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"You don't talk aelfen royalty and hobgoblin kingpin tangled together without attracting some untoward attentions from every Tam, Dick, and Houri from Brú na Bóinne to Hy-Brasil." And yet, that's exactly the kind of tale a certain hard-boiled PI is going to tell you all about in The Hollow Man, Everett A. Warren's contribution to the anthology.

~ ~ ~

Which anthology? This fantasy noir anthology by Solarwyrm Press!

Your support will make it happen and help support the ten writers whose work graces the pages! There are options to get an e-book or a print copy, and there are other perks for those who can afford to provide more support. If you can't afford a copy at this time, then you can still help us out by liking the campaign, the Facebook page, the pages of the authors, and posting links to any or all of those kinds of things!

Thanks for reading!
ellyssian: (sphinx)
Wow. Completely remiss, I think.

I do believe I've forgotten to announce Poetry from the Porch Period here.

At the moment, the only place you can get it is online at the publisher, Lulu. As soon as possible, I will get the distribution in order, and at that time you'll be able to get it from any bookseller, including Amazon.com.
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If you head on over to Lulu, where I've published Cautionary Fables: Warts & All, you can get a code on their home page that is good for 18% your entire order.

After you see what the code is, you can head on over to my Author Spotlight to grab a copy of my book in paperback or eBook (PDF) format at a discounted price! Use the code when you check out to get the offer applied.

The offer's good until Friday, July 13, 2012... so make sure you get your order in before the promotion ends!
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My book Cautionary Fables: Warts & All is now available via Amazon.com (and, most likely, for order via your FLBS)!

Go, now, and buy a copy for everyone on your holiday list, all your neighbors, your co-workers... heck, just buy a mailing list for an entire zip code/county/state/country and send one to everyone! =)

This is the same book that's been out for a while, but I finally added the ISBN number in the appropriate spots, ordered my own review copy, and finished the distribution process I started years ago. Short fiction book #2 has been in the editing process ever since this one was completed, and given that one of the editors is divorcing me and the other went off to college, it might be a while before I get that one done!
ellyssian: (sphinx)
[livejournal.com profile] yuki_onna's book, that is. If you haven't already ordered a copy, that situation can be rectified with a clicky.

If you want to find out what it's all about ~ and you're not at work or around small, impressionable children ~ you can watch the trailer for the book (and hear some beautiful music by [livejournal.com profile] s00j composed for the book):

There. Now go buy it! =)
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It's available now right here.

I have a few more steps to get it ready for world domination widespread distribution, so in a couple of months you should be able to find it on Amazon.com and other such places, and so forth.

But, there it is.
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It's been quite a while since I posted any reviews; last night I went through a bunch of tools and other pieces of company equipment and posted reviews of them at Amazon.com ~ although they may or may not be useful items for those of you who aren't contractors, I'll still post them here! =)

Of course, this the last review I did, that's been hanging around for a while waiting for another review to bump it out of the holding pen, is on a work of fiction, so the disclaimer above just applies to things you'll be seeing over the next few days...

The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova

I liked this a lot. A very enjoyable read.

I'm thinking of how to write about the book without giving too much away...

It concerns - despite what the misleading title might state - several historians. Anthropologists and archaeologists also get in on the act.

It's about a girl who grows up over the course of the book, so it's a coming of age story.

It's about Vlad Dracul.

Yes, some of the thrills and twists and turns aren't all that much of a surprise, and much of my initial assessments of characters proved correct... except for those that weren't core members of the cast. The supporting folks seemed much less predictable in the long run, mostly because what you thought might happen should they become central to the story didn't.

Despite that knowing - or, rather, suspecting and then confirming - I still found myself wanting to read exactly how those suspicions unfolded.

Funny how when I was watching Alexander the other day, the time shifts were driving me nuts. Here, it didn't happen - and there weas jumping around - mostly between two times and places, sometimes more - until pretty much the end of the book. Might just be that such things are handled more gracefully in the written word then they are on screen.

As with Stoker's Dracula, this tale is told, in large part, through letters. Here, though, much of those letters are being told, from memory, by one character to another; beyond that, all these pieces are assembled and told by that other character to the reader. While I enjoyed this nested POV, I can see others being challenged or annoyed by it.
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The book arrived today. I got the hardcover with dust jacket, mostly because I wanted to verify the inside flaps of the jacket, and they only exist if you get the dust jacket... =)

In any case, it's beautiful and appears well made. The book is available in a softcover, hardcover with jacket, and hardcover with image wrap. You can see a preview of the first fifteen pages at Blurb.com:

What's a Little Fungus Among Us?

What's a Little Fungus Among Us?
Photography by Everett A Warren
Book Preview

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Mushrooms and fungi, from my backyard to your coffee table
Photography by Everett A Warren
ellyssian: (Default)
Yes, folks, there is life after the 7th Harry Potter book.

You can pre-order two editions of The Tales of Beedle the Bard from Amazon.com - one, the Standard Edition, so-called because it's, well, a book. Pretty standard stuff. Five wizarding fairy tales left to Hermione from Prof. Dumbledore in Potterdammerung. One of the five was printed there, in the Deathly Hallows, the other four are new.

The Collector's Edition is, well, a collectable. It's an Amazon exclusive, and includes a reproduction of Rowling's handwritten introduction, 10 illustrations not found in the standard edition, and comes in its own case. The case is designed to replicate a Hogwarts textbook. The book itself, held in a velvet bag embroidered with Rowling's signature, features an emerald ribbon, replica gemstones, and metal skulls, corners, and clasp.

So go, follow the links, and pre-order three or four of them so you have plenty of them in early December! =)
ellyssian: (Default)
Yep. That's my boy.

Brings me a book to read to him, right? Lots of kids do that.


He brings me this.

Yep, that's m' boy!


Dec. 22nd, 2007 09:26 pm
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Yet more video, this a wee sneak peek at Coraline, pointed out by Neil hisself.

Looking forward to this one.

Busy Day

Sep. 2nd, 2007 11:41 pm
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I may or may not get the order correct on these.


Cleared stuff off top of dresser. This included a recorder, a chanter, a small Russian zither, two seashell framed mirrors made by Deb's grandfather, a television set, and a ton of other stuff. We boxed the arts & crafts stuff in the top drawer, and then discovered VHS tapes in the second drawer. To get at the dresser, I had to drag away two totes full of VHS tapes from the other 3 drawers, which I had thought left only the arts & crafts stuff. So now we had a drawer full of tapes and no free totes. Stripped the drawers out of the dresser and headed downstairs. Ate some lunch.

Used the wet/dry vac in its additional role of wolf spider & web remover to clean off the rack gear and two 2x12 cabs. Hauled them out of the garage and to the library. Vacuumed off as much as we could of the boxes of books and the garage window that has been completely inaccessible since the day we moved in. Took the vacuum downstairs, cleaned up the floor area and cleared a spot to drop the dresser - our "pallet" - and then brought the vac back upstairs to the garage. Brought the dresser and drawers downstairs, dropped it on its back and popped the drawers in. Drank some ice tea.

I pulled boxes out, sorted some books and things out, and Justin lugged them downstairs. Mr B watched Rachel. Or vice versa. Justin carried about twenty or so boxes of books down and stacked them on the dresser. We switched jobs at some time. He cleaned, I still sorted - pulling out my childrens book collection, mostly - and I carried about another twenty boxes down stairs. We're about halfway through bringing the books downstairs. We'll need the three pallets - as I eventually want to retire the dresser in that role - to handle the entire lot. We did clear out enough around the air hockey table to be able to get it out, but only Mr. B possessed the energy required, and, as he is about head-height with the table, isn't really able to carry it on his own.

Brought Rachel to her friend's house - she's camping out tonight, in a tent almost up against the house. In final cleanup - after boxing some toys that were brought out, and while carrying magazines to recycling, we had an altercation with a spider larger than Mr. B's foot. It backed off from chomping on his morsel-sized toes when I yelled, and again when I hollered for Justin. I was wearing socks, and was guessing he'd throw me if I tried to step on him. Justin took a few tries to get something clear - I had wanted him to see this monster. He did, and jumped and ran. Eventually I steadied him, and we almost had him. He went up the garage door, which was held up a bit so he could run outside. I tried to escort him out with a stick - leaning over the trash cans and some other stuff that kept me from him - and he reacted by grabbing the stick and thwacking me over head with it. Well, not quite. He did grab the stick. I tried to toss it out the door, but Justin jumped back and the door dropped. The spider ran for cover behind some stuff between the two doors. Justin fetched the spider eater, and I moved stuff away and started cleaning the area working my way towards him. He wasn't under the bag of salt, but behind the last thing - a plastic jug of ice melter. He fought valiantly against the suction, but, in the end, he lost.

While we were eating supper, Deb came back from her day in NYC watching the Yankees lose. After eating, I set up the rack gear. It still does its volume-by-automatic-control thing, which will keep me from using it in front of a crowd. A real shame, because when it stays at the intended volume, it sounds beautiful. I did notice I'm using the neck pickup a lot more than I used to, and the tube overdrive sound I'm using really only sounds good with the bridge pickup. I think if I replace the power amp - something that won't happen for a long time, if ever - the rest will work well enough to perform live. At that point I'll mess with tweaking another sound to use with the neck pickup.

After all that, while we're completely exhausted, we realize that all the stuff that had been on the dresser was on my bed. At least the television was an exception to that - we brought that down right away. Couldn't lift it now if someone was going to pay me. =)

Bed now. Cookout tomorrow.
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Threshold by CaitlÌn R. Kiernan

The most important thing in a good horror novel is not, as monster movies might have you believe, the monster. That's secondary. You don't even have to know what, exactly, the monster is. Or whether there is even a monster anywhere at all within the pages. Now, in the good stuff, you may think you know who or what the monster is, and you may think it is safely several pages away from you, but when you get there, maybe there's just a strange odor, or some other sign that something was - might have been - there.

Good horror is a setting and characters. You kind of grow to like them. Some of them may up and die on you. Others - the lucky ones - might wind up in an asylum somewhere. The rest, unfortunately, are just waiting. And, if it's really good, they're not exactly sure that what they think might happen to them has any bearing in reality.

Good horror leaves you unsettled. Good horror keeps you out of cellars. Or, at least, has you constantly watching your back.

This is better than very good horror. And, if I ever happen to get down south again - specifically, anywhere in Birmingham - I will be looking around every corner and into every shadow. Most likely, I'll avoid that city in particular. This is, after all, great horror.

In some senses, this could qualify for the label "science fiction" in the sense that it is fiction and the science contained within is important to the overall story, and, essentially is what one of the primary characters is about. I've heard some complain about the characters in here - that they're pitiful, not exceptionally possessed of all the things any good Mary Sue author would want themselves their characters to have. These characters have all the flaws you can find in real live people, and these flaws can rip open like fault lines, just like they can in real people. I've known some of these folks - I've seen them in the graduate departments at a major university; I've seen them cowering in the sticky, thick sludge leaking from the dumpster in the alley behind a coffee shop; I've played in bands with them, and seen them up on stage. They don't always have things go their way. When they do, they are surprised. Usually, the find out later that it would have been better for them if things didn't go their way, maybe.

This is not the type of novel for those who think most things on the best sellers on the horror shelf are fine, upstanding examples of literature. Mostly, that's because this is a fine, upstanding example of literature that just happens to also be a deeply unsettling work of horror fiction, with a serious bent on paleontology and geology.
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The Merry Muses of Caledonia by Robert Burns

This particular book was part of my inheritance from my father. He liked things Scottish, and, I suspect, he liked things bawdy. That may come as a surprise to those who knew him all quiet and polite; it came as a surprise to Dan and I when we found the "novel" Deep Throat in the filing cabinet when we were sent to retrieve some paperwork.

In any case, I found this collection a bit disappointing. At the outset, one of the editors seemed to go on at length how certain words, such as See-You-Next-Tuesday, were replaced, in prior editions, with dashes, leaving all the good (or bad) bits up to your imagination. My impression was that this version was going to say the unsayable and print the unprintable - and maybe it was incorrect, I didn't re-read the forewards and introductions and scholarly notes to verify. I don't believe I'm wrong though, as the foreward itself had a selection of said unsayables printed quite clearly in uncensored black and white.

So imagine my surprise when I had to figure out what one word rhymed with "saunt", "complaint", "ayont", "upon't", "runt", "brunt", "covenant", and "affront" - and the only clue were all these long dashes that disrupted the text.

Anyway, and now for something completely different:

A newly qualified doctor arrives for his first day at a hospital, deep in the Welsh valleys. He is met by one of the sisters, who has been given the task of showing him around the hospital and introducing him to the staff and patients.

It is a large hospital and it takes the whole day to get round. By late afternoon they are working their way through the psychiatric block and as the time approaches for the evening meal they arrive at the last ward. They follow the dinner trolley into the ward and wait while one of the nurses lifts the lid on the food tray. To the doctor's surprise there is but a single haggis on the tray to feed a whole ward.

One of the patients moves towards the trolley in a purposeful manner addressing the haggis,

Fair fa' your honest, sonsie face,
Great chieftain o the puddin'-race!
Aboon them a' ye tak your place,
Painch, tripe, or thairm:
Weel are ye wordy of a grace
As lang's my arm.

Before he can reach the haggis another patient sprints forward, grabs the simple repast and dashes up the ward. He proudly holds the haggis aloft and cries out in a commanding voice,

Some hae meat and cannae eat.
Some cannae eat that want it:
But we hae meat and we can eat,
Sae let the Lord be thankit.

At this, a kilted dervish leaps from his bed, whips a skien dubh out of his sock and lunges at the haggis carrier. With a deft movement the haggis bearer fend off the flashing blade with the haggis. Although this prevents any injury it does result in the top of the haggis being hacked off. A small mouse obviously waiting upon this event dashes out from under a bed, grabs the loose piece of haggis and scampers up the ward, running the gauntlet of slashing claymores and hurled dirks from various patients. At the end of the ward stands a bent and wizened old man with a wild fire in his eyes. He screams at the mouse,

Wee sleekit, cow'rin, tim'rous beastie,
O, what a panic's in thy breastie!
Thou need na start awa sae hasty,
Wi bickering brattle!
I wad be laith to rin an chase thee,
Wi murdering pattle!

And then dives upon the poor little mouse. With a left dummy and a right feint, the mouse dodges between the old man's legs, through a hole in the skirting board and to safety with his prize. The doctor turns to the sister and asks, "Why is this psychiatric ward so full of Scotsmen?"

"Oh no, doctor, these are not Scotsmen, they are genuine valley dwellers born and bred", she replies, "and, anywa, this is not a psychiatric ward, it is the serious Burns unit."

(This version found on Electric Scotland - it's closest to they way I first heard it...)
ellyssian: (Default)
(lj-cut text="Spoilerific Stuff Below The Cut!")

The last line of the last book: "Zuruck vom Ring!" clearly indicates that the planned schedule of Harry Potter movie releases - including some of the earlier ones, Das Ronngold1, Die Walkure2, and, of course, the penultimate Siegfried und Roy3 - should avoid coinciding with the release schedule for The Lord of the Rings films, but this advice was, apparently, ignored for the first two films in each series. Through the use of strategic delays, however, they managed to heed this advice for the later films. And, of course, that "competition" was just a trilogy.

Yeah, you gessed right, there aren't really any spoilers here. =)

I was somewhat correct last night: Justin now has a copy of Potterdammerung. He hasn't finished it yet. In fact, he means not to start it quite yet.

They were in bed by 9am last night. A local (to Laconia) bookshop put a copy aside for my mom so that it wouldn't disappear in the open-to-1am madness last night early this morning. They took a leisurely stroll over to the place earlier today and picked it up at a more sensible hour.

1: In which Harry extends a sizable loan to the Weasley's youngest son. Co-stars Andy Serkis as Alberich, a dwarf that likes rings and mutters "my precious" quite a lot.

2: I'll make fun of the rest, but I'm not going near valkyrie maidens with a 10' halberd, unless I'm on a wing-ed steed of my own.

3: In which Hogwarts sends the kids off to a foreign exchange in Las Vegas. William Peterson appears as one of the local instructors, teaching a special Care of Magical Creatures class focusing on insect and insect-like animals, as well as providing an extension to the Defense Against the Dark Arts curriculum regarding the usage of forensic magic.

(/lj-cut(poor imitation thereof))
ellyssian: (Default)
... if our household now owns a copy of the Potterdammerung, I have nothing to do with it.

I don't even know if Justin is aware it's out today, although I expect he does. One way or another, he's in Cow Hampshire and I'm not, so there you have it.

Besides, I still have a number of books in the To Be Read pile, and, although I might stuff it into the middle, it probably wouldn't even make it into the top 10. And I am reading s l o w these days.

The current in-progress book sat there for about 2 months now with only the prelude completed...

My reading time has been filled with other things. Like my own personal line of yachts and a few others that I don't own. Yet.

By the way, for reference, should anyone want to contribute a yacht or two, I was looking at the s87, Predator 108, Open 90, and Atlantica 78. Nice little boats.

Okay, so that was only one day that I spent reading about cheap tiny boats that only cost a few million dollars... *most* of you are aware of what I've been spending most of my reading time on, although at this time that's a Top Sekrit topic... (at least for a certain restricted audience =)
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Arcady by Michael Williams

This one came with fairly polarized reviews. Some said the language was beautiful, others said it made no sense and it was a terrible fantasy world.

I first came across Michael Williams in what many consider to be a low place - the Dragonlance novels manufactured by TSR. While this series started out meaning quite a lot to me - in fact those early books still do hold meaning, after all, three cats and a daughter have taken names from that source - after a while I noticed the quality of the story, the storytelling, the world cohesion, and, bluntly, the quality of the editing all took a nosedive. During that somewhat-later phase, Michael's novels were the highlights. The stories were interesting, the way he told them was interesting, and he brought with him a powerful usage of imagery, some so potent I can see them quite clearly more than ten years after having last read them.

I was hoping this wouldn't be a huge flop, but, as I read more and more reviews I worried more and more, so that when the book arrived I didn't try to move it forward in the "To be Read" pile. When it came up, I began, with some trepidation.

I didn't quite read it in one sitting - in fact, I paced myself well, for the most part. I spent much of the time waiting for signs that matched the impressions in the negative reviews.

I guess the basic problem is this wasn't Dungeons & Dragons. In fact, it could take place in our world, in a slightly earlier time, maybe even modern time, although certainly a more rural society. Technology could even be there, just not used. The whole usage of magic feels more like something from an urban fantasy than something referencing spellcasting rulebooks.

The only fault I can find with this, is that it is so open ended, it begs for more volumes to follow. I believe it did not hit the expected critical success, and, as far as I know, those further volumes never appeared.

Shame, really, because this was a good read. If you can handle not having all the answers - or can find or convince them to create and/or publish the rest - this is highly recommended.
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The Forgetting Room: A Fiction by Nick Bantock

Whatever you may think of the story lines in Nick Bantock's works, it is the art and the way it is implemented that draw you into the story and impress it upon you after only a single reading.

It's probably been about six months since I read this, and when I close my eyes, I can still see the scenes in this book, the images haunting me, as if I had been in that village square or investigated the contents of that house I inherited, or stood upon that very bridge.

Novels read after this work fade, so that I am not confident of writing even one of my skewed and skewered alleged reviews without having the book in hand to make sure I'm not making it up, or, even, remembering it enough to do it justice. And these novels are not cheesy things easily forgotten, they're ones I really enjoyed, and will heap with lavish praise when I make the time to just sit down and write about them. And yes, I have a number that I read prior to this still awaiting review... I'm a veritable speedboat of reviewing, if someone could just tow me back into the harbor...

As for the story itself - which is really hard to separate from the images and the way it is told - it has wormed its way past the other Bantock books I've read and become my favorite. Although there are a few other authors doing similar things, the only thing I already know of that might be comparable would be a Neil Gaiman / Dave McKean collaboration. As those two guys, as far as words and images go, represent pinnacles of the ideal for me, that should be taken as rather high praise of Mr. Bantock, who somehow manages to roll up a whole bunch of talent into a single byline.
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Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke

I found this to be an excellent and engaging novel.

Based on the reviews of others, I first thought I would thoroughly enjoy this, and later began to worry that it was not as good as I had first heard. That skewed perspective made the first few chapters hard to get through. Once I realized that my own opinion sided more with my original perception, things went more smoothly - so much so that, by the time I hit some of the sticking points of the book's detractors, I laughed them off or had otherwise forgot they existed.

I was far more interested in what was going on in this magical past than what anyone was saying about the book in the present time, which is as it should be.

Like most books, it has words in it. To some tastes, perhaps it uses too many words. However, I found that the language used helped to reinforce the time period and setting of the book. I absolutely abhor advice to authors to simplify, to write sparingly: to present only modern prose, like that used in an action movie script. I'm all for that if you want to write an action movie.

It's always best to write for yourself - if you try to meet someone else's expectations you may fail and be unhappy or succeed and be unhappy. Could be you want to churn out factory-inspected insta-novels, could be they make series of movies based on them, could be you could become a multi-millionaire, or, you could do it the old fashioned way and win the lottery. There's only room for so many chief workers in that factory - could be you, but could be that annoying guy who's always goofing off, walking from one station on the assembly line to another, joking loudly and in bad taste. He stays later than the rest, and digs scrap words out of the trash can, so it's inevitable he'll be the one to deliver the bestsellers.

However, I much prefer to read - and write - a more beautiful, flowing language, and this book satisfies the one and helps fuel the inspiration for the other.


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