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Thursday, June 9, 2022 03:31 PM
It's that time again
 by Fëanor

I made you another STRANGER WORLD book! This one is called BOOK AND HALL and you can pre-order it now on Barnes & Noble. It will be officially released on June 27, 2022, when it will also be available on Amazon.com.

This is the hardcover edition, by the way. The paperback and eBook editions will follow either late this year or early next year. I'll certainly let you know!

This particular entry in the Stranger World series is a pretty fun one I think. The main setting for the story is a maze-like museum full of creepy and fascinating magical artifacts, overseen by a mysterious collector and his grumpy bear butler. There's also a winged horse, a squad of werewolves, and the return of two recurring characters: the Puzzle Piece Man and Esthuan Thievesbane.

I'm sorry to say this book also features the final appearance in the series of Hunter's best friends, Gertrude Clemmons and David Kim. My first draft of the Stranger World story was one enormous novel, and in that version, Gert had even fewer scenes, and David had almost none. When I decided to split the book into six parts, and it came time to flesh out this section of the story, I made it a priority to give Gert and David more space, because I really enjoyed the dynamic between Hunter and his friends. Also, with the story split into separate books, I needed to find ways to remind you of what happened last time at the beginning of each book. I found a way to combine both those purposes with this book's opening scene.

It was also breaking the story up, and then needing to flesh out the separate parts into their own books, that gave birth to the character of Esthuan Thievesbane, who ended up being one of my favorite things about the story. She gets a chance to shine again here.

Anyway, I hope you like the book, and thanks for reading!
Tagged (?): A Stranger World (Not), Book and Hall (Not), Books (Not)
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Sunday, March 6, 2022 10:34 AM
You Get a Book! And You Get a Book!
 by Fëanor

Hi, folks! Just popping on to mention that you can now purchase my latest book, RING AND IRON: A STRANGER WORLD ADVENTURE, in paperback format on Amazon!

It wasn't supposed to come out until tomorrow, but Amazon is weird about paperbacks and doesn't let you put them on presale or set exactly when they're going to be published; you just have to push the button a little before they're supposed to be available and hope for the best. So you get it a day early! It'll be officially released in paperback and eBook everywhere else tomorrow.

I'm afraid the Amazon paperback edition of RING AND IRON is a bit more expensive than the previous volumes in the series, and I'm honestly not entirely sure why. It's a bit longer, mostly because I increased the font size, so that might be it. But it's also possible that production costs have just gone up.

The good news is, if paying for books is not your thing, I've still got you covered! Now until the end of March, you can enter a giveaway for a FREE copy of the Kindle eBook edition of RING AND IRON on Goodreads! A lot of people have already entered, so better get on it if you want your chance.

I've said it before, but RING AND IRON really is my best book yet, and it catches you up on the story so far, so if you've been avoiding the series until now, I hope you'll give this one a try.

Regardless, as always, thanks for reading!
Tagged (?): A Stranger World (Not), Books (Not), Ring and Iron (Not)
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Thursday, December 2, 2021 10:49 PM
Interview!
 by Fëanor

I got interviewed! Check it out.
Tagged (?): A Stranger World (Not), Books (Not), Sea and Sword (Not)
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Tuesday, November 2, 2021 08:46 AM
Do you like free stuff?
 by Fëanor

If you're curious about my books, but aren't sure you want to spend money to find out if they're any good, I have good news for you! I'm giving away my latest book, RING AND IRON: A STRANGER WORLD ADVENTURE! There are separate giveaways running now on Facebook and Twitter. It's easy to enter, and if you win, I'll send you a free signed hardcover copy of the book! Just get in there soon, because I'll pick the winners in six days, on 11/8/21.

Thanks for reading, and good luck!
Tagged (?): A Stranger World (Not), Books (Not), Ring and Iron (Not)
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Sunday, October 31, 2021 08:36 AM
(Last updated on Sunday, October 31, 2021 08:38 AM)
My New Book Is Out!
 by Fëanor

Hey, I totally jumped the gun and released my new book! BOOM! RING AND IRON: A STRANGER WORLD ADVENTURE is out now!

Wee!

Yeah, I was planning on holding out until 12/6 for the release, and putting it on pre-order tomorrow, but then I was reading about supply chain issues that are effecting the publishing industry, and how book orders later than early November would likely not make it to folks in time for the holidays, and I decided to just pull the trigger. I want you to have it in your hands before the end of the year, so here you go!

If you don't want to buy it on Amazon, you can also pre-order it on Barnes and Noble. It'll come out on that site on 11/14. They wouldn't let me release it any earlier than that for some reason.

Keep in mind, this is the hardcover release; the paperback and eBook versions will come out some time next year.

Because I'm a self-published author, my books survive on "word of mouth," so I would really appreciate it if you would tell folks about RING AND IRON. It's my best book yet. It has magic and adventure and monsters and mystery, and I think it's good fun for all ages, 8 to 1000. Post about it on social media! Review it on Amazon! Tell people about it when you pass them in the street!

Of course, RING AND IRON is even better if you've already read the first two entries in the series, TREE AND BEAST and SEA AND SWORD, but you can start here and not be lost. I do the thing in the beginning where I get you up to speed on the story, don't worry!

Anyway, I hope you all love the book. Thanks for reading!
Tagged (?): A Stranger World (Not), Books (Not), Ring and Iron (Not)
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Sunday, September 26, 2021 12:41 PM
(Last updated on Sunday, September 26, 2021 12:42 PM)
Let's Talk Some More About Books!
 by Fëanor

Hey! I remembered I had a blog, and some things are going on, so I thought I'd post!

  • My next book, RING AND IRON: A STRANGER WORLD ADVENTURE, the third entry in my Middle Grade fantasy series, will be out in hardcover on December 6th! Mark your calendars! I'm not sure when I'll put it on pre-sale on Barnes & Noble...probably some time in November? Anyway, I will definitely shout about it when it happens.

  • Kirkus Reviews just reviewed the book! You can read it here, and I added a quote from the review to my Published Works page. TL/DR: they liked it! Although apparently they think the kids these days don't know about LORD OF THE RINGS, and might not get my references to it. Well, they should! That's all I have to say about that.

  • As I mentioned in my last post, I asked some folks to read the early draft of my next, non-Stranger-World novel, the title of which I haven't decided on yet (currently I like IN THE CITY OF A HUNGRY GOD - what do you think?), and they gave me a lot of useful feedback. One thing I kept thinking about was the complaint that it didn't feel like it had a solid conclusion. I had indeed purposefully left things at a cliffhanger, but the more I thought about it, the more I thought the first book in a series shouldn't end that way. It did need some more satisfying ending, in which our heroes accomplished something more tangible. As I said to my brother, "this one should be A New Hope, not Empire Strikes Back." I thought maybe I could slap together a better ending in maybe 5 or 10 thousand words. Well, 27,000 words later, I was done! Yeah, it's quite a bit longer now, but I'm also much happier with it.

  • Still on the topic of the new book: I'd assumed as I was writing it that it would be for the Young Adult audience. But the new word count puts it outside the established range for YA - even for the traditionally longer fantasy genre. I talked to a literary agent friend of mine, describing my problem, and he pointed out that since two of my main characters were adults, what I had wasn't really YA anyway. So yeah, turns out I wrote an adult fantasy book. I guess it's also technically urban fantasy, since most of it takes place in a present day city. Who knew?? Anyway, that's actually good news really, since for adult fantasy, my word count is just right.

  • The next step for my new book is for me to do yet another editing pass, making sure it all hangs together and sounds good. Then I'll send it back out to my test readers again for them to do another pass. I'd also like to get a sensitivity reader or two to take a look at it, as I'm dealing with some minority groups here and I don't want to be saying anything stupid by mistake. Then I start searching for a literary agent who's interested in this kind of book. Then I write query letters, send them out, and cross my fingers. I hope you'll cross your fingers for me, too!

  • As for stuff I'm reading, I'm currently on the final book in Maggie Stiefvater's Wolves of Mercy Falls series, SINNER. Each book in this series has been better than the last, and this one features a particularly complex relationship between two particularly broken individuals. Interestingly, it's focusing a lot more on real world emotional issues than it is on the werewolf stuff. It's good!

  • Other books I've read recently are STORMSONG and SOULSTAR, the last two entries in C.L. Polk's Kingston Cycle (thanks to my friend Cynthia for turning me on to this series; I stalk her Goodreads and add everything she rates highly to my "to read" shelf!). These are also fantasy romance books, like The Wolves of Mercy Falls, but they also each feature a murder mystery, and are set not on a subtly altered present day Earth, but in a completely different reality full of magic, ghosts, and angels. Also, the romances featured are LGBTQ+. The final book has the most complex romance, as there's no meet-cute or passionate first kiss; instead, we follow along as two people who were separated 20 years ago re-learn how to be a couple. It's well done.
Tagged (?): A Stranger World (Not), Books (Not), Ring and Iron (Not), Witches (Not)
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Friday, July 30, 2021 02:41 PM
Books! Wow!
 by Fëanor

A couple of updates for all of you fine folks who still check in on my website (bless you, all two of you): I created a page on Goodreads for my new book RING AND IRON: A STRANGER WORLD ADVENTURE, which will be the third entry in my STRANGER WORLD series. I really think this one is my best book yet, and I'm not just saying that. It introduces one of my favorite characters, and features a life-or-death game of Candy Land. Not a lot of authors can claim their book has that! You can add it to your Want to Read shelf on Goodreads, if you'd like. That would be awesome. (There was a bug with those Goodreads buttons on my site, but I fixed it, so should be easy to do now.) The book also now appears in the Goodreads widget over on the side of my blog, and I made a space for it on the Published Works area of my site. The plan is to release this one in hardcover on December 6th, 2021, so mark your calendars! I'll set it up to go on pre-sale on Barnes & Noble by Black Friday/Cyber Monday, so you can order it as a gift for the holidays. (Unfortunately, Amazon does not allow you to put self-published books on pre-sale for some strange reason.) So, everybody's going to order each other copies of my book for Christmas and Hanukkah and Kwanzaa, right? Please??

I've also finished the first draft of a new novel which is the first entry in what I plan to be a YA fantasy trilogy. It's about an alternate history version of America where an evangelical protestant church basically runs the country, magic is real, and witches are outlawed. I sent it off to some family members and am anxiously awaiting their responses. I have to say, I'm a little sad to not have any writing project to work on at the moment. Maybe I should start the next entry in the series...

Meanwhile, I've been obsessed with the work of Maggie Stiefvater lately and have been reading all her stuff. She's pretty amazing. I particularly recommend her Raven Cycle (starting with The Raven Boys), which is followed by the Dreamer Trilogy (still ongoing), and also her standalone book The Scorpio Races which really blew me away. I've just started her YA werewolf romance series, The Wolves of Mercy Falls, which is fun.

Wow, it's been a while since I wrote a post this long on here! Anyway, happy reading everybody.
Tagged (?): A Stranger World (Not), Books (Not), Ring and Iron (Not), Witches (Not)
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Wednesday, May 19, 2021 03:35 PM
(Last updated on Thursday, May 20, 2021 11:50 AM)
UPGRADE!
 by Fëanor

Hey folks, just letting you know, I went ahead and upgraded my website to a newer version of PHP, because my host warned me the one I was using was painfully, unsupportably old (oops!). So, please let me know if you see any issues as you're poking around. Thanks!

ETA: While I was at it, I also got myself an SSL certificate, so you can now visit my site in a secure fashion using https! Very exciting. To me, anyway.
Tagged (?): Meta (Not)
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Wednesday, April 7, 2021 10:03 AM
(Last updated on Wednesday, April 7, 2021 10:07 AM)
On the Viewer - Star Wars: Clone Wars (2003)
 by Fëanor

Here's another live-tweet compilation, this time from a re-watch of Genndy Tartakovsky's Clone Wars micro-series, which recently got added to Disney+. Technically, I believe this series is no longer canon, but as this article points out (thanks to my friend Camden for sending me the link), it could pretty easily be inserted into the story that the later The Clone Wars series tells, with a few small exceptions. And it should be, because it's great!

——

Like a lot of Tartakovsky's work, the original Clone Wars strongly emphasizes action and awesome visuals over words. There are lengthy sequences with no dialogue of any kind. Yet you always know what's going on. It's a very clear visual story, often told on a massive scale.

——

A lot of really fun and inventive designs, for the characters, settings, and vehicles. Also some great characters are introduced and developed here, like Ventress and Grievous. The Grievous we meet in this show is far more terrifying and dangerous than the one in the movies.

——

Durge is another really interesting character design. The way he bulges and extends and persists reminds me of Akira, and of the rampaging poisoned animal spirits in Princess Mononoke. I'm pretty sure the character never speaks, either. At least, he hasn't so far.

[Editor's note: indeed, he does not.]

——

One of the things Tartakovsky's Clone Wars is better at than maybe any other Star Wars show or movie is capturing the awesome power and incredible abilities of the Jedi, especially Jedi Masters like Windu.

——

It's also amazing at handling things of massive scale, like a gigantic warship with a huge, army-flattening piston on the bottom. Not a vehicle we see anywhere else, but this show makes it very memorable.

——

Anakin's duel with Ventress near the end of volume one of Clone Wars is just a masterpiece. Gorgeous setting, dramatic lighting, amazing action. And then of course the powerful metaphor of him picking up one of her own red lightsabers to ultimately defeat her.

——

The duel is followed by the introduction of Grievous, which is equally fantastic. Previous episodes have established how powerful the Jedi are, and now we see them defeated and cowering in terror from Grievous, who easily defeats a group of them single-handedly.

——

On Tartakovsky's Clone Wars, we learn more about the rituals and ceremonies of the Jedi than we ever have before. We learn there's a series of trials a padawan normally has to overcome to be granted knighthood, and we even get to see the rite where Anakin becomes a knight.

——

Yoda himself cuts off Anakin's braid to officially knight him. In a nice touch, Padme receives the braid and places it in a keepsake box along with the japor snippet necklace Anakin made for her when he was a boy. There's also some nice Qui-gon references.

——

There's a funny scene where Anakin gets to see 3PO in his gold plating for the first time. Then scenes of Anakin being a competent hero, coming to the rescue of other Jedi. Which is nice. Sometimes in the movies he's such a jerk it's hard to understand why anyone likes him.

——

Padme sees Anakin with his scar for the first time. R4 is destroyed and R2 becomes Anakin's droid. Lots of milestones in their lives, but it doesn't feel like they're just ticking boxes; it feels organic, like you're watching these characters change and grow.

——

I appreciate that Commander Cody first appears flying in with a jetpack. He's named after an old serial character who was famous for flying around with a jetpack.

——

Star Wars repeats lines of dialog like it repeats musical phrases and themes. I like that Obi-wan gets to say, "What an incredible smell you've discovered." They do a good job here developing their slightly antagonistic, big brother/little brother friendship dynamic.

——

Anakin is the hot-headed, action-oriented guy, while Obi-wan is more patient, thoughtful, precise. "There are alternatives to fighting," more repeated dialog...

——

It's nice that Mace Windu has a purple starship and a purple droid, all to match his purple lightsaber.

——

I'm not a huge fan of Star Wars' heroes tending to take advantage of a native alien culture's beliefs to manipulate them into assisting in their wars. It happens again here, with Obi-wan putting Anakin forward as some kind of prophesied hero.

——

Yoda absolutely wrecking the droid invasion forces with jaw-dropping displays of power. Good stuff.

——

Let's pick up where we left off with Clone Wars!

Yoda & Windu together are an almost unstoppable force.

I love the image of the Chancellor calmly drinking tea, watching the battle outside his window. He's orchestrated this war between disposable armies and he's gonna enjoy it!

——

Fantastic build of drama and tension as the Jedi wait at the elevator, watching the closed doors of the chancellor's office, behind which they can hear Grievous picking apart the clone soldiers...

——

Grievous is a deadly force of nature in this show. Just a terrifying monster. It's great.

——

The Ithorian Jedi's roaring trick is a unique ability that we haven't seen before. Fun.

——

I think this marks the first appearance of Grievous' staff-wielding bodyguards, another fun creation.

——

One of the trials a padawan faces to become a Jedi is the trial of the mirror, where they must overcome the darkness within themselves. This is the trial Luke faced in the cave on Dagobah, and the trial Anakin is facing on this alien world.

——

In Anakin's cave, the pictures on the wall begin to move, and they tell the story of a warrior whose hand was lost in a battle with evil. The new hand that took its place gave him power with which he defeated many enemies. But the power ran wild and killed his friends, too.

——

As the story ends, a face appears in the midst of the twisting vines of darkness: the face of Vader.

What a powerful moment. And as with a lot of Tartakovsky's most powerful scenes, it is entirely wordless - a purely visual story.

——

I love the realistic details, like the recorded voice repeatedly asking them all to "please deposit two Republic credits" as they run into the subway.

——

I love the inventive ways they use the force here: quietly lifting up the end of Grievous' cape and tying it to the end of a departing train. Brilliant!

Also, "no capes!" :LOL:

——

Yoda and Windu aren't just incredible warriors, they're also brilliant thinkers. As they're fighting, they both realize at the same moment that the invasion is just a distraction to hide the enemy's true purpose: the kidnapping of Chancellor Palpatine.

——

Shaak Ti stays behind to give her fellow Jedi time to get Palpatine to safety. Man, you just hate Palpatine even more in this scene, knowing that her sacrifice is meaningless, that this is all just a little play he's directing, and that his kidnapper is really his servant.

——

Anakin: "Do you think they'll be able to reclaim their old lives?"
Obi-wan: "I sense they will, as long as each of them is able to accept himself."

Anakin cringes at this. He doesn't seem sure he can accept what he might become...

——

Shaak Ti actually survives this, but is defeated. Windu manages to get a parting shot in on Grievous, crushing his chest plate, which explains why Grievous is always coughing and wheezing in Revenge of the Sith.

——

Anakin replaces his destroyed mechanical arm with a new one, now gloved in black - an ominous sign of what's to come. Obi-wan tries to comfort him, saying what we see inside ourselves can be frightening, but our choices shape our destiny. Unfortunately, Anakin makes bad choices.

——

Clone Wars takes us right up to the opening of Revenge of the Sith, ending literally moments before the events of that movie begin.

It's a thrilling, gorgeous, brilliantly realized part of the Star Wars story. I was really glad to be able to see it again.
Tagged (?): On the Viewer (Not), Star Wars (Not), TV (Not)
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Tuesday, April 6, 2021 07:06 PM
On the Viewer - Godzilla Vs. Kong (2021)
 by Fëanor

This is another live-tweet compilation! I hope that's okay! There are some spoilers in here, so beware.

——

[Thread #1]

"Kong bows to no one."
:Thumbs up: :COOL:
#GodzillaVsKong

——

I like that each monster has a girl as his advocate. Also, spoiler: the scene where Kong talks is real good. I came in a much bigger Godzilla fan, but they're selling me on Kong here.

——

It's interesting how the military guys just wordlessly do whatever the scientists say. I guess that is generally what happens in these movies, but it seems like at least in American movies there's usually more friction.

——

Also, I strongly suspect we're going to see Mechagodzilla, and I'm HERE FOR IT!!!

——

Can you really break into a secure electronic door by breaking open the keypad and jabbing it with a screwdriver that you licked the end of? I mean, I'm asking, maybe you can.

——

Bro. HOLLOW EARTH! So cool.

——

It's just a tad hard to believe that these three yahoos could just wander into this extremely secure, top secret area without anybody noticing or challenging them. But whatever, I'm here for the giant monsters.

——

MECHAGODZILLA!! Called it! Yeah!

——

Kong, axe in hand, on his throne, in an ancient hall in the center of the hollow earth. That is freaking cool as hell.

——

Ghidorah's skull as a living psionic super computer. Damn, they just threw all the crazy ideas into this, and I'm loving it. The visuals are fantastic, too.

——

Taking a break for tonight, but I feel like this movie has captured more of the spirit of comic books than a lot of movies I've seen recently that are supposedly based on them. The wild invention, the crazy colorful visuals, the epic scale, the rivalry, the big brutal fights.

——

[Thread #2]

Picking back up where I left off with #GodzillaVsKong !

——

I'm not totally clear on why they only need a tiny little sample of the hollow earth magic power rock, and boom, they're good to go. In fact, they don't even need the rock itself, they just need the data download about it. How does data let you produce enormous amounts of energy?

——

Godzilla shot a hole into the middle of the earth with one blast of his radioactive breath?? Dang.

——

Why did the hollow earth temple start falling apart anyway? Because of the tiny sample they took? Or because Kong switched the thing on with the axe? It seemed to start happening before Godzilla zapped the hole in...

——

So, no massive gravity anomaly on the way out of hollow earth? That's only on the way in. Like the toll into Philly from Jersey.

——

I love how colorful the movie is. Maybe partly a reaction from having recently seen the incredibly gray and drab Snyder Cut, but it's just beautiful.

——

Did they consider a possible theme park ride based on this? The ship flying around between the battling titans is making me imagine a Star Tours type experience...

——

Kong hanging off the top of the skyscraper is a nice callback.

——

Not sure I ever remember seeing Godzilla crawling around on all fours. That was different.

——

So, mechagodzilla just immediately starts thinking for itself once it's charged up with replicated hollow earth magic rock energy? Okay. Man, they're really asking us to swallow a lot here.

——

Now we're gonna use the underground spaceship as a giant defibrillator paddle to restart Kong's heart. Sure!

——

Okay, cool fight. But I feel like it would have been more interesting if people had actually been in control of Mechagodzilla, and if they hadn't just been crazy bad guys. I mean, there's a sane argument that can be made for destroying the Titans to protect humanity.

——

A fun movie. It's interesting that it's really Kong's movie. He's basically the protagonist. I didn't expect that.

I'm a little bummed there are no post-credits scenes. They couldn't give us a little tease for the next movie? Maybe a little Gamera or something? Ah well.
Tagged (?): On the Viewer (Not), Star Wars (Not), TV (Not)
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Welcome to the blog of Jim Genzano, writer, web developer, husband, father, and enjoyer of things like the internet, movies, music, games, and books.

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