Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The Firelight of Maalda - Blog Tour

The Firelight of Maalda
by Melissa Douthit

This is Book 2 in the  YA trilogy The Legend of the Raie' Chaelia (rye - kale - ya).  I discussed Book 1, The Raie' Chaelia, and its two prequel short stories in last Tuesday's post so I won't retread that ground here.


The adventures of Chalice and Jeremiah continue in  The Firelight of Maalda as they make their escape from the ancient underground city where they had taken refuge with the entire community of Bransbury whom they had rescued from captivity in Book 1.

Chalice is introduced to her father's side of the family and learns what it means to be daughter of the True King.  She chafes under the imposed 'princess lessons', and she and Jeremiah are separated by space and social convention as he must stay in quarters on the opposite side of the city from the royal quarters and they must endure the shocked reactions from both their people at the fraternizing between the royal princess and the country bumbkin.  But it is not just class it is also a racial divide.

Chalice learns the burdensome secret kept by her family for thousands of years.  The secret sought by the False King who had deposed her father and exiled him.  The secret is thought to be a powerful weapon and in a sense is.

Chalice also discovers the significance of the obsidian stone and dagger given to her by the Chinook race in Book 1.  The stone had been stolen from her by the men who had kidnapped her on behalf of the False King.  Now the False King's men had also figured out the purpose of the stone and were on their way to the islands of Maalda where they would use it to awaken and enslave the enchanted race of  'dragons'  to use them as weapons to subjugate the peoples of the world.  Chalice is the only one who can prevent this and she must set out from the city with her royal guard, her trusted friends and her wits to rescue the stone, her father's ship and the dragons.

The book ends on a terrible cliff hanger.  Literally.

Well I am going to just quote myself from last Tuesday's post since the following is something I said while talking about the trilogy as a whole:

This fantasy trilogy has a lot going for it.  It is well plotted and the world building is extraordinary. The science under-girding it is impeccable   The main characters have depth and personalities that come alive on the page.  The dialog is more than competent with different characters having distinctive voices.
That said, there are a few areas that could do with some polishing.  The pacing within the scenes is often choppy with action and dialog being interrupted for too long with large chunks of description.  The information imparted at these times is interesting, even fascinating, and it furthers the plot and/or world building so it is not that it is fluff or filler just that it jars one out of the flow of the story.
And as with the first book, this one needs a good line edit.  But in spite of these flaws it is a fun story to read and I am champing at the bit to get my hands on Book 3.  Not only that, I hope there will be another trilogy in the future set on this world.


Giveaway:

I'm authorized to giveaway one ebook copy and since it is ebook that means this is open internationally.  The ebook is available in several of the most popular formats.

This drawing will be open until February 12, 2012. As usual I will be using random.org to choose a winner.  

Enter by leaving a comment expressing interest on this post along with your @ so I can contact you.

Extra entries can be had by:

Following Joystory on Twitter  if you already do leave a separate comment saying so
Like  Joystory's page on Facebook   if you already do leave a separate comment saying so
Tweeting once per day (leave the tweet's url in a comment here)
Add Joystory feed to your reader.   if you already do leave a separate comment saying so
Following Joystory on Networked Blogs   if you already do leave a separate comment saying so

For each one you do leave a comment here with the identifying url and/or your username.  Remember leave a separate comment for each task as the individual comments will be the entries that I assign numbers to in the order they are made.

BTW if you wonder why bother entering a drawing for book 2 when you haven't read book 1 well you can download or read it and both prequels for free at Smashwords for a limited time as part of the promotion for The Firelight of Maalda.

Mellisa Douthit has the science background that qualifies her for the exquisite world building in this trilogy.   With a degree in Computer Science she currently works as a scientific and mathematic programmer for the Army Corp of Engineers in Salt Lake City.  Previously she has worked for the National Radio Astronomy Observatory, NASA Ames research Center, Lawrence Livermore National Lab and Naval Postgraduate School.

 At this time she writes on the side but her dream is to shift the balance the other direction making programming the side job while writing full time.

Melissa is holding a contest on her web site for a free Kindle during this promotion.  She says:

Contest - Free Kindle
Enter a drawing and win a free Kindle by answering the following question:
What is the title of book two of the trilogy, The Legend of the Raie'Chaelia?
To answer the question go to this link and fill in the information (place answer in Message field):
http://melissadouthit.com/contact-me-2/
Contest ends March 10, 2012.  Winner will be announced March 11th on Melissa Douthit's Blog.


Follow the tour for more giveaway drawings, author interviews and guest posts:

http://www.virtualauthorbooktours.com/

Butterfly-O-Meter Jan 27 Review                                           
I'd Rather Be At the Beach  Dec. 21 G Dec. 21
Butterfly-O-Meter  Jan. 28 Guest Post
Butterfly-O-Meter Jan 27-31 Giveaway Hop
Joy Story Jan. 31 Review and Giveaway
Hywela Lyn Feb. 1 Review
Hywela Lyn Feb. 2 Interview and Giveaway
Peeking Between the Pages Feb 3 Review and Giveaway
Everything to Do With Books Feb 9 Review                          
Reader Girls Feb 9 Review, Guest Post, and Giveaway
Life Long Learning Feb. 10 Review and Guest Post                                                       
Darlene's Book Nook Feb. 10 Guest Post and Giveaway
Jagged Edge Reviews Feb. 13 Review
Jagged Edge Reviews Feb. 14 Guest Post
WinterHaven Books Feb. 13Review                                       
Books Ahoy Feb 14 Review and Giveaway                                        
This Miss Loves to Read Feb 15          Review
This Miss Loves to Read Feb 16 Guest Post
Tessa From The Bookshelf of T.B. Feb 16 Review and Giveaway
Confessions of a Readaholic  Feb 17 Review                         
The Wormhole Feb. 20            Review and Giveaway                        
Book Nook Club Feb. 20 Review                                           
The Book Faery Reviews Feb 21 Review
The Book Faery Reviews Feb 22nd Interview and Giveaway
My Book Boyfriend Feb. 23 Review and Interview                                        
To Read, Perchance to Dream Feb 28th Guest Post and Giveaway

Read more...

Monday, January 30, 2012

It's Monday! What are You Reading?

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?
Share what you (are, have been, are about to, hope to be) reading or reviewing this week. Sign Mr Linky at Book Journey and visit other Monday reading roundups.


This past week and for the next week or two my reading line up is all ebook review copies for self-published authors.  Two of them for blog tours set for Tuesday and Wednesday of this week and a third for a blog tour set for the first week of March. All three of those are for Premier Virtual Author Book Tours and will feature giveaways. The fourth is open ended and casual but I don't want to keep the author waiting too long for my response so I'm hoping to fit it in between the second and third tour.

I have begun seeking out self-published ebooks for review as part of my research into taking my own stories that route.

The two books slated for blog tours this week are:

For Tuesday (tomorrow)
The Firelight of Maalda by Melissa Douthit  which is the second book in a planned fantasy trilogy, The Legend of the Raie’Chaelia.   I was given the first book, Raie’Chaelia, and two prequel short stories as well to get me up to speed but the review/giveaway of one ebook copy tomorrow, Tuesday, January 31st, is for this one only.

The Firelight of Maalda: A story that unites the real with the fantastical and turns science into magic …
Chalice and her group leave Barenthren to travel to Portalis.  There she and her friends discover the beautiful city, its people, its history, and its secret that has been kept hidden for thousands of years.  During their stay, they learn that Dar’Maalda has the Firestone and that he plans to use it.
What is the Firestone and what does Dar’Maalda plan to do with it?  What are the Naezzi?  What does the title, The Firelight of Maalda, really mean?  And … what is the secret of Portalis, the secret that has been guarded so jealously for so long – so jealously, that many have given their lives to protect it?
In The Firelight of Maalda, the second novel of the trilogy, The Legend of the Raie’Chaelia, you find out.  It is a tale of intrigue and wonder where two opposite worlds collide in an explosive journey that leads Chalice and her friends to the dark islands lurking just beyond the horizon of Ielieria, where the Firelight of Maalda sits … and waits.
I posted a review of the first book and the two prequels last Tuesday.

I have now finished The Firelight of Maalda and hope to have my review/giveaway up before dawn Pacific Coast time or as soon after midnight as I can manage.


Hot Chocolate by Dawn Ireland, is a mystery novel and I think is what is know as a cozy a mystery which I'm basing on the blurbs like the one below but I could be wrong.  My review/giveaway for one ebook copy is scheduled for next Wedensday, February 1st.

Meet the middle-aged Alcott sisters: Madge, Lila Mae and Dorothea, heiresses to the Alcott Chocolate fortune and mavens of Houston’s elite River Oaks.

Madge ambushes Lila Mae with Dorothea’s manipulative plea: she can’t care for Bernie, their 92-year old father, any longer. Lila Mae explodes in a hissy fit—she had warned Dorothea years ago that they should put Bernie in an assisted living center.
Robert, Lila Mae’s astrologer, warns of impending problems and he’s rarely wrong.
The sisters call a meeting with Walter Branson, their solicitor. They discuss Bernie’s nurse Bambi Chaline, a blonde bombshell who looks more like a hooker than a nurse.

Arrangements are made for Bernie to be transferred over to Lake Sides Assisted Living Center in the Uptown Galleria area and a severance package is drawn up for Bambi.
Jimmy Ray Chaline, Bambi’s bowling alley husband, is enraged that Bambi was let go. He hires ambulance chaser Mark Slade to file a lawsuit for wrongful termination.

The suit is thrown out of court further fueling Jimmy Ray’s rage. Bambi had been more than satisfied with her bonus, letters of recommendation and praise from the Alcott clan.
When Jimmy Ray fails to return home from the bowling alley that night, a series of events unfold that shocks the entire Alcott family and their extended members.

I finished this just before midnight last night and hope to have the review/giveaway up between midnight and dawn Pacific Coast time on Wednesday morning.

Both of these novels are more than passingly competent and worth the read so if you like either YA fantasy or cozy mysteries you might like to stop by and enter the drawings.  I'll also be posting the links to the other giveaways on the tour.

The March 7th blog tour review/giveaway is for Finding Katie  by John Smith author of the ebook Delayed Flight which I reviewed for its blog tour last month.

From John's email:
Finding Katie is about a very wealthy and very sheltered Preston Meadows who lives his life protected from even the hint of harm. His world is safe and secure until someone kidnaps his sister, Katie. Against his parents’ wishes, Preston sets out on his own to find her. Preston works hard to blend in with the “regular” people roaming the streets of Dallas – but the real world is zany, insane, full of danger and filled with ruthless criminals. As I mentioned, it is a comedy filled with mystery and romance.

The forth one which has no deadline but which I am very excited to read as I've read and enjoyed several by this author is, Her Frozen Wild by Kim Antieau.  Kim is an author who has gone the self-pub ebook route after being published by the traditional press several times.  Her material is often heavily influenced by folklore and fairytale from many different cultures and emphasizes the female archetypes.  Every one I've read has had a strong female lead.

I started this last night within the hour of finishing Hot Chocolate, thinking I was just setting it up on my Kindle PC to sit on the taskbar in place of  Hot Chocolate which had been sitting there all week which had taken the place of The Fires of Maalda which had taken the place of its previous installments.  Basically I've been keeping an ebook live on my taskbar since mid November when I first downloaded the Kindle for PC and Calibre for reading the free epub found on most of the sites archiving public domain materials.  So for over two months now I've had an ebook sitting open on my taskbar for those moments when the impulse strikes to read for awhile and I was just setting up the next in line.  Or so I thought.  But an hour later I was still reading and I had used up the time I'd set aside for putting up this post.

Now, knowing it is sitting there is like having those books open inside my textbooks or on my lap under my desk when I was supposed to be doing class work.  But I'm both the sneaky 'student' and the 'teacher'  who has the power to confiscate the book.  Except in this case the balance of power tends to favor the 'student' who has little fear of tho at least still some respect for the 'teacher'.

All of which is by way of saying that the story is so gripping that I'm having a very hard time resisting its pull in spite of the commitments I've made to others depending on me which today includes both authors in the blog tours and my sister who needs a bit extra help from me with Mom this week because of various appointments outside the house.  She is depending on me to have dinner made by 6pm today for example.  Which gives me an hour to get this posted and visit a handful of IMWAYR participants.  Then after dinner and its cleanup I must devote several hours to prepping the review/giveaway for tomorrow before I can be allowed to immerse myself in this story again:

Scientists in the Altai in Siberia uncover the 2,500 year old frozen mummy of a tattooed priestess. This mummy has the same genetic material as American archaeologist Ursula Smith whose mother disappeared in Siberia 30 years earlier. Ursula travels from the U.S. to Siberia to unravel the mystery of the “lady” and meets Sergei Ivanovich Polyakov, a Russian doctor who graciously invites her into his home. After they become lovers, she discovers Sergei has the same tattoos on his body as the tattooed lady. He tells a disbelieving Ursula that they have met before and she is destined to save the ancient People, considered as devils by some and shape-changing gods by others. A shaman takes Ursula to one of the sacred timeless caves where Ursula’s mother vanished. When Ursula allows the shaman to tattoo her, she is thrown back in time where she must unlock the mystery of the People and their link to her past in order to save them and Sergei—even if it costs her her life.

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Sunday, January 29, 2012

Sunday Serenity #268


Clips of Harry

I'm still having bouts of homesickness.  They say laughter is the best medicine.  I've been taking my medicine by streaming 3rd Rock from the Sun.  Am in mid season 3.  I try to limit myself to 2 episodes per day but find myself sneaking in that third one.

Clips of Dick


Sally and Tommy play Monopoly

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Saturday, January 28, 2012

Presenting a Web Wonder: The Public Domain Review |

The Public Domain Review |:

'via Blog this'

This website is a treasure trove of cultural curiosities and wonders culled from that vast and ever-growing conglomeration known as 'the public domain'--the works and the artifacts whose copyright has expired and thus are now free to view and use by any and all.

Archivists and librarians, universities and museums, the world over have been busy creating electronic archives for electronic copies of their collections of public domain items--images, texts, film, audio, sculpture etc. The Public Domain Review is a journal cum blog in which articles written by aficionados of the arcane share tantalizing tidbits about the works and their creators and the milieu in which they were born.

Does that sound dry and somber?  Well take a look at this selection of article titles:

ROBERT SOUTHEY’S DREAMS REVISITED
THE MEMOIRS OF JOSEPH GRIMALDI
PETER THE WILD BOY
STORIES OF A HOLLOW EARTH
BUGS AND BEASTS BEFORE THE LAW

CHRISTOPHER SMART’S JUBILATE AGNO

IMAGES: KITAB AL-BULHAN OR BOOK OF WONDERS
TEXTS: URIAH JEWETT AND THE SEA SERPENT OF LAKE MEMPHEMAGOG
FILMS: THE THIEF OF BAGDAD
AUDIO: THE VOICE OF FLORENCE NIGHTINGALE
AUDIO: SANTA CLAUS PROVES THERE IS A SANTA CLAUS
IMAGES: WORLD WAR II FROM THE AIR
FILMS: THE CABINET OF DR. CALIGARI
TEXTS: THE ECCENTRIC MIRROR





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Friday, January 27, 2012

On Writing - 8 Quotes & an LOLcat

'All writers are vain, selfish and lazy...'   ~George Orwell
All writers are vain, selfish and lazy...' ~George Orwell 



Life can't ever really defeat a writer who is in love with writing, for life itself is a writer's lover until death - fascinating, cruel, lavish, warm, cold, treacherous, constant.  ~Edna Ferber, A Kind of Magic, 1963

You never have to change anything you got up in the middle of the night to write.  ~Saul Bellow

Fiction, imaginative work that is, is not dropped like a pebble upon the ground, as science may be; fiction is like a spider's web, attached ever so lightly perhaps, but still attached to life at all four corners.   ~Virginia Woolf

Writers are not just people who sit down and write.  They hazard themselves.  Every time you compose a book your composition of yourself is at stake.  ~E.L. Doctorow

The writer who possesses the creative gift owns something of which he is not always master - something that at times strangely wills and works for itself.    ~Charlotte Bronte

I think it's bad to talk about one's present work, for it spoils something at the root of the creative act.  It discharges the tension.  ~Norman Mailer

And by the way, everything in life is writable about if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise.  The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.  ~Sylvia Plath

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Thursday, January 26, 2012

On Reading - 5 Quotes

I pawsed my reading for you, now what do you want?



“It is not true we have only one life to live; if we can read, we can live as many lives and as many kinds of lives as we wish.”—S.I. Hayakawa

“To learn to read is to light a fire; every syllable that is spelled out is a spark.”—Victor Hugo

“Sit in a room and read—and read and read. And read the right books by the right people. Your mind is brought onto that level, and you have a nice, mild, slow-burning rapture all the time.”—Joseph Campbell

“Literature is my Utopia. Here I am not disenfranchised. No barrier of the senses shuts me out from the sweet, gracious discourses of my book friends. They talk to me without embarrassment or awkwardness.”—Helen Keller

“Once I began a book, I couldn’t put it down. It was like an addiction; 
I read while I ate, on the train, in bed until late at night, in school, 
where I’d keep the book hidden so I could read during class. 
But I had almost no desire to talk with anyone about the experience I gained through books and music. I felt happy just being me and no one else.” —Haruki Murakami



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Wednesday, January 25, 2012

My Sunbeam's Gone Missing.

funny pictures - Mai sunbeem been gone berry longtiem.


I'm feeling like this today.  I think it is mostly homesick.  I'm hoping it is not another virus coming on.  I've another two or three weeks here at Mom's before going back to Phoenix OR.  There is plenty to keep me busy.  Busy helps keep the sad at bay.

Anyway I put in over twelve hours between the two posts for Monday and Tuesday so I'm putting up an easy one tonight.  I want to get back to the book I'm doing the giveaway for next Tuesday.  And maybe I'll sleep early tonight.  Sleep deprivation could explain this mood too.

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Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The Legend of the Raie’Chaelia -- A Review

A week from today I'll be hosting a giveaway on the blog tour for an ebook copy of Book 2 of Melissa Douthit's fantasy trilogy The Legend of the Raie' Chaelia (rye - kale - ya).  To prepare for my review of The Firelight of Maalda, I was sent as well Book 1 The Raie' Chaelia and two prequels, The Journey Begins and The Vanishing.  So I thought I would say a little something about them that might help prepare the ground for next week's review of The Firelight of Maalda.

As  The Raie' Chaelia   opens we find young Chalice traveling alone on horseback in a forest nearing the destination her grandfather had directed her to the night her hometown of Canton had been overrun by the False King's army.  But when she reaches the town of Branbury it is eerily empty as is the homestead of her grandfather''s friend who was to instruct her on where to go next and explain to her the secret of her parentage.  Her grandfather had promised from her early memories that when she was old enough he would tell her and had planned to do so on her 18th birthday which had still been some days off at the time their town was invaded.

While exploring the empty house of her grandfather's friend she is interrupted by an intruder that turns out to be Jeremiah, the youngest son of the household and a young man she remembers as having spent part of a year living in Canton when they were very young.  They had had a fast friendship at that time and it took little time for them to settle back into that camaraderie.  From that moment on the two are virtually inseparable.  They set out to find and rescue Jeremiah's family and friends who had been taken captive by the False King's men.

On their journey they traverse a high mountain pass escorted by a member of the Chinooks another sentient race who live there.  They see exotic animals and spend the night in one of the fabled underground cities where their ancestors had rode out the ice age several thousand years ago.  They meet up with an old man named Ben who claims to be a friend of Jeremiah's father and to have been on his way to meet Chalice to escort her to safety.  But Chalice refuses to go with him as long as Jeremiah's family and friends remain captive so Ben is obliged to help them with their mission first.  A mission that carries to the end of Book1.

Come back next Tuesday for my review of Book 2.

This fantasy trilogy has a lot going for it.  It is well plotted and the world building is extraordinary. The science under-girding it is impeccable   The main characters have depth and personalities that come alive on the page.  The dialog is more than competent with different characters having distinctive voices.

That said, there are a few areas that could do with some polishing.  The pacing within the scenes is often choppy with action and dialog being interrupted for too long with large chunks of description.  The information imparted at these times is interesting, even fascinating, and it furthers the plot and/or world building so it is not that it is fluff or filler just that it jars one out of the flow of the story.


The manuscript could do with a good line edit as well.  There are a number of sentences scattered throughout with missing or extra words, the kind of thing that happens when editing or rewriting a sentence and either leaving behind or removing a word or partial phrase unintentionally.  This is the kind of thing spell checkers can't find and they are also very difficult for the author to spot as we tend to see what we expect to see on our elebenty-third read through of sections we have rewritten uncountable times.  Fresh eyes are needed to catch these and the author can only get that by setting the manuscript aside for several months.  I know whereof I speak.

The two prequels have the same issues but the biggest issue I have with them is that they are separated from  The Raie' Chaelia at all.  Maybe it is a matter of taste or maybe someone thought it made Book 1 too long but I would have preferred the stories in them had been incorporated into the beginning of the first book.  Not only do they introduce the two main characters and the settings that they are catapulted out of into their adventure but there is information that speaks to character motivation and experience that is crucial to understanding or believing certain events in The Raie' Chaelia  and The Firelight of Maalda.  I can't be more specific without giving spoilers.    

In The Journey Begins we are introduced to Chalice and the idyllic town of Canton in which she had grown up.  We learn of her unique talents and skills and glimpse the core of her character.  We come to love the town and people in it along with her and thus are devastated along with her when she is ripped from it unwillingly and thrust into her adventure.

In The Vanishing me meet Jeremiah and experience the bucolic life of Branbury in which he was raised and which, though grateful for it, he is champing at the bit to leave in order to see more of his world and fulfill his desire to travel and learn.  This story ends with Jeremiah's return from a long solo hunting trip to find his family's homestead abandoned and an intruder in his father's study.

Mellisa Douthit has the science background that qualifies her for the exquisite world building in this trilogy.   With a degree in Computer Science she currently works as a scientific and mathematic programmer for the Army Corp of Engineers in Salt Lake City.  Previously she has worked for the National Radio Astronomy Observatory, NASA Ames research Center, Lawrence Livermore National Lab and Naval Postgraduate School.


At this time she writes on the side but her dream is to shift the balance the other direction making programming the side job while writing full time.

Be sure and return next Tuesday for the blog tour and my giveaway/review for The Firelight of Maalda.  Which if you'll excuse me I'm off to finish.

BTW if you wonder why bother entering a drawing for book 2 when you haven't read book 1 well you can download or read it and both prequels for free at Smashwords for a limited time as part of the promotion for The Firelight of Maalda.

Read more...

Monday, January 23, 2012

It's Monday What Are You Reading?

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?
Share what you (are, have been, are about to, hope to be) reading or reviewing this week. Sign Mr Linky at Book Journey and visit other Monday reading roundups.


This week my reading line up is all ebook review copies for self-published authors.  Two of them for blog tours set for next week and a third for a blog tour set for the first week of March. All three of those are for Premier Virtual Author Book Tours and will feature giveaways. The fourth is open ended and casual but I don't want to keep the author waiting too long for my response so I'm hoping to fit it in between the second and third tour.

I have begun seeking out self-published ebooks for review as part of my research into taking my own stories that route.

The two books slated for blog tours next week are:

The Firelight of Maalda by Melissa Douthit  which is the second book in a planned fantasy trilogy, The Legend of the Raie’Chaelia.   I was given the first book, Raie’Chaelia, and two prequel short stories as well to get me up to speed but the review/giveaway of one ebook copy next Tuesday, January 31st, is for this one only.

The Firelight of Maalda: A story that unites the real with the fantastical and turns science into magic …
Chalice and her group leave Barenthren to travel to Portalis.  There she and her friends discover the beautiful city, its people, its history, and its secret that has been kept hidden for thousands of years.  During their stay, they learn that Dar’Maalda has the Firestone and that he plans to use it.
What is the Firestone and what does Dar’Maalda plan to do with it?  What are the Naezzi?  What does the title, The Firelight of Maalda, really mean?  And … what is the secret of Portalis, the secret that has been guarded so jealously for so long – so jealously, that many have given their lives to protect it?
In The Firelight of Maalda, the second novel of the trilogy, The Legend of the Raie’Chaelia, you find out.  It is a tale of intrigue and wonder where two opposite worlds collide in an explosive journey that leads Chalice and her friends to the dark islands lurking just beyond the horizon of Ielieria, where the Firelight of Maalda sits … and waits.

Hot Chocolate by Dawn Ireland, is a mystery novel and I think is what is know as a cozy a mystery which I'm basing on the blurbs like the one below but I could be wrong.  My review/giveaway for one ebook copy is scheduled for next Wedensday, February 1st.

Meet the middle-aged Alcott sisters: Madge, Lila Mae and Dorothea, heiresses to the Alcott Chocolate fortune and mavens of Houston’s elite River Oaks.

Madge ambushes Lila Mae with Dorothea’s manipulative plea: she can’t care for Bernie, their 92-year old father, any longer. Lila Mae explodes in a hissy fit—she had warned Dorothea years ago that they should put Bernie in an assisted living center.
Robert, Lila Mae’s astrologer, warns of impending problems and he’s rarely wrong.
The sisters call a meeting with Walter Branson, their solicitor. They discuss Bernie’s nurse Bambi Chaline, a blonde bombshell who looks more like a hooker than a nurse.

Arrangements are made for Bernie to be transferred over to Lake Sides Assisted Living Center in the Uptown Galleria area and a severance package is drawn up for Bambi.
Jimmy Ray Chaline, Bambi’s bowling alley husband, is enraged that Bambi was let go. He hires ambulance chaser Mark Slade to file a lawsuit for wrongful termination.

The suit is thrown out of court further fueling Jimmy Ray’s rage. Bambi had been more than satisfied with her bonus, letters of recommendation and praise from the Alcott clan.
When Jimmy Ray fails to return home from the bowling alley that night, a series of events unfold that shocks the entire Alcott family and their extended members.



The March 7th blog tour review/giveaway is for Finding Katie  by John Smith author of the ebook Delayed Flight which I reviewed for its blog tour last month.

From John's email:
Finding Katie is about a very wealthy and very sheltered Preston Meadows who lives his life protected from even the hint of harm. His world is safe and secure until someone kidnaps his sister, Katie. Against his parents’ wishes, Preston sets out on his own to find her. Preston works hard to blend in with the “regular” people roaming the streets of Dallas – but the real world is zany, insane, full of danger and filled with ruthless criminals. As I mentioned, it is a comedy filled with mystery and romance.

The forth one which has no deadline but which I am very excited to read as I've read and enjoyed several by this author is, Her Frozen Wild by Kim Antieau.  I hope to get to it this week but the first two above take priority until my reviews are prepped.  Kim is an author who has gone the self-pub ebook route after being published by the traditional press several times.

Scientists in the Altai in Siberia uncover the 2,500 year old frozen mummy of a tattooed priestess. This mummy has the same genetic material as American archaeologist Ursula Smith whose mother disappeared in Siberia 30 years earlier. Ursula travels from the U.S. to Siberia to unravel the mystery of the “lady” and meets Sergei Ivanovich Polyakov, a Russian doctor who graciously invites her into his home. After they become lovers, she discovers Sergei has the same tattoos on his body as the tattooed lady. He tells a disbelieving Ursula that they have met before and she is destined to save the ancient People, considered as devils by some and shape-changing gods by others. A shaman takes Ursula to one of the sacred timeless caves where Ursula’s mother vanished. When Ursula allows the shaman to tattoo her, she is thrown back in time where she must unlock the mystery of the People and their link to her past in order to save them and Sergei—even if it costs her her life.

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Sunday, January 22, 2012

Sunday Serenity #267


I spent much of the afternoon and evening reading in my Kindle for PC.  I took a few breaks to play Word on fb but kept coming back to the novel whose review/giveaway is scheduled for January 31.  A second review/giveaway is scheduled for the following day.  There are two more review copies waiting in line for after that.

I have been actively seeking out self-published ebooks to review as part of my research into the world of self-publishing in the digital age as I prepare to take that route myself.

Below you see my Kindle for PC open to the Library in category Review Copy.  The first four seen there are the four mentioned above but in backwards order.


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Saturday, January 21, 2012

Winding Down


I have whined frequently over the last three years--since the beginning of my crochet obsession--about the bulk of the balls of thread I have to carry around in projects, store when awaiting their next project and pack up and schlep along with me for my months long visits at my mom's.

I'm finally doing something about it.  I had taken a few of the big fat tubes before.  Usually ones that were involved in a project and already half gone.  But now I'm going to make it the rule rather than the exception as I've finally solved one of the issues holding me back--how to attach the label containing color name and lot number.  It is one thing to have done it with a color involved in a project.  It is quite another to do it to the entire collection of several dozen colors.




My solution was to cut the pertinent section of label out (see in center of tray in top pic) and then fold it into a ring sized tube.  Then string the thread thru it and make a big loop about eight to ten inches long.  Then lay the middle of that loop across the middle of a packing peanut and wrap it around pinning the end in place.  Then continue wrapping the thread around the peanut creating a ball while holding the label on the loop out of the way.  


It is tedious but so worth it when I can cut the volume of my project kits by more than half as shown in this picture where it turned a bulky two ball project into a purse or pocket project.

Winding the thread off the tubes is a project I can do while watching video, or listening to podcasts or audio books or even visiting with family.  It can even be very soothing and meditative to do while just day dreaming.

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Friday, January 20, 2012

Open Mic Night at The Electric Bean

Jeremy Jones @ The Electric Bean
on Open Mic Night in Longview WA

Jeremy Jones was one of the entertainers to take the stage at The Electric Bean's Open Mic Night here in Longview WA this evening.  I understand he wrote the songs he sang.  I quite enjoyed them.  His fb page, which I linked to his name at the beginning of this paragraph, says that he attended Mark Morris High School which makes him a fellow alumni tho I'm sure many years after me :)

I'm here at The Electric Bean with my sister Carri just hanging out listening to music and drinking coffee at this family friendly Internet cafe in Longview WA.  I wish I had something like this available near me in Phoenix OR for NaNoWriMo in the month of November.  One had to go south to Ashland or north to Grants Pass for artist friendly hangouts with WIFI access.  Especially if you want to hang around longer than it takes to drink your coffee and not have to keep ordering in order to 'rent' your table.

Well I guess I need to wrap this up now as I've nearly used up my battery and didn't bring my power cord.  Besides it is almost 11PM.

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Thursday, January 19, 2012

Words Rock


Mom and I played Scrabble last night.  Fun. We didn't keep score as Mom's stroke induced aphasia is still a factor and the purpose of the game was mother/daughter fellowship not competition.  Besides playing word games is one of the things her speech and other therapists recommended after the stroke three years ago.  She has come a long way since then.

IMHO her plays are better than good--80 years or no, stroke or no.  She kicked off the game with SCHWA.  I bet you have to look that one up.

I love word games.  Forget games, I just love words.

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Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Stop SOPA, PIPA, OPEN





Today's strikes and blackouts across the internet, calls to congress and various efforts to spread the word and educate an oblivious populace about the implications of these laws for their daily web activities has had an effect.  Word is several of the congress persons intending to vote yes on SOPA and/or PIPA have backed down.  But now another one called OPEN had been proffered, co-sponsored by my own Oregon Senator, Ron Wyden.  I had really expected better of him, having seen plenty of evidence that he was Internet savvy and understood the implications for the economy if not civil rights.

I confess I was one of the oblivious just a few days ago.  It was the following video posted on fb that got my attention and explained it to me:


Imagine a day without YouTube.

Imagine a day without facebook, Twitter, Google, Blogger, Wordpress, Wikipedia.

Imagine a day without LOLcats!!

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Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Criminal Minds Marathon



I've been having a Criminal Minds marathon since Friday night, watching between three and five episodes per night.  The DVDs belong to acquaintances of my sister so can't go home with me.  I had seen only three or four episodes before this and those two or more years ago and all from the middle of season 1 and which I barely remembered more than a few images from.

My favorite characters are Spenser Reid and Penelope Garcia.  Most of the comedy relief seems to involve one or the other of them.  And a show like this needs comedy relief or the brutality of the criminal minds they must get inside would be too intense and overwhelming.

As it is I find my eyes flinching away from the screen often. I find getting inside the minds of villains difficult which is why so many of my stories stall when they walk on stage. 






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Monday, January 16, 2012

Martin Luther King Jr. Day--Quote

Martin Luther King Faith Quote


I will honor Martin Luther King today by sharing one of my favorite quotes of his: 

Faith is taking the first step, even when you don't see the whole staircase.

This is something I find very challenging. I tend to want not only to see all the stairs but to have built them myself-- i.e. meticulous planning and preperation. To take that first step towards a goal when I can't see all the steps between me and the finish line provokes overwhelming anxiety.

 I wonder if MLK would have taken the first step if you had seen that moment on the balcony first.

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Sunday, January 15, 2012

Sunday Serenity #266

Merlin

I'm missing my fur baby.  I hear he is ecstatically chasing the windows in our new home to watch the snow falling.

It snowed a bit here in Longview WA last night as well.  And briefly this afternoon.  There is a better than 60% chance it will snow some more overnight.  There wasn't much left of the half inch or so we got over the last 24 hours as of the time it got too dark for me to see out the windows.

A good time to dress warm and curl up somewhere cozy with a good book.

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Saturday, January 14, 2012

Blunder or Wonder--Quote

'A man of genius makes no mistakes; his errors are volitional and are the portals of discovery.'  ~~James Joyce



'A man of genius makes no mistakes; his errors are volitional and are the portals of discovery.'  ~~James Joyce
This is another principle I need to take to heart.  Fear of mistakes is most often at the heart of the procrastination issue I discussed in Thursday's post. I must get it into my heart (my head already knows) that mistakes are not monstersl. But if James Joyce is to be believed, it goes beyond that.  Not only are errors not fatal they can be the catalyst of wondrous possibility. 

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Friday, January 13, 2012

Some Sister Time


My sister took me to The Electric Bean, an internet cafe in Longview this evening.  We'd thought to enjoy their usual Friday entertainments--open mic, bands, concerts--which often last past 10pm.  But the band had finished up early and the crowd had thinned so they were preparing to close in ten minutes as we walked in.

Carri went ahead and ordered our coffees.  She got decaff but I braved a fully caffinated Breve.  At 9pm!!

While she was doing that I sat down at that table you see in the pic above and got my netblook out of my bag which I'd brought especially so I could get on Facebook and announce my status as beein @The Electric Bean.  I had never done that before--gotten on fb from a public place and announced my location.

Shortly after that Carri asked a young lady wandering around with a camera if she could take a picture of the two of us with my camera with the mural in the background that Carri had painted a couple years ago.  A better picture of the mural taken shortly after it was completed is re-posted below.

Carri and hung out sipping out coffees until ten after 9.  Nobody was rushing us out.  But as soon as it looked like they were done with the closing cleanup routine Carri ushered me out to the van.

We intend to return next Friday for open mic.


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Thursday, January 12, 2012

If Not Now, When?


The theme of this quote, which if I remember right is from the Talmud, has come up for me today at least half a dozen times.  I'm thinking I'm supposed to take notice.

I was organizing my workstation here at Mom's this evening and in the process checking all the pockets of my netbook bag and found a card containing the code for downloading 15 free songs into my iTunes ap.  My sister had given it to me last summer and I'd put it in that bag as the most logical place, intending to take care of the download when I got home.  But  I never lay eyes on it again before today.

I showed it to my sister and asked her if it was still good and she read the fine print and discovered it had expired at the end of September.

Now if I had taken the few minutes (under an hour anyway) to do that download the day she had given me the card I'd not only have the music on my netbook but have had the opportunity to enjoy it any time over the last 5 months.

Earlier that day I'd moved a persimmon, one of my favorite fruits and a rare treat, setting on the counter beside the sink out of her way and put it back in the fruit basket my mom had taken it from when she brought it to me while I was making our lunch the other day.  I'd set it on the counter then intending to eat it after my sandwich but had then decided to 'save it for later'.  That was three days ago.

Carri then asked me about the persimmons she had given me when they passed through Phoenix OR on their way home from Gerber, CA where they had spent Thanksgiving with Mom's side of the family.   I told her that of the four I'd eaten two but there had still been two in the fridge when I left and that I'd meant to bring them with me for fear they would not last for the month I'd be gone.

There had also been a nice bag of fresh greens for salads and wraps that I'd left in the fridge which will definitely not still be good by the time I get home.

So this got me to talking about how I am always saving the treats and the fun stuff and other things I'd really like to have or do for 'later' and quite often they go bad (if they are eatable) or expire, get lost, or otherwise become unavailable or unusable.  My sister asked why I thought that was.  Is it because I feel unworthy?  I said I don't know.  I don't think so.  It's more like I feel I have to earn it by completing a duty first.

That's a version of 'unworthy' I guess.

But that doesn't really cover it.  Often I've created an image in my mind of the ideal circumstances under which the item or activity should be used or performed and those circumstances never come about.  Maybe it is needing to finish a chore first but it could be thinking I need a certain sized slot of available time, another food item to combine with the one sitting in the fridge or another color of thread for that special crochet project, or books I own being trumped by library due dates, or, and this may be the one most often true, wanting to put off as long as possible the moment that good thing is gone.

Speaking to that last one is the little rectangle of chocolate I found inside an Altoid box when packing up our room for the move the week after Xmas.  It had to have been from before the summer of 2010 when I'd cut sugar out of my diet.  It had been my habit to save the last rectangle until I got the next bar.  And since I stopped getting the bars...

Not long after that conversation with my sister she came in Mom's room where my workstation is to tell me that her son is reading Snow Falling On Cedars and asked if I'd ever read it.  I said no but that I'd wanted to for a long time and even owned a copy.  Yep, owning it is like a guarantee I won't get around to reading it.  All those library due date, review copies, blog surfing...

She had left the room before I remembered that the copy I had now was the second one I'd acquired, the first having been either sold or left in storage when we left the Silicon Valley by bus in 2001.  And that brought up images in my mind of the hundreds of books I'd sold or left behind that summer that had set on my shelves for weeks, months, years or decades which I'd not gotten around to reading.

Then images of my manuscripts and notes for my stories and poems that had been left behind in storage that year came up.  Which reminded me that I'm still not protected against loosing the work I've done since then because I've been procrastinating backing up the files on my netbook.  Why?  Because the files are so disorganized and I picture getting them organized first, eliminating duplicates and creating a logical hierarchy of folder with filenames that don't mystify.

But the memory of loosing my digital files in 2001 because they were on the hard drive which couldn't travel on the bus and of how I didn't have hard copy to take with me either because I'd been such a miser with the ink and paper not wanting to print until I had something approaching a final draft--not quite there yet but close--gave me a frisson of fear as I realized that little had changed.  Still no hard copy of anything that is not semi-polished and still many months behind in backing up the files on the netbook in case something happens to it.

Really!  I must get over this aversion to backing up or printing files that are in some form of disarray.  It's better to have saved the mess than to loose the treasures buried in it.

Thinking about my creative writing files also got me to thinking about how many stories I have in progress and in mind and how little time I've given to them in the last year.

I returned to my workstation to finish cleaning out that bag after discovering the music card had expired.  And in one of it's pockets I found a little card with the saying featured in the pic above on it.

If not now, when?

I'd put in there as a reminder to make my creative writing a priority.

But finding that card immediately after discovering the music card had expired which had been the last of several occasions today that principle had grabbed my attention?  Spooky isn't it?

I think I'm gonna go eat that persimmon now.

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Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Epic Kindle Fire Giveaway



Besides the four Kindle fires and a fist full of gift cards these four sponsoring authors are pricing the Kindle editions of many of their novels at 0.00 between today and Friday.

There are some hoops to jump through but very reasonable to expect them to get value back for this awesome chance to win great gifts.  Some of the hoops are found at Epic Kindle Giveaway and a few more at Ereader News Today


Between the four authors they will be giving away over 30 Kindle editions of their books.  And for these there are no hoops to jump through other than to be there during the hours the book's price is set at 0.00.  Ereader News today will be announcing the bundles of free ebooks twice a day and posting the announcement on facebook

Or you could check the author's pages at Amazon.com every day through Friday:

J. R. Rain

Aiden James

H. T. Night

Scott Nicholson





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Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Ah, the Joy of Books!




I spent an hour today on the Longview library catalog ordering books on my sister's card for her to pick up for me later this wee.  I still hope to have a visit to the library itself before I leave town but there is no room on this week's agenda for it.

Earlier today on fb someone had shared this video and I began to plan immediately for it to be part of today's post.  I had hoped for this post to go up in the afternoon but I was unable to view the video all the way thru as it kept stalling out after ten seconds or so and either the page, shockwave or the browser itself would crash.  It wasn't until that had happened over a dozen times and also with three other videos that it dawned on me that I'd not restarted my netbook since before I left home last Friday.  I only hibernated that day seconds before walking out the door.  I can't remember when the last restart had even been.

So the restart cured the problem and when I finally got to watch this video a few minutes ago I was in awe and watched it several times.  I guess you could say it brought me joy.  I wish I could have been there to help handle the books for this stop motion gala.  I love handling books.

Well I had another laid back day that included reading, watching videos, surfing fun stuff, visiting with family on and off line and I'm starting to feel rejuvinated.

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Monday, January 09, 2012

Vegging



Today I allowed myself a very laid back day.  It was the first day since the middle of October when I did not feel I had something urgent pressing in on my--a deadline, a project, a commitment, and illnesses (mine or other's)...

I can't really say that I was being a couch potato as the picture implies as compared to three weeks ago when I was still living most of my hours in a small room I am a great deal more active.  But I did do a lot of sitting and staring at the wall, I read, I watched a video, I surfed fun stuff online, I visited with my Mom for hours, I fiddled around organizing what will be my computer work station for the next month, I played Word with Friends on fb with my sister, Jamie, while chatting with her, I made lunch for Mom and myself while my sister, Carri, was off helping a friend move.

I had promised myself a day like this as soon as Mom's bday bash was over.  I thought of it as a single day for recharging and then jumping back into the work for upcoming deadlines, projects, commitment (let's hope no illnesses)...

But I don't want to return to the frazzled state I've been in for several months.  I want another day lie today tomorrow.

And I'm thinking I can have one and still accomplish much toward those commitments.  Much of the reading I did today was for a review/giveaway in a blog tour I'm participating in in February.  I am participating in two which means reading two books but one of the boos is a sequel and the author provided Book 1 as well which I started shortly before Xmas and am nearly finished.  If it hadn't been for all of the urgent commitments I could have read it in a day or two but reading had to go low on the priority list as prepping Xmas gifts and Mom's bday gift, three blog tour reviews, the flu, and moving into a new place while packing for a trip all took precedent.  Now, for a few days, I am free to read, play, watch videos and other fun relaxing things.

But I'm not really going to be a couch potato as one of those fun and relaxing things I plan to do is bounce on the mini-tramp.  Another is go to the library that was the one I grew up with, the one where I had my first library card.

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Sunday, January 08, 2012

Sunday Serenity #265 Family

Mom's 80th birthday bash-- the whole family
counter clockwise: Mom, Jamie, Rob, Carri, Joy

Mom's birthday was actually the 3rd but we celebrated with friends and family today.

Examining Joy's gift

This was what I stayed up all night putting the finishing touches on and even crocheting from scratch one more bow.  I tried for hours to sew the fastener onto the back of a flower and had to give up.  Was going to give her the bows and flowers loose and figure it out later but Carri got her glue gun out and got all of the flowers and one bow done before we had to leave.

The sweater was actually one Mom already owned but it has not been in her dresser since 2004 because Carri accidentally bleached several spots of the dark navy while trying to get out a stain.  She and I had been trying to figure out some way of covering those spots up in a decorative fashion.  Our first plan was to embroider sweat pea vines all over the grid like it was a trellis. I blogged about this in 2009 at the time calling it the Sweat Pea project or sweater. But I could not find a thread or yarn that worked with the lace weight cotton yarn of the sweater nor could I figure out how to embroider on a fabric that would not keep its shape.

Then last year I got the idea of sewing buttons over the spots and scatter a few more around as well.  Almost went that route last spring but around the same time I encountered crocheted flowers in online patterns and tutorials and realized they would serve the purpose.  So I looked for thread that was compatible and soon discovered that the bamboo crochet thread size 10 was not only the same size as the yarn in the sweater it was a compatible texture

Joy's gift--the flowers and bows.  Not the sweater itself.


The sweater is folded so you can't see all of the flowers pinned on it. There are five flowers and one bow pinned on and five more bows awaiting their pins to be attached.  I'm also going to be adding a green and a white flower and a white bow.  I may even add a set of larger flowers--with three rows of petals.  Am also considering trying size 10 cotton thread so I can do a set of bright color.  Aunt Lydia's Bamboo only has whit, pastels and earth tones

They are detachable so they can be removed before the sweater is washed.  Which means they can be pinned onto anything headband, jacket, scarf, coat, bag....

Opening Carri's gift

Carri's gift was hand made too.  She bought a set of plain solid color hair combs and hot-glued on the tiny seashells she'd pick up on the beach in Hawaii during her visit there last month


Carri's gift




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