Posts Tagged ‘ Ice ’

The Sorrow of Putting a Good Book Down

Erin Hart Lake of Sorrows Holly Ice Blog Author Writer Review Reviews Story Stories Novel Novels

Still sitting on my desk and propping up my dinner plate

 

No, it’s not propping up my dinner plate because it is bad. Quite the opposite. It is being used as a temporary balancer because I’m not yet ready to put it back on the bookshelf to gather dust.

This book was a great read from start to finish. There are two murdered victims preserved in peat- a modern and an ancient one but the wounds appear similar. The suspects and suspicious characters mount to a degree I’ve never seen before in novels without reaching unrealistic proportions.

There are secrets within secrets, deceptions, mistruths and many examples of people being used for another’s gain. That’s life. That’s a small village/town.

Erin Hart captures the familiarity of the in club in a small town and extorts this atmosphere to create the environment in which there can be a series of murders and a list of suspects so long I did not guess the killer until the clues had mounted to a point of obvious realisation.

Many authors cannot achieve this and the plot is up within a few chapters. Not this one! It keeps the reader interested and reels them along for over 400 pages of fast paced murder mystery and stewing relationship problems and successes. 

And, above everything, the environment is what sticks with me most about this book. The swampy peat land with its ancient sacredness and old names and history has seeped into my soul in the reading of this novel. I know a lot more, now, about swamps, the celts, and bee keeping and, somehow, it has made me feel more complete.

Definitely a book to add to your memories and not to leave to dust on the bookshelf. 

I give this book a grand 5/5. If I could give it more, I could: not many books cling to the reader like this one. 

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A Story About a Shoe

Capture1

This is pretty much what it looks like. On holiday in Latvia, on two occasions, I saw a shoe bereft of its partner. In both cases, these shoes were heels and left standing as if someone walked right out of them. Any girl should know this is odd: even really drunk, there is a rather large discrepancy between a heeled foot and an unheeled foot.

My father and I actually stared at this shoe for a good ten minutes, wondering what could have happened to the owner and one of these musings got me an idea for a story to submit to the hgwells festival competition for 2013. I started the story yesterday and intend to finish up the last little bits today.

Goes to show: inspiration is anywhere and within the most unlikely of objects.

If you have a weird event that inspired a story, let me know! Let’s see how weird it gets.

Hope all are well.

Holly Ice

Procrastination, Snot and Writing

 

pollen hayfever holly ice writing writer author

It’s about time I updated you all about my own writing. So far this summer I have one short story provisionally accepted, two rejected and two still waiting on replies. In addition, one poem has been accepted for publication this summer. I also have 2-3 stories I still need to polish and find a home for.

I’m not sure if this is good or bad for a writer – is a 25% success rate good, average, bad? I’m sure you all can share your experiences and let me know. Rejection is always hard but the major problem for me is confidence.

Yes, I’ve had things published, a number now actually, but so what? Many people get things published and are never heard of or are, in literary circles, a joke.

I shouldn’t care about that, I know. I should get on with my creative vision and love the lives I create but sometimes it gets to me. Encouragement and determination are what gets a book written and, I will admit, I have been procrastinating.

I have had god awful hayfever and often it has stopped me from sleeping – the blocked and running nose kind, the prequel to the you-will-never-breathe-again worry. It has made me miserable down to my toes and up to my very foggy head. It felt like I was on lag for weeks.

Thankfully the doctor has prescribed some steroid-based nasal spray and stronger anti-histamines. So far, much better. Here’s hoping to clearer thoughts, and noses!

The reprieve has given me some motivation, enough to finish writing a story for Almond Press’ new anthology ‘After the Fall‘. I have a holiday to go on next week (Latvia here I come) and after that it’s time to delve back into the novel, for better or worse.

As most writers, I just have to give myself one big dose of ‘you aren’t that bad’ and get on with it.

Good luck to the rest of you in my position!

See you all in a week.

Holly Ice

Debra Dunbar’s The Imp Series: Finally, a new author to bookmark

Debra Dunbar author Imp Series A Demon Bound Elven Blood Satan's Sword

Yesterday I finished reading the third book of the Imp series by Debra Dunbar. This woman happens to be a follower of mine and I reciprocate. Day before yesterday I tried reading one of her books, and they rock.

I have been looking for a long, long time for an author to come close to Laurell K Hamilton and Debra Dunbar does it. She has a strong female lead, a new, demonic world (within the modern human world) and some great characters – and plot. Plus it is realistic.

Realistic fantasy fiction is lacking in today’s world of fiction. Too many authors think they can slack on characterisation or realism or plot simply because the book takes place in a different reality. This is certainly not a failing here!

Other than the odd typo, I cannot find anything I dislike with these books and that is saying something – I am picky.

The lead character Samantha is a demon, an imp. She cuts tyres and causes mischief for the hell of it which is great but she is also involved in the demon underworld and is soon contacted by an angel. And this angel wants to kill her.

Not what you were expecting, right?

All these elements can sound a little overwhelming when thrown together but the world Dunbar creates works. It has rules, sense, and some great dialogue (not to mention humour).

A succubus house visit can be a little awkward when your boyfriend is over…

Which reminds me: there is sex in this and it is described but it is not too explicit (but then, I’m not squeamish).

I will be buying more of these books and I hope to any powers that be that more are coming (I’ll certainly be nagging her for more – she had me giggling in my chair and rooted to the screen). I have no doubt that Dunbar will go on to have a very successful career in fantasy fiction.

As you’ve probably guessed, I’ve found one of those gems I’ve been hankering after for a while. As a result of Debra’s accurate observation of human behaviour and the awkward situations that get me laughing, this series gets a big, round 5/5 from me.

It can be bought here…

Book 1 (US UK)

Book 2 (US UK)

Book 3 (US UK)

Have a great day everyone!

Slate Ahn and the Books of Knowledge: Part I, Graham M Irwin. A fantasy epic with pirates, wolves, shipwrecks AND political corruption

Graham M Irwin Holly Ice Review Slate Ahn Books of Knowledge Legend of Alm

I was gifted this book free of charge on a read for review policy.

Graham Irwin knows how to create a wondrous world full of raspberry coloured bumble bees and exotic plants or wolves which decide to bond to individuals of good merit. He creates habitats and environment as well as original culture.

Of course, world creation is a huge part of fantasy and his achievement here does a lot to ingratiate himself with a fantasy audience. I must also say that the illustrator for the cover did a beautiful job.

Holly Ice blogHowever there are still issues with his writing, particularly in the prologue.

There is a lot of unnecessary description of the Ahn family and their daily lives that adds nothing to the plot; this is things like what they eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner and how they act year round. This back story is not necessary to the novel.

In fact, I believe the prologue could be cut significantly. It could do with opening on page 8 with ‘The tradition bound people of the village observed in the workings of the universe an order…’ This chimes in with the ideology of the villagers and within a paragraph the narrative focuses on the Ahn family. It also gets all the major tradition issues in without the boring parts of what they eat for breakfast. Plus, it is a catchier first sentence (and the major tension of the opening is introduced within a few paragraphs!)

This would also get around the fact that Ahn, Alleste and Aelioanei are introduced close together at the original opening. 3 unfamiliar A words that close together just makes my head spin! In fact, place names beginning with any other letter would be a favour: even the world is called Alm! (I was glad that the western half of the island had place names beginning with other letters and wonder if there is a rational reason behind all the A names or it was just coincidental).

The poetic introduction before the prologue is beautiful. I would only change one like: substance bore distinction to nothingness. There are too many long words here which confuses the complex concept the poem is aiming for.

There is also a tendency towards the beginning of the novel for long, convoluted sentences. However this soon evens out as the narrative continues and the action becomes much more immediate.

Characters are mostly realistic, if a little wacky (but this is allowed in a different culture with different morals and values). I only noticed one seeming slip from the alternate world of Alm in the narrative. This is where a character said ‘such and such a city’ which hit me as a little gossipy in tone and too modern a phrase compared to the rest of the narrative. I also noticed one ‘YOUR wife’ which would be better expressed as ‘your wife’ even if it is bellowed.

However these are mostly small sentence-level problems. My major problem with the book was that it lost its direction. The protagonist began by needing to find his family and, about a third of the way into the book, he finds the reason for their disappearance. However, instead of immediately trying to find them he loses focus and goes to school for a year, seemingly for no reason.

From here, political corruption, mercenaries, imprisonment, pirates, shipwreck, fishing and many hikes through endless (and different coloured) forests ensues. I cannot fault the author on his world building here. In fact, I felt the fishing and boat details as well as the multitude of forest habitats were very well researched. Even the stimulants created seemed realistic and well-integrated into the society. My problem with this is that there is no focus.

Holly Ice blog Graham Irwin Slate Ahn

The core thread of the novel was the boy trying to find his family. This is lost and put on hold. At this point, there is no core reason for me to keep reading. I want to know about the boy and his family, not a random thread of events. I feel that the author has tried to fit too many fantasy adventures into the book without connecting them to the main thread of the novel. Even by the end of the novel, the boy has still not found one single member of his family!

So yes, I grew frustrated with this book plot-wise but this does not lessen Irwin’s world building prowess. If you like books that meander through a new, colourful world and are content to read on despite a long-winded approach to plot goals then this book will be a good read.

The sea is bubbling with new hollow jaws, the floors are writing with white grubs that crawl in the dark and the forests hide wolves that can be friends for life. It is, in essence, an open sandbox to a new, bright world.

I give ‘Slate Ahn and The Books of Knowledge Part I’ a robust 3/5.

If you would like to give it a go for yourself, The Legend of Alm, Slate Ahn and The Books of Knowledge Part I can be found on Amazon (UK link and US link)

As always, I can be found on twitter: Holly Ice

Frustration – We Create Our Own Enemies

It’s when you sit and stare at the stupid blinking cursor that you know something is wrong. I had this the other day and the screen just didn’t help. Games helped my mood but, of course, not my writing. I’m looking at you, TERA.

In the end I got some inspiration late at night/early morning and wrote what I came up with down on paper. It helped a lot. Sometimes I find changing medium is the most useful thing you can do to force your mind to work.

I mean, this is my room before a night out:

DSC05493

It’s pretty much what my head looks like when I try to get ideas together in my head. Like the clothes into an outfit, sometimes things just don’t work. The tights are the wrong colour, the top too baggy, the trousers too hot, too tight.

It’s the same when I write. In the end, I give up and think of a first sentence, something that will (hopefully) draw people in. The story I’m writing at the moment begins ‘Planes are just like buses, after a while’.

Image

For me, this gave me the character, the voice, needed to blindly stumble through the next plot points. It works for me because I’ve found I just can’t make more than two/three decisions in my mind. It’s like playing chess more than three moves ahead. My mind blanks – there’s far too many things that can happen in that time. Characters are not obedient little puppets; they are your opponent, sat across from you and planning your downfall.

Little diabolical, but that’s how I see it. Each start to a story and each completed story is a victory for me against the character that doesn’t want to be written and that cursor.

Who ever said writers are pacifists? We hurt characters and give them problems. We are Gods of our worlds and hardly very kind ones. I suppose it’s no wonder they fight back.

The Writing Update

So, after all that, I’m glad to say I have one story freshly sent off to an anthology – Alchemy Press’ Urban Mythic

and another which I’ve started for their Astrologica collection. (There’s still two weeks to enter this – closes 14th April at midnight PST). It comprises stories based/inspired by the star signs with added fantasy elements. Check it out.

Definitely not all bad. Wish me luck!

And my twitter 🙂

Signing out,

Holly Ice

Are You Afraid of The Dark?

are-you-afraid-of-the-dark

If you’re a 90’s kid like me you probably remember the TV show ‘Are You Afraid of The Dark?’ with a few smiles. This is because it had great episodes (that were a lot scarier than goosebumps).

So, what makes a good ghost story?

ghost-with-a-bed-sheetSigmund Freud

  1. Good characters. No joke. The creepiness isn’t everything here. People need a reason to be scared and a reason to open that door that really shouldn’t be opened. Are they curious? Heard a cry for help? Fell?
  2. Which brings me onto my next point. Be original. None of those white sheet ghosts that go ‘ooooh’ or pictures with literal moving eyes. Think of something new. Jaded ideas are hardly going to scare, are they?
  3. A great way of coming up with genuinely scary and original ideas is by delving into childhood – things like clowns, bikes, tunes, whistling. Have a read of that old guy up there you might not recognise: Sigmund Freud. For those who know how hard he can be to read: his work on ‘The Uncanny’ establishes how something familiar can be defamiliarised in order to get an uncanny and sometimes scary effect.
  4. The Unknown. Yes, that works as a sentence by itself. The unknown is what humanity has always been afraid of (or most of it anyway) the unexplained and unscientific, unspecified stuff that just happens. The bumps, cries, and out of place. This is the stuff fear is made of.
  5. Something that sticks with the reader after the story. This is usually something original but it can simply be unexpected, too. Maybe the protagonist is the new haunter. Maybe no one dies (I know, shocking, shocking). This can also be a message or moral hidden in the plot. Don’t be obvious though! (Readers usually hate morals being shoved down their throats!)

Tips

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  1. Get your hands on some books. Have a look on play, ebay and amazon and don’t be afraid to buy used books, either. There are some great ones out there on the supernatural, paranormal and the unknown. Have a mooch around and pick and choose your favourites for stories.
  2. Read some other fiction. Other writers get things right sometimes, too. Learn from them.
  3. Get a friend to read your story through. Does it scare them? Where do they get bored? (This is where you need to tighten things up). Is there anything they skip? (Same problem).  This, of course, is good practise for all stories.
  4. Does it scare you? It may sound silly. I never thought I’d be scared by something as I wrote it but it happened with the ghost story I wrote last month so keep an eye out for it.
  5. And finally, have some fun! Not everyone gets to write ghost stories in their spare time! Channel the spirit of a bonfire in the woods with marshmallows, some shadows, a chill and a good scare.

Let me know if you get really into something or if you knock up any good books or stories in your research!

Again, as always: Holly Ice’s Twitter and Holly’s Publishing Credits Page

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