Leipzig Book Fair – 4 days of madness

If you ever come to Germany, try to do it while the Leipzig Book Fair is on and visit it. It always runs from a Thursday to a Sunday in March. I went a few years back and again this year. Either time, it was a whirl of impressions, people, and facts. I’ve never seen that many people in one place.

Leipzig Book Fair is the second big book fair in Germany, the biggest is in Frankfurt in autumn. This year 251,000 people visited the grounds, more than ever before. In contrast to Frankfurt which is mostly a fair for publishing insiders (authors, publishing houses, journalists, etc), Leipzig book fair is a place to meet readers (many of those book bloggers). My head is still swirling with faces and names.

CosplayerThe fair’s ground in Leipzig is quite interesting. The main hall looks like a giant greenhouse. It always houses the main bookshop, several catering services, and the entrances. With glass tunnels, it connects with 5 halls; Halls one, three, and five on the right hand side and halls two and four on the left. There’s also the congress center which can be reached through hall two. Also, the halls on either side are connected too. Naturally, the tunnels and connecting corridors are chokepoints when so many people try to walk from one hall to the next.

What I found most interesting was the sheer number of Cosplayers. Hall two, dedicated to comics, graphic novels, and merchandising, sees an ever growing influx of them every year. A lot of the really cool costumes are self made, and every year the best costume gets a price. It’s an amazing sight to see people of all ages (although mostly younger ones) walking or sitting around, posing to every camera in sight. I loved some of the costumes.

Walking through the halls to take in everything was possible on Thursday  and Friday, although Friday was already fuller than the day before. On Saturday, the halls and corridors were so packed, everyone moved at a snails pace. Sunday was slightly better. When I returned home on Sunday evening, I was bone tired. My feet hurt from walking and standing, my throat was sore from talking so much, and I felt parched despite drinking a lot of water. But as I soon found out, it had been worth it. My sales increased almost immediately. I am already thinking about going again next year. Maybe I’ll see you there. ;-)

Classics You’ve Never Read: Inside Story

It’s been awhile and I’m ashamed to say, my obligations to the Alleged Real World impelled me to return to this series. But any shot that goes in, as my basketball coach used to say. Especially when I took a shot that went in. Return with me now to take a closer look at a tale that you immediately know, but in all likelihood never turned a page of. What can we see as authors to help us in our craft?

Which tale? Of course it’s the classic that takes you deep inside, RL Stevenson’s seminal Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

Why not before now? Because I have always felt such a deep reluctance around this tale. I know, in the end, it’s about all of us. It’s about me.

Sizing a Monster

LoES-J-H

Jason Flemyng, in both roles

Let me back up and start with the way the tale is usually portrayed nowadays in remakes. Mr. Hyde, most say, is the side of us we feel tempted to cut loose; and if even Dr. Jekyll couldn’t resist, we can’t expect better of Hollywood. So of course the result of drinking Jekyll’s potion is a misshapen, enormous leviathan, and it doesn’t get much bigger than the big-screen’s most recent version in The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. It’s enormous fun in the most literal sense. We’ll come back to the movie but note for now the first, most important missed turning the remakes commit. They create a Hyde who’s bigger than Jekyll. In the story, RLS makes it quite clear that Hyde is smaller: wizened and a bit hunching, yes, but nothing near the upright, straight-backed good doctor he seems to have his hooks into. It’s a Christian point, if I may say so- the evil part that comes out of us is not only wicked, it’s puny. Lethal, yes, especially to our souls, but we shouldn’t indulge our ego to believe that it’s large in the scheme of things. We should simply be ashamed.

Hyde also appears to be younger than Jekyll, whereas in most of the remakes I’ve seen age is a non-factor. He’s got a spring in his step, you could say, a sign of the freedom he feels. Jekyll theorizes that since Hyde’s been so little used he hasn’t aged as far. It’s a window on the Victorian society where this tale is set and about which Stevenson was no doubt commenting. After all Jekyll feels The-Strange-Case-of-Dr-Jekyll-Mr-Hyde-image-682x1024buttoned-up and straitjacketed by his position and obligations to society. Contrary to the movies, he’s not originally trying to resolve the question of evil in man, or attempting to rid himself of it. He wants to sever his halves, enjoy two unimpeded lives; the sin is original to him. I can’t force my fingers to type much more down this line, I feel the cut too keenly. I’ll say this- every once in a while my lovely wife and I play the Powerball lottery (the prize is always scores of millions of dollars) and I love to dream of all the wonderful, charitable things I’d do with the money. Like I’d be the same person. Like I could be trusted.

But I think I know, there’s a reason I don’t get to win it.

It’s the Thought That Counts

While lots of features impressed me about the original story– no female characters, lots of news-by-letter and an interesting feature that the tale ends with a written flashback– I must say the thing that really jumped out was the simple, almost pristine horror Stevenson managed to conjure in the opening act J-H_coverof Hyde’s evil. The narrator, Jekyll’s good friend and lawyer Utterson, is apprised by a mutual acquaintance of this ugly fellow’s first outrage and begins to investigate. Can you guess what the crime must have been? Murder surely, that was my thought before I first read the book. In movies and television, Hyde is usually a city-wrecker, committing loud and brazen assaults, destroying stone cornices with his bare hands and strewing a wrack of police and prostitutes in his wake.

In the story itself? He’s trampled a little girl.

It took a moment for the image to settle in on me. Imagine being out for a walk (it was ALWAYS a foggy night, this is Victorian London after all). Hyde was seen by multiple witnesses, as a little girl runs from a side-street into his path. And. He. Just. Keeps. Walking. You show me any scene with guns or knives, and the opponent a grown-up however helpless, and I won’t flinch. But think– a child runs in your path a moment, and you don’t have the one drop of human sympathy required to turn, or even pause. You don’t shout or rebuke the child or her mother– those things would show you care. Hyde just stomps her underfoot like a weed, same pace, same stride, a machine. And when Utterson’s friend runs him down and the gathered folk scream their outrage, Hyde is slightly amused, as if puzzled what the fuss is all about.

You’d never do it. You’d rather lick a car battery than feel the body of a girl writhing under your shoes. From the story itself, Hyde seemed genuinely unaware of what had happened. Pay a hundred pounds to the girl’s family? Fine, no matter to me, let me get my checkbook… well, actually it’s my friend’s book. That single act has never ceased to haunt me. Can you imagine what strangulation of every good instinct would have to happen before you would act that way? Give me a Hyderampaging, angry, lustful beast– far better than this unruffled, self-interested golem. I think I hit on it when I realized,

Hyde is comfortable with himself.

And he’s the same man as the good doctor. Rather, he’s a smaller part of him.

Who Writes This Stuff?

Stevenson composed this tale in a fit of inspiration– the idea came to him in a nightmare, and he dashed out the first draft in just a few days, then burned his manuscript in a passion, and redrafted it in only three weeks. Perhaps you’ve had such an experience. For me, the aftermath is marked by a kind of delight that I usually feel when reading someone else’s work, liking it and wishing I had been

the author. Except that I am the author! Don’t shrink into false modesty on me, fellow writer, I wager you know this feeling. You wrote it so quickly, and it seems to need little polish. It just… came out of you when you weren’t there. So with Stevenson and Jekyll and Hyde.

“Louis came downstairs in a fever; read nearly half the book aloud; and then, while we were still gasping, he was away again, and busy writing. I doubt if the first draft took so long as three days.”
-Lloyd Osbourne, family friend

 Yet it’s the things he refuses to describe that get you about this tale. Hyde is ugly, but no one can say how. People want him dead, but can’t explain why. And folks who have long kept their noses out of other people’s business, given every chance to keep doing so, can’t stay away. Utterson HAS to investigate– the signature of his good friend on Hyde’s cheque, the will naming this monster Dr. Jekyll’s heir, hearsay and conjecture whose only virtue is how perfectly it aligns with his intuition. Step by tiny step, Utterson is drawn in– and we only see the horror second-hand, in letters and accounts, like a glance at the mirrored Medusa. Dr. Lanyon once saw Mr. Hyde transform, and is already dead when we read his letter– struck down by a sight not yet ours.

My life is shaken to its roots; sleep has left me; the deadliest terror sits by me at all hours of the day and night; and I feel that my days are numbered, and that I must die; and yet I shall die incredulous.

So, What’s In It, For Me?

As short as it is, the story spends its final third in post-mortem. Much like Invisible Man, the narrator spends a lot longer than you do trying to figure out what happened. Give that a shot with your current tale if you’re feeling brave!

But it fits uniquely well in this case, because when Utterson the dependable,

Careful how you look at yourself!

Careful how you look at yourself!

sane, reserved lawyer doesn’t want to look, you know the reader feels the same way. Not about Hyde, we can’t wait to watch this happen to somebody else. But sooner or later it comes back to that mirror. I think Perseus, when he dared to use it once at an angle, saw a part of himself.

Who is that, in there inside ourselves? Is it simply  “evil”? Is it the animal side, or anger and rage like you see with The Hulk? You can’t have more fun than to curl up with an hour of William Shatner gloriously over-acting as two sides of himself in “The Enemy Within”: here’s four quick minutes capturing all the epic-ness.

The writers of ST took a view of active/impulsive versus contemplative/rational. The good-guy Kirk is just the one that can get along– he won’t attack Yeoman Rand, he can hear you without getting angry, but he can’t decide what to do. The other guy is a beast, but he can make decisions– keeps outwitting the crew, covers his scars. He starts the fights, but only his calmer twin shows courage.

Anger-Danger

Remember? “Anger-Danger”. A show’s plot with one added letter. Genius

What if it’s like that? Is this a better deal than what Stevenson proposed? I always loved Bill Bixby’s version of The Incredible Hulk- he NEVER let go on purpose, spent his last ounce of energy trying to avoid all trouble while seeking his cure. And whenever “the beast within him” got out, he always seemed pointed in the direction of the bad guys. Was that just luck? I thought it was kind of karmic– David Banner reaped a small reward for so resolutely trying to avoid temptation, and I found it very uplifting.

Maybe an echo of this, in the cool turn of events from that FX-romp mentioned above, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. When Hyde is first captured by Quartermain and the gang, he’s classic evil/animal/ “id” and Jekyll is barely containing his desires (for women, mostly). In the movie, you can see Hyde in any mirror Jekyll passes. But when the Nautilus nearly sinks, it is Hyde who not only saves them all, but urges Jekyll to trust him with the attempt. I loved it, a real step toward superhero-dom for a truly interesting character. “Bravo, Edward”

Go As Far In as You Like, or Dare

You can maybe write autobiography and talk only about yourself; there might not be any more consequence and interest than the words themselves and the one person they tell the reader about. But in genre fiction, we can’t stop there. When we explore character, and inner conflict, we innately put on display our own philosophy of what people are like. We can use omniscient third person, or flashbacks, or magic spells or potions to peel back the layers, but we can’t try to pretend this is an exception. Our world, our rules, our consequences. Because if this isn’t about everyone, then who cares?

Bixby-HulkDo we believe there’s inner evil? Is life a long struggle spent holding back this animal side? Are heroes just furiously trying to distract everyone including themselves from lust, or greed, or the will to harm others? Did the villains ever really have a chance to be good; could one selfish choice have doomed them for all time? What do we as writers really believe about the human being?

In Jekyll’s posthumous confession, he cries foul on his own world as I think Stevenson did. Jekyll claims his worst fault was just “a certain gaity of disposition”, which his education and high position forbade him to indulge.

Hence it came about that I concealed my pleasures; and that when I reached years of reflection… I stood already committed to a profound duplicity of me… It was thus rather the exacting nature of my aspirations than any particular degradation in my faults, that made me what I was, and, with even a deeper trench than in the majority of men, severed in me those provinces of good and ill which divide and compound man’s dual nature.

Wait. He means, his good side was responsible for making him evil? We must be in Victorian times. But do the times make enough of a difference to excuse us? These are the questions we must answer. And it makes me pause a bit before I do, because while I’m busy dissecting the lives and habits of the heroes of the Lands StarTrek-Enemy-Withinof Hope, I can’t shake the notion that the speck in their eyes doesn’t quite measure up to the plank in mine. I wonder if it would even take the Powerball jackpot to let the ugly loose in me. Remember, the day before the evil queen ordered the huntsman to cut out Snow White’s heart, her mirror had told her she was the fairest in the land.

Of course, the young ladies I courted in my youth seemed to think my ugly was already loose. Maybe I could just blame them! Or maybe I’ll hold it together another few decades, see if I can work out some accommodation with that part of me that is willful and selfish, intemperate and mean. If you really want the Evil-Queen-mirrorcraziness, I’ll give it. I believe that writing about the Lands of Hope, of heroism and evil in that incredible world, is my version of polishing a mirror. I know somewhat of what’s inside me: I pray it’s still smaller and younger, and if I time my glances just right, I’ll learn how to behead the thing and bring it under my control. There are times you need it– strong, almost angry willpower to persevere, to resist criticism, to stay on track in your story or your life. By herself and still free, the Medusa would never have slain the Kraken. Jekyll never learned to let the goddess of wisdom keep it for him.

In Stevenson’s tale, the narrator Utterson kept away as far and as long as he could. Maybe I’ve already said too much on the subject.

“I am ashamed of my long tongue. Let us make a bargain never to refer to this again.” “With all my heart,” said the lawyer. “I shake hands on that”

For us writers, that won’t do. I have faith that God will help me to train this inner fire, so I can forge interesting tales and keep learning about the Lands, and myself. There’s something inside your heroes and your villains– inside you. Writing about it will bring it closer to the surface, where it’s dangerous (and also useful). You can’t let it out to run the show, because then it becomes what evil really is in the end. A habit.

But you can’t do nothing, and you can’t wait forever.

So take a shot. It might go in.

 

The Disciple Series is Complete

Disciple Part VILast year, on this very website, Will Hahn did an interview with Louise Blankenship on the release of the fifth book in her Disciple series. I am lucky enough to have chatted with Louise recently and pleased to announce the sixth and final book in this wonderful series.

Louise was gracious enough to provide a quick overview of the book, links to help you find the series, and an excerpt from the first book in the series, Part I. She is even offering a free copy of Part I to visitors of the Independent Bookworm. Check it out and the other books in the series.

Disciple Part VI

War is coming. Kate Carpenter is only a peasant girl, but she’s determined to help defend the kingdom and its bound saints against the invading empire. Her healing magic earned her a coveted apprenticeship with the master healer; now she must prove herself ready to stand in the front lines and save lives.

She’s not ready for the attentions of a ne’er-do-well knight and the kingdom’s only prince, though. This is no time to be distracted by romance — the empire’s monstrous army will tear through anyone standing between them and the kingdom’s magical founts. All disciples must put aside their tangled feelings and stand in the homeland’s defense.

Disciple

the six-part gritty fantasy romance series is now complete!
Disciple, Part VI on sale at AmazonAllRomanceMore retailers

Blakninship - Disciple

Download Disciple, Part I for free!

AmazonB&NMore retailers

Email me if you can’t get it for free: blankenship.louise at gmail

 Excerpt from Part I

“You couldn’t sleep either?”

At the whisper, I looked up from struggling to lace my boots with trembling hands. My master stepped into my dormitory room, adding his lamp’s light to my candle.

“Why must I dress as a boy?” I whispered back. Perhaps I was not so buxom, but I doubted I’d fool anyone. “This makes little sense.”

“Patience.” Master Parselev placed his lamp on my writing-table and checked my packed bags. “They’re gathering at the chapel already. None of us got much sleep, it seems.”

The straw mattress creaked when I stood, boots laced and the woolen hose sagging between my thighs. I ran my fingers around my waist, under my layered cotes, to check the drawstring. “Are these right, Master?” I’d strung the hose and braies together as best I could guess and as memory was my Blessing I had no excuse for failing. Men’s underthings weren’t much concern to me — if I saw such, or more, it was while the man lay bleeding on the surgery table.

“If they stay up, it’s right. Good. This too.” He slung a heavy felt cloak across my shoulders and pinned it on. The hood buried my face in shadows; my blonde braid, even wrapped around my head, would give me away.

I asked, “Master, this journey will be long, won’t it?” Parselev had given me more clothes than I’d ever owned to pack in those bags. All heavy winter woolens, too. “Shouldn’t you go, then?”

He looked down at me, mouth quirking to one side. Master was a greybeard, said to be over a hundred years old, but his kir kept his eyes bright and his face lightly creased. I had only been his apprentice two years. Surely I could not be ready for this.

“It must be you, Kate,” was all he said.

Disciple Omnibus
collecting all six books
on sale March 15, 2015!
get a reminder by joining L’s mailing list

I want to thank Louise for using the Independent Bookworm to announce the completion of her amazing series and providing an opportunity to our readers to experience the Disciple for free.

One Click, Three Minutes, Everyone Wins

The Tale of Hope Three Minutes to Midnight is now FREE in the Kindle Unlimited Library!

{And darn cheap otherwise}

I offer this simple, standing challenge to one and all. If you’ve never read a Tale of Created with Nokia RefocusHope, make this one your first. This novelette is under 15 thousand words, in which a Stealthic sets out to do the impossible, then doubles down on danger half-way through.

Here’s the really cool part- if you are a member of Kindle Unlimited, you pay a set price each month for unrestricted access to books in the Kindle library. Read as many as you like. And here’s a secret:

:: looks both ways, whispers ::

If you read just 10 percent of a book you’re looking at, the author still gets paid!

Ten percent of TMM is FIVE PAGE-TURNS! And it costs you nothing once you’re a member. You could finish that on your commute, even if you worked in the kitchen.

I did the calculation- any way you slice it, by the time you’ve reached these words:

“The beast stayed at striking distance the entire time, which made the back of Trekelny’s legs tingle with peril.”

- Three Minutes to Midnight (Kindle Locations 76-77). Wm. L. Hahn.

… You’ve made it, ten percent read. Good deed done, starving author (well, hungry) supported.

And I dare you to stop reading then anyway!

Indie authors are always trying new ways to get folks quickly and easily interested in their work. But how can you do better than 10 percent of a short FREE book?

So KU members, take my challenge. Read slightly more than the number of words

{From Assassins Creed, but looks startlingly like Trekelny's ascent!}

{From Assassins Creed, but looks startlingly like Trekelny’s ascent!}

in the Declaration of Independence (about 1,450), and who knows what Liberty and Life you may discover (while painlessly helping me earn a little more property). It would be unAmerican not to.

And if you’ve decided not to try KU yet, Three Minutes to Midnight is a spanking fun sword-and-sorcery cliffhanger for just 99 cents. You can read the whole thing if you like, and with half the words of Romeo and Juliet you get just as many deaths, more daring escapes, and I guarantee a hotter love story. Trust me, when Trekelny climbs to the balcony of the High Priestess of Khoirah, he’s going to give her the kiss of a lifetime.

 

LoH_logoTell your friends, share this post and spread the word– anyone you meet who mentions Kindle Unlimited, or e-books, or who says they’re in a hurry, just lean in and whisper “Three Minutes to Midnight”. No matter the rush, you’ve got time for that.

Valentine’s Day, Birthdays, and Other Exciting Events…

The second week of February is always an exciting time in our household. It not only brings my birthday, but Valentine’s Day, and finally my youngest’s birthday. Whew!

This year, in the midst of all that family celebration, I applied for and obtained a new job!! Same company, same department, but a different team, a step (or two) up the ladder, and a nice pay increase. Yep. February has been amazing this year!

PLUS…in anticipation of an upcoming workshop, I spent the month of January and the first two weeks of February writing a short story per week. Specific stories for themed anthologies. Most of them were SO not in my chosen genres, but…well…stretching is good.

I’m really proud of each of those six stories. A couple of them are so far beyond my comfort zone I was tempted not to even try. But I pushed past my fear of failure…or worse, mediocrity!…and produced stories that I’ll be proud to send out to markets if they don’t make the cut for the anthologies they were written for.

So, in honor of Valentine’s Day, birthday celebrations, new jobs, and a very productive start to 2015, let me share with you a flash fiction romance from my SPUN YARNS collection, Love In a Flash

Fairly Godmother

by Debbie Mumford

Crowds of happy people thronged the streets and sidewalks of the weekly farmer’s market. Evelyn floated among them, a stranger in a sea of good-natured jostling. She should have come earlier. She’d never find a place to set up in this ocean of humanity. Hugging her violin case close, she drifted to the edge of the flow and anchored herself in the relative safety of a flower seller’s stall.

Heavenly scents and rich, earthy colors tempted her from every surface. Bouquets of roses, buddleia and lavender dragged her attention from lush baskets dripping with fuchsia and delicate baby’s breath. The flora of her native Montana paled to insignificance when compared to the bounty and variety of Oregon’s Willamette Valley.

“May I help you, my dear?” A tiny gray-haired woman peeked out from between immense buckets of cut flowers, making Evelyn wonder if a fairy had been harvested with the blooms.

“Oh, no thank you,” she said, smiling at her whimsical thought. “I’m just resting. I hadn’t expected so many people.”

The petite woman laughed. “Yes, the crowds can be overwhelming if you aren’t accustomed, but they’re excellent for business.” She stared pointedly at Evelyn’s violin case. “Are you looking for a place to busk?”

Heat scorched Evelyn’s face. Her father considered buskers lower than slug slime. “Beggar,” he’d said whenever they had come across a young man playing his guitar, case open for contributions. “Get a real job.”

“No, I mean, not really.” Evelyn sucked in a deep breath and pushed her father’s disapproval to the back of her mind. “I’ve just moved here. I teach violin. I thought I’d try some creative advertising.”

“That’s an excellent idea. Why don’t you set up right where you’re standing?” her fairy godmother asked.

“Oh! I couldn’t. I’d block your sales.”

“My dear,” she said, “if you’re any good, you’ll draw folks like nectar, and they’ll stop, even linger while you play.” She winked at Evelyn, enhancing her fairy godmother image. “That’ll give my flowers a chance to enchant them. It’ll be good business for both of us.”

The rest of the day passed in a blissful mixture of performance and quick conversations followed by an exchange of business cards. Mrs. Spenser, her fairy godmother, proved to be an acute businesswoman. Her prediction came true; people seemed entranced by the intoxicating combination of sprightly Irish jigs performed by a grateful musician, colorful flowers and heady aromas. By the end of the day, Evelyn’s supply of business cards had dwindled significantly.

“What a boon you’ve been to my business today,” sighed Mrs. Spenser, wiping her hands on the towel she’d tucked into the waist of her twill trousers. “If you haven’t filled your schedule with students before then, come back next week,” she said with a twinkle in her eye. “I’ll save you a place, and who knows? I might even have a surprise waiting for you!”

*~*~*

The next week, Evelyn arrived early, before the hordes of eager shoppers. She picked her way carefully through the craftsmen and merchants setting up their booths until she reached her fairy godmother’s flower stall. Her sprightly little benefactress was nowhere to be seen, but something new had been added since last week. A comfortable canvas folding chair complete with positionable umbrella stood in a place of honor just to the left of Mrs. Spenser’s stall. A stunning bouquet of lilies and Shasta daisies rested on the seat.

“You must be Evelyn.”

The deep baritone voice startled her, but she held tight to her violin case and turned to face its owner. A tall young man with auburn hair and sparkling green eyes smiled down at her.

“Gran said you’d come. She told me to set up a special place for you and picked out each of these flowers with her own hand.” He deposited the tub of cut flowers he’d hauled from his van on the ground near her feet and plucked the bouquet up from the canvas chair. Pausing for an instant with the blooms near his face, he closed his eyes and inhaled before handing them to Evelyn with a flourish. “Gran certainly knows her flowers. I hope you’ll enjoy them.”

She accepted the bouquet, smiled and held out her free hand. “I certainly will. I’m Evelyn Connor, by the way.”

“Edmund Spenser,” he said, taking her hand in a warm, firm grip, “but everyone calls me Ned. Gran tells me you’re new in town.”

“I am,” she said, already looking forward to a day of music and fragrant flowers spent in Ned’s company, “but I’m feeling more at home every day.” Almost like I had a fairy godmother watching out for me, she thought, with a very likeable grandson.

~The End~

More Classic Fantasies to Read

There are some fantasy books that all readers and writers of fantasy should read: for the story, for the writing sample.  Looking back at my past posts on classic fantasy fiction I’ve noticed something.  All my suggestions are for middle grade/young adult fantasy books.  Since that’s the kind of fiction I enjoy writing, that must be why I enjoy reading it most, also.

One classic fantasy book to read is Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH,  which was written by Robert O’Brien back in 1971.  It was a Newbery award winner.  (After O’Brien’s death, his daughter wrote two more books about the rats of NIMH.)  This is the story of a brave, widowed field mouse who becomes involved with an escaped colony of laboratory enhanced rats.  Like people, not all the rats are good. The absorbing and often harrowing fantasy offers a choice between good and evil, technology and the rhythms of nature.  There was a movie made from Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH.  Watch it if you wish, but remember that movies are never as good as the books from which they are made.

Another children’s fantasy classic is The Gammage Cup by Carol Kendall, 1987, which was a Newbery honor winner.  The Minnipins (groups of small people living in a river valley) are having a contest to see which village shows the Minnipin character best.  Each village is determined to “put their best foot forward” and elders set forth new rules for the villagers to show themselves in the best light to the contest judges.  I remember that when I first read this book, I was struck by the emphasis on comformity by the majority in the village where our main characters live.  When five Minnipins refuse to conform to the new edicts, they are exiled from the village.  In their sojurn in the mountains, they discover that an ancient enemy is preparing to attack.  When the elders of the village refuse to listen to their warnings, the exiles courageously decide to save the village themselves.  I haven’t seen this book around for a while, but for fantasy lovers, it is well worth a read.  Carol Kendall also wrote a sequel, which is even less well known, but is also good book to read:  The Whisper of Glocken, A Novel of the Minnipins.  Both books are available on Amazon.

So there you have another two wonderful fantasy books for your reading pleasure.  If you would like to see my previous recommendations, they are here, here, and here.

 

 

Holiday Happiness- Reunion of Souls is Now on Sale

It’s really quite simple- today the third installment in the Judgement’s Tale epic is on sale and available at Amazon. If you’ve been following the saga of Solemn, Treaman, Cedrith, Natasha and the others this is where the plot thickens. If you haven’t yet started, then the opening chapter Games of Chance is now just 99 cents!

What a great way to use those gift cards you received yesterday- zero clutter, zero carbon emissions, and you never have to feed an e-book or change its box, it’s always there for you when you get a chance to read.

Again, a blessed holiday season to all!

Book Blast! Southwell and Finaughty’s “Doorway to Destiny” is Available Today

Regular readers of this site will recall TC Southwell and Vanessa Finaughty, the South African author-duo who write across the fantasy and sci-fi divide. Today we’re proud to alert our readers that their joint offering Doorway to Destiny is now available. I hope you will take the time to explore the fine work of these two authors, including their latest.

Doorway to DestinyAnthology Description:

This collection of eleven fantasy and science fiction novels and two anthologies will transport you to strange and exciting worlds to share in the tragedies and triumphs of complex yet endearing heroes and heroines. Discover the gripping works of authors TC Southwell and Vanessa Finaughty and be swept away by magical adventures, epic battles and futuristic voyages to unknown universes. Learn how a vengeful assassin reshapes the fate of three kingdoms and share in a quest to discover the origins of mankind, then follow the tale of a young queen’s fight to be free with the aid of a combat cyborg. Two short story anthologies spice up the fare with dragons, sorcerers and magic galore, and a child of another god strives to save his world from mankind’s ravages. When a mortal dark god treads a tragic path as he rises to destroy the Overworld, a brave young girl risks her life to try to change his savage ways. Each hero and heroine takes a definitive step through a doorway to destiny as he or she seeks to right wrongs and save worlds.

 

Doorway to Destiny links

Smashwords
iBooks
Barnes & Noble
Goodreads

Price: 99c for a limited time only

About TC Southwell

TCSouthwell2T. C. Southwell was born in Sri Lanka and moved to the Seychelles when she was a baby. She spent her formative years exploring the islands – mostly alone. Naturally, her imagination flourished and she developed a keen love of other worlds. The family travelled through Europe and Africa and, after the death of her father, settled in South Africa.

T. C. Southwell has written over thirty fantasy and science fiction novels, as well as five screenplays. Her hobbies include motorcycling, horse riding and art, and she is now a full-time writer.

Links

Author website
Author blog
Twitter
Facebook

 

About Vanessa Finaughty

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESVanessa Finaughty is an author of many genres who now focuses on fantasy and science fiction. She’s published 15 books, of which 6 are fantasy. Vanessa grew up in Cape Town, South Africa, and still lives there with her husband of fifteen years, her baby daughter and plenty of furry, four-legged ‘children’.

Vanessa has always been passionate about books, and knew from a young age that she wanted to write them one day. She loves animals, coffee and the smell of wet grass, and hates liars, sweltering weather and long queues. Her interests include reading, photography, the supernatural, mythology, aliens and outer space, ancient history, life’s mysteries and martial arts, of which she has five years’ experience.

Links

Author website
Author blog
Twitter
Facebook

Debbie Mumford Release: TALES OF TOMORROW

I’m thrilled to announce that WDM Publishing has released a new SPUN YARNS collection: TALES OF TOMORROW!

TALES OF TOMORROWTofT Cover-2x3
by Debbie Mumford
Audience: Science Fiction | Short Story Collection

From science fiction to the edge of fantasy, this collection of five short stories includes, two “right around the corner” tales (“Wakinyan’s Valley” and “Beneath and Beyond”), one far flung space odyssey (“Astromancer”), and two stories of future families (“Izzie” and “Spinning”).

Buy Now: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Smashwords

missign in acti… I mean NaNo

It seems like we lost at least one of our members to NaNoWriMo or some other disease like that. Thus, I’m jumping in — oh no, it’s my turn after all. Since I’m doing NaNo myself, I’m not entirely sure what to talk about. It seems most of the words I’m familiar with have drained into my current writing project. Writing 50,000 words in one moth is tedious if they have to make sense at the end. I’m sure many a secretary will be able to write much more than that, but keep in mind that most participants have a full time job on top of this.

So why then do we participate in this craziness? Why do some of us get so absorbed that they forget to feed their kids or shovel the dirt out of the house? It is because (pick your answer) we’re crazy, the community is incredibly supportive, we need to finish the current project and were missing the drive, everyone does it, it’s fun, of any other reason we can come up with to avoid laundry, cooking, cleaning and a 9-5 job. We also might be doing it for no apparent reason at all.

So, if this blog is a little bumpy during Novembers, you’ll know that at least some of us gave in to our yearly dose of craziness. Be gentle with us. After all, we’ll reward you with more releases as soon as the mess we made during NaNo is cleaned u.. I mean revised. Thanks for understanding.

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