Tribute to Ray Ferrer, RIP

Umbrella by Ray Ferrer

Umbrella by Ray Ferrer

A Ray of Hope

When the sun comes up,
it never asks where the shadows come from
or where they go.
Some believe they run to twilight,
sheltering from the glare.
I don’t believe that’s so.
The light in your eyes is as bright as day.
Illumination out of darkness
is sometimes an echo
of residual sunshine
leftover from twilight
running away.
~
by Sherry Rentschler, May 22, 2015
~

For Ray Ferrer who died May 20, 2015

Click here to purchase that print or any others by Ray Ferrer.

Book Review – Solomon’s Seive by V. Danann

Solomon's Sieve (Knights of Black Swan, Book #7)Solomon’s Sieve by Victoria Danann

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Ah, Book 7 in The Black Swan Sage, Solomon’s Sieve is a return to the glorious writing and style that made me like Victoria Danann so much. Events from the last book seem totally forgotten and we are back in the drama of our Black Knights and their troubles and foibles.

This seems to be the end of the saga though I was left hanging. The major plot of the story, the main plot of the reason for the Knights – eradiation or cure of vampire – sorta got lost in the unfolding romance of Book 7. The “trouble” the Knights are sent to deal with, a large recall of knights back to the Jefferson Unit (where the knights are housed and trained) went by the wayside as we have yet another romance between a knight and a young woman. It goes much as the others, love at first sight, lots of sex and a happy resolution.

The other plot of the story is much more intriguing, that of the new Sovereign and the newly almost married now grieving Farnsworth, the Operations/Secretary.

Despite the tale being one that is predictable in the outcomes, the way to the end is peppered with some delicious laugh-out-loud moments, and some very dynamic interactions. I credit Danann with her amazing dialogue and her ability to give her characters a sense of life that is rarely felt in most Indie authors, and does in fact impress as if you were reading a very established famous author. Danann is masterful at scene description and the fluid way her tales moves from person to location.

Additionally, Danann’s writing style continues to flow like a swift flowing river that is a ride not to be missed. It is very enjoyable and enviable. Her style is engaging and you can’t help but be immersed.

Though I continue to dislike Danann’s lack of book formatting and wish she gave as much attention to her print set up (because it would give the same “elegance and class” as her writing carries), the book was a book (not a novella) and I was once again happy in the length. But I do not like the binding, for it is weak and does not like readers, beginning to separate before I finished the novel.

All in all, this seems to be the last in the series of the print volumes. The plot was not actually resolved, as far as I can tell, so maybe there will be more. I hope so. I have enjoyed the ride.

Just remember the rule of the order, (I love this): “The plural of vampire is vampire.”

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Book Review – A Tale of Two Kingdoms (Danann)

A Tale of Two Kingdoms: 6 (Knights of Black Swan)A Tale of Two Kingdoms: 6 by Victoria Danann

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I’ve been a huge fan of Danann’s Black Swan Series, gleefully extolling the virtues of every volume and posting reviews. Unfortunately, this book left me sad and irritated. I rate it 2.5 stars.

The good: Victoria Danann is an excellent writer. Her mastery and skill in creative writing is what kept me (and thousands of others) coming back for more. Each book has built upon the last with skill, despite baffling me here and there. But Danann has kept the threads tightly woven and I have really enjoyed that.

Then we get to this volume. I’m unhappy with it. First, in every book we are told in hard bold type, all caps, that reading the books in order is STRONGLY RECOMMENDED. Then in every single book Danann gives us a summary of every single book to date. That was annoying but I overlooked it (and skipped the summaries) because the books were that good.

But this volume not only includes the summaries of the last five books but it also has excerpts from the last five books, and the last book has an excerpt of 20 PAGES! Not acceptable! Of course, you clearly understand WHY when you realize that this is NOT A NOVEL This is a novella. The book begins on page 53!!! (Minus a few extra blank pages, inappropriately numbered). And so we get 180 pages to read for Book 6.

I hate to say this but it is a rip off for bibliophiles like me who hate ereaders. 180 pages?? That is but half of a normal book, folks. And it stings more because the story isn’t that great.

In all the previous volumes, Danann has put several stories together and blended them, seamlessly. This tale – of a Romeo and Juliet love story between an elf and a fairy (predictable? Yes) – is not only unoriginal but could have easily been added to a previous or future volume with the skill that I have seen Danann use. The last book was dynamic and this is just — dull. Well-written but ordinary. Even the story needed to be stretched by giving us an entire chapter of our male fairy planning his escape. The detail was needed to expand the 180 pages, obviously.

And so when a book disappoints and does so with unacceptable artiface, one notices the other things that are irritating but previously were overlooked. Like, the binding of the paperbacks is poor and does not hold up well with more than one read. The books are formatted for ebooks but in print, no effort has been made to make them look like a REAL book, ignoring acceptable formatting standards in front and back matter. And though I disliked this in ALL the print books, it was glaringly obvious in this volume with all the added excerpts which should not have been included.

All in all I am seriously disappointed in this book. The story is good enough because Danann can write. But the tale is unexceptional and would have been better served included in with another book.

I have always looked forward to the next book but I am hesitant about Book 7. If I didn’t already have it, I might not be eager to spend the money. I do have it though, so onward. My recommendation is get this in ebook and suffer through the extra “stuff.” And the formatting may not be an issue then either.

P.S. Note to author – with all the summaries and then the excerpts in this book, you definitely do NOT need to read the previous books to get the story.

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Are you bulldozing in your novel?

Illustration of bulldozer driverWhen building a novel, you are the architect, engineer, construction manager, interior designer, sales manager and promotional pitchperson. Jack-of-all-Trades, that’s you. But you are the builder and what you say (read: write), goes.

You design the blueprint, you lay the foundation, you build the structure, plan the entrances and the exit, throw in a maze of hallways (and secret passages if you are clever) with just enough windows for others to appreciate your work.

Then you come along and bulldoze a corner of your building during the interior design…wait…what?? Let me explain…

You start a project in November, as an example. It is winter, the emotion of the season is running high. You like winter (let’s say you live in a moderate, four season climate), and you are all into the sweater and hot chocolate, twinkle lights and family warmth. Your novel is beginning like gangbusters, with stops for holiday gatherings. You are really feeling your work. Then back to work, the cold of winter not a deterrent.  Oh yes, this novel is really starting to take shape.

January rolls in and so do bills, colder temps and uh-oh, you have to stop for research. And you have a bad cold, or strep. Weeks go by and when you are finally ready to resume writing with a clear, drug free mind, it is February. You are sick of bills and the cold and…and where were you in your work? The dog wants out in the rain, the kids have the measles, your girlfriend is on a tear, the spouse is working late…

This is when the bulldozer comes out. You pick up writing were you were back in December when you were happy and warm with feeling and coziness and now you are annoyed and sniffly, and bill-weary so you plug into the story and your main character is getting a bit snarky. And sarcastic. Your sentences are either long and tiresome or short. Choppy. Mean. You. Just. Want. To. Get. Through. One. Chapter….

You don’t realize it but you are using your bulldozer to cover over what you’ve done, change the landscape and the look from your novel building’s windows! You don’t even realize the subtle changes until summer comes and you are sitting outside basking with a cool drink and your red pen and you feel as though your character needs an attitude enema and you are like…”what the hell happened?”

Bulldozing. It is called lots of things by experts greater than me. But it is what happens when you have a break in your writing and your mood changes, your attitude is softer/harder/angry/in love and your writing shifts. Might be bad, might not, but overall the tone and characterization of your novel’s home and family changes from the original intent. Your red ink is going to be angry and your architect and interior designer are going to beat you up.

Bulldozing is common. It happens to all of us. It isn’t rushing through the parts you don’t want to write. That’s called rushing. Ha!  No, bulldozing is forever altering the landscape because you…..

…can’t get into your characters again.

Here’s how to prevent bulldozing:

Character sheets. Doing your homework. You know your characters as deeply as you know yourself. And I don’t mean superficially, but intrinsically, emotionally, spiritually, physically. So much so that when you show up with that bulldozer, the characters stand outside of their beloved novel home and stop you from doing harm to their world. You will catch yourself when you truly are connected to your characters.

Seriously, watch out for bulldozing. If you can’t recapture a mood or recreate a setting, go back and re-read your work, re-examine your characterizations and get to know your family again.  Then resume your decorating and/or building. Don’t let your hard work fall victim to insidious and avoidable destruction. You deserve to treat your work better.

Your job is to create consistency in your work, in your characters, in their world. Learn to tap into your characters and your world at will, and build a fabulous, cohesive novel.

Leave the bulldozer to your editor.

Book Review – Gathering Storm by V. Danann

Gathering Storm (Knights of Black Swan, Book 5)Gathering Storm by Victoria Danann

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is book 5 in the Black Swan Saga and I need a word that is beyond fabulous or extra wowiezowie. This is, BY FAR, my FAVORITE of the series and is a most excellent book! Not only does it have all the elements that make authors drool – drama, adventure, high caliber action, sex, sorrow and love (oh man can you say, ‘wow?’) – but it also has a truly fine story not done before in the previous volumes. How about doppleganger and demon screw-ups? Are you interested now? What about cross dimension travel and assassination attempts.

Yup, this is one helluva book and one heckofa ride. I could not put it down and I raced my way through it, devouring every little morsel of exquisitely written, detailed, clearly imagined world and character. I love this book.

Basically we have our usual Black Swan Knights working with new trainees, old knights, and “true” vampires (the good guys!), a lost knight, a fake knight, a demon baby who grows to be a young woman in less than a month and one heck of a knock-down, acutely detailed invasion of the knight’s “fortress” all to seek out and kill our always leading lady, our heroine Elora Laiken.

This book should be a movie script. It plays like it in the mind while you are reading. Fabulous stuff. PLEASE join me in this series!

I’m heading off to begin book 6. I hope it is as wonderful as this one. I can’t emphasize enough how sated I feel, as a reader, and how delightfully envious I am as a writer. Good stuff people!
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Book Review – Moonlight: The Big Bad Wolf

Moonlight: The Big Bad Wolf (Black Swan) (Volume 4)Moonlight: The Big Bad Wolf (Black Swan) by Victoria Danann

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Another winner by Victoria Danann. This is book 4 in the Black Swan saga and I enjoyed it. As with the last book, there are several plots that require adept handling. Danann does that with ease. I confess it throws me a little when I have to switch rather abruptly but it works in the end.

This one deals with the werewolves and their future. The king of the wolves has a serious choice to make and, as with the other books, he meets his “lady love” (his love at first sight) and pursues. Each book does tend to go the same way with the “fall in love aspect” as all the others and that is why I can’t give this 5 stars. It is too predictable.

However, Danann’s ability to craft a tale is very smooth and I enjoy her storytelling. I’ve already cracked Book 5 and though I think I know how the story will begin and proceed, it is who will be affected and how that intrigues me! One thing I give kudos to Danann for – all her books tie together beautifully.

Give this series a try and I think you’ll agree that this best-selling Indie Author is worth your time.
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5 Stars for By Light Betrayed!

By Light Betrayed – Poetry of the Vampires has received a 5 Star rating by Readers’ Favorite International Book Awards! I’m so very pleased and I wanted to share with you. This is the first step in the preliminaries for awards. Only four and five star winners will be eligible for awards, so I’m in!

5star-shiny-web

Reviewed by Charity Tober for Readers’ Favorite

By Light Betrayed: Poetry of the Vampires by Sherry Rentschler is both a distinctive and interesting read. There are over thirty poems featuring haunting and melancholy vampire themes. For example, in the poem Crossing the Line, it reads: “Sunlight teases behind the tomb. Dandelions wilt against the concrete. I dance on sidewalk shadows, death between the lines.” And in the poem Royal Street, the author states: “Time is for memories, frayed recollections, fraught with our chaos and short on regret. We are the remnants of innocent wishes lost in the pavement, too sharp to forget.” The author does a good job keeping each poem distinct and includes various color pictures (mostly graveyards and such) to accompany the poems.

First off, the cover for By Light Betrayed: Poetry of the Vampires is superb (both alluring and haunting) and really sets the tone for the book. I typically do not read very much in the poetry genre, but I did enjoy reading this book. The flow was nice and I liked how it included pictures to go along with the text. The empty graveyard scenes went well with the atmosphere and narrative of the poems. I felt the author focused on the dark, struggling, wandering and mysterious aspects of vampires (and not the sparkling, angst-ridden kind). You can tell through the poems that the author is really a fan of vampires and understands all of the myths and popularity that goes along with them. I think the book would appeal to fans of both vampires and poetry.

***

No sparkly vampires for me! haha

If you were wondering if you should give the book a try, I hope this might encourage you. Thank you to Readers’ Favorite for their generous comments.

Feel free to see the review and leave comments (via Facebook or the site) from the page. Thank you.