Friday, February 25, 2011

Meet William L.K., author of the Stritonoly Chronicles


Today I'm delighted to welcome William L.K., author of the Stritonoly Chronicles. I read the first and second books of the series recently (The Eye of the Storm, and Barok's Exodus) and you can find the books on Amazon:
The Eye of the Storm
Barok's Exodus

William L.K. lives in the suburbs of New York with his wife and two children. He began writing creatively as a teenager and has written and produced several successful plays and musicals in the NY area. William earned his B.A. and M.S. from Dowling College. He is currently a professional musician on the weekends and a science fiction/fantasy author during the week.

Currently, he is working on the next installment of The Stritonoly Chronicles. The third book in the series will be released this summer with
www.sci-fi-cafe.com

I've been thinking about Plots and Subplots recently as I work on editing my novel, so William's guest post is of particular interest to me. I hope you'll enjoy it to, and please leave questions for the author: I'm hoping he'll visit during the day to meet with you.

The Multiple Self: Writing The Eye of the Storm
By William L.K.

The Eye of the Storm was a unique writing experience for me in this way; the story had been brewing for some time, and the subplot (as it turned out) became not only the basis for the main plot but the driving force behind it.

The idea of having the subplot fuel the main plot intrigued me. I am quite used to reading and writing subplots that too often serve the story only as a decoration of sorts. This book purposely strayed from that familiar formula. Every character and event on the planet Stritonoly takes place in the form of what I’ll call a ‘multiple-self separation.’ In fact, I found a considerable amount of enjoyment going back and rereading the book after its completion. It was interesting to analyze the aspects of Rebecca Brown’s inner self and discover how she materialized in a new world.

The idea that human’s have many different selves is not new. However, the theory behind multiple selves was stretched to a science-fiction fantasy in this book by asking this question: What if multiple selves could become physical entities? That’s right, not pieces of our memory, or neurons firing off, or even mental infiltrations into our psyche, but real physical beings. In a world ever more aware of artificial intelligence and virtual reality; is it really so difficult to fathom a world where some of our ‘selves’ may live on? Personally, I would like to think it’s possible.

I humbly submit, as many have before, that no one person can be all good or all bad, it is simply not a possibility. The nuances of the human self are far too complex for such a generalization. This is a fact we see over and over again, just read today’s newspaper, or any day.

For me, the character Dmitri symbolizes the tormented self struggling to find out who he truly is. And I much as I want to hate him, I cannot. Even in his madness, there is a goodness that flickers through, a trace of normalcy, something that says there is more to him than the actions he commits.

This thought leads me to wonder if there is something we are missing entirely. What if all the lives we will ever live, or have lived, already exist within our subconscious? And what if these inner selves are not just pieces of one personality? Couldn’t they become living, breathing, physical entities, each individual unto themselves?

It’s something I’d like to believe. And in the absence of a realistic answer to the daunting mysteries of life and death, it could certainly be perceived as naïve…but also somewhat comforting.

Thank you William. Having read the Eye of the Storm, I would have to agree. Even when I'm thinking Dmitri is evil, there's still good in him. William does a good job of creating very complex characters and imbuing them with fascinating motivations.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Book Reviews

So many books to read... So little time to read them all... But I'm still finding time, snatched between job applications, more edits on the novel, emails, cooking, cleaning... Hey, I even did some yardwork today when it wasn't snowing!

As usual, click on the link to find my reviews on Gather.
And if you come back on Friday you'll find a guest post from author William L.K., whose books The Eye of the Storm and Barok's Exodus were amongst last week's reviews.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, by Steig Larsson: I had to read this. I enjoyed watching the movie with my husband (though I'll probably watch the US version when that comes out too). And the character of Lisbeth is just so intriguing. My verdict--the book's even better than the movie (apart from a rather slow start).

Malicifier, by Aubrey Dionne: I really enjoy Aubrey Dionne's lunch-time reads--the perfect price and perfect length to go with a cup of coffee, they always offer sometimes intriguing, told with musical language and gorgeous imagery, and Malicifier's no exception.

The Reason for God, by Timothy Keller: A friend gave me a copy of this book, wisely knowing it would interest me. The author is founding pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City, and he writes a book for real people--even New Yorkers--with real questions. He gives real answers too, with interesting arguments, deep conviction, and honest, respectful interest in what everyone else has to say.

Sisterchicks in Wooden Shoes, by Robin Jones Gunn: I've been planning to read a Sisterchicks novel ever since I realized author Robin Jones Gunn lived in Oregon. She writes, she has a speaking ministry... I'd love to meet her too. Anyway, this was my first Sisterchicks book--I got it free in exchange for my review. And it was fun. Visit Holland. Get rid of some preconceptions. And see the sacred in the everyday--a very enjoyable book for committed Christian readers.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Making a new Website


I belong to a local writers' group and we run challenges and competitions every month, sharing our work with each other on a private website. It's a great way to share without risking issues with copyright or copying, but it's not a very good way to advertise the group, since no-one can see it. So... this week I tried to make a public site.

The original site's on google, so it seemed a logical place to start. I searched for Google Sites and followed the "get started" link, signed in, and found myself offered a gallery of templates to choose from. The one I picked had a flowering tree-branch for its background--trees/wood/paper? seemed appropriate for writers--and an apple for its icon--fruit of our labors; okay, I picked it 'cause it looked nice. There's tons of different templates and backgrounds out there. Then I tried to give the site a name and found the obvious one taken, obviously, by us--by our private site. Ah well. The site's now stored at http://sites.google.com/site/cedarmillwritersmill/, which is moderately logical.

Next came sidebar, navigation, information, calendar, pages, etc... I spent a couple of hours on it, keeping it private, then invited a couple of friends to take a look. All seemed well; even the calendar worked--my first google calendar! In the evening I played with polls and other apps, but not very successfully. The next day I spent another couple of hours learning about google documents, forms and voting; I succeeded in creating my very own first poll, which should be useful but will probably end up restricted to the private site. Time to check with my brave testers again. All seemed well, so I changed the settings to public and logged out.

It was kind of sad that my pictures promptly disappeared, but I realized they were linked to the private site; new public copies quickly got that fixed. The calendar turned out to be private too, so I set it to public and found it somehow defaulted to British time! Appropriate in a way, but not very useful. I fixed that and found that Google had linked the location of our meetings to a perfectly appropriate map. How very clever of it. Then I sent out emails to our members and sat back; job done; I've made a website!

Actually, I'm feeling pretty proud of myself, but really I should just be saying what a great job Google does of making it easy. Pay us a visit if you like. See what 6 hours computer time can generate.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

More February Book Reviews

Is it really so long since I posted any links to book reviews? No wonder the list's so long. Anyway, here goes, and as usual, just click on the links to read my reviews on Gather.

Two science fiction books: The eye of the storm, and Barok's Exodus, books 1 and 2 of the Stritonoly Chronicles, by William L.K. (who I'm hoping will visit this blog soon). The novels are both fairly short, operatic in scope, with some deeply imagined characters and backstory. I tend to prefer more real science and historical myth, but they're certainly interesting.

One young adult fantasy: Curse of the Opal by Christy Frazier is the first of a new series with very contemporary high school girls interacting with Pirates of the Caribbean.

Immortal Champion by Liza Hendrix is both historical and sci fi / fantasy--well paranormal anyway. It's the third in a series and I'm addicted--heroic Norsemen stranded in a well-researched and evocative Britain, with history slowly moving forwards in each passing tale. This one's set in the 15th century and is equally as fascinating as the others.

Another historical novel: Disciple, Ed Lewis's sequel to Witness, and the second in his Seeds of Christianity series. I've just Christian Ed Lewis's Sowing the Seeds blog one of my favorite internet sites--how could I resist, great book reviews, great historical research, and even some mathematics! Disciple was really good too.

Contemporary mystery: Ted Dekker's Thr3e; my first Ted Dekker book and a worthy introduction. His characters are all very real, Christian or otherwise; nobody exists just to be converted or condemned; and the whole is a fascinating story with lots of intriguing (yes, and sometimes annoying--it is a mystery) twists and turns.

Contemporary romantic mystery is represented by Claire Collins' Fate and Destiny, where fate takes a hand in the life of the tragic Destiny after thugs try to kill her; a fine cozy mystery to read by a fire while it snows outside.

Another contemporary mystery, and a delightfully literary and musical one, is The Devil's Trill by Gerald Elias, which introduces a fascinating blind musician with Holmesian powers of observation and a fascinating outlook on the modern music scene.

Then there's The Unnamed by Joshua Ferris--definitely contemporary, definitely odd, and definitely well worth reading. I read in a review that it's not meant to be metaphorical, but I don't know if it's true. It certainly felt to me like the protagonist's life represented something far more than just a man dealing with a very odd incurable illness.

And finally, delightful to read and serving a serious purpose in lightning my mood and directing my thoughts in more positive directions, there's Daily Deposits for the Soul by Henry Matlock. The timing couldn't have been better; it's a book I really needed to read, and one whose lessons I really should put into practice.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

A review of Black Widow


I just got a lovely review of Black Widow from P.L. Crompton, author of the Last Druid. I still can't get over the fact that we were both writing about the same period in history--the end of Rome in Britain--at the same time. The Last Druid is a beautiful imagining of people, culture and life at the end of Roman rule, and the author's research just makes it all the more real. (Click on the link for my review on Gather.) There's a strong female character, real danger and prejudice and empowerment, Druids who simultaneously intrigue, enthrall and frighten, and a world that comes to vivid life. I really enjoyed it.

Meanwhile, there's Black Widow--a short novella set in similar days. P.L. Crompton says of Black Widow

In historical novels, attention to detail is important. When the author adds myth—a form of history unproven—reading pleasure increases tenfold. Black Widow meets all expectations. Excellent writing combined with first-class research made reading a joy. The images of daily life are vivid, and glimpses of a past known only from myths are strong.

Although Roman and Greek historians wrote extensively about Boudicca, Sheila Deeth takes us behind the scenes. Through Nimuẽ, the warrior queen's sister, a sorceress, we see the devastation the conquering Roman army wrought—not just to the Celtic way of life but to their beliefs and to their gods.

That is the background, but this is Nimuẽ's story. Ignored by most historians and overshadowed by her illustrious sister, she comes alive.

Nimuẽ has a lover with greater powers than her own, and she begins to look upon him as a god. But gods betray. When he pays attention to new crucified god, the betrayal rankles and it places distance between them. He changes, but so does she as she explores darker abilities that change gentle Nimuẽ into a woman feared.

Does the betrayal cause the change or is it the destruction of gods no longer revered? With many twists and turns, and names we recognize, Ms. Deeth takes us on a intriguing 500-year journey to find the truth and Nimuẽ's redemption.


I'm overwhelmed and delighted. To be praised by someone who knows the period so well and writes about it so wonderfully! Thank you so much!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Meet Steve O'Brien, author of Elijah's Coin


Steve O'Brien's Young Adult novel, Elijah's Coin, was a fascinating read with some serious lessons revolving round the curious Elijah who gives a special coin to a wounded young man. You can read my review of Elijah's Coin on Gather by clicking on the link.

I'm delighted to welcome Steve to my blog today to tell us more about his book and where the idea to write it came from.

Steve O’Brien is a lawyer and fiction writer. His first book Elijah’s Coin received nine literary awards. Bullet Work, his second novel, will be released in Spring 2011

Over to you Steve:

The concept for Elijah’s Coin is an adaptation of historical Jewish writings about the prophet Elijah and his use of coins as symbols of transformation.

In one story Elijah meets two brothers, one is wealthy and the other is quite poor. The wealthy brother rebukes Elijah, while the poverty stricken brother takes Elijah in and gives him food and shelter. Elijah gives the poor man several coins and asks him to count them. He begins counting and counting and counting. The coins multiply and the man becomes miraculously wealthy. The man was rewarded for his kindness to a stranger.

In another story Elijah gives two coins to a man and he as well becomes wealthy beyond his dreams. Several months later Elijah returns and takes back the two coins, which in turn causes the man to lose all of his wealth. The reason Elijah took the coins back was that the man did not provide assistance and charity to his community despite the great wealth he had accumulated.

In a third story Elijah asks a young man whether he would rather have money, wisdom or a beautiful wife. The young man chooses wealth and Elijah gives him a coin, which the man turns into a great fortune. The three choices were given to the man because he had cared for his father’s garden and made it more prosperous. Since he had given of his time and energies to improve his father’s business, Elijah rewarded the son.

All of the Elijah “coin” stories have a common theme.

A coin was given which resulted in good fortune or success. Bestowing the coin in each case was itself an act of kindness and rewarded acts of kindness by each recipient. Thus, evoking kindness and evincing the “give to get” philosophy.

The coin, however, comes with obligations. If one does not behave as Elijah wished, the good fortune can be whisked away along with the coin.

In my adaptation, Elijah is an elderly mentor. He finds individuals who are struggling and offers to help them change their lives. A coin is presented and the mentee must then travel a personal journey to learn the message and the purpose of the coin.

As with the Jewish teachings about the prophet returning and taking back the coin, the characters in Elijah’s Coin must embrace the rules surrounding the coin and change the way they live their lives.

Elijah’s Coin is about evoking kindness, about “giving to get” and, ultimately through application of Elijah King’s rules, about personal transformation.

Thank you Steve. I really enjoyed Elijah's Coin. Readers can find the book at
http://www.amazon.com/Elijahs-Coin-Lesson-Steve-OBrien/dp/0982073542/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1296245859&sr=1-1

Monday, February 7, 2011

Bad week, Good week, Hoping for a better one

Last week was a bad week. My Mum went back to England after two months here with us. The house feels empty and quiet. Even the washing machine's finally finished its job. Meanwhile my husband reminded me that I need to go back to work if we're ever to earn enough to retire. I'd rather write, but it doesn't pay the bills.

Last week did have its good points though. A.F. Stewart wrote a lovely review of Refracted on her blog, and it's a really cool blog too--well worth a visit. Erin O'Riordan posted another lovely review of Refracted on David Weisman's blog (he's got a fascinating post on "leveraging Facebook" there today). It's definitely cool to see Refracted included in a list or Favorite Weird Indie Fiction of 2010, and to be mentioned in the same post as Peter Joseph Swanson... Wow! He's one of the first indie authors I ever met when I joined Gather all those moons ago.

So now it's on to this week, catching up on a gazillion unanswered emails, redoing my resume on Monster and LinkedIn (thus generating many more emails), editing Divide by Zero for StoneGarden, and, well, cleaning, yardwork, switching that poor old washing machine on again...

...and preparing to host a guest post from Steve O'Brien, author of Elijah's Coin tomorrow.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Some February Book Reviews

My Mum's been delightedly reading the Warriors books and is way ahead of me. You can tell she's a cat-lover, but I'll catch up soon. First I had these other books on my to-read shelf, and really enjoyed them.

(As usual, click on the link to find my reviews on Gather.)

Elijah's Coin, by Steve O'Brien: I'll be hosting a guest post from the author on my blog soon. Elijah's Coin is certainly an intriguing read--like a cross between the Shack and Pay it Forward. I certainly enjoyed it, and, if you come back to my blog soon, you'll find out what inspired Steve O'Brien to write it.

The Last Druid, by P.L. Crompton
: I'll be dreaming druids and Romans now I've finished reading this. I loved it. A wonderfully evocative tale of England at the end of Roman rule, told in a way that really draws the reader in.

Idiot America, by Charles P Pierce: Given a choice between laughing and crying, I'd recommend laughter. Charles Pierce's account of the descent of the American absurd into the norm evokes much laughter with seriously biting humor. But it's tragic and well researched too; a sad, hilarious, curious little book.

And finally, Lady in Waiting, by Susan Meissner: I grew up in England, so of course I've heard of Lady Jane Grey. But Susan Meissner brings those troubled times after the death of Henry VIII to vivid life in this book, tying her historical tale to the present day troubles of a woman who tries too hard to put others ahead of herself. The stories are tied together with an antique ring, and the whole is very nicely constructed and a pleasure to read.

(Plus one: My review of Redemption's Kiss is on the front page of Nights and Weekends today!)

So that's this week's reading. Don't forget to watch out for Steve O'Brien's guest post, coming soon...