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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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One Candle Can Light Another…

   Happy anniversary, ‘A Writer’s Take’ Blog.  Six+ years of trying  (hopefully) to find relevant and interesting topics (motivation, poetry, interviews, reviews, books, how to write a play).  And then  writing about them. I can’t believe I have found this much to write about.  

Once or twice a week without fail!  When I looked back to 2012, my first blog surprised me ….it was about lighting someone else’s candle. 

I recently received this critique/note from a fellow author and fan. 

“Trisha! Thank you for including me on your blog. It is one of the nicest I’ve ever been on. Often, a blog is laid out clunky or the pics don’t go with the interview. This is top notch. I have the Wolfe Pack sharing it on FB and am proud to sent it out to my readers. Great job on a great site.    What a personal piece. I don’t think I’ve every had anyone go to this length to show my writing and my life as a writer like you have. Thank you so much, Trisha!!  Manning Wolfe

We writers can all agree that writing is a lonely job. A comment once in a while keeps me going, helps me to write that next post. Manning reached out and
lit my candle. 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~                                Looking Back:  One Candle Can Light Another…My first post May 6, 2012.

‘ A good friend called me the other day; He was reading my book of poetry, Butterflies and Bullets. He’s a very accomplished pianist and songwriter. He went on to say that while reading my work he kept hearing music in his head. And could I give him permission to use my poetry for lyrics. What a compliment! He said he was especially taken with, “Hair-cut…Two Bits”, about a down-and-out cellist, gambler and barber in New Orleans.’

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

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Tai-Pan, Shogun and James Clavell ~~ Nostalgia

James Clavell & one of his manuscripts

Summer of 1971. My then husband and I were anxiously awaiting the arrival of ….. our custom built 26ft sailboat. We had settled on the name “joss” for the boat, as its loose meaning is good and bad luck. Given how fickle a sailboat can be, it seemed highly appropriate. I was currently reading everything James Clavell was publishing and I came across the word in his novels. 

So being the gutsy girl (for the time) that I was, I wrote Mr. Clavell for more info about the word, especially how it was used in the Orient . And he ANSWERED me!  See below. He wrote with his personal address in Vancouver, B.C. and invited us to sail up and anchor at his house on Vancouver Island, offering a cup of tea!

Click to read

 Clavell wasn’t just a writer.  Both he and his wife were Chopper pilots. Clavell was also a dedicated sailor of sailboats.  It was one of the highlights of my life to receive a personal letter from him and be invited to ‘drop anchor’ at his home on the sea.  No, we never did make the perilous trip, under sail, to his home port. A deep regret, but we were new to sailing and anyone who knows those waters between Puget Sound and Horseshoe Bay (B.C.) will understand how we were so not capable or experienced enough to attempt it. 
But! we were crazy enough to take our 420 (International Dingy Sailing class) sails with us to Portugal and sail the Tagus River, not knowing the waters, currents, language or people! 

We were young and adventuresome! 1971

Click to read

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

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Sisters Like Us by Susan Mallery ~~ A Review

   5 out of 5 quills     

I have read dozens….correction…..I have read everything that Susan Mallery has written.  I am here to tell you, she’s never written a bad book.  

But, she has outdone herself with Sisters Like Us!  It is delicious!!  My only complaint is that it ended too soon. As my readers well know, I do not include cliff notes of the story line (in my reviews) or spoil the joy of cracking a book open and meeting its characters. 

I am certain, however,  fans will soon rise up in revolt, demanding a sequel.

Did Ashton and Becca survive being separated?
What was Becca’s next year like?
Did Harper’s wonderful business blossom into an empire?
Did the partnership with Dean flourish?
Did Lucas continue as a detective with LAPD?
How did Jazz do at the memory care unit?
Did Stacey ever warm up to her baby daughter?
Did Kit ever run out of patience?
Did Bunny soften toward her own daughters?

Susan Mallery

I would recommend any of Susan’s books…but I highly recommend this one. It is a flawless story and you will fall in love with the characters. It’s one of those “I couldn’t put it down” books. 

Reminder:  Susan will grace my blog, in August, with an interview!

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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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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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Motivational Moments…for Writers and their Partners #38

 

This was just tooo good not to share! As a writer, I will tell you that it’s good, no, great advice if you are involved with a writer.

Okay, all laughs aside….seriously….if you are the significant other to a writer you are one of my HEROES!!   When we are writing and you try to talk to us,  we are not being rude by not answering you, we don’t mean to be neglectful, we don’t mean to hurt your feelings.  We simply don’t hear you.….when we are deep into the zone we aren’t even in the same room or house with you…we are in the world of our story, if we are lucky.

writer
This, in fact, is one of the questions I ask the authors that I interview. Do you ‘get lost’ in your writing and for how long? And they have all reported back that yes they get lost in the story and in their characters.

So if you give the writer in your life some slack, bring them a cup of coffee but don’t speak, quietly close the door to their ‘writing space’  you are a true supporter to that writer.

 

A blank piece of paper is God’s way of telling us how hard it to be God.”– Sidney Sheldon

My own experience is that once a story has been written, one has to cross out the beginning and the end. It is there that we authors do most of our lying.”
– Anton Chekhov

“I have been successful probably because I have always realized that I knew nothing about writing and have merely tried to tell an interesting story entertainingly.”
– Edgar Rice Burroughs
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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

To receive my posts sign up for my   On the home page, enter your email address.  Thanks! 

Did you like this tip?  See all 37 tips for writers in the book, How to Write Creatively

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Honoring All Veterans, Fallen and Still Fighting!

Our politicians could take a page from the young men and women who are, TODAY, fighting for our country or defending smaller, weaker spots around the globe. Brave, honorable, honest, with integrity, they are making the world a better place.  Giving selflessly of their time, dedication to country, and sometimes their lives. 

I would like to honor and name the people in my family who have served.

Gerald Guyer  (WW1 Normandy)
William J. Woods (WW2, South Pacific)
John W. Cable (WW2, South Pacific)
Jack D. Borden (B52 Bombers/23 years USAF)
Doris B. Gill (US Marines) 
Jack Henderson (USAF Enowitach Bomb testing)
Robert Berry (Navy Seal. Korea, Vietnam)
  John W. Sugarek (US Marines, Vietnam)

 

 

 

 

 

For more stories

Journaling, a Gateway Drug to Creative Writing!

Recently a naysayer challenged me about posting writing ‘tips’ to a Reddit Community dedicated to journaling.  They didn’t think it was ‘a correct or appropriate community for the post.‘  My first reaction was, “huh?” But it got me to thinking….

What is ‘journaling’ but an amature and undeveloped form of creative writing. A writer waiting to step through the door and try a short story or a poem or even the beginning of their first novel. Maybe a stage or screenplay that they have always wanted to try their hand at.  

So my second reaction was to write a reply to the community (in question) stating the above. Was this person coming from a place of fear?  Were they a person who journaled and was terrified of going one step further? Had they tried a piece of creative writing and given up?

My message is to all you people journaling out there:  Don’t be afraid. Try to write some fiction. Write some  more. Then write some more. It doesn’t matter how bad it is; practice makes perfect!

“Imagination grows by exercise, and contrary to common belief, is more powerful in the mature than in the young.” W. Somerset Maugham

“Try again. Fail again. Fail better.” Samuel Beckett 

Inspiration is not that difficult for me. The difficult part is the normal procrastination of not wanting to sit down and work, not wanting to make it real and face that compromise.” George Lucas  
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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.
 
To receive my posts sign up  on the home page, enter your email address.  Thanks! 
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Purchase Click here

 

Interview with Visionary and Author, Tal Gur (part 2)

Q. When did you begin to write seriously?  (continued)

TG. It was my mom who first told me I should write seriously 🙂 That was almost 20 years ago when I still wrote in Hebrew. I just arrived to Australia and I was lonely, so for a few months I wrote a series of emails about life in a new country. Writing was my refuge, my way to rip all the loneliness out of me. The topic was Australia, but underneath all that it was just a way to make sense of the world inside of me. My second “serious” attempt with writing was in English. Same as my first attempt, I used writing as a way to share and reflect upon life’s journeys. Whether it be a trip overseas, my Ironman journey, or simply a random weekend escape, I played with the words like a new toy.

Q. How long after that were you published?

TG: I published my first book 20 years later. In between I blogged at http://fullylived.com/blog

Estonia

Q. What makes a writer great?

TG: Skills + Passion + Dedication. I think it’s a winning formula.

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

TG.  mmm… I wish I had a linear step-by-step process… In my case, the process looked more like me sitting at my desk and letting inspiration take over. Whatever felt right at the moment.

Q. How has your life experiences influenced your writing?

TG. I’d say A LOT. My life experiences as well as my challenges provided me with valuable lessons that I couldn’t learn otherwise.

Somehow, in our society, we’ve decided that struggling is the enemy.But if you’ve ever or embarked on a big and meaningful journey, you know that discomfort and pain are simply part of our growth.Struggling is not the enemy. Hopelessness is;When we feel hopeful about our journey ahead, when we move in a meaningful direction, then struggling is not the problem.On the contrary, it can be part of our joy. Because the struggle is for our dream. And we know that we are giving it our all.

Trek in the Himalayan mountains

Q. Is there anything else you’d like our readers to know?

TG. Consistent action in the direction of your dreams. It may take a month, it might take a year, it might take a decade. but you will eventually make it if you take consistent action.

To purchase: The Art of Fully Living

Did you miss part I yesterday? Click here 

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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.  
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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Motivational Moments…for Writers! #36

You don’t feel like working on your novel today. Don’t force it!  If you have an unfinished novel, play, or story…you don’t have to necessarily work on it every day.  Too much pressure!  A successful writer DOES try to write every day but you can write anything. Maybe you’re not in a creative mood today to work on your novel.  So write on your blog or write a piece of poetry.  Or a short story. Whatever it is, you don’t have to finish it TODAY.  Just write! Write every day! Write something!

“Remember these stories, Tlaga. My people live inside them. When a tale is told, everyone who ever heard that story is alive again….”  Bartle Bull

“An alphabet makes the words that keep a people together….”  Bartle Bull

“If you stumble, make it part of the dance.” ~  Abi Eberman

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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.  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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