Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Time Away

forest, landscape, lightHey, folks. The next few weeks are going to be a little crazy for me, so I will be taking some time off from the blog. Hopefully stepping away for a bit will allow me to come back with some good, full-length articles, fresh books, and some other updates.

Thanks in advance for your patience! If you think about it, I would also appreciate your prayers as I prepare to make some big life decisions.

I anticipate returning to a normal posting schedule in 1-2 weeks, as well as participating in the April Camp NaNoWriMo. I love doing word wars with people, so just let me know if you need a writing encouragement buddy!

Archive Highlights:

Everything you could want to know about me--including my odd taste of music. 

A guest post from Victoria Jackson on finding time to read. 

My top sci-fi book picks from the first year of the blog.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Friday Fiction Fix: "Prophet"

The Short:

Books of the Infinite #1

By: R. J. Larson

4.5/5 Stars

What: A young woman is chosen to be a prophet—the only problem is, all true prophets die young.

Recommended to those who like: Fantasy, Christian, Allegory

The Long:
Ela is chosen by the Infinite to become his prophet. Yet, no girl has ever been chosen for such a position, and certainly never one so young. In spite of her fears, she follows His call to Istgard, a foreign land that has brought the Infinite’s wrath upon themselves. Will she be able to speak His words to encourage them to return to Him?

This book definitely took a different perspective on allegory from many Christian books. It approaches the subject from an Old Testament viewpoint and examines what prophethood would have been like.

The will be a bit heavy on its message for many readers; however, I thought that the exploration of God’s wrath was an interesting angle to take. It’s certainly not a subject that I would feel comfortable trying to write about and trying to address, but Ms. Larson does an excellent job of discussing the issue at length through this story.

The action of the story was well-written, but I had some difficulty connecting to the characters. I can’t really put my finger on why, and it might just be due to how long it took me to read the story.

The Bottom Line: A strong allegory that doesn’t hesitate to take on difficult issues, this fantasy story would be best suited to readers who enjoy a stronger message.                                                                    

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

A Bibliophile's Survival Gear

I'm currently buried in studying, but I figured I'd share my studying survival gear.

1. Fuzzy socks 
Because trying to focus with cold feet is nearly impossible.

2. Coffee
Is an explanation needed?

3. The Book Hound
My faithful, furry companion, who helps me to sniff out books on a regular basis. I just have to be careful that he doesn't eat my socks.Sock consumption is usually evidenced by the guilty face as seen in this picture.

4. A Wrinkle in Time
I think I've mentioned before that Meg is one of my favorite characters. When I'm feeling entirely intractable and cranky, settling down with this book at the end of the day always picks up my mood.

5. Chocolate
If it's too late for coffee and the dog decides to give me the cold shoulder, chocolate works wonders.

What's your survival strategy when you're swamped?

Friday, March 3, 2017

Friday Fiction Fix: "Out of the Shadows"

The Short:

Out of the Shadows
The Tacket Secret #1

By: Emma Carrie

5/5 Stars

What: A highly trained teen assassin finds herself placed up for adoption. But will fulfilling her dying guardian’s wish put her in danger?

Recommended to those who like: Christian, sci-fi, action

The Long:

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Emily is on the run again—and things might be better that way. Though she’s just a teenager, she holds many secrets—including that she’s a highly trained assassin. But when her dying guardian’s final wish forces her to meet with a detective, both her life and the detective’s hang in the balance.

This was an intense read from the start. I enjoyed the tight writing style and the fast pace that was maintained throughout. I also enjoyed the length of the book—it was nice and short, perfect for an afternoon read.

Emily’s past holds many secrets. While some were revealed in this book, I also look forward to learning more about her in the upcoming novels. She’s a very likeable character, as well.
Detective Tacket is also likeable. I can’t relate to her much as of yet, but I think that I’ll really enjoy her character once the series gets going.

There’s a hint of Christianity in this book, and I’m interested to see where the author will take the message of her story.

The Bottom Line: Out of the Shadows is a fast-paced read that introduces what looks to be a great Christian sci-fi series.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Author Interview with Emma Carrie

Emma Carrie is a speculative fiction author and opportunist. She’s explored an active coal mine, fired a Gatling gun from a Humvee, examined chromosomes with a scanning electron microscope, hitched a ride in a corporate jet, and wiped out on stage while modeling. Fun moments like those fuel her stories.
Emma loves quirky characters who are driven by unconquerable determination—the encouragement she hopes readers take from her stories.

I see you're independently published. What made you choose that route of publication? What makes it difficult?

I chose indie publishing for two reasons: (1) flexibility and (2) adventure. As an indie publisher I have freedom to manage all aspects of my book, from title and storyline to cover design and pricing points. If I choose poorly, I can correct it. For me, indie publishing is an adventure. I’ve spent years growing as a writer, and I expect that will continue. Now I’m discovering how to market. Each piece is a new opportunity to grow.

Indie publishing is difficult because I started with zero connections. I didn’t know anyone in the publishing business. I didn’t have critique partners or beta readers. I didn’t know any editors or reviewers. I had no fans. It takes time, but I’ve been meeting people all along the way, and I’m enjoying it.

The first book in The Tacket Secret.
Check back on Friday for a review!

What's the most difficult part of the writing or publishing process for you? How do you work through it?

I’m not sure it’s the most difficult part of the process, but a significant challenge has been balancing writing and marketing. I spent years focused solely on writing, and the result is that I have two drafted series. The Tacket Secret is almost completely edited and The Rebel Mission has begun.

Now I’ve turned my attention to marketing, and I’ll go days without writing new fiction. Ideas are log jamming in my imagination. But because I’ve got books almost ready for publication, I’ll focus on marketing for now. Meanwhile, I’ll outline new ideas and scenes for new books until I have more time for writing. Then I’ll flesh those out.

How would you say that your faith influences your writing?

My faith is the reason I write. For years, I’ve written outreach Bible studies, newsletter articles, and discussion questions for my church’s women’s ministries. I love communicating gospel truth, offering eternal life, to others. Fiction also has the power to communicate the hope of Jesus Christ, and I wanted to learn how to do that—particularly for my kids and their friends. However, in a young adult fiction context, a subtle message is more effective, and I’m learning how to do that.

You have a background in engineering. How has that influenced your writing?

Engineering has provided experiences like working for military contractors and experimenting in laboratories that influence the science fiction pieces of my stories. However, engineering’s bigger impact is that I write systematically: outline, first draft, check for logical storyline, check for complete character arc, etc.

Finally, if you were to find yourself in a back alley in the middle of the night and felt like you were being watched, what book character would you summon to help you and why?

Harry Potter. He could share his invisibility cloak, and we could get the drop on whoever was spying on me. Maybe then we could use the wand. That would be fun.

Thanks for taking the time for an interview!

Don't forget to check out Emma's author website.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Friday Fiction Fix: "Fiero One"

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. 

The Short:

Fiero One
Mantis Force #1

By: R. J. Amezcua

3/5 Stars

What: A starship crew is forced into an unexpected conflict on a foreign planet.

Recommended to those who like: Space opera, loosely Christian, large casts of characters.

The Long:

I have so many thoughts about this book that I’m not even sure where to start. Some parts of it were stellar (pun intended), while other parts left me feeling disappointed.

The crew of the Osparatta is sent on a simple rescue mission that quickly goes awry. Failing ship systems, a short-handed crew,
and the rise of an ancient enemy are more than any of them were prepared for. Will they be able to band together, or will their lack of experience be their downfall?

This book had a rather Star Trek-y feel to it, which I enjoyed. (I’m not a hard core Trekkie by any stretch of the imagination, but I do enjoy the new movies). There’s a large cast of colorful characters who have to work together in order to solve problems and save their ship. Unfortunately, so many characters got launched at me in a short amount of time that I had difficulty keeping them straight. Just when I was getting to where I felt I knew a sub-group of characters, I would get taken to another group who I had to learn to like, then sent to another group, and so on.

The plot proceeded in a similar manner. The author clearly put a lot of effort into creating a multi-layered plot that will eventually tie together. I love plots like this; however, there was just a little too much going on at once. There’s a planetary battle, a ship catastrophe, planetary politics, a virus outbreak, natural disasters, and views from the antagonist going on all at once. As of yet, very few of them have connected, though I assume they’ll intersect later in the series. Some of the sub-plots didn’t seem to connect at all to our crew members and I had a difficult time caring about those plots; it almost felt like I had been sucked into another story.

One aspect of the story that I did enjoy was the world-building. The universe is a complex one with many different belief systems, ideologies, and cultures. Also, the author spends a lot of time talking about food—something of which I approve.

The Bottom Line: This book had a great concept, but there was just too much going on at once for me to really, truly enjoy it.                                                                                                                                                       

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Lost in Editing

Hey, folks. I have a lot going on this week, so I'm just going to drop this quote on here for you to enjoy. I promise I'm working on getting back to a normal posting schedule and there will be a Friday Fiction Fix this Friday. Thanks for your patience!

From MJ Bush on Pinterest