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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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Create Your Own Story Board if It Helps….

Visuals really are important! Create your own story board if it helps you write. It doesn’t matter if you can’t draw; cut and paste. After all, nobody is going to see it except you, right?

Sketch for layout of Title and credit/s

At this point, in my story, I had to see a visual. My illustrator would not be working on this part of the tale for weeks, so I created my own.

Excerpt from “Cheets Heads for Trouble-sville” ©

‘Cheets, the elf,  swooped down and dove into the empty box. The carrot beaconed to him from the far end of the box. Cheets tipped-toed across the box, lightly stepping up on a silver platform.

SNAP! B.A.N.G! The door to the cage slammed shut. Cheets whirled around and ran back.  Cheets grabbed the side of the door in the cage and shook it as hard as he could. Nothing. It wouldn’t open.  He shook it and shook it. He was trapped.  The big, juicy carrot didn’t look so good now. 

Two large human hands clutched the sides of the box and lifted it down. A shadow fell over Cheets and he looked up.  What appeared to be a huge, rough man stood over the cage and grinned at him.

Original art by Jefferson O’Neal

“Got’cha!” He extolled. “Ya little varmint!” He turned away. “Hey, Simon. SIMON!  Lookie what I got.”

Across the aisle, Simon turned and looked at his friend. “What? I’m busy, I’ll be there in a minute.”

“You’re gonna wanna see this! Hurry up!” Herman said.

“Okay, okay, keep your shirt on.” Simon yelled.

A moment later Simon was in front of Herman’s stall. “What’s the big to-do?”

“Ta-Da!” Herman whipped off a rag he’d put over the cage. He grinned at his friend. “Whad’ya think that is?”

“Holy smokes! Ya caught the little bugger!” He leaned over and peered closer, “What is it?”

“Don’t know. It ain’t a dragon-fly or a bat. I’m stumped.”

A crowd quickly formed when the news spread through the farmer’s market that Herman had caught something in a trap.

“Lemme see!”

“I can’t see!”

“What is that?”

“Does it bite?”

“I can’t see!”

“Whad’ya gonna do with it, Herman?”’

Postscript: My illustrator finally caught up with me and here is a sample of his delightful images. Jefferson O’Neal. 

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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 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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The Cougar’s Prey by Larry Sweazy ~~ Review

reviews, authors, writingreviews, authors, writingreviews, authors, writingreviews, authors, writingreviews, authors, writing5 out of 5 quills ~ A Review

Who doesn’t like a rousing, shoot-em-up western?  I haven’t read a good, (or for that matter any), western in several decades.  I stumbled upon Larry Sweazy as I stalked Amazon, looking for unique writers to possibly read/review/interview. Larry has written a series around a Texas Ranger, Josiah Wolfe.   And he lives up to the old classic western writers,   Zane Grey, Louis L’Amour, and Larry McMurtry. 

I happen to choose The Cougar’s Prey which falls in the middle of the series. I am happy to report that it stands alone and nothing is missed.  The author deftly brings the reader up to speed (on Josiah’s story) without belaboring his past.

Josiah Wolfe, an old Texas Ranger is sucked back into service and sent away. He is not a happy man. To be separated from his son in such perilous times. Corpus Christi, Texas is literally lawless and terrorized by Mexican bandits; the early days of Mexican cartels and Josiah is sent there on basically a suicide mission.

It was surreal, at times, riding (with Josiah) north, up the Gulf Coast from Corpus to Ingleside, Tx in 1874.  I lived and worked there in the early 2000’s and my veterinary was in Ingleside. Funny.  It is beautifully written and the reader cares about Josiah almost immediately.  I highly recommend this book.

 Looking forward to reviewing his upcoming mystery, See Also Proof: A Marjorie Trumaine Mystery, coming May 1st.

 

Did you miss my Interview with Larry Sweazy?

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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.
                        
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A Review ~~ Finding My Way by Judith Keim

reviews, authors, writing1 out of 5 quills        A Review  ~~  Finding My Way 

Very disappointed.  Right away the first chapter was familiar, so after checking I discovered the author had cut and pasted a chapter from Book 1 to begin her sequel in the Salty Key series. This is cheating and so lazy. In my forty+ years of reading and my 15 years of reviewing books, I have never seen this done. What was the author thinking?

The proof reading of the book was non-existent or at best, slack. In order to have the book seem to be full-length, 1.5 spaces was implemented, (instead of the industry standard 1.0 space format) causing the book to be 305 pages long, when in fact it is a cozy of about 175 pages. 

Any good sequel stands alone with its own story line.  This is not a stand-alone sequel. There is too much repeating of Book 1’s story. The author has chosen to write each book from another sister’s perspective.  The first sister, Sheena, had a somewhat interesting story line. In the second book it is from Darcy’s perspective.  And she’s not a very interesting character.  She brags about the novel she is going to write but doesn’t do much about it. Thinks that writing a restaurant review will hone her craft as a fiction writer. Huh? And she is ‘man-hungry’. Every man she meets in the story is either boyfriend/husband material or not. That’s what she leads with and it gets boring after a while.

Near the last 50 pages the author takes an unfortunate right turn. For no apparent reason, she introduces a severely disabled long-lost cousin. It was so out-of-the-blue! After that chapter he is never mentioned again.  She would have been well advised to develop the characters already on deck.  ‘Gavin’s people’ for instance. (lots of good stories there) The many boyfriend-material guys of Darcy’s. The editor/writer who is giving Darcy a chance to write for a local newspaper. (His illness/death is glossed over.)  Sheena’s son’s friend, Randy. The list goes on and on.

Sadly, she is not comfortable writing about the married physical love between Sheena and Tony. It’s stilted and I didn’t believe it.     

Ms. Keim needs to stay in the ‘voice’ of each of her characters. The writing bounced around and was frequently clunky . Sentence structure was a distraction. 

I was hoping that the author would grow in her craft with Book #2 but sadly this was not the case. It’s a shame because the story premise is a good one. I do not recommend this author’s books.
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MY BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   Did you miss the past few months?    December: British writer, J.G. Dow.  January: In Memory, Sue Grafton.
                                                                                   
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Interview with Children’s Book Author, Rita Avaud Najm

A new author, raised in Lebanon and France, writing children’s chapter books with a quirky twist.  Some of her dialogue is in simple French phrases with definitions as a footnote. Introducing youngsters to French. These are charming little stories about Rita coming to America as a child. T.S. 

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.

RN. I don’t have a specific place. But I always keep a note book next to my living room seat to write any idea that comes to my mind. Once I gather my thoughts, typing and saving them on my laptop will be my next step. I usually keep it on my dining table where the lights are bright.

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.)

RN. My note book should always be handy to look through my thoughts or my simple scribbles as a reference. My cup of tea is always there on my right side, yet many times I drink it cold since once I start writing, I don’t stop and keep on until I am tired, or hungry. 

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

RN. Other than writing Arabic poetry and French stories, writing plays and song lyrics since I was 7 years old, I am a painter. This hobby helped with illustrating my two books. I also do crochet and knitting. All of my storylines have to do with something I’ve been through in my childhood or things I do or did. My memories make my stories alive. 

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

RN. I prefer evenings. I know by then that my children did their homework, had dinner and the house is clean and the housework is done, for the day!

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

RN. Some people procrastinate because they are lazy. Others are afraid of change and the heavy success, or they just fear failure and risk. “Someday I will,” keeps those writers who might have plenty of amazing stories to tell and a vivid imagination never known, and always living in the past. Go ahead! Start that project! Celebrate your success and live the moment when your hard work pays off!

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

RN. Besides my “Petite Rita,” the little French girl who represents me, I was shy when I came to The USA because of my French-Lebanese accent, anything can be my character when I have the story.  I can make a story about my cup of tea or my toothbrush… When you are creative with imagination, you can create and make any object or animal talk your talk.

Q. What first inspired you to write your stories?

RN. French Dual immersion programs in many public and private schools are the reason behind my main character to be a French girl, as well as the love of students to learn a foreign language. I decided to publish those two volumes first, before any of my other stories, because of their passion to read and to learn some common French words.

Join us for Part 2 of this interview. ‘Rejoignez-nous pour la partie 2 de cette interview.’  November 24th.

To Purchase Rita’s books: click here
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MY BLOGS feature 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. 
                                                                                   
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‘No Means No!’ New short play for the Classroom by Trisha Sugarek

  Available now!   The latest short play in the playwright’s  ShortN’Small series.
“G” rated for teens and the classroom.

Those who follow me and all my friends in theatre know that I have added to the
ShortN’Small short play series for years now. ‘G’ rated 10 minute plays that focus on issues impacting the teens of today. 
Ranging from divorce to cutting, from running away to drug use, from date violence to bullying. 

 Synopsis:  Emilee has reached the age where boys are pressuring her into sexual activities that she is not ready for.
In this ‘G’ rated, short play for the classroom we explore the peer pressure that comes to bear as young girls
try to navigate their teen years.

Emilee is torn between what her friends are doing and what she instinctively knows is not right for
her at this stage in her life.   1m. 5f.

No props, no sets, no costumes, just open dialogue!

To purchase click here

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MY BLOGS feature INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   Did you miss the past few months?    September: Dylan Callens.  October’s author is Donna Kauffman. In November we say hello to Rita Avaud a Najm. 
                                                                                   
                                         Check out more Motivational Moments…for Writers!

To receive my posts sign up for my blog, blogs, blogger, writer, author, playwright, books, plays,fiction  On the home page, enter your email address.  Thanks! 
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 To Purchase