The Home Stretch

I’m down to the wire on finishing the revision process of PS The Dragon Fights. You’ll remember that the first book in the Shadeworld series took me four months to revise. You might also remember that I planned to finish the first draft and revision process for this book in just the span of the month of November.

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I didn’t quite make my deadline. I still have two chapters I am banging the keyboard keys over. The problem with being a new author and not having written many full length novels before is that there’s a pretty high chance I’ll end up writing a type of scene I’ve never written before. That means it takes me a bit longer to do the job.

I’m still making tiny steps forward every day though so the completely finished book that has been written and revised by me and then gone on to have the cover and all that other important stuff done should still be ready to go by December 16th, right on time for you guys to read and enjoy it over your holiday break.

Well, as always it’s fun checking in with you guys. But now I think it’s time that I get back to revising, so have a nice day!

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A Read Through History

We just wrapped up a little series breaking down the history of the English language. You can read the final post of that series here, and go back through the earlier posts.

Today we are going to do a more hands on exploration of this history. That’s right, we’re going to explore original historical texts.

Text Vs Screen

At this point I feel like you guys might think I think I’m some kind of English teacher, but I don’t. I’m just an author and book lover. I’m here for all things bookish, and I want to help you be too.

I think these books are actually interesting, and I think you will too. We just have to approach them in a fun way.

That’s why I’m pairing original English classics of each time period of the language with movies that help illustrate the story. I think pairing a visual movie with a textual book is a great way to approach older books you aren’t confident you can read on their own- that’s how I got started reading Pride and Prejudice and realized it’s actually an amazing book. (I watched it with the 2005 version starring Keira Knightley, and I prefer it infinitely over many more beloved and well known screen adaptations as it’s the best paced version I’ve seen so far.)

For the first installment in this sequel series, we are going to again go back to where English began.

Old English

Beowulf

Beowulf is an epic poem, and the earliest piece of English writing that has still survived. Back when the Anglo-Saxons, the three Germanic tribes that invaded the Celtic island we today call England, set up their new territory, a lot was going on in their lives. They were of the Germanic tribes- remembering of course that Germany was one of the last European countries to become a country and most of their history was a bunch of different tribal groups- but they also had roots with the Vikings and Danes and Dutch and a lot of different cultures that grew out of the earliest form of Germany.

Beowulf is an epic (epic=poem that tells a story and is often as long as a book) that details a great hero fighting to save his people. You can read a translation of the original book. You can find free copies of old classic books like this in Amazon, Nook, and Google Play; or you can check out a physical copy from most libraries. You can also read a side by side translation and interpretation by Seamus Heaney by clicking here.

I’d pair the classic with the move Beowulf and Grendel. It cuts out the magical elements of the original story and it makes it more of an action story than a grand fable, but it is one of the closest screen adaptations of the story that is also entertaining to watch.

The Anglo-Saxon Chronicles

Meant to be sort of like a summary of their history, the Anglo-Saxon Chronicles was a seven volume series written to be mostly factual. Remember, just like today, “historically accurate” can change a little bit depending on who is retelling the story. That said it’s an interesting tale.

If you want to read this I definitely DO NOT recommend going through all seven books. Unless you are a historian and this is the time period of your specialty, you don’t need to go that far. Just read the abridged edition most other people have read and call it a day- rather than reading the whole thing in an entire month and being thoroughly sick of it by the end.

I’d pair this with the 2006 movie The Saxon Chronicles, which has a medium rating on IMDB. It’s an Indie film, so the trailer leaves a little to be desired, but the film itself is exactly what I want in a movie based on this time period- swords, battles, and solid plot to boot.

Bede’s Ecclesiastes

Bede aimed to write a book about the history of the early European Church, included his own involvement in it. A good amount of secular history is included to give us a better sense of setting as well. If you’d like to read the original you can download an ebook for free right now from the Gutenberg Project here. This edition also has some annotations- it is hard to find a very annotated version as many of them are connected to current political or religious commentary which is really not what I’m featuring this book for, so this is one of the best I could find.

You can watch this video lecture on the subject here. Unfortunately it’s a video, not a movie, but it’s still fairly interesting I think.

Which was your favorite classic?

 

Second Edition PS The Dragon Bites

I know you all remember when the first book in the Shadeworld series gained a new cover?

Now it’s gained some new content.

Thanks to the magic of Amazon publishing, this book now has some extended chapters. I also worked with a new editor to do a complete overhaul of the all of the content in the book so now there should be even less little niggling issues with punctuation or spelling. What can I say, that stuff is hard to take care of.

But no worries about any of that now as it’s all been revamped.

The editing process took a few weeks of back and forth with my editor and a few gentle suggestions from her about reworking some entire scenes, but I think the end result is even better than ever and I hope you’ll agree.

Please note that if you have already bought a copy of the ebook it has automatically been upgraded to the new edition. If you haven’t, now is the ideal time to read through it before the second book in this series comes out with tech mages, battles, and new alliances that threaten to make this rebellion more dangerous than ever before suspected.

Writing Away

I’ve been a little spotty in my posting for the last two weeks because I’ve been hard at work revising my second book in the Shadeworld series.

How hard at work? I finished my first draft of the book in a mere two weeks, and I’ve gotten half of them revised in the time since then.

I’m pretty pumped up about that because the last book I wrote took four long painful months to revise, and the book before that took half a year. At this point, writing “PS The Dragon Fights” feels like I’ve done a herculean task.

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I think what you guys, the readers, will appreciate about this book is that there’s more magic, spells, and tech mages than you met in “PS The Dragon Bites.” That’s because this one takes place completely in the Shadeworld, that magical replica of Earth (or as the inhabitants of this strange land call it, “The Original”). This book is longer and crazier than the first and I think you’re going to love it.

If you still haven’t gotten your hands on the first book you can buy it here. This will soon be released in audiobook and paperback formats, so be sure to add it to your wishlist if you’re interested in that.

Sneak Peek into Magic Moves!

I have a project slated to go live in January, but the best I can figure out the audiobook creation process I have to have it live for presale at least for now so my awesome narrator Peter Kendall can work on it right away.

The publishing process is complicated, I tell ya.

Anyways, that means that it’s almost ready to go. And I want to share it with all of you guys here before I put it out there anywhere else.

That’s why I’m posting a little sneak peek here and including the entire first chapter for your reading pleasure. You’re welcome!

Chapter One: Visitors

Mrs. Marsh stumped around her house with the broom and swept it from side to side. The dust bunnies she was collecting puffed around to become dust motes clogging the air and spiraled around her before rolling into ever bigger piles of fluff on the floor. Her eyes weren’t what they once were and she couldn’t see them. Age had done its work to her and bent her spine, but she wasn’t the sort of person to let a few aches and pains get in the way of work.
A crack sounded outside and the house shuddered on its foundations. The curtains were spread wide open, as they were every day, but it didn’t serve to let in any light at all. The old lady had to squint to see her cleaning but still didn’t turn on her lights. Electricity had been expensive at some point in her life, and she’d never gotten over the habit of saving the expense by using the lighting as little as possible. Her bulbs sat in their sockets, still just like brand new after hardly being used for years.
Behind her eyes blinked in the darkness, the reflected light illuminating its owner’s frown. Then the thing rolled across the floor and stretched its body to hit the light switch. The room flooded with light, showing all the spots Mrs. Marsh had missed. She humphed at the sight and redid her dusting, oblivious to her helper still resting under the switch. It was itself a curious thing, two feet tall and shiny and wet like toy slime when stretched up but solid and foam like resting on the floor.
“Blast that cat, always annoying the motion sensors,” she grumbled. “I hope this time he didn’t decide to play with the switch itself.”
She flipped her broom and jabbed at the light switch on her side of the room with the blunt end of it. The goopy creature rolled its eyes and flicked the switch again. On. Off. On. Off.
“What in the blazes is going on here?” She frowned at it and looked out the windows, finally noticing the storm outside. “If the flickering is all because a line went down from the storm they should have fixed it by now after that mess has been going on for hours.” She took her broom out the front door and shook it off, grumbling at the storm. “And to think we sent them a petition last year demanding they move our neighborhood to ground lines. We wouldn’t have these problems if they’d just listened. When I call the power company they’ll be sorry,” she said. Mrs. Marsh picked up her cordless and tapped in numbers. A click was heard and then the light in the entire house slowly died down with whining power lines until with a final snap all the lights went fully dark. She moved to flick the switch on, just because she had wanted them off before but now that they went off on their own she was feeling contrary about it. However, the light refused to be turned on. She went around the room to her little table lamps and even tried the porch light and the hall light, but all of them refused to activate. “What’s that now,” she growled.
“I tried to tell you but you’ve been ignoring my attempts to get your attention,” the goop said.
Quick like a whip she swept her broom in a slice through the air and knocked the goop off its, well, base, for lack of feet to speak of. In the darkness of the house the inky goop was nothing more than a shadow in her eyes but she was sharp enough to realize that a voice in an empty house was something valid to slice at.
“What is a creature like you doing here in my house,” she hissed. “I do not appreciate home invaders of any species you know!”
The goop sprouted an arm and used it to take off the top portion of his head that quickly took on the shape of a top hat and bowed to her with a flourish. The image, sadly, was rather lost on her in the darkness. “I am here, madam, because I need your assistance.” He paused. “I think it will interest you that, even more importantly, you need my assistance. Which of course,” he added graciously, “I am more than willing to give.”
She scoffed. “That’s not very likely unless you’re offering to recaulk my bathroom. It’s a hassle to do myself and I think since you look like a talking blob of caulk you might be able to do a very good neat job of it. ”
“No madam I am not here to deal with you bathroom and decorating woes.”
She frowned. “I can’t imagine that you’d be a city electrician. They don’t usually come into people’s houses, and even if they did, I’d much rather you sorted out the electric lines outside as it will hardly do me good to have my wires fixed in here if they are still connecting to a power grid that’s gone dark. Honestly, you young people tend to do things out of order, and I know you dears can’t help it, but I’d expect a little more sense at least from whoever is in charge of coordinating you people to fix the lines to send you to actually do something useful instead of wasting our time in here.” He started to speak but she cut in over him. “Yes, yes, that’s all very well and good to protest your age’s ability, but that does not fix my power.” He tried to talk again, and was again ignored. “No, I am completely certain that my power was working beautifully yesterday and my kitchen mixer was fully powered and operational, so I must insist it is the city lines outside that are having problems and not my own house. Goodness gracious me alive, can you not see that there’s a storm going on outside?”
He finally broke in to her one sided conversation. “Ma’am, I am aware of the storm. I don’t care about the storm at all, though, because it doesn’t matter.” This time he cut over her next protest. “No, I do not care about the storm at all, because it doesn’t matter in the least. Frankly, nothing about your electric needs matter to anyone here right now, you certainly wouldn’t notice if it were off as you clearly don’t use it often, but even if you did your electricity is perfectly functional.” She squawked and protested that her house was dark and that was an obvious sign something wasn’t working. “It is working perfectly, my dear lady. The only problem you have with it, at the moment, is me. I was forced to turn off your electricity in order to get your attention, as you were rather wrapped up in your, well, whatever it is you’ve been doing all day. I am here on much more urgent business then you can even begin to imagine,” he added. He had no chest but the way the upper part of his form suggested a swelled chest, and his tone backed up the theory. “I am here today, madam,” he continued, “Because of the It that is currently residing in your neighborhood. If I remove the It for you, I think you will be willing to agree to help me with my little problem in return.”
She frowned at him and started to give him a piece of her mind when the kitchen exploded.
Flames licked at the tiles and the cheap cabinet fronts softened and drooped from their hinges as a ragged creature that slithered like a snake but looked like a rat ran out with the blast giggling. The bright light from the excess of embers lit the room well enough that it was now easy to see the appearance of both unexpected visitors but the lady seemed more annoyed by them than terrified at their monstrous forms. The goop shook his head and murmured, “I was afraid this sort of thing would happen. They always like to explode things at some point. They just can’t help it. No good trying to get one to be sneaky for you when things always end like this.”
She ignored his talking and scanned her eyes around the room instead. She lit upon a laundry basket and quickly dashed over to scoop it up and threw it to trap the still giggling creature without moving her weapon from the goop still impaled by her broom.
She frowned at both of her captives. “If this little creature is the problem you were going to fix for me I’d rather you just go now so I can remove both of you and have some peace again!” She slid the basket across the room with her foot firmly holding it down by the lip of the basket and flipped up the goop so it spun around on her makeshift weapon. With a yank the front door was opened to the rainy dusk outside so she slapped the goop out the door with her broom handle, and kicked the laundry basket and its prisoner after him. With a shove the door slammed in their faces before they could force their way back in.
Once they’d left she tested all the lights in the house, and the oven just to be sure, and was relieved to see everything seemed to be working perfectly well again. She left all of it on, and turned on the back door security light in an attempt to deter more unexpected visitors.
Once she’d come back in, she shut her curtains and went around the house to check each of the windows and doors as a precaution to make doubly sure there was little chance of any repeat intruders- or new ones for that matter- before she went back to work and finished sweeping the rest of the floor. As she worked the storm outside slowly grew quiet and dispersed, leaving behind the fresh scent of rain that beguiled her neighbors outside to meet with each other and enjoy star gazing in the first clear night of the month.

 

Mrs. Marsh stumped around her house with the broom and swept it from side to side. The dust bunnies she was collecting puffed around to become dust motes clogging the air and spiraled around her before rolling into ever bigger piles of fluff on the floor. Her eyes weren’t what they once were and she couldn’t see them. Age had done its work to her and bent her spine, but she wasn’t the sort of person to let a few aches and pains get in the way of work.
A crack sounded outside and the house shuddered on its foundations. The curtains were spread wide open, as they were every day, but it didn’t serve to let in any light at all. The old lady had to squint to see her cleaning but still didn’t turn on her lights. Electricity had been expensive at some point in her life, and she’d never gotten over the habit of saving the expense by using the lighting as little as possible. Her bulbs sat in their sockets, still just like brand new after hardly being used for years.
Behind her eyes blinked in the darkness, the reflected light illuminating its owner’s frown. Then the thing rolled across the floor and stretched its body to hit the light switch. The room flooded with light, showing all the spots Mrs. Marsh had missed. She humphed at the sight and redid her dusting, oblivious to her helper still resting under the switch. It was itself a curious thing, two feet tall and shiny and wet like toy slime when stretched up but solid and foam like resting on the floor.
“Blast that cat, always annoying the motion sensors,” she grumbled. “I hope this time he didn’t decide to play with the switch itself.”
She flipped her broom and jabbed at the light switch on her side of the room with the blunt end of it. The goopy creature rolled its eyes and flicked the switch again. On. Off. On. Off.
“What in the blazes is going on here?” She frowned at it and looked out the windows, finally noticing the storm outside. “If the flickering is all because a line went down from the storm they should have fixed it by now after that mess has been going on for hours.” She took her broom out the front door and shook it off, grumbling at the storm. “And to think we sent them a petition last year demanding they move our neighborhood to ground lines. We wouldn’t have these problems if they’d just listened. When I call the power company they’ll be sorry,” she said. Mrs. Marsh picked up her cordless and tapped in numbers. A click was heard and then the light in the entire house slowly died down with whining power lines until with a final snap all the lights went fully dark. She moved to flick the switch on, just because she had wanted them off before but now that they went off on their own she was feeling contrary about it. However, the light refused to be turned on. She went around the room to her little table lamps and even tried the porch light and the hall light, but all of them refused to activate. “What’s that now,” she growled.
“I tried to tell you but you’ve been ignoring my attempts to get your attention,” the goop said.
Quick like a whip she swept her broom in a slice through the air and knocked the goop off its, well, base, for lack of feet to speak of. In the darkness of the house the inky goop was nothing more than a shadow in her eyes but she was sharp enough to realize that a voice in an empty house was something valid to slice at.
“What is a creature like you doing here in my house,” she hissed. “I do not appreciate home invaders of any species you know!”
The goop sprouted an arm and used it to take off the top portion of his head that quickly took on the shape of a top hat and bowed to her with a flourish. The image, sadly, was rather lost on her in the darkness. “I am here, madam, because I need your assistance.” He paused. “I think it will interest you that, even more importantly, you need my assistance. Which of course,” he added graciously, “I am more than willing to give.”
She scoffed. “That’s not very likely unless you’re offering to recaulk my bathroom. It’s a hassle to do myself and I think since you look like a talking blob of caulk you might be able to do a very good neat job of it. ”
“No madam I am not here to deal with you bathroom and decorating woes.”
She frowned. “I can’t imagine that you’d be a city electrician. They don’t usually come into people’s houses, and even if they did, I’d much rather you sorted out the electric lines outside as it will hardly do me good to have my wires fixed in here if they are still connecting to a power grid that’s gone dark. Honestly, you young people tend to do things out of order, and I know you dears can’t help it, but I’d expect a little more sense at least from whoever is in charge of coordinating you people to fix the lines to send you to actually do something useful instead of wasting our time in here.” He started to speak but she cut in over him. “Yes, yes, that’s all very well and good to protest your age’s ability, but that does not fix my power.” He tried to talk again, and was again ignored. “No, I am completely certain that my power was working beautifully yesterday and my kitchen mixer was fully powered and operational, so I must insist it is the city lines outside that are having problems and not my own house. Goodness gracious me alive, can you not see that there’s a storm going on outside?”
He finally broke in to her one sided conversation. “Ma’am, I am aware of the storm. I don’t care about the storm at all, though, because it doesn’t matter.” This time he cut over her next protest. “No, I do not care about the storm at all, because it doesn’t matter in the least. Frankly, nothing about your electric needs matter to anyone here right now, you certainly wouldn’t notice if it were off as you clearly don’t use it often, but even if you did your electricity is perfectly functional.” She squawked and protested that her house was dark and that was an obvious sign something wasn’t working. “It is working perfectly, my dear lady. The only problem you have with it, at the moment, is me. I was forced to turn off your electricity in order to get your attention, as you were rather wrapped up in your, well, whatever it is you’ve been doing all day. I am here on much more urgent business then you can even begin to imagine,” he added. He had no chest but the way the upper part of his form suggested a swelled chest, and his tone backed up the theory. “I am here today, madam,” he continued, “Because of the It that is currently residing in your neighborhood. If I remove the It for you, I think you will be willing to agree to help me with my little problem in return.”
She frowned at him and started to give him a piece of her mind when the kitchen exploded.
Flames licked at the tiles and the cheap cabinet fronts softened and drooped from their hinges as a ragged creature that slithered like a snake but looked like a rat ran out with the blast giggling. The bright light from the excess of embers lit the room well enough that it was now easy to see the appearance of both unexpected visitors but the lady seemed more annoyed by them than terrified at their monstrous forms. The goop shook his head and murmured, “I was afraid this sort of thing would happen. They always like to explode things at some point. They just can’t help it. No good trying to get one to be sneaky for you when things always end like this.”
She ignored his talking and scanned her eyes around the room instead. She lit upon a laundry basket and quickly dashed over to scoop it up and threw it to trap the still giggling creature without moving her weapon from the goop still impaled by her broom.
She frowned at both of her captives. “If this little creature is the problem you were going to fix for me I’d rather you just go now so I can remove both of you and have some peace again!” She slid the basket across the room with her foot firmly holding it down by the lip of the basket and flipped up the goop so it spun around on her makeshift weapon. With a yank the front door was opened to the rainy dusk outside so she slapped the goop out the door with her broom handle, and kicked the laundry basket and its prisoner after him. With a shove the door slammed in their faces before they could force their way back in.
Once they’d left she tested all the lights in the house, and the oven just to be sure, and was relieved to see everything seemed to be working perfectly well again. She left all of it on, and turned on the back door security light in an attempt to deter more unexpected visitors.
Once she’d come back in, she shut her curtains and went around the house to check each of the windows and doors as a precaution to make doubly sure there was little chance of any repeat intruders- or new ones for that matter- before she went back to work and finished sweeping the rest of the floor. As she worked the storm outside slowly grew quiet and dispersed, leaving behind the fresh scent of rain that beguiled her neighbors outside to meet with each other and enjoy star gazing in the first clear night of the month.

New Covers!

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Yes, I know I’ve already done a cover reveal for the first book in the series. But now I’m doing an even cooler cover reveal, because I have a new and improved cover! What do you think? I think it looks gorgeous and I’m so happy I did this. It was great to work with Stefanie at Beetiful Covers and I’m so excited to work with her for the rest of this series, and maybe for future series as well.

Do you like the new cover?

The Mecca of Bookish Spaces

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My own shaky photo is not as nice as the official one from their website at the top of the page!

You may notice here a photo of a gorgeous building. This is in fact a building that was engineered in its time to be grander and more “Western” than the original Western European spaces is was meant to outshine- with the addition of copious amounts of the newly invented light bulb.

That’s right. I went to the Library of Congress.

The Library of Congress

Obsessive literature nerds, like myself, may know the Library of Congress as being the national library of the United States. Especially if you’ve followed this blog and remember I’ve already posted about their digital offerings inspiring me before. If they were local they might even realize that it’s completely open to the public and hosts public bookish events all the time in an attempt to remedy their reputation as being for researchers only (they totally aren’t) as well as to further their aim of spreading literacy through programs like The Center for The Book and the national library for the blind as well as capturing the American story through recordings of interviews with laborers of every job and veterans and all sorts of people whose stories are rarely heard.

What I like is that it is literally the biggest library in the entire world. They have four giant buildings worth of books, scrolls, films, reels, movies, magazine, folios, photos, music sheets. They cover law and science and that sort of thing but every novel conventionally published in the United States, and occasionally some self published books as well, are kept there. You’ve name it, they’ve got it. They even have a collection of something called fiches, which I have never heard of before.

A Great DC Day Trip

It was a magical place to visit, even if it wasn’t my first time there- but honestly I could go daily to each of the many reading rooms and public rooms and galleries and presentation rooms and I still would not see all there was to see.

What’s your favorite bookish place?

But first, let me take a #Shelfie

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I follow For Reading Addicts (You definitely should too) and I love the different #shelfies they post. I feel awkward using the hashtags because I’m pretty sure too many of them make you an outdated internet dinosaur instead of making you cool, but I’m so amused by photos of other people’s shelves I thought it would be worth the risk to hashtag it out on here.

As you can see I’ve got a few second hand books in here that are looking a little scruffy, like “Beyonders” by Mull that I picked up in a hostel in Panama City Panama and felt like I’d won the lottery to find a book that was free, hard back, written in English, and from an author I knew of and like to boot!

Then there’s “Entwined” by Dixon on the right that I bought with part of my first ever paycheck and devoured because it was magical. And above it is Cornelia Funke’s “Dragon Rider”, which I adore, with her book Inkheart right on top of it because I really do like her work (which you can probably tell because a third book of her’s is next to it- “The Thief Lord”- is definitely one of my hands down favorites!)

And then there’s the Tamora Pierce books on the top left of the stack because I am slowly buying her books whenever one pops up in my local library’s book sale or in a used book store.

And Bruce Coville’s “Into the Land of The Unicorns” is clearly well loved as the majority of its cover has come clear off, though thankfully the follow up below it is another part of the series which will hopefully stand up better to frequent reading due to the hardback cover.

And then we have “The China Garden” on the top right which I think few American readers have heard of but is definitely a yearly revisit for me.

This is just a section of my bookshelf that covers my self defined “magical books” genre. Does anyone else just go and make up their own categories for their private bookshelves?

And then there’s the world’s tiniest picture frame with a photo made from one of the mini Polaroids marketed to kids in the late nineties and early `aughts before anyone could afford the early digital cameras, and I trimmed off the waste plastic wrapping the film so I could fit it into the tiny frame. It’s a nice reminder of my brother when he was young, which is great to remember at this time of year as his birthday inched him a little closer to thirty now and the passage of time makes me nostalgic yet again thinking of childhood memories.

And there’s the harmonica next to it which I am still determined to learn to play so I can maybe perform for my grandpa some time as he’s always been a great bluesy player on his own oversized bass harmonica.