Book Review – Charming by Elliott James

Charming (Pax Arcana, #1)Charming by Elliott James
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Where have I been? Why haven’t I read this book before now? Charming is quite simply extraordinary. From the first sentence, to the first paragraph, I was literally hooked. I discuss the importance of opening sentences and first paragraphs with writers all the time but this is the first book in a VERY long time that actually lived up to the concept of HOOK. Wow. Elliott James is amazing.

Imagery, characters with depth (including flaws that you have to love), original characters and unusual mythology, a seamlessly woven plot, all combine to make one heck of a fabulous story.

We have an ex Knight Templar named John Charming, an old family of Charmings who have been dragon slayers, witch hunters and killers working in a bar in rural Virginia. He’s keeping himself out of the public fray because…well, I can’t tell you that. And when a vampire and a blonde walk into the bar, well, that’s the whole point of the book.

Just trust me. This is by far the best I’ve read in urban fantasy/paranormal since Jim Butcher and Kim Harrison. James’ writing is smart, clever, adult, and he proves you can have a commanding book and plot – and even some romance – without sex! That means the story is strong and needs no unnecessary hooks to keep you reading. I. Love. This. Book. I have already ordered books 2 & 3. Finally a fantasy book for adults. MUST read if you love fantasy. This is not Prince Charming but you will be enchanted in a high drama kind of way.

Fast paced, intricate and can’t-put-down stuff. 10 stars.

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Big Changes Coming!

Hello out there!

I hope your summer has been exciting. Now that most school systems are back in session (and most college students are headed back to class), life begins a shift toward Autumn and change. And I’m here to whisper in your ear about a few changes headed your way with Between the Lines.

First, a reminder that Midnight Assassin, my character novella, is on track and still projected for 09/30.  I’m finalizing the interior and the cover designer is working hard. When I get ready to release the book, there will be a few giveaways so stay tuned for those!

Additionally, there will be some other rather large surprises coming about this blog and other stuff. Between the Lines will be changing. So keep a look out because when it happens it will be fast. Maybe new colors. Maybe new direction. Maybe…

I’m breaking in a new computer – purchased an HP Envy – and it has a touchscreen and weird menus. Have to load my Word and iTunes and all my social media plus Scrivener and all the most used programs. Sheesh. Takes so much time.  Then there are the programs I like that aren’t issued in updates to Win 8.1 or IE 11 or Chrome…and so I have to hunt those down….Arg. It takes me a while to break in a new computer and learn all the new stuff. I’m no designer/programmer/creator but I am one helluva great user. You only have to show me “how to” once and I’m off and running. So give me time and I’ll be back to “normal” in short order.

Autumn means spring fever for me. Although we aren’t there weather-wise, there are early morning hints in the air. Soon I’ll be able to open windows, air out sweaters, and break out the firepit.  Autumn is a time of change and renewal. So it will be for things here at Between the Lines. Get ready! The vampires are coming….

Oh, and I’ll be looking for some reviewers for Midnight Assassin – A Tale of Lust and Revenge. The genre is urban fantasy/vampire. If you are interested in being an early reviewer, fill out a contact form and let me know. Tell me why you are interested and be sure to be a blog and Facebook Author page follower!

I’m excited for Autumn. I’m excited about where Between the Lines is headed and I’m excited to share it with you. Change is in the air!

Thanks for hanging in there!

Yours Between the Lines,
Sherry

Global Ebook Awards – a triple!

gold medalGEbA_Silver

The 2015 Global Ebook Awards were announced yesterday. I am very pleased to announce that I WON the following:

“Best of” Categories:
Ebook Cover: GOLD: By Light Betrayed
Ebook Photography: SILVER: By Light Betrayed (no Gold medals awarded)

Category: Poetry
SILVER: By Light Betrayed (No Gold medals awarded)

One gold and two silvers! And my silvers are as good as gold to me since no golds were awarded in those categories!

Normally, I don’t like to tout awards or brag very much but I am honored and proud and wanted to share with you. And in case any of you wonder, yes, awards do matter to some readers who are trying to chose between books. If you could get an award-winning book over one that isn’t, might you choose the winner? Especially with poetry, you want any edge you can get.

I’m also pleased that my photography won an award! That really has me over the moon. Cover, poetry and photography. Whee!

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Other News: My novella, Midnight Assassin, A tale of  lust and revenge, is in production. Release expectation remains Sept 2015!

And more surprises coming soon!

Thanks for hanging in!
Keep writing.

Yours Between the Lines,
Sherry

Controversy and Change

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Normally, I don’t like discussing religion and politics. I keep to mine and let others keep to theirs, mostly because of the controversy and vitriol the diversity tends to create. However, when it comes to writing, I don’t think writers should shy away from professing their beliefs. Not if the message is hopeful and encouraging. Not if lessons are learned or gained. Not if growth will be the result. If any of those reasons is the result of a controversial or important opinion or viewpoint, then you, the writer, are obligated to make a presentation, take a stand, and share your vision.

Why? Change is rarely if ever easy. Oh sure, we’ve all heard that before, but it is true. Let’s just look at the issue of the Confederate Flag. Now for me, I’ve never been a supporter. Mostly because I have actually read the history of the flag and know how it evolved and why (most people have not read anything about it but assume a great deal). For over a hundred years many towns have had flags flying and moments built and there has not been this kind of outcry as seen recently. No one has been standing on any courthouse steps screaming at the top of their lungs to remove the statues, down the flag, or take it off the license plates. Only when a crazed killer waves a Confederate flag (he didn’t even espouse the Confederate beliefs, not the real ones), and kills nine people that the world goes nuts and begins a kind of banishment and censorship that has risen to eyebrow breaking heights. And suddenly the pain of change begins. Whatever the reason, no matter how odd or rational or whatever, the painful transmutation begins where the world seeks betterment and plastic surgery.

Change hurts. Change shocks. Change excites. Change inspires. Change is new. Change is scary. Change is….life. Change is THE PLOT, writers.

Writers are instruments of change. We can move mountains when our words bring truth. Our truth can bring change and when used for positive reasons, we can do wondrous things. We can motivate and inspire, enliven and create. We can also scare, threaten, intimidate, command, demand, manipulate, and destroy. We, as writers, have this power too.

We have power and we have obligation. Our stories, even our small ones, can contain instruments of change. Our lessons and our messages might be small or they may be blimpy, but you should exercise your power as a writer.

Don’t be one of those people who rise up only from opportunity. Make change a force that works always. Make change because it is right, has always been right, will continue to be right because it is a universal truth and must be repeated and shared. Make change a part of your life, one by which you can live every day. Be the power, the force, and the idea that is something better and more important than a bullet or a knife, or a flag, or an acerbic word.

As writers, we have a chance to do special things. With everything you write, every thought you present, it is your moment for lessons, for change, for enlightenment, for magic.

Will you be like the Confederate Flag, a token of bygone values, of dead mores, of antipathy? Or will you be like the sun, rising glorious and steady, regular and necessary, honest and blunt, lighting the way?

Write. Chose wisely the way you cut your words and change the world for the better.

Book Review – Wicked Embers by Keri Arthur

Wicked Embers (Souls of Fire, #2)Wicked Embers by Keri Arthur

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Book 2 in the Souls of Fire series picks up right after our initial foray leaves off. The Crimson Death is being used by a tool, vampires and red cloaks (sindicati) alike are spreading fear and terror and slowly gaining ground. Emberly Pearson, our heroine and phoenix, is trying to recover lost research that will lead to a vaccination or hopefully a cure.

Wow. I mean I love Keri Arthur’s writing. Her previous series (The Dark Angels novels) hooked me and that’s why I dove into this new offering (that, and there’s a phoenix. Hello!). And Keri never disappoints. You have action, passion, dynamic action and intricate characters. Even our villains are rich and deep. You have to love a book that is so fulfilling!

This particular book deals with a mysterious killer, one whose form shifts and changes and yet can disappear like smoke. Not a shapeshifter. Not a vampire. And it getting more daring and more lethal…and Emberly’s dreams are not giving her much notice for stopping it.

All the characters from the first book are back – Emberly, Rory (her spiritual phoenix mate), Jackson (fire Fae), and her ex-lover Sam who is part of the undercover, unmentionable police force that works the non-humans. And then there are the vampires. And oh boy are there plenty of those!

This is a can’t-put-down-book and I finished it off in three big gulps. Can not wait for the next volume because this one leaves me hanging! Do give Keri Arthur a try — she’s top drawer in fantasy, urban fantasy, paranormal and gothic fantasy.

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New and Future Happenings

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Hello out there! Long time no share. I do apologize but have been busy. Let me share some recent events.

First, I am pleased to announce that I was included in a wonderful anthology entitled Mirrored Voices: Best Contemporary Poetry, compiled by poet/author Paul Morabito. The anthology was ranked #1 on Amazon’s best new poetry anthologies. I’m pleased to be included with some of these quite extraordinary poets. If you are looking for a small compilation of current poets, you might consider this one. I do not get anything for this anthology (it all goes to the editor) but it is a good kindle present! Click here.

In case you missed it on Facebook, I’m delighted to announce that By Light Betrayed received a 5 Star Review from Readers’ Favorite International Book Awards AND I was named a Finalist in the National Indie Excellence Awards. So, my vampires are happy.

Next, I’m delighted to announce that I have finished Midnight Assassin, the novella that was promised in the back of By Light Betrayed. Expect a release in 60 days or less! I’ll keep you posted.

While I work the publishing (and promotions and all that good stuff), I’m busy finishing some other works (a memoir, a fairy story, a vampire novel/series).

And of course, a part of me is thinking ahead to National Novel Writing Month because I am one of two Municipal Liaisons for the Charlotte region in North Carolina and it’s time to start planning for this month of hell. Seriously. Month of HELL. What to write? What novel can I get 75% finished in November? Oh the pain.

Finally, looking forward, I am going to appear on The Ron Shaw radio show on Oct 26 (more on that as we get closer) and then next year I am already planning on two author signings (on in NC and one in FL).

Whew!

Lots to keep up with and I promise you’ll be in the know going forward! Also, I’ll be publicizing some of my friends’ releases and I hope you’ll join me in helping them launch some terrific books.

If we haven’t connected on Facebook or Twitter, please lets do. I’m more often there than here for personal stuff but this is where the key events are happening.

Thank you for hanging in there. I’ll be back in a day or so to talk about more serious things.
Now, go back to your writing!

Yours Between the Lines,
Sherry

Copyright and Icons, tricky biz*

Paper Bones Cover

As part of my poetry book (Paper Bones), I decided to include some photography. The idea is that poetry is enlivened with images, breaks up the pattern of the poems, and adds dimension to the book (not to mention allows me to show a second form of creativity by using my photographs).  I have photos of a butterfly I took at the Butterfly Farm in St Martin, the Apollo Monument in Titusville, Fl, a real Medieval bible just to name a few. And then there were some photos I “staged” with models or still life. There were also a couple collages I created. One photo showcased pictures of me when I was a little girl in my dancing costumes, along with my toe shoes and the cover of a book that inspired me. One showcased records and comic books and my Girl Scout sash.

And that’s where the problem arose. I worried about the cover of the ballet book and asked advice of a lawyer,  ensuring that I wasn’t infringing on toes by using the cover in my picture (it wasn’t the focus of the picture, just an item in it). No, I was told, you’re okay, just give a nod to the author out of respect. So I did.

But that isn’t where the problem came. There was only one photo that caused a problem — the one with the images of Superman and Batman peeking through 45rpms, platform shoes and a Girl Scout sash.  Ah, grasshopper, said my consultant (Not really, but it sounds better and it felt this way), you may not use ICONIC images that are clearly TRADEMARKED and LICENSED without incurring copyright infringement and potential lawsuits.

Gulp.

Puzzling, isn’t it? We wear ball caps and t-shirts, get signs for our cars and put magnets on our fridges, buy stationary, even toothbrushes with their faces on them. Batman this and Superman that. And for goodness sake, this was a photograph of a very old comics (actually it is of those oversized comics, you know the DC Treasury size, limited collector editions 14″ x 20″. Yeah, they were BIG). Anyway, the oversized comics are part of a collage photo.

And because they are iconic, trademarked images – unlike the ballet book’s drawn cover – I cannot use them without permission, said the Justice League. Whodathunkit??

So I’ve asked, but I’m not certain to hear from anyone anytime soon (tho I do hope). Meanwhile, I am off trying to create another photo to take its place. Something with the same feel…like old fashioned popcorn bags and pop corn, 45rpms, some glass beads, old magazines (out of print) and the old platforms shoes. Maybe I’ll hit on a cool look. It won’t be iconic but it will be legal.

Though honestly, nothing will ever beat out the old stack of 45’s covering a hint of an old comic book with a hero on the cover. Ah well.

The point for you? Writer’s beware. There’s a lesson in this tale. Even mentioning icons in your writing may need appropriate trademarks or copyrights (you can wear a Batman costume but to have Batman show up is a whole ‘nutter issue!)  Know your stuff.

Watchtower out.

DC Comics JL Watchtower

DC Comics JLA Watchtower**

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(*Originally posted Jun 10, 2013, seemed right to recycle. Update: As of this date I have yet to hear back on my request, so good thing I didn’t hold the book up, right? I did create my own, legal, photographs. The book is nearly two years old now.)

(**Disclaimer: Watchtower picture reprinted from web, no copyright infringement is intended, not for monetary profit. Image by DC Comics, Justice League Animated series, the first watchtower)