Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Number One in Japan !!!!!

Today's been an interesting day in the kindle promotion for Genesis People. From one sale in Japan yesterday (yes, Japan), the book has moved up the list to #1 in Christian books. As my publisher says, word of mouth must work, since we've certainly not been working on Japanese promotion. Anyway, here's a picture to prove it--can you tell I'm excited!

Here it is at Number 2

and now Number 1 !!!!!

Plus, I've reached Number one in Canada too. Thank you to my Canadian friends!
Genesis People has made #1 and #3 in America too, so if you've not downloaded it yet, maybe you should click on the link and check up on what you're missing. Those Japanese and Canadian readers just might be onto something...

Meanwhile, I've also been reading, so here are some more book reviews. Grab a coffee while it's hot and join me with kindle in hand...

Elizabeth Parkinson-Bellows will be visiting my blog tomorrow--so don't miss her post. And today I finished reading the first two novels of her middle-grade Azra's Pith series. Nicely reminiscent of Narnia or Gulliver's Travels, these stories send a lonely young man on a quest to learn his heritage, armed with a map, a key, and a very intriguing guide. Alexander Drake's Extraordinary Pursuit and the Return of General Drake are both good fun reads, nicely boy-centric, and best enjoyed with well-balanced 3-star cups of coffee.

For somewhat older readers, and geared more towards girls, S. R. Johannes' short story Unspeakable, and the novel-length Uncontrollable add to her Nature of Grace series. Unspeakable allows a glimpse into Mo's mind as he first meets Grace--somewhat incomplete, it serves as a good introduction to the stories, particularly since it's free. Meanwhile Uncontrollable sends Grace back into the woods where her father died, trying to save wolves instead of bears this time, and facing again the inhumanity of man. Survivor's guilt and depression are dealt with convincingly and hopefully, and nice chapter titles offer  emotional as well as backwoods survival tips. Meanwhile Grace's romantic dreams continue to play second fiddle to the call of the wild. Enjoy these books with 5-star dark intense cups of coffee.

Lee Strauss's Perception  creates an intriguingly plausible near-future world where the genetically modified form a rich upper class enjoying superior technology in gated communities where normals enter only to serve. When Zoe's brother disappears under suspicious circumstances, she struggles to find anyone other than the "normal" servant to help her search for him. Enjoy this romantic young adult sci-fi action adventure with a 2-star lively easy-drinking cup of coffee.

And finally, Christine Amsden's Cassie Scot, Paranormal Detective, starts a new series reminiscent of my beloved Dresden Files but set in small-town America with a female protagonist who's magical skills are sadly lacking, unlike those of the rest of her family. Unable to fit in with the mundane neighbors or her magical cohorts, she devotes herself to protecting the weak from the strong. But soon she might be the one needing protection. Enjoy this one with a full-flavored 3-star coffee.

Monday, April 29, 2013

7 Tips to Writing Humor, from author J. D. Smith

Today I get to welcome author J. D. Smith to my blog. Having recently landed on planet earth he has written an invaluable new guide book, Notes of a Tourist on Planet Earth: Being a Collection of Hilarious Essays, Poems and Ponderings about the Human Species. A species worth much pondering perhaps, and a source of much humor too. J.D. takes readers through a satirical tour of the peculiarities in our world, providing fresh and sharp wit to issues like wearing black, bestiality, and rejected menu items from Disney World. A seasoned traveler, scholar of four degrees, award-winning writer, and a contestant on "Jeopardy," the author proves smart is the new funny. Thank you so much for joining us J.D, and for sharing your:

7 Tips for Writing Humor

  1. Ideas can come from anywhere at any time, so try not to get in their way. Looking too hard for subjects and angles might make you freeze up and focus only on the same topics that other people write about, like the stereotypical differences between men and women. See what comes from your life as you live it and as you watch the world around you. What do you notice, obsess about, find absurd? What makes you cringe? That’s where your ideas come from.

  1. Have something to write with and write on at all times. Ideas can slip away as easily as they arrive, so you want to catch them when you can. If you can get away with using a grease pencil on bathroom tiles while you’re showering, by all means do so. Carrying a notebook everywhere works for a lot of people, but there is more than one way to rock. Sometimes I travel light and write ideas on the back of receipts tucked into my wallet.

  1. Don’t censor yourself. Others will be all too happy to do that for you—not that you should let them. You can always edit later, and in all likelihood you will, but when you’re writing the first draft you need to shut off any voices in your head besides the funny one. Don’t worry about what your second cousin, your third grade teacher or the school board might think. If you’re writing humor you probably aren’t running for office anyway. Some of the biggest laughs come from edgy and scary places, and ignoring them means passing up a lot of opportunities. Besides, some people have wider tastes than we give them credit for.

  1. Sound like yourself. What’s the point of trying to write like Dave Barry or Ian Frazier or [insert name of your favorite funny writer here]? That box has been checked, and imitation would just deliver more of the same. The world hasn’t heard your voice yet, so put it out there and see what happens, and learn as you go along. You may be an observer, a storyteller or a satirist—or some combination of all three.

  1. If you have a point to make, let it arise from the humor. Starting with an obvious point of view and trying to hang a joke on it amounts to second-rate preaching. Lenny Bruce had things to say, but at the end of his career (and life) he came off as more angry than funny.

  1. Laugh first, analyze later. When humor works—your own or someone else’s—take a little time to figure out what makes it work. What surprising contrasts arose in an article, story or script? Were shifts of logic or word meaning involved, or did the humor come from a character’s actions? And those are only a few questions you might ask. Don’t try this on a first date unless your companion is a fellow comedy nerd.

  1. Don’t expect to make everybody laugh. The sense of humor varies greatly from one person to another, and it largely involves factors beyond your control: culture, language, amount of education, and whether someone is a dog or cat person. Even the most successful writers and performers can’t get a laugh out of certain people. Making nobody laugh, however, is a problem. Then you may need to rewrite. 
Thank you J. D., and for readers who want to know more about the book:

Find it at: http://www.amazon.com/Notes-Tourist-Planet-Earth-Collection/dp/098496441X/

Author Lands on Planet EarthLaughs, hiccoughs and exclamations of “What the?” await
(WASHINGTON, D.C.) Some questions haunt humanity on a daily basis, or at the very least make it scratch its collective head. Why shouldn’t one wear black? Who is emitting the most greenhouse gases? How can one sound halfway intelligent at an art gallery or survive a poetry open mic?
With the delightful peculiarity of an outsider looking in, award-winning writer J.D. Smith seeks to answer these questions and more in Notes of a Tourist on Planet Earth: Being a Collection of Hilarious Essays, Poems and Ponderings about the Human Species (Cassowary Press, March 2013).
In this collection that includes LOL-worthy selections in poetry, prose and pieces that no genre could even hope to encompass without undergoing elective surgery, J.D. proves that smart is the new funny, humanity is endlessly amusing and the world would be a better place without mimes.
Notes of a Tourist on Planet Earth is a conversation-starter that answers the questions you were too afraid to ask—or didn’t know existed in the first place: What do zombies like to eat besides brains? Or what will a seafood menu look like 40 years from now (minus all the seafood)?
Readers also gain useful knowledge like whom to blame for Global Warming (Clue: She is musically androgynous and has a penchant for wearing meat), and what not to say at wine tastings. Throughout the book, J.D. makes environmental issues like climate change funny, because they’re true, a task seldom attempted, and certainly not by Al Gore.
Deemed funny by people currently residing on both coasts of the United States, London, the West of Ireland and Sarajevo, and a musician who is afraid of clowns, Notes of a Tourist on Planet Earth is based on research in several world capitals, the bars of eight time zones and a distressing number of degree programs.
J.D. SMITH, a seasoned traveler and award-winning writer, has published three collections of poetry, one collection of essays and one children’s book. His work has appeared in AlimentumThe BarkGastronomica, the environmental ezine Grist and the Los Angeles Times. His one-act play “Dig” was adapted for film in 2011. He lives in Washington, D.C. with his wife and rescue dog.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

One FREE book and lots of good short reads

I've been updating my websites, one by one, adding sample buttons so people can read my writing, trying to make sure the links still work, trying to figure out which site serves which purpose... I even updated my books site: http://www.sheiladeethbooks.com. And I posted a chapter from Genesis People on my Bible Study Blog--http://sheiladeethstudies.blogspot.com--in readiness for its kindle promotion. Thinking of which...

Genesis People is FREE on Kindle TODAY! Click here or on the sample button and see why you really want to read it. Then "buy" the book (for zero dollars and cents). And come back for more. Psalm Stories will start its Kindle promotion next Sunday!

Of course, you'll want some other books to read with those cups of coffee too, so here are some book reviews. All the books are short, just right for a busy day when you need to get back to work (or to Amazon to buy Genesis People FREE!).

First are two rather unseasonal tales of Christmas. But hey, they've both got cats, and it's never too early to stock up on books to read when the season comes around (which, at the rate this year is passing, might as well be tomorrow). Holly and Ivy, by Lisa Farrell, combines the old-fashioned English Christmas ghost story with romance (and cat) in a very pleasing manner, and is just the right length to enjoy while setting out Santa's mince pie and sherry by the fire, or while drinking  some well-balanced 3-star coffee.

Meanwhile Father Christmas by Elizabeth Ann Scarborough offers a very intriguing cats-eye view of the festivities, from reindeer flying in search hay to strange statues of people and electric stars in front yards. Spam (read the extras to find where his name comes from) is a great feline protagonist, determined to save the missing Christmas presents, and drawn to protect a rather surprising baby from animal control. It's all great fun, and the excerpts from other stories just add to the attraction. Enjoy with another 3-star well-balanced, full-flavored coffee.

Another child-oriented short is The Chosen, by Andrea Buginsky, where a short dumpy female dwarf learns to value herself and her powers and joins a quest against an evil prince. Middle-grade girls wil probably enjoy this while you drink your 2-star lively easy-drinking coffee.

Next on my list is the sweetly enjoyable Puppy Poetry, by Shannon Sonneveldt. Simply rhymes, easy rhythms, and happy memories of living with dogs, this a mild crisp book to enjoy with a 1-star mild crisp coffee.

There's more poetry to be enjoyed in Song of Every Season, by Linda Swift, this time haiku illustrated with gorgeous photos and montages and filled with great metaphors and images. Enjoy with a 4-star elegant complex cup of coffee.

Then comes a short story for adults, The Secret Branch, by James Fant tells a timely warning of the dangers of jumping to conclusions, as one young man returns from war and lets peace destroy his future. Sad, wise, a little predictable but very well told, enjoy this short story with an elegant 4-star coffee.

And finally there's that Writers' Workshop of Science Fiction and Fantasy that I was reading earlier this week. I've finished it and I still love it. Great interviews, articles, lessons and more. Enjoy with an elegant 4-star coffee and get writing!

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Meet the Ancient One, and author Ilan Herman

Today I'm delighted to welcome Ilan Herman, author of The Lord of the Cats, Impulse, Gravedigger, and Chan Kim.  His new novel, The Ancient One, is a fantasy chronicling the life of Uxe, an African man who lives for a thousand years.  As a youth, a thousand years ago, Uxe discovers an age defying plant which now might lead to triumph in the 21st century. I'm told it evokes the Biblical times of Moses and the Exodus of the Israelites--if you know me, you'll know why that makes it irresistible to me and I'm looking forward to the read.

The Ancient One?

One of the inspirations guiding me to write The Ancient One, was the movie The Gods Must Be Crazy, a 1980 comedic pearl about a Kalahari bushman named Xi, who is a member of the pacifist San tribe. One day, a Coke bottle falls from the sky (discarded by a passing plane) and changes the village dynamics. Until that day, the hardest materials available to the tribe are wood and sandy rocks, but the bottle, with its tough glassy surface (which the tribe, disconnected from the rest of humanity, has never seen) helps in many village chores. Before long, arguments erupt about who gets to use the bottle, until the unfathomable takes place—one child strikes another. Xi volunteers to walk to the edge of the earth and discard the evil Coke bottle, and a hilarious romp ensues as he comes in contact with the world as we know it. The story highlights many of the skewed western values as seen through Xi’s eyes.
The Ancient One, also set in the Kalahari, details the life of Uxe, a bushman who discovers a magical root and the secret to immortality. I try to deal with the ethical issues that arise from the situation. I also loosely incorporate the story of the Israelites’ exodus from Egypt as a backdrop to Uxe’s efforts to unite five tribes, as ordered by who he believes is God, and who speaks through the bonfire in his cave (analogues to the Burning Bush story in Genesis).
The relationship between the human and the deity is at the center of the story and allows me to deal with moral/ethical issues. The story isn’t religious in the least but aspects of society’s religion/faith in a monotheistic God are part of the backdrop.     

About Ilan Herman.
Ilan Herman is the celebrated author of numerous novels and short stories.  The author’s work may be found in literary magazines and books, in print and electronic editions.  Other works by Herman include Chan Kim, Gravedigger, and The Lord of the Cats.

About The Ancient One.
The Ancient One is the new novel by Ilan Herman published by The Round Thing.  The story is a fantasy inspired by the life of the Kalahari’s Bushmen, the story also evokes the biblical times of Moses and the exodus of the Israelites. The protagonist discovers a mysterious plant that gives him immortality he uses his powers for the forces of good and unites five tribes into a single nation.  Throughout the story the character talks to an animistic deity only to find out an extraterrestrial has been using humanity in a social experiment.

About The Round Thing.
The Round Thing is a new imprint looking to publish the very latest in art and literature as well as science and technology.  One of the many goals of the publisher is to thoughtfully present a map of the unknown.  The publisher is developing a magazine published in e-ink with an upcoming issue to be released shortly.  Visit on the web at http://www.theroundthing.com.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Meet Sasscer Hill and learn how mystery series are made

I'm delighted to welcome Sasscer Hill, author of the upcoming mystery, The Sea Horse Trade (reviewed here) to my blog today. I was lucky enough to read the book and interview the author before the book's release date. So watch out for sea horses making their debut at the Aiken, SC Library tomorrow, though they're planning a much bigger splash at the Malice Domestic conference next week. If you're attending the conference, don't miss Sasscer speaking on a panel called "Mysteries With Sex Crimes" on May 5th with three other authors including mega best seller, Laura Lippman! I hope you have a really great time Sasscer!

So, my first question... This novel is the third in the series but I found it easy to read without having read any others before. I’m curious about how you decide which characters should recur when writing a series.
I don’t really “decide” I just think of a story idea and then it will come to me at some odd moment – taking a shower, drying my hair, walking the dog – who I need for the story. In the case of  THE SEA HORSE TRADE, I had thought about young Lorna Doone, and discarded the idea. She had enough troubles in RACING FROM DEATH. I loved the character from FULL MORTALITY, Carla Ruben. But how could she fit into a story about the illegal sex trade? Carla’s thirty and too old to be snatched by those horrific people involved the business of selling girls for sex. But what if she had a thirteen-year-old daughter? A girl she’d never met because she’d given up the baby when she herself was a teenager? Suppose the girl had suddenly gone missing, and was last seen near Hallandale Beach where Nikki has just arrived to work the Gulfstream Park racetrack meet? And just suppose a beautiful, unidentified, young woman dressed in a tiny sequined outfit is gunned down on the street at Nikki’s feet? OMG! Now I had something I was excited about, and if I’m not excited, how can I expect the reader to be?                             

You certainly inspired some excitement in this reader. I know nothing at all about racehorses but you managed to make the horses and their environment very real without overwhelming me in details. How do you get that balance right when you’re dealing with a topic you know so well?

I read every book written by the two master horse story tellers: Walter Farley of the “Black Stallion” series and Dick Francis, the fellow who wrote such wonderful horse racing novels. They were my teachers. Francis even read the first three early chapters of FULL MORTALITY and gave me his comments.

As I write, I try to keep is simple. People don’t want to have a dictionary and reference books in their laps just to read a mystery.

That's very true. They want a character to follow and a story to lead them I guess, which leads to my next question. Where did your lead character, Nikki Latrelle, come from? Is she based on someone real, someone you’d like to know, or pure imagination?

Nikki is based on me when I was young and depended on my love for horses to make the world a good place to live. Horses are wonderful creatures who will teach anyone to live by the golden rule. If you treat them with love and kindness, you will get it back.

And I’ve always been a bit of a loner, so it was easy to create the character. Nikki is someone I would like to know – she’s better than I am.

She's certainly interesting and believable, as were the locations, police procedures, modes of death etc. How much research went into writing them?
Being both a member of Sisters in Crime and Mystery Writers of America provides me with fabulous resource material for any crime story I might want to write. But the most important thing for me, is to actually go to the police department or investigator’s office who would deal with the crime in the actual local where the crime or crimes are committed. For the Sea Horse Trade I met with Officer Anthony Maniglia of the Hallandale Beach Police Department, Homicide Division. I also briefly reviewed part of the plot with a helpful DEA agent who works in Washington, D.C. I just love it when I meet with someone like Maniglia, review procedure of their particular locale, and then some busybody says, “Oh that would never happen like that in a police department.” When you write, you need to arm yourself with facts because the nay sayers are convinced they know more than anyone else.

That makes sense. So... I’m guessing your primary aim is to entertain, and this novel is a thoroughly enjoyable read. But is there a message you’d like readers to take away from Nikki’s conquering adversity?

Yes, Sheila, there is: Chase your dream, fight the odds, and always help the helpless.

What a lovely aim! Thank you. Did you always know you were going to write a series, or did it grow from a single book?
It grew from the first book, FULL MORTALITY. That led to the next two novels. It is far easier to use characters you’ve already developed and know like the back of your hand than to start all over again. I know this, because I am working on a new series character named Fia McKee, who is a law enforcement agent in the world of horse racing. And yes, in case you were wondering, Sheila, I have already met with the top two officers of this actual US agency.

That sounds great. I can certainly see why the Sea Horse Trade felt so convincingly real, with so much reality behind it. And I'm sure your new series will be great too. One final question. What advice would you give aspiring writers? I know, everyone probably asks that, but all those nuggets help.

My message to them would, of course, be to chase your dream and fight the odds, for they will be against you. But if you follow your heart, it is amazing how far you can go.

Thank you so much, Sheila, for the opportunity to post my thoughts on your most excellent blog site!

Thank you so much for answering my questions so beautifully. I really enjoying having the chance to get to know you better, and to see a little more of what happens behind the scenes of a series. Good luck with the release, and I hope you have a great time at the conference!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Reading a Writers' Workshop

Do you write science fiction? Do you want to write science fiction? I've just started reading Writers Workshop of Science Fiction & Fantasy from Seventh Star Press-- just released in ebook and print formats--and it's brilliant!

Neil Gaiman advises where you can look for ideas--or rather, why ideas really aren't the hard part.

Lou Anders explores those gazillions of subgenres and actually makes them make sense. (Ever wondered where the dividing line is between hard sci-fi and soft? And what about cyber-punk, or high fantasy?)

Ursula Le Guin? Yes, she's here too, one of several authors answering interview questions.

There are chapters on killer beginnings, middles (and middling through), what's special about sci-fi/fantasy endings. Orson Scott Card discusses rhetoric and style. Pamela Sergeant offers the sort of dialog advice that every author should read.

Character, emotion, aliens (they're characters too), Larry Niven, Harry Turtledove, Joe Haldeman, Alan Dean Foster... all the greats! And all the chapters have information, help, advice, encouragment and more, not just for sci-fi writers but anyone hoping to entertain an audience using words and imagination.

Perhaps I should have asked do you write or want to write? I had just started writing Writers Workshop of Science Fiction & Fantasy but now I can't stop. This book is good! (And it's got great illustrations too)

For further updates and information about Writers Workshop of Science Fiction & Fantasy, please visit the Seventh Star Press site at: www.seventhstarpress.com

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Prudence MacGregor in the Twilight Zone


I reviewed Prudence MacGregor's Trilogy recently and really enjoyed these three oddly unsettling short stories. So I'm delighted to welcome the author to my blog today. She's answering the question of why she wrote the stories and collected them together into her book.

Why I Chose to Write Trilogy in the Paranormal Genre

By Prudence MacGregor

I have always been fascinated by the unknown and what the possibilities are that lie beyond that what we know; the tangible, if you will. It's no secret that I am a big fan of the iconic television series, The Twilight Zone, for one. It was so good at presenting stories that, ostensibly, had a normal veneer but peel that back and you had the oddest of circumstances surrounding them. That's what I tried to do with Trilogy: A Collection, and that show, along with my interest in the unknown and "what could be," inspired and influenced me to write these three stories in the paranormal genre.

Choosing how to present these stories was a bit of a challenge, as there were so many situations that I could have used. However, what kept coming up for me were three scenarios that I felt would merit exploration: the possibility that we all could have a double somewhere in the world; what would happen if one released a balloon with a note and where it would go and who would find it; and finally, the possibility that a passenger on plane high in the sky that you see on any given day could intersect with your life in some odd way.

I purposely kept the stories short, so readers could formulate their own opinions about them and how they could end. However, I also am thinking of perhaps expanding on one or two of them for a future book. The possibilities are endless when dealing with the unknown!

I would certainly be interested if you expand them Prudence. I really enjoyed that slightly unsettling Twilight Zone feel you gave me in reading these, and I'm sure readers will too.

Can you tell us a little about yourself as well the book?

Author Bio: I was born on the isle of Manhattan and began writing stories at an early age.  There are things besides writing that I love to do. Mainly, travel, read, and indulge in decadent delights such as Australian red licorice and trying different perfumes.

That red licorice sounds good! And the book's good too! Thank you so much for visiting my blog.