The Wolves of Midwinter

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Charity Fantasy Calendar Kick-starter Project-One Day Remains


    Only one day remains for Lauren Zurchin's charity calendar project, which goes by the name Beyond Words: A Year of Daydreams. Essentially, the calendar features fourteen noteworthy, famous fantasy writers, including  Brandon Mull, Christopher Paolini, Gregory Maguire, Brandon Sanderson, Tad Williams, Patrick Rothfuss, Cassandra Clare, Holly Black, Lauren Kate, Lauren Oliver, Maggie Stiefvater, Gail Carriger, Tessa Gratton, and Brenna Yovanoff. Proceeds for the calendar and individual author photographs, autographed by these featured authors, go to both First Book and World Builders: both these charities are substantive and well worth researching about.

    Anyways, I've looked at some of the preview scans of what the aesthetics of the calendar will look like on the project's calendars, and I was pretty impressed with attention to detail and the use of varied colors. If you consider yourself even a minor fantasy fan, I still highly recommend this page! Both her own website and  the Kickstarter project website feature both these pictures and more details about this project.

   Also, Lauren kindly offered to do this interview to give readers of this blog even more information about this exciting project!

Interview with Lauren about the project:Interview Questions:
1.What inspired this idea of making a calendar that features some of the most popular writers within the fantasy/scifi genre?

 Lauren: I was feeling bored with the types of photos I'd been taking, and decided that I wanted to do some fun fantasy themed photos to get some creativity back into my photo life. Initially I was going to use my friends, but because of my job at lytherus (I'm the managing book editor), I had fantasy authors on the brain one day and it sorta popped into my head: what it you used fantasy authors as the subjects? And it sorta grew from there! I thought a calendar was a fun and easy way to get the photos out into the world.

2. Thus far, How successful has the project been; was there any specific types of challenges that had the possibility of hindering the success of this?
Lauren: The project's been great! I hit my Kickstarter goal about three weeks in, and now it's slowly working towards a stretch goal. It was stressful launching, because I had to take the project I had planned and send it out into the world and hope that people would love it as much as I did, enough to want to support it. I'd say the only real challenge was knowing that a lot of the success was in my hands, in regards to promo. I emailed 20-30 different blogs every single day, hoping to spread the word. That took a lot of time, but it seemed to pay off!

3. Why did you choose Kickstarter, as the platform to launch this ambitious, but very creative project?Lauren: I love what Kickstarter stands for. They are there to support artists and get art into the world. And it allows people to support new projects and get personally involved. I think it's a great site. 

4. Are there any other future projects right now on your radar?
Ha! Well, this calendar will consume my life this year (in a good way!). I'm thinking about doing a calendar for the following year with all different authors, but I want to see how this one goes first. But who knows? :)

Friday, February 15, 2013

Asteroid Survival Kit

Survival Kit for Asteroid DA14 Day
(Well..for the asteroid that will not hit us, according to NASA)

Celebrate with these movie and books:

The Last Policeman

    While it could have read like a conventional police procedural, Ben Winter's awesome crime book also had an added element of danger: the impending collision of an asteroid that may foil anyone's crime-solving enthusiasm... Read it before the next time DA14 enters into the orbital tract


  As you're biding your time before the next real asteroid collision, watch this crappy movie and remind yourself that impending apocalyptic doom can offer campy euphoria!

   Unprepared for the sheer Michael Bay-esque cheesiness, watch Nostalgia Chick's mocking review instead!

Life as We Knew It

         While this story is mostly about the highly improbable of the moon (hearkening to the terrible Time Machine  film from nearly a decade ago), this book does a great job fashioning a highly believable story about the human face of apocalyptic disaster.

Help me! This movie is trapping me in the mire of its own self-aggrandized pretensions....

      Apologies to Melancholia fans! This movie really puts the futility of our lives into a melodramatic/nonsensical perspective  I give you Melancholia-the most absurd, pretentious movie that would make any emo person cheer with masochistic glee.  (Yes, the very nature of art is counter-intuitive . when we realize how meaningless life is....)Its just so terrible that the movie even metaphorically commits suicide by the end because it cannot suffer the pangs of its miserable existence. Watch this if you ever wanted to see hyperbolic gloom be reenacted on the screen in such laughable, overly dramatic ways.

Spoilers Ahead....

Watch with either awestruck horror or pure, diabolical laughter as Melancholia  commits suicide. When the world ends, shut off Mozart, stop reflecting on any meaning in life, and make a tepee out of sticks...The movie is about to do something unprecedented: Commit Suicide!!

When you're laughing at this film.. Beware of Mr. Mcnitpick...

"How dare you make fun of this poignant masterpiece?"
(Character created by Nostalgic Critic)

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Growing Up Dead

 Amazon(Kindle) (Only 99 cents!)

Interview with Greg Wilkey(Author of the Mortimer Drake Series)

1. Let's start with the conventional (rather overtired) question, What spawned the idea for this book? 
The idea for this book came from a dream. I was teaching middle school Spanish and I was reading tons of Young Adult literature at the time. Of course, vampires and the supernatural have always been my favorites. I do not remember the actual dream I had, but when I woke up, I had the title GROWING UP DEAD in my head. I kept thinking that would make a great title for a book. I wrote the title down in my journal and promptly forgot about it until several weeks later. I started thinking of stories that would fit that title and after a while, Mortimer Drake,  a half human/half vampire teenager was born.

2.Why did you choose to self-publish all three books?  What are the advantages to self-publishing?
I have been writing and creating stories since I was a young boy. I have dreamed of landing that big book deal for many, many years. I am constantly sending out query letters and proposals to agents and editors. I have actually gotten a few nibbles, but nothing definite. I began researching self-publishing and was interested in the digital book revolution. Since my target audience was young adults, I thought that going the digital route made since. And since I own all the rights to my work as an indie author, I can set my own price. Digital books cost very little to produce, so I went with the lowest price possible, .99 cents. I am not writing to make money. I just want to get my work and my name out there. I hoped that people would take a chance on an unknown writer if the book was affordable. 
3..Growing Up Dead is very unconventional because it departs from that romantic scheme and brings vampire somewhat back to their horror origins. Is your story a response to this romantic obsession with vampire fiction? Or, was your vision of this story always something purely unaffected by what's popular in vampire fiction? 
Good questions! The answer is yes, to both. I have read almost every vampire book there is ranging from Bram Stoker's Dracula, to Anne Rice's Interview with the Vampire, to Stephenie Meyers' Twilight Saga. I loved them all for different reasons. But as a professional educator, I noticed that the young adult vampire-themed books were heavy in the romance. I felt that they appealed to females more than males. So many young boys that I taught were not reading and I wanted to create a series that would attract them. I wanted to write the kind of vampire book that I would have wanted to read as a teenager. I combined elements of horror, myths and legends, and adventure - I drew inspiration from the comic book super heroes I read as a boy for a lot of that. I wanted Mortimer's world to be a dark and fantastic place filled with high energy, gore, and suspense.

4. Knowing your frequent activity on Anne Rice's Facebook page, you are obviously a huge fan of Anne Rice's works. I definitely saw the parallels between your works, but you also consciously created your own vision. How did your love of Anne Rice's novels shape the construction of this series
I have been a fan of Anne Rice since I was 17 years old. I read Interview with the Vampire in high school and was hooked immediately. I loved her take on the vampire's world. I loved how she broke from some of the traditional vampire rules to create her own creatures. I remember reading Queen of the Damned and being mesmerized by her origin of the vampire. I was truly in awe of how she created an entire mythology and history for her undead. When I started writing Growing Up Dead, I did not want to rewrite what was already out there. I wanted to invent my own universe populated with my own characters. Anne and I have discussed many times about how there are no rules in vampire fiction. The genre is open to interpretation and experimentation. She is a wonderful person and I have truly been blessed by her encouragement and supportI have learned so much from her and my fellow People of the Page. It's a unique network of writers and readers that I truly admire.
5.Who would you cast in a potential film of Growing Up Dead? Would you even want a film adaptation of your books made-knowing how terrible some book adaptation can be?
I would love to see Growing Up Dead as a film. That would be just great. In fact, that's how I see the book as I write. It's like a running movie in my head and I am right in the middle of it. I just sit back and write everything I see happening. It's funny because when I am not writing, I have this "paused" mental picture of where I last left my characters. It's like they're frozen in my head until I get back to my keyboard. I really haven't thought much about who I'd cast in the roles. I modeled most of the characters after people I know in my life. Mortimer is actually me as a teenager. His physical description is how I looked when I was in the 8th grade. His two best friends in the book, Tofer and William, are my friends from childhood. I used all three of use as the models when I wrote the book.

6. Do you have any future novels in the works? 
There are currently three books in The Life and Undeath of Mortimer Drake series: Growing Up Dead, Out of the Underworld, and Hope Against Hope. I am working on the 4th book, Star Blood, and hope to have it ready for publication by the end of spring 2013. I am developing a new young adult series about ghosts and the paranormal that I plan to start writing when I have completed Star Blood. This series will star a new young hero and his adventures with the dearly departed.

Book's Hypothetical Theme Song:
"If books had soundtracks like films..."

  "  Incidentally, Within Temptation, one of my favorite Dutch metal/rock bands, designed an entire album based around an original comic book that the band created. Fitting with the comic-book style of Growing Up Dead, I thought this recent Within Temptation song really suited the book's own action-packed, frenetic pace. "

My Verdict:

While reading the novel, I could not help but nostalgically dwell on memories of this fantastic animated series 

" For the longest time, I put off reading this book, mostly because I was very skeptical about the vampire genre as a whole.  Greg has posted about it numerous times on Anne Rice's Facebook page. Astonishingly, Anne Rice has posted several times, calling this book to attention. Unfortunately, when you've read far too many YA vampire books, you start to grow very tired of the same paranormal-romance plot conventions that are employed in YA vampire fiction. Then again, most of the paranormal books in the YA market have romance attached.Ever since Stephanie Meyer's own vampire books allowed these seemingly dissimilar genre labels to be wedded for their overall lucrative quality.

     Fortunately, Greg Wilkey's self-published vampire series, the Mortimer Drake series, is aimed more for Middle-Grade readers, which lessens the focus on romantic elements. This is much more of an action-packed story with very well-constructed characters and an appropriately suspenseful plot.  The prose is very clean and not too superfluous; Greg expertly writes scenes with a succinctness that some of his professionally-published peers have not  been able to quite master.

     Towards the end, the story did seem to transform into a X-men inspired plot. This is fine by me, of course, because the old, nineties X-Men cartoon was awesome, and it was neat to see this story pay homage to that series in a respectful way(not in a plagiarizing way). In the end, the main reason that I really loved this book was that it adeptly translates the unrelenting pace of a good comic book, whil
e filling in the gaps between action sequences with  excellent character development.
       Remember, that this  book is geared for middle-grade readers, so don't expect something as intricate as say Anne Rice's Vampire Chronicles. It is a novel that is attuned to what keeps readers tearing through the pages. Above all, it is extremely entertaining, and is definitely one of the best escapist reads that you can buy for less than a cup of Starbucks coffee.  For the comic book nerd in all of us, this is definitely the series to read! 

What's your verdict? Have you read this already? 
What prejudices do you have about the quality of self-published works? Have you read any other self-published works; what did you think of the quality?
Leave a comment with your feeling about any of the above questions!

Saturday, February 02, 2013

Death's Cold Breath

This ghost had his stomping ground-the church on the hilltop, right outside of the confines of this small provincial town in England. The westerly winds chilled the air, causing the villagers' to have ghostly breath of their own. Was each errant breath of these churchgoers a significant sign that they were bound to die eventually?
    Staring into the windows, he caught a still image of a weeping boy, clothed in a black suit. His mother was talking in a trembling fashion to the other congregants about pedantic topics like the weather, the upcoming spring flower sale, and Easter, of course.
              The church itself was truly a marvelous building, antiquated, though still very lively. It was constructed in the Middle Ages with dour, grey stone. It had a stout bell-tower with a gleaming cross atop it that was on constant vigil for any hopeless vagrants. This was a place of reconciliation for the lost, the wandering,the disconsolate. It was a place of marriage ceremonies blooming with spring-like life and funerals that had the doleful air of winter.
          Watching the boy, the ghost felt deeply sad. Was he crying for me, someone else? The ghost had forgotten when he died. Dying was a shock to both the living and the dead. He only had vague recollections of "life," "mortality," "religion." He felt like a dim reflection of life, staring sadly and enviably at those gathered at the church, who were so determined to believe that life existed after death
      Here I am, stranded from the mainland of the living, "living" precariously in a sense upon the uneven boundaries between life and death.
       A pair of vacant blue eyes caught his gaze, these were the eyes of the boy. They became wider in recognition. Father.
            Suddenly, the ghost's wandering mind became trapped in a tumbling mess of memories:
            "Father, what happens when we die?" Both father and son were seated in their cold, damp blue mini-cooper.
      The heater was on at full-force, making a resonant "whooshing" sound that the father described as "the sound that the ghosts of the departed make, as God beckons them to him." The father coughed uncomfortably, knowing full well that this was a clever metaphor to help assuage his son's deeply entrenched fears of death. In some ways though, the poetic image soothed his own fear of death: he liked to think that there was a God blowing our ghosts towards heaven.
            "But, what about.... hell, daddy? Does God just forget about...bad peoples...." the boy's face looked positively frightful,his eyes were empty and teary. The father looked lost at words, so he desperately tried a stab at conceiving a much less untenable metaphor.
            "Son, don't listen to what other people tell you about what will happen. Just as you close your eyes before you go to sleep daily and have dreams. Death will be like that, except you'll awaken to the best unrealized dream of all."  He felt like he was being much too pious, especially for a lapsed Anglican. He hadn't really been fully committed emotionally to religion for years. This stemmed from the traumatic death of his friend several months prior to his own death.
       His friend's name was James. Fighting for his country in a glorious,nationalistic daze, James was shot right in the head. With one stray bullet, aimed at the core of his being, his friend died. No ghosts visited him in the months after, no "God" was really ever there to remind him there was life after death. There was nothing but silence. No one wanted to talk in depth about the implications of his friend's death. No one wanted to entertain his desperate questions "WHAT HAPPENS AFTER WE DIE?" At church, it was all dizzying prayers, abstruse doctrines, disheartening depictions of eternal damnation, all rounded off with a few sonorous hymns that exalted the "God" who was never there.
                    His son smiled weakly, as they sat in the car together. Receiving a solemn gaze from his father, he never inquired anymore about death. After that car ride,another seven months of binge drinking in secret continued until  the son found him lying lifelessly on the carpet.
    "MOM...MOMMMM...MOMMMM.... DADDY IS DEAD...." Even after he died, the ghost still reflexively trembled with the chill of the painful words. He felt stricken with selfishness for leaving both his son and wife alone. But, his wife was strong, she was an adept nurse; she was the only one, besides his son, that tried to reassure him that life was worth living. But James, why did James have to go?
Sighing deeply, his son replied "You're still living, Daddy! You're still living!"
       "No son, I'm dead."he said stoically.
        "Well, to me, you'll always be alive! Daddy, I love you!"The boy smiled and silently said a prayer, thanking "God" or whoever was listening, for keeping me alive.
        It dawned on me then. If I had lived my life after James died in homage of him, some intimation of him might have still lived....
         Both my wife and my son watched me with bright smiles at the wind; they both had joyful tears streaming from his beautiful hazel eyes. I smiled in return and waved at them.
     For a moment, I thought I felt Jame's reassuring hand grab my shoulder,"Did you really think I could die that easily?"


Friday, February 01, 2013

Frankenstein's Monster

Interview with Susan Heyboer O'Keefe (Author of the Novel)

Note: This interview has been previously posted, but I'm posting this here again to reveal my new review format

1. What originally piqued your interest in writing a sequel to Frankenstein?

First, let me thank you for your kind invitation to be here. You’ve put me in impressive company.
As to the sequel: Shelley’s Frankenstein ends with what I’ve always thought to be one of the most beautiful and haunting sentences I’ve ever read. The creature has boarded Walton’s ship, discovered Frankenstein’s body, and told its side of the story. Then, declaring that it has no place among the living, it avows to annihilate itself. It rushes past Walton, leaps from the ship, and lands on an ice floe.
Then that sentence:
It was soon borne away by the waves and lost in darkness and distance.
Beyond the poetry of the words themselves lingers keen ambiguity. Does the monster do what it says it will? The reader never knows. If the monster does—end of story.
But if it doesn’t…
2. Throughout the novel, I was gripped by your deft ability to capture the psychological depth of the monster from Frankenstein.  Was finding the balance between your vision of the creature and something that was faithful to Mary Shelley's particular vision challenging?
Challenging is a word I wouldn’t have used at the time. I’m rather unconscious about technique and just “work,” if you know what I mean. Perhaps if I were more aware of what I’m doing, I could have eliminated half of those endless drafts! However, I did do a lot of preparation, which I guess does answer the question. I read and reread and reread Shelley beforehand, and reread parts countless times, so that when I came to a particular scene of my own, I had a sense of wanting the monster to have the same emotional tenor as this or that point in the original.
3. Personally, I find watching Frankenstein adaptations to be a rather disillusioning venture at times. Then again, I'm naturally picky with any adaptations of my favorite novels. I've found the Kenneth Branagh adaptation, the classic Universal monster film adaptation, and the Hallmark television special to all be very disappointing. The recent London Theater adaptation, directed by Danny Boyle, remains my personal favorite. What is your personal favorite adaptation, and why do you think Frankenstein adaptations to be so particularly difficult to film?
Actually, the two Whale-Karloff movies are my favorites, even though they’re responsible for the terrible grunt-and-shuffle creature. Most movie distortions of books are awful or ludicrous, but the Whale-Karloff movies are powerful visions in their own right. At a certain point I had to let go of Shelley’s monster and my monster and just surrender. Whale’s monster is his own and deserves to live, whatever its origin.
Maybe that’s why later adaptations are so difficult to film. Whether consciously or not (witness how many films add Mary Shelley or The True Story to their title), on some level each one’s biggest challenge is to erase the indelible impression of those first movies—and this before even attempting to do justice to a classic.     
4. Is there any other classic novel that you'd love to perhaps write a sequel for in the near future?

I was shocked by how many reviewers talked about my “audacity” for tackling so classic a work as Frankenstein (and relieved that they then liked it; a few even said Shelley herself might have written it). Honestly, that unnerved me. At no point did it occur to me that what I was doing was audacious and daring by approaching such a seminal work. I was just a writer, responding to questions that I had as a reader, prompted by a wonderful book. If I wrote a sequel to another classic now, I’d be more aware of such things beforehand—that there would be, or at least perceived to be, this supposed audacity, and that many people would judge the work additionally on that basis—which would color things from the beginning and maybe prevent my doing it again.
In any case, there’s no classic I can think that I’d like to write a sequel for, although who knows what questions the very next book will make me ask?
Thanks again Susan for participating in this interview and offering thoughtful analysis about the process behind writing this brilliant sequel to a great novel!
Possible Movie Theme?

"I felt that this song really matched the mood of the book, even if the mood of the novel is pretty somber. Yet, this song isn't exactly somber or gut-wrenching. Rather, it is a slightly upbeat/campy song that evokes the monster's deepest source of pain: his inability to find a female companion who might assuage his sense of estrangement with the world around him"

My Verdict:
"Surprisingly,  Susan O'Keefe's background as a children's author really equipped her with the experience needed  to write with precise prose-the type of brevity that more superfluous writers, like myself, can only dream  of having. Faithfully following on the footsteps of Mary Shelley's original tale, Frankenstein's Monster takes the limited perspective of the monster of the original and expands on it in a way that both honors the original and artfully expands upon the original in terms of providing us even more moral ambiguity and more troubling questions about our own existence. If you have any interest in Frankenstein or classic monster stories with both philosophical/psychological intrigue,you should really check 
out this title!"
What's your verdict? Have you read this already?  Have you read the original novel that this sequel is based on before? What are your feelings about either novel? 
-Leave a Comment on my GoodRead's Page (There is a relevant forum topic for each book featured here)
-Or, you can be extra conventional, and just leave a comment the traditional way right on this blog post

News About "A Bibliophile's Reverie"

Note for all readers:
 A Bibliophile's Reverie is going through some grand, slightly unprecedented changes. I'm well aware that I've been hinting at this for the last few months, but these changes will slowly be appearing on this blog over the course of the new few months. Details about all these features will not be divulged in full detail within this particular post, yet there will be more information in coming months once the ideas become more fleshed out.

      Note to Publishers/Authors:

First off, I have been very inept with returning emails about book inquiries, or even following through with requests. That explains why I've taken up a very decreased amount of review or interview requests. Please be aware that I check my email routinely, and I'm going to try to include far more reviews in the future. I am changing my format to effectively abridge the content, and make it far easier to read in a short amount of time.
   Right now, my format involves lengthy reviews that are really not written in a very pleasing format (in my personal opinion at least). My  review format will be changing for the better and I'm really hoping make this blog a far more interactive space! I'm sure you'll really appreciate the changes once they come.

    If you are looking for contact information, my email address (narniafanatic(at)gmail(dot)com is on the right side of the page towards the top.  When writing emails, please be sure to include "Review/Interview Inquiry" on the subject area: this will make it easier for me to both find what emails truly need to read and answered in a timely fashion.
    I've gotten some very good requests over the last year, and I apologize above all else for my failure to either meet your request or even answer your emails. That is a failing on my part. Thanks to all your past requests/future requests!! I really hope to accommodate more requests in the future.