Tag: Not a Pipe Publishing

Square Pig in a Round Hole-March 17, 2018

Square PigNaming a band is an act of concentrated creative expression. Square Pig in a Round Hole exists to reward five favorite band names each week. Winners are (usually) listed alphabetically.

Selection is wholly unscientific and subject to whim, with a bias toward wordplay, humor, and local flavor. In most cases, I won’t know anything about the bands at the time of selection. Thanks to the Seattle Times club listings for abundant source material!

I didn’t come up with a list of Irish-themed band names, but I will still wish a Happy St. Patrick’s Day to all who celebrate it! My day will consist of editing and donating blood, but I plan to recover at home with corned beef and beer; celebration enough. Meanwhile, the bands continue to come through:

Death Coach

By happy linguistic accident, either funeral transport or end-of-life doula. A bit of personal serendipity: the book I will be editing this afternoon is book 1 of a trilogy; book 3 might be titled Death’s Midwife.

The Exquisite Taste of Plain Water

“If you’re thirsty, drink water,” Mom would say. Fortunately, we were on a well with excellent water; I grew up baffled by kids who had to have juice or pop. In case you didn’t know, Seattle has pretty great tap water.

Gloom

Yeah, it’s almost spring and the cherry trees are blooming, but don’t forget: Junuary is just around the corner.

(h)ourglasses

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Our Glasses

They might not wear glasses, but I come from a long line of bespectacled people, back through time. (This group also shares a drummer with previous honoree Razor Clam!)

Mortuary Beach

Don’t look too close at the sand. Those aren’t shells.

 

Shameless Self Promotion: In case you didn’t know, I write about a lot more than band names! My young adult wizard fantasy novel Daughter of Magic releases May 22, 2018 from Not a Pipe Publishing. As part of the Year of Publishing Women, in 2018 Not a Pipe is publishing nine books by seven women; I’m honored to be one of them.

Square Pig in a Round Hole-March 10, 2018

Square PigNaming a band is an act of concentrated creative expression. Square Pig in a Round Hole exists to reward five favorite band names each week. Winners are (usually) listed alphabetically.

Selection is wholly unscientific and subject to whim, with a bias toward wordplay, humor, and local flavor. In most cases, I won’t know anything about the bands at the time of selection. Thanks to the Seattle Times club listings for abundant source material!

PSA: It’s TIME CHANGE NIGHT! If you’re still analog enough to rely on a clock you have to set, remember to “spring ahead” one hour so you won’t be late for church!!! We will be making an early night of it for this very reason. If you don’t have to get up in the morning, by all means go out and support your local bar band. If you’re still up at 2 am, you can watch DST begin. I’ve heard it’s an unforgettable experience.

The Lone Bellow

This can be a complete sentence about a solitary subject and their loud utterance; or a description of a loud utterance in isolation; or the title of a work about a decrepit organ in its last gasp.

Opposite Armor

After the battle, trade uniforms and go home friends.

Pairanoiseum

When single-celled animals collide with a sense that everyone’s out to get you, you get NOISE. And of course, it’s a two-piece.

Trash Panda

The humor and aptness of the words make this a memorable insult for Starlord to throw at Rocket. Rhythm, repeated vowel sounds, and percussive consonants that crash and thump make it a perfect band name.

The What For

When you’re getting a stern lecture but don’t know why.

Shameless Self Promotion: In case you didn’t know, I write about a lot more than band names! My young adult wizard fantasy novel Daughter of Magic releases May 22, 2018 from Not a Pipe Publishing. As part of the Year of Publishing Women, in 2018 Not a Pipe is publishing nine books by seven women; I’m honored to be one of them.

 

 

Review: The Supernormal Legacy: Book 1 Dormant

DormantThe Supernormal Legacy: Book 1 Dormant by LeeAnn McLennan (Not a Pipe Publishing, February 2018)

I was predisposed to like this story of a reluctant teen superhero in the Pacific Northwest; it’s my sub-sub-genre, too. McLennan delivers the goods with a relatable young protagonist in a recognizable real-life setting. Dormant provides a nice twist on the origin story, too: rather than being surprised by the sudden advent of powers, Olivia has known about them her whole life and doesn’t want them.

Who wouldn’t want superpowers? But 14-year-old Olivia has good reason. Descended from a long line of “supernormals,” as a child she witnessed her mother’s death in action and blames herself. She rejected her powers and that side of her family, suppressing abilities that should have manifested when she was 13. When a bank robbery compels her to use her abilities, Olivia is drawn back to the “family business” and begins training with her cousins to learn to control her powers and help protect the city of Portland from supernormal bad guys and monsters. (I really loved that her superteam is a group of cousins, a special kind of friend-relative that everyone should have a bunch of to grow up with.) When more than one local landmark is violently destroyed in her presence, Olivia and her family begin to wonder if she’s turning into a villain herself, unconsciously using powers when upset or angry. Meanwhile, she’s trying to keep up her old normal life of school, friends, and boyfriend while avoiding a mean girl who has it in for her; but the universe—and her aunt and uncles—have other ideas. Plenty of action–and humor–keep this from devolving into an angsty-teen emo-fest.

For someone who spends most of the book rejecting or suppressing her powers, Olivia takes great delight in using them. She knows deep down that this is who she is and what she does. I especially liked those scenes, which showed she was still capable of joy. Although she had good reason for turning away from that identity, embracing it seems like her one hope for healing from her early trauma. By the end of Book 1, she has endured more than one tragedy, but has excellent motivation for training and using her abilities. Book 2, Root, comes out in June. Read Book 1 now so you’re ready.

Square Pig in a Round Hole-February 24, 2018

Square PigNaming a band is an act of concentrated creative expression. Square Pig in a Round Hole exists to reward five favorite band names each week. Winners are (usually) listed alphabetically.

Selection is wholly unscientific and subject to whim, with a bias toward wordplay, humor, and local flavor. In most cases, I won’t know anything about the bands at the time of selection. Thanks to the Seattle Times club listings for abundant source material!

OK, Winter, you’ve had your say. Having faith in Spring, I planted peas before the snow fell. I also believe in band names; they never fail to cheer me up, no matter the weather. These five warmed the end of a cold week:

Blacklite District

A different and groovier vibe than the other common ___-light district.

The Common Names

I’m a fan of shining a spotlight on the ordinary. In a humorous twist, they seem to be hiding behind a blank wall; they have no obvious web presence.

Icon for Hire

I like that it’s icon rather than hero. An icon is a window to inspiration and could go more than one way. Appropriately, this group is not hiding.

Mythical Vigilante

Who to call when you need to track down the villains of lore and legend.

The Square Feet

Another common concept in the spotlight, also with no obvious web presence. Although square feet might make it hard to dance, claiming squareness probably means you’re the opposite.

Shameless Self Promotion: In case you didn’t know, I write about a lot more than band names! My young adult wizard fantasy novel Daughter of Magic releases May 22, 2018 from Not a Pipe Publishing. As part of the Year of Publishing Women, in 2018 Not a Pipe is publishing nine books by seven women; I’m honored to be one of them.

Review: Shadow Girl

Shadow GirlShadow Girl by Kate Ristau (Not a Pipe Publishing, February 2018)

I received an advance review ebook from the publisher.

This book begins in a strange place. No, literally, with main character Áine (pronounced ON-ya) crossing from the world she knows into the mysterious and dangerous Shadowlands. I didn’t know where I was or what was happening, but Ristau’s writing is so assured that I could relax and enjoy the ride.

In a neat reversal on the usual fairy story, Áine comes from the Aetherlands, a place of magic and immortality where Oberon and Titania are real, and her crossing brings her into 21st century Ireland, the land of her long-ago birth. She’s searching for answers about her parents and the traumatic events that led to her own disappearance from the human world. That part of the story is serious, sad, and scary. The mood is lightened by Hennessy, the human girl who attaches herself to Áine as sidekick, tour guide, friend, maybe more than friend. There’s a lot of humor to be had in the person-from-another-world plot, but it’s not overdone. The growing affection between the two girls is touching and real; they have chemistry, above and beyond their willingness to sacrifice for each other. This budding relationship is complicated by Áine’s loyalty and fondness for her childhood friend Ciaran, who makes his own dramatic entrance into the story.

Ristau writes dialogue without explicit dialect, yet I could hear the Irish in it. That’s a magic touch. She brings folklore to life in the experiences of a character who feels like a real person. Áine has magic, too, but it’s not reliable and she has to work at it, which adds to the suspense. I was not ready for the (cliffhanger) end to this book and look forward to the next exciting episode.

Available in Kindle, paperback, and hardcover here.

Review: Djinn

Djinn+ebook+Cover+edit+3Djinn by Sang Kromah (Not a Pipe Publishing March 2018)

I received a review copy of the e-book from the publisher. It will be released March 20, 2018 and is available for pre-order now.

Djinn is a twisty page-turner about magic and identity, rooted in folklore but with a 21st century spin. The unfolding tale keeps the reader guessing right to the end.

Bijou Fitzroy just wants to fit in. She knows she’s different, perhaps mentally ill; she constantly shuffles cards to calm her nerves, she’s hypersensitive to the feelings of others, and her color-changing eyes seem to freak people out. She has no idea what’s wrong with her, and Gigi, the wealthy, uncannily young grandmother who raised her, isn’t telling. Home-schooled until the age of 16, everything she knows about high school comes from Buffy the Vampire Slayer. So when she moves to the small town of Sykesville and enrolls in public school for the first time in her life, she hopes to make friends, go to parties, maybe have a boyfriend. She thinks her wish has come true when she meets Sebastian and Amina Sinjin, though she can’t tell what Sebastian is feeling. Her teacher Mr. Jennings has it in for her, and seems to think A Midsummer Night’s Dream is non-fiction. And what’s up with mean girl Mandy, who takes an immediate dislike to Bijou? Is she only jealous about Sebastian, or is something more going on?

When Bijou learns that local girls who share her birthdate have been disappearing, she can’t resist digging into the mystery. What she learns causes her to question everything she thought she knew about her family, her new friends, and most of all, herself. It’s possible she’s not only different; she may be the Chosen One. Who can she trust when no one is what they seem? What looks at first like petty teenage rivalry turns out to have earth-shattering stakes, and Bijou has to choose: escape to safety or risk everything to protect those she has come to care about.

Bijou’s story, like Buffy’s before her, applies a magnifier of myth and magic to typical adolescent issues of identity, belonging, and empowerment. Author Kromah widens the folklore scope to include African (specifically, Liberian) sources, enriching material that may be familiar to some readers and new to others. And this satisfying book’s ending is temptingly left open for sequels. More? Yes, please!

Available March 20, 2018. Order your copy from your favorite independent bookstore by asking for it at the front counter, or order it from one of these fine online booksellers:

Amazon: HERE

Kindle: HERE

Square Pig in a Round Hole-February 10, 2018

Square PigNaming a band is an act of concentrated creative expression. Square Pig in a Round Hole exists to reward five favorite band names each week. Winners are (usually) listed alphabetically.

Selection is wholly unscientific and subject to whim, with a bias toward wordplay, humor, and local flavor. In most cases, I won’t know anything about the bands at the time of selection. Thanks to the Seattle Times club listings for abundant source material!

I am amazed and grateful to be surrounded by so much creativity. Last night we enjoyed scenes from three new plays at Ghost Light Theatricals’ Battle of the Bards. I have the privilege of reading advance copies of the books my publisher (Not a Pipe Publishing) is bringing out this year. How’d I get into this club? It’s exciting and humbling at once. And then there are the band names, which just don’t quit.

Between Seasons

Sunny and nice today, rainy tomorrow with snow in the forecast. We’ve reached that point in February where it can’t decide whether it’s winter or spring.

Dirty Rugs

If you clean it, the cat will just barf on it again.

Long Day on Mars

Sometimes I suspect bands of picking a name just to get my attention. Did they know I have an unpublished SF novel on my hard drive that includes a chapter about 3 space travelers on Mars, trying to get from their crashed shuttle to the base 90 km away before their oxygen runs out? It takes them more than one long day.

Nocturnal Mayhem

Great when it’s onstage; not so much at your neighbor’s house.

Two Headed Crow

As if they weren’t intelligent enough with only one head.

Review: The Staff of Fire and Bone

by Mikko Azul (Not A Pipe Publishing, January 2018)

I received a review copy of the e-book from the publisher.

The Staff of Fire and Bone is a thrilling tale of a misfit with a destiny to save the world of Muralia—and the power to destroy it. Cedron is the son and presumptive heir to the Regent of Dulnat, but he is hated for his mixed parentage in a world where the four peoples prize racial purity. It doesn’t help that he has recently manifested uncanny and barely controlled magical power. When he is blamed for a disaster during a festival, Cedron escapes the city pursued by enemies, but soon gains allies—and knowledge of his destiny to right an ancient wrong, a destiny that requires the very lack of racial purity for which he has always been hated.

Cedron is an appealing hero. He wants to do the right thing, but he’s young and doesn’t understand his power. He can be a hothead and makes terrible mistakes as he learns to use it without letting it use him for darker deeds. His quest for the sacred stones that will help him save the world involves narrow escapes, battles with enemies (and future allies), heartbreaking losses, and courageous sacrifice. But it’s not all dire. There’s plenty of the kind of comic business to be expected when adolescents have an adventure, as well as philosophical reflections on what power is for and what destiny really means.

Like the best fantasy settings, Muralia feels both familiar and deeply strange. Its mountains, plains, and sky are full of colorful giant birds and tusked herd beasts. The deities of sun, moons, and earth literally inhabit those orbs, and sometimes appear to Cedron in times of great need. Cultural practices of the various peoples feel rooted in long history.

My one (admittedly minor) complaint is that characters are constantly noticing, realizing, and deciding things. I’d rather these verbs were reserved for occasions when a character at long last makes an important decision, or notices something crucial for the first time, or finally realizes a critical truth that has been overlooked till now. The rest of time, don’t tell me he noticed; show me what he noticed; don’t tell me he decided; show me the action. This is my own pet peeve, so it stood out in any otherwise well told, imaginative tale.

But for the staff of the title, I would award 5 stars even if not for anything else. I can’t say much without spoiling, but it is the most shocking and beautiful magical object I have encountered in 40+ years as a fantasy reader.

Order your copy from your favorite independent bookstore by asking for it at the front counter, or order it from one of these fine online booksellers:

Powell’s HERE

B&N.com HERE

Amazon HERE

Kindle HERE

Review: Wrestling Demons

Wrestling Demons cover

WRESTLING DEMONS by Jason Brick (Not a Pipe Publishing, 2017)

The title might not make you think “lovable,” but that’s what Wrestling Demons is. This sports-fantasy mashup is smart, funny, and sweet.

It opens with the natural drama of a high-school sporting event, in this case a wrestling match. Protagonist Connor Morgan is big and athletic, good enough to get a varsity slot as a sophomore. But he’s the new kid, unsure of himself socially (a nice realistic touch), and on the bad side of the senior he beat out for that varsity slot. After the match, things go weirdly supernatural in a scene that is equal parts horror and farce. Apparently some of Connor’s schoolmates are . . . demon hunters? And apparently, so is he.

Connor is an appealing character, his inner voice filled with comedy and pathos. His Maori heritage is a nice touch of diversity in the beginning (and should appeal to fans of the movie Moana, too!). With its sports and action emphasis, this is a story aimed at male readers, but with plenty of genuine, natural emotion and strong female characters, including Connor’s wrestling teammate (and demon hunter) Sage Kaiser, like-interest Susan Freaking Parker, and his mom, a hardworking nurse who moves herself and Connor frequently to stay away from his dad’s addiction issues.

Exposition about wrestling and Connor’s backstory are handled gracefully, dribbled into the action of the early chapters so even readers with little or no background in the sport can keep up, and Connor’s loneliness makes sense. He longs to make connections, but almost doesn’t dare because what if he has to move again? But—Susan Freaking Parker seems to like him, and training to fight demons naturally leads to friendship with his fellow champions. Can he dare to care when they’re up against a powerful, unknown enemy? Brick does a terrific job of hiding the main villain’s identity from both the characters and the reader while providing several plausible candidates, leading to a nailbiter final confrontation in which Connor has to reach down deep and find his real strength.

 

Review of: SuperGuy

SuperGuy by Kurt Clopton (Not a Pipe Publishing, 2017)

SuperGuy eBook CoverAt heart, SuperGuy is a workplace comedy, albeit one that takes hilarious advantage of every superhero cliché in the toolbox. The story opens with the hero already in dire, ridiculous peril, then makes use of an extended flashback to convey SuperGuy’s origin story. And what a story it is, a workplace comedy in its own right. Through the alliances, petty rivalries and small-scale power struggles in the offices of city government, overeducated but unemployable intern Oliver Olson accidentally becomes SuperGuy when the mayor decides to fill a budgeted hero position in order to secure re-election. As a real if low-budget and modestly-powered (but not modestly-costumed) hero, Oliver has to quickly adjust to his new position, which has its own set of rules, alliances and rivalries. While still

Kurt Clopton
Kurt Clopton

learning what his powers are and how to control them, SuperGuy is forced into conflict with a bona fide supervillain, a brainiac with plans for world domination . . . and a serious crush on a diner waitress. I won’t give away how SuperGuy gets out of that opening peril, but the stage appears to be set for the next exciting episode.

I received an advance copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Available for preorder March 12, 2017:

Amazon

Barnes & Noble