Thursday, December 20, 2012

Need a last minute Christmas book for a kid?

Check out Rick Daley's The Man in the Cinder Clouds. I'm reading it to my daughter right now and she's loving every word. Remember, the actual Christmas season runs until January 13th this year.

You can check it out here:

The Man in the Cinder Clouds

By Rick Daley

A young boy and his scientist father made an incredible discovery at the North Pole—an ancient book embedded deep within an ice core. Even more incredible is the story the book tells: the long-lost history of Santa Claus you never knew…and will never forget.

This origins-of-Santa story is a great holiday read for the whole family. Its mix of action, humor, and Christmas spirit keeps younger readers turning the pages, but The Man in the Cinder Clouds is not just a kids’ book.

As one reviewer puts it, “THE MAN IN THE CINDER CLOUDS is one of those middle grade books that the grown-ups get sucked into along with their kids. You think you bought if for your young reader but after you browse chapter one you just sort of... can't stop.”

This story-within-a-story reveals the origins of our most familiar Christmas traditions: from Christmas trees, stockings, and lumps of coal to jingle bells, the North Pole, and flying reindeer. Highly original and thoroughly entertaining, The Man in the Cinder Clouds will show you how Kris Kringle came to be known as Santa Claus. It wasn’t easy.

About the Author

Rick Daley has been writing professionally for over 15 years. His experience includes marketing copy for print and web, press releases, business proposals, training and technical manuals, and whitepapers. His essays, ranging from family life during the holidays to his first skydiving experience, have been featured in The Columbus Dispatch.

Rick lives in Lewis Center, Ohio, with his wife and two sons (and a neurotic schnauzer).

Friday, December 14, 2012

Free Souls: Book Three of the Mindjack Trilogy

Free Souls by Susan Kaye Quinn
(Book Three of the Mindjack Trilogy) Now Available!
When your mind is a weapon, freedom comes at a price.
Four months have passed since Kira left home to join Julian’s Jacker Freedom Alliance, but the hole in her heart still whistles empty where her boyfriend Raf used to be. She fills it with weapons training, JFA patrols, and an obsessive hunt for FBI agent Kestrel, ignoring Julian’s worries about her safety and repeated attempts to recruit her for his revolutionary chat-casts. When anti-jacker politician Vellus surrounds Jackertown with the National Guard, Kira discovers there’s more to Julian’s concerns than she knew, but she’s forced to take on a mission that neither want and that might be her last: assassinating Senator Vellus before he can snuff out Julian’s revolution and the jackers she’s come to love.
All Mindjack stories available on Amazon, Barnes&Noble, Kobo, Smashwords, and iTunes (Note Free Souls is not yet available on iTunes)
Early Praise for Free Souls
“Quinn paints a picture of a not-too-distant America where politicians inflame the hatred of one section of the populace for another—all for their own gain—and you worry that her world is not so far off from our own.”
Dianne Salerni, author of We Hear the Dead, The Caged Graves, and the forthcoming The Eighth Day
"Free Souls starts with a bang and doesn't let up. Like a mash-up of all your favorite science-fiction adventures from Star Wars to The Legend of Korra, it blends nonstop action, nail-biting escapes, and great romance. I absolutely loved it! A great series conclusion—a must-read."
Leigh Talbert Moore, author of Rouge and The Truth About Faking
“Susan did it again. Free Souls was WOW! I expected Kira to step up to her role as heroine but not like this. Surprises kept coming until the very end which tied up more loose ends than I knew existed. Warning: Don't start reading until you have time to finish. I didn't want to put Free Souls down for a second. It's that kind of book.”
Sher A. Hart, Goodreads Review
Interview Susan's over at Amy Saunder's blog today (12.14.12), answering questions about how she came up with the mages' abilities, what kind of mage she would be, and all about her future works. Digital Box Set Since Free Souls is out, there is now a Digital Box Set of the Mindjack Trilogy for those of you who want the whole series!
Available on AmazonBarnes&Noble
Mindjack Origins Collection Want more Julian? Wondering how Sasha's ability really works? Looking for EXCLUSIVE DELETED SCENES from Free Souls? This collection of novellas, scenes, and other goodies is for those craving a bit more of the characters and drama of the Mindjack series.
Includes: Mindjack NovellasMind Games (Raf's story)The Handler (Julian's story)The Scribe (Sasha's story) TWO EXCLUSIVE DELETED SCENES from Free Souls (published nowhere else!) PLUS Mindjack flash fiction, an (imaginary) conversation between Raf and Julian, and other goodies for readers who want just a little bit more of Kira, Julian, Raf, and the Mindjack crew.
Available on AmazonBarnes&Noble
ENTER TO WINone of FIVE ecopies of the Mindjack Origins Collection
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, December 10, 2012

Everybody Loves a Good Transformation

This is why it's all about your unique interpretation and not just the idea itself. A muscial example of how it works in the writing world:

If you haven't seen the Katy Perry original, feel free to youtube it. :)

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Operation Napoleon - Under the Microscope

Operation Napoleon

This book was a gift to me, given because I liked the author, Arnaldur Indridason. The trick, though, is that it's a little different than his other books. His other novels are gritty crime novels, dark police procedurals in the vein of Henning Mankell, Ake Edwardson, Jo Nesbo, and Sjowall and Wahloo (ah, the Scandinavians...). This particular book, however, is a thriller, an adventure mystery (though there are a few murders, of course) set in Iceland, revolving around a Nazi plane that crashed there at the end of WWII. Secrets abound, and many people want the plane and the secrets it holds. And they'll kill to get them.

I enjoyed the novel, though not as much as the other Indridason novels I've read. Is part of that simply my own preference for dark crime novels rather than escape-the-bad-guy thrillers? Partly. But it also struck me that the writer simply hadn't mastered the ouevre quite as well. Interestingly, the part of the book I thought was best... was when two cops were trying to figure out a crime. There was a realness and grit to this part, a vividness that was lacking in other parts. It was like he knew how to occupy these characters, and all the details were right. This world was a little more three-dimensional. In the other sections, things were two often good guy and bad guy, and the antagonist was sort of a classic hollywood villain, which is much different than the socio-cultural focus of Indridason's crime novels (which are more about a situation and its influences than about evil dudes with a grudge).

If you like thrillers full of mysterious historical secrets, this book might be for you. If you like dark police procedurals, check out Indridason's other books. Plus, Iceland is a great place to visit in the winter; it makes everywhere else seem almost warm.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Do Not Read Zombie Novels When You Are Horribly Sick

If you

          1) come down with a terrible virus
    and 2) decide to read a zombie novel,

please be wary of character identification. Empathy toward those with similar traits and personal characteristics will lead you to cheer for the wrong team.

Luckily, in zombie stories the wrong team always wins.

Go team.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Getting Older: Identity and the Adjustment of Self-Perception

So, I just turned 35. It seems like an interesting point. This birthday, in conjunction with a few other things, has had me thinking lately.

I'm not young anymore. There are good things and bad things about this. The basic good is that I'm happy with my life. I have a career I love, a fantastic family full of crazy whippersnappers, and lovely online friends. The downside is the never particularly pleasant physical degrading that comes with getting older. I have a possibly serious (and at least very painful) internal problem (I won't bore you with the details). I also have a host of chronic joint injuries from an adventurous youth (and a clumsy adulthood). The result of these concerns is that it's hard to stay in shape; I basically can't do anything without some sort of unpleasant physical ramification. I'm jogging again, but we'll have to see how things hold up. Fingers crossed. Except some of those fingers are damaged and aching, too. :)

Needless to say, when I get up in the morning, I feel a little more like 85 than 35. The creaking you hear is not just the stairs...

And yet it's curious. Inside my head, I still feel young. I still feel a little like I'm 20. And often my ambitions and goals are based on this conception of myself as a 20-year-old.

This is normal. I think most people, even when they're elderly, have a self-conception of themselves as young, as the people they once were. The mirror can be a shock. Who is that person?

I think as children we learn about the world around us. As teenagers, we look inside and try to learn about ourselves, about who we are. As early adults, we've come to some conclusions; we have, in a sense, defined who we are. We've woven certain events, certain characteristics, abilities, and beliefs, into the fabric of who we are. They're now a part of how we perceive ourselves. When we think ME, these things are all included.

And yet sometimes these things change without us realizing it. And yet we still see ourselves in the same way. Svelte! Sometimes these delusions can be helpful. Optmism can be a beneficial thing. But sometimes these delusions, these mirrored refractions of what we once were, can be harmful. In the back of my head, I'm a teen or early 20-something. I was always an athlete growing up: a top-flight soccer player, and most other sports came very easily to me. And this natural ease with all things physical was part of how I conceived of myself. Athlete. Physically gifted.

Even now, my goals are subtly shaped by these conceptions. Earlier this year, I devised a goal to get back in shape and run a five-minute mile. I like ambition! I like difficult! But my body does not like ridiculous. My body does not like impossible.

There was a sudden conflict between my self-conception and my actual self. This five-minute-mile dream was still possible in the world of my self-conception, as my younger self could have done this. But my thirty-five-year-old self could not. There came a moment of realization, when all of this, which was chruning under the surface, suddenly became clear. The conscious realization of age, of the disparity between self and self-concept. I've realized that this younger me is gone (or partially gone -- transformed). And thinking it was not could be harmful.

My job is to accept the fact, it seems, that I am now 35, that I have a number of physical problems that will not be getting better; that will, in fact, be getting worse. This is simply a matter of physics, of the distribution of force over time.

So, I've been trying to come to grips with the new (old) me. The new me that is old(ish). It's not about despair, about giving up on your dreams, but about trying to understand what your dreams really are, what is reasonable; it is about trying to discern what you really want and expect out of life.

I don't need to be an athlete. I don't need to run a five-minute mile. Ambition is great, but it shouldn't kill you. What I want is some general health and fitness. I want to be around to play with my kids, to see them grow up. Grandbabies! I love babies.

The situation isn't quite so drastic for my intellectual ambitions. My brain, luckily, works much better than my body. But it has made me think a bit. Because some of my ambitions were the ambitions of that sleek, fast, young me, the one with lots of hair. What are my true ambitions in terms of writing now? How have they changed? What are my plans for pursuing these ambitions, if ambitions they still are?

I think 2013 will be a year for finding some of these answers. A year for looking into that mirror and figuring out who is looking out.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Book Addiction and the Two-Month Promise

As many of you may know, I am an addict. A book addict. And a recovering book-store owner.

I have a lot of books. A lot of books.

And yet I keep buying more. And more. Now, as addictions go, this is not a bad one. Cheaper than many addictions, and more intellectually wholesome. But still, a compulsion is a compulsion. Now, the heart of this addiction is, of course, reading. I don't merely collect for the sake of collecting. And I pretty much have to have a book on the go at all times. If not, I feel discombobulated, weird, unsettled. Leave it too long and I'd probably get the shakes. A compulsion is a compulsion, and withdrawal is withdrawal.

Now, I have no interest in stopping reading (nor could I, most likely). But I have decided to attempt a two-month book-buying hiatus.

My sister inspired me. She's also a book nut, and somehow went six months without buying a book. My wife, when hearing this, turned to me and asked, "Do you think you could go six months without buying a book?"

The answer, of course, was laughter. The sheer impossibility of entertaining the mere thought...

But I also just had a birthday. My wife bought me two books, and I received three book gift cards, which in turn netted me another eight books. So, ten books. Shiny, lovely, full of the most perfect paper (book paper is the best paper).

So I started thinking. Six months? That's like trying to climb Everest without so much as attempting a toboggan hill first. But two months? Just until Christmas? With all my books, I certainly shan't go without great books to read. Could I do it?

We shall see. I will attempt it: The Two-Month Promise. I will not buy a book for two months.

I figure the odss are like, oh, 22-1. Against. But if it was easy, it wouldn't be worth anything. Right?

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Disaster: A Slideshow

I'm a man obsessed with words, but sometimes there's truth in the old saying about the worth of pictures. This slideshow is worth checking out:

My prayers go out to everyone struggling in the aftermath.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Simply for the Love - Of Monsters and Men

This is my kids' favorite song and video right now. Don't worry, they have good taste. And the video is sort of a visual wonder. Especially, you know, if you like monsters.