5 Interesting Links for 02-12-2021

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Innovation (Furniture)

This short video profiles space-saving furniture that could make all the difference, especially in the small living spaces now found in many large cities.

Tools (Language)

False cognates are words that sound similar in two languages but mean something different. A familiar one from my high school Spanish class is the English word “embarrassed.” The word that sounds like “embarrassed” in Spanish means “to be pregnant.” This can turn confusion into unwarranted congratulations.

I found the below site while searching for how to translate “embarrassed” into Spanish, a difficult process when English shades of meaning range from mockery to blushing. It’s useful because the site provides a variety of possible translations as well as providing the words in context to help you decide which holds the right meaning.

Books (Marketing)

Here’s a list describing and countering seven myths surrounding book marketing. Not all of them might apply, but these are good points both on what to consider for your book marketing and what are bad habits that can harm your book.

Eye Health (Pandemic)

Taking care of your eyes during the pandemic is important, especially because fewer people are seeing their eye doctors. This article offers tips for tracking eye health.

Technique (Puppetry)

Puppetry has fascinated me since I was a young girl, but I’ve never seen a style like this. Water puppetry opens different opportunities for storytelling, including the use of fire. The linked video shows a combination of drama and slapstick that’s entertaining even if you don’t speak Vietnamese.

Beneath the Mask (Uncommon Lords and Ladies, Book 1) Sharable
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This Apology Goes Out to All My Potential Readers on Amazon

…and any existing readers of my other series who wanted to check out The Steamship Chronicles through the free first book. I recently discovered Secrets, Book 1 of The Steamship Chronicles, was $0.99 on Amazon. It stayed free on all the other eBook platforms, and the Amazon price is now the same.

So, if you haven’t tried my steampunk adventure, why not try it for free? The first three books are a complete arc (and available in a Box Set for those who prefer to read that way).

Secrets (The Steamship Chronicles, Book 1)

Meet Samantha, a young Victorian girl with a rare ability most consider dangerous, and Nat, a cabin boy struggling to overcome his noble bloodline. He wants to earn the crew’s respect while Sam stowed away and must keep hidden. The cargo ship is old, but sturdy, and converted partially to steam so the captain can compete in a new world of coal dust and efficiency. Thus begins their harrowing journey.

Click on the link to Amazon in your country below:

Secrets - The Steamship Chronicles, Book One
Secrets: A Steampunk Adventure (The Steamship Chronicles, Book One)













Here’s a glimpse behind the publishing curtain: Technically, Amazon doesn’t allow books to be free always. They often choose to match the prices of other stores, though. This loophole allows me to offer readers a taste of my steampunk series.

Amazon matched Secrets to free some time ago, but it didn’t stick. I worked with the publishing arm of Amazon to restore that status this week. They can always refuse. I’m glad they helped me (and you) out instead.

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Fireheart Tiger by Aliette de Bodard

Fireheart Tiger by Aliette de Bodard

A complex narrative and strong characters are a big draw for me as a reader. I didn’t think this story had characters I could connect with at first (I was wrong), but the complexity is there from the moment story begins. The novella is about ties made in danger, love, and by blood as well as bonds of loyalty, history, and ancestors.

Initially, I didn’t like the main character Thanh, Binh Hải princess and lead diplomat, for several reasons, her choices being the biggest one. Every time I thought she would regain my faith, she failed. But that’s not the whole story, nor will you hear it from me. I’ll say only she turned out to have more to her than I saw, nor were the circumstances around her actions straightforward.

Eldris, a princess from the dominant country and Thanh’s former lover, is more straightforward in desire at least. She wants Thanh back and joined this diplomatic mission to negotiate trade concessions for that purpose. Thanh desperately wants Eldris’ love, but the complications it brings on every level make her fear losing control of the fire that sometimes creeps from her dreams to reality.

Speaking of characters, I loved how secondary characters formed a critical part of the cast rather than acting as wallpaper. Thanh’s relationship with her mother, the respect due along with a lifetime of dismissal as the spare, inadequate princess, for example, is a factor in almost every decision Thanh makes. Her growth process occurs in opposition to her mother’s will. And yet, the queen doesn’t stand unchanged by events, a simple wall for Thanh to bounce off, but has the opportunity to grow as well.

Nor were the characters the only strength in this story. The description helped bring each scene to life in a way I appreciate. It neither felt overdone nor sat on the side without relevance to the events unfolding before us. I had some difficulty with the choice of a third person present tense narration. It startled me several times, but I adjusted.

The story is set in a world reminiscent of Vietnam split into countries with long histories and large vulnerabilities Eldris’ country seeks to exploit. The fire that burned down Eldris’ palace when Thanh was a diplomatic hostage there provides an element of magic because it has reappeared around Thanh since returning home, first in nightmares and then in unexplainable flames. Diplomacy is also a big part of the story, with Thanh as the tool of her mother’s will. She’s sent away, brought back, and commanded to use what she learned and connections she made to strengthen their negotiating position.

Both the sense of what stretches behind this moment and Thanh’s unhappy position torn between the woman she loves and the mother she must respect bring a depth to this tale. These elements are interwoven so the romance impacts the diplomacy in multiple ways, while the threat of discovery weighs down both magic and relationships.

With all this in the works, is there any question why the story pulled me in and kept me reading through to the end? I had doubts about motivations from the start, some of which proved warranted, and even when not, the story kept me guessing. I often hoped for one outcome but was unsurprised by another. There are many mysteries playing out, some of which add to the depth, while others are critical and therefore resolved by the end.

The story becomes a game of manipulation. Of characters, but of the reader as well. I wasn’t always sure who to support. Every character did some wrong in my eyes, though a few more than others, making committing to anyone difficult. Each moment is a negotiation, whether part of the overt diplomacy or not. This is not a simple, “good vs. evil” type story, and as such, it speaks to the complexity of real life. Every decision has consequences, and the right choices are not always clear. Only this tale wraps that truth in a beautiful robe with magic, passion, and power as the fine embroidery.

P.S. I received this Advanced Reader’s Copy from the publisher through NetGalley in return for an honest review.

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Things That Make Me Smile No. 242: Fun, and Funny, Street Art

This video contains a large collection of street art with pieces to amaze and startle a laugh out of you. Hope you enjoy them as much as I did.

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5 Interesting Links for 02-05-2021

Note: Videos may auto start with sound so be prepared.

Measurement (History)

The Akan used culturally significant statues to weigh gold dust currency from the 15th to 19th Century CE. This is a fascinating way of passing cultural knowledge through a necessary activity. It might also inspire a fictional system of measurement that is more involved in the culture as a whole.

Options (Nutrition)

Millennials may have the right idea when it comes to eating healthy for themselves and the planet. This list of nine foods covers the advantages and some things to watch out for if adopting these millennial favorites.

Adventures (Pandemic)

While so many humans are sheltering in place or minimizing contact with the greater world, zoo animals are taking in culture and company usually denied them. The Kansas City Zoo penguins, for example, toured the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, delighting the world and surprising caretakers from both institutions with their art choices. (Via David Bridger)

DNA (Twins)

New explorations into the genetics of identical twins found unexpected, if minor, variation in their DNA because of mutations introduced after splitting. This may raise implications for studies, such as disease research, that assumed the twins have 100% identical DNA.

Characters (Writing Technique)

This article caught my attention by proposing an approach that is counter to most scene design instruction. Rather than making sure every scene moves the plot forward, the author suggests allowing for scenes that bond the reader by focusing solely on the characters. He points to iconic scenes in a variety of books and movies as examples. If you’ve been following my reviews, you know I call out characters as a strength in much of what I enjoy. Therefore, it’s worth considering, even if your scene also has plot elements.

Shafter (Seeds Among the Stars, Book 1)
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