Wednesday 29 April 2009

Book Review: GoneAway Into the Land

My Review of the book GoneAway into the Land by Jeffrey B. Allen

GoneAway into the Land by Jeffrey B. Allen is an interesting juxtaposition between a child’s harsh, abusive reality and a Land of fantasy and tasty confection. It is well-written, engaging, and fascinating, creating a vibrant world that draws in the reader.

The plotline of GoneAway into the Land is innovative, and delicious. The story begins with the sad home life of young John Greber, who tragically has an angry, abusive father; he, his younger sister, Marny and his mother Ellie all live an unhappy existence. The forlorn home life explodes in a violent confrontation that results in John’s father, whom he calls The Beast, kidnapping Marny; this horror catapults John and his mother into a strange odyssey, as they search for the little girl. With the help of the mysterious Driver they venture into the Land, a curious place of sugary bonbons and inspiration intricately connected with our World. This extraordinary place is now in serious danger of destruction by the evil machinations of Mengus, one of the Ministers of the Land, and the rampages of The Beast. Denizens of both worlds are bound together in their attempts to save their respective worlds and one small girl.

Mengus returned to the outer balcony.
“The Beast,” he whispered. “My Beast. Perfectly suited. Perfectly chosen. A plan of perfection. It will do as I tell it. This muscular monster. It will do exactly as expected.”

GoneAway into the Land is a remarkable novel, and I was most impressed with its characterization. The portrayals in this novel are not larger than life heroic depictions; they are solid, relatable, fully complete people, be they born of the real world or the realm of fantasy. The wondrous characters that abound in this novel are diverse, some malicious, some decent, some in-between. They will earn your loyalty and your affection or your dislike and disdain.

“That’s when he saw her. Her eyes were his eyes. Her smile was his smile. Her worried expression was a window into the depths of his insecurities. He stepped closer. A feeling of euphoria swept over him so powerful that he could scarcely maintain his composure. Sara felt it as well: a profound sense that they were bound together somehow.”

There is a faint dream-like quality to this book, a metaphoric attribute as it deals with themes of friendship, loss, violence, courage, greed, innocence, selfishness, and love. It is an adventure, an allegory, a bittersweet fantasy filled with subtle meaning and depth that never loses its appeal. GoneAway into the Land is a captivating book with a creative narrative that quietly lures a reader into an original world that is fully realised and thoroughly absorbing. It transcends into a superb piece of fiction, and I recommend it highly.

Book Links:
Barnes and Noble:

Jeffrey B. Allen was born in New Bedford, Massachusetts in 1953, and today lives in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Allen graduated from Millersville State University in architectural design and taught for two years while also working toward his Masters degree at Temple University in Philadelphia. After a brief teaching career, Allen created his own architectural woodworking firm in 1980.
Today, Jeffrey B. Allen lives in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. His Architectural Design business has been sold, and although he maintains a hand in the processes of the business, he is now devoting the bulk of his time to writing.

Wednesday 8 April 2009

The Honest Scrap Award

I somehow got a mention in this Honest Scrap Award that is being passed around the blog circuit; I guess I must be doing something right. So I'm passing the honour onward.

The Rules:

1. You write an article accepting the award with a link back to the giver, a list of the rules, and a copy of the award image.
2. You add links to at least five other blogs that you consider “brilliant,” and add comments on said blogs, warning the owners that you’re sending innocent victims their way, and asking them to accept the award.
3. You list ten honest things about yourself.

1. Sheila Deeth, fellow writer and all-round nice person, bestowed the award upon my blog. Do check out her blog in return.

2. Here are my five "brilliant" blogs (or at least blogs of brilliant authors):

  • Minnette's Worlds- Real or Imagined: An excellent author of the fantasy Starsight novels as well as several historic romance novels.
  • Rhetta's Blog: A wonderful author of the non-fiction books Ghost to Coast and T’ain’t Nobody’s Business if I Do: Women Blues Singers Old and New.
  • Authors Promoting Authors: A great blog that promotes books. Well worth checking out.
  • Author's Studio: A group of authors dispensing information, advice and fun tidbits.
  • Sam Harper- Homicide: The blog of Marta Stephens' fictional detective Sam Harper. A must read.
Also worth a mention are Bertram's Blog and Murder by 4. They were already listed by other people so that's why they didn't make my list.

3. My list of 10 Honest Things:

  1. I love action movies. Even the bad ones.
  2. I am a huge Bruce Campbell fan
  3. I have phobias about snakes, heights and fire
  4. I have some artistic talent, and paint as a hobby
  5. I collect sword replicas (I've got a fascination with swords)
  6. I don't like to talk about myself
  7. I'm a total fantasy/sci-fi geek, and proud of it
  8. I detest the colour red
  9. I'm fond of hot peppers
  10. I love comic books

Tuesday 7 April 2009

Interview with Fantasy Author, Barbara M. Hodges.

Today I have a real treat for you, my readers. Recently, I had the pleasure of interviewing the talented writer Barbara M. Hodges, author of the captivating Daradawn series. As an added treat, one lucky person who leaves a comment will win an autographed copy of her book, The Emerald Dagger.

Now without further ado:

An Interview with Barbara M. Hodges

Why don’t you begin by sharing a little about yourself.

I live in Nipomo, California, a small town on the central coast. Jeff and I have been married thirty-eight years. We met in Salem, Oregon. Jeff lived with three other guys, and I lived with three other girls. We moved into the same apartment complex, and they offered to help us unload our cars...the rest is history. I will add that Jeff and I only knew each other three months before we were married.
We don’t have children, but I’m a terrific aunt, and we are owned by two basset hounds, Ophelia and Hamlet, as well as a sassy ginger-striped, feline, Wallace.
Jeff and I are both big NASCAR fans….go Carl Edwards. When I am not writing I like to dabble in decorative painting.

How long have you been writing, and how many books have you published to date?

I seriously started writing seventeen years ago when Jeff and I moved to the central coast. I have five published books out at the moment. Three in my Daradawn series, The Blue Flame, The Emerald Dagger and The Silver Angel. The fourth, Stargazer’s Children, is co-written with Maggie Pucillo and Jennifer des Plantes, and the fifth, a science fiction story is co-written with Darrell Bain. I also have story in Alleatory’s Junction. Scattered Hearts an anthology by my local writer’s group has just been accepted by Desert Breeze Publishing and will be out next February.

Can you to tell us about your Daradawn fantasy series.

Seventeen years ago I dreamed of a land of magic. For weeks and months I built my world, created those who lived there. Gave them pasts and planned their futures. Then I sat out to share my readers. The Blue Flame introduces you to the sisters Regan and Kelsey Cafferty, and opens the rift into Daradawn.
Come, Step into my world. Meet Angus Bladeheart, dwarven protector of the royal house. Queen Tessa De'Amberville who collects war relics. Discover Da'Kar, leader of the unicorn horn-herds. Walk among the tree-homes of the elves of Vilsathor. And join Kelsey and Regan as they love and war against those who would wound this magical world.

Why did you decide to write in the fantasy genre?

I love fantasy. Anne McCaffrey started my love affair with dragons. Elves intrigue me, and magic and spells; good triumphing over evil and oh… those heroic men and women. You will find no weak women in my stories, but you will always find a basset hound.

What is the hardest part of writing fantasy fiction?

Remembering there are rules of magic. Yes, they are rules I created, but they are still rules. Especially when writing a series… if you can’t do it in book one, then you still can’t do it in book three or four.

You’ve written both fantasy and science fiction. Which one presents the most challenge to you as a writer?

Science Fiction. In Shadow Worlds, the story line deals with quantum physics, which I knew little about. Thank goodness my co-writer did.

How do you research your books?

I do most of my research online. Unless I am lucky enough to have help from someone with the practical knowledge I need. In the paranormal romance I am writing now with Maggie Pucillo, the setting is in Baja Mexico. I have never been there, but Maggie has a home there on the beach. An off shore island figures prominently in the story-line and guess what lays off Maggie’s beach…yes the island.

What advice would you give beginning writers?

I walked away from the computer to think about this question. What did I wish someone had told me when I first started out? There’s the so true, develop a thick skin concerning rejections…there’s believe in yourself, also good advice, don’t give up on your dream, but what I had to learn the hard way was stopping my knee-jerk, negative reaction to critiques. Even now it happens…what do you mean you don’t get it? It’s so obvious. How can say my character would never do such a thing? You think you know him or her better than I do. The simple fact is sometimes they do. I’ve found that I have to keep my mind open and mouth shut, at least for a number of hours. Most times when I’ve given it time, I do see where my critique member is coming from.
Saying that, I’m also adding trust yourself too. If what you are being told seems wrong after you’ve given it some time to sink in…then maybe it is wrong. It’s your story.

Who has inspired you as an author?

Oh my. The earliest fantasy that I loved was The Wizard of Oz, so Frank Baum. I’ve read all of the books and have a DVD of the movie. I’d have to say JRR Tolkien inspired my fantasy, as well as all of the Dragon Riders of Pern books. For science fiction I was inspired by Robert Varley, Greg Bear and Orson Scott Card.

What’s next for you?

I’m nearing the end of the first draft of A Spiral of Echoes, co-written with Maggie Pucillo. Then it’s back to work on Wynd Stallion, followed by the next book in the Daradawn series, The Scarlet Scribe. I also have Nipomo Blue and Full Circle, both YA books waiting in the wings.

Barbara M. Hodges developed a love for words at an early age, the seeds planted by a mother who read to her from as far back as she can remember. She lives in Nipomo, California and shares her life with her husband Jeff, two basset hounds and a sassy cat.
Her fiction novels include, The Blue Flame, The Emerald Dagger, The Silver Angel, books one, two and three of her Daradawn series, Stargazer’s Children, an anthology co-authored with Maggie Pucillo and Jennifer des Plantes and Shadow Worlds, a science fiction thriller co-authored with Darrell Bain.

You find more information about Barbara M. Hodges and her books at her website:

Saturday 4 April 2009

Guest Blogger Pat Bertram: The New Era in Publishing

The New Era in Publishing.

When I was studying the publishing industry, trying to figure out how to get published, one thing bothered me. There you are, a debut author, and because the publisher does not promote you -- spending their promotion dollars instead on the big names -- your books sit on bookstore shelves or in warehouses until finally the publisher gives up on you and remainders your book. That is the best scenario, because if it is remaindered, at least it will still be available for a time. Generally what happens is that it is pulped. 25% of a publisher’s total output (including your beloved book) is destroyed. This after shipping costs incurred to and from the publisher’s warehouse.
My books, More Deaths Than One and A Spark of Heavenly Fire are being published Second Wind Publishing, which uses digital printing technology, and because of it, I do not have to fear my novels succumbing to such a fate. Nor do I have to fear an inadvertent error showing up in thousands of volumes. As soon as an error is found, it can be corrected. Because of this new technology, there is no reason to destroy unsold merchandise. And there is no reason to stop publishing a novel because it does not live up to the bottom-line demands of the traditional publishing houses.
Small presses today are where independent movie producers were in the late eighties and early nineties. They have the ability to publish books that need time to reach an audience, books that might not appeal to the masses but could still be loved by many (and turn a tidy profit in the process.)
Although I have nothing but admiration for self-publishers, I like knowing that my books went through a submission process, and I like knowing I was chosen. I also like having a say in the editing, the cover choice, the arduous copy-editing. I even like promotion -- what I’ve done of it, anyway.
So, new era in publishing? Good for us all. And I am pleased to be a part of it.
I’m also pleased to be here on A.F. Stewart’s blog today. To celebrate the release of my novels, I am doing a reverse sort of blog tour -- instead of promoting myself, I’d like to promote a few of the people who helped me with my promotion efforts. A.F. has written a wonderful Squidoo Lens -- How to Become an Independently Published Author -- which gave me many suggestions on how to promote. So, thank you, A.F. Best of luck with your book.

Pat Bertram is a native of Colorado and a lifelong resident. When the traditional publishers stopped publishing her favorite type of book — character and story driven novels that can’t easily be slotted into a genre — she decided to write her own. More Deaths Than One and A Spark of Heavenly Fire, available at Amazon and from Second Wind Publishing, are Bertram’s first novels.

Book Links:

A Spark of Heavenly Fire
More Deaths Than One

Second Wind Publishing:
A Spark of Heavenly Fire

More Deaths Than One

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