Book Review – The Dandelion Farmer by Mathew McCall

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The Dandelion Farmer
Mathew McCall
4 Stars

Well, my Gentle Readers, Mathew McCall delivers an interesting view on Mars Colonization through his novel, “The Dandelion Farmer“.

The story centers on one, L. Edwin Ransom, the self professed Dandelion Farmer, and an incident with evil millionaire mogul, Du Maurier. Du Maurier has a strange interest in Ransom’s little farming operation, but is it greed? Or something deeper? The planet Mars has seen its share of bloodshed when the peoples of Earth came calling upon its longtime denizens. An uneasy peace has held for a couple of decades since the Tellurians (Earth people on Mars), broke free of their Earthbound governments to establish their own rule. This peace is tenuous at best and the ever present threat of more war keeps everyone on edge. When Du Maurier’s threats escalate into more violent attempts upon the life of Ransom and his people, he heads to his father-in-law’s home where he is caught up in the man’s quest to find out what happened to the Aresians (original settlers of Mars who disappeared after years of war witht he Tellurians).

McCall fashions this world and the storytelling as a collection of letters, journal entries, telegraphs, and excerpts from historical texts. This means sometimes telling the same scene from different perspectives. Some readers may find this tedious, but it does provide insights into the personalities of the various characters. Some of the more historical records included could probably have been trimmed or cut out for sake of keeping the action going, but they allow the reader to see the depth to which McCall has developed the setting he created his story within. Of particular interest to me was the character of Adam Franklin and later, Aelita: an Aresian who grew up in Tellurian society after she was orphaned during the war.

I won’t hold back here. This is a long read with some dry parts (the aforementioned historical texts for one). The overall story though is intriguing. McCall leaves you wanting to finish the chase to discover the Aresians, and see Du Maurier get his just rewards along the way.

Grab your copy on Amazon now if you’re ready to join the Dandelion Farmer on his quest.

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Meet The Author Monday – Reid Templer

This week’s Meet The Author Monday is Reid Templer, who has his debut novel available on Amazon now. Per usual, my questions/comments will be in BLUE and Reid will be in GREEN.

Thank you for stopping by, Reid. It’s always a pleasure to get to meet a new author and find out about the origins of their forays into the literary world. What was your introduction?
At the age of thirteen, my father gave me two books which were dear to him: The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane and the Screwtape Letters by C. S. Lewis. Both bored me. The symbolism, theology, and meaning of each went over my head, naturally, and, for a time, I was convinced that books simply didn’t suit me. This changed about two years later, when I happened on a copy of Inkheart by Cornelia Funke. I became enthralled in her trilogy, and haven’t stopped reading since.

I agree that Crane might be a bit of heavy reading for the average 13-year-old. From Inkheart, you began delving into what genre(s)?
I predominantly read fantasy, although Horror and Science Fiction do interest me a great deal.

Sounds like we have similar tastes. We might have to compare reading lists sometime. What made you decide to cross over from reading stories to writing your own?
When I was fourteen, I experienced a dream which would inspire my first (and thankfully unpublished) novel. A year later, when I had finished Christopher Paolini’s Eragon, I learned that the author had published the book at eighteen years old. I don’t know exactly what drove me to it, but from that day onward, I strove to publish a story before I turned eighteen. In this regard, I failed, but it did motivate me to write every day.

Paolini did have an advantage in that his parents were involved in the publishing industry. Can’t be too hard on yourself over that. What is your chosen genre to write?
Right now I would consider myself a fantasy writer, although, within time, I hope to develop a story in every major genre.

Ambitious goals. I wish you the best of luck with your goal. How has your publishing journey gone for you so far?
For the past three years, I’ve been writing, editing, and rewriting my newest novel, Storytellers. It was a hard journey, fraught with doubt, but I’m proud of the completed work.

Congratulations. It’s an incredible feeling to hold that published work in your hands. Outside of writing, what are you currently working on?
I’m currently pursuing a Sign Language Interpreting degree.

Interesting career path. Tell us a little bit about your book.
Thank you for taking interest in my interview. The book I’m promoting is Storytellers, which is available in paperback at any major book distributor and on Kindle for ebook. Here’s a short blurb:
After the gods and goddesses known as Storytellers conceive children who threaten their immortality, Pokeetle and his allies must fight to keep their offspring from being sacrificed for power.
storytellers

Thank you for coming by and talking with me today. Your book looks interesting and I wish you the best with it and your future works.

If anyone would like to keep up on Reid’s work, you can follow him on Twitter @ReidTempler

Anyone interested in being featured on Meet the Author Monday, please check out the form and let us know all about you.

Meet The Author Monday – Matt Drzymala

This week on Meet The Author Monday I get to introduce you to a copywriter and award winning creative writing author, Matthew Drzymala. His latest work, “The Fantastical Gregory Shortbread” is available on Amazon now. Usual arrangement here, my questions/comments are in BLUE and Matt will be in GREEN.

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Thank you for stopping by and sharing your story, Matt. How would you describe your reading habits and how has it impacted your decision to be a writer?
I’m an avid reader, but the biggest influences on me as a writer are Roald Dahl and Terry Pratchett.

Their way with words, how they made up names and places and generally had fun and made you feel comfortable is how I approach my writing.

I want my readers to laugh, love and enjoy my characters and stories – just like two of my favourite authors.

Pratchett is one of my favorites as well. I have to agree the way he created his world is masterful. Aside from those two, what else do you like to read?
I read a lot of thrillers, you just end up gripped by them.

Although I don’t actually write them.

Is there a moment, or person, most responsible for you crossing the line from just an avid reader to crafting your own stories?
My fiancee, Elaine, is who encouraged me to write. Although I could say it was authors, it was my partner who gave me the confidence to write.

She backs me at all times, even when I don’t feel I can write. If it wasn’t for her I would never have written a single story.

She encouraged me to study creative writing and is my number one supporter at all times.

As writing is such a solitary thing, it helps to have that support.

Such a beautiful thing to have that kind of support because, as you said, writing is usually a solitary activity. Venturing outside that writing cave can be scary without that kind of support. So since you do not write thrillers, what do you consider your genre of choice?
I would say my genre is humour.

Is that its own genre?

I think so, but it includes so many other genres. I’ve written mysteries and romances, all with a lot of humour thrown in.

Many people aren’t sure what to expect when I say I write humour because humour could be a joke book.

I write all sorts of stories, but they always include funny scenarios. I want to make people laugh. I don’t want it to be just about jokes, far from it, it has to have a story that intrigues and touches people, but I always want them to have a good time too.

The world definitely needs more laughter, so yes, I agree. I think humor is, and should be, its own genre. One we sorely need. You have the support system, you crossed that threshold to writing stories. Where did you go from there?
I’m solely a self-published author.

I’ve never approached a publisher because humor is such a difficult genre to sell. It’s not a genre that publishers want to sell so much.

Thrillers. Erotic. Romance etc. I’d stand a chance.

But for me, it’s about writing what I enjoy. Maybe one day I’ll approach a publisher, but I haven’t so far.

Being an author has expanded into me joining a community where I’ve attended book signings, run my own creative writing workshops in schools and colleges as well as be part of an author panel for local authors.

And I’m now a copywriter, writing web pages and advertising for businesses – something that would never have happened had I not been an author.

I see your point about humor being a hard sell for traditional publishers. Is copywriting your day job then?
My day job is payroll, but I also run my own freelance copywriting business.

I somehow manage to fit in a lot of TV and film in-between all this.

Sometimes I end up completely drained, but if it means working for myself as a writer in the future, it’ll all be worth it.

You must have some impressive time management skills to accomplish all of that. I wish you the best with making writing a full-time job in the future. Did you have anything else you would like to share before we get everyone the links to find you and your work?
Writing is something I have loved for a long time. It is a huge part of my life.

I’m a national award winner in creative writing and I have a diploma in Copywriting.

There’s such a huge world of writing out there.

Being an author is vastly different to copywriting. They are two different disciplines and being an author doesn’t mean you’ll make a good copywriter.

Odd, but true.

Thank you for sharing your insights and your journey with us, Matt. I hope you will stop by in the future when you have any new humorous stories to share and update us on your progress towards writing full time. For anyone looking to follow Matt, you can find him at the links included below.

Website: http://www.matthewdrzymala.com

Facebook Page: http://www.facebook.com/mattdrzymalaauthor

Twitter: @mattdauthor

Instagram: mattdrzymala

If you are an author interested in being a part of Meet The Author Monday, just check out the page for all the details.

Guest Post – A.I. Insurrection by Michael Poeltl

A.I. Insurrection – The General’s War Press Release. Feb, 15th, 2018

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  1. Artificial intelligence claims sentience, but it’s the proof that will divide the world, and usher in the violent end to utopia, unless an uneasy alliance of adversaries can stop it.

A.I. Insurrection, the new release by Michael Poeltl, author of The Judas Syndrome trilogy, takes the author back to his roots of dystopian sci-fi. “This novel investigates global utopia and the struggle to maintain an unrealistic hold over everything and everyone,” Poeltl explains. “Certain aspects of humanity will never be satisfied with the thousand shades of grey a utopia will provide, no matter the spin. When faced with the threat of their robot slaves rebelling, distrust in the system begins to infect the general public, opening the door for a new world to emerge, and new leaders to rule.”  Discover how quickly a near-future utopian society can become a dystopian nightmare fueled by fear as the A.I. populace of United Earth become sentient and demand their freedoms.

Raymond Bellows, United Earth Chancellor, challenges the A.I. claims until an astonishing truth is revealed by Host: SENTA, one of hundreds of millions of individual robot Hosts who teams up with the Chancellor while struggling to discover her new-found awareness.  A secret coup schemes to over-throw the peaceful government, while a separate threat of human/tech hybrids who think the current regime is anything but idyllic arise from the Shadow net, taking direction from the mysterious Allfather avatar. In a three-sided war, humanity and humanity’s creation fight to claim their own place in an ever-evolving solar system.

“I believe science fictions fans, myself included, appreciate the complexities of artificial intelligence, and the moral questions which accompany it, like: when is intelligence consciousness? The novel also offers an exciting potential new proof of life for sentience.” Poeltl declares with an air of cloak-and-dagger surrounding the surprise reveal behind his new book.

Goodreads ratings for A.I. Insurrection are settling in at a respectable 4.25 stars and has one reviewer saying: “A great read for anyone who enjoys extensively built worlds, philosophical questions, and an ol’ fashioned A.I uprising.” – Ari Augustine.

This is Poeltl’s tenth book and the first of 2018. For more on Michael Poeltl and his books, visit his website: www.mikepoeltl.com Follow him on Facebook, Twitter, or join him on Goodreads.

Meet The Author Monday – Jonathan Gravenor

Welcome to another edition of Meet The Author Monday. This week we have journalist turned writer, Jonathan Gravenor. Per our usual arrangement, my comments/questions will be in BLUE, and Jonathan will be GREEN.

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Let me start by thanking you for stopping by Jonathan. What I enjoy most about these brief interviews is learning about other authors and the struggles they have faced on their writing journey. What are your earliest memories of your forays into the literary world?
As a young boy in Canada, the first book I remember was an autobiography on “Gordie Howe” maybe 100 pages. But to a young Canadian boy 100 pages of gold. Over the years I explored far deeper into the literature of the time – from Vonnegut to Heller. I looked back and became swallowed by Hemingway and Dickens. But the Gordie Howe book stuck with me and still does. It made me feel like I was there when he was a 10-year-old lacing up old skates and stuffing copies of readers digest magazines down the front of his hockey socks to work like pads. Or how his hands got so cold he couldn’t feel his fingers as he practiced, yet he kept going. Words allow us to breathe, film and sound offer a replication of events and things, but words, words allow us to think for ourselves and feel like we are part of the story.

Fitting words and an apt description of just what books bring to those willing to embrace them. What genre, or genres, give you the most pleasure to read?
Biographies, but the classics still hold me. Stories of redemption and struggle, but real struggle. Anything is great if it is greatly written.

I admit biographies, except in school, are not my normal choice of reading material. That’s the beauty of reading though, we can each find our own pathways. What sent you across the divide between just reading these stories, to penning your own?
Two years after being diagnosed with cancer I was in India searching for something. One night after an all-day healing session (spiritual) I went to sleep easily. But then 3 hours in I woke up and sat straight up in bed. I climbed out of bed and went to the window of my hotel room and looked out over the Bay of Bengal – to one side the water shimmering with the light of the moon, to the other a huge slum with fires burning as people worked around the clock to make a living.
I sat at the room desk and wrote on my laptop for 8 hours, I had no idea what was coming out, it just did.
It was not that single moment that started me, that I think was just the trigger.

Amazing imagery, and best wishes for continued success in your battle with cancer. Have you given thought to what genre you are going to write? or Do you have plans for more than one? 
Several .. maybe I write about the human condition or emotions. I finished my first book, a memoir. I am currently working on a new book which is about a fantasy adventure between me and a young friend.

Now the fantasy adventure sounds more up my alley and I hope you will stop by to let us know when it is scheduled for release. So you started writing during your fateful trip to India, where did you go from there to become a published author?
I worked for 30 years as a Journalist, but never considered myself a writer.
Then as I wrote above I started writing about my journey through cancer .. not the health struggle – more the struggle of a man who wondered what in the hell he had done.
My first book self-published in Oct/2017 “The Other Side of Ego”.
The year prior I was asked to give a TED Talk and was approached by agents and publishers but decided to go alone for the first one.

Many people would think you crazy for not taking the agents and publishers up on their offer. I admire your courage to do this alone. Aside from writing, and battling cancer, how do you like to spend your time?
After taking time off for to deal with my disease I am back working in journalism.

Returned back to the job you are so passionate about. Clearly you know where you want to go. Do you have anything else you would like to share?
What is it all about?

It is the question I have asked myself for the past few years – sometimes I ask every few weeks, sometimes daily and on occasion when I decide I need to struggle I ask myself constantly. For the past two weeks, it has been a constant barrage, as the suicide of my daughter’s young friend has caused me to reflect deeply about his death and about mine, the one I cannot avoid eventually.

While his death has given me a push to keep moving forward – to exhaust what I have started on this leg on my journey, it has also caused me to pause and wonder – what is next?

Gone are the days when I feared the nothingness of death, the imminent end to it all with the eternity of endless silence. I now have faith that there is something beyond all of this.

As I walked today I contemplated “what it is all about” the question of life or existence after death. I have begun to understand that there is a soul within me and I started to think about this soul and what will I do when I am released from this body? As I walked I looked at others and wondered about their souls too – then as I do when I leave my ego unchecked (even for a moment) I started a comparison.

“He looks angry,” I thought – his soul cannot be as evolved as mine. I began to think of people who have dementia like my friend Mary and wonder as her mind goes has her soul left her body already? I began to believe even if just for a moment surely my soul will do better because “I think great thoughts” and then suddenly the hubris that is in me became evident – and I thought what a fool am I.

Walking I think is like life and eventually, I worked my way to a beautiful spot – it is below Sydney’s Harbor Bridge – there I meditate. Recently I have been using a form of meditation – not where I shut everything out, but where I let everything in. With eyes closed, I listen to it all, every sound, from the clatter of traffic above on the bridge, to boats as they cut fine lines through the water – and the magic of wind, that unseen force that whispers at me as it runs its fingers through trees. I do not describe it inside my busy mind, I just hear it.

Suddenly a shriek woke me from my peace and I looked frantically from where the sound came – there just 20 meters away was a young boy bent down crying, so instinctively I ran too him. As I approached I saw him cradling a tiny Lorikeet in his hands on the ground. Lorikeets are in abundance here – the tiny bird like a miniature Parrot is so beautiful with its bright blue, green and orange markings. They are cheeky little buggers who will land on an outdoor table you sit at and expect sugar and or sweet things.

But this Lorikeet that was being protected by this young boy lay motionless and I felt it was dead. I looked at him and stumbled through some words I thought would explain it when I noticed that this boy was a downs syndrome child, and my words faded.

I immediately wondered if he understood what I said, if he could grasp life and death and as the rush of thoughts transpired in me to steal the moment I wondered if this downs syndrome child had a soul. I was lucky as his mother approached and broke the dialogue of arrogance in my head.

“He has always been like this,” she said, adding “he is always so worried when he sees something that is gone”.

At first not much registered of what she said – I was watching him as he brought twigs and leaves to lay upon the poor little bird that was motionless on the ground before us. As my mind finally calmed I began to hear her and see her, and noticed the admiration she had of this poor boy I had wondered who was maybe less than I.

We sat and watched as young Lachie ran about after his burial of the bird. After a few moments, he ran to me holding a new twig, bent half way up he said to me “see” as he held it next to his arm. The comparison was obvious the branch was shaped just like a human arm. I smiled at him and said yes I see that, so he sat between us with pride of accomplishment on his face. He then wrapped his tiny arm around mine, and his mother explained he loves closeness and compassion.

After a few moments of gentle banter, the small grave rustled and we watched as the tiny bird poked his face out among the twigs and leaves, took a look at us as if to say “what is all the fuss about” and broke into flight. Lachie leaped up and raised his tiny arms to the sky and laughed, running in circles as he tried to keep his eyes on his feathered friend that was now riding along those whispers in the wind.

We all smiled, and sometimes there are no words so we sat his mother and I as we watched joy, pure unbridled joy unleashed from the confines of a busy mind that dares to compare souls.

As I walked home I realized I still don’t know what a soul is – but I knew what it was not. It was not the thing that dares to measure or compete. Perhaps it is what was contained in Lachie’s gentle hands as he cradled the little Lorikeet or the joy he lived as the bird flew one more time. Maybe it’s none of that or all of that. But what is evident is Lachie has a soul every bit as rich as anyone’s, and obviously much less confused than mine.

So – What is it all about? – perhaps today it’s about a bird flying free, a young boy laughing for joy and me discovering that I am not all that evolved – and that’s all the way it’s supposed to be – perfect for the moment.

What a beautiful story. I am grateful you shared it. Thank you again for coming by Jonathan and I wish you continued success both in your literary pursuits, and your pursuit of life’s truths.

If anyone would like to check out Jonathan’s work, you can find some links below.

Website: http://jonathangravenor.com

Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/jonathan.gravenor

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g72SmMdFBpk

 

If you are thinking you would like to be featured on Meet The Author Monday, you can get all the details on our Page.

Meet The Author Monday – Joel Crofoot

Today my Gentle Readers I have a paranormal romance author (aspiring fantasy) for you to meet, Joel Crofoot. Joel has some interesting background that brought him to writing that I think you’ll enjoy. As usual, my comments/questions will be in BLUE and Joel will be in GREEN.

Joel, thanks for sitting down with us today to talk about your work. Are you an avid reader?
In graduate school I had to do a lot of mandatory reading, so when the work settled down and I found time for fiction again it became a great way to escape for me.

Books tend to do just that, provide a great escape from the mundane. What are your favorite escape genres?
I like fantasy and romance, especially the two combined. I love paranormal romance.

Fantasy is definitely my top favorite. I like a little romance, but only if it adds to a broader plot or character arc. What made you decide to switch from just reading books to writing your own?
I had a lot unique experiences going from fighting a war to becoming a therapist so I had some life lessons that I wanted to share with others. That is why all of my books include characters on their journey toward self-acceptance, self-forgiveness, etc.

War and therapy, sounds like some good character building experience. Do you have plans for one genre (or since I spoiled it a little in your introduction), more than one genre?
I’m sticking to paranormal romance until my series ends, but I would like to switch to fantasy at some point.

Paranormal romance series to fantasy, pretty easy leap to make I would think. How did you get started writing? What were your first steps and where has it taken you?
I started writing around my third year of graduate school, probably as a way to relieve stress, and I self-published my first book in 2016. It was a rocky road but I’ve been writing ever since. I recently won 2nd place in the Reviewers Choice Awards from the Paranormal Romance Guild.

Racking up an award already in just a couple years. Very impressive. Do you have any hobbies or other activities to go along with your writing career?
I think my day job and studying for licensure to become a psychologist consume almost all of my time now, but I also like running and painting.

Good luck with the licensure. Balancing a day job with writing can be challenging. Did you have anything else you would like to share before we wrap up and get my readers some links to your work?
While my stories are short, raunchy, novels about angels and demons, I consider them to be more like erotic parables because they all have great moral lessons along the way. In the end and in my blog I note some of the psychological issues I address in the books.

I also didn’t make up any of the names of the angels or demons, those came from traditionally biblical angels or the Dead Sea Scrolls.

Interesting choice of characters. I want to thank you again for stopping by, Joel. If anyone would like to get their hands on more information (and Joel’s books of course), you can find him at the below links.

Blog: https://joelcrofootblog.wordpress.com

Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorJoelCrofoot/

Twitter: @JoelWCrofoot

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If you are an author and would like to be featured on Meet the Author Monday, please fill out the form so we can meet you.

Book Review – Marked by Angel Leya (Running Toward Illumia #4)

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Marked (Running Toward Illumia #4)
Angel Leya
5 Stars

This installment of Running Toward Illumia brings Astrea and her friends through dragon infested tunnels to a waiting ambush, culminating in her first confrontation with Xia, the Dragonfae, and current Mouthpiece of the Mythics. Astrea must face the trial designed for moon elves in order to become the Mouthpiece. If she survives, she will only have a multitude of races depending on her, and an angry half-blood whose power and seat on the Council she usurped. Overcoming her lineage is only one problem she faces in Illumia.

Angel Leya has dragged me headlong through this series as I couldn’t put them down. Now, I have to wait for part 5 to find out what happens next. Grab this series now so you are ready for part 5 when it releases.

Marked on Amazon

Links to my reviews of the other parts of this series.
Book Review: Banned by Angel Leya (Running Toward Illumia Book 1)
Book Review: Lost by Angel Leya (Running Toward Illumia 2)
Book Review – Drenched by Angel Leya (Running Toward Illumia #3)