Editor's Notes: Mentors

I have been thinking a great deal about mentoring recently: giving, seeking, maybe a bit of mutual give and take.  No matter where you are in life, there is always someone who has been there and done that on some scale, in some sort of semblance.

Throughout my life, I have had mentors, and those from when I was younger still retain the most prominent places in my heart.

The Relief Society president who believed when I was in my early twenties whose love and careful guidance while I served in a position that seemed to large for me prepared me for the next which felt overwhelming.  Hard on the heels of that calling, I was put in a Relief Society presidency.  Another dear, dear sister provided me with the strength and guidance I required in dealing issues way, way over my head and kept me from foundering.  She gave me confidence when I had none, soothed my hurts with wise words, and even lit the path before me far more than she ever realized.

When I remember these ladies, my heart fills with love and appreciation for the examples they set me and the things they taught me which have served me in good stead for the past twenty-five years.

Here I am now in the same place or even advanced of those ladies then and find myself providing mentoring others but at the same time requiring some myself.  Fortunately, like them, I find a great deal of fulfillment in giving back a bit of what others have bestowed upon me.  In writing, especially, I look to those I emulate to light the path ahead of me.  Fortunately, I have a wealth from which to choose.

Tidbits: Piper's Fantasy

Deleted Scene from My Father's Son by Penny Freeman

Cassandra offered a smile of encouragement. “Well, perhaps he must be taken to task for it. Perhaps it would do him some good.”
“If anyone could help him, Miss Sterling . . .” He dared speak no more and the lady turned her face away to wrestle with her own warring sensibilities. As she gazed out the window, the setting sun silhouetting her face and igniting the fire in her hair, Durant fell into the fantasy which she opened up to him. It fit hand-in-glove with his daydream of retreating to Trinity and a smithy to carve his own life from the forests and rolling prairies of east Texas.
He thought of a work-weary stonemason making his way home in the twilight. His clothes were plain and common, but they were kept clean and well-mended. His knapsack of tools professed a master’s skill. He would make himself a master mason and stonecutter, avail himself of every opportunity for betterment. He would have only the best for his wife, and so gave the best of himself to accomplish it.
As he walked, his oldest lad and his dog would run up to meet him from where they kept watch and waited. The lad would simply walk silently beside him, or they would consult man-to-man as he reported his day, his own chores done, his morning in school and his afternoon on the moors, his assurance to his father of his use to his mother.
Well-commended, the boy’s bright face would sing in the stonemason’s heart. He would ruffle the thatch atop the lad’s head and assure him of his approval. Very soon indeed, he would take him on as an apprentice and in no time the lad’s work would excel his own. It was a precious bit of time they spent together walking and conferring, and the stonemason savored every moment. He knew that too soon his son would have sons of his own.

Editor's Notes: The Who, What and Why of Producing A Book

NOTE: With my new position as editor-in-chief at Xchyler Publishing, I've found myself writing a lot of correspondence, explanations, and outlines of the procedures required to create a book. One memo in particular that went out to employees and authors consumed far too much of my day, and since it's pertinent to this blog, I thought I'd make the most of the effort and post it here as well.  Double-duty? Sure. Wise utilization of resources? Absolutely.

The College Interns, the Gatekeepers:

Euphemistically called "editorial assistants", these screeners are very important for lots of reasons, but especially because they may mean failure or success for both author and publishing house. Consider the first eleven editorial assistants swamped under slush piles who rejected J.K. Rowling's query for Harry Potter. You can be dang sure they've been kicking themselves for almost twenty years. (It's kind of scary, actually, to think of our fates in the hands of unpaid college interns).

Interns screen the initial query letters sent by authors, which usually contain a short jacket-flap blurb, an overall outline usually 1-2 pages long, and the first 10,000 words or three chapters of the manuscript. Hopefully, with much guidance and mentoring, the interns decide to either ask for the full or partial manuscript, send them a rejection notice, or invite them to revise and resubmit. For R&Rs, the publisher does not agree to publish but will reconsider the manuscript if the author brings their skills up a notch or three.


If the manuscript shows promise, Marketing and Editorial then get together and decide if there is a market for the book. If positive, the author is presented with an offer, then a contract, and everything goes into action. Working with the author, they will also decide on a release date for the book. Several factors will influence this, including but not limited to seasonal trends and genre. Books need fresh releases when people who buy them are in the mood to spend.

Book Review & Giveaway: Big in Japan by Jennifer Griffith

Book:  Big in Japan
Author:  Jennifer Griffith
Pages:   312
Format:  Hardcover, Paperback, Kindle/ebook
Publisher:  Jolly Fish Press
Book Source:  Provided by Publisher
Category:  Contemporary Fiction, Contemporary Romance
Style:  Humorous, easy feel-good style

Synopsis on Amazon

Buck Cooper is Texan, obese, and invisible to his colleagues. And to the voluptuous Allison Turner, the girl of his dreams, he is way below parr. Buck's entire life is about fitting in, a feat he's been struggling to achieve but has never succeeded. Until serendipity lands him in Japan. Right in the middle of a sumo match.

As his life takes a new turn in a country where being big can mean fame and fortune, Buck must embark on the most dangerous, yet adventurous ride of his life—to find the ultimate meaning of love and acceptance. Even if it means risking his life and giving up everything he has.

My Take:

Author Jennifer Griffith
Query:  how does a petite wife and mother write an empathetic story about a 6'6" 300+ lb. young man embarking on an adventure of a lifetime in a place about as foreign to Texas as it can get?  Answer:  superbly, with a great deal of style and charm—not an easy feat, even for people the size of Buck Cooper.

Friday Flash Fic: Free-for-all Challenge #1

Challenger:  Victor Neves
Challenge: cleaning cloth, stroll, parking lot

Count: 287

The Window Washer

I stepped out of the over-chilled mega-mart into an atomic blast of sweltering heat. The thermals radiated off the blacktop softening under the blazing summer sun. I hurried across the hectare parking lot as I felt the milk start to curdle. This was no time for a stroll.

Then I saw him: ragged cut-off jeans, hairy arms and chest oozing from beneath a stained muscle tank, his greasy and matted gray hair tied back with a string, and a sun-bleached headband catching the rivers of sweat which streamed from atop his bald dome.  Grime and stench—with a spray bottle in one hand and a cleaning cloth in the other.

I was still five spaces down when he began smudging my windshield with his tattered rag. He worked eagerly, smiling and nodding his head as he reached across the car to the middle of the glass. “No. No thank you,” I insisted as I hurled my groceries into the truck. “I don’t have any cash. I’m sorry.” I shoved the cart into the corral, singed my hand on the door handle, and slipped in the car.

He stepped back, looking hopeful. I refused eye contact. The engine revved. I slid the gears into reverse. But, one guilt-ridden look askance told me a different tale. Beneath layer upon layer of dirt, smut collected in the crevasses etched into his scorched skin. Pale blue eyes dim and wet with age bespoke desperation, the death of hope. Truly, how great was the span between him and me? Not much, I fear. Too close.

Minus my emergency stash, one final glance in the rear-view changed my day: a broken old man sobbing with relief with a twenty-dollar bill in his hand.

Amazon Giveaway: Book Pushalooza!

Welcome to the FIRST EVER BookPushalooza!

July 26th ONLY

Nine Books, only 99₵ each

With each purchase you get the chance to WIN while Helping Authors reach new heights in Amazon’s ranks.

It’s so easy a CAVEMAN could do it!

Follow the Instructions on the Rafflecopter Widget and for each book you purchase (or Borrow through Amazon Prime for Free) you get an entry in to WIN —

(1) Grand Prize—$100 Amazon Gift Card

(2) Runners up of $25 Amazon Gift Cards

That’s not all! Purchase all NINE (9) books and get an additional 5 entries!

Don’t delay, this offer is good for JULY 26th ONLY!

NOTE FROM EDITOR: This giveaway is sponsored by ONE DAY BOOK PUSH. I have not read these books and have no comment regarding their content.  I have received no compensation for this content.

Overview of Land of the Noonday Sun

When two strangers have nothing left but their dreams, they must forge a relationship in Nantahala, North Carolina, a small town known as Land of the Noonday Sun. A man with a traumatic past is able to turn his life around and is happy with his chosen career as a whitewater guide. Everything changes though when fate hurls a woman into his path. His carefree life is in turmoil, and his former weaknesses threaten to overtake him. Will he be strong enough when tragedy strikes and is once again in danger of losing everything he loves?

Giveaway Winners: Tigers In Red Weather by Liza Klaussmann

Congratulations to Kaylee B., Scarlet R., and Denise Z. on winning the Tigers In Red Weather Giveaway.  Thanks to everyone for participating!

Upcoming events:

July 26th:  Book Pushalooza tomorrow, with a huge Amazon gift card giveway.

July 27th:  Big in Japan Giveaway.   You won't want to miss this one.  Jennifer Griffith tells a delightful tale.

Aug. 2nd:  Cora Flash and the Diamond of Madagascar blog hop and Giveaway.

Fun fun fun!  Drop by frequently to rack up the points.

Author Interview: Rick Coxen of The Great Promise (Part Four)

Previous Installments:
Book Review:  The Great Promise by Frederick G. and Frederick L. Coxen
Author Interview Part 1:  Rick Coxen
Author Interview Part 2:  Rick Coxen
Author Interview Part 3:  Rick Coxen

As discussed in my original review, World War I soldier Frederick G. Coxen kept a journal which ultimately fell into his grandson's hands.  Upon discovering it, Rick Coxen recognized its intrinsic value, edited and compiled it, and subsequently created the soon-to-be-released memoir, The Great Promise.  In the book, when discussing his journey into his grandfather's past, Rick has this to say:
     I've learned a great deal while writing this book, but the most significant lesson is the importance of people writing down their personal stories.  I used to believe that I didn't have [stories] to tell, or at least not important ones.  I have since discovered that this belief is false.  I now realize that our stories are created from the daily experiences of life.  We consider some to eventful, while most are not. Combined together over time, our stories take on patterns that define who we are and what we believe.
      . . . Through my research and exposure to my grandfather's journal, I've been inspired by the rewarding aspect of recorded stories, as well as the regret that can stem from unrecorded ones.  The pleasure of reading my grandfather's journal epitomizes the joy that can be derived from possessing such a family treasure.
      . . . My grandfather's journal is a prime example of the value of documenting events in one's life. It has been through his writing that I've gotten to know the man behind the stoic exterior, presenting me with a peek into his tender, loving side.  Reading his war experiences, has helped me define his true character.  For this, I'm eternally grateful.
   —Rick Coxen, The Great Promise
Several ancestors in my own family left behind them the records of notable lives and I have often considered fictionalizing their stories.  Mr. Coxen's experience with Captain Coxen's journal sparked our discussion about personal and family history and the importance they have gained in his own life.

The Next Big Thing: Xchyler Publishing

So, yesterday I finalized negotiations with Xchyler Publishing (Greek spelling pronounced Skyler), a small start-up concern that specializes in paranormal and steam punk, and am now officially the editor-in-chief.  I'm excited.  There's a lot for me to learn, but I'm sure my experience as the managing editor at Digital Labz will serve me in good stead.

We have five books coming down the pipeline. I love writers, and I especially love storytellers, and I'm looking forward to getting to know them.  Perhaps we might even get to know a few of them here.

I've got a ton of work piled up in my desk, and I'll be reading a lot of manuscripts, but I'm determined to keep reading what's already out there.  After all, that's how to keep learning, and I've got a heckofa Review Queue and lots of fun giveaways and blog hops coming up.

So, stick around, keep a watch out for the next big thing, and read a book! Better yet, buy one.

Book Review: Ryan Chandler's Legacy

Book:  Ryan Chandler's: Legacy
Author:  Carlos King
Pages:   215
Format:  Kindle/ebook
Publisher:  Amazon Digital Services
Book Source:  Independent Purchase
Category:  Young Adult Fantasy
Style:  Fast-paced, easy reading, coming of age

Synopsis from Amazon:

If you thought your [life] was complicated, try finding out you’re the last descendant of a powerful alien bloodline. Created long ago as a device of warning, the Mayan Calendar has captivated millions around the world with its sophistication and uncanny accuracy to foresee galactic occurrences. What’s even more controversial than the calendar’s complexity is that after five thousand years of activity, it will abruptly expire on December 21, 2012. Sixteen-year-old Ryan learns that the end of the calendar will initiate the beginning stages of Armageddon. Humanity’s only chance for survival relies solely on him discovering the truth about who he really is, who his parents were, and why he’s destined to protect mankind.

My Take:

Ryan Chandler's Legacy is a story produced by a young writer from Indiana who does a good job of writing what he knows.  This tale includes touches of Harry Potter (orphaned in his infancy by parents' archenemy, raised without any knowledge of his past), Superman (rocketed off to an alien planet to be raised in safety), and Buffy the Vampire Slayer (meets weird mentor guy whose mission it is to turn him into a super-human at an accelerated pace).

Tidbits: Introductions by Penny Freeman

Deleted Scene from My Father's Son:

“Oh, Sandy!  Come see!  Come see!”
Sandy turned from where she buttoned Chloe’s frock, having completed her markings on the new silk gown.  She merely looked at Zoe, surprised to see her serene sister all aflutter, but she infected Chloe immediately.  ”Oh, hurry, Sandy.  I want to see.”
“See what?” Sandy wondered.
“Just come see,” Zoe insisted.  “Come to the stables.”
Dragged by both girls, Sandy hurried down the back stairs and outside, after having slipped on her clogs at the back door.  She laughed and teased the girls with pause and delay, but when they rounded the stables, she stopped short in earnest.  She saw before her Paris sliding off the back of the most marvelous hunter she had ever beheld, lively, high-bred and surely more expensive than her father could ever afford.  Yet, there he stood, with Paris patting his head and holding his bridle, his pleasure outstripped only by the sensibilities his father’s faith engendered.
Nothing more bespoke Mr. Sterling’s pride in his son than that horse.  She did not require sight of him standing hard by with a look of supreme satisfaction on his face to know it.
However, the third gentleman surprised her.  Sandy had never before seen the man in the neighborhood, but at first sight, she felt an air of familiarity about him.  Perhaps the age of Merit— probably the age of Merit—he was taller and broader.  He wore his dark hair so long and unruly it taunted her, and she fought back the urge to go comb it.  Even so, he had an intensity of manner which radiated from him, even as he leisurely stood back, away, fairly in the shadows of the stable, as if he wished to absent himself from the family scene.  And yet, his look of satisfaction exceeded her father’s own, and Paris could not help glancing to him now and again to assure himself the gentleman yet remained. 
Standing there in her garden clogs, in an old frock professing it had seen better days, her work apron so stuck with pins she appeared a porcupine, and her hair hanging long and loose, only drawn back from her face and held with a ribbon, she colored at the very thought of being seen in such a state, especially by that elevated gentleman, and stepped back.

Fun Flash Fic Free-for-all

Although I spent my childhood hundreds of miles away from them, some of my fondest memories center on my grandmothers. Each summer when we traveled from southern California to Utah to visit my father and stepmother, in addition to sleepovers with my father's mother, Carol Haskell, we would spend a night or two with Mary Neves, my stepfather's mother who accepted us as unconditionally as did he.  Both women had that special knack of spreading joy and emanating sunshine, going overboard to spoil us, and making each grandchild feel like their favorite.  For each, music helped define their soul and they, in turned, endowed their grandchildren with the same gift.

My Grandma Haskell could play on the piano anything you asked her.  She always shared a wealth of wonderful old-timey tunes full of plucky harmonies and jaunty rhythm—the popular tunes of the 1920s and 1930s that evoke flat straw hats, beaver coats and old jalopies in my heart.  Self-taught, she played by ear.  I think I remember her telling me she couldn't read a note of music, but that's probably muddled because I can't imagine her not tackling anything she set her mind to.  But, then again, perhaps she didn't set her mind to it because she could play by ear so well.  

Always, always she sang along in her big, lusty voice, unabashedly sharing the talents with which she was blessed.  Met with joyful strains of organ music and hearty vocals spilling from the house, we'd hurry inside because we knew Grandma came over, whether or not her big old whatever-it-was (an Impala?) stood in the drive.

My Grandma Neves' style of music differed from my Grandma Haskell as much as did their personalities.  She had been more classically trained, but like Grandma Haskell, provided the foundation of a stage band at various points in their lives.  They were natural born entertainers.

Grandma Neves also could play on the piano anything asked of her.  More still, she kept us rambunctious, unruly hellions occupied with a particular game we loved.  She would sit at the piano and the child would plunk out three notes.  Then, Grandma would compose on the fly, using those three sequential notes as the theme to her music.  Even as I write, I hear her jaunty tunes and see her hands bouncing up and down the keyboard, the wry smile on her face when she eyed us as she played, as if saying, "You'll have to do better than that to stump me."  (Sorry.  I just can't make my Grandma Neves say "Is that all you got?!")  Even when we'd jump all over the keyboard with our note selections, Grandma came through.  Some of her funnest music came as a result of her grandchildren's discordance.

There is actually a literary point to this little excursion down memory lane,  besides to tell the world how wondrous my grandmothers were.  I'm learning to love flash fiction as an important exercise in writing only the bare essentials.  My goal is to be confident enough to submit my stuff to FridayFlash.org, a writing community that shares and encourages flash fiction.  The problem is, I can't come up with anything to write about.  So, I thought I'd take a lesson from my grandma's theory book, but I'll need your help.

It goes like this:  in the comments below or on my Facebook page, give me three words, a noun, a verb, and a place.  If you like, toss in an inanimate object and a adjective, e.g. rushed or harried.  Then, I'll take your words and create a story comprising of 250-750 words and leave them as a response.  Then, if you're really inspired, try writing a bit of flash fic for others' comments.  I'll publish the best on Flash Fiction Friday.  Here's a fun link I just found to provide even more inspiration.

So, dive in!  Here's where you can leave a comment with absolutely nothing to say.  Pull the words out the either or a random pointer in a book or a web page.  Sounds like fun to me.  Don't forget to follow the the comments to see if you have stumped me.

Flash Fiction Friday: Personal Effects

Rob stared at the linoleum with its pattern worn bare in distinct pathways, the antiseptic steel tables and sinks, the hospital-green walls. Cold. Soulless. Rob examined everything—anything—to divert his eyes away from the black body bag pulled out from the morgue drawer and the eight by ten glossies the sheriff had scattered on the steel table. Rob could only manage a single glimpse, but it was enough. He had known from the first it was Nate.

Rob scarcely heard as the coroner droned on about the results of the autopsy. Rather, he fingered the large chained wallet Nate always used. His thumbs explored the worn leather as his mind wandered through fond memories until, scalded by the jagged feel of deep canine tooth marks, he dropped it back into the box of his brother’s belongings. “Did you get all of it?” he asked abruptly.

“That’s everything we found on his person, Mr. Daniels,” the coroner answered. Rob wagged his head. “No. I mean, did you get all of him?” He didn’t want to think about the answer. “I would like to see where it happened,” he added before the man could respond.

“Murdock thought you might,” Sheriff Gutierrez answered; “—the rancher who found the truck. He has to drive out that direction today and will wait for you over at the diner ‘til ten.”

Book Review: The Reckoning by Tanya Parker Mills

Book:  The Reckoning
Author:  Tanya Parker Mills
Pages:  384
Format:  Paperback, Kindle/ebook
Publisher:  Book Surge Publishing
Book Source:  Provided by Author
Category:  Historical Fiction, Suspense/Thriller
Style:  Compelling, intense scenes of violence/torture

Synopsis from GoodReads:

. . . Through gritty, gut wrenching prose Mills’s heroic and courageous storytelling exposes the horrors of dictatorship and the mindless cruelty that flows from political repression. It also sends a message of hope, inspiration, and faith in the human heart. Mills’s The Reckoning masterfully weaves the real horrors of Saddam Hussein’s Iraq with the rich threads of a compelling fictional narrative as raw and real as anything taken from today’s political headlines.  . . .more

My Take:

Okay.  The synopsis gives a wonderful idea of what this book is about, but not the plot.  So, here goes: beginning in the summer of 2002, our heroine, Theresa, a freelance journalist after a story, illegally crosses out of Kurdish-controlled northern Iraq and is spotted by the Islamist fundamentalist group, the Ansari, which leads to her apprehension by the Iraqi army.  With her are arrested her cameraman, Peter (who is in love with her), and her three Kurdish guides (a father and two sons).

Just a few months before the US invasion, Saddam Hussein and George W. Bush are rattling sabers at one another.  The atmosphere in totalitarian Iraq is one of fear and suspicion.  Terror reigns.  In the book, we follow Theresa, Peter, Jalal, Massoud, and Barham as they endure isolation, starvation, torture and a number of other horrors in the hands of the Mukhabarat, the Iraqi secret police.  When Theresa's history of living in Iraq as a child comes to light, her situation becomes nearly hopeless.

First let me say that this book is the perfect illustration of the vagaries of the publishing industry.  The Reckoning is easily one of the most professional books I have ever read, yet is self-published by Ms. Mills.  Her finely honed craft draws in the reader with painful, sometimes shocking realism.  Her plot so tight it's hermetically sealed, her characters rich and compelling, her pacing impeccable, she accomplishes what only the best writers manage:  she disappears as she envelopes the reader in the story.

Book Giveaway: The Secret Keeper by Sandra Byrd

Here's another fun book giveaway for all you historical fiction fans out there:  The Secret Keeper: A Novel of Katherine Parr by Sandra Byrd.  Melanie over at Christian Bookshelf Reviews is hosting this giveaway.  Enter this drawing through July 31st.

Sandra has written a whole slew of historical fiction novels, primarily Tudor England and Revolutionary France.  Learn more about her here.

Happy reading!

Book Review: The Sun Zebra by Rolando Garcia

Book:  The Sun Zebra
Author:  Rolando Garcia
Pages:  66
Format:  Kindle
Publisher:  Amazon Digital Services
Book Source:  Provided by Author
Category:  Anthology, Inspirational
Style:  Conversational Musings

Synopsis from GoodReads:

The Sun Zebra, is best described as a children's book for grownups. Its aim is to encourage us to discover (or rediscover) the amazing things that children and their magical carefree world can teach us, even as we try to teach them about the harsh realities of our own. The book is a collection of five stories that follow the "adventures in living" of an unusual little girl named Nell, her mother Rhonda, and Nell's father who is the narrator of the stories. . . . More

My Take:  

Sun Zebra by Rolando Garcia is a charming little anthology written by a father enchanted with his young daughter, an exploration into the vibrant world of a child's imagination.  Only 66 pages long, it's a quick read as we encounter with little Nell a family farm awash in a vibrant sunset; a aeronautically challenged cicada, a balloon and a kindly ornithologist; a bold and intrepid squirrel invoking Edgar Allen Poe; a Charlie Brown Christmas tree seemingly outshone by the competition; and an artist in a park particularly tuned in to the world of fairies.  Each experience provides Nell a new opportunity to teach her parents (and us) important lessons in life, or, at the very least, inspire contemplation in daughter and introspection in dad.

Mr. Garcia writes in an easy, conversational style:  Hey, how ya doin'?  Come on out to the deck, grab a Coke, and shoot the breeze while the kids chase each other around the yard.  Each vignette left a smile on my face, and Birdman and the Fairy Tale made me laugh out loud so the other people in the doctor's waiting room eyed me funny.

The Sun Zebra is FREE to download today and tomorrow, July 18th & 19th.  Kindle reader applications for desk tops, tablets and smart phones are available free at Amazon, so not actually owning a Kindle shouldn't deter you.

A note from Mr. Garcia at the end of his book says it all:
Everything in this book is a blend of fact and fiction.  Everything, that is, except the zebra.  The zebra is real, and it is out there waiting for you.  When children take you by the hand to search for it, I hope you have the patience and the vision to help them find it.
Bottom line:  For those moments now and again when you just need a lift, The Sun Zebra will leave a smile on your face every time.  It's perfect to read aloud to a friend.

FTC disclaimer:  An electronic copy of this book was provided by the author or their agent with the understanding I would provide a fair and honest review.  I receive no other compensation for this content.

Author Interview: Rick Coxen of The Great Promise (Part Three)

Previous Installments:
Book Review:  The Great Promise by Frederick G. and Frederick L. Coxen
Author Interview Part 1:  Rick Coxen
Author Interview Part 2:  Rick Coxen

Rick Coxen's initial curiosity about some keepsakes turned into a  several-year pilgrimage from discovery to transcription to the publishing of the World War I memoirs of his grandfather, Frederick G. Coxen.  In this interview segment, we discuss the process of transforming a 100-year-old journal into a work as compelling for the public as it is for his family.

Author Interview, Part 3: About the Book

Penny:  In The Great Promise, you talk about the process of going through your grandfather's effects when they came to you.  How long had you been reading the journal before you decided it had to be turned into a book?

Book Giveaway: A Bride Opens Shop by Keli Gwyn

Head on over to Christian Book Reviews for Melanie's interview of Keli Gwyn about her book A Bride Opens Shop in El Dorado, California.  (How's that for a name?)

Here's the Synopsis from GoodReads:

An ever-resourceful widow, Elenora Watkins arrives in El Dorado ready to go into partnership with Miles Rutledge. When he refuses, Elenora becomes the competition across the street. Is this town big enough for the two of them? Miles can’t help but stick his well-polished boot in his mouth whenever he comes face-to-face with Elenora. Can he find a way to win her heart while destroying her business? Miles’s mother, Maude, is bent on Elenora becoming her new daughter-in-law while Elenora’s daughter, Tildy, thinks Miles would make a perfect papa. How far will these meddlers go to unite this enterprising pair?

Book Giveaway: Taken by Storm by Angela Morrison

Synopsis from GoodReads:

Mormon girl Leesie has life figured out until devastated Michael lands in her small town high school. He needs her like no one has before. A rare journey into a faithful LDS teen’s intimate struggle.
>From the book's blog page, by Angela Morrison:
      Welcome, welcome to my 10th Anniversary Celebration. It's going to be a blast! Ten years ago this week, Taken by Storm's scuba-diving hero, Michael, swam out of my brain and onto my page.
      I'm kicking off the party today with a big contest for US Readers and a separate contest for my international readers. (See details below. This one is huge!!)  
FREE BOOKS!  In a nutshell, the author is giving away tons of free stuff for her mega promo.  In addition, Taken by Storm is only 99₵ this week, while Unbroken Connection (Book 2) and Cayman Summer (Book 3) are both absolutely free.  That beat's a boot to the head.

In a nutshell, free or as-good-as-free sweet (meaning no copulation) romance for young adult readers.  Looks like a good way to get to know the author who has 155 reviews on GoodReads for Taken by Storm and a rounded average of four stars.  That's a pretty solid reputation.

Book Review: Small Deceptions by H. Linn Murphy

Book:  Small Deceptions
Author:  H. Linn Murphy
Pages:  288
Format:  Paperback, Kindle/ebook
Publisher:  Xlibris
Book Source:  Personal Purchase
Category:  Regency Romance
Style:  "A novel after the style of Jane Austin," archaic language poorly interpreted

Synopsis from Author's Blog:

Francesca Kennington merely wants to be left to her studies, despite her mother's best efforts to saddle her with a rich husband. Then she meets a mysterious gentleman, who leads her on a romp through the ballrooms and countryside of Georgian England. Their romance blossoms but secrets cause Francesca's house of cards to tumble. She must find a way to put her life back together, while still following her heart.

My Take:  

Ms. Murphy has created an interesting premise with a great deal of promise: a bookish girl, frustrated with her mother's harping, decides to pretend to bow to her wishes in an effort to get what she wants, i.e., more time to herself and her studies.  Said girl gets caught in her own trap and begins to enjoy herself as a faux society maven.  Romance ensues.

Enter the mother, pleased with her daughter's transformation but insistent she wed a gentleman other than Francesca's choosing.  The two clash.  The truth about the mother's resentment comes to the fore, including the father's absentee parenting and obvious favoritism for Francesca.  The crisis reaches its peak.

Francesca's true love clues in the absent father about the goings-on between his wife and daughter.  The father returns to restore Francesca to grace, address the mother's issues, and establish the true love as his daughter's rightful suitor.

Note to Self: Speaking vs Communicating

A while back I picked up a Regency romance when the author briefly made it a freebie on Amazon.  As I've said previously, I had been attempting to classify My Father's Son and considered Regency Romance a probable genre.  (wrong wrong wrong)  I still haven't finished that book.   More still, I've read no fewer than 23 other books since I downloaded it.

The huge problem with this book (other than totally ignoring several social mores and the egregious consequences of flouting them) is the language.  The writer aims for Austen-esque language and way overshoots the mark.  And, I know it's not just me, because my #3 DIL kept reading passages to me out loud while she perused it on my Android.  (I really did want to know if it was just me being persnickety.)

It's the same problem I've seen in other Regency romances.  People try so hard to sound authentic in their phraseology and vocabulary, dropping topical names and slang and verbage, their words cease to communicate.  They become hurdles for the reader, and, no matter the dexterity of the literary athlete, sooner or later they're going to tire out. I read this book only when I had nothing but my phone in my hands. The plot is interesting, but I just can't take it in large doses before I start tearing out my hair.

Book Giveaway: Swipe by Evan Angler

Melanie over at Christian Bookshelf Reviews is holding a book giveaway of Swipe by Evan Angler.  Contest ends on July 24th at 12:00 am.  Her blog post includes her review and an author interview, which is pretty interesting.

I really like Christian Bookshelf Reviews.  Melanie has good taste in books and authors, and she reads like a maniac!

Here's the synopsis from GoodReads:

Everyone gets the Mark. It gives all the benefits of citizenship. Yet if getting the Mark is such a good thing, then why does it feel so wrong?
Set in a future North America that is struggling to recover after famine and global war, "Swipe" follows the lives of three kids caught in the middle of a conflict they didn't even know existed. United under a charismatic leader, every citizen of the American Union is required to get the Mark on their 13th birthday in order to gain the benefits of citizenship. . . .more

Good luck, and happy hunting!

Book Giveaway: Tigers In Red Weather by Liza Klaussmannn

Triple Winner Giveaway!

I'm tickled to be part of this promotional book tour sponsored by Little Brown & Company for the book Tigers in Red Weather by Liza Klaussmann.    It looks really interesting and is definitely on my to-read list.

Don't forget to leave a way for me to contact you, either your email address, a Facebook, G+ or Twitter profile, or a contact site like About.Me.

Synopsis from GoodReads:

Nick and her cousin, Helena, have grown up sharing sultry summer heat, sunbleached boat docks, and midnight gin parties on Martha's Vineyard in a glorious old family estate known as Tiger House. In the days following the end of the Second World War, the world seems to offer itself up, and the two women are on the cusp of their 'real lives': Helena is off to Hollywood and a new marriage, while Nick is heading for a reunion with her own young husband, Hughes, about to return from the war.
     Soon the gilt begins to crack. Helena's husband is not the man he seemed to be, and Hughes has returned from the war distant, his inner light curtained over. On the brink of the 1960s, . . .a brutal murder, the intrusion of violence causes everything to unravel. The members of the family spin out of their prescribed orbits, secrets come to light, and nothing about their lives will ever be the same. . . . read more

Things to know:

  • Tigers In Red Weather will be released in paperback on July 17, 2012.
  • Three copies will be awarded from entries on this blog.
  • Contest is  open to residents of US and Canada only.
  • Prizes will be sent directly from Little Brown & Company.
  • I have not read this book and cannot comment on the content.
  • I receive no compensation for participating in this promotion.
  • Prizes cannot be awarded without inclusion of contact information in your comment. 

Click here to vote for Perpetual Chaos on PicketFenceBlogs

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Author Interview: Rick Coxen of The Great Promise (Part Two)

Previous Installments:

Book Review:  The Great Promise by Frederick G. & Frederick L. Coxen
Author Interview Part 1: Rick Coxen

This is the third week I've featured author Rick Coxen and his book, The Great Promise, the soon-to-be-released memoir of his grandfather's experience in the First World War.  The book is poignant, action-packed, and disturbing in some places, but I find it an important contribution to anyone's library who understands that if we do not know our history, we are condemned to repeat it.

Author Interview, Part 2: Getting to Know Your Grandfather 

Penny:  Let's start with the lighter side of your grandfather's journals.  I adore his flare for classic British understatement.  I can just hear his accent in my head saying, "we had a rather rough time of it" as he and his mates scuttled through heavy fire and mortars to repair telephone lines, or "it's a bit hot" with shells bursting over his head as fast as machine-gun fire and missiles big enough to make 25-foot deep craters blowing up all around him.
The next salvo sent a good-sized piece that grazed my cheek, ultimately burying itself about 2 inches into the ground at my feet.  After scratching it out of the ground, I thought to myself that if I had been a couple of inches closer it would not doubt have given me a nasty knock.
Then there's the detached unflappability: the gunners taking bets about whether or not the German shells will take down a specific structure and what not.  Or this:
While waiting for George and Collins to return, I was entertained by the combination of bursting shells, artillery fire, and rockets being launched from both our and the Germans' trenches.  They lit up the heavens like a gigantic fireworks display, similar to the ones I watched as a child.
Then there's his very British obsession with tea that got him and his mates in more than one scrape.  I always suspected the stereotype a gross caricature, but apparently not.  He also doesn't think much of the French (classic British).  Do you have a favorite passage of wit or humor that stands out especially?

The 150,000-Word Question

Recently, my good friends over on the iWriteNetwork Facebook group were tallying up how many words they had finished of their current work in progress.  Some proudly proclaimed thirty- or forty-thousand words, halfway to the acceptable number for the average novel, which is 80,000 words.  Woohoo!  They were on their way.

I got to thinking, hmmm.  I wonder how far I am.  Now, (until I transfer it all over to yWriter5) each chapter of mine is a separate WordPerfect file (the one true word processor and victim of the great apostasy), so I painstakingly cut and past all 25 chapters into one big long document and then hit the word count button.  [drum roll please!]  I about fainted when it topped out at 149,000 words.

This is a problem.  This is a really, really big problem because I'm only halfway finished with this first installment of my series.  Did I mention that the plot of My Father's Son is so complex wrangling it into submission is like making a dozen two-year-olds dance a waltz?  (Sidebar:  it includes all the plot that has absolutely nothing to do with P&P and easily transferred over from The Famous Mrs. Darcy.)

Note to Self: Perfect Is Boring

I have a confession.  I have already mentioned that I actually finished my manuscript for The Famous Mrs. Darcy and was in the editorial process before I gave it up as a lost cause.  The truth is, I didn't give up because my writing was terrible, or even that my plot had grown so complex that I had no idea how to work myself out of it.  My brother/editor maintained that the reader may very well throw up their hands in disgust because it got so confusing, but not even that was enough to murder The Famous Mrs. Darcy.

The killing blow came as I penned the last compelling, heart-rending chapter and I  realized that anyone looking for a sequel to Pride and Prejudice would absolutely HATE this book.  My Mr. Darcy had demons and passions and deep and treacherous crevasses in his soul.  He battled to retain his sense of self.  He had developed evolved to such a degree that he had become unrecognizable.

Plagued with jealousy, torn loyalties and problems without solutions, my Mr. Darcy turned to alcohol.  The greater the stressors of honor and duty, the more intense the conflict between loyalties, the more volatile became his temper.  My Elizabeth threatened to become a cipher in his shadow.  She suffered indignities and made certain choices that would cause Jane Austen to turn over in her grave. My detractors would be screaming "anachronisms" and "social consequences" even louder than myself.

Tidbits: Paris

Here's another deleted scene from "My Father's Son" by Penny Freeman

Paris loved the harvest.  He loved the cool of the morning and the sun of midday.  He loved the smell of fresh mown hay, summer showers and the newly wetted earth.  He loved rich fields of grain, the heavy heads drooping with prosperity, ruffling in the breeze like waves of the sea.  He loved the way the harvesters worked in concert, the lead man taking several wide swaths with his scythe before the next man began, behind and beside him, and then the next, and the next, as the women followed likewise to tie the fallen stalks into sheaves. He loved to watch as the single organism worked its way up the field, leaving bunches of heavy sheaves propped in its wake, but more still, he loved to be a part of it.  They were a great machine, and to be one of those cogs, to have a purpose, to feel himself an asset rather than a liability filled him with strength.
There was something immensely satisfying in advancing row after row, reducing each to stubble and moving on to the next.  He found the rhythmic swish of the scythe through the stalks soothing, even mesmerizing, and it freed him from the multitude of thoughts constantly whirring in his head.  He loved the grit on his hands, the sweat running in rivers down his back, the burn of his muscles from a hard day's work, and the fatigue professing he had done something of worth.

Book Review: Intended for Harm by CS Lakin

"The highway to holiness is a toll road."  —CS Lakin

Book:  Intended for Harm
Author:  CS Lakin
Pages:  441
Format:  Kindle/ebook
Publisher:  Amazon Digital Services
Book Source:  Author
Category:  Contemporary fiction
Style:  Strong religious themes, tragic elements, includes scenes with drug and alcohol abuse, and some graphic violence

Synopsis from GoodReads:

1971: Jake Abrams is desperate to leave his oppressive home in Colorado and begina new life in college in LA, but his dreams are waylaid when he meets Leah, an antiwar protester who pushes him into marriage and family. Through four decades Jake struggles to raise a family, facing tragedy and heartbreak, searching for meaning and faith and challenging a silent God as he wanders through his life.
     . . . . Intended for Harm explores the depth of a heart that doubts, and how it finds its way home to a God who has never been absent. It delves into the theme of harm—how those suffering loss and unmet needs intend harm toward others, but can find redemption through grace and humility. . . . read more

My Take:

I curled up in bed last night, propped in pillows, reading the last chapters of this book while Dallas laid next to me watching a video, more asleep then awake.  All of the sudden, he peered at me and said, "Are you alright?  Is everything okay?"  I sniffled and blinked back my tears, feeling somewhat foolish and assured him I was.  I do get rather misty experiencing a story from time to time, but rarely to the point that my husband actually notices.

Intended for Harm is that kind of book.  You can read the prologue here.
     Pain precedes the healing.  This truth has taken a lifetime to learn.
     The Great Physician cannot heal until the incision is made and what is putrid and pustulant collides with air and water until thoroughly cleansed.  There is a wash of relief that follows such ablution, and the soul thus rid of a lifetime's burden of contamination becomes keenly aware of a glorious sense of freedom.

—CS Lakin, Intended for Harm
Like her book Conundrum, Intended for Harm is not an easy read.  It requires thought.  It requires pondering at times.  It demands an emotional investment and delivers stellar returns.  It took me about a week to read because, quite frankly, its intensity requires a rest of sensibilities and some of it can only be taken bits at a time.  But, as I said, the pay-off is more than worth the effort.

Book Giveaways: Breathless Slipcase from Penguin

Here's a giveaway from Nereyda at Mostly YA Book Obsessed featuring a slipcase from Penguin including advanced readers copy of Falling Kingdoms, Black City, Venom, Origin and The Innocents.  These are all part of Penguin's Breathless Reads campaign.

Falling Kingdoms looks like an interesting read about a princess born to luxury, a commoner adopted into wealth and status, and a soldier born and bred in a warless world.  Nereyda also includes a mini-interview with author Morgan Rhodes.

This looks like a fun collection to win and get a jump on these young adult books which won't be released until the fall.