Sunday, January 24, 2016

Vision of the Griffin's Heart, Andy Smithson, Book 5, by L.R.W. Lee, Just Released

Vision of the Griffin’s Heart, Andy
Smithson, Book 5

Award-winning author of the Andy Smithson coming-of-age, epic fantasy adventure series that entertains while teaching uncommon life principles including responsibility, diligence, dignity, friendship, and more, meet L.R.W. Lee

Four years ago, Andy Smithson discovered he is the Chosen one to break a 500-yr-old curse plaguing the land of Oomaldee when he unexpectedly and mysteriously found himself there. 

To do so, he must collect ingredients for a magical potion. Thus far he has gathered the scale of a red dragon, venom from a giant serpent, a unicorn’s horn, and the tail feather of a phoenix. Now he must ask a griffin for one of its talons. There’s just one problem...humans have poached griffin treasure, causing these mythical creatures to attack on sight.

Complicating matters, the evil Abaddon, sovereign of Oomaldee’s northern neighbor, is turning more and more citizens into zolt in his ongoing campaign of terror as he sets in motion the final steps of his plan to conquer the land. Things really start to heat up in book five!

If you loved Harry Potter, you’ll love the Andy Smithson series chalk full of mythical creatures, newly invented animals like zolt, herewolves, and therewolves, a complex plot with evolving characters, and positive themes including responsibility, diligence, dignity, friendship and more.

I'm always interested in books where authors have put a lot of thought into the story, building a world that has symbolism and meaning beyond just entertainment. I found Linda's comments here enlightening. 

If you’re an adult looking for a clean series you can sink your teeth into, Andy Smithson is definitely it! In it I develop four layers simultaneously:

1) Andy Smithson in Lakehills, TX 
2) Andy in Oomaldee 
3) The Afterlife 
4) A meaning layer. A few examples to demonstrate the depth...

Symbolism is used extensively (a couple examples):

The fog of the curse symbolizes blindness and oppression.

The magic key unlocks doors, brings stone statues to life, as well as revives. Put another way, it symbolizes bringing forth, opening up, and revealing (aka taking responsibility).

Methuselah is not only a weapon and helper, but also represents justice as it divides good and evil. Consistent with life, justice requires diligence to uphold.

Names are also important in this series (a few examples):

Andy means brave or courageous.
Alden means helper.
Hannah means favor or grace.
Imogenia means blameless.

Alchemy used throughout the series (a few examples):

Alchemy played a significant role in the development of modern science. Alchemists sought to transform base metals into the gold or silver and/or develop an elixir of life which would confer youth and longevity and even immortality.

In the series, the first instance of alchemy begins with the gold weavers, Max, Oscar, and Henry, spinning straw into gold to manufacture the wealth of the kingdom.

The four elementals: air, earth, fire, and water are then seen on Methuselah’s hilt.

The titles of the books manifest yet another layer of meaning and reveal Imogenia’s evolution.

Beginning with Blast of the Dragon’s Fury, Imogenia is furious at what has happened to her and she fuels her emotional hurt.

In Venom of the Serpent’s Cunning, Imogenia turns venomous (or spiteful) and cunning in seeking ways to continually punish her brother.

Disgrace of the Unicorn’s Honor has Imogenia act in a manner disgraceful to the honor of royalty.

In Resurrection of the Phoenix’s Grace we see Imogenia’s grace reborn as she begins to reflect.

In Vision of the Griffin’s Heart, Imogenia realizes she is gripped by hatred and distrust she has harbored for so long. Unlike griffins who choose to trust others, Imogenia cannot yet make that leap when it comes to her brother. 

You can learn more about L.W.R. Lee and her Christian fantasy series at

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

New Amazon Review of Seventh Dimension - The Door, Book One in the 15X Award-Winning Christian Fantasy Series Seventh Dimension

on January 12, 2016

I can honestly say that The Door is unlike any book I've ever read before ​though it is vaguely reminiscent of The Chronicles of Narnia. Speaking as one who is easily confused by time travel in any form, I am pleased to say that I had no trouble at all understanding what (and when) events were taking place. On the contrary, I truly enjoyed the style of the tale.

In the beginning, I found myself shadowing a teenage girl who had far more problems that she did friends. In the depths of my heart, I could identify with her loneliness and her struggle to find her place in the world. As the reader, I ached to hold her and assure her that she wasn't alone, but fortunately, the author did much more.

Through an accident, the young girl is transported back to Jerusalem in the time of Christ. After hearing multiple stories about "The King,” Shale decides to risk everything and expose the dirty secret she'd been holding back her entire life. During her journey to meet the King, Shale encounters many Biblical characters such as the maniac of Gadara and even takes place in some of the miracles of the New Testament. This walk through the Biblical past was so refreshing and eye-opening. By mixing the present with the past, the truths of the Bible came alive in entirely new ways, urging me to drink in more of what the Scriptures have to offer.

The author has woven a beautiful tale of love and forgiveness, of grace and mercy. With detailed, realistic characters and true-to-life Biblical accounts, this book is a must read for young adults (and older ones, as well).


Like audiobooks? You can now get Seventh Dimension - The Door in audiobook. The nonfiction companion book Am I Okay, God is also available as an audiobook. Just click here.

Visit my website at for a special 40% off offer on a print version.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Captioning as I Get Older - Should I Keep Paying Those Fees to Maintain Those Certifications?

Captioning Weather for WVTM, Birmingham

Many years ago I let my certifications lapse when I went back to get my college degree. Life changed and I ended up having to go back into court reporting. I didn’t need the certifications to get hired but I did need the certifications to participate in the External Degree Program through the NCRA (or whatever the current name is) at the University of Alabama. I retook the tests for the certifications and went on and received my B.A. degree from the University of Alabama in interdisciplinary sciences five years later. I was able to deduct the costs of getting my college degree as part of my business expenses because I received C.E. credits for the classes. When you consider I traveled to Israel, Italy, England, Australia and New Zealand as part of my college degree, I took tons of money off my income taxes, so I have never been one to complain about the costs of C.E. credits or membership. It’s paid for itself.

However, I do think things continue to slide in the wrong direction. Pay per hour is less than I earned for the first show I captioned with no experience. A few years ago I got worried when the bottom fell out and went back and got my Masters degree in Creative Writing. I started writing books and continue writing, hoping to someday to make a living from it. While that hasn’t happened yet, without the flexibility that captioning offers, I would not have been able to do that. Not only that, but I was able to adopt two children from Asia as a single mom and homeschool them—because captioning paid well (especially back then) and gave me flexible hours working at home. 

Captioning also gave me skills for writing I wouldn’t otherwise have. And to maintain those certifications, I have done online classes that will help me with writing—Microsoft Word, Photoelements, and a copyediting course. The money I spent on the courses wasn’t that expensive, I think around $80 each, and I did them from home. I also deducted them for tax purposes.

I don’t think the NCRA is unreasonable in what they ask. It’s pushed me to take courses I probably wouldn’t have taken but from which I benefitted. Those certifications look good after my name on email, and it means I’ve met a certain standard that people in the industry recognize.  Will I continue to pay the yearly fees and maintain my certifications? I just turned 60 (ouch) and I am asking myself that question. Probably till I’m 65 or until I start selling tons of books. Remember, I let my certifications lapse once and I told myself I would never do that again.

I sure wish I could earn what I earned a few years ago, but those days are gone unless I want to work A LOT of hours. But it’s still better than anything else I’m qualified to do—yet. It’s hard to start over in an entirely new career at my age, but it does allow me to pursue my passion—writing books—that a typical day job would not afford. 

When I’m not sure what to do, I usually stay the course until a door opens so wide, I know not to shut it. And as far as I’m concerned, that means staying certified and paying those dues (which I just paid). Seems like they went up this year. AGAIN.

FREE on Amazon Kindle

When you look at the alternatives, captioning is still a good field. It’s just not as good as it once was. But then, rarely does anything stay the same. Except taxes and death.

Want a free book for your Kindle? Download “Seventh Dimension - The Door” from Amazon.

Merry Christmas, Everyone.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Another Awesome Review by J. Steve Miller of Seventh Dimension - The Castle, Book 3

on December 22, 2015

Book 3
Book 4 will be available in Spring 2016
Children grow up hearing and reading Bible stories, but when they become teens, the stories probably lose some of their luster. Sure, there’s always a new insight or a fresh way to apply a familiar passage. But you no longer read the parable of the prodigal son and wonder how the story will end. As a result, we lose a bit of the wonder of it all, failing to grasp what it would have been like to hear it in the first century, as a bystander enraptured by the Teacher’s story.

Enter the power of the historical novel that dares to allow their characters to mingle with Jesus’ followers and see Him in person. Somehow, it gives us an angle that breathes new life into old, familiar stories. At least, that’s what The Castle did for me.

The author certainly made it easy for me to care about her characters and kept me turning pages to see what would happen next (being a sci-fi kind of guy, I loved the bending of space-time element). But beneath the fast-paced action/adventure was the psychological struggle of worldviews in conflict. A young Jewish man encounters Yeshua, but struggles to believe, particularly in light of the holocaust. It’s as if Yeshua was in some sense a precursor, or an earlier form of an individual holocaust.

But whatever readers take away, I think they’ll remember it for more than just an action/adventure with likable characters. Somehow it affected me more deeply. Perhaps it will touch your heart as well.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Five Star Review of Seventh Dimension - The Castle from Top Fifty Reviewer on Amazon

TOP 50 REVIEWERon December 17, 2015

"The Castle" is the third in the "Seventh Dimension" series of young adult fantasy written by Lorilyn Roberts. The protagonist is a young man named Daniel, who is Jewish, and who was born in the late twentieth century, but who is stuck in the "seventh dimension," where time is illusory and time travel is possible. "The Castle" takes place mostly during the time of the earthly ministry of Yeshua (Jesus), in particular from shortly before his crucifixion until shortly after his resurrection. However, Daniel also on occasion finds himself flashing back to the time of the Holocaust, which he has also experienced in the course of his time travels.

While living during the time of Yeshua's earthly ministry, Daniel encounters many of the characters spoken of in the Gospels and the Book of Acts and interacts with them. However, the one who most fascinates him is the miracle-working rabbi, Yeshua. As a Jew from the turn of the twenty-first century, Daniel has been told that Yeshua is not the Messiah, but that the Messiah is yet to come. However, as he witnesses the ministry and teaching of Jesus, and finally sees the resurrected Christ, he becomes convinced that Yeshua is indeed who he claims to be.

2015 Literary Classics Award Winner - Gold in YA faith-based fiction. 

Daniel is more than a passive observer of all these things. He is also wanted by the Roman authorities for a crime he did not commit. His own life is often in danger, and this subplot is woven into the story of Daniel's encounter with Yeshua.

This is a fast-moving, gripping book. It is thoroughly grounded in the scriptural account of the events of Jesus' life. Because of this it is especially appropriate as a way of bringing young adults into a better understanding of who the Messiah is and what he has done in bringing his people to salvation through his death on the cross.

Award-Winning Finalist: Religious category 2015 USA Best Book Awards.