It’s Cookin’!

*kicks door open*

*takes a deep breath*

LET’S GET COOKING!

In just a few days, Feeding The Muse: Recipes For Authors, Recipes By Authors will launch, and I’m mad-squirrelly with excitement. It’s been a long road and a strange one, but the result is incredible: a collection of recipes from nine different authors, each with their own voice and opinion, techniques and priorities. Allen L Wold talks about the role family and travel have had in developing his recipes. Jonah Knight offers tips on managing a healthy breakfast in a hurry. Steven Savage lines up tidy step by step instructions. Then there’s the more “eh, about yay” approach from Leona R Wisoker and Edward Morris. Gail Martin offers up a recipe that would fit just fine into her Deadly Curiosities series. Elektra Hammond’s entry showcases her usual precision and passion. Danny Birt’s recipes are … well, they’re very Danny Birt, is all we can say, and we love them all. Malcolm Gin rounds out the collection with a taste of Hapa Home Cooking.

The recipes range from vegan to completely omnivorous, from simple to complex, from comfort food to something you can throw together in a hotel while at a convention (without stinking out your roomates, even!).  Feeding The Muse is only going to be available in ebook form at this time.

Official release date is July 31. The price is currently set at $1.99; we have no plans to change that for at least a month, but it may go up slightly in October. So grab your copy now, and get ready to enjoy the eclectic kitchen wisdom of the Nine Writers!

Cookbook Progress!

I haven’t been shouting about it yet, but those folks in the know have been asking about when Feeding The Muse: Recipes For Authors, Recipes By Authors, is going to launch. I’m delighted to report that the last few learning curves have been rounded, and the last few wrinkles are being ironed out. IN OTHER WORDS, my ever-shifting deadline (remember, Those Who Knew, I’d originally planned this for January? HAH.) — is growing roots. I’m not going to tempt Fate (I’ve already irritated the Muses, and god help me if I annoy Fate one more time!) by setting out a hard date, but I’ll lean in and whisper: very soon now. Very, very soon.

Here’s the cover art. I can give you that much. And a few snips of what’s inside. I’M SO EXCITED by the way, this is a FUN collection!

Stay tuned for updates. Soon. Sooooooooooon.

 

 

Inventory Update

Our inventory for the next three months should remain stable, unless we sell out of something (which we would, of course, LOVE to do!).  Please check the Amazon listing for the most up to date information, as this page will be the last place to update stock quantity. Here’s the current list, with blurbs and buy links:


The Only Harmless Great Thing, by Brooke BolanderTHE ONLY HARMLESS GREAT THING, Brooke Bolander

“…a heart-wrenching alternative history … that imagines an intersection between the Radium Girls and noble, sentient elephants.”

If you haven’t read about the Radium Girls, by the way, here’s another book for you.

5 copies remaining in inventory as of 5/21/18


Sha'Daa: PAWNSSha’Daa: PAWNS and INKED

“The mother of all apocalypses, The Sha’Daa, is back and more terrifying than ever as multiple portals to horrifying hell dimensions open all across the Earth, but there is still hope….”

In PAWNS, each story is told from the point of view of the demons as they try to breach the dimension between dimensions and bring the hordes of Hell to Earth. Obviously they fail … but how? And at what cost to the survivors?

In INKED, each story centers around a magical tattoo, and takes place within a sharply limited time frame and range of locations. The fun, as always, is in seeing how each author spins the constraints and requirements into a galloping fun story.

2 copies of each remaining in stock as of 5/21/18


Dress Like A WomanDress Like A Woman, Vanessa Friedman

A woman can be a firefighter, surgeon, astronaut, military officer, athlete, judge, and scientist. So what does it mean to dress like a woman? Dress Like a Woman turns that question on its head by sharing a myriad of interpretations across history. The book includes more than 240 incredible photographs that illustrate how women’s roles have changed over the last century.”

This book really hit me in the gut at times, with a deep sense of pride in being part of a long history of fighters. The photographs really are that stunning.

1 copy remaining as of 5/21/18


So You Want To Talk About Race, Ijeoma OluoSo You Want To Talk About Race, Ijeoma Oluo

“… a contemporary, accessible take on the racial landscape in America, addressing head-on such issues as privilege, police brutality, intersectionality, micro-aggressions, the Black Lives Matter movement, and the “N” word.”

 

4 copies remaining as of 5/21/18


Cloak of Obscurity, Angela P WadeCloak of Obscurity, Angela P Wade

“Young wizard-for-hire Edward Red Mage was no hero, and he certainly didn’t consider himself an instrument of Divine Justice–until he was called upon to save the life of one of his best friends.”

4 copies remaining as of 5/21//18

Queen Isabeau's Book, Angela P WadeQueen Isabeau’s Book, Angela P Wade

“All wizard-for-hire Edward Red Mage really wants is to tell fortunes and cast spells for the lower classes of Belcamp-a-Lyr. But when an attempt is made on the life of the King’s Royal Wizard, Edward has to take his place. Can a common-born wizard protect a Queen from a conspiracy against the throne? And can he avoid the advances of a beautiful, but possibly murderous, circus performer?”

7 copies remaining as of 5/21/18

The Mermaid and the Monster, Angela P WadeThe Mermaid and the Monster, Angela P Wade

“When someone, or something, leaves a trail of headless corpses around Belcamp, Edward Red Mage finds himself investigating some of the lowest and most depraved places and people of his career. He traces the deaths to one seedy tavern . . . but is blocked from further investigation for fear of creating a scandal. Meanwhile, his childhood flame, Elizabeth Fuller, is back in town. She’s as attractive as ever, and seems to be attracted to him. The only catch? She’s married. With a serial killer stalking the city, and a worldly woman stalking Edward, what could possibly go wrong?”

5 copies remaining as of 5/21/18


The Wizard of Macatawa, Tom DoyleThe Wizard of Macatawa, Tom Doyle

“…this collection contains a mix of fantasy and science fiction short stories, twelve in all, including “While Ireland Holds These Graves” which earned Doyle a win with Writers of the Future.”

2 copies remaining as of 5/21/18


Going Through The Change, Samantha BryantGoing Through The Change, Samantha Bryant

“Going through “the change” isn’t easy on any woman. Mood swings, hot flashes, hormonal imbalances, and itchy skin are par for the course. But for these four seemingly unrelated women, menopause brought changes none of them had ever anticipated—super-heroic changes.”

2 copies left as of 5/21/18

Change of Life, Samantha BryantChange of Life, Samantha Bryant

“With great power comes…great frustration. Several months after the events of Going Through the Change, retired corporate vice president (and occasional lizard-woman) Patricia O’Neill is embroiled in a search for the mad scientist who brought the “change” upon them all. Meanwhile, Flygirl Jessica Roark and gender-bending strongman Linda/Leonel Alvarez have joined a mysterious covert agency known only as The Department. They’re training hard, in hopes of using their newfound powers for the greater good. Patricia thinks they’re being used….”

3 copies left as of 5/21/18

Face The Change, Samantha BryantFace The Change, Samantha Bryant

“The Menopausal Superheroes are coming out of the closet and the pressure is high, on the job and on the homefront.”

5 copies left as of 5/21/18


The Lie Tree, Frances HardingeThe Lie Tree, Frances Hardinge

“Faith Sunderly leads a double life. To most people, she is reliable, dull, trustworthy—a proper young lady who knows her place as inferior to men. But inside, Faith is full of questions and curiosity, and she cannot resist mysteries: an unattended envelope, an unlocked door. She knows secrets no one suspects her of knowing. She knows that her family moved to the close-knit island of Vane because her famous scientist father was fleeing a reputation-destroying scandal. And she knows, when her father is discovered dead shortly thereafter, that he was murdered…”

1 copy left as of 5/21/18

A Skinful of Shadows, Frances HardingeA Skinful of Shadows, Frances Hardinge

“…a dark YA historical fantasy set in the early part of the English Civil War. Makepeace is an illegitimate daughter of the aristocratic Fellmotte family, and as such, she shares their unique hereditary gift: the capacity to be possessed by ghosts. Reluctant to accept her appointed destiny as vessel for a coterie of her ancestors, she escapes. As she flees the pursuing Fellmottes across war-torn England, she accumulates a motley crew of her own allies, including outcasts, misfits, criminals, and one extremely angry dead bear.”

4 copies left as of 5/21/18


Secrets of the Sands, Leona R WisokerSecrets of the Sands, Leona R Wisoker

When Cafad Scratha was a child, someone murdered his entire family. People have questioned his sanity ever since. As the last Scratha, he’s dedicated his life to catching the murderers. Now a desert lord, one of the mysterious elite of the southlands, he stands above every mundane political imperative and rule of courtesy—or so it seems until the king of the northlands tries to bring Scratha to heel.

7 copies left as of 5/21/18

Guardians of the Desert, Leona R WisokerGuardians of the Desert, Leona R Wisoker

Not long ago, Alyea Peysimun was a shallow young noblewoman maneuvering for personal power. Her first attempt at politics proved far more dangerous than she dreamed possible, and nearly ended her life. Now she is a desert lord, one of the powerful, little-understood southern elite. But power changes everything … —including who to call friend and enemy.

Plenty of copies left as of 5/21/18

Fallen City, Leona R WisokerFallen City, Leona R Wisoker

Dekstakheiq (Deiq) is a human-hakrethe crossbreed called a hakrakha. He is worshiped as a demigod, immune to human laws, largely indifferent to human wants and needs. He seeks only to amuse himself — usually by stirring up trouble amongst the humans. But being all-powerful is boring, and spending so much time around the humans has changed Deiq more than he ever expected … much to the displeasure of his hakrethe kin.

Plenty of copies left as of 5/21/18

Bells of the Kingdom, Leona R WisokerBells of the Kingdom, Leona R Wisoker

Ha’reye and humanity have misunderstood one another for over a thousand years–and that may be the only reason humanity still exists….

Plenty of copies left as of 5/21/18

 

Fires of the Desert, Leona R Wisoker

Sometimes, love just gets in the way…

Plenty of copies left as of 5/21/18

 

A Small Price to Pay, Leona R WisokerA Small Price to Pay, Leona R Wisoker

Cuna, an ambitious young woman, breaks with tradition and risks her life to become an assassin-spy, but the cost of her choices is far higher than even she expected.

AVAILABLE IN EBOOK ONLY, AND THROUGH SMASHWORDS.

 

Salt City, Leona R WisokerSalt City, Leona R Wisoker

As the northern kingdom begins its spiral into that dark time later named “The Purge”, Moir’s choices set him on a uniquely perilous road, binding his future to the whim of creatures that were old before humanity was born. He must decide who he serves: Church, King, gods … or something so tenebrous and dangerous that it could well overshadow every one of those entities.

Plenty of copies left as of 5/21/18

Servants of the Sands, Leona R WisokerServants of the Sands, Leona R Wisoker

A ubiquitous southern saying: “Everyone serves, in the end”. Another: “The teyanain are involved, eventually, in everything.” People rarely consider how those two statements overlap….

Plenty of copies left as of 5/21/18


Hammers on Bone by Cassandra KhawHammers on Bone, Cassandra Khaw

John Persons is a private investigator with a distasteful job from an unlikely client. He’s been hired by a ten-year-old to kill the kid’s stepdad…

3 copies left as of 5/21/18


Los Nefilim, Teresa FrohockLos Nefilim, Teresa Frohock

Diago Alvarez, a singular being of daimonic and angelic descent, is pulled into the ranks of Los Nefilim in order to protect his newly-found son. As an angelic war brews in the numinous realms, and Spain marches closer to civil war, the destiny of two worlds hangs on Diago’s actions. Yet it is the combined fates of his lover, Miquel, and his young son, Rafael, that weighs most heavily on his soul.

Lyrical and magical, Los Nefilim explores whether moving towards the light is necessarily the right move, and what it means to live amongst the shadows.

2 copies left as of 5/21/18


Erfworld book 1, Rob BalderErfworld, Rob Balder

The Battle for Gobwin Knob tells the story of obsessive strategy gamer Parson Gotti, who is magically summoned into a gamelike fantasy universe and forced to command an army in an all-too-real war. This is the first book in the long-running online graphic novel “Erfworld.”

2 copies left as of 5/21/18


Cats In Space, AnthologyCats In Space, Anthology

Seven stories about cats. In space. What else is there to say, really?

1 copy left as of 5/21/18


Shut Up And Eat 2, Angela PritchettShut Up And Eat 2, Angela Pritchett

Take a culinary adventure in the TARDIS with Shut Up and Eat Vol. 2! The Unofficial Doctor Who Series Nine, Ready to Dine Cookbook. Explore each new episode from series nine with a full meal and relive the action and adventure right along with the Doctor, Clara, Osgood and others! Enjoy dishes like Missy’s Java Jump, Mini Zygon Gummies, The Osgood Box Mac n Cheese and many many more!

2 copies left as of 5/21/18


That’s all we have right now — but we have a list of books to add in as these sell out, so keep an eye on our Amazon Sales Page, please! And remember — LEAVE REVIEWS. Ask your local library to stock a book you particularly like, if they don’t already. Donate a copy, if you can! Support small bookstores, like, well, us — but also Orielis‘, and Oakley’s, and so many others. Look for the one closest to you! And don’t forget about the fabulous Little Free Libraries popping up everywhere. Those are great places to drop off a copy of your faves and find new titles!

Pack Pages To Date

So far I have author pages set up for:

Rob Balder

Samantha Bryant

Tom Doyle

Frances Hardinge

Cassandra Khaw

Edward R Morris

Angela Pritchett

Sha’Daa Series

Leona R Wisoker

Allen L Wold

More will post soon. (Currently working on a page for: Angela P. Wade)

IMPORTANT NOTE: Having an author page on The Scribbling Lion does not imply any endorsement of TSL by said author. They’re listed here because I love their work and think more people ought to know about these folks. Nothing more, nothing less.

Change Of Direction

Hello, everyone!

I’ve taken another good hard look at the business model and decided to make some long overdue changes. After some research, I’ve decided that Amazon would be more accessible and convenient for the majority of our customers, and provide a wider audience to the authors The Scribbling Lion is promoting. So: I’m discontinuing the shop as it stands and moving that function over to Amazon. Buy links now redirect over to an Amazon sales page. CAUTION: Be aware that this Amazon page may not be not mobile friendly. 🙁

I’m putting the focus of the business back where it belongs: on the promotion and support of authors, especially those in marginalized and minority demographics. It’s past time I reconnected with the passion that prompted me to open this business in the first place. I‘ll still have sales tables at conventions and events throughout the year, but I’m going to allow myself to concentrate on the part that makes me really happy: geeking out about excellent authors.

Stay tuned to see how this refocus develops! And let’s all tackle 2018 with the passion, grace, and ferocity of a lioness. Forward!

Cassandra Khaw

Opinion: HIGHLY RECOMMEND. Khaw creates Lovecraftian, surreal tales that hit hard and stay in the memory. So far, I’ve read Hammers on Bone and A Song for Quiet, and they’re both absolutely, utterly excellent. The vivid imagery and well defined characters are nearly addictive. Definitely check out her work!

Khaw on Amazon

On Facebook

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News Roundup

OK, folks, there’s a whole new batch of awesome stuff for you to take a look at. And some really depressing stuff, so let’s get that out of the way first.

January 2016 has undeniably started out on a less than happy note. In the last three weeks, we’ve lost Alan Rickman, David Bowie, Rene Angelil, Dan Haggerty, Dale Griffin, David Heartwell, and Glenn Frey. If you don’t know one or more of those names, don’t look them up–you’ll just get your heart broken at the wonderfulness you’ve missed. Many of the deaths were to cancer.  Too many. Far too goddamn many. And I’m personally expecting to lose two or three more people I love to cancer before the end of the year. So this is a shit start to the year, no question about that. Not to mention ELECTION YEAR and TRUMP and POISONED WATER SUPPLY and POLICE CORRUPTION and ohmygodddddddddd it goes ON and ON. Horrific.

HOWEVER.

Tempting through it is, I ain’t hiding under the bed with a bottle of Xanax. Not gonna happen. Instead, I’m going to look at all the amazing stuff that’s ALSO been happening. And I’m going to shout at you about how amazing YOU are, just because you aren’t hiding under the bed yourself. And if you are, I’m going to say you’re STILL amazing, and I’m going to do my best to coax you out so you can see all this other excellently happy news.

Here goes. Take a look at this:

Musician Jonah Knight is branching out into fiction! His short story, The Giant Killer, is coming out in Gaslight And Grimm: Steampunk Fairy Tales through eSpec Books.  They ran a wonderfully successful Kickstarter–take a look here for all the details–and are currently chasing down the last of the stretch goals. Since Danielle Ackley-McPhail is involved in this project, I can tell you that A) it’s a solidly reliable investment and B) it’s going to be high quality. Oh, and C) the backer rewards seriously rock. Free digital downloads of this that and the other from a spectacular array of names including Gail Z. Martin, Kelly A. Harmon, Jody Lynn Nye, Jean Marie Ward, and Danny Birt. Take a look at the Kickstarter and toss five bucks in if you can, boost the signal as loud as possible.

Speaking of music and Jonah Knight, last weekend was MarsCon of Williamsburg, VA. Why is that connected? Well, there were several concerts featuring a wide array of voices, including Jonah. And Danny Birt. And Mikey Mason. And S.J. Tucker. And The Blibbering Humdingers, and Griff’s Room Band, and White Plectrum, and… well. You had to have been there to appreciate the epic scope of the lineup this year. BUT WAIT. Thanks to staff photographer Earl Harris, there is VIDEO of many of the concerts. He’s sorting through the footage now, and I should be able to post clips by Monday next. Keep an eye on the MarsCon Facebook page in the meanwhile; other folks are posting their own videos, if you’re not willing to wait. (Earl’s vids are good, though. He had a feed into the sound board, for one thing, which makes the sound on his videos nice and clear.)

Two musicians who weren’t at MarsCon but who deserve a note here:

Devo Spice, nerdcore rap comedian extraordinaire (no, seriously, check out his awards and achievements, I’m not just being nice here), has a few new projects for you to sit up and take note of. For one thing, he’s creating a video game called Sneaky Monster, which looks like it’s going to be a LOT of fun and has a great origin story. For another, he has an absolutely hysterical new video out, Dinky McDiddlyboots, that you HAVE TO WATCH. He took a moment of teasing by fellow musician Shoebox of Worm Quartet, and turned it around into a great earworm of a song.

A new, Virginia-local discovery for me: Shelly Thiss, blues singer extraordinaire. I know, you haven’t heard of her, it’s okay. She doesn’t self-promote the way Devo does. (She really ought to!) I heard her sing at the Williamsburg Winter Blues Jazz Fest recently, and she completely astounded me with the power, strength, depth, and passion of her singing. Move over, Adele, Shelly just passed you like you was standin’ still. Shelly sings with the Mike Lucci Band, and if you visit their web site you can listen to clips of Shelly singing–and check out the songs she WROTE, too! Talented, talented lady. I’m very glad I met her.

Another great discovery for me at the Winter Festival was the beer. There were many, many craft beers on display. Some were okay, some were terrible–seriously, folks, a beer is a beer. Quit adding so many damn fancy things to it. Lemongrass? Pineapple? ROSEMARY? *shudder* yick. Fortunately, I found one that I absolutely loved: Lickinghole Creek’s Chocolate Heir Apparent Russian Imperial Stout. I went out looking and found it at my local wine & beer shop, which made me very happy indeed. I will add a caveat–according to the beer-ista (what else should I call someone smart about beer who works at a wine & beer specialty shop? I like beer-ista, myself), the blend served at the Festival was extra chocolatey, more so than what’s in the official bottle. I haven’t opened it yet–it’s a big bottle, I need to have someone to share it with!–but I’m looking forward to seeing the difference.

In fiction news, I suggest checking out the following titles forthwith:

A Small Price To Pay, Leona R Wisoker — How far will you go for freedom? A short origin story about one of the plot points in the next Children of the Desert book. Also, a look at just how freaking brutal Lord Evkit can be. Currently available through pre-order–only $0.99, truly a small price! Available through Smashwords, and a fair chunk of it is up for sample reading. Also be sure to read Fallen City, a longer treatment of a different backstory point in the series, this one involving the cryptic Deiq of Stass.

Mussorgsky Riddle, by Darin Kennedy — What, you’re sick of hearing me talk about this title? THEN GO FREAKING READ IT ALREADY so I can shut up about how marvelous it is. The sequel is currently in editorial, and I’ll tell you AGAIN AND AGAIN AND AGAIN that it’s even better than the first one.

Vendetta, by Gail Z Martin — I haven’t read this one yet, but it’s the next book in the Deadly Curiosities series, and I’m *ahem* dying for the chance (meaning: time) to read it. I love the DC series SO much. I think it’s hands-down the best stuff Gail’s ever written.

So if you’re snowed in along the East Coast, download one of those books.

And speaking of snow, it’s piling up here in Williamsburg, so I’m going to sit and admire it for a while. This is my absolutely favorite time of the year! Here’s wishing you a safe and happy snowpocalypse 2016! 😀

A Small Price To Pay

The latest short story from Leona R. Wisoker explores the world of the reclusive, dangerous teyanain of her Children of the Desert series:

The teyanain are a mysterious, insular tribe who control the major access point between the northern kingdom and the southern desert Families. Outsiders know little to nothing about the teyanain; the less one knows, the better, is common wisdom. The further one gets pulled into politics, however, the more likely one is to face the teyanain. For all their reclusiveness, they meddle in politics constantly.

This short story offers a rare glimpse into the world behind the curtain as Cuna, an ambitious young woman, breaks with permitted gender roles and risks her life to become nitta-hei: an elite assassin-spy. Her choices, and the escalating price tag, have long-ranging consequences that echo into the final book of the Children of the Desert series.

Like the previous release, Fallen City, and the subsequent release, Salt City, this story fills in background detail intended to enrich the reader’s enjoyment of the overall series.

Buy it now

Cover art by Mike McPhail of eSpec Books.

Kicking Open The New Year

Hello there! Recovered from that epic hangover? Caught up on your sleep? How about your To Be Read list, is that all caught up?

(Pauses for hysterical laughter)

Yeah, me neither. But guess what! I’m going to add MORE to that TBR stack. There’s always room for one or ten more titles, amirite? OF COURSE I AM.

So here goes.

First up, if I haven’t mentioned Darin Kennedy often enough for you to be utterly sick of the name yet, I haven’t said it often enough. The man writes some damn good surreal fiction based around supremely intelligent concepts. I fell in love with his debut hit, The Mussorgsky Riddle, last year, and I’m currently working through his draft of the sequel–he’s been kind enough to let me be one of his beta readers/unofficial editors. IT’S EVEN BETTER than TMR. *hops up and down wildly* I’m telling you, go read his work. It’s mega good. Here’s a glimpse at the concept description:

Psychic Mira Tejedor possesses unique talents that enable her to find anything and anyone, but now she must find a comatose boy wandering lost inside the labyrinth of his own mind. Thirteen-year-old Anthony Faircloth hasn’t spoken a word in almost a month and with each passing day, his near catatonic state worsens. No doctor, test, or scan can tell Anthony’s distraught mother what has happened to her already troubled son. In desperation, she turns to Mira for answers, hoping her unique abilities might succeed where science has failed. At their first encounter, Mira is pulled into Anthony’s mind and finds the child’s psyche shattered into the various movements of Modest Mussorgsky’s classical music suite, Pictures at an Exhibition.

If that hooked your interest, there’s a sample chapter up now.  And while I’m at it, let me give a shout out to his publisher, Curiosity Quills Press, for being smart enough to snatch this one up. Hopefully they’re treating him well, because he’s a keeper for any publisher with a lick of sense.

Next on the list of BOOKS YOU MUST READ:  Gail Z. Martin has been writing short stories about the world of Deadly Curiosities for some time, and I fell in love with the concept as much as with the stories themselves:

Cassidy Kincaide owns Trifles & Folly, an antique/curio store and high-end pawn shop in Charleston, South Carolina that is more than what it seems. Dangerous magical and supernatural items sometimes find their way into mortal hands or onto the market, and Cassidy is part of a shadowy Alliance of mortals and mages whose job it is to take those deadly curiosities out of circulation.

I adore this sort of story, and Martin pulls off a great set of tense, fast-paced, and fun reads in her various short tales about Cassidy and the Alliance. I was utterly delighted when she came out with the first full book, Deadly Curiosities, last year, and the sequel, Vendetta, just came out late last year and is very high on my own TBR list. The short stories range from free to a couple of bucks, by the way, and can be found here.

Moving sideways to a very different sort of read, I picked up a copy of Susan Shell Winston’s novel Singer Of Norgondy. This is not fast-paced, and it’s not tense; it’s undeniably complex, but still comes across as a largely relaxing read, swaying along through an interesting story. I was surprised at how much I liked it, to be honest; it was a really nice break from the modern race to the finish line style story. Here, read the first couple of chapters to see what I mean. And here’s a description:

If you had the power to enter men’s minds and convince them that you’re a god, would you use it? That’s the choice that Verl, a young singer of Norgondy, must face. Trained by the tellerwoman Merind to telepathically touch the god-spot in people’s minds, Verl holds the ultimate — and deadly — power to control the masses — by creating a new god they can’t help but believe in. Together they help their friend Crel and his dancing bear become the Bearman, the shapeshifting Reaper God who leads the people of Norgondy into war against their usurper queen.

I’ll only add one more thing: that Kirkus Reviews found it good enough to review, which is a pretty high daggone bar to hit, in my experience. Give this one a try.

Let’s see, what’s next? Ah, let’s talk about Angela R. Wade’s books. Full disclosure here: I’ve been the editor for these books, the typesetter, and her writing buddy for *mumble* years now. Angela and I have been friends ever since she stepped into my fledgling writing group wayyyyy back when. I’ve been watching her writing grow and improve by leaps and bounds over the last three years alone, and I’m finally happy enough with her skill to stand up in public and say: she’s a good writer, and someone to keep an eye on over the coming years.

Her Edward Red Mage series has been in development and revision for the whole time I’ve known her, and the first two books are finally out; she self-published for various reasons, and I think she made a smart move. In Cloak of Obscurity, the first book in the series, the protagonist isn’t conventionally attractive, clever, or special in any of the usual ways. He can drink a dwarf under the table, and eat as much as five dwarves at a time; he thinks he’s stupid, ugly, fat, and slow. But every time he turns around he’s saving someone’s life, solving a mystery, uncovering secrets, and generally drawing the attention of dukes, princes, kings, queens, and powerful mages. The ebook is available through Smashwords, and you can read a sample there. Take a look.

The followup volume, Queen Isabeau’s Book, develops Edward Red Mage further, giving him considerably more self-confidence and setting him against bigger and badder enemies with more at stake–the Queen’s life is in grave danger from an unknown enemy, and Edward is searching for the source of the threat, more than willing to risk his own life for the good of the kingdom. Edward also falls head over heels in love with a completely unsuitable young lady and learns rather a lot about Life In General thereby. I enjoyed the hell out of this book, and since I’ve been reading her work for years, I can tell you that the next book will slam things into even higher gear. I can’t wait to get to the editorial stage on that one!

For doll enthusiasts, Angela P. Wade also has a lovely array of doll clothing and patterns on her etsy page.

Moving to the younger end of the scale, I came across a couple of really fun kid’s books recently. Lisa M. Becker and illustrator Rachael Mahaffey teamed up on Have You Ever Seen…, which I found to be a very, very cute concept. For example: “Have you ever seen a crab call a cab? Have you ever seen a cow take a bow?” The illustrations are delightful, and I can definitely see reading this to a toddler with great results. Unfortunately the author doesn’t seem to have a solid social media presence or web site at this time, so the best I can do is direct you to the Amazon page to take a look at the book.

Mahaffey, however, does have more on tap than this one book; she also illustrated An Ordinary Toad’s Extraordinary Night, another charming kid’s book by author Joanne McGonagle. In Ordinary, a young toad wonders “whether his life would be more interesting had be been hatched a frog.” He sets out to ask his grandfather, and along the way discovers and delivers a lot of information about amphibians to the reader. It’s a fun read that educates even as it amuses. The difference in styles between the two books is remarkable; one is very watercolor-blurry, the other more cartoonish in its clear lines and sharp colors. I liked them both, and I had fun browsing through McGonagle’s portfolio online. If you’re looking for a children’s book illustrator, she’s definitely a good name to look up.

I’m going to close out there; I think I’ve added enough to your TBR list for one day! If you do take any of the above suggestions, please also remember that the best gift you can possibly give an author is a review. Post on Goodreads or B&N*, Facebook, Twitter–tell your friends, get others to read the book as well!

Now go forth–Read and Enjoy!

* I’ve stopped recommending Amazon as a place to leave reviews because it’s put some really absurd restrictions into place that have directly hurt authors. For more details on that, check out Anne R Allen’s blog post on the topic.