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Saturday, January 28, 2017

Random Interview Saturday! Page Zaplendam

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.

Another author braves our halls. Will she survive the night or be chased away by the ghouls?




Author Biography
Page Zaplendam is a fan of speculative fiction, the regency, and keeping the wonder in life.

The Interview

You have superpowers. What are they and what do you do with them?
The power to repel any illness. It seems like nothing gets in the way of my performance more than sickness, so what would I do with a super power like that? More than I do now! And I wouldn't want a splashy super power because than you're at the mercy of interested parties who just see you as an asset. So, if I had to choose another super power, I think it would be to retain anything I learn. I realize there are people that can already do this, and it's not considered a super power (per se) but it's an entirely unattainable skill for me. We take in so much information and retain such a small part of it, but as an author, it would amazing to have vast reams of knowledge at my disposal given how much research time it takes to look things up.

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).
Not going to lie, I had to look this up (not because I couldn't take your word for it, but just because Vogon poetry might be bad, but surely it must refer to something more than just 'bad poetry'. Turns out, no, it's just bad poetry.) So here goes:
On the Exigencies of Hair Brushing We brush for style We brush for neatness We brush for fashion and for sweetness To appear handsome, cute, or 90's snoot, Hairbrushing is a universal. Give yourself a totally new look, as dramatic as you want. What is it? Can I just say Kate Middleton? That makes it easy, right?
If you had to get stuck inside a television show, what would it be?
My mind automatically jumped to the horrors of getting stuck inside a show like the Twilight Zone or Andy Griffith - come to think of it, there are any number of shows that it would be terrifying to be stuck in (The 100, Man in the High Castle, Hannibal). But if I had to choose one unreality to be stuck inside, I would have to say the A&E production of Pride and Prejudice. Does that count? I love everything about the Regency, except the extreme poverty, and perhaps not having modern amenities. Love the music, the manners, ahem, the men's wear, lol.
If you had a store, what would you sell?
It so happens that I do have a store - an online etsy store where I sell artwork, so in that sense, I'm already living the dream, or at least trying too. So what would I sell if I owned a storefront? Probably flooring, because I can't see myself running a shop without my husband at my side and flooring is what he sells. Sounds boring, but everyone has some sort of floor covering!

You find a talking animal. What sort of animal is it and what’s the first thing you do?
My mind jumped first to a dog because my children just recently watched the movie UP for the first time. But to be honest, a talking animal is so against nature, if I ran across one, I would presume it was possessed/obsessed by a demon and take appropriate action. Let's just leave it at that.

What’s the most important lesson you ever learned from a cartoon?
Know when to give up...? Road Runner, Pepe Le Pew, and Tom and Jerry. Seems like there was an ever futile chase going on. And I realize, that was the point of those cartoons, that was the expected drama and it contributed to the humor of it. But on a practical level, it reinforced the idea that it's pointless to continue throwing resources after something that's not working out. Life's a gamble and we have to figure out whether it's worth the while to stay in on certain hands. Sometimes it's not, and there's no shame in that.

Tree House or Cave? And why?
Tree house, 100%. Because caves are cold and damp and dark, whereas tree houses are breezy, airy, and fey. And I say this as one who is afraid of heights. I'm pretty sure our preference for light and breathable air is half the reason why everyone prefers the elves over the dwarves in LOTR. If this question were any question in the world, what question would you want it to be and how would you answer it?
"What are you working on now?"
Book 1.5 is titled The Egyptian Elixir. Regency era vampire bacteriologist John Grissom and Prussian Gerhardt Van Helsing make up two of the three members of the new Bow Street Odd Crimes division (think the X-Files, but in Jane Austen's time). They witness and deflect an assassination attempt against the Marquis of Wellesley and thereby find themselves falling down the rabbit hole of weirdness once again. It's fun, snarky, light historical reading that lovers of vampire lore and sleuthing can both enjoy. Interested parties can sign up to receive free ARC copies of my books, exclusive content for fans, and other fun stuff by CLICKING HERE. 
I am hoping to release book 1.5 in my vampire book series, The Unofficial Chronicles of John Grissom. I was supposed to get it out in late Dec. of 2016, but then life happened (quite literally: we discovered we are welcoming an addition to the family and it really affected my performance), so now I am shooting for the end of January 2017.

Facebook: Page Zaplendam
Amazon description and link: 

If Regency England had an XFiles, this would be it! In this rollicking historical vampire adventure, set against the backdrop of the Napoleonic war, an unlikely trio decodes letters, survives vampire-proof dungeons, and attends masked balls in order to save the country they love. 

Bacteriologist John Grissom isn't your ordinary vampire. Saddled with inexplicable deficiencies and struggling to maintain his humanity in the face of incredible temptations, he is intent on finding a cure. But when he stumbles upon a vast conspiracy lead by peer of the realm and vampire lord, the Earl of Waite, as a true son of England he can't just leave well enough alone. 

He acquires surprising allies in his lovely assistant, Henrietta Isherwood, and Prussian vampire hunter, Gerhardt Van Helsing. Together the three of them take on the challenge of saving England from Waite's mad schemes. But Lord Waite and his small army of vampires don't suffer any of the defects of John's turning. If the members of Bow Street's newly created Odd Crimes Division can't prevail, Waite's greater strength and speed could place England at the mercy of Napoleon and give victory to the Order of the Blood. 



"Reads like an episode of Penny Dreadful." - William, Goodreads giveaway winner 

"I was sorry to see the story end I can't wait for sequels." Leslie Sholly, blogger, lifeineverylimb.com

"I’m going to have to read [the sequel] to see what is in store for this intriguing character Zapledam has created." Laura Pearl, author of Erin's Ring

"I admire the way the author used a vampire story (without being repulsive) to tell an exciting tale with real substance, one that makes readers ponder moral truths and, in particular, to consider what really makes a monster." Therese Heckencamp, author of Frozen Footprints




Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Review: Blood Mercy: Thicker Than Water

Thicker than Water

What would you do if the one you loved was turned into a monster?

Melrose Durante brings order. As founder of the Houses of the Dead, he tirelessly opposes the vampires, and provides refuge for the Blood Kind, those like himself who fight against the blood curse that leads to vampirism. His medical breakthroughs have brought many back from the vampire path. After thousands of years, the Blood Kind finally has the upper hand.

Until a vampire attacks Melrose’s family, then begs for asylum. To his friends she’s Lucy, a disturbed young woman prone to incoherent rants, warning of an imminent attack by vampire leader, Conan. But to Melrose she’s something more.

His lost wife, Jane.

One thing is clear – time is running out. In five days Conan will attack Quebec City, killing or enslaving all in his way. If Melrose cannot unlock his wife’s tormented mind, even his immortal wisdom may not be enough to save Quebec City, the Blood Kind, and the Houses of the Dead.

Enter a world where vampirism is a choice, blood is an addiction, and cursed immortals tread the perilous ground between good and evil.

The Review

I usually avoid vampires like plague, but this take on them doesn't hit a lot of the usual things that make them my least favorite "monster." It's a very creative take on Vampire mythology. There is a lot of set up here for a series with a larger universe, but it still makes for a compelling standalone tale with believable characters with interesting, distinct powers and problems. 
Some violence but not handled in a particularly gory way. Some hot-blooded (har har) flirtations between married couples but again, not explicit, and kind of a breath of fresh air to see some complex but fundamentally healthy marital relationships ... especially considering how messed up these characters' world really is. 

Sunday, January 22, 2017

The Ultimate Steampunk Giveaway



I love writing Nyssa Glass. I love the Steampunk aesthetic. I love the characters. I love the adventures and mysteries ...
Because of this, even though I swore Nyssa Glass and the Electric Heart was the end of the series, I got drawn back in to write a PREQUEL. It is available starting the 23rd on Amazon (and on the 24th on most other retailers.). NOW FREE TO DOWNLOAD!!! (Click Here).



To celebrate this release, I'm giving away three different prizes to three lucky winners.


Grand Prize: A Paperback copy of Ultimate Nyssa Glass.




Runner Up: A Steampunk Book Pendant from Le Petite.

Second Runner Up: A Set of Steampunk Stickers from Tammy's Decorative Paintings and Designs





a Rafflecopter giveaway





The Nyssa Glass Steampunk Series includes:




Saturday, January 21, 2017

Random Interview Saturday! Rachel John

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's author has brought along both bedtime stories ... and maybe some nightmares. Will you brave that mix?


Rachel John
author biography:

Rachel John is the author of Bethany’s New Reality, A Zombie Love Story, and Princess Silly’s Bedtime Stories. Rachel loves to read anything with romance or humor, and thinks the best books should combine the two. She's found that writing is the best outlet for her wild imagination. She's a terrible cook, but unfortunately for her family, she keeps trying. Rachel lives in Arizona with her husband, four crazy kids, and her desert tortoise.


The Interview


If you had to build a house without conventional materials, what unconventional materials would you use? (Gingerbread is inadvisable because it attracts snacking children)
Darn, before I saw the disclaimer about snacking children I was thinking a house made from Rice Krispy treats would be awesome. I guess I’d make a tent out of fuzzy socks. Sounds cozy.

What is your ideal writing space?
I wish I could write anywhere, but my best writing is at my super messy desk, in front of a desktop computer.

You can time travel in an oddly specific way that only allows you to visit other authors. Where do you go and what do you do?
First stop – Jane Austen’s home to pick her brain. I bet there would be a lot less distractions at her house. We could do sprints! Then to visit L.M. Montgomery for lessons on creating setting. Nobody gushes about scenery while having interesting characters like L.M. Montgomery.

If you had to write only in one crayon color for the rest of your life, what would you choose?
Something dark, like navy or forest green. And the crayon would have to be sharp. It could never go dull on me. Can I make demands on hypothetical writing instruments?

On a scale of 1 to 10, what do you think your chances are of surviving the zombie invasion?
I’d give myself a 4 – I’ve shot guns, but I need a refresher course. I don’t think the zombies will wait while I figure out how to cock the gun. My food storage needs updating. And I think I need to start exercising again. Part of my training for a 10K was telling myself that it was all part of my end-of-the-world preparedness. As of today? I think I’d be toast.

If you had to get stuck inside a television show, what would it be?
Top Chef? As long as I get to be a judge and not a contestant. I’ll just sit there and eat and tell them to add more salt or that the scallops are slightly overcooked. (Not that I’ve ever cooked scallops or anything.)

I'm not really a fan of the Hogwart's House system. It seems so needlessly divisive and focused on a very limited range of characteristics (or I may just be annoyed with Pottermore for sorting me into Slytherin). How would you improve upon the system for sorting students into houses?
Hmm. I was happy with the Hogwarts house system until you said that. Although, I have serious issues with the Divergent factions….How annoying to be stuck with people exactly like you. I’d make it completely random. Pick a number between 1 and 4. Okay, all the 1’s, you get to spend the next 7 years together.

What’s the most important lesson you ever learned from a cartoon?
Phineas and Ferb taught me that cartoons can be entertaining for kids and adults at the same time. I was seriously bummed when my kids stopped wanting to watch that show. Can I tell you how annoying the My Little Pony cartoons are?

If this question were any question in the world, what question would you want it to be and how would you answer it?
Would you like a personal chef? Yes. Yes I would.



Connect with the Author!

My Amazon author page:
My blog:
Twitter:
Author Facebook page:


Bethany’s New Reality:
A Zombie Love Story:
Princess Silly’s Bedtime Stories:


Friday, January 20, 2017

Are YOU a Sparkly Writer Princess?


I have a couple of "Sparkly Writer Princess" Memes I share on my author page. 

So for fun I have made a Sparkly Writer Princess campaign through Teespring.

It's available in T-shirts, Hoodies, and Mugs, but only if enough people order merchandise to "fund" the campaign. Orders go through February 10th. 


to order. 

Thursday, January 19, 2017

How I think Cars TRULY fits into the Pixar Theory

The Pixar Theory Cars/Toy Story Variant



I'm a mom, so I watch a lot of "kids" movies. I also like to waste time on the internet watching fan theory videos and reading fan theory blogs, so I'm basically aware of the Pixar Theory, but not really an expert. For a refresher (or to introduce yourself if you've never heard of it) on the Pixar Theory, you can click here and read the timeline, but the basic idea is that all Pixar movies are connected and take place in the same universe as part of a wide reaching story/conspiracy/timeline ... thing. 

Yeah, it's a thing (as you can see, I have my writer's hat on at a jaunty tilt tonight). 


According to the timeline Cars takes place in between Up! and Wall-E, in the time frame where humans have abandoned a badly polluted earth allowing machines to essentially take over and evolve to a point of sentience (which is later exhibited by Wall-E as he is a robot but has feelings and a personality beyond his programming). 

However, this doesn't really work for me for a number of reasons. 

For one thing, the world of Cars does not resemble the polluted beyond repair world that we see in the "historical flashbacks" of Wall-E

Supposedly this world is so far gone that not even plants live there. It has mountains of trash built up by Wall-E and his fellow trash-robots (who are seen no where in Cars. Presumably if they were left behind for this purpose, they would be zipping around doing that.).
The Cars world both has plants (one car even planting flowers) and a fairly clean looking natural environment for the most part (they get into energy issues in Cars 2, but still, does this world look "inhabitable"?).

Also, there is nothing to explain how the departure of man and the advent of talking cars would've literally reshaped the landscape, molding hills into the shape of cars. Sure, maybe the cars themselves did this, they went ahead and Mt. Rushmore'd (that's a verb now) natural land features to look more like cars ... however, there's a much simpler, obvious answer that everyone is overlooking.

Cars fits in the timeline EXACTLY at the same point as the Toy Story movies. 

Why?

Because the events of Cars are simply a young child playing with his toy cars in an elaborate fantasy world ... exactly like the opening to Toy Story 3.


Why does it make sense?
1. We see in Toy Story 3 that it is possible for play time to "play out" as elaborate sequences with movie production value in the heads of kids. I don't know about you, but my playtime imagination was NEVER that good as a young kid. We could assume that this is just a "dramatic device" and really Andy isn't seeing what we see on the screen ... or we could assume that there is something special about certain kids in the Pixar universe that conveys more emotional energy into their play which in turn lends more of the energy that brings inanimate objects to life (and also might be the same power that the Monsters later use in Monsters Inc) ... and in return they get more vivid playtime. (or maybe my kid brain was broken and other kids really do see their fantasies like that)

2. The cars are treated a lot like how I used to play with my brother's Matchbox/Hot Wheels cars. Just racing was boring so the cars would have personalities. We'd build them "homes." Cars would even get married. If you view the events of Cars as a kid playing with cars and making up an elaborate story, it honestly makes a lot of sense. 

3. We see in the various Toy Story movies how attached toys get to playtime. They need it. The Pixar theory suggests human love gives them life ... SO ... you have a symbiotic relationship between humans and toy. The toy cars could be figuratively living this fantasy and might even develop a Buzz Lightyear-esque "psychosis" where they begin to live it as their reality. 

4. If we assume the current Pixar Theory timeline of Cars taking place between when the Axiom left a polluted earth and the events of Wall-E, Wall-E is somewhere out there in the Cars world, along with probably hundreds of identical models. We see broken down trash-bots in Wall-E's world, but presumably he's the only one still in operation. However, for a job that big, it would've been impractical to leave only a handful working, plus the assumption is the ENTIRE earth is polluted. If it were just the US, there wouldn't have been a need to leave the planet ... so that leaves us with two options, either the time line is wrong, or some parts of the cars world are covered in trash that can be stacked as high as skyscrapers ... as well as a small army of robots (which at least have the potential to be sentient ... we don't know that Wall-E was the only one with this ability. We just know he's the only survivor.). Considering the large amount of space that is covered in the Cars stories (and if you add in Planes it gets even worse) that's a lot of land to cover without ever crossing over one of these polluted, trash-bot inhabited wastelands.

5. The weird landscapes are explained by a kid's wild imagination ... or possibly the kid using things in its vicinity (like a car) to represent mountains in his fantasy world (similar to how the "cloud" wallpaper of Andy's room mirrors the skies of his playtime games). 

So it's an easy fix. I know that "it's all a dream" seems like a cop-out fan theory, but this really isn't the same thing. It isn't a dream. It's "playtime." We have all the "building blocks" for this theory in the existing movies and it explains away a lot of inconvenient issues that the Cars/Planes tales bring to the timeline. 

So is it the answer?
I don't know, but it fits for me. (in fairness, it is hard to disprove a theory that is based on "it's not real" because any inconsistencies can be dismissed as just part of the fantasy.). 

Besides, it's fun to just overthink things for a bit. 

Signing off,
Yours truly, 
The Sparkly Writer Princess


Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Short Story Round Up!

I read a lot of short stories. I have a hectic life, and there's something nice about being able to start and finish a story in one setting ... so here are a few recent shorts I've enjoyed that you might enjoy as well!


Circular Horizon

Bokerah Brumley

Mae McNair is an astronaut on her last mission before she retires. With her son, Michael, in the co-pilot's seat and a blossoming pen-pal friendship with her co-worker, Abel, Mae has much to be thankful for. But when a control panel malfunctions, Mae is locked out of Solace Station as it orbits high above the Red Planet. 

With God guiding their hands, Michael and Abel must work together to save Mae before the vacuum of space becomes her final resting place.

The Review


A quick and satisfying read ... while the science fiction aspects are handled well and seem believable, I'd say this is more a character piece than a traditional scifi. Though the author sneaked in reference to The Martian which made me chuckle ... and was also dang nervy, so kudos ... it felt less like that and more similar to the real life survival stories I used to read in Reader's Digest, a quick piece that introduced characters, gets them in a lot of trouble, and then watch them rely on their faith and inner strength as ... spoilers, I suppose if I go any further into that. 
I felt the most for the son in this. Even though he's less of the focus, I felt he was the most relatable. Mae, for me, was a little too sweet. Not unbelievably so, but just not as interesting to me as a more "sassy" character might've been in the same position/situation. 
But it is such a quick read that you're mostly going to be just looking for the "and then what happened ..." so I think no matter your taste in characters, you'll find this devour-able.


Liwen Y. Ho

Wanted: A man with the four C's (Chinese, Christian, Cash and Career). Ability to cure hives a plus.

Melanie Koo may be a physician skilled in helping others, but the one thing she can't fix is her own love life. That's why her mother comes up with the perfect remedy--an arranged marriage. Being a dutiful daughter, she agrees to this loveless match ... until a chance meeting leads her to the cure for her hopeless heart. 

Ben Peters is everything Melanie was not looking for, but she can't help but be drawn to his passionate and kind nature and, not to mention, those adorable dimples. For once in her life, she considers breaking parental expectations to go after what she wants. The only thing standing in her way is a five foot one traditional Chinese mother and her scheming ways. 

Melanie has to make the biggest decision of her life. Will she stay true to her family or will she choose to believe that true love can be colorblind?

The Review

I have a hard time reviewing romances because I am very aware that a lot of the things that annoy me about the genre (and hence why I rarely read it) are kind of expected and even enjoyed by romance readers in general. Mainly drama. I have little to no tolerance for drama (in real life or fiction) ... I enjoy quieter character driven romances from time to time with the drama played more for humor than frustration and people actually talking through things to solve their problems, and this one satisfies that ...for the most part. At the end we're introduced to a "drama upper" which I could've done without (can't discuss without spoilers), but I felt like it was more a few pages of "speed bump" rather than a serious flaw. Honestly, I kind of would've liked the whole thing to be him just trying to adapt to her family and making little cultural mistakes which her mother would blow out of proportion. That would've been just the right amount of drama for me. However, if you don't mind a story going a level deeper with some more serious dramatic issues, that probably won't be a  negative for you.   




Straight to You

Liwen Y. Ho

Wanted: A modern knight in shining armor (white horse optional) 

Ashlynn Peters is ever the optimist when it comes to love, but even she's surprised to cross paths with a real-life Prince Charming. Jeremy Adams, her childhood crush, is back in town. He's sweeter and more handsome than she remembers and also more intriguing than any man she's dated. 

Ashlynn finds herself falling hard for Jeremy, only to discover that he's not the perfect guy she thought he was. Will she choose to look past Jeremy's tarnished armor or give up on finding her happily-ever-after? 

Inspired by the author's own love story, this romantic novella will have you laughing, dreaming, and wondering if fairy tales really do come true.

The Review

Overall an enjoyable read, a cute story about a couple reconnecting and a man trying to change his life for the better. I kind of didn't connect with how unforgiving Ashlynn was of his past, but it isn't that I didn't believe it. There are girls who probably would react that way. I just tend to be more of the forgiving nature, I suppose, and I found her reaction hard to empathize with. However, if you're looking for a love story about second chances with a gentle Christian message, this will probably appeal to you.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Random Interview Saturday! Kellyn Roth

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.

It's winter and cold outside. Through the driving snow we hear sleighbells and barking. Borne by a batch of bouncing border collies comes Kellyn Roth!

Kellyn Roth

Author Bio

Kellyn Roth has been writing stories since she was seven, though she wrote quite a few (awful) poems and songs before that. She is the author of the Christian historical fiction novel, The Dressmaker's Secret, and of The Lady of the Vineyard, a romance/literary fiction novella set in 1938. You can find out more about her and her work at her personal blog, https://kellynroth.wordpress.com/.



The Interview

Favorite flavor (of what? EVERYTHING!)?

Hmm ... gosh, that's hard. I never realized before how what my favorite flavor is depends on what I'm eating! Well, I suppose I'm going to go with chocolate. Boring, I know, but boring is safe, and my tongue is an extremely delicate piece of skin that needs special care. #pickyeatersunite

When cats take over the world, how do you plan to win their good graces?

Take a bath. Once the dog-smell is gone, I'm sure they'll be lenient.

At least I can hope. I suppose if all else fails, I'd wave a ribbon in front of their noses and hope they had ADHD. My cat does. Most cats do in my limited experience.

Or maybe they're just pretending.

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

Gilmore Girls.

Reason #1: Stars Hollow. Enough said.
Reason #2: I appreciate Logan.
Reason #3: I have no other reasons. Despite being addicted to drama.

If you had a store, what would you sell?

Drugs.

What? I'm in this for the soda fountain, girl! Eesh, you have a filthy mind ...

If you had the honor of naming something really big (a country, a spaceship, a planet) what would you want it to be and what would you name it?

For a space ship, Chicken-with-Its-Head-Cut-Off. I'm not sure why, but it seems like a good idea to launch a machine into the empty void of space and give it a name like that. Besides, astronauts are a cocky bunch. It'd do them good to be a little more cautious.

No. I've never met an astronaut ...

And for countries and planets, invariably Kellynland. Because the universe needs more me ...

Tree House or Cave? And why?

Tree house. Because goblins. And Swiss Family Robinson.

What weather is your writing? A dark and stormy night? A sunshiny day?

It's a black and white day. Everything has suddenly reverted to the 1940s. Sure, it's cheerful and the morals are decent, but it's not in color, so ... ;)

Seriously, though, I'd say one of those sunny days when there isn't a cloud in the sky but it's rainy. Ever been in one or those? They're crazy. I think the wind is blowing the rain from clouds outside my field of vision, but it sure looks weird from inside the house ...

Sum up your life in five words and two punctuation marks.

I watch the world, thinking.

Yes, that really is my life! Except when I'm with my friends, but time with your friends doesn't count as 'life,' per se. It's more like ... time spent on a different planet. Or Los Vegas. And what happens on Mars, stays on Mars ...

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

I'd love someone to ask me, "Gosh, Kellyn, how did you get so dang awesome!?" My answer would be, "First, the word you're looking for is 'amazing.' Second, I was born a princess. *drops mic*"

And ... I suppose I'd better go with something less conceited. How about, "Would you like some chocolate?" "Yes, yes I would."