Thursday, December 5, 2013

Review: Blue Into The Rip by Kev Heritage

Blue Into The Rip
Kev Heritage
Available through Amazon in Kindle format and pasperback, B&N in Nook format,
Createspace in paperback, and Smashwords in various e-book formats.

Good morning Constant Reader.

If you like fast paced, intriguing, thought provoking, character driven science fiction, then this book is for you.

Blue is a typical teenager, attending school, looking after his little sister, and putting up with his hippie parents. Until, one day, he is ripped out of his present and flung far into a future where the Earth has undergone some extreme changes. One of which is the military academy Blue finds himself rescued by and inducted into, in a future where the world is not what it used to be. Ravaged by climate change the only refuge is an under ground Desert Amazon. Blue finds life quite a bit different, especially as he is inducted into said military academy as a cadet, who only wants to return to the past. His past.

Blue is put to several tests and finds he does have some affinity for what he's supposed to be learning, but along the way, he discovers how the Earth got into it's present state. At one point, he visits the Museum Of Indulgence, which houses such diverse Earth artifacts as Stonehenge, the statue of Michelangelo's David, remnants of the Sistine Chapel, the head of the Statue of Liberty, some of the most famous paintings to have ever existed by the likes of Van Gogh, Rembrandt, Warhol, Picasso, Dali, etc.
He comes upon a gallery with a screen projecting how the world used to be, then another showing the wars, the pollution, the riots and finally the devastation of famine, the disease that followed starvation, poverty, then another gallery depicting the fall of civilization -raging fires in China, the US entirely covered by a hurricane, earthquakes devastating Northern Europe, Tsunamis, volcanic activity on a massive scale.

Still resolved to get through this academy and back home, Blue makes friends with the other cadets in his squad, steeling himself for the day he is instructed in rip technology, the way he will "rip" his way back to his time and his family.
Interspersed throughout the book are definitions of certain words, phrases, or people, which although I knew most of them, I found them a help, expanding on the reading experience the way they were used, much better than the inclusion of a glossary in the back of the book, with the words asterisked for reference or intruding foot notes.

Does Blue make it back to his Earth and his time?
Read the book and find out.

Read the book with the underlying lesson about climate change, which isn't preachy- it's so well woven  into the fabric of the story, you don't feel like you're being beaten over the head about an issue which is becoming more clear, day by day - quit hurting the planet we live on, lest we turn our cities into dust, and we along with them.

This is written for a young adult audience and being marketed that way but I can tell you, it's fine science fiction, with a great story and well imagined characters that keep you fully engaged.
I loved it.

For more information on Kev Heritage:
Kev Heritage author page
Kev Heritage blog page
Kev Heritage on Facebook
Kev Heritage on Twitter

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Happy Halloween - sign this petition and maybe we'll all get this treat

Good evening constant reader.

By now some of you may be familiar with the character of Loki, brilliantly portrayed by actor Tom Hiddlestion in the films Thor and The Avengers. Loki is about to make another onscreen appearance in the new film Thor: The Dark World, opening on American screens tomorrow.

Loki is a scene stealer of a character and there is a movement to persuade Marvel to feature Loki in his own film.

I'm using my blog platform to ask you to sign this petition and to forward it far and wide, as many times as you can. With your help, they can keep going and hopefully get Marvel's attention.

Another way to get Marvel's attention is to vote with your wallet. Go see Thor 2 multiple times and then post the fact to your Facebook, Tumblr, and/or Twitter page. Marvel has eyes and ears all over the place and if they see people turning out to see Thor 2 because they want more Loki, then the chances are better that we'll get more Loki.
They've already given him his own comic.
You can get Loki merchandise.
There's Loki fan fiction on Amazon (which is what got yours truly to finally read a book for pleasure on her Kindle).
So why not a movie?
It's we the fans who drive the success of a film or book or TV show - don't forget that. Without us, they have nothing.

Petition to Marvel Studios to give Loki his own film

Loki comic coming this February

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Going off the beaten path: Recommendation: American Horror Story

Good evening constant reader.
While I'm reading a new book for review, I'll be posting entries here and there on assorted topics.

This one deals with the television show, American Horror Story. If you've not had the privilege of seeing this magnificent series, then you should remedy that immediately.

I saw the first season and was suitably impressed. The house was nice in a creepy way and the things that went on there were weird as hell. The fact that I as a viewer kept getting jerked around from one time period to the next served to make things interesting, rather than keep me irritated. Oh yes, it kept me off balance, but that's what a true roller coaster ride is supposed to do - keep the rider on the alert for the next up hill climb. then free fall once over the hill.
American Horror Story has that formula down to a fine art. The acting was uniformly superb as well as the writing.

I've watched the first episode of season three, Coven, and am here to tell you the twisted minds are still at work.

It was because of that, I sought out American Horror Story Asylum.
When it was first aired, I watched the first episode and it scared the shit out of me. So much so, after the second episode, I quit watching.
It was too disturbing for me to watch.
ME! The one who will always choose a horror novel over a romance any day for the week.
ME, who sat through Dawn of the Dead, while the people's vomit from behind me seeped it's way down the floor of the theatre. Since they threw up during a pivotal time in the film, we couldn't really move, so we put our feet up.
ME, the girl who sneaked home a copy of the book The Exorcist to literally read under the covers at night as I had been forbidden to read it by my parents.

What is it about American Horror Story?
The writing plays on our common, every day lives and fears, and twists things to show us the dark underbelly. Disturbing imagery that isn't blood and guts does the job. Odd music cues, fantastic aural support to set the mood in the show musically and camera work that makes you think you might be losing your mind.

I'm on episode four of Asylum. It's freaking me out.
That's a good thing.

I hope the creators of American Horror Story, Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk keep scaring the shit out of us for a very long time, as they're producing some of the best horror out there.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

R.I.P. Phlip Nutman

Good afternoon constant reader.

It is with sadness that I must report the passing of yet another talent in the field of horror writing - Philip Nutman, author of the acclaimed novel Wet Work, passed away yesterday at the young age of 50.
An expatriate of Britain, Nutman was known for many things, but I first came in contact with him through his feature articles in Fangoria magazine in the '80's. He was one of the first to interview a then relatively unknown named Clive Barker for Fangoria.
Nutman's work appeared in two anthologies I have personal knowledge of, Skipp & Spector's Book of the Dead and Splatterpunks.
Nutman also wrote and edited 50-plus comic books and over a dozen screenplays. He was also instrumental in bringing fellow horror author Jack Ketcham's The Girl Next Door to the screen (if you've not read the book or seen the film, you need to).
This announcement also comes with a request.
A GoFundMe page has been set up for Philip Nutman's funeral. His passing was unexpected and so quick, no pre-planning had been made.
You can find that page here: Philip Nutman's Funeral
If you can donate, please do.

Friday, September 20, 2013

13 Questions with...James A. Moore

1. Name one thing you miss about being a child.

Freedom. I miss being able to daydream without interruption and the ability to spontaneously try new things without fear of consequence.
2. You’re hosting a dinner party. What is the menu, and do you cook it yourself, or do you call a caterer?

An actual dinner party? We’ll start with a nice salad: tomatoes, cucumber, green onions, a red wine vinaigrette. For an appetizer let’s go with baked brie with apples and walnuts. For dinner itself a beef tenderloin en croute with bĂ©arnaise sauce, creamed spinach, artichoke hearts with drawn butter. For desert a properly decadent chocolate mousse cake.
Or, if we’re going with my usual budget, spaghetti and meatballs.
And I cook. I’m a mean cook.
3. Are you a collector of anything and if so, what?

I have a nice collection of skulls. No real ones. I believe the one I have in my head is the only real one I need but I do like to collect various skulls. I find them aesthetically pleasing. Also I have a small but growing collection of high-end statues of different comic book characters. Mostly villains.
4. You're about the walk the Green Mile - what do you have for your last meal?

My very last meal….Probably pizza. Or my mom’s goulash.
5. Physical book Vs an E-Reader. Your preference and why?

I like them both for different reasons. The physical books because I love the feel and smell of books. I like the weight in my hands and I love a good piece of artwork. Ultimately my preference is probably for “real” books. Ebooks because, hello, several hundred books that I can carry with me anywhere and when it comes to Stephen King, the real books are bloody heavy.
6. What are you currently reading?
Hair Side, Flesh Side by Helen Marshall, a brilliant collection of short stories put out by ChiZine Publications. Highly recommended. I am also rereading THE BLADE ITSELF by Joe Abercrombie, who has become one of my favorites. I am also line editing a few things for myself and reading about five different ARCS for different writers.

7. What musical artist are you currently into?
Almost easier to name the ones I’m NOT interested in, but currently my favorites include Ray LaMontagne, Disturbed, Gordon Lightfoot, Iron & Wine, The Derek Trucks Band, Amos Lee, Adele, David Gray, Gangstagrass, Kasey Lansdale, Norah Jones and Glen Hansig. The answer varies by the day.
8. Do you have a hidden talent?
Nope I’m pretty much a what you see is what you get sort of guy.

9. What's your favorite word?
That’s as cruel as asking an artist what her favorite color is.  Today’s answer is Love. Why? Because there an myriad connotations involved in the use and misuse of that word.
10. What is your current desktop wallpaper?
A galactic cluster. I’m contemplating going to an autumn motif, but not just yet.

11. You're at a Chinese buffet - what goes on your plate?

Crab Rangoon, salt and pepper shrimp, lo mein, a few chicken wings, a bowl of hot and sour soup.
12.  What kinds of books make up your personal library?

I have a staggering collection of horror. No real surprise there. I have a decent collection of fantast books and a number of classic science fiction volumes as well. In the non-genre set I have most of John Irving’s books and a few others.
13. What advice would you pass on to an aspiring author?

I went to 17 schools in twelve years of schooling. I did not do well in school and I had to teach myself the basics of grammar and the English language (I had some very good help and advice from a few friends of mine). Despite this minor setback I have managed to write and sell a good number of books.
My point? Never give up on your dreams. They are yours. Make them come true.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Review: Seven Forges by James A.Moore

Seven Forges
James A. Moore
Available through Amazon (print and Kindle),
B&N (print and Nook).

Good evening constant reader.

If you like a sword and sorcery epic with characters who all but grab you by the hand and drag you through the narrative, a story line that takes your interest and holds it hostage until it's had it's way with you, a lot of action, is well-paced and is so good, you don't want to put it down, but at the same time, don't want to finish it too quick (then the awesome is over), this book my dears, is for you.

Merros Dulver is leading a group of men making their way to explore the Seven Forges, spikes of mountain that can be seen from the distance of their home land Fellein, but until now have remained unexplored. They encounter a race of people who populate this wild and barren land and it seems as if they were "expected" - Merros's arrival was foreseen. The strangers he discovers there join him on his return to Fellein, but Merros wonders if this might be a mistake, to mix his people with the newcomers. The newcomers's Gods are rather martial and they have wild ways about them. Yet they return to Fellein, and the stage is set.

As I kept reading, I got more and more sucked in to this world and the magic and interesting creatures that abide there. There's more than enough sword play, a sorcerer who gave me the wiggins and made me never want to trust him, a young man who loses a lot and gains more, so much more, but at what ultimate cost, female characters that are more than just pretty faces, though there are some pretty faces, too, and an ending I didn't see coming and when it arrived, with too few pages left in the book, told me we're in for another installment in this series.

My biggest gripe about fantasy writing is it can get too caught up in itself and stretch on and on and on and on, lasting for umpteen volumes. With each new installment, the story starts to stretch our further and further from the core that captured one's attention in the first place.  This is why in my pleasure reading, I tend to shun multi-volume epics. Until now.

Mr. Moore, James if  I may...I hope you've got the next volume in this series written, or if not written, at least well mapped out, because I want more, and so will everyone else who has any taste other than in their mouths.

Circle September 24, 2013, as that's the date this bad boy hits the shelves.

For more information on James A. Moore:
The Official Web Site of Author James A. Moore
James A. Moore on Goodreads
James A. Moore on Facebook

Thursday, September 12, 2013

The 2013 Hugo Awards

Good evening constant reader.

Here are the Hugo winners for 2013. This should steer you toward award winning Science Fiction reading and in the last two categories, viewing.

Best Novel
Red Shirts: A Novel With Three Codas - John Scalzi (this is on my To Read list)

Best Novella
The Emperor's Soul - Brandon Sanderson

Best Novelette
"The Girl-Thing Who Went Out For Sushi" - Pat Cadigan

Best Short Story
"Mono no Aware" - Ken Liu

Best Related Work
Writing Excuses Season Seven - Brandon Sanderson, Dan Wells, Mary Robinette Kowal, Howard Tayler and Jordan Sanderson

Best Graphic Story
Saga, Volume One, written by Brian K Vaughan, illustrated by Fiona Staples

Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form
The Avengers, written and directed by Joss Whedon

Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form
Game of Thrones, "Black Water" written by George R. R. Martin

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Update on the Ray Garton gofundme project

Good evening constant reader.

I'm happy to announce that the $1500.00 goal of Ray Garton's gofundme for Ray's biopsy exceeded that amount and now sits at a healthy $2,281.00.

This not only covers the out of pocket expense for the procedure, it also covers the percentage to the gofundme site and leaves a little left over for Ray and his family.
This type of outpouring from people renews my faith in humankind.

If you were able to contribute, then good on you. If you weren't, but sent good wishes Ray's way, still good on you. Here's the link to Ray's website where you can find a complete bibliography of his work, and links to order them:
Home page of Ray Garton

Monday, September 9, 2013

Want a chance to help horror author Ray Garton? Here it is...

Good afternoon constant reader.

Horror author Ray Garton is one of those authors I'm thrilled to find on bookstore shelves and read when ever I get a chance. His work has never disappointed me. Known for the novels Live Girls (vampire strippers!), Crucifax Autumn (a really twisted little tale), Dark Channel (a bad cult run amok), Silver Scream (anthology bearing Ray's story "Sinema") and a slew of others, Ray needs your help.

From the gofundme page for Ray:
He suffers from a condition known as laryngopharyngeal reflux, or LPR. Similar to GERD, LPR sends stomach acid into the throat where it irritates the larynx and causes hoarseness, soarness, and a condition called globus pharyngis, which creates the strong sensation of a large lump in the throat. In the process of diagnosing him, the doctor found a white spot on Ray’s left vocal cord. It may simply be irritation from the stomach acid, but a biopsy is required to rule out cancer.

While an author’s career is marked with some benefits, great health insurance is not one of them. His out of pocket expenses for this necessary biopsy will total $1500.00, and hard times in this industry and a previous illness requiring three operations that wiped out their savings have left him and his wife in a tough situation.

We ask that you help our friend take his first steps back toward good health so that he may continue to do what he loves most and does best; sharing stories with you.

If you can help, please do. Every little bit gets them closer to their $1500.00 goal. As of today, they have $775.00, with only $725.00 left to go.
Here's the link: Ray Garton gofundme page

Monday, September 2, 2013

One of the best kept secrets in horror...James Newman

Good afternoon constant reader.

I want, to paraphrase Tom Waits, to tug on your coat about someone.
His name is James Newman. and he's a horror author.

I have not yet reviewed any of his work, seeing as how James is an established author, and I have more than enough first time author work to read.
But James is an extraordinary talent you need to be aware of.
I intend to review one of his early novels, Midnight Rain soon.

In the mean time, head over to James's website and see what there is to buy.
Skinny-Dipping In The River Styx
There you will find the following titles and the corresponding links to buy them:
Ugly As Sin
The Wicked
Midnight Rain
People Are Strange
Revenge Flick
The Forum
Night of the Living Dead
The Church of Dead Languages
From reading Midnight Rain, I can tell you James is a force to be reckoned with and you'll be able to find something here that strikes your fancy. On my To Read List is any of James's titles, but primarily, Ugly As Sin.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Review: She's Not So Ordinary by C.A. Milson

Good afternoon constant reader.
If you've read the first two entries in this horror series, The Chosen Rise of the Darkness and The Chosen Bloodline of Darkness, then this book is for you.

This installment in The Chosen series may be shorter than the previous, but it packs a good punch, and moves the series along nicely.
If you've read the prior titles in the series, The Chosen Rise of the Darkness and The Chosen Bloodline of Darkness, then you know who Jamiesonn is, and if you've not read the other two books, you'll know soon enough, Jamiesonn is bad news. He desires nothing more than the total destruction of the world as mankind knows it and then to enslave every last human being on the planet. His world is one of blood and violence.

The story moves from Jamiesonn and his latest plot to take things over to Private First Class Tony Capelli, in a hot zone of fighting. He has just enough time to pull out another clip for his gun when a photograph of his girlfriend Laura Masters flutters in the breeze. Then Tony is shot and killed.

The news reaches home to Laura and her world is turned upside down. Over the next months she sleep walks through life. With the passage of time, she begins to heal and becomes close to a co-worker named Garrett and all seems like it might be set to rights again.

Enter a mysterious Mr James Venitti, who is the new owner of the company Laura and Garrett work for, with a tasty promotion in the air, one that both will end up vying for. Initially Laura has a funny feeling about Venitti, but pushes it aside.

A party comes along and Laura attends, has a few too many with the girls and she leaves for home, walking by a creek to get to a bus stop. She passes out in the grass and is visited in a dream by a golden haired man with black eyes, and this is where Laura's world starts to change...

To say more would give away the story. It's fast-paced and builds up to a bloody and violent climax, setting the stage for Jamiesonn to finally achieve...what exactly? You'll have to read it to find out.

 C.A. Milson on Facebook
C.A. Milson on the web
C.A. Milson on Goodreads
Official blog of C.A. Milson

Monday, August 26, 2013

13 Questions with...Steven Lloyd

1. You’re hosting a dinner party. What is the menu, and do you cook it yourself, or do you call a caterer?

Cook it myself, of course. Menu on the grill: Fried taters, grilled mushrooms marinated in Italian dressing; boneless chicken breasts (marinated in Italian dressing) and whatever else my mind can conceive.

2. What is your beverage of choice?
Mountain Dew. But I enjoy some Jack Daniels Down Home Punch, too. Sweet tea is right up there with Mountain Dew.

3. Physical book Vs an E-Reader. Your preference and why?
In previous interviews I’ve bashed E-Books with a baseball bat. My thoughts have since changed. Not long ago I picked up my wife’s Nook. I ordered Joe Lansdale’s “The Ape Man’s Brother”, and “Hyenas” and James Newman’s “Olden”. Needless to say I fell in love with the Nook. Sorry, guys, I still love print books, but I like that I can download books and read them immediately.

4. What kinds of books make up your personal library?
Everything from Charles Bukowski to Steinbeck to Golding. My range is pretty vast. Then there’s King, Barker, Rice, Harlan Ellison, Lansdale, Matheson, Bradbury etc.

5. How and when did you catch the writing bug?
I was fifteen or sixteen when the writing bug hit me. It hit me hard. I was writing a horror story for an English assignment—thank God it was Halloween, and I had to read it in front of the class. The writing assignments kept coming because I think she saw my capability as a writer. I’ve never stopped. From that day on, students paid me a dollar or two to write their stories for class. It was good money while it lasted.

6. What is your writing routine?
Mornings. I work the graveyard shift. I like to write between 10:30 AM to about noon. Later if my mind is running.

7. If you ever encounter writer’s block, what steps do you take to get past it?
Writer’s block is just another word for excuse. Hell, write any old thing until the words start flowing. You can always go back and throw out the trash. I try to end on an exciting scene in the story. The next morning I’m all geared up to jump back in. This doesn’t happen all the time. This may not work for all writers.

8. Do you have a hidden talent?
Yes, but my wife would kill me if I shared. (Laughs)

9. What was your best subject in school?
History and English. In other classes teachers told me I was un-teachable.

10. As in any entertainment, there are current trends. How much do these “current trends” influence what you write?
Trends come and go. I take it with a grain of salt and do the best I can.

11. Mac or PC?

12. Where do your ideas come from?
Life. I’m slowly moving away from monsters and ghouls. I like to write about things that can actually happen to us in our every day lives. It makes for a better story and people can relate to it more.

13 What advice would you pass on to an aspiring author?
Never give up. If you’re writing for the money, just close the laptop now and walk away. Do it because you love it. Money will come later. I do it because I have to. It’s in my blood. I can’t think of doing anything else. Only when you know that you’ll probably never walk the same plane as Stephen King will you be able to grow as a writer. Put all that I’m—going—to—be—a—famous—writer—one--day—bullshit aside and write the damn thing. And keep writing. Read everything you can get your hands on. Reading is a part of the learning process. You’ll be better for it.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Short Story Review: "The Wooden Box" by Steven Lloyd

"The Wooden Box" by Steven Lloyd
Available through Amazon in a Kindle edition, through Barnes and Noble as a Nook Book, and through Smashwords in several downloadable formats.

Good afternoon constant reader.
If you like a short shot of real life horror for your reading pleasure with a tinge of the bittersweet, then "The Wooden Box" is the story for you.

Our story  opens with Mack Grainy constructing a wooden box, for what purpose we don't yet know. We know that the time is the Depression Era, and the setting a dusty farm, inhabited my Mack and his ailing wife, Nora. Their only livestock at this point, a mule named Minny.

Nora is dying of cancer, literally wasting away in front of Mack's eyes. Lloyd paints a picture of a marriage that has had some ups and some downs, but through it all, the cord of true love has bound Mack and Nora. That makes Mack's task of constructing the box that much more heart-tugging.

The narrative effectively transports the reader to another time and place and provides a snapshot of two people who love one another and are bound to see this latest, and possibly last, trial through to the end together.

To say much more would give away the ending. I gasped out loud and felt a tear start to well up when I got to the end of this tale.

Is this worth the $1.99 price for download? Yes.
Is Steven Lloyd a name to look for in the future? Most assuredly yes.

For more information on Steven Lloyd:
Steven Lloyd on Facebook
Steven Lloyd on Goodreads
Steven Lloyd Fiction Writer

Thursday, August 1, 2013


Good afternoon constant reader.

For anyone wishing to contact The Written Universe, please take note, as there is a new e-address:

Please direct any inquires to this mail from now on! Thank you!

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Short story review coming soon

Good evening constant reader.

I sit here typing this good news, with a big black cat literally at my left hand. If she got any closer, I couldn't type, but I don't have the heart to make her move.

I received a short story submission in my mail not too long ago. My first reaction was to politely write back and inform the author I only accepted novels or short story collections for review.

But I stopped and thought it over.

There are tons of short stories offered for download online, giving authors another platform for exposure. Why shouldn't I give these authors the same consideration as authors of books?

I read the story and am pleased to say I think it is worthy of review and will be posting that review soon.

The Written Universe has started accepting short story submissions in the genres of horror, science fiction, fantasy and mystery. The only stipulation is that the story must be available on line for the reading public to download.
As always, there is no charge to the author for this service.

However, this reviewer needs to eat, so, for now, if you, constant reader, would be so kind as to take advantage of the "contextual ads" and the Amazon carousel widget if interested in purchasing what has been reviewed, I would be most appreciative.
I am in the process of finding out how I can monetize this blog for maximum effect and am looking at turning TWU into it's own dedicated webpage, with and Amazon affiliate store, as well as a Pay Pal "if you like what you're reading, donations kindly accepted", button.

I am passionate about the success of this site and strive to provide a dual service: getting good authors the exposure they deserve without charge, and providing readers with excellent choices in reading material.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

13 Questions with...Lee Jordan

 1. You’re hosting a dinner party. What is the menu, and do you cook it yourself, or do you call a caterer?

My favorite meal is this stew my wife makes. It’s basically a hodgepodge of meat and seafood with a lot of peppers, onions, and spices in it. I would serve that after begging my wife to make it.

2. What is your beverage of choice?
I drink about 3 or 4 Pepsi Max’s per day (with an occasional Dr. Pepper). As far as evening goes, I like a nice Sangria.

3. Physical book Vs an E-Reader. Your preference and why?
I’m still very old school. I have tried the e-readers but like the feel of a book in my hands and I read every day.

4. What kinds of books make up your personal library?
 Horror, Thrillers, and real –life unsolved mysteries. I never get enough of those things. I’m reading a book on Earth’s ancient mysteries at the moment.

5. How and when did you catch the writing bug?

I started writing my first book when I was around 4th or 5th grade. It was a picture book using the characters from the Fantastic Four Comic Book series. My mom was the only reader….

6. What is your writing routine?

I usually gather up my dog and go into my office in the mornings when the house is quiet and the kids are at school and the wife is running errands. Around 9 every day is the best for me. I try and write something or at least do some research. And then I don’t read it again for at least a week to see if I want to keep it or not.

7. If you ever encounter writer’s block, what steps do you take to get past it?

 I actually had it after I finished Coronation. I couldn’t think of anything to write and everything I put on paper I thought was not well written and did not reflect what I wanted it to say. So I took a break, and then got this idea (I was at a horror convention when the thought struck me), and I’ve been working on it ever since.

8. Do you have a hidden talent?
Great question and one I’ve never really thought about. About 15 different answers just went through my head, but I’ll stick to the more mundane answer and just say “not really”.

9. What was your best subject in school?
I always did well in Math and Science, but I was a voracious reader of vampire books from the time I was around 10 or so. My sister was always afraid I was going to run off and join a cult….

10. As in any entertainment, there are current trends. How much do these “current trends” influence what you write?
I really dislike current trends in general. I have never been one to jump on any bandwagon (writing wise or in life in general). I‘m more of the belief that what is trending today will be old hat tomorrow.

11. Mac or PC?

That’s easy. Mac, all day long.

12. Where do your ideas come from?

 That’s a harder one. I get my ideas from the things I love to read about. I love horror and actual mysteries (as you can tell from Coronation). When I find something that I think I can play with, I kind of let the notion work itself into my thought process until the idea is fully formed. I don’t force it or make it come out. I prefer to just let it linger in my subconscious as it manifests.

13 What advice would you pass on to an aspiring author?
It may be an old idea, but it really works for me. Don’t let one person’s opinion of your work alter what you write or what you want to write. It is your choice and opinions are a dime a dozen. Rejections are simply challenges.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Review: Coronation

Lee F. Jordan
Available through Amazon in paperback
and Kindle edition, and through Barnes & Noble,
in paperback or Nook edition.

Good evening constant reader.

If you're looking for an interesting horror tale that doesn't follow the already beaten-to-death-path, and has an intelligent plot that doesn't insult it's reader, this book is for you.

Jon David Stickle's nose will start to bleed when there's mischief afoot, and he just so happens to be employed by the United States Navy.
When the nuclear submarine USS Nevada shows up, her entire crew dead for no apparent reason (oh you'll know how they died, more or less, but the reason isn't immediately clear), the Navy calls in JD to see if he can find out what happened to the crew.
He begins his investigation, and then we flash back to the past, to investigate another nautical disaster...and another and another.

One disaster has a set piece that had this reviewer's gorge literally rising. I had to put Coronation down for a moment and collect myself, then I was able to finish the chapter. I still had to set the book aside for a day. This reaction from someone who has read horror novels and watched horror movies since she was 12, and I have never come across anything that got to me like this did.
Did Jordan go for the gross out? Oh yes he did, but there's nothing wrong with that as long as it's central to advancing the plot and not gratuitous. Trust me, you read this, and it will stick with you.
The gorge-rising scene wasn't repeated over and over. It's one thing to punch you in the gut with one, but it becomes overkill, no pun intended, if the author repeats the gore fest for the rest of the book.
If Jordan's other works have one gut-wrencher per book, trust me, it's worth it. You won't forget it.

We move back and forth between Stickle's present day investigation and the happenings in the past and then Jordan throws in a curve ball, that in lesser hands, could have come off as a weak cop out, but worked brilliantly within the framework of the story. Shall I tell you what the curve ball was? Nazis. Yes, you read that right. Nazis. Time and again, we've seen Nazis trotted out as the mean bugaboos, but in this case, they don't come off as trite and are grounded in fact. I know, because I looked it up.

I recommend Coronation highly.

For more information on Lee F. Jordan:
Lee F. Jordan
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Saturday, July 20, 2013

Not usual

Good evening constant reader.

It isn't usual for me to comment on something as I'm reading it.  I'm not divulging the title, as I'm not even halfway through the book, and I'm hoping and praying it holds together and warrants a review.
Why you ask?

Because this book, in all my time as a reader of horror, and that's been a long time...has one of the most gut-wrenching, gorge-rising scenes I've ever read, by any author, ever.

Stephen King used to say if all else failed, he would go for the gross out. Well folks, I've never read any thing that comes close to this in a King novel or the work of any one else. It isn't gratuitous, and fits within the narrative. I wondered for a moment where the hell we were going with it, and then it came into focus. Wowee.

Cross your fingers this one makes it's way to the end of the race.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Clive Barker comes to Subterranean Press

Good morning almost afternoon constant reader.

It is with some pleasure I bring to you the news that Clive Barker's Chiliad: A Meditation will be published by Subterranean Press. There will be additional Barker works to follow.

From the Subterranean Press press release:

"Welcome to the world of Chiliad, an astonishing two-part novella by the incomparable Clive Barker. A brilliantly composed narrative filled with unforgettable images, this visionary meditation on time, history, and human suffering is surely one of Barker’s most distinctive—and distinguished—creations.
Chiliad consists of two interrelated stories, stories filtered through the melancholy imagination of a narrator perched on the banks of a river that flows backward and forward through time. The first movement, “Men and Sin,” takes place in the millennial year of 1000 AD. The second, “A Moment at the River’s Heart,” occurs exactly one thousand years—the length of a “chiliad”—later, as the new millennium approaches. At the heart of these stories are two savage, seemingly inexplicable atrocities, each of which reaches across the centuries to reflect and connect with the other. As the narratives unfold and time becomes increasingly permeable, Barker creates a dark, sorrowful portrait of the ancient human capacity for cruelty and destruction. Writing always with lucidity and grace, he addresses a host of universal concerns, among them the power of guilt and grief, and the need to find signs of meaning in the chaos that surrounds us. In the process, he examines the endless chain of consequences that inevitably proceed from a single act of violence.
At once hugely expansive and deeply personal, Chiliad is a compact masterpiece, a resonant reminder of Barker’s ability to create fictional worlds that enrich and illuminate our own.

Chiliad will feature a full-color dust jacket, as well as duotone endsheets and interior illustrations by Jon Foster.
Lettered: 26 signed copies, bound in leather, housed in a custom traycase:  $250 (sold out)
Limited: 350 signed numbered copies, bound in leather: $45
Trade: Fully cloth bound hardcover edition: $30

Chiliad is on sale now through Subterranean Press.
As always, I can't wait to get my hands on a work by Barker.

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Sunday, July 14, 2013

The Shirley Jackson Awards

Good afternoon constant reader.

While I'm reading review material, I like to bring you new items of interest. In that vein, may I present the winners of the Shirley Jackson Awards, which have been presented since 2007.

"In recognition of the legacy of Shirley Jackson’s writing, and with permission of the author’s estate, The Shirley Jackson Awards, Inc. has been established for outstanding achievement in the literature of psychological suspense, horror, and the dark fantastic.
The Shirley Jackson Awards are voted upon by a jury of professional writers, editors, critics, and academics, with input from a Board of Advisors. The awards are given for the best work published in the preceding calendar year in the following categories: Novel, Novella, Novelette, Short Story, Single-Author Collection, and Edited Anthology.
Shirley Jackson (1916-1965) wrote such classic novels as The Haunting of Hill House and We Have Always Lived in the Castle, as well as one of the most famous short stories in the English language, “The Lottery.” Her work continues to be a major influence on writers of every kind of fiction, from the most traditional genre offerings to the most innovative literary work."

Here are the winners:
Novel - Generation Loss by Elizabeth Hand
Novella - "Vacancy" - Lucius Shepard
Novelette - "The James Tree" - Glen Hirshberg
Short Story - "The Monsters of Heaven" - Nathan Ballingrud
Collection -  The Imago Sequence and Other Stories by Laird Barron
Anthology - Inferno - edited by Ellen Datlow

Novel - The Shadow Year by Jeffrey Ford
Novella - "Disquiet" - Julia Leigh
Novelette - "Pride and Prometheus" - John Kessel
Short Story - "The Pile" - Michael Bishop
Collection - The Diving Pool by Yoko Ogawa
Anthology - The New Uncanny - edited by Sarah Eyre & Ra Page

Novel - Big Machine by Victor LaValle
Novella - "Midnight Picnic" - Nick Antosca
Novelette - Morality - Stephen King
Short Story - "The Pelican Bar" - Karen Joy Fowler
Collection - Tunneling to the Center of the Earth - Kevin Wilson
Collection - Love Songs for the Shy and Cynical - Robert Shearman
Anthology - Poe: 19 New Tales Inspired by Edgar Allan Poe edited by Ellen Datlow


Novel - Mr. Shivers - Robert Jackson Bennett
Novella - "Mysterium Tremendum" - Laird Barron
Novelette - "Turth is a Cave in the Black Mountains" - Neil Gaiman
Short Story - "The Things" - Peter Watts
Collection - Occultation - Laird Barron
Anthology - Stories: All New Tales - Neil Gaiman & Al Sarrantonio

Novel - Witches on the Road Tonight - Sheri Holman
Novella - "Near Zennor" Elizabeth Hand
Novelette - "The Summer People"- Kelly Link
Short Fiction - "The Corpse Painter's Masterpiece" - M. Rickert
Single-Author Collection - After the Apocalypse: Stories - Maureen F. McHugh
Edited Anthology - Ghosts by Gaslight - edited by Jack Dann & Nick Gevers

Novel - Edge - Koji Suzuki
Novella - "Sky" - Kaaron Warren
Novelette - "Reeling For the Empire - Karen Russell
Short Fiction - "A Natural History of Autumn" -  Jeffrey Ford
Single-Author Collection - Crackpot Palace - Jeffrey Ford
Edited Anthology - Exotic Gothic 4: Postscripts #28/29 - edited by Danel Olson

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Kindle ahoy?

Good afternoon constant reader.

I got my Kindle unpacked and charged, and with a few clicks was able to transfer all the mobi and PDF files I had been hoarding on my lap top. Now I've got to set about the task of sorting through what's what, maybe deleting a few files and motivating myself to read.

Yes, you read that right. I'm having to motivate myself to read. I hate reading on my Kindle, and today I can say with good reason: it isn't back lit, the cover it's in lets the Kindle flop loose and it hit me in the forehead, and the tabs on the side to advance the page...they tend to get pressed when I don't intend them to.
What is this all leading up to you wonder?
I think I want a Kindle Fire HD.
It's back lit, it organizes the books better and it will function as a tablet. It will also format any file to fit the viewing area without falling off the page.

So I'm setting my sights on a Kindle Fire HD in the hopefully near future.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Hope springs etenral

 Good afternoon constant reader.

I was 62 pages in to the review book and cast it aside.

Why did I go past my page 50 rule?
Because hope springs eternal and I was hoping with the next 12 pages after 50, the author was going to kick things into high gear.
The book started off gamely enough, but got hung up with repeating information about the characters  already stated, repeating the characters first and last names over and over, the plot devices were trite (thank you Mr. Couch for teaching me that word) and nothing was really happening.

I expect a book to grab me by the arm and pull me along from the first paragraph. If an author can't engender that reaction in me, then they've failed, in my estimation. Yes, I know there's value in slow build up, but you can do that and still hold my interest and not insult my intelligence by repeating information that has already been stated.

So into the Rejected Review Boos pile it goes, and I pick another and start to read...

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

What am I reading now?

Good evening constant reader.

I'm currently reading a book for review, but at the same time, I'm reading three other books.

I'm reading Incubus Dreams by Laurell K. Hamilton, the graphic novel adaptation of Guilty Pleasures, by Ms. Hamilton, and today as a special treat, I've decided to start reading The Adventures of Mr. Maximillian Bacchus and His Travelling Circus by Clive Barker.

There are two reasons for this.
1. Clive Barker is one of my very favorite authors and I haven't read anything by him in a while.
2. When I moved, two boxes of books went missing and I thought The Adventures of Mr. Maximillian Bacchus and His Travelling Circus was in one of those boxes. I was beside myself as I knew my copy was signed. I was sitting on the bed looking at my bookcases and got up to see what one book was and tucked in next to it, was the Barker book. My heart soared.

Now you know what it is I'm reading.

Monday, July 8, 2013

My rules of the reading road

Good afternoon constant reader.
I read an article today where the writer stated their rules for reading and it got me to thinking about my own.

1. I don't dog-ear the page to mark my place. Nothing irritates me more and I broke myself of it years ago. Book marks only.

2. I don't keep every book I get. If I did, there wouldn't be room to live in the house. Basic rule of thumb here is: the book must be extraordinary for me to keep it, it usually must be a hard cover (exception is if it's a paperback original), or the book will automatically get kept if it's by a certain author, i.e., ones I like.

3. I read most of my books only once; I've got so many pleasure books to read and review submissions, re-reads are nigh impossible, but not completely off the table. Years will pass before I re-read things.

4. Reading at bedtime has been re-instituted and is a treasured part of the day.

5. I try to stop at the end of a chapter and almost always do, unless Morpheus is trying to drag me under.

6. I do not, for any reason, write in my books. The only time I did this was when I was in college and only then it was text books and any books I was reading for a class. I never write in any book I'm reading for pleasure or for review. Thank my mother.

7. If I'm reading a hardcover,or lending one out, the dust jacket comes off and stays on the shelf.

8. If any book I'm reading hasn't pulled me in by page 50, I stop reading it.

Do I keep e-books after reading? No.

What are your rules of the reading road?
There's a space for comments at the end of every blog.
I welcome your feedback on what ever I'm writing about.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

The Written Universe is ready for business again

Good afternoon constant reader.

I am pleased to announce The Written Universe will be accepting new submissions and I will be sifting through submissions that arrived during my then unsuspected black mold poisoning and have been gathering dust.

I'm going to unpack my Kindle and load it with all the files that have accumulated and pull out all my hard copies and start deciding what is going to get reviewed.
I can't guarantee everything I have been submitted will get reviewed: my policy is to only publish reviews of what is worth reading.
There's no sense in publishing a negative review. It tells you the reader what not to read.
I want to be able to grab your sleeve and pull you aside and say "Read this now!", that's what The Written Univerese is all about.

In the mean time, I will more than likely make entries to TWU about authors, book news and other esoterica as I see fit. I want TWU to be a place where you can not only find reviews, but news and other items of interest.

BTW- you can follow The Written Universe on Facebook:
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Friday, July 5, 2013

Help Seattle to name a park after noted science fiction author Octavia Butler

Good day constant reader.

I found this and wanted to share it with you all.
I think it's a noble endeavor and one I'd like to see come to pass. This country needs to honor it's authors.

Octavia Butler was a recipient of the Hugo award for best short story, Speech Sounds in 1984 and best novelette Bloodchild in 1985, and the Nebula award for best novelette Bloodchild in 1984, and best novel Parable of Talents in 1999.
Butler was one of the best-known African - American women in the field.
Please follow this link and vote for Octavia Butler.

Help Seattle to Name a Park After Octavia Butler

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

The Return is Coming

Good afternoon constant reader.

Your reviewer has improved greatly since the May 1st entry.
My eyesight has improved so that I can read and my concentration and retention has improved.
I have several things in the pipeline to review, and intend to begin taking submissions again soon.

Until then, as the graphic says, keep calm and read good books.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Like A Zombie That You Can't Put Down

Good morning constant reader.

The lapse on the Written Universe this time has been due to a health issue I've been dealing with since 2008, but started in 2005. That was the yearyour intrepid reviewer started being exposed to black mold, but didn't know it.

Long story short black mold mimics Multiple Sclerosis, I got progressively worse, but a change in residence has seen my symptoms begin to abate.

I fully intend to start reviewing again, just not sure when.

Until then, keep reading.

Monday, February 25, 2013

The World Fantasy Awards

Good evening constant reader.

Tonight I present to you the World Fantasy Awards.

The World Fantasy Awards are yearly international awards given to authors and artists who demonstrate outstanding achievement in the field of fantasy.
Established in 1975, they have been handed out at the World Fantasy Convention.
The award is considered among the most prestigious in the speculative fiction genre, and is awarded to any work falling within the realm of fantasy, although some media are restricted to certain categories.
World Fantasy Award winners are chosen by a panel of judges, which differs every year.

Here are the winners for best novel since 2000.

2000 -  Thraxas - Martin Scott

2001 - Declare - Tim Powers
            Galveston - Sean Stewart

2002 - The Other Wind - Ursula K. LeGuin

2003 - The Facts of Life - Graham Joyce
           Ombra In Shadow - Patricia A. McKillip

2004 - Tooth and Claw - Jo Walton

2005 - Jonathan Strange & Mr.Norrell - Susanna Clarke

2006 - Kafka On the Shore - Haruki Murakami

2007 - Soldier of Sidon - Gene Wolfe

2008 - Ysabel - Guy Gavriel Kay

2009 - The Shadow Year - Jeffrey Ford
            Tender Morsels -  Margo Lanagan

2010 - The City & The City - China Mieville

2011 - Who Fears Death - Nnedi Okorafor

Friday, February 15, 2013

You've Heard of Food Trucks...Now Meet a Book Truck!

Good afternoon constant reader.

You've doubtless heard about food truck centers - trucks converted to purveyors of yummy cuisine, usually found in a one stop area with other food trucks, where anything from burgers, cupcakes, shushi, etc., can be procured and eaten.

Now I want to introduce a new truck concept: The Book Truck.
Specifically The Billy Pilgrim Traveling Library based in Houston, Texas.

The Billy Pilgrim Traveling Library is the project of Chris Grawl and Kelly Allen.The pair has taken a library/bookstore combo and combined it with the food truck concept, and named said truck after Kurt Vonnegut's character Billy Pilgrim. With the truck, the duo intend to fill a need that libraries are not currently funded for.
The book truck works as a traveling library that works on a rent-barter-donate basis.
There is an annual membership fee, running $5 to $20 depending on the plan chosen. The $5 annual charge allows one item to be checked out, $20 allows five. There are no due dates, nor late fees.
Besides items to check out, they plan on offering reference and research services, wi-fi, a reservation system, mixtape trade, and book clubs.

Funding for the book truck came partially from an Indiegogo campaign, the rest out of Grawl's and Allen's pockets.

For the time being, the book truck will be found out and about on weekends, with most emphasis on Fridays and Sundays.
For now the only set time to find The Billy Pilgrim Traveling Library will be tonight, February 15th from 5:30 - 9 pm at the HEB Montrose Market Friday Food Truck meetup, in Houston, Tx, and will be parking at HEB as often as the truck rotation will allow.
In future, the pair would like to schedule the book truck to appear at other sites of culture, tried and true truck friendly locations, museums, and coffee shops.
The Billy Pilgrim Traveling Library will accept donations – books, CDs, DVDs, VHS, audio cassettes, vinyl, monetary gifts, or volunteer time.

This entire endeavor reminds me of times when I was growing up that my mother would take me to visit the book mobile that parked in a parking lot close to where we lived. I would peruse the shelves and carefully make my selections. The last clear memory I have of checking something out from the book mobile, is checking out a book on dinosaurs by E.L. Rey, creator of Curious George. Not too long after these visits, they built a branch library.
In this day and age of diminishing budgets for libraries, I think the book truck is a fantastic idea.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

The Agatha Awards

Good evening constant reader.

I'd like to introduce you to the Agatha Awards.

The Agatha Awards are bestowed for mystery and crime writers who write via the same method as author Agatha Christie  - closed setting, no sex or violence, and an amateur detective. The award is presented at an annual convention in Washington, D.C.,and are handed out by Malice Domestic.

Here are the winners for best novel since 2000.

2000 - Storm Track - Margaret Maron

2001 - Murphy's Law - Rhys Bowen

2002 - You've Got Murder - Donna Andrews

2003 - Letter From Home - Carolyn Hart

2004 - Birds Of A Feather - Jacqueline Winspear

2005 - The Body In The Snowdrift -  Katherine Hall Page

2006 - The Virgin Of Small Plains - Nancy Pickard

2007 - A Fatal Grace - Louise Penny

2008 - The Cruelest Month - Louise Penny

2009 - A Brutal Telling - Louise Penny

2010 - Bury Your Dead - Louise Penny

2011 - Three-Day Town - Margaret Maron

Friday, February 8, 2013

Review: Ship of Destiny

Ship of Destiny
Dom Woolf
Available from Amazon as a Kindle book

Good evening constant reader.

If you're looking for some imaginative science fiction which ends up being an apocalyptic tale with an ending full of promise, then this is the book for you.

Ship of Destiny begins in the future, with Lynette, Ken, Steve and Olivia on their way to Blue Spirit Lake after going through the rigors of college. They have graduate school ahead of them, but for now are settling for a little rest and relaxation. Diving into deep pools and camping out under the stars is just what they need.

One dive excursion reveals what looks like a cave entrance hidden by some vegetation. Lynette decides to investigate, but is held back by Steve. Once they return to shore, Lynette lets Steve know she is none to pleased and decides to return and investigate.

They discover an underwater cavern, complete with beach, and start to explore their new surroundings.
Lynn is looking around and finds...a ship. A metal ship with a dull metal finish, almost like a fighter jet, but warm, like it is alive.

The quartet sets to investigating the ship, trying to decipher the symbols it's inscribed with and sussing out what kind of metal the ship is made out of.
At one point, Lynn, tired and weary says:
“You could help us out, you know.” Lynn spoke to the ship. “We are a lot nicer than the government will be if they discover you. Besides aren’t you tired of being in this dark ole cave by yourself?”
The sentient ship is just the beginning of a tale that spans years.
To say much more will give away too much of the story.
It's one part first contact, one part space opera, and one part apocalypse.
I like this book a lot.
The pacing is good, the characters are interesting and I got a sense of being in another time and another place in the future that was familiar and alien at the same time without being weighed down with too much otherness.

I've read some science fiction where the tech starts taking over the story to the point the story gets lost. Ship of Destiny is a good science fiction story that doesn't allow technology to get in the way.

You can follow Dom Woolf on Twitter
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Friday, February 1, 2013

British Fantasy Awards

Good evening constant reader.

I call your attention to the British Fantasy Awards.

The British Fantasy Awards were first presented in 1972 by the British Fantasy Society.
In 1971 author Ramsey Campbell  made the suggestion that the Society present an award in honor of the recently deceased August Derleth.
That following year at the BSFA’s Chessmancon (the annual Easter convention), Michael Moorcock received the August Derleth Fantasy Award for his novel The Knight of Swords.

For several years after this the awards presented by the British Fantasy Society were collectively known as The August Derleth Fantasy Awards – including the addition of several other categories. 
The BFS decided it should promote itself to a larger audience, and in 1976 the August Derleth Fantasy Award became the British Fantasy Awards, with the rule that the original category of Best Novel retain the August Derleth title.

I give you the British Fantasy Awards, best novel beginning with 2000:

2000 - Indigo - Graham Joyce

2001 - Perdido Street Station - China Mieville

2002 -  The Night of the Triffids - Simon Clark

2003 - The Scar - China Mieville

2004 - Full Dark House - Christopher Fowler

2005 - The Dark Tower VII: The Dark Tower - Stephen King

2006 - Anansi Boys - Neil Gaiman

2007 - Dusk - Tim  Lebbon

2008 - The Grin of the Dark -  Ramsey Campbell

2009 - Memoirs of a Master Forger - William Heaney aka Graham Joyce

2010 - One - Conrad Williams

2011 - No award

2012 - Among Others - Jo Walton

Thursday, January 31, 2013

A Bit of A Dry Spell

Good evening constant reader.

The purpose of The Written Universe is to be able to expose new authors and their work.
However, it can get to the point where sifting through the submissions results in nothing worth reviewing for a while.
This has been my assertion all along: any one and their brother can get published these days, but just because you can get published, does that mean you're worth reading? That's what I'm here to find out.
It is my desire to come across books so fantastic I can't put them down, can't wait to finish them, and can't wait to tell you all about them.

I'm hopeful I have some exceptional books I can publish a review about in the near future.
It's discouraging when you receive books to review and they turn out to be barely readable.
I've been going through a patch like that lately and it's extremely frustrating.

But take heart constant reader, I'm nothing if not stubborn. Every new book for review I pick up, I pick up with an expectant air, hoping I've found a hidden jewel to tell you about.
Hope, she does spring eternal.