Writing

I am currently rocketing through a 5 & ½ book series – the ½ book is a novella – which was categorized on Amazon as “Teen and Young Adult”. This caused a double-take as I had previously believed the ‘Young Adult” designation to be a polite term for “Teen Fiction”. It would appear that readership categories are built upon shifting sands.

Up to now, my understanding was that “Young Adult” (YA) covered the 13 to 17 years’ age range while the awkwardly named “New Adult” (NA) covered 18 to 25. Those readers younger than 13 were classed as Pre-teen, Juvenile, etc. The boundaries of YA are a bit wobbly as some mavens set the lower limit as 14 years whilst others set the upper limit as 18 years.

One possible reason for this inexactitude is that the 13 to 18 age range spans several levels of maturity. Given that boys are a year or two behind girls, with regard to maturation, it’s easy to see why the boundaries are a bit fuzzy.

The same holds true for the 18 to 25-year age range. Your understanding of life at 18, when you’re leaving high school and headed for college, is much different from that at 25 when you’re married and trying to hold down a job.

What’s more, the categories themselves are not universally adhered to. At the 2016 BookExpo/BookCon in Chicago, the manager of the IBPA booth was barely aware of the NA category and thus placed Urban Mermaid on the shelves for Juvenile books.  Based on this, any child receiving a copy for their birthday is in for a big surprise.

Just so everyone is straight on this, Urban Mermaid is for readers 18 and older. This does not mean the book is specifically aimed at the New Adult market. It is the author’s opinion that readers in the NA & Adult readership categories will relate to it more than YA readers. It was written in a style to attract the NA segment as well as older readers. Given that ISIS is regularly lopping off heads in the Syrian desert and the 2016 Presidential race makes you want to select “None of the above”, we could all use a simple, sweet, escapist kind of story.

I’ve just republished a short story called ‘Dear Mom . . .’ on ColonyIsland.com. This story was originally published on Goodreads.com and was done as part of a contest. I won, but only because there were just 2 or 3 entrants. The story concerns Penelope’s cousin, Lindsey Tench, and will be expanded to be half of the third book in the Tails From Colony Island series.

There is another short story with a merfolk theme which I will republish in a few days or a few weeks. It has nothing to do with Colony Island and everything to do with S.K. Munt’s Fairytail Saga. Ms. Munt held a fan fiction contest following the publication of Heads or Tails, the third novel in the series. My entry sort of violated the parameters for the contest and I really didn’t mean it as a contest entry. It was more a writing exercise dealing with a person in a very dark emotional state. In Urban Mermaid, the title character starts off in a dark emotional state and I felt that this would be good practice for me.

Nonetheless, I sent it in, more curious as to what Ms Munt would say about it than as an actual entry in the contest. S.K. Munt is a very gracious lady. The story took first prize and was published at the end of Stained Glass, the concluding story in the series.

Dear Mom may be found as a menu item under the  Writing Urban Mermaid tab on Colony Island.com. You can also cut to the chase by going to http://colonyisland.com/dear-mom/. I hope that you’ll enjoy the story.

Urban Mermaid has been on the market for less than a week and I’m starting to see a few sales. Since book publicists cost an arm and a leg – I’m sure they earn every penny of their fees – I’ll be doing a lot of the publicity myself.

There’s a perfect opportunity to do this in Greensboro, NC on Jan. 2 & 3, 2016 and I’m going to have to miss it because of my regular job. I will go into work around 10:30 PM on Jan. 1st and will not be done until 3 or 4 AM. Driving directly to Greensboro from Richmond, VA might have been an option in my college days but it’s definitely off the table now.

The event in Greensboro is a sort of mermaid convention and is an ideal place to stir up interest and maybe even some sales. There’s bound to be other opportunities in other towns . . . just none as good as this one.

Besides putting up the tree and baking gingerbread cookies over the holidays, I’ll also be devoting a good bit of my time to working on publicity and getting the word out. After the first of the year, I’ll be running a series of give-aways on the official website – ColonyIsland.com  – and plan to have some serious swag up for grabs towards the end of January. Just one more reason to stop by ColonyIsland.com and see what’s happening.

Cover Art

Cover Art

Happy St. Andrews Day!

I am pleased to announce Urban Mermaid, the first installment in the Tails From Colony Island series, is now available for purchase in both paperback and e-book editions. The book is published by Moonlight Gardens Publications, an imprint of Gazebo Gardens Publishing, LLC.

I would like to thank Shelly & Caitlyn Moore at Gazebo Gardens  for all their hard work in getting this book ready for publication, Ilsie Om at The Woodsy Fawn for her wonderful cover design, Emm Cole, S.K. Munt, Pete Tarsi, and everyone else who contributed in one way or another to the pre-publication process.

Finally, I would like to thank Judi, my bride of 40 years for all of her encouragement and ongoing support as well as reading the first draft, even when fantasy books just aren’t her thing.

Given that the holidaze are upon us, I am forgoing the traditional launch parties, blog tours, etc. until after the first of the year. Everyone has so much to do between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day.

Stop by colonyisland.com to keep up with The Latest.

ISBN
978-1-938281-72-3 Paperback
978-1-938281-73-0 E-Book

Oh rapture! Oh bliss!

Seriously, I’ve discovered that there is light at the end of the tunnel and it’s not merely an oncoming train. Urban Mermaid now has a firm release date – November, 30th, 2015. Be still, my heart!

The thirtieth of November is St. Andrew’s Day. For those of you who may not ken, Saint Andrew is the patron saint of Scotland and since one of the main characters is named Macpherson, I think that the 30th is quite appropriate.

I had originally planned to hold a launch party on the release day but the Holiday season will be in full swing a week from today. Trying to shoehorn a launch party in everything involved with the run-up to Hanukkah, Christmas, and the feast of Mithras is a non-starter. Instead, I’m going to try and see if I can get something going on January 30th – maybe a launch party/book signing at Barnes and Noble in Charlottesville.

Meanwhile, there’s fruitcakes to bake and gifts to buy. Yes, Virginia, there is light at the end of the tunnel.

By The Way, I’ll make a formal announcement on the 30th of November. Stay tuned.

Mer Tales # 4

Mer Tales # 4

by Brenda Pandos

Over the past four years, Brenda Pandos has entertained readers – both young and old – with her Mer Tales series. Evermore is the latest and hopefully, not the last, installment. Like its predecessors, Evermore is a fast-paced story with copious plot twists and turns which will keep fans guessing until the very end.

The story opens following a very eventful five months for both Ashley Lanski and Finley Helton. Fin has saved Ash’s life, the couple have become promised mates, Ash has become a mermaid, Ash has discovered she was originally born a mermaid, the couple have been part of a coup d’etat in Natatoria, and all this only begins to scratch the surface.

Now, the two are preparing to return home from Natatoria, the aquatic realm beneath the earth’s mantle with a political system worthy of a dozen doctoral dissertations, and reunite with her adoptive parents. If only things were that simple. Ash and Fin will arrive on the shores of Lake Tahoe to find they are in hot water with the authorities, Ash’s parents, and there are still four more weeks of school left before graduation. Throw in the announcement that Ash and Fin are engaged and plan to be married in August and you have the beginnings of a perfect storm.

My heart gushed with happiness as I listened to him defend his love for me, that I was his everything.

Natatorian males have a persuasive way about them and no, this does not mean brass knuckles. They possess the ability to sing their way out of most situations involving humans and Fin is quite capable when it comes to handling things. This is precisely what Ash does not want him to do. She is tired of watching her family enter a zombie-like state whenever Fin warbles their way out of sticky situations.

Ash would prefer to handle things with carefully thought out and honest – well, mostly honest – explanations. This desire is honoured more in the breach than the observance as there are just too many odd things happening and too many sights which should not be seen. This conglomeration is something that simply cannot explained away as their wedding day approaches. Ash fears her human family will wind up with minds of mush before it’s all over.

As if there was not enough drama, Ash discovers she is in the family way and the wedding needs to take place sooner rather than later. The reason for this is because Brenda’s mermaids have a radically foreshortened gestation period. While it is not too unusual for human brides to be carrying something in addition to a bouquet as they walk down the aisle, Ash will be on the cusp of an exponentially expanding baby bump when the wedding takes place three weeks hence.

With the bride’s three month planning schedule contracting into three weeks, additional help is needed to stage this wedding before the bride starts experiencing contractions. Help arrives in the form of Natatorians, most of whom have never been out of their native waters. Most are eager to pitch in while some – like Ash’s biological mother – are simply nosey. There’s plenty to be done – building a honeymoon cottage is high on the list – and before too long, a sense or organized chaos takes hold. Now, if only the hired help would remember how to act and speak like humans.

Brenda’s genius for writing and imagery really comes to the fore at this point in the story and she has expertly crafted action which is readily visible in the mind’s eye. Fantasy writers will often place constraints on their characters to limit what they can or cannot do in various situations. Superman and Kryptonite are one such example. In the case of Brenda’s Natatorians, their Kryptonite is sunset – a time of day when they revert back to their natural fishiness. Throughout the Mer Tales series, the reader has been treated  to scenes of Fin shredding his blue jeans and board shorts because he’s pushed the envelope just a little too much by talking to Ash on the phone longer than he ought to.

“I know we’ve had our issues, but I feel like this wedding has healed us. That by bringing Fin into our family, I finally understand you.”

Evermore sees Ash, the newly minted mermaid, run afoul of the setting sun. Fin has persuaded the Lanski family that Ash needs to go to her room and study every evening and once the door is closed, they are not to disturb her. Meanwhile, Ash will open her window, climb down a conveniently placed trellis, and dash for the lake in those last fleeting moments of daylight.

On one evening, Ash is caught out by a poignant scene with her mother where veils and wedding plans are discussed. Ash makes it to her room in time to close the door but not in time to slink down the trellis and she must spend the night in the bath tub. Of course, her bratty younger sister, Lucy, is no help at all. Such are the dangers of being a mermaid in the world Ms. Pandos has created.

It is against this reviewer’s policy to divulge details of the latter part of any story. The goal, of course, is to give the potential reader a taste of what is to be found within the story in the hope that they will want to buy a copy and learn the rest for themselves.

Rules are meant to be broken – or at least bent a little – and this reviewer will divulge two phrases that describe the action in the Evermore’s later chapters.

  • Heart-breaking
  • Heart-stopping

It’s now upon the reader to find out just what is meant by those phrases – preferably sooner rather than later.

Once again, Brenda Pandos has given us ample proof of her marvelous skills as a spinner of stories. Her memorable characters of Ash and Fin are guaranteed to find their way into the reader’s heart and stay with them for many years to come. It does not matter if the reader is in their Young Adult years or decades past that point, Brenda’s gift of Evermore will be a lasting treasure.

No doubt, many readers – including this reviewer – assumed Evermore was to be a last hurrah; a victory lap of sorts wherein all loose ends would be tied up and the beloved characters of this series would swim off into the sunset. Apparently, this is not the case as Ms. Pandos has asked her followers if they would like to read more about Ash and Fin. If Brenda Pandos can maintain the level of crisp, engaging story-telling demonstrated throughout her Mer Tales series, then the answer is a resounding, unequivocal, “YES!”

In the interest of full disclosure, I was provided an electronic copy of Evermore in exchange for a fair and honest review.

My Rating:

I’ve always enjoyed reading stories intended for those who are rather younger than one’s self. I remember way back in 3rd or 4th grade when I checked out Make Way for Ducklings from the DuPont Elementary School library. There was flurry of notes between the librarian, my teacher, and Mom concerning the book. There was worry that I was regressing or that my reading skills were seriously lacking.

Actually it was because

  1. I loved the rhythms in the narrative
  2. I loved the illustrations
  3. It was about ducks

It seemed like a perfect trifecta to me!

Years later, teachers found it appalling that I read “grown-up” books in the 11th & 12th grade.

Tera Lynn Childs penned the Forgive My Fins series which seemed to be targeted at 8th or 9th graders but the books were such a romp that I felt sorry for anyone in high school and above with an interest in mermaid tales who did not read it.

Since the series ended, Ms. Childs has written several short stories and one novella featuring the characters. Some of you are hoping that she will write one more novel about Princess Lilly and her friends – both above and below the surface – a few years after the end of the 3rd book. All I can say is, please keep on hoping. However, there is a bit of relief at hand.

Tera Lyn Childs has written a short story titled Princess Lessons and it’s available on her Goodreads blog. So, if you need a ‘Lilly fix’, have at it.

It goes without saying that I’m a big fan of mermaid tales. No, I’m not obsessive compulsive about them; you only need to see my pipe collection to understand the true meaning of the term OCD. I’ve found many of the YA (Young Adult) mermaid stories to be a LOT of fun.

It’s refreshing to be able to forget about being an (older) adult for a while and lose yourself in the much simpler problems of those much younger. (Just wait ‘till you have to start worrying about retirement & Medicare, kiddos!)

YA Author, Brenda Pandos has a new installment in her Mer Tales series titled, Evermore. I’m one of the lucky few who get to read this story in exchange for a fair and honest review to appear online no later than Nov. 23rd. That gives me 12 or 13 day window to finish the story and cobble a pithy review. Besides being posted on The Parsons’Rant, it’ll also appear on Goodreads.com, Amazon, B&N, and any other place I can post it.

Believe you me, I’ve been looking forward to this. In the meantime, I have another 3 chapters to review in what is rumoured to be the final, final, absolutely final edits of Urban Mermaid.  I’ve got a fun, fun, fun week-end ahead of me.

While I’m on the subject of Urban Mermaid, Brenda Pandos, Derrolyn Anderson and several other authors will get a shout-out in the story. These mentions will be in the form of subtle references to their novels. Don’t blink or you’ll miss them! To find out for yourself, you’ll just have to buy a copy.

The Colony Island website just went live. Still a lot to do but at least we’re on the air!
http://colonyisland.com

As of 10:30 this morning, 11 ARC copies of Urban Mermaid were on their way to the lucky few who get to read Penelope’s story before anyone else does. I had originally planned to mail them out during lunch on Friday but decided to wait 24 hours so they’d receive the coveted Hopewell, VA postmark. (Remember, not EVERYTHING is postmarked “Hopewell, VA 23860”.)

Now, it’s all up to the Urban Mermaid Review Crew. I’ll know in about a month or so. Then, it’s off to the printer’s and on to Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and any other place that sells books. For those of you with e-readers, there’s a digital version as well.

So in October, I’ll take my tweed jacket with the elbow patches to the dry-cleaners and fish out my horn-rimmed glasses. I’ve already got the pipe!

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Pipe Count

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Dr. Data has PAD - Pipe Acquisition Disorder

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