Thursday, April 30, 2015

99 Cent Sale for One Enchanted Evening

Ebook Sale for 99 Cents from May 1-14

Enchanted clothing has a mind of its own.

Restlessness plagued Charlotte Becker. Unable to settle down, she moved from place to place searching for an elusive something to calm her turbulent spirit. A sudden invitation sends her across country to Lobster Cove, Maine. Anchors abound by the sea, but surely nothing would keep her rooted in place in a pokey resort town during the off-season.

Drawn into a consignment shop named One Enchanted Evening, Charlotte is confronted by a mysterious article of clothing requesting her help to stop a man in a wolf mask from killing women. Charlotte agrees to protect the citizens of Lobster Cove and find the hunter before an innocent is slain.

Luke Maddox’s hunting days are over. Wounded in action, he left the Marines to return to Lobster Cove. Hiding his disability, he accepts life will be nothing more than dull routine. Then he meets a singular young woman wearing an unusual cloak. She tells an incredible story of a wolf that walks on two legs.

And the hunt begins…

In One Enchanted Evening fantasy, humor, and romance are wrapped up in the cheeky retelling of a fairy tale. You will never look at a clothing from a consignment shop the same way again.

Swallowing back her unease, Charlotte rolled up the window and got out. Except for her car, Main Street was empty. She pushed through the scrubby overgrown yard. Clearly illuminated on the door was the By Appointment Only sign. Somebody must be inside and she wasn’t going anywhere without a tow truck. Butterflies fluttered about her stomach as she scampered up the steps and knocked on the door.

“Excuse me,” she called out. “I don’t have an appointment, but my car and phone died and I need a tow—”

The door swung open. Charlotte drew in a breath and set a hesitant foot over the threshold. The interior lights activated, sending her heart pounding.

 “Nothing to worry about,” she muttered. “Motion sensors or something. Hello?” she called louder. “Anyone home?”

Charlotte stepped inside. With the interior illuminated, more than a few armoires were visible. The old front parlor was crammed with trunks and bureaus. Battered chests stacked on top of each other lined the walls. Had all this stuff been here before? The size of the building was deceptively small from the outside.

“Great places to stuff a body,” she muttered.

“That’s true,” said a voice.

Charlotte made a leaping half spin around. Her heart shouldered her esophagus out of the way to race up her throat. She swallowed hard to force it back down. The elderly woman with the peasant blouse and purple bandana stood right behind her.

“However, I don’t recommend it,” she said, cheerfully, “as you’ll never get rid of the smell.”

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Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Writing that Drives me Bug Nuts. It's a Short Hop.

Illogical situations
When you get down to the nitty gritty all fiction is just making crap up. Whether the author is writing realistically or not, the world is still fake. That’s okay as long as the fake world is believable and functions in a logical manner. Harry Potter’s world is fake. So is the world of Shakespeare’s King Richard, although he is based on a historical character. The actions in both are understandable within the context of human nature. The reader understands why Harry went right and Richard so horribly wrong.

The biggest offenders are the latest glut of dystopian novels. The authors have no understanding of basic human psychology or motivation. Characters act irrationally. The worlds they inhabit make no damn sense; politically, psychologically, economically or otherwise. Settings are idiotic as well as impractical and could never function. On the other hand if magic existed, Harry Potter’s world could, too. It’s fake, but feels real.

Apostrophes & Unpronounceable words
D’Chtulk, g’g’duba of the Mmor’a’c’z’anits, wielded his mighty blorknog. “Fraaaanaka,” he screamed.
Tolkien invented a whole new language. There are no Tolkien's out there writing now. If an author has to add a pronunciation guide, the story is bad. Vowels are free. Add a few. Apostrophes feel no pain. Kill them with a blorknog. While we’re on the subject, what exactly is a blorknog? A sword. The hero’s pet name for his genitalia? I don’t know. I don’t care. Neither does anyone with a dash of sense.

Sex instead of chemistry
Sex is not romance. If you don’t know the difference, stop reading right now and get counseling immediately. In erotica, sex matters. In romance, sex doesn’t. You can have it, or not have it. With good writing, the lack or addition won’t affect the story. Sex never makes a bad story better. The only importance is the chemistry between the hero and heroine. If they don’t have an emotional and intellectual connection along with the physical attraction, the sex in the story comes across as either sad, creepy, or exploitive.

Character Confusion
Men are different than women. Seriously people, they are. Not so, according to many authors who write supposedly tough female characters. Yeah, these gals fight like the men. They talk like the men. They walk like the men. Hell, they are men, only with boobs. It drives me crazy when there is no discernible difference between the sexes. Just because a female character wields a weapon and curses, doesn’t make her either tough or memorable. I find her annoying.

Confusion can also occur because there are too many characters. I once read a good one hundred page novelette that would have been a great novelette if it weren’t for that fact that it had over thirty characters. I kept having to flick back and forth trying to remember who all was whom.

Which leads me to the last item...

Unrealistic Dialog
A physical description shouldn’t be required to tell the difference between every man, women, or child in a story. Dialog should do that alone. Each character needs to be a unique voice on the page. You should get a good sense of gender, age, economic status, and other variables. Characters that sound alike have no separate personality or identity. If dialog can be switched around between men and women and not sound weird, I’m ready to pitch the book across the room. 

I have plenty more, but a good rant is exhausting and I feel the need to lie down.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Book Review: A Nice Little Place on the North Side by George F. Will

A Nice Little Place on the North Side
What does a female bear taking birth control have in common with the World Series? No cubs. (p. 29)

Spring is in the air. With it comes the sound of a crack of a baseball bat to be closely followed by the gnashing teeth of Chicago Cubs fans as the team tanks another season. George Will, better known for his political commentary (and ubiquitous bowtie), has written an enjoyable history of the team and begs to ask the question, why can’t they win another Series?

“...there is a lot of losing in baseball, even for the best teams. If you can’t bear losing, find another sport. And if you do not much mind losing, or if you actually rather enjoy it, you should feel right at home in Wrigley Field.” (p. 136)

A Nice Little Place on the North Side goes beyond a simple litany of famous and infamous fans, games, and players. Although, I have to admit I was fascinated to find out Jack Ruby once worked at Wrigley Field as a vendor known for “nefarious sales.” Will attempts to explain the mystique of the Cubs; obvious to inhabitants of Chicago, but beyond the understanding of anyone else. The fans devotion to Wrigley Field is legendary. As Will notes, every once in while a person in the front will even sneak in the ashes of a dearly departed and cast them into the wind. Ushers tend to look the other way. Cubs fans, Will wryly points out, are the least sensitive to losing streaks in all of Major League Baseball. Winning to please is obviously not a strategy in the team’s game book.

Will goes on to detail famous owners such as Spalding (of sports equipment fame) and Wrigley (chewing gum, natch), and how baseball became big business. His section on beer is very entertaining. Apparently, attendance at Cubs games is four times more sensitive to beer prices than ticket prices. He also includes a brief discussion of the psychology of sports fans and how even being part of a fandom for a losing team promotes a feeling of community.

How’s about dem Cubbies? Will the team ever win another series? Eh, maybe not, but it won’t be because of the lack of devoted fans. This book is an enjoyable read for baseball lovers. There is plenty of sports trivia and descriptions of games. I recommend it to anyone who follows the Cubs or ardently loves a hapless sports team for inexplicable reasons. It would also be appropriate for anyone who loves such a woeful individual. The book won’t completely explain his or her madness, but may increase one’s sympathy.

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Book Review: My Life in Middlemarch by Rebecca Mead

Well-loved books stick through a lifetime, the words hot-glued onto the reader’s soul. The book Middlemarch by George Eliot had this effect on the author Rebecca Mead. She delves deeply into Eliot’s upbringing and how it influenced the novel’s interpretation of love, marriage, hope and finding meaning in life. She elegantly weaves comparisons between Eliot’s life and the characters of the novel. Although written in the nineteenth century, Mead argues Middlemarch in many ways incorporates modern themes, especially, “a young woman’s desire for a substantial, rewarding, meaningful life.”

Mead read Middlemarch several times over the course of decades each time gleaning new insights. As she says, “My Middlemarch is not the same as anyone else’s Middlemarch; it is not even the same my Middlemarch of twenty-five years ago...we each have our own internal version of the book, with lines remembered and resonances felt.”  No explanation is necessary. Anyone who had ever deeply loved a novel has felt exactly the same way.

Quibbles and Bits
The title and the publisher’s blurbs can easily lead the prospective reader to suppose that Mead intended to draw deep parallels between her life and the novel, describing how lessons in the pages reflected changes in her own condition. This isn’t the case. This is an articulate, intelligently written dissection of a novel, but very little of Mead’s own life is glimpsed.  

My Life in Middlemarch is extremely well-researched and written, but I don’t believe it would hold much interest to the casual reader of fiction. However, it would make an excellent companion piece to anyone currently reading Middlemarch, or interested in literary analysis, or any fan of nineteenth century literature in general.

I received this book for free from Blogging for Books in exchange for this review.