Book Review: Enchanted by Alethea Kontis

Read this book today... seriously go to Amazon and buy it.
Read this book today… seriously go to Amazon and buy it.

Several months ago, I brought Enchanted by Alethea Kontis in anticipation of reading shortly after I had the pleasure of meeting her at a Barnes N’ Noble event in Orlando, Florida.  Needless to say that life intervened and I didn’t crack open the book until this past week.

I wish I hadn’t waited so long. I have been waiting for a book like this. A book to spark the imagination of both myself and my students. I told them about the book shortly after I started reading it and now they are eager to read it.

So let’s get to the good stuff.

Enchanted is the tale of Sunday Woodcutter who lives in the magical kingdom of Arilland where fairies and fairy tales are woven into everyone’s lives.  Sunday is the seventh daughter of the seventh daughter and being the youngest of the youngest has left her feeling like she is the leftover child in the family.  She and her other sister are each named for a day of the week by their mother, Seven Woodcutter.

Each sister takes on the attributes of the day on which she was born.  Kontis weaves the stories of the Woodcutter family together seamlessly hinting at the mysteries and secrets that all families have.  They may live in a magical land where talking animals are common place, but they have real problems and concerns.

Monday’s child is fair of face,
Tuesday’s child is full of grace;
Wednesday’s child is full of woe,
Thursday’s child has far to go;
Friday’s child is loving and giving,
Saturday’s child works hard for its living;
But the child that is born on the Sabbath day
Is bonny and blithe, and good and gay.

From the beginning of this enchanting tale (punt intended) to the last line, you are taken on a journey through everything you think you know about classic fairy tales isn’t just turned on its head, but pulled into reality.  And it all begins with a lonely girl named Sunday sitting by a well and reading her journal to a frog named Grumble who will become her friend.  But what happens when that friendship turns into love?

The blending of classic Fairy Tales and modern humor carries the reader to a new realm where the Princess and the Pea meets Cinderella, the Frog Prince and reality head on for the win.

Visit her website and you can find out more about her and her books.I promise you that you won’t regret it.  You can also purchase the books from Amazon or Barnes  and Noble 

 

A New Day Another Page (April Page 19)

It seems like today is going to be a two page day since yesterday’s page was published today by accident, sorry. A page a day and no excuses. Next month, I plan to continue this exercise until it becomes a habit and that habit become the next book.

One thing I also need to do is organize my home office aka the dinning room so it works better as an office, not just a dumping ground. So a new book case and maybe a new vacuum if the old one can’t be fixed. My office needs to be a place where I can work and if I can’t work there then I will go to a bookstore or a park.

There will be lists of chores, a bad days, colds and family events and everyday I will need to sit down and write. Everyday I will sit down and write. It is the only way, I can be a better writer and a successful writer. I need to write and I will write.

This week is the last of a series of hard weeks where my weekends disappeared in the blink of an eye. Math class on Saturday, second job on Sunday and back to work on Monday. Monday’s and Wednesday’s are my long days so I write and write in between my classes.

A friend reminded me over and over that I did it. I am a published author and that is an amazing thing. I put my energy into writing the next book and the one after that and the one after that.

If you’d like more information on Lucinda’s work subscribe to this blog, follow her on Twitter or like her page on Facebook.  Her new novella, Blood Child is available on Amazon.

3 months (April Page 13)

A new day. April 13th. Two months since Blood Child came out and I have three five star reviews, which is awesome. As of today, nearly two hundred copies of Blood Child are out in the world. It is weird, wonderful and still completely surreal.

The book is selling.  My book is selling.

I am a published author.

The reviews are good. There just aren’t enough of them, yet. It is the bane of every author’s existence. You write a good, maybe even great book and the reviews just aren’t there. It doesn’t take off.

You lose hope.

But you are a writer. So you keep on going. And going.

I am working on my second book.

My second book and it isn’t easier than the first.  It is hard to manage everything I have going on in my life. I want to be able to write for a living and the more I think about how things are going the more I know that I need to make some sacrifices. Stop working so hard on maintaining my income and do what I love.

I love writing and telling stories.  I love interacting with readers and working on this blog.

The only way to get better is to write more and put myself out there more. The only way to sell more books is to write more of them and perfect your craft.

Do what you love. Find a way to be happy today and don’t wait for tomorrow, because all we have is today.

If you’d like more information on Lucinda’s work subscribe to this blog, follow her on Twitter or like her page on Facebook.  Her new novella, Blood Child is available on Amazon.

 

Book Review: The Eterna Files

Misc 081Book Review: The Eterna Files by Leanna Renee Hieber.

Available at Barnes and Noble, Amazon and other retailers.

Addicted. I am officially addicted to Leanna Renne Hieber’s writing.   I have no problem with this addiction and intend to do nothing but feed it over the coming months.

If you love reading, I would suggest that you also develop this particular addiction. She has seventeen titles available on Amazon.  Seventeen delightful things… a few that are out of print as a result of the publisher going out of business.  The good news is that her new publisher, Tor, is releasing her lost titles soon.  I can’t wait.

I felt in love with her book, The Eterna Files, from the very first page.  I wanted to know immediately how Clara Templeton was going to fair in her quest for immortality, not for herself, but for the leader of our beloved nation. Clara’s quest begins in the wake of the Civil War and the assassination of President Lincoln and continues to England’s Victorian Age and an assignment from the Queen Mum herself. Clara’s counter part Harold Spire has been appointed by her majesty’s command to purse the Eterna project. Both are bound by their honor to do what they think is right.

Hieber has a wonderful way of creating rich historical worlds that draw you in and keep you enthralled.  You want to know what is happening with both teams as they search for the answers to death.  Tragedy has stuck both teams and each believes the others to blame. It is difficult to image the days when America and Great Britain were enemies, but it is barely a hundred years after the revolution and both countries are hunting the same prize. It is easy to see how both would see each other as the enemy and not the ally that they are today.

If you love a mystery, Gothic fiction and an all around good story, you need to read this book. And everything else by this writer, Leanna Renee Hieber.

If you’d like more information on Lucinda’s work subscribe to this blog, follow her on Twitter or like her page on Facebook.  Her new novella, Blood Child is available on Amazon.

 

 

Shy Lu and the Book Signing

My new books.
My new books.

The hardest thing for people to believe about me is that I am actually shy. The powerful voice I use on the stage or in the classroom isn’t a constant in my life.

This evening, I had the great opportunity to listen to and meet with two fabulous ladies, Leanna Reneee Hieber and Alethea Kontis.  They were bright and answered questions from the crowd and were both incredibly personable. They took their time and talked with everyone that was there.  But that voice of mine wasn’t there.

I was just in awe of these two women who are working authors. They are in many ways living the dream that I hope one day to achieve.

Tonight they gave me hope and four more books to add to my reading list.  A writer always needs a pile of inspiration. Tonight, they also earned a loyal reader.

They also reminded me how grateful I am to have the support that I have in my life. It wasn’t always there in a tangible way.  So please believe me when I say that I am so incredibly thankful for all of your support.  It may not seem like much to like a page or write a comment, but it can mean the world to the person receiving it. It does to me. At the same time, I can’t let myself get caught up in the numbers game (counting each and every like and share).

As of today, Blood Child has sold 49 copies, which might not sound like a lot, but coming from the point where I honestly believed that I would never write  or publish a book; it is awesome.

Just like the women who I met tonight, I am going to continue being nice, working hard and getting myself out there. I will be working on the last one.

 

Book Release Party – February 22nd

I am proud to announce that on Feb. 22nd from 1pm to 3pm at SMASH Comics in the Seminole Towne Center in Sanford, Florida.

I will have some books available for signing as well as some freebies.

Check out their Facebook page and show them some love.

Blood Child is available on Amazon in both e-book and paperback.

Friday the 13th and a Book is Born…

Something wicked this way comes… and my first novel, Blood Child, has been released.

It is a weird and very surreal thing to have a dream come true and at the same time not yet know if it will flower.

I hope you will enjoy my first book and all the ones to come.

It is available on Amazon  in both e-book and paperback formats.

Blood Child
Coverart by Steven Warrick

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Blood Child

Preview: Blood Child Chapter 3

Blood Child
Coverart by Steven Warrick

Chapter 3

Atalik’s body, according to the county records, was interred on his estate in the family mausoleum. The magnificent mausoleum rivaled that of Heinrich Schliemann’s in Greece, shaped like a temple with marble columns and carved reliefs. It wasn’t an original part of the estate but had been built shortly after the property was purchased.

The architect, Matthew Rodriguez, worked on many of the renovations made to the estate. The mausoleum was one of his last projects. He was fascinated with secret passages and giving his clients a little something extra in each design whether they requested it or not. He died in a car accident returning to the city one weekend after a party at the estate. His will, which was immediately contested by his family, left everything, including his portfolio, to the count. It even when so far as to say that Atalik was the sole executor, which gave Atalik the right to dispose of his body however he choose. Knowing Matthew’s mother was old-school Catholic, he had the body cremated and the ashes mixed in with the cement for a planned extension to the house’s foundations. Atalik had everything in it shipped to the estate.

Atalik liked to infer that he came from old money, so the deceased members of the Bath family were moved from their original resting places to the mausoleum after its completion. It cost him a pretty penny in bribes to move the bodies and begin a cemetery on private land. At one moment he even thought of abandoning the project due to cost, but being defeated by a penny was not something he could allow. Eventually the site was even sanctified by a member of the local clergy to ensure the peaceful rest of its inhabitants. He had never had close relations with any of his family after he graduated from high school. The few living relatives he did have stayed as far away as they could. None of them ever seemed tempted to ask their cousin for a favor beyond being left alone.

According to Em, her father had a secret crypt built in the basement of the house for himself and his “special” wives. It was for the three women who gave him a child. Each one received a cash payment of a million dollars and a swift divorce, and died within two years.

Each was brought back to the estate and interred. All total, Atalik was married seven times, but only three of his wives survived him. Helena Jacqueline Antoinette Bath was in the process of divorcing the old scoundrel when he died. She left the house prior to the funeral, taking her small spending allowance with her. Her refusal to stay and see him buried surprised no one, once she knew the contents of the will. In the nearly decade-long marriage, he had never changed his will. It hadn’t been changed since the year after Emily was born. Her allowance was a provision of the will that allowed for her to receive a cash disbursement of three thousand dollars once a month for five years after his death; after that time the amount would be cut in half. The money was less than a third of what Antoinette spent in a month on clothing, beauty treatments, and entertainment. It was her entertaining of young men that incited the divorce proceedings.

The first time Em saw the crypt was when she was six years old. The youngest, most precocious of the children, she was always wandering away or, in the words of the nannies and tutors, sneaking off. It truly wasn’t malicious. She was just a naturally curious and restless child. Mihaly called her Houdini because of her repeated seemingly impossible escapes from their lessons and training. One moment she was working quietly alongside her brothers, and the next she was gone. It didn’t seem to matter who was watching her; there was always a moment when no one was looking, and she knew how to take advantage of it.

She was smart enough never to explore when her father was in attendance. More than one nanny was fired for failing to keep an eye on little Em. It was impossible in his mind that she could be so clever or they so absent-minded.

It was late in the evening when she slipped out of her room and made her way to the basement. Like the rest of the estate, it was unbelievable huge and mostly off-limits to the children. The buildings were under constant repair and renovation since its purchase. In her young mind, the basement, with its stone floors, timbers, and dust, was King Minos’s labyrinth beneath his Cretan palace, where Athenian youth were sacrificed to the bloodthirsty Minotaur.

Em was pretending to be the hero, Theseus, who saves the princess from the beastly Minotaur, when she heard the rhythmic sounds of footsteps hitting the stone floor in unison. She swiftly moved behind one of the wine racks. Her father, his manservant, Gerald, and four robed men came into the chamber. The men, who worked in various positions on the grounds, were carrying a long ebony box. The party came to an abrupt stop at the far end of the room. It seemed like they would have continued to walk forward into the stone wall if Gerald’s arm had not flowed up as a signal to stop.

Fear and intrigue held her tightly in place. She thought they would merely be depositing the crate and returning momentarily. After all, there was no place for the men to go except the way they came. She crouched as low as she could while still keeping an eye on the strange group.

Her father raised his arms and began muttering in Latin. When he finished, a section of the wall slid back, and the ensemble entered the newly formed doorway. Em nearly snickered at her father’s horrid elocution; had she demonstrated such poor pronunciation, she would have received a beating that would continue until she corrected the error. Consequently, she and her siblings practiced continually, drilling one another until they had mastered each lesson. Mihaly led his younger siblings in these drills. Sometimes they sneaked into one another’s rooms to prepare for assessments. No matter how intensely they practiced, their father and the tutors always found a reason to punish them.

The door closed as quickly as it had opened. Curiosity may have killed the cat, but it didn’t deter Em. This mystery was too much for her to pass up, so she waited, watching, shivering on the icy floor. The Minotaur was safe for another night.

By the time they came out of the chamber, Em had nearly fallen asleep; only the return of rhythmic footsteps sounded just in time to keep her from nodding off completely and banging her head on the floor.

She waited until after the stomping sound had ceased to echo before she moved to investigate. It didn’t take her long to find the floor latch and open the crypt’s door. Secretly, she praised the Hardy Boys novels she had recently finished for helping her quickly locate the trigger for the door. Not that she would ever tell Mihaly, who had suggested the series. It just wasn’t proper to let your big brother know you thought he was cool or appreciated his advice.

The chamber was lit from an aperture running around the perimeter between the wall and stone floor. A shiver dashed down her spine when she noted the eerie similarity of this chamber to the one in Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Pit and the Pendulum.”

In the center was a stone sepulcher with her father’s name etched into it, along with his birth date and an epitaph—the date of his death waited to be carved. Along the walls three ebony boxes exactly like the one she had seen carried in were standing on end facing the sepulcher, except these boxes appeared to have glass fronts. There was one for each of the three walls before her.

Had Em been a fearful child, she would have run from the room and not taken another step. However, the physical and emotional abuse she had endured prevented her from experiencing the normal fears of a six-year-old child; she had seen too much and knew it wouldn’t kill her.

The boxes were like shiny bobbles left out for a magpie to snatch; the least she could do was inspect them. Em moved towards the one on the left for no other reason than her eye had turned in that direction. As she advanced on her target, an unexpected queasy feeling built in her stomach. She attributed it to the cook’s latest experiment, not knowing any better.

There are some things in this world that every child should be prevented from seeing, but Em continued forward, as she always had and always would. It only made sense in her mind to keep moving. She had no way of knowing what the crypt truly held or how similar its contents would be to one of Poe’s chilling tales.

The faint light caused her eyes to strain; however, the figure of a woman was becoming clear. Forward. Always forward. A foot away from the glass, details came into focus. Another chill ran through Em. The woman’s face was obscured by a veil, so Em tried to balance on her tiptoes for a better look. Her failure landed her face first on the frigid stone floor.

Her head ached, but her eyes widened when she read the name—Marcella E. Bath, her mother’s name—etched on the base in golden script. To her credit she didn’t scream or run from the room. She did crawl to the next black casket and then the last, reading the names of her brothers’ mothers.

Making her way back up to the main house, Em began to build a wall between her consciousness and the new knowledge, trying to shred apart the carefully constructed mental configuration that kept her young mind from collapsing in on itself. Children, after all, are the ultimate survivors. Forward, just keep moving forward. Back out of the basement, through the kitchen to the back staircase, up to the second floor, and down the hall to the nursery.

At six years old, she still slept in the nursery and would continue to do so until she turned eleven, when she had her first period. The decor of the nursery reflected Atalik’s predatory nature. The furnishings were all dark wood, and a mural of a jungle took up the largest wall in the room. The animals weren’t cute or cartoony, but realistic. In two of the corners, a hunter was positioned with rifle in hand, aiming toward the animals in the center. The opposing walls contained trophies from Atalik’s various hunting expeditions. A pair of kudos with their stately spiraled horns took up positions on either side of the door, with a lioness positioned directly over it. A few of the nannies interviewed by Atalik declined the position after seeing the room he had so thoughtfully decorated for his children.

The light flicked on as soon as she entered; Atalik sat on the bed, patting it slightly. His face wore its usual sinister smirk, a forewarning of his intentions. Em didn’t even freeze for a single moment. Hesitation would only make things worse. Forward she walked, taking her place beside her loving father and silently sliding the last brick in place. She had learned not to flinch when her father reached for her.

His hands gently brushed the hair away from her forehead. The grin dissolved when he noticed the mark blooming on her temple.

“Tell Papa how this came to be.”

“I was playing, and I fell, Papa.”

“And where was Ms. Kasik?”

She tilted her eyes down, trying her best to appear demure and innocent; manipulation was a survival skill she had learned early.

Mmm,” she said as she bit her lips slightly, “I went into the cellar when she wasn’t looking.”

“The cellar is out of bounds, young lady.”

“I know, Papa. I apologize for breaking the rules. I wanted to play where the boys wouldn’t hear me. They think playing Theseus and the Minotaur is moronic.”

“I see. And that is how you got the bruise, fighting the Minotaur again?”

Em nodded a shy affirmation. The wicked grin returned as Atalik tucked her into bed, placing a tender kiss on her forehead. Exiting the room, he chose the door leading to Ms. Kasik’s room.

As much as he relished disciplining his offspring, he never tolerated anyone else doing so without permission. The offense was especially odious if a visible mark resulted. Ms. Kasik was clearly guilty of neglecting and thereby injuring her charge.

The next day Miss Amber Russo, the nanny for her brothers Andras and Sandor came in to prepare her for breakfast. Em asked about her nanny and was dismissed quickly. The next week a new nanny was hired, a Ms. Ingrid Picador from Newark, New Jersey. She would remain with the family for three years before exiting in a similarly mysterious manner.

Atalik had a hedge maze built on the property for the amusement of the children. Em was allowed to play in the maze without her brothers under the supervision of her new nanny. She never went into the basement again to play.

The fate of Ms. Andrea Kasik is unknown. No record could be found of her being employed after her dismissal. She wasn’t the first or last employee to go missing over the twenty-five years that Atalik lived at the estate. Detective Anderson told me when I spoke with him that there wasn’t anything they could do. No one could find anything substantial to link the estate with their disappearances—no bodies, no evidence, no crime. Strangely enough, very few missing persons cases were filed. They just vanished. Charges couldn’t be filed based on rumors and speculation.

If you’d like more information on Lucinda’s work, subscribe to this blog, follow her on Twitter, like her page on Facebook .

Back at School

Tomorrow is a school day. The first day back after two weeks of vacation.  Students and teachers alike dread the first day back. Students don’t want to work and the teachers already feel overwhelmed. Every year I tell myself that I am going to do this or that over the break to get a head after all I have so much time.

Oh, the lies we tell ourselves.

Like I am going to write everyday once I get such and such done. It doesn’t happen. Habits are easy to start and hard to maintain.

I have been writing more, but I have also been giving myself a break. A much needed one.  There is just one more change to be made before Blood Child can be published. One tiny change that so far has been waiting on communication to sink up between me and the Createspace folks.  So that is my goal for this morning to get the changes made to the manuscript and get it re-submitted by the afternoon with more specific instructions.

I don’t want to go back to school, but in an odd way I need to. My normally nine-to five (really 7:30 to 5:30) gives me structure and helps me focus.  And that focus helps me get more done.

Back to school means back to the writing desk.

 

 

1st Day of My Next Project

Well, not really, but it sounds good, right.  Today isn’t the first day of my next project.  It the first day that I am returning to it after more than a month off.  I didn’t write for a month. Yes, that is right, I didn’t write for over a month.  I thought about it, but I didn’t do it. And I don’t feel bad about it. I am not beating myself up.

I work three jobs.  There are days when  I really don’t have the time.

Still a few days ago, I added about six hundred words but I was still going in the wrong direction. I didn’t like what I was writing or where it was going. I did my time at the keyboard and then left it there. Left it to stew for a while.

And it has sat, because I was no longer in love with the story. I still love Raelin, my protagonist, but the story that I began writing over three years ago has gotten messy, muddled and confusing. If it that way for me, then my potential readers wouldn’t enjoy it either. I have been doing a little research and realize that I had some major holes in the flow of the story. Those need to be patched and a direction plotted. My characters can feel free to run a muck once that is done.

I printed out a new copy of the draft.  Ninety pages of my work.  Over the next two weeks, I am going to read it and make some notes.  Then, it is back to the key board. I have a goal in mind for how long the book will be in the end between 80,000 to 100,000 words and then I will begin the trimming. The thing is I still have to get there. And I only get there by writing day after day.

Today is the first day on my next project because today is the day that I am fall back in love with Raelin’s story.

Today is the day that I sit down at my keyboard day after day and write.

Writing isn’t easy, but it isn’t hard. You just have to put one word after another.

Keep Writing

Love,

Lu