Monthly Archives: March 2016

The new Tom Clancy

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Black Flag Cover

Wow! I thought all was lost when Mr. Clancy passed and there would be no more Ryanverse books. But, Mr. Konkoly’s writing is as good if not better.

This book grabs you by the throat and doesn’t let go. The protagonist, David Petrovich, is a psychopathic assassin, which makes it hard for the reader to like him. He is trying to retire from the covert, special forces team he’s been a member of and leave his past behind. But, Sanderson blackmails him into completing one final mission.

Konkoly’s first book in the The Black Flagged Series, Black Flagged Alpha, is a well written black ops novel. There are many bad guys and no good guy. This fast paced, action thriller is filled with twists and the characters are believable. There is plenty of espionage and government agency overlap. And, as with many trilogies written today, there is a cliff hanger ending.

Even with all the characters, many with foreign names, and the technical detail, I highly recommend this book. 5 out of 5 stars.

Author Vincent Robert Annunziato

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March 19, 2016

CTC – Welcome! Today I am pleased to present an interview with Vincent Robert Annunziato, author of 33 Degrees and Status The Game.

33 Decgrees Cover          Status The Game cover

Thank you so much, Vincent, for taking time to answer some questions for my readers today. So, let’s get started.

When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?

VRA – Definitely after I graduated college. The closest before that was in high school when I published a poem in the school magazine. To be honest it was kind of dark. I studied communications in college with a concentration on television sciences. I really fell in love with the dramatic arts at that time and wanted mainly to direct TV and film. When I stepped out of school (Hofstra U.) I moved to Los Angeles from New York to go for the big time. It was there that I cultivated a love for screenwriting with the impetus of wanting to be a Director. It has been a dream of mine to write a book since I was around 25.

CTC – How long does it take you to write a book?

VRA – On average about 7 months, but lately due to my normal profession it has been taking a little longer.

CTC – What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?

VRA – My normal workday is 0630 to 5pm and I have a commute surrounding that. I find time at least two times a week and whatever I have left I dedicate to weekends.

CTC – What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?

VRA – I talk to my characters. Especially if I am stumped, frustrated or surprised. When I wrote my first book, “Status The Game” I walked out of my office shaking my head and mumbling. Of course my wife sees this and asks if everything is okay. I respond, “Dammit! El just made a decision I didn’t expect.” She of course thought I lost my mind. I had spent 4 weeks building to this one scene and the character totally did the opposite of what I expected. Of course it made for good reading. Figure if I am surprised, then the audience is too.

CTC – Where do you get your information or ideas for your books?

VRA – I don’t know actually. Sometimes they just come to me spontaneously. I keep a list of my ideas and usually put in about 1500 words when I begin. I will keep it there until I decide on a story. I won’t stop until I finish.

CTC – When did you write your first book and how old were you?

VRA – Ugh! I was 48 when I published it and 47 when I started writing.

CTC – What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

VRA – I love Bassett Hounds (we have one called Annabelle), spending time with my family, fishing, boating and if I really have time… building terrariums.

CTC – What does your family think of your writing?

VRA – They love my stories. Even my wife who does not like the genre I normally write in has been very impressed. My youngest son is the one who is most intrigued. He’s eleven and is enamored with the writing. I write for my kids mainly.

CTC – What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?

VRA – The fact that I enjoyed writing so much and how much I had matured since I wrote in my twenties. I gave up writing to start a family even though I wanted very much to make it in the film industry.

CTC – How many books have you written? Which is your favorite?

VRA – I have written two books and am close to finishing my third. I don’t have a favorite. I love “Status” because it is a very unique concept and I played with things you don’t normally see in books today. I love “33” because of the pace and it is written in first person. I love that you can get so intimate with a character. There are also concepts in there that have not been done before.

CTC – Do you have any suggestions to help me become a better writer? If so, what are they?

VRA – I believe in developing the craft. Focus on the basics. Good solid characterization that includes arcs and recognizable dialogue. Too many writers don’t take the time to distinguish the voice of a character and it falls flat.

Make sure your plots and subplots are well mapped out. Your pacing will develop once you have the story nicely tied together. I highly recommend white boarding so you can see the whole picture.

And don’t be afraid to take risks. Find something that sets you apart. This one aspect will help you find the art form in writing. One of the problems we have in publishing is that the market is over saturated. The only thing that can possibly separate you from the pack is a well-crafted story with some artistic intent.

CTC – Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say?

VRA – I am very new and am still learning the marketing aspects of this business. I would say that I do hear occasionally on Facebook from people who have read my stuff. I love it when somebody decides to reach out. A lot of times I am asked for advice on writing.

CTC – Do you like to create books for adults?

VRA – I will write just about anything and chose the YA books because of my kids. I have some standalone ideas that I want to write for adults in the Sci-Fi/Fantasy genre.

CTC – What do you think makes a good story?

VRA – Good stories are well crafted stories that have all of the basics accounted for. Stories that are visual, contain some form of conflict really appeal to me. Conflict doesn’t have to be overt, it can be subtle. Lastly, I like depth. Many layers of it. I want my subconscious to be fed as well as my conscious and I like to feel the emotion of my characters.

CTC – As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up? 

VRA – President, cowboy, policeman, fireman, doctor, veterinarian. Should I keep going? 🙂

CTC – Is there anything else that you would like for the audience to know?

VRA – I am just very thankful to have been able to be published at this point in my life. It has been a dream of mine for over 25 years. I think my books have a very visual appeal, especially since I spent so much time trying to make it as a screenwriter early in my life. I have tried to develop a hard-hitting style that will make you feel like you are there with the characters. Kind of like you are watching a movie.

Thank you so much! And hope to catch you all reading my books. LOL

CTC – You can find Vincent’s book here:

http://smile.amazon.com/gp/product/B00VXACR1Q?keywords=33%20degrees&qid=1458410860&ref_=sr_1_1&sr=8-1

http://smile.amazon.com/Status-Game-Vincent-Robert-Annunziato-ebook/dp/B00IP2BK18/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

And, you can follow him here:

http://smile.amazon.com/Vincent-Robert-Annunziato/e/B00IX4RWI8/ref=dp_byline_cont_pop_ebooks_1

https://www.facebook.com/VincentRAnnunziato

http://www.statusthegame.com/

https://twitter.com/VRAnnunziato

vincentannuziato@statusthegame.com

http://vincent-robert-annunziato.com/

Vincent Annunziato photo     Bob Brooks is down on his luck. He ekes out a living as a substitute teacher and grabs odd jobs to make ends meet. Life goes from bad to worse until Bob reads about a new internet game called Status.

 

 

 

 

Alaska Musings, Episode 3

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Hot Air Balloon 041108

April 16, 2008

Just like washing your car in the summertime causes it to rain in Savannah, washing the caked on mud from the road that results from the sanding during Snow Season in Alaska causes it to snow.

The snow here is powder dry, especially right after if falls. So, when the wind blows the snow off the roof at the Post Office, it comes crashing down into your face when you get out of your car – even when you have parked on the other side of the parking lot.

On a bright sunny day one tiny cloud can still snow its little heart out. Of course if you can’t see that cloud because you are driving under it then it’s rather confusing.

When you go to shovel the snow in your driveway after you have driven through it you can’t. It has now frozen solid. What a pain. And, this little ‘ice chunker (chucker?)’ just doesn’t cut it. So, what does one do? You’ve still got to get into and out of your garage. Bummer.

There are special brushes to get the snow & ice off of your car. They, like snow tires, are a ‘seasonal’ item. So, when a late ‘season’ snowfall occurs those brushes are almost impossible to find. I found one at Schucks Auto Parts, but they had to dig one out of a box in the back to find the other one I wanted.

Hot air balloons are especially pretty against a snowy mountain.

Gas goes up here in five cent increments. It just jumped up to $3.61.

Teenagers up here want to work and earn money. I have a high school senior for my housekeeper until she graduates. She works real hard and does a great job.

May 2, 2008

It can rain, then snow, rain again, and then have sunshine all in the same day.

There are one gazillion Canadian geese roosting in the farmer’s field up the road from my house. I’ve never seen so many geese in my life. They have been here for about a week now.

I had 12 inches of snow on Friday and only have 14 inches of dog. I had to shovel a path for her in the yard so she could go potty.

Snow terrifies our cats. Their eyes were as wide as saucers when I let them out on the porch to check it out. Retreating back into the house was their first choice.

There is a bald eagle living or at least passing by near our house. I saw it fly over last week. Guess I need to watch my dog closer. Don’t need her to become an eagle snack.

Wearing sandals to work is just like getting your car washed. Both cause snow to fall in the spring.

It’s a seagull invasion!  That may sound strange given that we are somewhat inland.  But, we are not that far from Cook Inlet – maybe 30 or so miles.

It’s not as hard as I thought it would be to go to bed and sleep in the daylight. Today’s sunrise is at 5:48 a.m. Nothing unusual about that. Sunset is at 10:08 p.m. though which means daylight until after 11. But, I am thinking about buying some black-out curtains for the bedrooms anyway.

Gas prices are jumping about $0.10 per week. It went up to $3.81 yesterday. Groceries have risen 30%.

The Alaska Railroad engines are beautiful until you are stuck waiting for them to fill up the cars behind them with rock from the quarry near your house. I’ve learned my way around enough that I have been able to get around the wait. It is over a 5 mile drive around though AND you don’t know you need to go the other way until you are right up on the track. Grrrrrrrr.

May 14, 2008

When the sand whips into a small funnel cloud on the ground we call them ‘dirt devils’. Well, here in Alaska we have ‘snow devils’ since the snow is so dry that the slightest wind picks it up. Interesting to watch. Wish I’d had my camera handy. Maybe this coming winter.

Alaska DOT gets in as much roadway repair and construction as it can once things thaw out. I got caught behind the striping trucks on my way to work yesterday. For at least two miles 30 other drivers and I crept along at 5 to 8 mph before we could get around the darned things.

The trees up here bud out and open their leaves all in two days. One day you can see for miles through the bare woods and the next it’s all green with leaves. Weirdest thing.

The Canadian geese are all gone. And, the day after they left the farmers started planting their fields.

Even with super insulated reservoirs the water in them freezes a good bit in the winter. The movement of the ice up and down, as the tanks empty and refill, abrades and bangs up the inside. Just thought you could use this in a trivia contest.

The boroughs in Alaska which are like counties have Mayors instead of Commission Chairmen. Cities have Mayors too which is confusing to me. And, the elected city Mayors are administrators with no power unless to break a tie vote.

Where I live in Palmer, AK we have glacial silt storms. They are like sand storms but silt is fine like baby powder. The clouds form as the wind comes down over the mountains and picks up the silt. They are miles across and up to 2 miles high. It’s an odd thing to see from afar and even more odd to be in it.

I giggle each time I hear someone use the phrase ‘back in the day’. They of course means years ago.  It is just a saying that I haven’t grown up hearing and I find it funny. Back in the day I walked 50 miles in the snow just to get to the mailbox. Hahahahaha!

This is the only place I have ever lived that the specified current temperature is said as above or below zero. Most places just mention zero if the temperature is below. Here if it is 30 degrees outside they say it is 30 above.

 

Author Courtney Ruggles

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March 12, 2016

CTC – Today I am pleased to interview Courtney Ruggles, author of The Sixth Domicile.

The 6th Domicile Cover

Thank you so much, Courtney, for taking time to answer some questions for my readers today. So, let’s get started.

When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?

CR – I first realized I wanted to be an author when I was very young. I often wrote short stories and then was in a creative writing class in high school. In fact, it was in that class the idea of The Sixth Domicile was born. Truly, I really didn’t think it would come to realization that I would become a published author. When I was eleven, my grandmother requested I never quit writing. I was always writing short stories. I even had a word processor which I stored my short stories on floppy disks. I was obsessed and would lock myself up in my room after school to write. That word processor was probably the best gift I’d ever been given from someone.

CTC – How long does it take you to write a book?   

CR – I laugh at myself with this question! My first book took me nine years, off and on! Between continuing my education, playing collegiate sports, and then just life in general in the following five years, my writing often sat on the back burner. However, my second novel took me nine weeks! I’ve started the third in the series, so I’ll have to get back to you on how long it takes me.

CTC – What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?

CR – I have been very lucky to be able to work mostly from home. But when I’m focused on writing, I often have very long nights as dive into the story. Often times, I don’t want to come out and will stay up almost all night to get it on the page. Writing the sequel in The Domicile Series, I stayed up until three, four, or sometimes five in the morning for weeks writing.

CTC – When did you write your first book and how old were you?

CR – I was eighteen when The Sixth Domicile, then just called The Domicile, birthed as a short story for that awesome creative writing class. I fell in love with the idea of it, a modern Romeo and Juliet I thought at the time. As I kept writing it, especially in the last year, it morphed into this new adult dystopian. I couldn’t let go of the characters or the story and The Sixth Domicile was begging to be fully written. I was twenty-seven when it published.

CTC – What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

CR – I am a social butterfly and thrive on being with friends and family!  When I’m not writing, I’m playing with my two year old son, going kayaking, skiing, or spending my time with my husband and family, along with my friends who I consider family. However, my time also gets taken up by my own classes as I’m enrolled in my doctorate program and also teach at a local university. But when I’m not reading for those pesky classes, I’m reading and drinking coffee. I LOVE a good book and a good cup of coffee.

CTC – What does your family think of your writing?

CR – My family has adamantly expressed how proud they are of me. Publishing a book has always been a dream of mine which I put on hold to achieve other goals. But now that it’s happened and getting ready to happen again, my family has done nothing but be amazingly supportive. And my husband has pushed me through the entire process (which I can say is a lot different than I imagined going in!!!) with his love and positivity. It’s really amazing to be backed by the people who mean the world to me.

CTC – What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?

CR – How dark I can be!!  I am really a positive, bubbly person but my books can be a little dark and twisty. I even had someone ask me what happened to me to make me write this story! I often chuckle because this dystopian side of me is extremely contradicting of my persona. Or maybe the dystopian is the real me? Mwahahah. No, I’m just kidding. Did I mention I study and teach psychology?

CTC – How many books have you written? Which is your favorite?

CR – I’ve written two full-length novels so far. The Sixth Domicile was my first and was just released in January. The sequel in The Domicile Series is finished and in the hands of my editor!  The second one (I’m keeping the title a secret for just a little bit!) is my favorite out of the two. The growth I’ve accomplished as a writer shows in this sequel and it also shows the risks I’m willing to take in my writing. The series will be at least a trilogy and I already have plans for a couple more afterwards.

CTC – Do you have any suggestions to help me become a better writer? If so, what are they?

CR – I met this awesome author on my journey so far who has become my author bestie. In fact, I’ve referred to her as my spirit animal.  She told me to write for me. That’s why we start this journey, isn’t it? To tell at least one story, if not tons, because of the desire within ourselves? She helped me better grasp that not everyone is going to receive my stories as well as others, and I have to remember that I have a passion for writing and sharing this crazy Domicile world with everyone! My best advice other than to remember to write for yourself is to get an author bestie like me!

CTC – Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say?

CR – I’m overwhelmed by the amount of people who’ve reached out to me about The Sixth Domicile! I never fathomed so many readers would contact me regarding their thoughts and love for the book! It’s humbling.

I’ve received wonderful feedback from my readers. They continually inspire me to keep writing, probably why I finished the sequel in nine weeks! I can’t even form the sentences to tell my appreciation for the support and amazingness my readers have given me.

CTC – Do you like to create books for adults?

CR – Yes, absolutely! The Domicile Series is new adult. I want to create worlds which we all can lose ourselves in. I often did growing up, retreating into a book to be lost in a time warp in fictional worlds of castles, woods with vampires, factions, and districts, and love to do so still as an adult. Sometimes, we as adults need to escape into these amazing worlds for a bit to rejuvenate. I hope I can provide that!

CTC – What do you think makes a good story?

CR – There are so many elements which make a good story! Characters are a major thing for me. If I can get into a character who I can relate to, I’m in. Also, a character which battles themselves between the light and the dark. One that comes out being better than they thought they could be. I love strong, valiant characters. And any story which keeps me guessing, whether with puzzles or plot twists. I’m a huge fan of dystopian because of characters beating the odds, going against the grain, refusing to conform.

CTC – As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?

CR – Honestly, I always wanted to become an author! I had a teacher in the tenth grade pass me magazine after magazine of how to publish a book. I wrote a short story when I was in the fifth grade called The Three Unicorns Dancing, completely illustrated by yours truly in my ten year old style, which I still have. Then I wanted to be a journalist, with writing books on the side. As I entered the stage to begin thinking about colleges and what I would be when I grew up, I thought about being a lawyer and entered college with that goal. But after my sophomore year in college, I changed my ambitions and became a licensed social worker. Now, I’m living the best of both worlds! I get to teach one passion to students and write novels! I think it worked out pretty well and I couldn’t be happier!

CTC – You can find Courtney’s book here:
http://smile.amazon.com/gp/product/B017O08SDO?refRID=0XW0FEHDGJCH54591YTV&ref_=pd_ybh_a_38

And, you can follow her here:
http://www.courtneyruggles.com/
https://twitter.com/AuthorCRuggles
https://www.facebook.com/AuthorCourtneyRuggles/
http://smile.amazon.com/Courtney-Ruggles/e/B0189ANC2K/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1457668040&sr=8-1

Courtney Ruggles photo.jpg     In a future ravaged by greed and war, The Domicile has emerged. A new civilization governed by clandestine Elders where citizens are united by white masks and uniform identities.

 

Is Isolation A Good Thing?

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Ferocity Cover

Dean’s first novel in The Ferocity Series, Ferocity, contains two stories that alternate and then merge into one. There is the present day story of the father and his three children on an isolated island. And, there is the story set some 20 years in the past which brings the novel full circle.

Present day – food sources are starting to run scarce after several years of drought on their island home. Rune, Judson, and Abel must now decide whether to join their father by returning to the mainland or to stay on the island and hope for the best. The isolated island is the only home the siblings have ever known. Stories told by their father and a book called The Manual are all they know of life beyond their waters. The decision to stay or go causes a rift in their relationships.

Twenty years ago – Christopher is on his way home after six months at sea. The captain informs the crew that there has been a breakdown of society in their absence. Once they land in Mobile the reality of what has happened hits them in force.

The story flows at a good pace and the characters’ personalities are well developed. The novel appears to have only a couple typographical errors which is remarkable. Dean does use a lot of adverbs and passive phases though, making the story less active.

The book does not do is explain what causes the downfall of society. Nor does it explain the meaning of the hourglass in the circle symbol. I do not know if the sequel goes into these aspects of the story.

I did enjoy the story overall and will read the next book. 3 out of 5 stars.

I received this book for free from the author for review consideration. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Survival in the Wild

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Northen Lights Cover

Tom and three of his friends go on a fly-in fishing trip into northern Canada. Disaster strikes immediately after they are all together at the camp. An EMP knocks out the electronics in the float plane that brought them there right after it had taken off. The plane crashes back into the lake and the campers try to save the pilot. Unfortunately, his pacemaker was fried by the EMP; but, he lives long enough to tell them about the flash of light he saw and his suspicion as to the cause.

The good news is that Tom is a prepper, has some supplies with him, and has a good deal of knowledge. And, Jordan is an EMT. The bad news is that they have no way to communicate with anyone, no idea if anyone else knows they are stranded there, and no idea is they will be rescued before the harsh weather of winter sets in.

They start off as friends, but will being isolated change the group dynamics? How will they deal with something other than a minor medical issue? Even with Tom’s knowledge will they be able to come together and make the necessary preparations to survive if they aren’t rescued?

Craven’s latest book in the Scorched Earth Novel series, Northern Lights, is a well written post-apocalyptic, prepper story. The scenery is described in vivid detail; and, the characters are brought to life in a way that makes them feel as though they are people you know. Regardless of the reason for them becoming stranded the storyline is very plausible. The story is told from Tom’s point of view. You will laugh and you will cry, but you will enjoy this book.

There were a handful of typos that I noted and sent to the author for review. And, there were a couple of questions I had about minor points in the story. The ending was rather abrupt and we never find out who initiated the EMP. Even though, I would still recommend this book. 4 out of 5 stars.

I received this book for free from the author for review consideration. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.