Gust Post: Time Warp Writing, Part 5:
Putting Away Childish Things
J. H. Bardwell

Monday, June 29, 2015

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When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me.

Our childhoods provide a rich tapestry of resources which we can weave into our fiction.  A child's perceptions are more unfiltered, their motivations are simpler, and their emotional ties more direct.  Strip your adult characters down to their core and you essentially have the template of a small child: what primal goals and dreams buoy them up and what primeval fears and horrors shackle them down?  Eventually, we must add nuance and subtlety and a job and romantic entanglements and we are no longer talking about children, but don't lose sight of the inner child.

We are not children anymore.  Sometimes that inner child gets buried under career decisions, tax paperwork, family concerns, and civic duties.  It is easy to put away your childhood as something irrelevant when you are snared in the trappings of adulthood.  And childhood is certainly not the only source of inspiration for fiction, but I would argue it is at the core of most of them.  Behind almost every super hero is an origin story of a wronged child overcoming adversity.  Behind almost every villain is a kid who was bossed, teased, or spent his time pulling the wings off flies.  Look behind the man or woman you see in the mirror today to the child who made you who you are.

Do not put the ways of childhood behind you.  Use them.  Delve into the myths and fairy tales.  Seek out old inspirations.  Dive deep for those forgotten memories.  Give free reign to your inner child and see where he (or she) takes you.    

Thank you for joining me on this fun journey these last few weeks.  I hope you've enjoyed reading my guest blogs as much as I've enjoyed writing them.  I'd like to thank The Book Cove for providing this opportunity to reach you.  If you've enjoyed these weekly prose snacks and hanker for a full course meal, I encourage you to check out my upcoming first novel, Appalachian Monster, a coming-of-age story set in the Appalachian Mountains.

Thanks for reading!

J. H. Bardwell


Monster Mug Contest

The first 50 people to purchase the novel Appalachian Monster, post reviews on Amazon and Goodreads, sign up for my newsletter, and email me their address with a copy of the review will receive a free mug with a flattering picture of the adorable fanged, hairy "monster" featured in the novel.  Grrrrrowl--scary!

The contest begins July 4, 2015 at 8:00 am and ends July 31, 2015 or when I run out of mugs, whichever comes first.  The winners will be the first 50 emails sorted by email time stamp with confirmed reviews on Amazon and Goodreads.  Please feel free to post reviews on your blogs as well.  




Coming July 4: Appalachian Monster

Hungry for more?  Check out my new coming-of-age novel Appalachian Monster available for pre-order today and remember: this is a work of fiction.

            







Author Biography
J. H. Bardwell was born with stories in his heart and a pencil in his hand. To this day, he retains an odd black birthmark on his neck where he says the pencil poked him as they both left the womb. Raised in the shadow of the Blue Ridge Mountains, the young man fled to see the rest of the country before the ink dried on his high school diploma.

Besides writing engrossing works of fiction, the author also enjoys aquaponics, making cheese, gardening, performing theater, and wrestling with hand tools. When not writing fiction or enjoying his hobbies, J. H. Bardwell works at a university where he teaches students to think critically and question everything. Then he teaches them to write. He keeps his degrees skinned and mounted on the back wall.

Blog Talk: New to the book blogging world? Here is what you need to know to get started

Friday, June 26, 2015

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I'll generalize here and say that book bloggers start out one of two ways:
1. They have followed book blogs for a while and after some thought they decide that they want to give it a try
2. One day they (randomly) decide that they want a book blog

I fell into the second category. I didn't know that "book blogging" was a highly active subset of bloggers. I knew they existed because I'd happen upon their reviews every now and then. But I didn't realize all of the extra activities and such that a majority of book bloggers took part in, and I had no clue what a lot of the terminology floating around out there was. Google was my friend (as it is every day in life). Life's a lot easier when someone puts it all in one spot for you :-)


Terminology:
Some are self-explanatory, but since there are a variety of readers and bloggers from different backgrounds, I thought best to cover everything. 

Basic Lingo

DNF - A book that you did not finish. Typically used to describe a book that you didn't like rather than one you set aside for other reasons.

ARC - Advanced Readers Copy. A book that is available to reviewers but not yet available to the public.

Follow back - The act of following someone back on a specific site that they have followed you on.

Button swap - Bloggers can create an avatar (button) that is representative of them and then other bloggers can keep that button in their sidebar with a link to that site and vice versa. It's a way to promote each other's blogs.

Interactive Happenings

Meme - A weekly activity hosted by a blog(s) where you post on a certain topic. E.g., Top Ten Tuesday (list your top ten reads) and Waiting On Wednesday (talk about an upcoming release that you're excited about). For a very comprehensive list of memes visit Bookshelf Fantasies.

Challenge - Like a meme but sticks to a topic for many consecutive days. E.g., 10 Day Book Blogger Challenge, 30 Day Blog Ahead Challenge, 15 Days of Quotes

Blog hop - An organized event where you go from blog to blog and comment and follow other bloggers. Interchangeable with meme.

Blog tour - An organized event where an author posts excerpts, giveaways, promotional material, guest posts, etc. on a different blog each day, and followers go to each one and take part in the activities.

Linky - A list of bloggers that are on a blog hop/meme or blog tour. You enter your name and site via the host site or from the site of others who are already listed. Each site shows up as a clickable link for easy hopping.

Book blitz - Can be part of a blog tour where one book is featured, or it can refer to the promotion of a single book without a book tour.

Author spotlight - To highlight one author and their body of work.

Rafflecopter giveaway - A way for followers to enter their name for a chance to win something. To enter you must follow a request by the site (e.g., follow on twitter, comment on a post, subscribe) and winners are chosen at random.

Guest Post vs. Co-blogger

Guest post - Having someone from outside your blog write a post for your blog.

Co-blogger - Someone who is affiliated with your site and writes posts.

Site Analytics

SEO - Search engine optimization. A complex mix of factors that determines what position your site shows up as when people search key words using search engines.

Alexa - A web analyzer that shows your site's ranking by country and overall world ranking. It integrates SEO, visitor numbers, time visitors spend on site, bounce rate, and other website analytics.

Visitor number - The number of people who visit a site. Visitors can be counted more than once. E.g., if someone visits a site 5 different times in a day, then they are counted 5 times

Unique visitors - The number of different visitors to a site. The same visitor is not counted more than once for any given period of time. E.g., The same person visits 5 different times in a day, but is counted as 1 unique visitor

Bounce rate - A measure of how quickly visitors are leaving your site. E.g., 45% bounce rate means that 45% of people are clicking on 1 link to your site and leaving after viewing that link rather than continuing on to other posts. FYI - This can be misleading if many visitors are entering at your home page and your home page displays full posts and they don't have to click on  individual posts to read the material.

Coding
It is not terribly important to know the ins and outs of all of these in order to "operate" a blog in its basic form. But you will inevitably want to change a layout or add a gadget and it is important  to know which types of codes to use where.

HTML - Hypertext Markup Language. This is the structural foundation of a page. It is how certain elements are built into a page using universal codes. E.g., creates links, lists, menus, inserts media, etc.

XHTML - Extensible Markup Language. The upgraded version of HTML that uses more precise language to add different functionality.

CSS - Cascading Style Sheets. The fine tuning mechanism for defining a sites presentation (e.g., color, font, layouts) and how it adapts to different devices. It is like HTML in that you can personalize it to do a variety of things but it is kept separate from HTML so that these more superficial features can be easily changed without disrupting the main structure of the site.

Blog Maintenance

Blog backup - To download all of your blog in its entirety.

Template backup and restore - To down your template so that if later coding changes cause a problem then you can restore the template to it's last saved version. This does not backup, change, delete, or restore posts. Those are left alone.

Gadgets (Blogger) - Features that you can add to your sidebar

Widgets (WordPress) - Features that you can add to your sidebar

Favicon - Favorite Icon. The little icon that appears next to your web address in the address bar. It's what is saved as an identifier when a site is favorited. Many are left as the generic browser icon.

Blog Talk: I cleaned up the list of blogs that I follow and discovered that I had a serious blog hoarding problem

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

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I don't know about you but I know I'm guilty of following more blogs than what I have time to actually keep up with. There's just so many good or promising ones out there! I finally decided to do a long overdue clean-up.

Let me just say, there is no easy way to do this. Not that I know of anyway. I wish sites like BlogLovin' had a feature that would sort blogs by date of their last post rather than only having the ability to sort all posts by dates. With the later it is hard to figure out which blogs you haven't visited in a while because they've gone the way side.

Here's a little perspective of what my clean-up involved. On GFC I was following 68 blogs. I decided that 3 months of dead time and minimum of 2 posts per month would be my main criteria for unfollowing. Other obvious factors were change in blog topic (from books), deleted blogs, blogs turned private, URL switches, and those that no longer fit my taste. I spent about 30 minutes clicking, checking dates, checking average post times, and doing a quick scan of the site...that's less than 30 seconds per site! That may sound quick to judge, but you can find out a lot in 30 seconds. One thing I discovered was that I indiscriminately followed a lot of sites once upon a time...

By the end of it I wound up with 6 blogs via GFC. I consolidated about five using BlogLovin' and the six I had left were those not connected to BlogLovin'. Pretty darn good I say!

The big time sucker was BlogLovin where I followed a whopping 568 people. Honestly, I don't know how that happened. Okay, that's a not so honest statement. I have a habit (good or bad) of following most of the new blogs that I find if I think they have potential to keep going in the long haul. But I had NO idea that I was following quite that many. The problem is that I easily lose track of start-ups on BlogLovin (since you can't sort blogs by date of their last post) and I don't keep track of which ones I visit more frequently than others. Certain names are obvious, but only those who reciprocate and keep active on my blog.

I ended up going through the blogs in alpha order. By the time I made it to the C's I was down to 544. Not too bad! By "H" I had made it to 530. I finally hit under 500 by the N's. At the end of my first run through (2 hours later) I was down to 435! Not too bad for the quickie scan of the clearly vacated blogs.

Next I went for the "Do I really like the material" scan. This one was harder to do because it was obviously more time consuming to do a thorough  scan of each site's material. I made sure that they were sites that I found useful and that I would recommend to others. After another 3 hours I made it down to 259! That's still a lot of blogs to follow, but that's a pretty good sort through I'd say. While that is a lot, I don't think it's too many for BlogLovin' since everyone has different posting schedules and types of posts.

I'm making a mental note to be more judicious in my following, but who knows how long that will last. As I said earlier, I love to follow new blogs to see where they go. But if they stop posting without me realizing, they get shuffled to the bottom of my feed and the ghost blogs start building up...



Do you follow a lot of blogs? Do you frequently do blog checks or do you tend to let them fall to the bottom of the list over the years?

Guest Blog: Time Warp Writing, Part 4:
Fickle Memories
J. H. Bardwell

Monday, June 22, 2015

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I have traveled that long and winding road connecting my future to my past. My truck is eternally almost out of gas. The potholes knock my fillings out. The dust plugs my nostrils. And the map gets more incomprehensible the farther I go.  That's not a mountain on the horizon, it's a volcano.  As soon as I get there, good book and lawn chair in hand, ready to enjoy my reminiscences, the damn thing erupts.  The harder you work to recall an old memory, the faster the landscape changes.  We tend to think of memory as a huge canvas scene we create and display in the museum of our minds that we can revisit and sit beneath whenever we wish.  It hasn't started fading. No flash photography in my mind, thank you very much, or senility...yet. But at night, when the museum is closed, little imps sneak inside and repaint the details.  After awhile it feels like something a stranger produced.

This is natural, it happens to everyone, but writers are not so passive.  The writer is unnatural.  We do not sit on our hands and watch our memories change, we don the white beret and coveralls, grab a brush, and join the imps in their delightful desecration.  We alter our memories for the sake of art.  We modify old anecdotes and characters we know from life for the sake of art.  No memory is safe.  We even steal good bits from other artists for the sake of art, but we always add a few brush strokes of our own, brand it with a unique je ne sais quoi before we sign the bottom.  We are not plagiarists, non?

We sometimes even fall in love with our own motifs.  I cannot count the times I have read either a single book or, worse, a series which recycles the same worn imagery, tired plot lines, or dullard expressions.  Such an author has spent too much time roaming around their own museum.  Or more cynically, they have found a method of painting which sells like hotcakes and why endanger success for the sake of innovation?

We cannot be pure artists these days and hang our paintings on the wall.  We must swap our berets for slicked hair and a smile and sell our art, too.  The entrepreneur in me does not object to pleasing the public; I write to entertain others, not myself.  The artist in me likes huge rambling metaphors and time skips galore.  An honest reader would tell me the rambling draws focus from the story and all those flashbacks muddle my timeline.  Sometimes, you gotta kill your babies.  So, brush in hand, I tone down the abstract, but the imagery is still fresh, the plot lines vibrant, and the memories distorted.  Sure, it didn't really happen like that.  My memory makes for a better story.

Thanks for reading!

J. H. Bardwell

Twigboat Press | Good fiction rocks the boat
http://twigboatpress.com
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Tune in next week for the finale!  Time Warp Writing, Part 5: Putting Away Childish Things.  

Liked what you read?  Visit my blog at http://twigboatpress.com


Coming July 4: Appalachian Monster

Want to see how I repainted my memories?  Check out my new coming-of-age novel Appalachian Monster available for pre-order today and remember: this is a work of fiction.

            



Author Biography
J. H. Bardwell was born with stories in his heart and a pencil in his hand. To this day, he retains an odd black birthmark on his neck where he says the pencil poked him as they both left the womb. Raised in the shadow of the Blue Ridge Mountains, the young man fled to see the rest of the country before the ink dried on his high school diploma.

Besides writing engrossing works of fiction, the author also enjoys aquaponics, making cheese, gardening, performing theater, and wrestling with hand tools. When not writing fiction or enjoying his hobbies, J. H. Bardwell works at a university where he teaches students to think critically and question everything. Then he teaches them to write. He keeps his degrees skinned and mounted on the back wall.

New Release: The Detective's Dragon by Karilyn Bentley

Friday, June 19, 2015

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The Detective's Dragon by Karilyn Bentley


As a Halfling with little magic, Jamie is barely considered a Draconi, his sole talent finding jewels and lost people. But when he dreams of a human female in trouble, he has no choice but to save her, even if it means crossing dimensions into a different realm.

Unfairly accused and placed on administrative leave, Detective Ruby Parker is determined to regain her position on the Denver police force. When an attempt to kidnap her fails, she must learn to trust the stranger who appears from nowhere to help her.

Unlike in Draconia, Jamie's powers work in Parker's world, his longing to wield magic finally fulfilled. But is working magic worth leaving his family and friends? When Parker realizes she loves Jamie, she must make a choice, follow her heart to a different world, or remain alone and attempt to regain her beloved job. What happens when the one you love lives in another dimension?

Excerpt:
The squeak of hinges snapped Parker’s attention to the door. Hottie stood in the doorway, one hand on the frame, the other on the handle, a look of determination plastered on his face. A look she was familiar with. A look she saw reflected in her mirror on a daily basis. A look mirrored on her coworkers’ faces when working a case. A look she never thought to see directed her way. Which was a bit unnerving, but not nearly as unnerving as the realization he’d followed her. He stood in the doorway like he owned the place. Or owned her.

Her limbs shuddered like a car without shocks. He. Followed. Her. Was he stalking her? Was he with the ones who tried to kidnap her? What was he doing here? More to the point, how did she get rid of him? Her muscles might be coming out of a deep freeze, but that didn’t mean she could hop off the bed and toss him out the door.

Where was the damn call button?

Parker patted the mattress. Hottie took a step closer. Then another. No button. Her heart shook an uneven rhythm, the beat a warning drum in her veins. Her hand moved faster against the mattress, searching, seeking, not finding.

Damn it.

“Be of ease. I mean no harm.”

She stilled, her hand paused mid-pat as if his words flipped her off switch. Deep and soothing, his voice stroked across frazzled nerves, slowing her racing heart. If he could bottle that sound, women would fall at his feet.

Buy Links:

Author Bio:
Karilyn Bentley's love of reading stories and preference of sitting in front of a computer at home instead of in a cube, drove her to pen her own works, blending fantasy and romance mixed with a touch of funny. Her paranormal romance novella, Werewolves in London, placed in the Got Wolf contest and started her writing career as an author of sexy heroes and lush fantasy worlds. Karilyn lives in North Texas with her own hunky hero, a psycho dog nicknamed Hell Hound, a crazy puppy, and a handful of colorful saltwater fish.

Website: www.karilynbentley.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/KarilynBentleyAuthor
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/karilynbentley1
Blog: http://plottingprincesses.blogspot.com
Goodreads:http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4051943.Karilyn_Bentley
Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/karilynbentley
Newsletter: http://eepurl.com/ba_0Rf


L. A. Kelley writes fantasies with adventure, romance, humor and touch of sass. You can find her at http://lakelleythenaughtylist.blogspot.com




Book Talk: Full story synopsis or quick attention grabber? Which do you prefer?

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Do you prefer a synopsis that tells a little about the MCs, plot, and major theme? Or do you prefer the quick blip about the main point of the story?

I don't have a preference. I think they each have their place and it all comes down to the art of writing.  Condensing a 200p+ story into a paragraph is hard work! But it's part of the job.

If the book has a different element to it, especially one that is rare in its genre, then I appreciate a longer synopsis that tells me where the character is coming from and where they're are going. If the book is, say, a generic romance (I know. Nobody likes to think of their book as generic), then I think a quick blip about the main theme is sufficient, but something needs to differentiate the book enough to grab my attention.

The long synopsis... I can't think of a specific example now, but I do recall some books that I've picked up where I was told all of the major plot twists and resolution. The problem -- too much information or it's repetitive and says nothing...which in the first case I don't need to read the book and in the latter case I assume that's how the whole book reads. Neither sells a book.

The vague synopsis...As I said, something has to peak my interest; be it location, theme, experiences, emotional state, etc. A synopsis that basically reads "Girl travels abroad only to find a mysterious stranger awaits her arrival. Will she finally meet her match?" is okay in that I can count on a traveling book. But is she meeting her match from Match.com or Freddy Krueger? I need something that eludes to the type of book it is.

One I really don't like is the whole "he thinks, she thinks" layout.

Meet Kara. She thinks she's going on a cruise to the Bahamas after a drawn out breakup. She tells herself that she's not ready for a relationship. But after she meets a mysterious guy, will she change her mind?

Meet Mike. His business just collapsed and his mother disowned him. He thinks he's done with women, but will meeting a stubborn woman change his mind?

Watch their trials and travels unfold as Kara and Mike go on an adventure that they'll never forget.

Not too bad for my first fake, snarky synopsis, eh? Every time I read one of those I have that typical rom-com movie guy's voice in my head. I can't help it. It's too cliche and cheesy. Give me something more! What is setting this book apart from the other 100 next to it with that same tagline?

I won't say that I dislike all books that do this format since I've picked up plenty of them and read them and liked them. But I'm definitely more likely to pass them over in favor of a book that promises a little more. Now whether that promise is real or not is a whole different issue...hence reviews ;)

What are your raves and rants regarding taglines and book blurbs? Is there wording you read too much of and tend to skip over when picking books? What grabs your attention?

Book Review: Obsidian and Onyx by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

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Book Information:

Age Group: Young Adult
Genre: SciFy, Romance
Series: Yes, ordered




The Lux Series has been on my TBR radar for well over a year, but I kept pushing it to the back burner because I had been reading a lot of other YA paranormal/sci-fi books and needed a break from long series reads. Looking for something different, I finally purchased Obsidian and Onyx, and over four days I cruised through these first two books -- barely leaving my reading spot for bathroom breaks.



Obsidian (#1)

(Blurb): Starting over sucks.
When we moved to West Virginia right before my senior year, I'd pretty much resigned myself to thick accents, dodgy internet access, and a whole lot of boring...until I spotted my hot neighbor, with his looming height and eerie green eyes. Things were looking up.

And then he opened his mouth.

Daemon is infuriating. Arrogant. Stab-worthy. We do not get along. At all. But when a stranger attacks me and Daemon literally freezes time with a wave of his hand, well, something...unexpected happens.

The hot alien living next door marks me.

You heard me. Alien. Turns out Daemon and his sister have a galaxy of enemies wanting to steal their abilities, and Daemon's touch has me lit up like the Vegas Strip. The only way I'm getting out of this alive is by sticking close to Daemon until my alien mojo fades.

If I don't kill him first, that is.


Review:

What I liked

This was a great perfect series intro book! The book starts off a couple of years after the death of Katy's father. I mention this not because that is a main point, but because it creates a great emotional time frame and present frame of mind for Katy. Having a parent taken by cancer has forced her to face certain realities at a young age. The healing process is just now starting to allow Katy to come to terms, take charge of her life, and relish the memories rather than hate certain things because of the memories. Thus, you aren't reading an angsty teen's thoughts about life and death perspective and hating the world and everything in it.

Then you add to this the main story line; once again forcing her through stages of shock, denial, fear, learning, and acceptance.

Katy behaves and rationalizes certain things a little differently because of this loss in her life. She is a smart, witty, and strong MC, yet she isn't an in your face "I can do everything on my own" MC -- which is quite refreshing for this genre. This is what really drew me to Katy and Obsidian.

Daemon Black is also a breath of fresh air. While he has the typical Godly good looks, he isn't just some brooding mystery boy with abs and a perfect smirk. He's also not all about dropping everything in his life just for Katy. He rationalizes what is good for him, his family, and his kind; all of which is up to him to protect. It takes all of Obsidian to see his many sides.

There's a love-hate relationship between him and both the reader and Katy. Neither him nor Katy just throw themselves at each other in a rage of hormones and star-crossed lust. Katy has a strong backbone when it comes to dealing with Daemon and his antics, but neither are afraid to call mercy every now and then. And when they do decide to give each other an inch every now and then, it's truly for the development of their relationship in the story and not for smut readers.

What I'm neutral about

This wasn't an action packed book. It's an intro book. You learn about the character and their worlds. You get to know about some of the major players and develop some ideas about who you can and cannot trust.

This book doesn't offer a major intergalactic showdown, but there's some pretty crazy stuff that happens in the last couple chapters that leaves all sorts of ideas in your head about where book 2 Onyx is headed.

Rated 5 out of 5


Onyx (#2) Does not contain series spoilers

(Blurb): Being connected to Daemon Black sucks…

Thanks to his alien mojo, Daemon's determined to prove what he feels for me is more than a product of our bizarro connection. So I've sworn him off, even though he's running more hot than cold these days. But we've got bigger problems.

Something worse than the Arum has come to town…

The Department of Defense is here. If they ever find out what Daemon can do and that we're linked, I'm a goner. So is he. And there's this new boy in school who's got a secret of his own. He knows what's happened to me and he can help, but to do so, I have to lie to Daemon and stay away from him. Like that's possible. Against all common sense, I'm falling for Daemon. Hard.

But then everything changes…

I've seen someone who shouldn't be alive. And I have to tell Daemon, even though I know he's never going to stop searching until he gets the truth. What happened to his brother? Who betrayed him? And what does the DOD want from them--from me?

No one is who they seem. And not everyone will survive the lies…

Review

I rolled from the last page of Obsidian right into Onyx. In hindsight, I probably should have given myself a a day, or at least a couple of hours, to digest Obsidian. Comparatively, the development of Onyx was very similar to Obsidian, and while Onyx still held my undivided attention, I felt like there wasn't much excitement until about 60% of the way through the book, but it was well worth the wait!

What I loved

The slow burn of everything!! From the relationships (Katy/Daemon, to Katy/Blake, to Blake/Everyone, to Everyone/DOD, to Will/Everyone), to the last crazy events...the book was a slow burn that threw every different emotion at you and left you happy/sad/laughing/crying/fearful/and relieved all at the same time.

What I liked

Obsidian left the characters with a lot of paths to go down in Onyx. First and foremost, there's Katy trying to figure out what the heck happened to her when she killed that Arum. Then there's everyone trying to figure out what part the US Department of Deference really plays in the Human/Luxen/Arum relationship. Add in some new characters, Blake (the new kid in town) and Will (the town Doctor/Katy's mom's boyfriend), and Katy and Daemon's rollercoaster of convoluted feelings and you have almost a whole new story line compared with book 1.

Blake is what really takes Onyx in a different direction. From the first introduction up to the 75% mark, you're never quite sure what his true intentions are. This provides a great back and forth mind game that constantly leaves you conjuring up some crazy idea about what his involvement -- if any -- really is.

The relationship between Katy and Daemon is more fun in Onyx. The tension (of every kind) is still there, but they finally start moving past the denial of their feelings and more towards the acceptance that they really can be together as long as they're willing to face the consequences. They're not jumping each other's bones 24/7 (sorry smutties) but there are deeper moments between them that continuously make you fall in love with both of them over and over again.

What I'm neutral about

I mentioned that the development of Onyx is very similar to that of Obsidian. In Obsidian, Katy is introduced to the Luxen world and the book mostly shows how she learns of and deals with this crazy information. In Onxy, Katy has a whole new can of worms to deal with when she is personally affected by her killing of an Arum. Once again, she has to learn-digest-learn-digest information and figure out how to deal with it. Every now and then there's an event that raises the anxiety level for a few pages, but the real feeling of anxiety/fear/excitement on every page holds out until the later part of the book.

What I didn't like

There were a couple of grammar issues in Onxy that muddled up the sentences (the double-reading of lines is what brought it to my attention) and I was surprised that they slipped by editors (one use of me instead of my, and two missing pronouns). I also noticed one or two in Obsidian. I ignore grammar as long as it doesn't take away from the book, and these were fine in that sense. It's just odd that these simple errors weren't caught when the rest of the book(s) was so well done. I'll just blame it on a formatting issue...

Rated 5 out of 5


Guest Blog: Time Warp Writing, Part 3:
Puberty Strikes Back
J. H. Bardwell

Monday, June 15, 2015

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Both parents and writers (and parents who are writers) suffer a deep, dark curse.  Did your mother not tell you?  “I hope when you grow up,” she said as year of toys and angry words smacked the walls, “that you have a child who acts just like this.”  No wicked witch or evil stepmother could have done better.  Whether the child is real (parent) or metaphysical (author), the damn curse works.  The muse is a myth, a lie perpetuated by romantics and dreamers.  There is no gossamer fairy alighting on our shoulders when we squeeze the words down from our brains and push them out our fingertips.  The meme of the shoulder angel and devil hits closer the truth, but still misses.  That tiny voice who knows better than we do, who comes when our brains are wracked and leaves them wrecked, who is a tiny god in our own minds, that whiny, nitpicking, petulant absolute master of the universe: our adolescence haunts us.  Mine was a right prick and the little monster has not aged well.

Puberty is an interesting time in our lives.  In the midst of our bodies sprouting like a patch of weeds and our hormones flowing like a river slipping past its banks, among all this change, our  minds ossify.  We have spent our entire childhood observing and learning.  We once knew nothing, but now we know everything.  We stride through our little worlds like a Colossus, blissfully unaware that every new fact, book, or revelation we shower upon those lesser beings living with us is at best a rediscovery or worse a delusion.  Parents, teachers, and authority figures are all fools and figureheads.  If they would only let us rule, we'd change the world.  Years later, we learn that the world rules us instead and begin to understand our parents better.  It takes years to strip away all that empty, pompous self righteousness and realize that we don't know anything after all.  And from that tiny spark, we ignite wisdom in lieu of knowledge, doubt instead of certainty, and patience replaces instant gratification.

Adolescence passes us by, but never really leaves.  It burrows deep into the adult mind and waits for targets of opportunity.  Mine still looks over my shoulder from time to time offering useless advice, a fresh selfish perspective, and gleefully ripping old wounds.  He is the repository of loathsome things I would rather forget.  I hate to compliment the windbag, but he serves a purpose, a valuable (though hardly invaluable) resource.  I take more pleasure than I should wringing that particular part of my psyche.  The prick had it coming.

I like to think I'm a well-rounded person who creates vibrant, three dimensional characters.  The teenage devil on my shoulder laughs at that.  My paunch is the only well-rounded part of me; the rest has largely stagnated.  I have grown comfortable in my age and wear my opinions like a soft leather jacket.  As the years progress, it has become a straight jacket, sleeves elongated, wrapped up and tied around the back.  I sit ranting and hugging myself into oblivion.  It is not a lack of imagination that stifles me, it is insidious certainty.

I need the little prick on my shoulder to avoid becoming a prick myself.  I need to change perspectives, borrow someone else's jacket for awhile.  I need to borrow a stranger's shoes and walk around in them.  I must reject certainty and embrace empathy.  My cup does not runneth over.  My cup is empty.  I will never fill that cup.  If you know everything already, what's the point in living?  It's the new experiences, the people we meet, and the stories we collect from others which fulfill us and hopefully make us better people and maybe better writers.

Thanks for reading!

J. H. Bardwell

Twigboat Press | Good fiction rocks the boat
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Tune in next week for Time Warp Writing, Part 4: Fickle Memories.

Liked what you read?  Visit my blog at http://twigboatpress.com


Coming July 4: Appalachian Monster

Want to see my shoulder devil get what's coming to him?  Check out my new coming-of-age novel Appalachian Monster available for pre-order today and remember: this is a work of fiction.

            



Author Biography
J. H. Bardwell was born with stories in his heart and a pencil in his hand. To this day, he retains an odd black birthmark on his neck where he says the pencil poked him as they both left the womb. Raised in the shadow of the Blue Ridge Mountains, the young man fled to see the rest of the country before the ink dried on his high school diploma.

Besides writing engrossing works of fiction, the author also enjoys aquaponics, making cheese, gardening, performing theater, and wood crafts. When not writing fiction or enjoying his hobbies, J. H. Bardwell works at a university where he teaches students to think critically and question everything. Then he teaches them to write. He keeps his degrees skinned and mounted on the back wall.

Blog Talk: Summer Mini Bloggiesta To-do List

Sunday, June 14, 2015

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It's always a good idea to scheduled in some time to only work on the blog. The Summer Bloggiesta is June 13-14th with a Twitter chat at 3pm EST.

Here is my to-do list for the weekend:


  • Catch up on reviews
  • Check into all of the blogs I follow or promote
  • Schedule July guest posts
  • Confirm August posts
  • Update forms and mailing lists

A penny for your thoughts #25 (quote by Maya Angelou)

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Words touch us all in different ways. Sometimes the original intent of a quote resonates so profoundly with us that it is hard to believe that another wrote it. Other times it is a single word, peculiar phrasing, or an alternative meaning regarding an event in our lives that resonates the most. I believe in the power of starting the the week off with a positive or provoking thought -- and so was created A Penny For Your Thoughts. This is a weekly blog hop that will feature quotes of all kinds; classics, character, book-movie, personal, etc. The themes will range from funny to serious, but really it all depends on how you interpret it! How does this work?

  1. Every Sunday a quote will be posted
  2. Enter the giveaway by posting your thoughts on a post of your own or the comment section below
  3. Collect the pennies! Every week there will be a penny to collect and include with your post, if you choose.
  4. RAFFLE ENTRY: Your site or comment needs to be submitted to this form as well so that your name can be uploaded to a raffle generator.
  5. On the last Saturday of every month the entries from the form above will be entered in a drawing. Winner will be notified on Sunday. You get as many entries as you have pennies for the month. Prizes will include books, gift cards, site promotion, and other bookish winnings!
  6. Have fun! This is a fun way to start some discussion, discover blogs, and get to know more people. Please re-post these steps so that followers understand the process.
Courage is the most important of all the virtues because
without courage, you can't practice any other virtue consistently.
-- Maya Angelou
Featured by The Book Cove


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