Friday, September 13, 2019

Cozy Review: Ring-a-Ding Dead







Ring-A-Ding Dead! (The Myriad Mysteries) by Claire Logan

 

About Ring-A-Ding Dead!

Cozy Mystery, 1st in Series 
Independently Published (May 29, 2019)  
Print Length: 244 pages  
Digital ASIN: B07SG1XXM6
 

Just married! It's time for a ... murder?
When checking into the posh Myriad Hotel on their honeymoon, Hector and Pamela Jackson discover a dead body! All the couple wants to do, though, is keep out of the commotion and enjoy some well-earned rest.

But another person dies, and they happen to appear at the crime scene. When a third person falls right in front of them, the police begin to wonder why.

Who's responsible for the murders? Why are they happening? Are the couple under suspicion? Where does the little stray dog hanging around the hotel entrance come from? And when are Hector and Pamela finally going to have a proper honeymoon?

My Review: 
Ring-A-Ding Dead! is two mysteries for the price of one. While Mr. and Mrs. Jackson are investigating the murders at the Myriad Hotel, the reader, or at least this reader, is at least as interested in the mystery of the couple's past. It's an interesting way to design a book, with the main characters (the couple form an almost equal team, with just a little more attention paid to Hector) very much an unknown to the reader for much of the book. It kept me reading.

The setting is a great one--1920s Chicago offers a  lot of scope for atmosphere, and the author handles it well. I did catch one or two linguistic slips that didn't feel quite in the era, though I can't be sure (and can't find them again). Overall, the speech, clothing, and manners fit the period well, suggesting the author has done her research.

I greatly enjoyed the story, and found the solution to the murders satisfactory, if not wholly unexpected. I did peg the murderer well short of the end, but the motives were a surprise for me. The mystery of the couple's past was given just enough explanation to keep me from dying of frustration. I hope that further books in the series will flesh out that story and satisfy my curiosity.

Although the ARC I received was an unedited proof, I found the writing to be clean and thoroughly edited, with few to no errors.

My Recommendation:
A good fun read for lovers of historical fiction. The story is clean and, despite multiple deaths, non-violent. 

FTC Disclosure: I received an ARC of  Ring-A-Ding Dead! from Great Escapes Free Book Tours, and received nothing further from the writer or publisher in exchange for my honest review.  The opinions expressed are my own and those of no one else.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising." 

About Claire Logan

I've loved reading since I can remember! I love puzzles and mysteries and intrigue, and of all the cities I've been to, Chicago is my favorite. My four years of living in Chicago during grad school were wonderful. Plus I love history. And wasn't the 1920's wild? I've always wanted to write a series set in Chicago and now here's my chance.

Author Links:  
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/claireloganauthor
BookBub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/claire-logan  
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/18783548.Claire_Logan  

Purchase Links 
  Amazon:  (on Kindle Unlimited)

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Tuesday, September 10, 2019

On the Road... Again?

Yup, we're off again to go play! Headed to Colorado for some fun with my backpacking posse, then on to New England to take another look at the fall foliage. Internet access will be spotty, and while I have some pre-scheduled posts, I have no idea when I'll be able to check on them, respond to comments, etc. On the up side: Death By Library has gone to the proof-reader!

See whenever I have the chance!
On the road to find fall!

Monday, September 9, 2019

Middle Grade Monday: Refugee

33118312. sy475  

Title: Refugee
Author: Alan Gratz
Publication Info: Scholastic, 2017. 352 pages, Kindle version
Source: Library digital resources

Publisher's Blurb:
Three different kids.

One mission in common: ESCAPE.

Josef is a Jewish boy in 1930s Nazi Germany. With the threat of concentration camps looming, he and his family board a ship bound for the other side of the world…

Isabel is a Cuban girl in 1994. With riots and unrest plaguing her country, she and her family set out on a raft, hoping to find safety and freedom in America…

Mahmoud is a Syrian boy in 2015. With his homeland torn apart by violence and destruction, he and his family begin a long trek toward Europe…

All three young people will go on harrowing journeys in search of refuge. All will face unimaginable dangers–from drownings to bombings to betrayals. But for each of them, there is always the hope of tomorrow. And although Josef, Isabel, and Mahmoud are separated by continents and decades, surprising connections will tie their stories together in the end.
 

My Review:  
I read this because it was the July (!) selection for our Goodreads "Great Middle Grade Reads" group. While I think it is a valuable and important book (though maybe more important for the grown-ups to read than the kids!), I can't say I liked it a lot, or thought it was the best I've read. Maybe more accurate would be to say that I had some issues with the book, but think it was powerful.

One thing I found was that the structure--short chapters cycling among the three main characters--kept me reading. Almost every chapter ended with a cliff-hanger, and I had to read about the other two characters before I could get back to the first, and so on. That was undeniably effective story-telling. The chapters were short, however, and that made it harder to connect with the characters. Maybe I didn't want to, knowing what they might suffer (and I had a niggling memory about Josef's situation, and was correct).

I also had some reservations about the ways in which the stories connected, which felt a bit contrived. One sadly real thread that connected them was the efforts of too many nations (including, yes, the US) to reject refugees, even at the cost of their lives.

In essence, then, I found the powerful storytelling to be a bit diluted by structural choices, which still leaves this both a pretty good read and an excellent wake-up call.

My Recommendation:
At the risk of getting political, I think that those who are ruling our country right now might benefit from an empathetic reading of this book. More realistically, I would recommend it for anyone over about age 12, maybe older. I think this one teeters on the brink of YA, not juvvy, thanks especially to the descriptions of what happened in the concentrations camps of WWII.

FTC Disclosure: I checked Refugee out of my library, and received nothing from the writer or publisher for my honest review. The opinions expressed are my own and those of no one else. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."  

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

IWSG and Cover Reveal!

It's the first Wednesday of the month, and that means IWSG post! But before I get to that, I have a real treat: not one, but TWO cover reveals! One is mine, one for fellow blogger and IWSG member, Jemima Pett.

The 9th book of Jemima's Princelings of the East series is coming Nov. 14, and as usual, Danielle English has made a gorgeous cover:
The book is currently on schedule for release on November 14th. Pre-order at  iTunes , Kobo, and B&N right now.

The Princelings of the East are now King Fred and Prince Engineer George. Gone are the years of innocence when they travelled for adventure and uncovered time tunnels and pirate plots. Now Fred, assisted by his queen, Kira, has the responsibility for his people, his lands, and for persuading the lords and kings of the Realms to act together for the common good. George just has to work on his inventions, always thinking of a final goal: to fulfil the promises made to Lord Mariusz so long ago.
Neither has an easy task.

Fred decides to write a history of his reign, starting with the joy of his inheritance, and documenting how technological progress is not necessarily the key to communal good.

Chronicles of Marsh is book 9 of the Princelings of the East series, and fills a gap between previous books and the final one, Princelings Revolution. It takes us from Fred’s first days as king, to the loss of the latest and most promising flying machine, a period of 8 years. The pressures of modern life will be familiar to readers, even if the princelings world doesn’t have the internet or mobile communications… yet.

Lovers of the series will enjoy these adventures, but newcomers may find it easier to start with book 1, book 5, even at book 7. It’s a fantasy sociological and technological adventure in a world not quite like ours, suitable for age 10 and upwards.

###
And the second cover reveal? My own! Death By Library, Book 4 in the Pismawallops PTA series, is scheduled for release Dec. 6. My cover is also by the talented Danielle English, and I couldn't be more excited about how it turned out!
E-books available for pre-order at Smashwords, Kobo, iTunes (Apple Books, and I can't figure out how to find a link), and B&N right now. And now on Amazon, too!


JJ McGregor and the Pismawallops PTA are back in action! JJ has a new job at the library, which allows her to pay her bills. That ought to make her happy, but with all those books to shelve, the PTA to run, and a 16-year-old son to raise, there’s never enough time to spend with her sweetheart, police chief Ron Karlson. That’s especially true with Thanksgiving on the horizon and her mother coming to visit, not to mention the PTA’s Holiday Bazaar looming ahead.

The PTA has to swing into action in a hurry when a grumpy member of the school board threatens plans to build a badly-needed swimming pool on the island. His objections turn out to be nothing compared to the claims of a stranger who says the land the pool would be built on is actually hers. The board meeting dissolves into chaos, and JJ leaps into action in an effort to get to the bottom of the incipient land war.

Before JJ can find what she needs in the reference section, things turn deadly in the library stacks. Now JJ needs some answers fast, before she loses her job—or her life. She’s determined to find out everything about the victim, and for once the library doesn’t hold all the answers. JJ and Kitty may have to face the ultimate peril: a visit to Mrs. Halsey, the oldest—and crankiest—person on the island, where they may learn more than they bargained for.

Whew! Now for the IWSG post.

Picture
 

The first Wednesday of every month is the Insecure Writer's Support Group. Posts go up the 1st Wednesday of every month. Check it out here and join if you need support with your writing. Don't forget to stop by and say hello to the co-hosts: Gwen Gardner, Doreen McGettigan, Tyrean Martinson, Chemist Ken, and Cathrina Constantiner!

This month's question is: ​If you could pick one place in the world to sit and write your next story, where would it be and why? Remember, the question is optional!

I've been having a pretty good month as a writer. The final word-smithing on Death By Library  has been going well, and I feel like sometimes I'm even reaching a new level of quality prose :)  A release date has been set, and I've booked a blog tour. I've also kind of come to peace with not blogging as regularly as I've done for the last 5 or 6 years. I just don't have the time, and I'm not as interested in writing reviews, which was starting to feel like both a rut and a chore.

I even got the nicest note from a reader last week (she knows my Mom, but she didn't have to say anything, so I'll take it as sincere), saying that she read Death By Ice Cream in 2 days, putting it down only for the essentials of life! Now, that's praise worth having.

With one book almost done, my mind has turned (without waiting for permission) to the next book, with ideas for the story bubbling up and me scribbling notes as fast as I can. I shouldn't really start the next book in the series so soon--I have too many other projects clamoring to be started/finished. But it's the book that's yelling loudest, so it'll probably happen.

Now for the question: I am rather appreciating being able to sit at my own lovely big desk-top computer and write at home, after doing it in make-shift places all over the world for the last year. Fantastic settings don't make me want to write--they make me want to hike. So I'll say either home, or a nice coffee shop (there's a decent one around the corner from us--that'll do). 

How about you? Write at home, or head to an exotic locale to tickle your brain waves?
 
  


 

Monday, September 2, 2019

Photo Friday Comes on Monday: Taranaki

The latest installment in my reports of our adventures over the last year. This is part of the 4 months we spent in New Zealand (January through most of April) this year. We spent most of the time on the South Island, and I've covered most of our outings there. This is a trip my husband and I did on North Island, after our son went back to the US to finish his final term of college.

Mt. Taranaki is the primary feature of Egmont National Park (est. 1900). Named Taranaki by the Maori, and Egmont by Captain Cook, the mountain is a perfect cone, at least from a little distance, reminiscent of Mt. Fuji.

We arrived on a drizzly morning, driving out of decently fair conditions down below into the cloud that shrouded the mountain from a few hundred feet below the Visitor's Center. We had toyed with the idea of climbing the mountain, but the dubious weather combined with the 5000' climb (and descent) put us off it. Instead, we chose to hike the Pouakai Circuit, a loop along the base of the peak and through a sub-range on the north side.

Our trailhead was a bit below the VC, and we began by hiking steeply up, so we did start the trip in the rain.
Some old-growth trees are left in the area, including this one, home to many epiphytes.
After an hour or two of scrambling up a rough and muddy trail, the weather began to clear.
Still no views of the mountain, but a rainbow raised our hopes.
That change in the weather came as we topped out the primitive track (a re-route as the primary route to Holly Hut was closed due to a major slide). Within minutes we were seeing the mountain as the clouds vanished. Part of what we saw was a coating of fresh snow, making us doubly glad we weren't planning a summit attempt.
The peak is a perfect cone, but the lower slopes are as deeply eroded as most of the terrain in New Zealand.
Despite our post-lunch start, we reached our night's lodging, Holly Hut, in good time. In an indication of how late we were getting in the hiking season (as if the snow weren't a good enough clue), we shared the hut with only 2 other parties: a lone woman and a father with 2 teenaged sons. Since the hut had 3 bunk rooms, we all had private quarters, though we shared the comfort of the main room with the wood stove going full-blast to dry our boots.
A clever kindling-splitter, pretty much idiot-proof.
Holly Hut
We had a very short hike the next day, but we were up early to catch first light on the mountain.
Sunrise hits the fresh snow. Less than the day before, but still a dusting to remind us winter was on its way.
We took advantage of the short hike to our next hut, and started the day with an hour's round trip to Bells Falls, because you can never see too many waterfalls.
Every waterfall is different, and worth a look.
Eventually, we put on our packs and started the walk to the next hut. First we crossed the Ahukawakawa Swamp. Though some clouds flirted around us, we continued to have great views back towards the mountain. A boardwalk through the swamp protected the landscape from hikers, as well as giving us dry feet for a change.
The split in the hill on the far right is where the stream flows out of the swamp--and over Bells Falls.

Once across the swamp, we had to climb up the Pouakai ridge. Again, the track was well-engineered, as much to protect the resource as to make our lives easier. We learned that a few years earlier, a group of volunteers had constructed several kilometers of boardwalks and stairs along the ridge, transforming the track from a muddy trench that in places was shoulder-deep, into a pleasant hike.

After an hour or so of climbing, we topped out on the ridge near the hut. With lots of time, we did some extra exploring along the next day's route, to catch our scenery while we could, weather around the mountain being decidedly unstable.

Twenty minutes from the hut brought us to a small tarn, famed for photos with beautiful reflections. Since the wind was howling pretty enthusiastically while we were there, we settled for shots of the mountain with ruffled water.
The snow by now is nearly gone from the north--sun--side of the mountain.
A final trip to a viewpoint after dinner gave us our last looks at the mountain as the sun set.

Meanwhile, back at the Pouakai Hut, we watched the last light vanish over the Tasman Sea while our dinner cooked.
Oceanic cloud-banks reflected in the bunk-room window.
Next morning, sure enough, the window of great weather had closed. Our route followed the ridge for some distance, doubtless a path of breath-taking views under other circumstances. For us, it was a matter of enjoyed the cool conditions and the small things: the smell of the tussocks when wet, a drop of water on a blade of grass, and the beautiful, beautiful boardwalk that kept us out of the mud!
At a high point on the ridge, a viewing platform offered hints as to what we weren't seeing.




After the trail took us over the summit of Henry Mountain (no doubt for the views, but the route seemed gratuitously up and down in the drizzle), it dropped precipitously back into the forest and continued down.
One of the many places we appreciated the effort that had gone into building the track.
By now we were mostly wanting to get to the car, get dry, and go buy a meal somewhere in town. But there was still time to appreciate the beauty of the bush.
New Zealand has about a million kinds of fern (I'm exaggerating, but not by much). I love the patterns on all of them.
Finally arrived at the final swing bridge, one we'd crossed two days before as we headed out. Another hike nearly in the bag, and I could smell those fries!
I think this was a one-at-a-time bridge, with a maximum load of one, or maybe two people.
Taranaki didn't have quite the level of endless spectacular views many of our tramps had, but despite wet gear and muddy boots we were glad to have done the hike. Although several parties were at the hut on Pouakai ridge, none appeared to be going our way, and we hiked each day without seeing more than one or two other hikers, a rare and much-appreciated circumstance in a New Zealand we felt at times has been utterly overrun by tourists.


©Rebecca M. Douglass, 2019
As always, please ask permission to use any photos or text. Link-backs appreciated!

Monday, August 26, 2019

Hairspray, or, Why Haven’t We Been Going to the Theater?

So last week we were passing through Ashland, OR, and stopped over for the night with friends (because it's a long way from Seattle to home). We were just going to stay the night and move on, but they suggested we stay an extra night and see if we could get last-minute rush tickets for one of the plays. If you aren't familiar with it, Ashland is the home of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, which puts on about 8 or 10 different plays every summer. Several of the plays are by Shakespeare, but the rest are a mix, some well-known, others written or adapted for the festival. On Tuesday, the one with tickets available was Hairspray.

I can't say I knew much about the show, but our friends assured us it was fantastic--and it was. Which is what led to the question in my title: why haven't we been going to the theater?

Well, okay, there are some good reasons. Theater in San Francisco was ruinously expensive, plus you have to deal with the hassle of getting downtown to see it (and back in the middle of the night). We were busy, and tired, and for years the cost and hassle of getting a babysitter just made it too hard. It's been 6 or 8 years since a sitter was needed, but we got out of the habit.

And now I want back in. It'll maybe have to be community theater, college shows, etc., but all the better: those are affordable. I just want the magic of the dark theater and the lit stage taking me away to another world.


Everything on offer in Ashland this summer.
Yes, the fat girl can dance. So can a number of actors with physical handicaps who were part of the cast and performed well.

Friday, August 23, 2019

#Fi50: One Drop Too Many

Fiction in 50 is a regular feature in the last week of every month (well, lately I’ve been using it for a Friday Flash near the end of the month as the spirit moves me). I invite any interested composers of mini-narrative to join in! I didn't do a heads-up post this month, but feel free to jump in at any time.
fiction in 50   image Fiction in 50 NEW BUTTON

What is #Fi50? In the words of founder Bruce Gargoyle, "Fiction in 50: think of it as the anti-NaNoWriMo experience!" Pack a beginning, middle and end of story into 50 words or less (bonus points for hitting exactly 50 words).

The rules for participation are simple:

1. Create a piece of fictional writing in 50 words or less, ideally using the prompt as title or theme or inspiration.
That’s it!  But for those who wish to challenge themselves further, here’s an additional rule:

2. Post your piece of flash fiction on your blog or (for those poor blog-less souls) add it as a comment on the Ninja Librarian’s post for everyone to enjoy.  
And for those thrill-seekers who really like to go the extra mile (ie: perfectionists):

3. Add the nifty little picture above to your post (credit for which goes entirely to ideflex over at acrossthebored.com) or create your own Fi50 meme pic….
and 4. Link back here so others can jump on the mini-fic bandwagon.

And here's the Linky List so you can add your post!
This is a Blog Hop!


You are next... Click here to enter
This list will close in 2030 days, 23 hrs, 43 min (1/26/2025 11:59 PM GMT)

What is a blog hop?
Get the code here...

Or just add your link in the comments below!  Feel free to Tweet using the #Fi50, though I'll not lie: the Ninja Librarian is a lousy tweeter.

The August prompt is...
One Drop Too Many

One Drop Too Many

The drought lasted so long. We prayed for rain for months.

When the rains finally came, we danced and hugged and gave thanks in the pouring rain, soaked to the skin and delighted.

When it didn’t stop, we prayed for the dam to hold.

The rain finally stopped.

Too late.

###

©Rebecca M. Douglass, 2019
As always, please ask permission to use any photos or text. Link-backs appreciated!

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

WEP: Winter Heart

https://writeeditpublishnow.blogspot.com/?fbclid=IwAR335phO9h1ERbtEbXriLmn71gWVTtXOPpUllUIF5YwrpQaIPUY3sJGgmF4 

Squeaking in under the wire, here's my entry for the August WEP (Write, Edit, Publish) hop! I've put a wheelbarrow in, but that's definitely not the title of my story, which is kind of a work in progress, as I let time slip away from me. 

I'm open to any level of critique; I may revise this and try to do more with it if I'm inspired :)


700 words; FCA

Winter Heart

One more load, Ilya told herseolf. One more load, and you can sit down in the shade for a few minutes. The unrelenting sun beat on her like a hammer as noon approached, bleaching whatever color there had ever been out of the summer landscape. Out of the everything.

The wheelbarrow that hauled Ilya’s firewood—what irony that, firewood when the mercury tickled the top of the long thermometer—had once been red, but like everything else, the color was long since faded to something mockingly like rust. No rust where there’s no water, Ilya reminded herself. In this climate, there was just color, drained away.

Drained away like all their hopes. Like Jacob’s life, sucked away by the dust that got in his lungs and no amount of coughing would dislodge.

That’s all water over the dam, was her message to herself. Water over that damned dam that had lured them in and never materialized.

“The damn dam,” she repeated aloud, and laughed. There were some compensations to living alone. No one to be shocked that while doing the work of two men, she’d learned to cuss like one. And there was that home-brewed beer in the cellar. She’d learned to make it because Jacob liked it. When he died, the unused bottles had sat in the cellar, until the water in the well fell so low that she’d drunk it in desperation. Now she made a batch every year, grew the hops herself, and when the well water grew warm and tasted richly of the algae that grew in any still water, those cool bottles in the cellar were a treasure.

Dry-land farming had never been their plan. There were to have been canals and irrigation ditches all over, creating a verdant paradise here on the bench so high above the river. The man who sold them the land sold an entire vision with it, but only the scorched dirt held any reality.

She’d finished the last load, pushing a barrow of sticks up from the thicket where the creek ran in the winter. Ilya stacked the wood and went into the house, down to the cellar.

In the cool dim of the cellar she stood a moment and let the heat and weariness of the day drain out of her. In the cellar she could almost remember the winter.

Winter. It was the winters that kept Ilya from leaving, trying her luck elsewhere, however difficult it might be. Life returned with the first rains of autumn. When the snows locked her into her cabin, she began to live again.

Ilya leaned against the cool earthen wall of the cellar, remembering. That first summer, when she had so longed to leave, to return to… no, not to that. But to leave, certainly. Only Jacob had kept her on the farm. For love?

She no longer knew if she had ever loved Jacob. She had gone with him when he asked, too grateful for what he did for her to care where he took her. She had stayed with him, and then with the homestead, from that same gratitude and, yes, perhaps it was love, that feeling that to abandon his homestead dream was to abandon Jacob himself.

By now, there was little of Jacob left about the homestead, and it wasn’t his dream that kept her there. It was fear.

Fear that if she left, she wouldn’t know what to do.

Fear that if she went back, she would know too well what to do.

Anyway, it was only in the summer she wanted to leave. Soon the fall rains would start, and she would come to life again, just like the plants that had turned brown and blown away under the sharp sun.

In the fall, Ilya worked with a will, and the creek returned to life.

But winter. It was winter that kept her there, more than fear, more than need. Winter, when the snow trapped her in the cabin for days and weeks, and no one could come near. When the creek might freeze, or might run swift, deep and icy.

Winter, when at last she was safe.

Winter, when her heart was at rest.

###

Wrong setting, wrong gender, but it is a wheelbarrow full of firewood, or something

©Rebecca M. Douglass, 2019
As always, please ask permission to use any photos or text. Link-backs appreciated!


Friday, August 16, 2019

Flashback Friday: In Urgent Need of a Plot

It’s not the traditional Flashback Friday, but then that hop has died, so I can post a flashback whenever I want. This one resonated with the struggle I’ve had getting a recent story to write itself. I wrote this in 2013, while on vacation in Canada.

In Urgent Need of a Plot

Carleen gazed moodily out the window of her favorite cafe at a street devoid of all interest.  Nursing her latte with her right hand, she clutched fiercely at her pen with the left.

"Must. . . write. . . short. . . story," she muttered between teeth clenched in an unbreakable spasm.  She worked her jaw as though you could force a story out like a recalcitrant turd.  In a way, you can, but the results are similar: unsatisfactory and stinking.

A story needs pivots.  Conflict.  A twist.  So far, all Carleen had was two people drinking coffee in a cafe.  It could have been anyone.  The couple at the next table, for example.  Carleen considered them.  A fair-haired man in his 30s, and a younger woman with wavy brow hair and an uncertain smile.  What was the conflict in their lives?  Carleen strained to hear their conversation, but was disappointed to find it mundane, with no sign of conflict beyond the vexed question of whether they should get refills on their coffee.

Moved by an impulse she didn't give herself time to examine, Carleen began to watch the man intently.  Soon he began to shift uncomfortably, and to glance at her more and more frequently, and with a more puzzled look.  Her pen began to move.

"He knew I was watching him, and he knew me, too.  I could see that, as clearly as I could see that he didn't want me to let on.  It had been what?  Seven years since the cruise?"  She hesitated.  What would the woman do if she knew about their liaison?  Surely that would introduce conflict!

Before she could stop herself, Carleen had laid down her pen, smiled at the man, and stood up.  Stepping over to their table, she held out both hands.

"Hjalmar!"  I would know you anywhere!  I have such wonderful memories of that cruise we were on together!

The man gave her a look of utter horror.  Then he pasted on a sickly smile, and said tightly, "my name is Mark.  I'm afraid you must be mistaken.  I have never been in any cruise, and I'm sure I've never seen you before."

The girl also looked at her in consternation.  "Mark?  What does she mean?"

"Nothing, my dear.  Just a case of mistaken identity.  Right?" He added with emphasis, looking at Carleen.

"Oh!" She said, flustered.  The fluster was genuine. What was she doing??! But her words continued the story.  "I'm so sorry.  I really shouldn't have intruded, but I was so certain. . . " She let her voice trail off.  "But I must have been wrong."  Even as she said it she gave "Hjalmar" a look that said they were both lying and both knew it.

Then she went and sat back down, her heart pounding.  She picked up her pen.  She needed only to write down the argument that ensued.  Now she had conflict, with a vengeance!  It culminated with the stereotypical slap in the face, and the girl stormed out.  Forgetting her own role in it, Carleen felt only the delight in a perfect scene.  And their language had been so colorful!

She was gathering her things, congratulating herself on a scene so brilliantly and easily produced, when she felt someone behind her, and turned to find Hjalmar/Mark standing there.

"Very well, Marta," he said with the slight Scandinavian accent she had so clearly imagined.  "As you have frightened off young Sally, perhaps we could take up where we left off?"

***

©Rebecca M. Douglass, 2019 As always, please ask permission to use any photos or text. Link-backs appreciated!

Monday, August 12, 2019

Guest Post today! Author Ronel Janse van Vuuren

Today, while I'm busy with visiting my family, Young Adult author Ronel Janse van Vuuren has come by to offer some thoughts on the special pleasures of the novella. Ronel is the author of Once... Tales, Myths and Legends of Faerie; Dark Desires, The Fae Realm, and more, including her latest release, Magic at Midnight.



Power of Novellas

When you ask someone how they are, the standard answer has become: “I’ve been incredibly busy!”
“Busy”. That seems to be what we all are at any given moment. Work, children, relationships, hobbies, exercise – we are kept quite busy. Unexpected things happen and we have to somehow fit it into our busy lives.

There are ways to be less busy, of course. Hiring someone to do your laundry/clean your house/cook your meals/take care of your garden/chauffeur the children/pick up your dry cleaning/answer your emails: the list is endless on how you can outsource the stuff that eats up you time. Freeing you to do more work. To be more “busy”.

But we need to take some time for ourselves. We need to set boundaries. Maybe it’s that hour before bed, or waiting in line/at the doctor’s office, taking a break in the afternoon, or that hour in the morning before anyone else wakes up.

How do we fill that hour just for ourselves? We escape into another world: we read.

Regular length novels, read at a pace of an hour a day, can take a week to get through, leaving the reader in constant anticipation – or worse – adding unnecessary stress.

But a novella can be read in two hours. It offers an escape and a proper conclusion. In other words: a fulfilling read.

That’s why shorter reads are becoming more and more popular on online stores. Novellas can come in ebook, audiobook and paperback. They can come in series, standalone or standalone-in-series. They come in any genre and for any age group (well, those that have long novels).

Novellas fill the void, help those with “no time to read” and brings back the delicious escape that only stories can bring.

“Magic at Midnight” is one of these powerful novellas. Magic, intrigue, conspiracies, romance – what more do you need? There are pegasi, princesses and whispers of war. And did I mention that you can read it in two hours?

Even if you can only find five minutes for yourself a day, you can fill it with reading pleasure. And you can still look “busy” if you really want to.




About the author:
Award-winning author Ronel Janse van Vuuren mainly writes for teens and tweens, though she is known to write mythology-filled short stories for anthologies aimed at older readers. Her dark fantasy works, usually full of folklore, can be viewed on her website and on Goodreads.

Ronel can be found tweeting about writing and other things that interest her, arguing with her characters, researching folklore for her newest story or playing with her Rottweilers when she’s not actually writing.


All of her books are available for purchase from major online retailers.


Sign up to be notified of new releases, giveaways and pre-release specials – plus get a free eBook – when you join Ronel’s newsletter


Connect with Ronel online:
Twitter
Pinterest
Goodreads
Instagram
Amazon author page
Ronel the Mythmaker, Website of Dark Fantasy Author Ronel Janse van Vuuren






Title: Magic at Midnight
Author: Ronel Janse van Vuuren
Publication Info: May, 2019. 98 pages

Publisher's Blurb:

Amy has only known one life. Now she needs to put it all on the line to save what is precious to her. Can this simple farm girl survive court life? Can she stop a war from burning down her world? And what of the mysterious princess of Hazel Wood and her covert glances…? Not to mention the prince of Acacia Wood who might or might not be involved with the prophecies ruling their kingdoms. With mysteries and secrets threatening the life she longs to return to, can she separate her feelings from the mission?

Friday, August 9, 2019

On the road again

This was supposed to be an excited "gone hiking" post about heading into the Canadian Rockies for a few weeks. Sadly, I developed a bad case of plantar fasciitis (if you don't know what that is... consider yourself lucky indeed), and won't be hiking for the next month or two, at best. But we're off to visit the family in Seattle, so there's that :) 

Since we are staying closer to civilization, I'll have wi-fi more often than I'd expected, but since I'll be busy, I've lined up a guest post, as well as a few pre-arranged posts of my own, and am letting the book reviews go a bit.

Please forgive me if I'm slow responding to comments, but I will get back to you!


Wednesday, August 7, 2019

IWSG: Writers' Surprises


Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds! Posting: The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. Post your thoughts on your own blog. Talk about your doubts and the fears you have conquered. Discuss your struggles and triumphs. Offer a word of encouragement for others who are struggling. Visit others in the group and connect with your fellow writer - aim for a dozen new people each time - and return comments. This group is all about connecting! Be sure to link to the IWSG page and display the badge in your post. And please be sure your avatar links back to your blog! If it links to Google+, be sure your blog is listed there. Otherwise, when you leave a comment, people can't find you to comment back. 

Every month, we announce a question that members can answer in their IWSG post. These questions may prompt you to share advice, insight, a personal experience or story. Include your answer to the question in your IWSG post or let it inspire your post if you are struggling with something to say. 


Remember, the question is optional! 


August 7 question - Has your writing ever taken you by surprise? For example, a positive and belated response to a submission you'd forgotten about or an ending you never saw coming? 
 
The awesome co-hosts for the August 7 posting of the IWSG are Renee Scattergood, Sadira Stone, Jacqui Murray,Tamara Narayan, and LG Keltner!
 

I talked about my writing last week, so I'll skip past that quickly and get to the question of the month. I'm making slow progress on my MS, working on polishing the writing, since it came back from the editors without any demands for significant rewriting. It's rewarding rewording (sorry!), but tiring so I don't try to do too much at a time.

Still hoping for better inspiration for the IWSG Anthology contest. My struggles here frustrate me because children's historical fiction is one of the things I most love to read, and I have a novel drafted that I haven't quite been able to bring to fruition. So why can't I make the story work?

Now for surprises from my writing.

Aside from the unpleasant surprise of having so much trouble with my story for the contest, I've had a few disconcerting shocks along the way. Sadly, never the happy one suggested in the prompt, but I've had some endings that didn't do what I expected. Biggest one I think was getting to the final chapters of my first draft of Death By Adverb--and discovering that I'd been fingering the wrong perp! That definitely was a surprise. It also made for a lot of work; once I'd figured out whodunnit and why I had to go back and rewrite a lot of scenes to make it work right.

My flash fiction (something I haven't been doing enough of lately!) has led to some disconcerting moments, as well. Usually that's when I look at a story and wonder uneasily just where *that* came from. Who knows what lurks in the subconscious mind? Apparently my keyboard does.

How about  you? Any fun surprises? Or scary ones? 

Surprising developments... like a downpour in the desert.