Guest Post: Creating Powerful Characters

Get ready to explore a gem of mythic fiction in Michael Williams’ Dominic’s Ghosts Blog Tour. Taking place February 13-20, 2019, this blog tour celebrates a new stand-alone novel in Michael’s ambitious City Quartet.

Atmospheric and thought-provoking, Dominic’s Ghosts will take you on a unique kind of journey that involves a conspiracy, legends, and insights from a film festival!

About the Author:
Over the past 25 years, Michael Williams has written a number of strange novels, from the early Weasel’s Luck and Galen Beknighted in the best-selling DRAGONLANCE series to the more recent lyrical and experimental Arcady, singled out for praise by Locus and Asimov’s magazines. In Trajan’s Arch, his eleventh novel, stories fold into stories and a boy grows up with ghostly mentors, and the recently published Vine mingles Greek tragedy and urban legend, as a local dramatic production in a small city goes humorously, then horrifically, awry.

Trajan’s Arch and Vine are two of the books in Williams’s highly anticipated City Quartet, to be joined in 2018 by Dominic’s Ghosts and Tattered Men.

Williams was born in Louisville, Kentucky, and spent much of his childhood in the south central part of the state, the red-dirt gothic home of Appalachian foothills and stories of Confederate guerrillas. Through good luck and a roundabout journey he made his way through through New England, New York, Wisconsin, Britain and Ireland, and has ended up less than thirty miles from where he began. He has a Ph.D. in Humanities, and teaches at the University of Louisville, where he focuses on the he Modern Fantastic in fiction and film. He is married, and has two grown sons.

Synopsis of Dominic’s Ghosts:
Dominic’s Ghosts is a mythic novel set in the contemporary Midwest. Returning to the home town of his missing father on a search for his own origins, Dominic Rackett is swept up in a murky conspiracy involving a suspicious scholar, a Himalayan legend, and subliminal clues from a silent film festival. As those around him fall prey to rising fear and shrill fanaticism, he follows the branching trails of cinema monsters and figures from a very real past, as phantoms invade the streets of his once-familiar city and one of them, glimpsed in distorted shadows of alleys and urban parks, begins to look uncannily familiar.


Author Links:

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/Mythical-Realism-The-Michael-Williams-Page-128713900543978/

Guest Post: Creating Powerful Characters

I was asked to write about creating “powerful characters,” which is an interesting distinction from the usual request about “good characters” or “believable characters.”

I could comply with the usual request. Consistency and plausibility are the foundation of any well-drawn character, and a number of writers can do those things and do them ably. But I have a feeling that what’s asked for here is something more—that intriguing moment in fiction where you encounter someone you’ll never forget: Sherlock Holmes, perhaps, or Madame Bovary. Captain Ahab, Hamlet or Gollum.

The figures who haunt you after you close the covers of the book.

Because almost anywhere you look, you can find the standard advice on character plausibility and consistency: writers I know keep notebooks, fill out character sheets, base the people in their stories on the people they know, or “cast” their stories with the screen personalities of appropriate actors or with the best guess at the temperaments of historical figures.

I mean, everyone has heard these methods already. Pick out a tactic that works for you.

Sometimes, though, you hear this complaint: “I just couldn’t relate to the character.” Pay close attention to those moments. Are readers actually saying the character is unrelatable? If so, the solution probably lies in some of the tactics I’ve mentioned above.

However, a lot of the time, what a reader might be saying is, “I couldn’t identify with the character.” And that, to me, is a very different thing. You can believe in a character without that kind of identity that a lot of readers demand: after all, who’d want to be Iago or Saruman, and yet we are fascinated by them, like by something glittering and poisonous. Very often the most powerful characters are figures strange to us, people who stretch our imaginations rather than confirm our assumptions. We do our work as readers in coming to know them, and the fascination of discovery takes the place of the ease in feeling that we already know them.

In short, when I read about a fictional character, I’d rather be asking “What’s up with her?” than resting in the assurance that “she’s just like I would be in that situation.”

My own Vine: An Urban Legend—one of the books in my City Quartet—met the objection of one reviewer that one of the central characters was “unsympathetic”. Well, a drug-addled homeless Elvis impersonator, haunted by paranoia and delusions of grandeur, might not be someone you’d want to buddy up with, much less grow up to be. But I maintain he’s interesting as hell, and his recurrence in the other three volumes—a secondary character in Dominic’s Ghosts, a cameo appearance in the pending new edition of Trajan’s Arch, and one of the two principal figures in the soon-to-be- released Tattered Men—make you more and more acquainted with Tommy Briscoe, so that when you glimpse him from the corner of your eye or when he settles in your sight, I’m hoping you’re curious, eager for more.

All of this without necessarily “identifying with him,” though depending on what book of the Quartet you read first (and you can start with any of them) you may be more sympathetic than if you began somewhere else. Just like living around someone like Tommy: where you start may shape where you end up. But you’ll stretch your thoughts along the way. Explore the character’s contradictions and layers. And that’s the power of characters, and of fiction.

Tour Schedule and Activities

2/13     Ravenous For Reads
www.ravenousforreads.com

2/13     Breakeven Books
https://breakevenbooks.com

2/14     Marian Allen, Author Lady
www.MarianAllen.com

2/15     Inspired Chaos
http://inspiredchaos.weebly.com/blog

2/16     I Smell Sheep
http://www.ismellsheep.com/

2/16     The Book Lover’s Boudoir
https://thebookloversboudoir.wordpress.com/

2/17     Jorie Loves A Story
http://jorielovesastory.com

2/18     The Seventh Star
www.theseventhstarblog.com

2/18     Willow’s Thoughts and Book Obsessions       http://wssthoughtsandbookobsessions.blogspot.com/

2/18     The Horror Tree
www.Horrortree.com

2/19     Sheila’s Guests and Reviews
www.sheiladeeth.blogspot.com

2/20     Jazzy Book Reviews
https://bookreviewsbyjasmine.blogspot.com/

Amazon Links for Dominic’s Ghosts

Print Version: https://www.amazon.com/Dominics-Ghosts-Michael-Williams/dp/1948042584/

Kindle Version: https://www.amazon.com/Dominics-Ghosts-Quartet-Michael-Williams-ebook/dp/B07F5Z4L18/

Barnes and Noble Link for Dominic’s Ghosts: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/dominics-ghosts-michael-williams/1129262622?ean=9781948042581

MSC Cruises

Blog Tour: Sentinels by L.C Conn

I’m happy to be able to share this 5 star rated book (not my rating but the blog tour’s rating) today! It’s called Sentinels and it’s book #1 in The One True Child series by L.C. Conn. 

There is also a giveaway for you to enter so please read on!

LC Conn - Sentinels front.pngBook Title: Sentinels

Publication Date: February 14th, 2018

Genre: YA Fantasy

Publisher: Between the Lines

The world is new, created from a great explosion caused by Chaos in a childish rage. Order is born from the intense light of the explosion, sent as a balance to the Dark One. As the world is created around It, Order realises that It cannot stand alone and creates the Sentinels. Extreme beings with amazing powers, they shape and mould the world, creating creatures and plants to inhabit it. A world of light and love.

Chaos cannot understand why these beings will not bend to his will and worship him. He tries to destroy their work and riles against them. In answer, Order forms a plan. A being; born of two of the Sentinels, with abilities stronger than their own. A child in human form, who must be raised by The People in order to understand their race. The One True Child.

Carling is that child. Raised in the sacred valley in secret, along with her four brothers. Raised by Tarl’a, the Keeper of the Stones and her husband, Mailcon. Her life is quiet and uneventful, until she turns thirteen. It is then she learns of her true identity and purpose on earth. Now she must come to terms with this great change and prospect of finally being able to leave the valley to be taught her skills by the Sentinels. She must do this before Chaos can find her and attack before she is ready.

This is a story of learning and growing, of making mistakes and building on them. It is good vs evil, light vs dark and love vs hate. Carling’s very life depends on the love of her family and her soul-mate. It is also a story about how the world will only survive if we can control hatred and learn to love.

Add to Goodreads

Purchase Sentinels Here!


About the Author

lc conn - author photo

L.C. Conn grew up on the outskirts of Upper Hutt, New Zealand. Her backyard encompassed the surrounding farmland, river, hills and mountains which she wandered with her brothers and fed her imagination. After discovering a love for writing in English class at the age of eight, she continued to write in secret. It was not until much later in life that L.C. turned what she thought was a hobby and something fun to do, into her first completed novel. Now married, L.C. moved from New Zealand to Perth, Western Australia, and became a stay at home mum. While caring for her family and after battling breast cancer, a story was born from the kernel of a dream. The first book of The One True Child Series was begun, and just kept blooming into seven completed stories.

LC Conn Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

sentinels banner

Tour Schedule

Jan. 21st

Reads & Reels (Guest Post) http://www.readsandreels.com
The Ghastly Grimoire (Promo) http://theghastlygrimoire.com/
On the Shelf Reviews (Promo) https://ontheshelfreviews.wordpress.com/
Your Books, My Reviews (Review) https://yourbooksmyreview.wordpress.com

Jan. 22nd

Beware of the Reader (Promo) http://bewareofthereader.com/
Breakeven Books (Promo) https://breakevenbooks.com/
Life at 17 (Review) https://lifeat17.wordpress.com/

Jan. 23rd

The Writer’s Alley (Review) https://www.jacobrundle.com/
Love Books Group (Promo) https://lovebooksgroup.com/
I Smell Sheep (Promo) http://www.ismellsheep.com/
Reading Nook (Promo) https://readingnook84.wordpress.com/
YA/ NA Book Divas (Promo) http://www.yabookdivas.com/
Rockabilly Spoonie (Interview) https://lauramorningstar.com/
Your Book, My Reviews (Review) https://yourbooksmyreview.wordpress.com

Jan. 24th

Mid West Ladies Who Lit (Promo) https://mwladieswholit.wordpress.com/
The Cozy Pages (Promo) https://thecozypages.wordpress.com/
Banshee Irish Horror Blog (Promo) http://bansheeirishhorrorblog.com/

Jan. 25th

The Invisible Moth (Review) https://daleydowning.wordpress.com/
J Bronder Book Reviews (Review) https://jbronderbookreviews.com/
Book Mania (Review) https://bookmania176.wordpress.com/

They are also hosting a giveaway so make sure to take part in that to win some cool prizes.

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Blog Tour Organized By:

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Shared Post – What Does Your Bookshelf Reveal About You? — The Bookish Elf

Bookshelf is pride of a bookworm and it speaks about the personality of the owner! The way you arrange your books in shelves clearly states your preferences in life as well. American novelist Walter Mosley said, “A man’s bookcase will tell you everything you’ll ever need to know about him,” and this is absolutely true.…Read…

via What Does Your Bookshelf Reveal About You? — The Bookish Elf

This article is fantastic and I completely relate to this! Let me know your thoughts about how you arrange your bookshelf in the comments below!


5X Plum Points when you spend $10 or more on books!

May Giveaway Winner

Well the month of May has ended and that means that it is time to announce the winner of May’s giveaway. It was a month filled with trips to Montreal and concerts for me but I still had some time to get some reading in and be productive with some reviews. We have a bunch more reviews coming soon.

Now without further ado, the winner of the May giveaway is…..

@bibliobeautybooks

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Congratulations on winning. I will get in touch with you to find out your mailing information and I hope you enjoy the book! Make sure to tag @breakevenbooks if you post a photo of your contest winnings 🙂

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Deals of the Week: New deals every week, online only!

Book Review: Writer, Seeker, Killer by Ryan Starbloak

Another review for you guys by our one and only Chris Connors of the BreakEven Books team! He took on Writer, Seeker, Killer by Ryan Starbloak this time.

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In the 1970s there was a fad among writers to have their book end with a most unexpected ending. Sometimes the ending was ambiguous—no doubt that makes for good classroom discussions on what really happened—and sometimes the ending was “everyone dies”, or at least the raison d’etre of the main character dies; and other times someone dies but it is ambiguous.

This is a book that harkens back to some of that 70s writing. Despite my dislike for that type of book, this is a good book; in fact, it is probably a really good book.

I jumped into this book without reading anything about the book so I enjoyed the adventure as it went along. The author doesn’t lay everything out and doesn’t explain many things, but instead drops hints so that you gradually put together pieces of the puzzle to figure out where things are going. Just the reading itself was like slowly unwrapping a multi-layered gift with each new wrapping revealing something new, but still not fully exposing what is at the heart of the gift.

And, what is quite refreshing is that just as you think you know where this is going the author drops another throw-away line that makes you say, “Wait?! What?”, and you have to go back and reread the preceding paragraph to make sure you’ve read it right.

This book, set in New Orleans, takes you on a journey through some of the seedier aspects of the human condition, the drug wars, gang life, poverty, racial violence while also discussing beginner philosophical and religious tenets, family, and life in general. This journey itself was artfully done. I imagine an English literature teacher in high school would get a few weeks of discussion material (the writing stylings actually reminded me a bit of Timothy Findlay’s The War, that English lit book that was all the rage for so long).

Then just when you think you know where this book is going there’s another big twist that transforms the book completely, and suddenly the whole thing turns almost surreal. It is like reading what you think is a romance novel only to suddenly have a Jason Bourne-like character show up for a big reveal (not that this book is a romance book or has any Jason Bourne character, but the switch is just as big and interesting).

There are a few misused words (“granite” for “granted” e.g., “Taking her family and existence for granite then clinging to both when they were proven as counterfeit”). It would also be easy to criticize the book for the “bad” guys rather convoluted Rube Goldberg way of going about their plans. There were so many different, quicker, cheaper ways of getting to where they wanted. As well, there are many unanswered questions, but the writing skill displayed makes you overlook these things; or at least overlook till the wee hours of the morning when your brain says, “Psst, wake up. Let’s talk about the
novel”.

It seems the book isn’t so much about the storyline, but more about the human condition; the plot itself is of lesser importance than the exploration of the inner workings of people—at least that is my sense after my brain woke me up at 2:40 a.m. and made me type this out.The fact that this book did that indicates just how well-written, and even powerful, it is. A five-star book that will stay with me for quite a while.

Book Rating: 5/5

Disclaimer: This book was provided to us by the author in exchange for an honest review.

And if you wish to connect with the author, check out his Tumblr page!

Lazy Sunday

It’s another lazy Sunday and I am starting a new book. It is my first NetGalley book called The Dark Grey Blanket by H. Burns. Thank you to Kathy @ Books and Munches for showing me what NetGalley is and getting me hooked on a new way to read books before they are released.

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 Synopsis: 

The winters of ’76 and ’77 in the greater Detroit and Oakland County area of Michigan were extremely harsh, with record snowfall, brutal temperatures, and incessant howling winds. During these winters, a deranged serial killer preyed upon preteen and early teen victims, both male and female. As snow would begin to fall, the killer would hunt and abduct them, keep them at a secluded location, bathe them, meticulously groom them, feed them their favorite meal, and then wait for the next snowstorm. Under the cover of the next snowfall, the killer would hide their corpses in snowbanks on secondary roads, where they would be found by passing motorists.

This story is a fictional account of an over-the-hill detective, Frank Pellegrini, and his strange obsession in the pursuit of that killer.

I am pretty excited to start reading this one. Stay tuned for the review coming up 😛 If you want to read this too, you can find it on his website https://www.thedarkgrayblanket.com or click below to see it on Amazon:

New Goodies!

This week has been amazing and super stressful at the same time. We moved buildings for work so it was heavily taxing for everyone involved. However, I received some really awesome bookish goodies in the mail so that made up for the stress 🙂

Thank you to Machpherson Publishing for sending me some books to review for them which I will get to as soon as I am done my review for STORGY!

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And then on top of that, I received a card from Kathy @ Books and Munches from our Christmas Card Exchange! It was everything I could have hoped for in a nerdy card 😛 and she made damn sure that I never forget about Dobby the house elf again…. 😀 (Best bookmark ever).

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I have some reviews coming up and stayed tuned on the Instagram as I am doing a Harry Potter Photo Challenge for the month of December.

My friend Elizabeth showed me this cool morphing mug that changes colour with heat and reveals the Marauders Map so I had to show you guys. Here it is along with other cool Harry Potter stuff 😛

I wish I could buy all this things to satisfy the inner nerd in me. Anyways, have to get back to reading but talk to you soon bookworms!

What is your favourite book of all time?

Well it’s finally here, last day of the book challenge! I honestly have to think really hard for this one because there are so many books that I love. I know it only says one book but I am choosing two favourite books because I want to :P. My two faves which everyone has heard me talk about already so I won’t make this post long, are The Hunger Games by Suzanna Collins and Red Rising by Pierce Brown.

I’m sure you have heard me talk about both of these books enough so we will leave it that and you know they are my favourite. I’m kind of sad that the book challenge is over because I enjoyed doing it so much so I guess I will have to find another challenge to do between book reviews.

You can find the books on Amazon here:

I should have a review coming soon for a book full of ghost short stories that was sent to me by STORGY of stay tuned! Also let me know what your favourite book of all time is in the comments below 🙂 Oh and on a cheery note, my blog received 500 likes so thank you to everyone who is supporting me and reading the blog! I really appreciate it guys.

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Book Review: Critical Critters

I was recently sent a copy of Critical Critters by Ralph Steadman and Ceri Levy from @Storgy and Bloomsbury Books. The book is about the animals all over the world that are on the endangered species list and are in need of saving.

Critical-Creatures

Ralph brings the animals to life through his intricate watercolour artwork and Ceri brings all the facts to the table that are justified with thorough research and a genuine exploration of the species.  The way these two can tell a story about each specific species and makes it interesting to read is amazing. I will admit that when I first looked at this book proof, I thought “Oh no, not another textbook”. But after I started to read, I found myself wanting to know each and every thing about all the different species in danger and how I could get involved to help.

I also enjoyed how they had a little side narrative going throughout the entire book. Ralph and Ceri would banter back and forth while they were in the process of creating the book and it gave the reader insight into how some of their ideas took shape.

There are so many species in this world and every single one has a different way of life. One quote really stuck out to me because it shows that we do take the natural world for granted.

Perhaps we refuse to accept their intelligence because we would then feel guilt for everything we have done to them.

 

The book did take a little while to get through but that only goes to show how many species are in danger and that the ecosystem needs our help to maintain the peace so to speak. We are the main reason a lot of these species are in danger in the first place. All the resources and websites that can help with protecting the ecosystem and different habitats are posted in the back of the book.

Overall, it was a very informative book with a comedic twist on the scientific side. I would recommend it to anyone wanting to know more about endangered species and why they are on the endangered list.

Book Rating: 4/5

You can also see the post on the STORGY website!

November Giveaway!!!

Hey bookworms!! So I liked the last giveaway so much that I wanted to do another one and what better thing to win than stickers. I received this huge assortment of decal stickers which are perfect for notebooks, laptops etc.

The rules to enter the giveaway are simple:

  1. Either go to Breakeven Books Facebook Page and like it or follow Breakeven Books on Instagram.
  2. Tag 3 people in the post that would like to win some awesome stickers.
  3. Share the post for an extra entry.

The winner will be posted on November 30th so there is lots of time to enter and share the contest with others! I will also be adding a little treat to the package for the winner 🙂

I am really excited and hope everyone gets involved with the giveaway. There are some really cool stickers to choose from so make sure to try it out. OK talk to you later bookworms.