Latest Entries »


****COMING DECEMBER 1st, THE LATEST INSTALLMENT OF THE PARA-EARTH SERIES****

Twenty-five stories, spanning 150 years…

“The Vampyre Blogs – Coming Home” introduced a new cast of characters to the Para-Earth Series. This anthology answers and raises questions about their backstories and relationships.

What otherworldly threats has the Professor dealt with? How did Nathan’s altered self affect his service in the Civil War? What other mysteries linger on Nathan’s estate? What did a German like the Professor do during WWII? Who are some of the other people Nathan has met over his unnaturally long life? Are Nathan and the Professor the only ones who’ve had close encounters with Para-Earth beings?

These and more, including the return of certain characters from “The Bridge” or “The Ship” will be explored within these pages.

REVISED COVER2
KINDLE PRE-ORDERS BEING TAKEN NOW AT THE LINK BELOW: 
Advertisements

REVIEW BY HELEN KRUMMENACKER

Away With the Fairies

This is one of the Phryne Fisher novels, a mystery set in Australia. These deal not only with solving crimes– in this case, looking into the suspicious death of an eccentric writer of fairy stories– but also the social structures of the times they are set in. It’s 1928, and the aftermath of the Great War is still felt in everything from the growth of women’s career options to international politics. For Miss Fisher, the international politics has turned her personal life on end, because her Chinese boyfriend is in danger just trying to handle his family’s import business while China is in crisis. As for the mystery, most of the suspects living as neighbors to the deceased were also her co-workers through a women’s magazine. And what a women’s magazine it is! While there are columns on child-raising and fashion, the magazine is full of how-to information on building your own radio and fixing your car, as well as health and gardening advice.

The editor is a feminist and sees her magazine as a means of changing the world, by making it so that people see achievement as not merely for extraordinary women, but every woman. I found this an important take because in the history of feminism, there was a split after winning the vote between women who wanted to focus on opening opportunities for extraordinary women (what I think led to the idea of “white feminism” being about leadership and opportunity for women of the privileged classes) and women who wanted to focus on helping the most vulnerable women (immigrants, working class, etc.). By making a magazine that intended to lift up women regardless of background, giving them skills that would save money and show them as competent and capable, the editor was, in essence, trying for a middle ground that would move all women forward.

Phryne is sympathetic and joins in with the magazine, filling in for their fashion writer who is away. While Miss Fisher is wealthy now, her background was quite different and she has a refreshingly practical approach to get maximum wear and versatility with minimal outlay, with a bonus column on remaking vintage clothing into couture to get a special occasion look at thrift store pricing. While her work on the articles is mostly a way to gain access to the suspects and a minor part of a plot involving assassination attempts, pirates, and the search for a motive, it tells us about Phryne’s character– how she can turn a chance encounter with a friend into an opportunity to create a win-win scenario; how a cover ‘job’ is attended to with the diligence appropriate for someone seeking a career; and how her respect for Dot gives her even more insight into the needs of the everywoman than her own life experience can.

True to the concept expressed in the magazine, the writer uses the novel to give us not merely the extraordinary Miss Fisher, Bunty, and other seekers of adventure, but the quiet strength and leadership of the magazine editor and the matriarch of the Lin family, the single-mindedness of a passionate photographer who will spend hours to get the perfect shot and work for plates, and the wholesome determination of Dot, or a widowed mother, or prodigal niece who combine their labor with principle. There is something to admire in most of the women, and while there are a few who are more notable for folly in the end, there is hope (except in the case of the deceased) that they will learn from their mistakes and come out better and happier for it.

This is the first I have read of the Miss Fisher books, although I’ve enjoyed the TV series. As usual, books give so much more wealth of detail and the opportunity for greater depth. Kerry Greenwood takes the time to delve into history and social themes, grounding them in reality (piracy is organized crime, not merry mischief) and weaving them together from separate plot strands, as when she links post-trauma reaction to mutilation and betrayal in different circumstances. While the novels can be enjoyed on a superficial level of escape into a distant time with a flamboyant heroine pursuing justice, I think most readers will find satisfaction in the sense that they have learned a little, thought a little, and been given an opportunity to see ways to live well.


Waverly

REVIEW BY ALLAN KRUMMENACKER

5 – STARS “What price for sanity?”

    Waverly Hills Sanatorium is an actual place in Louisville Kentucky that the author visited as part of a paranormal investigative team. By the author’s own admission their paranormal experiences where ‘minimal’, I feel the setting and strangeness of exploring an abandoned place with so much history lent a great deal to the creation of this novel.

     Ben Clausen has landed a job teaching English over at the U of L, and is now searching for a place to live. His search has brought him to the most unlikely place to find an apartment, one half of the old Waverly Hills Sanatorium a place famous for its tragedies and ghostly legends. Only one half of the place has been converted into apartments, while the remaining half is still in severe disrepair and is kept off-limits, perhaps for very good reasons.

    But beggars can’t be choosers, and with the rent priced just right Ben moves in and soon begins meeting his fellow residents, but are all of them truly real? There’s the down to earth Kayla, who seems to know a lot about the place and the residents, the disconcerting Mort Shackelford who meets an untimely end by a strange visitor, and the fascinatingly exotic Scarlet Snow who seems to weave a spell over Ben in more ways than one.

    Before long Ben finds himself caught up in a series of strange encounters, and not all of them are purely of this world, all of which could be leading to his own destruction/damnation…

    But beggars can’t be choosers, and with the rent priced just right Ben moves in and soon begins meeting his fellow residents, but are all of them truly real?

    The author weaves an intricate and tantalizing tale, often leaving the protagonist with the questions of “Did that really happen?” carefully blended with intrigue from human sources, that keeps the reader wanting to know more.

     A good page-turner. A perfect read for the Halloween season. Hope to see more.

AMAZON:

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07CRB4VGV/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_bibl_vppi_i2


gospall

REVIEW BY ALLAN KRUMMENACKER

4 – STARS “An Eerie Blend To Satisfy Horror Enthusiasts…”

Mix one part voodoo, one part devil worship, three parts darker side of human nature and you get “The Haunting of Gospall”.

The author does a wondrous job of blending these three elements into a intricate yarn that transcends the high seas. He starts us off with a brilliant opening scene upon the SS Gospall in the 1800’s, showing a keen insight of what sailors and captains faced on the open waters during one of the more contentious periods between England and France.  We’re introduced to characters we come to admire and care deeply for, both in the 1800’s and the present, as the tale unfolds and a mystery that links the two time periods slowly unfolds.

We meet Sean, who is blessed unwillingly with psychic talents that has led him down a dark path once before.  The author also introduces us to his beloved Sophie who not only listens to him when he starts telling her about strange events that led not only to his mother’s death, but also the strange visions and encounters he has been experiencing.  Led by Sophie, they start digging deeper into the mysteries which leads them to a meeting Seamus Mallom, a former exorcist, with demons of his own that led to his hanging up his white collar… so to speak.

Soon the trio find that all that is happening around them and the world seems linked to the final fate of the Gospall, the villainous pirate Santia that had usurpsed command of the vessel, and an island where the darkest of magics were being performed.

Sins of the past and a final battle for salvation hang in the balance, but is it already too late for the world?

A ripping good yarn, especially for the Halloween season.

AMAZON:

https://www.amazon.com/Haunting-Gospall-Solomon-Strange-ebook/dp/B07FW33WW5/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1539195210&sr=8-1&keywords=solomon+strange


And I’m back, sort of.

minion-coffee

Okay, I’m still a bit unwell, but finally on the mend. In the meantime let’s continue with that discussion about some of the things I learned putting together our first anthology.

First off it was somewhat easier than creating an entire novel. With a novel you have to keep track of so many things like character development, interactions, subplots, pace of the story, etc.  Now with an anthology, you still have a lot of stories to contend with but each one is self-contained and has its own beginning and end. You don’t have to be worried about how they fit into the main tale. Plus you can have a greater variety of characters and give each tale a flavor all its own. Sounds pretty easy so far right? Well, here’s where things started to get a little more complicated for me.

oops

Like a novel, an anthology does need to have a certain feeling of cohesiveness to it. There must be some facet or factor that makes the reader feel like the stories all belong together in that one volume. This is of course fairly easy to do when you’re dealing with a bunch of stories by various authors dealing with the same subject matter. “The Penguin Book of Vampires” is a great example. It contains dozens of authors within its pages with each one using an actual vampire character or a variation on that theme.

Another simple method of dealing with this cohesive problem is to do an anthology that contains works by the same author. One of my favorite authors is the legendary Isaac Asimov, a prolific writer beyond compare.

Asimov

Throwing a collection of his works together should be easy right? Wrong! While known for his volume of work in the field of science-fiction, Mr. Asimov also wrote mysteries, as well a huge body of non-fiction. So here you have to ask yourself what kind of anthology would you want? Do you want to have a sampling from different areas of his works to showcase just how versatile he was? Or would you rather want to focus on just one genre of his work at a time? Considering the volume of work the man left behind, most anthology creators have chosen the latter. This was especially true when he was still with us.

Tales_of_the_Black_Widowers_cover

In the case of his mystery sleuths “The Black Widowers”, the publishers gathered all his published tales with these characters who solve puzzles and mysteries while sitting in a restaurant. The publishers also got Mr. Asimov to create an introduction to each collection (there were 5 all together), as well, but they didn’t stop there. Mr. Asimov provided some brand new tales that had never been published to make each collection more special. Furthermore, he add afterthoughts to every story giving the readers new insights to his characters as well as how he came up with the puzzles.

From there I started looking through the other anthologies by various authors (HP Lovecraft, sci-fi and horror collections) in our personal library to see what was done in those cases. And guess what I discovered, each collection had an Introduction/Preface depending on if the works were all the same author or by various authors. Furthermore, just about every tale in each anthology also had some thoughts at the beginning or end of it talking about the author, or thoughts they’d had on the work. Quite different than just having an “About the Author” at the end of your novel. Naturally we had hour work cut out for us, but there was still the issue of a feeling of connection between the stories.  Did we have one or not?

ponder-iii

To answer this question I found myself going back to the original source for many of the stories in our anthology, our online blog “The Vampyre Blogs – Private Edition”.

TO BE CONTINUED…

 


Blogger’s Note: I know I promised the second entry about things I learned about putting together an anthology, but the bug we’ve been fighting turned into bronchitis, possibly bordering on pneumonia.  So we’re both on heavy antibiotics which does not make for very sensible thinking or analyzing, much less writing.  So please bear with us and hope you enjoy this latest book review.  We hope to be back in the saddle very soon.  Thank you.

 

raising steam

 

This particular offering by the late-great Mr. Pratchett was a wonderful read, in my opinion. I’ve seen other reviews where people lamented that his declining health was clearly showing in this book saying things like “it wasn’t as funny…” or “…it felt like this was his farewell to the fans…” etc. A lot of this is understandable considering the rare form of alzheimer’s he is fighting. But for me, this book felt more like a wonderfully wild ride that took us to various parts of the Discworld, just as the invention of the first train in Ankh-Morpork intended.

Pratchett uses the invention of the first steam engine to take us all over and reintroduce us to a number of old and familiar faces and places. We go back to Uberwald to visit Lady Margolotta, The Low King of the Dwarves, Bonk, the goblins, Harry King “King of the Golden River” (a river you would not want to swim in by the way folks), Commander Vimes and the Watch, Death, Lord Vetinari, and of course the incorrigible scoundrel of the piece Moist Von Lipwig.

We get to see some of these wonderful characters interacting with each other in various ways, some for the first time like Lipwig (the “reformed” con-man) working with Stoneface Vimes. Mr. Pratchett has been modernizing his world little by little throughout the series introducing the “Clacks” for communicating quickly over great distances, the first newspapers (spreading information to not just the gentry, but the common man), a new monetary system that is not based on the gold, so the addition of the steam engine seemed quite appropriate. With each book he brings his scattered characters closer to one another, while still providing a fun-filled thrilling ride along the way.

In “Raising Steam” he delivers that same fun but in a big fast noisy way. Well worth the read.

Fall Colors


A Fabulous Autumn poem by Aurora Jean Alexander

Writer's Treasure Chest

I wake up one day the world’s still bright
but the sun’s got weak when it shines its light.
I want to feel the warmth, but still it seems
there is that milky veil around the beams
**
I go outside, I see the pearls of dew
on flowers, grass, even on the bird that flew
just up while quavering its beguiling song,
His wings are brown as he flies along.
**
When I get up the streets are still
cloaked by fog, the air is chill.
Humidity turns streets all black
when will their light gray be back?
**
The leaves are turning red and brown
some yellow ones look like a crown.
It’s colorful, with ‘rust’ and ‘sunshine’,
with ‘umbra’, ‘burgundy’ and ‘red wine’.
**
Beige and chocolate, light charcoal
bushes, hedges, trees change whole.
Orange, teal and pumpkin pie
are the warm new colors under sky.
**

View original post 60 more words


*Blogger’s Note: I know I promised to continue about our experiences with creating our first anthology, but massive colds have been kicking us around.  Hope to get back to that subject next week.  Until then, here’s another book review.  Enjoy*

Grandma's Trunk

This was my first venture into the writing of Miss Grogg and I have to say I was quite pleased. This tale took me down the winding passages of my own childhood memories involving friends, relatives, and grandparents (who I sorely miss).

The story begins with Brandon having to move into his little brother’s room, because his elderly great-grandmother is coming to live with his family. Brandon is not happy about this and even resentful. But we quickly see the conflicting emotions within him early on when he first meets his great-grandmother who is full of spunk and not one to be pushed around in spite of her advanced age. But in addition to that fiery spirit she brings an old fashioned trunk that captivates not only Brandon’s imagination but those of his little brother Melvin and their cousin Alisa.

Soon the trio find that there may be more to great-grandma than meets the eye, making Brandon’s feelings towards her more complicated. Eventually we learn that he’s afraid of growing too fond of her because she is so old. He has already lost his other grandparents who were not nearly as old as her, and he still misses them terribly.

Miss Grogg fleshes out her characters extremely well and makes the reader dwell upon family and friendships, as well as the realization that even though we may one day have to say goodbye, there is so much to be enjoyed in the here and now.

AMAZON:


Last night Helen and I finished the final story for our upcoming anthology!

50b90-giphy

Thank you!  Thank you!  You’re all being too kind.  But today’s post is not to talk about the anthology itself, as much as what went into making it.  How did it differ from writing full-length novels?  Was it easier?  Was it harder? What was the process like?  Where did we get all the stories for it, etc.?

Well, for starters, coming up with a decent number of stories was and wasn’t hard really.  Helen had been writing stories long before e-books and well before I tried my hand at penning a tale.  I can easily say I learned so much from her earlier attempts at getting published, and let me tell you she got damn close to seeing some of her work in print.  But, that’s a tale for another entry.

What I want to say is that I learned a lot about what to expect when I decided to try  going the traditional published route.  Although in my case, I started shortly after the birth of e-publishing and after 2-3 years of trying to get an agent to represent and hearing over and over again “You’ve got something here, but you crossed several genres and I wouldn’t know what publishing house to try and sell it to.”

You see, at that time (and this still seems to hold true today) publishers don’t like to take risks on unknown authors or mixed genres. They want a straight up “Mystery”, “Thriller”, “Horror”, “Science Fiction”, etc.  They’re not keen on trying to sell a book that crosses multiple genres like the Para-Earth Series which we classify as “Paranormal/Sci-Fi”.

Nope

Now some of you may be pointing out that they do it more often these days, but most of those authors are well-known like Stephen King, Dean Koontz, J. K. Rowling, etc. who all have proven sales track records.

Anyway, getting back to how our upcoming anthology came to be a reality.

During that 2-3 years I tried to get published the traditional way, more stories were taking shape.  New characters and ideas were forming.  One of them was vampire I called Nathan Eoghan (pronounced Ewan) Steward.  I swore I’d never do a vampire character, unless I could introduce new angle or angles to the character.  Yet I still wanted to keep a lot of the traditional trademark strengths and weaknesses people have come and know and recognize.

By this time, I had already been blogging for several years and had learned from other writers the concept of giving sneak peeks into upcoming works, and even sharing short stories.  This is done to introduce characters and concepts to prospective readers and build a demand for them.  So, after creating a vampire character that would fit nicely into our paranormal/sci-fi concept, I began doing short stories with Nathan over on a new blog called “The Vampyre Blogs – Private Edition”.    Over the course of 3 years we had a number of tales about Nathan and introduced a number of his friends who appeared with him in “The Vampyre Blogs – Coming Home”.  And we’re still making new stories.  And that presented a problem, how many people want to wade through 4-5 years of blog posts to read all those stories?  Furthermore, most of those tales are rough 1st drafts and it shows.

During this time, I noticed some of my fellow authors who had created short stories on their blogs were bundling them into anthologies and that got us thinking.  With all the stories we’d already created, why couldn’t we create an anthology centered around all those stories on the blog?  While it sounded nice and easy, it also didn’t feel completely right to me.  While having all those earlier stories put into a more convenient format, shouldn’t we give the readers more?  Shouldn’t there be new never before seen stories in the collection?  Furthermore, should the stories not be just about Nathan but his friends, and even characters from our first two novels “The Bridge” and “The Ship”?

brilliant-doctor-gif

This led to Helen coming up with the idea of recycling some of her earlier works which were firmly established in the realm of the macabre.  With a little reworking and adding scenes, she felt a number of those pieces could easily fit in with our Para-Earth Series, while also giving those unread tales a chance to finally see the light of day.

*Now I want to pause and say one thing.  Remember how I told you all, many posts ago, never to toss out your unfinished works, or fragments because you never knew when they might fit into some new idea/concept?  This is a perfect example of why you do that.  You just never know when that day might come.*

So right there, we had some brand new stories to slip into the anthology.  But we didn’t stop there, we went ahead and created several more brand new stories just for the collection itself.  The result?  One third of the tales appearing in this anthology are completely brand new.

Plus, we also added an afterthought following each story, sharing some of the who, what, where, and how each tale came into existence.  We thought it only right to share some of what the writing process can be like and hopefully inspire others to take that next step in whatever creative endeavors they are involved in.

Now, seeing how long this entry is getting and knowing there’s still a lot more to share, I’m going to end this one here.  I know I covered a lot of background areas today and haven’t really gotten to more of the technical and details of actually what went into the building of the anthology.  But rest assured that will be covered in the next installment.

Until then take care and keep writing everyone.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Words of wisdom from a very wise man and great writer Seumas Gallacher.

Seumas Gallacher

…blasphemy?… heresy?… ravings of a mad writer?… signs of an author finally succumbing to the madness that years of tilting at imaginary characters bring?… that this ol’ Scots Jurassic scribbler should posit that the purpose of creative writing is NOT to achieve perfection?… p’raps, Mabel, but just hold on a minute with that frantic phone call to the lunatic asylum to come and cart me away… in a lifetime of reading, my choices of literature have been as broad as can be… Steinbeck, O’Hara, Ruark, Christie, Dickens, Eco, Fitzgerald, Child, Austen, Churchill, Burns, Chaucer… an endless list of library index heroes… every name there acknowledged as classic in his or her own metier, regardless of genre… sparkling storytellers all… but equally, I have noted in many instances, flaws, sum’times, in their narratives… incomplete closure on certain endings… use of language occasionally misplaced… part of that may be attributed to…

View original post 222 more words

%d bloggers like this: