Scott M. Sandridge

A Work in Progress

The Silverblade Prophecy, Free on Kindle Until the 9th!

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June 8, 2017 Posted by | Writerly Updates | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

SpecMusicMuse Review—The Man in the Box by Andrew Toy

The Man in the Box by Andrew Toy is reminiscent of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe only darker. The protagonist, Robbie Lake, finds himself dealing with family problems combined with getting fired from his job as an editor for Cipher Mill Publishing House, when he discovers a magical box after breaking into his old workplace. The box transports him to another world, one he had visited before when he was a child. And, of course, an adventure ensues, but one that threatens to ruin his life in the real world as the box proves to be a two-way portal. Unfortunately, the residents of the magical world don’t want him to leave, and are willing to do anything to make him stay.

For reasons that I won’t go into, so as to avoid spoilers, I had trouble liking Robbie. He makes the right choices in the end, but only after he’s faced with losing everything. The whole entire time, I couldn’t help but think, “Well, you got yourself into this mess, dummy.” His almost childish irresponsibility made it difficult to sympathize with him.

TheManintheBoxCoverOnce in a while I ran into some clunky sentence structures, but fortunately those were rare occasions. While the casual reader probably won’t notice half of them, people like me, editor-brained, will flinch once or twice.

On the plus side, Toy shows a remarkable skill with dialogue and character interaction, and maintains the story’s narrative flow, providing all the information the reader needs without having to sacrifice pacing.

In the end, it’s a good book to have around when you’ve already read your first picks and need to pass some time. But I expect, over time, Andrew Toy will become a recognizable name among the small press community.

Best to read while listening to: nothing specific comes to mind; maybe something Narnia-ish but darker. Or “Man in the Box” by Alice In Chains?

 

The Damn Disclaimer is over to the right –>

May 14, 2013 Posted by | SpecMusicMuse | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Blackwyrm Publishing Open House

Blackwyrm is having an open house on Amazon today, with several authors including the three touring ones with free books.

Today through Wednesday (Dec 3-5), all the following are free on Kindle:
Georgia L Jones:  http://www.amazon.com/Remnants-Life-Legends-Darkness-ebook/dp/B007K9WIXQ

Michael Williams:   http://www.amazon.com/Vine-An-Urban-Legend-ebook/dp/B008G5WHHA

Christopher Kokoski:  http://www.amazon.com/Dark-Halo-ebook/dp/B008G5WF2W

Full List (all free on Kindle through Wednesday from Blackwyrm Publishing):

* Burning the Middle Ground (religious thriller): http://www.amazon.com/Burning-the-Middle-Ground-ebook/dp/B00AFHHT7K

* The Man in the Box (fantasy): http://www.amazon.com/The-Man-Box-ebook/dp/B00AFHHZN8

* Seasons of Death (mystery): http://www.amazon.com/Seasons-Death-Mountain-Murders-ebook/dp/B008TC1WAS

* Deadly Pose (mystery): http://www.amazon.com/Deadly-Pose-ebook/dp/B00A81XKBC

* Vine, An Urban Legend (mythic): http://www.amazon.com/Vine-An-Urban-Legend-ebook/dp/B008G5WHHA

* The Thieves of Genesis (fantasy): http://www.amazon.com/The-Thieves-of-Genesis-ebook/dp/B00A81XIKU

* Legends of Darkness (fantasy) http://www.amazon.com/Remnants-Life-Legends-Darkness-ebook/dp/B007K9WIXQ

* Dark Halo (horror): http://www.amazon.com/Dark-Halo-ebook/dp/B008G5WF2W

* Silent Voices (romance): http://www.amazon.com/Silent-Voices-ebook/dp/B007WNZ814

* Iron Fist Velvet Glove (thriller): http://www.amazon.com/Iron-Fist-Velvet-Glove-ebook/dp/B007WNZ7JM

* The Official 2012 Survivalist Handbook (humor): http://www.amazon.com/Official-2012-Survivalist-Handbook-ebook/dp/B00A80PUAC

* The Wisdom of Weng Shu (humor): http://www.amazon.com/The-Wisdom-Weng-Shu-ebook/dp/B00A80ZYBW

December 4, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

SpecMusicMuse Review – Remnants of Life: Legends of Darkness by Georgia L. Jones

Samantha dies in a car crash only to find herself in a new body, as a vampire, but not your typical blood-sucking monster, but as Samoda, a spiritform warrior serving Nuem. While discovering the wonders of her new life, she struggles with the memories of her former life and the loved ones she left behind, and all while having to put a stop to an evil monster bent on world domination—and reconciling her newfound passions for her bonded hotty vamp soulmate, Drake.

While Legends of Darkness, the first novel in the Remnants of Life series, would likely be classified as a paranormal romance (even though it’s official genre is Urban Fantasy, the lines tend to blur with those two subgenres), there’s plenty of action, drama, and intrigue as well. As far as the romance elements go, I’ll admit that I’m not an avid romance reader. However, I do know that romantic tension is the name of the game for that genre; therefore, I’ll consider the fact that I spent almost half the book wanting to shout “OMG! Will you two just freakin’ do it already!” to mean that the romance elements between Samoda and Drake are a rip-roaring success. There were enough complications and twists to keep things interesting but not so much as to leave me confused.

The first-person POV, however, felt jarring. I’m not sure why. Perhaps it was because the protagonist, Samoda, did way too much thinking (wow, did I just say that?). Then there was one chapter where everything was suddenly inside the head of one of the antagonists. That threw me off temporarily, but then I got over it. (“OMG! When the hell are they gonna’ do it!” *turnpageturnpageturnpage*)

I’ve never been a big fan of the Twilight-ish “vamps are now good” craze, but I do tolerate them much more than the “Christian! TM!” alternatives (which amounted to little more than promoting Nephilim breeding—you’d think folks never read the Old Testament anymore). And this one was a little less Twilight-ish than most (and also involving a character who is of age—oh wait, Twilight was set in the Midwest, so nevermind). And besides, Vlad Tepes features in the plot, so any poking at my usual pet peeves is easily forgiven.

And it had dragons. Dragons are always a plus.

And combat. And blood. And gore. And (finally!) sex.

Everything a growing boy needs.

And still growing…

And growing….

OMG! I think I have a vampire fetish….

Best to read while listening to: a little Classic Rock, a dash of epic fantasy soundtracks (especially for the big battles), and…nah, screw the Twilight soundtrack.

And now to end this review with the following disclosure, thanks to those idiots at the FTC, which I shall officially dub as the I CAN’T BELIEVE I HAVE TO WRITE THIS BS IN MY BLOG POSTS segment:

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book for review from First Rule Publicity from the author as part of a virtual book tour. I was not compensated nor was I required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

November 23, 2012 Posted by | SpecMusicMuse | , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

SpecMusicMuse Review: Mind Game

Mind Game, by R.L. Copple, is a YA science fiction novel that combines space opera with virtual reality. Jeremy and Mickey get a virtual reality video game for Christmas. Little do they, and thousands of other children, know is that the VR is no game. Their minds get transported across the vastness of space and into virtual bodies, to fight a war for an imperialistic alien race. A rip-roaring space adventure ensues, filled with humor, heroism, and tragedy.

Copple maintains a fast pace, keeping the action going, and provides unexpected but logical plot twists throughout. Even the dialogue feels real for characters of such a young age, in contrast to how some YA novels can be. You will root for the heroes, boo the main villain, and even feel bad for the other villains. He also manages to tackle very adult topics in a manner that keeps it suitable for a YA novel. Overall, Copple delivers.

While there are definitely some moralistic themes to the story, the themes are where they should be: in the background. Primarily written for entertainment, the themes become an extra topping on the pizza.

If you enjoyed Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game, then you will enjoy R.L. Copple’s Mind Game.

Best to read while listening to:  the soundtracks to Star Wars and Goonies comes to mind.

September 17, 2011 Posted by | SpecMusicMuse | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

SpecMusicMuse: Interview w/Lawrence C. Connolly

Lawrence C. ConnollyI once had the pleasure of sharing a panel with Lawrence C. Connolly at MARcon in 2010. He is definitely someone who knows writing, and later having this chance to interview him was an honor.

1.  What is the Veins cycle about?

It’s about making bad choices . . . and then struggling to make them right. It’s about the scars that industry has left upon the land and the sacrifices that our species may need to make in order to heal those wounds. It’s about a young man named Axle who one night finds himself running for his life through an abandoned surface mine. It’s about the spirits of the earth deciding to take back what is theirs.

The cycle is composed of three books, each taking place within a span of eight hours. Veins (2008) opens about 10:00 on a Sunday night in August. Vipers (2010) opens around 6:00 the following morning. Vores (scheduled for 2012) runs from 2:00 that afternoon to 10:00 that night. Thus, together, the books chronicle a single 24 hour day – a period of time that loops back on itself like a tail-eating snake.


2. I noticed you did a bit of research on the Iroquois for these books.

Actually, the research centered on an Iroquoian language that was once wide spread in western Pennsylvania. Part of Veins is told from the point of view of a woman who heard the language as a child. Now, as an old woman, pieces of that language are coming back to her, first in her dreams, then in waking reveries that may be manifestations of a failing mind or visions from the spirit realm. She tries explaining what she sees using that ancient language, but we soon sense that the visions are from a place beyond language . . . beyond legend. This impression is compounded in Vipers, when similar visions elicit completely different interpretations. It’s all part of a central mystery that will come to a head in the final book.

3. How did you come up with the idea of doing a soundtrack?

I knew that FE Books was interested in branching into other media, and, when they picked up Veins, I asked them if they’d be interested in having my band put together a CD of music inspired by the book. I sent them a demo – a five-minute track called “Axle Rising” – and they must have liked what they heard, because a short time later I had a contract to produce the CD, which I did over the summer of 2008.

The tracks are mostly instrumentals, with a couple of spoken word performances featuring stories from my collection Visions (also from FE Books).

I play all the guitars on the CD, and each track features at least one riff played with a sonic pick – a device that creates long, sustained notes. The result is a variety of sounds that are not instantly recognizable as those of a guitar. Take the CD’s first cut, for example. That flute that kicks in about half way through isn’t a flute. It’s a guitar. Or listen to “Downhill Run.” That Theremin in the coda is a guitar as well.

The only other instruments  on the CD are bass-and-drums, with a few vocal chants and keyboard thrown in on “Axle Rising.”

Overall, we were going for a basic, handmade rock sound, as opposed to something that gave the impression it was keyed in using a digital program.

Likewise, the sound-design elements – footsteps on pavement, revving engines, squealing tires – were all recorded live. Nothing was computer generated or taken from stock.

On the track titled “68 Fastback,” we were going to overlay the music with roars from a Mustang engine until we found a Dodge Viper that revved in the key of A.  So we used those sounds instead, took that Viper out to an abandoned construction site and recorded the revs and burnouts there.  It was a blast.

I’m hoping the disk sells well enough for FE to green light a follow up disk. We’ll see. In the meantime, any readers interested in supporting such endeavors might give a listen at iTunes or pick up the CD directly from FE Books (see the links below).

4. Has music ever helped with your writing or in coming up with ideas, and have storylines ever inspired songs?

My writing mix consists mainly of new-age jazz, techno, and club music – with heavy emphasis on the German band Tangerine Dream.

Other than the tracks on Veins: the Soundtrack (which are instrumentals, not songs), I  can’t say that I’ve ever had a storyline inspire a song. Nevertheless, I do have a new story out in the anthology Darkness On The Edge (PS Publishing), which features fiction inspired by the music of Bruce Springsteen. My story was inspired by “Murder Incorporated.”

5. What else is coming down the pipeline that you want your readers to know about?

Earlier this year, Ash-Tree Press released my horror collection This Way To Egress at World Horror in Brighton. Next year, FE Books plans to release another collection titled Voices, which will contain some of my favorite stories from the last 30 years, a half dozen new stories, and about 10,000 words of memoir about living and working in the horror genre.

After that comes Vores, the final book in the VEINS CYCLE.

I also have a new “Daughters of Prime” novelette that I’m working on for F&SF . . . and a full-length novel version of that series that I really hope to have finished soon.

6. Where online can people find you at and, just as important, where can they buy your stuff?

They can find me at:
http://www.lawrencecconnolly.com

They can buy my stuff wherever good books are sold, but it’s always nice to order direct from the publishers or from small independent booksellers. To that end, I recommend shopping at the following:

VEINS, VIPERS, VISIONS
http://books.fantasistent.com/VEINS: the SOUNDTRACK (CD)
http://books.fantasistent.com/
http://ax.itunes.apple.com/us/artist/lawrence-c-connolly/id353094854

THIS WAY TO EGRESS:
http://store.realmsoffantasybooks.com/thwaytoeglac.html
http://www.ash-tree.bc.ca/atp146Egress.htm

March 25, 2011 Posted by | SpecMusicMuse | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Vipers – Lawrence C. Connolly

VIPERS CoverVipers is the sequel to Veins, that other awesome crime drama/horror that starts with the letter V. And something tells me a third book is likely in the works where the title is a single word that starts with the letter, V, too. Time will tell.

 As for this particular vindicating piece of vivacious dark valiance involving the characters we’ve grown to love (and love to hate) in the previous book, all I can say is bravo! Very good!

 Connolly keeps the pace going from beginning to end. Although there are some moments where the pace slows, it’s not to the point where you want to put the book down. Far from it. You just want to read more.

 And the best part about the story is there’s snakes. Lots and lots of snakes. Which probably explains why the book is called Vipers….

 Overall the story is great, with good dialogue, cool characters, and a plot that keeps you breathlessly anticipating what will happen next. I’m looking forward to the next installment of the Veins Cycle.

Best to Read while listening to: the Veins soundtrack. Duh.

March 21, 2011 Posted by | SpecMusicMuse | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment