Friday, September 30, 2016

My Top 2016 Read-Paternus, Q&A with Dyrk Ashton

"American Gods meets The Lord of the Rings"

In a breathtaking story that unfolds in a single day, two ordinary humans are caught up in the final battle of a war that’s been waged since the dawn of time.

Great ideas vividly realised,” says M. R. Carey, bestselling author of The Girl with All the Gifts.

"Witty, feisty and passionate," Helene on Goodreads

-Now Available on Kindle Unlimited-

2016 has been a great year for reading and I've done quite a bit of squealing and fangirling as the year has continued to drop more amazing books into my lap. First up was Marie Brennan with the fantastic continuation of the Lady Trent series, In the Labyrinth of Drakes, then Jason Hough presented me with with an audible copy of his new, epic series Zero World that I'm really looking forward to continuing. I snagged an ARC of Nevernight by Jay Kristoff and Gemina is just around the corner and just when I thought my bookshelf couldn't get any happier, I happened upon Paternus. 

Paternus, by far, is my Top 2016 Read and my favorite book this year. I was hooked from page one and the story demanded my attention all the way through to the end. 

If you'd like to read my full gushing review (that made Dyrk Ashton blush) you can do so Here, but come back and read through this post because here you'll find an interview with Dyrk, a brand new Paternus book trailer, an opportunity to snag a free ebook copy of Paternus, and lots of exciting news about the book. 

First, the exciting news. There is quite a bit of buzz currently surrounding Paternus-As of this posting, Paternus is one of the final three remaining titles in Fantasy-Faction's group for Mark Lawrence's SPFBO (Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off) 2016, with the winner to be announced any day now! You can keep up with the blog-off and show some love on twitter by following @UnDyrk or @FantasyFaction and see Paternus through to the end!

*Updated Info*
Dyrk has also been nominated in 7 categories in Reality Bites Magazine's 2016 book awards competition. Voting is in the final rounds of nominations, no sign up or sign in required, still just 2 clicks and you're done!
(Links for voting are below)

And that brings us to the just released Paternus book trailer... Get ready to say WTF?!?!? Because I know that's what I was thinking my first time watching and that was after I had already read the book. I had to watch it a few times just to wrap my head around it... It's certainly an artistic piece ;)

Purchase Paternus

I met up with Dyrk recently and had a few questions for him, especially after watching that trailer, but, of course, I never got around to asking him any of them because we were too busy chatting about nothing/everything and joking around. So, if I had gotten around to conducting an interview, this would have been the result. Probably. There's no real way to tell at this point, but thank the gods for email and cancelled meetings that freed up Dyrk's time to appease my curiosity. 
(I promise there's an opportunity for a FREE ebook in this post, keep reading!)

 Q&A with Dyrk Ashton

AB: I know you have one novella planned for the near future, how many books do you have planned for the Paternus series?
DA: This will be a trilogy. The planned release for book two is June 1, 2017, and the third book a year after that. Not sure when the novella will be out, but before book two. The story of the novella takes place in the back story of the world of Paternus, with some characters from the book, and centers around The Deluge. I wouldn't say it's a prequel so much as a story that gives us some insight into the past of some of the characters. It can be read as a stand-alone, but folks who have read Paternus first will probably get a lot more out of it.

AB: VimesArt created the beautiful images for the Paternus trailer, but you produced it. Having read the book, the imagery is a fantastic depiction of the story. What are you hoping viewers take away from this creative piece?
DA: Glad you like it, thank you! I wanted to do a more old-fashioned trailer, with just images and music, more of a mood piece than "here's what the story is about now buy it" kind of thing. The music is actually talked about in the book, it's "Brian Boru's March," which is considered by many to be the oldest properly translatable piece of music known, written in approx. 1000 AD. I think it has the right vibe for the book. One thing I hoped people would think after watching the trailer is, "WTF?" So far, I think it accomplishes that. Does it help sell the book? I have no idea, but being a film guy from way back, I had to do one.

AB: I heard a bit of talk about possibly printing a special edition of Paternus with the artwork included. Is that something to look forward to?
DA: That would be cool, but there are no plans for it yet. Same thing with hard bound, which I get asked about sometimes too. I've been approached about an RPG, and a graphic novel as well, but nothing even remotely solid. One thing I know is happening is the audiobook, which I hope to have available mid-November at the latest. Pretty excited about that.

AB: I'm curious, with how many languages are represented in the book, and how much Russian is translated, how many languages can you speak?
DA: Wow. Jeez. I don't know how many languages are represented in the book. I say a lot of things like "he speaks in pre-Sino-Tibetan," but don't use the words. I do use some, like Sumerian, Latin, and others. And Russian, yes. Luckily I have a wonderful sister-in-law who is from Volgograd, so she helps a lot with that. I try very hard to compare translations and run them past experts when I can, so I hope they are at least pretty close. With things like Sumerian, no one really knows for sure the exact translations, no matter what anybody might try to say, so there is some leeway there. As for me, I only speak English, sad to say, and not that very well...

AB: You and Dale Triplett clearly had a battle over the present tense of the book, a detail you refused to budge on. With the positive reviews pouring in and Dale's admission that he may have been wrong on his stance, have you taken the proper amount of time to gloat over the success of your writing style?
DA: Hee hee. No, actually, I'm terrified to gloat. Dale is fantastic, and helped me incredibly as copy-editor and proofer (highly recommended, by the way. You can find him on Facebook and Twitter). And I'm at this weird place where all the reviews have been extremely positive - but there aren't that many, so I'm waiting for the other shoe to drop. There will be negative reviews, and against my style, I know it. I take some big risks, with the present tense, jumping between stories, and even some purposeful third-person limited head-hopping. I made all those decisions consciously, and after careful deliberation, so I'll take all the blame.

AB: In your acknowledgements (yes, I read the acknowledgements page...) you say writing is a selfish pursuit and 'only when [the work is] shared do we crazed scribblers really do anything for others.' But you seem like the least selfish person I've ever met. Are you getting everything you wanted out of this experience and being a new author?
DA: Now you're making me blush. I actually do consider myself to be pretty selfish with my time and energy, one of my many character defects, but thank you for saying that. I'm having an absolute blast. For a new author, I've been unbelievably lucky. It just blows me away that people are reading a book I wrote, let alone liking it. I wrote the book I wanted to read. I had no idea if anyone else would. I actually didn't think about publishing it until pretty late in the writing process, after receiving some positive feedback. If it sells really well, that would be awesome, of course, but I'm honestly just thrilled I can hold it up and say, "I made this!"

AB: Any big events or book signings coming up? Where can we find info out what you'll be up to with some copies of Paternus to snag?
DA: I don't have any signing events planned at the moment. I'll be at World Fantasy in Columbus in October, but not in any official capacity. Best way to find out what's coming up is to sign up for my newsletter at (and you can see the book trailer there as well), but I make a lot of announcements on Facebook (Paternus Books Media), Twitter and Instagram (undyrk on both). As for snagging copies, there's a big Kindle eBook giveaway happening just this Saturday, October 1, on Amazon. There may be more to come, but I don't know when, sorry!

Thank you Dyrk for answering my (probably dumb) questions and for writing my favorite book this year!

As for the FREE ebook copy of Paternus, Dyrk's debut novel will be free on Kindle this Saturday (October 1st) -One Day Only- so make a note to yourself-do not miss this free book-and pick up your copy HERE

About the Author

Dyrk Ashton is a writer, educator, filmmaker and former actor active in story telling and media making. Born and raised in the American midwest, he currently resides in Ohio, but the fantasy landscape is the place he calls home.
To Learn More Click Here and check out Dyrk's IMDB profile!

Connect with Dyrk!

Purchase Paternus

Get your FREE ebook copy of Paternus this Saturday, October 1 HERE

Monday, September 26, 2016

Macro Monday!

I'll be honest, I really have nothing book related to talk about today, though I am in the middle of several books, and it's been awhile since I've posted anything so... I'm joining in on Macro Monday!

I've played around a bit with reverse lens macro on my older Nikon D80 (the lens is mounted backwards on the camera body-takes a hell of a lot of patience to get any sort of photo out of it) but recently, I picked up a cheap macro lens for my iPhone-cost me $3-and now I've pretty much exclusively switched to iPhone photography. I'm sure I'll pull out my DSLR again someday soon... But for now, I am loving my iPhone macro lenses.

If you're not following me on Instagram-Shame on you, you should be-then here's a look at the past weeks macro captures.

I'll be honest, I have no idea what plant this is... It's a weed, but with extreme shallow depth of field and some editing it turned out quite beautiful.

One of my new favorite images- an extreme close up of a dandelion I plucked from the backyard

If you'd like to see more or keep up with future posts here's the link to my Instagram account- ChasingtheWindPhoto

Happy Macro Monday!

Thursday, September 15, 2016

The Phantom Tollbooth

There are very few books throughout my life that have truly found a place in my heart. If you asked after my favorite book, I'd have a hard time pinning one down... There are several books that I love, many more that I thoroughly enjoyed and am happy to have their stories rolling around in my head. But I can't definitively say which one of them tops all the others. I enjoyed reading all of them and each one came into my life at just the right time, so to say-that part of my life tops this part of my life now-is just impossible. It's like picking your favorite child.

Though seeing as how I only have one child, that easily makes him my favorite... (For now... See what I mean?)

In order for a book to reach the level of  favorite book I would imagine it would have to be one you've read as many times as Christopher Lee has read The Lord of the Rings... and the number of books I've re-read are very few. That list I can definitely narrow down. I've re-read Paternus, which I just recently fell in love with, and I've re-read the Death Note series (several times... OMG L... #swoon). A Wrinkle in Time makes the list, though sadly not its sequels (if you've read them, your probably understand why). I'm halfway through re-reading The Emperor's Blades, and I'll admit, I once re-read Black Beauty. I do have plans to read through a few more books again, A Wrinkle in Time is sitting on my desk right now waiting for me, but they're not really at the top of my TBR list. And I will probably never get to them.

There is only one book that has kept me coming back, one that I read every year, and with each read it becomes more and more clear why I need this book in my life. And that book is The Phantom Tollbooth.

I can understand how if this book doesn't hold some sort of childhood nostalgia for you, you may not enjoy it on first impressions... There's Milo who's bored with life and has no real ambition to get anywhere, along with his new friend, the very literal, watch dog, doomed to forever suffer the name of Tock, though his watch clicks away at a steady -tick, tick, tick- sound. Together with the grumpy humbug, their mission is to save the princesses Rhyme and Reason and restore order to the strange world Milo has been driven into before the demons take over the land in the midst of their current chaos.

It's a simple story, and I get that princesses are out nowadays. Perhaps the characters are slightly cliche as they are all the living embodiment of what they represent. They're clever little puns and play on words that make me chuckle every time... The Witch isn't a 'witch, she's a 'Which', and the bee isn't just a bee, he's a 'spelling bee'. 

Dorky, right?

Still, the same words get me every time, that same age old lesson to be learned and what truly sticks with me throughout this book; It was impossible.

Completely impossible. His mission the one no one else would undertake, too afraid to face the demons of insincerity and petty tasks and wasted efforts that bar their path to success up the Mountain of Ignorance, was absolutely impossible.

But had Milo known, would he have continued? Would he still have bypassed the paperwork demanded by the senses taker and plunged up the stairs to the castle in the air, from which there was no escape as the demons closed off his escape route behind him?

It's a beautiful story with so much depth packed into silly antics packed with lessons I want my son to learn. All the secrets to life and success are in this book. Don't believe me? Give it a read and tell me the Kingdom of Wisdom is folly, or that Tock's story doesn't pull at your heartstrings, or that the new hopes of an eager young boy discovering a thirst for life and his future isn't the most inspiring vision in all the world.

The Phantom Tollbooth is fantastic and I could write a post on each and every single page of this book. But instead, I'll leave you with the words of the Princess of Sweet Rhyme and the Princess of Pure Reason;

"You may not see it now," said the Princess of Pure Reason... "but whatever we learn has a purpose and whatever we do affects everything and everyone else, if even in the tiniest way... whenever you learn something new, the whole world becomes that much richer."

"And remember also," added the Princess of Sweet Rhyme, "that many places you would like to see are just off the map and many things you want to know are just out of sight or a little beyond your reach. But someday you'll reach them all, for what you learn today, for no reason at all, will help you discover all the wonderful secrets of tomorrow."

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Who You Gonna Call?

5 Stars

Years before they made headlines with the Ghostbusters, Erin Gilbert and Abby L. Yates published the groundbreaking study of the paranormal, Ghosts from Our Past. Once lost to history, this criminally underappreciated book is now back in print, revised and somewhat updated for the new century.

According to Gilbert and Yates, “extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence,” and whether you’re a believer or a skeptic, you’ll find the information you’re seeking right here in this extraordinary book, including:

· The childhood experiences that inspired Erin and Abby’s lifelong passion for the scientific study of the paranormal;
· The history of ghosts and other supernatural entities, the science that explains their existence, and profiles of the groundbreaking paranormal researchers who have investigated them;
· An illustrated guide to Class I through Class VII ghosts;
· Helpful sidebars like “A Ghost by Any Other Name” and “Ectoplasm Cleanup Tips”;
· Updates including “The Ghostbusters’ Arsenal” by Jillian Holtzmann and “Haunted History” by Patty Tolan;
· A new Ghostbusting Resources appendix, featuring the “Paranormal Quickstart Guide”, “Is It a Ghost? A Handy Quiz”, “A Supernatural Stakeout Journal”, “The Devil’s Dictionary: Paraterminology You Need to Know”; and more.

With this helpful—and hilarious—official Ghostbusters guide in hand, you’ll be prepared for almost any spirit, spook, or spectre that comes your way. As for the rest, you know who to call.

I'll admit I have yet to see the new ghostbusters movie, and to be honest I was pretty much against ever watching it--I just don't like remakes and there's been very little to change my mind about renewing the past in the last few years--So when Ghosts from Our Past was offered by Blogging for Books, I figured I'd give the book a chance and go from there.

I'm still not sure I (personally) care to see the movie, the book definitely didn't change my mind about that, but this book did convince me to take a side in the arguments over the renewed Ghostbuster franchise.

I may not support remakes in general, but after reading this book I agree that this new film with an all female cast is exactly what young girls today needed. Ghosts from Our Past, at its core, is about friendship, embracing your weirdness, and exploring your interests--no matter how strange or ridiculous the majority of your school thinks it may be. This book, aside from the ghosts and the ghouls, teaches young readers they can be whatever they want, there is a special place in this world for every mind and if you are willing to be honest with yourself and work hard you'll find just where you're meant to be.

Ghosts from Our Past is great afternoon read. It's smart and funny and had me hooked from page one with real information on ghost theories and ghost hunting techniques. There are glossary's of terms to know and pages to keep notes of your own ghost hunting escapades. It's a very interactive and informative piece with some funny anecdotes and moments that made me laugh out loud.

I was slightly frustrated (very slightly) that I could tell the entire book was written by one person when it is supposed to appear as it's written by two (Abby and Erin). It didn't distract from the story, I just felt it would have added to the illusion of being the voice of these two characters if the tone changed a bit depending on who wrote it. Still, I really enjoyed this read and it would be great to see more books from these two.

Thursday, September 8, 2016


5 Stars

I am not a fan of boxing. Not that I dislike the sport, I have no reason to dislike it. I've never had the opportunity to be introduced to boxing, nor have I ever had the inclination to take the initiative and go to a real boxing match. I'm telling you this now because though I have never felt the exciting rush of seeing two men deck it out in front of me as described in Ian's work, I have indeed read, and enjoyed, Ian's work since discovering Johnny Nothing a few years ago.

So while I am not a fan of boxing, I am a fan of Ian Probert's writing and when I happened upon a tweet about his new and upcoming book Dangerous, I knew I was going to read it.

Ian Probert, if you don't already know who he is (or if you haven't read his previous book Rope Burns), used to write about boxing. Boxing was his job, interviews, press conferences, sporting events, they were his life until he faded from the scene, taking a hiatus from the sport for his own personal reasons.

Now, however, he has reason to return. He's at it again, attending events and seeking out boxers for interviews, but not for the reasons he used to. He's not looking for the next big name in boxing, he's digging up the past and putting regrets and memories to rest.

Dangerous is a deeply emotional journey through Ian's past and the struggles now plaguing him and his former colleagues. Both physically and emotionally, the abuse these guys take is astounding and absolutely heartbreaking.

And they would do it all over again...

Ian's writing keeps me hooked, he's witty and makes me laugh out loud with his awkwardly subtle humor. He's brutally honest and has put his soul on the line here, but what's more is he's opening the minds of his readers to the darker side of boxing, and to that of life itself.

The depression among the athletes, the secret suicide attempts, the injuries and permanent damage done in the ring. That sudden, vacant stare when the athlete is unaware they've momentarily blacked out...

Dangerous is a captivating, eye opening book revealing the true risks and sacrifices of becoming a world champion. It's a difficult climb to the top of any mountain. The hikers leave themselves open to the elements, biting winds and crumbling peaks. So the real question to ask before taking the climb is;

Is it dangerous?

About the Author

Ian Probert is a writer and journalist with more than twelve years of experience in books, magazines, and newspapers. He studied photography and filmmaking at Exeter College of Art and is an enthusiastic photographer, filmmaker, musician, and digital artist.

Check out Ian's books and give him a like:

Sunday, September 4, 2016

How to Get the Most out of Indie Reads

I can't think of anything more disappointing than finding an exciting new read, a book with a tons of buzz begging you to spend your time and your money on the promise of a sweet escape from the stress of the week, a supposed fantastic reprieve from life and its sad lack of magic and Hogwarts letters, only to find its absolute shit. And any buzz about the fantastic, 'must read' work was exaggerated fluff from friends and family.

You've suffered the Indie Author Con my friend.

It happens to the best of us and I've had my fair share of absolute duds that stopped me on page one. Then again on page two. And I nearly puke right onto page three just to stop myself from ever picking up the book again... (Any author who thinks putting the 'N' word outside of a racially fueled context or purposeful dialogue [and dear god, please have a purpose for it...] really needs to rethink their line of work.)

In a publishing world that now makes anyone with the slightest motivation and a semi-interesting story to tell an 'author', how the hell do we sift through the duds to find the good ones we've been dreaming of?

Publishing companies, of course, do that for us. They find the good ones, edit and revise the shit out of them, and then distribute and market it until everyone and their moms have heard about it whether they've read it (or plan to read it) or not. They put a hell of a lot of work into ensuring their books will sell, which means they pick the best and they make them better.

That being said, of course there are books that publishers print that are duds and don't sell well, but I can guarantee there won't be many spelling mistakes ;)

The thing is, out of the hundreds of books publishers do decide to print, there are thousands more rejected, and some of those books are very worthy reads.

That's where self publishing comes in. I've spoken with several self published authors and the reason for self publishing is always different. Some were tired of rejections and ready to move on to the next project, some say they were considered 'too old' to start a writing career and decided to show them just how viable their writing career truly is, some decided working with a publisher and the contractual demands were simply not for them. (And sadly some decided they were perfect all on their own and didn't need help with their book from anyone but themselves...)

So, they self published. And suddenly they became their own campaign managers and learned how difficult selling a book truly is. Especially when you're dealing with readers who have suffered the Indie Author Con and swore off all self published works in the very near future.

I've done it a hundred times. Luckily though, I've only truly wasted my money once... And I'll tell you about that in another post. That's a whole 'nother rant I'd love to share...

For years my Indie reads came only from Goodreads giveaways or freebies on twitter (which is one option to testing out an author before spending money on their future books). I don't know how I did it, but in the first year I was on Goodreads I won 20 books. (Yes TWENTY)

It's how I started reviewing actually. With every Goodreads giveaway there is a notice saying that if you win, you are not required to, but it would be nice if you left a review since that's what the author is truly looking for with giving away their book. They want feedback to help convince others to spend their money and read their work.

So, besides learning ways to collect books and read for free, I've learned a bit about how to, and how to not, choose a self published book to read.

Again, keeping an eye out for freebies and giveaways is always fun (and please do leave a review if you win), but if there's a book that's caught your eye and you are ready to spend your money, check out a few things before you do.

First- Check out reviews.

Either on Goodreads, Amazon, Smashwords, anywhere the book is listed, and see what people have to say. If the book only has 4 reviews since last May... I'd be a little wary. One of the biggest frustrations Indie authors face is gathering reviews, it's a ton of work and a hell of a lot of networking magic, but in a years time I'd expect to see close to 20 reviews. If the book was just published and has 4 reviews, that's a little different. At that point, look at the quality of the review. Is it a simple, uninspired blurb, or is it a gushing short story about how the book changed their entire weekend plans?

If the first, I'd wait to hear back from the giveaway you entered. If the second, it's a safe bet you should buy it.

Second- Check out the author's pages.

Look at their Facebook and Twitter accounts. I wouldn't expect too many followers after a first book, maybe 100 or so, but after a few books, I'd expect over 500, up into the low thousands at least. But that's not really what we're looking for here (especially since you can buy followers). Look at how they run their page, how they interact with followers. And better yet, talk to them. Tell them you're checking out their book and thinking of giving it a read.

*Side Note: Please remember the 'Don't Be A Dick Rule' applies here...*

My rule of thumb is this-If they're desperately blasting their book with every single post, or begging people to read, chances are it's not good enough to garner readers on its own. Plus it's seriously annoying to follow an account that blasts their book every hour... When I look at a self published book, I want to see people other than the author talking about it. I want to know people enjoyed it and I want to see the author engaging their readers and encouraging them to get to know them as a person, not just an author. A likable person, someone a reader can think of as a 'cyber friend' is more likely to have a great support system and to produce well written books.

Third- How many times has that author complained about editing?

Look for authors that bitch about editing. The ones who really know the pains of editing... and more editing... and OMG I am still fucking editing... and If I have to edit one more freaking page I will eat someones freaking face off!-Those are the authors you want to watch out for (probably quite literally if it gets this bad... Which it can...)

But, you can rest assured their book will have as few grammatical errors as possible. And if it does have an error, tell them. Let them know and watch them cry and post their depression for the next 3 hours as they try to cope with missing that mistake. After all those hours editing...

It may not be the best plan, I may be entirely wrong, but this is what I've learned in dealing with Indie authors and being scammed into reading dreadful books. Check out those reviews, see what kind of person you're dealing with, and look into whether they've used an editor and beta readers. The authors that take the time, and spend the money, to make the best out of their cherished works truly care about their readers and more importantly about their story. They're not doing this for the money, they're doing this to share and to engage people.

Writers write for themselves, sure, but the end result is for the readers, and we don't settle for less than the best.

A few side notes, because I ramble, watch out for books that appear a little too often on giveaway pages (never trust an author losing that much money on a book) and know that your reviews do impact the life of a book tremendously. If I don't like a book, I don't review it on my blog. Period. I may make a few notes on Goodreads and let others know it's a dud, but if I'm on the fence, or if it's simply not a book for me, I leave it alone. Don't ruin a books rep just because it wasn't your style.

And finally, please do not give up on Indie authors. I always keep a spot open for self published and small publishing companies because there truly are amazing small and self published books out there. And that will be another, later post, listing all the Indie books I've enjoyed and reasons you should read them!