At the same time, I received an e-mail regarding the upcoming release for one of my two acceptances this blitz. I should have more details to share here soon, when we get closer to the print release.
Since I finished the story I was working on yesterday, I decided to work today on a review of a book I just finished reading. Here are my thoughts:
Review – Ren Garcia’s The House of Bloodstein
I’ve always enjoyed Ren’s space opera books for their high adventure and detailed world building, with added elements of fantasy and steampunk, quite dark in some places thanks to shadowtech. But this new addition to his series leans even more into my favourite genre, horror, which made the read more enjoyable for me. This particular novel continues the story of his second generation of characters – the first generation appearing in the original League of Elders series. Kay, Sam, Phillip, and Sarah are offered the opportunity to participate in a game, not as players, but as collectors of some highly sought after game pieces. There is a twist to the invitation that inevitably leads into dangerous terrain, facing off with dastardly villains, a crazy gun-toting revenant and space zombies far scarier than your average zombie fare. Joined by King, an artifact creature crafted to assist and defend them and Thomasina/Rose, Phillip’s romantic interest, the characters encounter everything thrown at them with their usual bold flair, making for a wild ride with some incredible fight scenes. Overall it was a wonderfully fun read.
My only advice is that this book wouldn’t read very well as a stand-alone novel, so if you haven’t read the rest of Ren’s series – start at the beginning and work your way up to this. His series is definitely one of my favourites.
Time to start a new story – more from my blitz later.
Another day, another first time submission. I actually wrote this one for a different submission call, but it was a second attempt after the first one was rejected, and I didn’t quite get it done in time. I have mixed feelings about it, but the same thing can be said about some of my greatest successes so I’m not about to toss it away without giving it a try. It could surprise me.
I didn’t get to the review I want to write, but today was a busy day and tomorrow promises to be just as busy. Jugger, swimming, shopping, cooking, veggie prep, and working on the blitz doesn’t leave much time for anything else. I meant to bake some bread and freeze some greens today, but that didn’t happen. Instead I ended up experimenting with quinoa, broccoli and cheese.
Back to more hunting out submission calls. Maybe I can find a couple looking for reprints.
Happy Canadian Thanksgiving!
Day 12 of my blitz and 12 submissions complete, several of them to pro-rate venues. The good news is that I’ve already received two responses and both of them were acceptances. I’ll post the details when I’m free to share them.
My scary little girl of the day is a classic C – Carrie. Stephen King’s start as the King of Horror began with a teenage disaster who found supernatural powers to go with her adolescent angst when she reached puberty. Throw in a crazy zealot of a mother, school bullies and a bucket of pig’s blood and say hello to a freak out of epic proportions.
And for a bonus today, a review. Here’s one for Ren Garcia’s Stenibelle:
With this installment Ren Garcia’s Shadow Tech Goddess series, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. It had all of the wonderful world crafting and characterizations typical of his writing, but with its female protagonist/PoV, I was a little wary about how I would connect with the story.
I like to see stories that give female characters plenty of agency, especially adventure stories, and that’s difficult in the Victorian-esque patriarchal social-settings common to Garcia’s League of Elders series. It allows for dashing male heroes wielding great power and charm, but the female characters before this novel ,have been either demure, villainous, or struggling to control and wield what power they have – bordering on insane, damaged by their power or seeking isolation at the expense of their relationships.
In this vein, Stenibelle is at a disadvantage compared to her male counterparts right from the start. She starts at a major low and swings out far in the other direction to the point of arrogance and aggression, and I found myself hoping there would be some balance to come. Despite my frustration with her situation and her behaviour, the story was still very enjoyable.
At first Stenibelle didn’t have her own agency – “lesser” than her male counterparts – and she had to have an extra hand up. Considering her social setting, however, there was no way of avoiding some disadvantage because of her gender. My discomfort at her struggles is a compliment to the author’s storytelling skills – I wouldn’t have felt frustrated in the face of her circumstances if I hadn’t been so invested in the characters and the storyline.
There are other examples of empowered female characters in the story. Gwen was very strong in this book, despite getting beaten in a physical fight. Stenibelle was using unfair tactics to win and Gwen took the loss graciously without being cowed by it.
Alesta is also empowered, and my favourite character in the book. She works outside the boundaries of society because of her spiritual beliefs. She does what she feels is right and sometimes that meant being assertive. She’s quite powerful even though she is humble about it and doesn’t resort to throwing that power around carelessly.
Stenibelle, or Bel, does undergo growth of character. With the help of her friends, Bel, finds her agency and owns who she is. As Bel’s confidence grows it changes her dynamic with other characters, such as the bullying, villainous Professor Shurlamp. Shurlamp then has less power over her.
I really liked the changes that happen at this point in the book. Bel had to shake free the shackles of societal expectations and the unwarranted doubt it had created within her. Then she assumes responsibility for her fate directing the outcome of her adventure. In the end, I thought that this was one of Ren Garcia’s best stories yet. I look forward to the next one in this series.
I haven’t been blogging much lately. I’m still trying to make heads or tails of the fact that my publisher, May December Publications, has decided to release the majority of its authors, which means the better part of my novels will soon be out of print (in fact, Transcendence already is and the others will soon follow.) If you were thinking of purchasing any of the novels, you may want to grab them now while you still can. Some are being offered at deal prices – Fervor for $4.83 for example.
I can appreciate the reasons behind their decisions. MDP is a family run business and they are dealing with some very serious personal issues at the moment. They are choosing to concentrate their limited time and resources on the publication and promotion of the managing editor’s books instead. This a a more profitable option for them. I understand their choice, it makes perfect sense, and I expected things to go this way for some time. Unfortunate circumstances just prompted it sooner rather than later.
So now I’m left deciding if I want to put the work into self-publishing these novels, try to find a new small press publisher or just sit on them for a while and mull things over. My writing effort of late has been going into short stories and I am still publishing those with other publishers. My Snowy Barrens Trilogy will still be available.
I will have to go about disabling the buttons and links here on WordPress for things no longer in print . It will take me some time to update everything, so bear with me. It sort of feels like I’ll be starting all over again from the beginning, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. The only thing I’m unhappy about losing are the reviews I’ve amassed on Amazon, especially for Fervor.
Anyway, MDP and I will be parting on good terms. I wish them luck and I enjoyed working with them.
On to the next adventure.
I usually reserve my reviews…or should I say “recommendations” because I don’t review things I don’t at least like in some way…for books. But movies have words too – otherwise they wouldn’t need screenwriters – so I’m going to offer up my thoughts on the movie Hanna today.
I just saw this movie, and in addition to some pretty fabulous cinematography, it was one of those stories where as a writer you grit your teeth and wish you had written it yourself while you enjoy every minute of it. It included so many of the themes that inspire me in my writing. It had powerful female characters, some beautiful scenes filmed in Finland involving reindeer and wolves, a bucket-load of fairy tale references paying homage to the Brothers Grimm, some delightful scenes set in Morocco and Spain, and a science fiction element involving children, experiments and genetic manipulation (most of you know how interested I am in those things). Oh, and there was oodles of action in just the right places to maintain excellent pacing for the story. As I watched it I was wallowing in cinematic bliss.
The protagonist was fascinating. She was skilled in many ways, exceptionally so for her age, well-learned with just the right mix of social awkwardness and curiosity to make her both interesting and a touch imperfect. She was intrigued by music, fearless, and had a freedom of spirit that some of the secondary characters admired or envied.
Now the niggler, watching with me, did have one or two mild objections regarding the action scenes. He hates the “head-twist-neck-break” manoeuvre common to many action movies that he says is “totally unrealistic” and he protested when one of the main characters did not grab a pipe as a weapon when he had the opportunity to do so (when the villain following behind him did). But otherwise, he mostly kept mum aside from agreeing with me that it was a great movie – and that says a lot.
I won’t offer up any spoilers. I’ll just finish by saying that this movie was heart-thumping exciting, mentally-stimulating, and artistically original – a rare breed in an industry that usually focuses on one of those things exclusively. It gets a big pair of thumbs up from me, and kudos especially to Seth Lochhead who wrote the story/script while in the Writing program at Vancouver Film School. This rates up there as one of my favourites.
I’ve been researching improving your life by improving your way of thinking and my most recent reading has included a couple of great books to guide me on that path. I’m trying to raise my level of positivity – because I have a habit of sabotaging myself with negative thoughts when I know I can exceed my own expectations when I live more optimistically. I’ve experienced it firsthand. So here are two recommendations I have for those needing that kind of a boost.
The Power of Why by Amanda Lang
I was fortunate enough to receive a copy of this book because Ms. Lang was a keynote speaker at this year’s CMA conference in Nova Scotia. The book discusses the importance of innovative thinking, which includes trying to recapture the type of curiosity we had as a young child before the industrial-era-developed school systems we still have place in our innovation-era world killed that curiosity. It touches on the need for divergent thought, the ability to explore many answers rather than just focussing on the one “right” answer and the freedom to fail in order to be able to create.
I love the concepts in this book as well as the case studies of a variety of innovators and examples where divergent thinking and a willingness to move beyond accepted norms allowed for new inventions that did change or may change entire industries.
My only minor complaints is that I did find the book a little repetitive in places (possibly for the sake of reinforcing important points) and I didn’t like the emphasis on competitiveness over cooperation – I guess because I have “too Canadian” a mentality.
-A very good read for someone studying business, interested in innovation or just looking for some inspirational and positive stories.
10 Gifts to Give Yourself for a Successful Life by Christina Westover
Another book filled with positive thoughts and suggestions of ways to clear the negativity from your life and to focus on the things that matter. I think most people would agree that the gifts discussed would be considered ways of making your life happier and more meaningful, including pursuing your dreams, ridding your life of toxic people, and being open to the people who can have a good influence on our lives. Most would consider these ideas common sense, but truthfully, many individuals have forgotten their importance or have just become lost in general and can use a guidebook to get themselves back on track. The author even provides avenues for applying these concepts to your daily living.
I consider this a great pick-me-up manual that I can turn to for an injection of positivity – certainly an enjoyable read.
You may have noticed I skipped my Monday review. I wanted to review the novel I had just finished. I struggled with this. I actually enjoyed the last two thirds of the book, but I can’t in good conscience give it a good review, and therefore, I won’t review it at all.
Don’t get me wrong. The author has a very readable writing style. Her characters and world-building were quite interesting, and even though I didn’t like the protagonist in the beginning and I felt like the story lacked a proper intro (many books do nowadays), these are not the reasons I can’t give that book a good review.
The major problem I had with the book was a terrible event, or rather series of terrible events, that happen to the protagonist who is a minor at the time. My issue with this isn’t that the situation happens in the story – these sorts of things happen in real life, unfortunately. It is not condoned behaviour in the story either. Pretending these things don’t happen doesn’t help anyone, so I don’t think it is wrong to build it into the tragic history of a character…I’ve done that much myself. No, my problem was the detail with which these events were described. It wasn’t just unnecessary; it was reprehensible in my opinion.
It is quite clear what sort of terrible things are happening to this girl without the author going into great detail. The only reason for doing so would be for the sake of shock value and/or the titillation factor and as far as I see things, considering the character’s age, that is very, very wrong. I’m surprised the book wasn’t turned away at the border. I certainly wasn’t expecting that kind of content when I bought it at a well-known bookstore chain.
I’m not going to name names or point elbows; I’m just explaining why I skipped my Monday review. I hope I never have cause to skip a review for this reason again.
Submission blitz update: I’m in the middle of a rewrite requested for one story, and I received both a rejection (for one of my weirder stories) and one new “maybe” for “In too Deep.” That’s a lot of maybes so far – hopefully a couple will turn into yeses.