The 'Write' Information

The Art of Writing Short Stories

One might expect writing a short story to be an easy task in comparison to penning a full sized novel. The age old saying, ‘not everything is as it appears’ definitely applies here. The short story is actually one of the most difficult literary genres for an author to find success.

For all intents and purposes, the short story is a beast on its own. It isn’t a poem or novella or even a novelette. It isn’t meant to lead up to something bigger and should never be the first chapter of a book yet to come. When a reader picks it up they know it is self-contained and stand alone.

That doesn’t sound so hard, until you break down what needs to be incorporated:

  1. A complete plot, beginning to satisfying end.
  2. All loose ends need to be tied up. Readers shouldn’t be left with questions.
  3. Characters worth caring about. This is probably the most difficult part. Many times it is difficult to make readers connect with characters in larger works.
  4. The story needs to be thought-provoking.
  5. An infusion of emotion.

All of that needs to be accomplished in less than ten thousand words. That’s a task! Those who are successful find a way to infuse the emotions of their genre into a web of words that traps their audience for a short while, before releasing them back, ever so slightly changed.

Over the next few weeks, I’ll be exploring the world of short stories and their authors. I hope you’ll join mine on my latest literary adventure! Until next time, happy reading!

Interviews

Q&A: Cindy Tomamichel

Cindy Tomamichel is hanging out with me today!

She is a writer of action adventure novels, some with a touch of romance. The heroines don’t wait to be rescued, and the heroes earn that title the hard way.

Her first book Druid’s Portal: The First Journey– time travel romance in Roman Britain near Hadrian’s Wall has been published with Soul Mate publishing. She also has a number of short stories and poems published in various anthologies.

Check it out: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B071LBLQ1G/?tag=geolinker-20

Her next book, Druid’s Portal: The Second Journey is in progress. An action adventure time travel with a touch of romance set in Roman Britain.

Book: Druid’s Portal: The First Journey

A portal closed for 2,000 years.

An ancient religion twisted by modern greed.

A love that crosses the centuries.

An ancient druid pendant shows archaeologist Janet visions of Roman soldier Trajan. The visions are of danger, death, and love – but are they a promise or a curse?

Her fiancé Daman hurts and abandons her before the wedding, her beloved museum is ransacked, and a robed man vanishes before her eyes. Haunted by visions of a time she knows long gone, Janet teeters on the edge of a breakdown.

In the shadow of Hadrian’s Wall and 2,000 years back in time, Janet’s past and present collide. Daman has vowed to drive the invaders from the shores of Britain, and march his barbarian hordes to Rome. Trajan swears vengeance against the man who threatens both his loves – Janet and the Empire.

Time is running out – for everyone.

A Druid’s Portal Excerpt was provided by the author to share with our readers. Let’s take a look inside the book:

Hugh held onto Janet as the windows banged open and a gale tore through the room, heavy with the scent of forest loam, oak leaves and thyme crushed underfoot. Above the man, a black shadow gathered, silver sparkles gleaming in its impossible depths. Janet shook off Hugh and edged closer, trying to convince herself the ceiling was only a few feet above the void.

The blackness slithered down in long tendrils, and as it reached the man’s hands, Janet leapt forward, catching hold of the pendant. Startled out of his chant, the man held the chain tight even as the dark void began to swallow him.

Janet staggered as the pendant was released. Hugh pulled her backwards as the man cursed them, the unknown words of power loaded with rage and venom. Through the fading blackness of the void, Janet glimpsed a horde of dark beasts, and felt the warmth of carrion breath. As the void faded into silver sparkles, the man’s curses became an incoherent roar of rage and anger, echoing into the distance.

And then there was nothing. The man had vanished.


It’s time to delve into the Q. & A.

This my favourite part. My Questions are crafted to give a reader a clear look at how an author writes; what drives them; and what can be expected in their books.

 

Question: Who is your favourite character in the book and why?

Answer: My hero, Trajan Aurelius is probably my favourite because he became a symbol of the Roman Empire and devotion to duty, but also a man dealing with some past pain.

 

Question: Please describe him/her/they a) physically b) their personality.

Answer: He is from Italy, so has black curling hair with silver streaks, tanned and muscular from living outdoors and being a soldier in the Roman Empire. He is also scarred from previous battles. He is a deep thinker, widely read and has a sense of humour.

 

Question: Could I have a couple of quotes from your book of dialogue that shows that personality?

Answer: “To me, men!” Trajan roared. “Show these curs how to die like a Roman!”

“History may be just bones and ruins to you, but it is people, Janet. People loving, hurting, and dying.”

 

Question: What genre would you say the book falls into?

Answer: It is listed as time travel romance, but is also historical fantasy.

 

Question: Are there any trigger warnings and/or explicit content readers should know about?

Answer: There are some graphic fight scenes, and part of the theme of the book deals with domestic violence and its effects on the heroine, Janet.

 

Question: Do you have any upcoming events?

Answer: Druid’s Portal comes out in paperback in September. It can be preordered now.

 

Question: What is next for you? Do you have anything in the works?

Answer: I am working on the second in the trilogy, so The Second Journey.

 

Question: Do you have any special mentions? (Editor, cover art etc…)

Answer: Soul Mate Publishing have been great to work with, and I certainly recommend them. My cover won the cover of the month with Books & Benches in June, so a shoutout to the artist Melody Pond.

 

Question: If you could go anywhere in the world where would it be? Please describe the place rather than just a name. (The weather, the time of day, the ground, the surroundings, foliage, etc.)

Answer: At the moment I am obsessed with Hadrian’s Wall, having done so much research for the setting of the books. So a walk along Hadrian’s Wall in Northumberland in the UK, in mid summer, perhaps with the sun rising and cutting through the mists in the valleys, listening to the distant baaing of sheep, and watching the sun light up the Wall.

 

Question: If the character from above were in that place what would they be doing?

Answer: In the second journey, I have just written a scene where Trajan and his son are talking about the past. Trajan points out the remains of the fort where he stood guard 2,000 years ago, and how the enemy often used a valley to try and attack the fort.

 

Question: If your character was allowed one chance to say anything to your readers, what would he/she say?

Answer: In the words of Marcus Aurelius, ‘Do not spend time arguing about what a good man is, be one.’

 

Question: If your character could donate to any charity, which one would he/she choose?

Answer: As a soldier, I think Trajan would donate to a returned veteran’s charity.


Thank you for your time. If you are looking for more information you can connect with this author online using the following links:

Contact Cindy on:

Website: www.cindytomamichel.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CindyTomamichelAuthor/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/CindyTomamichel

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/16194822.Cindy_Tomamichel

Google+: https://plus.google.com/+CindyTomamichel

Amazon Author page: https://amazon.com/author/cindytomamichel


Until next time, happy reading!

Uncategorized

Q&A: Dan Melson

Real Estate Agent and Loan Officer in his day job, Dan Melson lives in Southern California with The World’s Only Perfect Woman, daughters in training to take over the world, and two dachshunds.

Life in the Empire has finally settled down. The last of the ston rebels have taken amnesty, and re-joined civilization – or have they? A massive terrorist attack kills millions and the trail leads the investigator straight to a remote world with no known Imperial contact – a world known to its inhabitants as Earth.

My questions are all about Melson’s book: The Man From Empire (Rediscovery book 1 of 4). If you are looking for additional information about this author and his writing check out the following social media links:

Blog: http://www.danmelson.com/

Facebook author page: https://www.facebook.com/Dan.Melson.Author/

Melson provided me with an excerpt to share with my readers.

Let’s take a look inside the book:

Twenty-three kilometers up, Osh Scimtar felt the explosion through his feet.

More ominously, he immediately realized that he was no longer feeling the full force of Sharanna’s acceleration. The building was falling.

Quick probes with his mental abilities and datalink told him all he needed to know about this disaster before it happened. Blue Gold Arcology held fifty-two million people at the peak of the primary business day, and its’ support columns had been severed and back up gravity generators destroyed by a series of cutter bombs at the base.

There was no time for anything but trying to save as many people as possible. He commanded all portals within the arcology to lock into emergency exodus mode – they would lock onto the destination chosen by the first person to enter them, and would refuse to accept any incoming traffic. Matos, his superior, beat him by less than a millionth of a second to flashing the emergency via all data channels.

Osh wasn’t concerned for his own safety. Like roughly a seventh of the Imperial population, he was capable of generating his own portals. The question was how many he would be able to save with himself.

Next question, what would happen to the mass of Blue Gold as it fell? Either of the destroyed systems would have had no difficulty keeping the Arcology up alone, but with broken supports and no gravity generators, the hull charge on the building wasn’t enough to keep it from falling – down or over. That hull charge was the real issue, as it was likely to cause irregular resistance as the massive arcology fell, imparting lateral force to the building as a whole. In short, the hull charge made it more likely the building would fall sideways, into the lesser arcologies surrounding it. The choice was to order the hull charge dissipated and hope it fell straight enough not to hit the smaller but still populous arcologies around it, or keep it on in order to buy perhaps an extra minute to escape with a practical certainty it would fall and hit at least one of its lesser brethren, more likely two or three.

Osh ran a quick mental simulation – the structural systems of arcologies were tough. It would take something more than bare mass to bring them down, but if Blue Gold Arcology still had its own hull charge when it hit a neighboring arcology, there was considerable doubt they’d maintain their integrity. He linked with Matos, his superior, who concurred in his estimate, and Matos ordered the hull charge dissipated. It wouldn’t make that much of a difference to those inside Blue Gold Arcology.

Already in the first four seconds, at least a million would have died as the lower floors pancaked, falling ever faster with the force of Sharanna’s acceleration. Ironically, the people at the top would have the longest fall, and therefore the greatest chance to find a way to save themselves. More than eight sixtieths of the imperial population were Guardians, and most of them would be able to rescue some non-operants as well – perhaps two or three each. Perhaps another five or six sixtieths might make it through a portal on time. Some few would be close enough to vehicles or spacecraft on the parking levels to get out. Isolated individuals might figure something out that enabled them to escape or be rescued, but already the lowest levels were crushed debris, and the levels above were crashing to ground with ever greater force. Osh estimated than probably eighteen million would die in the minute it would take for the collapse to complete itself – at the end, the top floors would be falling at supersonic speeds. Most of the non-operants were simply too far inside the building to have any hope of escape.

Osh, Matos, and all three of Osh’s Primus subordinates were among the Guardians – one of them, Fridalisa, was a known Fourth Order Guardian, and she had already created a portal for everyone in the government office to escape the fall, with a terminus in Leading Edge Arcology, too far away to be endangered by the fall of Blue Gold. Aided by Matos she was expanding it downwards as fast as she could – an escape column in one corner of a building several kilometers on a side. It wasn’t much, but it was what could be done. Matos and the Primuses had the situation in hand; that left Osh free to investigate.

He stretched his perception to the now crushed sublevels where the explosion had been. There was a fading Instance Portal not five steps from one of the blast centers. Where it led, he couldn’t tell, but it wasn’t the home Instance. There wasn’t much doubt; the ston terrorist who planted the bombs had fled through that portal. The time for action was now; in the next minute tracking down the exit Instance, let alone a precise destination, would be something that would take a specialist days at least to track down. Osh didn’t want to emerge right on top of his quarry, so he applied a small lateral – thirty ififths. He was confident he would be able to sort out the proper Personal Event Line from that distance. He reached his hand into his personal pocket for his main weapon, and projected himself through the portal.

It’s time to delve into the Q. & A.

This my favourite part. My Questions are crafted to give a reader a clear look at how an author writes; what drives them; and what can be expected in their books.

 

Carol Ann: What genre would you say the book falls into?

Dan Melson: Space Opera. It has elements of action/adventure and coming of age story, but it’s a space opera.

 

Carol Ann: Are there any trigger warnings and/or explicit content readers should know about?

Dan Melson: Two non-sexual adult situation scenes, including one with nudity

 

Carol Ann: What is your favourite Quote?

Dan Melson: “Don’t you have any adults on this planet?”

 

Carol Ann: What advice do you have for new writers?

Dan Melson: The same advice my dachshunds would have about most things: Persistence will get you there. Don’t expect to succeed immediately. I’ve been writing for forty years. Some of it, I’m really glad it wasn’t published. But everything you write will help you. The difference between the master and the novice is that the master has failed more times than the novice has tried. I’m not claiming to be anything like a master, but it’s the failures that helped me learn.

 

Carol Ann: Where do you write?

Dan Melson: By preference, at my desktop at home. I really appreciate having a good keyboard and a good trackball and a broadband connection for research on the fly. But I can write on my laptop any time I have half an hour to work with.

 

Carol Ann: Are your characters real to you? Do you speak to them?

Let me illustrate: In pretty much all of my stories, the characters – not me – have had better ideas that have changed my pre-planned plot significantly, making it better.

 

Carol Ann: What piece of advice from other authors do you hear the most but choose to ignore?

Dan Melson: Follow the market. The money is in traditional publishing.

 

Carol Ann: Which do you prefer – Novels or Novellas and why?

Dan Melson: Evidence says novels. Every one of my stories has been over 60,000 words. The characters think things through. They make plans in response to events, and sometimes the adversaries do smart things too. You can’t gloss the thought process of the characters coming up with something better. Not and have it be an actual thought process.

 

Carol Ann: Are there any Easter eggs in your book(s)?

Dan Melson: General pop culture references, yes. Teasing other story lines from other works, which is what I consider to be Easter Eggs, I try to avoid except where necessary. They’re cool, but they can also alienate someone who’s giving you a try for the first time.

 

Carol Ann: What’s your favourite food? Have you ever mentioned it in your book(s)?

Dan Melson: Barbecued tri-tip roast, red-rare in the center. At one point, it’s mentioned as being contributed to a potluck, but it’s not the favorite food of any of my characters. Just a convenient thing to use in that particular example.

 

Carol Ann: Do you have a writing Motto?

Dan Melson: The readers can forgive anything but boredom. That said, the best stories are worked into a framework of the way things actually work. Do your research, get your facts right. If you have to distort something from the way it actually works, it will also distort the story. Figure out a story that works with reality as best you can picture it.

 

Carol Ann: If you could change the date to any year past or future, what date would you change it to and why?

Dan Melson: I have an almost boundless confidence in the ability of humans as individuals to adapt and overcome and make things better. If I could change the date, I’d go forward as far as possible. Yes, I’d have to learn everything all over again, completely start over as far as every skill I possess. But I’m as confident as I can be that it would be worth the effort.


Thank you for your time. I hope you’ve enjoyed this Q. & A. Session. I’ve already picked up a copy of The Man From Empire. Watch for my review coming soon. If you are looking for a copy, follow the links!

Kindle page: https://www.amazon.com/Man-Empire-Rediscovery-Book-ebook/dp/B00FDLKNXU

Paperback page: https://www.amazon.com/Man-Empire-Rediscovery-Dan-Melson/dp/1493682822

Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Dan-Melson/e/B00FSDT1MC

Book Reviews

Review: Binti: Home by Nnedi Okorafor

Binti, first uniter of the Meduse and Humans in tentative peace, first of the Himba tribe to be accepted into the Oomza University far from Earth, has now been at university for a year in this follow-up to Nnedi Okorafor’s Binti titled Binti: Home. And it feels like a seamless transition from the first novella to this sequel, also a novella.

As a continuation of the first story, albeit a year later, we get to see the growth that Binti has made in her studies at university and that she maintains a relationship with not only the Khoush and the Meduse, but also longs to go home. As she’s able to with a Meduse, she is able to act as the bridge between it, as the first Meduse peaceful ambassador to Earth, and humans–specifically her tribe.

As much as leaving changed her in ways that she couldn’t imagine, so does going home. She is confronted by family and friends who judge her for leaving, for changing, and blame her for things she could not reasonably be blamed for. Feeling outcast yet again, she ends up going on a journey again – this time, she expects normal life as one of womanhood, but it turns out so very different than she anticipated.

She’s the one who has changed the most and we don’t see her family at all in the first novella, so we only see how they respond to her having changed so much. It’s a powerful way to show how much she is going against the grain with her family and her tribe, and how they are developed enough to respond fearfully, with distinctly human and secluded human reactions. The pain she feels is real; we are also exposed to some flashbacks that develop our understanding of how she ended up down the path she is heading, how she is different than what her father expected, how she’s had to give up so much (as her father has given up his dreams for her) to become who she is intended to be.

The exposition provided is stunning. Characters are not only well-developed, but so is the setting, the reactions everyone has, the events, and the pacing that engages the reader from beginning to end. At 168 pages, it could take fewer than two hours to complete it, but it feels like so much less and leaves us wanting for more. Binti is a very real and realized person on her journey to become more her and each journey she goes on helps immensely with that.

This story left on a pretty big cliffhanger and the next one, The Binti Masquerade, doesn’t come out until January 2018. I’ve got it on pre-order and can’t wait to review it!  This series is definitely at least a 4.5 out of 5 stars.  Also, relevant news for those who enjoy tv and movie adaptations of books, Okorafor announced the morning of July 10th, that her novel, Who Fears Death, has been contracted with HBO to be turned into a tv series.

Articles

5 Books to Read Before Summer Ends

It’s mid-August and the lazy days of summer are coming to an end. It’s not too late to reach your reading goal for the season. These are short and easy reads you won’t want to miss out on and can finish.

Coin-Op Carter by Sean Benham

At a mere 20 pages, this is the perfect read to squeeze in over a lunch or before bed. Benham has a talent for short stories. In this Was justice served? tale, a homeless man obsessed with quarters has a run in with a bad cop.

https://www.amazon.com/Coin-Op-Carter-Sean-Benham-ebook/dp/B072N3PLML

A Doctor to Dragons by Scott G. Huggins

One of my favourite reads of the year comes in at 51 pages. This tale would be a great family read by the campfire or on a rainy afternoon. Huggins answers the question, where do mythical creatures go when they are sick? The story revolves around saving a Dark Lord’s pet dragon who has armour stuck in its intestine.

https://www.amazon.com/Doctor-Dragons-G-Scott-Huggins-ebook/dp/B0713QBG3C

Liquid Gambit by Bonnie Milani

This Sci-Fi piece weighs in at 53 pages. A tale of life on a space station, where slaves and justice are both for sale. This story revolves around one particular bar owned by a lupin (wolf man). He is used to seeing injustice, but this time he can’t turn a blind eye.

https://www.amazon.com/Liquid-Gambit-Bonnie-Milani-ebook/dp/B016JH06VK

Francesco Augustine Bernadone: A Brief History of Our Tomorrows by Stan Faryna

LITRPG  is a hot genre right now and this novella fits in nicely. It’s a little longer than my other choices listed at 124 pages, but it is worth the time. Faryna writes a thought provoking tale about human nature that will send chills down your spine.

https://www.amazon.com/Francesco-Augustine-Bernadone-Tomorrows-Bucharest-ebook/dp/B071S75DWB

Herbal Lore by K.J. Simmill

My final choice isn’t about book size, but rather more due to the time of year. It’s harvest time for many fresh herbs and this is one of the most complete and helpful guides to their uses I have found. Whether for medicine or magic, readers will find easy to follow, step-by-step instructions. A handy reference book to have around.

https://www.amazon.com/Herbal-Lore-Guide-Medicine-ebook/dp/B012TKXW6C

Thanks for joining me. Until next time, happy reading.

Interviews

Q&A: Daryl J. Ball

I love it when a new author is born and I can help others discover them! Today, I’m chatting with Daryl J. Ball about his debut novel The Tannis Project which was released June 22, 2017.

Being a nearly 200-year-old vampire comes with a lot of experience…and a lot of baggage.

In his weekly blog, Tannis reflects on the experiences and people that have shaped his life, as well as his budding romance with single mother, Kayla. Adaptation ensures survival but offers little insight on falling in love with a human. Kayla accepts him and his struggles, but can he do the same? Her teenage son, Tie, is a challenge all on his own. He may not be ready for a new father, especially one who’s a vampire.

For the first time in his life, Tannis struggles to adapt. Do the rewards outweigh the risks? Having his own family seems like a dream come true, but dreams can just as easily become nightmares.

I asked Daryl to share a bit about himself and here’s what he had to say:

Born in Ontario, Canada in 1977, Daryl J Ball has spent many of his years with one feline pal or another.  He developed a love for reading at a young age especially in regards to Science Fiction and Fantasy.

You can subscribe to his newsletter at http://eepurl.com/cPzqqr

We’ve been provided a short excerpt to share with our readers.

Let’s take a look inside the book:

When I was born, my parents gave me the fascinating name  of  Ignace. I  say fascinating  because of its’ meaning which is that it suggests I am innocent. There is nothing wrong with the name and I used it proudly for many years. I made the mistake not long ago of revealing that name to Kayla, and she on occasion uses it when she is trying to be sweet and loving, as she feels it should register on a different level with me when I hear it; one of loving familiarity. The truth is, it’s a name that is a part of my past and if it makes Kayla feel good to know it and use it in private when talking to me then that is fine. It is not the name I go by these days nor have I gone by it in quite some time.

How long, maybe you wonder? Even after I was turned in Algeria I clung to that name—the last truly mortal part of my life, a reminder of what I had been, and so an anchor to the world I could never really be part of any longer, the family I could never really properly connect with again.

The Tannis Project is available on Amazon at http://lrd.to/tannis-project

It’s time to delve into the Q. & A.

This my favourite part. My Questions are crafted to give a reader a clear look at how an author writes; what drives them; and what can be expected in their books.

Question: Who is your favourite character in your book and why?  

Answer: Jeremiah simply because he’s so different from the rest of them as far as personality. He seems to be the vampire who comes closest to living in the everyday world as far as his awareness of things going on around him.

Question: Please describe him/her/they a) physically b) their personality.

Answer: a) Jeremiah has spent decades being equal parts heavily involved in music and being a part of vampire activities alongside his sire, so he tends to be fairly lean yet well-muscled and has cultivated a slight rockstar-type approach to how he dresses.  That said he keeps his hair as short as he can without shaving it.
b) He’s very outgoing and of all the vampires has probably the strongest connection to his emotions which makes him very different in his outlook. Like the others, he thinks pretty highly of himself but it seems to affect his interactions with other people the least.  

Question: Could I have a couple of quotes from your book of dialogue that shows that personality?

Answer: Due to the nature of the book being written in blog entry format, there is almost no dialogue.  That said though, Jeremiah does at one point get to state to the reader his opinion of his sire, Tannis, and a few others:

“Tannis: Thinks too much, getting senile.  Destined to die at my hand.”

“Tie: Blinder than a bat wearing sunglasses when it comes to reality”

“Eamon: No clue, Irish maybe?”

“Imeda: Cad, the cadaver-maker, obsessive, vengeance-driven werewolf on steroids.”

Question: What genre would you say the book falls into?

Answer: Paranormal/Contemporary Fantasy/Vampire

Question: Are there any trigger warnings and/or explicit content readers should know about?

Answer: There are several different forms of assault that take place.  Mostly bear in mind it’s a book told through the eyes of a vampire, there’s going to be some less than pleasing stuff mentioned in passing.

Question: Do you have any upcoming events?

Answer: I’m still in the planning stages, so nothing scheduled.  Alongside several other authors though I’ll be selling at the Mill Race Folk Festival in Cambridge, Ontario the weekend of August 4-6

Question: What is next for you? Do you have anything in the works?

Answer: I’m currently working on the first round of revisions to the first book in a planned fantasy series.  It primarily involves elves, humans, the idea of family, and a need for closure.  The current plan is to release it early in 2018.

Question: Do you have any special mentions? (Editor, cover art etc…)

Answer: Lia Rees (Free Your Words), Ravyn Crescent (Nevermore Editing), and Anika Willmanns (Ravenborn Cover Designs)- they formatted, edited, and designed the cover respectively.  They took The Tannis Project and helped me bring it to life in ways I could never have initially imagined.

Question: If you could go anywhere in the world where would it be? Please describe the place rather than just a name. (The weather, the time of day, the ground, the surroundings, foliage, etc.)

Answer: Anywhere? I don’t know where such a place might exist but if there’s somewhere where it’s not near the Arctic or ridiculously hot, and is free of buzzing insects (this includes flies – the buzz!) I’d like to go there.  I used to love the outdoors but I don’t spend enough time in it anymore due to either heat, buzzing insects or a combination of the two.

Question: If the character from above were in that place what would they be doing?

Answer: Jeremiah would be drinking it all in and writing songs inspired by his surroundings.  He’d likely then try to get a concert organized there.

Question: If your character was allowed one chance to say anything to your readers, what would he/she/they say?

Answer: Jeremiah would say something along the lines of “Why are you trusting anything Tannis says? He is a deplorable person! Are you aware of the horrific things he’s done??”

Question:  If your character could donate to any charity, which one would he/she choose?  

Answer: Jeremiah would donate to causes more than charities, and as far as causes go, it’d be ones that support those in the LGBT community, wherever in the world they may be.  If we were to be talking about Tannis, who is the primary character in the book, he’d support literacy and education in countries where it is most needed.


Thank you for your time. If you are looking for more information you can connect with this author online using the following links:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorDarylJBall/

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/DarylBallTM

Until next time, happy reading!

Articles

Binti: First of a Space-Faring Peace-Bringer Series

A fellow teacher and avid reader decided to do a reading challenge last year for books that could be nominated and voted on for the Hugo Awards. It got me thinking that I should check out the (at the time) current list to get some ideas about what to read. Binti by Nnedi Okorafor, which I made mention of here, immediately caught my eye. It was one of the winners the award for Best Novella in 2016, and with good reason.

Binti is the first in a series that Okorafor is working on centering on a girl of sixteen, named Binti. Set in the future where space-faring is a thing and humans still cling to traditions and prejudices and anger in the face of progress and co-existing with aliens. It’s an interesting juxtaposition – having grown up on Star Trek, the best envisioning of humans shedding money and prejudice for a peaceful society, that attitude is a bit pervasive when I approach new sci-fi books. It’s nice to see books, such as this, where humans still struggle with some of the same things we do currently – but with aliens and technology.

Binti is also the titular character. This is her story. It is, very humanly, a story of her yearning to be more than what social structures demand of her. She runs away from home at 16 to leave her tribe, the Himbi, her village, Africa, and even earth to travel to Oomza Uni to become one of only 5% humans studying at a higher level. She was able to be accepted in part because of her education regarding math and harmonizing, taught to her by her father. It’s a unique way of being able to use math and numbers to help bring harmony to any situation.

The biggest thing about her skills here is that she was the only one of her tribe to go and was surrounded by the Khoush the entire flight – the enemy tribe, the one that considers hers to be inferior and weird and way too insular. The way the characters interacted with each other given their prejudices and being forced together on a long trip gave way to a very natural development of each one of them. She utilized her skills to make the trip easier until catastrophe struck. When the ship came up against the Meduse, an enemy race, again she became utterly alone and had to, again, utilize her harmonizing training. Binti, each Khoush, and each Meduse were confronted with their anger and prejudices and having to adjust to having their worldviews altered.

It isn’t easy on Binti to have to feel utterly alone twice to drive the point home that she was meant to bring harmony and is forever changed by the experiences of leaving home and experiencing trauma. However, it certainly shows the extension of harmonizing between fellow humans, as she was trained to do, furthered to harmonizing with incredibly different, war-like aliens who look and speak and thinking nothing like humans.

That there is a blend of a female lead who is full of uncertainty, natural curiosity, brilliance, desire to do good, desire to bring harmony, and to be more than she was brought up to be, and succeeding is one hundred percent appealing. And, it’s set in the future, and there’s math, and a world where no detail is left unattended, is delightful. As a novella, it is a bit too short given how good it is. The best part is that there are sequels!  

Interviews

Interview: Morgan Smith

What if you weren’t what heroes are made of? What if your life was an open book? What if you were just an ordinary soldier, with ordinary skills and ordinary goals? What if you weren’t “The Chosen One” but still had to try to save the world?

Lured into treason and only narrowly escaping the gallows, Keridwen was desperate to build some kind of life for herself. But between demons bent on death and mayhem, treachery at the very heart of the kingdom, and a prince who had every right to nurse a grudge against her, what were the odds that she could stay out of trouble for long?

“A Spell in the Country” is the story of that soldier – a young woman driven not by prophesy, but by circumstances and coincidence, and by the strengths and weaknesses that anyone might possess.

About the Author

Morgan Smith has been a goatherd, a landscaper, a weaver, a bookstore owner, a travel writer, and an archaeologist, and she will drop everything to travel anywhere, on the flimsiest of pretexts. Writing is something she has been doing all her life, though, one way or another, and now she thinks she might actually have something to say.

I’m sure you have figured out Smith is a fantasy author, but perhaps with a different style from others.

Here’s an excerpt from A Spell in the Country: A Novel of the Averraine Cycle.

I knew, of course, that there was no justification for what I was doing. Oh, I could tell my protesting conscience that I hadn’t ever, in fact, sworn myself to Tirais or to the Queen, for that matter, but I knew that was mere quibbling. I was enough my father’s daughter to know that the oath itself wasn’t the important part.

I could say, with perfect truth, that there wasn’t the time to waste trying to get someone to believe me, that Connor’s safety lay in my ability to get to him in time, that a host of warriors would only slow me down, or that I owed Elowyn this service far more, but it was all nonsense.

I wasn’t doing it for Connor, at least not completely. I did like him. I did want to save him. I thought with horror of what he must be going through, and prayed to the Goddess he would be safe.

I wasn’t doing it for Keraine, though I could see how disastrous this night’s work would be if Angharad succeeded. Nothing in my life conditioned me to accept a Camrhyssi victory while I still breathed, and I couldn’t have let it go without a fight, but that was away in some misty future, and I wouldn’t have claimed it as motivation had I been tortured and racked to do so.

I wasn’t doing it for Elowyn either: she might already be dead, for all I knew, and revenge does nothing for a corpse.

I was doing this for completely selfish and petty reasons. I thought of Angharad’s words, standing in the gallery the night before. She had cost me some bad moments with her lies and her witchery, had made me doubt any number of values that I held dear, and had very probably turned the Queen’s mind against me so that I had been sent away.

And for that, I intended to kill her.

Keep reading, we’ve reached my favourite part – Q&A.

Question: Who is your favourite character in your book and why?

Smith: Keridwen is the main character of “A Spell in the Country” and I love her because she is the antithesis of “the Chosen One” trope. She just gets caught up in this terrible thing, but because she was raised to be a soldier and to take charge to some extent, and because she is both cynical and idealistic in the way only an 18-year-old can be, she confronts everything with determination and stubbornness.

Also, she’s a smartass.

Question: Please describe him/her/they a) physically b) their personality.

Smith: Keri has brown hair and gray eyes, and she probably is fairly average looking. But she’s in really good shape, physically, and she has a lot of attitude and a strong set of principles that make her both exasperating and likeable.

Question: Could I have a couple of quotes from your book of dialogue that shows that personality?

Smith: “Uln’s gone? Do you mean to tell me that the bastard got us here and left us to face the music? And you let him? Oh, Goddess’ tits, do you think you can hang us and let him run off free and clear?”

I was lucky, I suppose, that Gervase was there. He caught at the prince’s arm as he rose, and Tirais did not shake him off, but stood glaring at me.

“You’ll address His Grace with respect, in future,” said Gervase.

“I haven’t got a future,” I said nastily. “If he hasn’t got the jam to take Lord Uln, he’s no business judging us. What good is it to hang the hens for not noticing the fox?”

“I suppose you think you’d have done better? Seeing as how you sleepwalked through Uln’s treason, you feel you’re an authority on this?” Tirais was breathing hard, probably with the effort of not throttling me here and now.

I was aghast. I knew Angharad. Well, all right, “know‟ was a little strong. I had seen her, a number of times. Very lovely, the lady Angharad. And very proud and remote, with lowly troop captains.

I tried to choose my words carefully.

My lady, it’s just that she is Ullin‟s daughter. And we don’t yet know why he was-“

But here Gallerain stood up and loomed over me, his face now purple with rage.

How dare you? You little guttersnipe, how dare you suggest that a sweet and innocent child had even the barest inkling of the treason her parent intended?”

Why not?” I snapped. “You seem to think he confided in me.”

There was one of those tense silences, where everything seems to stop. From the window, I could hear the echoing sound of casual conversation and laughter, and of birds singing. Gallerain sat slowly, heavily, back into his chair, his mouth agape at my audacity, his face a mask of fury.

Question: What genre would you say the book falls into?

Smith: Fantasy. It’s closest to epic fantasy, although Keridwen herself is a bit low-rent.

Question: Are there any trigger warnings and/or explicit content readers should know about?

Smith: Not really. There is no actual sex – although sex is treated somewhat casually in this culture – and there isn’t really a lot of gore or anything.

Question: Do you have any upcoming events?

Smith: Edmonton Comic Con, September 22-24, 2017

Question: What is next for you? Do you have anything in the works?

Smith: I’m over halfway through a new work taking place in the same world, but from a very different POV.

Question: Do you have any special mentions? (Editor, cover art etc…)

Smith: Julie Nicholls did the cover and I love it!

Question: If you could go anywhere in the world where would it be? Please describe the place rather than just a name. (The weather, the time of day, the ground, the surroundings, foliage, etc.)

Smith: Mam Tor, a hillfort in Yorkshire, around 50BC, before the Romans came.

On a spring day, in the early dawn, when the mist is just rising from the hills below, and the grass is beginning to take on the green…

Question: If the character from above were in that place what would they be doing?

Smith: Making barley porridge and complaining about the stench from the latrines.

Question: If your character was allowed one chance to say anything to your readers, what would he/she say?

Smith: “Don’t tell Tirais – he’ll be furious!”

Question: If your character could donate to any charity, which one would he/she choose?

Smith: I’m guessing Planned Parenthood – she’d be appalled that any woman should be forced to bear a child she didn’t want.


I’ve added A Spell in the Country: A Novel of the Averraine Cycle to my TBR pile and I hope a few of you have too! If you’re interested you can follow the universal link: books2read.com/u/brgoxz.

Thank you, Morgan Smith and all my readers for your time!

Book Reviews

Review: Alterations by Jane Suen

I’ve read other works by Jane Suen and her new Novella, Alterations, caught my eye when I saw it was a medical thriller. Of course, the cover helped in that regard.

This is the tale of three women – their fates tied together by one common thread. Each of them is being treated by Dr. Kite. Doctor is a loose term when it comes to this man as he holds no degree. He is, however, a genius and my favourite character in Alterations

The women all have very different issues they need to be addressed. Only one is actually sick and needs the treatment. The other two are battling the bulge and age. Each wants a quick fix with minimal effort. That’s Kite’s speciality and the reason why no one asks him for a degree. Our good doctor has invented a cure–an implant of sorts–but two end up being defective. That’s where the fun begins.

I have to admit if someone promised within an hour they could change me into whatever size I wanted, I’d bite. With all the money women spend on looking younger you can bet there would be a lot who would overlook legalities for youth. This scenario is plausible and that is where Suen’s trademark twist comes into play, leaving the reader with thought-provoking questions.

Alterations is by far my favourite piece by Suen. I enjoyed the both the writing and the characters. I can’t wait for what comes next!

Four out of five stars! A recommended read for thrill seekers and science fiction lovers alike.

The 'Write' Information

Do You Believe in Magic?

How many books have you read where the strongest magic is love?

“I don’t want realism. I want magic!”
― Tennessee Williams, A Streetcar Named Desire

If you are like me, it’s a lot. Whether it’s Harry Potter or even some of my own titles, love can steal the show. It is as strong and powerful as any main character and can foil a villain without violence. But is that notion real or fantasy?

I’d like to share with you a story:

It was anything but a typical Mother’s Day. My husband had been diagnosed with terminal cancer the November prior. He didn’t go out much and I hadn’t expected a gift, but there was one. A tiny rose plant sat on my desk, little red buds ready to explode into blossoms. He told me a cut flower would wither and die but this plant would last forever.

The following January he passed away. The plant sat on my desk, a reminder of his love. I went through another tragedy soon after when my father was diagnosed with terminal cancer and I began home care. He passed away the following January. My rose bush bloomed a single white rose.

You might think nothing of a flower, but the roses had always been red until that day. Now on special occasions such as mother’s day or my birthday I receive a present – flowers in all different colours from the same plant. I’ve seen pink, white, yellow, orange, peach and starburst. To me it’s the very definition of magical.

So, when someone asks if I believe in the magic of love, I will always answer, “Yes, I do.” Until next time, Happy Reading.

Until next time. Happy Reading.