Reading, signal boosting, What I'm Reading

Book Review: Jade City

I’ve never done this before, but I guess there always has to be a first. I’m placing my Goodreads review of Jade City here, just so that more people can see that I found this book WONDERFUL and IMMERSIVE, and gave it a very, very rare 5 stars!

Jade City (The Green Bone Saga #1)
by Fonda Lee


Just wow. I don’t often give 5 stars, but this book deserves it!

In this secondary-world epic fantasy, a certain type of jade gives human beings superpowers–but only those with training and a built-up tolerance can wear it without becoming suicidal.

The jade supply is centered on tropical island, and the whole setting has a modern south-Asian feel that sinks into your bones as you read. The author does a magnificent job of setting the scenes, of giving us the feel of each place, of making you feel like you’re there, experiencing this place. She also delves into the minds of her numerous POV characters, none of whom are alike, some of whom we don’t think of as likable. And yet, each one acts in perfectly understandable, believable ways in the situations they’re placed in, and the whole plot moves forward in an inexorable push towards clan war, though most of the characters don’t want that.

Plot twists kept changing what I thought would happen in wonderful, unanticipated ways that were utterly spot-on and true to life. Perhaps most amazing is that, while the threat of impending warfare keeps the tone grim, there is also a lightness to enough of the scenes, especially in the building of familial bridges, that keeps the book from becoming too dark and depressing overall.

If you love epic fantasy, and political wranglings for power with magic, and have been looking (often in vain) for the next book/author to love, this one is for you. The whole thing is engrossing and wonderful, and you may find yourself wanting to curl up with the book to finish it in a single sitting!

One word of caution for the more timid reader: the opening chapter for me, while immersive and wonderfully voiced, was also one of the most violent. If you’re not a fan of on-page violence, just get through that and the rest will be worth it. I promise.

publication, Reading, What I'm Reading

Because We’re All Readers First, Right?

I love reading. If you’re reading this blog, chances are good you do, too.

So I’m excited to link to a new place to check out for your short fiction fixes. Curious Fictions is an online venture meant to help readers connect with previously published short fiction you might have missed. It’s a place to meet your next “favorite writer,” and maybe your next “favorite magazine.” At Curious Fictions, you’ll be able to sample magazine offerings, and find the writers they publish. Then you can go subscribe to those magazines you love–those you’ve previously hesitated to pay for, not knowing if you’d like them or not.

(Need some suggestions to get started? How about reading Sylvia Spruck Wrigley? Or Wendy Nikel? Or perhaps Effie Seiberg‘s story, Dinkley’s Ice Cream–I love that one!)

Curious Fictions is a work in progress. It’s new, and the person behind it is still tweaking the format, the page, the functions. New work is always arriving, and new readers–well, of course new readers are always welcome.

Some of my work is there, of course. But I encourage you to not read my stories (or, not just mine), but to try out some of the others. There are tons of great writers you haven’t read yet. Give one a try over at Curious Fictions, won’t you? And tell your friends. Writers need readers.

food, Guest Post, Reading

Guest Post: Call of Fire Author Beth Cato…and a Recipe!

Today we have a special Guest Post by fantastic author Beth Cato, who has graciously agreed to provide a homemade gluten-free granola recipe for readers of my blog. You should really click that link to her website–part of her blog is Bready or Not, where she’s posted scads of amazing recipes (as I type this, I have her Korean BBQ Beef Ribs cooking, and it smells amazing in my kitchen)! You can also sign up for her mailing list, and view more of her writing, including links to her short fiction and poetry, as well as to her other novels.

Her current novel, Call of Fire–with its absolutely gorgeous cover–is now available. Let me reassure you that her books aren’t just pretty covers, either; the first book in the series was a rollicking fun read!

So, without further ado, let me present:

Author Beth Cato

with Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Granola
and her novel, Call of Fire

I’m Beth Cato, the author of two steampunk fantasy series with Harper Voyager. The second book in my Blood of Earth Trilogy is Call of Fire, and it’s out on August 15th. These books feature a 1906 America that is allied with Japan as a world power, and in the process of dominating mainland Asia.

My heroine, Ingrid Carmichael, has spent much of her young life working as a secretary, housekeeper, and cook, all while hiding her powerful earth magic. I do a fair share of cooking myself–I run a food blog called Bready or Not. Every Wednesday at BethCato.com, I post a new recipe. I’m most famous/infamous for my cookies, which I’m known for bringing to conventions and signing events. I also do a lot of healthy recipes for my personal consumption.

This recipe for Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Granola is easy to make gluten-free with GF oats and mini chocolate chips like those from Enjoy Life. Plus, it’s a LOT cheaper than buying granola in a grocery store!

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Granola

2 1/2 cups rolled (old fashioned) oats

1/4 cup creamy peanut butter

1/4 cup honey

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/3 cup mini chocolate chips

Preheat oven at 275-degrees. Line a large, rimmed cookie sheet with aluminum foil and rub with butter or apply nonstick spray.

Place the oats in a large bowl. In a small bowl, microwave the peanut butter and honey for 30 seconds; the peanut butter should be starting to melt. Stir them together, then add vanilla extract.

Pour the peanut butter mix and stir until the oats are completely coated. Spread the granola on the foil-lined sheet and bake for 15 minutes. Stir. Bake for another 10 to 15 minutes, then set out to cool. Note that it will continue to crisp up as it cools, so don’t overbake!

Once the granola is cool, mix in the chocolate chips. Store in a sealed container.

Original post can be found at:

http://www.bethcato.com/bready-or-not-peanut-butter-chocolate-chip-granola/


More about Call of Fire, book 2 in the Blood of Earth Trilogy:

At the end of Breath of Earth, Ingrid Carmichael had barely survived the earthquake that devastated San Francisco and almost crippled her with an influx of geomantic energy. With her friends Cy, Lee, and Fenris, she flees north, keenly aware that they are being pursued by Ambassador Blum, a cunning and dangerous woman who wants to use Ingrid’s abilities as the magical means to a devastating end.

Ingrid’s goals are simple: avoid capture that would cause her to be used as a weapon by the combined forces of the United States and Japan in their war against China, and find out more about the god-like powers she inherited from her estranged father. Most of all, she must avoid seismically active places. She doesn’t know what an intake of power will do to her body–or what damage she may unwillingly create.

A brief stopover in Portland turns disastrous when Lee and Fenris are kidnapped. To find and save her friends, Ingrid must ally with one of the most powerful and mysterious figures in the world: Ambassador Theodore Roosevelt.

Their journey together takes them north to Seattle, where Mount Rainier looms over the city. And Ingrid is all too aware that she may prove to be the fuse to alight both the long-dormant volcano…and a war that will sweep the world.


More info and purchase at Amazon

More info and purchase at Barnes & Noble


Nebula-nominated Beth Cato is the author of the Clockwork Dagger duology and the new Blood of Earth Trilogy from Harper Voyager. Her newest novel is CALL OF FIRE. She’s a Hanford, California native transplanted to the Arizona desert, where she lives with her husband, son, and requisite cat. Follow her at BethCato.com and on Twitter at @BethCato.

 

 

awards, Reading, Writing

Event Horizon Available as a FREE Download

Event Horizon is an anthology of stories by authors eligible for the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer–meaning writers whose first pro sale have been published within the last two years. The volume contains over 75 authors and 350,000 words, and, hanks to the efforts of Jake Kerr, is available for free download–until July 15, 2017–at the link above. That is a whole lot of good reading.

 

Congratulations to all those within the anthology, and good luck to each of those eligible for this year’s award!

publication, Reading

Sale at The Colored Lens

Just a quick reminder, if you were waiting for one: today is January 31st. I just checked and yes, this issue of The Colored Lens is currently on sale for 99¢ over on Amazon. That’s a lot of words for less than a buck, including my story, “Sanachi’s Escape.”

Announcement ends here. Please carry on with your regularly scheduled day!

Links, Reading, signal boosting, What I'm Reading

Writers Need Readers

Every year, hundreds of thousands of wonderful stories are written and go out into the world. Along comes award season, and we readers scratch our heads, trying to remember which stories we read this year, not last year. What length were they? And which ones were by new authors who are eligible for the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer. It’s a bit overwhelming at the best of times.

Some years, there’s a little help. Fortunately, this is one of them.

Writer SL Huang stepped into the breach and pulled together stories by 120 authors eligible for the Campbell Award this year. She’s put them into a huge ebook anthology called “Up and Coming,” and it’s available free until March 31st. That’s a whole lot of free reading, and I have to say, a lot of really good free reading.

So click that link, choose your format, and tuck your feet up–you might be awhile. Happy Reading!

Magic of the Everyday, Personal Life, Reading, Writing

Helping to Destroy Brain Weasels, One by One

There’s been an interesting discussion going on in an online group I belong to. Normal discussion threads run hot and heavy with Impostor Syndrome, Brain Weasels, and the like. But this one started being about short fiction goals and migrated into how shockingly cool and inspiring and awesome it is to receive reader feedback on a story you wrote. That it feels validating in some deep way.

One participant, Shane Halbach,  took the next step and connected the two ideas into one amazing gestalt, and he’s allowed me to quote him here:

Sometimes it feels silly, like “well of course this author knows this is a good story — it is amazing and published in this pro zine after all — so it’s stupid of me to tell them so!” or “oh this author is an old pro who’s been doing this forever, so they’re probably totally over it.”

And then I come over to Codex and we all talk about our brain weasels. There’s some kind of break between me in author mode and me in reader mode. I mean, I know how it feels on the receiving end and can you imagine someone messaging you to tell you they liked your story and being annoyed by that?? Never.

So now I make an effort to drop a note to someone whenever I really enjoyed a story. Not every story, but anything that I truly enjoyed.

After reading this, I sat there stunned, waiting for the reverberations within me to fade so that I could process this. I mean, it sounds so simple, so obvious: I’ve had more than my fair share of brain weasels–those nasty, vicious thoughts that tell you how bad this story you’ve written is, how bad a writer you are–and I know they are devastating. I’ve also read stories that have made me think “OMG, that is soooooo beautiful and amazing.” And I’ve read threads on this writers’ site where some writers talk about how nervous they are at the reception of a forthcoming story, or how they fear that it’s garbage and they just got lucky–whatever. I’ve even felt that way myself.

And yet it never dawned on me to send a note to a writer, telling them how wonderful I found that story or book. I can tell you one thing: I will be doing that more often now. In this interconnected age of ours, it’s easier and faster than ever to say something nice to someone, but so often the only messages relayed are anger or annoyance. I’m hoping to change that, to brighten someone’s day who has brightened mine by their written words. I hope you’ll join me.

Just to be clear, this is not a plea for all of you to tell me how awesome my stories are. If something I wrote (or write in the future) really affects you, sure, by all means, let me know. Of course I’d love to hear it. But I’d love just as much for you to tell other writers, other authors, that something they wrote meant a lot to you. Leave a comment on a blog or Facebook page, Tweet them, email them. Even a nice comment on the publication’s “comment” section is good.

Guest Post, Links, publication, Reading

Guest Post: How Dinosaurs Can Fix Your Flower Gardens

I often talk about gardens, plants, and gardening here on Everyday Magic, and this post is no different in that regard. The different part is that this is the first Guest Post I’ve hosted! And, while yes, it’s on gardening–it’s set 65 million years ago!

Author Daniel M. Bensen is celebrating the release of his new book,  Groom of the Tryannosaur Queen, by holding a blog tour with all the posts relating to “How Dinosaurs Can Fix Your           .” Of course, I thought this sounded like a ton of fun (um, really, no pun intended), and signed right up with “Flower Gardens.”

But before we get the answer to that intriguing question, let’s learn a bit more about Daniel’s book. Here’s the publisher’s blurb:

Former soldier Andrea Herrera isn’t happy with where her life’s taken her. Specifically, to Hell Creek, Montana, 65 million years before the present. As far as careers go, making sure the dinosaurs don’t eat her paleontologist clients comes in a pretty dismal second choice to serving her country. But when their time machine malfunctions, Andrea and her team are trapped in a timeline that shouldn’t exist with something a hell of a lot more dangerous than terrible lizards: other humans.

Groom of the Tyrannosaur Queen (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B018UD6DH2/) is a time-travel romance with Dinosaurs available now as a kindle book.

Sounds great to me! OK, here’s Daniel M. Bensen to take it away!

How Dinosaurs Can Fix Your Flower Gardens

A museum worker I follow once commented on the kids who come up to him and asked to be directed to the “dinosaur plants.” Adorable. Can’t you just picture that dinosaur plant, spiky and gnarled, primeval mists dripping off its scaled fruit as it uncoils its fronds into the steaming jungle? Or, you might imagine cycads and dawn redwoods, monkey-puzzle trees or ferns or gingkoes. But flowers? Heck no! Dinosaurs were big and mean. They ate big mean plants, not tender daisies! Well, it depends on what time and place you’re talking about, but the home ofTyrannosauus and Triceratops, the setting for my novel (http://www.amazon.com/Groom-Tyrannosaur-Queen-time-travel-romance-ebook/dp/B018UD6DH2 ) was just crawling with flowers.

Tyrannosaurs and Triceratops (along with big duck-bills like Edmontosaurus, armored Ankylosaurus, and speedy predators like Dakotaraptor) lived and more importantly died and were fossilized, in what’s called the Hell Creek Formation, a layer of rock in the Dakotas, Montana, and Wyoming. It’s mostly chilly badlands now, but 65 million years ago, Hell Creek was the sweaty floodplain on the edge of a shallow sea. The place was similar to the coast of the Gulf of Mexico, complete with palms trees and crocodiles. Plants had broad, sub-tropical-looking leaves, and included lots of bushy undergrowth. Although some modern plants like grasses or orchids did not grow in Hell Creek, a modern botanist transported into the environment (and I just happen to have included on in my novel) would notice familiar-looking beeches and sycamores, hung with American bittersweet, spreading their leaves over magnolias, tulip-trees, buckthorns, katsura (or caramel trees), and laurels. They might be able to find food hanging from grape-vines, or fig, cacao, mulberry, or pawpaw trees. Ginger grew at ground level. They might even find something like hops or marijuana.

Hell Creek was deep green and black with sprays of yellow, pink, and white reflected in the sluggish brown water below. Insects hummed and birds sang. The air smelled of salty mud and chlorophyll. If you were from Florida or Louisiana, you might mistake Hell Creek for home, until you saw your first tyrannosaur.

Post script:

After I wrote this essay, my three year old daughter told me I’d gotten it all wrong. The Diplodocus could stamp its foot in the ground to make a decorative pond. The Triceratopscould dig up rows with its horns for your annuals. Dinosaurs poop a lot, and that’s good fertilizer. That’s how dinosaurs can fix your garden.

References: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hell_Creek_Formation#Plants andhttp://www.dmns.org/media/370845/pseries3-12red.pdf

61XdM6VI4DL._SX325_BO1,204,203,200_Where to find Daniel online:

Dan’s website

Amazon

Goodreads 

TV Tropes 

Tumblr

Facebook

Twitter

Deviant Art

 

Want to see what else dinosaurs can fix? Here’s another post in the series.