Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The Hidden Sun: Book Review

J Lloyd Morgan or “Manly Lord Jog” (pronounced YOG) likes his anagrams. His novel The Hidden Sun is also a play on words, but Morgan doesn't just play-he also takes risks.

Set in a secondary medieval world,(like my friend Daron Fraley's The Thorn) this might seem like a fantasy but it isn't, there isn't any magic nor even any fantastical creatures. It might seem like a romance, but it isn't that either, it really isn't too lovey-dovey despite relationships, marriage and family being the prime arena of conflict.

It took getting through about the first 50 pages for me to be interested, a bit slow of an opening for my tastes.
All that and the main character isn't even introduced until one third of the way into the book.
I classify these as risks with a first novel.
Morgan is setting up a roller coaster ride. I fully admit to being put off that first 50 pages, BUT then I was blown away.

I love what happened.

Morgan kills main characters-like George RR Martin does in Song of Ice and Fire, you can't be sure if someone is going to make it or not.
The scheming villain is ruthless and it gets the reader concerned, we are thrown into the world where truly terrible things happen-this isn't a white-washed little fable, people die here.
It made the ongoing story relevant to me. If there hadn't been this surprising risk of killing off main characters, the moral of power corrupting and making the right choice regardless of outcome, wouldn't have captured me.
Right when I thought Morgan lost me-he caught me again with his tricks-BRAVO.

The finale at the end was good, though I felt strongly that some of the villains should have put up a bigger fight, rather than being resigned to their fate. I think we needed some bloodshed at the end-I would have liked to have seen Rayne fight off some of Abrecan's men.
But this novel may be a little more YA than I am used to too. As has been mentioned by other reviewers, it is a safe clean read. I couldn't help but imagine it being similar to some of my old favorite black & white Errol Flynn swashbuckler type movies. You know, where the bad guy gets pierced through the heart, but "we" the audience, don't actually see any blood, those are still great movies just tame by my current barbarous standards.
Course I may be a desensitized cuss.

When it comes to the sequel Morgan is working on, I'll be very excited to see how he can possibly top the surprises he has thrown at us thus far.

Visit J. Lloyd Morgan
here and or here.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Mayan Intrigue: Guest Post

Here is the first guest post I have had at Nephite Blood, Spartan Heart - author Linda Weaver Clarke. We seem to be intrigued by a few of the same things, we'll have to compare Bear Lake Monster stories some day. Take it away Linda.

A New Mystery Series!

I always enjoy putting a little history in each of my novels to educate my readers. In historical romance, it’s a must and I continued with my research for my new series. The mysteries of the Anasazi Indians, the Mayas, Montezuma’s Treasure, and the Lost Dutchman Mine have intrigued archaeologists and scientists for many years. In the Adventures of John and Julia Evans series, I delve into such mysteries. I love research, so when I turned to mystery, I just knew I would put a little history into my books. It makes it fun to write. I learned so much about artifact theft and what the Mayan culture was like while writing my Intrigue series.

I have written five historical romance novels but have changed to mystery. The writing process between romance and mystery is quite a change with a completely different mind set. The author has to come up with a plot that no one knows about until towards the end of the story and hope they haven’t figured it out. In a mystery, you may or may not allow your reader to know who the bad guys are, according to whether it’s just a mystery or mystery suspense. Do you know the difference between a mystery and a mystery suspense novel? In a mystery, when a knock is heard at the door, the reader doesn't know who's behind it. With mystery suspense, the reader knows who's behind the door and yells to the heroine, "Don't open the door!"

Anasazi Intrigue is the first book in a mystery adventure series called “The Adventures of John and Julia Evans.” It’s about a devastating flood that takes out several homes in a small town, the importance of preserving ancient artifacts, and a few puzzling and mysterious events. Julia is a reporter, and when she finds out about a possible poison spill that kills some fish and neighbor's pets, she has a feeling that something isn’t quite right. Before she realizes what is happening, Julia finds out that this incident is much bigger and more dangerous than she thought. With dead fish, a devastating flood, and miscreants chasing John and Julia, they have their hands full.

Artifact theft is a very intriguing subject. That’s why I call it the Intrigue series. In my research, I found that archaeological thievery is becoming more and more of a problem every year. Did you know that looting is only second to selling illegal drugs? While researching the second book in this series, Mayan Intrigue, my eyes were opened to the problems they have in southern Mexico. When an ancient ruin is discovered, it doesn’t take long for thieves to take it apart. The reason why is because the Mayas used astrological alignments when planning their city. Looters have learned the layout of the Mayan cities so they know where to dig. With this knowledge, they can loot a sacred temple in a few days. I also found that artifact theft in Mexico has been taken over by drug dealers from Columbia. In other words, since organized crime has taken over, there is also an increase of violence.

Mayan Intrigue will be released on August 30th and I’m having a week long celebration with a book give-away at my Blog HERE. Mayan Intrigue is about the discovery of a priceless artifact that puts Julia’s life in great danger. While on assignment for the newspaper, John and Julia try to enjoy a romantic vacation among the Mayan ruins, but when Julia accidentally comes upon a couple suspicious men exchanging an item, she quickly turns and leaves but it’s too late. Before John and Julia realize what's going on, they find themselves running for their lives through the jungles of the Yucatan. To read an excerpt from each of my books, you can visit www.lindaweaverclarke.com/

Have a great release day Linda. I love that you used the Pyramid of the Sorcerer on your cover.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Beat the Clock

So many things going on right now-so many things to write and be a part of of (or at least things I want to be a part of) I may have to pick and choose. This is what I get for procrastinating, taking vacation, travel and just life in general. Ultimately its my own fault for not using time better...still I will be likely calling on some friends for some editing help soon (you know who you are).

Here are some covers and or inspirations for what I am doing.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Strange Sights of the Week

Finally a cause I can believe in.
Now that's a bucket seat!

Yeah! Get Down with the Count you phoney!

And finally it was H.P. Lovecraft's birthday a couple days ago. Here is an eerie monument he may have liked.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Revenge & Such

Blown away by my son's imagination. He drew the bullies "Chuck and Steve" being abducted by aliens. Awesome.
I don't fear for Chuck and Steve because I am 99.99999% sure they are imaginary Nemesis.

In other news here is a pic taken by my new friend Jill Reeder, from the book signing at Dragons & Fairytales. Very pleased with how it went, it was great to catch up with old friends and make new ones. It was also very cool to hand with some other authors-
like Jaleta Clegg, Karen Hoover, Shirley Bahlmann (who read my first few lines and almost looked like she was going to cry-"This is so good," she said.

A higher compliment I cannot imagine-thanks Shirley, her son Bron (Hey I have a character named Tobron-a coincidence I assure you and also W. Everett Prusso.

Thanks to Jaclyn and Steve at Dragons & Fairytales for having us.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Signing at Dragons and Fairytales

I will be signing books tomorrow (August 21st), at the Dragons & Fairytales bookstore in Eagle Mountain, Utah, from 5 pm to 8 pm. There should be a half-dozen other authors there too.
It's a nice place, in a little plaza where years ago, I used to go shooting out amongst the sagebrush before all the devolopments came in.
So come on out and get a book signed.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Books Read Lately

I've been on the road an awful lot lately so I am grateful for the audiobook.

The Burning Land, by Bernard Cornwell
Fifth in the Saxon Tales series, this has everything you will love if you have made it this far. The dominions of Alfred the great are again beset by the Danes and it is up to pagan Uthred to save the christian kingdom he despises.
It may be easy to think everything from the first four books could be retread but Cornwell keeps new characters fresh and individualized. The predicaments and twists are true to Dark Age life and the villains are as menacing as ever.
While I like Lords of the North and Swordsong a little better-The Burning Land is still an excellent read.
And "SPOILER" as Uthred has not yet taken Bebbanburg we can be assured at least one more book in the series.

The Fire from Within, by Carlos Castenada
I picked this up from the library in part because I had heard of Castenada and the teachings of Don Juan but was not familiar with them or what they were about. Any New Agey book has to have something to grab my attention (10th Insights racing around Peru for example)
So as I perused this I noticed that Castaneda wrote that his spiritual mentor Don Juan (and others) are Nagual. This caught my attention because a Nagual is a shapeshifter, a skinwalker etc etc. I have been reading up on these as of late for several different stories I am working on, so...
He claims to learn at the feet of a Skinwalker, I took the book home and started reading-some real interesting stuff regarding the ancient Toltecs (my Ishmaelites in Heroes of the Fallen) and I'm reading thinking, OK this is cool, this is cool, this is cool...oh wait this guy is a nut.
While there were some interesting things mentioned in the book, the farther I got in, the more I had to say WTF?
Granted, I may have my own weird ideas but the two mentors Don Juan and another having such childish mean-spirited pranks to pull on Castaneda himself struck me as weak and then the explanations of there is no God but a great fiery eagle that will devour us if we don't light our own fire within just sounds like PC hogwash.
You had me then you lost me.
I came to find out later that all the time in the desert Castenada claims he was learning at the feet of these masters, he was in Berkley's library with a hoard of books. Just admit you're writing fiction.

The Best of H.P. Lovecraft, by H.P. Lovecraft
I had read most of these years ago already, but I found for the drive and travel I enjoyed rereading/listening to old favorites. This is a collection of shorts /novella's by that eldritch pulp horror writer H. P. Lovecraft. Inside is the classics ~The Call of Cthullu, The Dunwich Horror, The Whisperer in Darkness, The Outsider, The Shadow over Innsmouth etc etc.
For me it is simmering thought of what could be "out there-scuttling in the dark" that is most appealing about these tales.
Horror as defined by the "slasher genre/real life threat" bears me no interest-these are not monsters, just mad dogs who should be put down-but what of the unfathomable unearthly terrors? These are what interest and taunt my attention~Lovecraft delivers.

Conan the Usurper, by Robert E. Howard
This is one of the 12 original Lancers released with the useless heavy-editing-hand of DeCamp. It was one of the first Conan's I ever read and thus has a strong pull on me still. My brother downloaded an audio version and that made it convenient for me to listen to mostly REH (you purists) while driving-(I don't have the Del Reys on audio despite trying with the local library for months)
Inside is The Treasure of Tranicos (The Black Stranger)regardless of DeCamps tampering this is still one of my favorite Conan yarns, a spectacular blend of Treasure Island, Last of the Mohicans and Count of Monte Cristo.
Wolves Beyond the Borders~ a fantastical frontier fantasy, The Phoenix on the Sword-a superb short with Conan as king and those who plot revolt, and finally The Scarlet Citadel which has one of the best closing scenes in any fantasy yarn ever.

On Writing, by Stephen King
I have read this before as well, but it seemed a good one to take with me on the drive, I enjoys King's timbre as he reads the book himself. The humor is well conveyed and his conversational tone made it feel like he was riding in the truck beside my son and I. The great thing about rereading books you love is catching things all over again and sometimes for the first time, despite it really being the third time round.
While King has yet to become one of my personal favorite authors I respect his work ethic and advice, I have gotten more out of this relatively short book than I have out dozens of other tomes on the craft of writing. The vitality he presents speaks to me and imagine even non-writers thoroughly enjoying this ride.

Monday, August 16, 2010

10 Facts About Books

Thanks to Okie for posting this first, I wouldn't have seen it without him-especially given that there is no chance I will be at the Melbourne Writers Festival-its just a little out of my way.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Strange Road Trip

My father-in-law passed away over the weekend and I am now running up to Montana for a custom-made casket. I am taking my 5 year old son with me. I expect it to be an interestingly strange road trip where we will be able to talk about Grandpa etc, and once I have the casket - we will bring it back to Utah and then down to Red Mesa, Colorado, where he will be laid to rest. I marked out the "Go get it" trip in blue and the return to Red Mesa in...red. I expect this is something I will write about soon thereafter as much for my son as anything.

Friday, August 6, 2010

The Stars Are Not Right: Change Blogfest

Seem's I didn't get into the Call of Lovecraft with this piece, oh well. This was a little different since it was the first thing I ever wrote that was blatantly for something a little out of the norm for me; horror and Lovecraft, it is based on a very strange dream I had...sorry honey.

Now it can double as a piece for the CHANGE Blogfest of Elizabeth Mueller. Its kinda long for a blogfest-2,700 words. Still lets see what you think. I'll understand if you unfollow me.

Going to rewrite this a little bit thanks to Brother Wilum Pugmire esq.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Musical Inspirations: Ofra Haza

I draw things together from wide eclectic sources-one of which happened to be the Israeli/Yemenite singer Ofra Haza. I almost had a character in Heroes of the Fallen named Ofra-but that name was deleted for the obvious reason of association with someone else that I had no intention of people thinking of when they read the book. So now you might know whom I envision as a certain characters wife.
I love that wail! I was introduced to Ofra Haza through her guest appearance with the rocking Sisters of Mercy. On the strength of this song alone I went and got the full catalogs of both her artists. Very inspirational music for me, but then I am a writerly weirdo who delights in esoteric rock.