2014 Year in Review

Believe it or not, I was in the middle of creating a post to review the year, when lo and behold, WordPress did it for me! As I only began this blog in June, I’m pretty satisfied at where it stands at the moment. The holidays certainly have put a bit of a damper on posts and interaction, but I think it’s just the time of year. Anyway, if you like stats, be sure to check out this link: https://samulraney.com/2014/annual-report/.

I invite you to post your own annual report link in the comments below! Thanks… oh, and Happy New Year’s Eve!

Can I Critique a Man Booker Award Winner?


Sure! Just like anyone can critique your books and my books (and boy have they!). It’s really that simple, right? In a country that loves to tout it’s freedoms, there’s an abundance of people willing to give you their $0.02. Sometimes that criticism is based in knowledge and understanding. Sometimes it isn’t, but the fact remains that it’s everyone’s prerogative to provide commentary on the written word.

So, mine happens to be about a Man Booker Award winner and the book is The Narrow Road to the Deep North. Let me start out by saying that the book is written very well. The command of language is clear and the author’s ability to describe emotion and conflict is outstanding. Really well done. The story deftly jumps back and forth between present and past and closer past. I was really enjoying it. Then, this historical fiction suddenly became a romance. Was it part of the story? Yes. But, it became so flowery and fanciful that it really pulled me out of the flow.

It hasn’t stopped me reading. In fact, it pushed me to get back to the good stuff and I’m glad I did. Flanagan has a lot to say about life. But, now that I’m 4/5 of the way through, I keep scratching my head about those 3-4 chapters. They’re part of a pivotal plot point, so it’s not like they’re superfluous. It’s the approach I didn’t like. It was the sense that I’d started reading another book in that section and the all-too-obvious ending fell flat.

I started reading this because one reviewer made a comparison to Cormac McCarthy’s The Road, one of my all-time favorites. Doesn’t grip me the way that book did, but it’s still a fine read. It’s subject matter isn’t pleasant though, so be careful. WWII POW slave camps described in every wretched detail. It’s horrific and haunting. If you do happen to read it, or have already read it, let me know if the romance throws you off as it did me.

Christmas is only 3 days away! Can you believe it? 😀 

Special Thanks…

NBTMR Danny Dirks and the Heir of Pendragon Tour Banner

…to the Books in the Hall blog for running a last-minute spotlight on my review tour. Head over and show them some love. Be sure to leave a comment and sign up for the giveaway I’m sponsoring. Due to technical difficulties, today’s review has been rescheduled to the 31st, when I’ll have two reviews on one day! 😀

Said in a meeting yesterday…

“For some, you have to water down the paper bag more than others.”

~By me, in regard to the ineptitude of some people. 😉

In Which I Lost My $#!@ for a Moment

It takes a lot to get a rise out of me. It’s usually a slow building kind of thing that then explodes in a fury of jumbled words and phrases that make no sense and result in me apologizing profusely (usually to my wife). Sometimes I can ward off said rise by warning certain pokers that the bear is not amused. But my son (who just turned 9) is a different story. As any parent knows, children are an unending source of frenzy-inducing moments. Sometimes they make you laugh and sometimes they scare the living crap out of you.

In a recent episode of the latter, he and I were getting a gallon of milk at the local grocery store. I’d just picked him up from his after-school and we just needed to run in and run out. We got to the register and I waited for the girl to charge me, ran my card through the reader, grabbed my bag, turned and saw… nothing. My son was gone. I looked back up the aisle. No. Looked out into the little glass vestibule. Nope. Started panicking slightly and headed into said vestibule, only to lock eyes with my son, who was now standing in the middle of the crosswalk… in front of two stopped cars.

“What the hell are you doing?!” I said, hands raised in the air in absolute astonishment. He had just turned around, having apparently noticed (finally) that Dad was nowhere to be seen. He stood there for a moment, probably torn between getting run over and returning to me; certain grief in either case.

I was lost for words only momentarily as I dropped a “J.C.,” which was followed by a stern walk back to the car and pretty much me losing my $#!@ for the next 15 minutes. “What were you thinking!? You need to pay more attention! That’s how accidents happen! Did you even look when you entered the crosswalk?! Since when do I let you walk without holding my hand in the parking lot!”

When I was done, I was exhausted. Coming back down from my frenzied high, I said to him, “Well, congratulations on scaring the crap out of Dad for the first time in a long time.” By the time we pulled into the parking spot at home, he’d apologized several times. And, despite me having raised my voice to its greatest extent, he didn’t cry. I think he was in too much shock.

At this point, I decided to use this incident to motivate him in a chore he hates. I used my quiet voice. You know that voice… the one that’s slightly more scary than the raving one? The one your parents used that told you that you’d crossed some invisible line and sh!t was about to get real. “Listen. We’re going to go inside and you’re going to go into your room and start cleaning. You do that and we won’t have to discuss this with Mommy. Deal?” “Ok, Daddy.”

Now, before you get riled up at me not telling my wife, understand that I did tell her… after he went to bed that night. He’d had enough and I knew that it wouldn’t improve the situation if we started back up again as soon as we walked in the door. My wife agreed. She said, “I thought he was awfully quiet and obedient when he came in.”

Kids! Gotta love ’em, right?! RIGHT?! ;-D

Have You Checked Out Writers2Writers?

I hope you’ve had a chance to check out the TV interview series, Writers2Writers, I was a part of. Originally aired in the Fall of 2014, the series features guests talking about all sorts of author- and writer-related content. There’s something for everyone! [Update: I’ll be adding new episodes to the list below as they are released throughout the year.]

Episode 1 covered writing an anthology, NaNoWriMo, and using Kindle Direct Publishing (with yours truly!).

Episode 2 discussed paranormal fiction writing, outlining your novel, and the dos and don’ts for landing a literary agent.

Episode 3 featured memoir writing, scifi/fantasy world building, and the author/editor relationship.

Episode 4 talked about the New Jersey Authors’ Network, writing conflict for characters, and facts and figures on selling your book to a publishing house.

Episode 5 discussed the ebook price war, how to mend a “broken” scene, and starting your own writing group. 

Episode 6 covered historical fiction writing, overcoming writer’s block, and book cover design.

Episode 7 is about character creation, revision checklists, and strategies for time management.

Episode 8 delves into writing young adult (YA) fiction, tips from guests at the Princeton Children’s Book Festival, and an action plan for book marketing.

I hope you find these videos informative and helpful! 😀

Danny Dirks and the Heir of Pendragon – Review Tour

NBTMR Danny Dirks and the Heir of Pendragon Tour Banner

I’ve signed up with the lovely ladies from Goddess Fish Promotions (Note: because they run erotica promotions, the link causes blogger to pop up an adult content warning; however, I’ve never seen anything on the site to make me regret opening the link at work) to run a review blog tour for Danny Dirks and the Heir of Pendragon (which also happens to be on sale this week). This 4-stop tour begins today over at Word Menagerie and continues weekly until the 7th of January. Check out the full schedule below. I hope you’ll help out by stopping by these sites and checking out their reviews (whether it’s my book or someone else’s).

December 10: Word Menagerie
December 17: Queen of All She Reads
December 31: Unabridged Andra’s
January 7: Writer Wonderland

When all is said and done, I’ll be posting my thoughts on this review tour. As this is my first time doing something like this, I have no expectations at this point.

Do you have experience with blog tours? Let us know in the comments and thanks for stopping by! 😀