World Unknown Review is Here!

The announcement I’ve been chomping at the bit to make is finally here! I might be pushing it out the door a little early (KDP is giving me weird cover issues and the physical book isn’t yet available on Amazon), but I just can’t wait any longer. World Unknown Review is finally here!

World Unknown Review has been an exciting project for me, one I hope to duplicate every year to help put more voices out there in the popular format of our times, independent publishing via Amazon. This first volume brings a lot of really great stories, in a wide variety of genres, from memoir to romance, science fiction and fantasy, adventure and literary. Some of these authors have a hefty list of accomplishments under their belts, some of them have never been published before. There’s a little bit of something for everyone, and, hopefully, everything for someone.

I’d like to thank all the wonderful authors who brought their hard work and delightful stories to my inbox to shift through and agonize over what to pick. In addition to the authors I had to say unfortunate no’s to, there were a handful that got a resounding yes: Miriam Sagan, Robert Robinson, Shan Jeniah Burton, Joe Bellamy, D.J. Lutz, Fallon Brown, Wesley J. Connell, Michael C. Smith, Luther M. Siler, Bilal Rahmani, and Nicholas Conley. I wouldn’t have much of a review on my hands if it wasn’t for these fine folks.

Of course, we’ll be doing this again next year with a new batch of stories, so I hope to see some of you sending in things for Volume II in 2015. You have until October 31st, so get writing! In the meantime, here’s where you can currently purchase the book:

CreateSpace -physical book, $8.18
Amazon -Kindle version, only $0.99

Happy reading!

This Base, Let’s Touch It.

Things have been quiet…really quiet here on the blog, and I wish I could blame it on being stuck in the editing and formatting cave as I prepare for the publication of World Unknown Review (which should occur tomorrow if the review process goes well), but, alas I know better. The editing/formatting cave is a part of it, sure, but I’ve also been distracted and lazy and all sorts of other things. Holidays, work, trying to get a good balance of work and recreation. I don’t think I’ll ever fully have that last part down, but I do want to start blogging more often.

I definitely start to miss a lot of things on the blogging community. A friend recently had a bit of a blog tour with a cover reveal for a book I beta-read and I was kind of boggling over how I missed that thing. And then there was the formatting of the book, which made me remember how addictive getting something published can be, which made me wonder about if I’ll ever get around to publishing more than two books a year. Of course, I have to focus on The Slayer Saga: Heartless first and foremost. I’m still only about half-way through the rough draft, and I want to be able to get a lot of edits in, so I should really be pushing myself to finish this draft by the end of January.

So, there’s a little touch base post. I’ll have much more interesting things to say tomorrow when, fingers crossed!, World Unknown Review should be live on Amazon. Until then…

Happy writing!

Review: Jewel of the Thames.

“Finally, on a Friday in June, my prayers were finally answered, at the cost of someone else’s fortune…”


Jewel of the Thames: A Portia Adams Adventure” by Angela Misri

The first book in Angela Misri’s Portia Adams Adventures series was one I was looking forward to reading for even longer than when I interviewed her in April, but, due to all the things that have been happening since April, I’ve only just now finished it. And now I eagerly await the next few books in the series! Jewel of the Thames is built on a really fun concept: John Watson’s granddaughter finds herself in 1930s London after her mother’s untimely death, taking up residence at 221 Baker Street and following in his mystery-solving footsteps. This volume includes three different casebooks, each with a different crime for Portia to solve: a jewel heist, a strange murder plot, and a missing little girl on a train. Portia herself is a bookish, though somewhat plucky young woman, raised to be hale and hearty by her poor but hard-working mother. Taken under the wing of a wealthy friend of her grandmother’s, Portia not only find herself dropped into the world of the grandfather she didn’t know, but she also has to adjust to a society she never imagined being a part of, too.

While Portia is a truly charming heroine, I felt myself struggling a little with the setting. This might not be the author’s fault, but rather my own. I read a lot of works set in the 19th Century, and I fear my brain was trying desperately to fit Portia into that context rather than the 1930s, which is not as familiar to me. The language just seemed a little bit more Victorian to me, though I appreciate not being hit in the head with references to the time period. It was a very, very slow start to the book, far too much background and build up, and I didn’t care much for the first case. But I trudged ahead and found myself more enraptured with the other two. Sometimes set-up is a necessary evil, I suppose, but I felt we could have gained a lot if we had started in media res, with Portia already in London with a little bit of background peppered in to explain how and why she had gotten there. I also felt that perhaps some of the clue to solve the mysteries were a little too apparent…not necessarily in how they lead Portia to the answers, but mostly just in a sense that it was very obvious that I was reading a clue. They stuck out like red flags, and I would have liked them a little better hidden, and the big surprise at the end was something I firmly suspected practically from page two.

That said, while I definitely enjoyed the book, I truly felt I was a bit advanced to appreciate it as fully as I might have. If Portia had been around when I was in middle or high school, I would have eaten her up, reveled in the stories, and perhaps might not have been so picky about the things mentioned above. I almost wish I could go back and read the with a less trained (or cynical!) eye, because I would have loved it. So perhaps I’m not currently the right audience for the books, though that’s not going to stop me from devouring future volumes. I’m keen on Portia and I can’t wait to see how her character develops; in a way, I feel almost as though her character improving herself will easily clear up the few problems I had with the book. Mostly, though, I cannot wait for there to be more books in the series, and hopefully soon, because I have a desperate desire to get a small set of Portia Adams Adventures for my young niece, along with an original Sherlock Holmes book, to awaken in her what I knew I would have discovered if I had been twelve years old and I had one of these books in my hand. Portia might not be perfect for me now, but she certainly would be perfect for my teenaged self, and I’m really, really looking forward to sharing that with other little bookworms.

Books read: 015/100.

Three Day Weekend!

In a surprisingly pleasant turn of events, I find myself with a traditional “three day weekend,” having Saturday through Monday completely off of my part-time job. This is pretty rare since they usually have me working weekends and, if I do get three days in a row off, it’s typically in the middle of the week. I’ve been looking forward to the start of this mini-break all week, and now it’s finally arrived. Here’s to hoping I can make the most of it and not just wile it away like I do sometimes. I’ve already had a productive morning, though, so here’s just what I plan to do with all this glorious time.

1. Finish formatting World Unknown Review. Outside of a miracle, I probably won’t get it ready by December 15th, but maybe December 20th. Either way, I want to get the formatting finally finished so I can send for proofs and have my proofreader scour it for errors before releasing it to the masses. I also finished up a cover for the journal, and it’s very simple, with a shabby chic charm, and I really like it. I’ve seen so many terrible covers that, clearly, the authors seem to like, and I just hope I’m not blinded because I’d hate to do my authors a disservice by putting their work behind a crappy cover. I’m pondering a cover reveal, but I haven’t decided yet.

2. Reading! It’s December, so I’m kind of trying to put the petal to the metal on finishing up as many books as I can before the end of the year. I’m not getting anywhere near by annual goal of 100 this year, but I should at least be able to hit a measly 20.

3. Finishing “Big Love.” I started watching “Big Love” on HBOGo this month, and I’m nearly finished with it, so I’m going to try to streamline through the rest of the episodes to move onto my next thing. It’ll probably be “Justified” or “Hell on Wheels,” but I’m open to suggestions! Meanwhile, I’m going to be trying to put “Good night!” into regular usage as a response to something shocking or outrageous, while pondering the possibility of some sister-wife murder mysteries…

4. Baking. Maybe it’s just because it’s cold, but I’ve been wanting to get some baking done. I see some possible banana nut muffins in my near future…

5. Writing. Duh. There’s gonna be a whole lotta writin’ going on this weekend!

So, what have you got planned for the weekend? Is yours a nice, comfy open one like mine, or are you busy, busy, busy? What do you like to do with weekends like this one?

Happy writing, everyone!

World Unknown Review 2014 Authors!

Now that we’re into December and I’m trying to wrestle with some formatting with the hopes of releasing the debut edition of World Unknown Review to the masses, I thought it was high time I made an official announcement revealing the authors you’ll find inside this eclectic volume of excellent fiction. I can only express the utmost thanks and praise to these eleven fantastic writers who took a chance on a fledgling publication; I’m incredibly honored to put them all together in what I hope is the start of a beautiful and exciting new tradition. It also blows my mind that I’m actually getting the chance to be the first person to publish a lot of these stories, the first stories to be “professionally” published for many of these writers. True, I had to send out just as many rejection letters as acceptances, which was a bit of a surprise, but to be able to open at least one door for someone is what WUR is all about. Without further ado, then, let me introduce you to World Unknown Review Volume I‘s line-up, in more or less the order of appearance in which they’ll show up in the publication:

“Red Coat” by Miram Sagan
“Sheba” by Robert Robinson
“A Splash of Red” by Shan Jeniah Burton
“Slip Away” by Joe Bellamy
“The Crucible” by D.J. Lutz
“Forever Again” by Fallon Brown
“The Sands of Algeria” by Wesley J. Connell
“Temple of Slithering Death” by Michael C. Smith
“Culaqan” by Luther Siler
“The Wanderer” by Bilal Rahmani
“Iron Cave” by Nicholas Conley
“The Mutineers of Starvation” by L.S. Engler

I’m still not 100% sure when it will be ready for print and purchase, but you can guarantee all these great stories coming to you before the end of 2014. They will take you on a journey through time, off to different worlds, and through epic battles of history and the soul. Some might make you laugh, others make you sniffle a bit, and others still will make you think. A little romance, a lot of adventure, and some real good storytelling awaits, and hope you all enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed putting it together. Congratulations to all the wonderful authors who gave WUR a chance and submitted. I can’t wait to see what’s in store for me next year!

Review: The Alchemist’s Daughter.

Alchemy, after all, is altogether a safer and more predictable art than life. Alchemy involves no physical journeys, no interaction with living human beings. The alchemist suffers heartbreak and disappointment, but not often betrayal.


The Alchemist’s Daughter” by Katharine McMahon

These days, it seems everyone’s daughter has a book written about them, but I decided to take a chance with an alchemist’s, in this novel by Katharine McMahon. It follows the exploits of Emilie Selden in the 1700s, a young woman kept cloistered in the world of science by her alchemist father John. The walls of that carefully kept existence come tumbling down at the arrival of the intriguing Aislabie, who sweeps Emilie off her feet despite her father’s best intentions. When John Selden returns home from London to find a pregnant and engaged daughter, the destruction of his carefully controlled world is complete. Emilie is driven off to London, where she discovers a strange new world and must figure out how to keep up with these rapid changes while her heart only longs to go back to the way things were before she discovered love and the heat of passion.

With Emilie as our narrator, we get a wonderfully vivid picture of the world through her eyes, and, though the prose is lovely, I’m afraid I did not particularly care for Emilie much. Instead of finding a story where I rooted and cared for a clever heroine, I found myself mostly just intrigued by her strange perceptions of the world, her odd sense of selfish entitlement, and just the little details of this world that McMahon has brought us into. It was an interesting little case study, though I didn’t feel particularly attached to the story, and the ending dragged on a little too long for my tastes. I didn’t really care if Emilie found redemption or not at the end, but I did find myself curious as to what she’d uncover next. This made for a strange reading experience, like I was as detached from the subject of the book as John Selden might have been detached from his own experiments. Whether or not this was intention, I’m not entirely sure, and, while I enjoyed reading the book and found myself returning to it often, there was no real strong attachment to it. I’m glad I read it, but if anyone asked me how I liked it, I would probably just shrug my shoulders and offer a half-hearted, “Meh.”

There was also a surprising lack of alchemy in the book, too, I felt. Emilie touches on a few aspects of it, but it never seemed to be as driving a force as I expected it to be. It was more for the basis of comparison, something for Emilie to relate her experiences to, and I still don’t fully comprehend some of the concepts she was apparently so well-versed in. It could be my not paying enough attention or my own lack of alchemical self, but I wished I’d come out feeling more in tune with the concepts than confused by them.

Overall, the book is sumptuously written, and I did greatly enjoy that part, and, as I said, it kept me interested to know what was going to happen next. I did not particularly care for Emilie as a person, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, either. She was more realistic this way, not some plucky Mary Sue of a heroine, possessing fatal flaws that made me downright despise her on occasion. It was realistic, like I was reading just some intriguing little footnote on a historical text about society in the earlier 1700s, and I think therein was the charm for me. I enjoyed visiting this small slice of the world for a little while, and I think that’s why I kept wanting to come back

Books read: 014/100.

A Few Quick Things!

Hello, out there!  It’s been pretty quiet here, I know, but that’s just because my head has been in a real funk ever since the weather started to get cold.  In my “old” age, I’m starting to firmly believe that those of us in Northern climes were truly meant to start hibernating this time of year, so my productivity has basically been in the crappy.  My motivation seems to have hightailed it elsewhere for the winter, so I’m trying to muster myself back on track again to fight the spiral I’m threatening to disappear into.  As such, I figured a numerated post of a few details of interest might be called for.

1.  I have chosen eleven fantastic stories for the first edition of World Unknown Review, and I’m stoked to start the formatting and editing to get it up and running.  I’m shooting for December 15th as a publication date, so that they’ll be out by Christmas, but we shall see.  My computer has been giving me trouble when I try to run Sigil, which has been a big headache, but I’m determined to spend the train ride to Michigan tomorrow in mega format mode.

2. Speaking of train rides to Michigan, I somehow managed to get Tuesday through Thursday off, and I don’t work until later on Friday, which meant I was able to schedule in a trip home for Thanksgiving!  I’m really stoked to get to see everyone, especially since I didn’t imagine it was going to be a possibility.  Now I just have to decide what vegan dish to bring with me so that I don’t starve, since my family is pretty much the opposite of vegan.  I’m leaning toward chili, since I doubt I’ll be able to track down some Daiya in BFE Michigan.

3. I’ve had a story accepted somewhere!  Wha-hoo!  It’s kind of funny, because it was for New Wave and the Art’s Second Chances for Rejected Stories contest, and I also received a rejection letter for a different story this morning, too.  Either way, I was one of 10 finalists, and my story will be published on their website sometime in December, so keep an eye out for me to squeal about it later and bombard you all with links.  It’s a story that has been rejected multiple times, though my rejection letters thus far have mentioned that they still like the story.  It’s called “Shadow Wolves,” about a young woman in peril for her life when she starts to see these mysterious black wolves that only she can see.  It’s not a paying market, but, hey, it’s something!

4. NaNoWriMo is…going.  It’s not going well.  I’m way behind and there’s no way I’ll “win” this year, but I’ve got a good chunk of Heartless started, and it will definitely be finished and ready for transcribing by January.  Then it’s off to find betas and edit, edit, edit until August!

5.  As pleasant as it’s been these last few months to not live by the alarm clock and wake up “naturally,” I think I might need to go back to getting up earlier. Sigh.  It was lovely, but I’ve realized that most of my work truly does get done in between six and nine am.  After nine, my attention drifts, people wake up, etc, etc, etc.  Problem is that I’ve been waking naturally around eight, only giving me an hour of work time, and that’s just not enough.  So it might be back to the alarm clock for me. SIGH.

6. I need to get back into “professional writing mindset.”  It’s kind of left me these last few months, and then I threw away a really cool opportunity because I was too damn lazy, and I’m really regretting it.  I might have missed out on something there, and I can’t let that happen again.  So I’m really going to keep my ears and eyes open and, when I see an opportunity, I’m not going to chicken out or be too lazy to pull something together again.  I can’t let myself go like this.  I’m at a point in my life where I need to seize every opportunity available.  That being said, if you know of any cool projects or contests or calls for submissions you can share, please do!  I want to get back to making a list, checking it twice, and busting out some more work.

That covers most of it, I think.  How’s everyone else doing?  I’m going to try to squeeze out a little more work because work now. Happy writing!

Staring at a Blank Blog Page.

For the past few days, I have spent more time than I’d like to admit staring at a blank blog page. I suppose this is far better than staring at a blank notebook page (no problems there!), but I still find it frustrating that, lately, I don’t have it in me to blog. I’m not too concerned with it, of course. In the grand scheme of things, blogging has its place, but it is not the end-all, be-all. I refuse to stress out about blogging, when I’m managing to produce the real writing content. But I do feel bad, and I feel that, every day I fail to blog, I’m missing an opportunity to make a connection with a new reader or fellow author.

At the same time, I know there will still be plenty of opportunities for that in the future. Best save myself for when I really have something to say, right? Perhaps. It’s an interesting conundrum, especially when I feel like I do have things to say, I just don’t know how to say it, nor do I feel I have enough to say on the matter to justify a whole post. Really, sometimes, all I want to say is, “Hi! I’m here. Don’t worry. I’m just chugging away in writer land, but I haven’t forgotten about blogger land, either. Hope everything is well.”

So…

Hi! I’m here. Don’t worry. I’m just chugging away in writer land, but I haven’t forgotten about blogger land, either. Hope everything is well!

In brief news, Heartless is coming along nicely, though I’ve been consistently behind about thirty pages every day. I’ll do a little catch up, and then fall back behind, but that’s okay, because it’s still coming along without any big hiccups. For a moment, I was afraid the Slayer was going to do something rash like she did when I was writing Soulless, but the sharp deviation from the outline managed to get diverted. Phew! I’ve had a few stories come back with rejections, so I’m brushing them up to send elsewhere, but I do wish I had more time for some short stories. I started whipping up this cute little romance yarn, just to test the romance chops, and it should be finished soon. Meanwhile, I think I’ve finally decided which stories to choose for World Unknown Review, and I hope to contact all the fantastic authors who participated by next week.

So, I’ve been keeping myself busy, just not with blog ideas. How about you? What have you got going on lately, blogosphere?

Over the Garden Wall.

CAN WE PLEASE TAKE A MOMENT TO DISCUSS “OVER THE GARDEN WALL“????


(Yes, it requires all-caps and bold letters).

“Over the Garden Wall” is a five-episode, ten-chapter miniseries that aired on Cartoon Network last week, and it was practically perfect in every way. It tells the tale of Wirt and Gregory, two brothers who find themselves lost in the woods, struggling to find their way back home while trying to avoid the wrath of a mysterious Beast. On the way, they meet an array of strange characters, talking animals, powerful witches, and dancing pumpkin-skeletons. The balance between the macabre and the whimsical is utterly perfect, played out with 19th century sensibilities and 1920s music and artistry. It’s a love letter to grim fairy tales and hipster aesthetics, with a nod to so many other works that I absolutely adore: a little bit of Poe, a little bit of Verne, Miyazaki and Gaiman and Scarry, oh my!.

Seriously, I’ve had “Potatoes and Molasses” stuck in my head for nearly a week now and I ain’t even mad. My boyfriend and I spent the entire final chapter with tears dripping down our faces. At one point in the finale, I actually gasped with shock, an impressive feat since I’m always analyzing things as authors do. The amazing ability to get these characters into your heart so quickly and have them linger well after the fact was just incredible. Well-crafted, well-written, well-intentioned. Just plain brilliant.

If you haven’t had a chance to watch “Over the Garden Wall” yet, I highly recommend you do. I personally can’t wait for it to come out on DVD. I can’t remember the last time I looked forward to a DVD release in this age of On-Demand and Netflix, but this is something that needs to be owned and rewatched and cherished. I’m hoping for books, too, because the art has such a simple beauty to it. If you were fortunate to catch the even, what did you think? Did you fall in love with it as we did?

So fantastic to feel this enamored with a show as I have “Over the Garden Wall,” and I even love the fact that it was given to us in one fell swoop, making us fall in love and then leaving us with that warm feeling, instead of dragging itself out for its charm to begin to fade.

Review: Seeds of Time.

“‘It was his idea of cosmic dissonance. The idea that the two realities would be inimical to each other, setting up a dissonance that would move toward resolution. That one reality would gather strength and the other diminish until the weaker one died out. Toward the end of his life he came to believe that we did have a Cousin Reality, and the mess we’ve made of the planet was evidence that our reality was losing a life-and-death struggle with our Cousin Reality…'”


Seeds of Time” by Kay Kenyon

The cover of Kay Kenyon’s 1994 sci-fi epic Seeds of Time boasts a quote from Mike Resnick touting its fast-moving plot, and, while I can’t deny that this book seemed at times to pass by as quickly as the Faster than Light hyperdrive they’re searching for in the latter half of the book, I almost wonder if it passed by a little too quickly. There’s a lot of story squeezed into one book, and yet, at the same time, not enough. I wanted a little less from this book in some aspects, and a little more in other. What I was left with was a book I enjoyed, but never felt entirely satisfied with.

It started out with so much promise. Clio Finn is one of the rare few who can Dive, which allows spaceships to drop through space and time, as the human race searches for something new to replace the dying earth. This near-future tale comes out of an oppressive society where homosexuality is prosecuted and there’s a strange Sickness infecting many people. Clio is on board a mission that discover Niang, a life rich planet that may offer a solution…if it weren’t for the fact that Niang plants consume metal, which would destroy our society and technology for good. Not only that, but there’s this ship found on Niang that contains a Faster than Light hyperdrive, just what the humans need…but they’re not the only ones who want it.

So far, a lot of good elements, but, where Seeds of Time really faltered was in the effort to connecting them all. At times, it felt like I was reading several different books. Clio was the connecting factor, but that was it. In fact, the whole thing with the Sickness and the homosexuality started out as a really big thing, but really seemed to have very little bearing on the book a a whole. I feel like it could have been completely removed and the plot wouldn’t have to be changed too much, which was a shame, because I thought that was one of the more intriguing parts of the book. All the parts were intriguing, but I just didn’t get enough of what I liked. Clio’s relationships seemed to burst into existence and fade away quicker than a firecracker, leaving nothing substantial left to stand on, and nothing seemed fully resolved when the plot moved on to something else. It left for a little bit of a disconnect, not at all helpsed by the fact that Kenyon’s style favored short fragments of sentence, which can work well at a time, but, for a book of this magnitude, was a little jarring.

Books read: 013/100.

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