New Release: The Last Four Things

Today is the release day for The Last Four Things by Paul Hoffman.  I recently got it in for review, and am impressed with what I’ve read so far.  Keep your eyes out for a review in the next couple of weeks.  Until then, I was able to secure a bit of a preview for you.  Here’s an excerpt from the prologue of the book:

Imagine. A young assassin, no more than a boy really, is lying carefully hidden in the long green and black bulrushes that grow in great profusion along the rivers of the Vallombrosa. He has been waiting for a long time but he is a patient creature in his way and the thing he waits for is perhaps more precious to him than life. Beside him are a bow of yew and arrows tipped with black country steel capable of penetrating even the costliest armour if you’re close enough. Not that there will be any need for that today because the young man is not waiting for some rascal deserving of his murder but only a water bird. The light thickens and the swan makes wing through the rooky wood, the cawing crows complaining bitterly at the unfairness of her beauty as she lands upon the water like the stroke of a painter’s hand upon a canvas, direct and beautifully itself. She swims with all the elegance for which her kind is famous, though you will never have seen movement quite so graceful in such still and smoky air on such steeple grey water.

Then the arrow, sharp as hate, shears through the same air she blesses and misses her by several feet. And she’s off , web strength along with her grace convey her whiteness back into the air and away to safety. The young man is standing now and watching the swan escape.

‘I’ll get you next time you treacherous slut!’ he shouts and throws down the bow, which alone of all the instruments of death (knife, sword, elbow, teeth) he has never been able to master and yet is the only one that can give him hope of restitution for his broken heart. But not even then. For though this is a dream, not even in his dreams can he hit a barn door from twenty yards. He wakes and broods for half an hour. Real life is careful of the sensitivities of desperadoes but even the greatest scourge, and Thomas Cale is certainly one of those, can be mocked with impunity in his nightmares. Then he goes back to sleep to dream again of the autumnal leaves that strow the brooks in Vallombrosa, and the great white wings beating into swirls the early morning mist.

Excerpted from THE LAST FOUR THINGS © 2011 by Paul Hoffman. Published by Dutton, A
Member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc. Excerpted with permission from the publisher. All Rights

It’s a bit difficult to get the full feel for the story from that excerpt, but you get a feel for the writing that Hoffman does and I find it to be very good.  There’s something about the flow of it, and the language that really gets me reading.  It’s the second book in a series, but the prologue and first bits do an very good job of catching you up to the story.  Pick up a copy at Amazon.

Good Interview with Patrick Rothfuss

The guys over at Adventures in Sci-Fi Publishing posted a really good interview with Name of the Wind author Patrick Rothfuss a few days back.  I just got around to finding the time to listen to it.

AISFP interview with Patrick Rothfuss

I’ve never heard Rothfuss speak before, and I have to admit that his voice is completely different from that which I had given him in my mind.  In my mind, he spoke with a deep, well of a voice like that of Hagrid in the Harry Potter movies.  But, really, he sounds like a pretty normal guy.  Despite his appearance. 😉

I’m dead-smack in the middle of reading his latest novel, The Wise Mans Fear, so it was nice to also not have any spoilers in the interview.

Go, listen.  But, be warned, it’s a little over an hour long.  Good for commuting.

Jeremy Shipp’s Writing Fiction Bootcamp

If you’re an aspiring writer, you might want to check this out.  It always pays to learn a little something more about your craft.  And whether you think of Jeremy Shipp as your peer or as your better, you probably won’t find a fiction class of this caliber, for this price, anywhere else.  A little info about the class:

This fun, intensive 8-week course is perfect for writers who want to hone their craft and polish their work for publication. Through writing exercises, lectures, and feedback from your instructor and fellow classmates, you will grow as an author and refine your own unique voice and style. After you finish the course, your muse will thank you with a dinner and a movie.

The course will consist of the following activities:

-Read lectures spawned by your instructor’s twisted mind that explore the craft and business of writing
-Write one short story
-Write one first chapter of a novel
-Present your work for critique by instructor and classmates
-Rewrite the story and chapter
-Complete imaginative and challenging writing exercises every week, which will be critiqued by your instructor

The class is entirely virtual, and has no set schedule within the time frame, so it fits around your schedule.  The class runs from January 3rd through February 28th.  A full eight weeks!

I’m sure by now, you’re wondering how much it is.  And that’s where the story gets really good.  The whole shebang is only $149.  Like I said, you’ll have a hard time buying a fraction of this sort of thing for that money elsewhere.

If you’re interested in the class, you can drop Jeremy an email at bizarrobytes [@] gmail [dot] com

Couple of Quick Notes

If your interested, I wrote a book review for a book called “Why are we so clueless about the stock market” over on my personal finance blog, Beating Broke.  I don’t read a whole lot of non-fiction, but I occasionally get a review copy in and do reviews then.  Also, if you’re at all interested in personal finance, you might find a thing or two to read.

Second note.  I don’t think I mentioned it here, but John Scalzi was holding a short story contest of sorts.  The deadline was June 30, 2010, so if you hadn’t heard about it before now, you’ve missed it entirely.  I did manage (with only about 5 minutes to spare) to get my entry in.  I don’t think it’s my best work, and it probably could have used a bit more editing, but it is what it is  and there’s no do-overs now.  They aren’t asking for exclusivity, so I’ve been thinking about posting my entry here.  Not sure yet, anyone have any thoughts on that? The winner, besides getting some nice prizes, also gets their story printed in a short chapbook of other authors stories.  All of the stories will be based on the same prompt (which you can see at the contest post linked above), so it should be interesting to see how others took the plot and such.

I took the route of a fanfic parody of sorts.  Threw in some stuff that I thought was funny anyways.  They haven’t really announced a end date other than to note that they plan on publishing the chapbook sometime in late summer or early autumn.  So, maybe late July or early August?  Either way, it was fun to write, and I hope I win.

That’s it for now.  I’m headed off to vacation on a nice quite beach somewhere in Minnesota next week, so if the weather turns sour, I might get some extra reading in.  Otherwise, I’m sure the kids won’t let out of the water long enough to do any reading.  Sun and fun!

This Just In: Neverland

I just got in a copy of Douglas Clegg’s NEVERLAND for review.  From the promo blurb I received:

Douglas Clegg, New York Times bestselling author and winner of the Bram Stoker Award, the International Horror Guild Award, and the Shocker Award, returns this April with NEVERLAND (A Vanguard Press trade paperback original; on-sale: April 13, 2010; $15.95), a southern gothic tale of family secrets and childhood games gone awry.

Advance buzz is already building around NEVERLAND, with authors such as Bentley Little comparing it to the beloved novel To Kill a Mockingbird “as a classic modern novel that illuminates the human condition through the eyes of a child,” and New York Times bestselling author F. Paul Wilson hailing NEVERLAND as “a powerful and thrilling tale, Douglas Clegg’s best novel yet.”

Clegg, drawing on some of the events from his own life and a long-ago visit to an island much like Gull Island, brings us the story of a family vacation gone terribly wrong, a novel about the lies adults tell and the destruction they wreak on the innocents around them.

Says Clegg of writing NEVERLAND: “This novel, my favorite of anything I’ve written, is about absolute innocence embracing the wildness—and darkness—of the imagination. I was able to explore the destructive nature of family secrets, and how children sometimes create rituals of power as an escape from the world their parents have made.”

But imaginative games are not always innocent . . . and when Beau travels to the Retreat, his grandmother’s forbidding home on Gull Island off the Georgia coast line, resigned to a boring family vacation, he finds that his cousin, Sumter, has other plans.

Sumter has found a run-down shack hidden in the woods, a place “where you ain’t supposed to go,” a place forbidden to them that smells of socks, dead sea creatures—and dread; Sumter christens it Neverland.

Fascinated and terrified by Neverland but thrilled to have made a secret life for themselves in a shack full of old Playboys, smuggled beers, and forbidden words, Sumter and his cousins create a hallucinatory world of dark fantasy, a world ruled by a god of shadows, who Sumter calls “Lucy.”

But the shack is the key to a terrible secret, and the world the children create away from their parents, bound to each other by blood oaths, is anything but innocent. As tensions build at the Retreat and the adults start on their gin and tonics earlier each day, Sumter’s games begin to invoke a nightmarish presence that cannot be contained within the bounds of imagination any longer . . .

Featuring stunning interior illustrations by Glenn Chadbourne, illustrator of Stephen King’s Secretary of Dreams, NEVERLAND brings to mind author greats such as Ray Bradbury, Thomas Tryon, Truman Capote, and Tennessee Williams as Clegg explores the darkness of man’s soul while giving us surprising glimpses into the complexities of the human heart . . .

Sounds like an alright concept.  I’ve only made it about 20 or so pages in as I’m currently working on reading another review book.  The other is a non-fiction which always seem to take me a bit longer to get through.  You can see the Trailer for NEVERLAND here: NEVERLAND Trailer, and they’ve created a Difference Game out of some of the graphics of it.  Also, if you visit Douglas Clegg’s official website, and sign up for his newsletter, you’ll be entered into a drawing to win a new Kindle or Nook.  While you’re there, tell me that his official author picture doesn’t make him look a little bit like Dave Matthews.  Seriously.

Keep you eyes peeled here for the review of NEVERLAND which should be upcoming in the next two weeks.  The book came out today, so if it sounds good to you, you don’t have to wait, you can buy it today.

Help Jim Hines End Rape

Jim Hines is the author of several books, Goblin Quest and The Stepsister Scheme among others.  He’s a very passionate fellow when it comes to ending Rape.

That’s pretty lucky for you and I since he’s holding a giveaway for a signed ARC of his newest book, Red Hood’s Revenge.  He’s asking that you consider a donation to RAINN or your local Rape and Abuse shelter.  The donation isn’t required to enter, but it’s the right thing to do.  I did, and so should you.

When you’re done with that, you should also go out and buy all of Jim’s books.  The Stepsister Scheme is a great story that folds in some awesome retelling of some classic fairy tales.  And, while I haven’t read it yet, I’ve heard that Goblin  Quest is a great fantasy story.  Red Hood’s Revenge, the book he’s giving away is the third book in the series that starts with The Stepsister Scheme.

Support rape crisis centers and enter to win an Advance Copy of Red Hood’s Revenge, by Jim C. Hines.