Sunday, September 24, 2017

Three Ghosts in a Black Pumpkin: Heroic Halloween Fantasy for middle-grade children

If you liked "The Nightmare Before Christmas," then you're sure to enjoy the world of Creepy Hollow!

Winner of the 2017 Golden Book Judges’ Choice Award for Children’s Fantasy.



In Creepy Hollow, it's Halloween all year long! "Three Ghosts in a Black Pumpkin" -- a spooky Halloween story for children, ages 8 to 14, written by Erika M. Szabo and Joe Bonadonna. Also illustrated by Erika M Szabo. Adults might like it, too!

Spooky and funny, a heroic fantasy adventure for middle-grade children. Nikki and her impish cousin, Jack, find a mysterious black pumpkin in the forest on Halloween. A wise talking skeleton, Wishbone, tells them that the ghosts of the Trinity of Wishmothers are trapped inside the pumpkin and can’t be freed without their wands. The children offer their help, so the skeleton takes them on a journey to the world of Creepy Hollow to retrieve the three wands he hid long ago in Red Crow Forest, the Tower of Shadows, and the Cave of Spooks. Ghoulina, the beautiful vegetarian ghoul, and Catman, who was once a man, join them on their quest. They must face danger and conquer evil every step of the way as they search for the Wands before the wicked Hobgoblin and his henchman, a Tasmanian Devil, can get their hands on them. This is a fun, humorous and touching story for kids, with plenty of character interaction woven into a backdrop of scary danger, heroic action and lessons to be learned.

“Three Ghosts in a Black Pumpkin” is available worldwide in paperback, Kindle, and Nook editions, and at a very reasonable price, too! Brand-new edition featuring a new cover and even more interior illustrations

Amazon: 

Barnes & Noble: 

Thursday, July 20, 2017

WIND FROM THE ABYSS, by Janet Morris: A Review

WIND FROM THE ABYSS

My Review of Book 3 
of 

Janet Morris'

The Silistra Quartet

This is the official Author's Cut, published in 2017 by Perseid Press.

This third volume is Morris’ masterful The Silistra Quartet delves deeper into the heart of her world, which is not only an echo of our own, but even a dark shadow of what the future might possibly bring. One of its themes is power — the power of technology, the power over our own natures, and the power to control others. Events take place shortly after those of recounted in The Golden Sword (book 2), and this time around, the main character of Estri, after having gone through so many changes and experiences in the first two novels, has been captured and held hostage for over two years by Khys, the tyrannical ruler of Silistra. She has become a pawn and a slave of this tyrant whose power over his world is all but absolute, a puppet master who will allow no one to stand in his way or speak out against him. Estri is forced to make sacrifices throughout her odyssey in order to liberate herself. He has had Estri’s memories “blocked” in such a way that it prevents her from being able to take control over him. This is a story about her soul, the loss of hope and even her sanity. It felt to me that as she gazed into the “abyss,” where the winds of despair howl and whine, she saw nothing but the abyss staring back at her. But there is hope and triumph to be found in her personal journey of rediscovery and the recovery of empowerment. This is a complicated, engrossing novel filled with prophetic, philosophical and socio-political themes, as well as complex, all-too real characters. Morris, so good at giving us characters we can identify with, characters we can love and hate, strikes at the very heart of the human condition and the duality of humanity — both good and evil. Her prose is lean and spot-on, every word carefully chosen to enhance the milieu of her imaginary world and advance the plot, giving us access to the thoughts, emotions and machinations of the people whose stories she is presenting to us. Once again, she gives us a “thinking man’s” science fiction/fantasy that explores the nature of power and sexuality, and how they can be used, misused and abused. This is a brilliant, mature and very adult novel that will not only leave you thinking about your own place in the universe, but questioning the very nature of existence. 

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

THE GOLDEN SWORD, by Janet Morris: A review

THE GOLDEN SWORD

Book 3
of
Janet Morris'

The Silistra Quartet

Call it what you like: science fiction, space opera, sword and planet or erotic fantasy . . . The Golden Sword is all these things, and so much more. A highly intelligent and sensual novel filled with ideas and revelations, this is a gripping story that explores human sexuality and the role it plays in politics. Although the memorable characters are bisexual, toss away all your preconceived notions, for there is a humanity, a strength of will and determination, a realism and depth of emotion to these characters that will have you thinking twice about all you know and all you think you know. This is a book for mature and discerning readers who like some meat on the bones of the books they read. Janet Morris led the way for all the science fiction authors, both male and female, who came after. This is the second book in her classic “Silistra Quartet” series, which continues on through two more volumes. In this epic, second novel, Estri, the heroine of “The High Couch of Silistra,” ventures further than she ever has before into her exotic world of sensuality and politics. This time out, she encounters Chayin, a prince of an alien culture, and discovers more about her fate . . . past, present and future. This is a powerful, exciting novel filled with passion and adventure, ideas and thought-provoking philosophies. Janet Morris truly smashed through barriers and broke new ground with her “Silistra” series, and is still breaking new ground in these new, “Author’s Cut” editions that delve further and deeper into Esrti’s universe and into the grand vision the author had when she first set out to write this series. This is science fiction for thinking adults.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

HIGH COUCH OF SILISTRA, by Janet Morris: A Review

HIGH COUCH OF SILISTRA

Book 1 
of
Janet Morris'
The Silistra Quartet

This is a novel that changed the game for women characters in science fiction, and the women who write science fiction. A daring novel for its time that still retains that same sort of power, it is a complex and highly intelligent read about one women's quest in the far future to find her father and her own identity, to find her destiny and make a difference in her world, to be a catalyst for change. Herein Janet Morris deals with issues of women's equality to men, their sexuality, the power of it, and how, in the simplest of terms, beauty, brains and sex can make a combination as potent as any nuclear blast. If memory serves, I think this novel was first promoted as a new breed of Sword and Planet, and later it was labeled Sword and Romance. What it is at its core is speculative fiction, futurist fiction that takes a serious, hard look at the universe surrounding it, and the main character of Estri and her place in it. She is an aristocrat who becomes and outcast, then a slave, then a ruler. Like all of Morris' books, there is a lot to think about in High Couch of Silistra -- questions of philosophy, sociology, sexuality, and governmental rule. Action and adventure? There is plenty of that. But this book was also carefully devised and structured, well plotted and deeply thought out. This is not a book for kids or for readers looking for a simple, pulp-action space adventure. The issues are real, the characters are real, and you will either find yourself agreeing with the politics and point of view; themes and questions will provoke careful consideration in the reader, and the story will make you think. Is the sexual content explicit or not? I don't think so, but you be the judge of that. I think Morris has handled the violence and sexuality was just the right touch, as she always manages to do. This book was ahead of its time upon its first publication, and while we have caught up to certain aspects of this novel, society still has a long way to go, and much of what passes for science fiction these days is still lagging far behind this novel. In my opinion, it has not aged at all and holds up even better than I had expected, a fitting tribute to a writer who books never grow old or outdated.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

INTRODUCING: LORRAINE CAREY, AUTHOR

This time around, I thought I'd try something a little different. Instead of asking author Lorraine Carey a bunch of questions and posting her answers, I'm doing a "change-up" and posting her bio, some photos and book covers, plus excerpts from her books, as well as her social media links and product links. So sit back and enjoy as I introduce to you my dear friend, Lorraine Carey.

Lorraine Carey is a veteran children's reading specialist, teacher and an International Award-Winning Author. She has taught in many states in the US and provided reading services for students at a private school on Grand Cayman, where she lives with her husband. Six years ago she was a city gal, living in Orange County, California, where life was very different from the one she lives now. Trading in her fashionable heels for flip-flops was quite a change, but led to a lifestyle that allowed for a writing career to begin.

Her love for paranormal stories and urban legends began at a young age, when staying up all night to watch spooky movies or reading a scary book started a lifelong passion.

Published novels include: Losing Ground, a short memoir, followed by Mysteries of the Red Coyote Inn, Out of the Ashes, Jonathan's Locket and The Last Vestal Virgin. All of these novels are paranormal with a mix of historical fiction, woven with urban legends. Beloved Sacrifice is a Supernatural Thriller for Young Adults to Adults. A Rock Star Reader by Kindergarten is a self-help guide for parents on creating a successful reader and lifelong lover of literacy. The Good Teacher: Women of the Willow Wood — Book 1, a Supernatural thriller, was Indie published and now under contract with Emsa Publishing. It is a projected series to include three books.

Most recent works include Camp Cougar, which is the author’s first attempt in the erotica field. She has teamed up with a co-author to create this hybrid, humorous erotica.



When not writing you can find Lorraine reading, beach-hopping, snorkeling, or boating around the island with her husband on their boat, the Angelica

Here's a synopsis of her novel, The Good Teacher: Women of the Willow Wood (Book 1)

When first-year teacher Daniella Reyes starts teaching at a new school she is frightened by the crows that follow her everywhere. Being a woman with highly empathic abilities and a victim of child abuse, she is tuned to pick up the vibes from abused children in her classroom. She’s desperate to help them while trying to cling onto a normal life with Luke. As she slowly discovers the secrets of a powerful, ancient cult, she finds out that her life is anything but normal as the hidden world of New Mexico opens up to her. She must make a life-altering sacrifice if she wants to save the children, her father’s soul and her own life.

Not since Practical Magic has a novel captured the essence of powerful magic and pure love where strong women in a family know no boundaries.

This supernatural thriller is Book 1 of Women of the Willow Wood.

And here's an excerpt from The Good Teacher:

Carmen attempts to get Dani to Santa Fe ~

 We headed up Interstate 25 doing about eighty miles an hour. “Just where’s the fire, lady?”
“There’s a storm coming, and I want to beat it,” she said with her eyes fixed straight ahead. “Besides, we have a noon appointment with Nina Santos.”
I was so tired and confused with everything I forgot to even ask about our lodging. “So where are we staying, pray tell?”
“I’ve booked us into La Moderna hotel. Two double beds, second floor, and breakfast is included,” she revealed.
Just the thought of breakfast had me queasy again. I had to lie down on the back seat for a bit. Maybe I could close my eyes, and it would stop.
“Holy Shit!” Carmen boomed
I jumped up. “What… what’s happening?”
I could see the dark clouds up ahead. They were headed straight for us. I don’t think I ever remember seeing such dark clouds as these before. They were thick and huge. The rain hit along with loud bursts of thunder. Then came the lightning. The rain was coming down in sheets.
“Pull over Carmen. I’m scared!”
Carmen drove a bit up ahead till we could faintly see a turn off into a small lot.
We sat as the car shook with the high winds and the rain pelted us from all sides. I thought the front windshield was going to give in.
“It’s going to be fine, Daniella. I had expected something like this. It’s all in line with being tested.”
“Being tested? What do you mean?”
“It’s a test of strength. The spell that was cast has built up energy, and because it went awry, low-lying negatives are trying to stop us by breaking this. You are the one who needs protection, not just your father. You are the gateway so to speak for paving the way to his soul release. There are those who want to usurp your power. They want to go along for the ride - and at a time when you are most vulnerable. It makes it easy for them.”
Them? I shivered. The rain pounded onto the windows. I covered my head and braced for shards of broken glass. We must have sat there for at least a half hour. It was not letting up. The winds were rocking the car back and forth. The rain had stopped, but it was black as pitch out there. It was as if our car was inside of a huge storm cloud.
“Carmen, maybe we need to get out of the car and lie on the ground like you do in a tornado.”
“No. We’re staying right here in the car. We’re far safer in here. They’re out there.”
“Who’s out there?”
“The skinwalkers.”
“Now you can’t be serious? Come on, Carmen!”
“You’ve heard of them, Dani. You grew up in New Mexico.”
 “I’ve heard stories but mostly thought they were shifters who roamed cattle ranches at night.”
“Not just stories. Now hand me my bag, please.”
I was beginning to feel as though I was in an episode of The X-Files.
Carmen took out a small vial of oil and a small container of some light-colored powder. She added the powder to the oil. “I’ve got to seal all the windows and doors with this magic mix. It’s a mix of pure white bark powder and Frankincense. It should keep them out.” Her voice was shaky, but she continued to speak. “They know you’re a high empath, and I a guardian. They can make us sick and murder us at worst.”
“Just cast one of your spells on them.” I was now in the front seat, and Carmen was in the back smearing the mixture on the doors and along the windows.
“Can’t. They’re in full power now. Our part is to see how we get through his. These are strong malevolent witches. They possess great knowledge of medicine and are also healers. To kill us would be a big win for them. They are feeding off of your powers Dani.”
       Feeding? Witches? I could only hope I’d get through this thing alive. The chances were slim.



You can find Lorraine's Blog Site, Amazon Page, and find her on any of these social media sites:

 Facebook https://www.facebook.com/StorySpirit4U?ref=hl


Lorraine's website http://lorrainecarey.com/



Goodreads

Amazon Page

Blog 
http://www.adele-angelic-lights.blogspot.com

Her blog is also featured on her website . . . and you can find all of Lorraine's books by clicking on the following links to Amazon.com

Buy Links for Books.

The Good Teacher~

Camp Cougar~

Mysteries of the Red Coyote Inn~

Out of the Ashes: A Dean Banks Adventure~

Jonathan’s Locket~

The Last Vestal Virgin~

Beloved Sacrifice ~

A Rock Star Reader By Kindergarten~



Thank you very much, Lorraine, for taking the time to participate in something different on my blog. Have fun in the sun!


Tuesday, June 13, 2017

MOVIE REVIEW: THE LOST SKELETON OF CADAVRA

"I'm a scientist, Ranger Brad. I don't believe in anything."


Having seen this wonderfully campy film several years ago, I mentioned to my friend and fellow author, Ted Rypel, that I wanted to see it again. So he bought me a copy and had it sent to me. This is a highly-enjoyable film, a nostalgic romp back in time for those of us who grew up on films like this -- except those films were unintentionally funny. This film has every intention of making you laugh and smile. Larry Blamire's silly and brilliantly funny spoof of those old, black-and-white sci-fi films of the 1950s and early 1960s is even better the second time around. Two scientists, one more dim-witted than the other, are searching for a meteor that contains the most valuable "mineral" in the universe: atmospherium. Professor Armstrong, one of the scientists played by Larry Blamire himself, does "science things." His wife is the perfect 1950s housewife, and not too bright herself. "I know it's hard being a scientist's wife, being the wife of scientist," he tells her at one point. The aliens from the planet Mavra are also in need of the atmospherium to repair their damaged spaceship, which looks as if it was made by a 10 year-old kid out of tin foil and an empty paper towel role. Both aliens are as dumb and as strange as you can get, and they drink cherry wine out of candle holders! One scientist uses the aliens' caulk-gun gizmo to turn four forest creatures into a sexy but very bizarre human woman who likes to dance to rock and roll music. The mutant is the funniest looking and most hilariously conceived creature since those old Italian "pepla" films. The lost skeleton itself is held together by wires and manipulated with strings that are all too clearly visible. He's a wise-cracking skeleton straight out of vaudeville. Every time the skeleton appeared on screen I kept expecting him to use that old Three Stooges' gag: "Greetings, gents! My name is Red!" But Blamire is too clever a filmmaker to borrow a bit from another source. With quotable dialogue that is far from cliched and you won't see coming, with the cheesiest special FX since Ed Wood picked up a camera, with a silliness that is highly contagious, and with cinematography that captures to perfection those classic B and C movies, this one is in a class of its own. Great cast headed, too, who surely had a ball making this film. 



If you loved "Young Frankenstein," you're really gonna love "The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra."


Purchase link:
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Thursday, May 18, 2017

My Interview with author ZRINKA JELIC


Zrinka Jelic lives in Ontario, Canada. A PAN member of the Romance Writers of America, as well as Savvy Authors, she writes contemporary fiction— which leans toward the paranormal —and adds a pinch of history. Her characters come from all walks of life, and although she prefers red, romance comes in many colors. Given Jelic’s love for her native Croatia and the Adriatic Sea, her characters usually find themselves dealing with a fair amount of sunshine, but that's about the only break they get.
  


I met Zrinka through our mutual friend, Erika M Szabo, and am getting to know her as an incredibly nice, friendly soul with a cool sense of humor. She is a fine and gifted writer, a very prolific author with a love of history and the paranormal. We belong to a number of the same online writing/author communities, as well as many Facebook groups where authors can promote themselves and their books. I thought it might be fun and interesting to interview her, and it was. So here we go!
  
What and who are some of your influences?

Though I enjoy writing styles of several authors, I don’t believe I’m influenced by them. I strive to find my own style and voice and not write the same book everyone else is writing. Yes, writing commercial fiction for profit tends to lead to the mimicking that hot book everyone reads and talks about. I’ve seen this happen with the Twilight series when vampires exploded and saturated market. I’ve seen this fad with The Hunger Games, Fifty Shades of Gray, and I’m pretty sure I’ll see it again and again. 


What inspired you to start writing, and how long have you been writing?

I’ve always written and made stories up. My imagination got me in trouble when I was a child because some kids couldn’t see that I’m making it up, but actually believed it to be truth. I didn’t start seriously writing until seven or so years ago when a friend said I should really try. I took her advice, believing nothing will ever come out of it, but to my surprise, my debut novel got accepted for publication. Now, seven books later, and several short stories that appeared in anthologies, I’m glad I listened to her.


What genres and/or literary style do enjoy writing in the most?

I’m a romance lover through and through.


 Tell us about your latest published book, short story or novella.

My first self-published book (but #7 in the line) is titled The Wedding Date, and it’s a romantic comedy. It’s a story of a pretend date that turns real.
  


Besides the “entertainment factor,” what do you strive for in your writing?

Well, I’m always super careful of grammar, being non-native to the English language, however, even with numerous critique partners, beta readers and editors some error always seems to slip through. And with foreign name readers, reviewers are very, very quick to point that out in their reviews. Many of the reviewers are authors themselves and their own books could use tighter editing. So I suppose the saying ‘before you accuse me, take a look at yourself’ doesn’t apply in their case.


Would you say that your stories are more plot-driven or character-driven?

 I never understood this question. How can you have a story without either factor? Characters react to the events in the story (plot points) if they don’t react how much of the story would be there? So one is driving the other, there would be no plot without characters nor would there be characters without a plot. At least that is how I see this. Characters and the plot are equally important and essential components of the story. (Great answer and you ask a great  question . . . and you’re the first to ask that question!  As I see it, plot-driven or action-driven is usually where the story is more concerned with the gizmo or gadget, and action. Character driven is when more thought is given to characters, more introspection, and often deal with the human condition.  I write mostly adventure stories with a lot of action, but I spend more time on character relationships and interaction than I do on the “action scenes.” So I try to make my stories driven by the characters and their motives: I’m more concerned about the lives of the men and women who build the rocket ship, than the actual building of the rocket ship. That’s my definition, at least. — JB)


What can you tell us about your latest work(s) in progress?

I’m struggling as to what to write next. I’ve started two projects and not sure about either. They would eventually get completed, but at the time I’m leaning towards something else, only I don’t know what that is yet. (It will come to you. The characters will tell you when it’s time to write their story. — JB)



In what direction do you think your work is now heading? 

I think this brings me back to the previous question. I may have to take a very long break and see if I should continue on with writing. Writing is my creative outlet and I’m not competitive. I do not wish to cheat Amazon to improve my ranking. This and reviews stating I need to find a better editor put me off writing. It’s hard to have your dream so blatantly crushed shortly after it barely took off, but that’s the way the world’s moving. I understand that there will be criticism, we all get reviewed in our jobs, but that is done behind closed door of your manager’s office, not put on the public display.


What genre of fiction have you not yet written for, but plan to in the future?

I planned to write a YA and actually tried it, and not finding my voice there.


What are some of your all-time favorite films and TV shows?

I stopped watching television long ago and got rid of cable. And I never regretted it.


Tell us about your writing habits, such as: Do you outline extensively? Do you create your characters first, or your plot? Do you listen to music while writing, and if so, what kind?

I start outlining, but eventually give up because I never know which way the story will take me. I think I create plot first, and develop characters around it. Our life events shape us to who we are and we change with them. I do listen to music, but it has to be strictly instrumental or the lyrics will distract me.


 What else can you tell us about yourself and your reading habits?
I like to read any genre as long as the story captures me. I’m not a grammar Nazi (though I try my best to get the grammar as correct as possible) so I don’t pay too much attention to grammar errors unless they are on every page. I do, however, have a pet peeve with head hopping, choppy styles, info dumping, telling, long paragraphs that are a hurdle to read, stiff dialogue, too many dialogue “tell tags” where action/emotion should do that, or in some instances . . . no tag was needed because it was clear who spoke; incorrect info given without fact checking (e.g. in a book I’ve read the heroine earned her black belt in TKD in two years. Not a chance!) Then there are characters where their name and/or appearance change part way through the book; and of course, the plot holes. These are the things that will make or break a book for me. I don’t nitpick if a word is misspelled or a wrong word is used due to auto correct feature. I read the book as a whole, not a separate sentence.

Thank you, Zrinka, for being such a good sport and taking the time to do this review and letting me pick your brain a little. It was fun and insightful.
You can find Zrinka Jelic and her books on Amazon and Facebook. 
Be sure to check out her website, too!

Amazon Author Page:

On Facebook: Zrinka Jelic, Romance Author

Website: