Writer Wednesday – Jackie Gamber

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Let’s start with the basics. Who are you?
With Jackie Gamber, author of the Leland Dragon series

Tell us (briefly) about you…
I’ve been a soldier, a secretary, and a stay-at-home mom, gone rogue into writing professionally.

…and a bit about what you’ve written…
My published works include poetry, short stories, novelettes, and novels in science fiction, fantasy, horror, and the genre-bending blends of them. I’m also an indie screenwriter/director, with four produced short films.

…and what you’re working on right now.
Since I’ve just finished “Reclamation”, book three of my Leland Dragons trilogy, I have a few more novel projects in the works; a steampunk fantasy, a SF-romance, and a paranormal-lit about a twin whose sister has died, and begins journaling as a tribute. I’m also writing my second full-length screenplay entitled “The Mark”, as well as other short film scripts.

What are your earliest book ­related memories?
I remember the Scholastic book program in school where I could peruse the book catalogue and order books that would come a month or so later right to my classroom. I always started with a “one of everything” sort of list, and then had to whittle down to one, or two – sometimes for 99cents! Also, I could describe in detail the layout of my town’s library. It used to have a clawfoot bathtub that I would spend more than my fair share of time in, with huge stacks of books beside me. I love libraries.

What are your three favorite books?
Just three? This is always a tough question for me to answer! I have favorite books for different reasons, but I have to say “Fahrenheit 451” by Ray Bradbury, “Frankenstein” by Mary Shelley, and “A Christmas Carol” by Charles Dickens.

How many books to do you read at any given time? What are you reading now?
When I read fiction I read one at a time. Non-fiction books could be as many as three or so, back and forth. Right now I’m reading “Quiet” by Susan Cain, about introversion in an extravert culture.

Finish this sentence; when I curl up with a book, I ___
…forget about everything else. I even get irritated when I have to pause to use the restroom.

To re­read or not to re­read that is the question.
I re-read all the time! I don’t keep every book I buy because my bookshelves couldn’t possibly hold them all. I’m selective in that I only keep the ones I know I’ll go back to again.

How likely are you to read a book that’s been recommended to you?
In my profession, I get a lot of recommendations. I don’t have enough time in the world to read them all, unfortunately. But I will, if it’s from a reader source I trust and the story sounds like my kind of thing. That’s really how all readers find books, mostly—word of mouth.

How likely are you to recommend a book (that isn’t yours)?
Very likely! I do it all the time. Speaking of which, have you read “The Midwich Cuckoos” by John Wyndham?

What do you look for in a good book?
To me, a good book is full of believable characters that get involved in their own tale.

Why do you write?
I write because I’m a storyteller. I resisted the notion for years, but the truth is that I see life, and the world, through metaphor and symbolism. I’m always asking, “But what does that really mean?” and “What makes a person think like that?” It’s in my nature.

If you couldn’t be a writer, what would you be?
I have a knack for looking at others’ stories, and seeing why what they think they’re saying isn’t actually being communicated that way. If I wasn’t a writing, I’d be an editor (although, I do both, already). Outside of words, though, I’d be working more with animals; at a zoo or a rescue, probably.

Where do you draw your inspiration from?
To be honest, I don’t exactly know the mechanism that whirrs into motion from observation to idea. But I spend a lot of time watching the world, and studying it, and trying to figure it out. Somewhere in there, inspiration happens.

What has writing taught you about yourself?
I’ve gone through dry periods, and times when I’ve set down my pen, so to speak, for the greater good of other responsibilities. I’ve struggled with how to find readers, how to prove to my contemporaries I’m not a hack. I’ve battled my demons that terrify me, and there have been days I’ve almost decided to just stop, because the desire to be heard is too hard to carry into an industry of cacophony.

I’ve lived with writing, and without it. What I’ve learned, is that I turn too inward, and become bitter and miserable, unless I believe in a world where writing happens, and that I can be a part of it.

How do the people in your life seem to view your writing career?
My husband and two kids (my children are grown, now) have always been my support system. Beyond that, it’s hard to say. The stigma that science fiction or fantasy isn’t real writing lingers.

Are there any stereotypes about writers that you don’t think are true?
I wouldn’t wish a stereotype on anyone. Human beings share commonalities, of course, but I like to think my job as a writer, and fellow human, is to bust stereotypes, not feed them.

What do you see as the biggest challenge today for writers starting out?
The writing industry is in a stage of rapid, almost violent, evolution. What used to be “the way” just isn’t anymore. Authors are writing books aimed at other authors for “how to do it the way I did” and a new one emerges practically every week. The biggest challenge I see for writers today is holding on to their own conviction, and their own ideals, while everyone is shouting into their face that their doing it wrong.

Have you made any writing mistakes that seem obvious in retrospect but weren’t at the time?
Some mistakes take a long time to make themselves known. My perception is that I may have trusted the wrong people a little too much, or a little too long. Sometimes, I haven’t trusted enough.

Is there a particular project you would love to be involved with?
I’ve always said it’s a life goal of mine to write a book that one day is banned!

How do you deal with your fan base?
I don’t think of myself as having fans. But I love readers! I have so much in common with fellow readers. In the end, that’s what I am, anyway; a book lover who can’t resist writing a few of her own.

Finish this sentence; my fans would be surprised to know ___ about me.
I’m a pretty transparent person—or at least, I aim to be—so I’m not sure how surprising I am! Although I do tend to get a reaction of disbelief when I share with people how introverted I am. They say “You’re not shy!” But I am incredibly introverted, nonetheless. And I’ve spent an inordinate number of years figuring out it’s nothing to be ashamed of.

Jackie Gamber is the award-winning author of many short stories, screenplays, and novels, including “Redheart”, “Sela”, and “Reclamation”, Books one through three of the Leland Dragon Series. For more information about Jackie and her mosaic mind, visit http://www.jackiegamber.com

And meet Jackie elsewhere on the world wide web at:
https://www.facebook.com/AllotropeMedia
http://www.amazon.com/author/JackieGamber
http://www.twitter.com/JackieGamber
http://www.facebook.com/jackiegamber

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Book Review – The Traveler by Ashley Bourgeois and Kathryn McGowan

Title: The Traveler (Chronicles of the Inner Realm)

Author:  Ashley Bourgeois and Kathryn McGowan

Format: Digital Pdf

Published: 2013

 

When thinking of how to start this book I want to start with the words run away and never look onto this book again!  It was not what I was expecting in the least and not something I would recommend to anyone!  To start off let me just say that what I was expecting and what I got are two different things.  Based on the book blurb I was expecting a YA novel, as it is all about a girl who is a senior in high school and found a magic book that takes her to a magic world.  This is most certainly NOT a YA book.  Truth be told this is a NSFW (not safe for work) book.  I unfortunately did not know this and had the book with me at work.  Fortunately it was on my tablet rather than on my computer and was not easy for some random person to pick it up.  Sill all the same, the book was horrifying and I only made it just short half way through before I had to simply just put it down and not read any more.  This is not what I signed up for.  I don’t care to read smut and I additionally don’t care to read pointless and overtly wrong smut – more on that later.

 

First I would like to talk about formatting.  When I agree to take a copy of the book to read I was honest and stated that my preferred medium of reading is a hard copy rather than a digital copy. I was requested to take a digital copy instead and I obliged.  The author the precede to send me a pdf file.  I didn’t think much of it till I went to finally read the book and realized that it isn’t simply a pdf file it is a proof copy!  I was shocked and dismayed to say the least.  Really you send a proof copy for a review?  Still, I decided to be nice as I did get massively behind in my reading list and opened the file to find the formatting to be horrific at best.  I am no stranger to kindle as I’ve used it for a few other books I’ve read and this was not a Kindle friendly format.  It had the proofing instructions attached and everything was set up in the format of a double page so I had two pages of the book for every one page in my Kindle.  I had to zoom every time I turned the ‘page’ and then shift the ‘page’ around to get the fully text before I move the screen to the next page and had to repeat.  Additionally my place could not be marked in my kindle and I could not pull the book up by directly opening the kindle I had to ‘download’ it again from my e-mail to open it in Kindle.  I tried to read the story in Adobe.  It gave me the documents as 2 book pages for very page and it was linear document so I had to zoom in once then shift from one side to the other then down and over to repeat this over and over to read the book.  Why did I put up with this painful formatting, because the book started out semi-decent.

 

Upon starting the book, I found myself admittedly slightly captured by the writing and the story but at the same time I knew that the writing really wasn’t that good, as there were text and typographical errors as proofs are wonton to do but at the same time the writing really wasn’t all that great but I kept reading and not wanting to stop.  Finally I concluded that the caliber of the book was that of a well written fanfiction something that has a smattering of errors but is accepted and it really not that great of writing and yet you read it anyway because it is like a potato chip enjoyable hard to stop but terrible for you.  I expected the book to be that way though out particularly when the side story characters of the magical world all have animal nicknames such as Bird, Dragon and Snake, and there are several modernisms in a medieval esque fantasy setting.  Yet that was not my luck as these problems were the least of my worries.

 

The book starts off with character introductions such as Aislin who is a shy recently turned eighteen senior in high school and her new school teacher librarian Alexander Bookman who is a little more than what he seems.  (I had issues with Alex from the start but we won’t get into that here).  Anyway, Aislin lost her mother not too terribly long ago and is living with her step father with whom there is no love lost between them. It is during these character introductions that Aislin finds the mysterious book that leads her to a world of magic and gets stuck there only to be ‘rescued’ by her teacher.  At this point despite several problems and idiosyncrasies, I was finding the book enticing an enjoying it like one enjoys a few too many potato chips (with a wee bit of guilt) all of that came grinding to a halt.  Upon trying to ‘rescue’ Aislin, Alex learns that she refuses to leave and won’t do as he wishes  As a result Alex decides that Aislin is behaving as a child and thus needs to be punished as one, he therefore proceeds to toss the girl over his lap and lift up her skirts to spank her bare bottom!  Yes, completely bare naked bottom.  WHAT THE HELL!?

 

It was at this point that I should have just stopped reading the book, I almost did but it was late at night my judgment a bit impaired and I knew I had promised a review.  I figured that I could get past this and try to read more.  So I did despite being mentally scared by the insanity of the afore mentioned scene.  I continued on and things continued to go downhill.  Aislin still smarting over what her – let me remind you – school teacher, librarian did to her she decides to try and get revenge on him.  In the process on getting some sort of revenge she is caught by him and they argue before she gets a call from her step father who was now kicking her out of the house.

 

With her world crashing down around her, Alex decides to be a gentleman and allow Aislin to move into his spare room considering that she is of age and not really a child after all.  The whole fact that Aislin is 18 makes everything alright as there is nothing wrong with a young girl and student to move into his home with him, a teacher at her school.  Seriously?  There is EVERYTHING wrong with this!!  Worse yet she decides to trust him, it is even mentioned in the book how despite the fact that he humiliated her and spanked, she just had a feeling she could trust him and accepts his offer.

 

This is where sexual tension starts to build up as Alex realizes oh, not only is Aislin of age, she is a woman, a very pretty and very distracting one at that too, and Aislin is starting to notice that he has very nice and muscular arms.  Toss in a gratuitous scene of Aislin’s black lacy underware falling out a box and the awkwardness and sexual tension is so think you can cut it with a knife.   Things move on and the two characters make fast friends and Aislin decides that Alex is gay because he makes the remark that he likes a lot of mean.  (This was in the context of his ordering a pizza).  Aislin takes this to mean that Alex is gay.  She further concludes this fact because he’s ‘awkward’ around her, nice, and really cute as all gay men are.  Wait am I missing something here?

 

After a few additional scenes where Aislin is caught by Alex in just her underwear (all for stupid reasons that make no sense what so ever) Aislin concludes that she needs to be best friends with Alex and they start to play fight which leads to exposed satin red underwear and Alex unthinkingly tossing Aislin on his bed where she makes a remark about him being gay and while he’s turned on he offers to show her just how not gay he is for him to realize what he is doing is wrong and stops short of a kiss.  Up to this point I am struggling through things because of everything above but I figure I can make it it’s not as bad as some of the other books I’ve read – that was until, in anger Aislin storms off to her room and decides to pleasure herself seeing as Alex won’t do the job for her and she makes sure that she is loud as a form of getting back at him!

 

This is NOT what I signed up for this is not the kind of story I enjoy reading.  I am not a fan of smut, particularly pointless smut!  It was at this point I decided that I was done reading, as I could not take any more. I wish I could give this book a less than 1 page review because this was terrible and not something I would recommend to anyone, particularly after reading some of the other reviews to know things get worse from where I left off.

 

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