Book cover for Graphite and Turbulence

Tuesday Book Review: Graphite and Turbulence by Jami Fairleigh

Book cover for Graphite and Turbulence

Graphite and Turbulence is Book Two of The Elemental Artist series by Jami Fairleigh. The first book, Oil and Dust, introduces Matthew Sugiyama, an Artist who has the magical ability to reshape the physical world through painting. The series is set in a post apocalyptic world where the survivors have come together to form small communities based on barter and a minimum of rules. Matthew is on a quest to find his birth family, who gave him up into the care of an Artist abbey when he was very small. His quest is opposed, both by the masters of his abbey, and by other darker forces. By the end of the first book, Matthew has gathered friends and companions on his quest, including a young orphan girl named Akiko, who, despite the prohibion of female Artists, has shown the same magical ability as Matthew. He adopts Akiko as his ward, and leaves with her to continue his search.

And that brings us to Graphite and Turbulance.

Matthew’s quest continues, but now he is caring for a small child and learning that parenting is not for the faint of heart. There are twists, and shocking revelations, and much like the first book, Matthew accumulates injuries fairly regularly along the way. Made of cast iron, he is not. But he is stubbornly persistent, and that takes him a long way towards meeting his objectives.

What I liked about this novel is its depth. The narrative drives everything, as it should, but the story functions on several different levels, as a commentary on current society, and an exploration of what family means for two examples. Matthew learns that the easy answers he was given in the abbey don’t always work in the larger world, and that dealing with people is always messy.

As the title suggests, the series plays a lot with the idea of duality, both in opposition and in support. Graphite, for example, is used as an artistic medium, and as an engineering lubricant. Physical and emotional turbulence abound, and the effect it has on the characters as well as the story is profound as Matthew struggles to find his place in the larger world, and to keep his friends and family safe and whole.

There are some major revelations in the book, and people are not always who they seem to be. Matthew has to learn who he can trust, and that is always a hard lesson.

Once again, Fairleigh has created a series of memorable characters while telling a story that immediately engages and challenges your imagination.

And for those of you who, like me, are not a big fan of cliffhanger endings, you can relax. Yes, it sets up the next book, but it doesn’t leave you hanging. Except for…well, I won’t spoil it for you.

Five Stars.

Weekly Update: Week 1

Happy New Year! I hope you had a great holiday season and are approaching this new year with energy, enthusiasm, and appreciation!

Now, to the update!

  1. Weight – I weighed in at 268 this week. I gained 3 pounds over the holidays. I didn’t want to gain anything, but three pounds isn’t the end of the world. I set a goal for this year to hit 215 by my birthday, June 14. That’s 43 pounds in 26 weeks, or just over 1.6 pounds per week. That’s a very realistic goal, particularly since I’m going to front load it with a short term goal of 15 lbs this month. We’re leaving for vacation Jan 28, and I want to look good for our destination!
  2. Non Fiction – I took some time off over the holidays, but now it’s back to work! Maintaining and growing social media, starting a newsletter and building a mailing list, and posting here regularly are all high priorities. I haven’t set any metrics yet for followers and such. Right now, I want to establish the routine, and build a reservoir of material for new readers to read through. Once I have a solid presence, then I’ll start working to build up!
  3. Fiction – Like I said, I took some time off for the holidays. I sat on the couch and watched TV with my wife, and then watched some football with the cats. I may have scared them a time or too, yelling at the screen. But now it’s time to get back into the harness and start putting words on paper. The weekly short story group started yesterday, and I plan on posting a story to the group every Friday, even while I’m on vacation. We’ll see how that goes! As for novel(s), it’s time to start working on those as well. The paranormal romance still sits at roughly 24k, and I want to have it completed by Jan 28. Then I’ll dive back into Calder Sharpe’s world and see what he’s been up to!
  4. Ukulele – One of my goals for the new year is to learn a new song each week and record at least one per month. This week, I’m concentrating on finishing “Hallelujah” and next week, The Rose (Bette Midler.) Other songs on my short list include “California Dreaming,” “All of Me,” “After the Goldrush,” “Over the Rainbow/Wonderful World,”and “Does your Chewing Gum Lose its Flavor (on the Bedpost Overnight?)” If there’s any song you think I should add to the list, let me know!
  5. What I’m Reading – Since I had time, I finished several books. First, “The Debare Snake Launcher” by Joelle Presby. This is her first solo novel and it is a good one even though it isn’t what I expected. I thought this would be more of a hard SF novel dealing with the construction of the first space elevator. Instead, it turned out to be more of a character study of the family given the contract to oversee construction of a support launcher to put supplies into orbit to build the elevator. We get to watch as the family fights deadlines, supply and construction issues, a volcano, and each other to complete construction of the launcher. Next up was Thief of Aether, by Bree Moore, book 2 of her “Shadowed Minds” series. Like the first book, this is another page turned as Lee is increasingly tangled in schemes and crossed loyalties as she tries desperately to find her way free of the magic that is killing her. Be warned, the book ends on a cliffhanger and we’ll all have to wait for book three to find out how it gets resolved. But it will be worth the wait! And right now, I’m reading Graphite and Turbulence, book two of Jami Fairleigh’s “Elemental Artist” series. It picks up immediatel after the conclusion of “Oil and Dust” as Matthew, a young Artist with the ability to alter things in the real world with his paintings continues his search to find his birth family.
  6. Audio books – The reviews are in (all two of them) and, based on thier feedback, I will be releasing an audio version of “The Name of the Moon” on Amazon to go along with the story. I have a few edits left to make on the audio, then I have to figure out how to post an audio to Amazon, get everything set up, and then it goes live. My goal is for it to go live before we go on vacation, but we’ll see.

And that’s it for this update!

Have a great week!

Hello 2023!

I do believe in setting goals and making resolutions for the New Year. It gives me a focus for the year and a way to measure my progress.

There is a difference between a resolution and a goal that most people tend to miss. A goal is a concrete achievement. It’s very specific. One of the things we teach in our professional development courses is how to set a SMART goal.

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Relevant
  • Timed

For example, if I’m setting a weight loss goal, I would say something like “I will weigh less than 215lbs by June 14.” I set a specific target, one that is measurable on a scale, and that involves a reasonable amount of time to achieve, and that has a deadline.

I left out relevant, and that’s because ‘relevant’ relates to a resolution.

Resolutions are not as cut and dried. They’re messy, hard to measure, and tend to be broader. For example, “I resolve to live a healthier lifestyle in 2023.” You see how that is not a SMART goal? But it still has meaning.

My goals must be relevant to my resolutions.

So here are my resolutions along with some goals for 2023.

  1. Be kind.
    • Go out of my way to greet people
    • Help others whenever the opportunity presents itself
    • Swallow my pride
    • Forgive offenses
  2. Be healthy
    • Weigh <215 by June 14
    • End all heart meds by June 14
    • Exercise 1 hour 3 times per week
  3. Be appreciative of the efforts of those around me
    • Praise freely; criticize sparingly
  4. Expand my horizons
    • Learn a song every week on the ukulele
    • Record and post one each month
    • Learn a new language
    • Finish my arcade controller
  5. Grow as a writer
    • Complete 52 short stories by Dec 31.
    • Complete 4 novels to final edit by Dec 31.
    • Publish collection of the best short stories by Oct 1.
    • Submit to 12 open call anthologies by Dec 31
    • Submit to WOTF every quarter I am eligible
    • Submit to both Baen contests
    • Record and publish 12 audio stories
  6. Love