Monday, December 29, 2014

Review of Alan Black's YA Sci/Fi novel, "Titanium Texicans"

No techno babble in this YA Sci/Fi. Titanium Texicans is a story driven by its characters and the society in which they live. Although there are high tech machines in which our hero Tasso gets involved with the emphasis is on what those machines can do and how they advance the social structure in which he has been thrust against his will.

True to any hero Tasso adjusts, but not without some conflict, some of which is self imposed. Teenage angst and Tasso's strong character development by his grandparents provide the example any parent would wish for their children.

Although the plot is rather predictable and there are some issues of pace with the story it is a very good read.

My initial reluctance to read a YA story was quickly overcome by Alan Black's ability to display Tasso's backwater simplicity and country wisdom.

A recommended read for Young Adults.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Reviews of "The Singing Stones of Rendor"

To have friends and family read a book you've labored over for several years and then give glowing reviews is a wonderful experience. Of course, there's always the element they're just being kind. If you knew these people you'd know they mean it.

Then comes the day when someone completely outside your world validates your work. There were two days over the past two years when that happened. In my previous postings you saw the awards for first place in the "First Chapter Category" and second place for "Novel Category" which gave me quite a high.

Now I have the honor of receiving a 5 star review not only from someone outside my world, but a best selling YA and Sci/Fi author by the name of Alan Black. My first contact with Alan was on LinkedIn when he did a random search for authors. We exchanged emails a few times and I learned of his books. My favorite genre is Military Sci/Fi, which he writes. I'm currently reading his YA Sci/Fi novel, "Titanium Texicans."

I would be sorely remiss if I didn't mention the 5 star review by one of my favorite people in the world, C.W. Johnson. He is a writer who has had a huge influence on my writing, though he may not know it. He taught himself to write creative fiction and has sold thousands of books and has a wide audience around the world. His example and experiences have taught me that revisions are endless and that at some point you just have to let your child go. He read a draft of "The Singing Stones of Rendor" and called me late that night. He was so excited about it I had to delay publishing and enter another contest. That's why I received that second place award.

My thanks to all those who buy and read the book. An extra "Thank You" to all those who post a review.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

The Tenebrous Witch

The Tenebrous Witch is a prequel to the series. At this point, despite the urging of my muse, I do not plan on publishing it until the series is done. However, she can be tenacious.

The story revolves around the main character in the first chapter of "The Singing Stones." Haegatess is a unique kind of witch with a dark, hard to understand type of magic not common in the world she lives in. She can suck the magic and life right out of normal people.

How she got to where she is in "The Singing Stones of Rendor" is detailed in "The Tenebrous Witch." She is bullied by her own sister and in the end they become enemies.

So far, the book is planned to be a novelette. However, some beta readers are saying it needs to expand to a full novel. We'll see. That's a long way from the intended short story I envisioned. Also, I wanted to flesh her out more so I could develop her unique abilities. To that end it has done its job.

I am setting the project aside for now and focusing on book 2, "The Loom of Kanarrah." The book is behind schedule. There's a new "brat" in my life who insists on diverting my attention. Blasted grandkids will do that to yeh.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

The Singing Stones of Rendor is now available on Amazon

Today The Singing Stones of Rendor went live on Amazaon. For every purchase of the novel a donation is made to the Wounded Warrior Project. Until the first of the year the ebook will be on sale for $0.99, so get it now.

The print version is now available on

Friday, November 14, 2014

Cover Reveal for "The Singing Stones of Rendor."

The cover for "The Singing Stones of Rendor" is finalized, as is the interior formatting. The journey to this end gives me some appreciation for publishers who have to come up with one they think is suitable and will help sales.

A search on the web will display hundreds of willing artists. Anxiety soon follows as the overwhelming task of selecting one begins. My task was complicated when I came across Gloria Miller Allen, a willing professional watercolor artist with a number of books to her name. I jumped at the chance to have this wonderful artisan work on the cover. Because of circumstances there was plenty of time for her to prepare it.

Her time soon became consumed by other obligations, personal and professional, which pushed me to finding a fall back option. I scanned the internet for ideas and found a painting by Eduardo Rodriguez Calzado that caught my eye. So, I renewed my search for someone who might render something like it for the entire series.

In my local writers group, Oquirrh Mountain Writers, is an artist whose primary focus is children's books. However, he has done Young Adult covers for Ali Cross, an award winning author. Those covers suggested he could do what I had in mind. A big advantage for me is he's also a local artist and a helluva nice guy.

My discussions with Gloria Miller Allen proved she would be unable to continue with the series. My fallback position came to the front. I contacted Mikey Brooks and told him what I wanted and didn't want in relation to the Calzado painting. He expressed interest in the idea's and set to work.

This is the final product:

Mikey also formatted the interior and included graphics for the chapter headers and scene breaks. You'll have to get the book to see those. Gloria Miller Allen's work will be used to depict two scenes within the book. Ebook readers will see them in color, if they have that option. Paperback copies will have B/W images.

So, the journey for book one is complete, save for the upload to Amazon and Createspace. Plans to continue this style into the rest of the series is underway. But, life, such as it is, may prove to have other ideas.

Friday, October 17, 2014

"Talks Funny" meets "Big John"

Christine Walter sponsored a short story writing contest recently. The story had to be based on one of the images on her blog. She offered to sketch something of our choice as the grand prize. It just so happens my upcoming book has a character by the name of Maynard Woods that I would like to have sketched. He is a forester and the classic image of a mountain man--without a gun.

One of the images titled "Talks Funny" caught my eye and reminded me of an old story called "Big John." It is also part of the reason Maynard exists in "The Singing Stones of Rendor". If you google "Big John" you'll find various  renditions to the story. I've always wanted to retell it, so I concocted my own version. It is a classic with a violent twist at the end. You may suffer some whiplash.

The contest didn't draw enough entries, but Christine enjoyed my story enough to post it on her blog. Since the thing has been around so long I can't really take much credit for it.

I want to thank her for her kindness and interest in my writing.

Here's the link to her blog and the story: Enjoy.

By-the-way, Christine's artwork will be in a a feature film titled "8 Stories." It is about 8 people stuck in an elevator and based on a book by Stephanie Fowers.

I'm thinking it will be a romantic comedy, if her website is any hint.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

A "Minor" Revelation.

First, an update on the status of publishing "The Singing Stones of Rendor", the cover art is nearly done. We will upload the book to Amazon soon afterwards. Hopefully mid November. 

A prequel, tentatively titled, "The Tenebrous Witch," will follow later and be offered for free. It still needs professional editing and a book cover. More about this later.

Secondly let me 'splain somethin'.

Delinquent is not the word I'd use for someone who doesn't post on his blog on a regular basis. When I was in the navy there was a word used to describe those who were late meeting their qualification requirements--DINK. It's a good contraction for "delinquent.

My pathetic excuse is simply that summer was upon us and the weather was beautiful. Other than a 3 week patch of 100 degree temps we've had a mild summer. I'm all for balmy days and cool nights.

I was well on my way with book 2, "The Loom of Kanarrah," when my muse interrupted. I'm now finishing up the first draft of a prequel to the Singing Stones of Rendor. It started out with the full intent of making it a short story, but it got out of hand. It is currently standing as a novelette. I expect it will be about 25-30,000 words, or about 100 pages, The plan is to offer this for free on Amazon.

A charming 12 year old red-headed girl read the first half of the draft. I asked her to read it because the main character is her age in that section. She is an avid reader and loves fantasy, so she was a natural for what I hoped to get as feedback--that of a 12 year old. She loved it.

Her enthusiasm for it surprised me. It isn't a YA story--at least it isn't meant to be. I'm writing with adults in mind. That said, I've heard and read about Warner Bros. studios developing Bugs Bunny, et. al. as cartoons for adults. As a kid those were my favorite.

Perhaps my audience is wider than I thought.

On another note, the League of Utah Writers held it's annual conference in September. They had a new category in their contest this year. So, I entered "The Singing Stones of Rendor" in their "Novel" category. One of the requirements prohibited any published works which meant a delay in putting it on Amazon as planned

Naturally I had hoped it would place well. It didn't take first place, but it did come in at number 2. There is just nothing like having your work recognized as "good" by your peers. My next goal is to have the book recognized as "good" by my readers. That is the crown every author looks for.

Saturday, April 5, 2014


Luck covers a spectrum of possibilities and occasionally the impossible happens. Yesterday, after three days in a watercoloring workshop with my wife, lightning struck. I began a conversation with the delightful and humorous guest artist, Gloria Miller Allen, and told her a little about my upcoming book. She immediately expressed interest in doing the cover art for "Singing Stones of Rendor." She said she was challenged by the idea though she had never done one like this. All of her own books are about art and she only needs to select one of her many paintings for the covers.

We invited her to dinner and she graciously accepted. I fully expected the conversation during our meal at Brio's Tuscan Restaurant to center on watercoloring. To my surprise she wanted to discuss the particulars about the book cover. My poor wife commented later that, to her delight, she couldn't get a word in edgewise.

Have I ever mentioned how great my wife is?

Gloria has commitments through mid to late May which will delay the start of the project. This works well for me since I don't plan on publishing "Singing Stones" until September if no agents express interest. We can work out minor changes in details during the interim.

Finding an artist of her caliber and unique perspective of stone was a lucky break. I'm confident she will do a great job. It turns out that one of the characters on the cover is her alter-ego and someone she's always wanted to depict.

So, it's back to work on the next book.

Update on the search for an agent: Rejections 8, Interest 0.

Maybe a review of my query letter is in order.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Procrastination pays off.

Time crawls when you're in panic mode, then you change gears and its a month later--OK, two months later. Then I was not so gently reminded by one of my followers of my time/memory lapse.

I've been stewing about query letters, writing a synopsis and entering some contests. Entering a contest is a breeze, it's the requirements that bog me down. Writing a book seems a whole lot easier than preparing a synopsis and/or query for the darn thing.

Fortunately, after much finger gnashing on my keyboard, a couple of friends from my writing chapter helped with the query. Their suggestions and critiques were immensely valuable. My thanks to Michael Jensen and Ali Cross.

Then there was the question I've been trying to answer for many months. How do I publish? The answer finally came to me when I realized how much I guard my privacy. I would self publish through Createspace and Setting up the account was easy enough until I got to the part where they wanted a book cover. I really didn't have one worth bragging about so I clicked on an option to have Createspace do one for me.

I'm a penny pincher. The price stalled me. I went to bed early grumbling about more money going out.

About midnight C.W. Johnson called me. He has written five books and has a sizeable fan base. He also read and critiqued the final version of "The Singing Stones of Rendor." Dare I say he was ecstatic about it. I've gotten a lot of great feedback from my beta readers which was very encouraging, but he is the one who iced it for me. "Get an agent," he said. He and I argue about a lot of different things just for the fun of it, but I don't question him about writing a book or getting published. He has been at it a lot longer than I have and done most of it the hard way.

To top it all off, I handed the phone to my muse who talked with him even longer than I did. By the time she finished she was all smiles.

So, now I'm using that query to sell the book to agents. Sometimes procrastination pays off.

As of today ten agents have received an email--more agents tomorrow as I trawl through the internet in search of that one agent who will pick it up.

Let the waiting begin.

UPDATE: 27 March 2014

Well that didn't take long. The waiting is over. My first rejection letter (email) just arrived.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Patience, my boy, patience

I know its obvious, but I hate flu season, and getting a cold. It's hard to avoid, especially when you have kids in school where it spreads quickly. I certainly empathize with those who have to go through it. Been there, done that and will likely do it again.

Fortunately my wife and I have avoided the scourge, so far. However, my editor hasn't. I sent the manuscript for "Singing Stones" to her the first of the month with hopes of getting it back within three weeks. About a week later her facebook posts told of an epidemic of generational proportions ravaging her family. She was down for nearly two weeks.

She's quite the trooper, though as she still takes care of family and business. Something had to be sacrificed to make time for all of it. Editing has to take a lot of time and it is something that can wait, if need be. Perfectly understandable.

Alright, I admit to feeling a little abused by the delay. That's selfish of me, I know. My muse was already on me for wanting one more edit of the story. She didn't think it really needed another. "You have written it perfectly," she said in present perfect tense. Although I wanted to agree with her I want it even more gooder (that's Utahn for perfect) . . . if that even makes sense.

As a procrastinator, I did take advantage of the postponement to reconsider how to begin the next book in the series. For several days I plugged away at different openings searching for the right time frame. Nothing worked.

Thank God for muses. Despite my spending more money on another editor she stepped in and helped me. Of course there was some begging involved, but we won't go there. After only a few minutes discussing the problem she set her laser on it and I soon popped out my first draft.

Of course the chapter may not survive the final edits, but I'm now on track. Perhaps my editor's flu bug was serendipitous for me. I doubt she would agree, though.

Then, inexplicably, my muse decided to read the sample edits Tristi Pinkston did on the first 20 pages. "Alright," my wife admitted. "Maybe it wasn't so perfect after all."