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Retirement. Publishers, thank you for the many years of reading pleasure you gave me, but all good things must come to an end. Due to failing eyesight I am forced to retire. I can no longer review your books, and any that you send will be donated to the local library, unread. Do not send any more. I can only read for a couple hours every day, and this does not allow me to finish a book in reasonable time. I will be devoting time to my own books from now on, and reading on a personal level. Books that interest me. I prefer paperbacks and hardbacks, not eBooks. My eyesight has been failing the last few years, and I cannot handle hundreds of review books any more. My books are still available for review. Anyone interested in reviewing any of them, they are found in the Link to Tom’s Books On Amazon. Contact me for pdf copies at

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Chronicles: The Library of Illuminatiom

Chronicles: The Library of Illumination (YA SF)
By C.A. Back
ISBN #978-0983572374
Antique Press
Price $13.93
298 Pages
Rating 5-Stars

“I Loved It. Highly Recommended For Readers 9 To 99.”

Young Johanna Charette works for a book delivery service. When one day she’s asked to pick up a package at The Library of Illumination it changes her life forever. Finding the librarian, Malcolm Trees on the floor behind the couch, at first she thinks he’s dead, and then discovers there is more to the old man than meets the eye – as well as The Library of Illumination. Here the books are enchanted, and every book ever written is available; trouble is, open the book and it comes alive. The old man is preparing Johanna to take his place as librarian, which she eventually does. She also hires young Jackson Roth, a boy her junior by a few years, but who quickly gets a crush on her. His curiosity also gets them in a little trouble along the way, but nothing compared to the orb that appears mysteriously in the secured library, then their accidental teleport through a portal to the Library of Illumination of the 12th Realm. It seems an alien race is after all the knowledge available in all the libraries, and things get more complicated along the way.

This was a wonderful read, entertaining and fun. Perhaps it will remind the reader of THE LIBRARIAN TV episodes, but it is different. The author is an excellent writer, and knows books. I got a kick out of the scene where Malcolm Trees opens a National Geographic magazine and a lion popped out. To save him, Johanna opens TARZAN OF THE APES by Edgar Rice Burroughs, and Tarzan pops out sans loin cloth “in all his glory” shocking her a little bit. But Tarzan distracts the lion long enough for Malcolm to close the magazine. The author has fun talking about all the great books in our literature, and I enjoyed it too. Although episodic, it is a fun and exciting read. I highly recommend this to readers from 9 to 99.

Tom Johnson

Guest Post by C.A. Back

Five Things You Should Know if You Want To Be A Writer

I’d like to thank Pulp Den for hosting me as a guest blogger. I’ve got a new YA fantasy—Chronicles: The Library of Illumination—coming out and I’d like to share a few things it’s taught me about the process of writing.

If you’re just starting out on your first novel—take your time to enjoy the journey. You’re crafting something unique. Think of your writing like a fine wine that needs time to mature. Most “overnight sensations” will tell you—it took years for them to skyrocket to fame.

To help you get started, I’ve put together a list of five things you should know if you want to be a writer:

1.    Read everything you can get your hands on in the genre you want to write. You learn a lot from reading other writers’ books. You pick up rhythms, and words, and new ways of looking at writing when you read with a practiced eye.
2.    Write your first draft without stopping to edit it. It’s called a first draft for a reason. If you pick away at one chapter night after night, you may never get past it. Just write. Don’t look back until you come to the words The End.
3.    Read your manuscript out loud. You’ll be surprised at how different your words might sound. If something sounds off, fix it. If you stumble over the same section a few times, a reader might stumble as well, so work on it until it flows smoothly. If you don’t understand what you were trying to say after reading a sentence once, neither will you fans. Now is the time to make corrections.
4.    Carefully edit your work. A first draft from a new writer is rarely a pretty thing. Make it as good as you can and when you think you couldn’t possibly make it any better, hire a proofreader to clean up any grammatical and punctuation problems. You don’t want a potential agent to turn you down because you didn’t know the difference between who’s and whose. Or because your punctuation is off. I love the saying that goes:        Let’s eat Grandma                                                                                                                                                                                                    Let’s eat, Grandma                                                                                                                                                            Commas save lives
5.    Your work is far from over. Most agents and editors will (no doubt) point out where your book needs fixing and ask you to rewrite it. They know what sells, and they’re trying to help you put out a bestseller. Your first impression will be that they’re ruining perfection. Get over it, and rewrite the manuscript. If you have trouble finding an agent or publisher and decide to publish your own book, consider hiring a content editor first. It’s not cheap, but now that you aren’t getting critical guidance from an agent or publishing house, you need to replace that loss with another professional set of eyes. Now, you’re probably thinking that instead of hiring a proofreader in step 4, you could have hired a content editor instead (for a higher price) but if that editor’s vision didn’t jibe with your newly acquired agent’s/publisher’s vision, you’d have to rewrite the book anyway.

Finishing your manuscript is key. A lot of people may start writing a book, but not everyone finishes it. So give yourself a pat on the back when you’ve completed all the steps on the above list. Then get ready for your next hurdle. Most writers today, whether published by the a major publishing house or their own indie imprint, need to market their work, and that means setting up blog tours—like this one—and doing readings and book signings in libraries and book stores. It’s a big job, and you shouldn’t just focus on the finish line. Enjoy the journey, learn everything you can about the process, and when a new writer asks you for advice, give it freely.

I’m really glad I’m able to share this with you today. If you’ve got any questions, I’d love to hear from you at  Chronicles: The Library of Illumination is now available in hardcover and ebook formats.

One more thing...  in honor of my book launch and virtual blog tour, please enter my raffle from April 22 through May 6, 2014 to win an Amazon, or Barnes & Noble gift card, or a Triquetra necklace—the symbol of the Library Of Illumination.

Excerpt :

“What’s this? Jackson asked, picking up a book that sat by itself on a bottom shelf. A thick layer of dust obscured the cover. “Did you leave this book down here?”
“What book?”
He opened the book to a random page to see what it was about. Dracula suddenly loomed over him, blood dripping from his mouth. “Uhhh ...!” Jackson’s scream did not get past his throat.
Dracula moved in for the kill. The teen managed to slam the book shut just as the vampire’s teeth made contact with his skin.
“What are you doing?” Johanna poked her head around the corner of the shelf and spotted the blood on Jackson’s neck. She looked down and recognized the volume of Dracula by Bram Stoker and winced. “We must have missed that one. Are you all right?”
Jackson swiped at his neck.
“Come with me.” Johanna led him to the circulation desk. She took out a first-aid kit and cleaned away the blood with an antiseptic wipe.
“Am I ...?”
“It’s just a surface wound.” She wrapped the bloody wipe in a tissue and threw it in the wastebasket. “You’re going to live ... but not forever.”
Jackson sighed with relief. “You know, when my mother used to patch me up, she would kiss it to make it better.” He raised his eyebrows and grinned at her.
“If you got hurt working for Larry at Once A-Pawn A Time, would you ask him to kiss it to make it better?”
“You really know how to hurt me.”
Johanna laughed. She leaned in and lightly kissed Jackson’s neck.
He could feel the hairs along his nape tingle.
“All better?” she asked.
He merely nodded, too stunned to answer.

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