Friday Review: Floor 21: Descent by Jason Luthor

To read my review of the the first book in the series, Floor 21, go here.

FLOOR 21: Descent (The Tower Legacy)FLOOR 21: Descent by Jason Luthor

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Floor 21: Descent picks up where Floor 21 left off. The remnants of humanity, or at least all that we know of, are living in what is essentially a skyscraper that they refer to as the Tower. There is an almost sentient infection, known as the Creep, infesting the lower floors of the Tower, and the surviving people are confined to the upper floors, trying to keep the Creep at bay. Jackie is now one of the Scavengers, an elite trained group that venture into the lower Creep-infested floors to gather any supplies and food left when the Creep either killed or forced those living there higher up in the Tower. Jackie and her team are about to set out on their first mission, which has several goals. One of them is to try an determine what happened to the team that disappeared in the first book.

Like Floor 21, this story is told from Jackie’s first person point of view via the recordings she makes, interspersed in the last part of the book with another voice. This mimics the structure of the first book. It’s almost stream of consciousness at times, with her simply talking freely about what she’s doing, how she’s feeling, and her life in general. Jackie has grown in response to all that has happened, but her voice is true and very fitting a young adult in her circumstances. Not only is she dealing with the dangers of her status as Scavenger, but she also has problems with her parents, her best friend, and confusion over boys. It all makes her a nicely rounded character, and not a stereotype or trope.

This story takes some really dark turns and ramps up the creepiness (pun intended!) of the lower floors. There are more dangers and traps lurking there than ever, and the sense of real peril is all around. There were a few times I thought the story dragged a bit, with a little too much of Jackie’s introspection that could have been broken up by action scenes, but in general, the plot does keep moving forward. Jackie is a terrific heroine- smart, tough, intelligent, but with her own flaws and insecurities.

There were some issues with grammar and perhaps editing that dropped me out of the story at times, but I was pulled back in quickly by the intriguing plot and excellent world building. Both books will strongly appeal to both adults and young adults who enjoy their dystopia with a healthy dose of scary.

View all my reviews

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All of my books are on sale at Smashwords until July 31. Two are half off and two are free. I also recently did an interview on Smashwords that you can read here:

Interview

Here are the books and relevant information:

 

tn_Circle Unbroken Cover (eBook)

When your family runs the mining operation on a planet that supplies a long-depleted Earth with needed resources, there are bound to be those who would like to see you fail. After five years away with the Interstellar Security Corps, Kaili is coming home after the death of her grandmother as a key participant in the ceremony to install her sister as head of the company and the ruling planetary council. She and her partner land in the middle of old resentments and new threats.

Like all of her people, Kaili is gifted with psi abilities developed over generations living in close harmony with their world- what outsiders see as magic. The ceremony investing her sister with her new positions will be a formal ritual, and Kaili, as her sister’s closest relative, will complete the binding Circle.

Accidents and unrest are growing in the mine operations, and Kaili and her partner, Jeff, uncover evidence that her sister will be formally challenged at the ceremony. When Kaili goes missing right before the ceremony, and returns with no apparent memory of the past few days, Jeff knows something is not right. He will need to use a little magic of his own to make sure Kaili is ready to face the family’s enemies. If not, it could mean both sisters’ lives.

“Circle Unbroken is an awesome mix of two genres, masterfully woven together into a strong story.” From a review on Readcommendations

The novel “Circle Unbroken” is on sale now through July 31 at 50% off its regular price of $3.99. Coupon code is PL25C

tn_Six of One

“Six of One: A Collection of Short Fantasy” by M.A. Kropp is a set of six short stories, set in varied worlds of magic and mayhem. Included are:

A Girl, An Elf, and a Shoe– An elf causes a mix-up the day before the big race
With Pen In Hand– A wizardly writer creates his own audience
Impish– An apprentice sorcerer lets the imp out of the bag- or box
Where Angels Tread– What if Heaven and Hell are more like The Sopranos than Seraphim? A noir style story in two parts, where a vital piece of Heavenly equipment goes missing.
Siren Song– A young accountant has an encounter with a mermaid and her companion and must think quickly to save his father.
Peepers– A young man visiting from the city finds the nighttime song of some tiny frogs irresistible.

“Six of One” is also at 50% off its regular price of $1.99. Coupon code is EW65A

 

tn_Survival of the Fittest (Front Cover)

A hundred years after Earth’s final environmental collapse, the human population is scattered, living in deep caves or underground to escape the heat and radiation that still ravage the planet. But some species adapted better to the changes. Sam, a genetically engineered lizard, is part of an ongoing program to discover what allowed his kind to evolve so quickly. Intelligent, able to communicate, and make decisions, is Sam a person or an experiment? When another survivor of the devastation threatens the promising food crops being developed, Sam may be given the chance to prove himself.“Survival of the Fittest” is FREE until July 31. Coupon code is WW27A.

 

 

Feedmypeople-thumb    The climate is ruined. Cycles of torrential rain and snow alternate with heat waves that make it dangerous to be outdoors for long. Most of the farmable land is either underwater from rising oceans or destroyed in the severe weather cycles. Food is in short supply, and Beni Oligowma controls the distribution of what there is in his local area. Grocery store owners Frank and his father have to live with whatever Beni decides is fair. And that usually means Frank can’t afford the best that’s available. When a university student returns home with an experimental method that may provide a new way to grow food, Frank is determined to help the system succeed, even if it means a confrontation with Beni.
“Feed My People” is a short story, set in a dystopian science fiction world, and is free without need for a code.

Wednesday Wanderings: Conductors Cast Spells, Vitamin D Research in Old Teeth, Nanotech for Indy Driver, and Bowie’s Art on Tour

Basquiat-Air-Power

Well, who knew?

Conductors Casting Spells

Teeth from skeletons hundreds of years old provide Vitamin D evidence:

Vitamin D in Teeth

Indy driver Tony Kanaan is using nanotechnology in his shirt to help measure physical stresses:

Indy Tech

Some of David Bowie’s collection of contemporary art is going on tour before it goes on auction:

Bowie’s Art Collection

(Image from Billboard.com)

==============================================
All of my books are discounted at Smashwords.com until July 31. Two are half off and two are free. Please check them out, and, as always, if you read and enjoy, a review is muchly appreciated! I also just completed and interview there, so you can check that out, also.
Here are the books and relevant information:

 

tn_Circle Unbroken Cover (eBook)

When your family runs the mining operation on a planet that supplies a long-depleted Earth with needed resources, there are bound to be those who would like to see you fail. After five years away with the Interstellar Security Corps, Kaili is coming home after the death of her grandmother as a key participant in the ceremony to install her sister as head of the company and the ruling planetary council. She and her partner land in the middle of old resentments and new threats.

Like all of her people, Kaili is gifted with psi abilities developed over generations living in close harmony with their world- what outsiders see as magic. The ceremony investing her sister with her new positions will be a formal ritual, and Kaili, as her sister’s closest relative, will complete the binding Circle.

Accidents and unrest are growing in the mine operations, and Kaili and her partner, Jeff, uncover evidence that her sister will be formally challenged at the ceremony. When Kaili goes missing right before the ceremony, and returns with no apparent memory of the past few days, Jeff knows something is not right. He will need to use a little magic of his own to make sure Kaili is ready to face the family’s enemies. If not, it could mean both sisters’ lives.

“Circle Unbroken is an awesome mix of two genres, masterfully woven together into a strong story.” From a review on Readcommendations

The novel “Circle Unbroken” is on sale now through July 31 at 50% off its regular price of $3.99. Coupon code is PL25C

tn_Six of One

“Six of One: A Collection of Short Fantasy” by M.A. Kropp is a set of six short stories, set in varied worlds of magic and mayhem. Included are:

A Girl, An Elf, and a Shoe– An elf causes a mix-up the day before the big race
With Pen In Hand– A wizardly writer creates his own audience
Impish– An apprentice sorcerer lets the imp out of the bag- or box
Where Angels Tread– What if Heaven and Hell are more like The Sopranos than Seraphim? A noir style story in two parts, where a vital piece of Heavenly equipment goes missing.
Siren Song– A young accountant has an encounter with a mermaid and her companion and must think quickly to save his father.
Peepers– A young man visiting from the city finds the nighttime song of some tiny frogs irresistible.

“Six of One” is also at 50% off its regular price of $1.99. Coupon code is EW65A

 

tn_Survival of the Fittest (Front Cover)

A hundred years after Earth’s final environmental collapse, the human population is scattered, living in deep caves or underground to escape the heat and radiation that still ravage the planet. But some species adapted better to the changes. Sam, a genetically engineered lizard, is part of an ongoing program to discover what allowed his kind to evolve so quickly. Intelligent, able to communicate, and make decisions, is Sam a person or an experiment? When another survivor of the devastation threatens the promising food crops being developed, Sam may be given the chance to prove himself.“Survival of the Fittest” is FREE until July 31. Coupon code is WW27A.

 

 

Feedmypeople-thumb    The climate is ruined. Cycles of torrential rain and snow alternate with heat waves that make it dangerous to be outdoors for long. Most of the farmable land is either underwater from rising oceans or destroyed in the severe weather cycles. Food is in short supply, and Beni Oligowma controls the distribution of what there is in his local area. Grocery store owners Frank and his father have to live with whatever Beni decides is fair. And that usually means Frank can’t afford the best that’s available. When a university student returns home with an experimental method that may provide a new way to grow food, Frank is determined to help the system succeed, even if it means a confrontation with Beni.
“Feed My People” is a short story, set in a dystopian science fiction world, and is free without need for a code.

Monday Musings: Deck Garden, Revisited

IMG_1101

A couple months ago, I posted about the deck garden I planted this year. You can revisit that post and see the beginning pictures here:

New Deck Garden

Now that summer is in full swing, I thought I would post a few pictures to show you how things are doing. Even if I do say so myself, things are looking pretty good:

The tomato planter has really grown well. There are a lot of green tomatoes on it now, and still many blossoms that will provide more.

I have to fill the water reservoir about every other day with the heat we’ve been having. If they were growing conventionally, I’d probably have to water every day in this heat. I  like this planter, and I think will we definitely add another next year.

The herbs are rather happy out there as well. The basil is growing like crazy, and the chives are so tall now, they keep falling over.

And here are a few pretty flowers from out there. A blossom from the hanging fuchsia and my miniature rose which is also blooming now.

I think we did okay with growing things here in the new place. Now, if we could get some real rain instead of the three minute showers that only add to the humidity, that would be nice. I am sure the yellow crunchy grass would appreciate it.

==================================================================

My books are on sale at Smashwords.com until July 31. Two are half off, and two are free. Check them out, and if you read one (or more!) I’d appreciate a review! Thank you!!

Here are the books and relevant information:

 

tn_Circle Unbroken Cover (eBook)

When your family runs the mining operation on a planet that supplies a long-depleted Earth with needed resources, there are bound to be those who would like to see you fail. After five years away with the Interstellar Security Corps, Kaili is coming home after the death of her grandmother as a key participant in the ceremony to install her sister as head of the company and the ruling planetary council. She and her partner land in the middle of old resentments and new threats.

Like all of her people, Kaili is gifted with psi abilities developed over generations living in close harmony with their world- what outsiders see as magic. The ceremony investing her sister with her new positions will be a formal ritual, and Kaili, as her sister’s closest relative, will complete the binding Circle.

Accidents and unrest are growing in the mine operations, and Kaili and her partner, Jeff, uncover evidence that her sister will be formally challenged at the ceremony. When Kaili goes missing right before the ceremony, and returns with no apparent memory of the past few days, Jeff knows something is not right. He will need to use a little magic of his own to make sure Kaili is ready to face the family’s enemies. If not, it could mean both sisters’ lives.

“Circle Unbroken is an awesome mix of two genres, masterfully woven together into a strong story.” From a review on Readcommendations

The novel “Circle Unbroken” is on sale now through July 31 at 50% off its regular price of $3.99. Coupon code is PL25C

tn_Six of One

“Six of One: A Collection of Short Fantasy” by M.A. Kropp is a set of six short stories, set in varied worlds of magic and mayhem. Included are:

A Girl, An Elf, and a Shoe– An elf causes a mix-up the day before the big race
With Pen In Hand– A wizardly writer creates his own audience
Impish– An apprentice sorcerer lets the imp out of the bag- or box
Where Angels Tread– What if Heaven and Hell are more like The Sopranos than Seraphim? A noir style story in two parts, where a vital piece of Heavenly equipment goes missing.
Siren Song– A young accountant has an encounter with a mermaid and her companion and must think quickly to save his father.
Peepers– A young man visiting from the city finds the nighttime song of some tiny frogs irresistible.

“Six of One” is also at 50% off its regular price of $1.99. Coupon code is EW65A

 

tn_Survival of the Fittest (Front Cover)

A hundred years after Earth’s final environmental collapse, the human population is scattered, living in deep caves or underground to escape the heat and radiation that still ravage the planet. But some species adapted better to the changes. Sam, a genetically engineered lizard, is part of an ongoing program to discover what allowed his kind to evolve so quickly. Intelligent, able to communicate, and make decisions, is Sam a person or an experiment? When another survivor of the devastation threatens the promising food crops being developed, Sam may be given the chance to prove himself.“Survival of the Fittest” is FREE until July 31. Coupon code is WW27A.

 

 

Feedmypeople-thumb    The climate is ruined. Cycles of torrential rain and snow alternate with heat waves that make it dangerous to be outdoors for long. Most of the farmable land is either underwater from rising oceans or destroyed in the severe weather cycles. Food is in short supply, and Beni Oligowma controls the distribution of what there is in his local area. Grocery store owners Frank and his father have to live with whatever Beni decides is fair. And that usually means Frank can’t afford the best that’s available. When a university student returns home with an experimental method that may provide a new way to grow food, Frank is determined to help the system succeed, even if it means a confrontation with Beni.
“Feed My People” is a short story, set in a dystopian science fiction world, and is free without need for a code.

Friday (Concert) Review: The Steve Augeri Band

IMG_1052

Last night, the BaldMan and I went to the Blue Ocean Music Hall in Salisbury Beach, MA to see the Steve Augeri Band. I didn’t realize he was back there this year. Apparently, when our email addresses changed a while back, I didn’t update my newsletter subscription to the Hall and I haven’t been getting concert updates. At the end of last week, a friend contacted me and said she had two tickets to the show with meet and greet that she couldn’t use since she ended up having to work last night. Did I want them? Well, yes!

For those who don’t known, Steve Augeri has been the lead singer for Tyketto, Tall Stories, and is probably most well known for being the lead singer for Journey from 1998-2006. Journey is where I first became aware of him. He’s terrific singer, plays guitar, and is one of the nicest guys you could ever want to meet. While he was with Journey, I was one of “those” fans- went to every show that came around here, and did two trips to CA with a Journey fan group. One of them was for the unveiling of Journey’s star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Not only were they great trips for the music, but I met some truly awesome people on those trips, many of whom are still friends today. He now has his own band, and they do an almost all-Journey show.

It was a great show! The band has tons of energy, they are all quite good musicians (the drummer, particularly, was really good), and it was so good to see Steve onstage again. The audience was really enthusiastic (but who doesn’t love all those Journey songs, right?), screaming, singing along, and just doing what fans at a rock show do. I ended the night (as usual) with no voice left! It’s been a while since we’ve been to any shows, and I gotta say, I had a really great time!

So, the setlist (not in performance order, except that they opened with Separate Ways), as well as we could remember it:

Separate Ways
Who’s Cryin’ Now
Send Her My Love
Don’t Stop Believin’
In the Moment (new from the SAB)
Faithfully
Higher Place
Lights
When You Love A Woman
Anyway You Want It
Chain Reaction
Ask the Lonely
Stone In Love
Wheel in the Sky
People Get Ready
Lovin’ Touchin’ Squeezin’ (which was an extended version- as usual in concert- with all sorts of bits of things in there)

Highlights for me were When You Love a Woman. I love the way Steve sings this one. Higher Place. So, so happy to hear something from Arrival which is one of my favorite Journey albums. The people around me were quite well aware how happy I was to hear that one, too!😀 And, of course, Faithfully, which is still my favorite Journey song.

All in all, it was a great night, and I’d do it again in a heartbeat. Thank you, Steve and band, for a wonderful show. And thank you again, Maureen. Sorry you couldn’t make it (sorta!) and glad you thought of me!

Now, I will leave you with a few pictures. Enjoy!

===============================================

All my books are on sale on Smasshwords.com until July 31. Two are half off, and two are free. Check them out! (And kindly leave a review if you do read one. Thanks much!)

Here are the books and relevant information:

tn_Circle Unbroken Cover (eBook)

When your family runs the mining operation on a planet that supplies a long-depleted Earth with needed resources, there are bound to be those who would like to see you fail. After five years away with the Interstellar Security Corps, Kaili is coming home after the death of her grandmother as a key participant in the ceremony to install her sister as head of the company and the ruling planetary council. She and her partner land in the middle of old resentments and new threats.

Like all of her people, Kaili is gifted with psi abilities developed over generations living in close harmony with their world- what outsiders see as magic. The ceremony investing her sister with her new positions will be a formal ritual, and Kaili, as her sister’s closest relative, will complete the binding Circle.

Accidents and unrest are growing in the mine operations, and Kaili and her partner, Jeff, uncover evidence that her sister will be formally challenged at the ceremony. When Kaili goes missing right before the ceremony, and returns with no apparent memory of the past few days, Jeff knows something is not right. He will need to use a little magic of his own to make sure Kaili is ready to face the family’s enemies. If not, it could mean both sisters’ lives.

“Circle Unbroken is an awesome mix of two genres, masterfully woven together into a strong story.” From a review on Readcommendations

The novel “Circle Unbroken” is on sale now through July 31 at 50% off its regular price of $3.99. Coupon code is PL25C

tn_Six of One

“Six of One: A Collection of Short Fantasy” by M.A. Kropp is a set of six short stories, set in varied worlds of magic and mayhem. Included are:

A Girl, An Elf, and a Shoe– An elf causes a mix-up the day before the big race
With Pen In Hand– A wizardly writer creates his own audience
Impish– An apprentice sorcerer lets the imp out of the bag- or box
Where Angels Tread– What if Heaven and Hell are more like The Sopranos than Seraphim? A noir style story in two parts, where a vital piece of Heavenly equipment goes missing.
Siren Song– A young accountant has an encounter with a mermaid and her companion and must think quickly to save his father.
Peepers– A young man visiting from the city finds the nighttime song of some tiny frogs irresistible.

“Six of One” is also at 50% off its regular price of $1.99. Coupon code is EW65A

tn_Survival of the Fittest (Front Cover)

A hundred years after Earth’s final environmental collapse, the human population is scattered, living in deep caves or underground to escape the heat and radiation that still ravage the planet. But some species adapted better to the changes. Sam, a genetically engineered lizard, is part of an ongoing program to discover what allowed his kind to evolve so quickly. Intelligent, able to communicate, and make decisions, is Sam a person or an experiment? When another survivor of the devastation threatens the promising food crops being developed, Sam may be given the chance to prove himself.“Survival of the Fittest” is FREE until July 31. Coupon code is WW27A.

Feedmypeople-thumb    The climate is ruined. Cycles of torrential rain and snow alternate with heat waves that make it dangerous to be outdoors for long. Most of the farmable land is either underwater from rising oceans or destroyed in the severe weather cycles. Food is in short supply, and Beni Oligowma controls the distribution of what there is in his local area. Grocery store owners Frank and his father have to live with whatever Beni decides is fair. And that usually means Frank can’t afford the best that’s available. When a university student returns home with an experimental method that may provide a new way to grow food, Frank is determined to help the system succeed, even if it means a confrontation with Beni.
“Feed My People” is a short story, set in a dystopian science fiction world, and is free without need for a code.

 

 

Wednesday Wanderings: Marvel Movie Easter Eggs, Maybe the World is Better then We Think, Living on Mars, and Navy Women Sing Folk Song

The Wandering

Came up here to the office this morning and found no internet. When the BaldMan checked the Xfinity app, sure enough, it said: There is an outage in your area. No kidding! So, I went and did other things: a manicure, some laundry, you know, the Things You Do When There Is No Internet. We are back in business now, so better late than never with the Wednesday links, right?

Here you go. THE list of pretty much all of the Easter eggs in the MCU:

Marvel Movie Easter Eggs

Here are ten charts that say maybe the world isn’t as bad as some might have us think:

The World Is Better 

A short video on the problems of living and working on Mars:

Journey to Mars

I love choral music of all types. Here’s a lovely rendition of Lead Belly’s song “Bring Me Little Water Sylvie” sung by the women of the US Navy Sea Chanters:

Bring Me Little Water Sylvie

(Image from scribendi.com)

======================================================
My books are all on sale at Smashwords through July 31. Two are half off, and two are free. Please check them out if you would. And if you read one of them, a review is always appreciated! Thank you!
Here are the books and relevant information:

 

tn_Circle Unbroken Cover (eBook)

When your family runs the mining operation on a planet that supplies a long-depleted Earth with needed resources, there are bound to be those who would like to see you fail. After five years away with the Interstellar Security Corps, Kaili is coming home after the death of her grandmother as a key participant in the ceremony to install her sister as head of the company and the ruling planetary council. She and her partner land in the middle of old resentments and new threats.

Like all of her people, Kaili is gifted with psi abilities developed over generations living in close harmony with their world- what outsiders see as magic. The ceremony investing her sister with her new positions will be a formal ritual, and Kaili, as her sister’s closest relative, will complete the binding Circle.

Accidents and unrest are growing in the mine operations, and Kaili and her partner, Jeff, uncover evidence that her sister will be formally challenged at the ceremony. When Kaili goes missing right before the ceremony, and returns with no apparent memory of the past few days, Jeff knows something is not right. He will need to use a little magic of his own to make sure Kaili is ready to face the family’s enemies. If not, it could mean both sisters’ lives.

“Circle Unbroken is an awesome mix of two genres, masterfully woven together into a strong story.” From a review on Readcommendations

The novel “Circle Unbroken” is on sale now through July 31 at 50% off its regular price of $3.99. Coupon code is PL25C

tn_Six of One

“Six of One: A Collection of Short Fantasy” by M.A. Kropp is a set of six short stories, set in varied worlds of magic and mayhem. Included are:

A Girl, An Elf, and a Shoe– An elf causes a mix-up the day before the big race
With Pen In Hand– A wizardly writer creates his own audience
Impish– An apprentice sorcerer lets the imp out of the bag- or box
Where Angels Tread– What if Heaven and Hell are more like The Sopranos than Seraphim? A noir style story in two parts, where a vital piece of Heavenly equipment goes missing.
Siren Song– A young accountant has an encounter with a mermaid and her companion and must think quickly to save his father.
Peepers– A young man visiting from the city finds the nighttime song of some tiny frogs irresistible.

“Six of One” is also at 50% off its regular price of $1.99. Coupon code is EW65A

 

tn_Survival of the Fittest (Front Cover)

A hundred years after Earth’s final environmental collapse, the human population is scattered, living in deep caves or underground to escape the heat and radiation that still ravage the planet. But some species adapted better to the changes. Sam, a genetically engineered lizard, is part of an ongoing program to discover what allowed his kind to evolve so quickly. Intelligent, able to communicate, and make decisions, is Sam a person or an experiment? When another survivor of the devastation threatens the promising food crops being developed, Sam may be given the chance to prove himself.“Survival of the Fittest” is FREE until July 31. Coupon code is WW27A.

 

 

Feedmypeople-thumb    The climate is ruined. Cycles of torrential rain and snow alternate with heat waves that make it dangerous to be outdoors for long. Most of the farmable land is either underwater from rising oceans or destroyed in the severe weather cycles. Food is in short supply, and Beni Oligowma controls the distribution of what there is in his local area. Grocery store owners Frank and his father have to live with whatever Beni decides is fair. And that usually means Frank can’t afford the best that’s available. When a university student returns home with an experimental method that may provide a new way to grow food, Frank is determined to help the system succeed, even if it means a confrontation with Beni.
“Feed My People” is a short story, set in a dystopian science fiction world, and is free without need for a code.

Monday Musings: Revising- Why I Hate It and Why It’s Vital

Writer

I am in the process of doing the first round of revisions on a sci-fi space opera novel that I started a few months ago. I got the first draft done fairly quickly, as is usual. And now I am working my way through the first round of revisions. I will admit right here that I hate revising. It is my least favorite part of the writing process. I really enjoy drafting, and I don’t particularly mind proofreading. But I really, really do not enjoy revising.

I know a few authors who love the revision process. They are excited by the idea of filling out their story and all the good stuff that revising adds. And I get that. I mean, I know that revising is a necessary part of the process. Very few writers get it right the first time. First drafts can be messy and full of holes and unconnected bits. Revising is where you (presumably) fix all that. So, why is it my least favorite part?

Mainly because I tend to be a “lean” writer. By that, I mean I write with a rather spare, uncluttered style. That is also how I think of the story- main plot, goes from beginning, to middle, to end. Done. My first draft is, like many, the basic plot of the story, start to finish. Minimal world building, minimal fleshing out of detail, few or no subplots. So far, it sounds like exactly what a first draft is, right? Right. Except when it comes time to dig in and fill out those details, I am always a little lost. My brain is saying, “But it’s finished. We got in trouble, we figured out the problem, and we solved it. The end.” And that’s a great approach and a good goal for a short story. Not so much with a novel.

First of all, a novel is a lot longer. With a short story, you don’t necessarily have room for a lot of extra stuff to happen. You get in, get ‘er done, and get out. Readers expect more from a novel. They expect more detail, more character development, more setting, maybe a few subplots.

And then there is the old bugger- word count. Now, yeah, I know- don’t worry about word count. Tell the story that needs to be told. But. But- again, there is an expectation as far as the length of a novel goes. No, I don’t think the average reader sits down and actually counts the words in a story, but number of pages is relevant. I understand that. No one wants to pay novel price for a book that looks “short” even if the story is good, well-written, and complete. You know, that old “more bang for your buck” thing. And my first draft novels usually come in just at the bare minimum word count to be called a novel. So, lots of stuff needs to be added without watering down or losing the tightness of the original plot.

The whole process is hard for me. Trying to add enough detail but no too much. Gotta leave something for the reader’s imagination to fill in. Sci-fi and fantasy tend to require a fair bit of world building since the settings are often unfamiliar and strange and otherworldly. Urban fantasy may allow a bit less in this category, as those stories are often set in our world, which is already familiar. Characters need to be more than just puppets who act as directed by the writer holding the strings. Sight, sound, smell, touch are all part of how each one of us experiences the world, and the same should be true of the people in a story.

See? I get it. I know how important revising is for many reasons. I know you can’t have a good, finished story without it. I just have a hard time wrapping my head around some of that fleshing out. Some is easy. I read through a chapter and have notes jotted all through on development. Other times, I look at the words I’ve written and think I should add detail and expand on some things, but I am afraid it will be too much, and things will start to drag and get bogged down. Readers will get bored.

Revising is the one part of the process I truly struggle with. I think I am making a bit of progress because it seems each time I sit down to do a read through with revising in mind, I find more things that spark ideas on how to flesh out the story without bogging it down. I see subplots where there were none. I feel, smell, hear things I didn’t when writing the draft. It’s still hard, and I don’t know that I will ever love revising. But it is a vital part of the process, and one I need to work on.

========================================================

All of my stories are discounted at Smashwords until July 31. Get ’em now while they are on sale!

Here are the books and relevant information:

 

tn_Circle Unbroken Cover (eBook)

When your family runs the mining operation on a planet that supplies a long-depleted Earth with needed resources, there are bound to be those who would like to see you fail. After five years away with the Interstellar Security Corps, Kaili is coming home after the death of her grandmother as a key participant in the ceremony to install her sister as head of the company and the ruling planetary council. She and her partner land in the middle of old resentments and new threats.

Like all of her people, Kaili is gifted with psi abilities developed over generations living in close harmony with their world- what outsiders see as magic. The ceremony investing her sister with her new positions will be a formal ritual, and Kaili, as her sister’s closest relative, will complete the binding Circle.

Accidents and unrest are growing in the mine operations, and Kaili and her partner, Jeff, uncover evidence that her sister will be formally challenged at the ceremony. When Kaili goes missing right before the ceremony, and returns with no apparent memory of the past few days, Jeff knows something is not right. He will need to use a little magic of his own to make sure Kaili is ready to face the family’s enemies. If not, it could mean both sisters’ lives.

“Circle Unbroken is an awesome mix of two genres, masterfully woven together into a strong story.” From a review on Readcommendations

The novel “Circle Unbroken” is on sale now through July 31 at 50% off its regular price of $3.99. Coupon code is PL25C

tn_Six of One

“Six of One: A Collection of Short Fantasy” by M.A. Kropp is a set of six short stories, set in varied worlds of magic and mayhem. Included are:

A Girl, An Elf, and a Shoe– An elf causes a mix-up the day before the big race
With Pen In Hand– A wizardly writer creates his own audience
Impish– An apprentice sorcerer lets the imp out of the bag- or box
Where Angels Tread– What if Heaven and Hell are more like The Sopranos than Seraphim? A noir style story in two parts, where a vital piece of Heavenly equipment goes missing.
Siren Song– A young accountant has an encounter with a mermaid and her companion and must think quickly to save his father.
Peepers– A young man visiting from the city finds the nighttime song of some tiny frogs irresistible.

“Six of One” is also at 50% off its regular price of $1.99. Coupon code is EW65A

 

tn_Survival of the Fittest (Front Cover)

A hundred years after Earth’s final environmental collapse, the human population is scattered, living in deep caves or underground to escape the heat and radiation that still ravage the planet. But some species adapted better to the changes. Sam, a genetically engineered lizard, is part of an ongoing program to discover what allowed his kind to evolve so quickly. Intelligent, able to communicate, and make decisions, is Sam a person or an experiment? When another survivor of the devastation threatens the promising food crops being developed, Sam may be given the chance to prove himself.“Survival of the Fittest” is FREE until July 31. Coupon code is WW27A.

 

 

Feedmypeople-thumb    The climate is ruined. Cycles of torrential rain and snow alternate with heat waves that make it dangerous to be outdoors for long. Most of the farmable land is either underwater from rising oceans or destroyed in the severe weather cycles. Food is in short supply, and Beni Oligowma controls the distribution of what there is in his local area. Grocery store owners Frank and his father have to live with whatever Beni decides is fair. And that usually means Frank can’t afford the best that’s available. When a university student returns home with an experimental method that may provide a new way to grow food, Frank is determined to help the system succeed, even if it means a confrontation with Beni.
“Feed My People” is a short story, set in a dystopian science fiction world, and is free without need for a code.

Friday Review: Pandora Gets Jealous (The Mythic Adventures) by Carolyn Henesey

Pandora Gets Jealous (Mythic Misadventures #1)Pandora Gets Jealous by Carolyn Hennesy

4 of 5 stars
Thirteen year old Pandora Atheneus Andromaeche Helena of the House of Prometheus is determined to have the best prop for her school project, and to show the Mean Girls that she and her friends are not misfits. So, she borrows the infamous box given to her father by Zeus- the one that holds all the evils the gods locked inside it. Of course, things don’t go exactly according to her plans and the box gets opened, releasing seven evils into the world. Zeus is not pleased, and charges Pandy with finding and returning each of the evils to the box. She must do it within six months, and her family can’t help. If she fails, she and her family will be doomed to the worst torments Zeus can come up with for eternity and beyond. Her two best friends and her dog, who aren’t technically family, join her on her first quest: finding Jealousy.

Okay, yes, this is another kid’s book. But I like to see what’s out there for the kids now and again, and I’m a sucker for mythology-based stories of any type. And this one is pretty good. It does a nice job of weaving the story of Pandora’s Box with Prometheus’ fire-stealing and other bits of Greek mythology. The characters are good. Pandy and her friends are very much teenaged girls- worried about school, obsessing over clothes and jewelry, pining over the cute boys. The adventure they take on to find Jealousy is stretched just enough to make it a fun read without going overboard into too fantastic to believe. There are touches of humor, moments of emotion, and lots of action. It was a fairly quick read for me, and I think most middle-grade kids would find it quite readable, as well. It is the type of story that would be a good way to introduce and perhaps get a child’s interest piqued in the Greek legends. If the rest of the series is as good, there is a lot of fun reading out there for the kids.

View all my reviews

=======================================================

All of my books are on sale at Smashwords until July 31. Two are half off and two are free:

Here are the books and relevant information:

 

tn_Circle Unbroken Cover (eBook)

When your family runs the mining operation on a planet that supplies a long-depleted Earth with needed resources, there are bound to be those who would like to see you fail. After five years away with the Interstellar Security Corps, Kaili is coming home after the death of her grandmother as a key participant in the ceremony to install her sister as head of the company and the ruling planetary council. She and her partner land in the middle of old resentments and new threats.

Like all of her people, Kaili is gifted with psi abilities developed over generations living in close harmony with their world- what outsiders see as magic. The ceremony investing her sister with her new positions will be a formal ritual, and Kaili, as her sister’s closest relative, will complete the binding Circle.

Accidents and unrest are growing in the mine operations, and Kaili and her partner, Jeff, uncover evidence that her sister will be formally challenged at the ceremony. When Kaili goes missing right before the ceremony, and returns with no apparent memory of the past few days, Jeff knows something is not right. He will need to use a little magic of his own to make sure Kaili is ready to face the family’s enemies. If not, it could mean both sisters’ lives.

“Circle Unbroken is an awesome mix of two genres, masterfully woven together into a strong story.” From a review on Readcommendations

The novel “Circle Unbroken” is on sale now through July 31 at 50% off its regular price of $3.99. Coupon code is PL25C

tn_Six of One

“Six of One: A Collection of Short Fantasy” by M.A. Kropp is a set of six short stories, set in varied worlds of magic and mayhem. Included are:

A Girl, An Elf, and a Shoe– An elf causes a mix-up the day before the big race
With Pen In Hand– A wizardly writer creates his own audience
Impish– An apprentice sorcerer lets the imp out of the bag- or box
Where Angels Tread– What if Heaven and Hell are more like The Sopranos than Seraphim? A noir style story in two parts, where a vital piece of Heavenly equipment goes missing.
Siren Song– A young accountant has an encounter with a mermaid and her companion and must think quickly to save his father.
Peepers– A young man visiting from the city finds the nighttime song of some tiny frogs irresistible.

“Six of One” is also at 50% off its regular price of $1.99. Coupon code is EW65A

 

tn_Survival of the Fittest (Front Cover)

A hundred years after Earth’s final environmental collapse, the human population is scattered, living in deep caves or underground to escape the heat and radiation that still ravage the planet. But some species adapted better to the changes. Sam, a genetically engineered lizard, is part of an ongoing program to discover what allowed his kind to evolve so quickly. Intelligent, able to communicate, and make decisions, is Sam a person or an experiment? When another survivor of the devastation threatens the promising food crops being developed, Sam may be given the chance to prove himself.“Survival of the Fittest” is FREE until July 31. Coupon code is WW27A.

 

 

Feedmypeople-thumb    The climate is ruined. Cycles of torrential rain and snow alternate with heat waves that make it dangerous to be outdoors for long. Most of the farmable land is either underwater from rising oceans or destroyed in the severe weather cycles. Food is in short supply, and Beni Oligowma controls the distribution of what there is in his local area. Grocery store owners Frank and his father have to live with whatever Beni decides is fair. And that usually means Frank can’t afford the best that’s available. When a university student returns home with an experimental method that may provide a new way to grow food, Frank is determined to help the system succeed, even if it means a confrontation with Beni.
“Feed My People” is a short story, set in a dystopian science fiction world, and is free without need for a code.

Wednesday Wanderings: Juno Arrives at Jupiter, Batman v. Superman, Jumping Through the Earth, and GPS Signal Twinkles

Juno

Yesterday, the Juno spacecraft arrived at its destination: Jupiter. Looking forward to some really awesome photos and information as it runs through its mission:

Juno Spacecraft

I am (as most who know me are aware) a Marvel Comics fan, and not so much a DC fan. Not that I think there’s anything fundamentally wrong with DC. I just prefer the Marvel characters. So, I can’t speak to what the movies are like, but this “review” of Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice (Ultimate Edition) by Chuck Wendig is hilarious. No offense to any DC fans or those who liked the movie, of course.

Batman v. Superman

So, what if you dug that tunnel through the Earth all the way to China and jumped in? What would happen? Turns out some scientists have thought about just that:

Tunnel Through the Earth

You know how your GPS signal sometimes just goes wanky for no reason? Maybe you should blame the ionosphere:

Twinkle, Twinkle, GPS

(Image from nasa.gov)
===============================================

All of my books are on sale until July 31 on Smashwords. Two are 50% off and two are free. Check them out:

tn_Circle Unbroken Cover (eBook)

When your family runs the mining operation on a planet that supplies a long-depleted Earth with needed resources, there are bound to be those who would like to see you fail. After five years away with the Interstellar Security Corps, Kaili is coming home after the death of her grandmother as a key participant in the ceremony to install her sister as head of the company and the ruling planetary council. She and her partner land in the middle of old resentments and new threats.

Like all of her people, Kaili is gifted with psi abilities developed over generations living in close harmony with their world- what outsiders see as magic. The ceremony investing her sister with her new positions will be a formal ritual, and Kaili, as her sister’s closest relative, will complete the binding Circle.

Accidents and unrest are growing in the mine operations, and Kaili and her partner, Jeff, uncover evidence that her sister will be formally challenged at the ceremony. When Kaili goes missing right before the ceremony, and returns with no apparent memory of the past few days, Jeff knows something is not right. He will need to use a little magic of his own to make sure Kaili is ready to face the family’s enemies. If not, it could mean both sisters’ lives.

“Circle Unbroken is an awesome mix of two genres, masterfully woven together into a strong story.” From a review on Readcommendations

The novel “Circle Unbroken” is on sale now through July 31 at 50% off its regular price of $3.99. Coupon code is PL25C

tn_Six of One

“Six of One: A Collection of Short Fantasy” by M.A. Kropp is a set of six short stories, set in varied worlds of magic and mayhem. Included are:

A Girl, An Elf, and a Shoe– An elf causes a mix-up the day before the big race
With Pen In Hand– A wizardly writer creates his own audience
Impish– An apprentice sorcerer lets the imp out of the bag- or box
Where Angels Tread– What if Heaven and Hell are more like The Sopranos than Seraphim? A noir style story in two parts, where a vital piece of Heavenly equipment goes missing.
Siren Song– A young accountant has an encounter with a mermaid and her companion and must think quickly to save his father.
Peepers– A young man visiting from the city finds the nighttime song of some tiny frogs irresistible.

“Six of One” is also at 50% off its regular price of $1.99. Coupon code is EW65A

 

tn_Survival of the Fittest (Front Cover)

A hundred years after Earth’s final environmental collapse, the human population is scattered, living in deep caves or underground to escape the heat and radiation that still ravage the planet. But some species adapted better to the changes. Sam, a genetically engineered lizard, is part of an ongoing program to discover what allowed his kind to evolve so quickly. Intelligent, able to communicate, and make decisions, is Sam a person or an experiment? When another survivor of the devastation threatens the promising food crops being developed, Sam may be given the chance to prove himself.“Survival of the Fittest” is FREE until July 31. Coupon code is WW27A.

 

 

Feedmypeople-thumb    The climate is ruined. Cycles of torrential rain and snow alternate with heat waves that make it dangerous to be outdoors for long. Most of the farmable land is either underwater from rising oceans or destroyed in the severe weather cycles. Food is in short supply, and Beni Oligowma controls the distribution of what there is in his local area. Grocery store owners Frank and his father have to live with whatever Beni decides is fair. And that usually means Frank can’t afford the best that’s available. When a university student returns home with an experimental method that may provide a new way to grow food, Frank is determined to help the system succeed, even if it means a confrontation with Beni.
“Feed My People” is a short story, set in a dystopian science fiction world, and is free without need for a code.

Monday Musings:My Books Are on Sale Until the End of the Month

book-sale

Happy Fourth of July to all in the USA. I hope your holiday weekend has been full of fun. Mine was great. We had company on Saturday and Sunday, and are now just relaxing and enjoying the last day of the long weekend.

Smashwords is doing its annual summer sale, and I have enrolled my books. So, if you have been wanting to read one (or more!), this would be a good time to check them out. You will need the coupon codes when you check out to get the discount, but don’t worry. I will post them here and they are also on the books’ sale pages. (They are not on sale on Amazon, sorry.)

Here are the books and relevant information:

 

tn_Circle Unbroken Cover (eBook)

When your family runs the mining operation on a planet that supplies a long-depleted Earth with needed resources, there are bound to be those who would like to see you fail. After five years away with the Interstellar Security Corps, Kaili is coming home after the death of her grandmother as a key participant in the ceremony to install her sister as head of the company and the ruling planetary council. She and her partner land in the middle of old resentments and new threats.

Like all of her people, Kaili is gifted with psi abilities developed over generations living in close harmony with their world- what outsiders see as magic. The ceremony investing her sister with her new positions will be a formal ritual, and Kaili, as her sister’s closest relative, will complete the binding Circle.

Accidents and unrest are growing in the mine operations, and Kaili and her partner, Jeff, uncover evidence that her sister will be formally challenged at the ceremony. When Kaili goes missing right before the ceremony, and returns with no apparent memory of the past few days, Jeff knows something is not right. He will need to use a little magic of his own to make sure Kaili is ready to face the family’s enemies. If not, it could mean both sisters’ lives.

“Circle Unbroken is an awesome mix of two genres, masterfully woven together into a strong story.” From a review on Readcommendations

The novel “Circle Unbroken” is on sale now through July 31 at 50% off its regular price of $3.99. Coupon code is PL25C

tn_Six of One

“Six of One: A Collection of Short Fantasy” by M.A. Kropp is a set of six short stories, set in varied worlds of magic and mayhem. Included are:

A Girl, An Elf, and a Shoe– An elf causes a mix-up the day before the big race
With Pen In Hand– A wizardly writer creates his own audience
Impish– An apprentice sorcerer lets the imp out of the bag- or box
Where Angels Tread– What if Heaven and Hell are more like The Sopranos than Seraphim? A noir style story in two parts, where a vital piece of Heavenly equipment goes missing.
Siren Song– A young accountant has an encounter with a mermaid and her companion and must think quickly to save his father.
Peepers– A young man visiting from the city finds the nighttime song of some tiny frogs irresistible.

“Six of One” is also at 50% off its regular price of $1.99. Coupon code is EW65A

 

tn_Survival of the Fittest (Front Cover)

A hundred years after Earth’s final environmental collapse, the human population is scattered, living in deep caves or underground to escape the heat and radiation that still ravage the planet. But some species adapted better to the changes. Sam, a genetically engineered lizard, is part of an ongoing program to discover what allowed his kind to evolve so quickly. Intelligent, able to communicate, and make decisions, is Sam a person or an experiment? When another survivor of the devastation threatens the promising food crops being developed, Sam may be given the chance to prove himself.“Survival of the Fittest” is FREE until July 31. Coupon code is WW27A.

 

 

Feedmypeople-thumb    The climate is ruined. Cycles of torrential rain and snow alternate with heat waves that make it dangerous to be outdoors for long. Most of the farmable land is either underwater from rising oceans or destroyed in the severe weather cycles. Food is in short supply, and Beni Oligowma controls the distribution of what there is in his local area. Grocery store owners Frank and his father have to live with whatever Beni decides is fair. And that usually means Frank can’t afford the best that’s available. When a university student returns home with an experimental method that may provide a new way to grow food, Frank is determined to help the system succeed, even if it means a confrontation with Beni.
“Feed My People” is a short story, set in a dystopian science fiction world, and is free without need for a code.

(Image from bvdl.org)

Friday Review: Grave Measures (Grave Report #2) by R.R. Virdi

Grave Measures (The Grave Report #2)Grave Measures by R.R. Virdi
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Vincent Graves is back. This time, he wakes up in the body of Charles, who is in a mental institution. All Vincent knows, as usual, is that Charles is dead (otherwise Vincent would not be inhabiting his body) and that his death was caused by a supernatural being. Vincent’s “handler”, the enigmatic as ever Church, gives Vincent forty hours to solve the mystery. Along the way, Vincent connects with an old friend, makes a few new ones, and runs into an assortment of supernatural entities, some willing to help him and some-well, not so much. If Vincent doesn’t find and defeat the killer before his forty hours are up, he will be dead for real.

I like the Grave Report series, really I do. It’s a clever idea: Vincent Graves (not his real name; he has no memory of his real name or past) is a soul without a body. He was killed by some sort of supernatural being, and now is sent to inhabit the bodies of others who have died by supernatural means. He has a time limit for solving the puzzle of what is preying on humankind and eliminate it. If he fails, he will die- for real. The premise is intriguing, the urban fantasy setting is real world enough and blends the supernatural elements well, and the characters are, generally speaking, interesting.

So, what’s the problem? Well, the writing, actually. It just tries too hard. To be clever. To be witty. To be sharp. And, too often, it fails to be any of those. Sentences are often clunky and convoluted. The narration steps back from the story to explain either backstory, or a character’s emotional state, or, in a few cases, a joke. And if you have to explain the joke… All of that takes away from the action and slows the reader down. There are also a lot of pop culture references that unfortunately seem to be in there for effect rather than as part of the character’s personality. Every time the author uses the noun “pang” as a verb, I was popped out of the story while I winced. I hoped some of these issues, which I had with the first book also, would have been solved at least a little in this one.

This series has real potential. The base idea is clever and original. The supernatural world and its inhabitants are, for the most part, intriguing. Characters are good, though some lean a bit too hard on tropes. But the ideas are good, the plot is thought out, and the action, where it is allowed to run through its full course, is fast-paced. A bit more care in the writing, and this could be a really good series.

View all my reviews

=================================================================

Available now:

 

tn_Circle Unbroken Cover (eBook)

After five years away, Kaili is coming home for the ceremony to install her sister as head of the family business. When an old rivalry threatens the family, Kaili and her partner need to use all their skills to save the sisters’ lives. Learn more here.

 

 

 

 

tn_Six of One

A collection of six short fantasy stories set in varied worlds of magic and mayhem. Learn more here.

 

 

 

 

 

tn_Survival of the Fittest (Front Cover)

A short novelette set in a dystopian Earth after the final envinronmental collapse. Sam is a genetically engineered chameleon who may hold the key to mankind’s survival. Learn more here.

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