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Sunday, January 29, 2012

SSS: Emotional Aftermath of the Bloody Wedding

The Seven Noble Knights of Lara is back! You may remember Chapter 5, in which male egos got out of hand and caused the death of Álvar Sánchez. (Check out almost all the excerpts in this link.) A legal compromise has apparently satisfied all concerned parties, but now it's the opening of Chapter 6, and we focus in on doña Lambra -- the bride as well as the cousin of the dead man.

* * *

Doña Lambra woke to the brightness of the tent with a bitter taste in her mouth and dried tears crusting her eyes. She rolled over and saw a figure moving about in silence.
“Justa?” she croaked.
Ruy Blásquez moved next to the bedstead, nearly thrusting his bandaged nose in her face. “It is I, my dear wife.”
           “Bring Justa.” 

* * *

Thanks for stopping by. I appreciate your comments hugely, especially as I get back into writing this novel after a hiatus. I'll visit you all in return! Check us all out at Six Sentence Sunday.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Three Weeks in December by Audrey Schulman

I'm not exaggerating or falling back on platitudes when I say that this book is unforgettable. I got to read Three Weeks in December in an advanced proof with no cover design, so I couldn't be influenced by the blue lion on the cover of the for-sale version. The lion is mysterious, but fails to capture the essence of the book for me, probably because it is such an amazing book, simple and complex at the same time.

As all the other reviews will mention, it tells the story of two social misfits separated by 100 years. One traces the historical incident treated as an adventure in the movie The Ghost and the Darkness, but with richer characters and much more emotional resonance. The other tells of a botanical quest by a woman who can relate to plants -- and, it turns out, to gorillas -- more easily than to humans. The stories told in alternating chapters have thematic similarities throughout, but are truly tied together at the end. For me, the end was a surprise in every way, and it's only after getting over the initial shock that I realize it's not contrived, but true to the artistic vision and truly thought-provoking.

The entire book is consistently rich in detail and gorgeously written. Every reader should be able to sympathize deeply with the social outcast characters because their take on the world is so vividly portrayed and makes so much sense within their context. This novel is a triumph of limited third person point-of-view narration.

Three Weeks in December is incredibly well-researched, the kind of book that will make you feel smarter and more engaged with the world. I plan to check out Schulman's previous novels to see what other gems I've missed so far.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Check Out My New Guest Blog!

As you know, Mera's YA Book List is giving away some gorgeous Tree/House bookmarks at this time. Today I have contributed a short essay about the most important theme in Tree/House that I hope my readers will enjoy.

Check it out here! Thanks for stopping by!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Winner of the Transcendent Giveaway!

Christine Bails is the happy recipient of a free ebook of Transcendent! Congratulations and let us know how you like it!

Se the original post here.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

SSS: Did You Find Me?

The server was down when I first tried to sign up for Six Sentence Sunday this week, and by the time I could get there, I ended up much father down the list than I usually am. So if you found me, congrats! Visit  all the great writers you can. We all appreciate it more than even words can say!

I'm pretty sure I'm going to excise the kidnapping element from this story, so please enjoy it while it's still there. Continuing from last week:

* * *

“Only pretty girls without degrees have been disappearing.”
         So now he thought he was a profiler. It was like something from a formulaic TV show. But he was right in that, although my sister had applied to all the good drama schools in the country, nothing had worked out for her in the end. She was living with our parents because the money a person can earn from acting in commercials and student films is small and unstable. I chalked up the cops’ surrender to the fact that none of them were twins and accessed my twinly intuition – or just some solid logic – and I thought she must have gone to New York to increase her chances. 

* * *

Thanks for reading! I return the favor! In the coming weeks, I'll present more medieval madness...

And please don't forget! This is the last day to throw your name into the hat for the Transcendent giveaway!

Friday, January 20, 2012

My Famous Appearance on Mera's YA Booklist

I haven't been in the blogosphere much lately because of work commitments, but there's something pretty special going on! Check out Mera's YA book list this week for free bookmarks of Tree/House! Visit this link.

These bookmarks are shiny and beautiful with extremely high quality printing and that lovely butterfly. Trust me, you want one! Mera has a great page, anyway. You won't be sorry.

Thanks for your support!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

SSS: Six More from New Story

Halfway through January already! Thanks for the encouragement about this new story. Here are the next six sentences.

* * *

One earnest officer took me into confidence and whispered, “Pretty girls have been disappearing lately and we haven’t found any of them.”
“Am I at risk?” I had asked, figuring that if my identical twin had disappeared, I too would be the kidnapper’s type.
“No,” he said, too quickly. “You graduated from Harvard.”
Like most twentysomethings in Boston, I had more university degrees than life experience. “So?”

* * *

The missing twin's name, Dulcy, is short for Dulcinea, so I guess I don't have the monopoly on it, although I wish I did. These sentences look as though they're leading to a police drama, but the story is really going to be about what happens after they get Dulcy home. Thanks so much for visiting and leaving comments, remembering that this is unedited so far. I'll be sure to return the favor!

And if you like YA paranormal, definitely check out my last post!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Transcendent Giveaway!

Today I'm pleased to present Transcendent: Tales of the Paranormal. Every one of the stories in this new anthology by up-and-coming YA paranormal authors is original and memorable. If you like Twilight, you'll love these short adventures! Perhaps the most sensitively written is "Pumpkin Thief" by Evan Joseph, in which we get to see the Headless Horseman's romantic side. I have two personal favorites: "Seduction of a Siren" by Lani Woodland and Melonie Piper, for the way it turns a neglected part of Greek folklore on its head in funny and romantic ways, and "Feather" by Rita Webb, which combines breathtaking encounters with nature and mysterious romance to create a truly unique Native American perspective. None of the stories disappoint and all will inspire the reader to see his or her life in a more magical way.

Transcendent can be yours for an economical price at the outlets listed below, or you can win a copy right here! Leave a comment with your name and email address (written out to avoid bots if you desire) and which e-book format you prefer to be entered into a drawing for one free digital copy! Drawing takes place the morning of January 23 (Happy Chinese New Year!) and the winner will receive the prize that same day. Good luck!

Purchase Information:
    o Paperback on Amazon: Purchase for $10.99!
    o Paperback on Barnes and Noble: Coming Soon!
    o eBook on Kindle:  Purchase today for 99c!
    o eBook on Nook: Purchase today for 99c!

Follow Transcendent:
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Sunday, January 8, 2012

SSS: New Year, New Story

After the enforced holiday for Christmas, I sort of skipped New Year's, too. Glad to be back! Here are the first six lines from a brand new, mysterious story. It's so new, it's still raw, so please be kind!

* * *

After months of searching, I followed my instinct to Manhattan. I didn’t find my twin sister Dulcy so much by her presence as by the void she created in the commotion surrounding her. On my second morning there, she was standing in the middle of the sidewalk on Fifth Avenue, surrounded by a wave of powerwalking natives and gawk-walking tourists and endless shouts to “Get out of the *ing way!” or to “Shove over!”
The cops in Boston had been singularly unhelpful and told me they were going to close the case. “It’s policy, ma’am. If we have no leads on a case for a certain amount of time, we have to move on,” said the stern leader. 

* * *
I apprecite all your comments sooooooo much! I will definitely visit you back! Happy 2012!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

A Seaworthy Tale: Astreya II, The Men of the Sea

I've mentioned before how I might be biased because I ushered the Astreya Trilogy through the entire publication process. I've changed my mind. These are objectively enjoyable tales, each one with its own enchanting personality.

If you're skeptical of sequels, I should point out that Astreya, Book II: The Men of the Sea is in reality a continuation of the story and Book I is not complete without Books II and III. The story picks up minutes after where The Voyage South leaves off, when Astreya is faced with a decision to resist his kidnappers, who turn out to be his only blood relatives, or to willingly learn about them, their astounding technology and skills, and the legacy of the Wanderer's Curse. Astreya's burgeoning romance with Lindey seems to hang in the balance, as he is never sure whether she can forgive him, no matter what decision he makes. Or whether he will ever see her again.

In The Men of the Sea, we meet an entire cast of new characters even while we keep pace with our old friends from Book I. The new characters are nearly all pirates, but not the type gleaned from certain theme park rides. These pirates have real motivations and fears. The leader is an intriguing psychological study in frustration, while the likes of Adramin, Mirak, and Mufrid you'll love to hate. The story moves through water and time at a swift pace, bringing unpredictable adventures at every turn. No matter what you look for in a good story, you can't help being thrilled at the battle at sea. That would seem to be the climax -- but no! Even more secrets are revealed and quests undertaken! You'll dread the end of this book, but you can still take comfort in the knowledge that Book III, The Wanderer's Curse, is coming soon.

The Men of the Sea is perfect for readers who already have their sea legs and love the Age of Sail, but the lubbers out there will love this book at least as much as Astreya I, possibly more.

Monday, January 2, 2012

History Monday: On This Day in 1492

Perhaps you thought only one event happened in 1492, but on January 2 of that year a different part of history was playing out, making Columbus's voyage financially possible.

Today is the 520th anniversary of the capitulation or surrender of the great city of Granada by the last Muslim king, Boabdil, to the Catholic Monarchs, Fernando and Isabel. Unlike what is depicted in this famous and romanticized painting by Padilla, the Muslim leader met with the Christian commanders in secret, in the dead of night inside the Alhambra palace, in order to avoid the immediate rebellion of his subjects, who in general, still preferred death to surrender. Under the circumstances, Boabdil made a reasonable decision in order to preserve his family and his own life, and has been reviled for it ever since. In another probably romanticized anecdote from history, as the king rode away from his breathtakingly beautiful city, a tear came to his eye. His mother reportedly told him to "Weep like a woman for what you could not defend like a man."

The Christian monarchs of the kingdoms of Iberia had been trying, with varying levels of earnestness, to eject the Muslims from the peninsula for nearly 780 years. The surrender of Granada was the last step in the unification of what is now Spain under Fernando and Isabel, who'd started out as the king of Aragón and the queen of Castile respectively. But the cultural revolution (some might say "apocalypse") was far from over. With the relatively small Muslim population now theoretically under control, Isabel could turn her religious zeal against the Jews, whom she expelled from her kingdom by royal edict later in 1492. The new geographical unity helped make the following century all about Spain, all over the world. With the expensive "reconquest" of the Iberian peninsula complete, Fernando and Isabel could finally devote funds to other projects, such as granting the wishes of that loony Genoan sailor-scholar who wanted so badly to be Admiral of the Ocean Sea on Spain's behalf.