Welcome Message

Welcome to my blog. Here, you will find information about my novels, life in Japan, as well as author interviews, discussions on writing, and more. Feel free to browse and if you enjoy a post, please comment. Thanks for reading!

Monday, September 30, 2013

Book Review: Child Of The Loch by Elizabeth Delana Rosa

Child Of The Loch is a YA fantasy novel. Here is the official synopsis via Goodreads: "Twenty-three year accountant, J.J. McDonnell, has spent her life trying to be normal and hide her gifts, but all dreams of normalcy are dashed on her twenty-fourth birthday. A handsome man shows up on her porch with a marriage edict and news that the grandfather she has never met, has died. Her world is about to change forever. J.J. must make the perilous journey to the Loch and take her place on its throne. With no idea what is expected of her and dark forces closing in at every turn, will J.J. be able to accept her destiny or will she be stopped before she can?"

I really liked this book, which isn't a full-length novel but actually a novella to introduce Rosa's ongoing series. While it was intended/written as a YA novel, I felt it didn't quite come across as one. Most YA novels have teenagers making up the majority of the cast, while everyone in COTL are adults. But the style and pacing is for a YA novella and everything just felt rushed. There was so much in the book that could have been expanded on that it could have been an epic-length novel. I felt this book was almost a summary, there was so much that was told, not shown. It's an adult fantasy novel written in YA style but I think it should have been one or the other.

Take it as a good sign that I wanted a slower book, Rosa has built an interesting low-fantasy world that I wanted to explore more. J.J. was written as "a person first, a woman second" the author informed me and I think Rosa pulled it off really well. The story is told in the first person but I never got the impression I was reading a "girly" book. J.J. is smart, capable, unsure of herself, and more; I could easily see almost any gender or race telling the story. There are many characters that are unique and I wish we could have gotten to know them more.

COTL mostly deals with J.J. gathering allies for the upcoming war. She meets many new people and travels to different lands. There is a touch of everything for readers: action, romance, political intrigue, magic, and more.

I simply wish the book had been longer, mostly because I like a slow read and I'm not use to the fast-pace of YA novels. But I hope Rosa continues the series and we can learn more about the Loch and its world.

The eye-catching cover was created by the author herself. You can check out her review website Crimson Flower Reviews as well as her personal site.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Favorite Comic Book Artists

Like most kids, I got into comic books. At the beginning of my college life, I even wanted to be a comic book artist and was drawing quite a bit. I guess that was a way of telling myself I wanted to be a storyteller. Now I'm a writer but have recently been wanting to get back into reading comics. They have changed so much since the nineties, when I was really into them. But like most kids, a few artists have stuck with me. Below are some of the ones I loved as a kid and still do today.

Dan Jurgens
Working primarily for DC most of his career, Dan Jurgens created the heroes Booster Gold and Waverider, the iconic villain Doomsday (who killed Superman in the Death Of Superman storyline), as well as the Cyborg Superman. I was and still am a fan of Superman. He had four monthly titles going for him: Superman, Superman: Man Of Steel, The Adventures of Superman, and Action Comics. Superman artist Dan Jurgens was the first artist I remembering taking notice of. I liked his art more than the other three Superman artists, it was more heroic and well-drawn. He is the definitive Superman artist for me. You can follow him on Twitter.

Greg Capullo
On the complete flip side of Superman was Spawn. It took me a while to like Greg Capullo's work but it grew on me. His human characters seemed a bit cartoony but his angels and demons were realistic and dark, creating a nice contrast. His level of detail added to the grittiness of the title. Besides comic books, his art has adorned the covers of Korn's album Follow The Leader and Disturbed's Ten Thousand Fists. He has his own Facebook Page.

J. Scott Campbell
When Campbell said he wanted readers to experience the motion and thrill of a movie car chase on the printed page, he succeeded with Danger Girl. He is best known for Gen-13 and the unrealistic, oversexualized portrayals of female characters but his style was fun. He has the same detail and exciting energy of Brett Booth and Jim Lee but his art had a manga-esque whimsy to it. He has his own DeviantArt page

Brett Booth
Most of my favorite artists came from Image Comics, the company founded by six high profile artists  (Jim Lee, Rob Liefeld, Todd McFarlane, Marc Silvestri, Erik Larsen, and Jim Valentino) who left the Big Two (DC and Marvel) to found their own independent company. Brett Booth was an artist hired by Image and I was blown away by his level of detail and line work. His pieces were dynamic and rich. He also works as a paleoartist, drawing dinosaurs for various publications and websites. Check out his blog.

Rob Liefeld
Only recently have I gotten interested in Liefeld and I wish I had done so sooner. The creator of Deadpool and Cable, he is a love-him-or-hate-him guy. He has had rocky relationships with his Image partners and his self-taught art style is often ridiculed for its over-the-top anatomical proportions, large guns, and tiny misshapen feet. But he is fun. His stories and art are just like what a young kid wants to read and there is nothing wrong with that. He is the Michael Bay of the comic book world and he is entertaining, pure and simple. Rob Liefeld Creations is his website.

Jim Lee
If I had to pick one artist to admire, it would be Jim Lee. He penciled and co-wrote (with Chris Claremont) the series X-Men, whose first issue is the number one selling comic book of all time. He studied to be a doctor but became an artist and his art reflects his knowledge of human anatomy. His work is dynamic and detailed and he is a good storyteller as well. He created or co-created many of my favorite comic characters. The character in the picture is Fairchild. I managed to get this picture signed by him at DragonCon several years ago. One of my favorite characters signed by my favorite artist. Here is his fan page.

There you go everyone. I hope you enjoyed it. Who were some of your favorite characters and artists? As always, please comment below and thanks for reading.

Monday, September 09, 2013

Japan: Summer Break Isn't Really A Break

Summer vacation. The phrase means three months of freedom from the rigors of school. Long car trips, camping out, and s'mores. Almost 12 weeks of "No more pencils, no more books, no more teachers's dirty looks", as the Alice Cooper song goes. If possible, you avoided the school building like a swamp and that final month of summer was agonizing, counting down the days until a whole new year started and the grind began again. It's not quite the same in Japan.

Keep in mind, I have only worked in junior high schools. Elementary and high schools are run slightly different but there are many similarities. And also, when talking about different cultures, not everything is the same across the board. Just the same way there are small differences from school distrct to school district in America, it is the same in Japan. But a lot of the following seems to be pretty standard.

The school year starts in April in Japan and ends in March. There is only a two week break between the two. Summer vacation, starting in July, lasts about six weeks. Yep, barely a month and a half. If you are in a school club; mostly sports like basketball, tennis, baseball, and volleyball, you'll be expected to come to the school every day for club practice. This includes weekends. Most of the practices last about five hours, either outside or in the gym. Keep in mind, schools and school gyms have no central heat and air. That's right, no a/c in the gym during the day in August.

What happened to school books and pencils during summer break in America? Mostly tossed into closets and pushed under beds, never to be seen again until they are covered with dust bunnies when resurrected three months later. Again, it's different in Japan because the students are assigned summer homework. Given out on the last day of school, they are expected to be turned in when classes start back up.

While this may seem somewhat draconian for the students, it isn't much better for the teachers. Almost every teacher is involved in a club; if their students practice during the summer they have to be there as well. Also, many of the teachers take turns being at the school for security. Every day, at least one teacher is there for about eight hours to make sure it isn't vandalized or being improperly used. This includes weekends as well. Also, it is not allowed for teachers to get a part-time, second job. No chance of earning extra income during the year.

This isn't all doom and gloom. Some students and teachers don't have summer clubs. The prime traveling season is during Obon week in August, when most families go on trips and to festivals. Fireworks and festivals are in abundance during the summer, with most activities in the afternoons and evenings, giving students a chance to relax.

Questions or comments? Leave them below. As always, thanks for reading.

Thursday, September 05, 2013

MSH Blog Tour Week 15: Finished

"What did you learn from this blog tour? Did you learn any useful new skills? Hone existing skillls?Did you gain any followers for your blog? Have you sold any books while on the tour? What other ways has this blog tour benefited you and would you do it again?" Those are the questions posed to me on the final week of the MSH blog tour.
For the most part, I enjoyed this blog tour. It was organized differently from what I'm use to but it was interesting. I think we hit some rough patches but it seemed most of the authors had fun.
I can't say that I really learned anything from it, aside from all the different perspectives different authors bring to the same questions. It was fun to read all of the different points of view.

I didn't sell any books during the tour because mine has been released yet. I didn't buy any, either.

With a few modifications (which I don't want to talk about on such a public forum) I'd contribute to the MSH blog tour again.

Wednesday, September 04, 2013

To Boldly Go… Gene Roddenberry Tribute

During the month of August To Boldly Go… hosted a tribute to Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry. I asked several author friends to contribute a post talking about what Star Trek meant to them. I was very grateful for the response I had received. I'd like to thank the authors and I'm reposting the links to each week of the tribute in case anyone missed it or you'd like to read the entire work.

Week 1: Cody L. Martin, Elizabeth Delana Rosa
A Tribute to Gene Roddenberry

Week 2: Valerie Douglas, Karen A. Wyle, Dayton Ward
A Tribute To Gene Roddenberry Week 2

Week 3: Jaqueline Driggers, L. Anne Wooley, Dan Peyton
A Tribute To Gene Roddenberry Week 3

Week 4: Cassidy Frazee, R.K. Wigal, David Mack
A Tribute To Gene Roddenberry Week 4

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

Author Spotlight: Jim Musgrave

Jim & Ellen Musgrave
September's Author Spotlight is on Jim Musgrave.


Tell us a bit about yourself. 
I am a retired college professor of English (24 years), and I also worked at Caltech in Pasadena as the Supervisor of Management Development at the Industrial Relations Center. I also worked as an editor, TV news writer, and freelance journalist. I now devote my time to my fiction and to an editing business, English Majors Publishers and Editors, LLC. I am married to Ellen, who is also a retired college professor, and we live in San Diego.

Do you write under a pen name? 
I wrote some horror under the name “E. Z. Graves” and “Efraim Z. Graves. ” Most of my fiction is under “Jim Musgrave. ”

What’s your writing background? When did you begin writing and what inspired you? 
I was inspired by an inner need to create with words, and I was an autodidact, as my immediate family did not have a writer in its midst. In high school, I was on the school newspaper and year book, and in college I majored in Radio and TV Communications. My Master’s Degree was in Creative Writing from San Diego State University. I write both genre and literary work, as well as non-fiction.

What books have you written so far? 
Forevermore: A Pat O’Malley Historical Mystery 
Disappearance at Mount Sinai: A Pat O’Malley Historical Mystery 
Jane the Grabber: A Pat O’Malley Historical Steampunk Mystery 
The Digital Scribe: A Writer’s Guide to Electronic Media 
Lucifer’s Wedding 
Sins of Darkness 
Russian Wolves 
Iron Maiden an Alternate History 
The Necromancers or Love Zombies of San Diego 
Freak Story: 1967-1969 
The President’s Parasite and Other Stories 
The Mayan Magician and Other Stories 
Catalina Ghost Stories

Are your books or characters based on real life? 
Yes, since I writer “historical fiction, ” many of my characters are based on actual people. However, they are given dialogue to reflect the plot of my story.

Who is your favorite character from your books? Why? 
Detective Patrick James O’Malley from my historical mystery series. He is a Civil War hero who is out of a job, and he has psychological hang-ups like many vets do. I like him because I grew-up in a Navy family, and I am also a vet.

How long does it take you to write your book/s? 
I can write one of my Detective Pat O’Malley books in two months. They are always 12 chapters (with a prologue and epilogue) and run under 60,000 total words.

Do you plan or write by the seat of your pants? 
I have a clear focus for the plot, but I write each chapter to “surprise myself. ” If I am not interested, then I imagine my reader will follow suit. Therefore, I need to include surprises that happen to the characters and cause them to react/think/plan.

What makes your writing unique? 
I can easily weave actual history and setting details into my story lines to serve my plotting needs.

Any advice for the editing process? 
Hire a professional.

Are you published or self-published? What is your experience? 
I have been published by a big publisher (Harcourt-Brace), and I have also published independently. My negative experience with the big publisher caused me to “go indie, ” and I have not regretted it as yet.

Do you have any advice for other writers? 
If you believe in yourself, then get somebody who is a “really good” writer (and not a relative or friend) to verify that belief. I did this with one Jacob M. Appel, a writer I met online who has recently won the prestigious Dundee (Scotland) International Literary Novel Award. Jacob also teaches writing in New York City, and he was won more story contests than any writer I have ever known. When he said my writing was “superb” and he compared me to guys like T. C. Boyle, Tom Wolfe, George Saunders and Steven Millhauser, and I really started taking myself seriously! Unless you get accolades from other writers, then I would not consider fiction writing as a profession. There are too many scam artist publishers and vanity presses out there to “fly by the seat of your pants. ” Besides, it gives us indie authors a bad name when too much crap is published to muddy the readers’ waters. Their time is too precious to be wasted on “wannabes. ”

What books have most influenced your life?
 Camus’ The Stranger. All of Franz Kafka’s work (he should be read like history). Mark Twain’s work (humans are funny).

Who is your favorite character from any book and why? 
Holden Caulfield from Catcher in the Rye because he was like me as a teenager.

For reading, do you prefer ebooks or physical books?

If there was one author you could meet with and learn from one on one, who would you choose? 
Either Shirley Jackson or Lawrence Block.

If you could write a book with any current author, who would it be and why? 
Jacob M. Appel because he likes to add humor to his literary fiction the way I do.

What is the best review of your work you've received to date? 
My short stories were reviewed by Jacob M. Appel (The Mayan Magician and Other Stories). He said: “With the publication of The Mayan Magician and Other Stories, Jim Musgrave joins the ranks of the George Saunders, Steven Millhauser and Kevin Brockmeier at the heart of the modern American short story’s second great renaissance. Musgrave writes with commanding authority of both the past and the future, of adventures at home and abroad. He is a skilled stylist and a powerful raconteur. Musgrave’s characters are memorable, courageous, and—like his prose—intensely compelling. ”

What format(s) are your books available in? 
Paperback and ebook. There are also a few hard cover.

Is there anything else you would like to share or tell us?
Thanks for letting me share! Keep writing and reading. I’ll be appearing in San Diego at the Upstart Crow in Seaport Village on August 29, 2013 (7-9 PM). I’ll also be on a variety of online blogs starting on August 27, 2013 and continuing for 90 days.

Pat O’Malley Historical Steampunk Mysteries


I'd like to thank Jim Musgrave for stopping by. Be sure to check out his books. As always, thanks for reading.