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Sunday, January 31, 2016

Release Day and 10 Things about CORA AND THE NURSE DRAGON!!!

Today is the day! If you pre-ordered, your copy of Cora and the Nurse Dragon should be on its way to your kindle. If you didn't, you can now buy the book in ebook or paperback! Click below to purchase.
Cora and the Nurse Dragon

In honor of this auspicious day, I have written a blog post with 10 awesome bits of Cora and the Nurse Dragon Trivia ... ENJOY!

10 Secrets of Cora and the Nurse Dragon



  1. The author of the dragon field guide, referenced in the book, is J. C. McCall, named after the author’s grandfather. Grandpa Jim is an avid “birder” who always has a bird book on hand, so it seemed an appropriate choice.
  2. The name for the main dragon, Cricket, was taken from the author’s Facebook fans when the desperate author sent out a “name my dragon” plea. The winning name was suggested by Bethany J. The name inspired the dragon’s signature “chirping.” Due to a much longer story, which should be detailed elsewhere, Cora is also named after her daughter. 
  3. An important character, Mr. Algernon, is described as tall with a dirty blond beard because the author watches an obsessive amount of Good Mythical Morning and wanted a character to look like Rhett from that show.
  4. There is a reference to a secret group known as the Cadmus Society, which is a reference to Greek mythology and Geek mythology, as Cadmus is a secret government agency in the DC Universe.
  5. This is the author’s sixth books to significantly feature dragons, but dragons have made appearances or received mentions in the majority of her work.
  6. The author got the idea for the book when shopping for toy dragon eggs online for her daughters.
  7. The author teared up writing the ending. She doesn’t usually cry when writing, so this is only the third instance of self-induced-writer tears (the other two scenes causing such emotion were in Dragon’s Rival and Lands of Ash).
  8. Almost all research done for the book involved the setting, due to the choice of a 1920’s alternate earth for the location/time period. Apparently in the 20’s they did have flashlights but did not have ballpoint pens.
  9. The first draft of Cora and the Nurse Dragon (at roughly 39,000 words) was written in ten days. That is a personal record for the author. Edits/second drafts are another story.
  10. The majority of the book was written to the soundtrack of computer games World of Warcraft and the Myst series as well as songs from the band Evanescence … and occasionally Rhett and Link.


And this is somewhat related, somewhat unrelated. You notice that Rhett and Link feature in two of the answers above. I follow these guys on Twitter/Facebook/Whatnot and recently when they did a "shout out" for questions involving morning routines, I answered (probably along with several thousand other people) ... but anyway, then THIS happened.
Best author moment of the year so far (starts a little over 3 minutes in if you want to skip to the related bit). 

I'm totally sending Rhett a copy of Cora and the Nurse Dragon. He has to read it now, right?

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Random Interview Saturday! Jennifer Kibble

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.

Today we salute Jennifer Kibble, who enters our arena bearing only her sword and her awesome answers.

Jennifer Kibble


Author Bio:

Jennifer is a geek at heart. She has used this love for video games,
reading, the fantasy & science fiction world, and used it to help fuel
her passion for writing. Jennifer started to write short stories in
the fifth grade. Her career as a writer turned serious after a trip to
witness the launch of the space shuttle Discovery. This set into
motion the mindset to do what she loves. In her free time, Jennifer
enjoys playing video games, reading, D&D, and listening to music.
Mages of Vane is her newest book in the Phoenix Element book series.

The Interview!!



1. You can rescue a fictional character from certain death or
resurrect them to live again. Who do you save? Alternately, is there a
fictional character deserving of death who you would like to destroy?
The horse from Neverending Story, Artax. I loved that movie when I
first saw it. But that scene with Atreyu and his horse in the swamp of
sadness makes it very hard to watch that movie again. Jar Jar Binks
would be an obvious choice for the character that needs to die. Yea,
I'm going to stick with my answer.


2. Fill in the blanks.. (I am a were...but I only turn when ....). I am a were vogon but I only turn when the answer is 42.

3. You are given a magical whistle that allows you to pick three
creatures, real or imaginary. You get one to be your companion/mount,
one who you can transform into at will, and one you have to engage in
a fight to the death. Catch? You don’t get to pick which is which.
What three creatures do you choose?
A dragon, a hippogriff, and a phoenix.

4. Who is your fictional best friend and what activities do you choose
to do together?
Tasslehoff Burrfoot is the first name that comes to mind. This
character is from the Dragonlance series by Margaret Weis and Tracy
Hickman. A pure free spirit if there ever was one. Tasslehoff's
wanderlust is infectious to both his friends and the readers. I can't
say what we would do together but it would be filled with spontaneous
adventures! And dragon riding. Providing that I don't get motion
sickness first.


5. What’s the most important lesson you ever learned from a cartoon?
"There's no point in being grown up if you can't be childish
sometimes." Wait, no, that's Doctor Who. "Never forget who you are"
from Disney's Lion King. As well as "Remember who you are." Life is
hard but at the core, I've learned to never forget who I am, where I
came from, and how I got here.


6. Most RPGs have three basic classes: healers, who heal; tanks, who
protect other party members from damage; and dps who damage the bad
guys. Which are you? Points if you’ve actually played an RPG and can
tell me about your in game character.
I love playing RPGs! Both in video game format and table top. I tend
to play solo a lot in MMOs, and over the years, the best type of
character to play in a group and on my own is a dps character. Tanks
are too slow, healers are squishy, but the dps character is just
right. Whenever I play any time of RPG, be it online, or otherwise, I
try to be well-rounded. Besides, there is too much responsibility for
the tanks and healers.


7. The Flying Dutchman is offering you three wishes. How do you
maximize your wish potential?
Teleportation powers (traveling made simple!). Super powers, because
why not? Aaaaand....(I'm always bad with the three wishes question)
advance NASA by fifty years.


8. If you favorite historical era had an ice cream flavor made in its
honor, what would it taste like?Armadillo Surprise, tastes like leprosy.

9. If this question were any question in the world, what question
would you want it to be and how would you answer it?Should Hollywood stop with all the remakes of movies/shows from the
1990's? YES!!!! Pull stories from books instead.





Links:
Phoenix Element Blog - https://phoenixelement.wordpress.com/
Phoenix Element on Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/thephoenixelement
Phoenix Element: Mages of Vane on Amazon -
http://www.amazon.com/Phoenix-Element-Mages-Vane-2/dp/1516842235/
Phoenix Element: Normality Twisted on Amazon -
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B011LNG3M8

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Critiquing 101: Don't Qualify Everything


I do a lot of critiquing/beta reading. Mostly through Scribophile.com, but I also have participated in real life critique groups from time to time, and I'll agree to read other writers' work fairly frequently (this is not me asking you to critique your novels. Chances are, I'm already way behind on agreed upon reading right now).
Getting input on your writing is so important, but so many writers are hesitant to give constructive criticism, or don't know how, or don't feel qualified.
In this series, I plan to discuss pitfalls to avoid as well as things you can do to make your advice easier to understand and more helpful to the writer.

Some subjects we'll be covering:





Mistake: Qualifying everything.
There are two sides to this, both of which I think come from a certain amount of insecurity from the critiquer.
The first is critiquers who qualify every suggestion with, “But I don’t know … this is just my opinion … but if you don’t want to, don’t do it …”
And there’s nothing wrong with telling the writer to take or leave your advice (once or twice). It’s their work, not yours, and you’re not the writing god. A lot of writing is subjective, and writers shouldn’t blindly take all advice.
However, constantly weakening your advice with “buts” and “only if you think it’s a good idea” telegraphs certain things to the writer.
  1. You don’t care that much. It isn’t a big deal, so why should they change it.
  2. You may not know what you’re talking about.
If I were making someone a sandwich and someone came up to me and said, “You know, I don’t personally like the combination of peanut butter and eggs, but maybe other people do. I don’t know. That’s just my opinion.” I probably wouldn’t bother to make a new sandwich.

The opposite of this, though, can be just as, if not more, annoying. In an attempt to strengthen the advice, some people add in judgments like, “writing dialog with too many varied dialog tags is amateurish” or “this is a mistake a lot of new writers make” or “if you want to get published.” Sometimes they appeal to authority with advice like, “an agent once told me novellas weren’t marketable so you should make this longer.”

Why is this annoying? Because it makes assumptions about the writer (unless the author literally tells you this is the first thing they’ve written, never assume someone is a new writer. And what’s the point of calling something “amateurish” other than make someone feel ashamed?), and it also doesn’t give a real reason to change it. Something being amateurish is meaningless unless you accompany it with a reason (dialog tags should be invisible rather than distracting and creative ones can draw are reader out of the story).
The appeals to an authority also can backfire (I don’t care what an agent thinks is marketable. I self-publish, so I can write things I want, not what agents think are an easy sale.). The bottom line is that your advice needs to stand on its own.
Caveat: If you have an actual expert on a subject you’ve consulted with or factual evidence to back up something, saying, “My best friend is a nurse and told me …” is actually very helpful. I’d pay more attention to that than, “Are you sure nurses …?”
Also, if you read an interesting article that explained an issue or gave an applicable writing tip and you want to reference that (and maybe tell the writer where they can read the same article) that is helpful. Likewise, if you feel you’re dealing with someone who needs a confidence boost, telling them that they don’t have to consider your advice as law, once or twice, can be nice. Just don’t water down every statement with shuffling feet and downcast eyes. (Also, it is good to inform a writer if something is just a personal pet peeve for you. Trying to force other writers to accept your pet peeves as law is another post altogether).


Monday, January 25, 2016

Blog Tour: Visions of the Griffin's Heart

JUST RELEASED!
Vision of the Griffin’s Heart, Andy Smithson, Book 5


Four years ago, Andy Smithson discovered he is the Chosen one to break a 500-yr-old curse plaguing the land of Oomaldee when he unexpectedly and mysteriously found himself there. To do so, he must collect ingredients for a magical potion. Thus far he has gathered the scale of a red dragon, venom from a giant serpent, a unicorn’s horn, and the tail feather of a phoenix. Now he must ask a griffin for one of its talons. There’s just one problem…humans have poached griffin treasure, causing these mythical creatures to attack on sight.

Complicating matters, the evil Abaddon, sovereign of Oomaldee’s northern neighbor, is turning more and more citizens into zolt in his ongoing campaign of terror as he sets in motion the final steps of his plan to conquer the land. Things really start to heat up in book five!

If you loved Harry Potter, you’ll love the Andy Smithson series chalk full of mythical creatures, newly invented animals like zolt, herewolves, and therewolves, a complex plot with evolving characters, and positive themes including responsibility, diligence, dignity, friendship and more.

Purchase Kindle and Paperback


THE BUZZ
5 Stars! - “A marvelous book in a great series!” – Erik Weibel (Age 14) This Kid Reviews Books Blog
Readers of this series have come to anticipate a host of challenges, intense battles, and on an epic scale. In Vision of the Griffin’s Heart, you won’t be disappointed. For lovers of fantasy, I consider it a must read.” – Richard Weatherly, Author
One of the admirable qualities I like about the entire series is seeing Andy’s growth from a self-absorbed kid to a more thoughtful teen as he learns how to deal with the various crises which face him, all the while knowing that the future may hold unpleasant consequences.  The watchword for Vision of the Griffin's Heart is “courage.” – Wayne Walker, Home School Book Review

OTHER BOOKS IN THE ANDY SMITHSON SERIES:


Blast of the Dragon’s Fury (Andy Smithson, Book One) ebook is FREE. Download a copy at Amazon, Smashwords, Kobo, Google, B&N.
Listen to the FREE podcast of Book 1 by L. R. W. Lee on Podiobooks.
Book one is also available in paperback.


Venom of the Serpent’s Cunning (Andy Smithson, Book Two) is available in Kindle and Paperback.
Download the professionally recorded audiobook at Amazon
It’s only $1.99 if you download the eBook first…Savings of $16!

Disgrace of the Unicorn’s Honor (Andy Smithson, Book Three) is available in Kindle and Paperback.


Resurrection of the Phoenix’s Grace (Andy Smithson, Book Four) is available in Kindle and Paperback.

Power of the Heir’s Passion (Andy Smithson, Prequel Novella) ebook is FREE. Pick up a copy at Amazon, Google, B&N, Smashwords. It’s also available in paperback.
Download the professionally recorded audiobook at Amazon
It’s only $1.99 if you download the eBook for $.99 first…Savings of $1!


ABOUT THE AUTHOR
L. R. W. Lee credits her love of fantasy with her introduction to C. S. Lewis' Chronicles of Narnia. Later on, she enjoyed the complex world of Middle Earth brought to life by J. R. R. Tolkien in Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit. The multiple dimensions of the worlds mixed with a layer of meaning, captivated her and made her desire to invent Young Adult Fantasy and Epic Fantasy worlds others could get lost in, but also take meaning away from. More recently, L. R. W. Lee has found inspiration from J. K. Rowling and her Harry Potter series as well as Brandon Mull and his best selling Fablehaven, Beyonders and Five Kingdoms series.

L. R. W. Lee writes to teach her readers principles that can transform their lives – overcoming frustration, impatience, fear and more. She also shows why responsibility, diligence and dignity are the keys to true success in life. She lives in scenic Austin, TX with her husband. Their daughter is a Computer Engineer for Microsoft and their son serves in the Air Force.



THE DEPTH OF THE ANDY SMITHSON SERIES
If you’re an adult looking for a clean series you can sink your teeth into, Andy Smithson is definitely it! In it I develop four layers simultaneously: 1) Andy Smithson in Lakehills, TX 2) Andy in Oomaldee 3) the Afterlife 4) a meaning layer. A few examples to demonstrate the depth…
Symbolism is used extensively (a couple examples):
  • The fog of the curse symbolizes blindness and oppression.
  • The magic key unlocks doors, brings stone statues to life, as well as revives. Put another way, it symbolizes bringing forth, opening up, and revealing (aka taking responsibility).
  • Methuselah is not only a weapon and helper, but also represents justice as it divides good and evil. Consistent with life, justice requires diligence to uphold.

Names are also important in this series (a few examples):
  • Andy means brave or courageous.
  • Alden means helper.
  • Hannah means favor or grace.
  • Imogenia means blameless.

Alchemy used throughout the series (a few examples):
  • Alchemy played a significant role in the development of modern science. Alchemists sought to transform base metals into the gold or silver and/or develop an elixir of life which would confer youth and longevity and even immortality.
  • In the series, the first instance of alchemy begins with the gold weavers, Max, Oscar, and Henry, spinning straw into gold to manufacture the wealth of the kingdom.
  • The four elementals: air, earth, fire, and water are then seen on Methuselah’s hilt.

The titles of the books manifest yet another layer of meaning and reveal Imogenia’s evolution.
  • Beginning with Blast of the Dragon’s Fury, Imogenia is furious at what has happened to her and she fuels her emotional hurt.
  • In Venom of the Serpent’s Cunning, Imogenia turns venomous (or spiteful) and cunning in seeking ways to continually punish her brother.
  • Disgrace of the Unicorn’s Honor has Imogenia act in a manner disgraceful to the honor of royalty.
  • In Resurrection of the Phoenix’s Grace we see Imogenia’s grace reborn as she begins to reflect.
  • In Vision of the Griffin’s Heart, Imogenia realizes she is gripped by hatred and distrust she has harbored for so long. Unlike griffins who choose to trust others, Imogenia cannot yet make that leap when it comes to her brother.


Saturday, January 23, 2016

Random Interview Saturday! Meg Welch Dendler

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.

Today we climb the Mountain of Mystery to sit at the feet of Meg Welch Dendler and drink in her wisdom.


Meg Welch Dendler


During an Alien Invasion what would be your weapon of choice?
Well, if you’ve watched “Signs” you know that it’s water. My daughter leaves glasses of water all around the house like the girl in the movie, so we’d be all set. On a more pragmatic note, probably a big machine gun. Unless they have some kind of force field protecting them, then we are all just screwed. Of course, in my books the cats are aliens that want to invade, so maybe just a bunch of balls of yarn.

Write me some Vogon Poetry (for those not in the know, Vogon poetry is so awful you’ll want to rip your ears off and eat them. It’s considered a method of torture in many corners of the galaxy. So give us your worst).
My haiku poem for socks.
Socks go on your feet.
Socks get lost in the dryer.
I hate socks.

Okay, maybe it’s not the worst ever, but my friends who consider themselves poets would hate it. I’ve won first place in poetry contests, but not for this one. Definitely not for this one. Though I do hate socks.

You are given a magical whistle that allows you to pick three creatures, real or imaginary. You get one to be your companion/mount, one who you can transform into at will, and one you have to engage in a fight to the death. Catch? You don’t get to pick which is which. What three creatures do you choose?
I’m pretty squishy and non-violent, so maybe I just have to assume I would lose the fight to the death and go from there. I’d want to be sure that any fight to the death would be quick, if not painless. Not a house cat. I could never kill one, and it would play with me and really drag out the whole fight to the death process. It could take days. So a dragon, without question. Fiery breath and BAM it’s done, and being one would be fantastic. Don’t even get me started on riding one. There are no words for that dream. A tiger, because they are awesome to have as friends and will chuff and rub on you but would kill me with one bite and be done with it. And a unicorn. That horn would end the fight quickly, she’d be perfect to ride around and hang out with, and being one would surely give me some kind of magical powers. Dragon. Tiger. Unicorn.

You find a talking animal. What sort of animal is it and what’s the first thing you do?
This time I will go with a cat. The first thing I would do is ask about all those things I think make her crazy and see if they really do or if she is just being difficult. I’d also want to know what’s up with jumping other cats after they use the litter box. Are cats just bullies, or is there some deeper meaning?

Rename yourself. Your new name can be silly, pretty, meaningful, whatever you want, but it CAN’T be your real name or penname, no matter how awesome that might be. Sorry, Beezow Doo-Doo Zopittybop-Bop-Bop is taken.
The first thing that comes to mind is M’gret because that would mean that I had impressed a golden queen dragon in Anne McCaffrey’s universe. That’s much better than just having a stuffed one sitting on my desk.

You can rescue a fictional character from certain death or resurrect them to live again. Who do you save? Alternately, is there a fictional character deserving of death who you would like to destroy?
I don’t read a lot of books where characters die, so this one is hard. I think Hazel in “Watership Down” because it is so ridiculously sad, even though he is old and it’s time to move on. My mom read that book to me on a car trip when I was 10, and she couldn’t get through the end she was sobbing so hard. I did the same thing as an adult when I read it to my husband. Buckets of tears. But now that reminds me of trying to read “Charlotte’s Web” to a group of first graders and not being able to read the part where Charlotte dies alone. Heartbreaking! Is it bad that these characters are both animals?
The characters I’d like to destroy are all the evil crazy killers in Stephen King’s books. I can’t read his stuff, but my husband does. King writes folks who deserve horrible, terrible deaths. Like by lazy house cat who would take days to wrap it up. Then eat their faces first while they were still kind of conscious. That’d do.

You have superpowers. What are they and what do you do with them?
I would want to be able to read people’s minds. Easy. I’m a very straightforward person, but most people are just big liars and fakes and it makes me crazy. If I could read their minds, I’d know where I really stood and if I should continue to have a conversation with them or walk away. Or lock them in a room with my cat for a week. (I feel the death by cat thing is taking over. I love cats. I really do. But I don’t underestimate them for one second.)

If I were to invite you over, what snacks would you bring, keeping in mind that fruit and dried fruit are not snacks?
I would bring some traditional Chex mix and some peanut M&Ms and lots of cans of Coke. There’d be some microwave popcorn in my purse, just in case, and another bag of M&Ms. You can never have enough of those.

If this question were any question in the world, what question would you want it to be and how would you answer it?
I’m a writer, so it would probably be about money. Something like “What would you do if you suddenly inherited five million dollars?” The answer is that there would be many wonderful donations and world-supporting stuff, but mainly you’d see my books in every magazine and I’d have a booth at every book expo in the world. Oprah would hold up a copy on one of her TV shows and tell my story because I would make a big donation to her school in Africa or something. And I’d buy my cats some really cool climbers and toys and stuff. They are the stars of most of my books, after all.



Links for Meg Welch Dendler

Web site:

Blog:


Facebook:




Twitter:



Books:












Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Critiquing 101: Don't Be Vague



I do a lot of critiquing/beta reading. Mostly through Scribophile.com, but I also have participated in real life critique groups from time to time, and I'll agree to read other writers' work fairly frequently (this is not me asking you to critique your novels. Chances are, I'm already way behind on agreed upon reading right now).
Getting input on your writing is so important, but so many writers are hesitant to give constructive criticism, or don't know how, or don't feel qualified.
In this series, I plan to discuss pitfalls to avoid as well as things you can do to make your advice easier to understand and more helpful to the writer.

Some subjects we'll be covering:

Mistake: Blanket statements.

There is nothing more frustrating than a critique and with a general observation about a specific problem.
I saw a couple of typos” does not help me fix them. They could still be anywhere.
Some parts dragged a bit” doesn’t tell me where.
The dialog was awkward in places …”

Why bother to say anything if you aren’t going to point it out specifically? Give examples from within the text. Write your comment right next to the offending passage. Don’t expect the author to guess where the awkward dialog is lurking. If they thought it was awkward, they would’ve fixed it. Occasionally you can take this input and look at all the dialog for awkwardness and maybe figure it out, but if you aren’t sure which parts the reader considered awkward and which parts they considered okay, it can be really hard to take action on it. 

Some tips for being specific: if you are in a setting where you'll be giving your input out loud rather than being able to write it down on the piece or circle a problem passage, try taking notes. If you were confused try to note where the confusion started and when things finally became clear, and what was your confusion about? Did a specific occurrence not make sense or could you just not picture the action?

And if you received a "vague" critique, don't be afraid to ask questions. Don't be afraid to say, "Can you give me an example?"
If the person hedges or backpedals at this point, it can be code for "I wasn't actually paying attention while you were reading your chapter and just made something up to hide it." 

Caveat: It's okay to give your overall opinion on the piece. Sometimes, "The middle dragged a bit" is just what the author needs to know.