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A Book Review ~~ The Prisoner in the Castle by Susan Elia MacNeal

reviews, authors, writingreviews, authors, writingreviews, authors, writing     3 out of 5 quills     A Review

I was disappointed in this latest offering in the Maggie Hope series. The plot was so implausible that, after a few chapters, I hurried to the back of the book, hoping for an author’s note. Sure enough, this plot was  far-fetched but based upon truth.  MI-6 and S.O.E. actually had a ‘cooler’ where the British intelligence community sent, what they deemed, their ‘unstable’ agents. 

So why was I having such a hard time connecting with the story? Usually I adore  Maggie Hope and the series. For one thing,  I didn’t care about the other agents. There wasn’t enough of a back story on each of them for this reader to care whether they lived or died.

Just too many clichés for me. A castle and a stormy night, tripping over dead bodies, the wife locked in a castle tower. By this time in the series, Maggie is too high up in the espionage business to be unceremoniously thrown into an island prison by her own government! I couldn’t buy it. She has kept countless secrets for the realm, why is she not being trusted to keep this latest one?

Then in the last forty pages, or so, I felt like I’d been dropped into an action film, with bombs going off and Maggie having to swim for her life. It was disconcerting and unbelievable.  I just wasn’t that excited about this book, but I remain a fan. The rest of the series is one of my favorites in this genre. 

Released today. Click here

Did you miss my Interview with this author?

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MY BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!  April: International adventurer, writer, Tal Gur.  June: Manning Wolfe. July K.M. Ecke. August: Mega best selling author, Susan Mallery. Coming this winter: Jayne Ann Krentz (Amanda Quick)

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A Book Review ~~ Green Fees by Manning Wolfe

3 out of 5 quills   ~~  A Reviewreviews, authors, writingreviews, authors, writingreviews, authors, writing

The plot was good, the story entertaining. The main characters were interesting, but the supportive characters (Deuteragonists) were more dynamic than the main protagonists. Merit Bridges frequently teetered on being a cliché  but was  brought back just in the nick of time. Mark Green was empathetic and I found  myself rooting for him. 

The story was too golf specific for the general reading public. Golfers will love how the author weaved the game of golf  through the plot. But non-golfers might find it too much. Those readers will not understand the lingo or care anything about the PGA. This reviewer fears it might be a turn-off.  And if the author is going to tell a story where golf plays such a large role (it’s almost a character in itself) then she should have stopped to integrate an explanation of golf terms into the story. Or a glossary should have been included.
For example I don’t remember seeing an explanation for the word ‘par’. (Par is the predetermined number of strokes that a scratch/expert golfer should require to complete a hole. Par is determined by guidelines set by the US Golf Association.) 

If a non-golf enthusiast gets as far as the last round of the PGA Championship (20 pages before the end of the book) they will be drawn in because of the excellent writing in this section. Despite their lack of knowledge (about golf) they will be cheering Mark Green on to victory. 

Did you miss my Interview with Manning Wolfe
Green Fees on sale now 
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MY BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!  June: Manning Wolfe. July: K.M. Ecke. August: Mega best selling author, Susan Mallery. Sept: Jonathan Rabb, December: Jayne Ann Krentz (Amanda Quick)

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Book Review ~~ When We Found Home by Susan Mallery

reviews, authors, writingreviews, authors, writingreviews, authors, writingreviews, authors, writingreviews, authors, writing

5 out of 5 quills ~~ A Review

 

Perfection!  Saying anything more would be superfluous.

If you’re a fan of Susan Mallery, you must read this one!  If you’ve never heard of Susan (fat chance) you must read this story. The writing is (like I said) perfect. The characters are so interesting and believable. And the plot…oh, the plot.  Delicious! 

Readers of my reviews know that I don’t write spoilers…nothing has changed. I’m not a writer of cliff notes. You have to experience this entire journey that Susan takes her readers on.  But I will say this; the way Mallery brings the four main characters together is flawless writing.  

Reminder: In August I will be interviewing Susan Mallery and asking her about her writing processes.

To Purchase When We Found Home 

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MY BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   June: Manning Wolfe. July:  K.M. Ecke. August: Mega best selling author, Susan Mallery. Coming this winter: Jayne Ann Krentz (Amanda Quick)

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Interview with filmaker turned author, K. M. Ecke

 K. M. Ecke: Hailing  from  the  original  birthplace  of  the  atomic   bomb,    Los  Alamos,  NM,    K.M.  Ecke  is  an  organic,   free-­range,  preservative-­free,  philosopher-­poet  using   universal  truth  to  battle  cultural  insanity.  Ecke,  which   is  German  for  ‘corner’,  is  the  child  of  a  physicist  and   musician  and    grew  up  at  the  corner  of  creativity  and   logic.

 

Q. Where do you write? Do you have a special room, shed, barn, special space for your writing? Or tell us about your ‘dream’ work space.

KME. My dream work space is a plexiglass shed/dome that allows a ton of natural light. It would be in a massive backyard with a view of the mountains, and I’d have a standing desk or something where I could change positions.

Q. Do you have any special rituals when you sit down to write? (a neat work space, sharpened #2 pencils, legal pad, cup of tea, glass of brandy, favorite pajamas, etc.)

KME. I keep my phone off and my wi-fi turned off. Anything that can district me, will distract me so I need to get out of the digitally addictive world to focus.

Canadian Rockies

Q. Could you tell us something about yourself that we might not already know?

KME. I’m an Eagle Scout.

Q. Do you have a set time each day (or night) to write?

KME. I’d like to be more consistent about this, but it definitely varies depending on my schedule.
Ideally I like to write between 11-5

Q. What’s your best advice to other writers for overcoming procrastination?

KME. Think about the fact that any day you wake up could be your last. If, by procrastinating, you died before you were able to get your project out into the world—this would be a true artistic tragedy. It’s better to die after you’ve made the work, because at least you left something behind.

Q. Where/when do you first discover your characters?

 KME. I pull from real life, my imagination, and my own study of the world. Sometimes I’ll read a news article and then imagine what it would be like to be the perpetrator or the victim. This helps me widen my own psychological frame of reference.

Q. What first inspired you to write your stories?

KME. I can’t not create.

Q. What comes first to you? The Characters or the Situation?

KME. Situation.

Q. Do you ‘get lost’ in your writing?

KME. Yes, I have the ability to completely tune the world out when I’m creating.

Q. Who or what is your “Muse” at the moment?

KME. New life experiences.

Q. Do you have a new book coming out soon? If so tell us about it.

KME. Yes, I’m working on a selection of essays about environmental philosophy.

Q. When did you begin to write seriously?

KME. I started writing poetry and lyrics in college, and I’ve been writing down story ideas since then. It’s been about 10 years at this point.

Q. How long after that were you published?

A. 10 years.

Q. What makes a writer great?

KME. The ability to distill the world into a story.

Q. and the all-important: What does the process of going from “no book” to “finished book” look like for you?

KME. A ton of $#@!ing work

Q. How has your life experiences influenced your writing?

KME. Quite a bit, but I think imagination is more important than personal experience for storytelling.

Q. Have you or do you want to write in another genre`?

EKE. I want to write in all genres, that’s partly my problem.

Note to Self: (a life lesson you’ve learned.)

KME. Be sure your co-collaborators have similar life goals and take time to figure that out.

To Purchase Moral Panic: click here
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MY BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!  April: International adventurer, writer, Tal Gur.  June: Manning Wolfe. July K.M. Ecke. August: Susan Mallery. Coming this winter: Jayne Ann Krentz (Amanda Quick)

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Interview with Thriller Mystery Writer, Manning Wolfe

      TS. I met Manning after discovering her exciting new release, Green Fees. Manning Wolfe is an author and attorney, with one foot in the business world and one foot in the creative realm. Manning writes cinematic-style, intelligent, fast-paced action-packed legal thrillers with a salting of Texas bullshit. She is writing a series of Texas Lady Lawyer novels based on her main character, Austin attorney Merit Bridges. Manning’s background as an attorney has given her a voyeur’s peak into some shady character’s lives and a front row seat to watch the good people who stand against them.

Q. Where do you write? Do you have a special room, shed, barn, special space for your writing? Or tell us about your ‘dream’ work space. 

Writing Space on Houseboat

MW. Since I travel a lot, my writing space often changes depending on the city, state or country I may be visiting. One of my memorable writing spots was on a houseboat in Berkley Marina near San Francisco, California. I could watch the sailboats come and go, sea lions visited while I drank my morning tea, and the sunsets reflecting on the Golden Gate Bridge were breathtaking.

View from my NYC desk

 

 

Q. Do you have any special rituals when you sit down to write? (a neat work space, sharpened #2 pencils, legal pad, cup of tea, glass of brandy, favorite pajamas, etc.)

MW. I have a ceramic wolf that I purchased in Alpine Texas. I set up my travelling space and face the wolf toward the window. Then, I know it’s time to write.

Q. Could you tell us something about yourself that we might not already know?

MW. I raised a dyslexic son, Aaron. It was heartbreaking to watch him struggle to read – the very thing that means so much to me. I always include something about literacy in my books. Aaron was enrolled in a school for dyslexic students and not has a complete command of his reading and writing skills.

Q. Do you have a set time each day (or night) to write?

Sand Sculptures – Port Aransas

MW. No. I am not a good sleeper, so I may write in the middle of the night, or any time during the day that the story comes to me. I tend to think things through at odd times, i.e. while sleeping, cooking, walking, etc. Mindless tasks allow my mind to wander around in the story and I usually come up with my best ideas at those times.

Q. What’s your best advice to other writers for overcoming procrastination?

MW. My self-diagnosed periods of procrastination turned out to be times when the story was not clear in my mind or I was needed elsewhere. I’m not sure procrastination exists.

Q. Where/when do you first discover your characters?

MW. In my series, the next story comes to me when Merit Bridges starts to feel caught up in something. She “calls” to me and I start solving the problem mentally. When I feel there’s something of substance story-wise, I begin to write.

Q. What first inspired you to write your stories?

MW. I told my mother stories when I was very young. I grew up in my small-town library. By the time I was in junior high, I had read every book in the building. I loved Nancy Drew, The Hardy Boys, Thomas Hardy, on and on. I always thought I’d write a book someday.

Q. What comes first to you? The Characters or the Situation?

MW.  As above, my main character, Merit Bridges talks to me about a situation. That said, all my stories are based on real life legal dilemmas that happened in my law firm. Of course, I take the facts only so far and then explode them into a thriller.

Tune in for Part II of this Interview  June 22nd.

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MY BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   March: Mystery (and Western) writer, Larry D. Sweazy.  April: International adventurer, writer, Tal Gur.  June: Manning Wolfe

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Failure Is An Option ~ Book Review

reviews, authors, writingreviews, authors, writingreviews, authors, writingreviews, authors, writingreviews, authors, writing  5 out of 5 quills  ~~        A Review 

H. Jon Benjamin had me at the dedication, “For all you failures out there, you can do worse….”

The Robbery (and how I failed to stop one), The Threesome (and how I failed…), How I Failed to Have Chinese (while visiting my 

parents…) it’s chapter after chapter of failures that could be taken from any of our lives and it’s hilarious!   

I would consider  H. Jon Benjamin a comedy business success…. “But he’d like to remind everyone that as great as success can be, failure is also an option. And maybe the best option. In this book, he tells stories from his own life, from his early days (“wherein I’m unable to deliver a sizzling fajita”) to his romantic life (“how I failed to quantify a threesome”) to family (“wherein a trip to P.F. Chang’s fractures a family”) to career (“how I failed at launching a kid’s show”). As Jon himself says, breaking down one’s natural ability to succeed is not an easy task, but also not an insurmountable one. Society as we know it is, sadly, failure averse. But more acceptance of failure, as Jon sees it, will go a long way to making this world a different place . . . a kinder, gentler place, where gardens are overgrown and most people stay home with their pets. A vision of failure, but also a vision of freedom.” (Amazon.com)

Impertinent, tetchy and sidesplitting …I recommend this book to all who need a break from life’s little and big failures. A good laugh always helps. And you can pick it up, read a quick chapter, and put it down again until you need another giggle.

 

H. Jon Benjamin is an actor, voice actor, and stand-up comedian. He lives in New York.

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MY BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS! April: International adventurer, writer, Tal Gur.  June: Manning Wolfe

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New Children’s Play Released!

Children’s Play  (#5 in the Fabled Forest Series) has been released!  Children’s story book by the same name.

The story is in play form. A one hour children’s play, by the same title, offers a part for every child who auditions. 

New characters are introduce: Barcode and Fiona the two cats. Reginald the Raccoon and his merry band of baby raccoons. And lots of others.

Synopsis: Cheets is looking for an adventure!  The elf had heard about ‘town’. Emma and her mother went all the time but no one from the fabled forest had been there. Cheets was certain it was a magical place and he decided that he must head for Troublesville. He stows away in the car one day and finds himself in busy, noisy streets all alone. He begins his adventure by befriending two cats who live in a house with two humans. Then because of his obsession with carrots, he is captured in a trap and that’s when his adventure no longer is any fun.  6f. 15m. (many roles non-gender)

Recurring characters from the series return to help find Cheets. Don’t miss Cheets’ escapade and daring rescue!  Full color illustrations by Jefferson O’Neal.

 

To preview or Purchase, click here

Story book

Emma and the Lost Unicorn, The Exciting Exploits of an effervescent Elf, and Stanley, the Stalwart Dragon: Go to Samuel French, Inc.

Bertie, the Bookworm and the Bully Boys: Go to: Amazon.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

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MY features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   Did you miss the past few months? March: Mystery (and Western) writer, Larry D. Sweazy.  April: World Traveler, Tal Gur. June: mystery author, Manning Wolfe.
                                                                                   
                                         Check out more Motivational Moments…for Writers!

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New Release of Book #5, Cheets Heads for Troublesville

NOW Available!   Book #5 in the Fabled Forest series.  CHEETS HEADS for TROUBLEsville

Cheets is looking for an adventure!  The elf had heard about ‘town’. Emma and her mother went all the time but no one from the fabled forest had been there. Cheets was certain it was a magical place and he decided that he must head for troublesville. He stows away in the car one day and finds himself in busy, noisy streets all alone. He begins his adventure by befriending two cats who live in a house with two humans. Then because of his obsession with carrots, he is captured in a trap and that’s when his adventure no longer is any fun.

 

 

 

Don’t miss Cheets’ escapade and ultimate rescue!

 

Beautiful full color illustrations by Jefferson O’Neal.Click here to Purchase
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MY features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   Did you miss the past few months? March: Mystery (and Western) writer, Larry D. Sweazy.  April: World Traveler, Tal Gur. June: mystery author, Manning Wolfe.
                                                                                   
                                         Check out more Motivational Moments…for Writers!

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Guest Blogger, Best selling Author, Jodi Thomas

Author, Jodi Thomas

Free Falling 

I have been in the writing game for thirty years. Forty-eight novels and fourteen short story collections. From my third book, most have been national bestsellers and over half were on the New York Times bestseller list. I have five RITAs, the highest award in women’s fiction from RWA as well as many other awards.

In interviews, I’m often asked what one thing I would tell a beginning writer if I got the chance. Study your markets? Read everything? Learn your craft? Write? All came up as possibilities, but one lesson kept whispering in the back of my mind. Maybe it’s not the most important tool a writer needs, but it can be vital to your success.

Learn to Fall!

There will be times, thousands of them if you stay in the game as long as I have, when this business doesn’t go your way. You have to stop holding on to the safety strap and learn to jump out into the unknown.

The first time I remember taking a tumble was before I sold. I was frantically writing, sending off to every contest, agent, and editor I could find. One day, I opened the mailbox to discover three rejections. I felt like I’d faced a firing squad and all twelve bullets hit true. I walked back to the house, sat down and started crying. My four-year-old son, Matt, came up to me, leaned on the arm of the chair and asked what was wrong. Through tears I told him about my total failure. He smiled and said simply, “Mom, like you say when I play t-ball: sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, and sometimes you get rained-out.

I stopped crying and realized it wasn’t me. I was a good writer doing the best I could. I just kept getting rained-out by editors who didn’t read the slush pile and agents who already had full client lists.

From that day on I developed a plan for falling. Whenever I stumbled and fell flat on my face, I let go of the corpse I was dragging around trying to sell, celebrated what I’d learned from the work and moved on with my career.

I have to be honest. There for a while quite a few bodies of old manuscripts lay around the house just in case they got a second life, but it never happened. I had to learn that the next thing I wrote would be stronger than the last. I was growing, getting better, getting stronger.

My Plan for Falling:

1. Burying the corpse. I know writers who wrote a book back in the ‘90s and are determined not to go on to another until they sell their first one. They keep painting a

Available Now!

new face on the body and shoving it into a new casket. Beginning writers probably don’t want to hear that you may write your first book, or even your second or third, for practice. We need to believe that first book will make millions or we’d never go through the work of learning to write. But sometimes you have to kiss the well-traveled manuscript good-bye and bury it under the bed.

2. Celebrating. I hope all beginning writers party at each success: a contest win or even an honorable mention. A letter asking for more or a book deal. All are worth a party. But, maybe more important is the party you have when you let go of one dream and open up to another. So win or lose you finish the race. You’re a success simply because you wrote a book. You’ve won when you mail it off to an agent or editor or self-publish.

3. Moving on If what you’re doing isn’t getting you where you want to go, maybe you are on the wrong road. Take the tools and knowledge you have learned and start carving out a different work of art. Take a lane you’ve never tried. Who knows, it might be the fast lane.

You might be surprised, you might just find a place where you and your work belong. You might grow and love writing more. So, try changing genres. Move from adult fiction to young adult. Jump from historical to contemporary. Don’t try to write what everyone else is writing. Twist it a little. Change times. Change audience. Change direction.

When I turned loose and thought of myself sky diving and not falling, my world began to change. I wrote deeper. I discovered a new love of writing.

Phil Price, an accomplished playwright, once said, “I’ve often wondered why sky divers yell for joy and people who fall off cliffs scream. After all, they’re both seeing the same view. It’s only the last foot that changes.” So, I decided, whether I’m falling or sky diving through life, I might as well decide to enjoy the view.

This year my editor at HQN suggested I step into a more mainstream story and I jumped. I read her e-mail on Friday and by Monday I had an idea I was excited about. MORNINGS ON MAIN just came out April 10, and I think my fans will follow me into this shift as they have for the past 30 years.

And if they don’t? Then I’ll stand up, dust myself off and get back in the game. Because I’m a writer, that’s what I do, I write.

On Sale September 25, 2018

Mark Twain once said that compared to writing, horseracing is a stable occupation. Maybe he was right, but the gamble is worth the try. When we’re all done and sitting around the home which would you rather say, ‘I played as hard and fast as I could,’ or ‘I never ran into the game because I was afraid of falling.’

The winners are not the ones who grab the prize. The winners are the ones who play the game, rainy days and all.

TS.  Thanks, Jodi, for these words of wisdom and comfort!

Jodi Thomas
www.jodithomas.com
www.facebook.com/JodiThomasAuthor ;

Be sure to go to http://www.jodithomas.com and sign up for my e-mail newsletter for all the latest news about book signings and new releases!
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MY features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   Did you miss the past few months? March: Mystery (and Western) writer, Larry D. Sweazy.  April: World Traveler, Tal Gur. June: mystery author, Manning Wolfe.
                                                                                   
                                         Check out more Motivational Moments…for Writers!

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Review ~~ See Also Proof by Larry D. Sweazy

reviews, authors, writingreviews, authors, writing reviews, authors, writingreviews, authors, writingreviews, authors, writing 5 out of 5 quills    See Also Proof  

~~ A Review  

A fresh, new voice in mystery fiction. Larry Sweazy writes with a distinctive flavor that I haven’t seen in awhile.  

“Night returned right on schedule. There was no such thing as a lingering evening in January. Darkness arrived abruptly, showing up before the clock struck five as if the color black had ownership rights to the world…..”

I can’t quite put my finger on it. Phrasing, selection of words, certainly imagery. January in North Dakota, a small town where everyone knows everyone’s business. and then murder comes to town.

The protagonist and amature sleuth, Margorie Tremaine, is by profession an indexer. What the heck is that?  The ‘index’ section that resides in the back of most non-fiction books; well, someone has got to write them and it isn’t the author. It takes a specialized eye to read a section of a book (mostly on subjects the ‘indexer’ hasn’t a clue about) and choose just the right word that a reader might use in looking up something specific in the index. I have used indexes (infrequently) over the decades but never gave a thought to how they were created or who wrote them. 

The fun thing is that while Marjorie gives the reader an example of her job and how indexing is done, it doesn’t get in the way of this excellent murder mystery. In an odd way, it ‘fleshes’ out her character and demonstrates what drives her. 

Those of you who know me as a writer/reviewer know that I don’t write spoilers in my reviews. It’s a easy way to fill space and more than once has spoiled a book for me that I had intended to read. So never will you read the entire story, often giving up the ending, in one of my reviews.  I”d rather talk about the writing, the interesting quirks, or the characters in the story. 

This series (there are three now) are stand-alone mysteries so you won’t be missing anything if you start with SEE ALSO PROOF, but I guarantee that you’ll want to read all of them!  I highly recommend Larry Sweazy’s books!

My only critique is about the cover. It might confuse the new reader to Mr. Sweazy’s work. It is unique but obscure and one could say too cerebral. But once the reader tumbles to the idea behind the index card on the cover and the odd phrasing of ‘See Also —–‘ it’s extremely clever.  And I adore clever!

Postscript:  ‘See also’ references in an index refer to another entry that bears similarity to one where the reference is attached.
 

The three books in the Marjorie Trumaine Mystery series, See Also MurderSee Also Deception, and See Also Proof, all incorporate the See also reference since Marjorie’s main function in life is that of an indexer, a person who writes indexes. Each title is specific to the book, and denotes an event or a concept that bears similarity to another concept or event in the book. 

Did you miss my interview with Larry? Click  here
SEE ALSO PROOF available now

http://larrydsweazy.com/

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MY features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   Did you miss the past few months? March: Mystery (and Western) writer, Larry D. Sweazy.  April: World Traveler, Tal Gur. June: mystery author, Manning Wolfe.
                                                                                   
                                         Check out more Motivational Moments…for Writers!

To receive my posts sign up on the home page, enter your email address. 

Thanks! 

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