Monday, February 4, 2013

Three Personal Surprises & a Bit of Growth

I've never been a big fan of typical fantasy genre stories. Vampires, witches, werewolves, and zombies--especially zombies--always seemed so ridiculous that I could not "get into" the stories. I never even got past the first chapter in any such book until recently.

Surprise #1: My attitude about fantasy stories changed in late 2011. It began with beta-reading a book, Flank Hawk, by Terry Irvin, II. I was shocked by fantastic character development that had me hooked from the second page on. Mythical creatures simply blended seamlessly into the fast-paced adventure of Krish in a world that made perfect sense. My eyes were opened to new possibilities in the fantasy genre. Thank you, Terry. Flank Hawk is currently on the market in multiple formats offered by Gryphonwood Press. It’s well worth the small investment and reading time.

Surprise #2:  This one came when I beta-read Calista's Court for Susan Hulcher (remember that name...the “force is strong” with this one!)  Her main character captured my empathy instantly. I wanted to rescue this young girl in the first few pages. As the story progressed, I found myself again led into a mythical realm, unlike any I would normally choose to read. It was magnificent. Even her gargoyles showed strong personalities that interlaced perfectly with the tale. Susan’s manuscript is currently winding its way through the literary submission swamp and will emerge soon to take its rightful place in readers’ hands.
Surprise #3:  My final personal growth came with The Secrets of Albion Falls by Sass Cadeaux. Amazing story by an amazing storyteller! Again, I found myself sucked into a story unlike any I would have chosen as recently as eighteen months ago. Author Cadeaux ripped me through a blender of emotions from anger to smiles, hope to desperation, compassion to contempt, culminating in one of the most satisfying surprise endings I have enjoyed in ANY genre. Her book just went on the market as an e-book through Amazon last week. Look it up!

Why blog about these three books?

This blog is not about the books. It’s about personal growth as a reader AND as a writer.
I hate change, always have. Yet, I readily admit, I am thrilled to have had my eyes opened by these outstanding tales. Creativity, character evolution, plot growth--these three books illustrate how ALL books should be written. They begin with a strong hook, progress through carefully crafted shifts in pace, provide back-story in metered releases throughout the tale and end in a crescendo of excitement. Oh yeah, they also leave you pining for the inevitable sequels!

But, most important, after reading each of these books, my own inspiration for writing surged. Inspiration knows no genre. Motivation to become excellent derives from touching shoulders with others who have achieved excellence. Each of these improbable (at least, improbable for me to have read) fantasy stories built my confidence, desire and enthusiasm. Genre didn't matter. Quality did!

Who knows? After this bit of growth, maybe I’ll step out of my comfort zone more often. (My wife just looked over my shoulder as I wrote that and said, “You! Step out of your comfort zone? That’ll be a cold day in...!”)
I’ll show her. I...I...I’m going to read a vampire story! Yeah, that’s what I’ll do!


  1. Dean,

    Thank you for the positive words. When you agreed to read Flank Hawk, and to consider offering a blurb for it, I was both excited and a bit concerned--but I thought you'd like the story, so that's why I asked.

    If you're looking for a good vampire story, Those Who Hunt the Night by Barbara Hambly is pretty solid. Your wife might even like it ;)

    I'll be looking into The Secrets of Albion Falls. It's a bit out of the mainstream of what I normally read (when I find the time--a respite in the stack of essays and papers to read/grade) but your post kind of made it a bit of a challenge to consider.

    1. My pleasure, Terry. For those who might be inclined, the sequel, Blood Sword, is out and it continues the quality writing style established in Flank Hawk.

      Thank you for your comments...Dean.

  2. Hi Dean,

    As a writer, your blog constantly inspires me with your words of wisdom.

    This particular post sincerely touched me. Thank you so much for your kind words, it truly means the world to me.

    I am looking forward to reading Flank Hawk and Blood Sword, by Terry Irvin, II. I have a feeling I'll be fighting my boys for a chance to read the books before they see them!

    Susan Hulcher's is another I'll keep an eye out for.

    From the bottom of my heart, thank you!
    Much love and respect,
    Sass :)

    1. Sass,

      Your boys will LOVE Terry's stories. His pace is unusually fast with tons of action and vivid combat scenes.

      It was MY pleasure to read The Secrets of Albion Falls. I love your story-telling and excellent character development. I will admit the ending caught me by surprise, and WHAT a great surprise it was! Good one!

      Thank you for your thoughts...Dean

  3. Lovely post. So glad I found it, and now I need to look for the books.

    1. Sheila,

      Thank you for commenting. Both stories are available through Amazon and the hot-links are provided above in this blog.

      If you do purchase these books, I hope you enjoy them as much as I did.

      Best wishes...Dean


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