“HYSR/NT!” or “Hey, You Should Read / ‘Narrate This!’ ”

Goodness, how long has it been since I told you that hey, you should read something? That wacky and wonderful summer at Bristol really threw my weekends for a loop, but I think I may finally be in a position to get my posting Saturdays back on track.*

(*Laugh’s on me, folks: I’ve got last-minute plans to spend tomorrow at the 5th annual Gathering of Rogues and Ruffians Renaissance Faire. So… let’s pretend today is Saturday!)

Leading this special feature’s comeback, here’s a piece by Dianne J. Wilson of the Doodles blog entitled, “Inspired by… THAT?” It’s a perfect demonstration of how the most ordinary, otherwise-useless things – from ugly sashes to grocery lists – can turn into artistic greatness (sometimes multiple artistic greatnesses!), with a little help from a creative mind.

So hey, read that – and be inspired!

Even this watercolor painting that I was doing little more than cleaning my brush on could be the first ripple of a brainwave. Creative types looking for a quick challenge, consider this your prompt!

BUT WAIT! THERE’S MORE!

Have you ever wondered what your manuscript, short story, or novella would sound like as an audio book? Are you the kind of writer that loves to hear someone else’s voice reading your work? Then hey, you should read this and weep for joy: The “Narrate This!” contest is coming is coming to the Story Multiverse blog!

I was a happy winner, the last time around, with most of my prize – an audio clip of my Merry Minstrel’s introduction to the magical Avalon Faire – proudly displayed on my “Ballad of Allyn-a-Dale” page. (And one of these days, I’ll make myself face the technological drudgery necessary on my end to upload the rest of the file I won. Just ha-a-ad to go all overachiever and make a fancy, subtitled video, huh, Shipley?…)

The contest opens on October 21st. For full details on how you can potentially hear YOUR story read aloud by my blog pal Ben Chiles, then hey, you should read his post explaining all about it. Many will enter (ideally)! May the best of the best win!

“Weird” or “Y’know, It Could Be That Some Fiction *Is* Stranger Than Truth…”

I’ve got friends in high-ish places who handed me a book and asked for my thoughts. And since my head happened to have a few thoughts to spare, today, I figured I’d be a pal and comply.

The Book: “Leap Day” by Mozart (via Twin Wicks Publishing).

Genre: A short story collection with a bent toward the paranormal.

Blurb (…well, more like a general description): Each episode is largely unrelated (though two of the tales, including that which shares the anthology’s title, do specifically refer to February 29th – or “the missing day”, as one story reverently calls it). However, a common thread throughout the book is the unexplained. Many of the plotlines start out as seemingly ordinary, only to unfurl into the implausible, often with more questions raised than fully answered. The result is a surreal climate in which reader imagination has ample room to speculate as to the cause and full effect of the mysteries presented.

My Thoughts: As a whole, I found the book to be an interesting journey, reminiscent of a guided tour of a haunted house. I would have preferred that the book include a table of contents. And regrettably, I was frequently distracted by missing commas and other such typographical errors, suggestive of inadequate line editing. I have seen worse in this area, but I should be seeing better. Even so, there was one story which so engaged me that all thoughts of literary mechanics briefly vanished, and that was “The Bridge”. Vying for my second and third favorites are “DOC-V” and “Andrea”, I believe because I felt that these three stories had the most to offer in terms of deep character interaction (whereas other tales dealt more with isolated introspection).

HSYRT? (Hey, Should You Read This?): If you like your fiction head-tilting weird (in both the “of a strikingly odd or unusual character; strange” and “of, relating to, or suggestive of the preternatural or supernatural” senses), you may want to give this book a read. The e-book is available on Smashwords and the Amazon Kindle store.

“War” or “Make Love (or Awesome Books Worth Loving) Instead”

Eli’s back!!! Not that the blog’s hyperventilating with excitement, or anything… *pant, pant, pant*

The bloggin’ Buccaneers have yet another outrageous demand: “Recommend or review a book of choice. Tell the interwebz why you love it!

Well, they’ve got the timing of a sea captain’s finest chronoscope, because there just happens to be a book I’ve been wanting to rave about.

The Book: “The Spirit War” by Rachel Aaron.

Genre: Fantasy adventure.

Blurb (because I seem to be incapable of just saying, “It’s about X and Y, and then Z happens.” Oh, no, I’ve gotta be all authorial about it.):

In a world where everything from doors to swords to grains of sand has a living spirit… they all adore Eli Monpress, rogue wizard and self-proclaimed greatest thief in the world. But as much as the everyday spirits love Eli, no one loves him more – or with more dangerous obsession – than the Shepherdess, Benehime, a formidable power with a disturbing lack of attention to responsibility. She’ll pull any stunt to get her favorite back where she wants him, even if it means letting the inexorable Immortal Empress loose on a world with no might to oppose her.

Preparing to make a stand nonetheless is the island of Osera. Its people beat back the Empress’s armies once before, and they are determined to do it again, with help from their truant prince. There is, however, one small complication: That prince is none other than infamous swordsman Joseph Lichten, accomplice and friend of a certain wizard-thief. The price on his head is now higher than Eli’s, and if anyone thinks Eli’s pride will allow him to take the situation lying down, they may have another think coming.

My Thoughts: I did not want this book to end – particularly not on the note that it did! There’s little I can say without giving it all away, but just know that the final pages of this fourth book in the Eli Monpress series had me craving Book Five even more than I already was. (“Spirit’s End”, coming in November 2012!)

For those who wanted a “state of open, armed, often prolonged conflict carried on between nations, states, or parties” story, this book delivers on its title’s promise. There are plenty of political head games throughout, and nail-biter battles as the conclusion draws near. There’s also a healthy dose of familial dysfunction, treason and treachery, and enough emotional warfare going on within characters’ own selves to rival the action happening on Osera’s front lines. Readers may even see some characters of which they’ve grown fond meet tragic ends ere the book’s close; certainly, one of the losses hit me rather hard. But, as I’ve been heard to say, the threat doesn’t seem real if nobody dies.

HSYRT? (Hey, Should You Read This?): I’ve yet to come across an installment of the Eli Monpress series that I don’t think you should read. Whatever you’re waiting for, knock it off and buy the book. …Unless what you’re waiting for is to have read the first three books, in which case, knock it off and buy the omnibus.

“Booker” or “More Book…? Not Sure It Really Matters, Since ‘Book’ Isn’t Much Used as an Adjective”

Four blog posts in as many days? Seriously?? Am I out of my Ever-On-Word-bloggin’ mind?!

Well, yeah. But as regards my packed blogging schedule this week, I can explain myself.

It was gonna just be the Buccaneer Blogfest posts and my “Superhero” post that I was just too excited about to let sit in my queue any longer. But then came a pleasant surprise in the form of an award from fellow Buccaneer Kendra of the Flame Writer blog. And as both the award and this Buccaneer Blogfest week are totally book-related, it seemed meet to me that today be the day I formally accept…

(That’s “The {Booker} Award: For those who refuse to live in the real world”, in case the pic’s not showing up, for whatever Technology Fiend-instigated reason.)

Quoting Kendra on the rules: “To receive this award, the blog must be at least 50% about books (reading or writing is OK). Along with receiving this award, you must also share your top five favorite books. (More than five is OK.) You must give this award to 5-10 other lucky book blogs you adore.”

I mentioned the titles of several favorite books during Monday’s biblio-psych session. Here’s my chance to go into a bit more detail as to why those books are by m’self so much beloved.

Montmorency” (and sequels) by Eleanore Updale – History YA fiction that actually doesn’t have many characters in the young-adult age range. When we first meet Montmorency, he’s just a young man, age unspecified. Old enough to serve a term in prison, evidently, and then go out and steal his way into an independent Victorian London gentleman’s lifestyle, with help from his scruffy alter-ego, Scarper. I love reliving his dual persona, public transformation, and adventures, and re-meeting his varied and interesting friends (including a kind doctor, a jovial spy, and a clever gal plucked from the gutter) and enemies (among them… well, a bunch of really dangerous people). I like these books more than words can satisfactorily convey. Hey, You Should Read Them.

The Story Girl” by L.M. Montgomery – Kids being old-school kids on the picturesque Prince Edward Island (a locale which came to fictional prominence via another Montgomery work, “Anne of Green Gables”). The largely episodic escapades of Beverley (the narrator and, despite what the name may have had you first assume, a boy), his brother and cousins, and of course Sarah Stanley (a.k.a. the titular Story Girl, so called for her mad storytelling skillz) are all innocent hilarity. I loved the sequel, too, but for some reason, I don’t own it. I must remedy that.

The Bonemender” (and sequels) by Holly Bennett – The term “bonemender” equating to “healer”, and referring to main heroine Gabrielle, daughter of monarchs, sister to one of my favorite literary princes (*takes a brief moment to sigh over Tristan*), and friend to a wonderful bunch of elves. (Significantly more than friends to one of them, actually.) Again, most of the characters are adults – which, according to the principles of biblio-psych, suggests that I like books by adults, about adults, that aren’t so much written to adults. (My “Ballad of Allyn-a-Dale” falls into that category.) So, yeah. A fantasy adventure with characters I adore. Good stuff.

The Frog Princess” by E.D. Baker – The old “Frog Prince” fairytale gets an overhaul. Princess Emeralda of Greater Greensward kisses a frog claiming to be Prince Eadric of Upper Montevista, and… oops, now they’re both frogs. (If this sounds eerily similar to Disney’s “The Princess and the Frog” to you, nice call; the movie was loosely inspired by the book.) Magical mayhem ensues for several books to come. (The first three are my favorite, though I only own 1 and 4). I take multiple moments to grin goofily over Eadric. (Yeah, yeah, thieves and princes. Throw in a minstrel and a fox, and you’ve got me fourfold.) And Emma and Eadric are actually young adults, so ha! (Not sure who the laugh’s on, but ha anyway!)

And for my fifth, I select The Outlaws of Sherwood” by Robin McKinley – …Which I totally talked about yesterday, so there you go.

And now for my Booker Award nominees!

Amanda Foody of It’s All in My Head

Amy of Chasing the Crazies

Ariel K. Price

Ash Silverlock of Fabulous Realms

And Leigh Townsend of Butterflies and Dragons (whose name doesn’t start with my beautiful pattern letter “A”, so thank my obsessive-compulsive stars for “And”)

Congratulations, honored recipients! Thanks again, Kendra! Happy reading, booklovers everywhere, and may your lives be even booker than ever they were. (:

“HYSRT!” or, more technically, “HYSWT!”

“What new devilry is this?!” you cry.

To which I reply, “Um, that’s a little dramatic, wouldn’t you say?”

You amend, “Alright, what new acronym is this? And on a Friday, yet! Aren’t your ‘HYSRT!’ posts normally a Saturday thing?”

Indeed they are; but I’ll be out from cockcrow ‘til cows come home on Saturday for my Town Crier gig at the Bristol Renaissance Faire (25th anniversary season kicks off tomorrow, huzzah!), so I’m juggling the blog schedule a bit. Likewise, “HYSRT!” posts are normally about other posts on other blogs that I think, hey, you should read. This time, however, it’s not really about the reading; it’s about the writing. (Hence that new-fangled acronymous “W”.)

I read this Invisible Ink blog post  (inspired by this other, Fantasy in Motion blog post) which presented the 5-Minute Story Challenge – not a new idea, I daresay, but it’s the first time I actually decided to go for it, so it felt new enough to me.

The challenge is this: Don’t think (too hard), don’t plan (too long), just write a story for five minutes straight, then stop, no after-editing allowed (except for fixing typos. The war on typos is always allowed). Sounds simple enough, right? Or, conversely, impossible?

Well, it’s possible. Even for the kind of compulsive writers who swear by their rigid planning protocol, it’s possible. (And may the 30-page outline for my next novel project be spontaneously deleted if I lie.) It may not be brilliant (then again, it might!), but it’s not about brilliance. It’s about stretching a creative muscle that may not get a lot of use, and perchance having a bit of fun in the process.

Need an example? Then behold, the work of five minutes! (My prompt word was “anger”.)

Champagne Lion Fountain, via leafandlearn.com

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The stone face of the fountain slipped from a smile to a glower. Tim jerked back with a cry of surprise, followed by a, “What the…?!”

In a terrible, gurgling voice, the granite lips asked, “Do you realize what you’ve done?”

“N-no,” Tim stammered. “What have I done?”

“You have offended the Great Fountain of Dummar!” stone and water roared together.

Tim was confused. “What’s Dummar?”

“Some ancient realm in another dimension; you’ll never have heard of it. That’s not the point. What is the point is that Dummarions cannot abide filthy metal, which you have just now thrown into my waters with nary a care. The punishment is death.”

“Death for a penny?!” shouted Tim. “That’s outrageous! I refuse to die for anything less than fifty bucks! Forget these threats, you owe me a wish!”

“Do you wish to live?” the fountain rumbled.

“Yes! …I mean, no, that’s not my official wish…”

“Granted,” said the fountain, and the face returned to its frozen smile.

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There, see? No big thang. If you’re up for giving it a whirl, I’d be quite interested to see your hastily-crafted pieces – in the comments, on your blog, whatever. (For those who’d like a prompt word, how about… “luck”.) Go on, it’s only five minutes, and HYMSB! (Hey, You Might Scribble Brilliance!)

“HYSRT!” or “I Feel Like Giving Some Free Books Away”


Why? Because I have a couple of free e-books to give!

You know those “Cookies and Milk” launch parties I was going on about around here, lately? (Here, here, and here, for any memories in need of refreshment.) Whilst in attendance, I won a free copy each of “Cookies and Milk”-s Volumes 2 and 3! Thing is, I had already bought my own copies of the e-books, and I really have no need to amass a collection of the same titles. Hence my brainwave: Give ‘em away!

And now for a look at our prizes…!

So, you want to win an e-book, absolutely free?

That’d be awesome!” you say. “But I don’t have an e-reader. :(”

Neither do I. And that’s okay. I downloaded my copies as PDFs, and can read them just fine on my laptop. File format options abound.

Super!” you say. “But… wait, what are these books even about?

Reviews for Volume 2 can be found here; and below is my review of Volume 3:

** Like the first two volumes in its series of three, and its parent book project (“A Cuppa and an Armchair”), “Cookies and Milk, Volume 3” – a lovingly put together trio of stories for young readers, and particularly young adults – is a collaborative work joining authors, illustrators, and the charity Equipe in a twofold mission: To relieve the suffering and poverty-stricken around the world, and to share engaging stories with readers everywhere.

Them Gates of Hades” by Melanie Kerr tells of a young girl’s first day of school at the end of South African apartheid. Simon O’Rouke’s illustration echoes the story beautifully: Both of them simple and powerful, a song of black and white.

Skyler Luttrell’s “It’s OK to Let Go” (illustration provided by Danielle Zwissler) shares the moving journey of Gracie, a girl struggling to be strong – for both herself and her mother – while her body battles leukemia. This glimpse of the physical and emotional pain she experiences is sad but relatable; and on a personal note, I really liked the character of Dr. Wick.

Danielle Shipley’s literary contribution (illustration by Sarah Marsh) casts the idea of a “fairytale romance” in a new light. A “Tale as Old as Time” it may well be, but you’ll find this account of the beast-prince and his beauty notably different from the story you know.

The cause is a great one, the price is right, and while this third volume of “Cookies and Milk” has a more grown-up flavor than volumes one and two, I trust you’ll find it to be in just as good taste. **

Alright, then!” you say. “How can I win one of these?

Easy-peasy.

A comment on this blog post telling me which book you’d like (2, 3, or “surprise me”) = 1 chance to win.

A comment plus a “like” for my Ballad of Allyn-a-Dale” Facebook page = 2 chances to win.

A comment, plus a “Ballad” like, plus signing up to follow the Ever On Word blog = 3 chances to win.

And if you reblog or pingback to this post, then you get 4 chances to win for being a word-spreading rock star.

Last day to enter is Thursday, June 14, because on the 15th I’m putting all the names in a hat to find out who wins the goodies. Best of luck to all entrants, and here’s hoping that my little giveaway will bring more attention to Equipe and more aid to those who dearly need it. For that reason alone – (never mind the fact that Volumes 2 and 3 contain my illustrations and short story, respectively) – hey, you should read these books. So let’s see some action in the comments, folks!

P.S. – All three “Cookies and Milk” volumes are now available for purchase in paperback as well, for those of you with diehard love for physical books. (:

“HYSRT!” or “Of Thieves of Fish, Et Cetera”

Sometimes you read something that just gives you pleasure. You can’t always say just which chord was struck and why (or maybe you’re having a good wordsmith day and can say it with the eloquent beauty of minstrel song), but there it is: You read it, and you relished it, and you want somebody, somewhere, to know about it.

I feel that way a lot when submerged in the words of Louise Jaques. My friend’s lyrical lines of poetry/poetic prose are most often to be found at her blog, but the piece I’m featuring today was a guest post on the blog of another (Stef, by name), “Dodging Commas”. (Double sharing points! Gotta love the blogosphere.)

The feature, “Swimming in a Language Sea”, speaks of that readers’ pleasure with which I opened this post, and of the writers’ high that such pleasure so often inspires. So if you are, like me, a lover of language and ravenous reader – and perchance a writer, to boot – then Hey: You Should Read This.

“Swimming in a Sea of Words” by Rachel Ashe, as seen here: http://rachaelashe.com/2009/12/22/altered-book-swimming-in-a-sea-of-words/

“HYSRT!” or “Science vs. Creationism?”

Science: “The observation, identification, description, experimental investigation, and theoretical explanation of phenomena.”

Creationism: “Belief in the literal interpretation of the account of the creation of the universe and of all living things related in the Bible.”

Are the twain mutually exclusive? That’s the impression it seems one is meant to take away from a blog piece I happened across last week. Although its author, Roy-Gene MacIninch, does not profess a disbelief in God, his post’s title, “Bible Classes, Creationism Do Not Belong in Public Schools. Period.”, leaves little doubt of his position on that particular issue.

The way I see it, this is a pretty multilayered question. Is there scientific support for a Creator of the universe? How literally should one interpret the biblical account of creation? How far should “separation of church and state” apply? Should science be taught in isolation from any and all other disciplines? Is there any room in science for faith?*

I’ve made an effort to thoughtfully contribute to the discussion in the comments of Roy-Gene’s post – (debate’s not really my thing, but when I feel led to speak… well, so be it) – and I’d be interested to hear your thoughts on the subject, followers and guests. No points taken off for honest opinions, no matter which side of the argument you take (though please do remain civil, or I’ll use my formidable Comment Moderation powers on you). I just think it’s a good idea for us all to take stock of what we believe and why; kind of a, “Hey, You Should Think About This!

*Speaking of science and faith, I saw a piece on Facebook the other day that ties in well with this discussion. So yeah, two more cents for the tally, if you will.

“HYSRT!” or “What’s In a Naming?”

“I read in a book once that a rose by any other name would smell as sweet, but I've never been able to believe it. I don't believe a rose WOULD be as nice if it was called a thistle or a skunk cabbage.”
--Anne of Green Gables (L.M. Montgomery)

I wrote early on in Ever On Word’s history about my feelings regarding names. In one-and-a-half words, love ‘em. Coming up with the perfect names for characters is one of the parts I most enjoy about fiction writing, so I was tickled to come across today’s “HYSRT!”  post on Whitney Carter’s blog, Invisible Ink. Titled “How to Name Your Characters”, it serves up suggestions and food for thought for those of us with books full of babies to name – tips actually applicable for those of us with anything to name, from real children, to pets, to tape dispensers. (Come on, don’t tell me I’m the only one who named my tape dispenser. And if I’m not, please tell me that the rest of you named yours something a little more original than Tape.)

            So here’s the post, which I hope you’ll enjoy; I’d also recommend checking out the continuation of the topic in the comments that follow it, because hey, you should read that, too.