Book review: Library Lost by Laurie Graves.

Library-Lost-Web-Medium

I know for a fact that Laurie is currently hard at work on the third book in The Great Library series and after finishing Library Lost, I’m excited and eager for her to get it out into the world so I can find out what happens to Maya Hammond and her companions!

The fate of the Great Library – the source of all of the knowledge and information in the universe – remains at stake in Library Lost.  As Time and Chaos battle for such a powerful and valuable prize, other players have their own agendas.  It’s up to our smart, strong teenage heroine, Maya, and her allies to stay out of danger and initiate a plan to save the Library.  Unfortunately, the best-laid plans don’t always pan out the way they should, and the result is an engaging, action-packed (and magical!) adventure with brilliant pacing and and an exquisitely detailed and realized setting.  This is truly the kind of book that you take to bed and read by flashlight under the covers until the wee hours of dawn. ♥

(If you want to order a copy of Library Lost and the first book in the series, Maya and the Book of Everything, click here to go to Laurie’s website).

Really cool places to get short stories.

If you’ve been following Flowery Prose for a while, you’ll know that I LOOOOOVE all forms of short stories.  I publish flash fiction by many amazing authors over at Paper Butterfly Flash Fiction, and I occasionally write short stories myself.  (If there were more than 24 hours in a day, I’d write quite a few more!). But I have an especially soft spot for reading short stories…and I particularly adore science fiction, fantasy, and horror.  The more eclectic and inventive, the better!

If you love short stories as much as I do (especially speculative fiction), give these sites a try!  I am a first reader for Cosmic Roots and Eldritch Shores, a longtime print subscriber to On Spec (which is based out of Edmonton, in my home province of Alberta), and I’ve had my work published in Polar Borealis and 365 Tomorrows.  Sites such as Daily Science Fiction are fun because you can have them send you one story each day – a treat to go with your morning coffee!  (Every Day Fiction is another source of daily stories, as their publishing schedule permits – and they publish all genres, not just speculative fiction).

On Spec (Canadian; print and digital editions available for a subscription fee)

Polar Borealis (Canadian; online only, free to read but donations welcomed)

Cosmic Roots and Eldritch Shores (must pay to subscribe, but they always have a free sample story up on the website to enjoy; a new feature are the podcasts, which you can listen to for free!)

365 Tomorrows (free to read!)

The Martian Magazine (free to read; The Martian publishes drabbles (fiction of 100 words or less) so you can gobble down several of these in one sitting)

Daily Science Fiction (free; if you give them your email address, they’ll gift you with a new story five days a week!)

Every Day Fiction (free; subscribe by email. New stories are published frequently)

Paper Butterfly Flash Fiction (of course I have to include this one!  Free to read!) – right now, I’m featuring a hilarious gem by Gregg Chamberlain, “Poetic Licence.”

Do you read short stories?  Do you subscribe to any short story magazines, or do you prefer book-form anthologies or collections (one author or multiple)?  Please share any recommendations you may have – it doesn’t matter where in the world you live!  

Book review: Maya and the Book of Everything by Laurie Graves.

th_0997845309

Laurie Graves – Maya and the Book of Everything (2016, Hinterlands Press) 

A mysterious library, magical books, and unexpected journeys to new lands and times?  A resourceful, intelligent, and thoughtful teenaged protagonist that we can relate to and love and root for?  A clever, fresh (and extremely relevant) take on the classic battle between good and evil?  Creative plotting, beautifully realized characterization, precisely detailed world building, and perfect pacing?  I’m all in.  Laurie’s book really is everything!

As it is the season of gift giving, if you’re having a difficult time buying for the young teenagers in your life, well, have I got a suggestion for you.  And while you’re at it, click an extra copy into your cart for yourself.  Because we could all use a Book of Everything in our lives.  🙂

(I’m sure glad she’s already working on the sequel because I’m not certain how long I can wait, given that juicy wallop set up at the end…).

 

Book review: Myrtle the Purple Turtle by Cynthia Reyes.

cover-latest-21sept2017

Myrtle the Purple Turtle by Cynthia Reyes, illustrated by Jo Robinson (Weaverback Press, 2017)

How do you go about talking to small children about difficult concepts such as bullying, exclusion/inclusion, and diversity?  How do you comfort and instill confidence in a child who has been made to feel different?  How do you encourage bullies to respect others?  How do you help parents and educators give the children in their care the tools they need to celebrate individuality?

With the help of a purple turtle named Myrtle, perhaps! Myrtle may be absolutely adorable (just look at her!), but she’s on a serious mission in Cynthia Reyes’ new children’s book, a smart and sweet story about loving and accepting your special place in the world.  Beautifully and sensitively written, and illustrated by Jo Robinson with the most lush colours imaginable (can you even believe those purples?), Myrtle the Purple Turtle transcends “cute” with an important message, one that will resonate with readers…of all shells.

Paper Butterfly Flash Fiction. Wanted: your stories!

SONY DSC

A little side project I’ve been working on for nearly a year now is Paper Butterfly Flash Fiction, which features fantastic really, really short stories by writers from all over the world.  So that I avoid the holiday crunch and my head doesn’t actually explode as I feared it might when I opened up the reading period for a single month (December!???!) last year, I’m going to take submissions of flash fiction from October 1 to November 30.  I’m looking for short fiction (1,000 words or less), and pretty much any genre (or mashup thereof) is welcome: mystery, thriller, horror, science fiction, fantasy, romance, humour, western, literary…you name it, I’d love to see it.  Take a gander at the Submission Guidelines and read some of the stories from this year while you’re at it!

Don’t be shy – send me your work!  And please pass this call along to any other writers you know….

Writing updates.

I’ve been super-busy and there are a few more articles and stories pending publication early in the new year, but here’s a list of some of my work that has been either very recently published or will go to press very shortly….

Garden Writing ~

Available now:

“Lacto-Fermentation with Herbs” in The Herb Quarterly, Fall 2015 issue – on North American newsstands

A couple of my sea buckthorn berry recipes are posted on The Canadian Organic Grower’s website – you can check them out here.

Forthcoming: 

“Growing Gooseberries” in The Prairie Garden 2017: Fruit and Berries (available for pre-order; book launch is 27 November)

2016-TPG-cover-350

“Herb Straw Bale Gardening” in The Herb Quarterly, Winter 2015 issue

Short Stories ~

Available now:

“Sheeple” in the Wolfsinger Publications anthology Under a Dark Sign (available through Smashwords and Amazon)

What happens when a long-suffering evil villain finally gets his due?

“The Commute” in the Strange Musings Press anthology Alternate Hilarities 4: Weirder Science (available through Amazon)

An alien races home to attend to an urgent family matter.  The only thing he hasn’t counted on?  Getting stuck in heavy commuter traffic on Earth.  

Forthcoming:

“GEUs” in Fossil Lake’s anthology Unicornado

Genetically engineered unicorns?  Yeah, I went there.

For Children ~

Available now:

“Pet Horoscope: Warthogs” in the Fall Fun 2015 issue of the Canadian children’s magazine Bazoof! (formerly Zamoof!) – on Canadian newsstands

 

Follow me on social media!  

Twitter 

Facebook

Saskatchewan snapshot: Sunset.

IMG_9680

Photographed 11 July 2014.

The field featured is almost in Alberta – it’s actually in Saskatchewan, at a place called Alsask (fitting, if lacking originality).  I initially thought that Alsask was like Lloydminster and Cypress Hills, and was partly in Alberta and partly in Saskatchewan, but apparently, only the former village’s cemetery is in Alberta.  Alsask was the site of a military base between 1959 and 1987 but it no longer even holds status as a village; rather, it is considered a “special service area” incorporated within the nearby town of Milton.  I rather wish we had stopped to explore; according to Wikipedia, most of the original buildings are gone, but one of the military radar domes and an indoor swimming pool (used in the summer to this day!) are still there.

Forest fires were burning throughout Alberta and the Northwest Territories at the time, so the smoky air lent an eerie glow to the sun.   I just loved the way that power lines looked against the sky; there’s something vaguely alien about the landscape to me, it’s a bit like something out of a science fiction novel.

Speaking of novels, what is currently on your reading list?  Anything that stands out for you – fiction, non-fiction, poetry, whatever?  I’m dividing my time between several excellent cookbooks (including Karen Solomon’s Asian Pickles, and Small Adventures in Cooking by James Ramsden) and Kimberly Elkins’ debut novel, a fictionalized account of the life of Laura Bridgman called What is Visible?.  (I’m barely into it but it’s captivating so far). 

 

Operation Let-Your-Hare-Down (Part Two).

Well, let’s see this thing through to the very end, shall we?  😉

Operation Let-Your-Hare-Down

By Sheryl Normandeau

Offensive Tactic #3.  06/04/11. 19:17. Habanero peppers. 

Forget the oft-advised cayenne pepper, one blogger insists.  It’s not strong enough.  Her reasoning is sound enough, I conclude, so I toodle off to the grocery store and pick a bag of scorching hot habaneros.  (The woman selecting button mushrooms next to me keeps shooting withering glances at me as if I’m the most sadistic cook on the planet; her sympathies clearly lay with my husband).  Chopping the peppers requires gloves and a keen air of hopefulness.  I am convinced that this will work, I am convinced that this will work, I am convinced….

Field Report 4.0.  06/05/11.  07:34. 

Forget the habaneros.  Apparently hares have a yen for painfully spicy stir fries containing half my herb garden, my tender stands of Swiss chard, and certain pre-cut hot peppers.

Offensive Tactic #4.  06/05/11. 13:45. Cat hair and used cat litter. 

I cough delicately to hide my embarrassment.  “Mom, um, I need a bit of Miss Flossy’s used litter.  And some hair from her brush.”

Mom doesn’t even blink.  “No problem, dear,” she says.  “Is this for a gardening project?”

Field Report 5.0.  06/06/11.  05:47. 

Now, this is just getting insulting.  In an act of complete defiance, my tormentors have left a generous pile of fresh bon bons right next to the cat litter I spread around the perimeter of my perennial bed.  This battle is clearly escalating.

Offensive Tactic #5.  06/06/11.  10:36. Coyote urine.

Part of me wants to know how this particular product is, um, harvested and bottled, and part of me really thinks I should leave well enough alone.  Many of my Internet sympathizers have sung its praises, however, and despite my flagging confidence in the efficacy of their suggestions, I go to the garden centre and purchase some eau d’coyote.  As I pour the musky elixir into a spray bottle, I ponder the indignities I have endured so far on this quest to rid my garden of the marauding hare horde.

Field Report 6.0.  06/07/11.  08:56.

Surely, this is a marketing gimmick – either that, or I bought a bad batch.  (It smells so awful I can’t tell if it’s turned and I ought to return it to the retailer).  Undoubtedly, as they dined by moonlight on my asparagus and marigolds (also a “WILL NOT EAT” plant), my nemeses had a good chortle about the funny yellow liquid in the spray bottle.  Me, I’m reduced to hysterics.

Offensive Tactic 6.  06/07/11. 15:59. The final straw.

“He who wishes to fight must first count the cost,” the same wise warrior wrote.  He wasn’t kidding.  Rottweiler puppies sure eat a lot of kibble.

***

Related posts:  Operation Let-Your-Hare-Down (Part One).

Hasen stewing.

Operation Let-Your-Hare-Down (Part One).

How far would you go to protect your garden from a marauding horde????

Flowery Prose does fiction this week!  It always lends a little credence when you say something is “inspired by a true story,” so I’m going with it.   The emergent – and now, chewed up – vegetative matter in my flowerbeds stands as proof that I’m not totally lying.

Operation Let-Your-Hare-Down

By Sheryl Normandeau

 Field Report 1.0.  06/01/11. 06:45. In the line of sight. 

Early a.m. reconnaissance produces evidence of digging and heavy snacking.  Defoliated, deflowered crocus bulbs have been ripped from their roots and stacked in neat piles on top of the soil.  Newly planted white bellflower has been bitten down to the quick.  Larkspur is shredded like newspaper in a cat’s litter box.  ‘Flashing Lights’ dianthus has been thoroughly mashed in the manner of boiled potatoes.  Certain lop-eared, long-legged aggressors have prompted me to throw down the gauntlet.  This means WAR. 

“Know thy enemy,” a wise warrior once said, so I Google it.  Lepus townsendii:   white-tailed jackrabbits.  Funny, but all of the descriptions I hit leave out “utterly voracious, completely unstoppable plant eating machine, guaranteed to inspire madness and indignant rage in the souls of afflicted gardeners.”  It seems that some people actually consider the heinous beasts cute, in an “oh, but jackrabbits are related to adorable, fuzzy, sweet-eyed cottontail bunnies” kind of way, but you’ll of course find that jackrabbit sympathizers are either under the age of six, or they buy their plastic clamshell-encased produce from MegaSuperBigBoxEmporium.  Me, I’m not amused.  I just spent twenty dollars on a flat of gazanias, and I’m not about to see them disappear into the gullets of my furry adversaries.

I check the gardening forums on the ‘net for intel.  Unfortunately, the thread posts seem depressingly contradictory:  “They seemed to leave my petunias alone,” BettyFlower9 announces cheerfully, while GardenNinja82 sadly confesses that his own petunias have gone the way of the dodo, along with his burgeoning arugula and kale seedlings.  Crocuses and larkspur are definite “WILL NOT EAT” plants on one blogger’s list, but, of course, I know better.

“How can I stop rabbits from eating my plants?”  I query the search engine.  (I’m feeling lucky, indeed).  Thousands of blog posts, forum threads, and gardening websites pop up, instantly at my disposal and full of the latest advice.  I take a sip of coffee, crack my knuckles, and tap my wireless mouse.

Field Report 2.0. 06/02/11. 10:26. Implementation of Operation Let-Your-Hare-Down. 

Offensive Tactic #1:  Bloodmeal. 

Bloodmeal is made from dried cow’s blood, and my informants on GreenGardenGrows suggest that heavily-preyed upon animals such as rabbits might be put off by the scent.  Dried-up blood sort of scares me, I figure, so with a rambling sort of logic, it might frighten the rabbits.  No matter, it’s worth a shot:  it’s cheap and nutritious for the plants.  I apply it liberally out of a large bucket, broadcasting granules over the soil while little murmured hopes linger on my lips.

Field Report 2.1.  06/03/11.  05:52. 

A.M. reconnaissance finds a juvenile enemy troop lounging in the middle of my catmint.  Obviously he is too young to be aware of the certain dangers of desiccated cow‘s blood.  I sigh, and shoo him away.

Offensive Tactic #2.  06/03/11. 11:32. Hand soap. 

“Use the smelliest soap you can get,” my digital advisors helpfully suggest.  The stuff I purchase does permanent damage to my olfactory senses and makes me nauseous as I cut it up into small shavings.  I’m a bit alarmed by the way the bright green soap stands out against my rich brown bark mulch after I apply it, but my fervent desire to drive away my long-eared opponents overrides my sense of aesthetics.

Field Report 3.0.  06/04/11. 16:05. 

It rains overnight, a deep soaking that ordinarily would be cause for great rejoicing.  (I’m lazy and don’t haul out the garden hoses unless absolutely imperative).  A.M. reconnaissance finds my plants poking out of a suffocating sudsy lime green bubble bath.  And, wouldn’t you know it? – this afternoon one of the hort society ladies stops in for tea.  She’s the first to notice that the enemy has decimated my ‘Baby Star’ head lettuce.

Jump over to Operation Let-Your-Hare-Down (Part Two) now!