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Book Review ~~ A Victory Garden by Rhys Bowen

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5 out of 5 quills   ~~  A Review

Everything you want when you sit down and open the cover of a new book. Friendship, hardship, love, heartbreak, history and finally…hope.  Rhys Bowen’s writing never disappoints whether I am reading her Royal Spyness series or her Molly Murphy series or her stand alone fiction (all excellent). 

Just a hint of the story as I do not write spoilers. Emily Bryce  is a debutante who never had a ‘come out’ as World War I rages in Europe. She is stuck in time, in place, with nothing worthwhile to do except follow her society-ladder-climbing mother around.  The opportunity to join the Women’s Land Army  and become a ‘land girl’ frees her from her stifling existence and her mother.  And this is where her adventures begin. 

I was a little put off by the title of this book as I read along. There isn’t one victory garden (in the traditional sense of the term) in the entire book.  But then I realized Bowen’s ‘victory garden’ were all the gardens in the story combined making it ultimately The Victory Garden. Sneaky Devil!   I highly recommend this book. 

Available: February 12th
Did you miss my Interview with this author?
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MY BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   December:  Jayne Ann Krentz (Amanda Quick)  January: Molly Gloss.  February: Rick Lenz, March: Patrick Canning and April: Poet, Joe Albanese
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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.
                                                                                   
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Robert B. Parker’s Old Black Magic by Ace Atkins ~~ A Review

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5 out of 5 quills   Old Black Magic by Ace Atkins  ~~  A Review

 

Once again Ace Atkins nails it!!  Old Black Magic is right up there with the best of Robert B. Parker’s previous books. 
But readers better brush up on the history of Boston, as seen through Parker’s eyes, the hoodlums and mobsters over the past twenty years (introduced in the Spenser series)  ’cause they all show back up, alive and dead. The biggest heist of millions of dollars in classic art from a museum in Boston and the case was never solved. It finally goes cold for over twenty years. Hired by the museum to find the art, Spenser and Vinnie Morris team up…odd bedfellows to say the least. ….and that’s all I’m giving you of the story line.  

I don’t write spoilers in my reviews but I am known for sometimes running off on a tangent that has much or little to do with the book. So I thought it would be fun to see if the story plot had any truth to it…as truth tends to be stranger than fiction. Bingo!! Here’s what I found:  El Greco’s Gentleman was stolen and not returned to its rightful owners for decades.  But it was not a Boston crime crew who knocked it off but rather the Nazis!

‘In 1920, Mr. Priester began amassing a notable art collection of Old Masters, including the famous El Greco, which he displayed in his Vienna home and office. By 1938, however, Mr. Priester was forced to flee with his wife to Paris to escape the Nazis
Before leaving, Mr. Priester entrusted his impressive collection to a friend, but the art was ultimately seized by the Gestapo after the Anschluss with Germany. At the end of the war in 1945, Mr. Priester, who had escaped to Mexico City, undertook an internationally publicized recovery effort with the help of the Austrian authorities, but his collection and the El Greco painting could not be located before his death. 

After WWII, restitution of stolen art work would often take decades. But sometimes it could be accomplished seamlessly if the dealers who purchased the stolen art agreed to cooperate with the claimants, as recently occurred in the case of the stolen El Greco painting, Portrait of a Gentleman.

In a rare deal announced by the Commission for Looted Art in Europe, representing the original owners, and Art Recovery International, representing the art gallery which acquired the looted painting in 2010, Portrait of a Gentleman was returned to the heirs of the collection of Julius Priester. This deal took several months to arrange after seven long decades searching for the masterpiece.’ (credit: Observer.com)

Ace Atkins

So I digress a little…sue me!  But, am I the only one that finds stuff like this fascinating?

This is a terrific story and Ace Atkins tells it flawlessly in Robert B. Parker’s voice.  I highly recommend it.
 

Did you miss my interview with Ace Atkins?
Old Black Magic on Sale Now!!  Click here
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 MY  features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   March: Mystery (and Western) writer, Larry D. Sweazy.  April: International adventurer, writer, Tal Gur.  June: Mystery writer, Manning Wolfe.
 
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Interview with British Writer, J.G. Dow

TS.   A ‘cozy’ writer from the UK and new to the scene.  James lived for a few years in the North of England and spent a while living in Manchester. He says that’s why he is fairly comfortable writing about the city. He went to University in Manchester many years ago and “still miss the place sometimes now and have good memories!”  When not writing fiction he enjoys walks in the country and indulging in a spot of cooking now and then. He has been known to pen the occasional poem.  Jane of Manchester is his debut novel. 

Q. Where do you write? Do you have a special room, shed, barn, special space for your writing? (please provide a photo/s of your shed, room, closet, barn….)

JG. I write in my bedroom, sit in an easy chair surrounded by books and cd’s and pictures on the walls. It’s comfortable and warm and a good place to settle into a bit of writing. It’s nice to be cosy when being creative!

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.)

JG. I like to have a bottle of Berocca vitamin drink sometimes or a cup of tea but water is fine as well. I think a Brandy would make the creative process a bit hazy although some famous writers like Bukowski obviously liked a tipple while at the typewriter I suppose…each to their own!

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

JG. I play the guitar and like reading and also listen to a wide variety of music and tend to enjoy going out for a few drinks on a weekend followed by a nice hot curry! The North of England is a good place for spicy food!

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

JG. I write in the evening mainly as it can be noisy where I live in the daytime. I used to write through the night but I find I get too tired to do that nowadays and it can be a bit exhausting so sometime between 5pm and 8pm is a decent period to get on with it.

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

JG. I suppose just keep at it and try not to get stressed out…maybe do something else for a while till the mood returns and remember to make writing enjoyable otherwise it won’t flow. If you feel too tired one day, don’t bother and try again the next day when you feel more energized!

with Dad at family wedding

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

JG. I used to live in Manchester and so that was the inspiration for the setting of the Jane books but in terms of characters, I just made them up and tried to make them as realistic as possible.

Q. What first inspired you to write your stories?

JG. I wrote poetry for a while and then decided to try stories and after a while of short stories and the odd mini plays that weren’t very good, I thought novel writing may be a different way to go. I think I like writing longer prose more to be honest as you can get really stuck into it and be immersed in the whole thing.

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

me at family home in Yorkshire

JG. Characters I suppose as they drive what happens next but the situation soon follows and is integral of course. But the characters and their motivations tend to lead the way otherwise it can all feel a bit flat if they aren’t paramount.

Join us December 15th for Part 2 of the Interview with J.G. Dow

To Purchase, click here 

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MY BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   Did you miss the past few months?    September: Dylan Callens.  October’s author was Donna Kauffman. In November we say hello to Rita Avaud a Najm. In December we will be saying hello to English mystery writer, J.G. Dow. 
                                                                                   
                                         Check out more Motivational Moments…for Writers!

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Book Give-Away ~~ Interpretation by Dylan Callens

Dylan Callens’ new book comes out August 1st.  He is have a book give-away and here are the details.   

Three (3)  paperback copies  of Interpretation to three lucky winners!!
Offer is valid until August 4th, 2017
The winner will be chosen at random by Rafflecopter.
He will email the winners and post the winners’ names on my website.
No purchase is necessary.

Participants can enter at: 
http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/50f88b741/?

Synopsis:

Carl Winston awakened to find his son, Liam, screaming with fear. Trying to understand why, Carl tried to soothe him. Neighbors gathered in front of Carl’s apartment to help – until they saw him. The crowd cowered back, afraid of this monster before them. 

Carl ran. His life of luxury was ripped away. Forced beyond the city limits, Carl saw a land bereft of life. Traveling in search of answers, his quest came to a sudden halt when he collapsed. As darkness shrouded him, a figure hovered from above. 

Traveling along the same route, Eva Thomspon found Carl and nurtured him back to life. Together, they continued the journey, finding out that their lives had too much in common to be a coincidence. As their affection for each other deepened, an unknown nemesis attempted to remove their only source of happiness – their love for each other.

Interpretation is a dystopian fiction that explores hope and happiness in the bleakest of conditions and what happens when it’s torn away.

Excerpt: Carl closed his eyes and tried to laugh at himself.  Barely a squeak left his mouth.  What was he thinking, trying to enter this godforsaken wasteland by himself with no supplies?  Still on his back, he dreamed about opening a bottle of Ocean Surge.  Wet bubbles danced against his tongue, bathing his taste buds with refreshing fruit-infusion – small bursts of happiness made his lips sing an ode to joy. 

But forget that fantasy; sulfur-ridden tap water would be just as good.  Carl knew the taste would not equate, but its effect would invigorate.  Carl smiled, his eyes wide open, staring into the dimming sky, into the nothingness that surrounded him.  Gulp after glorious gulp of imaginary liquid until he couldn’t keep up, showering his face with it until a puddle formed around him.  That puddle turned into an ocean and Carl sank to the bottom, his faint breath weakening further.  The light grew dimmer.  He tried to reach up, to reach out of the depths of his hallucination, but his arms felt too heavy, as if the pressure at this depth couldn’t be overcome. 

A shadow hovered over him.  Carl tried to speak to it, but words didn’t make sense.  The shadow spoke back with a meaningless, muffled slur…..

Author Bio:

Dylan Callens lands cleanly. That would be the headline of a newspaper built with an anagram generator. And although Dylan is a Welsh name meaning god or hero of the sea, he is not particularly fond of large bodies of water. His last name, Callens, might be Gaelic. If it is, his last name means rock. Rocks sink in the sea. Interestingly, he is neither Welsh nor Gaelic, but rather, French and German. The inherent contradictions and internal conflict in his life are obvious.

Purchase Links:

www.Amazon.com 

B&N 
and at your favorite book store. 

Author Links:

Website:  www.cosmicteapot.net

Join us in September for my Interview with this author.
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MY BLOGS feature INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   Did you miss the past few months?     Johan Thompson (South African author)  joined us in April.   June: Mehreen Ahmed.  July: Janet Macleod Trotter, author of Tea Planter’s Daughter and in August we say ‘hello’ to Cheryl Hollon. September: Dylan Callens
                                                                                   
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Ten Minutes to Curtain! Vol. I ~~ Bigger and Better

I published these volumes beginning in 2009 and they are very popular with teachers, directors, and drama departments.  It was time now to add new plays to this volume. Retaining the tried and true, popular short plays, I have added many that I have written since 2009. 

Fifteen 10 minutes plays in one volume.  A variety of real life issues that teens face today with a couple of fun, silly ones just because.  Teachers tell me that often doing the play, the students open up about their challenges each day.

Contents:

The Bullies…………………………………………..9
Boys at school bully a kid different from them-
selves. 4m
Pan of Potatoes………………………………………………21
A sassy little tale about greed and a  pan of
potatoes.   5f
 The Run-Away…………………………….…….31
Running away is not the solution to a teen’s problems
and can be very dangerous. 3f  1m
The ‘D’ Word……………………………………………….45       
Two teens face the fact that their parents                                   
are divorcing. 2f, 2m 
The Postcard
…………………………………………………57
The mother of the bride receives a postcard from
the daughter that she gave up for adoption
 twenty years ago. How does a devoted
mother tell her child, about a sister she never
knew about.  2f, 1m
Cyber-Hate…………………………………..…..65
Bullying has reached sophisticated levels, sometimes
ending in tragic situations.  4f 1m
The Art of Murder………………………………81
A reclusive artist watches his neighbor and paints
her over and over until she ends up dead. 2m  1f
Song of the Yukon …………….………………….95
A teenager is inspired by the poetry of Robert
Service and strikes out for Alaska.  3f, 1m
You’re Not the Boss of Me
…………………….105                                     
The journey of decision making as a
teenager grows up. 3f
 Love Doesn’t Leave Bruises…………………………115
Violence among teens dating is nationally on the
 rise and is becoming a genuine concern among
parents and educators.  How one family deals with
 it.  2f, 1m
The Waltz……………………………………………………127
Falling in love during their first waltz until her
underpants fall down around her ankles. 1f, 1m
Trans-G Kid…………………………………….133
Trapped in the wrong body a teen tries to find a
way out. 3f 1m
Trans-G Parents
……………………………………147
A support group for parents trying to understand
and support their transgender child. 6f 5m
The Perfume Bottle……………………………………………157
Two youngsters leave a perfume bottle for
the mean  old lady next door.  Is it perfume or a
far more lethal smell?   3f
Ivah the Terrible……………………………………………….163
A rich client visits the house at dinner time while
the wife hides in the kitchen;  but does she stay
there?   1f, 3m

I hope you enjoy these plays. More importantly I hope that your student/actors are inspired to navigate the troubled waters in their lives with good sense and wisdom.
Remember, when the plays are used in a classroom environment they are royalty-free!! 

Available at www.amazon.com and other fine book stores.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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MY BLOGS feature INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   Did you miss the past few months?     June: Mehreen Ahmed.  July: Janet Macleod Trotter, author of Tea Planter’s Daughter and in August we say ‘hello’ to Cheryl Hollon.
                                                                                   
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Rogue Lawyer by John Grisham, A Review

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

By now all John Grisham has to do is show up with another great story.  Rogue Lawyer is a whole new direction for Grisham. And I like it….a lot!  This isn’t a collection of short stories, as I first thought, and really don’t care for.  No, Rogue Lawyer is a day, week and month in the life of street lawyer, Sebastian Rudd.  Little vignettes but it doesn’t feel like it….the reader just follows this defense attorney around in a customized bulletproof van (that is his office), complete with Wi-Fi, a bar, a small fridge, and fine leather chairs. He has no firm, no partners, and only one employee: his heavily armed driver, who also so happens to be his bodyguard, law clerk, confidant, and golf caddie.

He defends people other lawyers won’t go near: a drug-addled, tattooed kid rumored to be in a satanic cult; a vicious crime lord on death row; a homeowner arrested for shooting at a SWAT team. Why these clients? Because Sebastian believes everyone is entitled to a fair trial—even if he has to bend the law to secure one.

He reminds me a great deal of one of Robert B. Parker’s characters. I hope very much that Sebastian Rudd drives back into town (one day soon) and continues his dangerous but valiant work defending the indefensible!

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MY BLOGS feature INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   Did you miss the past few months? October Author, Lisa Jackson.  November was best selling author, Grace Burrowes and in December, Reed Farrel Coleman, contributing writer for Robert B. Parker series

Check out more Motivational Moments…for Writers!

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Motivational Moments…for Writers! #24

When publishers turn  down one of my books, I immediately self-publish it!  After all, the publisher is not basing their decision on whether it is a well written story and people should read it.  They are basing their decision on whether it will make any money for the publisher.  I can’t really fault them for that…they are, after all, in business.

Indie publishing is inexpensive and easy to do. Your book will end up on line at most of the major book sellers. Most publishing platforms are free to the writer (they make their money at the back end when each book sells) and their royalty structure is as fair as a traditional publisher. The biggest expense that I have incurred has been a professional art designer for my covers and a professional editor, which I strongly recommend that you invest in.

Acquiring a traditional publisher is NOT the mark of a good writer anymore.  You must believe in yourself and your craft. You must strive to improve your writing every day.  That’s what makes a good writer.

“Don’t try to figure out what other people want to hear from you; figure out what you have to say.  It’s the one and only thing you have to offer.” Barbara Kingsolver

‘…so goes Truth, ……..particularly when fiction’s shinier…’   Olde Irish Proverb

“A woman must have money of her own and a room of her own if she is to write fiction.” Virginia Woolf

                          “As a writer, I speculate, hibernate and marinate.” Trisha Sugarek

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MY BLOGS feature INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   October Author, Lisa Jackson.  November will be best selling author, Grace Burrowes and in December, Reed Farrel Coleman, contributing writer for Robert B. Parker series

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Song of the Yukon, A new Novel by Trisha Sugarek

Song.cover_rev16JulyIt’s taken me 3 years to write this saga. Since it’s set in the 1920’s there was extensive research to be done about how life was lived ‘off the grid’ in Alaska. It’s jammed packed with interesting characters and adventure.

The old timers would tell you, ‘it’s a good yarn’ and I’m proud of it. Based on the true story of my aunt when she was a mere 17 years old, running away from home and working her way from Seattle to the wilds of Alaska.

Click here to purchase

Alaska was calling! LaVerne’s dream was to follow in Robert Service’s footsteps to the wilds of Alaska. At sixteen she was already writing her own music and she believed that her talent could only flourish on the back trails of the Yukon. Alone and impersonating a boy, she hires aboard a freighter, out of Seattle, and works her way to the north.

From boat rides on the Yukon and encounters with native tribes to filing homestead papers and working the land, LaVerne uses newfound frontier wisdom as a basis for expanding both her music and her perceptions: “No man owns what Mother Spirit does not freely give.” Black-eyed Joe told her. What a charming folk tale, LaVerne thought. I could use the story in one of my songs.”
It was here she learns the realities of frontier life that will shape her life, help her create music, and lead her in directions no woman has explored alone before.

‘Song of the Yukon covers more than music growth, more than homesteading in the wilderness, and even more than testing one’s abilities against a foreign environment. Most of all, it’s about one woman’s determination to achieve her dream against any odds – and it provides readers with not only a solid background in frontier experiences, but a sense of self and accomplishment that heroine LaVerne learns through hard experience. Song of the Yukon is a powerful saga, recommended for a range of readers. Thank you for the opportunity to look at your fine title! ‘~~ Diane Donovan, Midwest Book Review ~~

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More Motivational Moments…for Writers! #13

1..girl.write..mouse_1Is your process the right or wrong way?

As I write my story I make notes, on the last page of my document, about story ideas within the story, lest I forget. We all have such interesting processes, none of them wrong. The important thing is to write EVERY DAY. Good, bad or ugly you must write to become a writer.

I’m certain that my style would drive some writers crazy. I’m what’s known as a ‘pantser’. I write by the seat of my pants. No story outline because I want to experience that magical moment when my characters take over. I never try to wrest the story away from my characters.  No plot line because who knows where my story will end up?  No character list because new characters are always walking into my story. Why would I keep that door slammed in their faces? And I try to never ‘force it’. If I run dry on one project, I switch to another and wait for the story to pile up in my head.

“If you can tell stories, create characters, devise incidents, and have sincerity and passion, it doesn’t matter a damn how you write.”
– Somerset Maugham

This from Charles Bukowski on forcing your story, “...too much just doing it for the sake of doing it? Just not waiting for the words to pile up inside and then explode of their own volition.”

“It’s none of their business that you had to learn to write. Let them think you were born that way.” – Ernest Hemingway
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DON’T MISS UPCOMING BLOGS featuring INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!  A long awaited interview with Kathleen Grissom (The Kitchen House) September’s author will be Joseph Drumheller and October: Andrew Snook.  Check out Motivational Moments…for Writers!

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