The Entire Feast

biryanni dish on round stainless steel tray

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Musings from our mom, Nancy…

I was racking my brain for a new subject for our blog when I realized that one could compare the endeavor of writing and becoming a published author with granny in the kitchen preparing a holiday meal for her family. Neither job is for the faint of heart nor one who is not willing to put in the effort to create a tasty offering.

When feeding a crowd, it isn’t enough just to prepare and cook the main meat dish. One must also plan on including the side dishes. If you’re lucky, maybe your guests will bring a casserole or two. However, when trying to entertain a crowd with your writing, you are solely responsible for adding those extra trimmings.

Writing that bestseller is sadly not enough, for you still have to get your book to the readers. The enthusiasm for your creation sometimes dims when you must keep up with your marketing strategies. For the author, those strategies often include a blog, Twitter, Facebook, and any other marketing tool you can devise. Unlike calling your dinner guests and inviting them over to your house, you must get your invite to read your book out to people in other ways.

And those blogs and Twitter posts are ongoing. It’s almost as easy to get writer’s block on something you need to write weekly as it is on your novel or short story or poem. How many times can you do a mea culpa for being a blog procrastinator before your faithful readers leave in droves? All you can really do is take a big breath and carry on.

For those of you still undaunted enough to keep on following us, thank you. We won’t promise to do better but we will try harder.

Thank you.

Nancy, Anne, and Eric

 

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Book Review: Holy Sister by Mark Lawrence

Holy Sister Cover

Five out of five stars for Holy Sister (Third Book of the Ancestor) by Mark Lawrence

Reviewed by Anne

Okay, this review really covers the entire trilogy of the Books of The Ancestor by Mark Lawrence, but since I just stayed up way too late finishing the third and final book, Holy Sister, that is the one I’ll cover. I have read several versions of the, “girl assassin as a member of a religious-type order,” stories and there were only a few that I felt worth the read. Mark Lawrence’s books are the best of the bunch, in my opinion. I loved the world-building, the characters, and the storyline as a whole. And as a point in his favor, Mark Lawrence is not afraid to kill his darlings.

The first two books, Red Sister and Grey Sister,  introduce to the main character, Nona Grey, and the world of Abeth, a dying planet ringed in ice. Abeth is a strange place, an odd mix of forgotten technological wonders and magic.

From the book description:

The searing conclusion of the thrilling epic fantasy trilogy that saw a young girl trained by an arcane order of nuns grow into the fiercest of warriors…

They came against her as a child. Now they face the woman.

The ice is advancing, the Corridor narrowing, and the empire is under siege from the Scithrowl in the east and the Durns in the west. Everywhere, the emperor’s armies are in retreat.

Nona Grey faces the final challenges that must be overcome if she is to become a full sister in the order of her choice. But it seems unlikely that she and her friends will have time to earn a nun’s habit before war is on their doorstep.

Even a warrior like Nona cannot hope to turn the tide of war.

The shiphearts offer strength that she might use to protect those she loves, but it’s a power that corrupts. A final battle is coming in which she will be torn between friends, unable to save them all. A battle in which her own demons will try to unmake her.

A battle in which hearts will be broken, lovers lost, thrones burned.

The final book in the series brought an epic conclusion to a story that was already riveting. It kept me surprised at how events played out and still produced a kickass finale, an epic battle to end all battles and a satisfying resolution for the characters left standing at the end.

I would highly recommend these books to fans of Grimdark and science fantasy. Man, I’m sad to see the series end.

Happy reading!

Anne

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The Oculars Giveaway!

oculars cover 2

It’s giveaway time again! This time, we’re giving away e-copies of our paranormal/horror thriller, The Oculars. We’ll run the promotion from Friday, May 3rd through Sunday, May 5th. Hopefully, we can generate a bump in sales and maybe a review or two.

Despite an initial buzz for the new book on Twitter, Facebook, and WordPress, a stellar five star review from the Readers’ Favorite website, and a small number of purchases, our sales have taken a dismal dive. This is across the board for all seven of our novels and our three short stories. Those sales failed to generate a single review on Amazon or Goodreads. Hopefully, a new giveaway will help restart our momentum.

Writing on our new projects has been glacially slow. We’re not sure when we’re going to pick up the pace. We do have some plans for the summer, more to follow on those in another blog post. We’ll keep posting our book and movie reviews, so please continue to check in with us. We’d love to hear from you!

As always, thanks for sticking with us.

Kind regards,

Anne, Nancy, and Eric

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Movie Review: The Pet Sematary

4 out of 5 Stars

brown tabby cat

Movie review provided by our mom, Nancy:

With much anticipation, I went with three of my family members, Grandpa and two of the grandsons, to see Stephen King’s new movie, “Pet Sematary”. I had read the book and watched the first movie. The boys came along because they just wanted to be scared. I have to say, everyone was slightly disappointed.

Per the movie description:

Louis Creed, his wife Rachel, and their two children, Gage and Ellie, move to a rural home where they are welcomed and enlightened about the eerie ‘Pet Sematary’ located nearby. After the tragedy of their cat being killed by a truck, Louis resorts to burying it in the mysterious pet cemetery, which is definitely not as it seems, as it proves to the Creeds that sometimes, dead is better.

Although it was high on creepiness and extremely well done, it really didn’t measure up to King’s movie, “It”. Now that movie was terrifying. Don’t get us wrong, there were a few decidedly scary “jump” moments and, if you aren’t a jaded horror movie buff, you would probably be properly scared. However, the youngest grandson to go, 15 years old, had never seen a horror movie before. Even he was disappointed in the total fear factor. He fully expected to terrorized.

Overall, the movie was excellently and skillfully produced and is still well worth the time and money to go see. You can’t ever go totally wrong with a Stephen King creation, which is why I gave it four stars.

Thanks to everyone for stopping by the blog.

Kind regards,

Anne, Nancy, and Eric

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Book Review: The Witchy Eye books by DJ Butler

Witchy Eye Cover

3 1/2 out of 5 Stars

This is the first book review by Anne since moving the reviews over from her Tea and Trifles blog. We’ll be sharing out the book review duties in the future but she will kick it off with her double review of DJ Butler’s fantasy books, Witchy Eye and Witchy Winter.

I’ll start by saying that I think DJ Butler’s brain must be a very interesting and convoluted place, as that is how I think of his Witchy books. The sheer scope of world-building, number of characters, and obscure references to events that have occurred in his world make for an enjoyable but sometimes confusing read. Just when I felt like I had a handle on the major players, he throws another one or four into the mix. I did enjoy reading his books, but often I was pulled out of the story by my own confusion. He sprinkles in foreign language phrases but provides no translation (French, Greek, Latin, German, for example). Sometimes I understood from the context, but not always, and that was frustrating as a reader. He briefly mentions a historical event, such as, “It was believed Franklin had personally invited Talleyrand to come to the New World after the Caliph’s Grapeshot Massacres.”  Who was massacred and why? I have so many questions from little tidbits such as this. These books left me scratching my head while simultaneously wanting more.

From the book jacket description of Witchy Eye:

Sarah Calhoun is the fifteen-year-old daughter of the Elector Andrew Calhoun, one of Appalachee’s military heroes and one of the electors who gets to decide who will next ascend as the Emperor of the New World. None of that matters to Sarah. She has a natural talent for hexing and one bad eye, and all she wants is to be left alone—especially by outsiders.

But Sarah’s world gets turned on its head at the Nashville Tobacco Fair when a Yankee wizard-priest tries to kidnap her. Sarah fights back with the aid of a mysterious monk named Thalanes, who is one of the not-quite-human Firstborn, the Moundbuilders of the Ohio. It is Thalanes who reveals to Sarah a secret heritage she never dreamed could be hers.

Now on a desperate quest with Thalanes to claim this heritage, she is hunted by the Emperor’s bodyguard of elite dragoons, as well as by darker things—shapeshifting Mockers and undead Lazars, and behind them a power more sinister still. If Sarah cannot claim her heritage, it may mean the end to her, her family—and to the world where she is just beginning to find her place.

And the description of Witchy Winter, the second book:

Sarah Calhoun paid a hard price for her entry onto the stage of the Empire’s politics, but she survived. Now she rides north into the Ohio and her father’s kingdom, Cahokia. To win the Serpent Throne, she’ll have to defeat seven other candidates, win over the kingdom’s regent, and learn the will of a hidden goddess—while mastering her people’s inscrutable ways and watching her own back.

In New Orleans, a new and unorthodox priest arises to plague the chevalier and embody the curse of the murdered Bishop Ukwu. He battles the chevalier’s ordinary forces as well as a troop of Old World mamelukes for control of the city and the mouth of the great Mississippi River. Dodging between these rival titans, a crew of Catalan pirates—whose captain was once a close associate of Mad Hannah Penn—grapples with the chevalier over the fate of one of their mates.

Meanwhile, a failed ceremony and a sick infant send the Anishinaabe hunter Ma’iingan on a journey across the Empire to Cavalier Johnsland, to a troubled foster child named Nathaniel. Ma’iingan is promised that Nathaniel is a mighty healer and can save his imperiled baby, but first Nathaniel—a pale young man with a twisted ear who hears the voices of unseen beings—must himself be rescued, from oppression, imprisonment, and madness.

I enjoyed these books enough to finish the pair but I keep thinking that someone a bit smarter than I am would have probably got more out of them. DJ Butler unleashes his world-building with a firehose and I wasn’t able to fully soak it in. That’s why I gave this book only 3 1/2 stars out of 5.

Happy reading, everyone!

Kind regards,

Anne, Nancy, and Eric

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A Spring Reawakening!

 

Nate at Horror Museum

At the Museum of Pop Culture in Seattle for Spring Break

We lost March, like, the entire month. Poof! Gone! Where did the time go? Needless to say,  we didn’t get a lot of writing done this month. We did, however, spend time with extended family, get out into the rare Oregon spring sunshine the last few weeks, and took care of a family member. We also did a lot of talking, some of it about the Litzos and our plans for this summer.

So, what’s in the works for us? Starting in June, we hope to have a book table at our local, weekly music festival. It’s time we got out into the public and hawked physical copies of our books. Also, we are looking into offering one-time self-publishing packages (cover, formatting, and editing services) locally, to help offset our own operating costs. If there is interest, we may eventually offer the service outside of our local area. Eric is very interested in putting together a podcast. He’s talked about it in the past but due to his previous work schedule, we could never make it work. Now that he has an actual set work schedule, we think we have a good chance to make the podcast happen. Finally, we need to get back to writing. We finished The Oculars, and then we rested on our laurels for a few months. It’s time to get to work.

We will try to be better about regularly posting to the blog. This wasn’t the only blog we neglected. Anne has shut down her Tea and Trifles blog because she didn’t give it enough attention. One blog is enough. We will, however, be adding more book reviews to this blog. We are not only writers, we are voracious readers and we love giving recommendations. Look for the first review soon.

We hope you are enjoying the sunshine, wherever you are. We are back to our normal, rainy, Pacific Northwest April showers tomorrow. It’s as good an excuse as any to work on our writing. Happy Spring!

Kind regards,

Anne, Nancy, and Eric

 

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The Damnation Revival Giveaway

 

Today is Sunday, February 24th,  and it is the last day to pick up a free eBook of our newly renamed horror novel, The Damnation Revival. We’ve been running giveaways the last two weeks in the (apparently futile) attempt to pick up a few reviews for both The Oculars and The Damnation Revival. With over fifty downloads so far, you would think at least one kind soul would let us know what they think, because when it comes to Amazon, reviews are what get your works bumped up in its search engines.

Other than the giveaways, not much progress was made this week. We are currently struggling with our business taxes, a job made far too difficult by Ye Olde Government. We are a simple partnership, with miniscule sales, and no employees. You’d think it would be a piece of cake to get our taxes finished but that is not the case. There is no 1040EZ for a small business. We purchased the small business tax software from HR Block and it is no better than downloading the actual forms from the IRS. It provides no explanations and no shortcuts. In short, it was a waste of money. Today, Anne and Nancy will put there heads together and try to sort out what’s what. If we can’t, then we might need to break and shell out a bit more money for some professional help. Wish us luck.

We hope your week is going smoothly. Here in the Pacific Northwest, we are in for a miserable week weather-wise, wet and cold throughout. We appreciate your support. Drop us a line! We’d love to hear from you!

Kind regards,

Anne, Nancy, and Eric

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