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Lurking In The Shadows

Honest reviews for whatever I want to review.

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Urban Fantasy

Book Review: The Selection by Jason Nugent

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Description:

Humans colonized the planet Kepler 186f after Earth’s near total global collapse. Soon after, supply missions ended leaving the colonists to themselves, renaming the planet Anastasia and building a new society far different than Earth’s.

As population imbalance threatened stability in the settlements, a horrific and brutal institution known as The Selection was created.

Centuries later, haunted by the screams of his dead older brother, eighteen year-old Eron fears the unknown terror waiting for him and all boys his age in The Selection. He has thirty days to survive to Victory Point and reunite with his crush Mina. He will have to endure brutal circumstances and forge unlikely alliances if he’s to survive The Selection.

Time is short. Threats are constant. Survival means life. Failure means death—or worse.

Review:

The Selection by Jason Nugent was an entertaining, quick read.  This is a book similar to the Hunger Games genre, but with a nice twist.  Eron, the main character, isn’t prepared for the Selection; a necessary event all boys of a certain age must go through.  So when it finally happens, he is in for a shock.

Excellent writing style, great character development, and an entertaining story; I read it quickly.  I’ve already enjoyed the authors other stories, and this one did not let me down.  On a personal note, I am not a huge fan of this genre (or sub-genre…whatever you want to call it). But, similar to the Hunger Games, I couldn’t put it down.

There is some violence in this book, so a more mature audience is recommended; upper teens would be okay, I think.

4 of 5 Stars

Guest Blog: Jen Ponce

Jen Ponce, one of my favorite Indie Authors, has stopped by to talk about her new book, Burning the Devil.

Welcome to the blog Jen!

Hello! My name is Jen Ponce and I write about the things that go bump in the night and the women who kick the asses of those things. My female characters aren’t always physically tough, but they’re emotionally or mentally tough enough to kill bad guys with their minds. Check out my Kickass Woman’s Manifesto for more on what I think about strong women!

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Is that weird?

I’m here to talk a little about my newest story, a psychological horror story called Burning the Devil.

This book started as a dream, as my books often do. This was a bit unusual as I dreamt what I thought was the whole story from beginning to end. It was compelling and I couldn’t stop thinking about it … but when I tried to write it, I realized I didn’t have an ending.

Fast forward six years later when I worked on it for almost all of 2016. The toil was worth it–I found my ending. It wasn’t anything I’d imagined, but it fit and I hope it takes you to dark and chilling places as it does my main character.

What’s the story about?

To get the good, you’ve got to pay.

Mechanic Gwen Colburn knows this better than most, so when charismatic megastar Neo Tucker walks into her life, she doesn’t trust the glitter of admiration in his eyes or the sweet words on his lips. It’s only when a demonic killer from her past begins to stalk her and the bodies pile up that she realizes he’s the only sane thing left for her to hold onto.

Rumors of supernatural murders have dogged Neo ever since he became famous but it wasn’t until he met Gwen that it mattered. She’s the one he’s been waiting for all his life and all he has to do is help her learn to trust him. Too bad someone close to him wants to make sure he never gets the chance to find out just how perfect she is.
Gwen and Neo must fight to get what they desire most. The only question is whether either of them will live long enough to enjoy it.

Don’t forget–I’m a tricksy devil.

Things in the story aren’t always what they seem.

About the Author

Jen lives in the Panhandle of Nebraska, with her boys, her cats, her goldfish Reggie and a large supply of books that help insulate the house in the winter and expand her mind.

She loves connecting on Twitter and Facebook. Visit www.JenniferPonce.com to figure out how to do all of the above.

Jen. Writer of kick ass women and oogy monsters.

 

Blog Tour

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Today we are happy to be hosting a stop on the Blog Tour to support a great book by a great author.

Umbrae by Debbie Manber Kupfer was released on March 1st, 2017.  It’s the third in the P.A.W.S series, which we’ll get to later on in the interview.  So please give a warm Blog Welcome to Debbie Manber Kupfer!

Welcome Debbie!

Before we get into discussing your books, why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself? What started you writing? How often do you write?

Hello, and thank you so much for inviting me onto your blog. I’m a writer, puzzle maker, mom, cat-lover, and tea-drinker. I grew up in London, spent some time in Israel and somehow ended up in St. Louis, MO. I divide my time between writing fiction and puzzles and hanging out with my kids and my kitty, Miri Billie Joe.

I started writing as a kid. My first story was about turning into a ladybug – see even back then I liked shapeshifters. I sent that story to the Puffin Post and got a mention in the magazine. I was so excited. I continued writing stories over the years and knew that one day I would write a novel, but thought I had all the time in the world to do that. Then in 2011 I got a wakeup call, a diagnosis of breast cancer. I went through treatment and thankfully today I’m cancer-free, but the experience made me realize my mortality. I understood now that if I really wanted to write that novel I shouldn’t wait.

So in November 2012 I tried NaNoWriMo for the first time. It worked. By the end of the month I had the first draft of P.A.W.S. It took a lot of edits to get it to the point of publication, but it was a start and since then I have started each of my novels this way.

I write the bulk of my first drafts during NaNo months – November, April and July, and then rest of the time I edit and work on my puzzles.

The P.A.W.S series is written for the Young Adult audience, can you give us a rundown on what your stories are about, and why you’ve chosen to write geared towards YA?

P.A.W.S. is the Partnership of Animagi, Werewolves, and Shapeshifters. It’s an international magical organization that trains shifters in different cities around the globe. In the first book we focus mainly on the P.A.W.S. Institute of the Midwest, which is hidden in Forest Park, St. Louis.  In book 2, Argentum, we visit New York P.A.W.S., while in book 3 we are going to one of the original P.A.W.S. Institutes, the one located in Vienna.

I think I’m drawn to YA because a lot of my favorite stories are YA from the Harry Potter books and the Percy Jackson books to Cornelia Funke’s Inkheart and Pullman’s Dark Materials. So many of the series I have read and enjoyed in the last few decades have been YA and they say to write the stories you want to read!

Now, please, let’s jump right into Umbrae!  This is the new release we are here to talk about.  Give us an idea of what this third book in the series has in store for us readers?

In Umbrae we travel with Miri to the ancient city of Safed in Israel. There, with the aid of a mystical rabbi and an outspoken werecat, her omama’s story is slowly revealed. And Miri uncovers something else, a world hidden deep beneath our own – the labyrinth of shadows also known as Umbrae.

Your stories have a lot of cats in them.  Is there significance to that?

Yes, I adore cats. And nearly every cat in the P.A.W.S. Saga has the form of a cat I’ve known and loved in the real world. Miri’s cat form, for example, a black cat with one white whisker is that of my childhood kitty, Snowy. And the werecat in Safed, Finny, has the same sandy and white color as the cat that I brought originally from Israel, Cecilia (also known as Cici.)

Cecilia will also be getting her own book sometime this year when I release my first picture book, Cecilia’s Tale. The book is currently in the hands of a talented local artists who is bringing my kitty story to life.

Now the fun question; you have lycanthropes, shape-shifters and animagi in your books. If you could choose to be one, what would it be, what type (cat, wolf, etc.) and why?

Animagus I would think as they have the most choice, being magic makers and all. And like Danny I’d probably flirt with the idea of being a bird, so I can fly, but decide in the end to be a cat because a cat can blend in seamlessly with the world around it. (And as you already know, I love cats.)

Blog Tours: have you found them to be successful?  What other types of promotion have you used? Which have worked and which haven’t? Please tell us about your experiences.

I’ve organized blog tours, like this one after each of my releases and on the whole have found them to be successful. The secret I think to a good blog tour is variety. Each of the stops should be unique with a different interview, snippet or article. I’ve seen too many “paid for” tours where all the content is the same every day. That might be easier for the author and company, but kind of boring for fans who want to follow along.

Other than blog tours I also like to do IRL release events in local places. I’m doing four for Umbrae. Two in local indie book stars, one in a city library, and one at my son’s middle school. I always encourage authors to do this. Get out there and meet your readers first hand and events, cons, school events etc. Oh and get yourself some bookmarks with your cover on them and a QR code to the Amazon page and give them out to everyone you meet instead of business cards.

Who/what inspires you to write?  Do you have any mentors that help you with your writing? What motivates you to keep writing?

Lots of things inspire me to write. I’m an avid people watcher. I will sit in cafes and observe and listen and often times characters and situations emerge from overheard snippets of conversations.

During the course of writing my novels and stories I’m fortunate to have an abundance of support from beta readers, friends, my kids and even my kitty! One friend in particular, Larry Miller, has been my critique partner and mentor throughout my process. We beta read each other’s work and neither of us are scared to say when we think stuff doesn’t work. I believe it’s important for all writers to find someone like this who you can really trust.

And what motivates me to keep writing – the story! I’m a discovery writer. That means I go into each book with only a rough idea of where it’s going. I have to keep writing because I want to know what happens!

This is a question for your main character Miri.  If you could live ‘Happily Ever After’, what would your ‘Happily Ever After’ look like?

Well, um, I’d like it to include Danny. *Blush* And maybe we could settle down somewhere close to St. Louis P.A.W.S. Also if I have a daughter one day I’m prepared to pass on my cat charm to her. But I hope that’s a long, long time in the future.

What’s next?  Is there a 4th P.A.W.S book on the horizon?  Any other short story compilations you are working on?

Yes! I have written the first draft of P.A.W.S. 4. It is called Londinium and I hope to release it at the end of October on Miri’s birthday. In it Miri will visit the P.A.W.S. Institute of London. It’s particularly exciting for me to finally include my home city in a P.A.W.S. book.

Apart from that I have a story in a haunted house anthology coming out later this year. It’s a dark comedy about a ghost dude who watches a lot of boring TV!

And I’m also working with a local artist to produce a picture book, Cecilia’s Tale, a little story about how my cat found me in Israel.

Okay, final question.  It’s pretty much a standard final question, but I think it helps the readers.  What advice do you have for any aspiring authors/artists out there?

Don’t second guess yourself, don’t make excuses. Open that PC or notebook and just write. Let the words and story take you where you will. Also try NaNoWriMo. April is Camp NaNo – an easier challenge as you set your own word count. It’s less intimidating that the full 50K of November. Set yourself a word count of around 30K – that’s only 1K a day. Easy to commit to and see where your story takes you. Don’t worry about edits yet. That’ll come later. Good luck and happy writing!

Thank you very much for stopping by the blog.  Best of luck on the Blog Tour! And best of luck with the new book!

Thank you so much for having me!

Follow Debbie at the following links:

Paws4Thought: http://debbiemanberkupfer.wordpress.com/

Facebook Author page: https://www.facebook.com/DebbieManberKupferAuthor

Twitter: @CiciCat42

And of course – The P.A.W.S. Saga – http://mybook.to/PAWS-Saga

The newest installment – Umbrae – http://mybook.to/Umbrae

My Amazon author page – http://author.to/DebbieManberKupfer

 

 

 

 

Umbrae by Debbie Manber Kupfer

It’s alive! Today’s the day that book 3 of the P.A.W.S. Saga goes out into the world! Step into the Shadows of Umbrae … Miri’s world at P.A.W.S. in St. Louis is falling apart. First, Danny is accused of stealing her opapa’s charm. But before he can defend himself, he mysteriously disappears. Miri seeks Josh for […]

via Umbrae – Release Blitz — Paws4Thought

Book Review: Umbrae by Debbie Manber Kupfer

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Description:

Miri’s world at P.A.W.S. in St. Louis is falling apart. First, Danny is accused of stealing her opapa’s charm. But before he can defend himself, he mysteriously disappears. Miri seeks Josh for help and advice, but he too has gone missing.

Then Lilith has a vision – Miri dragged away by wolves. Miri needs answers, answers that she feels sure are hidden in the blank pages of the book of Argentum.

With the help of Lilith, she travels to the ancient city of Safed. There, with the aid of a mystical rabbi and an outspoken werecat, her omama’s story is slowly revealed. And Miri uncovers something else, a world hidden deep beneath our own – the labyrinth of shadows also known as Umbrae.

Review:

This, the third book in the P.A.W.S series, was a highly anticipated book for me.  I thoroughly enjoyed the first two books in the series, and couldn’t wait for this one.

Miri is growing up, and is searching for both the secrets to her family’s past, as well as her boyfriend Danny.  Additionally, we learn a lot about the story behind the story.  Max and Celia are a major part of this book.

For me, I loved to read this book.  It wove together the first two books, as well as the three short stories the author had previously released.  I now have a greater understanding of the characters, which is very important to the whole.  They are deep characters with rich backgrounds.

The one negative for the book is that it did jump around a bit.  I sometimes had a hard time following who was the focus of the section I was reading, but I made it through.  This was not a detriment to the book.

All in all, this was another great addition to a strong, well-written, and highly entertaining series.  I think you need to read the first books in the series to get the most out of Umbrae, but once you do, you’ll hungrily devour this one as well.

4 of 5 Stars

Umbrae by Debbie Manber Kupfer

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On Sale Tomorrow!

March 1, 2017

Book 3 of the P.A.W.S Series

My Indie Book Collection…Part 4

This is a new series for my blog.  I hope it is obvious I support Indie Authors and Artists. In this series, I will simply highlight the physical books from Indie Authors I have in my library at home.  I’ve either purchased them, was gifted them by the authors, traded for them with my own books or won them in contests.  

Many of these authors I met through my old Twitter account (it’s dead now) or on the amazing Facebook group The Dragon’s Rocketship.  I miss them all, since I’ve quit FB too.

So, here it is.  The forth installment.

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Author Misha Burnett

I say this without a moment of hesitation, Misha is one of my favorite authors.  I’ve read a lot of Fantasy, Science Fiction and Horror over the years, but his Book of Lost Doors series is something all-together different. Once started, you can’t put them down.  And not only is he a great author, he’s a pretty nice guy too!

Check out his blog here.

 

New Title by a Great Author – A.D. Trosper’s Unveiled

Unveiled, the first book in my new Raven Daughter series is officially released into the wild in both e-book and paperback! This has been the hardest release for me, though not because of the book itself. In the middle of January, everyone in my household, including me, came down with a terrible head and chest […]

via New Release – Unveiled is Here! — A.D.Trosper

Interview: Scott A. Story, Graphic Artist and Author

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Today on the blog we have a first!

I had something weird happen at my part time job the other day.  I found out that I work with another author.  Not only is he an author, but he’s also a cartoonist and graphic novelist (our first on the blog).  Wow.  Small world.  After talking a bit, I bought one of his books later that night and gave it a read.  I was impressed.  So I asked him for an interview. 

Please give a warm blog welcome to Scott A. Story.

Welcome Scott!

Thanks, Mike—my pleasure!

Scott, can you start out by telling us a little bit about yourself?  Who you are, what you do, where you’re from…that sort of stuff?

Sure.

I was born on a military base in Spain, but have spent my whole life here in the Midwest USA. I have a wonderful wife, Benita Story, who is my co-plotter on my graphic novels, and we’ve been together for 32 years so far. I got my college degrees in Medieval History and Creative Writing. Like most nerdy kids, I grew up a child of the media, and I was exposed to tons of novels, comics, television shows, movies, and any other type of Pop culture. I began to read early, and devoured all of J.R.R. Tolkien’s books early on, and developed an early passion for the fantasy and science fiction of Michael Moorcock. There are many other writers who made a strong impression on me, such as H.P. Lovecraft, Robert E. Howard, Paul Anderson, Marion Zimmer Bradley, Katherine Kurtz, Stephen R. Donaldson, Edgar Rice Burroughs, and a long list of others.

Even as a little kid I wrote a bunch of prose stories and drew stacks of horrendous minicomics.

How did you get started drawing?  Has your art been published?

As I mentioned, I drew as a kid and teenager, but pretty much let it go as I discovered girls, cars, and parties, and then later got married and went to college. My love of medieval history stems directly from my passion for medieval fantasy books and Dungeons and Dragons.

When I was thirty, I went through something of an existential crisis when my dad passed away, and I began drawing in earnest. Initially I set my goal as drawing for the big comic publishers, Marvel and DC, but I quickly outgrew that and developed my skill base into becoming an all-around illustrator. I didn’t go to art school, but taught myself with whatever how-to books and articles I could find and lots and lots of practice. To this day, I have a habit of keeping and filling sketchbooks with studies and ideas in development, and I number these books and treat them as almost art journals of sorts, full of notes, studies, and finished art.

I began to do semi-professional work when I was thirty-two, moving quickly into indie-level professional work, and over the next decade I drew hundreds of pages of comics for publishers like Image Comics, Arrow, Digital Webbing, Amp, and many more. I also created book covers, CD covers, band posters, advertising art, website graphics, and much more. I worked as a real-estate title searcher during the day during this period, and didn’t quit and become a full-time artist until around age 39 or 40.

When you decided to add writing to you repertoire, how did you make that decision?  Was it easy, or did you have to talk yourself into it? 

I’ve written for as long as I’ve drawn, and prose is second nature to me. While I self-published my “Johnny Saturn” comics and graphic novels, I also wrote a long list of supplemental short prose short stories set in the same Saturnverse world. Before this, all my novels and short stories had been set in medieval fantasy worlds, but I found writing for our contemporary world and indulging in the odd form of science fiction I create was very natural for me. I had a lifetime of watching Star Trek that influenced this move, as well as other science fiction that I had read or watched. I had always been fascinated by magic, and by this point I had arrived at my belief that magic is simply a mental science from the Ancient or Antediluvian world. You can see that idea pop up throughout my comics and prose.

Your first (traditional) novel, City of the Broken Gate, revolves around the same characters that are in your graphic novels.  First off, can you give us a short introduction to the world you’ve created and the characters?  Then can you give us an idea of what we’ll find in that first novel?

You can call it the Saturnverse or the Spire City world, but essentially it a combination of urban fantasy, horror, science fiction, and the superhero genre. The protagonists are classic superheroes, but the setting they operate in is a mix of ancient aliens, the paranormal, cutting edge science, Nazi villains, and everything from stargates, angels, demons, zeppelins, cyborgs zombies, and gang wars. I also explore mental illness, addiction, and dysfunctional family dynamics. All this may sound too disparate to be cohesive, but it is. I guess it sort of mirrors the way I think. I have a lot of interests, I suppose.

How much time do you allow each week for writing?  Drawing? 

I write when I can find some quiet time with my computer, often late at night. When I write, I have to have silence, and I have to be in a collected mood. I have to be somewhat inspired, because if I force it then I’ll simply produce garbage. Because of all this, I often go weeks or months without writing. When the story is ready to come to me, and I cannot deny it—then it’s time to get to work. I know lots of writers of various levels of success who write every day, have a set schedule, and report their word count every day online. That is not me. For me, words are a kind of magic, not tennis shoes I pull on every day to go to work.  Creativity is sacred to me, and I have no wish to dilute it and discredit it by forcing myself to hack out material.

On the flip side of the coin, I draw a little every day. I have to for sanity reasons. If nothing else, I have a sketchbook in my car and I draw in the parking lot outside work before I go in and clock in. The endorphin rush and the serenity that comes from this form of artistic meditation is tremendous. It keeps me balanced and sane in an environment where I am constantly assaulted by interruptions and general psychic chaos.

I try to put at least one fun question into every interview, so we can really get to know you, so here it is.  Which of your characters would you want to go have lunch with most?  Where would you go, and what would they have to eat?

I would sit down and have a long talk with Greg Buchanan, aka Johnny Saturn II. He’s a bit of a super shaman, and I believe he could shed light on some of the mysteries in life that have wondered about over the years. Greg is a cheeseburger kind of guy, probably with onion rings or cheese fries.

What motivates you to continue your craft?

I’ve thought about this a lot over the years, but ultimately I’ve come to the conclusion that creative people are wired differently than everyone else and they simply have to create or they become depressed and unstable. We have to do something or we’ll break up. If I don’t draw some every day, I get depressed and my mental state gets out of whack. Because of this creative drive, I also play and sing music, and I have a passion for guitar and other stringed instruments. I practice meditation to keep focused and clear my mind, otherwise the noisy mental clutter will drown out any sort of objective thought. I have to draw and write. It’s not a choice for me.

I should also add that I have a lot of unusual ideas and observations, and the only way that I effectively share them is by clothing them in fiction. The graphic artist sees the world in a starkly different way than does everyone else, and the writer sees patterns and themes in life that most people are oblivious to.

Promotion is an important part of being an Indie Artist.  What techniques have you used that worked?  What hasn’t worked?  What, if anything, do you plan on trying in the future?

I’m still rather new to working in the traditional prose market, so there is not a lot for me to say there. Promoting a comic, however, is different. It’s a big mix of paid advertising, social media, interviews, podcasts, cross-promoting with more popular comics, book signings, reviewers, conventions, webcomics, and so much more. With over twenty years in comics, and over ten in self-publishing, I can also attest that the nature of the promotion game has changed radically over time. The internet grew up and came into its own at the same time, and opportunities and dead ends came and went with increasing rapidity. What works now has no guarantee to be working in a year’s time.

Comics are different also in that promotion comes with a healthy dose of desperation. It is a constant battle to grab the readers’ eyes when you are in a virtual ocean of other comics trying to get those same eyes on their work. Promotion is an almost daily chore, and it seems as if you are treading water in rough seas with your hands and feet tied. It’s a battle, no joke.

Publishing: Graphicl Novel vs. Traditional Novel…which was harder and why?

It probably comes as no surprise that creating a graphic novel is several magnitudes more difficult than a traditional prose novel. It takes a long time to write, draw, ink, color, and letter a comic page. In fact, if  you have a full-time day job, it takes about a week per page. Add to this that sequential storytelling is a rather specific art form with its own rules and approaches. While writing long-form prose is no less easy, it is far less labor intensive. Prose allows you to decompress your storytelling quite a bit and explore the tale in a deeper way.

One last question, what advice would you give any aspiring artists/authors out there?

Before I answer that, there are a few things that need to be said here. If someone is set on becoming an artist or author, there is nothing that you can say that will effect their decision. Even if they are not good, they will pursue it. Also, you can explain the difficult economic realities awaiting artists and writers, but this will fall on deaf ears too. Every would-be creative person believes that they will be the exception, that they will find great success where others have fallen. This is not a bad thing, because they could possibly be right. An artist with limited talent may have just the drive and the artistic voice to take them to the top of their field and really make a difference. I’ve made a point of mentoring a lot of artists over the years, and at least two of them have gone on to much greater success than I have. That makes me feel good in ways you cannot believe.

Art school can help develop an artist, but at the same time if the artist has the drive then all the educational materials in the world are out on the web for free. I believe it’s better to educate yourself. In all my years of free-lance illustration, no one, and by this I mean absolutely no one, has ever asked what art school I got a degree from. Customers don’t care. All they care about is what you can do for them right now, and either you’ve got it or you don’t. If you feel you need to go to art school, fine, but in my way of thinking you are building up tuition debt that will follow you for years, and it won’t change the end product that much.

I got a degree in Creative Writing and have also read probably a hundred how-to books on writing and all its sub-skills (dialogue, plot, world creation, etc.) As far as I am concerned, a little of this is good, and too much clouds your judgement and restricts your writing. Because of this, I have not read any writing how-to books in about a quarter of a century. My feeling is that you should go write a lot, and learn on the job, and not read about writing instead. Find your own way. Be your own teacher. Observe the world and stories by other writers. This is as close as I get to writing advice.

Scott, I want to thank you for your time.  We’ve enjoyed getting to know you a bit more.  I wish you all the success in the world.  Readers, you can follow Scott at the links below.

Thanks again!

http://www.johnnysaturn.com/

https://www.facebook.com/johnnysaturn11

https://www.facebook.com/johnnysaturn/

https://www.amazon.com/Scott-A-Story/e/B0081LHY72

 

 

 

 

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