Book reviews

Review: Wings of Twilight by Hans Cummings

Wings of Twilight by Hans Cummings

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

3.25 stars for those who prefer precision rating.

Wings of Twilight is delicious, chewy brain candy that doesn’t taste quite the way a first impression would lead you to expect. Think of it as a trick jelly bean but not one of the awful ones. It’s a tart, tasty treat that looks like butterscotch but surprises you with lemony essence instead.

This is pure, straightforward D&D-style fantasy. The dual plot pits the monsters who inhabit a dungeon against a party of adventurers seeking treasure and victory against evil. The author puts a fun spin on it by letting readers see both sides of the impending conflict. The monsters are dealing with betrayal within their ranks, so their story is a kind of police mystery, while the adventurers’ quest to reach the dungeon involves a clash between moral absolutes and the muddy ambiguity of real life.

But don’t let that high-falutin’ description put you off. Wings of Twilight is a light read full of humor, action, jokes and set pieces that let the characters develop.

Well. Development might be stretching it. I did mention the D&D-style aspect, right? The characters’ personalities and abilities are defined by species and vocation, and they behave according to moral codes based on those options. This isn’t a story to read for deep insights into the nature of life, love, and Deeper Meanings. It’s a book that wants to be read for comfort and giggles. It does exactly that.

One thing I must mention; just as even the best jelly beans leave a sticky odd aftertaste in my mouth, this story did require swallowing down some “not-this-again” stereotypes and plot ideas. Nothing pushed the envelope of my tolerance, but if gender-based jokes old enough to have gray whiskers and questionable (in my mind anyway) relationship advice rile you up, this book might not be the best fit.

There are mysteries, tragedies, and discoveries, the character interplay is entertaining, and the plot wraps nicely in ways that leave plenty of room for future stories to grow. In summary, it’s all good, and the next book is on my to-read list.
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Teacup Posts

Teacup Timer Tales

Each day in November, I will set the timer for steeping my morning tea, pick a word or an image or a stray thought, and write to that point until the tea is done. Could be two minutes, could be six or seven. I might end up with a little story, stream-of-consciousness musings, or drivel. Whichever, I will post it here on the site.

Why am I doing this? In a word: NaNoWriMo.

For those not conversant with that acronym, it’s short for NAtional NOvel WRIting MOnth, an annual creative event that has grown from an early grassroots social media phenomenon into an international publishing behemoth. Its ubiquity in the online writing community makes mentions of it inescapable this time of year.  NaNoWriMo is a good and lovely creature…but everything about it repels me. It’s organized. It’s social. Participation is all about communal encouragement and peer support. Its resource libraries floweth over with timetables and to-do lists, advice on setting goals, and establishing routines, tips on productivity and interminable perky you-can-do-it-ness. The whole exercise couples the power of the collective with competitive challenges disguised as friendly encouragement.

I am not criticizing those excellent motivational tools. They’re essential to success for many. Not me. They repel me. They suffocate my creative spark and kill all desire to play with words. NaNoWriMo is inescapable, and I know from experience that it will drive me nuts if I don’t take defensive action. So, while others are busy hammering away at the monumental task of constructing a full novel draft in thirty days, I’ll be taking a break from things writing-related but for this one small daily discipline.

I applaud anyone who participates inNaNoWriMo. Writing a novel is a Huge Thing, and an accomplishment to take pride in. By the time of the event’s inaugural year, I already had two full novels under my belt. I already know I can write a novel. I even know I can publish one.

I am not making a living at this writing gig. Neither my pride nor my professional future is tied to my prose output.  I can afford to fritter away a month in protection of my sanity and creativity. Stay tuned for the daily results.

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Fantasy Fun Reads: T.H. Morris: Author Intervew & Spotlight

Originally posted in Fantasy Fun Reads: T.H. Morris: Author Intervew & Spotlight:

T.H. Morris: Author Intervew & Spotlight

Please welcome to my blog, T.H. Morris, paranormal author of The 11th Percent.
Jonah Rowe has an uneventful life. He is always bored, can’t see the point of anything, and just wishes thatsomething in his life would turn out right. He gets his wish in rude fashion; his uneventful life takes a turn for the weird when he discovers that he is an Eleventh Percenter, an ethereal human who can influence and interact with the spirit world. As he discovers more about his true nature, he makes new friends, learns new truths, and juggles his “normal” life with his new life in fellowship with spiritual beings. His survival depends on his successful handling of all three.
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T.H. Morris is a lifelong writer who was born in 1984 and raised in Colerain, North Carolina. He has been living in Greensboro, North Carolina for the past twelve years. He has been writing in some way, shape, or form ever since he was strong enough to hold a pen or pencil, but the expectation of securing and maintaining a traditional 40 hour job was the expectation of all around him. 
The call of writing never diminished, though, and soon became too powerful to ignore. Morris began writing The 11th Percent series in 2011, and published book 1 in the series, The 11th Percent, in 2014. He still resides in Greensboro, with his wife of six years.
1. Paranormal fiction is an interesting genre. What books influenced you growing up and what made you decide to write in this genre? 
Paranormal fiction is indeed an interesting genre! Growing up in rural North Carolina, I heard a myriad of ghost stories via word of mouth or library books. I think that the one that had the largest impact on me in my youth was a book named Ghostly Terrors. It frightened the heck out of me at the time, but MAN if those stories weren’t fascinating and gripping! As for writing in the paranormal genre, I gave it a great deal of thought, but didn’t have a story on the horizon mentally. When my book idea came to me (courtesy of a seven-hour, uninterrupted dream on February 19, 2011), it happened to be paranormal fiction. I didn’t decide to write in the genre. The genre chose me!
2. Tell us about your publishing experience. Did you try and find an agent or publisher first or did you always want to self publish? 
When I finished The 11th Percent, I queried agents. To say I got a great deal of rejections is a gross understatement. Most of the rejections had the same recurring theme: my story didn’t fit their mold. I’m not putting words in their mouths, either. “Despite its poise and polish, this isn’t the right fit for us.” “You’re a talented writer, but this material doesn’t quite fit our agency.” “The concept is interesting, but not a good fit for our list.” They go on and on. It was demoralizing, and kind of heartbreaking. But then I read something that shifted my entire perspective. It was a quote from an indie writer who’d crowdfunded a novel. She said in her post “If your material is judged based on marketability and not artistic merit, then you need to re-evaluate the avenue in which you are attempting to showcase it.” It changed my life and viewpoint. So I made the decision to become an indie author that day, and I’ve been one ever since.
3. Is there a sequel in the works? What are you currently working on? 
I am working on Book 3 as we speak! It is named Lifeblood, and will be Book 3 in my The 11th Percent Series (it was preceded by The 11th Percent, which is Book 1, and Item and Time, which is Book 2). I am hard at work on it, and am shooting for a November 29th release! I am also working on a collaboration novel with my close friend and fellow author Cynthia D. Witherspoon, which mashes up our respective universes in an action-packed flash fiction effort. That book, entitled Grave Endowments, will be released on the winter solstice!
4. What have you learned since you first published that you wish you knew when you first started? 
I definitely learned a great deal about the mechanics and inner workings on self-publishing. That’s a huge deal. But I think the main thing that I’ve learned is to continuously stoke the market, but do so in a way that forges bonds, creates new relationships, and makes people feel honored and welcomed to be in your movement. So many artists will pimp their purchase links for reviews and buzz in a manner that is impersonal, mechanical, and brusque. It’s like they’re saying “Here is my work. Read it and review it. Thanks.” That is not the way to go. I’ve learned that the best way to build up your brand as a creator is to build up others. If authors grow as a collective, out works do as well. It has definitely been a learning path since I published The 11th Percent, but one that I wouldn’t change for the world. 
5. For those reading about you and your book today, what can you say to them that might convince them to give your book a try? 
Okay, Rose, this one will be a little longer than the other questions, but that’s all well and good. I believe that the selling points of The 11th Percent include:
The DEMOGRAPHIC AND RANGE– Is it just me, or are a lot of paranormal fiction books centered on teeny-bopper kids? If the Twilights and Vampire Academies exasperate you, then my main character, Jonah Rowe, is just for you. I deliberately aged him beyond adolescence! People tend to forget that we’re still growing even after we’ve “come of age.” Fantastic and unconventional things can still happen to people, even once they’ve reached adulthood—something I’ve illustrated throughout my story.
The SETTING-The Eleventh Percent mainly takes place in the sleepy, fictional, rural town of Rome, North Carolina. It’s an amalgamation of the types of towns I’ve known all my life—small, quaint, and quiet. The sweet tea flows like water, butter and biscuits are not only a requirement but a staple, and family is at the center of it all. Plus, everyone knows everybody’s business. But in the small town of Rome, some secrets have been very well-kept.
THE MYSTERIOUSNESS- There are many people in this world who are different, individualistic, peculiar, off-beat, or simply don’t fit the molds that have been put in place in this world. And I have always believed that nothing is wrong with that. Everyone is different, but despite our variations and circumstances, we are all still people with talents and attributes to contribute to the world. I hope to illustrate this fact with my words in these books. 
The HUMANITY- The characters in my story are remarkable and supernatural humans, but they are still human. They still have to contend with all the everyday things all people have to, in addition to these realities brought about by their abilities. My story merges the ordinary realities of everyday stressors and strife with the extraordinary dynamic of paranormal phenomena. 
The CONCEPT-Many people believe that no idea is original. If you leave it at that one simple phrase, it’s rather confining and cynical. I think that the focus shouldn’t be so much on the idea so much as the expression of that idea. So, I like to say, “An idea may not be original, but the expression of it is!” My book is an original twist on your everyday ghost story. 
And I would finish off by telling them welcome to my world and enjoy their stay! 
Cover Reveal!!!!!!

Yes, Book 3 is coming soon!  It’s another great cover and the set together looks fabulous…
Please follow T.H. Morris at his Amazon Author Page HERE for news on all of his books.
You can also follow him at these links
Last but not least, check out this fabulous review of The 11th Percent by The Minter Book Reviews