Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Getting Ready for Buttersmiths'

Last summer, I got the privilege to meet Adam Sidwell when he was doing a book signing after releasing Evertaster. Adam was talented, engaging, funny, entertaining, and a real delight to hang out with for half an hour. Plus, he gave me free food, which is always a bonus. AND, he had a gorilla out on the street holding a sign so I wouldn't get lost while looking for him. Rumor has it that it was some guy in a gorilla suit, but I don't buy it.

If you haven't had the chance to read this fascinating book, check out the book trailer below. This is easily one of the best book trailers I've ever seen:

You can check out the book yourself, which has an impressive average of 4.8 out of 5 stars from 78 reviews by clicking here.

The sequel is coming out on Thursday; I'll be sure to post something then. Until then, check out its wonderful cover:

Adam has a Facebook Event to track the launch. You can join it and learn more information by clicking here. Also, for a chance to WIN the book, head over to Goodreads where he is giving away two copies on Thursday. He has more information about the contest and the series on his blog (which you can hit by clicking here).

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Book Bomb for Ben Wolverton

Ben Wolverton, age 16, was in a tragic long-boarding accident on Wednesday the 4th, 2013. He suffers from severe brain trauma, a cracked skull, broken pelvis and tail bone, burnt knees, bruised lungs, broken ear drums, road rash, pneumonia, and is currently in a coma. His family has no insurance.

Ben is the son of author David Farland, whose books have won multiple awards, and who is widely known as a mentor to many prominent authors, such as Brandon Sanderson, Stephenie Meyer, and Brandon Mull.

Ben's treatment are expected to rise above $1,000,0000. To help raise money for Ben, we are having a book bomb (focused on Nightingale and Million Dollar Outlines) on behalf of Ben.

Information on the book bomb is found here: http://www.helpwolverton.com/p/books-for-book-bomb.html

Or simply donate to the Wolverton family here: http://www.gofundme.com/BensRecovery


The best way you can help is by spreading the word of Ben’s donation page, and/or this book bomb. Share it on facebook, twitter, pinterest, your blog—anywhere you can. Invite others to the event.


David Farland has been keeping everyone posted on facebook. Subscribe or friend him to get up-to-date information: Dave's Facebook. At the moment, Ben is stable and appears to be improving.

From Danielle Wolverton, Ben's Sister:

A few weeks before his accident, I was staying at my parents house and feeling a little down. Ben walked into my room, guitar in hand and sat down on my bed. “Are you ready for your good night song?” I laughed hysterically. Don’t get me wrong, this was a dream come true. I just didn’t think my first evening serenade would be from my 17 year old little brother. Ben strummed some distantly familiar chords for about thirty seconds, and did not attempt to sing. He then stopped abruptly and said “I bet you feel way better now. I’ll see you in the morning. Here’s some chocolate.” He got up, threw a snickers bar on my dresser and left with a teasing grin. “Oh my,” I thought to myself, “I feel bad for the 16 year old girls out there. This one is going to be a heartbreaker.”

Beyond being the sweetest brother ever, Ben is an amazing person. He is athletic, a straight A student, and hysterically funny. He has visited Japan on a foreign exchange scholarship, and is always up for a good time. He has crazy ping pong skills, and can do all kinds of trampoline tricks. He goes to Dixie High and has been on the football, rugby, and wrestling teams.

Ben is someone who lights up your world. If you talk to him, you want to know more. He is always full of compliments and goes the extra mile to brighten your day. I can’t imagine my world without him. I also can’t imagine a person being better fit to pull through this. Ben is incredibly strong, and is already beating all the odds. Ben is meant to do great things. He has not yet left his mark on the world, there is more for him to do. I am so grateful for the outpouring of love and support our family has received on his behalf. Keep rooting for him, this is one hero who won’t let you down.


A Book Bomb is an event where participants purchase a book on a specific day (in this case, Wednesday, April 10th) to support the author, or, in this case, a young person in serious need: Ben Wolverton.


David Farland’s young adult fantasy thriller NIGHTINGALE has won SEVEN awards, including the Grand Prize at the Hollywood Book Festival--beating out ALL books in ALL categories. It is available as a hardcover ($24.99), ebook ($7.99), audio book ($24.99), and enhanced novel for the iPad ($9.99).

You can purchase it on Amazon: Order on Amazon

Barnes and Noble:  Order on B&N

The Nightingale website: www.nightingalenovel.com/

You can get the enhanced version complete with illustrations, interviews, animations, and its own soundtrack through iTunes: Order on iTunes


Some people sing at night to drive back the darkness. Others sing to summon it. . . .

Bron Jones was abandoned at birth. Thrown into foster care, he was rejected by one family after another, until he met Olivia, a gifted and devoted high-school teacher who recognized him for what he really was--what her people call a "nightingale."

But Bron isn't ready to learn the truth. There are secrets that have been hidden from mankind for hundreds of thousands of years, secrets that should remain hidden. Some things are too dangerous to know. Bron's secret may be the most dangerous of all.


Authors such as James Dashner (The Maze Runner), Brandon Sanderson (Mistborn), and Paul Genesse (Iron Dragon series) all PRAISED it. Nightingale has 4 and a half stars on Amazon. Read what other people are saying here: 

Or, purchase the novel and find out for yourself.


If you are a writer, you may want to consider purchasing David Farland’s MILLION DOLLAR OUTLINES. It has been a bestseller on Amazon for over a month and is only $6.99.

As a bestselling author David Farland has taught dozens of writers who have gone on to staggering literary success, including such #1 New York Times Bestsellers as Brandon Mull (Fablehaven), Brandon Sanderson (Wheel of Time), James Dashner (The Maze Runner) and Stephenie Meyer (Twilight).

In Million Dollar Outlines, Dave teaches how to analyze an audience and outline a novel so that it can appeal to a wide readership, giving it the potential to become a bestseller. The secrets found in his unconventional approach will help you understand why so many of his authors go on to prominence.

Get it on Amazon: Amazon Link

Get it on Barnes and Noble: B&N

Read one of the 26 reviews here: Amazon Reviews

Thank you!

Ben and his family greatly appreciate your support, and so do all who love and care about them.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Book Review: The Rithmatist by Brandon Sanderson

I was excited to get my hands on an ARC for Brandon Sanderson's upcoming YA novel: The Rithmatist. I should note, for the purpose of full disclosure, that I am a HUGE Sanderson fan. Will that introduce a level of bias on my part? Likely. I had picked this up with huge expectations and I must admit, I was not let down. I'll hit on what I liked, didn't like, and do my best to avoid spoilers.

Plot (taken from the book description)

More than anything, Joel wants to be a Rithmatist. Chosen by the Master in a mysterious inception ceremony, Rithmatists have the power to infuse life into two-dimensional figures known as Chalklings. Rithmatists are humanity’s only defense against the Wild Chalklings—merciless creatures that leave mangled corpses in their wake. Having nearly overrun the territory of Nebrask, the Wild Chalklings now threaten all of the American Isles.

As the son of a lowly chalkmaker at Armedius Academy, Joel can only watch as Rithmatist students study the magical art that he would do anything to practice. Then students start disappearing—kidnapped from their rooms at night, leaving trails of blood. Assigned to help the professor who is investigating the crimes, Joel and his friend Melody find themselves on the trail of an unexpected discovery—one that will change Rithmatics—and their world—forever.

What I Liked

Oh, boy. Where to begin?

1) Characters. I really liked the characters. I felt the characters of non-Rithmatist Joel and Rithmatists Melody and Professor Fitch were fantastic. They came to life for me, all having their own distinct personalities. I liked the absent-minded manner that Fitch mentored Joel and I liked the type of relationship that Joel and Melody have. They are complete opposites of each other and I thought Sanderson played with that brilliantly.

2) Setting. Most of this takes place at a school, so this does have a bit of a Harry Potter feel to it. In fact, I think you can draw a lot of similarities, almost like if Harry Potter went to Hogwarts with an interest in magic, but could not perform magic himself. There are more, but I think to delve into that would introduce too many spoilers. For some reason, this really added a level of resonance that made me feel comfortable reading this book.

3) World building. The world building is fantastic! This seems to be our world, with even some familiar historical figures, like Leonardo Da Vinci. However, the landscape is slightly different with America being broken up into a number of islands and such. The United States are named slightly different because of this, for instance he makes reference to a East Carolina and Nebrask, which I imagine is the island of Nebraska.

Because this has the magic system of Rithmatics, which seemed to be introduced in this world about 600 year prior, technology took off in a different direction. There are no engines like we have today, but a huge focus on gear-driven machinery. On the American cover of the book you can see a horse with a bunch of gears sticking out of it, this is how they get around in this version of our world. What fascinated me the most was a train that they took, which was spring-loaded and also seemed to fly over land and over water. It was subtle in the background, but I thought that scene alone really brought this world to life.

A big, though minor to this story, change was the naming and customs of the countries. Apparently, the Aztecs thrived and a common European staple appears to be what we would consider Asian foods. Again, subtle, but added to the history of this world.

4) The Magic System. Brandon Sanderson has been known to come up with amazing magic systems. When I heard he was doing a chalk-drawing book I imagined some kid drawing a dinosaur and suddenly having a new pet. Well, it doesn't happen quite that way. This magic system has certain limitations and capabilities, as every good magic system should. I'll cover how I struggled with the magic system a bit, but in the long run I totally fell in love with it. Reading this book, there appears to be a lot of things yet to be discovered, and I look forward to see what Sanderson does with it in future books.

5) The artwork. This is a book on chalk drawings, so of course this book has a lot of artwork inside of it. There is a form of dueling that is performed with the chalk drawings, which is central to the entire plot, and Ben McSweeney draws several instances of how the chalk drawings work. Also, there are drawings here and there throughout the rest of the text, fleshing out the chalk drawings that Sanderson had depicted in the story.

I loved it.

It really helped me make sense of the chalk-drawing magic system and allowed me to visualize a lot of what was going on in the story. I'm sure there will be an audiobook version of this, but I would suggest picking up the actual book instead for the artwork alone.

And when I say artwork, I don't mean that there are pictures of what happens in the story. All of the artwork--with the possible exception of one picture--is what is drawn with chalk by the Rithmatists. So they aren't high-quality, really. Just informative.

6) The ending. I thought this had a satisfying ending. Sanderson is great at adding twists to the end of his stories, and I didn't see this one coming at all. I loved it. Also, it has one of the best denouements I've ever read. This is a first of a series, so it does leave you wanting more. No cliffhanger, thank goodness, but this is a great setup to a series that I'm sure is only going to get better.

I could not put this book down the last 100 pages, which left me reading until way past my bedtime. I paid for it with sleepiness the next day at work, but it was WORTH IT!

7) Religion. I was fairly surprised what impact Rithmatics plays in religion. I thought Sanderson worked in the topic of religion in this imaginary world quite well. I'm sure future books will delve more into this, but I thought this book did a great job of introcuing the religion and its role over Rithmatists.

What I Didn't Like

1) Length. Only 370 pages? I thought this was a Sanderson novel!! Well, this is one of his shorter works, but it was long enough to tell the story he wanted to. I wouldn't have complained if this were longer and more of the magic system was fleshed out. I guess we'll get that in future books.

2) The Secret Societies. This seems to be a world where Rithmatists are supposed to keep secrets to themselves, and they even have a secret section of the library. So, there is a lot of mystery, but I just didn't buy it. It seems that if a character befriended the right person who was willing to talk they could find out all they wanted to about Rithmatists. Also, you can check out the books in the secret section, which means borrowing the books from Rithmatic friends isn't difficult. Well, for me, it seemed that anybody could figure out anything they wanted if they were willing to spend a little initiative trying to figure it out.

3) The learning curve. For some reason, I struggled understanding how Rithmatic dueling worked. I had an easier time understanding Allomancy in Sanderson's Mistborn series. I stopped reading about a third of the way through and tried to see if I was missing a frame of reference or something. Best I can tell, this is a very unique magic system, so I just continued with the book.

I'm not sure where I felt comfortable with the magic system, but in time it finally did click. This might just be me and a personal hangup. But if you are reading this and having problems grasping the magic system, hang in there. It seems to come together well enough.


I loved this book and can't wait for more to be written. It isn't perfect, but what book is? So, I'm giving it a 4 1/2 out of 5 stars (round it up to 5). Like I mentioned, this is the ARC (Advanced Reader Copy) and I noticed a few mistakes throughout. When this book is released I'm looking forward to picking up another copy and reading it again... with the typos fixed, keeping an eye on the twist, and with a better understanding of Rithmatics throughout the book.

If you love urban fantasies with unique magic systems, this is right up your ally! If you, like me, love Brandon Sanderson, then I don't think you'll be disappointed in this book.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

My Take on the Death of Google Reader

For those who don't know, I work with computers as my day job. There is a saying in my field: the only constant in computers is change. I'm sure that also applies to life, and it is certainly a current reality with the writing industry.

There were two recent changes that kind of took me by surprise. I was going to share my reaction to both the death of Google Reader and Amazon acquiring Goodreads, but I'll save the latter for later since the former topic is getting pretty long.

Google Kills Google Reader and Google Friend Connect

A few weeks ago, Google announced that Google Reader will be shutting down on July 1st as part of their spring cleaning.
Bye-bye, Reader
My first thought, and I suspect I'm not alone, is how I'll be able to keep up with all of the blogs that I commonly read. A few replacements have stepped up to the plate, and one of them caught my eye since it seemed well developed and (most importantly now) supported. So I've converted to Feedly, which allowed me to import my feeds list and my favorites.
Hello, Feedly. Thanks for saving the day!
I'm a big fan of Evernote, so I'm slowly going through my favorites and storing the posts I really want to keep in Evernote. This will make these posts more accessible to me, and take away my reliance on maintaining favorites.

Okay, with that squared away, I then thought of the other side of the coin. What is going to happen to my followers? As of this writing, I have 209 followers, which is managed by the Google Friend Connect. Will they disappear with Google Reader? Sure enough, Friend Connect is also going the way of the dodo bird. I don't know if most bloggers realize this is headed their way. I had to dig around to confirm it's eminent departure since it isn't receiving the publicity and reaction that Google Reader's death has received.

And what of RSS in general? Some say that the death of Google Reader and Friend Connect, which made RSS management easy, could be the final nail in RSS's coffin. I'm inclined to agree. As great as I'm finding Feedly to be, I don't think it is enough to save RSS.

Why? It all comes back to why Google Reader is being shut down to begin with. Google says that usage is down and that social media is what drives people to your content, not Google Reader. And... I think they're right. If I make a blog post and don't mention it on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+, I'm most likely to receive a small handful of hits, comments, and other social interactions.

In fact, I'll test that with this post... I'll not advertise on my social connections and see what kind of response I get for 24 hours. Then I'll hit the social networks as I usually do and see what that does. If I were to put money on it, driving people to my blogs via social media is going to be a lot more effective than waiting for my followers to catch me through their RSS feeds.

A side effect is that I'm going to have to change my blog around. I won't bore you with the details, but pardon the dust while this blog goes through some changes. I've already done some behind-the-scenes testing and changes and I look forward to pushing out my new look and feel. Soon. It is part of why I plastered my face all over a recent blog post.

So, what do you guys think? Are you going to miss Google reader? Are you ready for the disappearance of Google Friend Connect? What have you done to prepare for July 1st?

Update 1:

I went about a day and a half to see what my buddy list did. I got 32 visits and five comments, though one of those comments were mine and two of the comments was from the same person. Now, I'll make mention of it on social media and see what that does.

Update 2:

Well, another day and a half (roughly) has gone by, and I threw things up on Twitter, G+, and Facebook. The number of people who visited rose to 70 and I got one more comment.

I know, this isn't scientific, but I now think Google has got it wrong. Google Friend Connect does help drive people to my blog, and it seems to do a better job of driving people willing to comment. I'm wondering how this will impact Google themselves, since Google Friend Connect drives people to Blogger, which is owned by Google.

Conclusion: Nobody wins.