Monday, June 17, 2019

Piper Robbin and the American Oz Maker by Warwick Gleeson








Author Warwick Gleeson shares his thoughts on...


My take on critique groups
by
Warwick Gleeson

 
For many years I've realized the futility of obtaining useful and project-evolving advice from the average writer group. In consideration of this epiphany, I recommend that writers limit any given writer group to a critique of prose narrative, and seek response in defined categories (e.g., clarity, imagery, dialogue, originality, pacing). If the group members as a whole are reasonably intelligent, non-axe grinding, non-narcissistic, non-mentally ill people who happen to be avid readers, they should in theory be able to provide some measure of decent feedback to you regarding your narrative. You need to look for commonalities, and not take everything at face value. Any group going beyond this limitation needs to be serious minded in the application of strictly defined critique criteria.

At some future point, however, a dedicated novel writer should seek advice from a professional (at least e.g. at writer retreat). Why? Because the professional can provide nuanced advice on proper narrative composition, openings, novel hooks, etc. that are beyond the reach of the standard writer group. Substantially better advice comes from successful acquisition editors or literary agents who have been in the business for many years. Their ability, honed by experience in the ms submission trenches and by immersing themselves in their chosen genres, outweighs the advice of even a published author who can only speak from his or her own frame of reference. 

Consider. Would you try to build a livable and quite stylish home on your own without an architect and a professional home builder simply because you had the ability to hammer a few boards together with nails? Of course not. You would acquire the expertise and skills before you began. And yet, new writers approach the creation of a thing equally or more complex, such as the writing of a competitive commercial novel, in the belief they can do so because they have a story idea, can type words on a page, and have read a few magazines about writing. They consult with other new writers as ignorant as themselves and proceed to build a house called a novel, but one that will not risk their lives because fortunately for them, it is all on paper.



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by 
Warwick Gleeson

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GENRE:  Fantasy (Epic)

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BLURB:


WORLD WAR OZ from coast to coast.

An adult fantasy that takes one of America's favorite tales and transforms it into a dark and epic landscape few can escape much less understand. Imagine Potter meets Avengers in Emerald city and you're getting close.

After a homicidal alien from Orion arrives on Earth intent on annihilating human life, the 21st century's greatest sorcerers create a network of seven Oz-like city worlds designed to harbor the human race in a newly formed utopia while also protecting it from the alien entity. But the alien is far more magically powerful than anyone suspected. Piper Robbin, ancient daughter of the Earth's greatest sorcerer inventor, Edison Godfellow, must sacrifice all to defeat the implacable force that calls itself "The Witch Queen of Oz," and quickly, before Earth becomes only a cold cinder floating among the stars.

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EXCERPT



Suddenly outside on the street, she stood facing in the direction of the Cambodian take-out, her entire nervous system tingling and parts shaking as if with Parkinson’s due to the abrupt teleportation against her will. The night fell black and splattered with garish light. She looked up to see the Wall Street corpse directly above her, and she swore he was staring down with an oafish mocking expression as if he knew something she did not. Then the ground quaked, and like balloons filled with molten glass, every window in her apartment building exploded. The shrieks of burning people next. How many she did not know, but she knew she must save them.
    
Before Piper could act, a whip of turbulent energy uncoiled like a sun flare from her living room window eight stories above. She observed the Wall Street corpse nearby disintegrate into a memory of burning sparks. She immediately recognized the nature of the force—a Tao magical wavelength strong as a thunderstorm yet contained, compressed to a small vortex, and potent enough to kidnap half of Brooklyn.




The book is on sale for $0.99 during the tour 


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AUTHOR Bio and Links:



Warwick Gleeson is a dedicated writer of screenplays, short stories, novels, and poetry. He has lived in both LA and NYC and worked many different jobs in his life, everything from roofer to waiter to small business owner to government analyst. He was the major writer, creator, and senior story editor for another project published by Del Sol Press called War of the World Makers that debuted in 2017. The novel has since won four national novel awards (two first place and two place) for SFF. Warwick is a big fan of great SFF television writing, like the kind you find in Emerald City, Gotham, The Expanse, and Umbrella Academy. He now lives in Tuscon, AZ, with a fat lazy cat and his most wonderful wife who is also a writer.





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GIVEAWAY




a Rafflecopter giveaway




The tour dates can be found here








Friday, June 14, 2019

Monterey and Point Lobos pictures






Sorry that I've not been good about responding to comments lately. Please know that I appreciate all of you who visit the blog and take the time to read the posts. If you're a regular visitor, you know that I enjoy sharing excerpts and descriptions of books to help provide fodder for folks' addictions, lol.

But...there are some days when another hunger has to be fed, and I need to reconnect with nature. I wonder if my affinity for the sea (despite the fact that I am a very poor swimmer who is likely to panic if I can't touch the bottom, lol) is because I am a Pisces.

We visited Monterey and San Francisco for a few days, so we had lot of wonderful opportunities to see the ocean.





The top two pictures were taken outside of the Monterey Bay Aquarium. One of these days, when I get the rest of the photos uploaded to my computer, I will share some of the beautiful sights from inside the Aquarium itself.




There are several picturesque areas in this portion of the state, but Point Lobos State Natural Reserve  is wonderfully impressive. The other three pictures on this page are from Whaler's Cove (I think that was what is was called).






There are many trails and scenic overlooks throughout this fantastic state park. Please add this to your to-do list if you're ever in the area, I think you'll enjoy it!





Thursday, June 13, 2019

Twists of Time by S. R. Cronin (Spotlight, excerpt, review, and GIVEAWAY) GFT







by
S. R. Cronin

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GENRE:   science fiction/fantasy

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BLURB:

Alex once walked away from a rare ability to warp time, thinking it was only a young man’s trick to play basketball better. Now, as a father and teacher, he needs to relearn the skill before the past begins to destroy his own future. To protect his daughter and his most promising student, he must stop the school at which he teaches from turning the clock back to an era of intolerance. He wants desperately to use his unique gifts to help an old high school friend solve an ancient Maya mystery offering a rare chance to bridge the past and the future. Both are possible, but only if Alex can learn to control his temporal talents before he runs out of time.

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EXCERPT




"Dad. I did not flirt with those boys, okay? Ick. They're wannabe skinheads. Look, I was nice to them when I talked to them, probably nicer than I would've been. But that's just common sense. Who's going to give you information if you're rude? Come on." Alex had to agree.

Teddie was angry at Ms. Johnson's accusation, but Alex wondered if she resented being accused of flirting, or of flirting with these particular boys. Either way, from Teddie's point of view she'd done nothing wrong.

"Shouldn't you have told the boys you were asking about their projects on behalf of the school paper?"

"Oh, that would have gotten me a lot of information. Those kids really believe all school-sponsored activities are part of a liberal propaganda machine. Seriously paranoid people."

"Well, you've made an enemy in Ms. Johnson, dear. I don't think she's a fan of mine now, either."

Teddie winced. It was hard enough being a freshman without having to worry about how everything you did reflected on your teacher father.

"You know, dad, I don't think Ms. Johnson is the kind of friend you want anyway. I hear she tows the line in front of the administration, but in the classroom, she comes out with some pretty racist things. She always phrases them like questions, so if they get repeated they don't sound so bad, but her class spends a lot of time talking about things that make some kids uncomfortable."

"Teddie, you're exaggerating. If that were the case, kids would be speaking up, to their parents, and to the department head."

Teddie responded with her you-adults-do-not-understand expression. "Dad, if a kid reports her, she twists it around like they were having a class discussion and this kid is saying stuff because he didn't do well on a test or something. And that kid can kiss a good grade from her goodbye."

Her dad gave the possibility some thought. "I think the other history teachers would say something if this lady was crossing a line."

More of the look. "Dad, you need to get out of the science department more. Word is most of the Early Gulch history teachers agree with everything Ms. Johnson teaches, even though they keep their opinions more to themselves. The few that object, like Mr. Hanson, they don't last long. I think the whole history department is part of some racist group."

"Now who sounds paranoid?"

"You know what they say. Doesn't mean they're not out to get you. Look, I'm sorry I put you on Ms. Johnson's radar. Be careful, Dad. I think she likes hurting people who don't agree with her."




~~~~~~~~~~~~~

AUTHOR Bio and Links:


Sherrie Roth grew up in Western Kansas thinking there was no place in the universe more fascinating than outer space. After her mother vetoed astronaut as a career ambition, she went on to study journalism and physics in hopes of becoming a science writer.

She published her first science fiction short story long ago, and then waited a lot of tables while she looked for inspiration for the next story. When it finally came,  it declared to her it had to be a whole book, nothing less. One night, while digesting this disturbing piece of news, she drank way too many shots of ouzo with her boyfriend. She woke up thirty-one years later demanding to know what was going on.
The boyfriend, who she had apparently long since married, asked her to calm down and  explained how, in a fit of practicality, she had gone back to school and gotten a degree in geophysics and spent the last 28 years interpreting seismic data in the oil industry. The good news, according to Mr. Cronin, was that she had found it to be entertaining and ridiculously well-paying. The bad news was the two of them had still managed to spend almost all of the money.
She was now Mrs. Cronin, and further good news was that they had produced three wonderful children whom they loved, even though, to be honest, that was where a lot of the money had gone. Even better news was that Mr. Cronin turned out to be a warm-hearted, encouraging sort who was happy to see her awake and ready to write. "It's about time," were his exact words.
Sherrie Cronin discovered that over the ensuing decades Sally Ride had already managed to become the first woman in space and apparently had done a fine job of it. No one, however, had written the book that had been in Sherrie's head for decades. The only problem was, the book informed her it had now grown into a six book collection. Sherrie decided she better start writing it before it got any longer. She's been wide awake ever since, and writing away.
Author Social Media Links



Social Media Links
Twitter


Blogs:









Email me at lola.zeitman@gmail.com




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GIVEAWAY


a Rafflecopter giveaway


The tour dates can be found here



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My review:



4.25 out of 5 stars


Twists of Time by S.R. Cronin is another story in the ’46. Ascending’ series that blends fantasy and science fiction. This particular tale spotlights Alex Zeitman as well as a Mayan family tasked through the ages with saving and guarding an essential artifact.


The book is aptly named because it shifts between time periods and various characters, so it takes a bit of flexibility to connect with the storyline, but it is worth it to persist because eventually the elements meld to present a fascinating premise. I think that what I appreciate most about this series is the way each book spotlights a particular societal ill, highlighting the insidiousness of evil that is permeating our lives. The impact of racial prejudice is showcased in several time periods and environments in an exciting story that also features another remarkable capability in the Zeitman family.

I think one of this author’s talents is the ability to create likeable seemingly commonplace folks who have hidden depths and wonderful strength of character. Even as one aches for the travails they have to overcome, and worries that evil will get the upper hand, the courage and ingenuity displayed by these folks make one cheer for the good guys and the reader can’t help but be inspired and reassured that there is an ongoing desire to have good triumph over evil. Sadly, the subject matter is all too relevant to the happenings in today’s society, but hopefully each person who reads this entertaining story will also be inspired to have hope for a better world.

Although this is part of a series, it can be read as a stand-alone story, but one will better appreciate some of the nuances if one becomes familiar with some of the other characters. I look forward to meeting more of these quiet superheroes in subsequent stories.


A copy of this title was provided for review
 




Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Layers of Light by S. R. Cronin (Spotlight, excerpt, review, and GIVEAWAY) GFT







by S. R. Cronin



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GENRE:   science fiction/fantasy



~~~~~~~~~~~~~



BLURB:



A Texan teenager develops an unusual ability when she becomes an exchange student in India. Once human trafficking touches her world, her mysterious talent shows hope for locating her friends. If she only knew what the talent was and how to use it.
A stranger makes her an unexpected offer. He will train her to find her missing friends, but she will need trust in ideas she barely believes and more courage than has ever been expected of her. Also, she’ll never be normal again.
She accepts his offer, intending to show those guilty of unspeakable crimes just how powerful a young woman can be.





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EXCERPT
  
One of the biggest adjustments was not having a cell phone. Teddie was surprised to discover texting was a big part of her life. However, the school was adamant; no students were allowed to have cell phones. At least she had her laptop, and today she had gotten to video chat with her parents before class. The sight of the two of them sitting on the geranium-filled porch in the Texas evening had left her yearning for surroundings she was used to.



That night, she starting sleepwalking.



She didn’t remember getting out of bed, or walking down the hall or going out the door of the school. Didn’t they keep it locked at night? She thought they must. Maybe she had climbed out the window? Could she do that in her sleep?



Yet there she was, walking down the street in front of the school in the middle of the night. Lights were mostly off and half a moon was high in the sky. A group of older boys stood huddled together a couple of blocks away, smoking cigarettes. If they noticed Teddie they ignored her.



She looked around. The mountains in the distance glistened with snow and she took the time to enjoy the view without people jostling into her. The boys down the street all wore jackets, and Teddie wondered if she’d thought to grab a coat. She glanced towards her arm, and the next thing she knew she was back in her bed, with no memory of how she got there.



Well, sleep-walking was supposed to be an odd phenomenon. It had probably been set off by homesickness, to be honest. Good thing her subconscious found ways to navigate her in and out of the school. This time. Hopefully it wasn’t going to become a habit.





~~~~~~~~~~~~~

AUTHOR Bio and Links:


Sherrie Roth grew up in Western Kansas thinking there was no place in the universe more fascinating than outer space. After her mother vetoed astronaut as a career ambition, she went on to study journalism and physics in hopes of becoming a science writer.


She published her first science fiction short story long ago, and then waited a lot of tables while she looked for inspiration for the next story. When it finally came,  it declared to her it had to be a whole book, nothing less. One night, while digesting this disturbing piece of news, she drank way too many shots of ouzo with her boyfriend. She woke up thirty-one years later demanding to know what was going on.

The boyfriend, who she had apparently long since married, asked her to calm down and  explained how, in a fit of practicality, she had gone back to school and gotten a degree in geophysics and spent the last 28 years interpreting seismic data in the oil industry. The good news, according to Mr. Cronin, was that she had found it to be entertaining and ridiculously well-paying. The bad news was the two of them had still managed to spend almost all of the money.

She was now Mrs. Cronin, and further good news was that they had produced three wonderful children whom they loved, even though, to be honest, that was where a lot of the money had gone. Even better news was that Mr. Cronin turned out to be a warm-hearted, encouraging sort who was happy to see her awake and ready to write. "It's about time," were his exact words.

Sherrie Cronin discovered that over the ensuing decades Sally Ride had already managed to become the first woman in space and apparently had done a fine job of it. No one, however, had written the book that had been in Sherrie's head for decades. The only problem was, the book informed her it had now grown into a six book collection. Sherrie decided she better start writing it before it got any longer. She's been wide awake ever since, and writing away.



Social Media Links
Twitter

Blogs:









Email me at lola.zeitman@gmail.com



************************


GIVEAWAY



a Rafflecopter giveaway



************************

My review: 



4.25 stars





Layers of Light by S.R. Cronin focuses on Teddie Zeitman as she discovers her special power and becomes pivotal in a struggle against sex trafficking that encompasses multiple countries and requires an eclectic group of individuals to work together. The danger strikes too close for comfort, and Teddie will have to learn who to trust and who to be wary of.





This book is part of the ’46. Ascending’ series and is a science fiction/fantasy tale for mature audiences set in the contemporary world with its all-too-dismaying evils. Once again, the author follows several points of view, each with a separate storyline, but weaves a mesmerizing tapestry that is both thought-provoking and somewhat disheartening as it highlights the challenges that face females the world over. Due to the frank description of some of the horrific aspects of sex trafficking, the story is not recommended for younger readers nor those who have triggers related to sexual abuse.



I appreciate that the books in this series can indeed be read as stand-alone tales but are all connected. It’s a little surprising that Teddie was kept in the dark about the other members of her family for so long but I enjoyed getting a chance to see another side of her after her pivotal role in helping take down racists at her high school that is depicted in Twists of Time.



The multiple threads in this story—the impoverished girl whose virginity makes her such a valued commodity, the orphaned child groomed for the sex trade, the attractive teen whose gender threatens to derail her dream of climbing mountains, and Teddie’s very memorable visit to an exotic foreign land, all combine to make a compelling and eye-opening tale. I enjoy the psychic elements and the chance to see different cultures and I can only hope that there are groups of people who are able to access talents beyond the norm. There are delightful reminders that attraction can occur for the unlikeliest of pairs and chilling interludes that underscore that there are truly evil beings in the world…in other words, there’s a little something for everyone. I’ve enjoyed all of the stories in this series that I have read thus far and I look forward to discovering what other amazing talents are showcased.



A copy of this title was provided for review