Starfest recap!

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The Doctor and Rose

Friday night I had a work event until late – the Thompson Writing Awards hosted by Center of the American West. We put on a banquet for the student winners of this year’s award. It was a fun event, and Stephen Graham Jones gave the keynote address. He’s a great speaker and has some great things to say about writing. If you ever get a chance, go hear him talk. I didn’t get done with cleanup from that event until after ten p.m. so I didn’t make it down to Starfest until late.

I met up with the Writer and a bunch of other friends and hung out in the bar area until nearly one a.m. catching up with everyone. Saturday was fantastic. I ran into Marc Gunn, I haven’t seem him since Dragon Con last year, along with a couple of other old friends. Dryad Tea agreed to let me put some of my new business cards out for Story of the Month Club, as did Marc and David Boop. (Check out their websites and send them a little love) For old times sake I worked Marc’s booth for a couple of hours (always a good time and I got to hang out with another friend in the process) and worked on handing out my new business cards.

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I am really excited about this new project. When we get it up and running it will be a great deal for authors and readers alike. The basic idea is that, for less than the cost of a latte each month we’ll send subscribers a short story that they can read on their kindle, iPad or other eReader. When we get to 1000 subscribers we’ll be able to pay the authors professional rates for their work. (Sometimes we’ll send out bonus stories too!) I primarily plan on focusing on sci-fi and fantasy for the moment, and then expanding to include other genres as we get more subscribers. If this sounds interesting to you (or you know someone who enjoys sci-fi and fantasy) please subscribe, support the arts, and tell people about what we’re doing. A year’s subscription works out to $18 a year. www.storyofthemonthclub.com

Saturday evening I was surprised to run into Stephen Graham Jones at the con, so I followed him to IMG_0482his panel. (I apologize to everyone for coming in late, and with such a loud jingle skirt on! I forgot how loud it is in small spaces.) I was equally surprised to see that a good portion of my other friends were also on the panel. I’m not a really a horror fan, but hearing what everyone had to say about their favorite horror writers, and how they write horror themselves was pretty entertaining.

Saturday I also had a chance to watch the costume contest. There were some amazing costumes this year and I applaud everyone who entered.

Sunday I checked in with Marc before his first show, and I’m glad I did. He wasn’t feeling well, so I worked his table all day

Laramie and Me working Marc Gunn's booth

Laramie and Me working Marc Gunn’s booth

with his other booth person. It also gave me the chance to hear the Stubby Shillelaghs again. They’re local, and a lot of fun. We did pretty well at the booth while Marc rested, and I managed to hand out a lot more business cards. (Here’s hoping it generates some traffic!)   Overall it was a great weekend, I got quite a few pictures and I had a great time hanging out with everyone and meeting new friends. I look forward to seeing everyone again at DCC in June!

Book Review: Sabaska’s Tale by J.A. Campbell

This book reminds me strongly of a line from Carbon Leaf’s “A Girl and Her Horse”

There’s no use to wait
A girl and her horse will never separate
You were done before
The gun at the starting gate

The story is about a teenage girl (Anna) who loves horses and intends to spend the summer at her recently deceased grandmother’s horse ranch. During the course of the summer she will be selling off the horses and closing up the property. That is… until she discovers that one of the horses, Sabaska, is different and can Travel with her to other realms. After that discovery she spends a great deal of time dodging bad guys and trying to stay alive while finishing her grandmother’s last quest.

It is a story of growth, opportunity and maturation for Anna and introduces us to the world of the Travelers. This is the first novel of the Tales of the Travelers series and J.A. Campbell does an excellent job with her settings and story. I felt like one or two of her characters could have been more developed but I expect they will show up again in subsequent books and give us a more in depth view of their personalities.

This is a good young adult book, especially for those who share J.A. Campbell’s fascination with horses and like a touch of fantasy.

You can purchase this book on Amazon.

Book Review: The Abnorm Chronicles: Twist by Kevin J. Anderson

Book Review: The Abnorm Chronicles: Twist by Kevin J. Anderson

Due to the happy circumstance of being forced to sit in a Barnes and Nobles for two hours, I finally had a chance to finish Twist by Kevin J. Anderson. The book is Brilliant. (Ok, so it’s an inside joke, but I really enjoyed the book, go read it, you’ll see what I mean.)

The book is a murder mystery involving a disabled vet, set in Denver with some… unusual participants. I know a lot of people, when they ready mysteries try and solve the case before the author wants you to, or skip to the last page to get a jump on things. That’s not how I go about reading them, I like waiting to see how the author unfolds the story, so I suspect I figured out who the murderer was about the time he wanted me to. It was a well thought out plot, twisted in it’s own way.

I found the vast majority of the characters to be engaging and engrossing. In reading through the book, my only real complaint was that, though some of the dream sequences were necessary to help build the background of the main character Adam, I didn’t need as many as I got. On the whole it’s a minor complaint.

Murder mysteries aren’t my normal cup of tea, but I’m glad I picked this one up. You can purchase a copy on amazon

Weekend Recap

Wow it was a busy weekend, both on the productive side, and the socializing side.

Friday night The Writer and ventured out to see Captain America: The Winter Soldier. I really enjoyed the storyline of the movie and thought it was well done. I could have done with about twenty minutes fewer explosions though. There were several action scenes that were purely gratuitous. On the whole though it was a fun movie.

Saturday I had the opportunity to spend the day down in Monument visiting a friend’s place. It’s been a while since I had the opportunity to take my doggie to the mountains, so he came with me and we hiked around a bit, then chilled out and read The Lady Astronomer.  Saturday evening I attended a party at said friend’s house and had a lovely time socializing with friends old and new

Sunday I slept in. Boy I do enjoy sleeping in. I also got quite a bit of work done on a new, yet to be revealed project that you will be hearing much about in the future. Keep an eye out, it’s really cool.

I also migrated this website over to a new hosting account. Not all of the links are working yet – sorry about that. Hope to have that fixed soon.

 

 

 

 

 

Book Review – The Lady Astronomer by Katy O’Dowd

I had the lovely experience of spending a recent Saturday afternoon with no internet access. To pass the time I picked up my copy of The Lady Astronomer and dove in. I can say without a doubt that the book and its characters are charming and inviting.

The story follows Lucretia, a studious and budding astronomer, her pets (An owl and a lemur) and her brothers, an astronomer and an inventor as they work to build a Forty Foot Telescope for the king.

I feel like this is a good book for young adults. From start to finish it took me about three hours to read. Parts of the story line feel a bit contrived, and I feel like some of the place descriptions could have been fleshed out a bit more, but the characters are likable, and it made for an afternoon’s pleasant reading. Also, I now want a lemur. Not an actual lemur, but rather one like the one Ms. O’Dowd writes about.

Anomaly Con 2014 Recap

If it’s not blatantly obvious by now, I love conventions. I love the people I meet, the social interaction I get, and all of the pretty, pretty costumes. (Not to mention the pretty, pretty people). Anomaly con was wonderful. I had the opportunity to connect and work with a number of local authors this weekend including Vivian Caethe, J.A. Campbell, Mark Stone, Paul Lell and Josh Vogt. In addition I had time to hang out with friends St. James and Leslie.

I was only able to attend three panels this weekend, one on Zombie Love (that went downhill fast, but was a lot of fun) Flash Fiction –something I’m not yet very good at as yet, and another on Being charming vs. Being creepy at cons. I think the audience agreed that the creepy at con panel should be held on Friday, not on Sunday afternoon. Here’s hoping that can be arranged for future cons.

PendragonCostumeOne of the things I enjoy most about working at conventions is the opportunity to dress in gorgeous costuming. Well, I haven’t updated my wardrobe in a number of years, so I splurged and finally got one of the Pendragon outfits that I have always lusted after. As a side note, being laced and unlaced into corsets and bodices by an attractive man on his knees for an hour is really a good boost to the day… granted I did tell him in advance that I was going to spend a lot of money at his booth, so I had his undivided attention.

As always, the con winds down, and now it’s Monday and I can barely keep my eyes open. I’ve got ideas for a half a dozen new projects, some of which I might actually get to and I’m looking forward to Starfest next month.

 

Eyestrain – it’s not a writer’s friend

I’ve been struggling to actually keep up with my writing for the past few weeks -turning out about 1000 words a day, if that. This morning, I finally figured out what the main problem actually was… it hurts to look at my computer screen.

Now, I HAVE a set of computer glasses, when I started my most recent 8-5 job I noticed that I was having some issues, so I took the time to go get a special prescription. But then again… it does’t help to have computer glasses if you don’t actually wear them. I’ve had a low level eye strain headache for the past three weeks. Yesterday I made a concerted effort to turn off all of my electronics and not look at computer screens for a while.

Today I spent two hours with my glasses off, listening to an audio book (Kushiel’s Dart by Jacqueline Carey for those that are curious – love the book AND I love the reader they got for it) Finally about noon my eyes started to hurt less. I think it’s going to take another few days to fully recover though, even as I type this, I can feel the strain coming back.

Remember folks, don’t stare at your computer screens for too long.

I have talented friends… and linkage

It has come to my attention recently that I have a LOT of really cool and talented friends doing really cool and talented stuff. Below is a list, alphabetized and categorized as best I may. Some folks should probably be in at least two categories, but I picked the one I felt worked best. If I left someone off – I blame the insomnia from last night – ping me and I’ll be happy to add you.

Authors
Ben Hamby https://www.etsy.com/shop/skydogs
Bob Greenberger http://www.bobgreenberger.com/
David Boop http://www.davidboop.com/
Guy Anthony De Marco & Tonya L De Marco http://guyanthonydemarco.com/
Keith R.A. DeCandido http://www.sff.net/people/krad/
Kevin J Anderson & Rebecca Moesta http://www.kevinjanderson.com/
Paul Lell http://www.kalijor.com/
Peter J. Wacks http://peterjwacks.com/
Quincy J Allen http://www.quincyallen.com/
Sam Knight http://samknight.com/
Vivian Caethe http://www.viviancaethe.com/

Artists
Marrus http://www.marrusart.com/
Robert Quill http://www.robertquill.com/
Zoe Frasure

Bloggers
Colleen Luckett http://redheadinjapan.wordpress.com/
Karen Brady http://glutenfreecarbs.wordpress.com/

Musicians
Andrew McKee http://andrewmckee.com/
Emerald Rose http://www.emeraldrose.com/
Iris & Rose http://www.iris-n-rose.com/
Marc Black http://www.marcblack.com/web3/
Marc Gunn http://marcgunn.com/
Pandora Celtica http://www.pandoraceltica.com/
Stephanie Bettman & Luke Halpin http://www.stephaniebettman.com/
Voltaire http://www.voltaire.net/

Photography
Rachel Jardine Demartin http://racheldemartin.com/Honey Lindburg http://www.sweetashoneyphotos.com

Theater, Dance & Movies
Susan Rahmsdorff https://www.facebook.com/ScarletSeamstressCostumes
Terra Taylor Knudson http://www.aterrafirma.com/ & http://www.oliotheatreworks.org/
Whitney Rowlett Senn http://www.countstonine.com/

Random stuff
Dryad Tea http://dryadtea.com/
Antonio Centeno http://www.atailoredsuit.com/

Review: Bloodletting Part 1 – Peter J. Wacks and Mark Ryan

Bloodletting_Cover_FinalThis is the first book in a new Epic Fantasy series, the Affinities Cycle, by Peter J. Wacks and Mark Ryan. It can be purchased through storybundle.com this month alongside books by Neil Gaiman, Brandon Sanderson, Kevin J. Anderson and more. (It’s a steal at this price).

I had the opportunity to read Bloodletting Part 1 this weekend during a plane ride to and from Denver, not ideal circumstances I admit. Chapter 0, necessary for giving an overview of the world, was denser than I generally care for. The story starts at Chapter 1, in an idyllic fantasy novel setting – the small village.

Shortly thereafter the screams of small children accompanied me as I dove into the first battle scene in the book. They provided an appropriate soundtrack to feel like I had been transported as the kidnapping, death and destruction began.

After the initial shock of battle and the ensuing chase the book calms down, allowing us to get to know the main characters, Tetra and his sister Halli, as well as some of the new races that Mr. Wacks and Mr. Ryan introduce us to. We get a great look at Tetra’s motivations and determination, as well as the bond that sustains both he and his sister through their trials and tribulations. (And they are many and varied.)

This book feels like what it is – the first book in what will hopefully be a much longer series. Well written and engaging, in the vein of George R.R. Martin, but not as intimidatingly long, it’s worth picking up.

Review: A Whiskey Jack in a Murder of Crows – by Sam Knight

So, I took advantage of the Kobo deal that I posted about back on February 18th. I’ll admit it; I read a lot, so the offer of free books was too tempting. When I’m on a roll I finish three to four books a week. My usual genres are sci-fi, fantasy and historical fiction. It’s been a long time since I’ve read a western or a mystery, but I’m trying to branch out.  Sam Knight’s book rolled both into one and was a real treat.

Here is the blurb from the book:

Rainbow County California

Unrivaled sunsets, placid lakeside orchards, pleasant mountain vineyards, and a rural lifestyle.

The only thing that stopped this place from being idyllic was the noise from the cars on the highway. And murder.

Left for dead, helpless as he watched the murder of his family, Jack is a broken man.

Six months later, Jack is attempting to recover, both in body and in soul, at a vineyard he inherited from his uncle. California Wine Country seems like a good place to start over and escape the nightmares of his daughter’s dying cries.

Until the local barkeep tells Jack his uncle was murdered.

Whiskey Jack was a quick read, with excellent dialog that allowed you to get a real feel for the characters.

The scenes where Mr. Knight describes and replays the murder of Jack’s daughter and his wife were some of the most chilling in the book and had me shuddering in my seat. His reprisal of Jack’s daughter’s last words throughout the book made for an eerie look into a tortured soul.

The story itself touches on something that has been a hot topic for Westerners for as long as the US has existed; dealing with land rights and water rights (couched in mayhem and murder). Mr. Knight, through his handling of the mystery, proves that he has a good grasp of both, and illustrates well the lengths that people will go to for love of money.

With the graphic content and heavy topic matter I expected to find the book difficult. Instead I found it to be a quick and enjoyable read.

Sam Knight is a Colorado based author. You can visit him on the web at http://samknight.com/

You can purchase A Whiskey Jack in a Murder of Crows Here