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Review: Crecheling

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Dave Butler is one of my author heros. LTUE 2014 was my fist year as a writing panelist. If Dave hadn’t encouraged me to get in touch with the organizers of that event, and invited me to join his table of stellar indie authors for that and several subsequent events, I may not have known or engaged in the opportunities to network, sell, and panel that have really bolstered my confidence and grown my audience as an author. He also gave me valuable feedback on my manuscript of Maladaptive Bind before I published the novel edition. Dave is just an all-around awesome guy–and a fabulous salesman to boot. He began as an independently published author, and has recently had a number of his titles picked up by Wordfire Press, including his YA post-apocalyptic thriller Crecheling. I’m very excited for Dave and wish him the best of luck with his new publisher.

I’ve had this book on my physical bookshelf in its indie form for over a year, and decided to pick up Wordfire’s Kindle edition for my phone to read to me at work. I am far past due for reviewing this book, and so excited that I was finally able to read/listen to it.

Crecheling follows the intense story of a young girl named Dyan who must ritualistically kill another “child” or teenager her age named Jak from a lower pastoral class. This boy along with four other teens were deemed too smart for their caste, and therefore too much of a threat to the order of the System. All children raised in upper-class Creches (Creches being groups of children raised together by a “Magistrate” rather than in family units like the lower classes) must join the blood cult of the Urbane class to be inducted into the System–or else become outcasts and outlaws of open rebellion to be “captured or killed” if they refuse. More often, these upper-class people who attempt to flee the System are killed, it seems.

The reward for Dyan and her Crechemates in proving their loyalty to the System through such drastic means is induction into Urbane adulthood and their desired roles in society. (Dyan wants only to be a full-time daycare worker or “Magistrate” at that–an occupation of nurture and compassion rather than brutality). Everything goes wrong, of course when the boys and girls Dyan and her Chrechemates are ordered to kill decide to retaliate–and killing was not at all what she thought would be expected of her.

The central concept I took away from Crehceling was a rather profound exploration of the idea that families are fundamental units of society. In a fictional civilization where families are all but done away, the romantic subplot between Dyan and Jak (as many YA books feature a romantic subplot) results in their beautifully mature resolution to join together as “man and good wife” to create their own family in utter defiance of the System’s grooming. This strikes me as a clever and thought-provoking trope twist. Wrapped up nicely with this progression are other significant revelations about the power of family ties that could not be stifled by the System that come to light toward the end of the book.

The story is bloody with many character-personal casualties (few expendables were slaughtered, which I like). It also features these highly creative “monofilament” whips that can cut a person in half with a single lash. I found these to be the most intriguing–and terrifying–technological features of Butler’s brutal world. As a geologist, I also loved adventuring through the milieu of deserts and canyons scorched by heat.

Butler has created a rich post-apocalyptic world with strong characters. The action-packed plot is full of twists that will keep you on the edge of your seat. If you’re a fan of YA dystopia and post-apocalyptic fiction, put this on your reading list. It is fantastic.

You can buy Crecheling on Amazon here: http://www.amazon.com/Crecheling-Buza-System-Book-1-ebook/dp/B00TZ7TEP6
Or at Barnes and Noble here: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/crecheling-d-j-butler/1117499120?ean=9781614753032.

Thoughts on Reading “Lord of the Flies” by William Golding

Audible and iTunes have made listening to recorded books affordable and fun the past six months or so as I’ve taken advantage of these digital services. I’ve also been using a Mac program called GhostReader Plus to convert the DRM-free stock of my Kindle collection to audio. This allows me to return reads while I’m at work performing quality control audits on rolls of microfilm and such (I’ve been working for Ancestry.com as an archival digitization specialist for a little shy of a year now). When I’m finished with a story, I go to Amazon and Goodreads (sometimes Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, Audible, etc.) to write reviews for fellow authors.

I consider myself an aural learner, so listening to books works well for me. I have a hard time making myself sit down to read “for fun.” Thus I find I’m more likely to focus and finish if someone, or technology, is reading to me. I enjoy hearing a narrator’s interpretation of the text. I also love the timbres and rhythms of spoken word in much the same way I enjoy listening to music.

There are some books I’ve read/listened to lately that I really like. While I’ve focused mostly on reviews for authors I know or share an acquaintance with on my blog, I’d like to branch out content-wise and simply share what I like about a handful of other stories and what I’ve gleaned from them.

Today I’m going to start with Lord of the Flies by William Golding.

Lord of the Flies

I think I was ten years old when I first tried to read this book. I’m not sure why this book was presented to me at that age–the subject matter is dark and disturbing enough on an adult level I probably wouldn’t think to recommend it to children myself. None of the characters in this story demonstrates particularly noble desires or qualities (except maybe Simon). I’d neither want to be any of the protagonists nor be friends with any of them (a storytelling quality that would have been essential to my childhood and teenage pallets). This is very much an adult horror story. But hey! *Shrug*

I remembered bits and pieces of the characters and events from the first time I read this. As a kid, I considered the story confusing, dense, and…well, I think I bounced around to get the main scenes but didn’t actually read the whole thing (though I may have written a school report on it ;-). I decided to go back and read/listen to this book again last week. I’ve made frequent enough references to Lord of the Flies in conversations lately that I wanted to solidify my understanding beyond the mere gist of what I thought the story was about.

Coming to this story with an adult perspective, I enjoy it immensely. The milieu descriptions are exceedingly dense, but the distillation of what I like to think of as the “natural man” (Mosiah 3: 19) is harrowing and insightfully executed. Golding explained in the reading of his story that part of his goal was to show the natural rise and fall of societies. Others have suggested this story describes the male psyche and social behavior in particular. It met my expectations on both fronts (though I can only comment on the male psyche as an outside observer with immense esteem for and curiosity about the mind, behaviors, and inclinations of the opposite sex from myself).

I felt this story gave persuasive and meaningful perspective to the concept of “savage” vs. “civilized.” Humans are not nice to each other. Boys are not nice to each other. (Girls aren’t nice to each other either, but it tends to manifest less in physical confrontations and more in subtler forms of manipulation). It’s natural to be impatient with someone or leave someone behind who may have physical or emotional challenges. That individual might weird us out (are they dangerous?), or they may not be able to contribute to the group the way others can and it becomes difficult to decide what’s fair.

We’re attracted to health and beauty and repulsed by their opposites.

It’s natural to be angry, jealous, or wounded when we’re taken advantage of, abandoned, lost, rejected, deposed, shamed, punished, etc. It’s natural to conform to the group under the duress of pain, terrorism, self-preservation, or even the loneliness of exile. Society tends to settle toward tyranny over anarchy because, even if circumstances are unpleasant, humans prefer some sense of social stability and unity over the chaos of every-man-for-himself.

“Natural” does not mean “good” (or “bad,” per say). Rather, it is a state of feeling, of being, of inclination. We have to choose to reach beyond our fears, wounds, and appetites to defend, nurture, understand, and edify each other. Otherwise we could fall into great evil as we become swept up in social machines. This is the great challenge we face as highly sophisticated social creatures who are capable of moral thought. Lord of the Flies narrates how and why the human condition can go so horribly wrong–due to the sheer inclinations of humanity itself.

I think this is an extremely powerful and fascinating story that describes the dark side of human nature, and I’m glad I took the time to read it anew.

What are your thoughts on Lord of the Flies and the human condition? Feel free to share briefly in the comments.

For any interested persons, you can find the Lord of the Flies audiobook on Audible here:
http://www.audible.com/pd/Classics/Lord-of-the-Flies-Audiobook/B002V8KNLK

Or the Kindle edition here:
http://www.amazon.com/Lord-Flies-Perigee-William-Golding-ebook/dp/B000OCXIRG

 

Blondes, Books, & Burbon Release Book Bomb

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Another Xchyler author, R. M. Ridley is dedicating the release sales of his latest short story collection, Blondes, Books, & Burbon to help Alyson Grauer and her family. Please check out R. M. Ridley’s release today and help out a great cause!

Here is the link for the Facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/events/1556534081284093/.

There will also be an opportunity to win R. M. Ridley’s White Dragon Black series in addition to supporting a great cause by tweeting or sharing ‪#‎BBBBookBomb‬ and http://bit.ly/BBBonAMZ to enter.

If you’d like more information on the Grauer fund, here is a direct link to their donation page: https://www.giveforward.com/fundraiser/y1v7/mr-grauer-s-cancer-fund.

Book Bomb for Alyson Grauer

Xchyler Publishing is hosting a special ‪book bomb today for my author friend, Aly Grauer. Please consider supporting her and her father by purchasing a copy of her fabulous steampunk title, “On the Isle of Sound and Wonder” during the online event.

See the flyer below for details.

To buy the book, follow the Amazon link here: http://bit.ly/OISWonAMZ

If you’d rather donate, here’s a direct link to the family’s donation site: http://bit.ly/GrauerFund

Thank you! And my heartfelt best wishes go out to the Grauer family!

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Thoughts on LTUE 2015

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It has been a busy few weeks, so it’s nice to finally be able to sit down and write about my wonderful experience at LTUE. This was my second year as a panelist, and my fourth year in attendance overall.

(“The Elements of Horror Fiction” Panel with Virginia Ellen Baker, Nathan Shumate, Steve Diamond, Andrea Pearson, and Me)

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This year I had Xchyler Publishing and my family of “X-Team” authors to tote. The gang included Candace J. Thomas, Mackenzie Dolan, Scott William Taylor, John M. Olsen, Scott Tarbet, Jodi Milner, and Editor-in-Chief Penny Freeman.

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Since I still can’t find who took that FanX photo of everyone posing with everyone else’s book, we reenacted the photo:

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I had a blast bonding with these people, and Penny was kind enough to let those of us with self-published works sell our titles at their table.

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Jodi was a hoot! I loved getting to know her and her side-splittingly hilarious personality.

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Mackenzie Dolan is new working with Xchyler. It was fun to get to know her, and to swap rings for good luck before one of my panels. This girl is going to do great things with her career. And school. And life. :-)

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It was wonderful to check in with BYU’s Leading Edge Magazine staff. Their new logo is awesome, so naturally I bought a t-shirt with said logo to wear at the symposium to show my support. I was directed to this wonderful little magazine post-graduation from BYU where I learned about the science fiction short story market, as well as what it takes to edit and write short sci-fi/fantasy. It continues to provide wonderful volunteer editing and publishing opportunities for university students of all writing levels, and I was excited to let people know about my short story “Driveless” featured in their latest volume.

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IMG_1743LTUE staffers Kevin Haws and Acasia Woodberry

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It was so wonderful to bond with author friends who are both self-published and working with a variety of small (and large) press publishers.

Craig Nybo

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Lisa Mangum

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Sara Butler, Angie Lofthouse, Nathan Shumate, Dave Butler

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The mass signing on Friday the 13th was a blast. I sold some books and made lots of new friends.

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(To various authors whose photos I’m sharing with my own, thank you!)

I was on a panel with Tracy Hickman called “Modern Fantasy & Its Relation to Folklore and Myth.”

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Michael Jensen, co-author of Woven, bought a copy of my novelette Blood Oath: An Orc Love Story! #socool

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Jodi and I had a lovely chat with David Farland about Writers of the Future, creativity, and life in general.

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Vladimir Chopine took and edited some amazing photos of each author attending the event. Here are some of mine:

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LTUE is never complete for me without attending the gala banquet. James Owen gave a wonderfully heart-warming banquet address. And I got to wind down at the end of a long, busy, exciting conference eating my fabulous gourmet dinner with the Space Balrogs: Jason King, James Wymore, and Holli Anderson (and two other guests).

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I want to give a shout out to all the people I shared panel time with at the symposium. You’re all amazing authors with great minds, voracious curiosity, and incredible talent. It was such a pleasure to engage creative discussions with you about writing horror, fantasy and myth, and our individual techniques for story generation. I gained as much listening to you describe your creative processes and perspectives as I did in sharing my own experiences.

LTUE felt like a big family reunion. There was so much energy, and everyone was willing to share and give their all to each other. It was hard to say goodbye at the end of the night.

Until next year, LTUE!

About Sarah

About Sarah

Through two wonderful mentored research experiences, Sarah E. Seeley had the opportunity to work with dead sauropods and ancient odonates while acquiring her undergraduate degree in geology from Brigham Young University. She hopes to study more dead things in the future and contribute to scientific discussions about what makes life on Earth so amazing. In the meantime, she explores the bright side of being human by writing dark fiction.

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