About Sandra Ulbrich Almazan

Fantasy/SF Author. Works include the Catalyst Chronicles series, starting with "Lyon's Legacy" and continuing in 2013 with "Twinned Universes."

Seasons’ Beginnings–Blurb and Cover Reveal

Coming October 2014…Seasons’ Beginnings, Book One of the fantasy Season Avatars series.

KroSeasons rgb, FINAL, med, low resn Evenhanded is an artificer, able to enchant any man-made object, but he finds people more difficult to work with. When he visits the city of Vistichia, he encounters Sal-thaath, an extremely magical but dangerous child created by Salth, another magician Kron knew at the Magic Institute. Kron attempts to civilize Sal-thaath, but when his efforts lead to tragedy, Kron is forced to ally himself with a quartet of new deities and their human Avatars. Together they must defend Vistichia as Salth attempts to drain its life and magic. But Salth has Ascended halfway to godhood over Time. Will Kron’s artifacts be enough to protect the Avatars, especially the woman he loves, or will Time separate them?

Click here to add it to Goodreads!

Update: pre-order is now available on Amazon. It will be released 10/21/14. Click here to pre-order it.

 

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Blurb and Call for Beta Readers: Seasons’ Beginnings

Last month, I finished the second draft of Season’s Beginnings, Book One in my fantasy Season Avatars series. I am currently looking for beta readers for this project. Here’s what I have so far for the blurb:

Kron Evenhanded is an artificer, able to enchant any man-made object, but he finds people more difficult to work with. As he visits the city of Vistichia, he encounters Sal-thaath, an extremely magical but dangerous child created by Salth, another magician Kron knew at the Magic Institute. Kron attempts to civilize Sal-thaath, but when his efforts lead to tragedy, Kron is forced to ally himself with a quartet of new deities and their human Avatars. Together they must defend Vistichia as Salth attempts to drain its life and magic. But Salth has Ascended halfway to godhood over Time. Will Kron’s artifacts be enough to protect the Avatars, especially the woman he loves, or will Time separate them?

If this sounds like something you’d like to beta read, please comment below or e-mail me at ulbrichalmazanATsbcglobalDOTnet. If you have any suggestions for improving the blurb, please let me know that as well. Thanks!

Fathers in Fiction

(note: I’m cross-posting today on Indie Writers Monthly)

With Father’s Day being today, and with my son’s recent obsession with Star Wars, the power of the Force compels me to post this scene:

Though this is a good one too:

It seems that there are a lot of father-son relationships in fiction that are problematic. A missing or dead father (Harry Potter, How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe), an abusive father, a crazy father (Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance) father as the enemy…well, there wouldn’t be anything interesting in a normal relationship, right? Fathers can serve as both positive and negative role models. They can be motivations for accomplishing a quest. Yet, often, they have to get out of their offsprings’ way so their kids can grow up.

What are your favorite father-child relationships in fiction?

Death and Change in Hereafter and Thereafter

This month, Scene 13 members are discussing books with a theme. I’d like to use Terri Bruce’s Hereafter and Thereafter for my books. They trace the post-life adventures of Irene Dunphry, who died in a car crash after a night out with her friends. Although Irene held a managerial job when she was alive, she was also shallow and selfish, neglecting her mother and holding no strong passions for anything other than partying. However, as she experiences existence after death, she comes to realize the lost opportunities life represents. But just because she’s no longer living doesn’t mean she’s fixed in that same state for all eternity. As Irene tries to figure out how to move on in the afterlife, she comes to care for people and grow as a heroine, even though she’s not sure how much of Irene will be left once she reaches her final destination. If I had to state the theme for this series (and I obviously have to for this post), it would be that “it’s never too late to change.”

Have you read any books with a similar theme? What types of themes do you like to read about?

Funny Fantasy

This months’ theme is humor, and the fantasy genre is a good place to find funny books. Some people think the pun is the lowest form of wit, while others counter that that means the pun is the foundation of all wit. If you hold the latter opinion, you’ll love Piers Anthony’s Xanth series. The first book in the series is A Spell for Chameleon, and it’s set in a land where everyone has magic–except one person. I don’t know how many books are in the series now (I got tired of them several years ago), but they get even punnier as the series progresses.

If you enjoy good banter, then you’ll enjoy the dialogue in Lindsay Buroker’s books, particularly in her Emperor’s Edge series. A former enforcer tries to get back into good graces with the emperor by rounding up an unlikely group of men to do unlikely good deeds. The first book is perma-free, so it’s worth checking out — though you might wind up reading the entire series! Another fun series is the steampunk Parasol Protectorate by Gail Carriger. The first book in the series is Soulless.

Finally, if you just want a comic situation, I recomment Off to Be the Wizard. It’s about a computer programmer who discovers how to hack reality but discovers it’s too easy to get into trouble in our time. He seeks refuge in the Middle Ages, only to discover he’s not the only “wizard” around….

What are your favorite funny fantasy books?

 

Non-Fiction Influences

I think the books that you read when you’re young are the ones most likely to influence and shape the rest of your life. I didn’t read much SF and fantasy in high school; I tended to read more historical fiction (I devoured a lot of Jean Plaidy/Victoria Holt during this time), and I even read classic stories that weren’t assigned in English class. But one of the books that’s influenced me the most was recommended to me by a friend. It’s Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert M. Pirsig. If you’re not familiar with this work, on one level, it’s the story of a man and his son on a cross-country motorcycle trip. On another level, it’s the story of that man’s search for truth. He starts with science and travels into philosophy, going back to the Greeks.  They decided the Good and the True are not the same, which has led to a split between rational and aesthetic ways of thinking that still influences our society. Although this may sound like an intimidating book, it’s actually quite readable. I’ve read this book multiple times, to the point where my paper copy is beaten up and full of underlines. Good thing I also have it on my Kindle. I find the section on gumption particularly helpful at times when I’m struggling.

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance introduced me to Taoism, which has influenced my spiritual thinking. Other books that have affected my philosophy include Illusions by Richard Bach (though I read Illusions II this year and found it didn’t resonate with me the way the first book did), The Tao of Pooh, and The Te of Piglet.

I’m well past my high school years, but other books still affect my thinking. A People’s History of the World has given me some ideas I want to use in a book someday. I’m also going meatless this month after reading Meatonomics last month.

What non-fiction books have shaped your philosophy?

Voracious Genre Reader Seeks….

This month, we’re supposed to discuss our new literary loves. However, I tend to be a read-’em-and-leave-’em kind of reader. Perhaps that’s why lately I’ve felt more “eh” than “wow” after finishing a book. So, since I’m feeling so booklorn, I decided I ought to take out an ad:

Voracious Genre Reader seeks a five-star book. Science fiction and fantasy genres preferred, although willing to try other genres for the right story. Publishing method irrelevant. Must show strong craftsmanship in everything from word choice to world-building and display impeccable spelling and grammar. An intriguing plot is a must. Characters are lifelike and worth rooting for. If romance is part of the story (not the whole story), it should develop gradually and not be abusive or misogynistic, and those involved must complement each other’s needs. Above all, must show me something to wonder about, something to make me feel awe or see the world differently. In return, I can offer a five-star rating on Goodreads, word-of-mouth recommendations, and a promise to seek out other works by your author.

How does your ad for a five-star book read?