Thursday, June 23, 2011

Review: Spoil of War by Phoenix Sullivan

Independent Publication Review
Spoil of War by Phoenix Sullivan
ATTENTION: This review is SPOILER FREE. For a more detailed description on the book go to Spoil of War. Personally, I recommend not reading the detailed virtual back cover on Sullivan’s website, and enjoy this book without prior influence.

Spoil of War is gripping, an exceptional story that breathes new life to Arthurian Canon.

Elsbeth, a Celtic noblewoman, finds herself in a dangerous situation when her father starts a small war with the neighboring stronghold of Cameliard, and its newly crowned ruler Leodegrance. War is a way of life for Elsbeth’s father and other lords scattered across Britain. When her father’s quest for victory takes a deadly turn Elsbeth becomes tossed in with the spoils. Not just any spoil, but Leodegrance’s.

One would think a spoil’s only trial is the singular attention, said spoil, must bestow on her captor, though Elsbeth quickly discovers that life is not as simplistic as it seems. The loss of her home and the life she lived disappear like a thief in the night, replaced by warring emotions, political squabbles, and the danger of once more losing another place called home.

The story and Elsbeth’s trials of being a spoil are poignant. The entire story is told from Elsbeth’s perspective, which is exciting and leaves more to be discovered. One of my favorite scenes is shortly after Elsbeth's arrival in Cameliard and she finds that Leodegrance has a queen:

Already he seemed to have forgotten about her, though. She watched the crowd part again as he and his queen, hand in hand, left her with his war steed and moved off toward the inner keep.
Dismounting, Ector's men followed them, the crowd swarming behind them, cutting off Elsbeth's view of the king's retreating back.
She felt a touch on her shoulder. Spinning around, she found Ector at her side, looking at her, amused. "He didn't tell you, did he?"
For some reason Elsbeth blushed. She knew perfectly well what Ector meant, but some demon made her ask, "Tell me what?"
"That there was already a queen."
"What makes you think I even entertained the idea that he was taking me to be his queen?"
"You're a woman. What woman would not want power?"
Too True. "But at what price?"
"It seems to me you've already sacrificed your chastity. What else have you left to lose?"
"Honor. Pride." Myself.
"Those are men's sacrifices, not women's. He left you with nothing, didn't he, save the one vain hope that you could win yourself a king." 
"Maybe a Roman would dream of marrying the man who warred against her father and burned her home, but I'm no Roman. It would do you -- and your king -- well to remember that."
"As you will, my Lady." The knight smiled easily.

Readers will find moments to cry, scream, and even rage while reading. The detailed descriptions of life in an era where women were properties, merely to be traded or used in any fashion devised, are emotional, but worth the experience. There is something for everyone: battles, romance, conflict, and the unmitigated courage of a woman who refuses to back down in defeat.

Spoil of War is by far the largest book I have ever read in 24 hours. The story grabbed me by the eyes, and wouldn’t let go! As a fan of Arthur and Camelot, I found Spoil of War unique, but not damaging to Arthurian Canon. I found the historical element and period information on practices, beliefs, and even politics fascinating. This book is graphic at times, but the scenes portray the reality of life in early Britain. Absence of such scenes would have marred the story, in my opinion, and created more of a fairytale versus a work of fiction that truly entertains through facts. Overall the book was refreshing, real, and will easily engross readers.

Spoil of War is available on Barnes & Noble, Amazon, Amazon UK, and Smashwords. The retail price for this glorious novel is $0.99. That's right $0.99 thru June 30th. So I recommend you spend the small fortune now on getting yourself a copy, your brother, your best friend, and everyone you know!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Funday Monday June 20th, 2011 Edition

It's Funday Monday!!!! Contest's galore and all sorts of other things to do and learn.

5.) The question- I have heard unpublished authors, including myself, ask the question about pen names. Do you get one before you get an agent, do you build an online following with one, and multiple variations of said question. I honestly never asked anyone in the pub biz this question directly because
a.) I didn't want to look like an idiot for not already knowing the answer
b.) I didn't want to look like an idiot when I asked an agent on his/her blog when she already answered that question (archived circa 2005).
Now I finally got an answer!
Head over to Evil Editor's blog here for more info, especially take a look at Phoenix Sullivan's gem of wisdom in the comment section!

4.) The Romance Biggest Loser Contest
This fun little way to slip the pounds during the summer is still looking for participants. So, head on over. Don't be shy! I know strawberry shortcakes, and Sonic Blast Ice Cream are typical summer fare, but tis the season for delicious summer salads. Diet, but don't dye it!

3.) La Vie en Prose Cleansing Palette Contest
It's story time. Last week The Shark 'Janet Reid' had her little story jam, now it's time for Meredith.
Contest Starts: 6pm EST Monday June 20th, 2011
Contest Ends: 6pm EST Tuesday June 21st, 2011
Break out the Dr. Pepper and Cheddar Chex Mix and get crackin'.
Rules: Multiple stories accepted in comment section, must be a story, and the final sentence must be: I felt sorry, after that, but still I couldn't bring myself to cross the room.
Click the link to enter

2.) The Season Needs Reviewers
As some know, I review books for a wonder website called The Season. Right now the creator, the talented, Beverley Kendall, is in desperate need for additional reviewers. Categories are wide and far spread, a little something for everyone. Requirements include being able to review at least 2 books a month. FYI: This is a romance book review site so if you like romance of any shape or size and have a little time to commit check out the post.
-Another side note, check out The Season's blog on a daily basis. The blog has book giveaways every week.

1.) Creative Writing Contests
This is more like a general fun thing. A lot of folks who visit are already published or have agents, etc. So, writing contests may be out the door for you, but for the others this may be a little outside the box. It can be hard tracking down the ever-elusive contest information. This blog provides up and coming contests for you to check out. As always I will remind people to read the fine print, and I have not combed through the entire blogs givings. It's worth a look in my opinion.

Good luck and have a great week!
P.S. Review for Spoil of War by Phoenix Sullivan coming on Thursday.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Thank You Dad!

Father's Day, the holiest of days when we honor those who helped raise us and without their swimming friends we would have been nothing... absolutely nothing.

My father taught me everything I know. From working on plumbing to shaving my legs. He brought football into my life, taught me sports, and made me a wooden pump action shotgun. FYI: We modified this gun shortly after by adding a clip. Gosh knows, you need clips when you're shooting zombies. The point is he tried to make everything fun, even when we didn't have the money to hit up Six Flags or Disneyland. He support us rocking out to Classic Rock music, Van Halen especially, and pretending to play guitar and drums with whatever he could grab. This is a man who took plenty of shots to the family jewels as he taught me how to play catch.
No... really, my father did a lot for me.
The sad part was that he got saddled with a daughter being his first born. I know he really wanted a little boy because he's a boy at heart. He could have ignored me, but instead he took it upon himself to make me just as good as the little boys. I can talk football, hunting, a little guns and ammo, and I don't seize up at the sight of dead things. Yes, that's right! Perfectly comfortable with eatin' Bambi for supper. Heck, I'll help you field dress 'im; even though I've never actually done it before...just watched.

This father of mine did everything for his family. He slaved in dry cleaners, worked night jobs, took on 2 jobs when required, and relentlessly worked to rebuild our home (built in the 1960s) over my childhood. He is now back to his original job working for the Air Force and protecting our country!

Today is the day to honor father, as he has been a huge influence in my life. Thank you, I say, for telling me from the time I was 6 years-old that I can be anything I want to be and do anything I want to do. Without these him I don't know where I would be or what I would have become.

Sometimes the poorest man leaves his children the richest inheritance- Ruth E. Henkel

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Hobbies oh my!

A quote I hear all to often: "Write what you know!"

This quote speaks volumes, and I have seen the influence of this words when I hear authors talking about settings for their books being in the same state they live, or character personalities based on people they know personally. Writing what you know tends to come naturally, from the vocabulary you use to the conflicts you create for your characters. In some ways even the most far out fantasy book has elements of author life experiences.
You're looking for the point right? Well, I'm getting to it. Patience, dear readers!

That being said, I have been analyzing my hobbies. Do my hobbies increase my knowledge to a point that I can write about them? Do these hobbies expand my vocabulary and mind? Are my hobbies merely just the chance to escape the mundane, humdrum of the daily life?

Let's list said hobbies:
Book Review
Internet article surfing
Paranormal research/ Host of online Paranormal Show
Website Design
Playing Violin
Marketing Director for Dog Rescue

Most of these hobbies are definitely geared toward enlightening my mind with stimulating content. I read anything and everything. From news updates to the latest historical romance. I blog to hone writing skills. Designing websites is just another one of those things I do because I'm nice. I tweet to expose myself to authors and the writing community because they are much more exciting then most of my extended family, and network of day job co-workers. I cook because my fondness of food equates to bringing it up in almost every conversation. I help doggies because I can. Hosting a paranormal show was just a suggestion by the DH. He thought I would be good at it and I guess I am.
Random Fact about me: I am my own worst critic about everything I do. A little self conscience I know.

In the end my hobbies enrich, relax, and give me a purpose beyond just going to work and coming home every day. I'm not changing the world, but I am not living ignorant in it. I would say there is an attempt to accomplish my dreams. At the same time, I don't believe to be an expert in my hobbies and I am certainly not an authority to write about them.

So, what about you? Do your hobbies enrich your life and your writing? Are you an expert on said hobbies, and feel you could successfully integrate them into your fiction? Got any hobbies to recommend?

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Contest Fun Monday

My top 5 picks for the week. It's been a while, I know. So, sue me! Better yet, don't sue me but bribe me with Dr. Pepper and books to read so I will post more.

5.) Janet Reid Writing Contest- Janet has one of these every so often and it's a fun test at flash fiction. Join in the fun if your brain can think that fast. My unfortunately cannot... this may be the reason I am not published.
Contest Ends: Monday 6/13 @ 7:13pm EST.

4.) The Knight Agency Blog Freebie Friday's- Now this contest is a wiener... I mean winner! Okay I promise no more Weiner jokes. Just had to throw one in there. Anyhoo, every single cotton-pickin' Friday The Knight Agency gives away a book to a lucky commenter. So put this blog on your watch list, you never know what might be available or up for grabs.

3.) The Romance Biggest Loser Contest- Feel up to losing some poundage brought on by last holiday season but you haven't had the time to get crackin'. This is a six month endeavor but the rewards include interaction with published authors, agents, and others in the genre. Plus you could win moo-lah and free books. What's not to like. Check it out this deal rolls out right after the 4th of July.
Plenty of time for you to still enjoy funnel cakes, shortcakes with berries and mountains of whipped topping, or that decadent ice cream sundae you've had your eye on. Did I mention McD's has a limited time Rolo McFlurry out once again? Completely off topic I know, but you get a pic! 

2.) 2011 Hillerman Mystery Writing Short Story Contest- Offer up 2,500 words of tantalizing mystery and you could be a big winner. Magazine publication and $1000, and a trip to the awards ceremony. Of course I always advise discretion when thinking of entering a contest and this one comes with a $20 submission fee. I haven't had time to view all the details, but recommend if you check it out and see something fishy let me know.

1.) Spoil of War- Best Arthurian Novel Ever! I don't care if you disagree with me, I loved it! So I'm posting it as my number 1 contest. I contest to you all to pay the small fee of $1.00 to snag this jewel among self-published novels. The story is wonderful, amazing, and while I have yet to post my official review, I ate the thing up in under 24 hours. I don't want to spoil anything by posting more and you'll get to read my full review soon. Until then click the link and read the first chapter as a sampler. I'll tell you though it was worth the $1.00. You don't get deals like this every day.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Reviewing is hard

Slushie's got a brand new bag baby, Yea! I'm reviewing for The Season, as I'm sure you noticed with my last post. My personal opinion of writing is that the process in general is easy, but developing good, time lasting writing is hard. Well, I got news for you... writing reviews is even harder.

Now you say, "Why Slush? It's just 400-750 words about a book. Less if it's really bad, and you get to voice personal opinion about someone elses writing. It's not personal and reviews are subjective, like rejections."

1.) I want those 400-750 words to actually mean something, and not appear as some sort of drivel I spat out of my forked, tongue lashing mouth. Those words should speak to potential readers, not just say 'It was good, buy it!' Coming up with something like that can be as hard as a back cover blurb or query.

2.) Personal opinion is great. I often read reviews on products, books, movies, etc. just to get an idea about something. Though I feel that sometimes people can be a little too open with their thoughts. Don't get me wrong, I want honesty, but can you put it in an intelligible way?? This leads me back to #1. I don't want readers looking at my review going, "This lady is an idiot".

3.)The review is not personal, it's a reflection of your opinion on a book. Yes, but I still feel bad when I give a rating that's low. Let me remind you that I will read just about anything. I'm a sucker for a book, and rarely have I encountered a book that I will not finish; probably 1 to 2 books in my entire life thus far. Now, I will be honest and I really take my rating seriously. That 10 rating has to be a book that I could re-read every single day and never stop loving it. In a small way, I now understand how agents feel when writing rejections. It sucks! Reviewing is just as difficult at times.

4.)I get that reviews are subjective... the whole point of personal opinion. By golly this is why I refuse to completely bash the books I read. Even if they are not a favorite, I want to still give the book a chance for others who may disagree with me. Brotherhood of the Wolf anyone? This movie had dismal critic reviews, but I love the movie.

Bottom line: Writing reviews is just as challenging to me as writing a novel. I want to give an honest, fair review that knocks the socks of people, even if the book is not getting that coveted 10. I want people to respect the words I type, and know that my opinion is only an opinion; you could still love that book. I feel guilty when my honesty and ethical reasoning forces me to still give a semi-low rating because as an unpublished author I want to see published ones flourish, especially my favorites. It's a rewarding opportunity and a challenge that I'm enjoying.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Reading List- May

Here's a snapshot of what I have been scarfing down in the month of May. You will be pleased to learn that I ventured beyond Historical Romance. Yet, not very far from it. If you wonder why I stray this way so often, let's just say I am catching up on my reading. I was absent for far too many years.

Leah and The Bounty Hunter- Elaine Levine**
Red Heat- Nina Bruhns*
Blackberry Summer- RaeAnne Thayne*
Collide- Megan Hart**
Three Sinful Wishes- R.G. Alexander*
The Duke and I- Julia Quinn
The Viscount Who Loved Me- Julia Quinn
A Offer From A Gentleman- Julia Quinn
Romancing Mister Bridgerton- Julia Quinn
To Sir Phillip With Love- Julia Quinn
When He Was Wicked- Julia Quinn
It's In His Kiss- Julia Quinn
On The Way To The Wedding- Julia Quinn
Reckless- Anne Stuart
Breathless- Anne Stuart
The Rake and The Recluse- Jenn LeBlanc
This Duchess of Mine- Eloisa James
Confessions At Midnight-Jacquie D'Alessandro
Seduced At Midnight- Jacquie D'Alessandro
Tempted At Midnight- Jacquie D'Alessandro

(*) Review is posted on The Season E-Zine
(**) Review will be posted in the coming months on The Season E-Zine