Sunday, December 31, 2017

The top 10 books I read in 2017.

These are sort of in the order I read them, although I cheated by combining some that were part of a series. At sometime during the year, my Amazon reviews (which I always write when I finish a book, and wish others would do with mine) were also posted to Goodreads, where I’m now finding what I said about each book. The ones cross-posted from the ‘zon have titles and are longer. I didn’t give all of these five stars, but none less than four.

The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith aka J.K. Rowling

My review: One of the best things I've read for our book club. I'll definitely read the rest in the series.

What sticks with me: I’ve now read the two other books in this series, and I’m still eager to read more. The characters are engaging.

On Writing by Stephen King

My review: This was highly recommended to me, so I was glad to get a copy. It didn't disappoint. Great advice combined with a fascinating partial autobiography. All readers and writers should read this one.

What sticks with me: Still one of the best books on writing I’ve ever read. And it was entertaining too.

Nomad, Sanctuary, Resistance, and Destiny by Matthew Mather

My Review: For Sanctuary: Great second book in this series about an asteroid causing devastation to Earth. For Destiny: This last in the series is as good as the previous three books. The main characters continue to have to deal with the aftermath of Nomad and the coming disaster involving Saturn and it's rings.

What sticks with me: This four-book series was a page-turner. Action-packed, too. The characters could have been developed more, and I wasn’t too thrilled with the payoff ending.

Leviathan Wakes, Caliban’s War and Abaddon’s Gate by James S. A. Corey

My Review: LW: I think I may have enjoyed it even more if I hadn't already watched the first two seasons of the TV series. CW: Even better than the first book in the series.

What sticks with me: The characters are introduced in a different order than on TV. I’m looking forward to the third season, but also to reading the rest of the books (so far).

The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith (Posting each of these separate)

My Review: I’m enjoying these characters more and more

What sticks with me: I love these characters. I wish BBC-A would show the BBC series based on the books. Can’t wait for the fourth one.

Caligation by Brhi Stokes

My Review: Wow, what a fascinating world Brhi Stokes has conceived. Fascinating world full of great characters. Ripley's adventures and search for the truth make for action-filled scenes. I highly recommend the story.

What sticks with me: I don’t usual like stories with vampires, etc. but this one was worth reading.

Dying to be Roman by E. M. Swift-Hook and Jane Jago

My Review: An alternative history story filled with action and romance. What a great start to an alternative history series! Dai, a Briton, and Julia, a Roman form a wonderful detective team. Their first investigation is filled with action.

What sticks with me: I wrote a Dai and Julia story for a contest E. M. and Jane ran, and it won, so I now have the Omnibus to read more of their adventures.

Murder Most Unladylike by Robin Stevens

My Review: Fun YA mystery. The characters are enjoyable, especially the narrator, Hazel Wong.

What sticks with me: If you like British cozies or girls’ school series (or both), you’ll love the Wells and Wong stories.

The Fifth Season by N. K. Jemisin

My Review: Wow, just wow!

After the slow start, I became lost in this story. So well structured! Such wonderful characters. Now I can't wait to read the next book in the series. Jemisin has built a fascinating, terrible world full of mysteries. Love it.

What sticks with me: The writing, the structuring, the characterization, the world of the story.

Career in Evil by Robert Galbraith

My Review: Best in the series

This series gets better with each book. Now I can't wait for the next one. The characters of Cormoran and Robin are believable and so is their relationship

What sticks with me: See what I said about the other two in the series and then double it.

Honorable mention: Foreigner by C. J. Cherryh
Max and the Multiverse by Zachary Wheeler
Stormhaven Rising by Eric Michael Craig
Beyond Reach by Karin Slaughter

I plan to post a review every Tuesday and a piece of writing every Friday in 2018

Happy New Year every one.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

More recent reviews of books by SciFi Roundtable authors:

Caligation by Brhi Stokes

Wow, what a fascinating world Brhi Stokes has conceived

Fascinating world full of great characters. Ripley's adventures and search for the truth make for action-filled scenes. I highly recommend the story.


: A Short Story by 

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Here's another book review:

Daddy’s Girl by Lisa Scottoline

I always love Scottoline’s novels, the ones about a firm of female lawyers solving crimes and the suspenseful thriller novels. In this page turner with wonderful characters and great development of the main character, Scottoline combines the two. I put aside everything else I was reading to focus on what happened next. It had me clinging to the edge of my seat. We follow the development of law professor Nat Greco from someone who follows the rules, and especially the expectation of her overbearing family to a woman who can handle herself and knows her own mind. Five stars.

Monday, October 16, 2017

This is the opening of the third book in my Crystal Odyssey series, now called Beyond the Sea. What can I do so it grabs the readers more?

People, horses, and wagons crowded the vast entryway of the Stronghold. The day had arrived for the start of our next adventure. I'd looked forward to this for so long that it was almost anticlimactic to actually be embarking for home and then Fartek.

We saddled our steeds and stowed our packs, mounted and took one last look at the people and the place we were leaving behind, and then Oskar opened the entry so we could file out.

The last weeks at the Stronghold we prepared for the journey to Fartek. Katya and Mai made good progress in deciphering Madoc's books, the main object of our trek, using what we found in the fallen satellite at the bottom of Dulno Lake.

Monday, September 4, 2017

This month I'm participating in #30Authors30Days along with twenty-nine other authors. We're all posting and blogging and tweeting about each other, so I'll post something here once each week.

This week, I'll start with the first few authors on the list, including Lucinda Hawks Moebius, the organizer of the effort.

Rose Montague 

JeffrySmith  (aka Andy Zach)

Russ Gurnhill

Lacey Roberts

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Gearing up for the Moriarty Mini-Comic-Con on Saturday August 5, where I'll be selling all of my books and enjoying the other activities. Events like this are great for meeting with readers and other writers.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

This is the start of a Fairy Tale I'm writing for a class:

Once there was an island, not far from the mainland. The island’s harbor was a trading port. Ships came from the mainland and other islands to trade for the very special red olives that grew only on the island.

The island’s ruler had three daughters. The eldest daughter, Lyrica, played the flute with such grace and beauty it made the birds jealous. Her sister, Appolina, was a scholar. She’d read every book in the castle’s library and frequented the bookstores in the harbor village, searching for more. And the youngest girl, Kalamatia, grew the best olives on the island.

One day, a ship arrived in the harbor from the mainland carrying, in addition to goods for trade, three young men. They were all fair of face, though one was dark, one was fair and the third had ginger hair. They wore regal jackets adorned with gold braid and brass buttons, and were in fact princes from the mainland.

The three young men presented them at the castle atop the highest hill on the island, bringing greetings from their father, the king. But the ruler of the island did not like the king, afraid he might want to invade. So he sent them away to find food and drink near the harbor.

Now the oldest of the princes, Tenorio, loved to sing. He had the voice of a nightingale, sweet and pure. As they walked back down to the town, he sang one of his favorites. But rather than sounding beautiful, it clashed with the dissonant sounds of a flute. “Go on,” he told his brothers. “For I must find the person playing that awful flute and trounce him.

The other two continued to descend the hill, but the first shop they came to was a bookstore. “I’ll stop here a while,” said the blond brother, Libro. “They may have a book I’ve been searching for.”

The third brother, the redhead named Ceraon, was more interested in the food available on the island. In truth, he was a renowned chef. He’d heard of the marvelous olives grown on the island and wondered what delicacies were prepared with them.  

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Sunday, May 28, 2017

I can't believe it's been a month since the last time I posted.

Here is the final version of the new cover for The Crimson Orb:

Didn't Deva Walksfar do a fabulous job? And now she's working on the cover for the sequel, Under Two Moons. Here's her initial idea:

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Here's a partial list of what I'm working on:

Finishing the sequel to The Crimson Orb, called Under two Moons.
Writing the sequel to A Bite of the Apple, called Winds of Change.
A post-apocalyptic novel, taking place in a dry, hot, windy west called Addie's Exile
An apocalyptic novel about stranded train passengers called Train to Nowhere Somewhere
A modular short story about an abused mother and daughter, tentatively called No Regrets
Expansions on some of the pieces I've posted here.

I'm also struggling to get The Crimson Orb print version republished using Create Space. The biggest problem is creating front and back covers that will match what I had before and also be accepted.

Hope you're all working on great projects.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Sorry I've been AWOL from this blog for a bit, but here's one. The prompt was: Describe a landscape as seen by an old woman whose disgusting and detestable old husband has just died. Do not mention the husband or death.

I felt so claustrophobic even in my own house, windows dressed in heavy drapes always kept closed and not a plant in sight. It was clean, not a speck of dust, yet I couldn’t breathe. So when I was finally able to leave, I felt free. Going outside, even for a short walk would be refreshing. I found an old frock, a floral print. No black widow’s weeds for me.

My knees would never let me hike in the nearby hills, but on the even path through the park I’d have no trouble. If I tired, I could sit on a bench, but for now the blossoming trees and the scents of new spring flowers called to me. Tiny birds flitted from daffodils to daisies, flying the way I felt I was even with my feet on the ground. Squirrels looked my way, then scurried off, up the nearest tree, and I laughed. When was the last time I’d done that? The shoots of green grass formed a carpet. I should have brought a blanket to sit or lie on, but the grass was more inviting than any bench.

I stretched out on one sun-drenched section and lay there for a while, more relaxed than I’d been in ages. I woke, not knowing how long I’d slept, but the sun had begun it’s descent. I sighed and stood, with a bit of effort, and walked back towards the house, grateful for a few hours in the fresh air.

Tomorrow I'll pull down the drapes and throw open the windows. Maybe I’ll take a trip in a few weeks. I’d always wanted to go to the Orient or Hawaii or maybe Australia, somewhere far away. And now I can.

Monday, January 23, 2017

The start of a new mystery story? From a prompt at at WVU Forum

It started innocently enough as a little white lie. Well, perhaps not so little. But white lies are told to protect the recipient, aren’t they? So when Bill told Betty that he’d be happy to accompany her to a party given by her boss.

He knew Simon Blessing as an arrogant man who took pleasure in ridiculing anyone who came within ten feet of him. Exposing himself to an evening near the nasty man wasn’t really his idea of a good time. Still, it was Betty who asked. And he’d do anything to please her. So he told her he would accompany her.

Perhaps Betty didn’t know how venomous her boss could be. Was it possible he acted differently in the office? Wasn’t that the most likely place for him to put down his inferiors?

He wore his best suit, and stopped for some flowers for Betty. She greeted him at her apartment door with a smile. Her blue dress brought out the pale color of her eyes. He gulped. “You look lovely.”

They drove to Blessing’s home, one of the large mansions in the best part of town. They parked in the circular driveway and climbed the wide staircase. It looked like every light of the house was on. Bill rang the bell as he tried to calm his nerves, but he adjusted his tie and smoothed his hair. Not a sound came to them.

He pressed his lips together and used the knocker. The sound of brass against wood was louder than it should be. Still, no one came to the door. Bill reached out hesitantly and turned the knob. It moved easily in his hand and the door swung open. There on the parquet floor lay Simon Blessing in a pool of blood.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Hope everyone had a wonderful holiday. Hope 2017 will be good for you all.

Here's a new piece from an inanimate POV. As a jumping off point, I’ll use a poem I wrote many, many, many and even more years ago in high school (one of the few things I remember fondly from those days):


A floating feather when it falls will take its time to reach the floor
It takes its time because it knows it might not ever fall amore
Not rushing with a man’s great speed to reach a goal that he may seek
The floating feather knows that in expecting it is at its peak

This is the story of a feather that escaped during a pillow fight. It was one of many, their spines, called rachis, curved like gentle smiles.

The grayish white little plume began life on a goose. Plucked from its first home, it was stuffed into a suffocating ticking. For many years, along with its fellows, it supported a heavy head without bending or breaking. Then one day, inside its casing, it was tossed through the air. Collision with another pillow weakened a seam just enough for it to wriggle out.

It floated high up in the air. Such a sense of release, such freedom. A slight breeze blew it and buoyed it until it started drifting. Lower and lower, side to side, enjoying the gentle ride, while others of its kind glided around it.

It had no need to rush. No goal. This was better than anything that had happened to it in many years. No pressure, no shaking. Was there a way to continue in this state forever? To reverse direction? It caught another zephyr. The feather didn’t care what caused it, only that it rose again, but not to high to be caught in the sharp blades of that whirring thing above. The smile of its spine became a grin. The pillows had collided again, giving forth another onslaught of gray and white feathers. Giggles filled the air along with the fluffy plumes.

Some of the newly-freed feathers sped to the ground, but not this one. What would the floor provide for it? Would it be able to move again? Would it be picked up once more stuffed into the ticking of a pillow or something even worse? It had heard from others that many were used to fill coverings for people and taken out into the cold, expected to keep the wearer warm and dry while they froze. It shivered at the thought. But soon it remembered it was warm and happy, taking its time, floating on air, and inching downward to the distant floor.

Below, the other feathers formed a soft landing pad. The longer the feather took to reach them, the more feathers would pile up to break its fall. No sense speeding up. A lazy drift downward was best. How many others had dropped it didn’t know, since it couldn’t count, but lots. It grinned at them.

One other feather kept pace with it. Instead of racing each other to the finish line, they tried to see which would take the longest. But a feather that was released after them, bumped against them both and they struggled to keep from descending with it. A flutter kept the feather aloft a while longer.

It expected that eventually it would join the others that had fallen to the ground, but it wanted to enjoy this freedom while it could. It danced like the lightest ballerina, catching every draft.

“What are you doing?” A loud blasting noise coming from the head it had help support for so many years was followed by a gust. A roar, a groan, and then the sound of pillow hitting pillow ceased. “We were just playing.” No more feathers joined those remaining in the air. As some united with those already on the floor, fewer and fewer stayed aloft with it. The plume didn’t mind if it was the last to reach its ultimate end. Nothing would ruffle it. This bit of down was staying up.

Sure it would be nice to be with others of its kind, the ones already lying peacefully on the ground, but it didn’t want to give up its liberty, its independence just yet. It fluttered and drifted ever lower.

But nothing lasts forever. It sighed as it neared the others already on the ground. Still it smiled as it settled on the soft cloud of other feathers. What a wonderful journey, a journey better than its end.