It’s about passion, music, and my early years. All in all, it felt good to revisit some of those memories and shine a new light on them.
It’s about passion, music, and my early years. All in all, it felt good to revisit some of those memories and shine a new light on them.
I just finished watching the first episode of COSMOS: A Spacetime Odyssey, and I have the distinct feeling that I have just witnessed a historical event.
If there are kids in your life, then please, I’m begging you, get them to watch this series. Watch it together and give them the gift that countless other generations did not even know they could have.
Some random, utterly unorganised thoughts:
Dudes and dudettes,
It’s been a while, hasn’t it? Well, the truth is, my other life (the one that pays the bills) caught up with me, and it is now quite reluctant to let go.
Just so we’re clear, I’m not really complaining. During my social media hiatus, I was lucky enough to check one big item off my professional bucket list: be a speaker at MicroStrategy World. I can almost hear the anticlimactic gasps as you read this, so just to put things in perspective, in my line of work this is akin to presenting at TED (an item which also happens to be on my bucket list). It thus goes without saying, that I’m damn proud of having done this.
My one hour session occurred right before lunch, a time slot which I have always regarded as being somewhat cursed. Being the only thing that stands between an audience of over 150 hungry IT people and their lunch, is not unlike finding yourself trapped between a herd of hypos and their favourite patch of water. This being said, I must have done something right during my presentation. Otherwise, I can’t really explain the fact that the Q&A session extended well into the lunch break, with hardly anyone willing to leave. Not only that, but the grapevine has it that mine was probably the best presentation this year. To be fair, it’s really hard to say if that’s actually true. The conference is structured in such a way that even the most active participant can only attend about 1/13th of the presentations, so the availability bias must be accounted for when digesting this kind of praise.
As a side note, I’ve always been a rather shy public speaker, and this particular challenge was not made any easier by my being extremely aware of my exotic (read East European, if mild) accent. My way of dealing with this, is to make jokes. Laughter puts me at ease, and gives me confidence, especially if it is being done by others.
So now I’m trying to catch up with my author duties. I’m happy to report that The Scriptlings continues to receive amazing reviews on Amazon and Goodreads. Getting a four or five star review from someone completely unknown is a hard to describe feeling. It is the special bond that comes from knowing that the only connection between me and that person is a book that I wrote. It is also the nagging fear that I am, against my own knowledge, cheating the universe, and that I don’t deserve any of this.
Two more thing, before I go:
1. My publisher, AEC Stellar Publishing, recently rebranded as The Author Extension Community. Alright, they’ve done much more than just rebranding, and this is great news, especially if you are a writer. Do pay them a visit and see the many awesome things that they can do for you.
2. My buddy, and fellow AEC author, Ryan Attard, is now the proud host of The Lurking Voice podcast. It’s funny, it’s deep, and it’s a rare opportunity to find out what the Maltese accent sounds like.
OK, this is miles beyond cool!
This website will teach you how to think Java and, for a change, it will make it fun and entertaining.
Now you have a bulletproof excuse to play even more 🙂
WOW! There, I always wanted to begin a review with “wow”, and Midrealm, by Garrett Robinson and Z.C. Bolger gave me the perfect opportunity.
At “500+ pages and almost a quarter of a million words” – to quote one of the authors, this is one huge book. It took me a while to read it, but I enjoyed every moment of it.
Midrealm features six main characters, and it does it with style. Each character has its own first person / point of view narrative. If you are a writer, then you know how darn difficult it is to pull this one off. Writer or not, you will have your mind blown away.
Perfection of style aside, this is a beautiful and compelling story. The characters simply jump out of the page, and the scenes blend as seamlessly as if this were a movie. Of course, one of the authors is a movie director, so that’s only to be expected.
Speaking of the characters, you will most likely find one to identify with. For me, it was Calvin, the D&D nerd. That’s not to say that if I were sixteen again I wouldn’t have a major crush for mysterious Tess.
I will not delve into the plot, for fear of unearthing too many spoilers. Suffice it to say that it is bullet proof, despite its many unexpected turns.
Though I enjoyed it immensely as an adult, my only regret is that I could not have read it as a teenager. I would have been a much better writer if I had Midrealm as one of my early influences.
See more of Garrett’s works:
Not only that, but the eBook is roughly $11 cheaper than the paperback edition. Even cheaper if you consider shipping and handling costs.
But wait, there’s more!
(I feel like one of those TV Shopping hosts now)
Use this (FT58L) coupon code on Smashwords to get a 50% discount from now through tomorrow (December 13th).
Do have fun!
When I think of Ryan, my guest today, the words “dark and mysterious” jump to mind with such vigour that they actually end up sticking to the ceiling. Then, having patiently waited their turn, the words “funny as hell” tap me on the shoulder and go BOO as I turn around. Yeah, that’s Ryan, alright.
If you love Jim Butcher, but you feel his writing could use even more humour, then Ryan’s Legacy Series is definitely for you. Come to think of it, the Legacy Series is good for you whether you know what a Jim Butcher is or not. Do you think you can wait until December 13th to get your hands on Firstborn, the first book in the series?
In the meanwhile, let’s see what Ryan has to say for himself:
Sorin: You live in Malta. Please explain.
Ryan: I was born and raised here. As for why I’m still here, it’s clearly because something is very wrong with me. No sane person lives here of their own free will and volition whilst aware of the land of milk and honey that is everywhere but this freakin’ rock. But I have a place to stay here, and I wanna make sure I have some stability before moving. Which I will do.
Sorin: If you could choose a superpower, what would it be?
Ryan: To turn my life energy into magic. I’m into the whole Asian, martial arts, internal energy stuff and I also watch a lot of urban fantasy on TV. I like the magic because of the versatility – picking the right tool for the job.
Sorin: Here it comes, the question you can never escape – what made you become a writer? Alright, let me rephrase this. What was the tipping point – the moment you decided that literature will no longer be a read only thing for you?
Ryan: I read Changes by Jim Butcher and Mortal Coil by Derek Landy and though ‘I don’t wanna wait for these authors to get off their asses and write the next book. I’m gonna provide me own entertainment. I mean, how hard can it be to write a book?’
I spent the following 2 years figuring out how dumb I was for asking that and after some hardships, here I am.
Sorin: Writing is a lot of fun. Selling your work is…
Ryan: Less fun.
I have the same business prowess as a squirrel in a jam jar. The writing and creative side of it is amazing and it’s why I signed on for this business in the first place. The marketing and publishing is like that annoying fish that sticks to the shark. Except its worse because in our economic present the idea of selling something often requires you to become some twisted version of that you intended to start out as.
I suppose the writing business has it easy in this regard because we tend to operate behind the scenes and certainly have more freedom of movement. Very rarely do you find tabloid articles about writers caught in a hotel room with hookers and cocaine.
Sorin: If you were forced not to use humour, would you still write?
Ryan: Yes. Illegally. (Why so serious?)
Sorin: For the next two hundred words you are allowed to mash two favorite books/cartoons/games together and be the main character. Go crazy!
Ryan: Oh you bastard.
As a stand-alone, I’d love to be a part of Bleach. Specifically, and now we go into my fantasy here, a Kido Corps captain, because the magic system is utterly shrouded and the author did classify the four shinigami systems as separate but he also gave enough hints that they can be used together.
For the mash up – Star Wars with Hunter x Hunter. Think about it: a Force user AND Nen powers. It’s like Sidious, the Witches of Dathomir and Maul all rolled up in one in terms of badassery. I’m obsessed with the Nen system in Hunter x Hunter but to this day, no matter how many online quizzes I take, I still can’t figure out my Hatsu category.
If anything I’ll just settle for being one of those magic-user hybrids on Dungeons and Dragons – the ones who mess the game up with sheer bullshit and vivid complications and imagination to their spell casting? One of those would be cool.
P.S. Yes, I do actually work on something productive and no, I don’t have a social life.
Sorin: Cats or Dragons? Board games or computer games? Sword or hammer? Please use the answers in one sentence.
Ryan: Cat. (Cos I’m a big fan of pussy – I had to go there). No seriously, it’s no contest. A dragon can breathe fire and look all majestic and stuff but a cat can look at a dragon in the eye and go ‘yeah, I don’t care. Fuck off’; in a French accent to boot! Cats know they rule the world – they just haven’t figured out how to open the food packets.
Computer games. Because I really have no one else to play with but myself. (Well not really play with myself – that came later. Double pun there.)
Sword – technique over strength. I look like a twelve year old girl, it’s not like I have that much strength to leverage in the first place.
I don’t have a sentence but I have a limerick/ poem (Whatever). Check this shit out –
There once was a guy named Dragon
A lover of games was he,
Board or computer, it didn’t matter
So long as it was fantasy
He also had a stammer
So his cat used a hammer
To cure him of his unease
He accepted the bash
With a whelp and a crash
And his cat said “Pussy be here to please”
He took up his sword
To face up the horde
But he played on windows
And predictably it crashed
So now Dragon’s lonely;
Just him and his stash
Find out more about Ryan on his website, and make sure to stay in touch with him.
He is one crazy fellow, if I ever met one – that elusive mix of eccentric and introvert that makes such awesome characters.
I had a chance to interview Amber Skye Forbes, author of When Stars Die. Now, I don’t usually read Romance, but this one was definitely worth my time. Here is what I have to say about it:
Amber’s writing is dark, marked by suffering and a deep understanding of what makes us tick, not to mention tock. Her devastating first-person narrative and present tense combo makes it hard not to be drawn into the story.
While “When Stars Die” is categorized under Romance, there is so much more to it than that. Indeed, I would even argue that romance is not even the main dish, but rather the subtle spice that takes the whole plate up a notch.
The story is set in a late 19th century Europe, somewhere close to Denmark but not anywhere you would find on a real map. Without giving away too many spoilers, I would like to concentrate on Deus, the sadistic god and true villain in this universe. He keeps the society into an eternal check, giving them very few reasons to love him. It should come as no surprise then to the amateur theologian, that the more he hurts them, the more people love him. Amelia, the main character, and one of Deus’ unfortunate victims, is the best example of this masochistic devotion taken to the extreme.
In tackling sensitive topics such as religion, abuse, rape and the inquisition, Amber dances on hot coals to a dangerous tune, but she does it with incredible style and pinpoint precision.
An now, for the interview 🙂
Sorin: Who is your book for?
Amber: My book is intended for a young adult audience, but I have noticed that more adults have been reading it, probably because they have slightly more time to do it than high school students do. I did read an article recently that says that more adults are buying YA books than young adults themselves, mostly because they have the money for it that young adults don’t necessarily have.
Sorin: You started writing this book when you were a teenager. Where does all the darkness come from?
Amber: I suppose the darkness comes from myself. I’ve battled with mental illness since I was fourteen, so mental illness can really warp your perspective on the world. However, I decided to use my mental illness as a positive thing instead of a negative thing, so I added that to my writing.
Sorin: As a writer, being true to yourself is the most important thing, but it’s not as easy as it sounds. Were you ever tempted to trade that in exchange for pleasing a larger audience?
Amber: Well, I write for myself, but I also revise for my audience. However, I would say When Stars Die was written with what I wanted entirely. AEC Stellar didn’t have to change the book much, so everything written in it is original from me. I did delete scenes and what not, but I’ve worked on the book for years and have had little feedback for it. However, with its sequel, I am keeping readers in mind. I am using some of the constructive criticism from reviews from WDS to help shape the sequel, Stars Will Rise.
Sorin: What was your favorite scene to write?
Amber: My favorite scene to write is the one where Amelia is mulling over when stars die. She thinks that when they die, they leave an impact because they go out in some explosive way–most stars, anyway. Some of them go out with a whimper. But she uses these musings and compares them to people. People die leaving footprints on the earth, and she hopes that as a witch she can do the same thing. The title When Stars Die emerged from this crucial scene. Stars are going to be a common motif through The Stars Trilogy.
Sorin: Tell me more about Deus. As you know by now, I find him very intriguing.
Amber: Deus is the god of their world. People worship him to the point where they are fanatics. They listen to every word he says, which exists in The Vulgate, and they do not question The Vulgate. Then there is Theosodore, an assistant to Mother Aurelia at Cathedral Reims. There are hints in the book that he is the only one truly connected to Deus. So is Deus the true enemy of the book? Readers will have to read the trilogy to find out.
Sorin: The series is off to an amazing start. Do you know how it ends? Will the characters find some kind of redemption?
Amber: I do know how it ends, and I hope to create some sort of redemptions for everywhere. But I can tell you it won’t be a neat happily-ever-after ending. Amelia’s world is in disarray, and a world in disarray never has a positive ending. It only has an ending that can benefit the greater good, but there will be so much loss along the way. This book, the third book, will be called The Stars Are Infinite.
Sorin: Oliver Cromwell. Coincidence?
Amber: I suppose there is a slight coincidence, but readers will have to read to find out!
Sorin: Tell us about the book cover. What secrets does it hide?
Amber: Well, for one thing, when the cover was being created, I wanted Amelia to have an innocent appearance because she is an innocent character. She is very much into justice, and she does look at the world through an innocent perspective. But eventually the world starts to crush this innocence. The orange coloring on the cover too symbolizes the flames witches are burned with. And the plum tree symbolizes where Amelia and Oliver often meet.
Make sure to connect with Amber on:
Be honest now – how many of you have slow-danced and head-banged to this song at your prom or in the privacy of your room?
Also, how many of you have tuned your guitars half step down to play over Guns N’ Roses songs?