Monday, November 28, 2016

#MacroMonday

Happy Macro Monday!
I have a lot of images to share from this week, and many more you may have missed on Twitter. Every morning I'm uploading an alternate version of the image I officially upload to Instagram, so if you're not following me on Twitter, you're missing half the photos!

So enjoy this Macro Monday pick-me-up because we all know today isn't going to be the best day of returning to work, and don't miss out on today's image I'll be posting in a bit.


                               

 










ChasingtheWindPhoto





Saturday, November 19, 2016

I Support Indie Authors

I have a confession to make and it's been a long time in coming... 

Brace yourselves for this because it's not pretty...

am an absolute Book Snob.

A recovering Book Snob really...

But, there it is. When it comes to books I am a perfectionist. I have always preferred my books from big name publishers who I thought provided the best, most grammatically correct, and error free, novels that would satisfy my need to read. I mean, these books are in stores all over the world with the backing of the best and brightest in the publishing industry, right?

A few years ago, before I started this blog, if someone had offered me a copy of their self published book I would have scoffed at them and told them to come back to reality and realize if the publishers didn't want it, I didn't want it either. (I told you- Book. SNOB.) That sounds terrible, but it's true. If the publishing companies didn't want it, then how could it be any good?

While I'm at it, confessing things and such, I'll go ahead and tell you another one of my little quirks-I don't do libraries. I borrowed a book from a library once several years ago when I was unsure of whether I was really interested in the series (that book was The Emperors Blades btw) and then cried and whined for three days because the book I'd fallen in love with wasn't my own and I had to give it back. Sure, I could buy another copy (which I did) but it wasn't THE copy... and my heart was slightly broken.

So there you have it. I'm a book snob and I don't like using libraries...

Anyway, now that your asking yourself why the hell am I telling you any of this, well, mostly it's because this is my blog and I can write about whatever I want. But, more importantly, I am writing this because I want to point out that if I can change my book snobbery ways, then so can you. 

I posed the question online as to why fellow readers support Indie authors and thanks to the Grimdarkians I have a more well-rounded view of why these authors deserve our support.

I can tell you exactly why I support indie authors-I support them because I know how hard it is to write a book. I know how heartbreaking it is to receive rejection after rejection, and I am very well aware of the nightmares of marketing. Marketing is a full time job. Believe me, writing the book is easier.

Every book out there comes from a desire to be heard, the author has a story to tell and they want to make the world a better place by sharing it and that's why I support their need to create. And on many occasions, I have been blown away by their talent. 

To quote Steven Kelliher (author of Valley of Embers) - I started supporting indie authors when I realized they didn't suck.

Indie books aren't born from a lack of talent, they are not a lesser form of writing. Most of the time an author becomes self published because they are tired of the rejections. They have a solid book, professionally edited, ready to go, and it's time to get it out in the world and move on to the next project. 

Another reason for going the self publishing route is the freedom to control your own vision and I'm so glad Martin Owton brought this up in the discussion. With self publishing, the author has complete control over the way their book is presented. You get to choose your cover artist, you decide the genre, where the book is sold, who gets copies for review and you have full control over all future writing to follow. 

I know in my case, when I looked over a publishing contract, the publisher wanted full control of any writing from then on. They wanted first dibs, and then they had final say over who got the piece after them, or if it would ever be published anywhere. I don't know about you, but that was too big of a risk for me. I could write a piece I really believe in and never be able to share it.

So, from one stand point, supporting an indie author is supporting an uninhibited art form.

That's not necessarily to say that traditional publishing hinders their authors into writing uninspired mush, mainstreamed to create fast sales, though many times it does feel like that's exactly what they're doing. I mean, Twilight... Come on guys...

I was still on the fence about something I have been considering until Scott Oden chimed in and cleared my head in his brusque, no nonsense way. For a while now I have considered going strictly indie and small publishers. Reading and reviewing only Indie authors to free up my time to help bring more attention to the 'lower tier' authors out there. I considered it, that is, up until Scott appeared on the thread and posed the question- "Why are we making it 'Us vs Them'?"

Self published authors aren't the only ones struggling for exposure, he pointed out. It's not just Indie books vs Traditionally Published books, it's a whole community of authors looking for support for their writing. If we really want to put a label on it, it's Bad books vs Good. And that's what I'm here for, to sift through the duds and bring you the best of the best, no matter the publishing format.

So why support Indie Authors?

Because we can all agree that we love a good story. We want to be entertained and there are so many amazing books out there we haven't discovered yet.

I saw this fantastic design by Shawn King (STK Kreations) and you can blame him for this entire post if you like, or thank him (if you stuck around to the end you're probably in the mood to thank him, I hope). I love this badge he created and asked if I could borrow it because I really wanted to share it and display it proudly on my blog.

I support Indie Authors 
and I hope you take the time to give them a chance and support a growing community of fantastic self published books.


Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Macro Monday! On a Tuesday...

So... Once again, I totally skipped my post for Macro Monday, and seeing as how I am currently avoiding all the things I need to be doing... 

Happy Macro Monday!
(On a Tuesday)

I do all my photography with my iPhone right now, it's simpler and convenient and I don't have to worry about my 4 year old trying to break a $2000 piece of equipment...

Plus, I have really enjoyed the way my images have turned out.

There's just so much freedom in taking a shot and editing it right there on my phone, and oh, how convenient, I can easily post it on all my sites for the world to instantly see!

I had begun to feel like my DSLR was hindering any growth in my art simply because I was easily discouraged over learning new techniques, remembering combinations in photoshop... etc. I constantly felt like my photography was sub-par and the somehow made me less of a photographer.

But, this exercise in iPhone photography has been more than rewarding. I am reminding myself every day that art doesn't come from the camera or the equipment used, it comes from the artist. These are my works of art, they'r my vision, and it doesn't matter if they're 'good' or 'bad', what matters is that they exist and that I am satisfied with the feeling that I have created something from my heart that others just happen to enjoy.





How's that for an Artist's Statement?

I haven't decided yet if the iPhone is a permanent change, if I'll continue to upgrade and strictly use iPhone as my medium, but I know is it is a step in the right direction and it's what's best for my work for now.

I wasn't planning on photographing the Super Moon the other night, but then I stood there staring up at it and decided to have a little fun, and this is the result.



Friday, November 11, 2016

Gemina

**4.5 Star Read** 'Die Hard meets Aliens'-IN SPACE


Moving to a space station at the edge of the galaxy was always going to be the death of Hanna’s social life. Nobody said it might actually get her killed.

The sci-fi saga that began with the breakout bestseller Illuminae continues on board the Jump Station Heimdall, where two new characters will confront the next wave of the BeiTech assault.

Hanna is the station captain’s pampered daughter; Nik the reluctant member of a notorious crime family. But while the pair are struggling with the realities of life aboard the galaxy's most boring space station, little do they know that Kady Grant and the Hypatia are headed right toward Heimdall, carrying news of the Kerenza invasion.

When an elite BeiTech strike team invades the station, Hanna and Nik are thrown together to defend their home. But alien predators are picking off the station residents one by one, and a malfunction in the station's wormhole means the space-time continuum might be ripped in two before dinner. Soon Hanna and Nik aren’t just fighting for their own survival; the fate of everyone on the Hypatia—and possibly the known universe—is in their hands.

But relax. They've totally got this. They hope.

Once again told through a compelling dossier of emails, IMs, classified files, transcripts, and schematics, Gemina raises the stakes of the Illuminae Files, hurling readers into an enthralling new story that will leave them breathless.



And Finally we come to our Featured Title of the month; Gemina! 

I did, in fact, read the second book to the Illuminae series the week it was released, but I've held off posting a review. I had planned to post a review earlier this week, before I met up with the authors, but it worked out better this way because now I can share with you a bit of the fun from the Gemina book tour signing here in Miami Florida!

Brace yourselves, this is going to be a long post. 

First off, Gemina is a fantastic sequel to Illuminae. Jay and Amie really worked their asses off to bring new twists and challenges to this epic space adventure and it is truly fascinating how the two stories finally mesh together. 

*Keep that in mind when reading this review because I want you to remember I love these books while I lay down some issues*

Illuminae was an absolute breath of fresh air, it was new and exciting and unique, it was a whole new way to tell a very visual story from the pages of a book without completely switching the project into a graphic novel. I was absolutely enraptured with the one of a kind debut from page one and I absolutely could not put it down.

Gemina brings us all the same extraordinary uniqueness as book one, but I couldn't help but feel that uniqueness began to work against them. The setup is great, the story told through a collection of documents and recordings and such from the ship during the actual event in question, but the segmented pieces of information also left a lot of places to easily set the book down and start again later on when I had a bit more time to spare. I didn't have that trouble with Illuminae, and perhaps it was because of the newness of the series or perhaps my attention span is shrinking, but I did find myself often overloaded with information and imagery and needing to take a break.

I'm almost done with the bad, I promise... Well, not really 'bad', that's too strong a word for it, but you know what I mean.

The new characters are fantastic, Hanna is an absolute badass and Nik is my kind of scum and his cousin... She is freaking epic. These are some tough kids going through absolute tragedy, and that's where I come to my second small issue with the book. In the texting format serving as most of their communication between each other, and with the case reviewer describing what he sees or hears, there's very little room for that emotional turmoil to build and spill over onto the page. 

They're tough kids, yes, but I felt they handled their situations a little too well...

But, that being said, I really enjoyed this sequel.

So, is this book as badass as everyone says? YES! A thousand times yes. Should you give the series a go? YEEEESSSS, why do you think I keep talking about these books? Definitely give Illuminae a read and if you love it the Gemina is a must because book 3 is already written and ready for illustrating and I can guarantee it's going to be insane.

This series is completely immersive, putting you in the role of the case reviewer (who's identity will be revealed soon!). It's a brand new way to enjoy reading and these two plan to bring us more epicness in the years to come. 

Right now Jay and Amie are working on a new series together that they describe as; The Breakfast Club enrolls in Starfleet Academy so you know I'll be all over that shit and I will definitely keep you up to date on all that awesomeness. Not to mention there's Nevernight 2 hopefully publishing next year and on top of that there is another series Jay is working on that I have been looking forward to for over a year now, LIFL1K3, which he describes as; Romeo and Juliet meets Mad Max: Fury Road.

I'm swooning already ;)

The other awesome news I have for this post is last night I made my trek to Books and Books in Miami, Florida to meet up with Amie and Jay on their Gemina US Tour! They were absolutely fantastic to meet, Amie is hilarious and I love her and definitely have plans to pick up more of her books ASAP. I am VERY interested in her upcoming series with Megan Spooner, Unearthed. It sounds fantastic and I am already hooked by her description of 'Indiana Jones teams up with Lara Croft IN SPACE' (Because according to Jay and Amie-'In Space' makes everything cooler)

Me (cosplaying Mia Corverre) with Jay and Amie at Books and Books Miami, FL

Very exciting stuff is coming from these two! They work so hard for us readers and I know I definitely appreciate their time and TSA struggles in going on tour and being there for us! I've been to a lot of signings and these two truly do everything for their fans.


And what's more, apparently today is Jay's birthday! Happy Birthday Jay! Go give him some happy wishes and thank these two epic folks for bringing a little more awesome into our lives.

The folks of Books and Books had a great birthday surprise for Jay last night and you can watch his birthday unfold in the video below. I am so happy I made it to this event!









Friday, November 4, 2016

Josiah Bancroft Ascends Mere Storytelling


Senlin, a mild-mannered school teacher, is drawn to the Tower of Babel by the grandiose promises of a guidebook. The ancient and immense Tower seems the perfect destination for a honeymoon. But soon after arriving, Senlin loses his young wife, Marya, in the crowd. 

Senlin’s search for Marya carries him through slums and theaters, prisons and ballrooms. He must survive betrayal, assassination, and the long guns of a flying fortress. But if he hopes to find Marya, Senlin will have to do more than survive. This quiet man of letters must become a man of action.



I Believe my exact words were; 
*FIVE FUCKING STARS*


There are no friends in the tower. The Sink of Humanity, The Tower of Babel, houses within its ringdoms the likes of thieving pirates, cut-throat murderers and condemned hods—and no one ever leaves. The tower takes from you all that you have, uses what's left of you for its purpose—And the tower is not finished with us yet.

Thomas Senlin has saved for years for this trip, to fulfill his dream of entering the Tower of Babel and making his ascent into the whimsical world of adventure and romance the tower offers the every day fellow, as described in his Everyman's Guide to the Tower of Babel. He brings with him his trusty guide and his new bride who's bright and bubbly personality could not be further from Senlin's own quiet, socially awkward, troglodytic existance. 

When it comes to being a new husband, Senlin seems slightly unsure of just what to do with a wife and the awkward tension is apparent from scene one. Senlin married way above himself and he knows it, his friends know it, and we, the readers know it. The only one who seems unperturbed by that fact is his doting wife Marya who enthusiastically coerces her husband into having some sort of social life.

It's almost too difficult to believe the pair could have possibly come together, Senlin's own confusion to his marital luck muddling the matter further, and the connection between the two is, at first, a bit... lacking. I was almost unsure of whether I wanted to continue. I was intrigued by the mystery surrounding the disappearances linked to the tower, and I absolutely wanted to find out what was going on, but as for Senlin and his missing bride... I wasn't terribly concerned with reuniting the two. I almost felt that Senlin would be better off dropping the matter entirely and going home. He was clearly too uncomfortable with continuing on alone and way too indecisive to make the next move and a happy ending for the newlyweds seemed terribly unlikely. I really didn't think he had it in him, and I wondered, how fascinating can a story be with an introvert awkwardly going out of his comfort zone and bumbling his way through a mystery he couldn't possibly put a level head into solving?

The answer? Tremendously fascinating.

Here's the thing, and here's the genius behind Senlin Ascends—Thomas Senlin awakens.

Picture Senlin as a big toddler learning his lesson about touching a hot stove. He is naive, he is innocent, he has yet to feel the stinging pain of his misguided curiosity and all the years he's spent studying the written imaginations of supposed 'traveled men', and all the hopes and beliefs he'd built in his mind into truths and dreams are all about to unravel and come crashing down on him.  

Bancroft pulls us into his tale leaving us just as in the dark and unaware of the towers true purpose as our unlikely hero. We are fed the same facts, the same dreams and wonders as Senlin finds listed in his guidebook. His naivety radiates from his every action, his doubts and his struggles appearing, at times frustratingly, childlike. Senlin is the epitome of innocence and I very quickly realized what felt like detachment—the strange apprehension toward Marya and the doubts he expresses in seeking out answers to her disappearance—was merely the outer shell of what Senlin allows the world to see of him. Perhaps even the way he sees himself. Without his wife to douse his fears with laughter, without his students to look upon him with adoration, reminding him that their young minds require his guiding hand to mold them, without money in his pockets and no clear destination to chart his path, what was he? 

His personality reflects his current level of maturity. At the base of the tower, he is the equivalent of a young child, alone, confused, and without the necessary street smarts to guide him. As Senlin makes his through the strange levels of the tower, we, as readers, watch him grow as he faces struggle after struggle, his whole world unraveling around him. The deeper we go into Senlin's ascent, the more we learn about Senlin's loss and his story. The more Senlin is forced to broaden his mind and face the truths of the tower, the closer he comes to finding his place among the ringdoms and we find there are as many layers to Senlin as the tower itself. And we do not yet know how high that tower climbs...

Every encounter has a purpose, characters entering the story to help move Senlin's growth along, and each new tower dweller is just as fascinating and unique as the next. Every one of them has a story to tell, and whether they decide to reveal their estranged past or not, it's apparent every character is driven by their own pasts and desires. There are no wasted words in this book.

Marya is truly the greatest of mysteries, she is a beautifully willful woman who cannot be stirred from her course. Headstrong and fantastically devious, and though we don't get to know her full story, the parts that are revealed are extremely telling of her strength and cunning. I still hold out hope that she will be the one to rise against the workings of the tower and rescue Senlin. 

There is one moment in Senlin Ascends, one single instance where Senlin finally lets it all go, when we finally see the man Marya fell in love with, a part of him he had never revealed before, and that's when I fell in love with this story. Senlin isn't the cold hearted, socially inept failure chasing shadows to spare himself the embarrassment of returning home to explain he'd somehow lost the only woman he could find to marry him. He is a man who has lost everything. His very existance having revolved around the woman he loves, the woman who gives him life, something he himself could never have obtained without her by his side and though he may not where his heart on his sleeve, he does care more deeply than one would, at first glance, believe.

With Senlin Ascends, we are not simply reading a story about a man and his tragic, fantastical trial. We are traveling alongside him, learning and growing and seeking truth for truth's sake, together holding out hope that the tower has not fully soiled every soul that has lost its way in its ringdoms, and it is a beautiful way to make a journey. 


Senlin Ascends blossoms into an epicly heroic tale of love, loss, devotion, betrayal, and awakening to the bitter truths that lay hidden. The Books of Babel are masterfully crafted, Josiah Bancroft's prose, at times, moving me to tears at its beautiy and simplicity, his insight simply awe-inspiring. His web of words has caught me and I am held helpless against its pull to read more.

About the Author
Josiah is a freelance writer, poet, and musician. His work has appeared in dozens of journals and magazines, including Slice Magazine, BOMB Magazine’s: Word Choice, Rattle, the Cimarron Review, the Cincinnati Review, and Gulf Coast. In 2010, Josiah's book of poems was a finalist for AWP’s Donald Hall Prize in Poetry. The poet Alberto Rios had this to say about his collection of poems, The Death of Giants:
"These are poems of constantly surprising adventures for the reader. The title poem sets the tone, marvelous in its pragmatism and equanimity, and the poems benefit from this start. Things happen, and things get done because of that, but what is so easily said is the precise source of wonder in these pieces, in that even the most complex and strange occurrences are simply dealt with."

Connect with Josiah


Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Salt in the Water


There are a thousand ways to die in the desert-- desperate outlaws, deadly predators, murderous elements, and betrayal. . .

Kaitar Besh, a veteran scout as legendary for his cynicism as his skills, is ordered to brave the deadly Shy'war-Anquai desert one last time. Escorting Leigh Enderi-- a greenhorn Enforcer with a reputation as shady as his own-- he soon realizes the ghosts of his past have come to haunt more than his nightmares. 

When the mission breaks down in the wake of bitter hatred and mistrust, even Kaitar's fabled skills may not be enough to bring them home again. Stranded in the red wasteland without contact, food, or water, they uncover a betrayal that could bring all they hold dear crumbling to the dust. . . and tear down the wall of lies surrounding them. 

A Lesser Dark: Book 1
                  **4 Stars**

A new release by joint authors J. Ray and S. Cushaway, Salt in the Water is a dark and gritty post-apocalyptic western/fantasy novel packed full of grim and bloody tragedies befalling a group of surviving scouts, the remaining surviving peoples only protectors.

Society is nearly nonexistent, threk roam the desert killing at will, and the tension still thrives between the Shyiine and the Sulari making Leigh and Kaitar's mission an impossible task to overcome. They're at each other's throats every step of the way demanding answers for past actions of a people they are no longer a part of and the relationship seems doomed to fail from the start.

One thing Ray and Cushaway excel at is moving the story forward through dialogue. The characters say what they mean and mean what they say, and they have quite a bit they care to get off their chests. Out in the desert you have to be strong and they all fight to keep their place to earn their water rations and communication is key to getting the job done right.

The story is packed with rich characters, if not completely diverse in personality. They're all headstrong, stubborn, and they want things to go their way causing blood to boil quickly and old grudges to flare up in an instant. And there are a lot of grudges to go around...

Salt in the Water is a great example of world building in the dark fantasy genre with fantastic new races and political ties and issues, and seriously, there are raptor-threk creatures tearing shit apart and I am all for that craziness.

Connect with S. Cushaway


Tuesday, November 1, 2016

#MacroMonday


It's Macro Monday again!


I know I missed last week, but that just means more images for this week!

Enjoy your day, get over that candy sugar high and start looking forward to Thanksgiving ;)