First in Category-Young Adult Fantasy

First in Category-Young Adult Fantasy
Dante Rossetti Award

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Review of A Storm of Swords (A Song of Ice and Fire #3) by George R.R. Martin

My review of A Storm of Swords (A Song of Ice and Fire #3) by George R.R. Martin
Rated 4 out of 5 stars.

I love high fantasy and have the greatest respect for the author's great world buidling: the attention to detail, the depth of character development—all his characters are, in a realistic manner, a mixed brew of strengths and weakness.

I have to admit that I found myself lagging occasionally while reading the second book, Clash of Kings—however, from midway through Storm of Swords I couldn't wait to pick it up in my cherished time for reading. I had to know what happened to Jaime and Brienne (yes, I was guilty of skipping ahead to the Jaime chapters in my concern for them)...Arya...Jon and...well, you know. This book is the best so far and I'm looking forward to moving on to Feast of Crows.

I did crack a small smile on page 121 when Ser Jorah says to Dany, "You were made to be kissed, often and well."...I'm sure George R.R. was channeling Rhett Butler (probably unconsiously, as Rhett and Scarlett's characters are deeply embedded in our North American psyches).

So much has been said so well by all the fans of the Game of Thrones series, that almost everything is cliche...but these books have enriched my reading life."/

Monday, April 4, 2016

Caliburn Press LLC, Authors' Rafflecopter and Request for Bloggers....

My publisher, Caliburn Press LLC, has miraculously herded us, authors, into co-ordinating a Rafflecopter with all kinds of swag and giveaways.

These giveaways include T-Shirts, books, bookmarks, etc.

You're invited to check it out at:

Caliburn Authors Rafflecopter giveaway

Also, I'm hoping to find some bloggers who would be interested in promoting the Caliburn Press
Blog Hop. If you are interested ( I hope you are) please go to the Blog Hop sign in page and sign up as a Prom/Spotlight Blogger for any or all the wonderful authors at Caliburn Press :) day is May 7th and I'd love to have you with me :)

Jodie Pierce (aka Vampire Queen ) will be forwarding you a Word.doc to use in your post.

Caliburn Press Blog Hop

Cheers everyone
and thank you

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Meet my Character, Thera of Allenholme

Welcome to the Meet my Character Blog Hop (revisited), sponsored by SpeculativeFiction Showcase. 

The author preceding me is Genevieve Mckay, Author of The Opposite of Living, published November, 2014.

Genevieve Mckay is a freelance writer, short story author, and first time novelist. She lives on the West coast with her two and four-legged family in the wilderness. When she isn't busy creating new worlds she enjoys playing outside, riding horses and preparing for the zombie apocalypse.

And now to the Elanraigh forest...

Meet My Character, Thera of Allenholme,
daughter and heir of Duke Leon ArNarone and Lady Fideiya, of Allenholme.

Sandy Hunter’s (S.A. Hunter) novel, Elanraigh: The Vow published by Eternal Press, 2012, is an alternate-earth, medieval fantasy (YA/Adult)

Sandy’s always lived at the edges of ocean and forest, so it came naturally to have a sentient forest as a major character in Elanraigh.  She loves kayaking the scenic Vancouver Island coastline, swimming and walking. She has a ready sense of humor and an optimistic outlook (a good thing, when you’re a writer).

She’s currently working on the sequel to Elanraigh, and enjoys writing short stories as well—her publications include Dark Fantasy shorts in pro magazines, Spinetinglers Anthology 2011 and On Spec.

1)             What is the name of your character? Is he or she fictional or a historic person?

Her name is Thera, though if we’re being formal, I should introduce her as Lady Thera ep Chadwyn Ned’ArNarone, daughter and heir of Duke Leon ArNarone and Lady Fideiya.

I suppose I must agree that she is fictional, although I strongly suspect that Allenholme and the Elanraigh Forest do indeed exist—as an alternate reality…somewhere.

2)             When and where is the story set?

In the most northern reaches of the Kingdom of Bole, is the Duchy of Allenholme, bordered by it’s wild and rocky coast to the west, Ttamarini Lands to the North and the far reaches of the Elanraigh forest to the East and South. We would judge the era to be the 1300’s by the weapons and gear of the fighting men and the construction of the Keeps.

3)             What should we know about him or her?
The Elanraigh Forest is a sentient entity, composed of both spirits and elementals—over generations, though, the folk of Allenhome drifted away from belief in, and therefore, awareness of, forest-mind.  Now, Forest-mind strives to ensure that Thera hear its voice. It awakens in her gifts of mind and spirit—the ability to bond with raptor birds and to read hearts, The Knowing. Its goal is to make her its Salvia, an ancient Title, meaning governess and liaison to the human folk. To make her fit, to save them all...

4)             What is the main conflict? What messes up his or her life?

The Elanraigh Forest sends her a warning dream; black sails swooping toward Allenholme from across the western sea—the Memteth, an ancient enemy, armed with blue fire that hungers to consume life. Forest-mind knows Thera is young to shoulder such power and responsibility, yet it has no choice. The lives of all Thera’s people and the existence of the forest itself depend on her mastering her gifts…and herself.

Thera's father invites Ttamarini tribes to join them against the Memteth and as word of this unsanctioned truce reaches the neighboring Duchy of Cythia, Lord Ambraud is sent to investigate. Thera finds she is courted by two very different young men—Chamakin the young Ttamarini warrior who is  kindred in spirit to her, respects the ways of the forest and values all life; and Lord Ambraud, the polished nobleman who covets her beauty even more than her estate.

5)             What is the personal goal of the character?

Thera wants to answer the call of the Elanraigh Forest, to serve as its Salvai, a liason between Forest Mind and her people—to be ready, mentally and physically, to defeat the threatened invasion of Memteth raiders. She knows that Chamakin’s suit is approved by the Forest-mind entity and that together they can return the people of Allenholme to feeling and hearing the Elanraigh’s unique voice.  

6)             What is the Title of the book, and where can we find out more?

Elanraigh: The Vow (pronounced: Ellen-ray)was published by Eternal Press and is available for purchase at:

Eternal Press (an imprint of Caliburn Press, LLB)   

iTunes Book Store:
Elanraigh: The Vow

Friday, October 24, 2014

Lyrical or Taut Fiction (Which style do you write, or prefer to read?)

I was struck by something English author, Mary Stewart, said in an interview conducted not long before her death this year. She states that she had once spent a week laboring over a particular (descriptive) paragraph to get it just right.

This, I can well believe. Her writing is lyrical and lovely—it was her Merlin Trilogy that I first discovered back in the 80’s, and have since re-read many times, that made me sit back and say to myself, I want to be able to write like that…
On the other hand there are those whose writing style is taut, crisp and even minimalist. (I’m in awe of, and respect this, but can’t/wouldn’t enjoy writing it).

I want to believe there is still readership for both styles…or is the more lyrical style now archaic, belonging back in the age of “reading by firelight,” whereas today, everyone reads in nano-bites off their smart phones between bus stops, on coffee breaks and during the kid’s dance class.

Another author I read, Anne Rice, (Vampire Chronicles especially) favours a “lush” prose style, and certainly has a huge following. (Of course she has well-developed and intriguing characters as well.)

Every writer learns early that writing evocative prose does not mean adding in endless adverbs—we’re discussing a poetic style—poetry being the minimal amount of words needed, that with sound and imagery, create an emotional response.

OK. So I threw this question out to writer friends at SF Canada, and it started a lively discussion.

Most confirmed that they can and do enjoy reading stories written in either style, providing the style suits the story.

For author, Eileen Kernaghan, “the setting, the time period and the voice of the character who is telling the story, all help to determine the style.”

Susan Forest , speculative fiction author, reminds us that, “a single work can have both— A Song of Fire and Ice, by George RR Martin gets on with the story, but he also takes the time to place you in his world, with the people. The writing is very lyrical, but he doesn’t sacrifice story.”

Dave Duncan, author of more than forty novels, expresses his opinion that, “…your own style is so much a part of you that anything else will seem faked…if your story flows so smoothly that no reader notices what your style is, well, that’s pretty magical too!”

Matt Hughes, on the other hand (ever ambidextrous :) states that he can suit his style of writing to the material, and the effect he’s trying to create—whether a moody “Bradbury” piece, or hardboiled 1950’s pulp-voiced style.

Noah Chinn, author and “adventurer”, writes that he is,“ a fan of both styles, it depends in part on the intent of the author.” He remarks that he would classify Ray Bradbury as lyrical. “Passages of his just wash over me, evoke images and chills…but sometimes the story is the thing and being more bare-bones is exactly what you need.”

Ira Nayman, humorist extraordinaire, says “Most of my favourite authors use language in wildly entertaining ways” and he adds, “The great thing about the multiplicity of books is that we can enjoy (and learn from) a wide variety of styles of writing…There really are no rules in artistic creation, only what works to entertain.”

Barbara Geiger, who describes herself as, “Writer of dark, redemptive, snarky smut” came up with one of those Aha! insights she’d acquired from colleague Susan Forest after a writer’s session Susan had attended, “The sooner the writer puts their narration in the character’s skull and has the character filtering everything, the reader will be pulled along from start to finish:

There is no description, there is only Point of View.”

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

The Muse on Holiday...

Home again.

I smiled to see familiar crows fluffed and grumpy on their cold branches. Not so very different, after all, from the bold and curious grackle birds of Yucatan,  who called me to feed them with high pitched shrieks—a sound exactly like the rapid release of air squeezed from a child’s balloon.

Yup. We’ve traded the sight of the high-soaring frigate birds over the Gulf of Mexico, for our beloved bald eagles—the humid air wafting from jungle and marsh, for the cool, clean scent of our northern ocean.

As we pulled in the driveway at home, I saw our heather in its full amethyst bloom and sighed.

 Did being on unfamiliar earth challenge me when it came to my writing? Am I so very rooted to home? When the El Norte wind blew around the sharp, stone angles of the beach casa—I heard voices unlike the forest songs at home and I stumbled in my thoughts. I am an intruder here—I struggle not only with the language, but its alien earth.

Perhaps because my WIP is based in the land I have always known, whose voices are those of  evergreen rainforest giants and the northern Pacific Ocean. 

I think perhaps I should have started to write something new—about the ancient Maiya, the land of underground rivers and sonatas, where the jungle trees trail their roots thirty feet downward to the surface of the water. 

I will be better prepared, next time.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

I love Gerard Butler (Actor), but this movie....

Olympus Has Fallen (2013)

Oh my.
 I love the actors who were cast in this film…Gerard Butler, Morgan Freeman amongst others, however I spent much of it in irritation, or cringing, at the heavy-handed symbolisms and obvious tweaks of sensitive (particularly American) nerve ends.

The foreshadowing: a shot of the White House taken along the barrel of a static display cannon; the Washington Monument is grazed by the enemy aircraft, and then smoke billows and the structure collapses in a visual flash-back to the 9/11 tower. The inevitable symbolic image of a torn and battered American flag drifting to the ground.

I dislike being so obviously manipulated into “feeling” certain emotions.

And plausibility…I’m no military strategist and have no knowledge of how these things are organized, however, I was jolted by the apparent fact that an alien, unidentified bomber-type aircraft managed to get so close to Washington before the interceptors arrived to challenge it—and were promptly shot down by the invader, I may add.

The invasion force of 40 or so, had killed every FBI and marine guard at the white house in a matter of 13 minutes (strangely, only our hero thought to dive for cover behind a column—the other agents poured out the door and stood firing their hand guns at the enemy until they were all mowed down)…and long before any additional military support could arrive.

Then we have our hero…Gerard Butler in his character of FBI agent, Mike Banning, proceeding alone in the increasingly ruined White House, rescuing the president’s young son and killing off the baddies as he works his way to where the president is held captive. Almost I could hear him saying to chief bad guy, xxxxxx, “yippee-kai-yeah, Mother F----r”.

There is excitement, however, and with certain misgiving I’d rate it a 3/5—if you can just roll with it and overlook the things that almost drop it to the comic book “superhero vs. bad guys” genre.