Chasing the Ghost of Sherlock Holmes

Check this out.

The Musings & Artful Blunders of Scott D. Southard

Sherlock HolmesAs I write this I am surrounded by the ghost of Sherlock Holmes.

I am wearing a t-shirt for the BBC show Sherlock. You can also find the Blu Rays for the seasons behind me, alongside the box set containing all of the films starring Basil Rathbone and the series with Jeremy Brett (my favorite television Holmes).

Over to my side is my Sherlock Holmes deerstalker hat that I bought at 221B Baker Street in London many years ago. I remember that moment vividly.

Why?

Well, honestly, I have a big head. I can’t really buy hats since it is rare I find one that fits my large skull. After spending an afternoon walking through the properly messy rooms of the museum, I assumed I would be going home with just a copy of an illustration from the original books (now on the wall in my kitchen), but to my utter…

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Unpredictable! Entirely New! The Jane Austen Centre reviews A JANE AUSTEN DAYDREAM!

This one’s on my To Read list!!

The Musings & Artful Blunders of Scott D. Southard

The Jane Austen CentreNow and then, you get a review that you know will stick with you as an author. Sometimes they are good, sometimes they are bad, but they will be part of your makeup as an artist from that moment on, adding to your personal resume, changing you.

Today, I was honored to have The Jane Austen Centre in Bath review my latest novel A JANE AUSTEN DAYDREAM. Here is a quote from their review:

If asked to sum up this book in one word, I would have to choose “unpredictable”. Going into it, all I knew was that it was not a biography, and its purpose was to satisfy the author by giving Jane the happy future he would have chosen for her. Safe to say, even for the advanced Austen scholar, it will be impossible to predict where the tale will twist and turn. For those of you…

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James Funfer – An Author Interview

Greetings friends!

I’m back again. I’d like to present to you an author interview with indie author James Funfer. If you didn’t see my blog review of his book, Crystal Promise: The Shattered Crystal, please feel free to check it out here: https://wandasparyla.com/2013/04/02/book-review-crystal-promise-the-shattered-crystal/

 

Crystal Promise - New Cover (452x640)

 

*Tell us a little about Crystal Promise: The Shattered Crystal (genre; description, etc.):

(I stole most of this from my synopsis…but it does a good job of describing the book, I think!)

Crystal Promise is a coming-of-age, urban fantasy novel about young love and tough choices, set against the backdrop of a late-industrial era nation called Novem.

Most of Novem’s technology runs on crystals mined from the ground, but many consider them to be more than just a power source. The Church of Novem worships a ‘Great Crystal’, which is thought to be a liaison between the gods and humanity. Those who can alter crystals at will, known as crystal-speakers, are an important part of that link between the earth and the divine.

For finishing school students Jacoby, Timori, Racquela and Crystara, concerns about crystals and the church are overshadowed by school, dances, sports and summer vacations. But when the Great Crystal selects its arranged marriages that year, a chain of events is set into motion that threatens to upset the entire nation. Betrothal promises are made with rings of crystal, but if they shatter, hearts are not the only things that will break…

*Why did you choose this particular cover art? (Feel free to plug your cover artist!)

David Baumgart and I had been looking for a project to do together for a while. Originally we wanted to make a webcomic, but he’s pretty busy making awesome video games (http://www.gaslampgames.com/). However, when the opportunity came up for me to choose my own artist for the cover, he was the first person to come to mind.

I had this picture in my head of the main characters looking down from a bridge, with the city in the background. David started working on it, until his amazingly savvy partner and graphic designer Megan Seely of Chestnut St. Pixel Foundry (http://cspixelfoundry.com/) told him that writers have no idea what they want, or what looks good. She was right, of course (at least in my case)…she designed the subsequent cover, David drew it, and the result has a lot more pop than anything I had in mind.

*Tell us something about yourself both on a personal level and as an author.

I created my own tabletop role-playing game when I was a teenager. Designing it nearly cost me a passing grade in physics class, but I learned a great deal about storytelling from the campaigns I ran, which benefited me when I began writing longer works of fiction.

*Do you outline or write a synopsis before you begin the actual story, or do you just start writing?

I tend to just start writing. I have a general idea of where I want the story to go and I write down a lot of notes, but it’s all mutable once I get into the narrative. I don’t like to strictly plan out every plot point, because characters tend to surprise me when they react organically. I feel that when I allow the story to change as I go along, the reader is more likely to be surprised, as well.

*Please tell us about any current projects you are working on.

Currently I’m working on the sequel to Crystal Promise, which continues right where the first novel ends. I’m also writing a character-driven science fiction series about how we define the human experience and the nature of spirituality.

*If Jacoby was a real man today, who would be his favorite author? (Besides you, of course.)

Jacoby grew up on tales of heroism and romantic ideals. A lot of Noven stories feature talented crystal-speakers, which appeals to him greatly. However, central to Crystal Promise are the themes of political pressure and cultural identity. I think he would identify greatly with the works of Guy Gavriel Kay.

*In retrospect, what advice would Crystara give to people her age regarding friendship?

Friendship isn’t about earning approval. It’s about enjoying someone else’s company, and forgiving each other for choices and mistakes made. It’s important to find happiness within yourself rather than trying to find someone to make you happy.

*What advice do you have for writers out there who are struggling with getting those first lines down on paper, or are filled with self doubt about the potential quality of their work?

Self-doubt is a crippling thing. Nobody can pick up a paintbrush and paint a realistic self-portrait without practice. Like any skill, the more you do it the better you get. Most artists are their own worst critic. It’s easy to see all of the flaws in your work, but we are often blind to our own talents and the things that make our writing so good. Trust in honest criticism of discerning friends, and accept praise when it is given.

It doesn’t matter where you start, as long as you write consistently. You can’t always wait for inspiration to strike; set aside time to write, set manageable goals, and write. Even if you think it’s garbage, the more you write the better your work will get.

*Give us links to learn more about you and your books (i.e. Amazon links, personal pages &/or websites, etc.).

Here’s my author website: http://jamesfunfer.com

I’m also on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/JamesFunferAuthor

…and Twitter: @JamesFunfer

And my books are available on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Crystal-Promise-The-Shattered-Book/dp/0615665195/

…and Kobo:

 http://www.kobobooks.com/ebook/Crystal-Promise/book–B3pR1IgdU2q7c2tJgD_JQ/page1.html?s=TNUnjlkbt0SQSV6GNW7pxw&r=1

T.K. Krug III – An Author Interview

This interview is with the author of Kydona, T.K. Krug III.
I hope you enjoy the interview.

Please check out the book review here after you read the interview: https://wandasparyla.com/?p=454&preview=true

 

Kydona.Thumb

 

*Tell us a little about Kydona.
Kydona is a hard fantasy told through the eyes of Marcus Audric de Pilars, a prince who stands to inherit a nation teetering on the brink of collapse. Why this is the case, you see playing out as Marcus explores a court mired in debauchery and conspiracy. It’s a human story, meaning it’s built around its characters. The plot moves to their beat. Whoever likes a twisting, character-driven story would like Kydona. If I had to compare it to another series, I’d say it possesses the elegant setting of Jacqueline Carey’s Kushiel’s Legacy series, married to the raw grit and pragmatism of Joe Abercrombie’s First Law trilogy.

*Why did you choose this particular cover art? (Feel free to plug the cover artist.)
Sam Carr at SamCarr.net was kind enough to draw this up for me. It’s a picture of Kaelyn, one of the main characters of the book. Why did I choose picturing her over the actual protagonist? A combination of factors. She was, in several cases, one of the key plot drivers. She’s the cause of a lot of angst and turmoil, and she’s actually my favorite character in the book. And also, I had to be realistic and admit to myself that few things draw attention as well as sex appeal. A thumbnail of an attractive woman will get people clicking to, at the very least, see her in more detail. Women will sense a romantic subplot, possibly some steamy love scenes (which Kydona has) while men will likely go, “Oh hey, pretty girl!” and bam, click. I have to say, the gambit has worked well, so far.

*Tell us a something about yourself both on a personal level and as an author.
It’s tough for me to talk about myself but I guess that’s everyone, too. I’m currently riding out the last few months of my U.S. Army deployment in Afghanistan, and I’m really looking forward to getting home to my fiance, Cait. Between her and the Army, I have plenty of inspiration to base my writing on. People I’ve met in real life directly inform my characters. So be careful of getting on my bad side; you might just find your name immortalized forever. And not in a good way.

*Do you outline or write a synopsis before you begin an actual story?…Or do you just start writing to see where it goes?
I just write and see where it goes, but that didn’t work so well. The first two books of Kydona took 7 years to write. Jeez. I think it’s time to switch gears for book 3. I think that’ll speed the pace much more.

*Please tell us about any current projects you are working on.
I’m set to publish Kydona: From Ashes on June 1! Book 3 is in the works. The first chapter is partially written and there’s a vague outline in shape. I know exactly how I want the book to end and how to get there. It’s the interim between plot points that gets me.

*If your book(s) was being made into a movie or TV show/series, who would you choose for the main character role of Marcus? I honestly have no clue! It’s kind of embarrassing, but I’d have trouble picking an actor or actress for any of my characters.

*If Marcus was a real man today, who would be his favorite author? (Besides you, of course.) Joe Abercrombie. I think he’d learn a thing or two from the fight scenes.

*What advice do you have for writers who are struggling with getting those first lines down on paper, or are filled with self doubt about the potential quality of their work?
I’ve learned that it’s very difficult to write a story from start to finish. While I was writing Kydona, I always had this certain scene floating around in the back of my head–a scene that would define both books. It nagged at me constantly. I fell asleep ruminating on that unwritten scene. What I ultimately did was pause in my manuscript, create a new word document, and punch out that nagging scene. Then I filed the document away. What do you know, getting those words down on paper brought my muse roaring back, and my writer’s block just evaporated. And when it came time to finally cut-and-paste that scene into the manuscript, it wound up being the best part of the entire series–without any edits at all! So my advice to new writers like me: just write the part of the story that inspired you to write in the first place. Get it out, and the rest of the story will soon follow.

*Give us any links to learn more about you and your books (i.e. Amazon links, personal pages &/or websites, etc.).
My blog: http://kydona.blogspot.com/
My twitter tag: https://twitter.com/TKKrug
Amazon purchase link: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00C7VZTGU
Smashwords purchase link: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/302931  (it’s free!)

Book Review – Kydona

Greetings, once again, my readers and friends.

My latest read is Kydona, by T.K. Krug III.

I must say, I should stick to reading new and/or indie authors. They seem to be the ones surprising me at every turn.

If you like hard fantasy without a straight and forward plot, and are not shy about a bit o’ erotica…written by a man, real life possibilities, and twisted egos…this one’s for you. You will enjoy it for the hard romance, a handsome prince, a war-worn king, royal friends who act more like court jesters, and then there’s those scheming wenches and the mystery and intrigue that surround them all. Much of which they create themselves, I must add.

Kydona is a character-driven tale that reads like historical fiction based on true past accounts. The author’s knowledge of what I perceive to be ancient weaponry and war, and history all together leads me to believe he’s done his homework and/or research. That is important to me. I kept trying to read between the lines thinking that the backdrop of this story…the area, the people, the languages…have to based upon something that already happened. Just the search in my mind for the real life countries, wars and Kings kept my interest as I constantly wondered…is Kydona maybe Russia in fantasyland?

T.K. Krug’s knowledge of what he wrote about and his ability to describe it and make one “see” is amazing in this book. In fact, when he describes the defense mechanisms of a fort, not only did I see that clearly, I recalled reading some of that in my own studies years ago. He just didn’t make that stuff up.

I enjoy character-centered stories. You know, there doesn’t have to be a well-thought out plot to everything we read. As a sociology major I tend to prefer character driven. I want to know as much about the people as I do plot. I like themes, or the “prize” types of tales.

You might find that the story drags on a bit here and there if you are a plot lover. If you are a lover of characters and their plights and lives, you’ll like this story. You’ll want to follow some of them into the future.

As for characters, I think Vernon is the one who surprised me the most… I won’t tell you why, of course. I don’t want to spoil. But let’s just say…I thought for the longest that he was terribly superficial. It turns out he’s actually more faithful and brave than shallow.

Truthfully (& for your information), I did not realize that there was to be a sequel for this book. So this brings me to my reactions at the end. When I was about 90% done with the book, I was a bit weary. I thought, wow, I’m nearly to the end, but I don’t see an ending in sight. When I read the last words of this book I had a couple different reactions. The first was shock…it felt like the book slammed shut on me because I expected a final ending (not a beginning) so the final words hit me like a brick. Maybe I was disappointed after the shock. Then the realization hit me that there is to be a sequel…actually, I would call this book and its forthcoming counterparts a “saga” as this book’s ending actually, for me, is the beginning of what’s to come next.

Regardless, when I realized that there will be another, I felt relief because I do want to read it. I have to read it. And I hope if you read Kydona, you’ll have the same feelings when you read the last word. Let’s follow these characters to their futures.

Admittedly, the cover art, while lovely as it is, threw me for a loop as did the title. I’m just going to throw this out there to get it out of the way because while reading the book – for the longest – I wasn’t truly sure why there was a graphic of a female on the cover. I did recognize her quickly as probably being Kaelyn. After reading the author’s interview I see why he chose that cover art. However, I cannot say I would’ve gone that route, but his explanation makes sense.

Next is the name of the book, Kydona. It’s seems the beginning through to the middle is more about the characters and their ongoing drama (which is how character-centered stories go usually) and less about anything else. I did not see Kydona as the focal point right off the bat. However, I seen by the last quarter of the book that everything these characters did has propelled Marcus and Vernon to Kydona, so the country does become the focal point. But the name threw me off at first as the subject.

On Amazon and Goodreads, I awarded this book 4 stars for great character development, colorful characters with huge selfish agendas, the author’s wonderful knowledge of all things ancient war and his ability to keep me searching my mind for these places in real life. And I have to say, despite my shock at the end, I am glad that there will be more books because I have come to care for some of these characters and I have to know how it turns out in Kydona. If you like steadily moving sagas like I do, this one is for you.

Oh yes. I just have to mention for a bit o’ fun… I asked the author in the interview if his book(s) were going Hollywood, what actor would he choose to play the main character, Marcus. You can read his reply on the interview blog. But, my vote goes to Theo Thomas (Golden Boy). Hey…I just thought I’d throw that in to give the ladies something to dream about as they read.

I’m An Idiot…

Okay, yes, Idiot on the rise here. I had so much technical difficulty today on WordPress. However, I doubt it was WP’s fault at all. It was all Wanda.

Thanks for your patience if blogs kept appearing and disappearing. Where would I be without the world of technology to totally make me feel inferior.

Don’t you all feel inferior at times? I know I do, for sure. Like those times I figure something out, like how to add or delete something from WordPress, or how to add a menu or add to a menu, then forget what I just did.

Bonkers!

Life is tough enough without computers and their not-so-friendly websites mucking up my life. Computers are supposed to make things more convenient. Well, not when I’m the operator.

Okay…onward to to other subjects.

Technical Difficulties

My apologies to those of you who keep seeing my messages appearing and disappearing…or perhaps showing up in your email with dead links. It seems I’m having a little technical difficulties trying to post my latest book review. As well as that my last book review disappeared! Ugh!

Please stand by, and thanks for your patience.