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Saturday, October 1, 2016

Random Interview Saturday! Kimberly A. Rogers

DISCLAIMER
The H. L. Burke Random Interview is not like other interviews. The questions are all over the place. They have no purpose. Their purpose is their lack of purpose.
There are nine questions because cats, but these nine questions are subject to change without notice, so the questions one person answers may not be the questions answered by the next author.

We hear a growl from the bushes. Is it the elusive questing beast?
No! It is Kimberly A. Rogers!

Author Bio -

Kimberly A. Rogers writes urban fantasy with a Christian twist. She lives in Virginia where the Blue Ridge Mountains add inspiration to an overactive imagination originally fueled by fantasy classics such as the works of C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien.

Kimberly A. Rogers


What method do you suggest for dealing with dragons?
Bribe them by reading whatever books they want to them. Dragon claws aren't very good for turning delicate pages, after all.

During an alien invasion, what would be your weapon of choice?
Dry ice.

If you had to be physically one age for the rest of your life, where would you stop the clock?
28

What weather is your writing? A dark and stormy night? A sunshiny day?
My writing is more sunshine in the morning but partly cloudy and chances of storms in the afternoon that will turn to clear skies by day's end.

When cats take over the world, how do you plan to win their good graces?
I have catnip and am well-versed in the art of petting them due to the cat who already owns me.

Favorite flavor (of what? EVERYTHING!)?
Chocolate. Everything is chocolate.

If you could live inside a theme park ride, which would it be?
Carousel or Ferris Wheel depending on whether it's a day to touch the sky or just ride the painted horses. 

Vs movies seem to be all the rage. If you had to put one together, what on screen match up would you like to see?
Oooh, tough one. I know! Battle of the archers! Legolas Vs Hawkeye.

If this question were any question in the world, what question would you want it to be and how would you answer it?
Why do you write? Because I can't not write. It's in my blood and it's how my soul speaks and flies and sings.





Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Review: Rose of Prophecy


by Hope Ann

She is afraid. Not because she is alone. Not because thick roiling clouds obscure the moon. Not because the wind rushes through the forest like a wild dragon. She is afraid because she is late. And to be late means death.
Her life had been happy once. 
Despite the destruction wreaked by Tauscher, traitor to the King... Despite the distant war led by the Prince and fought with the help of her three brothers... Despite her own poorly-chosen nickname... Despite the absence of the luxuries she grew up with, Beauty enjoyed life. 
Of course, that was also before her father left home on a hopeful errand but returned weary and ill, bearing a velvety scarlet rose which he claimed would never wither. But even life in the ancient hall, tucked away in the center of Mosswood, surrounded by roses of every description, overshadowed with mystery and home to a scarred figure who was more beast than man, wasn't too bad after a time. 
But now...now, in a flash of light, Beauty finally glimpses the truth. And the cost. The price which must be paid, or the sacrifice which must be made.
It is a curse which even love alone may not be able to break.


My Review

This is going to be a tough one to review without spoilers ... but I'll try. 
First off, I think this book toyed with my expectations a bit ... or maybe my expectations toyed with me. The fairy tale retelling genre seems to be very dependent on "twists" and "new takes" and this is (at least at first) a very straightforward retelling of the original tale. It wasn't until near the end that the author introduced a few elements I hadn't seen before. 
However, the writing was dang good. Strong voice, really potent, nice mix of descriptions ... just good. I think that drew me in and kept me reading past when my jaded brain would otherwise have given up for "lack of novelty" (because I admit, as a reader, I'm very into the "shiny.") which might've been created by how closely this follows the original tale. 
The book isn't preachy. There is definitely an allegorical element that could've been preachy, but wasn't and it is overall a satisfying read I would recommend (definitely a short story rather than a full novel. Not a bad thing, in my book. I like short reads, but I know some people really like to spend days in a book, and this is an "afternoon" book, not a "days" book). 
My only beef: some elements of the allegory didn't work for me. It wasn't as clean and straight forward as say Narnia where "oh yeah, I get how this works with Aslan being a divine figure and also an "actively in the story figure." ... some of the allegorical elements felt like they needed more explanation for me (like how "magic" works generally in this world. If their King is literally a God figure is He immortal and all powerful or is He not exactly God just sort of an "image" of God that stands in for this world? Just little "world building" things I didn't get a sense of ... admittedly, a long explanation of how it works would probably be out of place in this short tale which kept a pretty decent pace and really never had a place to stop and "explain" itself). 






Saturday, September 24, 2016

Random Interview Saturday! Kristen Kooistra

DISCLAIMER
The H. L. Burke Random Interview is not like other interviews. The questions are all over the place. They have no purpose. Their purpose is their lack of purpose.
There are nine questions because cats, but these nine questions are subject to change without notice, so the questions one person answers may not be the questions answered by the next author.

We hear a jingle of many silver bells and a sleigh appears on the horizon, pulling our next author, Kristen Kooistra!


Kristen Kooistra

Congratulations! You are now president of this blog post. What's your first executive order?

A: I’d like a poofy pillow and some gooshy food delivered for my fluffy counterpart, Kota. What’s that? Meooooooowwwww. Okay, she says she also wants the little girl sneaking cookies in the corner to spend the rest of the interview petting her. She also wants some of the cookies.


Who is your fictional best friend and what activities do you choose to do together?

A: I have no fictional best friend. I live a solitary fictional existence where there’s nothing but me and the quiet emptiness. Kind of like being in Narnia before Aslan’s song. It’s nice here . . . peaceful. There’s a decided lack of children demanding attention and cats insisting on pett—OW! I take it back. This place is horrible without Kota.


Can you simply walk into Mordor?

A: Definitely not. Haven’t you heard? There’s not just orcs there. Some freaky eye thing is watching everything and I’m pretty sure you’d need at least 10,001 men to even attempt it. It’d be folly otherwise.


Describe your life (or writing) as a film genre.

A: I’m calling dibs on family comedy. Little kids give me the best stories to share. And that’s not even taking into consideration my siblings or my inlaws *looks around nervously* They’re not watching, right?


If you had a store, what would you sell?

A: Sanity for parents who have to deal with their kids, other people’s kids, and other adults who are in need of the second item my store sells—Manners.


If you had to get stuck inside a television show, what would it be?

A: My Little Pony(assuming I could take my oldest with me). She’d go crazy. We could take some selfies with all of the ponies. Maybe she could even get a ride if our animated selves were the right size. And nothing would kill us. Living is a good thing.



Where’s my supersuit!?!?!?!?

A: Frogsticks. I knew I forgot something. *leaves for a minute* Kota clicks her claws on the floor. *rushes back in with a big gaudy hot pink and lime green wrapped box* Found it! The supersuit of your dreams, just as you ordered. Customized special and everything.


During an alien invasion, what would be your weapon of choice?

A: Is this a real question? Because I’m sure lightsaber is the only valid answer any SANE person would make.


If you could combine any two animals to make a hybrid, what would they be?

A: A whale in a unicorn! *Kota waves paw and gives a cryptic meow* Wait, what are you-- *a giant plume of purple smoke flashes in the center of the blog post* Holy fudge and pumpernickel! When did you learn magic? *smoke fades and there in all of its glory is my dream creature*



YOU’VE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME! THAT’S INSANE!!!


If this question were any question in the world, what question would you want it to be and how would you answer it?

A: If this question were any question in the world, it would be, “What question would you want it to be and how would you answer it?” BAM! Didn’t see that coming, did you?




Social Media







Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Review: When Sparks Fly by Ines Bautista-Yao

When Sparks Fly

Ines Bautista-Yao

Twenty-four-year-old photographer's apprentice Regina has always felt like the plain, dull orange next to the shiny red apple that is her best friend Lana. But then she meets Ben—the first guy to ever break Lana's heart, and the first guy to ever make Regina feel that he only has eyes for her. As Regina finds herself falling hard for Ben, she also finds herself breaking all the rules of best-friendship. Will she give up the love of her life for Lana, or will she finally realize that she deserves her share of the spotlight, too? 

When Sparks Fly can be read as a standalone novel, but it is also a prequel to Ines Bautista-Yao's other book Only A Kiss.

My Review

Romance isn't typically my thing. I try it from time to time, but it tends to be a little too formulaic and center around characters who aren't necessarily people I find interesting ... however, I'll read this series in a heart beat (I think this is the third from this "universe" that I've read ... I think it's more a universe than a "series" because while characters from other book show up as side characters, the stories are self-contained) because of a few points.
1. the writing is clean. It has a strong voice that carries you along.
2. the characters are well thought out and interesting, with a good mix of positive and negative traits and things they care about besides mooning over each other ... there's also a limit to the stupid drama. People fight about reasonable things, rather than contrived things ... and even the sort of over the top side character Lana manages to be likable while she's kind of doing the things that sometimes turn me off from romance heroines (helps that she's a secondary character and the more level headed lead is the one we're supposed to root for).
3. I like that these are set in the Philippines. It makes me feel like I'm taking a vacation. There's a hearty sprinkle of culture that manages to ground me the location, and I really like that.
Honestly, the only small quibble was I could've done without the side story about the friend from college. It had some small plot influence, and it wasn't annoying to read by any means, but it didn't strike me as essential to the story or characterization. But it wasn't a huge distraction and it did make the book take about twenty minutes longer to read (I will admit to being an impatient reader and I don't think I'm necessarily the norm in this). 

I received an ARC in return for my honest review. 




Saturday, September 17, 2016

Random Interview Saturday! H. A. Titus

DISCLAIMER
The H. L. Burke Random Interview is not like other interviews. The questions are all over the place. They have no purpose. Their purpose is their lack of purpose.
There are nine questions because cats, but these nine questions are subject to change without notice, so the questions one person answers may not be the questions answered by the next author.

With a flash of lightning and the roll of thunder, H. A. Titus appears among us, carrying a dusty, leather-bound tome filled with awesome answers to our random questions.



Author bio:

H. A. Titus is usually found with her nose in a book or spinning story-worlds in her head. She first fell in love with speculative fiction when she was twelve and her dad handed her The Lord of the Rings. She lives on the shores of Lake Superior with her meteorologist husband and young sons, who do their best to ensure she occasionally emerges into the real world, usually for some kind of adventure. When she's not writing, she can be found rock-climbing, mountain biking, or skiing. She is the author of the Celtic urban fantasy Forged Steel.

The Interview


What weather is your writing? A dark and stormy night? A sunshiny day?
It's one of those cloudy, stormy days that still has speckles of sunshine breaking through. Plenty of thunder and lightning though. 

 Congratulations! You are now president of this blog post. What's your first executive order?
It would be that people found my answers enormously clever and funny. (I think that would scoot me closer to the line of dictator though.) :P

If you could live inside a theme park ride, which would it be?
Probably the Rip Ride Rockit in Universal Studios. (My pick of old classic rock? Yes!) Or the Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey ride (also in Universal). My husband might not be too pleased with that last choice though, as that ride made him feel pretty ill for a couple of hours. 

You're the next Disney princess. What fairy tale is your full length movie and how would you use your new ability to control woodland creatures?
East o' the Sun and West o' the Moon. No contest, that's my favorite. As for controlling woodland creatures, I suppose they would come in handy for helping me find the witch's castle. (Or...you know...eating if I was starving in said woodlands. But this is family friendly so we should probably skip that part.)

If you had to get stuck inside a television show, what would it be?
Leverage. I'd get along famously with everyone, I think. Plus it's one of the very few tv shows where I think I'd actually survive more than a few hours. 

We sometimes hear stories about lottery winners who still choose to man their tollbooths or drive their buses in spite of being able to afford to quit. What job (or jobs), to you, would be worth working even if you didn't need the financial pay?
I would so be a librarian for fun. Yes, it would mean dealing with people (something I'm not exactly good at), but the ability to help people chose new books to read, and recommending my favorites...it's basically what I do at my church already, so it would be awesome! :) 

During an alien invasion, what would be your weapon of choice?
Anything I could get to quickly, is easy to handle, and wouldn't require ammunition or replacement parts. Hmm. Kinda rules out a lot of stuff. So...I guess a baseball bat?

If you could combine any two animals to make a hybrid, what would they be?
Oh, I did this in high school! (I realize I should add, not literally. I'm not a Doctor Frankenstein in training. Yet. It's on my bucket list.) Back then I hybridized a lion and a scorpion. Don't remember what I called it. 

If this question were any question in the world, what question would you want it to be and how would you answer it?
Question: "What's at the top of your bucket list?" Answer: "It will very likely never, ever be possible in this world, but...I would still LOVE to ride a dragon."


Connect with H. A. Titus




Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Christmas is Coming: Goodreads Giveaway!




I'm sick of waiting to release this book! So I'm putting it out NOW! It's currently 99 cents so grab a copy while you can!
Click here to order on Amazon.


Also, if you prefer to read paperback, you can enter to win a copy via Goodreads (click below).


 
 


    Goodreads Book Giveaway
 

   

        Nyssa Glass's Clockwork Christmas by H.L. Burke
   

   

     


          Nyssa Glass's Clockwork Christmas
     
     


          by H.L. Burke
     

     

         
            Giveaway ends September 25, 2016.
         
         
            See the giveaway details
            at Goodreads.
         
     
   
   



    Enter Giveaway



Tuesday, September 13, 2016

My Controversial Stand: Higher Education Isn't For Everyone


My Controversial Stand: Higher Education isn't for Everyone



Generally, as a writer, I'm not very controversial. I write about things that don't exist, so I can pretty much say whatever I want about them. I write in Fantasy worlds, so I can choose which of "our world's" problems to bring into them, and most of the time, I'd rather leave the controversial ones behind because I don't consider myself someone who has answers to them. I write escapist fantasy.
But I did make a subtle stand at the end of Cora and the Nurse Dragon that most readers didn't notice, but at least one reviewer called me out on, in the end Cora determines that college isn't for her and chooses to forge her own path. One reviewer felt this was a bad message that would encourage kids not to pursue a better life.
But that message was totally intentional.

I honestly don't believe college is the only path to a "better life." I don't plan to pressure my kids towards degrees. I really don't plan to encourage them to go into debt to get them. I don't have a degree, and I've been able to find what I consider to be success in life.

To start with, as mentioned above, I don't have a degree. I did spend about a year in community college,  kind of fumbling around, getting good grades but only taking selective classes because I was bored with it and I only wanted to take classes I could assign "value" to (Like I took Spanish because I really believe speaking a second language would help me. Some office orientated computer classes because I thought they'd make me more employable, and writing because I wanted to be a writer). And honestly, if I could trade the time spent in college for the savings that I depleted paying for books and courses, I'd do it in a heart beat.

I feel like I did what courses I did because of pressure from well-meaning people who thought it was be "good" for me, but that was one of the most miserable periods of my life. I felt lost and directionless. I felt like what I wanted was "wrong" but that I'd never be happy if I pursued what other people wanted for me (the relatives/friends who thought I'd be a good nurse or a great teacher or just felt that I needed a degree if I wanted to amount to anything).

And for a while, as a writer, I kind of hid the fact that I didn't finish college because I think as a society we've come to assign a ridiculous amount of value to it. Enough value that it's worth going into crazy amounts of debt and shaming people who don't pursue the same goals.

People told me I needed the degree to get a good job, but the only job I'd ever really dreamed of (being a fiction writer) didn't have a "yes, if you get this degree you are guaranteed a publishing contract" path, and to me, the cost of a degree was too much of a gamble.

People told me that it was about the experience, but the experience they described always seemed to be about partying and drinking which have never been my thing.

When I ran out of savings and scholarships (I still wish I had those savings back.), I told my mom and dad I was going to work for a bit instead.
I found out I really liked working. I've always been a little competitive and good at figuring out "systems," so being a good employee was second nature to me.

After a bit in a food services job, my family got worried again because I would soon age out of their health insurance. I said, "Okay, I'll get a job with health insurance then." So  I did.
Again, I was good at this job too. I made enough that, if I'd been smart about it and lived reasonably, I probably could've lived off of it (at this point I was 20 and still living at home), and I'd still write in my spare time. I read a LOT. Like on my break I'd walk either down to the local bookstores or up to the library and get a book and read it. I still didn't feel I was doing something I could do for the rest of my life. It was still a place holder job.

Then came Matt. Then came marriage. Then came kids.
Then came a day I realized that I could self-publish.

I'm a learn by doer. I taught myself formatting. I learned editing tricks. I learned everything I could about improving my craft, and now I'm doing what I love and making decent money at it. My college experience ... I still look back on it as a depressing waste of time I really wish I could somehow refund.

Now my experience isn't everyone's, obviously. Some people loved college. Some people pursued careers that would only be available to them if they had college under their belt (anything in medicine, engineering, certain financing and business degrees), but if you don't know what you want to be, I don't think college is a magic cure all for lack of direction.

And college isn't the only way to success.
There's a skilled labor shortage. We need more people who can work with their hands.
In this internet age, there are a lot of options for people who are creative to pursue goals online, from selling art to making videos.
Some trades offer apprenticeships and on the job training.

Yes, most of the best paying jobs are college educated jobs ... but why is "best paying" the main measurement of value or success? What about happiness? And in observing my generation and the generation immediately following, college education isn't really what separates those who are doing well from those who are struggling. In fact, a lot of them are struggling because of their college debt while working jobs that the average high school graduate is decently qualified for.


So yeah, I'm making a stand that if you are a young person trying to decide what to do with your life, it's okay not to do college.

Work with your hands. Learn about the real world. Find out what you value. Don't try to please people or make your guidance counselor happy.


As a writer, I've included some characters who are driven by a love of learning and academia and books ... and some who love the scent of earth and feel that classrooms are stifling. Both types exist, and neither is wrong.