Book Review – Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon 10 by Naoko Takeuchi

Title: Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon 10

Author/Illustrator: Naoko Takeuchi

Written: 1991

Published: 2004

Translated: 2013

Format: Paperback

When approaching this particular volume of Sailor Moon, I didn’t entirely know what to expect, and yet at the same time I was surprised.  In the past my familiarity with the anime gave me a bit of knowledge of how the manga was going to progress but gradually the two seem to be parting ways in many respects and I love both for their uniqueness.

Over all, this book was a lot more action packed than some of the other manga’s I have read which can be a good and bad things considering I had to rely on images more than words.  Oddly despite my adoration of certain picture books that I have shared on this blog, I find relying on images more difficult than relying on words, but despite this difficulty on my part I did rather enjoy this volume of Sailor Moon.  I was particularly fond of some of the moments shared between Tuxedo Mask and Sailor Moon as well as the relationship that develops between Helios and Chibi-Usa.

It was also fun to learn the truth about the Amazonians and how there was more to the past of the sailor senshi than I initially imagined.  In a way my pre-conceived notions about the sailor scouts has been turned on its side and it is nice to have something new to think about rather than dealing with the same-o same-o.  In the end it was a rather good story and I think I would give it another three stars as I eagerly await the next volume to come out!

Writer Wednesday – Jackie Gamber




Let’s start with the basics.  Who are you?
Tell us (briefly) about you…

I’m a stay-at-home Mom turned professional writer, with a love of books and tea and snuffling, short-snouted dogs. Our current family friend is Lady Ursula, a dignified and lovable English bulldog.

…and a bit about what you’ve written…
I’ve published numerous short stories, poetry, a novella, and novels. Most of my stories have involved an element of science fiction/fantasy/the paranormal; I think because that’s where I get to break some rules and rewrite society’s expectations. It’s fun to examine life through the eyes of an alien, or a mythical creature, and to examine why, in our everyday life, we either believe or don’t believe the things we do.

…and what you’re working on right now.
Currently, I’m in the editing phase on the third and final book of my Leland Dragon series, entitled “Reclamation.”

What are your earliest book-related memories?
One of my earliest book-reading memories is “My Father’s Dragon” by Ruth Stiles Gannon. I’m certain that had a long-lasting effect on me, although I can’t say for sure how that all works. I never woke up one day and decided to write about dragons, but Kallon Redheart, a main character in the Leland Dragon series, definitely introduced himself to me as one, and I couldn’t have written him any other way.

What are your three favorite books?
I have so many favorite books, but I like them each for different reasons. First, without a doubt, is Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” for its redemption and hope. Shelley’s “Frankenstein” -it’s so much more than the cult movies make it out to be. And Wyndham’s “The Midwich Cuckoos” for his utterly charming way of telling a chilling tale. I’ll stop at three, but I could go on and on!

How many books to do you read at any given time?  What are you reading now?
I sometimes have 2 or 3 books going at one time, if I’m reading non-fiction, which I do when I’m involved in my own writing projects. I think because it fires different brain cylinders. Most non-fiction reading of late has been related to how-to’s on screenplay and such, but in my stack of to-be-read fiction are Asimov’s FOUNDATION and Philip K. Dick’s A SCANNER DARKLY, among others.

Finish this sentence; when I curl up with a book, I ___
…become utterly lost to the rest of the world. I might as well be invisible!

To re-read or not to re-read that is the question.
Re-read, and re-read, over and over. Some of my favorite books are so worn around the edges they’ve become soft as fabric.

How likely are you to read a book that’s been recommended to you?
Very likely! Word-of-mouth is one of the best ways to discover new authors and new stories.

How likely are you to recommend a book (that isn’t yours)?
I recommend books all the time! I even do something called “Booktasting”, where I pair a book (usually a classic science fiction novel, but not always) with a certain tea you should drink while reading. It started out as something I was just doing for fun, for myself, since I love both reading and tea. But then tea drinkers, or book readers, began asking me about it, as well as authors, who were interested in knowing what tea I might choose for their book, and I decided to start sharing my Booktastings with the world. It’s been so much fun!

What do you look for in a good book?
I like a book with characters I can root for and a good conundrum I can help them figure out.

Why do you write?
I began writing very young. The trickier part of that question is the answering why–it’s a bit like trying to figure out why some kids climb trees, or collect marbles, or play with dolls, or paint, or play video games. I seemed to be an observer-type and I wrote out poems and story bits to process through what I was seeing. Or feeling. I’ve always been intrigued by mysteries, and writing is one way I explore that.

If you couldn’t be a writer, what would you be?
I would be a baker; it’s one of my other life dreams. In fact, I’ve recently started working in a bakery, in addition to writing, so I’m working my way through my bucket list, slowly but surely.

Where do you draw your inspiration from?
My writing inspiration comes from everywhere, because people are everywhere! I tend toward character-driven fiction, which draws on the “why”. Why does a person feel the way they do? Why do they act a certain way? What about their life could create their fears, their hopes? In my attempts to fill in the blanks, stories emerge.

What has writing taught you about yourself?
Writing has taught me that I can persist as much as I need to, after all. If I can wrangle one thing, I can surely wrangle another. I keep piling dreams on top of aspirations, on top of goals (even becoming a baker, too). I came a little late into this “believing in a dream” life. Took me a while to unhinge my baggage and step out into a brave new world. Deciding I was going to write “for real” was a first step in finding out what I’m capable of.

How do the people in your life seem to view your writing career?
My family has been my best supporters. On days I didn’t think I could keep going, my husband helped me hobble along. And having my two kids be proud of me has been terrific incentive to do my best, and keep on keeping on.

Are there any stereotypes about writers that you don’t think are true?
The writing life is not the glamorous, celebrity-filled life so often shown in movies. It’s a job like a plumber, or a farmer: I go back day after day, and get the words down with a lot of labor.

What do you see as the biggest challenge today for writers starting out?
The publishing industry can be pretty brutal on a sensitive soul. Publishing is a business like any other, and yet its product is subjective art, and so how does combining the two make success? It’s a mystery, both to those inside and outside the publishing world. There are no formulas, and no real repeatable patterns, especially with all the publishing options and changes that have rocked the industry for the last few years. A huge challenge is getting noticed among the din, and getting read.

How do you deal with your fan base?
I don’t really think of myself has having fans; more like fellow readers with whom I can share my love of stories. We all have something to say, and something to share. I share with words, and I’m so grateful for the opportunity to do so, and to have my words, hopefully, touch someone.

Finish this sentence; my fans would be surprised to know ___ about me.
…I’m a gamer, when I have time for it! I was one of the first kids on the block to get Pong (for Christmas, about a hundred years ago) and I’ve enjoyed video games ever since.

Anything else we should know?
I have lots of exciting projects on the way! In addition to Book Three of the Leland Dragon Series, I’m also writing a steampunk fantasy novel. I’ve written a feature length paranormal thriller screenplay, as well as several short film screenplays based on my published stories. I also edited a special issue of the dark fiction magazine Shroud, due out in the coming weeks.

Jackie Gamber is the award-winning author of many short stories, screenplays, and novels, including “Redheart” and “Sela”, Books One and Two of the Leland Dragon Series. For more information about Jackie and her mosaic mind, visit

And meet Jackie elsewhere on the world wide web at:

Book Review – 1602 by Neil Gaiman

Title: Marvel 1602

Author:  Neil Gaiman

Artwork: Andy Kubert & Reinhard Schweizer

Format: Graphic novel/comic collection

Published:  2004

1602 is a collection of 8 parts that operate under a very interesting premise – what if all the Marvel characters start their stories 500 years too soon? – written by the incredible Neil Himself Gaiman.   The story starts with a girl on a boat – 14-year-old Virginia Dare and her protective Indian guide on her way back to England to ask Queen Elisabeth for more money for the Roanoke colony.  At the same time, King James and the Inquisition are both trying to get all the freaks killed.

After that, there is *a lot* that goes on, and honestly, I think that it loses a little something if you’re not really into the comics.  For instance, Hawkeye makes an appearance as an apprentice… named Peter.  And if you weren’t really into Hawkeye or you missed the one offhanded comment that made you go… Oh, wait a minute!… you’d probably miss it.

So, truth be told, I missed most of them.  I mean, Thor was pretty easy, since he came down as, um, Thor.  But was that other one Arachne, Spider Woman or Black Widow?  And if it was Black Widow, who was the other one that I *thought* was Black Widow?  I’m pretty sure those are the X-Men, but I couldn’t name all of them, and even my Ultimate Marvel Character Guide isn’t helping with some of these.  Others aren’t so hard to come up with – Doom, Strange and Banner are called Doom, Strange and Banner, for instance.

Since this is a graphic novel/set of comics, let’s talk about the artwork for a minute.  The artists used a combination of techniques that made the art title pages (there are eight, one for each of the original parts) look like old wood carvings, and really gave the collection a feel of old 17th century artwork.  But some of the illustrations came out a bit odd.  For instance, Queen Elisabeth looks a bit like a groupie for Insane Clown Possee in a couple of them.  And because of the techniques, we lose a lot of the details that we expect in a graphic setting.  Not going to lie, it’s the only reason I read these – for the artwork that accompanies.

So although I give the story a four, I have to give the overall a three out of five.   If you’re into Marvel, don’t miss it, but otherwise, you’ll miss a lot.



Book Review–The Sword And The Dragon By M.R. Mathias

Title: The Sword And The Dragon

Author: M.R. Mathias

Format: Electronic

Published: 2010 [Date of Kindle release]


This is partially a review of the generically-titled fantasy novel, but it’s also a bit of a discussion about how authors can make or break their own work beyond what they do in the crafting process.

The Sword and the Dragon was first released three years ago as a self-published ebook and was lost in the slush pile that is Amazon’s Self-Pubbed E-Book Library.    It started popping up on my purchases as “Customers who bought this also bought…” and eventually I gave in.  I figured it was only a dollar and so why not?

Now it has nearly five stars and hundreds of readers pushing it to the top of the pile.  There are many accolades that make  it very attractive to someone looking for something new.

It’s kind of a shame that it isn’t nearly as good as those accolades would make you think.  Don’t get me wrong; it’s not a terrible book or a book that causes you pain to read.   Parts of the story are actually really excellent, with the author zagging where you assumed he would zig and therefore taking it in a slightly less predictable direction.  I never felt like I was reading a cheap retelling of more popular titles, which is often a danger in the Fantasy genre.  The problem I had with the book–initially–was that there are many characters who tell part of the story through their points of view.   This is a technique I prefer, but the problem comes when fully half the POV characters are boring.   There were some whose stories I was dying to follow and some whose stories were killing me out of dullness.   With a book this long (the thing is the e-book equivalent of 522 pages) it’s a real struggle to finish with so many drawn-out dry patches.

Ultimately I decided to abandon it in spite of the parts of the story I enjoyed, and that’s why I want to talk about it in detail.

I abandoned it because of the author and the online persona he’s cultivated.   Even though I enjoyed what was amounting to a good 60% of his book I saw some of the meltdowns he’s had on various fora and review sites and realised that if I’m going to give the consideration of my time to someone it’s going to be someone who is considerate of others–not arrogant and rude.

When a popular British Fantasy forum directed his self-promotional post to their section for self-published works he insisted that his books are not self-published:

I am not a small press. I am an author with 18 titles for sale. That is more titles that some big publishing houses. I have advertising currently running in Locus, Publishers Weekly, Fantasy and Sci Fi, and Revolver magazines. I have blog advertising across the entire blog-o-sphere. I am not a small press or even self published. M. R. Mathias’ books are PUBLISHED by Michael Robb Mathias Jr. and should be treated no differently that any big named publishers title [emphasis mine].

This conflict degenerated into a massive number of tweets about Mathias’ own wonderfulness and the “#Nazi” behaviour of the webmasters who dared to define him as what he is–a self-published author.

I don’t believe there is any shame in being self-published. I think it’s a courageous move that, when handled correctly, can be a lot more lucrative for an author than a traditional contract. We’ve reviewed a number of self-published titles here at Book In The Bag and will continue to do so as we come across ones that are worthy of notice.

It’s that “worthy of notice” thing that’s tricky for any self-publisher. Getting attention is very difficult, especially as more and more review sites (eg. GoodReads, Amazon) are cracking down on promotion in the wake of some truly obnoxious and intrusive “entrepeneurs” who stalk and harass readers, derail conversations and (in Mathias’case and others like him) go completely off the rails.

When you self-publish you’re marketing yourself as a brand; you don’t just sell your books, you sell your persona. Mr. Mathias has obviously done a better job than most self-publishers in that he has been able to draw an unusually high amount of acclaim on Amazon. That’s a key thing to remember because there are a lot of readers out there who will see your brand as distasteful if you behave distastefully. I know it’s why I put this book down, why I can’t recommend it to others and why I’m adamant about insisting that authors be mindful of the image they put out there. It’s fine if you want to sell your brand as a provocateur. Just know that it may cost you readers, reviews and–ultimately–cash.

The Sword and The Dragon without the taint of Mathias is probably a two-worm book.

With Mathias’ “help” I give it one worm indeed. And one worm ruins the apple.

Book Review: Orbiting Home by Jaxin88

Title: Orbiting Home

Author:  Jaxin88

Format: Fanfiction

Published: 2012


I will give you a fair warning that this is not a typical book review and this type of review will be extremely rare for me as I typically do not read fan fiction but I figure if one particular book that I won’t properly name save for the fact that color grey play a large part in the title, that a better written fanfic review on occasion won’t do anyone harm.  Thus I am presenting you dear readers with Orbiting Home by Jaxin88.  This story is a cross over between Doctor Who and Firefly something I’ve wanted to see done before and have even had wry thoughts of doing myself simply for personal entertainment.  Thus when a friend of mine mentioned this story I was intrigued.  I figured the most I would do is peek at it and not really read it considering my patience for fanfiction is very limited for various reasons ranging from poor storytelling to terrible grammar that even I can’t ignore (which is saying something as I am terrible when it comes to grammar and typos myself).  Yet, when it came to Orbiting Home I was pleasantly surprised, before I knew it I was about eight chapters deep and wanting to read more!

When starting the story Janix88 warns that this is a continuation of a previous story they wrote but was not fully necessary to read first.  The big thing you wind up figuring out is that Rose ends up becoming Bad Wolf again and can with a thought travel through time and space and even freeze time, of course at a cost in regards to her strength and energy.  It is also revealed that she is not entirely human because of this and pretty much immortal like the doctor, whether or not this includes surviving something like a bullet is left unknown in this fic.  Knowing this before reading is helpful but not necessary as it was easy enough to figure out.  The fic follows Rose as she searches for the Doctor who is lost somewhere in the Verse that is known to those of Firefly.  It gives a good back story to how things came to be and include old villains from the TV series of Firefly such as Nishka and Badger and follows a modified version of the Serenity Movie considering the Doctor and Rose are present for this adventure now, and quite honestly both Rose and the Doctor are game changers.

Over all, Janix88 does a splendid job of capturing the voices of the characters particularly from the Firefly universe such to the point that I can practically hear the actors speaking the lines as the characters which is a rare occurrence for me.  Additionally the story played like a movie and I could see the images well in my head as Janix88 did well allowing the knowledge of the show to paint a bit of the picture and filling in the gaps with nicely done descriptions.  As far as fanfiction goes I find this to be one of the best out there, it is rare to find a gem like this in the world of fanfiction as most of it is very poor writing from budding authors who are just starting out.  Though I find most fanfiction to be junk that can’t hold my attention for long, I respect it for what it is as that was where I got some of my start in writing, becoming brave enough to share my work and learning the craft better than the basic skills that I started out with.  As far as fanfiction goes I would give this a four out of five page rating as things were well written and there were no gaping plot holes. As far as comparing it with a professionally written book I might actually have to give it a three it was good but certainly not professional grade, to reach that point there would have to be a heck of a lot more substance to the story, yet if that were the case my interest would have been quickly lost.  That is after all the fine edge of a fanfic as it needs to be short and sweet to survive will on the internet but then lack the quality of a book which requires more substance.

Writer Wednesday – Daniel Quinn

Author and cultural critic Daniel Quinn is best known for his international bestseller Ishmael. Most people don’t know that Ishmael took Quinn twelve years to write. During the ninth year of that struggle, in an effort to prove himself as a writer, Quinn wrote Dreamer, his first novel. Originally published in 1988 by TOR, Dreamer has been described as an “offbeat first novel of psychological horror,” a satisfyingly eerie thriller that offers humor, mystery, romance, and “more than a pinch of the bizarre.”

Out of print, Dreamer retained an underground notoriety. In 1995, the New York Review of Science Fiction included the book in its “Horror at the End of the Century” reading list. Recently, fans persuaded Quinn to bring his first novel back into print. This is his interview…

Let’s start with the basics. Who are you?
Tell us (briefly) about you…

Let’s see . . . . Daniel Quinn, born 1935 in Omaha, studied at St. Louis U, the U of Vienna, Loyola of Chicago. Had a successful 20-year career in publishing, which prepared me well for what I’d always wanted to do (which was to be a novelist, of course).

If you want more: Among other things, I founded the Stateville Penitentiary Writers’ Workshop in 1969, and served on the Board of Listeners of the World Uranium Hearing, Salzburg, Austria, convened in 1992 to hear testimony of victims of uranium mining, nuclear waste disposal, and nuclear power disasters around the world. I’ve addressed students and faculty at dozens of high schools, colleges, and universities all over the U.S.

…and a bit about what you’ve written…
I’m best known for the novel Ishmael, sales ranked #84 in Psychological Thrillers, right up there with Lord of the Flies and The Story of O. It won the largest prize ever awarded a single book (the Turner Tomorrow Award, $500,000, 1991) and is a million-copy seller in some 25 languages, used in classrooms from midschool to graduate school all over the world in courses as varied as philosophy, geography, history, religion, biology, anthropology, political science, economics, and sociology. I’ve published seven other novels, three works of nonfiction, and a short story collection.

…and what you’re working on right now.
I’m putting together a collection of essays based on speeches delivered for the U of Georgia Distinguished Lecturer Series, the Carnegie Mellon University1997 Technologies of Peace Conference, The Southwestern U 2000 Fleming Lecture in Religion, and others like that. And stirring in the back of my mind . . . a new novel, the first in a decade.

What are your earliest book-related memories?
I remember my father reading to me Howard Pyle’s The Adventures of Robin Hood.

What are your three favorite books?
Ghost Story, Peter Straub
Journey to the East, Herman Hesse
Forty Stories, Donald Barthelme

How many books to do you read at any given time?

What are you reading now?
The Murder Stone, Charles Todd

Finish this sentence; when I curl up with a book, I ___
When I curl up with a book, it’s usually 12:30 AM, after I’ve finished work, and I read until I start dreaming what comes next in the book instead of reading it. Then I go to bed.

To re-read or not to re-read that is the question.
I learned to write by reading the Nero Wolfe novels of Rex Stout. I read them so many times I had them memorized. I’m hoping that someday I’ll forget them enough to be able to go back read them all over again.

How likely are you to read a book that’s been recommended to you?
Not very likely if it’s recommended as a duty-read, something I really really should read. Likely if it’s from someone who actually knows what I enjoy reading.

How likely are you to recommend a book (that isn’t yours)?
Very likely. Want to read a terrific (under-appreciated) novel? Suspects, by David Thomson.

What do you look for in a good book?
Sorry, that one’s too tough.

Why do you write?
It’s the only thing that makes me eager to get out of bed in the morning.

If you couldn’t be a writer, what would you be?
Second choice is so far down that I can’t even see it.

Where do you draw your inspiration from?
I try to imagine a book I’d love to read.

What has writing taught you about yourself?
That I’d better come up with something to write pretty damn soon or I’ll start feeling suicidal.

How do the people in your life seem to view your writing career?
I’m afraid it’s different for each person.

Are there any stereotypes about writers that you don’t think are true?
Not so much about writers as about writing. When I was running the Stateville Penitentiary Writers’ Workshop, I heard a few. Chief among them that writing’s a scam that can be worked while behind bars, and writers are careful not to let anyone know how it works. When this collection of murderers, thieves, and arsonists finally accepted the idea that writing is just WORK, a lot of them lost interest. The most common I hear (not from convicts) is that writers need plenty of discipline–writers need to be real tough on themselves to keep at it. I doubt if that’s true of many writers. Personally, I need discipline to know when it’s time to quit for the day.

What do you see as the biggest challenge today for writers starting out?
I’ve made a small career out of working with aspiring writers. Most of them fall into one of two categories. They either think getting published is a snap (and so do shoddy work that no one will publish) or they think it’s impossible (and so give up when they receive their first rejection slip).

Have you made any writing mistakes that seem obvious in retrospect but weren’t at the time?
Sorry, I can’t think of any writing mistakes I’ve made. Not sure what you’re thinking of.

Is there a particular project you would love to be involved with?
I wouldn’t mind being invited to be Writer-in-Residence someplace.

How do you deal with your fan base?
I’ve had literally thousands of letters from fans. To guard against being overwhelmed, I make it very difficult (but not impossible) for people to reach me. They have to be really dedicated and persistent, so that when they get through to me, I can be reasonably sure that they got something of value to say.

Finish this sentence; my fans would be surprised to know ___ about me.
My fans would be surprised to know that I don’t spend hours a day thinking great thoughts.

Anything else we should know?
I originally wrote something humorous, but Rennie (my wife and chief advisor) talked me out of it.

Writer Wednesday – Jean Stringam

Let’s start with the basics. Who are you?
Tell us (briefly) about you…

Jean Stringam counts her characters among her list of friends and solves plots during breakfast, lunch, and dinner; however, recently she has been impressed with how numbers describe life – and we’re not talking just the bank balance.

The number five currently figures strongly in her life since she has recently published five books, has earned her living in five different careers, has lived in five countries, and has five sisters, five children, and five university degrees.

Perhaps a few lists would be helpful:

    Five different careers – Professor of literature, piano teacher, actor (member of SAG), secretary, choir conductor/opera chorus pianist/church organist
    Five countries – Canada, France, China, England, United States (but she’s only been a citizen of two)
    Five sisters – learned more than she thought possible
    Five children – learned more than she ever wanted to know (about love)
    Five degrees – Ph.D. University of Alberta, B.Ed. University of Calgary, M.A. & B.A. Brigham Young University, ARCT Royal Conservatory of Music of Toronto.

…and a bit about what you’ve written…
Now that I’m retired, I no longer write academic essays and articles. My fiction for young adult and middle grade readers include the following:
Solstice Magic (A Calgary Stampede Adventure, #1)
The Hoarders (paperback & Nook e-Book)
Balance (paperback & Kindle e-Book)
How Not to Cry in Public: A Novel (paperback & Kindle e-Book)
The Wise Men: A Christmas Adventure (Kindle e-Book only)
Regrets Tree on Fire (for release in summer 2013; projected as paperback & Kindle e-Book)

…and what you’re working on right now.
I’m looking for a good illustrator for a Early Reader series, for grades 3 and 4. Have five of the stories written and another ten sketched.

What are your earliest book-related memories?
I have written about this on my website under “About Jean Stringam.” It’s called “The Chicken Story”

What are your three favorite books?
It changes very rapidly depending on what I’m reading. Over time, however, I’ve tended to enjoy O.S. Card.

How many books to do you read at any given time? What are you reading now?
I’m reading Wool. I like to immerse myself in an author’s world, so I rarely read more than one at a time. I write several of my own books at the same time, though.

Finish this sentence; when I curl up with a book, I ___
Defy the world to continue turning.

To re-read or not to re-read that is the question.
Always re-read what catches my interest

How likely are you to read a book that’s been recommended to you?
Certain friends have impeccable taste and I take their suggestions. I listen carefully when anybody gives an opinion about a book because their reasoning patterns, or lack of them, interest me. Doesn’t mean I rush right out and buy the book they’ve told me about.

How likely are you to recommend a book (that isn’t yours)?
Very. That’s what I’ve spent my professional life doing.

What do you look for in a good book?
An author who is wise, has poetry in his/her heart, and knows that a story has to have a resolution. If the author can’t figure out what the characters learned or how they changed, I wish them well, but please stop writing and find another profession.

Why do you write?
I want my life to have made a difference.

If you couldn’t be a writer, what would you be?
I’ve worn a lot of hats thus far in my life. None of them appeal to me long-term. I will write until I’m dead.

Where do you draw your inspiration from?
I read copiously, watch people intently, and love unreservedly.

What has writing taught you about yourself?
That an individual only sees a small slice of the truth.

How do the people in your life seem to view your writing career?
They’re just about over trying to decide who’s who in the characters, which is a relief. They’re beginning to accept that my characters are not stolen from real life (except for the ones that actually are)!

Are there any stereotypes about writers that you don’t think are true?
Tons of stereotypes. The biggest lie is that alcohol and drugs enhance creativity. They don’t. It’s a miracle that any talent leaks out of those people at all.

What do you see as the biggest challenge today for writers starting out?
The money. Always the money. Whether trad published or Indie, it’s the money.

Have you made any writing mistakes that seem obvious in retrospect but weren’t at the time?
Wrote a whole novel without knowing how to resolve the conflict. Wrote it a second time and still couldn’t figure out the ending. That’s 900 pages of wasted effort! Grr!! Hisss!

Is there a particular project you would love to be involved with?
Yes, but until things happen, I’m not sure it’s a good idea to advertise hopes and maybes.

How do you deal with your fan base?
Sometimes I do author visits in schools. Sometimes fans write to me on my website, FaceBook, or GoodReads.

Finish this sentence; my fans would be surprised to know ___ about me.
That there really is a learnable technique for not crying in public, that I can do it (usually), and that I am still in the habit of carrying sunglasses with me everywhere just in case I can’t.

Anything else we should know?
I write songs for my books, and for a lot of other occasions, too.

Book Review – Southern Haunts


Title: Southern Haunts
Editors: Alexander S. Brown & J. L. Mulvihill
Published: 2013
Format: Trade Paperback (& eBook… but just until I got the print copy)

Y’all, this is one of those reviews that you need to stick with through the end, but I promise it’s worth it…

Okay, I’m going to be honest here.  I’m one of those people who only sometimes likes anthologies.  Yeah, I’ve reviewed other ones that I’ve really liked, but there are also quite a few that I’ve picked up, couldn’t get through two stories, and sent it back.  And when you review them, it’s a whole new kettle of fish.  Because, really, how do you review such a thing?  Do a writeup about each short story?  Overall opinions?  A little of both?  Gah!

And so, this one… This one I was really looking forward to.  For starters, I know the editors.  I’m jealous that I didn’t get to submit something to it.  And, you know, I was just excited about this one.

I have to admit, as I worked my way around the book, I found issues.  (As I told the editor, I’m probably the toughest reader/reviewer he’ll ever get…)  There are a couple editing problems that seriously need fixed.  This book also has the absolute worst story I have ever read in print.  Seriously.  I reject betters submissions for my own publishing company.

But for the problems it has, there are also some real gems in here.  H David Blalock’s An Eclipse Over Elmwood was awesome, for instance, and my favorite story in the book.  [Note: Check our archives and you’ll find a feature interview with him.]  There are a couple other stories where I saw the ending coming, such as Roland Mann’s Haints, another favorite in this antho, but I still really liked the characters and how the stories were written.  And you have stories like Diane Ward’s The Shack which was good, but totally too short – I was sad that it ended so quickly and think another bit of story would have totally added greatly to what she already had going.

So my bottom line is this.  The book is decent.  If you manage to get your hands on a copy, it’s great for those times between novels or when you don’t want to dedicate that much time to one piece of writing.  My best advice is to pick and choose, to read a little at a time here and there, and to not be afraid to skip a couple stories that you might not like or fall a little short.  It’s worth being able to read the few gems that really shine.

Book Review–Anna And The Dragon By Jill Domschot

Title: Anna And The Dragon
Jill Domschot

Stay tuned after the review for an exciting contest!  Free books, my friends! Free books! 

If you’re like me, you’re fascinated by anything to do with dragons.   For years I collected antique maps just for all the fanciful dragon illustrations in the unexplored edges of the world.    Anything with a dragon draws me, so it’s no wonder I read a lot of epic fantasy–that genre is replete with the fire-breathing critters.

So when my friend Jill (see how I’m just sticking this “full disclosure” in here like this?  But yes, full disclosure: I’m friends with this author) asked me to beta read her book about dragons and time travel and romance I was in, despite the fact that “time travel romance” is something I’m normally allergic to nearly as much as I’m compelled by the dragons.

This is not your ordinary fantasy, and I’m pretty much going to say that if you’re looking for another juvenile Eragon or a repeat of the sexually abusive Outlander, you can just keep looking.

This is an Urban Fantasy for the person who loves dragons and enjoys hanging out with smart people.

Anna is a shy, diligent woman who keeps to herself and lives a rigid life ruled by routine and filled with a comfortable blandness.    When an eccentric free spirited world traveler called Franklin hires Anna as his research assistant the safe places begin to melt like sugar in the Portland rain.     He disappears frequently.  Is he insane or is he truly menaced by a dragon who has cursed his family with a spell designed to last fourteen generations?   And if that curse is real, what does that mean for Anna?  Will she lose her heart to a man whose love will cost her life?

I absolutely loved this book the first time I read it.   I loved it even more the second time I read it.   When it was finally released for Kindle I actually PAID for my copy–a book I’d already read twice.

That should tell you just how wonderful a story this truly is.

Grab your copy, settle back and spend your Memorial Day Weekend with Anna and Franklin in the rainswept land of Portland….with occasional side trips to lands of mystery and enchantment.    I give this one 5 bookworms.

3bookworms2bookwormsBIRTHDAY WEEK SWEEPSTAKES!!!!

Yes, that’s right!  This week is my birthday.  (Thursday, 23 May,  in case you were wondering….)   In honour of my birthday and this book I love so much I will be giving one lucky reader a present.

1. Add a comment below with your Facebook or Twitter address.   Tell me what your favourite Dragon story is and why.

2.  Post a link to this review on your Facebook or Twitter.


I will draw one of the entries at random and the winner will receive their very own e-book copy of Anna And The Dragon along with a special top secret bonus ebook!

Tell your friends!!!!

Book Review – Skippyjon Jones Cirque de Ole by Judy Schachner

Title: Skippyjon Jones Cirque de Ole

Author/Illustrator: Judy Schachner

Format: Hardback

Written/Published: 2012


Despite being disappointed my third Skippyjon Jones book I still had a fourth one from the library and I’m glad I didn’t decide to just return it without reading it because it was adorable.  This book held the same charm and fun of the first book.  I was actually caught reading it aloud to myself it was so much fun!  The pictures were still a bit different from the first book and much like what I found in Skippyjon Jones and the Big Bones but it didn’t matter as much considering the story was much better and had a lot of what makes the books such a wonderful experience.  This is another book that I would absolutely love to read, but not until I had a practice run or two with it considering there are several words I am not used to speaking often.


One of the things I also loved about this book is not only did it capture the fun and vivid imagination of the kitty boy Skippyjon Jones who thinks himself a Chihuahua but it is chock full of Spanish words that are great for teaching young children as they are explained in the next sentence or the pictures in the book are used to help a reader figure out what words like leons (lions), tigres (tigers) and osos (bears) are. Oh my! In addition to the classic formula of the book and the great adventure at the circus that Skippyjon has, his sisters were hilarious with some of the conversations they had with their mother and at times you even felt bad for Mama Junebug Jones as she was trying to wrangle a rambunctious boy and three kitty girls. 


Overall, I would say that this book was another rare treat and a fun one to share with others if you can!  I would recommend this book as a supplement to the first Skippyjon Jones books over the others I have read thus far and will give a 4 page rating over all.

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