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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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Great Plans But No Throwback Thursday

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For the past several months I’ve been posting a series of articles about 70’s music. That was my decade, I think. I was a musician and a DJ during that time period and I’m fairly well versed in the trends of the period. I had planned to do something on Van Halen for this week. Even though the group is mostly associated with the 80’s and 90’s they originated in 1972 and I first became aware of them in 1977. I’ll defer that one for next week, though. This week became complicated.

I set out Thursday to accomplish a lot because it was one of my days off from my job, which though it is officially part time has been full time for about the past month or so. That’s a great thing because it allowed me to get ahead a little on saving up for a new laptop and buying a bicycle with gears and brakes that work. I need the former for my gig as an author and publicist. The computer I’m using is a laptop and it works fine for what I am doing now but the screen doesn’t work so I’ve been using it with a monitor. I needed the latter because it is my means of transportation as I commute 4.5 miles to and from work.

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Here’s is what has been happening, at least since I relocated last fall to share a place with my son: Riding to and from work on an old bike has been taking between 35 and 45 minutes each way due to it being stuck in one gear. It was pretty obvious I needed a better bike if not for the reasons commute time then for safety. Since purchasing a new bike last week I have been using a loaner exactly like the bike I ordered except a different color. My commute time has diminished to 25 minutes each way. Also I’m less tired at the end of my rides. Thursday morning I picked up my newly assembled and tuned bike from the bike shop where I ordered it. Since the differences between it and the loaner are cosmetic, there was no difference in commute time.

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I had planned to spend the rest of Thursday doing other things, like Throwback Thursday and knocking out a review of Rose Montague’s Norma Jean’s School of Witchery: Book One – Jewel. I finished reading it Wednesday. On my way back from the bike shop I picked up a few groceries, but shortly after I returned home I received a phone call from where I work calling me in to cover for someone’s absence. Since I need the money the answer is always yes when asked to give up my day off. So that’s why everything got pushed back.

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I will post a full review for Rose’s book in the next day or two. But I’d like to talk about a strange experience that occurred in the process of reading the YA supernatural thriller. You see, one of the characters in the story is named Elgon. Rose is a good friend and she tends to name characters after people she knows. So that wasn’t a huge surprise when she mentioned it to me. I’m flattered, actually. It’s just pretty damned weird, though. I’ve never read the name Elgon as a character in a book. In fact, other than my dad, and extinct volcano in Kenya and a cosmetics company in Italy, I’ve never seen the name Elgon used anywhere. As a kid there was never a license plate for my bike, or a key chain in any souvenir shop bearing my name. Believe me, I looked. Silly me. That’s one of the problems having a weird name like mine.

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So I have to say reading about Elgon, the character in Rose’s book, was a little distracting at first. I rather like the character, though he isn’t all that much like me, save for some physical similarities like height hair coloring and such. He’s a male witch. I’m not – or at least I’m pretty sure I’m not.

#Elgon #MountElgon #RoseMontague #NewBooks #OddNames #Bicycles

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Books I’m Reading

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I’ve read two manuscripts in the past week and have started to read a friend’s newly published book. The two manuscripts are very different in genre but I enjoyed both immensely. I’m only a couple of chapters into the third story, but enjoying it as well.

The first of the manuscripts is a novel by Deek Rhew titled “122 Rules”. It will be published sometime this year and I look forward to promoting it and reading other people’s opinions. What is genuinely unique about it is the blending of genres and the strength of the female characters. Deek’s an interesting person. I’ve spoken with him a few times. He has a warped sense of humor and a different perspective on the world that comes through at times into his writing as he points out the irony in his characters’ situations. The book is anything but a typical crime, detective, police thing. It blends in a healthy dose of suspense along with some of the attributes of a good spy thriller. Yet it is told in an entertaining and memorable manner that lingers days after and one recalls some of the more unusual aspects of the story.

The second manuscript is a Regency period romance novel titled Love’s Misadventure by Cheri Champagne. Generally I’m not a huge fan of romance novels but there have been exceptions that I’ve read over the past few years. I still follow the postings of a couple of my friends from FanStory, Margaret Snowdon and Phyllis Stewart. The previous writes romances set in Victorian England. The latter writes quirky situation romantic tales set in contemporary times. Cheri’s novel is atypical of the romance genres and includes a lot of adventure that kept my attention throughout. It is well written and a pleasure to read. Despite the time period in which it is set the lead female character, Anna, is strong willed and drives the plot. The main male characters are noble while there are some vile, unsavory villains as well. It will be one of the easiest books for me to promote. It has a little something ror everyone, containing all the elements of a good bodice ripping tale while filled with the political intrigue of spies. The key characters are kidnapped in an effort to punish another main character. There’s a lot to like about it making it an enjoyable read.

Both manuscripts have sequels coming, by the way.

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The recently published book I’m diving into is titled Norma Jean’s School of Witchery. It is a Young Adult novel from my friend Rose Montague who I have previously named an honorary Panda since she knows many of the other Pandamoon Publishing authors though she is working with another small publisher. Besides that, she is really great person to know and always willing to promote the work of other authors.

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A little over a year ago, she published a YA novel titled Jade, which I  read, enjoyed and posted a review around a year ago. The novel is not your typical supernatural triller. Jade is a complex character with many intriguing abilities and an alternative lifestyle. The Sequel, Jane, was published about a month ago and is on my reading list for when I finish her present novel.

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The reason I’m reading Norma Jean’s School of Witchery first is kind of selfish. Rose told me there is a character in the book named Elgon. It’s not everyday that a guy named Elgon finds a namesake. Now you might be thinking that some people will do anything to get a Five Star Review, right? But seriously, Rose has an engaging writing style that I have enjoyed previously and I expect nothing less than an outstanding story from her with this book.

Judging from what I’ve heard from other people who follows Rose’s writing, Jane should be read prior to Norma Jean’s School of Witchery because there are a couple of spoilers contained in the latter. Oh well, I’ve made my selection and prioritized the reading list. I’ll post a review when I finish.

#DeekRhew #122Rules #CheriChampagne #LovesMisadventure #RoseMontague #NormaJeansSchoolOfWitchery #Jade #Jane #Reading #NewBooks #YA #Regency Romance #Crime #Suspense

 

 

 

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The Wolfcat Chronicles Complete

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Friday morning I completed revisions for Book 10 of The Wolfcat Chronicles, which included a major rewrite of the final three chapters. I submitted the manuscript to my publisher. So the series that I have spend over a decade writing and most of my life preparing is one step closer to reality.

Before I move on to other projects, I’d like to reassure all those who have read early versions of the books that the essential story has not been altered. Some of the details have changed here and there in the process of revisions. One chapter was added and, in several other places the dialogue was modified a bit, to make the series connect with Fried Windows in a much more substantive way. Otherwise, it’s the same. I’m sure that as the editing process progresses there will be some other changes, though I expect them to be minor and more along the lines of ensuring consistency between the beginning and the end of the story and giving it a good hair cut here and there. The objective of editing is to trim away those things that do not directly contribute to the story, developing the characters, and advancing the plot,

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What’s next? Well, yesterday morning I did something I haven’t done for a while. In fact I’ve not done it since composing what has since become Fried Windows. I wrote a short story. I’m not sure I’ll do anything more with it. I could, though. There is an opening to expand the tale and I may pursue that – kind of like I did with Fried Windows – and we see where that ended up. But for now it’s a back burner sort of things.

The short story I wrote was my attempt to fulfill a prior commitment to write a piece for a collection with a theme “the seven deadly sins”. My challenge was to write something about greed. I’m not sure if I actually accomplished that with the story. What I wrote was more about wealth, money and large corporations mistreating the little guy. To me that’s practical reality of the sin or greed. However, I also believe that all the seven deadly sins are interconnected in many ways. If you ponder the subject for a while you will eventually get to a place that I am, where you understand how one thing leads to another and so on. Greed, envy, avarice… it’s all connected.

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The next two things I plan to work on are the sequels for Fried Windows and Becoming Thuperman. That leaves the stand alone story of Bongwater Moses still lingering in the background, but I need to finish that one too. Somewhere along the way I also want to revise a couple of other stories about the Brent character from Fried Windows.

Having the major weight of ten books off my shoulders – at least until substantive editing begins – I can work on a number of other projects. At some point I’ll be going through something of a relaunching of Fried Windows as it comes up on its first anniversary and is released in the formats and through other distributors. I’m not sure when that will come about. It’s popularity has been increasing through the free promotions, but it has been a slow process. It’s a bit like acquiring friends for me, growing readers. It takes a while to get to know me but after someone has gotten to know me they tend to be friends for life.

 

Lately I’ve been scheduled to work more hours at my day job. That is largely a result of picking up shifts that other people cannot work and having been cross trained to serve other roles. Hey, I can use the money for buying books to sell at book signings, right? Also I’ve saving up to buy a better bike. One with gears that change and working brakes both front and rear would be a vast improvement over what I have been using. However, it’s hard to justify the expense at this point, as I am getting by with what I have. The tried were placed last summer and have a lot of wear left on them.

My idea is to keep the present bike as a backup in case I wake up one day and my tires are flat on the newer bike I’d be using. You know, kind of like having a second car. As my son leave early for work each day and I tend to work in the mostly in evenings I don’t have the option of asking him to drive me. My options would be to call a cab – which I can’t afford – or hoof it for the 4.5 miles. I’d probably opt for the latter though I’m not exactly sure how long i would take me to get there.

At some point I need a new laptop to replace the one I have that doesn’t serve as a laptop anymore – battery dead, screen doesn’t work. I know I’m going to need portability eventually, especially when I start moving around and traveling again, but at the moment it isn’t a huge priority. I’m using a jury-rigged configuration that serves my purposes well enough. Also, as I refuse to go back to a Windows platform for my working computer, I’m kind of at the mercy for how inflated the prices for Apple computers are. They tend to be very proud of their products, as my dad always said of something expensive for no apparent reason. Yes, I get that Apple computers tend to last longer and are supposed to be built better, etc. I’m not convinced any of that is particularly true anymore, if it ever was. Remember, I repaired computers for a while. I’ve been inside everything imaginable. And since Apple switched to using Intel processors their systems have become more and more like everything else out there in the PC world. Much of the difference is cosmetic except that I prefer the operating system to windows and find it to be generally more stable, with he exception of the Safari browser which has been crashing lately for whatever reason.

Coming up there are some promotions for Fried Windows. As soon as I have resupplied my local stash of books, meaning ordering some directly from the publisher, I’ll be working on some local book signings. So, for anyone in Central Florida, be on the look out for announcements. I plan to tie-in the appearances with pre-release activities for The Wolfcat Chronicles and Becoming Thuperman. I’ll also be participating in some promotional stuff for other authors whether as a publicist or a friend.

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Rose Montague has two books coming out next month, for example one at the beginning of the month titled Jane, the sequel to Jade. There is another coming out later next months as well. More about that in upcoming blogs. I also plan to interview her again. She is an interesting person and an excellent storyteller. Her first book, Jade, was released a little over a year ago. I read and reviewed it somewhere around that time. Her writing is as unique as her subject matter. I highly recommend her books to anyone who enjoys novels that bend reality a bit – stories about shape shifters, witches etc.

#TheWolfcatChronicles #FriedWindows #Becoming Thuperman #NewProjects #Rose Montague #Jade #Jane #Revisions #Writing #Publishing

 

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Interview with Rose Montague, Author of Jade

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Rose Montague is an author I met last fall at an online group party when all the Pandamoon Publishing authors were announced. Although she is under contract with another publisher many of my fellow Pandas adopted her as a kindred spirit. Her urban fantasy novel, Jade, debuted late last fall and I posted a review for a few weeks later.

Rose says her goal in writing Jade was to have fun writing a book that is fun to read. It is all of that, exciting, action-packed with a lot of humor and mystery. There are many surprises and just a little bit of romance. In Jade, the title character is a mutt in the supernatural world, a mixture of various supernatural creatures with various abilities. How she became that way is part of the mystery and a lot of the fun.

Jade is part of a series that will continue with two of the other main characters from the book, Jane and Jill. The target date for publication of Jane is late summer 2014.

“I have been very pleased with the reviews of Jade and the book has been enjoyed by both fans of the urban fantasy genre as well as readers of fiction that enjoy a fast paced, fun read. Jade is suitable for older teens and adults and I would rate it PG-13.”

I asked Rose for an interview and she graciously consented.

EW: Imagine for a moment that you’re a famous, bestselling author. They’re making a movie out of your last book. What do you do next to top that you’re already achieved?

RM: I imagine this all the time. Honestly, Jade and my WIP, Jane would both make terrific movies. It has everything that makes a movie successful. Tons of action, humor, mystery, and just a touch of romance all combine to make this a blockbuster. Let’s not stop with just one movie. I want three and while we are making it, let’s do this thing where we make the last one in two parts making people squirm in anticipation for that last movie. And 3-D, got to have it. Maybe one of these days.

EW: How much research do you do before starting a novel? Does the research help develop the plot or do you use it to all background details?

RM: Most research I do involves the settings in my story. I like to be as accurate as possible about this type of thing as it involves readers that are familiar with the areas involved. I have had a lot of help from some of my friends, specifically in Guildford, UK and Germany on two of the settings I have used so far in my first two books.

EW: Let’s talk about when you were a kid. In school were you a troublemaker, an instigator or the teacher’s pet? Explain.

RM: And all three. I enjoyed learning about things that I was interested in from teachers that were interested in the students and that enjoyed teaching. For teachers that were going through the motions, that is what I did as well. For teachers that made the subject exciting and were excited about it as well, those I learned from and participated in. For these I was probably the teacher’s pet. For those that obviously hated teaching kids, I was rebellious, inattentive, and did not complete my work assignments on a regular basis. For this reason my grades tended to be great in some classes and not so much in others.

EW: Every writer has that one story that clicked, inspiring him or her to pursue writing as a career. What was the story and what was there about it that made it influential?

RM: For me this was the case with the Ilona Andrews writing team. They had a free installment series going on at the time on their website called Clean Sweep. (They are now on the second book in this free series if you want to check it out). They were doing this in installments, writing about 1,000 words at a time and I was going crazy waiting on the next installment. It was just a fun story and that is what I wanted with mine. I used this as a model for my writing and got some of my Facebook friends to read my installments as I completed them. Their fun and encouragement was contagious and I was convinced I could do it. It was really nice when they started begging for the next installment. Got to love that.

EW: Where do you see yourself at this moment in your life had you never decided to write a book?

RM: Writing a book and having it published was a lifelong dream come true for me. It was a void in my life that never went away and it would go several decades before that dream was realized. I can tell you how happy I was when a publisher accepted my book and what it felt like to actually hold that book in my hands. That is something that will stay with me for the rest of my life. I can’t imagine my life now without this part of it.

I’d like to thank Rose for spending some time with us today and let you know that you can visit Rose Montague online and become a friend, follower and fan as I have at:

Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000712227923

Twitter:

Goodreads:

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7393094.Rose_Montague

And this is where you can find Rose’s debut novel Jade:

Amazon:

http://www.amazon.com/Jade-Rose-Montague-ebook/dp/B00GKRO8SM

Eternal Press:

http://eternalpress.biz/book.php?isbn=9781629290911

Booksamillion:

http://www.booksamillion.com/p/Jade/Rose-Montague/Q593188343?id=5956566966194

B&N:

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/jade-rose-montague/1117563646?ean=9781629290928