Thursday, December 29, 2011

Public Book Shelves An Interesting Concept

Public bookshelves are an interesting concept. The link is to the article in the San Francisco Chronicle. I have noticed in the local Perkins and sometimes in the local grocery store, shelves that are available to leave books for others to read. Years and years ago, I set up a book swap in a store I owned with hopes of encouraging reading. This was in the late 70s. It never took off, now things like Book Crossing seem to do well. Frankly anything that gets people to read is probably worth trying.


Particularly if they are reading books I have written. LOL go to www. bentrim.info for links to my books. ( I couldn't help myself.)

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Coming in January
Fantasy GiveAway from Seventh Star Press
and
Azure Dwarf
Check Back for Details

Monday, December 26, 2011

Scholar by L.E. Modesitt, jr



In the spirit of the terrific Recluce series, the Imager series debuts a new world of similar interest. Imagers, much like mages in the Recluce series seem both powerful and powerless. This book deals with an Imager who, in self defense, has masked his skills and lives his life as a simple scholar, who really is not that simple.

Modesitt has a distinct style that permeates his books. I enjoy the self depreciating nature of his protagonists and their normalcy in dealing with extraordinary talents. Quaeryt is a likeable character from the get go. The scenarios are well set and the descriptions of both people and scenery are accomplished with the aplomb I have come to expect from Modesitt.

As in most of his books there is a fair amount of philosophizing on human behavior, almost a miniature sociological treatise. He sometimes borders on the pandemic but never reaches the point of distraction from the plot nor does he deter from the excitement.

This is the fourth book in the Imager Portfolio but it stands alone well. That being said, I plan on getting the three previous as this is another well done series by a surprisingly prolific author.

I highly recommend.

Body of work of L.E. Modesitt</a>

Site: http://www.lemodesittjr.com/

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Cobra Alliance by Timothy Zahn; Book 3 of the Cobra War Series



Once again the augmented human warriors called Cobras are thrust into the fray. This book details the defense of their home worlds, “gifted” to them due to humanities inability to live comfortably with these formidable warriors.

I loved the first Cobra trilogy and this is a logical continuation after a long and impatiently waiting hiatus. Cobra’s are just too cool for words. What is most fascinating to me is that from the first book Cobra, published in 1985, until now the strides made in real military technology make the Cobra far more realistic than they were in 1985. Nanotechnology has progressed dramatically since 1985. Therefore the plausibility factor has increased dramatically.

The book has the typical plot twists and actions that Mr. Zahn is known for and I love every breath taking moment. If you were in an interplanetary war you would definitely want the Cobras on your side.

I highly recommend the book.

Body of work of Timothy Zahn

Web site: http://authors.simonandschuster.com/Timothy-Zahn/432874

Monday, December 19, 2011

The Demon Queen and The Locksmith by Spencer Baum

Three teens slurp up an unlikely concoction and change the world, saving it from the Demon Queen.

Premise wise, this was one of the more bizarre books I have read. I read it on my beloved Droid which certainly had no impact on the story or plot. Kevin is an unlikely protagonist who finds new companions and the three go where most imaginations would never travel. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed the book, it was just skewed from almost anything else I have read. Kind of like a naturalist Brothers Grimm, dark fairytale urban fantasy, if that makes any sense. Give it a try, it should expand your horizons.

I recommend the book.

Body of work of Spencer Baum=

Web site: http://www.spencerbaum.net/


Sunday, December 18, 2011

Coming in January--Fantasy Free For All

Preview of coming attractions:
Six of Seventh Star Press Singles
will be given to three winners in January in Kindle or Nook/iPad format. Keep checking back for details.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Grantville Gazette VI edited by Eric Flint

This is another anthology that follows up the book 1632. A wealth of short stories that are loosely connected to the premise of a chunk of current time real-estate transported back to 1632.

I’ve read four of these anthologies so far, some how I missed the fifth which I will have to track down. Generally I don’t read anthologies since I am more of a red meat kind of reader and I find anthologies and collections more like appetizers. However I have happily made an exception with the Grantville Gazette. Considering the 25 story total, I can only tell you that they are worth reading.

I highly recommend the book.

Body of work of Eric Flint

Web site: http://www.ericflint.net/


Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Antiquitas Lost: The Last of the Shamalans by Robert Louis Smith



This is a fantasy taking place in an alternative world where magic works, a bit reminiscent of Lion, Wardrobe, Lord of the Rings but still unique.

Elliot is bullied due to his perceived physical differences and his diffident behavior. He finds himself swirled into a different place forced to stand up for both himself and others.

Dr. Smith does a nice job portraying a rather normal kid thrust into some terrifying situations. He doesn’t portray a cardboard hero stepping up and making an instantaneous transformation into a stalwart swashbuckler. Both Elliot and his Gimlet pals meet some terrifying and colorful characters in their journeys. None of the characters are omnipotent, even the bad guys, mistakes are made by all. This provides a smidgen of realism that often is lacking in fantasies.

In some ways this is a fantastical coming of age story and in others just an entertaining read.

I enjoyed it.

Body of work of Robert Louis Smith

Web site: http://www.antiquitaslost.com/robert-louis-smith.php


Sunday, December 11, 2011

December Winner Lory Kaufman's The Lens and the Looker is Julie from Columbus Ohio

Julie from Columbus Ohio is the winner of this month's copy of The Lens and the Looker, Lory Kaufman's great YA novel. I've mentioned before how I like the way Lory has tied History into his work. He has done it in a very palatable manner. I'm sure Julie will enjoy the book.

Thank you Lory for so generously sharing your books and thank you Julie for your persistence in entering my GiveAways. I feel good you have finally won a book!

Don't forget there are still two more copies to be given away, make sure you read the review or interview and enter!

Bill

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Winner of Antiquitas Lost: The Last of The Shamalans


C.E. from Fayetteville Georgia is the Winner of a Copy of
Antiquitas Lost: The Last of the Shamalans.

Thank you to all who participated!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Gaia Wars Author Interview

As part of this special promotional extravaganza sponsored by Novel Publicity, the price of The Gaia Wars eBook edition has dropped to just 99 cents this week.

What’s more, by purchasing this fantastic book at an incredibly low price, you can enter to win many awesome prizes, including a Kindle Fire, Amazon gift cards up to $100 in amount, 5 autographed copies of the book, and 5 autographed copies of its recently released sequel, Battle for Cascadia. Be sure to enter before the end of the day on Friday, December 9th, so you don’t miss out.

 

To Win the Prizes:



  1. Purchase your copy of The Gaia Wars for just 99 cents on Amazon or Barnes & Noble

  2. Fill-out the form on Novel Publicity to enter for the prizes

  3. Visit today’s featured event; you may win an autographed copy of the book or a $50 gift card!

  4. BONUS: If you leave a comment on this blog post, you have another chance at $100!


 

...And I can win too!


Over 100 bloggers are participating in this gigantic event, and there are plenty of prizes for us too. The blogger who receives the most votes in the traffic-breaker poll will win a $100 gift card as well. So when you visit Novel Publicity’s site to fill-out the contest entry form, don’t forget to say that I referred you, so I can get a point in the poll.

 

The Featured Events include:


Monday, Blogaganza on Novel Publicity! We’re kicking-off on the Novel Publicity Free Advice blog. We’ll ask the writer 5 fun and random questions to get everyone talking. Leave a comment or question in response to the post, and you may win an autographed copy of The Gaia Wars or its recently released sequel, Battle for Cascadia. Don’t forget to enter for the other contest prizes while you’re over there!

Tuesday, Twitter sharing contest! A tweet is tiny, only 140 characters. But on Tuesday, it could win you $50. Send the following tweet across the twittersphere, and you just may win a $50 Amazon gift card. Autographed copies of The Gaia Wars and its recently released sequel, Battle for Cascadia, are also up for grabs. The winner will be announced Wednesday morning. Here’s the tweet: Looking for a YA read that's full of adventure & intrigue? Check out The Gaia Wars. Reduced to just 99 cents http://ow.ly/7ywpZ #whirlwind

Wednesday, Google+ sharing contest! Yup, there’s yet another awesome opportunity to win a $50 Amazon gift card, and this time it just takes a single click! Visit Google+ and share Emlyn Chand’s most recent post (you’ll see The Gaia Wars book cover included with it). On Thursday morning, one lucky sharer will be $50 richer. Autographed copies of The Gaia Wars and its recently released sequel, Battle for Cascadia, are also up for grabs. Three chances to win! How about that?

Thursday, Facebook sharing contest! Stop by Novel Publicity’s Facebook page and share their latest post (you’ll see The Gaia Wars book cover included with it). It’s ridiculously easy to win! On Friday morning, one lucky sharer will be $50 richer. Autographed copies of The Gaia Wars and its recently released sequel, Battle for Cascadia, are also up for grabs.

Friday, special contest on the author’s site! Win a Kindle Fire or a $100 Amazon gift card, simply by leaving a comment on Kenneth’s most recent blog post. How easy is that? Autographed copies of The Gaia Wars and its recently released sequel, Battle for Cascadia, are also up for grabs.


Remember, it’s all about the books!


About The Gaia Wars: DEADLY SECRETS have been buried in the Cascade mountain wilderness for centuries. Hidden. Out of sight and out of mind. Until today… Warren Wilkes, age 13, doesn’t like what a greedy housing developer has done to his peaceful mountain community, so he vandalizes the developer’s property, flees into the wild, and stumbles upon an ancient human skeleton revealed by torrential rain. More than old bones have been exposed, however, and the curious artifact Warren finds makes him question his own identity, and his connection to an ancient terror. A terror destined to rise again and annihilate all that Warren loves. He must fight or see his whole world destroyed. Get it on Amazon or Barnes & Noble.

About Battle for Cascadia: When Warren Wilkes, age 13, stumbles upon a mysterious relic deep in the Cascade Mountains, wonder reigns. Brimming with secrets and sentient energy, the relic leads Warren to a fantastic chamber, and to shocking revelations about his identity. Now wonder has turned to dread. A forgotten terror—a demon that knows Warren better than he knows himself—has risen again and is assembling an army; gathering power with a singularly evil goal in mind: to capture and enslave the wild spirit of the Earth itself. As war erupts and the planet slips into chaos, Warren embraces his destiny and finds help where he least expects it. Get it on Amazon or Barnes & Noble.

About the Author: Kenneth G. Bennett is the author of the Young Adult novels The Gaia Wars and Battle for Cascadia (the second book of The Gaia Wars), as well as the forthcoming Exodus 2018, a paranormal thriller set in the Puget Sound region of Washington State. A wilderness enthusiast who loves backpacking, skiing and kayaking, Ken enjoys novels that explore the relationship between humans and the wild. He lives on an island in the Pacific Northwest with his wife and son. Visit him on his website, Twitter, Facebook, or GoodReads.

 

Let's get to know Kenneth better through a rousing Q&A...


 
Where did you find the inspiration for this novel?

The idea began with an article I read about The Gaia Hypothesis. This hypothesis, proposed by NASA scientist James Lovelock, says, in brief: “all organisms and their inorganic surroundings on Earth make up a single, self-regulating entity.” In other words, the Earth itself is a living thing. A vast, “super-organism.”

I love this idea! And when I first read about it I wondered how it might be woven into a novel. In my imagination, and in conversations with friends, I took the Gaia Hypothesis one step further. “What if Gaia (the Earth) is not simply alive,” I asked, “but also sentient?” It occurred to me that a lot of so-called primitive cultures believed this very thing. Understood it in their bones.

Then I was backpacking with my son Eli (age 9 at the time). After a few days in the wilderness, feeling more connected to the land, perhaps, I started to tell Eli the story of The Gaia Wars. He loved it. It took me about a year to write the book and refine it.

Warren Wilkes is quite the unexpected hero. Tell us about him. Is he someone you’ve met before, or is he completely fictional?

My son and his friends are all pretty outdoorsy kids. They’ve backpacked and skied and kayaked and climbed since they were really little, so Warren (a sort of feral, wilderness boy) is probably a composite of the kids I see every day.

This story’s setting is incredibly vivid. How did the Cascade Mountains influence your writing? Do you believe you could have told the same story in a different setting, or would it have been missing something otherwise?

North Cascades National Park is one of my favorite places on the planet, and I go there often. It’s easy to find inspiration in the ancient forests and high-alpine meadows of that region. I’ve also been heavily influenced by Olympic National Park, and by wild areas in Alaska, where I spent much of my childhood. The landscapes in the book contain elements of all of those places.

The Mendari aliens and their organic droids, the Fabrinels, mix-up the story in a way nothing else could have (not even the irksome Mr. Finley). How did you go about creating these other races and defining their culture and behavior?

The Mendari are fantastically advanced, technologically, but suffer from a civilization-wide melancholy. They have every device and contraption imaginable, but in the process of acquiring all this stuff, they’ve nearly destroyed their lovely planet and suffocated their own wild souls. They venture to Earth out of desperation, and with newfound humility, hoping to regain the wisdom they lost millennia ago. The Mendari race is basically the Human race in a few hundred years—if we don’t get our act together in terms of taking care of our planet.

Gaia, or Onatah, is the living embodiment of the Earth Mother. Without giving anything away, tell the readers how she fits into the story.

Gaia, the Earth Mother, represents the wild soul of the planet. She’s the wellspring of all life; the source of the DNA that animates everything from bacteria to redwood trees to homo sapiens. But we humans have reached the point where we think maybe we don’t need to be connected to this wild soul any longer. We see ourselves as separate from the natural world. I think this kind of hubris is a huge mistake, and that’s reflected in the story.

How much research did you have to do in order to learn about the Denelai people’s folklore and nature rituals? How did you find this information?

I love to learn about Native American culture, modern and ancient, and have read a lot about what North America was like prior to European contact. I’m steeped in that history, but the Denelai culture is entirely a product of my imagination—not based on any one people or tribe.

Your cast of characters has very interesting names—ones I suspect were not chosen arbitrarily. Please tell us how you came up with the names for Ina, Mirra, Uhlgoth, and the others.

I greatly admire the name-inventing abilities of authors such as Philip Pullman, J.K. Rowling, Ursula K. LeGuin and (of course) J.R.R. Tolkien. I worked really hard to come up with names that fit the various characters in The Gaia Wars.

You leave The Gaia Wars off on a very big cliff-hanger. What made you decide to take this gutsy literary move—channeling Warren, are you?

The Gaia Wars ends at what felt to me like a natural stopping point (or at least a “pausing” point)--A slight break in the action before all hell breaks loose in Battle for Cascadia.

Battle for Cascadia picks up where the first book leaves off. What can we expect from the sequel? Are there any major ways in which the style or plot line is different than The Gaia Wars?

Battle for Cascadia is a direct and immediate continuation of The Gaia Wars. Many of the storylines begun in Gaia draw to a conclusion in Battle—but not all of them! There are a lot of mysteries left to unravel in those rugged North Cascade canyons.

You’re going to give us more Warren Wilkes, right?! Please tell us you’re planning a third book in the series, and if you can, give us some clues about what happens next.

Absolutely! Warren and company find themselves in a very dangerous place and in very perilous circumstances at the conclusion of Battle. There’s a whole lot of story left to tell.

This is the fifth installment of Lory Kaufman’s World of History Camp Back Story.

This is the fifth installment of Lory Kaufman’s World of History Camp Back Story.
The Lens and the Looker and The Bronze and the Brimstone. In addition I have interviewed Lory. I enjoyed his books and I thoroughly enjoyed the fact that he is making history palatable to young people. Lory and I have emailed back and forth and he has been kind enough to allow me to “plumb the depths” of how he created his World of History Camp. Please note that I have no financial relationship with Lory, nor do I reap any benefits from posting his back story. I am making these posts because as a reader and an author I find the novel building process interesting and informative and I hope you will too. Plus you have the opportunity to garner a FREE book. (more on that later)

The World Of History Camp and AI
How far are we from artificial intelligence? I have an ap on my DroidX called SoundHound. If I hear a song and my aging mind can’t remember the title, group or the lyrics; all I have to do is start the ap, let my phone listen and it will tell me the artist’s name, the album title and ask if I would like the lyrics. I know that isn’t AI but I also know 5 years ago it wasn’t available. I keep a list of 3500 books on my phone because I really get annoyed when I inadvertently buy the same book multiple times. In other words, I really depend on/love my phone. How far away is true AI?

Artificial Intelligences (A.I.):
Some who have read The Lens And The Looker have asked, “Why did you give every human on the planet a companion artificial intelligence from birth?”
For me, the A.I.’s are a visual metaphor symbolizing that humans seem not to be able to work together without some faction undermining things. “What does this have to do with artificial intelligences?” you ask. Well, as I already mentioned, by the end of the 21st-century, I have humans on the brink of extinction. Plagues and bacterial infections are threatening calamity and some population centers are already collapsing. But, at the same time, human technology is also successfully creating synthetic intellects, superior to humans in many ways. (Given where we are with computer technology now, I don’t think this is actually out of the realm of possibility.)
So, as opposed to some dystopian literature, where A.I.s rebel against humans, I have chosen another road. In History Camp stories, artificial intelligences become the savior of humans, though not as benignly as one might think.
I’ve done it like this. Each person’s A.I. is with them from before birth. At first it acts as nanny to the baby and toddler, and a helper to the parents. Then the artificial intelligence takes on the role of tutor when the person becomes a youth, then adolescent, watching out for that individual and monitoring his or her progress. This role changes as the human grows into adulthood. Like a loving aunt or uncle today, the A.I. changes into a life-long friend and confidant. By constant and gentle vigilance, A.I.s allow humans to find their own path in life, as long as their actions don’t put at risk the long-term safety of society or that of the other life forms on the planet.
So, I guess the A.I.s are both the “philosopher kings” and the “protector class” of human kind. Humans have ceded ultimate control to the A.I.s. They are a benevolent police force, making sure that small factions of people can’t sabotage society’s long-term survival for their personal or tribal purposes, which, when I think of it, seems to be a big recurring theme in human history.
Another very important fact to understand about this situation is that the A.I.s do very little of the actual work for humans. It’s not like “The Jetsons” or some cheesy SF movies, where people walk around in identical plastic suits and use mass produced products. In the world of History Camp, individual craftsmanship and self- sufficiency is the new way of things. The A.I.s purpose is not to provide for humans, but to protect, love and nourish them. And the protection is mostly from ourselves and our natures.

Remember there will be a giveaway for each and every post. That’s a FREE book for each section of Lory Kaufman’s back story. Did I mention it is a FREE book?
How do you qualify for a FREE book?
Fine Print
Simply read the post and fill out the form below. Each entry will be assigned a number and those numbers will be input into a random number generator to choose the winner. I will email the winner. The winner’s address will be sent to Lory Kaufman who will be sending out the autographed books. If you have a specific name or nickname you wish the autograph to mention, please submit it with the form. Each winner will be announced at the posting of the next segment of Lory Kaufman’s back story. No purchases necessary and your email address will not be given to anyone else.
The next post will be Jan 9, 2012! when the winner of this month’s book will be announced. As an additional incentive for those of you who are actually reading the entire post, if you comment on any of my blog posts throughout the month I will input an additional entry to the contest.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The Gaia Wars Guest Post

As part of this special promotional extravaganza sponsored by Novel Publicity, the price of The Gaia Wars eBook edition has dropped to just 99 cents this week.

What’s more, by purchasing this fantastic book at an incredibly low price, you can enter to win many awesome prizes, including a Kindle Fire, Amazon gift cards up to $100 in amount, 5 autographed copies of the book, and 5 autographed copies of its recently released sequel, Battle for Cascadia. Be sure to enter before the end of the day on Friday, December 9th, so you don’t miss out.


To Win the Prizes:



  1. Purchase your copy of The Gaia Wars for just 99 cents on Amazon or Barnes & Noble

  2. Fill-out the form on Novel Publicity to enter for the prizes

  3. Visit today’s featured event; you may win an autographed copy of the book or a $50 gift card!

  4. BONUS: If you leave a comment on this blog post, you have another chance at $100!


...And I can win too!


Over 100 bloggers are participating in this gigantic event, and there are plenty of prizes for us too. The blogger who receives the most votes in the traffic-breaker poll will win a $100 gift card as well. So when you visit Novel Publicity’s site to fill-out the contest entry form, don’t forget to say that I referred you, so I can get a point in the poll.


The Featured Events include:


Monday, Blogaganza on Novel Publicity! We’re kicking-off on the Novel Publicity Free Advice blog. We’ll ask the writer 5 fun and random questions to get everyone talking. Leave a comment or question in response to the post, and you may win an autographed copy of The Gaia Wars or its recently released sequel, Battle for Cascadia. Don’t forget to enter for the other contest prizes while you’re over there!

Tuesday, Twitter sharing contest! A tweet is tiny, only 140 characters. But on Tuesday, it could win you $50. Send the following tweet across the twittersphere, and you just may win a $50 Amazon gift card. Autographed copies of The Gaia Wars and its recently released sequel, Battle for Cascadia, are also up for grabs. The winner will be announced Wednesday morning. Here’s the tweet: Looking for a YA read that's full of adventure & intrigue? Check out The Gaia Wars. Reduced to just 99 cents http://ow.ly/7ywpZ #whirlwind

Wednesday, Google+ sharing contest! Yup, there’s yet another awesome opportunity to win a $50 Amazon gift card, and this time it just takes a single click! Visit Google+ and share Emlyn Chand’s most recent post (you’ll see The Gaia Wars book cover included with it). On Thursday morning, one lucky sharer will be $50 richer. Autographed copies of The Gaia Wars and its recently released sequel, Battle for Cascadia, are also up for grabs. Three chances to win! How about that?

Thursday, Facebook sharing contest! Stop by Novel Publicity’s Facebook page and share their latest post (you’ll see The Gaia Wars book cover included with it). It’s ridiculously easy to win! On Friday morning, one lucky sharer will be $50 richer. Autographed copies of The Gaia Wars and its recently released sequel, Battle for Cascadia, are also up for grabs.

Friday, special contest on the author’s site! Win a Kindle Fire or a $100 Amazon gift card, simply by leaving a comment on Kenneth’s most recent blog post. How easy is that? Autographed copies of The Gaia Wars and its recently released sequel, Battle for Cascadia, are also up for grabs.


Remember, it’s all about the books!


About The Gaia Wars: DEADLY SECRETS have been buried in the Cascade mountain wilderness for centuries. Hidden. Out of sight and out of mind. Until today… Warren Wilkes, age 13, doesn’t like what a greedy housing developer has done to his peaceful mountain community, so he vandalizes the developer’s property, flees into the wild, and stumbles upon an ancient human skeleton revealed by torrential rain. More than old bones have been exposed, however, and the curious artifact Warren finds makes him question his own identity, and his connection to an ancient terror. A terror destined to rise again and annihilate all that Warren loves. He must fight or see his whole world destroyed. Get it on Amazon or Barnes & Noble.

About Battle for Cascadia: When Warren Wilkes, age 13, stumbles upon a mysterious relic deep in the Cascade Mountains, wonder reigns. Brimming with secrets and sentient energy, the relic leads Warren to a fantastic chamber, and to shocking revelations about his identity. Now wonder has turned to dread. A forgotten terror—a demon that knows Warren better than he knows himself—has risen again and is assembling an army; gathering power with a singularly evil goal in mind: to capture and enslave the wild spirit of the Earth itself. As war erupts and the planet slips into chaos, Warren embraces his destiny and finds help where he least expects it. Get it on Amazon or Barnes & Noble.

About the Author: Kenneth G. Bennett is the author of the Young Adult novels The Gaia Wars and Battle for Cascadia (the second book of The Gaia Wars), as well as the forthcoming Exodus 2018, a paranormal thriller set in the Puget Sound region of Washington State. A wilderness enthusiast who loves backpacking, skiing and kayaking, Ken enjoys novels that explore the relationship between humans and the wild. He lives on an island in the Pacific Northwest with his wife and son. Visit him on his website, Twitter, Facebook, or GoodReads.



Now please enjoy this guest post from the author...




HOW A NASA SCIENTIST’S THEORY INSPIRED A PARANORMAL THRILLER


THE GAIA WARS is fiction, but it was inspired—at least in part—by The Gaia Hypothesis. This hypothesis, proposed by NASA scientist James Lovelock, states that the Earth—the entire Earth—is a living thing. A vast, “super-organism.”

I read an article about Lovelock’s theory a few years back and thought it was the coolest thing I’d ever heard.

The Earth is alive. Think about it. If Lovelock’s correct, the Earth isn’t simply a chunk of interstellar rock hosting a collection of random ecosystems; it’s a cohesive entity. An organism. A being. I daydreamed about this idea, mulled it over; wondered how it might be incorporated into a novel. And in my imagination, I took the theory to the next level: What if the Earth is not simply alive, I asked, but also sentient?

I did some reading, and discovered that a lot of so-called primitive cultures believed this very thing. Understood it in their bones. Our ancestors were in tune with the planet in ways that we’ve forgotten. They could feel her heartbeat. Interpret her rhythms. They created Earth Goddesses to worship and celebrate.

Gaia (pron. guy-uh) is one of the principal deities of the Greek Pantheon. Other cultures used other names: the Tibetan people called the deity ChomolungmaGoddess Mother of the World. The Sumerians knew her as Ninhursaga. To Mesoamerican peoples she was Tlazolteotl.

A fictitious Pacific Northwest culture called the Denelai is at the center of THE GAIA WARS. As readers learn, the ancient Denelai people believed in the Earth goddess so profoundly that she would sometimes appear to them in human form.

At the start of the novel, troubled 13-year-old Warren Wilkes unearths a treasure deep in the Cascade Mountains while fleeing the law, learns about the Denelai and Gaia’s periodic visits, and finds that on one such occasion in 1550 AD, the tribe was attacked and the Earth Goddess wounded. The Indians were slaughtered and Gaia lost her memory and vanished into the wild.

As Warren soon discovers, Gaia is still alive and still trapped in human form. What’s more, the beast that attacked the Indian village 500 years earlier is on it’s way back with an army bred specifically to capture Gaia, unlock her secrets, and seize control of the planet. Warren must fight or see his whole world destroyed.

Readers seem to like the idea of a paranormal thriller with a thinking, feeling Earth at its heart. The feedback has been tremendous. Humbling. Yesterday (November 24, Thanksgiving Day) THE GAIA WARS rose to #17 on Amazon’s list of Top 100 Best Sellers in Children’s Action & Adventure. The Second Book of The Gaia Wars, BATTLE FOR CASCADIA, (just released) is also doing well. A huge thank you to all the wonderful readers giving these books a try!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Interview with the author of Antiquitas Lost: The Last of the Shamalans

See Giveaway at the end.
Interview Questions

with Robert Louis Smith M.D., MSc,
Author of Antiquitas Lost: The Last of the Shamalans

1. Why did you write this book? What initiated this particular burst of creativity?

I have been interested in creative writing from a very young age. Unlike most physicians, I have always been somewhat of a "left brain" person, and my favorite courses in high school and college were English and the language arts rather than science. As long as I can remember, I have aspired to write a novel that could be appreciated by others. My decision to sit down and start writing was really motivated by two different circumstances. On the one hand, I read the works of some authors (Hemingway and Dickens come to mind) and marvel at their skill for the craft. On these occasions, I find myself wishing I could find it within me to write something as powerful, or beautiful as they have done -- scenes that tells us something important or thought-provoking. This is akin to a painter looking at the works of Michelangelo or Da Vinci and wishing he could create something as beautiful. On the other hand, I have consumed countless books over the years, many of them bestsellers, where I have gotten to the end and thought: I could do better than that! In addition to these factors, I also find writing to be a wonderful escape from the stresses of daily life.

2. Does your story line develop organically or is it a gestalt before you begin?

Both. When I sit down to write, I have a vague impression of the major plot elements and a general idea of how the story might turn out. I also tend to flesh out the characters fairly well in my own notes so I have a good feel for them. But other than this, I don't do any real outlining. I find this helps the pace and suspense of the book quite a lot. I also tend to write the chapters chronologically, rather than focusing on separate subplots then pasting it all together at the end. When writing in this fashion, I can get a good sense of when something exciting needs to happen, or when it is time to give the reader a break from the action, or when I should switch to a different character's POV. Very few creative writing instructors will say this, but I think doing extensive outlining really takes something away from the flow of the book, and can make things too mechanical -- like the author is trying too hard to stick something in there where it doesn't necessarily belong. Another advantage of letting the story develop organically is that you, as the author, often don't know what exactly is coming next until you create that next perfect scene in your mind -- the one that will have just the right amount of tension, and will flow so well from the last. When the author isn't sure what is coming next, the reader won't know either. This is a good thing.

3. What reasons led you to choose an illustrated novel format ?

I am a fan of old fashioned illustrated novels, like Treasure Island, or 20,000 leagues under the sea. I read many of these types of books in my early reading years and always felt that the illustrations added a lot of fun to the story. Though illustrated fiction novels were quite common 100 years ago, you rarely see them these days. With the full page, highly detailed illustrations in Antiquitas Lost (and they are wonderful!), I was hoping to capture the feel of some of these older, classic books that I loved as a child.

4. Do you have a favorite character in the book and if so why?

My favorite character in Antiquitas Lost is the beast named Hooks. He has a checkered past and at first the reader is not sure whether or not he can be trusted. But as we get to know him, we learn that he is loyal, powerful, and helpful in the role of protector. He saves our protagonist, Elliott, on several occasions. He is also frequently childlike in his affections and is generally a likable fellow.

5. What do you like the most about writing?

Writing can be difficult at times, and it is definitely a task to be approached with discipline. However, creating a story -- particularly a fantasy story -- is a wonderful escape from the humdrum of daily life. It is gratifying to develop a scene in your mind and then transcribe it onto paper in a way that communicates your vision to others such that it is enjoyable to them. Completing a novel is also quite satisfying. Finding that others have enjoyed the story you created is the most satisfying of all.

6. Where do your new story ideas come from?

A good creative writing instructor would tell you that ideas for a great story or scene can come from anywhere. Family drama, stressful interactions with others, or even tidbits from the news all have the potential to blossom into an interesting story. The television show Law and Order ran for 20 seasons by simply considering the human drama that might arise from contemporary true crime stories ("ripped from the headlines!"). Another example comes from Michael Crichton, who ingeniously capitalized on news about emerging DNA technologies by wondering what might happen if modern science could find a way to clone dinosaurs from DNA samples preserved in amber. This was a great idea that arose by combining a kernel of information about genetic engineering with an interesting factoid about dino DNA -- and then considering the outrageous possibilities. The key is to find a topic or story of interest and then ask yourself "what if . . . ". For Antiquitas Lost, I set out with the intention of creating a fantasy genre novel, so there were many decisions to be made. The ideas for the flora and fauna of my fantasy world (Pangrelor) came mostly from Earth's Pleistocene era, which is suitably foreign to the modern reader and has also always fascinated me. I populated the world with creatures that I liked reading about as a child: Bigfoot creatures, gargoyles, Atlanteans, Neanderthals, etc. In creating the Salax creatures, I wanted to develop a viscerally terrifying monster that was different than anything that had been done in other fantasy novels. Many of the Salax characteristics, and some of their appearance, was modeled after sharks (though the Salax are strictly forest dwellers). These are just a few examples, but ideas for great fiction can be found anywhere. All you have to do is put your imagination to work.

7. What advice has helped the most in your writing?

For people who want to learn to write creatively, there are endless resources. If you do a search on amazon for "how-to" books on writing, you will find a mind-boggling number of books. I have read many of these. Much of the advice is good, and I think the aspect of these books that is most helpful is the technical stuff. However, once you have a feel for the basics of writing mechanics, the usefulness of these books, at least in my opinion, is finished. I think much of the advice beyond the basics of scene mechanics, dialogue, and that sort of thing, is ultimately not that useful. It is important to remember that YOU are the one creating your story, and the end product should sound good to your own ear. If you get bogged down in the seemingly infinite number of "rules" of writing, your novel will likely come out mechanical and awkward, or sound as if you are trying too hard. The best book I have read about writing was Stephen King's book called On Writing. He discusses many of these issues at length, and I agree with his summation, which basically says to learn the rules, be aware of the rules, then try to forget about them and write your story. Another great resource is Self-Editing for Fiction Writers, by Dave King and Renni Browne.

8. This seems to be your first book, do you have something new in the works?

Indeed, Antiquitas Lost is my first novel, and the responses I have received since it has been published have been quite gratifying. There are many adventures in store for Elliott, Hooks, and the gang. I am well into writing the second installment.

9. Who is your favorite author and why?

There are many authors I enjoy, and for a variety of different reasons. I have never fallen in love with a Hemingway novel, but have always been extremely impressed with his technical ability for the craft. On the other hand, there are aspects of Tolkien's writing style that I don't like, though his novels are among my favorites. So to me there are different ways to be a skilled writer, and my favorite authors are those that combine great (or even adequate) technical skill with stories best suited to my particular imagination. My favorite author since childhood has always been Stephen King. I used to believe he was under-appreciated, but I think few would deny that he has risen to a high level of recognition and merit at this point in his career. Technically speaking, he has mastered the art of character development, and his ability to create great prose has really been apparent in his last several novels. He has always had a gift for creating great stories.

10. What advice would you give for the want to be writer?

I believe discipline is the key to becoming a writer. You must carve out a writing schedule and then stick doggedly to it. Often, you will not like your initial draft, and you must fight the impulse to get frustrated and stop. You can always circle back and work on the mechanics of a weak bit of prose, but reworking a draft is much easier (for me at least) than creating text out of whole cloth. Also, there will be times when the neurons are firing just right, and everything flows easily from your mind to the page. This is quite satisfying when it happens. The key to all of this is to sit down and do the work. You will never experience the joy of creating the perfect scene, or writing that popular novel, if all you do is sit around and stew about it.

© 2011 Robert Louis Smith, author of Antiquitas Lost: The Last of the Shamalans

Author Bio
Robert Louis Smith,
author of Antiquitas Lost: The Last of the Shamalans, has numerous degrees, including psychology (B.A.), applied microbiology (B.S.), anaerobic microbiology (M.Sc.), and a Medical Doctorate (M.D.). He serves as an interventional cardiologist at the Oklahoma Heart Institute. He is married and the father of two young children. He began writing Antiquitas Lost in 2003 while studying at Tulane University in New Orleans.

For more information please visit http://www.antiquitaslost.com, and follow the author on Facebook and Twitter

Many thanks to Dr. Smith for his time and his answers.



Win A Copy by entering here or on the Interview with the Author that will be posted here on December 6th. The Contest runs from Dec. 3 to Dec. 10 and shipping has been restricted to the U.S. or Canada.

Monday, December 5, 2011

The Gaia Wars Contest

As part of this special promotional extravaganza sponsored by Novel Publicity, the price of The Gaia Wars eBook edition has dropped to just 99 cents this week.


What’s more, by purchasing this fantastic book at an incredibly low price, you can enter to win many awesome prizes, including a Kindle Fire, Amazon gift cards up to $100 in amount, 5 autographed copies of the book, and 5 autographed copies of its recently released sequel, Battle for Cascadia. Be sure to enter before the end of the day on Friday, December 9th, so you don’t miss out.

To Win the Prizes:
  1. Purchase your copy of The Gaia Wars for just 99 cents on Amazon or Barnes & Noble

  2. Fill-out the form on Novel Publicity to enter for the prizes

  3. Visit today’s featured event; you may win an autographed copy of the book or a $50 gift card!

  4. BONUS: If you leave a comment on this blog post, you have another chance at $100!
...And I can win too!

Over 100 bloggers are participating in this gigantic event, and there are plenty of prizes for us too. The blogger who receives the most votes in the traffic-breaker poll will win a $100 gift card as well. So when you visit Novel Publicity’s site to fill-out the contest entry form, don’t forget to say that I referred you, so I can get a point in the poll.

The Featured Events include:

Monday, Blogaganza on Novel Publicity! We’re kicking-off on the Novel Publicity Free Advice blog. We’ll ask the writer 5 fun and random questions to get everyone talking. Leave a comment or question in response to the post, and you may win an autographed copy of The Gaia Wars or its recently released sequel, Battle for Cascadia. Don’t forget to enter for the other contest prizes while you’re over there!


Tuesday, Twitter sharing contest! A tweet is tiny, only 140 characters. But on Tuesday, it could win you $50. Send the following tweet across the twittersphere, and you just may win a $50 Amazon gift card. Autographed copies of The Gaia Wars and its recently released sequel, Battle for Cascadia, are also up for grabs. The winner will be announced Wednesday morning. Here’s the tweet: Looking for a YA read that's full of adventure & intrigue? Check out The Gaia Wars. Reduced to just 99 cents http://ow.ly/7ywpZ #whirlwind


Wednesday, Google+ sharing contest! Yup, there’s yet another awesome opportunity to win a $50 Amazon gift card, and this time it just takes a single click! Visit Google+ and share Emlyn Chand’s most recent post (you’ll see The Gaia Wars book cover included with it). On Thursday morning, one lucky sharer will be $50 richer. Autographed copies of The Gaia Wars and its recently released sequel, Battle for Cascadia, are also up for grabs. Three chances to win! How about that?


Thursday, Facebook sharing contest! Stop by Novel Publicity’s Facebook page and share their latest post (you’ll see The Gaia Wars book cover included with it). It’s ridiculously easy to win! On Friday morning, one lucky sharer will be $50 richer. Autographed copies of The Gaia Wars and its recently released sequel, Battle for Cascadia, are also up for grabs.


Friday, special contest on the author’s site! Win a Kindle Fire or a $100 Amazon gift card, simply by leaving a comment on Kenneth’s most recent blog post. How easy is that? Autographed copies of The Gaia Wars and its recently released sequel, Battle for Cascadia, are also up for grabs.

Remember, it’s all about the books!


About The Gaia Wars: DEADLY SECRETS have been buried in the Cascade mountain wilderness for centuries. Hidden. Out of sight and out of mind. Until today… Warren Wilkes, age 13, doesn’t like what a greedy housing developer has done to his peaceful mountain community, so he vandalizes the developer’s property, flees into the wild, and stumbles upon an ancient human skeleton revealed by torrential rain. More than old bones have been exposed, however, and the curious artifact Warren finds makes him question his own identity, and his connection to an ancient terror. A terror destined to rise again and annihilate all that Warren loves. He must fight or see his whole world destroyed. Get it on Amazon or Barnes & Noble.

About Battle for Cascadia: When Warren Wilkes, age 13, stumbles upon a mysterious relic deep in the Cascade Mountains, wonder reigns. Brimming with secrets and sentient energy, the relic leads Warren to a fantastic chamber, and to shocking revelations about his identity. Now wonder has turned to dread. A forgotten terror—a demon that knows Warren better than he knows himself—has risen again and is assembling an army; gathering power with a singularly evil goal in mind: to capture and enslave the wild spirit of the Earth itself. As war erupts and the planet slips into chaos, Warren embraces his destiny and finds help where he least expects it. Get it on Amazon or Barnes & Noble.

About the Author: Kenneth G. Bennett is the author of the Young Adult novels The Gaia Wars and Battle for Cascadia (the second book of The Gaia Wars), as well as the forthcoming Exodus 2018, a paranormal thriller set in the Puget Sound region of Washington State. A wilderness enthusiast who loves backpacking, skiing and kayaking, Ken enjoys novels that explore the relationship between humans and the wild. He lives on an island in the Pacific Northwest with his wife and son. Visit him on his website, Twitter, Facebook, or GoodReads.

Now please enjoy this sneak peek of The Gaia Wars...

Chapter 3

The ground climbed steadily and Warren slowed but didn’t stop. He knew how to pace himself, and ran lightly over the soft earth, weaving between the pines.

A plan formed in Warren’s mind. He would make for Pipestone Canyon, roughly two miles distant. He and his uncle had hiked, skied and snowshoed there dozens of times, and he knew it well. Perhaps he could hide among the canyon’s crags, cliffs and massive boulders. Perhaps.

Warren topped a low ridge, entered a clearing, and heard the sudden rush of brawling Nine Mile Creek, two hundred yards ahead. Born in the snowy Cascades, the sparkling stream clattered across the meadow. It was roughly fifteen feet wide here, but shallow, gravel-bottomed and easy to cross.

Now that he was out of the trees, Warren heard other sounds, too: the unmistakable baying of dogs, surprisingly close, and the low, steady whine of ATVs. The Finleys were after him, all right, and they were getting closer.

For the first time, Warren felt truly afraid. He remembered the rage on Mr. Finley’s face. Who could guess what the big brute might do? Or maybe Finley Sr. would simply turn a blind eye as Finley Jr. pulverized him. Junior was a good thirty pounds heavier than Warren, after all.

Wild thoughts flooded Warren’s mind. Maybe the Finleys would tie him up and drag him behind their ATVs, or let their dogs tear him to pieces. He couldn’t guess, and he didn’t want to find out.

Warren had an idea. Instead of running straight across the creek, he would run in it for a while. His shoes and socks would get soaked, but perhaps the ploy would confuse the dogs—at least temporarily. It was a trick he’d read about in numerous adventure stories. Maybe it would help.

He leapt into the clear, frigid water. It was only about a foot deep here, where it crossed the flat, open meadow, but shockingly cold. He sprinted upstream.

Though June meant summer in other parts of the country, it was still early spring here in the higher elevations of the Clement Valley. It had snowed heavily all winter, and the meadows only recently had become snow-free. It had just rained, too, so everything had a fresh, new quality and the air was crisp and clean. Wildflowers carpeted the creek banks.

Warren splashed on—the gravel stream bottom giving a bit under each sloshing footfall. He saw now that the snowmelt and recent rain had caused the clay soil of the stream’s banks to fracture. Here and there great slabs of creek edge had fallen into the water. In some spots, sections of bank teetered, like new islands breaking apart from the mainland after a catastrophic quake. Ahead, the creek jogged sharply to the right.

Warren scanned the meadow. In another hundred feet or so, he’d climb out of the water and run uphill, toward Pipestone Canyon. He sprinted, following the sharp bend in the stream.


That’s when he saw the skeleton.

It was a human skeleton, no doubt about that, lying face up on the soft earth. Warren could see at once what had happened: the skeleton had been buried in the reddish-brown clay of the bank, but a section of creek edge had fractured and fallen away, freeing the skeleton from its tomb. It lay there in broad daylight, as neatly and cleanly as if it had just rolled out of a crypt. Warren stepped forward cautiously and gazed at the remains in silent wonder.

He would have forgotten about the Finleys, his prank and everything else—only now that he’d stopped moving he heard the dogs and whining ATVs once more. Even over the joyful clatter of the creek, the sounds were unmistakable. The Finleys were coming through the forest, within a minute or two of the meadow.


Warren stared at the skeleton. He’d been to enough museums and read enough books to know that it was very old. The bones were light brown and smooth, like aged ivory. It occurred to Warren they might even be fossilized.


The skull, arm and leg bones were large, and the hips narrow, so he guessed he was looking at the remains of a man. The lower jawbone was missing, as were the bones of the right foot. Otherwise, the skeleton appeared intact. Warren leaned closer to the skull, but the empty eye sockets gazing skyward gave him a queer feeling.

He took one last look and …

There was something protruding from the dirt, near the skeleton’s right hip. Warren peered closely.

The “something,” whatever it was, was encrusted with soft clay. It blended with the surrounding soil, and was nearly invisible.

Warren gently traced the object with his fingers, pried some of the clay away, and understood. It was a pouch: leather, bound at the top with a fragment of cord.

Warren teased more soil from the object, marveling that the leather was still supple and intact. Even the design on the face of the pouch—a fine red spiral—had somehow been preserved inside the clay tomb of the creek bank.

Carefully, painstakingly, Warren lifted the pouch free from the soil, loosened the cord, and spilled the contents out.

The first artifact to tumble onto the creek bank—into the sunlight—was a stone spear point. It was about five inches long, brownish-yellow and lovingly crafted. It was still razor sharp, by the look of it.

The spear point made Warren gasp. But the object that thudded onto the bank after it stopped his heart.

It was a heavy, flat medallion of gleaming, hammered gold, inset with sparkling blue gems.



Dazzlingly beautiful, the medallion (medallion was the first word that came to Warren’s mind) could easily have been the centerpiece of a great king’s crown, or of a royal necklace. The object had seven equal sides.

A heptagon, Warren thought. It was a term he’d learned in last semester’s math.

Warren’s hand shook as he traced the perimeter of the heptagon with one finger. The object was about four inches across, and twice as thick as the old silver dollars in his uncle’s coin collection.

In the center of the heptagon was set a perfect circle of highly polished obsidian. The dazzling blue gems—there were seven of them, as well—were embedded in the gold and placed evenly about the obsidian circle. Warren turned the medallion over and saw that the back consisted of gleaming, hammered gold only.

He lifted the object slowly, reverently. It fit neatly in the palm of his hand and was so bright that it flashed in the warm morning light. It was beautiful. It was mesmerizing. It was …

Warren heard sudden, frenzied barking from the forest below and jumped to his feet. How had they scaled the hill so fast? How long had he been kneeling beside the skeleton? With a leap up the bank, he was off once more, bounding across the meadow and toward the sheltering forest beyond.

Warren had run perhaps fifteen feet when he realized he’d left the spear point with the skeleton. No time to retrieve it now. By the sound of it, the Finleys’ dogs would burst into the clearing at any moment. He had to make it to the trees—had to disappear into the forest—if he was to have any hope of escaping.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Save Some Money, Help A Kid.

Win-Win Christmas Gift

Whit Gentry wrote an excellent psycho thriller. I reviewed it on Pick of the Literate. This fall Whit’s grandson died suddenly. As a grandparent I can not imagine the pain that ensued from that sad event.

Whit has put his book on Smashwords.com which is a website that presents Ebook formats that can be downloaded to all ebook readers, PCs, laptops, and Ipads. Smashwords is a user friendly web-site, they will not be contacting you to buy items. He put the price of his book in ebook format at $0.99 (less than a dollar).

Whatever sales yield between now and Christmas will be donated to St Jude in the name of his grandson Cager Neal Gentry. He will post the money order that he will send to St Jude's for all to see what was achieved.

If you're interested, this will take you to the purchase page -- www.smashwords.com/books/view/109205

I am posting this wherever I can to promote both Whit’s excellent book but also to help honor the memory of his grandson.

Whit is one of the good guys which proves that adage that sometimes bad things happen to good people. Rather than bitterness he is trying to help other families and their children through his donation to St. Judes.

It’s less than a buck, do what you can!

Please pass this along if you are so moved. I certainly was.

Bill


GiveAway of Antiquitas Lost: The Last of the Shamalans


This is a giveaway of Robert Louis Smith M.D., MSc, Antiquitas Lost: The Last of the Shamalans.

Antiquitas Lost

The Last of the Shamalans

Antiquitas Lost tells the story of a boy named Elliott, a lonesome kid with deformities on his hands and feet who is uprooted from his home after his mother falls gravely ill. When they move to New Orleans so his grandfather can help care for her, Elliott learns that the old man's eighteenth century mansion hides an ancient secret. While checking out some eerie paintings and strange relics in the basement, Elliott strays through an ancient passage into a tumultuous parallel world, full of bizarre creatures and warring races. He has stumbled into Pangrelor, the most ancient of all worlds and "mother to all the stars in the sky." As he learns to navigate his new surroundings, he discovers wondrous abilities he never dreamed he possessed, and an abiding connection to the primitive, alien world that will forever change him. But he must proceed carefully. For he soon learns that his actions in the ancient world will impact the upcoming battle for Harwelden, Pangrelor's greatest civilization, and will also resonate all the way back to New Orleans, perhaps deciding whether his own mother lives or dies.

Win A Copy by entering here or on the Interview with the Author that will be posted here on December 6th. The Contest runs from Dec. 3 to Dec. 10 and shipping has been restricted to the U.S. or Canada.