A blog for people who don't want to spend all their free time in the real world. After all, we live and work there. Escape the mundane with books, travel, and writing.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Alaska Sampler 2014

If you didn't know, from reading my blog, I'm a bit obsessed with Alaska.  So of course I snapped up this free collection of short stories, articles, memoirs, and excerpts from larger works, all set in Alaska.  It’s good reading and shows a lot of different faces of this wild country.    

Most enjoyable to me were these:
“A Time Machine Called the Chilkoot Trail” by Dana Stabenow
An excerpt from “Still Points North” by Leigh Newman
“On Ice” by Deb Vanasse
Excerpts from “Wildwood” by Tanyo Ravicz
“From Cold River Spirits” by Jan Harper-Haines. 

If you’re half as fascinated by Alaska as I am, or if you're just in the mood for something different, pick up the Alaska Sampler 2014.  The Alaska Sampler 2015 is also out now.

Click here to download the Alaska Sampler FREE on Amazon.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Scarlet by Marissa Meyer

Scarlet is the second book in the Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer.

I didn't think this was as good as Cinder, but it was still a fun read.  

Cinder's powers were too strong for my tastes, too easy for her to control.  I've also never been a fan of the falling-in-love-in-two-days trope, so Scarlett's story didn't hold me as much as it could have.  The wolf thing reminded me too much of Twilight and Vampire Diaries, but I still found his struggle compelling.  

What I love about these books is the way Meyer held true to the target fairy tale while still making it refreshing and new.  I enjoyed the actual writing and the few really cleverly funny places.  There was great conflict and excitement in parts.

I enjoyed it and will certainly read the next book.

Click for my review of Cinder.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Shanakan by Tim Stead

Shanakan is another great fantasy novel by independent author Tim Stead.

I love the characters and world-building.  The writing is also very good, with many beautiful or thought-provoking lines.  

Things do come a bit too easily.  Though the characters face many obstacles, everything they try works, and people are easily won over.  The optimistic, want-to-change-the-world part of me loves these big successes, however, and I really enjoyed reading about them.    

The ending also goes on a little longer than I'm used to.  It's realistic.  After all, defeating the bad guy isn't really the end…rebuilding the world is.  That's very cool.  Just be ready for a longer denouement than you may be used to. 

Serhan, the main character, is capable and powerful and awe-inspiring, but also very human.  Tim Stead does a spectacular job with characters like this (I also love the character of Narak from The Seventh Friend ). 

The novel easily stands alone, but it also leaves room for a sequel, and I would certainly read it…or anything else by Tim Stead.

4.5 stars 

Friday, August 14, 2015

The Dangers of Synonyms

They're not all the same. 
And using the wrong one can cause problems for your reader.

Check out my advice on the dangers of synonyms here, at Writers On the Move.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Magnificent Animals

From my trip to the zoo in Tabor, Czech Republic:
Reporting for duty
Artic wolf cubs--who acted just like dogs with the zookeepers
Lynx--way bigger than I thought
Hmm...do I like this yogurt or not?
Just like my sleepy kitties back home.  Well...almost.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Miri Castor talks about writing Opal Charm

Today I have a guest post from Miri Castor, author of Opal Charm:  The Path to Dawn.  I like to hear about other authors' creative processes, so here's a bit about hers:

I wrote Opal Charm: The Path to Dawn during many phases of my life. I started in middle school-my first draft was short, full of childhood naivety and RPG references; video games were probably the reason I got into the fantasy/scifi genre, and still heavily influence my ideas. I rewrote Opal Charm in high school, using Opal as my assertive persona when I was a passive, quiet girl who tried to be a people pleaser. When I looked back at my novel in college, I wasn’t satisfied. I wanted to add more of a realistic feel to Opal’s story. The obstacles that Opal faces, the non-fantastical ones, are common to people of all ages who have dealt with depression or have felt alone while surrounded by people.  

For me, writing is a continuous stream of creativity. It was easy for me to create this world and my characters because I allowed this idea to burgeon in my mind before I decided to type it up. I like to let ideas develop in my head for a long time before I decide to write it down. I guess that’s procrastination, as I tended to procrastinate often during my school breaks. I always tried to work through my writer’s blocks though, because after keeping my story in my thoughts for such a long time, I was eager see it through to the end.
        -Miri Castor

And here's an excerpt from her book:

Opal threw the covers off and slid out of the bed. She yawned as she went to the door and opened it ajar, peeking out cautiously. The hallway was empty, but gunfire and explosions were coming from the playroom down on the left hall. Before leaving the guestroom, she quickly texted her mother after seeing two missed calls on her cellphone; she followed the sounds of gunshots and cheesy sound effects down the hall and found Aaron lounging on the beanie couch, watching TV with a bowl of popcorn around his arm. He sat up and beamed at her. “Hey sleepyhead,” he greeted enthusiastically.

“Morning,” she croaked, plopping next to him and taking a handful of popcorn. 

“It’s almost twelve-thirty, girl. Have some more breakfast popcorn.”

“Sure. Are you okay?”

“Look at me, I’m good…but what about you?” asked Aaron uneasily. “You were passed out this morning.” Opal sighed and leaned forward, rubbing her temples.

“I didn’t sleep much last night,” admitted Opal. 

“It must have been hard to,” he said considerately as he muted the movie he was watching. How would he understand anything she felt last night? He slept without a care in the world like Hope did. Speaking of the devil, Hope opened the door with a grave countenance. It didn’t look like she got much sleep either. “I need you to tell me everything that happened when you got to Lusa,” she said immediately. She sounded as if she had rehearsed in the bathroom on how she was going to approach the two of them. “Before you begin, I’m curious to know how you found the teleporter upstairs.”

“You waste no time, huh?” teased Aaron lightheartedly. Hope didn’t smile and Aaron chuckled nervously. “I was looking for the bathroom and Opal tried to help me out.”

“It was something that trivial?” she asked herself aloud. Aaron scrunched his face at Hope unpleasantly.

“Having to take a leak is nothing trivial.” He was joking again yet Hope didn’t crack a smile. It was the most tense Opal had seen the usually, amiable Hope. She was dressed in yoga pants and an oversized sweatshirt, the ultimate form of comfort. The heat hadn’t come on and the room was slightly chilled compared to yesterday. Aaron wore the same jeans from yesterday with a hoodie; he leaned back on the beanie sofa to get comfortable again. Hope looked to Opal with a tired expression. “Can you tell me everything that happened?” 

Opal’s stomach fluttered with large moths; she felt no comfort in explaining every detail of what happened last night. She hoped after she had woken up she would forget everything that happened, but every part was committed to memory. Opal cringed when she remembered waking up in an empty meadow. “Actually don’t,” urged Hope considerately, shaking her head. “It brings you great discomfort obviously-I apologize for that, for everything. This wasn’t what I intended.”

Opal remained taciturn, scratching the back of her hair. 

“Aaron, will you give us a minute?”

“Hell no.” Hope was taken aback by his firmness. “I’m not someone you can shove out of the room, I’m already involved in this.”

“Yes, you are,” agreed Hope sadly.

To read more, check out the excerpts and other info on her blog:  http://miricastor.tumblr.com/excerpts
Or enjoy the story on wattpad:  https://www.wattpad.com/user/miricastor

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Guest Post by Lindsey Sablowski

Today I have a guest post from Lindsey Sablowski, author of the Magicians series.  I asked her to write a little about the publishing process, and here are her insights:

With the completion of the Magicians series, I've learned a lot about writing and publishing. I've learned that every aspect of this path requires work -sometimes more than other times. Lately I have been asked a lot about whether to self publish or go the traditional way. I've done both, and I can positively say it all depends on you. Self publishing requires a lot of work on your side, as the author, but traditional publishing is just as hard. I spent years querying to agents and publishers. Rejection letters flooded my emails, and some days it really had me doubting myself. At the end of the day, though, rejection letters are like a bad breakup. They will upset you, perhaps stop you temporarily, but you will get over it. You'll move on and find something better.

On the other hand, a lot of work goes into self publishing a novel. You go out and find a cover designer -I've dealt with four different ones now. You have to do the interior formatting of the book -or pay someone to do it. Then you have to also do the interior formatting for ebook -that's always a tricky one. There's nothing quick about the process until your files are complete and correct. Then you simply click a button, and the book is published.

About Bloodline Inheritance (new release!):
Dyanna Carpathia narrates the final story in the Magicians series. She is thrown into the magical war, one she never wanted to be involved in. In order to save her friends and loved ones, she may need to keep her magic longer than intended. Will she ever be able to live a normal life? 

Alongside her on the battlefield is Malin Petrescu, a fighter and survivor. He does not trust Dyanna, but they need each other to survive this final war. 
This final book follows their lives through the war and the aftermath with a shocking conclusion.

About the Author:
Lindsey R. Sablowski is a fantasy author. The Magicians series: Cursed With Power, Shadows and Embers, Thicker Than Blood, and Bloodline Inheritance are amongst her published books. Lindsey lives in Maryland with her fiancé and their two cats.

Lindsey Sablowski
Order  Bloodline Inheritance today on Amazon -released July 24th!