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So, I Read This Book Today

Editing, Proofreading, Reviewing and Other Stuff

Free Online World Building Course for Fantasy Writers

I read and reviewed Marcia’s “Swamp Ghosts” and really liked it. Check this out if you write fantasy! Or even if you don’t – we all have things to learn, right?

The Write Stuff

As you can probably imagine, there’s a lot of work that goes into writing a fantasy novel. One of the things I had to do for The Legender was invent an entirely new world. We fantasy nerds call the task “world building.”

For the last 20 years, I’ve been working on the craft of world building and fantasy writing. And a few months ago, I began taking what I learned from the process and formatting it into an online course on Udemy–a course I would like to offer to you for free.

This course is designed to teach you how to create a believable and compelling world for your fantasy story–a world your readers will want to get lost in again and again.

In the course you will learn how to:

  • Build a compelling and believable world for a fantasy novel
  • Establish rules for your world
  • Give a sense of depth…

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Full Bloom by 4th & 6th Designs

https://i0.wp.com/www.goldenquiltcompany.com/images/full_bloom_large.jpg

I usually don’t do quilt kits (you get the pattern and all fabrics to make the quilt as pictured, that sort of thing) but for this one I am giving it real consideration. How beautiful is this? So sunshiny and happy! It is by 4th & 6th Designs.

Barbara and Mary are sisters (born 4th & 6th in their family) who are award winning quilt artists. I would love to get my act together enough to design enough beautiful patterns (and maybe do kits, but you have to buy fabric by the bolt for that… of course, maybe I could do it strictly with my and dyes…hum… there is a thought!) and run a company like theirs!

Golden Quilt Company is doing the kit out of their store, and I find myself going in just to stand and stare at it – LOL! Of course, I have to watch it – because every time I go in, I find something I want. (Sigh)

Anyway,  I just wanted to share my newest obsession with you.😉

Still Waiting. . . And Herb Gundell’s Complete Guide to Rocky Mountain Gardening

May 12th. Fifteen days ago, and still no sign of my replacement tablet. I am suffering massive withdrawal. Sigh. I can’t even take photos of my plants to post!

The weather has been terrible, cold and rain, so I actually went out and dug up the pepper plants that I had planted (the very few that survived the fist-sized hail we got the other day) and brought them back into the house and put them under the grow lights. They can stay there for as long as it takes, I don’t want to lose them completely. Especially not the heirloom varieties I had so much trouble getting my hands on. I did lose all my rare, heirloom melons to the hail. I shouldn’t have put them out, nobody to blame but myself, but it had been flat hot for a week, and I thought they would be safe. Sigh. No such luck. So, I will have to find more for next year.

Eat Drink Better | Healthy recipes, good food: sustainable eats for a ...I do have some cucumbers that were still in the house, and a couple of zucchini plants that were still inside. No heirlooms though. Pickling cucumbers and the standard green zucchini. I had some patty pan yellow squash seeds that I had put out when I planted the peppers. They haven’t come up yet, but maybe they will when (If?) it gets warmer out. Oh, and I dug a foot down through the bark in the new bed I am making (only half Home & Garden > Yard, Garden & Outdoor Living > Plants, Seeds & Bulbs ...finished) and planted both green and purple asparagus. Laid down a layer of dirt and manure, put in the roots, and added three inches of soil over top. You fill the trenches in over time as they sprout and the asparagus starts to grow. I won’t get any this year, can cut a bit next year, but by the third year they should (hopefully) be growing strong and ready to be harvested.

Herb Gundell's Complete Guide to Rocky Mountain GardeningI picked up a copy of Herb Gundell’s Complete Guide To Rocky Mountain Gardening at a local used book store. There is a handwritten note on the inside front page: To my sweetheart Jay – keep on sewing and reaping – Happy Fathers Day, 6/1989. It brings to mind so many wonderful things that, no matter how much I enjoy ebooks, I fear that many will not come to know in this day and age. Tearing the paper from a gift from a loved one and first seeing the bright cover of a book. The scent of the paper and ink, holding the weight in your hand. Opening that first page and possibly seeing a paragraph such as the one above. Turning the pages, one by one, and knowing the person who gifted the book to you actually gave consideration to the gift and how you would feel about it. Seeing the gift on a table, or the arm of your chair, or gracing a bookshelf, nestled amongst other well-loved volumes. Someone loved this book at one time, loved the recipient. That makes the book that much more special. And it is a special book. Heavy, slick paper, printed with gorgeous photos and line drawings, everything I could ever want to know about how to properly garden in the Rocky Mountains is laid out in a beautifully written manner. Flowers to fruits, annuals to perennials,  even rock gardening and wild harvesting. Did you know that, if you own property in the mountains and want to transplants specimens to your home (if you live in town) you must give yourself written permission to have the plants in your Sunset Western Garden Bookpossession?

If you live in other parts of the country and want to garden, I would highly recommend a book  that specializes in your area. The Sunset Western Garden Book is a good one, and The Southern Living Garden Book was my ‘go to’ when I lived in the South.

I’m going to go quilt. I can still listen to books on my computer, even if I don’t have my tablet!

The Southern Living Garden Book: Completely Revised, All-New Edition

Mommy?

Why does the man have a really ugly BUTT on his chest?

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OK, sorry, but that chest is just, well, butt ass ugly! Don’t know anything about the book, or the author, but this is a perfect example of really, Really BAD cover art! ROFL!!!! I wonder if he wears a DD when he isn’t baring all for cover art? Before my surgery I was a DD, but they weren’t that weird looking!😉

On a sad note, we had fist-sized hail yesterday. Yes, my plants took a pounding. Sigh. Good thing I had several still inside under the lights, but I lost my melons and cucumbers. Boo Hoo!

Review: Dead Spots By Melissa F. Olson

Dead Spots (Scarlett Bernard, #1)

“Your perspective on life comes from the cage you were held captive in.” ― Shannon L. Alder

Scarlett Bernard is one pragmatic lady. Of course, she has to be considering her job is supernatural crime scene cleanup. As in, get in, clean up the mess, steal the body, and book the hell out of Dodge before the cops arrive. She is truly good at her job, and her boss, the cold and distant Dashiell, Master Vampire of the city, may be scary, but he pretty much allows her to do her job without interference. But then, the worst happens.

She gets caught. Caught by a newly minted detective, Jesse Cruz, just after she arrives at a scene more bloody and grotesque than any she has ever seen. What happens next is fast paced action with terrific world building and interesting characters. I first read the book back in 2012, and enjoyed it then. This time I listened to the Audible edition narrated by Amy McFadden (one of my favorite narrators) and, as sometimes happens, I liked it even more as I listened. Scarlett is a strong character with a well-developed, though brutal, background and is likeable. She isn’t perfect, but that is what makes her interesting. She has taken horrific hits in her life – but the one she walks into later on is absolutely devastating and Olson does a rather wonderful job of writing the horrors of betrayal. I would have liked her to be more mature in her interactions with others – her tendency to cope a nasty, self-serving attitude at times was a downer. I am hoping that the next books will show growth in her as a character (especially since I own them all). Her behavior isn’t as horrendous as other female characters in the genre, but I am hoping for more maturity in upcoming works.

There are some things that were irritating. The Dreaded Love Triangle. Irritating! Not only do love triangles make me retch, this one felt stilted and unnecessary, dragging down the storyline. Also, the POV switches between characters and from first to third person erratically and unnecessarily. Irritating, but not as irritating as the lurrve (titter titter, Groan) triangle. Olson’s take on werewolf psychology was more interesting than a lot of other books in the genre, and her friendship with the Alpha and Beta were more realistic than many others. The Alpha isn’t as ‘Alpha’ as in other books (thank the Goddess!) and the tortured Beta was very realistically portrayed in the vein of “I never wanted this in the first place.”

So, flawed, it isn’t perfect by any means, but I still enjoyed it as much as I remembered, and Amy’s narration was, as always, spot on.

Review: Dead Rising by Debra Dunbar

Dead Rising (The Templar, #1)“The noir hero is a knight in blood caked armor. He’s dirty and he does his best to deny the fact that he’s a hero the whole time.” — Frank Miller

“When in doubt, follow the truth. The path is often well-illuminated and it usually leads me in the right direction.” — David S. Brody, Cabal of The Westford Knight: Templars at the Newport Tower

“Let evil swiftly befall those who have wrongly condemned us – God will avenge us.” – Jacque (Jack) De Molay, last Grandmaster of the Knights Templar, Friday 13th, 1307

They started as protectors of Pilgrims on the Path. About 1119, Hugues de Payens, a French nobleman, began The Knights Templar, a group of knights charged with protecting the weak and innocent on their journey to visit the Holy Places.

But that changed.

From religious vows of obedience, chastity, poverty and piety, and under the orders of the Church, they became slaughterers of anyone who didn’t believe in Christianity. Thousands perished under their swords, men women and children. They became bankers to the world, an order without “clear purpose or support,” but with enormous financial resources and power.

Well, the church couldn’t have that. So, at dawn on Friday, October 13, 1307 their members were arrested, charged with heresy, blasphemy and various other crimes, tortured, and then executed.

Now, in Debra Dunbar’s marvelous imagination, the Templars still exist – but nothing as they were before. Focused on protecting their Temple filled with magical treasures and conducting research, they no longer Protect Pilgrims on the Path. Oh, they still train. With swords. Yeah, try riding a horse around town with a hand and a half bastard sword strapped to your back and see how far that gets you in this day and age. But mostly? They sit around the pool at their mansions, sipping martinis and playing golf. Well, all that treasure, invested properly, means that everyone inducted into the order pretty much lives a life of fairly obscene luxury. Well, except for Solaria Angelique (Aria) Ainsworth. Nope. Aria works in a coffee shop for minimum wage, lives in a hovel of an apartment, and lives on Ramen. At 26, she is far past the age she should have taken her oath to the order (no matter that her mother nags her constantly!). She knows the Templars should be more. They should still be protecting the Pilgrims, not counting their gold. The modern Templar belief is “only God should judge.” Of course, after their brutal and bloody history, it is easy to understand the reasoning – but to Aria it is a cop-out. There are still Pilgrims trying to find their way along the path, and they need protection.

Even if they are vampires.

When Leonora, the local vampire Mistress, asks for her help in identifying a mysterious sigil, she thinks it will be no problem. After all, she is a well-trained researcher with a massive collection of mystical texts. Oops. Finding the meaning is hard enough (after all, she only has seven days) but then? Things get sordid. Mass murders, the forty year old slaughter of a happy family, and secrets and lies force Aria to make a decision. Who is right, who is worthy of her protection – and who deserves to die.

I loved the idea behind the story. Aria? Nope – not so much. Almost not at all. The woman is 26, she has intense training, and not a lick of self-preservation or emotional common sense. Tell me this. If you know for an absolute fact that if you are to screw the vampire you will last maybe a few weeks, at most a couple of months, and then you will die . . . would you Really be considering actually doing it?!?! Yep. That pretty much ruined the book for me. Everyone who knows me know I love a strong female character. And in a lot of ways, she is strong. She is trying to do the right thing, for the right reasons, but her emotional “I am a pre-teen with a vampire crush” whining throughout the book really turned me off. I mean, seriously turned me off. I kept reading because the book overall was quite good, but I doubt I will read another.

Review: One Way Fare (Null City Book 1) by Barb Taub – New Favorite!

One Way Fare (Null City, #1)“Suppose neutral angels were able to talk Yahweh and Lucifer – God and Satan, to use their popular titles – into settling out of court. What would be the terms of the compromise? Specifically, how would they divide the assets of their early kingdom?” – Tom Robbins, Fierce Invalids Home from Hot Climates (2000)

I really only picked up the book as it was advertised on one of my “Free Today” book emails. You know the ones, and if you don’t, why not?  So anyway, there it was, and the cover caught my eye. It was the first in a series, free, written by an author I hadn’t heard of. Why not?

Now, here is the thing. One Way Fare had a fairly interesting blurb, though I was a bit leery of the whole “Angels and Demons” shtick. Honestly? The whole Hellhound/Poodle thing is what really caught my attention. And you know what? For all that the Angels/Demons/Time Travel thing is normally so not my thing, well, I was entranced. I mean, really, truly entranced. Taub’s writing is unique. She has shaken up a couple of genres, and written her characters, and her story, in ways that held me rapt from page one.

In the room made of light, they plan the end of Hell.

The thing is . . . I’m rooting for Hell in this one. No, really. I mean, Lucifer is The Morning Star – which the oldest Latin texts portray as either John the Baptist, or Jesus himself. After all, it isn’t until much later that texts were converted to the concept of The Morning Star as being “Satan,” an evil character. Let’s face it – the ideation of “God vs Lucifer” is based in the takeover of various Egyptian, Canaanite and Jewish tales of gods who fought fiercely amongst themselves for power. To the victor go the spoils – an the right to tell the tales in any way they see fit.

Taub’s Hell is a nightmare for anyone who considers intellectualism to be threatening (you know, Right Wing Republicans, that sort of thing). As Ray Williams, in Anti-Intellectualism and the “Dumbing Down” of America (Psychology Today, July 07, 2014), says,  “There is a growing and disturbing trend of anti-intellectual elitism in American culture. It’s the dismissal of science, the arts, and humanities and their replacement by entertainment, self-righteousness, ignorance, and deliberate gullibility.”

Ha! Send me to Hell, because this place is Interesting!  And a whole “Hell” of a lot more inclusive than “Heaven” could ever hope to be. Or even “Haven,” the place where the Fallen Angels who want to recreate the “Heaven” they were thrown from, exist. So, a bunch of pissy Angels want to destroy Hell – and they don’t care that, “Not only will that strategy lead to massive death and destruction for humans, but it could mean war between Fallen and Angels.” Wow, total narcissism really can be deadly! (I still wish I could remember the book I read, I think it was in the late 70’s or early 80’s, where ‘god’ is so busy staring into a mirror admiring himself – well, keep telling a guy he is handsome, you just know that spells spoiled rotten, self-centered ego maniac, right? – he allows the universe to go down in flames around him.)

Then, of course, there is the time travel aspect of the book. Honestly, I am not usually a time travel book lover. They never seem to get the continuity right. But Taub proved me wrong. Her writing makes sense. “I have a theory about time. Things can’t happen if they didn’t.” And what is even more crushing? Things still happen if they did. Taub holds all of the timelines tightly in her grasp, flowing backwards and forwards, building a gossamer web of linkages that never left me thinking “Huh? What just happened?”

This series is now at the top of my “Must Read New (to me) Series.” I already downloaded the second, DON’T TOUCH, Null City Book 2. There are some issues that weren’t tied up all the way in book 1, and I look forward with great eagerness to see how they carry forward through the series. One Way Fare is edgy, imaginative, and deeply unusual compared to my usual experience with this type of book. Highly recommended!

And remember this – “Why do they blame me for all their little failings? They use my name as if I spent my entire days sitting on their shoulders, forcing them to commits acts they would otherwise find repulsive. ‘The devil made me do it.’ I have never made one of them do anything. Never. They live their own tiny lives. I do not live their lives for them.”  ― Neil Gaiman, The Sandman, Vol. 4: Season of Mists

Sugar Lee Ryder’s Gunslinger Matthew Slade Series – Book 6 Out Now!

rebelThe Rebels of Russian Hill: Book Six of Matthew Slade (Gunslinger Matthew Slade 6)
Sugar Lee Ryder
Release date: April 3, 2016
Kindle Edition: $2.99
Paperback: $9.99

The Gaslight Gunslinger: Book One of Matthew Slade (Gunslinger Matthew Slade 1)

 

The Gaslight Gunslinger: Book One of Matthew Slade (Gunslinger Matthew Slade 1)

1878: San Francisco’s changed from a Gold-Rush era boomtown into a bustling city full of money, Victorian-style bawdy houses, and a loose sense of the law at best.

Enter Matthew Slade. Formerly the Pinkerton Detective Agency’s best gun-hand, investigator, and tracker. No sooner does he arrive at San Francisco’s stockyard than he rescues Mai Lee, a little Chinese girl, from a pair of thugs intent on kidnapping her.

Slade finds out that the girl is wanted by Huang Sun, the leader of the dominant tong – a Chinese crime syndicate that runs opium dens, fan-tan parlors, and prostitution in the city. And Slade can’t walk away, even if he wanted to. His first paid job as a free agent is to keep Mai Lee out of Sun’s hands – no matter the cost!

Can a gunslinger used to the open plains and prairies of the West deal with the criminal underworld of a crowded metropolis? Even with the help of his friend, sea-captain Amos Harding and the backing of a pair of bawdy-house madams, the odds are long at best!

For all the Sugar Lee Ryder books, Click Here!

Review: Bloodrunner Bear by T.S. Joyce

Bloodrunner Bear (Harper's Mountains, #2)I make no bones about the fact that I adore T.S. Joyce. Her Damon’s Mountain series is one I go back to when I am feeling blue, tired, or just want a quick, happy read with a bit of an edge. There is drama and danger, prejudice and bigotry, but there is also love and courage, family and friends.

Now, the Harper’s Mountains stories begin, and the children of Damon’s Mountain take center stage. In “Bloodrunner Dragon” we got the setup, and began to learn what has happened with the children since “Boarlander Cursed Bear.”

Everyone we knew as a baby is all grown up. And while they were desperately loved as children, that doesn’t mean that all was flowers and sunshine. Take Aaron Keller. As a child he was, literally, the poster child for Shifter Rights. Bright blonde hair, big blue eyes, and a tinkling laugh that grabbed hearts. He was a poster child all right. But that doesn’t mean his life was all roses. His story began in “Bear My Soul.” Living with only his mother for the first six years of his life, Aaron’s life was, as much as his mother loved him, and as hard as she worked to make him happy, brutal. The bear inside him was a brawler, strong and headstrong, and drove Aaron’s life. Drove him into a cage in order to keep himself, and his mother, safe. Six years before it was a one night stand Cody ran from – from the man, and from the feelings he caused. Not knowing who, or what, he was, finding Aaron was a bear was hard. It worked out, but the time in the cage as a child damaged Aaron, and his bear. Damage that has carried forward into his present life. But in “Bloodrunner Bear” Harper’s Mountain is a soothing change to his life. And meeting Alana has promise – but the war between a coven of vampires with a grudge may cost Alana her life. Which could very well cost Aaron his mind.

This has all the potential of the Damon’s Mountain series, and in the first two books? It meets that potential! (The cover is a bit over the top to me though. It degrades the very real issues the book addresses.)

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