Saturday Miscellany-8/24/19

Gotta make this quick, off to the Boise Library!’s annual Comic Arts Festival to hopefully not spend all my spare change.

After a blunder last week that probably caused a little unintentional offense, I’ve tweaked my template for this post (specifically, the placeholder text). Invariably, when I do that, something goes awry—if something looks odd, would someone drop a line?

A pretty eclectic mix this week, hope you enjoy these odds ‘n ends about books and reading that caught my eye. You’ve probably seen some/most/all of them, but just in case:

*Yes, I threw that in just for Bookstooge’s reaction. To play along, watch the comments.

    A Book-ish Related Podcast Episode you might want to give a listen to:

  • Episode Eighty Five – Steve is Live from North Carolina with Adrian McKinty—I shouldn’t have listened to this at work, I probably got a couple of strange looks from laughing. It’s one thing to read Adrian McKinty’s story about The Chain, it’s another to hear him tell it. He is a riot (and, as usual, when Steve Cavanagh isn’t increasing my blood pressure through his prose, he’s laugh-inducing, too)

    This Week’s New Release that I’m Excited About and/or You’ll Probably See Here Soon:

  • The Warehouse by Rob Hart—The Real Book Spy says: ” Set in the confines of a corporate panopticon that’s at once brilliantly imagined and terrifyingly real, The Warehouse is a near-future thriller about what happens when Big Brother meets Big Business–and who will pay the ultimate price.” and that it has ” has legit best-book-of-the-year potential.”

Lastly, I’d like to say hi and extend a warm welcome to Tammy (great site logo), Curled up with a good book, Kathryn Speckels and ChadeeMañago for following the blog this week.

Advertisements

Opening Lines—The Swallows by Lisa Lutz

Head & Shoulders used to tell us that, “You never get a second chance to make a first impression.” That’s true for wearing dark shirts, and it’s especially true for books. Sometimes the characters will hook the reader, sometimes the premise, sometimes it’s just knowing the author—but nothing beats a great opening for getting a reader to commit. This is one of the better openings I’ve read recently. Would it make you commit?

Some teachers have a calling. I’m not one of them.

I don’t hate teaching. I don’t love it either. That’s also my general stance on adolescents. I understand that one day they’ll rule the world and we’ll all have to live with the consequences. But there’s only so much I’m willing to do to mitigate that outcome. You’ll never catch me leaping atop my desk, quoting Browning, Shakespeare, or Jay-Z. I don’t offer my students sage advice or hard-won wisdom. I don’t dive into the weeds of their personal lives, parsing the muck of their hormone-addled brains. And I sure as hell never learned as much from them as they did from me.

It’s just a job, like any other. It has a litany of downsides, starting with money and ending with money, and a host of other drawbacks in between. There are a few perks. I like having summers off; I like winter and spring breaks; I like not having a boss breathing over my shoulder; I like books and talking about books and occasionally meeting a student who makes me see the world sideways. But I don’t get attached. I don’t get involved. That was the plan, at least.

from The Swallows by Lisa Lutz

Saturday Miscellany—8/17/2019

I just had to mark 3 comments as Spam today, I’d like to thank those kind people looking for ways to make me money from the bottom of my heart (for reminding me why I moderate comments). How do people with real traffic on their blog handle it?

Odds ‘n ends over the week about books and reading that caught my eye. You’ve probably seen some/most/all of them, but just in case:

    This Week’s New Releases I’m Excited About and/or You’ll Probably See Here Soon:

    • Thirteen by Steve Cavanagh—the U. S. release of Eddie Flynn dealing with a Serial Killer on the jury of his latest case. I raved about this a couple of weeks ago. You don’t have to know the previous novels in the series to appreciate this one, I should stress.
    • Hacked by Duncan MacMaster—MacMaster is one of the best at combining fun and great mysteries at work today. As I assume this sequel to Hack will demonstrate.
    • The Swallows by Lisa Lutz—A dark past comes back to haunt the woman running from it (one of Lutz’s specialties) as she accidentally kicks off a gender war at a New England Prep School. Last Saturday, I discovered I won a copy of this when it arrived on my doorstep. It’s been sitting on my desk since, calling my name…

    Lastly, I’d like to say hi and extend a warm welcome to Kitty Marie’s Book Reviews Blog, rashidul.huda, Lashaan Balasingam @ Bookidote, Naba Kumar Garai, Psychotherapist ,Counsellor, Film Screenwriter,Playwright,Producer – LONDON.UK and Sonam Sangpo Lama for following the blog this week. (WHERE did you all come from!?)

    A Few Quick Questions With…Christy J. Breedlove

    I talked a little bit ago about, Screamcatcher: Web World and now I have the pleasure of sharing a Q&A I did with the author, Christy J. Breedlove. I liked the book and I like what she had to say here (there seems to be a theme…). I hope you enjoy and I hope this helps convince you to give Breedlove and her work a shot.

    Tell us about your road to publication — was your plan/dream always to become a novelist and your education/other jobs were just to get you to this point, or was this a later-in-life desire?
                         My early writing accomplishment were multiple hits within a few years: In my first year of writing back in 1987, I wrote three Sf short stories that were accepted by major slick magazines which qualified me for the Science Fiction Writers of America, and at the same time achieved a Finalist award in the L. Ron Hubbard Writers of the Future Contest. This recognition garnered me a top gun SF agent at the time, Richard Curtis Associates. My first novel went to John Badham (Director) and the Producers, the Cohen Brothers. Only an option, but an extreme honor. The writer who beat me out of contention for a feature movie, was Michael Crichton’s Jurassic Park. My book was called Dinothon.

    A year after that I published two best-selling non-fiction books and landed on radio, TV, in every library in the U.S. and in hundreds of newspapers.

    I have been trying to catch that lightning in a bottle ever since. My YA dystopian novel, The Girl They Sold to the Moon won the grand prize in a publisher’s YA novel writing contest, went to a small auction and got tagged for a film option. So, I’m getting there, I hope!

    I don’t want to ask “where do you get your ideas?” But out of all the ideas floating around in your head, why’d you latch onto this one — what was it about these characters, this idea that drove you to commit months/years to it?
                         I was always under the illusion that everything hasn’t been done. I fool myself into think that because premise is my number one priority. If it isn’t unique, out-of-the-box or distinctive, I won’t attempt it. We have a dream catcher in the living room, and one day I stared at it and remember some of the legend behind it. Then I looked up the lore associated with the dream catcher. That really started a fire within.
    What kinds of research went into the construction of this concept and the world? What was the thing you came across in your research that you loved, but just couldn’t figure out how to use? (assuming there was one)
                         It all started with the dream catcher. This iconic item, which is rightfully ingrained in Indian lore, is a dream symbol respected by the culture that created it. It is mystifying, an enigma that that prods the imagination. Legends about the dream catcher are passed down from multiple tribes. There are variations, but the one fact that can be agreed upon is that it is a nightmare entrapment device, designed to sift through evil thoughts and images and only allow pleasant and peaceful dreams to enter into consciousness of the sleeper.

    I wondered what would happen to a very ancient dream catcher that was topped off with dreams and nightmares. What if the nightmares became too sick or deathly? What if the web strings could not hold anymore visions? Would the dream catcher melt, burst, vanish, implode? I reasoned that something would have to give if too much evil was allowed to congregate inside of its structure. I found nothing on the Internet that offered a solution to this problem—I might have missed a relevant story, but nothing stood out to me. Stephen King had a story called Dream Catcher, but I found nothing in it that was similar to what I had in mind. So I took it upon myself to answer such a burning question. Like too much death on a battlefield could inundate the immediate location with lost and angry spirits, so could a dream catcher hold no more of its fill of sheer terror without morphing into something else, or opening up a lost and forbidden existence. What would it be like to be caught up in another world inside the webs of a dream catcher, and how would you get out? What would this world look like? How could it be navigated? What was the source of the exit, and what was inside of it that threatened your existence? Screamcatcher: Web World, the first in the series, was my answer. I can only hope that I have done it justice. The readers can be the judge of that.

    Who are some of your major influences? (whether or not you think those influences can be seen in your work — you know they’re there)
                         Oh, like what I consider stylists: Poul Anderson, Virgin Planet, Peter Benchley, The Island and Jaws, Joseph Wambaugh, The Onion Field and Black Marble, Michael Crichton, Jurassic Park, Alan Dean Foster, Icerigger trilogy, and some Stephen King. Anne Rice impresses with just about anything she has written. I think it’s the humor and irony that attracts me the most–and it’s all character related As far as Ya material, I was really floored when I studied Jo Rowling’s world building. As far as dangers, toils and snares, I was attracted to the action in The Hunger Games—a real mind changer for me.

    What’s the one (or two) book/movie/show in the last 5 years that made you say, “I wish I’d written that.”?
                         Totally off the spec genre, I was captivated by Rocketman, the story of Elton John, and Bohemian Rhapsody, the story of Queen. I’m a sucker for bio-dramas, like Cinderella Man, and such. There is something about the human struggle to fame and fortune that fascinated me. I get emotionally involved in the character/characters. It’s true to life, and I’ve a similar life picture painted with such ups and down.
    I see there’s another Screamcatcher volume on the way, are there more to come after that? Or have you latched on to some other idea for what’s next, and can you tell us a little about that?
                         Two more Screamcatcher books are finished and sold to the same publisher. The second in the trilogy is called Screamcatcher: Dream Chasers. The third and final is called Screamcatcher: The Shimmering Eye. By the second book, the kids have formed the Badlands Paranormal Society. The fancy themselves as true paranormal investigators since they escaped alive from the first Web World in book 1. The third books, via the blessings of George Knapp, investigative reporter out of Las Vegas, is my fiction account of what really happened at Skin Walker Ranch, the most haunting tale I’ve ever heard in my life.
    Thanks for your time—and thanks for Screamcatcher, I enjoyed it, and hope you have plenty of success with it.
                         I’m honored, H.C. Newton to grace your pages and thank you for your time and consideration of my life and work.

    A Few Quick Questions With…Richard Steele

    So, yeah, Richard Steele’s book wasn’t my kind of thing, but like I said, Steele’s been great throughout. I appreciate his answers here and it helps me get what he was going for. I know there are people out there who’ll dig his stuff, and hope they find it.

    I’ve never been given a warning before from an author after agreeing to read their book—what was behind that? Would you warn all your readers?
                         I’d probably best describe this decision as “Debut Author Jitters”.

    I wrote Time Travel + Brain Stealing… by the seat of my pants (a big no-no for many writers), with almost no outlining and all spontaneity. It was quite a ride! Because of this, I labeled it’s genre Dark Humor from what I subjectively believed it to be, rather than the roller coaster of insanity it turned out to be.

    It was only until I received my first review from a reader who was taken aback by the gore and vulgarity that I realized I may have misplaced the genre of my book, and therefore the pending reviewers who were currently reading it in good faith were also under that same false impression.

    I researched and researched and found its home in Bizarro Fiction, albeit a rather vanilla version when compared to others, and felt it was my duty as an Author to let those who dedicated their time voluntarily to read my book know there was a potential for some to be offended by my writing and give them an opportunity to decide if this new genre was best suited to their reading taste.

    Would I warn everyone now? No, I believe my honest blurb and preface should suffice. It was more time, place and circumstance. With my previous warning and I’ve learnt very quickly that my audience is out there, but so too are my critics and I can’t control that if I want to write how I want to write.

    I’ve not come across anything that describes itself as “Bizarro Fiction,” for the myself and the rest of the uninitiated, could you describe that genre?
                         Join the club! It is a great genre I literally stumbled into, and I’m sure those who are fanatic Bizarro readers may even argue that my book is too vanilla for it. However, I would deem Bizarro to be that line you cross in Dark Humor where you incorporate gore, over the top violence, toilet humor and gross-out comedy with a blend of satire and wit.

    It goes beyond what the average person would deem comfortable and forces them to laugh or contemplate laughing at situations they ordinarily wouldn’t or shouldn’t.

    Tell us about your road to publication — was your plan/dream always to become a novelist and your education/other jobs were just to get you to this point, or was this a later-in-life desire?
                         I did what a lot of first time foolish authors do and sent it to the big publishers, thinking I cracked a niche and had the perfect new formula.

    A few nice rejections later and a small press independent publisher in Tenth Street Press found me and loved the boundaries I was pushing. They gave me a chance I believe I may have never found elsewhere to write pure and free.

    I actually drafted this book as a set of small short stories when I was twelve, albeit a diluted and less Bizarro-esque version. I always remembered that feeling of making others laugh or cry or run away in horror at my writing and although I have a serious full-time occupation, that urge to write bizarre comedy never left me and only grew stronger the older I got.

    In saying that, I’m still relatively young to publish (unless you believe my Author Bio then I’m almost retired), and I’m hoping this is the first of many books.

    Who are some of your major influences? (whether or not you think those influences can be seen in your work — you know they’re there)
                         Ah, well I can’t go past the late and great Leslie Nielsen who whilst he wasn’t an author, his style of satire and slap-stick comedy in the likes of ‘The Naked Gun’, ‘Spy Hard’ and my favorite ‘Wrongfully Accused’ have stuck with me for decades.

    I always wanted to take what they could do on screen, that randomness and insanity but with such strict seriousness and splash it onto paper.

    As far as other authors go, I can’t go past Andy Griffiths and his Bum Trilogy books, such as ‘Zombie Bums from Uranus’. Whilst written for a younger audience than mine, his ability to take the ridiculous and toilet humor and make it serious and funny at the same time was a large influence.

    What’s the one (or two) book/movie/show in the last 5 years that made you say, “I wish I’d written that.”?
                         It may be older than 5 years but I can’t go past ‘Hot Rod’. That was absolute genius. Along with others (older also, sorry) like ‘Kung Pow: Enter the Fist’ and ‘Black Dynamite’. It’s again due to the random nature of their satirical and slap-stick humor that sometimes makes me think if they syphoned my thoughts while I slept.
    What’s next for Richard Steele, author?
                         I’ve planned out 3 more books to the Good Times series, all standalone with a very minor entanglement between them. These will be splices of different genres each, just like ‘Time Travel + Brain Stealing…’ is Science Fiction and Horror etc, so the humor in each pulls on different elements from the differing genres.
    However, a recent reviewee challenged me to write serious books instead and put my talent to good use. And to that I say touché!
    I also have a trilogy of Science Fiction Adventure underway also aimed at Middle Grade level, a re-invented ‘Redwall’ of sorts. Under a different name of course…can you imagine parents and priests checking my name to see if my writing is appropriate? Ha!
    I’ll wait to see if my legions of non-existent Bizarro fans enjoy my debut novella first before I dive back into that cesspool style of writing. So until then, Richard Steele salutes you.
    Thanks for your time! I hope Time Travel + Brain Stealing = Murderous Appliances and Good Times finds its audience and that you have plenty of success with the book.

    BOOK SPOTLIGHT: Cowboy Joel and the Wild Wild West by The Gagnon Family

    Today I’m pleased to welcome the Book Spotlight Tour for Cowboy Joel and the Wild Wild West by The Gagnon Family. It looks like a cute, fun read. Before you leave, be sure you scroll down to the bottom of the post for the givewway — or just go buy it. Either way…

    Book Details:

    Book Title: Cowboy Joel and the Wild Wild West by The Gagnon Family
    Publisher: JPV Press
    Category: Children’s book
    Release date: June 1, 2019
    Format: Ebook/Hardcover
    Length: 48 pages
    Content Rating: G

    Book Blurb:

    Cowboy Joel and Blackbeard find themselves face to face with El Maton, the most feared desperado in theCowboy Joel and the Wild Wild West West. When El Maton mocks him for the way he looks, Joel must confront his biggest fear; a tongue-slingin’ with the outlaw. Can Blackbeard convince Joel to do it? Will Joel find the courage? Note to Mom and Dad: Cowboy Joel will teach your child that it’s not always about punching the bully. It’s about being confident in who God made them to be, and using those truths to fight the battle in their mind.

    Book Trailer:

    Purchase Links for Cowboy Joel and the Wild Wild West:

    Amazon ~ Add to Goodreads

    About The Gagnon Family:

    The Gagnon Family

    The Gagnon family is an atypical, hodgepodge mix of humanity. The entire family enjoyed writing this book, with each one contributing their own input. Every child in the family has their own special story, and every one faces their own unique challenges. Stacey, the mom of this bunch, also has a blog called Ransom for Israel. She presents an honest assessment of the orphan crisis and the desperate need for families willing to adopt. After the adoption of their youngest daughter, the Gagnons started a non-profit called Lost Sparrows. Lost Sparrows is dedicated to improving the lives of orphans and those with special needs through education, proper medical care, and adoption. Their current focus is in areas of Eastern Europe and Bulgaria.

    Connect with the authors:

    Website  ~  Twitter  ~  Facebook  ~  Instagram

    GIVEAWAY:

    Win 1 hardback copy of Cowboy Joel and the Wild Wild West (USA only) (one winner)

    a Rafflecopter giveaway

    https://widget-prime.rafflecopter.com/launch.js

    (if the Rafflecopter script isn’t working, just click here — it’s not as pretty, but it works)

    My thanks to iREAD Book Tours for the invitation to participate in this tour and the materials they provided.

    Saturday Miscellany—8/10/19

    Odds ‘n ends over the week about books and reading that caught my eye. You’ve probably seen some/most/all of them, but just in case:

    • Comeback story: A new chapter for indie bookstores—”While their numbers aren’t what they once were, independent bookstores are reclaiming their place in society. Behind their surprise resurgence is renewed emphasis on fostering community.” Yeah, I’ve posted a variation on this story before, and I’ll keep posting them as long as they are written.
    • A #thread about #preorders.—A great thread about the business side of publishing.
    • The Radical Transformation of the Textbook—Textbooks aren’t really the kind of thing I tend to talk about here (although, I can think of a few that I could have, if this existed in the 90’s), but this is pretty fascinating.
    • Last Stand in Lychford—Paul Cornell announces (well, echoes Tor’s announcement) that next year’s Lychford novella will be the end. Which is a shame, but I never expected the series to, well, be a series. We got three or four more of what I expected, and I’m looking forward to seeing how he wraps things up (and what happens right before that, actually).
    • Megan Abbott on the Difference Between Hardboiled and Noir: In Conversation with the Author of Give Me Your Hand—I haven’t read a lot of Abbott, but I liked what I have—but this discussion about the distinction between hardboiled and noir is fantastic. I’m going to refer to it a lot (I should probably track down her dissertation).
    • Why Hacking is the Future of Crime Fiction—sure, it’s a bit self-serving, “hey, my novel is the future!”, but it’s a great point. And his book seems promising. But so often (on screen and in print) hacking in fiction is so . . . hacky?
    • Cartoonist Randall Munroe Will Be Your Answer Man—Not sure this book is for me, but I’ll probably try it, Munroe rarely disappoints.
    • Summer Flings – 5 Fantasy Standalones—cute idea for a list, at least two good books on the list (have heard good things about at least one other).
    • Classically Cool- Let’s Talk Classics!—I dig this post from the Witty and Sarcastic Bookclub (incidentally, I don’t see that much sarcasm there — wazzup with that, pal?). I’ve been trying to find the time to write a similar post myself, but in the meantime go read hers.
    • Are books still relevant today?—Obviously, the answer is a resounding, “YES!”, but you should still read the post.
    • The Ultimate Summer Playlist to Inspire Your Summer Booklist—I’ve never heard (to my knowledge) any of the songs on this list, and probably wouldn’t like most of them. But, I thought this was a cool idea, so am passing it along. What songs/books would you add?

      This Week’s New Releases I’m Excited About and/or You’ll Probably See Here Soon:

    • A Dangerous Man by Robert Crais—possibly Crais’ best since Suspect, loved this novel about Joe Pike running errands and stumbling onto a kidnapping. I’ll talk more about this early next week.

    Lastly, I’d like to say hi and extend a warm welcome to Vee Aozoraa, happytonic, Elizabeth Ruggiero and adiswings for following the blog this week.