Winners!

Congratulations to the 10 winners of the Stolen/Crypt of souls Giveaway on Goodreads! Your books are in the mail!

Crypt Cover 600

Cover of Stolen

New Fantasy paperback giveaway!

August 5 (midnight) – September 5 (midnight), 2016:

This giveaway includes the first TWO volumes of the ‘Stolen’ fantasy series (both published by Malachite Quills/Chimera Tales) PLUS the ‘Companion’ booklet, which features maps, documents, family trees, word origins, philosophy and religion, extra history, and more! All three signed by author.

You’ve got a whole month to enter – don’t forget! Follow THIS LINK to the giveaway.

Note: these two volumes are first editions, no longer in print. They include original cover art by Andrae Harrison.

Cover of Stolen

Cover of ‘Stolen’ – first edition

Cornerstone: The Delving released

I’m pleased to announce that Cornerstone: The Delving (the sequel to Cornerstone: Raising Rook) has been released for Kindle (click the link). Paperback version should be coming soon; watch here for updates.

Don’t forget that Raising Rook is available for Goodreads giveaway through the 31st AND there’s a Kindle Countdown going on as well! Get your first book free or cheap, then continue with The Delving.

And don’t keep Rook waiting. He’s getting…impatient.

Cover for The Delving

Goodreads Giveaway: Cornerstone: Raising Rook

Five copies of the paperback version of Cornerstone: Raising Rook (Book ONE in the series) will be available for giveaway at the link below starting May 15 and ending May 31.

Cornerstone Giveaway

You’ll need to be a Goodreads member or sign up (free). The giveaway is in anticipation of the release of the second book in the series, Cornerstone: The Delving, on May 25th. In addition, there’ll be a Kindle Countdown sale starting the 25th and ending the 31st if you’d prefer the ebook version of Raising Rook – starting at just .99!

The Cornerstone books are modern fantasy fiction, geared for adults but suitable for teens and up, featuring a unique set of circumstances and characters. Reviewers appreciate the fresh ideas and approach. See the description on the book page, and get your name in soon!

Raising Rook book cover

Raising Rook book cover

Review: In the Name of God

In the Name of God Book Cover In the Name of God
Cameron Stauth
True Crime
Kindle

When I purchase any book, but particularly one from an author with a number of works to his/her name, I expect it to be reasonably edited. This one was chock full of distracting errors, from people whose names changed from page to page (as one example, Patrick’s son went from Paul, to Pat, to Paul, to Pat, and back to Paul again), to extraneous commas, misplaced periods, find/replace errors, and others. Even a good run-through with Word’s grammar/spelling check could have found some of these.

The story itself was eye-opening and revealed a hidden world I had very little knowledge of prior to reading the book. I’ve certainly got more knowledge now. However, somewhere between a third and a half of this book was fiction, not true crime. Now, all good true crime authors take liberties to create a more engaging story by re-creating short dialogues and thought patterns. These are generally based on careful interview and often on tapes. Here, the author creates entire sections of internal dialogue and conversation, chapters long, of which he could not possibly have knowledge. No one can remember in that much detail what he or she was thinking or the course of a long conversation, especially years later, to relay it to the writer, and some of it was frankly condescending. The longer it got, and the more tangents the author went off on (history of various locations, for example), the more it bugged me. I’m sure the author could write a great mystery with his gift for dialogue, but that’s not what I thought I was getting.

Towards the end, it also got repetitive. I found myself saying, “Yes, I know. You’ve already told me that twice before,” on more than one occasion. Once again, a good edit could have fixed those issues. I also didn’t know, or didn’t remember, who the author was or how he was connected to the crimes in question when he suddenly appeared towards the end of the book. All at once there were sections narrated by ‘I’ instead of he/she/they. Here, some introductory detail would have been nice.

All in all a fascinating subject and a good writer, but with issues that bugged me too much to rate the book any higher.

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Using ASMR for pain control

This is a bit off my usual topic, but it’s something I’ve been contemplating recently.

First of all, what is ASMR? It stands for ‘autonomous sensory meridian response’. The best I can describe it is as a meditation or relaxation technique focused on using specific sounds to create a specific, enjoyable state conducive to sleep and stillness. There are a lot of sounds that people use to induce this state, including tapping, whispering, scratching, and crinkling. Some people have ASMR, some people don’t. If you’re interested, there are tons of videos on Youtube and you can check it out to see if you do.

I first became aware of ASMR videos about a year ago after seeing it mentioned somewhere, but I’ve had the response since I was a little kid. I remember the sound of my mother sweeping a concrete walkway with a straw broom. I knew as soon as I heard it described that I experience this particular response, and I now view ASMR videos fairly frequently. For me, watching the video helps, as well as the sounds.

Recently I broke my ankle, and it occurred to me to try using ASMR videos for pain control. There isn’t much scientific information out there about ASMR, probably since it’s hard to study and not a well-described response (what actually is occurring, for instance?). So the only thing I could do was experiment. It seems to help; I can ignore the discomfort during the video and sometimes even doze off. I can’t say I notice a lasting improvement, though; it seems to be only a matter of distraction. It’s possible any video that distracted me sufficiently would help.

I’m interested if anyone else uses ASMR for pain control and if so, how it works for you? Let me know, and by all means share your favorite ASMR video!

Here’s a link to more info, too: https://asmruniversity.com/

Stained glass window

Children’s songs and stained glass

When I was a kid and attending Girl Scout Camp on a regular basis, there was a song we used to sing to make fun of the nursery rhymes we had only so recently recited earnestly. The chorus went like this, in a sort of sing-song tune:

“The window, the window, the second-story window,

With a heave and a ho, and a mighty throw, (they/she/he) threw it out the window!”

The verses were done by inserting the first three lines of a four-line nursery rhyme, so:

“Mary had a little lamb

Its fleece was white as snow

And everywhere that Mary went

She…threw it out the window!”

Followed by the above chorus. Try it! It works with Jack Sprat, Little Miss Muffin, and Peter, Peter, Pumpkin eater (cruelly), and a number of others.

With that in mind, here’s another teaser from the upcoming sequel Cornerstone: The Delving. It’s a window, though it’s on the third story, not the second. It’s hand-made stained glass, by a central figure in the book. But is she a ‘good guy’ or a ‘bad guy’?

Stained glass window

wooden cane with metal scrollwork

Teaser: Caduceus

This object figures in Book Two of the Cornerstone series (Cornerstone: The Delving), due out in May or June. Readers may remember it from the first book. In The Delving, it changes hands. Is this ultimately a good thing or a bad? Depends on whose side you’re on…

wooden cane with metal scrollwork

Book review: The Queen and the Dagger

The Queen and the Dagger Book Cover The Queen and the Dagger
Book of Theo
Melanie Ansley
Fantasy
Kindle

This is an excellent, richly-imagined short book for older children/younger teens, combining elements of fantasy, myth, and storytelling tradition. The reader remains fully immersed in the world from the first sentence. Editing is impeccable. There’s nothing to distract you from the well-paced storyline.

The characters are unique and carefully drawn. No one is perfect, but each has her own merits. The plot is true epic fantasy, a great introduction to swordplay, quest, and chosen-one themes that run throughout contemporary adult fantasy works. Pacing is steady, with no dead spots. The setting is unique and familiar, yet alien at the same time. It will feel most familiar to children graduating from elementary  anthropomorphic animal stories to more advanced chapter books and novels. There are betrayal, danger, and personality clashes as well as fellowship and alliance.  It has a Lion King-feel to it, of fate and inevitability not wholly under the control of the actors.

After finishing this book (in one sitting!) I immediately checked for more in the series. This is one I’d like to follow. It brought me back to the childhood tales I loved to read, yet it was sufficiently advanced for adult readers. Recommended for just about anybody.

Link to The Queen and the Dagger on Amazon

A draft in the hand is worth…

It’s been a while, but I’ve finally got a draft in hand of the sequel to Cornerstone: Raising Rook (tentatively called Cornerstone: The Delving). After starting off fast, I stalled out, despite having written part of the last chapter and knowing where I needed to go, which is my usual technique. Then I wrote the last few chapters all in a rush when I finally got going again.

While it’s definitely satisfying to have an 80,000 word manuscript, there’s a lot more to do: general editing, consistency, timeline checks, removing parts that don’t fit or are unnecessary, adding new parts, proofreading, re-reading, re-re-reading, re-re-re-reading – yeah. Not to mention formal editing, formatting for ebook and paperback, and commissioning cover art.  But it feels like an Accomplishment, and at least somewhat like a relief.

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