News and Creative Questions

Apology!

I have to start with an apology.  I realised too late that I posted twice in a very short space of time about my latest paperback.  I really had no intention of doing so but I was rather swept along by my excitement yesterday, and forgetting that I’d already made the announcement didn’t help!!  My only excuse is that yesterday was caused by my receiving my own copy of the book.  I really have no intention of becoming one of those bloggers who just bangs on interminably about their own works!

An Amusing Fact

This statement is not meant to elicit a cascade of good wishes.  It’s simply something of some mild amusement, in my view.  Today is my birthday, the 56th one inflicted on me by a cruel calendar.  It strikes me as slightly funny that the one thing I haven’t received is – a book!  Don’t get me wrong, either.  I have a large library, which has grown exponentially with the advent of ebooks!  It’s also a truth that, with my increased writing activity, the time I have available for reading has declined significantly.  Of course, as it’s early yet, there’s still time for a book to put in an appearance, and it would be very welcome, naturally.  I also have to say that I don’t make gift buying for me easy!  I admit to only one thing, when asked: that I don’t need anything, and there’s nothing I would dearly love to possess.  More, I reiterate, every year, that I would rather that our three children spend their money on more important things – like their own families!  And I can say that I mean every word – totally!

Of course there are books I would like to get, but so many are out of print and can’t even be found online, or are insanely expensive if they can be found.  There’s not one, single book that matters so much to me that I am willing to pay any price for it!  So I am content.  If I should, by some happy chance, come upon a copy of a desired book at a sensible price, fair enough.  Until then, they will remain on the list.

Work In Progress

This may be a matter of total disinterest to you, some mild interest, or even some resignation.  I have already begun work on the fifth book in the G1: The Guardians series, and surprised myself by its opening!  I won’t, for obvious reasons, give any details.  It has to be enough to say that the beginning is very different, and the story promises to be equally different.  Naturally, G1 won’t be excluded, but there are glimpses of other things, including a bit more about how the police of that undefined future time regard the Guardians.  There’s also a clear indication that the members of the organisation aren’t so insular that they have no contact with people on the outside.  It’s not an ‘international’ story, this time, so we’re again somewhere in England, but perhaps we’ll learn a bit more about future English Society – or maybe not.  Only time will tell.  The one thing I’m fairly confident about is that this is very likely to be another novel.

A Parting Question

There have been numerous new books, and movies, that are quite blatant retellings of old stories.  Everybody seems to be doing it.  Red Riding Hood, Snow White, Treasure Island, and so many more.  This would appear to be a downhill path to stagnation.  But is it?  Are there any truly original stories?  Taking English alone, there may be a very large potential vocabulary at our disposal, but, when all is said and done, it is still a finite language.  And when you start putting words together into comprehensible sentences, the variations available actually diminish.  So, as authors, are we ultimately condemned to come up with rehashed tales, even if we’ve never personally read anything even remotely like the material we’re writing?  It’s reminiscent of music’s difficulties.  We’ve all encountered music tracks which sound very familiar, but which have been honestly composed, without sampling or direct copying.   There being a finite number of possible combinations, however, means that there is an inevitable occurrence of familiar musical phrases.  Surely this applies to stories too?  The basic themes are repeated, with new settings and characters, and maybe as a kind of story stew, with elements from a wide variety of earlier works.  I’m not talking about plagiarists!  All I’m asking is: are we all retellers?

~ Steve

Slightly Excited: Saturday Supplemental Post

TheSigilofAhriman.jpgPaperback Launch!

Yes!  It’s for real!  There’s a new paperback in town and am I excited?  You bet!  The Sigil of Ahriman has been released in paperback and it looks so good!

I confess to a certain special delight in this particular paperback release.  With my son Reuben’s artwork on the cover, in full colour, and inside, in black and white, and being a novella rather than a novelette, this is my proudest achievement to date.  If you think the ebook looks good, it’s nothing compared to the print version!  I can honestly say that it is far ahead of any cover of any of my other books, with a real sense of style!  I can say with all honesty that, if you buy books based on their covers, I seriously believe that this would be one that would definitely attract you.

This release also excites me for other reasons.  If my novel, the fourth story in the G1: The Guardians series, looks anywhere near as good, I’ll be in Seventh Heaven!  With the upcoming rerelease of the first in the series, Shade of Evil, with a new cover by Reuben, I think that the series is looking really good as a collection.  I honestly believe that most people would be happy to have the books on their shelf.

I hope you forgive my wildly enthusiastic blathering!

“A Wet Monday” by Dorothy Edwards: A Review

Note:  This is a review of a book that is currently out of print.

Shame, shame, shame!  Yes indeed. That this little gem from Dorothy Edwards is out of print verges on criminal neglect of a treasure.  We used to read this to our eldest son, and our other two children when they came along, and it was so loved we were all word perfect on it!  In fact, we, and our kids, still quote snippets from it.  No, it’s not a complex story, or life changing or deeply moral. It is, however, something we can al relate to.  As such, that makes it a perfect book for kids, who love familiar things, consistency.  The title says it all – almost.  And, believe it or not, many modern parents could actually learn a secret known to past generations and every child – rain isn’t the end of all fun.  It doesn’t cement you into the home!

This book richly deserves the same notoriety as Dorothy Edwards’ “Naughty Little Sister” tales.  It should be brought back to print without delay!

I would award more if it was possible, but I have to settle for 5 stars!

If you have children or grandchildren, or have any cause to read to children, this is a book well worth getting!  There are copies for sale, through the likes of Amazon.

G1: The Guardians and Beyond

Against All Evils

The Sigil of AhrimanThe Sigil of Ahriman is now available as a paperback!  So you have the option of reading the Amazon Kindle ebook version, which is available from all Amazon stores, or a very smart paperback.  I admit that the paperback version is the more expensive, but I’m afraid there’s no way around that.   I wish there were!

The novella is the third in the G1: The Guardians series.  There is a sense, I hope,  of the backgrounds of the members of G1, and certain essential other characters, being revealed, in a kind of jigsaw form.  I think that this reflects how things work in real life – you learn about new friends, colleagues or whatever a little at a time, you don’t sit down and exchange detailed life histories!  And so it should, I believe, work in fiction that is spread over a series.   Even in single volume works, I believe the characters should be given backgrounds over time, not all at once.  Bur I begin to digress!  Suffice to say, the histories of main characters will continue to grow over the course of the series.  The lives of the Guardians in a more general sense will be uncovered over time, too.  This novella begins that process, as well as being a great adventure for G1.

I’m also pleased to announce that I have finished part four in the series.  This new part is a full novel!  It takes G1 to an exotic location and into an unusual situation.  I won’t say too much.  I think it’s enough to state that it is an adventure unlike those which have already been related, with an exotic location, things that challenge scientific knowledge and more.

A Restructuring

I have encountered a problem when asked for links to information about my books.  Quite simply, there’s no simple answer to the question.  I have pages with more information, but which don’t give all the primary links for buyers.  So, to get around this problem, I’ll be changing how the Published Works page functions.  It will be a gateway for more detailed information, but the purchase links will be removed from it.  Each book will have its own page, some of those grouped under a ‘series header page’ or link (I haven’t decided yet).  I hope that this will be an improvement all around.

Book Promo Day – 27th June, 2013

Twinned Universes by Sandra Ulbrich Almazan

Paul Harrison always wanted to play Hamlet, but he never expected he’d live the role first.

In the aftermath of a family tragedy on 21st century Earth, Paul discovers he’s the clone of Sean Lyon, his great-great-grandfather and a famous TwenCen musician. Suspecting his mother’s death was no accident, Paul comes up with a plan to trick the answers out of the great-uncle who had him cloned. But in order to make his plan work, Paul needs help from Sean himself—and Sean’s time is running out in the TwenCen universe next door. Although Paul’s family lives on the spaceship that travels between the universes, he’s never been allowed on TwenCen Earth. Now, with the help of his friends, his disguise-creating holoprojectors, and a quantum quirk, Paul must make his way to Sean while evading other time travelers who fear he’ll change the history of the TwenCen universe. If Paul is to achieve justice, he must not only risk his own life, but the wormhole connecting the universes. “To be or not to be” was a simple question in comparison….

Buy Links:

Amazon eBook: www.amazon.com
Amazon paper book: www.amazon.com
Barnes and Noble
Smashwords

More information:

Author’s blog


Darkspire Reaches by C.N. Lesley

Her birth mother left her as a sacrifice to the Wyvern, believing a second born twin had no soul.

Her foster mother thought Raven possessed the magic of the First born. She believed she raised a slave.

The emperor of all the lands believed she knew the secret of his birth and that he must silence her. Her tribe thought they could trade her for safe passage out of the emperor’s lands. The Wyvern knows better. He is coming for her. His fury has no limits.

Raven always knew nobody wanted her: Her own mother abandoned her as baby for a wyvern sacrifice. Saved by a local witch to a hard life of labor, Raven always fears a wyvern would hunt her. And when one does he takes her to the mountain aerie of Darkspire Reaches, where she encounters the mighty Drakken lord. Apart from being handsome and powerful, Connor is the most arrogant, self-centered, difficult man Raven has ever encountered. Instant power battles ensue leading to a sparkling love/hate relationship.

View the trailer at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eWTaDpBORsY

From Kristell Ink:
Darkspire Reaches is a dark romantic fantasy, richly told and with characters so real, you cry for them. C N Lesley is masterful. This is for lovers of Ilona Andrews, Karen Chance, Sherrilyn Kenyon and such like.

More information:

Kristell Ink
Author’s blog

Book trailer:

http://youtu.be/eWTaDpBORsY


A Hero’s Journey (Tales of the Scarlet Knight #1) by P.T. Dilloway

Dr. Emma Earl never wanted to be a hero. But when she finds a magic suit of armor that can deflect bullets and turn her invisible, she becomes part of an ancient war between good and evil. It’s up to Emma as the latest incarnation of the heroic Scarlet Knight to save Rampart City from the fiendish Black Dragoon and his plan to rule first the city and then the whole world.

It is 99 cents at Smashwords, Amazon (ebook) and Barnes & Noble right now.  There’s no certainty as to how much longer the ebook will stay that way.  The paperback is $12.34 from Amazon

More information:

Author’s website


When Love Waits by Melanie Macek

When Love Waits is the first book in a Contemporary Romance trilogy set in Northern California. All books are currently $3.99 for Kindle and Nook or $6.99 for print-available only on Amazon at the moment.

Emma Alexander has been living in San Diego the past eight years building her career. She’s only been home once during that time. When she rushes home to deal with a family tragedy, she discovers small towns have long memories. Circumstances force her to deal with the reason she stayed away so long. Now she must decide between the life she left behind and the one she’s secretly yearned for.

Jack McElroy has been in love with Emma since they met their freshman year of college. The last four years of living in San Francisco have been torturous for him, being away from her. When her promotion moves her north, fear of ruining their friendship tempers his desire to show her how he truly feels. Will he be able to profess his love for her or will her ex-fiancé beat him to the punch?

More information:

Author’s Facebook Page
Amazon Author’s Page
Author’s blog

Purchase links:

Amazon Author’s Page – All three books – print and ebook – are listed here.
Barnes & Noble


Angel Falls by Michael Paul Gonzalez

It’s been rough lately for the Lord of Darkness, with ex-girlfriend drama rearing its head at inconvenient moments, ancient gods returning to take over the universe, and Satan’s own unstoppable laziness. But whatever.

Satan is okay, and he thinks you’re okay, too. This whole eternal damnation thing is all a bit of a misunderstanding.

He runs Hell as a resort, kind of. A vacation spot. The point is, he’s not a bad guy. He’s trying to save Heaven and all of creation, and he only has a dimwitted giant, a surly waitress, and a monkey to help him. So, a thank you might be nice. Maybe buy him a cup of coffee next time you see him. And you will see him.

It’s the Apocalypse, and all that.

More information:

Author’s website
Book website


Odious Seed and Other Stories by Jane Endacott

An unlikely romance blossoms between two nuclear scientists. A man ingests a seed that begins to grow and sprout. The ghost of a stalker haunts her murderer.

Witty and poignant, they are the stories of outsiders looking to the inside, of disconnected families, and detached lovers.

Purchase link:

Amazon.com

More information:

Author’s blog

 


The Lonely Man: The Witch’s Price by S. M. White

A man responsible for the downfall of a nation. The nation responsible for the downfall of a man.

Mhets and six other greedy men quested to steal the Chained God’s treasure. They were successful. The gods, in their fury, took the lives of Mhets’ companions one at a time, and now seek to snuff out the remaining thief. To survive, and to further spite the divine for their part in taking the love of his life, Mhets finds refuge in a witch’s hand. But the vile deal he enters into promises nothing but trouble. Sorcerers, mercenaries, and death wait on the horizon as he moves to complete his end of the terrible bargain. Journeying at the behest of the witch, Mhets learns just how black his heart has become, and how that darkness inside him might spell salvation for the world.

The Lonely Man: The Witch’s Price starts the tales of Mhets Sorrowbringer, a man wronged and angered in life. He owns a past riddled with atrocity, betrayal, and death, but here is where his true story starts. Here is where the man called Mirthless Mhets begins to write his legend.

More information:

Author’s Website


Beaufort Betrayal by Linda Heavner Gerald

An intriguing tale of deceit and danger which is set in the historic coastal town of Beaufort, N. C.  Anyone who loves sleepy beach towns and sailing will find this a spell binding story.  The author uses her medical background to add suspense occurring in a mental hospital.  The backdrop of Palm Beach and Wrightsville Beach add style and glamour to a book which you will find impossible to set aside.  Thank goodness the story is only 150 pages.  Perfect for a plane ride or the beach tote.

More information:

Author’s Amazon Page
Author’s blog

Cover Reveal! “A Whisper of Hope” by Amanda Keeney

Poster made by Syler media group

Poster made by Syler media group

Title: A Whisper of Hope

Series: Book One in the Kingston Hearts Series

Author: Amanda Keeney

Cover Designer: Tiffany Kae Wilson from
http://www.kaeskreations.com/

Photographer: CC’s Photography

Expected Release Date: October 1, 2013

Full Wrap Cover

Full Wrap Cover

Book Synopsis

Sage Collins is finally about to become an adult after spending most of her life in the foster care system. Graduation means a chance at a new life for Sage, who has spent many days and nights living in fear that the man from her past would make good on his promise to find her and make his claim on her.

After she receives a terrifying email, she takes a chance with local authorities. Detective brothers Ryan Randall and Jeremy Alton surprise her with their eagerness to help and she starts to feel like she might finally be safe. Detective Randall pursues her case with a dogged determination of a man seeking redemption, and his brother Jeremy because he believes Sage is the other half of the soul he has been missing.

The two begin to grow closer as the investigation moves forward. Sage’s first instinct is to run away, but when tragedy strikes, she finds herself running straight into his arms. He vows to protect her at all costs, but when Sage makes a mistake which lead to her sudden disappearance, he and his brother realize that if they want to save her, they will have to operate outside of the law they hold so dear. Jeremy and Ryan only have a limited amount of time to find Sage before she disappears for good.

Me

Me

Amanda Keeney is a mother first and foremost but has the passion for writing. She is a full time college student attending Columbia College Online. With one year remaining in school she hopes to make writing books her future before graduation.

For years she has tried to write a finished novel, and never completed one until she entered the Camp NaNoWriMo challenge in April 2013 where she successfully completed the first draft to her debut Novel, A Whisper of Hope which is the first in The Kingston Hearts Series. This is the first, but far from the last novel she intends to write.

She lives with her soon to be husband, Thomas and daughter, Cycila, in Missouri where she has lived her whole life. Her days now consist of a lot of coffee and little sleep while she works to finish her current project.

Ebook Cover

Ebook Cover

I want to put a shout out to Tiffany Kae Wilson from http://www.kaeskreations.com/ for doing such an amazing job on this cover and I cannot wait to work with her on my next covers. If you want a great design that won’t break your budget go to Kae’skreations

I also have an instrumental that was composed specifically for my book trailer that will be released in September 2013. James L Revels is an awesome composer. Here is the link to the song. Hope you enjoy, I know I loved it.

http://jamesrevelsiii.bandcamp.com/track/a-whisper-of-hope

Other songs on the album/ plus my artwork

http://jamesrevelsiii.bandcamp.com/album/what-angels-dance-to

Find me

Facebook Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/authorkeeney

Twitter: https://twitter.com/ramanda429

Goodreads (just as a reader for now, befriend me if you wish): http://www.goodreads.com/user/show/19640122-amanda-richardson

WordPress: http://ramanda429.wordpress.com

“Normal For Norfolk (The Thelonious T. Bear Chronicles)” by Mitzi Szereto and Teddy Tedaloo

Normal for Norfolk (The Thelonious T. Bear Chronicles) Pub landlords are being murdered in Norfolk!

Thelonious T. Bear, ursine photojournalist, leaves behind the big city life of London to take an assignment in the Norfolk countryside, where he hopes to find the real England. Instead he stumbles upon gastropubs, crazed Audi drivers and murder.  As the hapless Thelonious keeps ending up in the wrong place at the wrong time, he attracts the attention of Detective Chief Inspector Horatio Sidebottom of Norfolk Constabulary CID, who’s determined to tie Thelonious to the crimes.  Add in a pair of hoods from London’s East End, celebrity TV chef Paolo Louis Black, and plenty of oddball local characters and it all adds up to a madcap journey through England’s most quirky county, where everything is normal (for Norfolk)!

Contains some adult language.

Genre:

Cosy Mystery, Crime, Humour, Fantasy

Purchase from:

Amazon.co.uk
Amazon.com
Amazon.fr
Amazon.de
Amazon.it
Amazon.es
Amazon.co.jp

More information:

Book website
Mitzi Szereto website
Mitzi Szereto on Twitter
Mitzi Szereto Facebook fan page
Mitzi TV
Teddy Tedaloo on Twitter
Teddy Tedaloo Facebook fan page

Reviews:

Cozy Mystery Book Review
Readers’ Favorite Book Review
Open Book Society Book Review

Mitzi & Teddy (photo credit Eric Schneider) A Bit About Mitzi Szereto and Teddy Tedaloo:

Mitzi Szereto is an author and editor of multi-genre fiction and non-fiction, blogger for Errant Ramblings: Mitzi Szereto’s Weblog, and creator/presenter of Mitzi TV, which brings you all things quirky and London. Her other books include Wilde Passions of Dorian Gray;Thrones of Desire: Erotic Tales of Swords, Mist and Fire; Pride and Prejudice: Hidden Lusts; Red Velvet and Absinthe: Paranormal Erotic Romance; In Sleeping Beauty’s Bed: Erotic Fairy Tales; Getting Even: Revenge Stories; Dying For It: Tales of Sex & Death; Wicked: Sexy Tales of Legendary Lovers; Silk Sheets: Collected Stories of Mitzi Szereto; and the Erotic Travel Tales anthology series. She’s been featured in publications ranging from the Sunday Telegraph, Guardian, Independent, Times, Observer, Toronto Star, The London Paper, Company Magazine, Dare Magazine, Family Circle, Writing Magazine, Scarlet Magazine, and Forum, to Bravo UK Television, Telecinco TV 5 (Madrid), Talk Radio Europe, Newstalk Ireland, FM4 ORF (Vienna), and BBC Radio. Her anthology Erotic Travel Tales 2 is the first anthology of erotica to feature a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.

Teddy Tedaloo is a celebrity teddy bear, trendsetter, world traveller, and the production assistant extraordinaire/co-star of the web TV channel Mitzi TV, which covers “quirky” London. Widely popular in social media circles such as Facebook and Twitter, he’s known for his entertaining commentary and opinions as well as being an advocate for animal welfare. He lives (and goes) wherever Mitzi lives (and goes). Normal for Norfolk is his first novel.

“Blood of Kaos” by J D Miller: A Book Review

Blood of Kaos - J D Miller Let me start by saying that I received a copy of the ebook, Blood of Kaos by J D Miller, from the author.  This has not influenced my review in any way, as I fear you’ll discover.

I have to say that the story has great potential.  It is inventive and has good characters.  Unfortunately, it’s in serious need of revision and editing.  There are glaring errors, inconsistencies and awkward sentences.  There are passages where the tense appears to change – possibly for dramatic effect, but I’m afraid it often just seemed clumsy or confusing, to me.  It’s not always clear which character is talking during sections of narrative, or who they’re talking to, and sometimes avoidance of ‘he said, she said’ in the narrative passages results in some peculiar phrases.  There are often leaps in the story which require you to disregard the fact that something hasn’t been explained or described – at all.  Another area which causes some confusion is the flow of time.  The fact that time moves differently in different realms isn’t mentioned until you’re well into the book.  The reader simply finds something entering the narrative out of thin air or a sense of ‘fractured time’.  This may, to some extent, be the consequence of drastic editing changes which were not then harmonised, but I can’t say that with any knowledge of how the book was written and edited.  In all honesty, if it was professionally edited, I would sack the editor!  In a book where some degree of otherworldliness may be anticipated, there is still a need for logic, and I’m afraid that the logic seems to be missing in several instances.  The ‘Kaos’ of the title, which has a definite link to ‘Chaos’, seems to rule too often.  There are times in the story when you hit a passage that is very good indeed, but I’m afraid that those just make it harder to cope with the sections in between.

All of that said, I honestly believe that J D Miller has a great story here.  It just needs a lot of work.  While there are familiar concepts, there are enough new ideas to make it worthwhile reading, once it’s fixed.  I firmly believe that this is a story worth rescuing!  The principle characters are very nearly what and where they need to be, which shows that J D Miller has a great feeling for them.  They just need some help to dwell somewhere worthy of them.

I truly regret that I can’t recommend buying the book, or ebook, in its current condition.  I give it 3 stars out of 5, for the originality of the story, the quality denying it any better rating and, indeed, threatening to reduce the rating if reviewed by those more interested in the technicalities than the inventive creativity.

I never take pleasure in giving a negative review, and this is particularly true when I encounter a story with so much potential.

~ Steve

Have You Got It Covered?

MysteryBookCover_thumb.pngIf I upset you with what follows, I regret doing so, but I am honestly speaking out in an attempt to help!

I’m on Pinterest.  I’m a member of several book groups on Pinterest.  And in the last few weeks, I’ve noticed something about book covers.  There are more and more being shown on Pinterest that I wouldn’t, in all honesty, look twice at!  It’s not the actual imagery in all cases, either, though there are some…  No, the problem lies in the titles.  I simply can’t read them!  They are in colours so close to what they overlay that they aren’t visible, lost in the background.  One thing I work hard on is a cover, and getting titles visible isn’t, as far as I’m concerned, that difficult.  In fact, it couldn’t be easier!  Yes, I might agonise over whether to use, say, plain white or a strong but bright yellow, but the principle of contrast isn’t difficult to understand.  If you’re determined to reflect the background colours in the titles, you really do have to to use a font that allows outlining, which has to make the letters visible by using a contrasting colour.  There are also certain colours that really don’t work well.  Reds can be very difficult to see, for example.  You also need to think how a cover will look to different people: the colour blind and the visually impaired, especially.  Look at your proposed  cover in negative as well as what the majority would see.  If you use red titles, how do they appear to a colour blind person?  Is the font so fancy that a visually impaired person would only see the stronger parts of letters but lose the detail, making the titles unreadable.

Of course, I can’t target just titles!  Cover images are important.  It’s better to have a plain cover, than one which will repel potential readers!  There’s an increasing number of pretty standard romance novels which have what can only be described as distinctly erotic covers, presumably to enjoy the benefits of the current fashion for erotic tales.  Fine.  Romance can lead to the erotic.  Fine, that is, if the story in the book reflects the cover!  But there are many romance readers who aren’t interested in erotic novels!  They are happy with the gentler, genuinely romantic covers that their favoured genre have traditionally used, and they’ll ignore those erotic covers.  lost sales.  I’d also question, again, the increase in the number of photographic covers in general.  If photography is used, it’s better to have the images heavily manipulated to create a more artistic effect, with facial features less clear, and a ‘softer’ focus.  For horror and paranormal, some of the covers look either amateurish (like stills from movies that don’t even achieve a ‘B’ grade!) while others are so graphic, they should be placed where only devotees of gore can reach them.  Finally, there are some where the cover illustration is so bizarre, or muddled, or dark that it’s almost impossible to figure out what you’re actually seeing!  I can’t see what benefit can be gained from such covers.

Covers need to be: descriptive/illustrative of the content; clear and intelligible; bold, bright and colourful for the youngest readers; they must have clear, readable titles that stand out from the background.  I know that many authors can’t afford to buy covers, especially custom covers, but they aren’t always the guilty ones.  I’ve seen covers which were ‘professionally’ designed, and which look truly dreadful!  The authors using such covers have wasted their money.  I have to wonder how many are actually happy with those covers, and how many use them just because they’ve paid so much to get them.

I beg authors to be more discerning in what they choose for their covers, and accept the principle of contrast for titles.

~ Steve

 

Recalling the Past

Book Covers - May 2013 Overwhelmed!

A brief note of thanks to Deanie Humphrys-Dunne!  Deanie, who has created some lovely characters for children in her books, did me the great honour of interviewing me for her blog.  Thanks, Deanie!  I don’t know what I’ve done to be featuring on sop many blogs at the moment!!

=0=

Recollections

Yesterday, I was chatting, via email, to Chris, of The Storytelling Ape fame, about children and the books they love.   In fact, as Chris had been kind enough to invite me to make a suggestion or two for his special Kids Korner blog, in terms of books recommended, I was sent into a lengthy reverie.  Emerging from this happy state, I was able to name one book, My Cat Beany by Jane Feder (illustrated by Karen Gundersheimer), which my eldest son adored above all others and which was one of three that I was required to read to him at bedtime, even though we were both word perfect on it!  The other two were A Wet Monday by Dorothy Edwards (famed for her My Naughty Little Sister tales) and, at the right time of the year The Night Before Christmas by Clement Clarke Moore.  In the course of this chat, I recalled not only these three great favourites, particularly for bedtimes, but also something which might seem contradictory to a subject I’ve discussed previously.

When our eldest was still little, Marshall Cavendish released certain partworks.  One was Story Teller and the other was Little Story Teller.  These featured stunningly illustrated stories, old and new, and each issue came with an audio cassette (for those now thoroughly lost, they predated CDs!).  We mortgaged our souls, virtually, to buy Little Story Teller!  We even bought the beautiful, strong, padded plastic covered binders (they could have done with being a bit more able to store the magazines without bulging!) and the equally excellent quality cassette cases.  Why?  Because we acknowledged that our son’s appetite for reading far exceeded the time we could devote to reading to him, especially as his brother and then his sister put in their appearances.  When there was no alternative, he would lie on the floor, on his belly, with an old portable cassette player, listening to tape after tape, and following the tales in the magazines.  I couldn’t begin to guess at how many hours he spent like that!  We also acquired odd issues of Story Teller from charity shops.  Theoretically, they were well beyond his age.  He still consumed them eagerly!  Then, as a result of the chat with Chris, and recalling how our son had fallen in love with a tale about Gobbolino, the Witch’s Cat, I just had to explore a bit.  As a consequence, I came upon a wonderful blog that’s devoted to Story Teller/Little Story Teller!  If you’re an addict of the partworks, or if you’re just curious, please do visit the blog!  There are even some Youtube links for some of the tales from the series.  (My son was thrilled when I sent him the link!)  Partworks are everywhere, these days, but I know of none that represent such excellent value as these old ones.

The aforesaid isn’t a contradiction!  I don’t believe that audiobooks are evil replacements for human interaction!  I simply believe that they must always fit a role in which they are an accessory – something that adds to genuine story times between parents and their children.  I would have been so full of guilt if I had abdicated my responsibility as a father by pushing my children to these cassettes rather than reading to them myself!  Worse, if I had so abdicated, I would have been deprived of very special times. So, my message is, and always will be, that there’s no substitute for parents reading to their children, whenever it is humanly possible!

There’s one final thing I’d like to say about KidLit.  I have, in the past, overheard parents in bookshops who, while browsing impatiently through a plethora of books for kids, that they must find the award winning books!  Why?  Surely, they should be looking for books that they know their child/children will like?  An award winning book on ‘good dental health – essential – educational’ may be a critically acclaimed volume, backed by every possible authority, but it may well not interest children as much as the adventures of a worn out old tractor or a rather less than clever dog!  Personally, I’d rather keep children eager to read than simply ‘well read’ and ‘well informed’.

~ Steve