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Light a Light

I sat down to write this morning, and like I do I decided to check social media first. (Because nothing says “getting into the right frame of mind for making up stories” like “fiddling around on Facebook for half an hour.”) And my body grew numb with horror and sorrow, and my tea got cold at my elbow, and when I closed my browser I stared at the document open on my laptop and thought, What even is the point?

 

Check the news, a friend messaged me, and try not to cry.

 

I didn’t try. I read about police officers being shot in Dallas, about a man being killed in St Paul, another in Baton Rouge, and I wept. These are human beings, each unique and valuable and beloved, and they are dead. Who would not weep, at the shattering of these worlds?

 

And what good does it do, to write another escapist fantasy, or draw technicolor superheroes, in the face of such horror?

 

These are not new thoughts, and I’m not the first to think them. In the face of a world turned upside-down and run mad, art seems silly and frivolous and without value, and I suppose it always has. We need laws! We need action! What, you’re going to draw a picture at a time like this?!

 

But what else can I do? The world is very dark, and we must fight the darkness with all the power and strength and ability we’ve been given. Let the teacher teach truth, and let the preacher preach love, let the police serve and protect, let the judges dispense justice. And let the writers tell their tales and the artists make beautiful art, and let us all each in our way, great or small, raise our lights against the darkness. We must, we must resist the powers of fear and hatred.

 

So I’ll write. What else can I do?

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Art credit: Gwendolyn1-stock @ deviantArt

kindle-coverIn celebration of the Fourth of July weekend, my pirate adventure fantasy with dragons and airships, The Voyage to Ruin, is free! Light up your sparklers and crack open the delicious beverage of your choice, and sail over to V2R on Smashwords for oodles of nautical adventure.

And remember, word of mouth is how indie authors survive. If you read it, even if you hate it or couldn’t finish it, think about leaving a review on Amazon or Goodreads. I’d be deeply obliged to you!

ETA: Thanks to eagle-eyed readers who noticed the link was broken and suggested the fix. It should be working now.

Book Review: Doors

joanne_doorsDoors is a brand-new time travel romance from Joanne Renaud, author of A Question of Time (which I also reviewed), out now from Champagne Books.

So, first, a disclaimer: Joanne’s a good buddy of mine, and I got to be a beta reader for this book, so even though I will try hard to be fair and balanced and objective, I will probably fail. That said, on with the review!

Doors is the story of Jackie Karam, a struggling freelance comic artist in New York City; the brightest spot in her life is her friendship with rich, eccentric party boy Orne St John. Inspired by an old book and the strange real-life disappearance of its author, Orne gets a wild idea: if one had a lost book in one’s past, a book one could remember almost nothing about, perhaps finding that book could open a door into an alternate dimension.

Orne himself has no lost or forgotten books in his past, but it turns out Jackie does: a pulp science fiction novel recommended to her by her favorite high school English teacher just before he died in a car wreck.  (This is Alan Forrest, the romantic lead from A Question of Time.) In the wake of the accident, Jackie forgot everything about the book, even its title, only an image of the gaudy paperback she checked out from her hometown library lingering in her mind.

This thin thread is enough for Orne. Ready for adventure, he hauls Jackie off to Maryland to try to open an interdimensional portal. Continue Reading »

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Last but not least in our character interview extravaganza is an interview with Anna Winters, the heroine of Donna Thorland’s The Dutch Girl, a swashbuckling romantic tale of the American Revolution. It’s an exciting read, with espionage, derring-do, witches, arrogant redcoats, patroons lording it over feudal manors in the Hudson Valley, and cookies.  Ms. Winters is a woman of few words, but let’s welcome her to the blog!

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donna_Anna_lgIf you had a free day with no responsibilities and your only mission was to enjoy yourself, what would you do?

Go fishing with my husband.

 

What are you most proud of about your life?

I’m proud of starting a school and providing women with an education.

 

What was the happiest time of your life?

Being a teacher and running my own school.

 

What about the lowest point?

Losing my father.

 

If you could spend the day with someone you admire (living or dead or imaginary), whom would you pick?

I’d like to meet Mary Robinson. [Editor’s note: Not the President of Ireland. Mary Robinson was an actress, dramatist and poet, called the “English Sappho;” she was also the mistress of the Prince Regent and the notorious soldier Banastre Tarleton, who appears in The Dutch Girl.]

 

Which historical figure do you most identify with?

Cleopatra.

 

donna_DutchGirl_1Who are your favorite writers?

Unca Eliza Winkfield.

 

Do you think you’ve turned out the way your parents expected?

Yes.

 

Is there anything you’ve always wanted to do but haven’t done? What would happen if you did it?

I’d like to travel to Europe. I expect international relations would suffer.

 

What is your greatest fear?

Spiders.

 

How do you feel about your life right now? What, if anything, would you like to change?

I’d like to see greater equality for working people.

 

What do you consider your greatest achievement?

Starting my school.

 

What is your idea of perfect happiness?

It’s complicated, but cookies are involved. [Editor’s note: Preferably those with cardamom and orange-water. Check the link for a great recipe!]

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There are still a couple of days left in the March Mayhem giveaway: win a whole bucketload of free books to read and enjoy, including The Dutch Girl and many others, as well as artwork and other book-related goodies. So what are you waiting for? Go forth and enter!

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Sorry about the clickbait-y title, guys; I couldn’t resist

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice hit theatres this weekend, and love it or hate it, seems like everybody’s talking about it. Whether it’s Vox’s piece on Nineteen Things That Don’t Make Sense coming down on the Hate It side, or articles about the film’s impressive box office returns being used as evidence for Team Love It, everyone has an opinion.

And here’s the shocking bit. Are you ready?

Love it or hate it, that’s your opinion.

I have friends who adored it, who will probably go see it fifteen more times. I have friends who deplore it, who have written at length on why they think it is so terrible. I also have friends who haven’t seen it yet, or don’t plan to see it at all, who are indifferent, or who were genuinely unaware that this movie was happening. (Me, I don’t have an opinion; I haven’t seen it, and likely won’t until it hits Netflix.) But the thing is, whether you think it is the best thing since individually wrapped cheese slices (let’s face it, those things are amazing), or a big steaming pile of terribleness–

That’s okay.

It’s your opinion.

You can like what you like, or hate what you hate.

Think on the old Latin saying: De gustibus non est disputandum. Roughly, “Guys, we shouldn’t argue about matters of taste.”

It’s not just that you can like what you like, or hate what you hate: my opinion of a work of art (which BvS arguably is) in no way diminishes or counteracts your opinion, even if we disagree.

When it comes to matters of taste, we shouldn’t fight. Certainly I’m the last person who can throw stones; one of my favorite movies of all time features two hours of giant robots punching giant monsters, and I’ll happily argue its excellence to you if you have the time and patience for it, but if that’s not your cuppa, that’s cool too.

Opinions aren’t objective, no matter how pleasing to our egos it might be to pretend that we ourselves are the Final Arbiters of All Aesthetic Goodness (or whatever your yardstick is). Now, whether or not the thing you like is objectively good or terrible is a separate question, and one people smarter than me have been tackling for many and many a year, and outside the purview of this little blog post–but even if it is terrible (as many folk said about Pacific Rim, and are saying about BvS), it’s still okay to like it. Something in it feeds your soul, or fires your heart, or sparks your imagination. It’s downright cruel to try to take that away from a person.

So, guys, let’s not fight about matters of taste.

(Although, if you think Pacific Rim is terrible, you’re just wrong, and that’s a fact!😄 )

Brave_coverMy short story, “Somebody Brave,’ is available now, DRM-free, on Amazon!

Here’s the book description:

They had done what they could. The six heroes had traversed the land to gather the seventeen Artifacts to defeat the evil sorcerer Maliax. But would their efforts be enough to stop the end of the world?

This short adventure story originally appeared in the Nightfalls anthology from Dark Valentine Press.

For less than the price of a cup of coffee, this story can be yours! Or you can enter to win a free copy, as well as a whole bunch of other nifty free books and book-related items, as the March Mayhem giveaway winds to a close. If you haven’t entered yet, hop to it!

Either way, thanks for looking, and if you read the story you can help me out by leaving a review! I hope you enjoy it!

 

Today as March Mayhem continues we would like to introduce Marcus Aurelius, Lord Malton. He’s the hero from Lynne Connolly’s brand new historical romance, Dilemma in Yellow Silk— a delightful romp through mid-18th century England with assassins, secret Jacobites, star-crossed lovers and much more.  Welcome to the blog, Lord Malton!

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lynne_Marcus_lgIf you had a free day with no responsibilities and your only mission was to enjoy yourself, what would you do?

Ride. Anywhere that took my fancy. I’d go back to the family estate and ride somewhere nobody expected anything of me, or even knew my name.

 

Let’s say you believed in reincarnation, a la Plato. If you were to die and come back as a person or a thing, what would it be? What are you most proud of about your life?

Probably a pampered lap dog. Some people think I am one anyway, because of my birth. That couldn’t be further from the truth, but I cannot persuade them of that. I’m proud of my family, of supporting my father in the work he does.

 

What was the happiest time of your life?

Playing with my father’s steward’s daughter, Viola, when I was a child. Viola never concerned herself with my birth or consequence. I owed her nothing, unlike my siblings. Viola was—is—the most charming, lively person I know. She’s a good friend. I’m just sorry she can never be anything else.

 

What about the lowest point?

When my parents told me that as the oldest son, I had to put my childish ways behind me and face up to my responsibilities. I was separated from my siblings. I had to sneak around to visit Viola, but I could not give her up, too. I was nine years old.

 

If you could spend the day with someone you admire (living or dead or imaginary), whom would you pick?

This is sounding a little repetitive, but probably Viola. I can share things with her that I cannot with anyone else. When I marry I will most likely have to distance myself from her, too, but at the moment we are good friends.

 

Which historical figure do you most identify with?

(Laughs). I have never thought of that. Perhaps my father, and his father, since I’m destined to follow in their footsteps and they were both historical figures. Continue Reading »