Becoming Thuperman Coming FEB 2017

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So, I can’t tell anyone the exact date of release just yet because BECOMING THUPERMAN has not yet passed through the critical milestone of substantive  edits. But I can say that the final sub edits were submitted yesterday to Pandamoon Publishing and copy edits should begin in the next couple of days. Copy edits usually take a week, then proof reading and a final-final read through. All that should take about a week and a half. Also the book will be on Pre-order very soon. You do the math.

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During the substantive phase of editing for BECOMING THUPERMAN, Jessica Reino, my editor, served as a sounding board for fleshing out some ideas that became part of the mystery element of the book. It was through this collaboration, something that is a hallmark feature of the Pandamoon Publishing creative community, that the story became much stronger than what was presented in draft.

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My best friend and publicist, Christine Gabriel is releasing CRIMSON MOON, the next installment in the Crimson Chronicles on the same day as BECOMING THUPERMAN. She is nearly done with her book’s editing. So we are definitely on target to release two book in one day at Pandamoon Publishing. Both Christine and I are Alpha Pandas, part of the initial class of authors signed. We’ve seen lots of change and growth over the past four or so years since we were signed. And I can say the quality of stories and the finished product has never wavered. Our publisher continues to attract great talent and product incredible reads.

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CRIMSON MOON continues the mystery and intrigue surrounding a strange Midwestern forest and its paranormal inhabitants that began in CRIMSON FOREST, Christine Gabriel’s bestselling, award-winning, debut novel.

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BECOMING THUPERMAN is about two 8-year-olds, a boy and girl, who share vivid imaginations and burgeoning superpowers. Over the course of a week of one summer their world changes dramatically. The pair become little league baseball pitchers and an effective crime fighting duo, while puzzling through a mystery that will continue into the next book of the series and beyond.

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BECOMING THUPERMAN is an urban fantasy that takes place mainly in the real world portion of the special universe introduced in FRIED WINDOWS. Although the characters are unique to this series (for the moment, at least) readers may expect some overlap of characters as both series continue. And in my next series, WOLFCATS, which debuts in the fall of this year from Pandamoon Publishing, is more of an epic fantasy. It begins to tell the historical past of the Inworld, the fantasy universe described in FRIED WINDOWS.

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The other book coming out this month from Pandamoon, HELLO WORLD by Alexandra Tauber & Tiffany Rose is launching on February 21st. It is about crusading hackers in a not so distant future that is dominated by computer technology.

Lots of other stuff coming soon as well. In my next blog post we’ll mention some of those books and feature a few of the recent Pandamoon Publishing releases from the genres of sci-fi/Fantasy, Mystery/Suspense/Thrillers and Women Fiction/Romance.

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It’s been a while…but it’s all good!

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I haven’t posted to my blog for some time. There are reasons. They might come off as excuses so we’ll not go there. I’ve been busy doing things other than posting to my blog, obviously.

Anyway, some of what I’ve been up to is helping other people become famous. That’s a work in progress, of course. Interestingly, the process of doing publicity stuff for other people sort of contributes to the overall credibility of my writing platform. I kind of like that. You gain from helping others.

There’s plenty of news to catch up on. Foremost, I’m branching out on social media. I’ve had accounts on the various platforms for quite a while but have focuses mainly on Facebook and Twitter. You might notice I have multiple accounts on Facebook. That kind of just happened. When I started out I actually created both accounts by accident. Long story that isn’t interesting to tell. I used a moniker from an IRC chat server so that account was mainly used for people I had connected with from that part of my past. Some of the other social media accounts use the same moniker, though. SO, if you see my picture attached to an account under the user name “elgonewolf”, that is me.

As I have mentioned previously in this blog, having a name like Elgon can be a challenge. And I have, at times, used “elgone’ as a user name, kind of as a joke because that is often the best rendering of my name’s pronunciation that most people can manage, until they know me for a while and know me well enough that I have corrected them on the pronunciation. It isn’t hard. L-GUN. But over the year many have called me L-GONE.

The “wolf” ending to the moniker comes from the IRC chat where each of us pretended to be members of a wolf pack. Once initiated, you were allowed to tag on wolf to your username. There were a couple of hundred of us on that server. And for a few months we had fun creating adventures. There were a lot of former D&D people in the mix, as you might expect.

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I bring all of that up because something special and related to it is coming next fall (2017). You see, I kept copious notes and records of all the adventures I created in those months. I mean, I am a writer. During a 13 week period in the summer of 2000 I generated the basic kernel of a plot and write 400 or so pages of story that was based on those notes. After seven additional years of revisions, additions, deletions, and such, THE WOLFCAT CHRONICLES began taking shape.

WOLFCATS was written from the middle out. One of the best ways I’ve ever found for overcoming writer’s block is to just start writing. Where I start is somewhere in the middle of a story. Sometimes that’s a climax. Then the process of writing the story becomes more like assembling a huge jigsaw puzzle. You have the first few pieces together and you just need to fill in the details by finding the other pieces that connect – like how did the characters get into the situation they are in. I do a lot of that with conversations between my characters. Now, not all those conversations make it into a book. Some are just day-to day things that may be nice to know stuff and provide oodles of background for the character’s development but it may not be relevant to the story. In other words, I ended up with a lot of unused background story. Some of it was beneficial later on in the process of creating the rest of the series.

With WOLFCATS the middle part of the story  composed between May and July 2000 eventually evolved, over the next four and a half years, to span 5 books. Concurrently I was writing parts of ONE OVER X that are still unpublished. And, I was helping a friend with a children’s book. I’ve always had lots of trouble writing an ending that doesn’t lead to something else. That why I write serials. And so, even as I was bringing the original storyline of WOLFACTS to a conclusion I was already beginning to tell the next part of the story. In what became an extended series of chapters that I decided were anticlimactic to the original storyline, the characters we leading me into a much more complicated and intriguing set of circumstances that also connected in some rather warped ways with ONE OVER X.

I continued writing about my characters in a separate book (book 6). It became clear that I had a lot more story left to tell than would fit into one book. And so I wrote another book. Half way through that one I realized that I needed a hell of a lot more information about my characters, their origins and relationships.

I had just finished a collaborative editing of the aforementioned children’s book and my publisher at the time suggested that I might try writing a children’s book of my own. I told him I write hard sci-fi and fantasy. He reminded me that J.R.R. Tolkien’s LORD OF THE RINGS is prefaced by THE HOBBIT, a book originally intended to be a story about Middle Earth for his children.

With my notes about the characters and their background stories from the original 5 books of the WOLFCATS, I began writing a nice little children’s story about the two main characters of THE WOLFCAT CHRONICLES when they were young. Within a few writing sessions it became clear that what was emerging was not a children’s story at all. Instead it was the missing material I needed to complete the conclusion of the series. And so, As I concurrently wrote final book and a half of the story I was also composing  what became the first two books of WOLFCATS, for first of which will be officially published in late 2017.

Currently I’m waiting for my substantive edits to come back for BECOMING THUPERMAN, which is my next book, to be published in February 2017. BT is the story of two kids and one week of their summer vacation. Besides playing baseball in the city park and riding their bikes everywhere they avoid a neighborhood dog with a bad attitude that guards reputed haunted house of the neighborhood. BT is being kids and the adventure of creating a new world for each day while, in the process, they discover that they have superpowers and the world in which they live is not entirely as “Normal” as the name of their city might indicate. Oh yeah, and there is an old maid who may or may not be a witch and her brother with whom she lives who looks like he might not be among the living.

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A Review of “Fates Past” by Jason Huebinger

Jennly Reads

Everyone Has Regrets

Skeletons in their closets.

What if you had to relive them? Face them head on, come to terms and make peace with these personal demons and regrets. Could you? Would you?

These are the situations that face boyfriend and girlfriend Carrie and Cameron. While on their way to New Orleans for a weekend getaway something strange occurs and the road they are on doesn’t appear to be the one they should be traveling. While unable to catch their bearings due to malfunctioning electronics and unaware to gauge the time as all clocks only show 00:00, Cameron and Carrie travel on this “road to nowhere” until they reach an inn. The kindly innkeeper provides them with a room for the evening and the strange occurrences continue. While Cameron continues to hear a growling that Carrie cannot; Carrie is plagued by an incessant high pitched beeping and the cry…

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Update on Ballad of Best Buy Bonnie

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(Refer to previous post regarding a refund problem Best Buy’s Geek Squad)

And so the saga comes to a conclusion, a full six weeks after it began. It turns out I was right to an extent. The alleged refund was never fully processed.  Had I not called to complain, yet again  – this time to a customer service rep named Amanda – I would still be waiting in vain.

Amanda accomplished what Bonnie and the others before her did not, could not or would not. Not only did she define “business cycle” as a monthly billing period which is, for them, 28 days, but also she scratched beneath the superficial to determine that my refund was stuck in some kind of limbo. She redirected it to the proper processing channel and, this afternoon, the money appeared back in my account – five days, 3 business days, after she initiated the action. It is, however, a full 41 days since the story began.

Why was it necessary for Best Buy to treat me so poorly that they have now lost a customer for life? Clearly I was not important enough – or my refund amount was so token – that no one before Amanda wanted to bother investigating what happened to my refund. And the bottom line is that Best Bu’s bottom line is more important to them than fixing a heinous situation that allows something that this to happen.

Kudos to Amanda, but I reiterate that I will never order anything online again from Best Buy or Geek Squad and advise everyone reading this to seriously consider doing the same. The stores seem to be different. Refunds are processed in a more timely manner. And, though I have issues with the length of lines at the checkouts and the overall lack of urgency toward remedying it – before I complain – I have had decent customer service in the store. If I buy anything from Best Buy in the future, it will be at a local store. Lesson learned.

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Best Buy Bonnie – Or The Ballad of Wrong

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I’ve learned a few things over the years. As a retail manager I began to understand that the customer is not always right but that doesn’t matter anyway because the customer believe he or she is always right. In the balance, if you fail to take care of the customer you lose. Some of the companies I’ve worked for got that, others did not. And those that found a way to say NO to a customer are no longer in business. That is the bottom line, isn’t it? Doing whatever you must to stay in business – or on a personal level, remaining employed.

I have examples of what to do and what not to do, but this blog isn’t about that. It is about one strange situation from which I have, apparently, learned a lot more lessons than those with whom I have been dealing. Foremost lesson: don’t buy anything online from a big box retailer that does not understand why people use online ordering.

Every retailer wants to cash in on a share of the Internet business but few are willing to change their policies enough to accommodate the special demands of online customers. And that is one huge reason why so many brick and mortar businesses are going out of business. Only those willing to adapt survive against the 800-pound gorillas of the world who operate on razor-thin margins an extremely high volumes.

It is ironic that the very reason people would go to a storefront over ordering online – having direct personal contact with store personnel – is also the source of a store’s greatest potential failure. Unless a store is willing to do everything in its power to serve  customers needs it will lose that customer.

Best Buy has lost me as a customer, at least as far as online purchases go. It is very likely that I will think twice (if not more) about casting a shadow upon the threshold of any of their physical locations. And that is a very bad thing for  both of us. I know that. I’m not so sure they do. Negative word of mouth travels at the speed of sound – at least – and possibly the speed of light if the disgruntled customer is connected to the Internet and active on social media. For the record, I have nearly 5000 friends on Facebook. I have over 23,000 followers on Twitter. I’m a published author and publicist. I’m not the best choice for someone to piss off. Just saying.

Here’s the condensed version of what happened. A year ago,I bought a MS Surface Pro 3 and a package of software from a guy in Texas whose name is Zach – something or the other. He decided shortly after trying to run a version of Linux from a flash drive on the device that it was not right for him. He bought MS Office with the computer. He never installed it because he discovered Linux would not work as he wanted it to on the computer. He advertised it online and sold it to me. Unfortunately, everything in his purchase, in Best Buy’s system, was linked to his name by its serial numbers.

I installed MS Office, registered it with Microsoft and used it for almost a year before it began to alert me that I needed to renew my subscription. The alert contained  a link to Best Buy’s Geek Squad website offering me a $10 discount if I renewed through them. (It actually amounts to about $6 and change after applicable taxes are applied as buying directly from MS costs exactly $69.99). The $59.99 became $63.74 after the additional charges. Still, it looked like a slightly better deal. I provided my billing information and debit card number. Transaction complete, right? Wait until the expiration date, the charge would be applied to my account and I could continue to use my MS Office seamlessly. A print out was recommended that explained everything – except it started out “Thank You Zach”!

Okay, so it got my name wrong. With a name like Elgon I’m kind of used to that sort of thing. But when the appointed date of the renewal came and my MS Office stopped working and prompted me to renew it, I did exactly what the print out told me to do, call the Geek Squad.

I’m not sure why it was highly recommended to print out the confirmation. There was nothing but the Geek Squad’s phone number on it – nothing giving any real evidence of a purchase. Fortunately, I kept the card from the original software license. That was the only link I had to give over the phone that linked me to the actual transaction. As far as Best Buy was concerned, Zach renewed his subscription. And, as far as MS was concerned, the product installed on my computer had never been renewed.

After spending an hour or so on the phone with the first Geek Squad person I contacted about the problem, I was directed to a Geek Squad Tech Support person to see if there was anything they could do. After explaining everything to him (which took another fifteen minutes for questions and answers – during which I was asked several times what my relationship was to this Zach guy – I was directed to place the order for renewal directly with Microsoft, mainly because I have drafts of novels, personal financial records and irreplaceable historical family pictures stored on One Drive. He told me if I tried buying a “clean” license from Best Buy with a discount I might lose access to that. So, not an option. He also assured me I’d receive a full refund back to my card from Best Buy for the $63.74 I paid and that would take from 7 to 10 business days.

The secondary thing big box retailers don’t get about dealing with online customers is that their major competitor may state the same refund policy but in practice it is much shorter – like 3 or 4 days max. But whatever. I’d wait for the refund to appear on my bank account, figuring it would show up in a couple of days as a pending transaction, just as always happens with refunds from the 800-pound online gorilla. When this did not happen, I called Geek Squad again. Had to explain everything to yet another associate who, yet again, was asking me what my relationship was to Zach. I was getting better at the storytelling, though. This time it only took 35 minutes. However, it took another ten minutes to find the record of my purchase’s existence. That was only marginally referenced in Best Buy’s computer by the original product serial number and, of course, was still associated with Zach, not me, even though my card number was referenced as having paid for the renewal. At this point I asked for a confirmation number that would help find the refund. Again, I was assured everything was fine and I’d be receiving a refund to my card within 7 to 10 working days.

Seven working days have passed and still no indication that anything is in process. I called my bank and have been assured that they have no record of anything in transit and they told me that I’d need to contact Best Buy to confirm that it was actually sent to them. And so I called Best Buy again. Told my story to one person who couldn’t help me confirm anything. I asked for a supervisor and was routed “cold”, as the lady referred to it, to someone in charge of appliance problems not computers. She transferred me to another person, who assured me he was the right person to talk to. At least he took down my information and created a record in their system so others could find me by my phone number or email address. Again, I had to explain I wasn’t Zach, had never been Zach and was not related to Zach except for the purchase of stuff he’d originally obtained from Best Buy.

Before we could resolve anything at all, the phone connect we had died. It was full of interference from someone else talking to a customer who has bigger problems than I did – yes, I could hear what they were saying better than what the person I was supposed to be connected with was telling me. Finally, I lost contact altogether.

Another call to yet another associate to whom I explained everything again, in about 25 minutes, this time around, and he put me on hold for fifteen minutes before connecting me via a conference call, to Bonnie who allegedly handles billing and refund problems. After correcting some of the misinformation the other guy gave to her, she at least confirmed that my information was now in their system. She then cited line and verse what the first person I ever talked to told me about one to two billing cycles. She couldn’t confirm what a billing cycle was, though, saying it depended on my bank and that I was actually dealing with two billing cycles, Best Buy’s and my bank’s and that it might be another week or two before I receive my refund, just because of these billing cycles. I told her THAT was unacceptable but she said there was nothing she could do for me. I told her I’d make her famous as Best Buy Bonnie. I’m not sure she took me seriously. And I’m unequally certain whether Best Buy takes me, or any other customer, seriously.

And I’m still waiting on a refund that no one, Bonnie included, can absolutely guarantee will show up in my account – and not this guy named Zach, whose information including his credit card number, was still attached to the transaction on 4/26, when the refund was allegedly initiated. I’m not sure why no one can confirm anything anymore. I suspect it has something to do with credit card fraud. But what should be a pretty simple refund has turned into a source of great personal aggravation.

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Book Review: 122 Rules by Deek Rhew

Cheri Champagne's Blog

122 Rules (122 Series #1)122 Rules by Deek Rhew
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Deek Rhew is a master when it comes to humour. Not only is this a great mystery, thriller/suspense novel, but Rhew adds his own flavour of levity that had me laughing throughout.

This was an effortless read. The engrossing plot kept me eagerly reading until the end. Rhew created a cleverly-written and well-timed novel. I genuinely can’t wait until I get to read the next in the series!

Kudos, Deek Rhew, on a spectacular book!

I received an ARC from the publisher, but I’ve already pre-ordered my own finished copy.

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How Dying Changed My Life

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On May 4, 1995 I died seven times. That’s what the surgical notes revealed. I might not know any of that except my health insurance required that I obtain the full transcript and forward it to them – so that they could later tell me what they considered unnecessary and therefore were not going to cover. But that’s another story for another blog.

Shortly after returning home to Connecticut from a trip to Florida to visit my parents, I came down with the symptoms of what I believed to be the flu. After running a high fever for an entire weekend, my wife insisted I see my doctor. Since I had been diagnosed with a heart murmur my primary care physician was a cardiologist. After doing some blood work I was admitted to the hospital for treatment of a both a strep and a staph infection in my blood. It was the beginning of a month long ordeal.

The blood borne infection pretty much destroyed my mitral valve requiring open heart surgery to replace it and repair a fistula – a hole inside my heart between the ventricles. The procedure took seventeen hours to complete and, as previously stated, I died seven times before finally being revived.

As an aside, if you can prevent the need for open heart surgery by exercise and eating properly, do so. It’s no fun waking up in a recovery room with cotton mouth from being on with the distinct sensation of a four-ton boulder resting on your lungs.

I survived, of course. It sucked spending my 39th birthday in a cardiac care ward but it was preferable to how things  turned out otherwise, had my wife not insisted I go to the doctor.

What changed in my life from before to after the surgery was my general outlook on life. I was a workaholic retail manager, pretty much married to my job. Prior to the illness I believed I was on the fast track to being promoted to general store manager and all the time I spent away form my family was more than justified because of how much I was being compensated in stock options and such. I was going to wealthy, after all. After a month in the hospital and three months of recovery, my status at work changed – though not officially.

I was still a salaried manager. While I was on medical leave I was compensated with regular checks, same as if I was working. Despite having to fight with my health insurance to cover my hospitalization and treatment, all but $7000 of the nearly $130,000 in bills was eventually paid. It could have been a lot worse. But, even after returning to work without any medical restrictions, every time someone from upper management came to visit my store, the first thing they asked me about was my health. Over time, it became clear they were never going to promote me into a higher stress position. And I’m certain they thought they had my best interests at heart.

Still, there were other changes as well, mostly with my relationships with my kids who I had all but ignored for the eight years I had been working as a retail manager. I valued my time at home and spent it with my son and two daughters. However, something else happened while I was sick. I had vivid dreams that lingered well after my recovery.

Although I had been playing at writing for some time – one and off since junior high school, really – I had never taken it all that seriously. I suppose that in the back of my mind I thought about publishing a book one day. I’d finished a manuscript at one point during college and considered submitting it to publishers. I’m glad I didn’t because it really sucked. At the time I thought it was an achievement, though. And maybe it was in a sense. I mean, after that I knew I could write something of considerable length and complexity. Afterwards, while I was military, I served as unit historian and wrote and published an award winning 400+ page unit history. So, I knew I had it in me to publish things. It was just I’d never done anything with my fiction stories.

I submitted a few things of a technical nature to computer technology periodicals. Some things were posted online. I had become a self-taught computer technician and some people sought my advice on things.

Before the illness I had begun digitizing the material I had composed on typewritten pages. I continued doing that while recovering from the surgery. So I had a few hundred pages of stuff formatted so that I could edit and revise with my computer serving as a word processor. But even after I returned to work I set aside at least three or four hours a day for writing and/or revising. In the process those fever generated vivid dreams I had carried around in my head since the illness began to erupt onto the virtual pages of  my computer screen.

Those hours were stolen from my wife, of course. Nightly she would ask me when I was coming to bed. She never understood the obsession that I’d developed and eventually it ended our relationship.

I can’t say whether I’d been a writer had I never fallen ill in the Spring of 1995. I have had the writing bug for most of my life. But I doubt I would have ever finished One Over X, my first novel. You see, I was comfortable with a practical life founded on going to work every day. I made enough money that it was easy to forego pursuing any dreams left over from my youth. I never envisioned how much my life could change, or that I would eventually become a author.

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Ironing Out the Wrinkles in a Plot

In some ways publishing Fried Windows in May of last year created a few paradoxes for the main character Brent. WARNING: If you haven’t read the book, you might want to before continuing on. I’m about to reveal some things about the plot.

There are some relationships Brent and characters in my other novels, particularly Andy Hunter, Terry Harper, Lee Anders Johnston and Caroline Henderson from One Over X (two of six books published) and The Power of X (as yet unpublished). There is also a loose connection between the mother  in Becoming Thuperman and Terry Harper – as they attended high school together. Brent meets Terry Harper while he attends Purdue University where the latter is pursuing aa doctorate in applied physics and eventually becomes a professor before taking a tenured position at the University of Texas.

Brent and Lee Anders Johnston hale from neighboring towns in rural Ohio. Both were musicians in their teen years. Brent actually played bass for a brief while in a band that Lee led. Lee was best friends with the lead guitar from Brent’s garage band – which is how they met. Ironically, as they were both the sons of farmers, their fathers knew one another, though not very well.

After the disintegration of Brent’s garage band over an issue about performing a Rock Opera Brent wrote for his senior English project – a piece on Beowulf – Brent and Lee perform an acoustic set at the Christmas party of a friend of Brent. It is the last time Brent and Lee perform together for nearly twenty years, though the two of them conspired during their connection to compose a few songs that will end up reuniting them in later years – and reinvigorating Lee’s career as a professional musician.

Lee departs Rock as his vehicle of musical  expression and begins playing Blues with a couple of musicians while he attends Purdue University – where he studies Engineering and meets Terry Harper, his professor of physics. In Lee’s Junior year at Purdue his folks sell their farm in Ohio and retire to Texas. Lee transfers to the University of Texas. The following year, Terry Harper is offered a tenured position at UT, based on his recently published best seller on astral physics the university. And, so Lee and Terry reconnect at UT and the Lee changes his major to physics.

While in Austin and immersed in the vibrant artistic community, Lee joins a country band called Faction. At a bar in Austin he meets Caroline Henderson, the daughter of Joseph Henderson, CEO of HENCO. They share a few dates before establishing a relationship.

When Lee is offered a research job in Colorado, three of the original members of the band follow him there. They form the nucleus of a new Faction that lands a recording contract. Lee and Caroline have a long distance relationship until she completes college.

To pursue his musical career,  Lee quits his job and accompanies the band to Memphis where they record their first album.  Then, against her father’s protests, Caroline joins Lee and goes on tour with Faction, actually performing with the band as a background singer.

So, where is Andy Hunter is all this? Anyone who has read One Over X, knows that both Andy and Lee have a relationship in another version of reality, where both work for Henco. Lee works at a product assembly facility while Andy is a coder for the instructions loaded into the devices the company makes. The company’s CEO is Caroline Henderson who took up the reins when her father, Joseph Henderson passed away – never knowing she is to the Andy who was born of an unwed mother who used to work for the Hendersons.

In the other world, the one where Caroline and Andy grew up as siblings, Andy studies applied physics at UT Austin and becomes enamored with Dr. Harper to the point that he begins writing a boot about him. In the process he attempts to create a device based on Harper’s hypotheses that can cancel out the effects of the electromagnetic fields of the Earth – theoretically opening portals to every other dimension.

The powers that be – as in the Universal Powers That Be – are not amused with Andy’s devise of how it throws a significant distortion into the over all matrix of fabricated reality – the shell they created as the distracting illusion of life. With it Andy can, pretty much, go wherever he wants – as long at he knows his destination. Therein lies the rub.  Andy knows that the device can do but doesn’t understand it’s potential. And in the process of exploring it he becomes genetically altered to be more like an extraterrestrial ancestor of humanity than a man.

Brent is a transplanted straddler, born into the world to correct the problems Andy will eventually cause. He gets sidetracked with his own issues and adventures but, moreover, he is intended to defeat Andy’s modification to the design. Brent is naturally drawn toward the people he needs to connect with in order to fix things. Yet he is uncooperative in dealing directly with any of his new found friends.  As a result, Andy changes many things both for Earth and Anter’x, a directly connect world – via wormholes – on the other side of the galaxy. There the wolfcats thrive – for a while anyway, along with a primordial ancestor of humanity called the Hovdin and a race called Sabatin that enslaved the Hovdin for a time.

In The Attributes, a two book set that I wrote a while back, all the timelines and plot lines are resolved. Imagine that! Me crop 2

 

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Where Is Alabaster Cove?

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Somewhere between the coastal mountains and the Pacific Ocean in northern California there is a mythical town called Alabaster Cove. At least, I think that’s where to begin looking for it. You see, on top of everything else I have problems with, reality being one of them, there are random people I know who like making up stuff. In other words, my world is largely populated with writers.

There’s nothing inherently wrong with being a writer – unless you ask someone who actually lives with one. I’m sure my ex has a pretty long list of things she never really liked about living with me. Anyway, one of the writers I know fairly well conjured Alabaster Cove into existence. I’m not sure where it came from. Maybe it was an inspiration caught between imagination and a dream. You know the place, somewhere under the rainbow – or should that be over? Let’s just say, for the sake of argument, that the place actually does exist even if only in Deek Rhew’s mind.

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Deek is part of a dynamic duo of fiction writing. Erin Rhew, his wife, is an accomplished sci-fi/fantasy writer. Deek does mystery/detective stuff. Together they constitute what Kurt Vonnegut Jr. referred to as a Nation of Two. They were born to be together. All they had to do was find one another and suddenly their lives made sense. And everyone else who knows them cannot think of one without the other. They are that inseparable. That, by the way, trumps what I was saying about living with writers. When both people in a relationship write for a living the result can be magical. Not sure if they plan to collaborate on anything – a sci-fi who dun it? Well, I’d buy it. For the present she proof reads his stuff and vice versa. Each is the other’s biggest fan.

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They live somewhere about in Oregon. It rains there a lot. Since I know a lot of prolific writers who live in the Pacific Northwest, maybe the weather has a bit to do with why they write so much. Maybe I should live there instead of sunny (mostly, anyway) Florida. It would be an experience waking up in a world where I would be surrounded with writers, each of us trying to one up the other with a quick turn of a phrase. Come to think of it, maybe that wouldn’t be such a good thing after all.

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Deek’s latest effort is a novella titled Birth of an American Gigolo. Disclaimer: it’s not an autobiography. The novella is set in the aforementioned Alabaster Cove. It is also a place mentioned in Deek’s upcoming novel, 122 Rules. So, if you aim to become totally immersed in the fantasy of Deek’s fiction, and want to get to know the people who populate the mythical town of Alabaster Cove, Birth of an American Gigolo is the jumping off point. Please make sure your life vest is fastened securely before doing so. Deek is pretty good at telling stories that drag you inside and hold you captive for however long it takes you to read them.

 

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Review of Rose Montague’s Norma Jean’s School of Witchery: Book 2 Ghost School

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First, let’s get the disclaimer out of the way. Rose and I have a professional relationship as fantasy authors. We read and critique one another’s work and do it honestly, I believe. I enjoy her writing so much that I support her art by purchasing her books. I’m pretty certain that someday she will be well known in the field and I may actually resort to name dropping.

A few months back when Rose Montague began to tease publically about a new Norma Jean’s School of Witchery book, I was elated. I enjoyed reading book 1. How could I not? There’s a namesake character in it. Imagine that! So, because she made an announcement about book 2, I knew the next book in the series was being edited for publication.

I always enjoy reading Rose’s books because in her fictitious universe damned near anything is possible. Also, I’m not sure there is any issue she will shy away from in her writing. As a result, her characters feel pretty realistic. Despite the genre and the fact that most characters have some pretty outstanding abilities to change the world to suit them, they have situations, problems with relationships and they need a little help from their friends from time to time to resolve things. So, as I began reading this one I was wondering what new wrinkles Rose might introduce. And after reading Ghost School, Book 2 of the series, I am not disappointed. There is a good deal of unexpected in this book.

I don’t think it’s a spoiler to mention there are zombies. Lots of them. And, true to form, Rose’s zombies aren’t exactly your run-of-the-mill sort. Jewel, our returning heroine from Book 1, confronts several other challenges only one of which is figuring out what to do with a town or two filled with zombies and an evil, megalomaniacal necromancer who not only conjures them from the grave but also has stolen a piece of serious, super-secret military technology that is designed to amplify magical powers to a quantum level. Oh great! A bad witch on steroids! You get the picture.

There are other returning favorites from book 1 of the series and Jewel needs their help in dealing with the bad guy. Meanwhile, we learn all sorts of amazing new things about Jewel as she explores and defines her magical powers. Hint, she’s not just a pyro, folks.

The ending is surprising but necessary for what I think lies ahead and I can’t wait to read it. Also, there is apparently another spin-off in the works. Imagine that! Three series set in one highly imaginative universe. Gives me goosebumps.

If you’re reading this, stop after the next sentence. Read Book 1 first! Oops, you’re still reading, aren’t you? Well, you should never consider reading book 2 of a series before book 1. I mean, who does that?  So, first go get book 1. And, although this series isn’t written to depend much on Rose’s other series, its characters appear in this one from time to time. So, you may as well hop on over and start reading Jade and Jane, Rose’s two other published books about Jewel’s family members. There is a third book on its way in that series as well, so be on the lookout.

If you are new to Rose Montague’s work, she’s a gifted storyteller with a vivid and sometimes wild imagination. Her work sparkles with the magic she binds to the pages with spells that only she knows how to create. She has a great feel for characters and setting up challenges that leaves readers wondering how in the hell do you overcome that? Her target audience is Young Adult. She is unabashedly a writer as well as an avid reader of the genre. If you look, you’ll see her reviewing the works of other YA writers. Although I’m no longer technically in that chronological mix, I’m still hanging in spirit. The trick is to never grow up, right? I know I never will. Just ask my kids. Anyway, I enjoy a good YA book every now and then, and Rose never disappoints.

I give this a strong 5 for imagination, content and storytelling but a 4 for editing. In one place the POV shifts from Jewel to another character named Louise. A chapter break segregates it, so just be aware that toward the middle of the book that is coming. The shift is necessary and it does portend to some future things. There are a few missed typos. C’mon, every book has some, right? My overall rating is still 5.

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