Tuesday, March 17, 2020

NEW RELEASE - Gabe's Guardian Angel by Beverly Stowe McClure

Just released today – the latest from Dancing Lemur Press, L.L.C. -


Gabe’s Guardian Angel
By Beverly Stowe McClure

 

Gabe never asked for an angel…

Gabe Montana’s clumsy. He’s overweight, and he’s dyslexic. Worse yet, the bullies make his fifteen-year-old life even more miserable—so miserable he wants to die. 

Charley, his guardian angel, says no to that idea, and comes up with a different plan. He’ll give Gabe self-confidence so he can solve his problems, not run away from them. But Gabe wonders why the angel doesn’t just help with the bullies. What’s with this self-confidence stuff?

Can Charley help Gabe stand on his own two feet? Will Gabe give up hope life can improve for him? Or will he finally listen to the angel’s advice?



Young Adult Fiction: Boys & Men / Loners & Outcasts / Bullying

Print ISBN 9781939844668 $15.95

EBook ISBN 9781939844675 $4.99



“An important read for young adults and their families.” - Donna McDine, multi-award winning author of stories for children

 “It takes a tough subject and handles it in a positive, uplifting way. A must read for teens and tweens.” – Sandra Cox, author

 “Gabe’s Guardian Angel is a good read for any youngster who has ever felt isolated and bullied.”– L.G. Keltner, author

THE AUTHOR!

Most of the time, you’ll find Beverly Stowe McClure at her computer, typing stories young voices whisper in her ears. When she’s not writing, she’s snapping pictures of wildlife, flowers and clouds. She’s sometimes known as the “Bug Lady.” She’s not telling why.



BUT THE BOOK!


Wednesday, March 11, 2020

REVIEW of Headlock of Destiny by Samuel Gately

I still find it super weird that people come to me to ask for a review of their book. I get that everyone wants to get as many reviews as possible, but the fact that someone values my opinion enough that they will seek me out specifically for a review/quote is a nice feeling.

I don't get a lot of requests mind you, and don't have the time to do many more than I already receive, but I have discovered some really great books this way. The last one was BIG RED by Damien Larkin last year, and now I can add HEADLOCK OF DESTINY by Samuel Gately to that list.

I mean, I get that I'm specifically the target audience for this book. It's pro-wrestling mixed with epic fantasy. But I think that alot of people will enjoy this book, regardless of how you feel about oiled-up men in panties fighting each other. You don't need to be a fan of pro-wrestling to get The Headlock of Destiny, but if you are you'll appreciate some of the inside jokes and references.

Van is a titan, a giant ten-times as a strong as a mortal man, destined to fight and entertain the masses in a wrestling ring. Despite his humble beginnings working at a brewery in a backwater village, he is of course swept up into the politics and show-biz of the fighting circuit, thrust into the biggest tournament in the world, the Headlock of Destiny. Van becomes Van the Beer Man, a wrestling... brewer? (To be fair, the real world has seen wrestling garbage men, dentists and golf caddies, so why not?)

I loved this book. Samuel Gately has an easy, fun voice that makes the text fly by at a breezy clip. The description of the wrestling matches are fast-paced and exciting, with each one a spectacle of over-the-top action. But wrestling action aside, some of my favourite moments were outside the ring, like Van's quest to steal a barrel of beer, his antics at the tavern and casino between matches, or his awkward encounters with his former girlfriend. Much of the characters and interactions are refreshingly grounded and real, despite the story being set in a magical world with wrestling minotaurs and dragons used as passenger airliners. I think that's what really makes this work - in a world with cartoonish wrestling action and fantasy trappings, it's really Gately's down-to-earth portrayal of Van that makes him seem real and relatable. It would have been so easy, and a mistake, to make Van as garish and hyperbolic as the world around him, but instead he's just a normal, regular guy with simple wants and a sad (but not overly dramatic) backstory. Really great stuff.

Long story short, I would recommend this to anyone who like pro-wrestling or fantasy. If you like both, then you REALLY have to check this out, because you're in for a treat.

THE LINKS!

You can buy THE HEADLOCK OF DESTINY on 

Follow Samuel on 

Also be sure to check out 

THE AUTHOR!

Samuel Gately is a writer of novels in the fantasy genre. Most have spies in them. He lives in Oak Park, just outside Chicago, with his wife, daughters, and two terrifyingly fluffy dogs.

Wednesday, March 4, 2020

Told You So (#IWSG March 2020)

I told you it was going to happen.

I knew it wasn't going to last.

The last few weeks have sucked. The whole family has been battling the flu. I've missed a ton of work during the busiest time of the year. My son had a fever for 8 days straight. My wife's health is at its worst it's been in awhile. Not to mention a couple of other crisis that are about to explode in our face.

Needless to say, I haven't had much time for writing.

I loath this time of year. I don't know what it is, but the first couple months of the year are always so stressful. Here's hoping it calms down by late April/May, like it usually does.

Oh, one little bit of good news, though:


Sci-Fi and Fantasy magazine The Weird and Whatnot will be publishing one of my stories in an upcoming issue! That's pretty cool, and very unexpected as it is a story I've been trying to place for awhile. I will of course share more details when they become available.

That's it for me this month. How was your February?

Hugs & Kisses,
-CDGK

The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. Writers post their thoughts on their blogs, talking about their doubts and the fears they have conquered. It's a chance for writers to commiserate and offer a word of encouragement to each other. Check out the group at http://www.insecurewriterssupportgroup.com/.


Wednesday, February 5, 2020

Everything's Coming Up Milhouse (#IWSG February 2020)

January was a big month. Between the two pitch events on Twitter (#ISWGPit and #SFFPit), I received 5 requests from agents/publishers. I also resolved this year to submit something (a short story/query/etc) every week if possible, and thanks to those pitch requests I'm already at more than double my quota. Plus I'm still writing and editing furiously on a couple of projects, so all in all everything is coming up Milhouse.


So why am I feeling insecure? Because I've been through these productive phases before, and they never last. Usually life throws some kind of wrench into the works (and I can see a couple of potential spanners already winding up), but whatever the cause, it will inevitably happen. And then it's all the more frustrating and demoralizing, because I know what I should be doing, and how well everything could be doing, so the fact that I'm not writing and working is just a kick in the teeth.

I have to try to enjoy this while it lasts, and when the downswing does come to accept it as part of life's routine.

February Question
Has a single photo or work of art ever inspired a story? What was it and did you finish it?

Photo, no, but I have often been greatly influenced by music. Observe:


Completely a coincidence, I assure you.

While the song "10,000 Days" did have some influence on the book, I drew even more inspiration from another song, "Sleeping Beauty" by A Perfect Circle. The lyrics basically read like the plot of the book:

Delusional
I believe I can cure it all for you, dear
Coax or trick or drive or
drag the demons from you
Make it right for you sleeping beauty
Truly thought
I can magically heal you
You're far beyond a visible sign of your awakening
Failing miserably to rescue
Sleeping Beauty
Drunk on ego
Truly thought I could make it right
If I kissed you one more time to
Help you face the nightmare
But you're far too poisoned for me
Such a fool to think that I can wake you from your slumber
That I could actually heal you..
Sleeping Beauty
Poisoned and hopeless
You're far beyond a visible sign of your awakening
Failing miserably to find a way to comfort you
Far beyond a visible sign of your awakening
And hiding from some poisoned memory
Poisoned and hopeless
Sleeping Beauty

Songwriters: Billy Howerdel / Maynard James Keenan

So now you know my secret. Shhh. Don't tell anyone.

Hugs & Kisses,
-CDGK




The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. Writers post their thoughts on their blogs, talking about their doubts and the fears they have conquered. It's a chance for writers to commiserate and offer a word of encouragement to each other. Check out the group at http://www.insecurewriterssupportgroup.com/.



Wednesday, January 8, 2020

A long post to start the year (#IWSG January 2020)

I'm starting January off feeling positive. This is going to be a good writing year for me. I mean, it will probably all come crashing down soon and my February IWSG post will be me threatening to give up writing altogether again, but I'm allowed a moment of optimism at least once a year, right?

FIRST BIG NEWS

You remember the Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off, right? It's the annual contest organized by best-selling and award winning novelist Mark Lawrence, designed to showcase the best up-and-coming independent writers of fantasy fiction by giving them a large platform. With that in mind, enterprising author Jon Auerbach has collected samples from OVER 70 current and past SPFBO participants and made it available FREE for anyone to download. Both of my entries, TEN THOUSAND DAYS and HELL COMES TO HOGTOWN, are included in there. PLEASE head over and check out this smorgasbord of free sample goodies. Who knows? You may just discover your new favourite book or author.
Cover by Luke Tarzian


SECOND BIG NEWS

For the fourth (yes, FOURTH) year in a row, I will have a story appearing in Mystery & Horror's STRANGELY FUNNY comic horror anthology series! They must really like me over there. It's awesome to have found a place that fits my weird brand of kooky, creepy humour so well.


STRANGELY FUNNY VII will be released in the spring, and you can be sure as I will have all the deatils (and the new cover!) as soon as they're available.

THIRD BIG NEWS

This is probably my favourite. I kept it on the down-low all year, but if you read last week's year-end-report you already know about it: I wrote not one but TWO new books in 2019. I know, I'm just as shocked as you are.

Look at it. LOOK AT IT!

At least one of those books should see the light of day before the end of 2020, which makes me super-excited. It's been so long since I've released a full-length novel. Not only that, but a couple of my other half-finished projects are slowly starting to come back together again, as well.

Like I said. Cautiously optimistic.

JANUARY IWSG QUESTION

What started you on your writing journey? Was it a particular book, movie, story, or series? Was it a teacher/coach/spouse/friend/parent? Did you just "know" suddenly you wanted to write?

This is a very complicated answer. I had already written this when I got all my big news to share, so bear with me.

In my bio, I usually say that I wrote my first story when I was 5 years old, and I had to ask my baby-sitter to look how the spelling of "extra-terrestrial" in the dictionary. This is true - and in fact, I may have been even younger.

I also often credit the Star Wars films and the Americanized version of the Japanese Anime ROBOTECH/Macross as teaching me how to tell stories, which is also true. You may not see it in my published works, but I have scores of unpublished material that follows the same serialized structure of Star Wars and sci-fi cartoon series. The Teddy Ruxpin cartoon was also a big influence, believe it or not.

Cinematic brilliance.

I've sometimes joked that the reason I started self-publishing is because I read lots of terrible self-published work and I thought, "I can do better than that," and now I'm the guy who inspires other people to say "I can do better than that." This is also, sadly, true.

But while contemplating this question, I have come to the realization that one of my biggest and earliest influences is Robin Hood. My earliest recollection of watching a movie was VHS copies of Robin Hood, which in my later years I've come to believe were the Robin of Sherwood series from British TV.

This image is seared into my brain from childhood. I think I had nightmares about that guy.

I loved those shows as a kid, with all the sword fights and magic and mysticism. I also loved the stories (though the Robin Hood stories don't usually have the same kind of supernatural elements as the Robin of Sherwood series did). Several of my first LEGO sets were also Robin Hood-themed:

I HAD THIS SET! It blows my mind whenever I find images on the internet that I remember so vividly from childhood. There's a secret door on tower on the left-hand side, which I adored.

Needless to say, I was psyched when the Kevin Costner movie came out in 1991. I haven't watched it in almost 30 years so I don't know if it has held up, but I will continue to remember it fondly until that illusion is shattered.

A couple of years ago I was going through my old stuff at my parent's house and I found one of my very first stories, from when I was in grade 1 or 2. It was in French, fully illustrated in colour, and bound like a small book with cardboard covers. And what was it about? An elf named "Bras D'or" (Golden-Arm), an expert archer who looked like Robin Hood, tricking and defeating a giant blue ogre.

It hasn't happened yet, but I'm sure I'm going to eventually write a gritty reboot of Robin Hood in some form of another.

How about you? How is your new year starting off?

Hugs & Kisses,
-CDGK


The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. Writers post their thoughts on their blogs, talking about their doubts and the fears they have conquered. It's a chance for writers to commiserate and offer a word of encouragement to each other. Check out the group at http://www.insecurewriterssupportgroup.com/.

Monday, December 30, 2019

2019 Year-in-Review (5 Year Plan Revisited)

Whelp, we survived another one. There seemed to be a few close calls there, but somehow we keep on trucking. In my personal life, it would be pretty hard to be worse than 2017 (please don't try, 2020), so I'm thank for anything that shows even mild improvement.

And hey, the close of this decade is a pretty big one for me. In the last ten years I moved to a new city, bought a house, started a new career, had two kids, published my first books and stories - it's been a momentous time in my life.

A few years ago for Insecure Writers Support Group day, we were supposed to describe where we saw ourselves in five years. I instead wrote a pretty specific list of goals I wanted to accomplished in those years, and every 12 months since I've been revisiting that list to see how I'm doing on it. It's always good to finish any sort of calendar milestone by judging ourselves, right?

FIVE YEAR GOALS (3 years in)

Write 3-5 books.

Here's my big one for this year, which was a secret until now: In the past twelve months I've actually written two new books. (Okay, as of this writing the second one still needs another chapter or two, but I'm pretty damn close). That's huge for me, since I haven't completed a full-length manuscript since Hell Comes to Hogtown came out in 2016. It's not that I haven't tried; I've started probably a dozen novels in the last three years, some of them I've even got 20-30K words deep, but for various reason none of them ever made it to the end. That changed this year.

Now, one of the books was a fun, silly (and illustrated!) middle-grade book I wrote for my kids and nieces which will probably never see the light of day for anyone else, but I'm still counting that as a win. The other one, though, I'm really hoping to do something with in the near future...

Total: 2 revised/rewritten books, and 2 new books. I'm actually doing pretty good.


Submit at least 3 books to agents/publishers.

Because I'm behind on my new books, still have not submitted any NEW books to a publisher, so unless I have a flurry of productivity in the next two years there's no way I'm going to meet this goal. I did submit the book I revised last year to a few places, and while I received a little interest, nothing really materialized. Total: 1 books submitted so far.


Self-publish 2-3 (full length) books.

None this year, but it looks good to have at least one out in the coming year (fingers crossed!). That will still only be 1 in the last 3 years, but hey, that's better than the 35 years previous.


Self-publish at least 1 Werebear vs Landopus story per year.

Missed this one this year. Wrote a lot of words, but unfortunately none of them made it into a Werebear vs Landopus story. I've got ideas for another few stories in this series and more set in the same world, but it's just a matter of moving them up the list of dozens of other things I'm working on. Total: 2 for 3!


Write at least 2 short stories per year and submit them to anthologies/magazines.

This continues to be my most successful area. I had two stories published this year (that were submitted last year) in Masquerade: Oddly Suited and Strangely Funny VI, and I wrote and submitted 3 more. I also just received word a few days ago that one of those stories were accepted and will be appearing in the coming year! I'll have details on that in the coming weeks, and I'm sure you'll hear lots more about it then. Total: 3 for 3



Collect at least 100 rejections.

I had 19 rejections this year, which is a record for me. I also received one back 2 minutes from the time I sent the email! That brings my total to just over 50, which means I'm really going to have to submit some crap to as many places as possible in order to hit 100 in the next 24 months.


Monday, December 23, 2019

What the Heck is Tibb's Eve?


It's a tradition in Newfoundland to celebrate Tibb's Eve (some call it Tipp's Eve or Tipsy Eve) on the 23rd of December, to really officially kick off the Christmas Season. I've noticed that in other parts of Canada, at least in recent years, the Christmas Season seems to last the month (or two) leading up to December 25, and then Christmas is abruptly forgotten on the 26th. Back when I was growing up, the real holiday celebrations happened after Christmas Day, through New Years right up until "Old Christmas Day," or January 6th. For example, it wasn't uncommon when I was a kid to go to relatives' houses the weekend after New Year's for a "Christmas visit." If I showed up at someone's house in Ontario on January 5th asking for a drink and some cookies, I doubt they would even open the door.

"It's your sister and her idiot husband coming for a Christmas Visit!"
"What? It's nearly Spring! Turn off the lights and hide in the closet!"

But what exactly is Tibb's Eve? Newfoundland was a traditionally Christian area, and the Advent Season leading up to Christmas Day was a sober, religious time, when it was inappropriate to drink alcohol. (A month of abstinence before Christmas is probably also the reason for the two week-long party afterwards). At some point in the mid-twentieth century, folks decided they just couldn't wait until the 25th and decided they would start drinking on the 23rd instead, and used the Feast of St. Tibb as an excuse to celebrate.

They've got their own shirts and everything.

Who is St. Tibb? I'll let you in a little secret: she doesn't exist. St. Tibb was just a joke made up to go over children's heads. The word tib or tibb is an archaic slang word for a "promiscuous woman." The name "Tib" was popularly used in 17th century English plays for the prostitute character. So calling drinking day "Tibb's Eve" was just an excuse to make children think there was actually a holiday to excuse daddy's drunken foolishness.

Seriously though, more people would still go to church if we had more saints like this.

Fun fact: Until recently, there were still a lot of archaic English language floating around in rural parts of Newfoundland. It was a side effect of the population growing up in isolated pocket communities, where they had little outside contact for generations. I remember growing up my grandmother always called ants "emmets," but no one knew why. It wasn't until I went to university that I discovered "emmet" is actually an Old English word for ant, dating back to Shakespeare's time.

Tibb's Eve is also an old English/Irish word meaning never - in other words a day that will never come, as in, "He'll pay you back on Tibb's Eve." This gives the holiday yet another mischevious sort of feeling, a way to get around the Church rules and traditions, since it's not a "real" day.  The "Tipp's Eve" variant in some parts of the island probably comes from another old word, "to tipple," which means to drink heavily, or "a tipple," which is another word for alehouse.  "Tipsy Eve" is probably obvious from there.

Do you have any Labatt's Blue?

So if you're feeling in touch with your Newfoundland or Old English roots today, or if you're just feeling frisky or need a drink to calm your nerves after hours of shopping, then raise a glass to Saint Tibb! And maybe put on a mask a do a little mummering while you're at it, eh b'y?


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