Barb Caffrey's Blog

Writing the Elfyverse . . . and beyond

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Kendall and Kylie Jenner “Write” a Book — My Rant

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Folks, I just finished reading two sample chapters from REBELS: CITY OF INDRA: The Story of Lex and Livia, a book purportedly written by Kendall and Kylie Jenner. (Yes, they’re the sisters of Kim, Khloe, and Kourtney Kardashian.)

Here’s my capsule review: It’s dreadful. (Take a look at these one-star reviews if you don’t believe me.)

Why?

There’s no plot. There’s nothing in the way of characterization. And the Jenner sisters didn’t even write it.

The only good thing about REBELS: CITY OF INDRA: The Story of Lex and Livia (and yes, it has all of those colons) is this: Two ghostwriters actually got paid to write this garbage.

As a writer of YA fiction (you may have heard of my novel, AN ELFY ON THE LOOSE, if you’ve ever been to my blog before), I am appalled that this pitiful excuse for a book is currently sitting at #353 paid in the Amazon store.

And the only reason it appears to be there is this: The Jenner sisters are the young half-sisters of Kim Kardashian, reality starlet. So when they said, “Hey, we want to write a book,” they immediately got a book contract.

Then, apparently, after they realized how hard writing is, they quite sensibly hired ghost writers — which actually makes good business sense, but doesn’t show much on the creative side of the ledger for either of the Jenner sisters.

And now, they’re making money hand over fist despite the many negative reviews, merely because of name recognition.

It’s enough to make me, a barely known author, cry.

What can you do to combat this sort of nonsense? It’s blindingly simple: read something else.

“But Barb!” you yell. “I don’t know what to read! Help me!” (With or without exclamation points, granted.)

Look. I know many writers, and have reviewed many, many, many better books than this one. Here are just a few in the YA category that I recommend, and why:

Stephanie Osborn’s StarSong is a fable about a young, spoiled girl who realizes she needs to grow up and start doing things for herself before she finds the man of her dreams. This is an excellent novella about a spiritual awakening and a nifty coming-of-age tale, all in one. It was written for pre-teens, but anyone eight or above should enjoy this fun little story of loss, romance and redemption.

Chris Nuttall’s latest, LESSONS IN ETIQUETTE, is the second story about Emily, a teenage girl from our world who’s been transported to a quasi-medieval world where she can do magic and is important…but is important as much for the technical innovations she introduces into this new world (the printing press, Arabic numbers, double-entry bookkeeping, etc.) as she is for her own prodigious magical gifts. It’s a well-paced, well-written book that will keep you turning the pages, and is possibly Chris’s best book to date.

Katharine Eliska Kimbriel’s NIGHT CALLS is the story of Alfreda Sorensson, who is a frontier girl with magic. Again, she does for herself, thank you, and spends her time productively by learning about herself and the world around her. This is one of the best books for teenage girls I’ve ever read.

Jason Cordova’s CORRUPTOR is about Tori, a teenager trapped in a virtual reality game environment. Tori’s ex-boyfriend causes trouble, while Tori’s widowed father tries to get her out of the simulation. It’s a fun, fast read with a lot of real-world implications.

Sarah A. Hoyt’s DARKSHIP THIEVES is about Athena, a girl on the cusp of adulthood who must find herself, fast. Her father is against her, so she flees as far away as she can and finds a whole different place than she’d ever imagined…she falls in love and marries, yes, but she does so on her terms and by showing how competent and intelligent she is at every turn.

Mercedes Lackey and Rosemary Edghill’s neo-Arthurian Shadow Grail series (LEGACIES, CONSPIRACIES, SACRIFICES and VICTORIES) features Spirit White, who loses her parents in an accident and only then finds out she has magic. But what type, and why? (And was it really an accident?) So she first has to find herself, learn her talents, and then save the world…

Folks, those are just a few of the many excellent books out there in the YA and/or pre-teen category. These are all writers who work hard at their craft, write excellent stories that make sense, with characters you will appreciate, and came up with plausible worlds in the bargain. I highly recommend all of these stories, and hope you will support these writers — real writers working really hard to give you really fine stories with real craftsmanship.

(Really.)

So, in short: Please do not support this newest effort by the Jenner sisters. They don’t need the money. They didn’t do the work. And they don’t deserve your patronage thereby.

But many other real writers do.

——–

Edited to add: I’ve started a Twitter campaign called #SupportARealWriter to get the word out about real writers who use real craftsmanship to create good, solid, honest books — really. If you see #SupportARealWriter at the end of something, please  support that writer and let people know their books are out, available, and are much, much better than the above book with the Jenner sisters’ name on it.

Attending Digicon 2014, Presenting Three Workshops

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Folks, over the next three days (May 29-31, 2014), I will be attending Digicon 2014, a special event put on by SavvyAuthors.com. This is an important online writer’s convention, and I’m proud to be a part of it.

But I’m not just attending Digicon14. I am also presenting three workshops, which are:

  • “When Your Crystal Ball Doesn’t Work — How to Fix Your Foreshadowing”
  • “Procrastination Sedation — Or How to Quit Wasting Time on Social Media and Write”
  • “Manuscripts Gone Wrong, or, How to Drive Your Editor Crazy Without Even Trying”

Now, why did I pick these particular topics?

Foreshadowing is one of the trickiest things for any writer to do. Even experienced writers can be confused by foreshadowing. So I tried to give some common-sense general tips. (I’m also hoping people will chime in with their own examples, so we can be a bit interactive.)

As for the second, time-management is essential for writers. Without it, we are doomed.

And as for the third? Well, I’m an editor. I’ve seen many mistakes time and time again. These mistakes can be overcome, but first, writers have to be made aware of them . . . it’s the same old adage as applies to anything else: You cannot fix a problem if you don’t first know it’s a problem.

If you, too, would like to be a part of Digicon14, it’s not too late for you to sign up here.

Hope to see you there.

Written by Barb Caffrey

May 29, 2014 at 5:20 pm

Deborah J. Ross Interviewed Me Regarding My “Stars of Darkover” Story…and It’s Up

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Folks, a while back, Deborah J. Ross asked me — and all the other writers with stories included in the newest Darkover anthology, STARS OF DARKOVER, which will be out in June — a series of questions. I sent them back to her, and she told me the interview would be up sometime in May.

Late last week, she wrote to me and said the interview was scheduled, and could I please spread the news far and wide?

Of course, I told her. I’ll be glad to do it.

Now, the interview is up over at her blog . . . and I do hope you’ll read it. I discussed a little bit about my story, “At the Crossroads,” and the story’s main character, Judge Fiona n’ha Gorsali, along with the three ways Marion Zimmer Bradley influenced me — one was through her writing, one was because my late husband Michael knew one of Ms. Bradley”s sons (I’m not sure which one, but I’m guessing it was probably her eldest due to the time-frame) and Michael told me that Ms. Bradley had been very encouraging to him when she didn’t have to be, and finally, the last way is because Rosemary Edghill has been my mentor for a few years now…and Rosemary worked with MZB on the Light series (WITCHLIGHT, GRAVELIGHT, GHOSTLIGHT, and HEARTLIGHT).

I haven’t ever been interviewed before. I’ve always been the one doing the interviewing, actually . . . so this was a brand-new experience.

Let me know what you think of my first-ever interview, will you?

By the way, in other news, the second half of ELFY — which I’m sure will be re-titled soon, one way or another — has been turned in to my publisher, Lida Quillen of Twilight Times Books.

What does this mean in practical terms?

Well, it means I’ve done everything I possibly can do. Now it’ll go to my editor. In a few weeks, I’ll probably have the file back and will make any changes required.

This means I still have a shot to get the second half of ELFY out by late October, if all goes well. So that’s a good thing.

Aside from that, I continue to write, edit, and comment . . . and watch the Milwaukee Brewers play baseball games, of course. (I’ll probably be writing about them again soon. But time is short and it’s had to go toward other things.)

An Excerpt From Stephanie Osborn’s Newest Novel, “A Case of Spontaneous Combustion”

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Folks, I’ve been without the Internet for most of the past five days. Because of this, I wasn’t able to take part in Stephanie Osborn’s online book release party for her latest novel, A CASE OF SPONTANEOUS COMBUSTION. This book is the fifth in her Displaced Detective series featuring Sherlock Holmes as brought to the modern day, and is a must-read for lovers of intelligent fiction.

So what follows is the blog I’d hoped to put up last weekend, to help celebrate Stephanie’s newest release. It’s a book excerpt, with a bit of set-up to help get you up to speed . . . at any rate, take it away, Stephanie!

* * * * *

A Case of Spontaneous Combustion: An Excerpt

By Stephanie Osborn

I am pleased to announce the release of book 5 of the Displaced Detective Series, entitled A Case of Spontaneous Combustion!

This book continues the science fiction/mystery adventures of Sherlock Holmes, who has been yanked from an alternate reality in the which he exists, into our modern day reality by Dr. Skye Chadwick, chief scientist of Project: Tesseract. Unable to return to his own place and time, Holmes is forced to adapt, learn, and grow. With Skye’s help, he succeeds admirably.

But when an entire village on the Salisbury Plain is wiped out in an apparent case of mass spontaneous combustion, Her Majesty’s Secret Service contacts The Holmes Agency to investigate. Unfortunately Sherlock Holmes and his wife, Dr. Skye Chadwick-Holmes, have just had their first serious fight, over her abilities and attitudes as an investigator. To make matters worse, he is summoned to England in the middle of the night, and she is not — and due to the invocation of the National Security Act in the summons, he cannot even wake her and tell her.

Once in London, Holmes looks into the horror that is now Stonegrange. His investigations take him into a dangerous undercover assignment in search of a possible terror ring, though he cannot determine how a human agency could have caused the disaster. There, he works hard to pass as a recent immigrant and manual laborer from a certain rogue Mideastern nation as he attempts to uncover signs of the terrorists.

Meanwhile, alone in Colorado, Skye battles raging wildfires and tames a wild mustang stallion, all while believing her husband has abandoned her.

Who ― or what — caused the horror in Stonegrange? Will Holmes find his way safely through the metaphorical minefield that is modern Middle Eastern politics? Will Skye subdue Smoky before she is seriously hurt? Will this predicament seriously damage ― even destroy — the couple’s relationship? And can Holmes stop the terrorists before they unleash their outré weapon again?

~~~Excerpt~~~

 Prologue — Changes in Routine

 

Stonegrange was a little old English hamlet in the County of Wiltshire in the Salisbury Plain of England, much like any other such ancient British village: a tiny central square in the midst of which crouched a hoary, venerated church, surrounded by a few small shops, and residences on the outskirts tapering off into the surrounding farmlands. On Sundays the church was full, and on Thursdays the outlying farmers brought their produce in to market. The occasional lorry carried in other supplies, and the Post Office ran every day but Sunday. So small was the village that the constable wasn’t even full time.

Still and all, it wasn’t very far from a main thoroughfare, the A338, that ran through Salisbury and on down to Bournemouth and Poole, and it wasn’t uncommon for lorry drivers to stop for a bite in the local pub, or even park their rigs in an empty lot just off the square for a good, safe night’s rest. Sometimes they even used the lot to hand off cargo from one freight company to another.

So no one thought twice when a flat-bed trailer showed up overnight in the lot, a large wooden crate lashed firmly to its middle. The locals figured it was either a hand-off, or someone’s tractor rig had broken down and been hauled off for repair, while leaving the cargo in a safe place.

* * *

Dr. Skye Chadwick-Holmes, horse trainer, detective, and one of the foremost hyperspatial physicists on the planet, answered the phone at the ranch near Florissant, Colorado.

“Holmes residence,” she murmured. “Skye speaking.”

“Hi there, Skye, Hank Jones here,” Colonel Henry Jones, head of security for Schriever Air Force Base, greeted the lady of the house from the other end of the line. “If you don’t mind, grab Holmes and then hit the speaker phone.”

“Oh, hi, Hank,” Skye replied warmly. “Good to hear from you, but I’m afraid I can’t oblige. Sherlock’s not here right now. Billy Williams called him down to the Springs to update him on some new MI-5 HazMat techniques; I completed my certification last month, but Sherlock had a nasty little cold and missed out.”

“Oh,” Jones said blankly. “Well, are YOU available?”

“Um, I guess so, for whatever that’s worth,” a hesitant Skye said. “Depends. Whatcha got?”

“Murder in the residential quarters at Peterson,” Jones noted, grim. “Suspects and victim were all Schriever personnel, though, so I get to have fun with it. Joy, joy.”

“And you could use a bit of help?”

“‘Fraid so,” Jones sighed. “As usual, I’m short-handed right now. The Pentagon never seems to get the fact that ‘Security’ means ‘document control,’ ‘police force,’ ‘guard duty,’ ‘investigation,’ and half a million other different jobs all rolled together, on a base like this.” He sighed again. “Listen, is there any chance you could meet me down there in about an hour or so, have a look around the crime scene yourself, then call your husband in when he’s available if you need to? As a favor to me? I need to get rolling on it A.S.A.P.”

“Um, okay,” Skye agreed after a moment’s thought. “Yeah, I can at least get started on it, and collect the initial data for Sherlock. Maybe even come to some basic conclusions and formulate a theory for us to work on. Gimme the address and I’ll buzz on down…”

* * *

The trailer remained where it was, off Stonegrange’s central square, for two days, and still no one thought to question. After all, tractors had mechanical difficulties just like the residents’ own autos and lorries, and sometimes those difficulties took a few days to repair. So no inquiries were made. The trailer was ignored.

Until, at precisely 11:02 p.m. three nights after its arrival, the crate emitted a soft, reverberating hum. No one was near enough to hear it, however—at least, no one curious enough to bother checking it out. Exactly five minutes later, a loud zap! sounded from the box.

Stonegrange was as silent as the tomb the rest of the night.

The next morning, the flat-bed trailer was gone.

~~~End Excerpt~~~

Again, folks, if you want to read the rest of Stephanie’s newest novel A CASE OF SPONTANEOUS COMBUSTION, please go here and take a gander.

All I know is, I plan to review both her fourth book in the Displaced Detective series, ENDINGS AND BEGINNINGS, and her newest very soon over at Shiny Book Review . . . so do stay tuned for that.

Advance Reader Copy of “An Elfy on the Loose” Now Available at TTB

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Folks, I hadn’t known this until tonight, but my book, AN ELFY ON THE LOOSE, has been available as an advance reader copy (or ARC) since early February.

Please follow this link to the ARC, directly available through the auspices of Twilight Times Books (my publisher), if you wish to support my writing . . . if you’re interesting in figuring out just what my favorite Elfy, Bruno, is up to these days . . . or if you’re just bored and in need of some reading material that might make you laugh.

Mind you, if you’re waiting for when AN ELFY ON THE LOOSE will officially be available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and all other e-book platforms, I’ve been told the date is June 1, 2014.

But right now, if you want to read AN ELFY ON THE LOOSE, this link is the only way to do it — it’ll take you right to Twilight Times Books and its e-ARC site, and you can order to your heart’s content.

Getting the ARC out officially is one step closer in the publication process, and I’m glad to see that everything is well in train. I just wish I’d have realized this sooner, so I could’ve made the announcement sooner, that’s all. (But “them’s the breaks,” and all that.)

Please spread the word widely that the ARC is available, OK? Because right now, almost no one knows it exists — and that is not good.

Written by Barb Caffrey

March 29, 2014 at 12:05 am

New Interview, Book Review Up at SBR Over the Weekend

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Over the weekend, I put up two new things over at Shiny Book Review (SBR for short, as always). One is an interview with the incomparable Katharine Eliska Kimbriel, while the other is a book review for Vera Nazarian’s COBWEB FOREST, the third book in Ms. Nazarian’s Cobweb Bride series.

Now, you might be wondering why it is that I did two such labor-intensive things on the weekend. (Well, you’re probably not wondering that, for all I know. But take my word for it: Reviews take effort, and interviews also take effort, plus a goodly amount of pre-planning on the part of both me, the interviewer, and whoever the interviewee is, in this case Ms. Kimbriel.) Why not do them earlier in the week?

Well, like most people, I have all sorts of things going on during the week that tend to preclude me from doing things that take several hours apiece, no matter how much I might enjoy doing them. And as I tend to review romances on Saturday over at SBR for our Romance Saturday promotion, that’s why Ms. Nazarian’s book was reviewed then.

Note I’m not talking much about why my interview with Ms. Kimbriel went up on Sunday . . . that’s mostly because I ran out of time on Friday, and I also thought of a few last-minute questions late Thursday evening. Ms. Kimbriel answered them very quickly, bless her, but I was still in the process of figuring things out on Friday evening, so the interview did not get done until Sunday.

I don’t do a whole lot on Sunday at SBR, mostly because Jason Cordova tends to review on that day, Monday, Tuesday, and/or Wednesday. But he and I can arrange for me to review — or in this case, interview — on other days, and that’s what we did here.

I hope you enjoy both my interview with Ms. Kimbriel, as she had a great deal of insight to offer about writing, editing, and the whole publication process as she’s part of Book View Cafe, an author’s consortium that does well by its writers and editors, and the review of Ms. Nazarian’s COBWEB FOREST.

Now, as for my plans for this week’s blog posts? Some of it depends on what happens in the world, but I can say I do plan to do a Milwaukee Brewers pre-season report — what I’ve seen from the various Spring Training games that have been televised, what I’ve noticed among a few high-profile (and not-so-high-profile) players — later this week. So do stay tuned for that.

As far as reviews over at SBR, I hope to review three things: Stephen R. Donaldson’s THE LAST DARK, the concluding book of the entire Thomas Covenant series, is the main book of the three, with the other two being Grant Hallman’s well-received debut novel IRON STAR (a work of military science fiction that’s perfect for readers of Michael Z. Williamson or Ric Locke) and his prequel to IRON STAR, the novella UPFALL. Figure THE LAST DARK for Saturday, while if all goes well I should be able to review UPFALL, at least, on Friday — and perhaps IRON STAR as well. (Have I mentioned that I’m a big fan of IRON STAR yet?)

Now, speaking of “Mad Mike” Williamson, I do have a special treat in store in a few, short weeks, as his debut novel FREEHOLD has been re-released by his publisher, Baen Books, in hard cover. Because of that auspicious event — something that was a long time in coming — I’ve decided to review FREEHOLD over at SBR. I read FREEHOLD years ago but never reviewed it anywhere, partly because it came out in 2005 — and because of my husband Michael’s passing the year before, I really didn’t pay much attention to anything that happened then. (I think I actually read FREEHOLD in 2007, but don’t quote me.)

So is the world ready for me to review FREEHOLD?

I don’t know, but we’re all about to find out . . . :insert evil chuckle here:

State of the Elfyverse, February 2014 Edition

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It’s time once again for one of my periodic state of the Elfyverse updates . . . and tonight, I have big news.

My novel ELFY has been split, which many of you already know (especially if you’ve been following my blog for a while), and will be going as two books. I knew it was very likely that I’d end up with two new titles, as that’s what tends to happen in publishing, but much awaited my final turn-in of the ELFY, book one manuscript — including an official retitling.

Fortunately for me, a very good friend stepped up and did two wonderful things. First, she gave me an excellent promotional blurb — this is something to help people find your book rather than an author’s blurb, which also is an excellent thing to have (the latter is when an author recommends your book as worthy of interest, and says so with a quote) — which my publisher, Lida Quillen of Twilight Times Books, really liked. (My own efforts in this regard kept falling flat no matter what I did, so what my friend did for me cannot be underestimated.) And second, she suggested an appropriate title for the first half of ELFY, which is . . .

Drum roll, please:

AN ELFY ON THE LOOSE.

This makes really good sense, gets the point across that ELFY is a comic urban fantasy, and keeps ELFY in the title. I’ve asked that it be called AN ELFY ON THE LOOSE, part one of the ELFY duology, but all I know right now is that the first part will definitely be titled AN ELFY ON THE LOOSE.

I also received my copy of the ARC (that’s an advanced reader’s copy) to check over today, and I plan on doing that in the upcoming days. (I need for everything to settle for a day or two, or I can’t possibly check any remaining problems that might still exist, as I’ll instead see only what I think is there. Clear as mud, no?)

In addition, there is interest from my publisher in at least taking a look at the prequel to ELFY, in possible sequels (which have been in progress for years, as I’ve said before), and in my unrelated literary fantasy novel, CHANGING FACES. I just have to finish ’em up and check ’em over, which I plan on doing as I get time.

This is very good news, especially considering the fact I don’t have a publishing track record to run on. All I have is my bare word that I will get it done, and the fact that my publisher has worked with me in my other capacity as an editor, so she knows the worth of my word.

So I’m encouraged — Hell, I’m psyched, even — because it appears I may just be finally ready to break out as a novelist after ten solid years of trying.

Of course, there’s much to be done between now and then. The next few months, I’ll be using to get the second half (now a book in its own right) of ELFY fixed to the best of my ability. TTB uses good editors and proofreaders, so I should be in good hands, there . . . anyway, there’s no fixed timetable to get this done, but I’m personally shooting to get it done and taken care of long before the end of the year as I want to build some momentum.

And, of course, I have lots of other stuff to do — short stories to write, the Joey Maverick novella (or possibly a short novel) to write that’s centered on Bubastis (a place my late husband Michael, who created Joey’s world and universe, never went, though he did leave behind sketches of what he thought Bubastis was like and that’s helpful), another Elfyverse short story to finish (or maybe two) — but I plan on doing it.

All I can say otherwise is this: Thanks, folks.

Because I have the best friends in the entire universe, truly . . . without all of them, past and present, the Elfyverse would not exist, I would not still be here trying to get it done, and I would not be so achingly close to getting everything I’ve dreamt of for years to come to fruition.

Again . . . thanks, and many blessings, too. (You deserve ’em for supporting me all these years.)

Written by Barb Caffrey

February 1, 2014 at 6:57 pm

Let’s Talk: Three New Titles from TTB

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Folks, it’s not every day I can come up with an alliterative title like the one above . . . nor would I wish to, excepting the fact that three new young adult titles by Heather McLaren, Dina von Lowencraft and Scott Eder have been released by Twilight Times Books (TTB for short).

The first, MYTHOS, is a debut urban fantasy by Illinois writer Heather McLaren (pictured at right).  David Conley goes to the Bahamas and falls in love with Faren Sands, all the while thinking she’s a normal, nonmagical woman.  However, she’s a mermaid from secretive Atlantis, which still exists. When she tells him who and what she is — and he gets over the shock — many, many consequences befall them.

MYTHOS features a great cover (as you see) and an interesting way to bring the myth of Atlantis to modern-day readers.  Further, it has the age-old conflict that two lovers must face once they truly know each other: Will they stay together despite it all, or will they end up apart?

I’ve had several e-mail discussions with Ms. McLaren, which has led me to discover that she — like me — believes in the power of persistence.  When I asked her what caused the plotline of MYTHOS to come to mind, she said this: “(I started) writing the outline for Mythos and Beyond Legend (due to) boredom in creative writing class during my tenth grade year.”  Further questioning elicited the response that MYTHOS has been in development in one fashion or another for twenty years.  (More power to her!)

I also asked what kept her going during this whole process.  She said, “It was a way to escape from stress. The more I wrote, the more I wanted to finish it.”

Isn’t that a sensible motivation?  (I think so, anyway.)

I look forward to reading more of Ms. McLaren’s work because I’m a sucker for updated tales of Atlantis, especially if they’re done well and sensitively.  And while so far all I’ve read is a sample chapter (available here), her book looks quite promising!

The next novel up is Belgian writer Dina von Lowenkraft’s debut novel, DRAGON FIRE.  (Ms. von Lowenkraft is pictured at left.)  This is a cross-cultural tale set in Norway about a dragon shapeshifter, Rakan, and the woman who loves him, Anna.  Both have been told various things about other cultures and other races that may or may not be true . . . will they be able to get past this long enough to express their feelings for one another?  And even if they do, will they be able to stay together with everything that stands against them?

An updated take on dragons that just so happens to have a clash of cultures inherent along with a romance?  And one that takes a few jabs at the whole Twilight phenomenon as well?

No wonder Publishers Weekly was intrigued.

More to the point, there’s a reason DRAGON FIRE is next on my reading list for pleasure reading (as alas, I cannot review it at SBR due to our conflict-of-interest policy).  I’m always intrigued by cross-cultural tales, especially when they deal with two young lovers who’ve been systematically lied to during most of their short lives.  (Sound familiar?  It should, considering that’s a big part of ELFY‘s premise.  Not that I’m the first person in the history of the world to have come up with that one, as it’s been around since time immemorial.)

BTW, A sample chapter of DRAGON FIRE is available here.

Finally, Florida writer Scott Eder’s debut novel KNIGHT OF FLAME is also available (he’s pictured at right).  I haven’t had a great deal of interaction with Mr. Eder (though I have had some on Facebook), which makes it a little more difficult to discuss what’s going on with his book — but I shall give it my best anyway!

KNIGHT OF FLAME stars Develor Quinteele, a normal-seeming guy from Tampa, Florida.  Unknown to most, he’s also known as the sixth Knight of Flame, and has an important task: he must keep the world safe from the Gray Lord, a horrible person who revels in the evil he does . . . and unfortunately has many descendants to help him carry out his horrific plans.

Develor’s control over his powers has never been the world’s best, and he’s turned to the easiest expedient possible — channeling his rage — in order to wield them.  But this backfires spectacularly after Develor is falsely accused after a tragedy.

Stripped of his powers, will Develor regain control of himself well enough to get the other Knights to restore his power before it’s too late?

A few sample chapters of KNIGHT OF FLAME are available here.  I read them, and was intrigued; there’s a swift writing style here and some excellent worldbuilding.  The evil characters are hissable, and the good ones conflicted . . . I can see why Library Journal enjoyed this novel (even if I can’t seem to come up with a link to back it up, Eder’s blog points out the positive review).

At any rate, here are the three newest authors in the Twilight Times Books stable . . . please check them out, and see if their work interests you.

But in case you still need more motivation to check out TTB, take a gander at Maria de Vivo‘s THE COAL ELF.  I edited this novel, and can tell you that Ms. de Vivo’s take on Santa Claus, Elves, and their comportment and demeanor is excellent.  Witty and sarcastic by turns, heroine Ember leaves the safety of home and hearth to become, of all things, a coal Elf — those who are entrusted with digging out the coal that ends up in the stockings of bad children everywhere.  And as you might expect, her job isn’t exactly coveted . . . especially when you consider that there’s never before been a female coal Elf of any sort.

Ember’s journey from rebellious teen Elf to a responsible, albeit still delightfully sarcastic, Elf fully in charge of herself is well worth the reading.

But don’t just take my word for it.  Read this sample chapter . . . then come back and tell me if you don’t think Ember’s story is just the antidote to all the sappy Christmas songs you’ve been hearing on the radio lately.

Now, let’s get to reading and enjoying some books, shall we?

Writing and Cross-Promotion

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Folks, I thought it might be interesting to write a blog about just what promotion is — and maybe a little bit about what it isn’t — while I also talk about a few of my favorite writers in the process.

Promotion tends to consist of a number of things.  It can be as easy as Tweeting something on Twitter (if you do that), or sharing something on Facebook.  It can be more complex, as when you write a guest blog for someone else . . . of course, the latter action is far, far more personal, and may grab a reader that much more easily.

Going to a convention, if you have something of your own to sell, is also a promotional experience.  And even if you don’t, if you’re out there networking, that’s still considered under the heading of promotion.

Now, what’s not considered promotion?  Going to unrelated websites and putting up a bunch of links to your work — spamming them, in short — as that’s completely unprofessional and extremely counterproductive, besides.  (You could even think of this as anti-motion rather than promotion.)

Another thing that would not be a good idea from a promotional standpoint is one I’ve only rarely seen — thank goodness, as it’s again highly unprofessional.  But here goes: when someone mentions inside a review that his work is better than the work that’s supposed to be under discussion, that’s just really bad form.  (More anti-motion at work.)

Promotion is many things, but it’s not supposed to be either unprofessional or “spammy.”  What you’re trying to do is get the word out, that’s all — which is why if you’re talking about your favorite authors, you could be said to have promoted them.

So if you have friends whose work you admire — and if they, too, are on Facebook, Twitter, or any number of other social media sites — you can help to promote them, providing you’re not being obnoxious about it.

It’s in that spirit that I wanted to let you know, again, about a few of my favorite authors.  In no particular order, here are some of the authors I’ve either enjoyed reading or have enjoyed working with during the past two years (trust me, there’s many more, but I decided to stop with six):

Katharine Eliska Kimbriel, NIGHT CALLS (reviewed at SBR on 9/21/2013).  Ms. Kimbriel, a noted author of hard science fiction, wrote a winning historical fantasy in NIGHT CALLS featuring levelheaded farmgirl Alfreda (or “Allie”), who must get a handle on her own magic in order to help her pioneering community, or die trying.

Stephanie Osborn, the Displaced Detective series (books 1 and 2 reviewed at SBR on 7/13/2012; book 3 reviewed at SBR on 7/19/2012).  Ms. Osborn’s Displaced Detective series featuring Sherlock Holmes as brought to the present day by hyperspatial physicist Skye Chadwick is a must-read for anyone who loves hard SF, Sherlock Holmes, or just plain good writing.

Dora Machado, THE CURSE GIVER.  I edited THE CURSE GIVER, and enjoyed every minute of it.  There’s Bren, who’s trying to save his people and has fallen under a curse, and Lusielle, the healer he initially saves, thinks he must kill (but fortunately refrains), and finally ends up falling in love with.  There’s a phenomenally complex plotline twisting through all this that needs to be read and enjoyed . . . all I can say is, don’t miss this complex, epic tale of revenge, romance and redemption.

Aaron Paul Lazar, THE SEACREST (reviewed at SBR on 12/14/2013). Lazar is noted for his mysteries, but THE SEACREST is a straight-up romance (albeit with a few mysterious touches) about Finn and his first love, Libby.  They first have a teenage romance, are riven from each other due to misinformation, then come together in a way that you need to read if you’re any kind of romance reader at all.  In short, if you enjoy Nicholas Sparks, you really owe it to yourself to give Aaron Paul Lazar a try.

Kate Paulk, IMPALER (reviewed at SBR on 4/17/2011).  Ms. Paulk has a gift for historical fantasy; while she is also good at writing funny fantasy (KNIGHTS IN TARNISHED ARMOR), IMPALER shows her full range as a novelist — it’s an exceptional read that combines equal measures of historicity and heart, and makes Vlad Tepes into a sympathetic character despite his flaws — or maybe even because of them.

And finally, I edited Florence Byham Weinberg’s ANSELM: A METAMORPHOSIS last year and was intrigued.  Here’s a story about a rather faithless, feckless young academic, Eric, transported into the much-older Father Anselm’s body.  The original Anselm was and remains an evil man who’s out only for his own pleasures, but Eric grows and changes, becoming far more spiritual and thoughtful in the process.

So there you have it — some SF mysteries, a romance, a couple of historical fantasies, and a literary fantasy.  All exceptionally well-crafted books.  All must-reads in their various ways.

All authors I keep an eye on, to see what they’re going to come up with next.

In that vein, please also go check out Jason Cordova’s novel of near-future suspense, CORRUPTOR . . . let’s hope he writes a sequel one of these years!

Written by Barb Caffrey

December 18, 2013 at 5:54 am

Posted in Books, Publishing, Writing

Ill Here . . . but Getting Better

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Folks, the last week has been quite interesting — at least in the Chinese curse sense of, “May you live in interesting times” — which is why I haven’t blogged in several days.

To be blunt, I’ve been quite ill with the flu and a sinus infection and a number of other things that got kicked up because of that.  No new writing has gotten done, and my edits are behind (now three edits are in progress, the two longer-term ones plus a short-term job).  And I had to take three days away from my editorial internship, too, which of course doesn’t help anything.

Some days, the minuses definitely seem like more than the pluses, but I have to keep getting up and get whatever done that I possibly can.  And if the best I can do is rest?  Well, then, I guess I’ll rest with the best of ’em.

At least, as much as I can.

There are some positives to report in the past week, though not a whole lot.  I edited a few more chapters of AN ELFY ABROAD (the direct sequel to ELFY).  I was able to do my three-hour shift for my internship tonight.  I attended the most recent Racine Concert Band rehearsal (for our December 13, 2012 concert at Park High School), and while I didn’t play really well, I also didn’t perform horribly.  And I’ve sketched out a few possible scenes for another of my works-in-progress (WIPs for short), while reading at least fifteen books in the past week.  (If I had a Kindle or something akin to it, I’d probably have read even more.)

The other things that I’ve noted in the past week or two that I haven’t blogged about:

The Milwaukee Brewers have parted with pitchers Kameron Loe and José Veras, who weren’t the worst relievers on the roster by a mile.   I’m waiting to see if the Brewers re-sign either of these pitchers at lower salaries.

Politics is in a holding pattern; everyone’s wondering if the United States Congress will ever learn the meaning of the word “compromise” (much less the words “fiscal restraint”), while the term “fiscal cliff” has dominated the headlines along with the stalwart refusal of Congress to do any work whatsoever.

Wisconsin politics is also in a holding pattern.  State Senator Jessica King (D-Oshkosh) has conceded to Republican Rick Gudex of Fond du Lac, and is now an outgoing Senator after losing by only 590 votes.  The Republicans regained control of the state Senate; currently, with one seat vacant, the state Senate stands at 17-15.

And there’s no news regarding the “John Doe” probe of Gov. Scott Walker (R) and his aides, except the fact that the probe is continuing.  (This wouldn’t even be news except that Walker himself believed that the probe was in its final days.)

Anyway, as I start to feel better, I should be able to do more writing, on this blog and for Shiny Book Review and of course for my works-in-progress.  The hope now is to get a book review done for tomorrow night for John Amen and Daniel Y. Harris’s poetry extravaganza THE NEW ARCANA, and another review on Saturday (possibly one of the three-book set by K.E. Kimbriel, as all of them are good, enjoyable novels; if I wait, though, it’s only to do a “two-for-one SBR special”).

So my intentions are to get better, keep writing and editing, and keep posting updates as I have ’em.

Business as usual, no matter how long it takes.  (Right?)

Written by Barb Caffrey

November 29, 2012 at 10:23 pm