Coming to America, Legends, Samantha, Chrys Cymri's Snail Shark, A B2Bcycon report, J. S. Burke

April 17 National Ellis Island Family History Day. As this blog is coming out late today, April 16th I wanted to go a day early on the celebration. The photo above is from the George P. Hall & Son photograph collection, ca. 1876-1914. Manhattan: Ellis Island, undated. 3/4 view from the water. New-York Historical Society Library. Here's a short reblogged article and some personal notes! On April 17, 1907, Ellis Island had its busiest day ever, processing 11,747 individuals who just arrived to America. An average day had them processing about 5,000, so this must have overloaded them! According to the Ellis Island Foundation, “During this historic month [April 1907] of American immigration, the Port of New York received 197 ships and more than a quarter-million passengers from around the world. Most of these arrivals were immigrants intent on establishing a new life in America.” 1,004,756 immigrants were processed in the year of 1907.

Ellis Island opened in 1892, two years after Castle Garden closed. It processed immigrants until the 1940s; The Ellis Island Foundation writes, “After the U.S. entered the war in December 1941, Ellis Island served primarily as a detention center for alien enemies, those considered to be inadmissible and others.

By 1946, approximately 7000 aliens and citizens, with German, Italian, and Japanese people comprising the largest groups, were detained at Ellis Island. The detainees became so numerous that the immigration functions had to be transferred to Manhattan for lack of room. Ellis Island was also used as a hospital for returning wounded servicemen and by the United States Coast Guard, which trained about 60,000 servicemen there.”

Many well-known Americans arrived through Ellis Island’s doors, ready to make a name for themselves in a new country. One such immigrant was Ludwig Bemelmans, the creator of the classic Madeline books. Bemelmans arrived in America from Austria in 1914 with just $10 in his pocket, and spent his first night detained at Ellis Island. He worked in the hotel industry, which he had learned from his uncle in Austria, but spent much of his time doodling on the backs of menus, which led to his career as a cartoonist, and eventually a children’s book author. Learn more about Bemelmans and his work in Madeline in New York: The Art of Ludwig Bemelmans! I asked readers about any history at Ellis Island the might know about. Sheila Rudolph stated: My great grandfathers name was shortened to schoephoerster...don't know original name...

My own family never had an Ellis Island experience. My ancestors arrived from England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and a smattering of other norther European countries very early in the 1700's. My spouse, Dr. Jackie Woldering's great grandfather was what we would consider an "Illegal" alien. The story was he worked on the merchant ship called the Bremen out of Northern Germany and jumped ship in about 1903. Later we see a legal and formal entry in about 1905. The Mychalchyk side was harder to find as there were several variations in spelling when it went from Cyrillic to English. I think the original spelling was Mychalczuk (Michael's son). It shows family entry in 1912 as well as entry of a woman he later married. Unfortunately, two brothers (for reasons unknown) did not stay and returned to the Ukraine where they were killed in the Russian Revolution in 1917.

If you know your immigrant ancestor name and believe they arrived between 1892 and 1941, through New York you can check the records for a small fee and learn about your own history.

Last week I interviewed Chrys Cymri. This week there is an excerpt and a post of her reading from her first book

YouTube video (me reading from the first book):

An Interview with a Snail Shark

Cornelius slowed his six-legged stride as he entered the cavern. The soft moss lining the floor informed him that he had arrived. The praying mantis twisted his triangular head as he tried to find Clyde in the darkness. ‘Great Leader?’ he called out.

A shape moved at the far end. ‘Goleuadau!’ Clyde ordered. The glow-worms lining the roof responded. Cold blue light shimmered over the snail shark’s shell and glinted on his eyespots. He slithered from the raised platform and flowed up to the mantis.

Although they were nearly the same size, Cornelius still felt his antennae twist nervously. ‘Great Leader, sorry to disturb you and all. Did you eat well?’

The snail’s belly split open, revealing jaws lined with jagged teeth. ‘Birds good.’

‘Glad to hear it.’ If Clyde had a full stomach, he was less likely to snack on a thin insect. ‘Great Leader, some of the trainee soldiers have begged an audience. You know what they’re like, these younguns, as curious as a duck in a hen house. And there’s some lemmings too.’

‘Lemmings,’ Clyde repeated thoughtfully, a small trail of drool pooling at his foot.

Cornelius took a cautious step backwards. ‘These lemmings help to train your army, Great Leader. Please don’t eat them.’

Flashes of red and orange coloured the snail’s grey body. But aloud he said, ‘Okay.’

‘Will you be seeing them?’

‘Yes. Now.’

The mantis left the cave, and gave word to one of the guards. A few minutes later, a half dozen snail pups and an equal number of lemmings crowded into the corridor. As they swirled around Cornelius’ legs, he whispered, ‘Now, y’all remember that the Great Leader’s busier than a one legged cat in a sandbox. Three questions only, right?’

Clyde had returned to his raised platform when Cornelius guided the visitors into the cavern. Peaceful blues and greens pulsed through the snail, and Cornelius breathed more easily. ‘Your citizens, Great Leader. Who has the first question?’

A small snail shark, only six inches high, slid forwards. Colours swirled through her tentacles. Cornelius interpreted her question for the lemmings. ‘She’s asked, “How does the Great Leader spend his day?”’

Clyde reared up, and in a tenor voice sang, ‘“Sowing in the morning, sowing seeds of kindness, sowing in the noontide and the dewy eve; Waiting for the harvest, and the time of reaping, we shall come rejoicing, bringing in the sheaves.”’

‘Yes, Great Leader, there’s much work to be done all day long,’ Cornelius said quickly. ‘But perhaps you can tell the younguns what you did yesterday.’

Various colours surged through the Clyde’s body. Cornelius explained to the lemmings, ‘He started his morning with eating a couple of birds. Then he met with the General to discuss the army. In the afternoon, he visited the relics of the Eternal Leaders.’

‘Eternal Leaders,’ the lemmings repeated, their voices low and reverential.

‘Later that evening, he met with the guardians of the breeding pens. Egg production is up, but still no snail has hatched who could be a mate for the Great Leader. Only snails with spirals on the right.’

Browns and greys traced down the bodies of all the snails. The lemmings’ whiskers twitched in sympathy. ‘Lonely?’ asked one white furred rodent.

Clyde’s body shimmered with blue and purple as he sang, ‘“Abide with me; fast falls the eventide; the darkness deepens; Lord, with me abide. When other helpers fail and comforts flee, help of the helpless, oh, abide with me.”’

Cornelius clicked his forelegs. Fortunately, none of the others present seemed to realise who this ‘Lord’ was. ‘The Great Leader is comforted by the love of his citizens,’ he said quickly. ‘Last question?’

A lemming rose onto his hind legs. ‘Favourite person?’

‘“Can we find a friend so faithful, who will all our sorrows share?”’ Clyde paused, then added, ‘Penny.’ His body streamed colours so quickly that, despite the many months he had spent with the snail sharks, the praying mantis struggled to keep up.

‘He says that Penny White is his best friend,’ Cornelius said. ‘When the Great Leader’s mother, the Noble Leader, was killed in circumstances which we still don’t understand, Penny took him in. She gave him shelter, and a hunting ground, and has always defended him.’

‘Human?’ one of the snails managed to say.

‘Yes,’ Cornelius answered. ‘But from what I’ve seen, she’s as fine as a frog’s hair split four ways. Okay, questions done. Bow to the Eternal Leaders.’

Snails and lemmings lined up, then bent low to honour the images of flying snails which had been carved into the rock walls. As the group filed out, the mantis glanced back at the Great Leader. Clyde’s body was still rainbowed with a final message which Cornelius had not tried to translate. There was no point. No one in the nation ruled by the Great Leader would understand the phrase, ‘I love her.’

I'm a writer, but I also read and review. Recently, I've read two books. Both have elements of fantasy, thought the first is definitely Science Fantasy and the second one is more of a thriller/romance with elements of the paranormal.

A review of Legends by Mark McQuillen & Mara Reitsma I really liked the story of Navina as she discovered more about herself and her gifts, and enjoyed reading about her relationship with Lync.

The story did seem to jump when Vina had her first vision, but I understood the reader was supposed to identify with her, as if the vision was shared.

How would we, as readers, feel if we were suddenly sucked into a battle between good and evil and couldn’t even figure out where or when we were? Confused? Crazy? Desperate to discover the truth? Likely, it would be all of the above.

The authors handle a large cast of characters and fight scenes with an ease that is at times difficult to follow, but the writing never suffers from the confusion.

I did find myself flipping backward a few times to figure out who certain characters were and why they were there. It didn’t detract.

This is a “Devil’s Daughters Crossover”. I only wish I had read the books about the daughters first so I knew them better.

That’s easily remedied. Once I have read their stories, I plan to re-read Legends and then read the next four stories in the series. Great action and battles, mythology with a twist and fast-paced drama. Read, and plan to love it.

A review of Samantha by A. A. Bavar and Scott Spotson You have a thriller and a mystery of a thief who is at once more than she seems.

There is a wealthy playboy and his somewhat innocent young paramour who are harassed by this thief, but there is much more in the way of shifting identity and confusion of characters.

At first I thought the problem was in POV shifting between the female antagonists, but by the end of the novel I believe it was intentional so the reader truly didn’t know who was who.

There’s an edge of you seat pace as the story goes on to a surprise twist at the end that left me really wondering if I missed something.

A good thriller and a worthy read!

A new author I'd like to introduce today is J S Burke

Who are you as a person? (brief bio paragraph)

First, thank you so much for having me here!

J. S. Burke is an author, artist, and marine biologist, studying creatures of the dark abyss and diving on coral reefs. The award-winning "Dragon Dreamer" series grew from her years at sea, a fascination with clever, alien octopuses, and a love of dragons. It's Science Fantasy Adventure with dragons and an undersea world, layered for readers age 9 to 99.

Her stories blend imagination with real science and author experiences. The deadly sea storm that threatens Arak is one she survived. "Fantasy Snowflakes Coloring Book" has snowflakes her dragons grow, with designs woven from wildlife. Burke and her dragons love chocolate!

· How long have you been a writer?

I’ve written for most of my life. I wrote poetry as a child. Later I wrote science research papers and math-science-art educational books. Then I wrote dragon novels and made a coloring book with the dragon-grown snowflakes.

· Are you Traditionally or Indie published? If not yet, what are you considering?

I’m an Indie author.

· What writers inspired you? Favorite Authors?

I love many hundreds of books, anything well written with good characters and interesting world-building. I’m super impressed by the unique worlds within my indie author friends.

· What is the setting and genre?

The setting is basically Earth, millions of years ago, with flying dragons and an undersea world. The octopus life cycle has been modified and there are no humans. The award-winning Dragon Dreamer series is science fantasy adventure for ages nine to adult. It’s a great family read. There are reviews from teens, parents, and grandparents who love these books.

· Who is your favorite character from your book and why?

Scree (Healer octopus), Arak (young dragon dreamer), Drakor (ice dragon) are co-favorites. Scree is a fearless undersea misfit who always tries to do the right thing. Arak is a dreamer willing to look beyond. Drakor is a young dragon who faces an impossible challenge.

· What character is most like you?

There’s a bit of me in all of them.

· If you had a supernatural power, what would it be?

I would magically heal everyone who is physically or mentally ill.

· Would you say your book has a message or underlying theme? What is it?

Friendships can cross borders and enrich lives. They can change the world.

· How are you marketing your book?

I have author business cards for anyone who gets too close. Beware! I’ve also had book giveaways on Goodreads. I have a website, Facebook page, Twitter page, etc.

· A wonderful thing has happened! Hollywood wants to make a movie of your book! You get to pick the actors & actresses. You want________________for your lead characters.

I want Disney/Pixar to make this animated movie. I’m not sure about the voices. But I would totally CELEBRATE!

· What music do you hear (what songs) remind you of your story?

“Octopus’ Garden” and “Under the Sea”. J

· What Favorite foods

Chocolate!!! My dragons and octopuses love chocolate, too. What a coincidence!

· What makes you laugh/cry?

I love clever humor, such as in “Thank you for Smoking”. I feel like crying when humans and other beings are abused.

· What do you want written on your head stone and why?

“She tried to make the world a better place.” Whenever I asked my mother what she wanted me to be when I grew up, she said to make the world a better place. It didn’t matter what I did for a job.

· Other than writing do you have any hobbies?

I make jewelry, paint, draw, read, and hike.

· What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?

Dr. Who is wonderfully weird. I love the Star Wars and Star Trek movies.

· If you were not a writer what else would you like to have done?

I’m fortunate to have done the things I love.

· What are you working on right now?

I’m writing Dragon Dreamer book 3 and sketching fantasy flakes for Coloring Book II.

· How much research do you do for your novels? Bonus –what’s the weirdest thing you have Googled?

I enjoy researching the natural herbs and treatments my dragon and octopus healers use, energy, gemstones, and more. It’s my brain candy.

· What’s the scariest thing you have ever done, and did it end up in a story?

Some adventures won’t work in a fantasy book, but I use all that I can. My boss, who worked eight hours north, did not understand the weather and was obsessed with keeping a perfect sampling schedule.

So I was ordered to sea when no other boat went out. I feared being fired more than I feared the sea. But this sea storm was fierce, even stronger than predicted. The waves towered above the boat. I was knocked down again and again, battered and bruised.

Knowing I would die was oddly liberating. I loved the wild energy of wind and sea. I survived, much to my surprise. This storm is in my book. My characters have many adventures that were mine.

· Name 5 fictional characters you would invite to a dinner party. Where would the party be?

Fun question! The party would be in Hawaii, just because it’s so beautiful. For a pure fantasy party I would invite Spock from the first “Star Trek”, Dr. Who # 10, Gandalf from Lord of the Rings, Princess Leia from Star wars, and Captain Janeway from Star Trek. I think this group would have fascinating

philosophical discussions.

What links or website do you have? List them below.








BOOK LINKS: THE DRAGON DREAMER by J.S. BURKE eBooks Universal: Amazon Universal: Amazon US: Amazon UK:


BOOK LINKS: DRAGON LIGHTNING by J.S. BURKE eBooks Universal: Amazon Universal:


The 2018 Brain to Books Cyber Convention (or how I spent my CyCon)

by A. F. Stewart

The past April 6-8th was the annual Brain to Books Cyber Convention for 2018. For those who are not familiar with the B2BCyCon, it is, in essence, a virtual book fair that gives you the flavour of a real-world convention from the comfort of your own home.

For instance, the B2BCyCon Trade Show and the Book Expo are our versions of the vendor area; we also have giveaways, panels for readers interested in how authors think or insights on books, there’s a live video stream feed with organizers and authors (like me), and we even have competitions with events such as the Cover Wars and the Character Tournaments.

As one of the B2BCyCon volunteers, I manage the Horror/Thriller Genres for the convention as well as organize the Trade Show. I also participate as an author, and this year I was part of the show with my fantasy novel as well as my horror poetry book. So here’s a look at the weekend’s festivities from both sides.

From a manager's point of view, I was pleased with this year. We had good numbers with Horror/Thriller website tour, our panel turned out well, and the voter turnout for the Cover Wars and Character Tournament was solid. The Trade Show was a bit quiet this year, but a few visitors did stop by.

Now for a look at the convention through an author’s eyes. I’ll start with a confession: I spent most of my convention weekend in Joe’s Bar. And that’s not as bad as it sounds, because that’s the name of the live B2BCyCon YouTube stream. It’s hosted by Joe Compton of GoIndieNow (with Karina’s Korner hosted by Karina Kantas in the wee hours of the night) and basically, authors who sign up can jump into the chat whenever and discuss topics, books, and occasionally the odd tangent or two.

Over the three days we had quite a bit of fun, including an in-depth discussion regarding how to survive the apocalypse (complete with Zombie Cows), the annual Batman vs. Iron Man debate where I defended Batman, and various other snippets about books, writing and other strange things. I also participated in two fantasy panels during the convention weekend. The first one, “Do you need Dwarves, Elves, and Dragons to make up a fantasy?” was a interesting discussion regarding the different types of fantasy out there and how much influence traditional races have in the fantasy genre.

The second one, well… it started out as a discussion about “Mixing Fantasy With History/Other Genres” but we did not stay on topic and instead created a lively and crazy panel about evil muses and how writing really works. It must be seen to be believed.

I did also manage to check out a few other things during the weekend, like a few booths at the Trade Show (some lovely posts there) vote in the cover wars/character tournaments and check out a few book trailers. But the best thing about the B2BCyCon is that it doesn’t matter if you miss something on the weekend; everything stays up on the main site until next year. So if there are a few things you missed on convention weekend you can check them out long after it’s over.

Me, I’ll be going back and visiting a few of those blog tours I didn’t get to see.

And of course, there’s always next year, when we celebrate Brain to Books Cyber Convention’s 5th anniversary.

I invite everyone to join 2019’s celebration as we have some interesting plans in the works. I hope to see you all there. E. M Swift-Hook/Jane Jago 3/31/18

4/1/18 Ardent Rose 4/5/18 Laurence Dahners 4/13/18

That's all for this week! Read a book lately? Having an event or a release? Interviewed someone you'd like to recommend? LET ME KNOW Because... Getting it out there is what is important!

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