Book Review: Gerald and the Amulet of Zonrach

Gerald

I’m thrilled to announce the release of Gerald and the Amulet of Zonrach by Carl Hackman!

Summary:

In the realm of Wyverndawn, a wizard’s height is the mark of his power, and shrinking an entire inch is disastrous for twelve-year-old Gerald.

Looking for promotion of an inch or two, Gerald attempts to create a village landmark using his superior wizarding skills. But the spell he bought – from a guy who knows a guy – is a tad more powerful than he anticipates. The resulting earthquake breaks off a chunk of Wyverndawn from the rest of the realm allowing Vabalaz, a highly dangerous wizard, to escape from prison.

A red-faced Gerald is banished from his village and, to complete his shame, is demoted another inch; two more and he’s likely to become a Royal Equine Poop Disposal Coordinator. Gerald’s questionable acquisition of a certain golden amulet could be the answer to his problems. But when Vabalaz discovers it may also be the key to creating his elite wizard realm, Gerald is elevated to evil wizard’s enemy number one.

Gerald’s hopes of returning home hinge on repairing the damage to Wyverndawn and thwarting Vabalaz’s plans. Failure could mean Gerald’s next spell might well be his last.

My Review:

A fantastic mix of quirky and serious, Gerald is a fun character with a lot of heart. Hackman’s premiere delivers a surprisingly powerful feel good story you won’t want to put down.

You won’t want to miss this amazing story. Get it now!

Windows into Hell Audiobook

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Now available: Windows into Hell Audiobook! It’s been a long road. The readers (Tonya Adolphson and Raphael Boivin) for the audiobook version were actually done soon after the book’s release, but due to editing and uploading issues, it took this long to get it on Audible. It’s worth it, though! You can get it for just $17.46 (or just use your Audible credits).

I’ve been listening to a lot of audiobooks lately. The one I’m currently in the middle of is Armageddon in Retrospect by Kurt Vonnegut, read by Rip Torn. I’ve had mixed feelings about various readers, but Rip Torn is obviously awesome. Maybe someday I’ll try to read something of my own (more than just with the Freestyle Gargoyles).

I have two more audiobooks in the works. Schism read by Zach Bjorge is already done, but has a few technical glitches holding it up. It should be available next. Also, I’m in contracting for Theocracide to be read by Raphael Boivin through FJP. After that I plan to get Salvation out on audio. So it’s happening. 🙂

I couldn’t be more pleased with how well Windows into Hell has been doing in Audiobook. First day out and it hit #53 on two Amazon charts. It’s dropped a little, but it’s still in the top 100 for both categories as I write this. So, get it while it’s hot!

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What’s in a name?

It’s been too long since I wrote a legit blog. Time is relentless in its march. Still, I want to talk about names. Really, I want to discuss made-up names and words of all kinds. Maybe the benefit of what I’ve learned will help you in your writing endeavors. If not, at least it should be interesting.

If you’ve been with me from the beginning, you probably remember the tragic first edition covers on my first two books. I’m embarrassed to show them now, but it makes a point. (Just to ease my mind, I’m putting the newer versions, too.)

 

 

To this day, the Space Balrogs won’t call my first book anything except, “The Cracide.” Which is what the title looks like on that initial cover. Since then, I’ve learned it’s best not to title a book after a made-up word at all. Not only because I get confusion by people who think the book is about killing God as some kind of anti-religious statement (which it isn’t, it’s about killing a Theocrat who claims to be God), but a lot of people aren’t attracted to the title at all because it inspires confusion more than curiosity.

I went to a book signing where Terry Brooks shocked the entire audience of fans by informing us that Shannara is pronounced Shan-uh-ruh, not Shuh-nar-ra. Every person there had been pronouncing it wrong for decades. I’m guessing after a lifetime of correcting people’s pronunciation of his title, he wishes he hadn’t used a made-up word in the title, too.

Exacting Essence isn’t much better. It sounds cool (to me), but nobody knows what it means. So again, it causes confusion instead of curiosity. So, by making bad decisions in the past, I’ve learned to title books using only common words people already know. It is much more likely to inspire them to want to learn about the book. Here are some better book titles.

 

Uniqueness in titles isn’t as important as getting the reader’s interest. Common words can make a really good title.

I think this has also affected how I think about made up words in the book as well. I have a few in Salvation, because it’s a straight up fantasy and monsters and towns need names. But even though there have to be made up words in it, I think I would advise authors to use as many common words and when they are made up, spell them in a way that’s easy to understand.

Schism is the name of the planet. An actuator is a legitimate machine part. The sense of something familiar being used in a new and “magical” way is more intriguing, I believe, than if I named the planet Blarghdorugh and the machine R.T.C.I. (Reality Transforming Computer Interface). There is a place for fancy made-up words, of course, but less is definitely more.

So what brought this up now? My work-in-progress involves me deciding what to call a city, the people in it, and various aspects of their culture. So I have been revisiting some of the wisdom I learned by past mistakes. The title will not be a word I make up. The city must be called something that sounds like a real city, named as real people would name one. And the characters will have names that are “futuristic” in the sense that they are names people might really use as a result of a real societal evolution… not Zaphanianna or some other nonsense that readers can’t pronounce. It’s unlikely that after people used the name Matthew for thousands of years it will suddenly disappear in 100 years and nobody will be giving it to newborns.

If I save just one author from making the same mistakes I did, this blog will have been worth the effort. 🙂

AML Award Finalist!

Today the Association for Mormon Letters announced their finalists. Windows into Hell is one of three short story compilations in the finals! You can see the others at their website. The award ceremony is April 22 at Utah Valley University. Now I’ll be nervous for seven weeks, but in a good way.  🙂

Maybe that’s why it’s back on the Amazon charts at #14 in Horror Anthologies.

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Chaos Chronicles Paperback

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Now available in paperback! The Actuator 3: Chaos Chronicles

This book includes amazing stories by 9 authors. It isn’t “optional” like the Borderlands Anthology, though. These stories are machine monks, separated from the main group, and their struggles after the saboteur comes back to wreak more havoc on the world. It’s part of the main story line, so you absolutely must read it before the series climax comes out later this year. If you are following the Actuator series and only want your books in paper, the time has finally arrived.

Read more about the series on my Actuator page or…

Get it now!

Actuator Audiobook!

The Actuator: Fractured Earth is now available as an Audiobook! Read by Roger Wayne of Tantor Audio, you can get it on Audible or as a book on CD.

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They went with a different cover, but it’s the same Actuative goodness. The audiobook is $24.99 on Audible, but if you have the e-book already, you can get the audio through Whispersync for just $3.49! It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out you should buy the e-book, then the audiobook either way. The book on CD is $29.99. Either one, comes out February 28.

I haven’t listened to it yet, but I’m super excited for my first audiobook to be out!

Actual Paper

The new and improved Actuator series Paperbacks are here! Not only do they have new covers, but the interior’s are updated. We moved a few things around and fixed the art in the anthology. If you have the e-book, the updated version should come to you automatically. But if you absolutely must have physical copies in your hands, you can order them now. Alternatively, you can come to LTUE or FanX and I’ll be signing them there.

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The Actuator: Fractured Earth

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The Actuator: Borderlands Anthology

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The Actuator 2: Return of the Saboteur

Coming Soon! The Actuator 3: Chaos Chronicles