Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Book Review: "Gnosis" by Tom Wallace

There is a lot to like in Gnosis by Tom Wallace, starting with lead detective, Jack Dantzler. He's the kind of detective I'd want on my side: smart, resourceful, and a thinker. Wallace has also created an intriguing story. Summoned to the state prison, Detective Dantzler is asked by a cock-sure, dying prisoner to solve a crime from 29 years ago of which he claims now to be innocent. I settle in for the read. And it's a good one with crisp dialogue, real characters, a too hot girlfriend, and some questions about that conviction that need to be asked and that draw Dantzler to accept then embrace the challenge to answer them.

While I enjoyed the read and recommend it to other mystery/thriller readers, it has some unanswered loose ends. Without giving away the ending, I was disappointed that, after all the build up, there wasn't the mano-a-mano confrontation between good and evil. With all the well-placed biblical references and tie-ins, my reader's appetite was whetted for a bang-up ending, but the ending just kind of petered out with almost a deus ex machina event to resolve the situation, but not case. What I got was a big wrap-up that was good, but a let down from expectations. The other funny/disturbing thing was that the gaggle of detectives at this locale seemed to have unlimited time (and no other cases) to cause them conflict.

Now that the bad guy is eliminated, I want to live next door to Dantzler on the lake and clink a bottle with him and chat up some of the women he's met on the way. Despite the grumbling on my part, this is a smooth, entertaining read with an ending that will satisfy most. It is a worthy "4."

Monday, May 28, 2012

MMWUC: Mind Tripping on the Road

"By the time I get to Bluefield, you'll be rising
You'll scratch yourself or roll over and snore
You'll laugh when you read my note that says I'm goin'
'Cause I've done these road trips so many times before."

I love that song by Glen Campbell...By the Time I Get to Phoenix. And yes, I'm on the road from Apex, NC to Salt Lake City, UT to bring a fancy car to a mysterious buyer. Let your imagination roam. It's a break from the every day: the computer, yard, garden, Sydney (poor baby), fish, and the writing. It's the pause that refreshes, the hatchery of ideas. It's 2,148 miles with a few accidents to miss, road construction, some tarring to foul the air, a few restaurants to try, and a visit with a writer-on-pause in Iowa. I have to buy my wife some pants that can only be found in Davenport, IA. Why? I don't know. They're waiting for me at checkout. Is it coincidence or story development that the writer and pants are in the same state?

"By the time I make North Platte, you'll be working
You'll prob'ly stop at lunch and twitter me
But you'll get no reply cause I'm not responding
Cursor blinking, tis all you'll see."

I need time on the road once in a while. My mind wanders. Stories erupt as I pass cars, wondering where the people are going by themselves or crammed in like little Vienna sausage weiners...maybe I'll get them at the next rest stop with some crackers. Perhaps I'll spot some cute redheaded girl with an unorderly march of freckles across the bridge of her nose, just sitting, waiting. What's she waiting for? Boyfriend? Husband? Has she been abandoned? How long has she been there at the central Wyoming rest stop. She could be 14 or 24. Hard to tell with freckles. Did she have a fight with her step-mother on the way to meet her step-dad. Poor kid. Neither birth parents left, just a lot of steps to tread alone. So sad. What's her story?

"By the time I make Green River, you'll be sleepin'
You'll turn softly and call me crazy
And you'll smile just to think of the stories I'm writin'
Tho' time and time I tried to tell you instead
There not real, if they're in my head."

I did bring my notebook: the graveyard and birthplace of so many stories. I can never quite figure out what makes one soar like a fat and happy mosquito and the next one crash like a distracted bug against a window. OMG! The redheaded girl just got eaten by a pack of zombie prairie dogs. They swarmed her and didn't stop with the brains. THEY ATE ALL OF HER! I thought prairie dogs were vegetarians. You'd never see that in North Carolina. Poor girl. Nothing left but an elderly grandmother, looking around befuddled, and a pair of skechers. Didn't help her get stay fit and escape. Damn you, Kim K! You lied to us. Stupid prairie dogs. They ate too much and now are causing accidents on the highway as they burst like popcorn in the hot mid-day sun. Time to go.

Road trips. Just what the mind needs now and then. What's your road story?

Friday, May 25, 2012

Guest Blog: "Laughing Out Loud" by Pauline F. Micciche

Does your writing make people laugh? Mine doesn’t.  It tends to be gloomy. I’d been trying to write with a lighter tone to see how it works for me.  Only I didn’t know how. So when I saw a five line squib in the local newspaper about the 2012 Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop I thought I might be able to learn a more light-hearted approach from the humor experts there.  I registered.
I wasn’t disappointed. Two of the sessions I attended were especially helpful, How I Converted 7,000 Hours of Work Into $10 Hard Cash and Then Turned a Single Stupid Idea into $37,000! by Tim Bete and The Six Million Dollar Column: How to Write Bigger, Funnier and Faster by Tracy Beckerman.
Tim believes that almost all humor comes from two ideas that don’t go together.  Tracy breaks humor down into its components. According to her, humor comes from the reader’s ability to relate to the setup, unexpected elements, and the humorous use of language. She sees three theories or approaches to humor. They include a situation in which one person takes advantage of another, incongruity between parts of a sentence or paragraph, and building up the story to some sort of relief.  She also shared twenty-two tools for creating humorous language, some of which are related.

When I got home I started writing what I hoped would be a funny report on my experience at the workshop.  But how to tell if I’d succeeded? I asked my husband to read it. He smiled at the end. Not what I’d hoped for. Then Tim’s presentation came to my rescue. He suggested submitting your writing to the local newspaper.  I researched the newspapers in my area. Not wanting to have the topic go stale or cool my own enthusiasm, I concentrated on newspapers who accepted contact via e-mail or Facebook. So I contacted the Springfield News Sun, the Fairborn Daily Herald, the Dayton City Paper, and the Dayton Daily News.  My post made it onto the Fairborn Daily Herald. No-one has liked it or commented on it – yet.
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Pauline Micciche writes fiction as P. F. Palm in the rare moments she isn't snuggling with her husband (Richard Palm) in Fairborn, Ohio.
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Photo: Mountain Man Rick ratcheting up the humor or his beard.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Book Review: "The Bamboo Mirror" by Faith Mortimer

The short stories in The Bamboo Mirror are fine, but they break no new ground, which is a shame because they are reasonably well-written, clear, and with some settings that would, and do on some level, draw in the reader. Six short stories, teasers for four novels, and links to other writers complete this slim anthology. The Widow's Weeds started to paint a strong picture of a place few frequent, but the thin mystery ends before we can be totally submerged in the place and culture and story. The same is true for the titled story. The supernatural element is thinly veiled and the depth of time and place not nearly as deep as could have been drawn to heighten the reading experience. We are left to wait for an ending that is somewhat spoon-fed while expecting the heroine of Faith's novels to do more in her coming-out story. Two story endings are broadcast, leaving little surprise; two story endings are subtly intriguing but not shocking; two endings are sharper (The Cast Party and Making a Right), forcing the reader to pay closer attention, but they still didn't knock me out of my seat.

This is an average entertaining read with stories suitable for a long coffee break and not likely to keep you up at night with nightmares. I applaud the interesting marketing technique to garner new readers with a short story anthology and some novel teasers. It seems like a good move. It allows someone to sample a writer's material on a broader scope. It's a bonus for readers. While I don't bemoan the money I spent on the book, I had hoped for something more. All the stories straddle the fence between 3's and 4's. The overall affect for me, a very positive 3.

Monday, May 21, 2012

MMWUC: Something from Nothing is Something

This is not the post I wrote for today. That post is delayed, just like my trip to drive a car from Raleigh, NC to Salt Lake City, UT due to "paperwork interruptus". How shall I use my time during this delay when all those chores I do were neatly pre-done, put-off, re-arranged, and re-worked beforehand. I have an idea. I could shut down the social media and write. Ignore everyone and put some editing touches of a long-finished novel that I can't let go of. "Will anyone like it? Will they understand the nuances at the end? Will they get to the end? Is the protagonist too whiny? (I do have a bad habit of making my protagonists whiny in early drafts.) Is there enough action? Is there too much action? Am I waxing lyrical about the southern flora and fauna, or causing some readers to fall asleep in the hammocks of their mind?

We struggle as writers, write, re-write, get critiqued, edit, and then hope we find a good editor to beat some commonsense into our story before it goes live searching for "5" star reviews from people other than those on the friends and family plan.

Perhaps, with all of tomorrow's chores done, maybe Sydney and I will sleep long in the real backyard hammock and dream: him, about female cockatiels and me, about having written the story.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Guest Blog: "First Novel Journey: OUTLAWS" by Bill Weldy

Years ago while traveling west, I stopped along the edge of the highway in the early morning hours and gazed down on a beautiful valley nestled in the Idaho Mountains. An Emerald green lake surrounded by tall pine trees and dense forest contrasted the golden meadow leading to the lake. I envisioned a log cabin and small barn, with horses grazing. I fell in love with that spot and it imprinted itself forever in my memory.
Flash forward: During that time I was working swing shifts for the Dayton Police Department and often had difficulty falling to sleep. I developed the habit of envisioning that unforgettable setting In Idaho and thought of the process of building a log cabin – one log at a time. I veered off my thoughts to consider every aspect of what it would take to survive in total wilderness alone. Long story short, I drifted off to sleep. Over many years, I managed to get the cabin build in my mind but continued to visit the scene anytime I wanted to fall sleep. I still do.
I have tried to write stories all my life – stacks of finished and unfinished manuscripts crowd my files and desktop. But undying praise from friends and loved ones does not lead to a published novel. With the mantra of ‘write what you know’ firmly embedded, most of my novel attempts were crime/fight crime/mystery stories, with hundreds of rejections from publishers to accompany them. 
One night lying in bed thinking of my secret valley and the small farm I’d built in my head, I had difficulty thinking of something new to build or some new aspect of survival. Sleep wouldn’t come. “Write what you know”, flashed through my mind. I decided I needed to write a story about my secret place.
With only the setting as a starting point, I developed a protagonist totally different from me, but who possessed all my knowledge of having built this place over many years. I then set about (in my mind only) putting the character in life threatening situations and involving other characters to come up with a story. I quickly found that I could not get to sleep with these thoughts.
So I started to write the story. Coming up with a believable antagonist was the most difficult part. Thinking back on my police career and the criminals I’d dealt with didn’t help much (for a story in this isolated setting).  Not much activity there for organized crime mobs, no national security issues to involve terrorists, not many serial killers roaming the woods of southern Idaho. Then the Outlaws motorcycle gang popped into my head. Having had some dealings with them in my police career I knew they were mobile, nationwide in scope, vicious, lawless, and colorful. Perfect bad guys.
But why would they bother with a hermit farmer? Well, he periodically had to get supplies from someplace. Why not have the gang murder the general store owner and the hero could then become involved. Unlike previous novel attempts, the story flowed with no outline (other than in my mind).  I wrote the entire first draft in a few short weeks (and sleepless nights).  Along the way, I threw in the murder victim’s daughter for a romance angle, and a couple of inept bikers for comic relief. In my experience with the local chapter of Outlaws, I knew, although they are vicious and lawless, they are not necessarily CEO material. I needed the ineptness to keep our hero and damsel in distress from being killed in the first chapter.
As with my other novels I instinctively knew it was not worthy of publication despite the praise from my family. I tweaked and rewrote it a little at a time. Then I joined a writers’ group and started subbing chapters for review. The Internet Writers Workshop provided unbiased criticism of my writing and succinct suggestions of how to make it better. Slap myself in the forehead. Why hadn’t I seen those flaws before? The manuscript slowly changed into a publishable novel. I learned how to write an acceptable query letter and started submitting the manuscript to publishers. Even though I knew OUTLAWS was a vast improvement over all my previous novels, I had little confidence is getting it published (thanks to all my previous rejections).
When I was asked to submit the entire manuscript to an eBook publishing house (Musa Publishing), I was thrilled beyond compare, and shocked with disbelief, when two weeks later, they offered me a contract to publish the book. It will be released on Amazon and Musa Publishing on May 18, 2012.
Dreams can become reality. If you count sheep to get to sleep -- write a story about sheep.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Book Review: "Designed for Death" by Jean Harrington

Some well-worn clichés dot Designed for Death by Jean Harrington, but so does a well-knitted plot that delves deeper than most cozies into the character of its protagonist, Deva Dunne. I openly admit I like a bit more meat to my mysteries, but I do like a nice cozy once in a while so I can stop having nightmares, smile a bit, and watch in amazement how mysterious our lives must seem to those who don't know us well.

When Deva finds the murdered body of a new tenant at her condo unit in Naples, Florida, all the secrets about her neighbors come pouring out as well as the obligatory dropping of hints about the murder along with the foreshadowing of the approaching hurricane. Hey, it's Florida! It's going to have one. I admit upfront, the author did fool me for 83% of the book about who the murderer was. That's good. I like an author who can slap me across the cheeks with red herrings without the plot smelling like rotting fish. The usual 'I can't believe she's going to do that' moments in the story happened, but that's how cozy mysteries move the plot. The lead character is Lucille (LucyEsmeralda McGillicuddy Ricardo nosy, even when she doesn't intend to be.

I like the fact that the various quirky characters had some real life problems, financial issues, and personal struggles that made them seem a bit more human. But I don't by some of the physical characterizations. They were hard to accept or visualize at times. The author has even set us up for a series, which looks like a winner. This is a high-end "4"; cozy aficionados might even give it a high "5".

Monday, May 14, 2012

MMWUC: Pressure

I'm tired of all the phony-baloney, silly, gimmicky ways writers are told to trick themselves into writing the great American story. The next time you want to write something great, there is only one method to apply to your situation: PRESSURE.

It's 11 p.m. I have one hour to write this blog. I feel like I'm back in college. Old Professor Ginsberg, who was probably twenty years younger than I am now, waited patiently for my short story. I had slid from an opening day "A," when he was high all the time, to the mid-semester "C," a supposed guarantee to keep me out of the Vietnam-era draft with a student deferment, to now. I did little all semester in his class except read his repetitive stories about pigs while winning and losing and winning and losing the heart of some girl way out of my league who was extraordinary fickle. Why did he have to go to the first ever drug detox center over spring break? Progress against the war on drugs (low-grade weed then) killed me, and I had never even taken a toke. Clear-eyed, he said, "I'll give you a two day extension, but it better be a good story." PRESSURE!

"Physics for Poets" was easier than high school physics. Never went to class, but always went to lab; got A's on all the tests; got an F for the course. How was I supposed to know that attendance counted? And I couldn't appeal. He was head of the department! Philosophy I never got. Professor "Oh Wow! That's cool and outta sight," would roll up on his Harley, sit on the window ledge in his leather pants, and have mind-bending conversations with six over-caffeinated students in a class of thirty. Six A's were given with the twenty-four "C's". Batman Bladowicz's Introduction to Psychology should have been a breeze, but I forgot the golden rule. Never mention that at the age of seven, you took a tennis racket to a swarm of bats because you thought they were after you. As he stated in words colder and deeper than Count Dracula's command, 'Look into my eyes,' "They were after the mosquitoes swarming over sweaty, little body. You get a D." Can't argue with the world's foremost expert on bats. PRESSURE!!

A gym rat, it was easy to get an A in each of the one-credit courses: track (I ran it), tennis (since early on I could hit balls and bats with accuracy), and bowling (Dad's in the Hall of Fame in St. Louis and you have no idea how many hours I spent on the lanes). Add it up with the C, D, and F, and it meant that I needed to get a "B" for this 3,000 word minimum short story or I'd be meeting some smiling second lieutenant, ready to whisk me away to Fort Dix for grunt training and then Vietnam. PRESSURE!!!

Cola drinks, chocolate, and a closed door were my companions. I pounded out a story. It sucked. I pounded out another one. Worse. A day wasted. The girl came to the room. "I'm leaving." I nodded sheepishly. "It's over." I continued to nod. "He's my home phone." I stopped nodding. She left. The number was written on the back of silly love poem I wrote for her earlier that I didn't think affected her. The girl was an enigma. PRESSURE!!!!

Professor Ginsberg sat behind a desk piled high with enough paper to support the printing of the New York Times Sunday edition for the Bronx. "Have it?" "Yes, sir." I handed the story to him. "4,124 words. I'm surprised it's not 3,001." I nodded. The girl turned out to also be my muse, but was it enough. I left for home.

A week later, the formal grades arrived in the mail. I pulled it out as though I was defusing a bomb. My heart pounded and then stopped altogether. My "C" in Philosophy had morphed into a "D." I collapsed onto my bed. I was not a lucky person. I envisioned me as the guy who steps out of the plane at Da Nang, Vietnam and has an unfortunate accident with a doughnut in the greeting station. I had to face it. I pulled out the grades, and there, there was an "A" next to Creative Writing. And in the envelope was a note. "Your story, 'Those Lovesick Cafeteria Loves Again' was raw and brilliant. The words exploded off the page. I've sent it to an editor at the New Yorker for possible publication. I knew you could do it." - Alonzo Ginsberg.

Well, The New Yorker liked it, but never published it. The girl married someone else that summer. The story is in the drawer unpublished for reasons I can't explain. A year later, I joined the army, nearly got killed several times, and have a lot of great stories. As soon as NSA will let me, they will be published. Is that the repo-man outside? PRESSURE!!!!! It's 11:57 p.m.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Guest Blog: "Comma Wars" by Wayne Scheer

It's a problem every writer faces each day. No, not how am I going to express my thoughts elegantly and concisely or even how am I going to earn enough money to make it through next month?

Rather, where should I place the damned comma?

There are rules, of course.  But in order to understand the rules, you must have a command of such phrases as, "coordinate adjectives," "restrictive elements," "parenthetical expressions," as well as the ever-popular, "independent and dependent clauses."  Trying to understand the logic behind comma rules is like trying to balance Jello on the tip of a banana. Even if you succeed, you still ask yourself: "Why did I bother?"
So we can all appreciate the kommakrigen, comma war, taking place in Denmark. That's right. The Cold War may be dead, but the dreaded commas continue to creep and crawl over the writings of Danes, great and otherwise, dancing doggedly from phrase to phrase.

You see, up until the Second World War, Danish was dependent on rules of German punctuation. That meant commas were used aggressively in rigid, lockstep formation. The problem is after the war, everything German became so uncool that Danish schools stopped teaching the rules, and most folk, if they once accepted the German punctuation mentality, soon denied any knowledge of it.
But the comma remained, and few knew when to use it.
However, the present-day Conservatives want to bring back the old German way of punctuating by stressing the basics of grammar in the Danish school system while the left-wing Social Democrats, under the authority of the 1996 Language Committee of the Ministry of Culture, are rallying behind the "New Comma," with its de-emphasis on rules. Instead, it argues that the comma should be used primarily to denote natural pauses of breath in Danish speech.

Sound familiar?

The problem, of course, is few Danes understand the old German rules well enough to use the comma with any kind of consistency and just as few Danes speak in regular breath patterns, especially when dealing with matters of punctuation and politics. The left-wing accuses the Conservatives of fostering an elitism based on a foreign ideology and the right-wing accuses the Social Democrats of a kind of dummying down to appease the masses. For the grammarians, nothing less than the future of Danish civilization is at stake.

Is there a lesson in this for us?  Perhaps. But for me I'd rather let the Danes fight it out while I try to determine if I need a comma or if I can get away without using one even if this final sentence leaves me breathless.
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Wayne Scheer has locked himself in a room with his computer and turtle since his retirement. (Wayne's, not the turtle's.) To keep from going back to work, he's published hundreds of short stories, essays and poems, including Revealing Moments, a collection of flash stories. He's been nominated for four Pushcart Prizes and a Best of the Net. Wayne lives in Atlanta with his wife and can be contacted at
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The book Eats, Shoots, and Leaves by Lynne Truss has nothing to do with Wayne's guest blog. I just thought it was a nice addition for those comma-challenged people as a resource.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Book Review: "The Mighty T" by Everett Powers

Okay, I admit it. I actually had a dream about this thriller. The Mighty T by Everett Powers is a well-plotted and written indie book. His characters--stars, average Joes, and dumb asses--are real and given their appropriate due. The dialogue is tight. And Powers keeps upping the ante on the level to which an eco-terrorist will go to get what he wants. While I found the ensemble cast a bit difficult to keep straight at the start, the story and characters straighten out quick enough once Detective Grant Starr starts dominating the page. The story is analogous to a real investigation. It starts with a measure of confusion that ultimately gets clarity. The villain is thought-provokingly delusional and bad to the bone. The secondary villain is a bit more difficult to fathom, but that's okay. She's a throw-back hottie with an edge.

One thing that bugs me about thrillers is the amount of mayhem authors often give away before it's necessary. This story gave some away, but not enough to ruin what happens next or at the end. The last 140 pages flew by - that's great, because I stayed up to two a.m. to finish reading it. I love when that happens. The dénouement, however, dragged a bit. The story was over; the adrenalin rush dissipated; close it out. Some may find the technical information too much to absorb, but I liked it. The environment/economic message was evenly played.

There is a lot to like here, and I'm tempted to read Powers' next book, Canals. Despite some minor flaws, this is a great read for a thriller lover and a really good read for the rest of us. But how did it end up on my Kindle? It's a borderline baby, but any book that makes me dream about it before I'm finished with it gets extra points. The minor flaws keep it from being a total knockout, but it still slides under the wire into the "5" camp of books that deliver and deserve to be read. Well done. Read it.

Monday, May 7, 2012

MMWUC: Let Your Imagination Soar

I don't need much to spark my imagination, but I need a bull whip, the threat of getting a "real job" at the local Harris Teeter, and a foreclosure notice to sometimes push my writing to the end point. I'm the person that Paul Simon wrote Slip Sliding Away about. You know: "You know the nearer your destination, the more you're slip slidin' away." I have such a hard time nailing down the last verb, choosing the penultimate noun, or snipping the surly bonds of a great passage that has no home in the story being told. I slip on banana peels and impale my heel on sharpened pencils way too often. This is one of my two Achilles Heels; the other is a lack of marketing savvy, but I'm not alone there.

But if a spark of imagination is all you need for this Monday Morning Wake-up Call (MMWUC) and not the burning sting of a bull whip across the knuckles that only an old nun could appreciate, then I present this picture.

Whether you write fantasy, mystery, romance, thriller, sci-fi (or the more sillier sy-fy), religion, coming of age, erotica, steampunk, western, or high-brow literary fiction, there is a story here. I had a dozen stories flash through my mind within two minutes after seeing this picture on Facebook.

Terrell's tiny wings beat furiously, his tail whipped pendulum-crazy, sparks burped from his mouth. I'd saved him, but who would save me?

Maybe this Monday, your imagination will spared from the last dragon's fire and the whip of his tail across your fingers. Give me your best 25-words in comments.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Guest Blog: "The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of my Blog Tour" by Ron D. Voigts

A long time ago, in another place, and what seems like a world so far different than the one we live in today, big name companies published books and made the authors of the time. The publishers controlled what and how their products would be shown in bookstores. They booked their authors on TV shows and radio spots.  And their writer toured the country, going from city to city, bookstore to bookstore, reading excerpts, talking about themselves and their books, and signing books. Ah, the good old days!

Today’s author is pretty much on her own. After those famous words —THE END — are typed and the book is published begins the real work.  In a word it’s called marketing. One aspect that parallels the days of yore is the book tour, which has been appropriately renamed the blog tour. Over a short period of time—a week or two or maybe a month—the author gets to travel around doing excerpts, talking about their books and themselves, and getting reviews…all on the Internet. I just finished a blog tour for my latest midgrade ebook, PENELOPE AND THE MOVIE STAR, and will share with you the good, the bad and the ugly. Only the names will be omitted to protect the guilty.

The blog tour was arranged by a blog tour manager who specializes in paranormal books, although not all the blogs were devoted to just paranormal reading. Part of my reasoning was to reach twentyish female readers that I’ve identified as my secondary audience. The paranormal book market is most popular with this reader and they lap into other YA books with female protagonists. Logically I should target middle grade readers, but they don’t read blogs, so hence my secondary audience.

Here is some of the bad. On one blog, none of the links worked. They were obviously miscopied and even after someone left a comment about it, nothing changed. In another case, the books titles were followed by the http:// address which did not look very professional. My belief is that anyone creating a blog should know how to embed links.  For one blog, I did an interview, but it never appeared. Another blog site had a disclaimer that the material it contained may only be suitable for adults. Oh, my! Granted my target audience was twenty-something, but my protagonist is only fourteen. (Penelope had to keep her eyes closed the entire time.)

Now on to the good. Two blogs did a good job and did everything right. (Granted one blog leaned toward protagonists with fangs, but perhaps the next book I churn out could be PENELOPE AND THE VAMPIRE.) Layout was good. Links embedded. No complaints. For another tour stop, Penelope wrote the blog which was well received. As someone commented, “Isn’t Penelope lovely?” (Of course, she is!) I did a piece about the 10 books that influenced my writing and it went over well. And one of the bloggers is local to me in NC and will do a review when my next book comes out.

Next, the ugly part.  I saw no increase in my sales on Amazon. Since PENELOPE AND THE MOVIE STAR is exclusively on Amazon, I had hoped to stimulate sales.  Ironically my sales did a small jump on Barnes and Noble for the other books in the series. Go figure!

Getting a review or interview on any blog is not always that easy.  Having a promoter with contacts helps. Also, the name of game is branding, so if anything, I did get the word out. If you want to check out the tour, check out my blog, That Was Then, This Is Now.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Book Review: "Storm Surge" by Tamara Ward

You want a summer beach read? I got your summer beach read, right here! Storm Surge by Tamara Ward is an intriguing debut novel with a well-developed plot that touches on many issues: violence against women, stalking, industrial pollution, professional ethics in research, sibling rivalries in dysfunctional families, and, of course, murder. One nice thing about this book, she keeps you guessing who the real culprit is far into the book.

Some of the twists are sharp and well-formed; some go down a little hard, but overall, my head kept turning, looking in different directions for the final clue right along with heroine Jonie Waters. Most major characters are well-drawn and some of their background, incomplete, but I'm sure that's because this is the beginning of a series that has a lot of promise, and we will find out more as time goes by. I intended to come back for a second swim in these waters. Tamara's background as a reporter shines through the trials and tribulations encountered by Jonie as she returns to her hometown of Wilmington after a decade-long, self-imposed exile. Finding a dead body on her first day back doesn't help reuniting with her estranged family.

I want to give this book a "5," but I just can't pull the trigger. It's that close to a must read for mystery readers. Although this is a romantic mystery, some of Jonie's flip-flopping, sometimes moment-by-moment, between the possible romantic entanglements bugged me. A few of the important secondary characters were a bit flat. And though it didn't affect my rating of the story, her publisher needs to take much better care of the formatting of Tamara's next book. As an indie author myself, I understand the arduous task of formatting and publishing a book. A professional publisher needs to treat the products of their rising star better. This is "4" with the surf rising.