Blog Hop: Star of Eldon by M.L. Hamilton

Book:  Star of Eldon (World of Samar #3)
Author:  M.L. Hamilton
Pages:   634
Format:  Paperback, Kindle
Publisher:  Wild Wolf Publishing (June 22, 2012)
Book Source:  Provided by Author
Category:  Fantasy

Synopsis from GoodReads:

The Seven Protectorates have enjoyed years of peace under Tav's leadership, but a growing worry has surfaced.  What about the land beyond Loden's border?  Where once there had been overtures of trade, now there is nothing. Tav decides to send a diplomatic expedition to re-establish contact, but who should go?
Adventure runs in the blood of Tash's children, especially in his head-strong daughter, Shara.  Shara wants nothing more than to be part of the expedition to Nevaisser, but her father will never agree.  He fears for her safety, but a rash decision on his part takes the choice out of his hands and sets up a chain of events that will have far reaching consequences.  Nevaisser is a land teeming with conflict and at the heart of it is a mysterious stranger, hiding secrets that will test the alliance of the Seven Protectorates.  A journey begun to protect Loden may result in tearing it apart.
Continue the adventure with the third installment in the World of Samar series. . . . more

Another Country Heard From

Dear Readers,

Desireé Nordin Freeman
I have a side table in my house whereon I pile the books that arrive in the mail with review requests. They come faster than I can read them, so the pile is considerable. My daughter-in-law, Desireé Freeman, spied the table from time to time and thumbed through the various volumes, until she finally started taking them home.

Desireé and I have delightful literary conversations.  Since she lives nearby, stops by frequently, and has easy access to my growing library, she has graciously consented to contribute to Perpetual Chaos.  I feel certain Desireé's book reviews will provide the perfect counterpoint to my own, especially as our tastes vary widely.

Desireé brings her unique perspective to Chaos.  As a young mother, she enjoys the constant adventure of the Terrible Twos, and provides exceptional support to her husband, a full-time law student.  She works part-time as a registered medical assistant.  She graduated with an associates degree from Brigham Young University Idaho in 2011.

Book Review: The Angry Woman Suite

Book:  The Angry Woman Suite
Author:  Lee Fulbright
Pages:   378
Format:  Kindle, Paperback
Publisher:  Telemachus Press
Book Source:  Provided by Publicist
Category:  Literary Fiction
Style:  Well-written, disturbing scenes of child abuse, some profanity, more vulgarity

Synopsis from GoodReads (Kirkus Reviews):

Secrets and lies suffuse generations of one Pennsylvania family, creating a vicious cycle of cruelty in this historical novel that spans the early 1900s to the 1960s. Raised in a crumbling New England mansion by four women with personalities as split as a cracked mirror, young Francis Grayson has an obsessive need to fix them all.

There's his mother, distant and beautiful Magdalene; his disfigured, suffocating Aunt Stella; his odious grandmother; and the bane of his existence, his abusive and delusional Aunt Lothian. For years, Francis plays a tricky game of duck and cover with the women, turning to music to stay sane. . . . more

From Back Cover per Amazon:
When overbearing former big band star Francis Grayson mentions the "murdering bitches" who supposedly ruined his life, his resentful stepdaughter Elyse—always on the lookout for simple dirt on Francis—takes note. Intertwining narrative with Francis, Elyse stumbles across glimmers of big murder instead of simple dirt, while Francis moves perspective of his "bitches" back to the 1930s, to his childhood in Pennsylvania. His coming-of-age story centers on a mysterious painting and search for the artist who he believes can fix his feuding family. Aiding him in his quest is his mother's lover, Aidan Madsen, who not only mentors Francis' music career, but knows everything about two murders implicating the women in Francis' family. The three narrators of The Angry Woman Suite—Elyse, Francis, and Aidan—weave together a picture of two disturbed families who meet their match in the young, determined to survive Elyse Grayson, and human to a fault hero, Aidan Madsen.

My Take:

To be totally honest, when I agreed to participate in this blog hop, I focused on the historical fiction selling points and
failed to understand the elements of child abuse so strongly written into this novel.  I found the narrative I managed to read very well written, and I can see the possibilities of how this author received the accolades this work garnered.

Paradigm Shift

Hopefully, one or two of you may have noticed that I have dropped off the face of the planet for more than a week.  For my excuse, I offer the fact that our lives here have been turned inside out and upside down, and it's taken a bit of time to get back on an even keel.

Those of my generation will recall the oh-so-not-politically correct punching clowns we grew up with.  For the rest of you, with a rounded, weighted bottom, these plastic inflatable clowns with squeakers in their noses rocked back when struck but would bob right back up again.  Unless, of course, it got jumped on, used as a Hoppity-Hop, and/or assaulted to uninflatable nonresponsiveness.

That's us, Dallas and me.  We haven't had the pudding knocked out of us yet.  We still bounce back, sooner or later.  Even when struck with such force we fall back clear to the floor (my brothers' favorite trick), give us some time and we're on our feet again.

But, this post isn't about Dallas and I—not really.  It's about how, over the course of a month, we came to grow from two empty-nesters rattling around an empty house, seriously considering downsizing, to a family of seven, bursting at the seams.

It's Here! The Great Promise Release

It's here, it's here!  The Great Promise by Frederick L. Coxen has been released and is now available on

This is a compelling memoir of a British World War I soldier that reveals the horrors of war, as well as some of the ways the men grasped onto normalcy.  See my book review and author interviews below:

Book Review:  The Great Promise by Frederick L. Coxen
Author Interview Part One
Author Interview Part Two
Author Interview Part Three
Author Interview Part Four

I think it's apropos that they first made available on the same day as our Peace Blitz.  If anything bespeaks the need for peace, this book talks loud and clear.  Buy it.  Read it.  Share it.  Those who do not learn from history are compelled to repeat it.

Thanks, Rick, for bringing this book to print.

Bridge of Deaths: Peace Blitz Blog Hop

Today, August 15, 2012, is the 73rd anniversary of the crash of flight G-AESY, flying from London, UK to Hamburg, Germany, to Stockholm, Sweden.  What’s the big deal, you ask?  Well, this particular flight happened shortly before the start of the Second World War, with passengers some believe to have been a secret peace delegation tragically thwarted.

The flight also carried the grandfather of my author friend, M.C.V. Egan.  Here is my review her book, Bridge of Deaths.  To commemorate the event and her commitment to peace, Catalina and Innovative Online Book Tours have organized a Peace Hop Blitz today, involving many bloggers from around the world posting about peace.  I welcomed the opportunity to participate.

For several days, I have been asking myself what I have to say about peace.  The image comes to mind of Sandra Bullock's character, in the film Miss Congeniality, answering her beauty pageant scholarship program interview question, “If you could have one wish, what would you wish for?” (or something to that effect) with, “stronger penalties for multiple offenders . . . [dead air] . . . and world peace.”*  

What does that mean?  More importantly, where does it start?  How does it happen?  Who do we blame when it doesn’t?

Editor's Notes: Making Dialog Flow

Writing dialog provides ample opportunity to trip up the reader.  In this post, I discuss the four most prevalent.

He Said/She Said

Osaka umeda03s3200
Have you ever read something that went like this?
"You just don't understand," I said.
"Tell me what I don't understand," Maggie said.
"Anything," I said.
Boring!  Flat.  Redundant.

Use the plethora of verbs that identify speech, as well as those which evoke visceral responses.  Some eschew the use of identifiers as an unnecessary distraction, but by inserting carefully considered words in appropriate places, counterproductive becomes enhancement. What does "retorted" say about a discussion? What about murmured or sighed or blurted or cooed?
"You just don't understand," I sigh.
"What don't I understand?" Maggie probes.
But, even that gets old very quickly.  Use the many tools available to prevent this, as I identify in "Say What?" below.

In some instances, especially in situations of continuous dialog, simple running quotations serve. The reader is hurrying forward, so no need to slow them down:
"You just don't understand," I sigh.
Mary steps closer to me.  "What don't I understand."
"Anything!  You don't ever see what goes on around you."
"That's not fair."
"But it's true."
"I don't know why you believe that."
I think of it as a train working up a head of steam. The first identifiers are the initial chug-chug-chugs, until the conversation reaches a pretty good clip and sails along, eliminating the need for further explanation.

However, as a writer, one must be careful of the danger (one I often stumble into) of losing track of who said what. To avoid this, throw in a physical response indicating emotion and/or a bit of staging to remind the reader (and yourself) who's doing the talking.

Tidbits: The Three China Doll of Ardennes by Penny Freeman

By Photoplay magazine [Public domain],
via Wikimedia Commons

A deleted scene from My Father's Son

Durant blinked and forced his thoughts back into he room. He did not know how or if he should even attempt to answer that question, but one glance at the lady before him bespoke her utmost need for the information.
He wondered how to begin, then recalled the watch in his pocket. It was not the chronometer he had purchased that morning.
Rather, it was very old and very precious. The workmanship was unsurpassed, but for what it meant to Jeanne, to all the Marchands, to Isabella, and to himself, it was irreplaceable. He had found it in LeDuc’s desk at the study as he cleaned out the drawers.
He knew exactly what it was, and could not help but sense that his father had it put there of a purpose, knowing Durant would know exactly what to do with it.
Durant had brought the watch along with him on that venture, thinking he would return it to Madam Marchand. However, for reasons he little cared to explore, it always remained in his pocket.
The voice inside him which he tried to follow told him that it was as intended, for Jeanne required it just then, and that it was vital that he give it to her.  She had to understand.  She could not go seeking answers from that creature. 

Saturday Sites: Regency Research

As any blogger knows, posting every day keeps your readers returning to keep up to date.  Blogger's wonderful little statistics charts and graphs serve as a very visible reminder of the visits you're gaining or losing, and the compulsion overtakes one to keep that trend always moving upward.

Unfortunately, to blog every day one have something to write about.  Many bloggers have specific subjects for specific days, such as Monday Mysteries or the Sizzling Kiss.  The only one I have found so far that I've embraced is Flash Fiction Friday which I picked up from my friend, Laura Besley's blog.  (Look for a guest post from her on September 4th).

Saturdays are particularly tricky for me (as I'm sure they are for bloggers and readers alike), but I've finally hit upon a solution:  Saturday Sites.  In this column, I hope to share with you the sites and blogs I have discovered this week, hopefully all with a common thread.  First up:

 Regency Research

English Historical Fiction Authors 

This very useful open Facebook group encourages participation, which the members do with gusto.  Conversations abound, as does the information shared.

Many scholars of the genre participate, so this group proves an excellent resource for  authors focused on any British era.  I have had my questions immediately answers, solutions to my quandaries solved, and friendly advice given.  This group is a treasure trove for historical writers.

They also share information about general writing, sales, dealing with difficulties, etc., and provided excellent support to one another.  The strength and camaraderie of this group recently put a pirating website out of business.

Big In Japan Giveaway Winner

And the winner is:


Thanks to every one who participated in this Big In Japan giveaway sponsored by Jolly Fish Press.  You're all winners in my book.

Big in Japan is available in hardcover, paperback, Kindle and Nook.  

Have something to say?  Leave a comment here, or click on over to Jennifer Griffith's author site, "like" her Facebook page, or follow her on Twitter.  And, read Big in Japan!  You'll be glad you did.

Flash Fiction Friday: Strange and Stranger

Editor's Note:  Over at InD'Tale Publishing, they're having a little flash fiction competition using the picture below as inspiration.  The rules restrict it to 100 words.  Here's my entry:

Katie's Lamb

Three days in the desert, scorched by the blistering sun, resulted in nothing but heartbreak. I paused before the stone wall that encircled the great house, Whistle Rock proper, a lush and rare oasis sheltered between two buttes amongst the otherwise arid and barren world of sand and stone. I stalled before the adobe hacienda as I mustered the courage to take my bad news into the house. Thinking better of it, I set the sun-bleached skull and coiled, rusted barbed wire on the fence post, then stepped through the gate to tell Katie her precious pet would never return.

Xchyler Publishing Challenge

Over at Xchyler, the most interesting challenge attracted two entries and included the following words:  chimera, transmogrified, abrupt, and foible.

The Lab by Penny Freeman

Call it a foible. Call it a fault. However you wish to classify it, I found it a debilitating failing. I could never accustom myself to the abrupt changes the “exposure” made in me; an unrelenting cycle of metamorphosis: first from one mythical beast, then another and then another still. I don’t know what to call myself. The white coats call me a chimera. I suppose that’s as good a name as any other for someone like me. When the wind rose, when that deafening high-pitched screech filled my ears and the pain of it brought me to my knees, when a myriad of fluorescent colors swirled me up into a vortex of brilliant white light—whatever happened to me, I lost my humanity.

Editor's Notes: About Beta Readers

About Beta Readers:

Beta what? the second letter of the Greek alphabet — symbol B or β;   often attributive : a nearly complete prototype of a product (as software) not yet ready for commercial release (from

In a literary sense, beta readers are those who read and provide feedback on your manuscript before you proceed to the layout/printing phase of your book, be it indie or mainstream publishing. Alpha reader? That’s you, the author.

Who are they?

Beta readers can be anyone you like: your friends, your family, people you trust, people whose opinions you respect. Are you too nervous to expose your work to your family and friends? Join a writers association. They can be found everywhere. They exist to build up and support one another and to provided the much-needed feedback writers require to produce a good manuscript. Join a Facebook group focused on your specific genre. Just Google it. You will find more options than you will know what to do with. Many times these groups are far more helpful than your family and friends as they will tell you the truth, not prop up your ego.

Author Interview: Holly Barbo, author of The Founders

Today, we're very proud to participate in the blog hop for Holly Barbo and her book The Founders. See my review of the book here.

Author Bio:  

Holly Barbo's world is shaped by her love of her family, the beauty of the natural world in Northwest Washington State and an irrepressible creative drive.

Living where the scenery is incredible with a rich abundance of wildlife "is so special and soothing that it feels like a quiet kind of magic," according to Barbo. She is drawn to creating stories where there is just a bit of something unworldly, perhaps it is magic or psychic skills. Her stories are mostly in non-urban settings and usually have some focus on nature, building a discordant drama inside the peaceful frame.

Author Interview:

Penny:  Ms. Barbo, I enjoyed the world you created in The Founders and look forward to learning more about it. First, tell us a little bit about yourself.
Holly: My world is shaped by my love of my family, the beauty of the natural world in Northwest Washington State and an irrepressible creative drive. I draw wildlife, make beautiful things out of wood and I write.
Penny:  Who are the authors that have influenced you the most?
Holly:  I read many genres and authors but some of my favorites are Anne McCaffrey and Patricia McKillip.
Penny:  Do you write only science fiction/fantasy? In which genre would you catalog The Founders?
Holly:  If you disregard the fact that The Founders takes place on another world and that the planet and the sages have interesting idiosyncrasies ...some of the books could be murder mysteries while others classic mystery or suspense.

Book Review: The Founders by Holly Barbo (Sage Seed Chronicles)

Book:  The Founders
Author:  Holly Barbo
Pages:   276
Format:  Paperback, Kindle
Publisher:  Paper Crane Books
Book Source:  Provided by publisher
Category:  Science Fiction/fantasy
Style:  Conversational prose, some violence

Synopsis from GoodReads:

Recruited by an ancient race, a group of people from Earth colonize the lovely planet Ose in a far corner of the galaxy. Thirty-two years after the Founders settle the unanticipated happens. A small asteroid hits on the edge of the continent instantly throwing them into a "nuclear winter" weather pattern. Struggling to survive, the young culture slips ever nearer to a survival of the fittest world.

In this climate of hardship, Marisily comes of age. She flees for her life after watching her mother die. Unexpectedly, she discovers the cave in which she seeks refuge was a hidden Ancient's shelter and the secrets within it reveal that she is a sage: a small group of seemingly unrelated people with heightened extra senses that are strangely linked to the planet itself.

The conditions reach dangerous levels as more citizens become victims of the outlaw bands. Marisily struggles to stay safe when she is targeted for slavery. A clandestine plan is devised to take back the society and reestablish the founding culture. Can they do it in time? . . . more

My Take:

Ms. Barbo starts with an promising premise in The Founders: mysterious "Ancients" recruit humans from Earth to participate in their little experiment in colonizing an unstable planet.  Eighteen long-lived Sages (including the Great One), individuals with paranormal abilities, fill the vital role of subduing the volatile tectonic plates of Ose.  Although they fail to understand the mechanics of it, their simple presence somehow provides the necessary control.  Some sages use telepathy, some levitation, others speak to animals, sense impending danger, or can foretell the future.  They conceal their abilities to forestall any fear or resentment from the general populace, although they allow a few enlightened non-Sage citizens in on the secret.

Although solar- and wind-powered generators provide electricity to private homes, the limited size of the habitable "continent" (an island, really) supports only an agrarian lifestyle for the small number of its inhabitants.  Frequent electromagnetic disturbances prevent the use of any advanced digital technology—except, of course, for the Great One and Marisily who communicate telepathically and keep tabs on everyone via gadgets left in place by the Ancients.  Healers pride themselves on their extensive knowledge of the native and transplanted flora, concocting and administering their herbal cures to a grateful populace.

Editor's Notes: Query Letters, Synopses & Manuscripts

I find myself amazed at the difference in my attitude about publishers after only a week at Xchyler Publishing.  To say I have learned a lot would be an understatement.  The prospect differs immensely from this vantage, and here I sat with the unenviable task of playing the jack-booted control freak as a matter of survival.  Insanity and I have parted ways intermittently over the past 18 hours, but somewhere in the chaos this treatise burbled forth and got plastered all over the group lounge.  Surely not enough exposure for this crazed lunatic, it's as good as anything else for blog fodder.

From  Synopsis: 1 : a brief orderly outline affording a quick general view (of a treatise or narrative) : a condensed statement : ABSTRACT 2 a : a brief outline summarizing the action of a proposed screen play or television script b : a summary of a completed film (as for cataloging in a film library) 3 : a conjugation by one person and number synonym see ABRIDGMENT 

One way to write the synopsis is in outline form. They include a chapter-by-chapter description of the book with headings, subheadings, points, etc. Vital elements include: 
  1. Plot development/arc 
  2. Character development 
  3. Theme 
  4. Structure/sequencing (how the story is to be told) 

What the synopsis does for the editor:

  1. The editor learns very quickly whether or not the story interests them or is marketable through their publishing company. 
  2. A good synopsis allows the editor to judge whether or not the story is told in a clear manner. It will alert the editor to various mechanisms and divergences which may seem inappropriate or confusing but are placed with very specific intent. Your synopsis is the map the editor uses to follow your journey. 
  3. A good synopsis can compensate for an author’s weaknesses.   Perhaps writing skills or techniques trip up the editor and prompt a rejection.  With a strong synopsis in hand, they may be willing to see the diamond in the rough. They may decide the storytelling is worth the effort of refining the writing. For the difference between storytelling and writing, see this post.  Such a synopsis could prompt a “revise and resubmit” suggestion, which is a heckofalot better than a form rejection letter. 
  4. Providing the properly constructed synopsis demonstrates to the editor both the author’s willingness and ability to work within their guidelines. Producing a book is complicated. Rules are created to simplify the path to success. Authors who staunchly maintain their individualism by failing to comply end up in the reject pile. 

Author Interview: C.M. Gray, Author of Shadowland

See my review of Shadowland here.

Author Bio:

Born in Essex, England, I have since been lucky enough to live and travel in many countries around the world. In fact I have lived more time outside of England than I have living there! Home for me now is just outside of Barcelona, Spain where I live in a house in the middle of the forest with my Dutch born wife and two children.
      My writing is mostly fantasy and many of the experiences I have had in Asia, Africa and the middle east come to life in my writing. The Flight of the Griffin follows the adventures of a group of young orphans as they battle demons and bandits on a magical quest to stop the world tipping into Chaos. Shadowland blends fantasy with history as an old story teller takes his audience back to Britain's dark ages.


Penny:  I really enjoyed Shadowland, especially the vivid post-Roman world you created.  I could feel my feet sticking the sucking mud and twitched at the feel of flees and lice.  Are you an historian by profession or a dedicated enthusiast?
Chris:  Hi and thanks for the welcome to your fantastic blog, I'm thrilled to be here. I'm really happy you enjoyed Shadowland and I'm blushing furiously at any thought you might have that I have any background in history! No, I'm not a historian but the past does interest me greatly. When I was a kid my favourite hobby was to dig up old bottles from Victorian rubbish tips! I love history, but it also kinda scares me to think what went on as 'normal' hundreds of years ago, it can be a bit of a morbid interest at times.
      In the era I write about in Shadowland, women went into battle alongside their men and most brought their dogs as well, many warriors fought naked, Fascinating!
Penny:  Your love of nature and of England also flows strongly through the book.  Does your vocation or avocation give you such a broad knowledge base?
Chris:  I love the natural world and would far prefer to spend the day in the woods or mountains than in a city. I grew up living in the countryside and live in a house in the woods now, just outside Barcelona in Spain. My job is raising money and awareness for a company that replants the rainforest, which is very fulfilling. I still love England, but I also love our world as a whole and have traveled extensively in Europe, Asia and Africa, I think my experiences in these places comes though in my writing.

Book Review: Shadowland by C.M. Gray

Book:  Shadowland
Author:  C.M. Gray
Pages:   222
Format:  Paperback, Kindle
Publisher:  Amazon Digital Services
Book Source:  Provided by Author
Category:  Young Adult Fantasy/Adventure
Style:  Engaging page-turner, magic, contains graphic violence

Synopsis from Goodreads:

‘I have lived more years than I can remember, probably more than the sum of all your years combined. Kings have called me friend and brigands have sworn to burn the flesh from my bones even if they have to search all seven halls of the shadowland to find me.’

On the night of midwinter’s eve, a storyteller takes his listeners back to the Dark ages and a tale from his youth.

Deserted by its Roman masters, Britain has been invaded by the Saxons at the invitation of Vortigern, traitorous leader of the Britons. Now, as the tribes unite to reclaim their land, one man must rise to lead them and become their true and only king. . . .more

My Take:

The storyteller's story centers on two fourteen-year-old boys, Usher Vance (put that on your 'name the baby' list) and Calvador Craen, who, late for supper one evening, escape the brutal slaying of their entire village in the thickly forested East Anglia.  Treed by a ferocious pack of wolves, the pair watch helplessly as ravaging Picts, venturing far too far south of Hadrian's Wall, murder, pillage, and drag away several children, including Calvador's younger sister, Clarise.

Come morning, abandoned by the frustrated wolves, Usher and Cal venture into the village to take stock, then promptly set out in pursuit of the Picts, intent on rescuing eight-year-old Clarise from the Picts.  Unaccountably, the undefeatable warriors from the Highlands of Scotland continue their murderous rampage further south, leaving an easy trail of mayhem for the two boys to follow.

Guest Post: Sumo and a Trip to Mars from Author Jennifer Griffith

Ladies and Gents, I am just tickled pink to introduce our guest blogger today, Jennifer Griffith, author of Big in Japan, just released this past week.  Find my review of this fun book here and don't forget to enter our Rafflecopter drawing for a free copy!  I admire Jennifer not only for her writing skills, but also for her determination to write about something that interested her even though she didn't know much about it.  She made herself an aficionado and shared this subsequent story in her delightful voice.  Heeere's Jenny!


I’ve just finished my fourth novel. Yeehaw! Sometimes I think Big In Japan is just as much a surprise to me as it is to everyone else. It covers a topic I’d never have expected to write about, and the first six months as I frittered with the story I kept rolling my eyes at myself because it’s about…sumo wrestling. With a love story.

Who writes about that?

No one. Especially not me. I’m kind of just a short white girl. I’m not in that game at all! However, when I lived in Japan for 18 months I got a love for the country and the people and the language, and sumo is such a part of the Japanese culture, how could I resist? Then, as I dug deeper into the topic it got more and more fascinating.

Friday Flash Fic: There Be Dragons Here

Over on our Facebook Xchyler Publishing Authors Group, I've been challenging our writers with various scattered words for a flash fic a day, which also incorporates our word of the day.  Here are the results of our first challenge.  Words:  dragon, escalator, burrow, matte (word of the day).

Summer Vacation by Penny Freeman

Down, down, down the stones steps etched into the side of the caldera zigzagged like escalators at a shopping mall from hell. Below, vented from beneath the deceptively blackened surface of the caldera, belched noxious fumes of brimstone and potash to create a sickly yellow-green haze. When I booked my Nordic cruise for summer holiday, no one mentioned this particular leg of the day trip into the Icelandic interior.

The whop-whop of the helicopter turbines pummeled the air as it hovered overhead, triggering a shower of razor-sharp shards of slag falling down upon my head. I crouched against the side of the cone, matte black and deceptively solid, for the unstable rock broke away at the least touch. I could not fathom what power stabilized those crumbling steps. I only knew it that same something drew me here. I knew it one and the same.

Over Burrowed in the deepest recesses of my mind, that primordial place where naught but animal instinct dwells, a voice sang to me and lured me to this place. Whether shrill and piercing or deep and rumbling, I could not say. It simply was, and it never left me. That voice called out to me in my dreams, made me restless and discontent, frustrated and filled with despair. It laid bare my empty, bleak existence and the grayness of my world.  It denied any reason to continue.

That same force usurped my meager savings and my carefully hoarded leave when it compelled me to book this holiday. It propelled my feet up the gangway of the cruise ship, knowing I forever left my life behind.

Book Review: Cora Flash and the Diamond of Madagascar

Book:  Cora Flash and the Diamond of Madagascar
Author:  Tommy Davey
Pages:  166
Format:  Paperback, Kindle/ebook
Publisher:  Create Space
Book Source:  Publicist
Category:  Ages 9-12 fiction
Style:  Easy, engaging, kid-friendly

Synopsis from GoodReads:

Eleven-year-old Cora Flash is ecstatic when she finally convinces her mom to let her take a train ride by herself to visit a relative in the mountains. Once on board, Cora meets a cast of intriguing characters, and stumbles upon her very own mystery: A valuable diamond has gone missing, and only one of her fellow travellers could have stolen it. It's up to our novice detective to solve the crime before the train reaches its destination – or the thief reaches Cora. This is the first book in the 'Cora Flash' series. . . . More

My Take:

Cora Flash engages, entertains, and connects, but Tommy Davey carefully avoids condescending to his audience.  He manages to address concerns of parents over violence and language but still provides the sense of adventure kids are looking for.  The mystery intrigues, the clues skillfully placed, the villain probably unexpected for a child, and the caper inventive and well-executed.  He accomplishes all this, and a bit of peril to boot, while Cora (and the reader) stay safe and sound.  While laws are broken, threats made, and plots discovered, Davey spurns the sinister and seamy.

Book Review & Giveaway: Cora Flash and the Diamond of Madagascar by Tommy Davey

Editor's note: This duplicate post is the result of a Blogger hiccup that led me to believe it deleted it, and then a burp which belched it back out again. I'm not a complete and total idiot. Blogger just has indigestion and I don't want to delete the count it has generated.

Book:  Cora Flash and the Diamond of Madagascar
Author:  Tommy Davy
Pages:   167
Format:  Paperback, Kindle
Publisher:  Amazon Digital Services
Book Source:  Provided by Novel Publicity Book Tours
Category:  Youth Fiction (mystery)
Style:  easy, approachable style, kid-friendly

Synopsis from GoodReads:

Eleven-year-old Cora Flash is ecstatic when she finally convinces her mom to let her take a train ride by herself to visit a relative in the mountains. Once on board, Cora meets a cast of intriguing characters, and stumbles upon her very own mystery: A valuable diamond has gone missing, and only one of her fellow travellers could have stolen it. It's up to our novice detective to solve the crime before the train reaches its destination—or the thief reaches Cora. This is the first book in the 'Cora Flash' series.

My Take:

Cora Flash engages, entertains, and connects, but Tommy Davy carefully avoids condescending to his audience.  He manages to address concerns of parents over violence and language but still provides the sense of adventure kids are looking for.  The mystery intrigues, the clues skillfully placed, the villain probably unexpected for a child, and the caper inventive and well-executed.  He accomplishes all this, and a bit of peril to boot, while Cora (and the reader) stay safe and sound.  While laws are broken, threats made, and plots discovered, Davey spurns the sinister and seamy.

Guest Post: Showing Emotion In Dialogue-heavy Scenes

I decided I wanted my first guest post to be a special one, so I invited Angela Ackerman, author and blogger full of all sorts of of wonderful tips and tricks to bring life to your writing to grace these pages.  (Note:  I was going to scatter this excellent article with images of Collin Firth doing his silent-but-oh-so-expressive Darcy best, but then thought Angela's excellent words should to the talking.)  Enjoy! 

Showing Emotion In Dialogue-heavy Scenes

Very few things pull people in like conversation. After all, when someone speaks, they are making themselves vulnerable to others. How? Because words are steeped in thoughts, beliefs and emotions. They have meaning. Power.

When I talk to someone, what I’m really doing is sharing a piece of myself with them. And they in turn listen, weigh my words, and then judge me by what I say. It’s a bit intimidating when you think about it, which is why most people think carefully about what to share, and what to hold back. Protecting ourselves from feeling exposed is instinctive, because it is tied to survival.

This creates a big problem for writers trying to form realistic dialogue scenes. Our goal is for readers to pick up on the thought process and emotions of a character so they can understand motives. But if dialogue is too honest, and characters share too much about what they feel, the conversation will ring false. Add this to the complication of Point of View (where the reader is not always privy to a character’s direct thoughts) and suddenly showing emotion becomes extra challenging!

So how do we show readers what a character is really feeling when they don’t say it in dialogue?

The answer of course, is body language.