Thursday, 15 September 2016

Blog Tour -- Flames of Nevyana by Edward Willett

catalog listing for this book

It's always a treat to find a new book by Edward Willett. He's a Canadian writer who can be relied on to put narrative -- story, if you prefer -- before anything else in his books, whether fantasy, or science fiction, or even the nonfiction writing he's done. As a friend of Edward Willett's, I'm pleased to be able to participate in his promotional blog tour this October. I've been a fan of his work since before Andy Nebula: Interstellar Rock Star was first released!

Willett's newest fantasy is Flames of Nevyana, from Rebelight Publishing. Though many YA fantasies are coming-of-age novels, this one is different in that perhaps its time not only for the young protagonists to take on active, responsible roles, but for their communities at large to leave behind old behaviours and interactions. Click here for a link to this book's listing in the publisher's online catalog.
In a few images, Willett presents the differing communities of his protagonists, making these young people and their surroundings distinct and memorable.

One very young woman lives in a community like gypsies or Travelers:
Amlinn might have been imagining it, but it seemed to her that the gathering twilight darkened at the same instant that Samarrind touched the rod to the sigil of the Keystone.
With a crackle, the Fence sprang instantly to life and a wall of glowing blue light surrounded the Freefolk camp. The hair on Amlinn’s head and arms stirred as though alive, and a sharp smell assaulted her nostrils. Some Freefolk claimed to hate it, but she loved that smell. It meant the Fence was working. It meant the Nightdwellers couldn’t get in.
It meant tonight, no children would lose their parents to the monsters of the forest as Amlinn had when she was four.

There's a different barrier, but of a similar magical kind, surrounding the temple Petra is patrolling:
Occasionally, the gloom was lit by distant lightning-like flashes of blue from atop the dark bulk of the Temple. All around City Primaxis, magical Hearths took in that Blue Fire and turned it into the light and heat Petra was currently in such desperately short supply of.
As he and Cort passed each other at the gate, the rain redoubled its efforts to drown them. Even through the tin-roof patter of the drops on his steel helmet, Petra heard the Curtain hiss like a giant teakettle. Vast clouds of blue-tinged steam rose from it into the night.
The icy water poured over Petra’s helmet and down his neck. Useless and sodden, his blue woolen cloak hung heavy as lead from his mail-clad shoulders. His boots squelched with every step. His damp leather trousers chafed his thighs. He couldn’t even feel his fingers: they’d gone numb inside his soaked gloves eleven circuits ago.

And when Jin dares to stand outside his warren for a few moments at sunrise, one of the other boys tells him:
“I thought your head was on fire.”
Jin laughed. “My fur wasn’t even singed.”
The truth was, in the last thirty seconds he had stood under the brilliant glare of the sun filled with both pride and terror, he had felt something—but not the agony Scrollkeepers swore would befall any Nightdweller touched by the unholy rays of Arrica’s sun.
No. All he’d felt had been warmth.
A pleasant touch of warmth.

Anyone who can write with such immediacy about light, rain, and mystic discipline has my attention! If this book is the first in a series, I'm up for reading any book with the same subtitle: A Voltpunk Novel. There are steampunk elements in many kinds of science fiction, but Willett is ringing his own changes on the charm and appeal of the technology of electricity as it is introduced to people of differing cultures.

I've read this book only in e-format, not in print format, but I've got to say how much the cover art pleased me. A lot of books available as e-books have "cover art" that doesn't work for me, either as art or as the cover of a book. There is considerable tradition about how to present information on a book cover, and what to expect from the art elements -- and I am impressed with the design choices for this book cover. Clear lettering for the author's name is a good choice, and imaginative serifs on the lettering for the title told me to expect a fantasy element even in a story subtitled: A Voltpunk Novel.  The interlocking gears of the art reminds me of how technology can seem magical, and how magic is intended to fit together effectively.

My latest science book from Rosen Publishing

It's always interesting to write a book on science for Rosen Publishing. This time, my assignment was to write about archaeology, the science that studies early humans. My book is called The Paleolithic Revolution, and it focuses on that time in the Stone Age when humans began using a variety of tools, and speaking fluently. Though the book is listed as published in 2017, copies are available now and can be ordered from the publisher, or through Amazon, or by placing an order at any bookstore.

The Paleolithic Revolution
from the series The First Humans and Early Civilizations
Rosen Publishing 2017
ISBN : 978-1-4994-6316-3
available as a library bound book, or an e-book
Includes: Bibliography • Detailed Table of Contents • Full-Color Photographs • Further Information Section • Glossary • Index • Primary Sources • Sidebars • Timelines • Websites 
- click here for a link to the publisher's website, where this book can be ordered -
- click here for a link to Amazon -

Saturday, 30 July 2016

Smashwords Sale Ends Soon!

We're at the last couple of days for the Smashwords sale of the ebook editions of my books from Five Rivers Publishing. If you're needing some good ebooks to read this summer, look here for not only my novel Tower in the Crooked Wood, and King Kwong (my biography of hockey hero Larry Kwong), but my biography of Pierre Trudeau that's due to be released in December.

It's always fun to have plenty of ebooks on a reader. When you go to the link, be sure to look at the other fine titles from Five Rivers too!

Thursday, 7 July 2016

Smashwords Sale of My Books at Five Rivers

Another great ebook sale for this summer! Five Rivers Publishing has just announced a half-price sale of all their ebook titles on Smashwords, for the month of July. Time to load up on summer reading.
The ebooks on sale include my novel Tower in the Crooked Wood, which makes excellent summer reading as a novel short enough to read while you can still remember the beginning. Or if you're into print copies, it's a book slim enough to fit into your lunch bag or beach bag.

For those who are more sports oriented, my bio of hockey hero Larry Kwong will score. King Kwong is also available in print copies that fit neatly into a sports bag for moments when you're sitting around waiting for the game to start or your ride to get there.

Friday, 24 June 2016

Kobo Sale of my books at Five Rivers!

Five Rivers Publishing has announced a Kobo Sale. All their titles are being sold at 50% off during June 25 to 27. This is an excellent opportunity to pick up e-book copies of my two books at Five Rivers. One is my novel Tower in the Crooked Wood. The other is King Kwong the biography I wrote of Larry Kwong, the Canadian hockey hero. Here's a link to Five Rivers Publishing's announcement of the Kobo Sale. Don't miss it!

Friday, 3 June 2016

Trudeau Biography Announced!

Good news came today! My biography of Pierre Trudeau is scheduled for release from Five Rivers Publishing. They've got a great cover for it, one that fits well into their series Prime Ministers of Canada.

What can you say about a prime minister for whom suspending civil liberties with the War Measures Act wasn’t even his most controversial decision? At least, it wasn't to those folk who are still stuttering mad about his National Energy Program or White Paper on Indian Affairs, forty years later and counting. This book was fascinating to write! I hope that canoeists and outdoor enthusiasts will like the focus on Trudeau's wilderness interests.

Click here for a link to their listing. The book will be available December 1st,  2016, but orders can be taken now.

Tuesday, 31 May 2016

Rocket ships, telescopes, and astronauts! My computer brings me NASA's Astronomy Picture of the Day and Image of the Day. NASA's space program has been fascinating since I was a child. These days, it's interesting in more ways, and the information is much more accessible than it ever was. 

Mike Collins in a command module simulator on June 19, 1969 during a practice rendezvous
 and docking maneuver with the lunar module. Credits: NASA

Did you know that since it was founded, NASA makes heaps of learning materials available for free? Fifty years ago, there were only newspaper articles for me and my brother to read about the Apollo program. We watched the moon landings on our family's black-and-white television. Then in a science magazine we found the mailing address for NASA. In reply to our questions about astronauts, NASA sent us free pamphlets and posters and booklets. We sent blank videotapes and got back recordings about Mars and Venus probes. We were the space program experts at our school back then! 

That same feeling of “kid in a candy store” is what I get today at NASA's website at . It's wonderful to see the photos and videos of images from telescopes and from probes that visit other planets. Banners at the top of the screen organize links to many pages on different topics. When I wanted detailed articles to read on Curiosity Mars rover, it was easy to find information. Social media links are there, for daily updates from NASA on current events such as the Pluto fly-by. I even found podcasts and ebooks to download for my phone and tablet, and ringtone mp3s for my spouse to mix into Acid music loops! There is material of interest for people of every age or reading level, and particular attention is paid to teachers and students. For young children, there are NASA Space Place at and NASA Kids Club.

This Jan. 19, 2016, self-portrait of NASA's Curiosity Mars rover shows the vehicle 
at "Namib Dune," where the rover's activities included scuffing into the dune with a wheel 
and scooping samples of sand for laboratory analysis.

I'll never forget watching the dawn sky from an isolated farm north of Edmonton as the space station went by, and feeling connected to the space program because I looked it up at . The information NASA gathers on Earth and in space is for everyone. International scientists study data and draw conclusions that are wide-reaching. Doctors in Canada's North use monitoring and communications systems originally developed for astronaut safety. Artists are inspired by images and ideas from programs that study the solar system and galaxies.

We may never know how many people are helped by NASA making this knowledge available. You can look at NASA's web pages on Benefits To You to get some idea of the impact. The weather data alone is priceless. As for my brother who made an astronaut costume for Hallowe'en, he grew up to test computer games and security programs, and edit Neo-opsis Magazine. I'm the author of over two dozen books on science for educational publishers. With my friends and colleagues I write for our blog Sci/Why which has a list of family-friendly science books you can find in the left-hand column on this page. Whenever someone says they want to know more about astronomy and the space program, I send them to NASA's website for all kinds of information.