collecting thoughts

Hello everyone:)

I’m working on a new project right now, and I was hoping you could all give me some input on a question I have been mulling over. When you read a book what do you want in a villain?

Do you want someone who is senselessly and inherently evil, or one that can be almost likable? Does your bad guy need a defined reason to do the things he does or can he just like being bad?

Can you form a connection and hate him or love to hate him if he has virtually no good qualities to redeem him?

I have been tossing around ideas and am really curious to see what you think.

Happy Birthday Helena!

If you are not familiar with Helena helenahannbasquiat.wordpress.com

You should take a moment to visit her site and see all of the fantastic material there. Helena is one of the most engaging and witty people that I have had the pleasure of running across on WordPress. She is also an author, so if you visit her site, be sure to check out what she has written. Or you can check it out here:

http://www.amazon.com/Memoirs-Dilettante-One-Helena-Hann-Basquiat-ebook/dp/B00J6B3GB4/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&sr=8-1&qid=1397322389

 

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But this post, is about something else. Today just happens to be Helena’s

 

                                                                            Birthday!

If you find a moment, go tell her happy birthday today. In the mean time, enjoy these videos.

Doctor Sleep by Stephen King

Doctor Sleep (The Shining, #2)Doctor Sleep by Stephen King

Stephen King returns to the characters and territory of one of his most popular novels ever, The Shining, in this instantly riveting novel about the now middle-aged Dan Torrance (the boy protagonist of The Shining) and the very special twelve-year-old girl he must save from a tribe of murderous paranormals.

On highways across America, a tribe of people called The True Knot travel in search of sustenance. They look harmless—mostly old, lots of polyester, and married to their RVs. But as Dan Torrance knows, and spunky twelve-year-old Abra Stone learns, The True Knot are quasi-immortal, living off the “steam” that children with the “shining” produce when they are slowly tortured to death.

Haunted by the inhabitants of the Overlook Hotel where he spent one horrific childhood year, Dan has been drifting for decades, desperate to shed his father’s legacy of despair, alcoholism, and violence. Finally, he settles in a New Hampshire town, an AA community that sustains him, and a job at a nursing home where his remnant “shining” power provides the crucial final comfort to the dying. Aided by a prescient cat, he becomes “Doctor Sleep.”

Then Dan meets the evanescent Abra Stone, and it is her spectacular gift, the brightest shining ever seen, that reignites Dan’s own demons and summons him to a battle for Abra’s soul and survival. This is an epic war between good and evil, a gory, glorious story that will thrill the millions of devoted readers of The Shining and satisfy anyone new to the territory of this icon in the King canon.

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I think many of us went into reading Doctor Sleep with some form of trepidation. When the central focus of the original book is a hotel–and that hotel is nonexistent at the end of the book, how does one pick up where they left off and write a second book based on that original?

Well…apparently what you do in this case is build a new story off of scant memories and fill in the rest with very imaginative and yet ultimately pretty pointless paranormal characters.

Did I love this book? No!

Why?

For so many reasons. Here are a few:

The Shining scared the Hell clean out of me. I’m not going to get into the Kubrick Vs. King debate here as far as the movies go and the possible hidden meanings (think Room 237,) but I will say that the thing I loved about the original book, was that there was a fine balance of psychological terror and paranormal terror. I didn’t get that from Doctor Sleep. Really, the only time I felt like the book bordered on any kind of reality I could accept was when Dan was remembering the events of the Overlook and his childhood.

Rose the Hat. My, oh my. One of my pet peeves is when an author spends an entire book building up an evil character and then they die a pointless, silly death that never showcases all of the talents they have for being bad. I won’t include a spoiler here to say how or exactly why I feel as I do, but I definitely thought this was a case of “ran out of good ideas,” when it came to the end of her story.

Abra was a spoiled, self-appreciative brat. I want to love the main characters in the books I read, I think we all do. I loved Dan, but I suppose much of that probably came from the already established feelings I had for him. (He was such a little slugger in the first book.) Abra did not impress me much. She was supposed to be such a powerful kid, and yet most of the time she was featured hugging a cuddly toy and taking the advice of others. Had this been a movie, it would have been a situation where the audience members kept saying, “how dumb is this kid?” for getting herself into the situations she did.

I could go on, but I want this review to be balanced, so I will move on to the things I liked.

If I wasn’t looking at this as “The Shining part Two,” I might have felt differently about it. Still, it was an interesting book with a lot of very captivating ideas. I liked that Dan still had some psychic abilities even after he got older and that he was putting them to use in a helpful way.

Azreel the cat was a nice addition to this story and worked well with Dan’s talents.

Whilst I expected there to be more reference to the events in the original story, and was somewhat dismayed that there wasn’t, I appreciated that the grounds where the Overlook stood were used as an important part of this book. I never would have guessed how they were going to be reinvented, and I liked how Rose could sense the evil that lie there, beneath the surface.

The relationships Dan built throughout the course of Doctor Sleep reminded me that he was human and gave me a sense of nostalgia, particularly at the end, when he sees a certain specter.

Typical of Stephen King works, there is a healthy amount of telepathic ability between the characters. Although I found the paranormal aspects of this book more over the top than in the original novel, I also felt the “King vibe” that has been absent in some of the more recent works. His sense of humour and use of irony was ever-present in this book, and that was nice to see.

My overall opinion of Doctor sleep is this: If you are a big fan of Mr. King and in particular of the Shining, you will want to read this to satisfy your curiosity about what happened after the Overlook. You may love it or hate it or, like me, find yourself somewhere in between, but either way you should check it out.

As a standalone novel this might have earned a higher rating from me, but as a book in any way connected to one of the finest horror works in history (my opinion of course,) this did not in any way compare. The feeling of claustrophobic, psychological terror that made the Shining so frightening was absent in this book.

While there may have been 237 reasons to love this book, there were at least 217 reasons not to. It wasn’t the worst book ever, nor the best. 3 stars is my final opinion.

Legends of Windemere: Family of the Tri-Rune Cover Reveal

Cover Art by Jason Pedersen

Cover Art by Jason Pedersen

Legends of Windemere: Family of the Tri-Rune is set to debut on Sunday, March 16th!!!

The magical adventure continues after Luke Callindor and his friends recover from their battles in Haven.

Nyx still has nightmares about casting the genocide spell in Hero’s Gate. Every night her heart is gripped by the sensation of hundreds of goblins dying by her magic. By the request of Lord Highrider and Duke Solomon, she is returning to fix the damage she caused. With Luke Callindor and Sari by her side, Nyx is ready to face the vengeful goblins and opportunistic thieves that plague Hero’s Gate. Yet, there is a darker threat that was born from her violated magic: The Krypters.

It is another action-packed, character driven story that will reveal one of our heroes has been lied to for their entire life.

About the Author:

Charles author photo B&WCharles Yallowitz was born and raised on Long Island, NY, but he has spent most of his life wandering his own imagination in a blissful haze. Occasionally, he would return from this world for the necessities such as food, showers, and Saturday morning cartoons. One day he returned from his imagination and decided he would share his stories with the world. After his wife decided that she was tired of hearing the same stories repeatedly, she convinced him that it would make more sense to follow his dream of being a fantasy author. So, locked within the house under orders to shut up and get to work, Charles brings you Legends of Windemere. He looks forward to sharing all of his stories with you and his wife is happy he finally has someone else to play with.

Blog: Legends of Windemere
Twitter: @cyallowitz
Facebook: Charles Yallowitz

We’re still taking volunteers for the April blog tour. So fill out the form HERE!

Read the Previous Volumes of Legends of Windemere!!!

Cover Art by Jason Pedersen

Cover Art by Jason Pedersen

Cover Art by Jason Pedersen

Cover Art by Jason Pedersen

Cover by Jason Pedersen

Cover by Jason Pedersen

Kate Walden Directs: Night of the Zombie Chickens

Kate Walden DirectsKate Walden Directs by Julie Mata

Night of the Zombie Chickens is supposed to be Kate Walden’s breakout film. But her supporting actresses-her mother’s prize organic hens-are high maintenance, to say the least. Thank goodness Kate’s best friend Alyssa is the star. She’s great at screaming and even better at killing zombies in creative ways.

But when Alyssa turns into a real-life soulless zombie and ditches Kate for the most popular girl in seventh grade, Kate suddenly finds herself both friendless and starless. Now, thanks to Alyssa’s new crowd, Kate is the butt of every joke at school and consigned to the loser table at lunch.

If movies have taught Kate anything, it’s that the good guy can always win-with the right script. And her fellow social outcasts may be the key to her own happy ending. Kate hatches the perfect revenge plot against her former best friend, but even though her screenplay is foolproof, Kate soon realizes that nothing-in filmmaking or in life-ever goes exactly as planned. Especially when there are diabolical hens out to get you.

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Juli Mata has a clear understanding of what it is like to be a pre-teen and the pressures that kids feel when trying to establish their place in the social order. This book is fun to read, silly at times, but also has a lot of truth in it.

Throughout this story, I felt sorry for Kate for the situations she found herself in, even when she wasn’t being very nice. She is a character that it is easy to feel sympathy for. I thought the author did a brilliant job of making her background seem realistic and colourful and the secondary characters were equally as well drawn.

For the younger kids who read this, there may be a couple of more adult themes they don’t understand yet, but nothing extreme that they shouldn’t be reading.

Between the zombie chickens and the Kate-caused mayhem, there is never a dull moment in this book. There are some valuable lessons here and I think even parents would have fun reading this with their child.

Overall, this one was a winner earning four out of five stars.

This review is based on a digital ARC from the publisher and provided by Netgalley.

Blog Tour: Dreams of Love by Pamela

dreamsoflovecover

Description: Poetry is an expression from deep within the soul. It can be therapeutic and healing. It can bring out all the best or the worst in life. Her poetry comes from the heart, not the head. It is an outpouring of emotion and she exposes it to reader in the pages.

Various poetry forms are explored: free verse, tanka (5-7-5-7-7), doidotsu (7-7-7-5) and etheree (1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10).

Dreams of Love

Dreams of you and me
Together in ev’ry way
Your lips pressed to mine
Assuring me of your love
Dreams of love eternally

Purchase here!

pamelaPamela began writing poetry in just the last year. She is a nonprofit executive by day and spends her hours trying to be sure that everyone has a chance for a good life. Pamela is passionate about her job and it spills over into her writing. Dreams of Love is her debut poetry collection. Pamela feels that poetry can be very personal but invites you into her soul as you read her poems.

 

Visit the Author!

Poetry by Pamela
Year ‘Round Thanksgiving Project

The wife, The Maid and the Mistress by Ariel Lawhon

This is a very special book, as it is by one of the Shereads.org co-founders, Ariel Lawhon. Not only that, but it turned out to be one of the best books I have read. Please take a moment to check it out. Pam, I think you would really like this one.

The Wife, the Maid, and the MistressThe Wife, the Maid, and the Mistress by Ariel Lawhon

A tantalizing reimagining of a scandalous mystery that rocked the nation in 1930-Justice Joseph Crater’s infamous disappearance-as seen through the eyes of the three women who knew him best.

They say behind every great man, there’s a woman. In this case, there are three. Stella Crater, the judge’s wife, is the picture of propriety draped in long pearls and the latest Chanel. Ritzi, a leggy showgirl with Broadway aspirations, thinks moonlighting in the judge’s bed is the quickest way off the chorus line. Maria Simon, the dutiful maid, has the judge to thank for her husband’s recent promotion to detective in the NYPD. Meanwhile, Crater is equally indebted to Tammany Hall leaders and the city’s most notorious gangster, Owney “The Killer” Madden.

On a sultry summer night, as rumors circulate about the judge’s involvement in wide-scale political corruption, the Honorable Joseph Crater steps into a cab and disappears without a trace. Or does he?

After 39 years of necessary duplicity, Stella Crater is finally ready to reveal what she knows. Sliding into a plush leather banquette at Club Abbey, the site of many absinthe-soaked affairs and the judge’s favorite watering hole back in the day, Stella orders two whiskeys on the rocks-one for her and one in honor of her missing husband. Stirring the ice cubes in the lowball glass, Stella begins to tell a tale-of greed, lust, and deceit. As the novel unfolds and the women slyly break out of their prescribed roles, it becomes clear that each knows more than she has initially let on.

With a layered intensity and prose as effervescent as the bubbly that flows every night, The Wife, the Maid, and the Mistress is a wickedly entertaining historical mystery that will transport readers to a bygone era with tipsy spins through subterranean jazz clubs and backstage dressing rooms. But beneath the Art Deco skyline and amid the intoxicating smell of smoke and whiskey, the question of why Judge Crater disappeared lingers seductively until a twist in the very last pages.

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Have you ever read a book that you just can’t stop thinking, or talking about and immediately after finishing you just want to tell EVERYONE about it? Me too. This book, to be exact. I read a lot, so I like to think I have become rather discerning when it comes to the important things like depth of character creation, plot, pace and the way the author chooses to wrap up the story. In this case, I am so fantastically impressed with this book that I can’t wait until the end of this review to tell you to go read it.

Go. Read. It.

This book is a fictional account of Associate Justice Joseph Force Crater’s 1930′s disappearance and the involvement and the lingering effects it had on his wife, their maid and his mistress. Whilst, Crater was labeled as “The Missingest Man in New York,” this imagining of his disappearance is so well crafted, one could almost believe the mystery has finally been solved. I have always held a certain fascination with this case, so when I saw the book, I was skeptical about how I would receive it. Fictional accounts can go either way, in my previous experience. What I found, was a wonderfully entertaining book that Ariel Lawhon must have done hours upon hours of research to put together. This book follows the facts of the original case with some liberties taken here and there for entertainment purposes. She has used these facts to build characters that are so real, you feel what they feel.

Hating a character has advantages. There is rarely anything more fulfilling than when you grow to despise a character throughout the course of a story and then get to watch as they unravel. This book is filled with both characters that you will grow to love (I loved Ritzi) and grow to despise.

I was taken with Ritzi, but I was also particularly interested in Stella. The author painted her as a strong woman who knew what she wanted and how to get it. Her character lingers in my mind even now, after finishing the book the day prior.

Another impressive thing was the author’s ability to take real people from the case and give them a life of her own imagining. I was thrilled with her inclusion of the mob, as well as the sad plight of Vivian Gordon. Poor Jimmy Walker. Her attention to detail was fantastic, even having Joseph mention Stella’s previous marriage, for anyone familiar with this case–the way they met was more than interesting–and the excerpts taken from “The Empty Robe,” the much sensationalised memoir by Stella with assistance from Oscar Fraley.

The life she built for Maria was amazing, and in my opinion was the glue that held this story together and made it more of an emotional experience rather than just another “based on a real event” novel. The book made me cry. A lot.

The main reason I loved this novel, was the way the mystery unfolded. The alternating stories of Maria, Stella and Sally and those connected to them were not only interesting, but pieced together perfectly to create a truly unsolvable mystery. Even when I thought I had everything figured out, in the last few chapters, I was wrong. I love it when a book can keep me guessing for the duration.

I could go on for hours here, but I am trying to avoid any type of spoiler and this is a complex book. I highly recommend that you take the time to read it, you won’t be sorry.

Overall opinion? This book is not likely to “pull a Crater” anytime soon.

I received this book as part of the Shereads.org group of bloggers. All opinions are my own.

For anyone who has not yet heard about Shereads.org, please give them a few moments of your time and see all of the incredible things they are doing to promote women’s literacy.

Cider Brook by Carla Neggers

Cider Brook (Swift River Valley, #3)Cider Brook by Carla Neggers

Unlikely partners bound by circumstance…or by fate?

Being rescued by a good-looking, bad-boy firefighter isn’t how Samantha Bennett expected to start her stay in Knights Bridge, Massachusetts. Now she has everyone’s attention—especially that of Justin Sloan, her rescuer, who wants to know why she was camped out in an abandoned old New England cider mill.

Samantha is a treasure hunter who has returned to Knights Bridge to solve a 300-year-old mystery and salvage her good name. Justin remembers her well. He’s the one who alerted her late mentor to her iffy past and got her fired. But just because he doesn’t trust her doesn’t mean he can resist her. Samantha is daring, determined, seized by wanderlust—everything that strong, stoic Justin never knew he wanted. Until now…
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I give this book an overall 3.5 stars. The story was interesting and complex, but the not as filled with action nor suspense as I would have believed from reading the blurb.

While this story has a relatively slow pace, it is still very well written. The main character has a lot of shadows in her past that must be dealt with before she can figure out what to do with her future, and Carla Neggers has always been good at spinning a good back story for her characters.

I didn’t feel close to the main character in this story for the first two-thirds or so of the story. The way she is portrayed made me unsure if she were trustworthy or not and I had a difficult time warming up to her. There are also an abundance of other characters early on in the story and that made it hard for me to get to know any of them very personally.

What I did love about this story was the description. From the very first few pages, the author managed to capture my adventuresome spirit with her beautiful descriptions of New England and adequately make me feel like I was there.

The love story is slowly built and has a nice ending, not entirely expected.

This was a good book to read on an evening when the weather outside made me want to transport to somewhere else. I would recommend this to readers who like complex characters.

This review is based on a digital ARC from netgalley and the publisher.

An interview with Charles E. Yallowitz (Legends of Windemere)

By Jason Pedersen

By Jason Pedersen

I am very proud to welcome my favourite author and fellow blogger Charles E. Yallowitz to Readful Things today to discuss his career as an author. Please give him a welcome and a pat on the back, he is the hardest working author I know.

BUY THEM HERE

Each one will feed a starving writer in New York….

 What has been the hardest and most unexpected part of your journey as an indie author thus far?

The level and scope of marketing caught me by surprise. I had been told that I would have to do my own marketing, so I started my blog. Soon after I started, I realized I had to spread out to other social media sites and look for promo sites to work with. At the beginning I was thinking I would never need Twitter or find much use for Facebook, but now I promote on them every day. This aspect of being an indie author has required a lot of time and patience to figure out the nuances of all the sites. It helps to use my blog as a center for the other social media sites because my posts end up on every platform, which keeps me active. Being active on the sites is certainly one of the keys to success as an indie author.

Has your perception of what a self-published author does changed since you have begun publishing the Windemere series?

I can barely remember what my initial impression was, which means my perception is entirely different. I knew it was going to be a lot of work as a self-published author, but I never realized how much I would have to put myself out there. Growing up, I had the image that an author spent more time writing their next book than doing marketing. This might be true for traditionally published authors, but a self-published author needs to spend a few hours every day interacting with others. This creates exposure and reveals that there’s a human being behind the books. You’re no longer a name within the self-published pack, but a known entity with a personality.

What is the most important piece of advice you have received about writing or publishing so far?

The most important piece of advice is kind of a combination. I’ve been told to keep writing and keep evolving. I messed up the second part when I was younger and mistook accepting all advice as evolving. So, I would tell other authors to add ‘stay true to your own style’ in there because that’s where you will get your best work from.

If you could steal any character from any book, movie, or TV show and make them your own, who would it be and why?

This is an answer that will be different tomorrow depending on what I watch or read today. For now, I would love to claim Halt from The Ranger’s Apprentice series. He’s a mentor character with a great combination of wisdom, cunning, and wit. The evolution of his character is entertaining because he grows alongside the main character instead of staying the same like other mentor characters.

Tell us a bit about your current WIP.

My big project is Legends of Windemere, which is going to be a 15 book series. So, I’m trying to keep working on it and avoid lengthy delays. This is a tale of adventure, which follows a group of adventurers who are pitted against an ancient evil that is trying to return to the world of Windemere. Much of the story involves them coming to terms with their roles and dealing with the pressure of being a destined champion. One of my big goals with Legends of Windemere is to create colorful characters that people can connect to and enjoy following. This series is also going to be the foundation of the future Windemere series that I gradually outline and think about on the weekends.

You made the decision to keep your Windemere series exclusive to Amazon. Has this been an advantage or a hindrance and why?

I started with Legends of Windemere: Beginning of a Hero on all mediums and I wasn’t selling beyond Amazon. I tried marketing for them and nothing seemed to click. So, I haven’t lost much by going Amazon exclusive and I gain the advantages of the KDP Select program. I have received a few requests to put my books on the other sites, but only by about five people, which isn’t enough for me to want to leave the exclusivity. Now, this is only my personal experience and I’m not saying this is how it always goes. For any first-time authors, I would recommend trying the other sites at first. It never hurts to try and gain a foothold on the other mediums because you can always go exclusive at a later date.

What does your writing process involve when you begin a new book? Do you keep strict outlines or do you just go with whatever is in your head at that moment?

I’m a big planner, so I start with designing basic plots and writing up character profiles. This is where a lot of my subplots and character evolution paths come from. After that, I plan out the chapters of a book with general descriptions to give myself a section goal. For series, I may do this for all of the books or the first few before I begin writing. This helps me set up foreshadowing and keeping my series goal in mind. Once I start writing, I find that about half of what I planned gets altered to fit the characters and my style. Many times I’ll find that I should merge chapter sections, remove others, or add a scene that would clear up a plot hole. I’m always aware that things will change when I begin the actual writing. For example, the character of Kira Grasdon from Legends of Windemere never existed in the original outline or the first version of the story. Now, she’s one of the biggest supporting cast members and will play a big role in a few of the books.

What do you see happening in the future of books? Will Ebooks ever take over and if so will indie authors benefit from this or will it hurt them?

I don’t think Ebooks will ever take over because there will always be a place for paperback and hardcovers. If anything, I can see Ebooks gaining equal amounts of respect and viability as the other mediums. While they are portable, there are advantages to physical books such as not needing to be charged or a corrupted file wiping them out. From experience, I can tell you that a physical book can be a precious thing when dealing with a long power outage.
I don’t think an Ebook takeover would change the indie author game. Many of us already depend more on Ebook than physical books, so it’s more about an author gaining exposure than the medium. It would be business as usual for us.

Where can we find your books available?

All of my books are available on Amazon in both Ebook and paperback form.

http://www.amazon.com/Beginning-Legends-Windemere-Charles-Yallowitz-ebook/dp/B00BL9GBU2/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1387324756&sr=8-1&keywords=legends+of+windemere

To anyone who is thinking about self-publishing a book, I would recommend blogging and making friends with other authors. Contrary to popular belief, the world of indie authors is more of a community than a competition. Indie authors can draw a lot of confidence from positive support, which can be found from those that are attempting to do the same as you. This is because they understand what you’re trying to accomplish and all of the hard work you’re putting into your book. This is certainly one of the best discoveries I made as an indie author because I feel like I’m not alone in this.

Realisation

a night sky

 

 

 

 

 

 

A shuddering breath parts my lips
loneliness belies the truth
a snake coiling over my belly
and past my unadorned hips

         †

The darkness casts a shadow
renouncing light imposingly
I reach for an apparition
A phantom specter no longer here

        ‡

Peering around this tidal wave
a perilous sea of obsidian
memories of what we were once
tendrils of smoke my only friend

       †

prisms of pain fall from my eyes
from behind my starless gaze
striated and notched this heart
repeats a simple phrase

       †

“I need you” it whispers
with no reply I come undone
then settle into solitude
with bitter realisation