Friday, September 28, 2012

Blogger Spotlight: Azure Dwarf Horde of SciFi & Fantasy

Today I am very pleased to bring you William Bentrim of Azure Dwarf Horde of SciFi & Fantasy for today's Blogger Spotlight.  William has had a front row seat during the evolution of Seventh Star Press, having posted about us and reviewed titles since our earliest days.  Without question, he has one of our more favorite blog titles too!  It is always a pleasure to visit the Dwarf Horde!  William is also an author of children's books and has many other pursuits, so settle in and be introduced to a very interesting and jovial fellow! :)

Blogger Spotlight #5: Azure Dwarf Horde of SciFi & Fantasy

1. Tell us a little about yourself, and your background

My life has been entertainingly eclectic. Growing up in a Western Pennsylvania steel town crafted a robust work ethic. I spent 10 years in education as a teacher and guidance counselor. I was the only room Dad for my boys’ elementary school classes for 9 consecutive years. After leaving education I owned and operated a deli for 10 years where I started a computer business by selling software games next to the baloney and cigarettes. Twenty-five years later I sold the business to another computer firm that wanted the 78 computer networks I had under contract. Currently I am checking things off my bucket list such as writing books for kids. My best decision in life was marrying my bride of 45 years. That led to deciding to have kids, raising those kids and reaping the benefits of grandkids.

2. What kinds of books do you like to read for pleasure? Any favorites?

My earliest recollections of science fiction was The Wonderful Flight to the Mushroom Planet by Eleanor Cameron and The Shy Stegosaurus of Cricket Creek by Evelyn S. Lampma. Those started me on a path that has permeated my life. I feel SciFi and Fantasy embody the best aspects of literature. For the most part the genre promotes hope and nobility. The heroes are flawed but pure in heart; the villains deserve to be defeated. Heinlein, McCaffrey and Lackey have provided me with out of body experiences. I am hooked on reading; first choice is always scifi or fantasy and then thrillers from folks like Connelly, Silva or Deutermann. I normally am reading three to five books simultaneously. I just gave away 850 books and am now down to about 1200 in my TBR pile.

3. When did you start your blog, and what motivated you to do it?

January 5, 2010 was my first post on Dwarf. I started Money Saving Tech Tips and Philosophic Musings in October of 2007 primarily to keep the tech side of my brain stimulated. Pick of the Literate began in January of 2008 and until I started Dwarf I reviewed all genres there. Now I do general literature on Pick and SciFi/Fantasy on Dwarf. My motivation was simple, I was retired, I had time to do things I really wanted to do and I always wanted to write. Writing reviews were easy as I was already reading the books.

4. How did you come up with the name for your site? Is there a story behind it?

A blue dwarf is one of the rarer stars and of course dwarves are a mainstay in fantasy so my title of Azure Dwarf tries to combine my two genre loves.

5. What kinds of genres do you cover on your site?

Any type of fiction that is primarily speculative goes on Dwarf. Vampires, zombies, space operas, quests, urban fantasy, cyber-punk are covered by the Dwarf. Normal kind of stuff such as murder and mayhem goes on Pick of the Literate.

6. What kinds of regular features do you have on your site?

I periodically grab the header off of another site and promote it when I find a cool one. My reviews are based on the FIFO principle unless I can’t wait with something like a new Weber or Modesitt. I like to promote new authors and do blog tours for places like Seventh Star Press. I’ve got a thing for Seventh Star because they seem to truly respect the independent author and blogger. They seek out new talent and promote it. I like offering give-aways since I personally wig out when I get a free book.

7. What is the hardest thing about being a blogger?

I hesitate to play the astrology card but as a Libra, I want universal happiness. I hate writing reviews on books I really didn’t like. I often can see why someone else would like them and I try and point that out. Sometimes I find I can’t write a review and I evoke my personal Flower the skunk rule of if I can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.

8. What are your favorite things about being a blogger?

Blogging gives me one more excuse to curl up with a book. I get giddy when I have four or five books show up in my mailbox. I love to read and I hope to encourage others to read by giving them a hint of the quality that a book might offer.

9. If you could give a piece of advice or two to authors looking to work with a blog site, what would you say?

 Most bloggers understand the cost of sending out a hard copy. I still prefer a hard copy but I will certainly accept a Kindle version for review. I personally only send out pdf copies of my own picture books for review. A personal request reaps the most benefit when requesting reviews. Flattery works too, one guy told me that he was told I was the go to guy for military fiction and that was why he was contacting me. Turns out he wrote a great book and I have his third one in my TBR pile. So it was a win-win for both of us.

10. Any last thoughts or things you might want to say to readers who are finding out about your blog for the first time?

I am diligent about NO spoilers. Sometimes that makes it really hard to write a review. In fact, in my head I am not writing reviews, I am writing recommendations. I am not an editor or lit professor and my credentials for writing recommendations are based on 60 years of reading not on style or structure. I recommend on how a book hits me. If I find a book that engages my emotions I can’t put it down. I get engaged when I think the protagonist is a major idiot and wonder how the author can possibly keep him from self destruction. I get engaged when descriptive camaraderie or sacrifice is so noble it brings me to tears. I have worked diligently to teach my kids and now my grandkids that reading is the ticket to your heart. Love dogs, read Racing in the Rain, My Life as a Dog by Garth Stein, want your daughter to have no boundaries in her ambitions read Elizabeth Moon’s The Deed Of Paksenarrion or Heris Serrano or Weber’s Honor Harrington. Want to reach to the stars, read Heinlein or Pournelle or Drake. If you can read these authors and not be touched your heart is unreachable.

Are you ready to become part of the Dwarf Horde?  Be sure to connect with William at the following links:


  1. Ok, this is just too cool. Thank you Stephen and Seventh Star. The more I get people to look at my books, the better chance I have of helping a kid cope better with his life. October is Anti-Bullying Month talk to your kids about bullying and being bullied. The more they know the less likely they are to perpetuate the problem.