running rampant, spending time with imaginary friends and getting lost in fantasy and mystery books. When he was inducted into an elite writing club at his elementary school, he knew then he wanted to be a writer and novelist as an adult. As he got older, he suppressed his creative side and studied biology in college. It wasn’t until the voices of Marcus and Dylan began talking to him day and night that he decided to pick up the pen again.

Marcus and Dylan are the main characters in his series “The Chronicles of Fire and Ice.” His debut novel “The Revealing” was the first of the series. His next installment “Redemption” is set to be released sometime early 2015.

Dexx gives credit to his time in Iraq and the soldiers who served with him as inspiration for his first series. He also enjoys the finer things in life such as: greasy foods, sweet and unhealthy desserts, cheap wine, sleeping late, and Taylor Swift.

Find the book on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Chronicles-Fire-Ice-Revealing-ebook/dp/B00NK2EHWM/

Hook up with Dexx on Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/DexxP

Tweet at him: https://twitter.com/PRInCE_CHARMinZ

Or visit his website: http://www.authordexxpeay.com/
 

Foolish or Wise?

William Shakespeare once said, “The fool doth think he is wise, but the wise man knows himself to be a fool.”

This basically sums up the entire conversation that I had with someone yesterday…

As you know, I’ve been doing Book Reviews on my blog, offering them to anyone who has a book that intrigues me. It’s a lot of fun, a great way to read more, and a chance to learn from the mistakes of others.

Yesterday, someone messaged me asking if I would review their book. Before I agreed, I checked out the book on Amazon using the “Look Inside” feature. When I read through the first page, the book was missing A LOT of commas, and the writing was a bit wordy.

Here’s how the email conversations went:

ME: Hey Person, quick Q: Does the book you’re going to send me have any commas? The version I read on Amazon in the “Look Inside” has maybe 25% of the commas it should have. Will you be sending me the same version, or a newer one?  Thanks! (someone told me that this sounded a bit pompous or arrogant, so I guess I started the conversation out on the wrong foot)

THEIR RESPONSE: Hi Andy, I am not quite sure what you mean. The book was sent through having editing and proofreading therefore any run-on sentences etc. were eliminated with the rules of proper grammar. Can you give me an example? I pulled up the “look inside” version and do not understand what you mean. Thank you.

ME: Here are the examples:

Sentence the very first (“Wake up!” the faint female voice screamed frantically (comma missing) causing Allie to stir in slumber as she tried to reposition herself in the rocker.

A few paragraphs down (The monster slowly turned its gaze to meet Allie’s and let out a deep throttle of a laugh (comma missing) licking its grey lips…)

Continued (Allie jumped to her feet (comma missing) rushing to the couch where I lay…)

Next (Allie screamed out in panic; slapping me across the face (comma missing) causing my eyes to snap open wide as I gasped out in desperation for air.)

And that’s just in the first few pages.

It’s also very wordy. For example, take that last sentence. It would be better with fewer words, for example: (“Maria! Wake up!” Panicking, Allie slapped me hard. My eyes snapped open and I desperately sucked in air.”)

If I read the book right now, I would not be able to get through it because of the myriad grammar mistakes and errors. No matter how good the story was, I couldn’t give it above 3 stars because of that. Do you still want me to review it, even if I have to give it a low rating?

THEIR RESPONSE: Well first things first, no I will not continue with the review. It has nothing to do with the fact that I believe my book would or would not receive a good review from you. It is due to numerous factors. First and foremost the manner in which you approached me was very rude and pompous. You could have found a more tactful manner to address your concerns. Second, I understand you, yourself are an author therefore, I believe the so-called “myriad grammar mistakes and errors” is strictly your opinion due to your own writing style. I have two professional proofreaders and an editor that I contacted out of concern for your insulting comments and suggestions. I read them and found nothing wrong, however I wanted a professional’s opinion, which is why I contacted them. They informed me that they submitted the entire book has been submitted to two different grammar checking programs and neither one found an issue with those particular sentences.

Now, my suggestions for you are that perhaps you should enlist in the aid of a grammar checking program yourself before calling someone else out on their mistakes. If you are using one then perhaps it is time to find a new one. I would also like to say that if you want to receive more books for your review the last thing you should be doing is attacking and degrading the author by telling them how they should or should not word a sentence. You are not being asked to edit, you are being asked to review “the book and storyline”; not attack the author’s writing style. Needless to say this will not get you very far in the reviewing world. Just because a sentence is not worded the way you would write it, does not make it wrong. My writing style is very descriptive in order to pull the reader in and create a running movie in their head. I do not write in the manner that sounds like an 8th grader writing a book report.

Good luck in your endeavor as a reviewer.

 

So, I start out being blunt, brusque, pompous, or the adjective of your choice, but they’re the one who comes out of it with egg on their face. Not only do they show that they are SUPREMELY sensitive to any form of criticism (I think I actually gave solid advice on how to improve, not just slamming their work), but they believe in the infallibility of their own writing and team of editors.

Shakespeare would be shaking his head at the foolishness of this person. They believe they are wise and thus are unwilling to accept the criticism or comments of others. They come off looking like a total boob and an incompetent.

Writers, take heed: EVERYONE’S CRITISICM, CRITIQUE, AND FEEDBACK IS VALID!

You’re writing for a market, so if the market says, “Hey, I noticed this is a mistake”, it’s time for you to take notice. You don’t need to change your writing style just because someone doesn’t like it, but at least be willing to consider their advice–no matter what tone it is delivered in.

I’ve had my work torn to shreds, but when I didn’t get pissy or sensitive, I realized that the comments had some truth in them. I believe my writing has greatly improved because a few people were less than delicate with the way they critiqued my writing, and it’s why I go back for more every time I feel my writing is top-quality. A few criticisms, and I’m back to struggling to write my best. It helps me to avoid the complacency that comes with believing you are the “wise” man or woman you think you are!

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