This time, my painting, picture, or drawing is a short video. Why? I want to give you some news about the coming launch of my new book, Woes and Wonders. Without further ado, here’s what I’ve prepared for you.
Blurb Woes and Wonders
wants family and stability, but the Great War tears him away from home and
propels him to China and a Japanese POW camp.
dreams of love and fairies but must face disappointment and a finishing school.
The Great War is far away. Still, beneath her secure world hide secrets and
they meet, their love of music brings them together.
Hans overcome the scars he brought back from Japan? Will Ellie find happiness,
or will Hans’ demons crush her dreams?
it possible to create a family in the depression between two world wars?
of journeying? This book is in two parts. In the first, a college student (Anna)
falls in love with her professor. It seems a romance bound to fail, and Anna resorts
to flirt with a friend. Her love for the professor stops the flirting. Here the
first part ends. To get over her confusion and — perhaps — to make something of
her life, Anna goes to France for a holiday.
my opinion, the first part worked well — it was easy to relate to Anna and her
friends. The second part was for me less convincing. It was marred with too
much description, making me wonder if this was a travel magazine or a novel.
places, the narrative came across as memoir or true story. Was that intentional?
All in all, the author might benefit from mixing the cards differently. AL Kent
Ken Stark, Stage Three: Bravo
Zombie Fantasy with Unusual Aspects
The biggest surprise in ‘Bravo’ was that the
horror didn’t take the main stage in this Zombie postapocalyptic fantasy. It
was the characters, full-blown and believable, that carried the narrative. True,
there were the expected pro- and antagonist types, but none of Stark’s
characters was set in stone. They lived through hell, and their personalities developed
stage by stage. Stark presents his readers with love and hate, leading to
misunderstandings and final acceptance. That made this an impressive read.
True, there’s much blood and gore, and Stark doesn’t leave much to the readers’
imagination. Supposedly this is what the average zombie fiction reader expects.
The question remains, do they expect the earnest warning against taking science
too far? Do they realize — and value — the call for humanity? These were the
elements that impressed me the most. An author must have skills far beyond
creating a plot. If that skill blossoms, it doesn’t matter what means and
effects he or she chooses to bring across a message. This is the third part of Stage
3, but the book can stand alone. Highly recommended
JS Frankel, Wink
a hapless schoolkid, blinks in and out of his normal existence. He is one of
the ‘invisibles’, kids that nobody cares to know or befriend, a target for
bullies. His father is dead, and his mother finds it difficult to cope with her
loss. As his vanishing episodes become increasingly frequent, the FBI steps in to
find out if they can use Virgil’s extraordinary abilities. Their probing
finally propels Virgil to another place. Is it in space or in a parallel
universe? Nobody knows for certain. Lonely at first, Virgil finds a brave new
world and, eventually, other people. Some are friendly, but in any world,
humans veer towards strife. It takes only one ruffian to topple the
writes confidently and with a deep understanding of his YA readers. There is a
savour of old myths and human longings in his compelling yarn. Not only that,
it is a fervent call for humanity and a warning against abusing the world, any
world we might find ourselves in. Highly recommended.
Cynthia Hamilton, Girl Trap
PI and Event Planner with a Troubled Past
Madeline Dawkins suffers from nightmares. She’s escaped her persecutors but not the aftermath of her distressing experiences. Nonetheless, she functions in society and develops two(!) businesses. Her experiences make a PI career the obvious choice, but she’s enough of a woman to love creating beautiful events. To stay efficient she had an assistant, who had to leave because of an investigation trauma. Her new assistant is untested. Madeline isn’t certain that he’ll live up to her expectations. Her partner, Mike searches one woman in LA, while Madeline must open a dormant case and take up a twelve-year-old thread in a catholic school to find another woman. Against all odds, the cases intertwine.
this is part of a series, but it wasn’t too difficult to figure out Madeline’s
past. I haven’t read the first two volumes, but to me, it may have been an
advantage. It amused me to put together the back story from the current
puts her story together in a convincing fashion, although the double strain of
two missing women makes for complications.
the striking plot, the narrative failed to excite me. I can’t pinpoint exactly what gave me a sense
of being let down. Was it the omniscient narrator, telling me Madeline’s
feelings? Was it too many adjectives? A remote third-person narrative can work,
but in my opinion, it works better in other genres.
KV Wilson, Spiritborne
and Werewolves Against the Inquisition
v Nature. The Covenant v Werewolves (Lycans) and Shapeshifters (Yeva’si). Skye
Matthews experiences blackouts. They’re the beginning of a new phase of her
life, a secret and dangerous phase. It takes her through her local urban
landscape through secret portals to the world of Lycans and shapeshifters. In
her everyday world, the Covenant reigns and wages war against everything not
quite human. A tale of growing into a foreordained fate, Wilson puts emphasis
on the obstacles a young woman must face. It doesn’t help that nobody has
revealed this inheritance to her. It’s an interesting fact that there are
parallels to the Spanish inquisition in the Covenant’s attitude to everything ‘heretic’.
KZ Howell, Dream State
dreams influence reality?
mind-warping drugs, clearheaded dreams, sex as a power game. Thriller or horror
Cayce, the mystic and clairvoyant, features as the premise for this
State draws on sleep experiments and lucid dreaming. In this connection, it may
be important to remember that ordinary humans only use a fraction of their
brains. This is a thoughtful analysis of the possibilities and dangers of
experimenting with extraordinary minds. Recommended
Joyce DeBacco, Angel Wishes
and comfort between friends. Will Addie choose to live for her quaint antique
shop or go for a commercial career in New York? Which of her admirers will be
her final choice? The childhood friend, Gabe or the flashy restaurant owner,
Barry? Notable is the angel doll that infuses a red thread of wonder and hope
throughout the story. Joyce DeBacco is the skilled narrator of this
Ingrid Foster, My Father’s Magic
parallel Universe, Albion, Steeped in Ancient English Myth
father Drake (Sorcerer), Fiancé Geoff (control freak and evil entity),
half-sister Natasha, and childhood friend Stone. In a catatonic state, her mother
is incarcerated in an asylum.
the beginning, Esme’s father, Drake dies a seemingly natural death.
sparks Esme’s education to become a Witch. It’s her fate to lead the witches,
the wizards, the giants (Henry Brien and Helga?) the shapeshifters, and the
fairies, in their fight against evil as well as for a natural, and balanced
JB Morris, Love Revisited
Society Lady Meets Ex-soldier in an Unexpected Romance
an ex-soldier and Pamela, a society woman met on a plane. This apparently
insignificant occurrence won’t leave their thoughts. He is unemployed and
drifting, while she lives with her mother and daughter in her NY apartment.
Their chance encounter sets new forces free and compels both to rethink their
lives. Pamela’s mother does her worst to thwart the budding relationship. Morris
takes us through the ropes and keeps us guessing.
was easy to slip into this book and relate to its characters. Being a sequel to
Seth, it shows Morris’s ability to combine back-story with developing the plot.
His characters are easy to recognize and believable. Love Revisited is
another take on the romance genre and works for me.
Ivy Logan, Broken Origins (The Legend of Ava)
Carries the Ultimate Responsibility
a Heichi sorceress, can time-travel and sees what she shouldn’t see. Ms Logan builds
the myths in this prequel to her fantasy series The Breach Chronicles on
a simple premise, the interdiction against getting involved when time-travelling.
Ava and her friend Selena break that prohibition and suffer the consequences. Their
efforts create a worse situation than the one they wanted to avoid. The death of
a young girl ultimately sparks rebellion and war between humans and supernaturals.
Hence, the sorceressess’ withdrawal from the world and the beginning of the Chronicles.
My only problem with this prequel is that it’s too short. Ms Logan hasn’t time
or space to evolve her story. Through this, it becomes breathless and sometimes
difficult to follow. Her ideas are good and deserve better.
Eva Pasco, Mr Wizardo
and Kansas Revisited in Slick, Modern Writing
Frank Baum didn’t live in vain. His inspired fiction lives and influences us to
this day. So, in Eve Pasco’s Mr Wizardo. Her casual allusions to the rainbow
bridge, the yellow brick road, and the other paraphernalia of OZ bring home a
valid point. We need fantasy, courage, wisdom, and love to become human. To be
compassionate and generous.
is Dorothy. She wears the red slippers. Of course, that’s an allusion to the
film rather than the silver shoes of Baum’s invention.
is the Scarecrow without a heart, Lyle the Lion without courage, and Tim the tinman
without a brain. This is where the biggest difference shows. Mr Wizardo isn’t a
fake. He’s the real thing and shows it through his compassion and understanding
of the four misfits that assemble for his funeral.
This is a fun and appealing tale with a deep significance.
These drawings are all from the eighties, which is easy to perceive. I drew them with coloured pencils on paper, and they were my first attempts at designs. I sewed the first two designs and reused the fabric from the lavender dress more than once.
A while ago, I visited a prompt generator
and, among others, got these: The poisoned Rose and The Mysterious
Yacht. I’ve forgotten the rest. Couldn’t find anything else that was
remotely interesting. It made me wonder if some of these sites are
condescending and expect that you’re unable to think for yourself. The issue
here is that if you’re uncertain about what to write, it’s seen as a failure.
There is a difference though. For me, it’s easy to figure out what my novels
are about – there was always this urge to write and explore the flawed family
theme. You may ask why. But the answer won’t be to find in this essay.
With short stories and especially flash
fiction, the situation is different. It’s a media that I tend to see as a
playing ground. Sometimes the ideas come easily. At other times, I draw a
blank. Tonight is such a night. No matter, the search for prompts made me think
about writing. There is an endless theme.
What strikes me about writing prompts is
that getting three random, or seemingly random, words work better for me. It’s
probably because three words that don’t have a superficial connection pushes my
brain to make associations. Voila, the start shot reverberates through my mind.
Free association is a psychological tool that works for scientists
(Psychiatrists) as well as musicians (composer/songwriter) and authors. Looking
back at the two prompts I noted, they appear closed in on themselves. Should
one mix them up though, the situation might change. We won’t use ‘the’ but
mysterious, rose, yacht, poisonous. Perhaps one adjective is enough.
Rose/Poison/Mysterious/Yacht? Is that
better? Let me see. Free association brings up Belladonna. A rose is a flower,
A foxglove is a poisonous flower and the poison you get from it is belladonna.
A beautiful lady can be called a rose. A beautiful lady could be rich too (it
isn’t a must) but a rich lady could possess a yacht. There: we’ve connected
rose/poison/yacht. What about mysterious? How to bring that into the
There is something mysterious about
beautiful ladies. Is that enough? That is an interesting sentence. It could be
spoken by a man thwarted in love. Of course, he could be rich and possess the aforementioned
yacht. Would our lover be thwarted badly enough to become murderous? Would he
take her out on his yacht and make short work of getting rid of her?
How? With poison, and a stone to weigh her down? Does he do this kind of action
often? If so, he has evolved into a serial killer.
We have a story growing with hardly any
effort. It’s true that being thwarted in love doesn’t necessarily make you a
serial killer – not even of beautiful ladies. On the other hand, there could be
a mystery buried in there. A genetic fault that he doesn’t know about. A
childhood trauma that is buried deep in his subconscious. That would open an
avenue for a psychologist – a criminal profiler – to take on the case. All of
this it’s up to the writer to make plausible and bring together in a coherent
plot. Without these jumps through several mental hoops – no story.
We’re far away from a logical plot, but
it’s just a matter of letting the ideas mature. Don’t force the issue. Let the
concept simmer for a while. The essence will generate a story – sooner or
later. This is a game, but it helps to stimulate the creative muscles. So much
Next up is writing the story. Come to think of it, this idea is so complex that it could be fleshed out to a mystery novel or a thriller. If it must be a short story, it might be sensible to discard part of the associative ideas. Leave out the mystery and you have a revenge story. Leave out the beautiful lady – and you could write nonfiction about poisonous flowers. Not so appealing maybe, but people need to know about nature’s dangers. There are too many vegetable poisons. You don’t need a speckled band to traverse a small hole in a wall for creating suspense.
Touching the Wire is about
guilt and shame. It analyses complexities that we habitually manage to avoid.
It’s about surviving under impossible conditions – or chose the only way out. It’s
about facing life when you wish to die. This book takes its readers down the
abyss and leaves us no option but facing the horror that is deep inside every
Shame and guilt are hard
taskmasters. Rebecca Bryn shows the agony and regret, the love lost and the
emptiness – the pain — and the forgiveness. Her strong prose makes the protagonist’s
humanity realistic. She creates a balance between his background and remorse. Here
is a vivid and absorbing read that will make you think — and think again.
James Donaldson, Witching Hour
An Entertaining take on Cults
A doomsday setting, a blood
cult, a damsel in distress. A hero who takes on an entire village in an
endeavour to debunk the myth that holds the cult together. The elements of
Donaldson’s Witching Hour are simple,
but he adds some unexpected twists. The proverbial brawny henchmen add comic
relief, but the protagonist, the hero, Nash knows how to fight. Nash’s thoughts
sustain the plot in an entertaining read that will keep his readers enthralled.
Kate McGinn, Winter’s Icy Caress
FBI, Vengeance, Ice, Love,
McGinn is a good writer – I read one of her short articles, which was
brilliant. In the hope that her novel writing would have the same standard, I
bought Winter’s Icy Caress. There is much to say for her writing, the prose flows
and the storyline benefits from her skill. On a personal note, her heroine’s
obsession with her love interest’s looks became repetitive. Other than that, the
plot was engaging with many twists and turns. McGinn keeps her readers
Cindy Davis, Final Masquerade
to Escape the Mob
her fiancé murder his best friend pivots Paige Carmichael onto a headlong
flight. Without time to consider the danger, she takes some money and a
precious coin out of her fiancé’s safe. Then she absconds with her booty. Her
hope that clever disguises will help her gain safety backfires again and again.
So far, this novel doesn’t distinguish itself from most suspense fiction. What
makes it stand out is that the protagonist learns that there’s more to life
than shopping and looks. At first, a shallow character, Paige learns that friendship,
honest work, trust, and love for pets,
as well as humans, enriches life. Recommended
Carol Marrs Phipps & Tom Phipps,
Wham is a fitting title to a dystopian
scenario that hits you between the eyes. There are elements of Margaret Atwood
in the class divisions, but the authors have their own style. They bring across
their message with compelling prose. The characters, be they elves, fairies,
wizards, potentates, or ‘ordinary’ school children, are convincing and real.
The world building is as strong, and the wasteland of the ‘normal’ world
contrasts resoundingly with the hidden fairy country. As the first book of a
series, it sets the scene for coming adventures. Here, my personal view is that
‘Wham’ is too short.
me, the problem with series is that the necessary hook often leaves the reader
without a sense of closure. True, if the ending is definite, there’s no reason
to continue. All the same, there are several examples of series (e.g. by Guy
Gabriel Kay or Ursula Le Guin) where every part has a conclusion, although the
readers want to know what happens next.
doesn’t detract from the excitement and heart-stopping agitation that Wham gives its audience.
Soleil Daniels, Halfborn
Confrontation with Guilt
hides. Her occupation is staying away from people — unless her needs force her
hand. That’s when she seeks society, knowing that she must clean up afterwards.
Money isn’t a problem, but her cravings are. Mostly she is in control and does
only what is necessary. Enter Marshall Kevin O’Neal, and Coral’s life changes
forever. She loses control for the first time in her life and there’s no way
back — neither for her nor for him. His suffering makes her aware that there
are questions to answer. The only problem is that she doesn’t know where to
find the necessary knowledge.
then on Coral’s life becomes one long trip. She must tackle her guilt, although
she has no idea of the reasons behind her action. She and Marshall go on the
road, to escape the consequences of their actions and to find out what they’ve
is strong meat and an unusual twist on vampire mythology. Daniels presents an
allegory that shows how lack of knowledge can pull people out of their comfort
zone. Bonded in their lust and guilt, Coral and Marshall must learn who they
are or face the consequences.
characters are believable and engaging, but more than that, their troubled
journey creates a brooding backdrop for the conflict they face.
William Gareth Evans, Within the Glass Darkly
Traditional Vampire Tale.
draws on the original vampire mythology, as narrated by Sheridan Le Fanu and Bram
Stoker. Their inspiration partly originates in Hungary, with Countess Elizabeth
Báthony (1560-1614), a serial killer of
magnificent proportions. It may not be the greatest wonder that the vampire
idea caught on in the nineteenth century, when female sexuality was ignored,
and male sexuality was repressed.
spins his tale, using some of the well-known Le Fanu characters, as well as
Bram Stoker’s Dracula and Van Helsing. The action takes place around the
Parisian Vampire Theatre that Anne Rice celebrates in her vampire series.
all these references, it is astounding that WGE manages to present his personal
take on the mythos. He does it with panache and conviction, adding his own
ideas and bringing his celebration of this bloodthirsty chapter in literary
history to life. The introduction of a male counterpart to Carmilla, works
wonders. The age-old vampire is a formidable fiend. His first killings make
your hair stand on end. To find out more, read Within the Glass Darkly.
Millie Thom, Shadow of the Raven
Balance among Vikings
Mercia, the Vikings raid with impunity. That makes it easy for an envious
brother to stage fratricide and usurp power. The true king’s family suffers the
consequences. Millie Thom brings the political tensions, the greed and
resentment to life. There is a gallery of believable characters, led by to
boys, Eudwulf and Alfred. Through his captivity and thraldom, Eudwulf becomes
familiar with Danish everyday life. To survive, he gets involved and learns to appreciate
that Vikings aren’t all monsters. That doesn’t mean that he stops wishing for
revenge, both against the Viking that killed his father and against the Mercian
Traitor. Back in Mercia, Alfred lives a
toddler’s life, although he early develops an awareness that not everybody can
Ms Thom shows her deep understanding of the historical period and presents her readers with a vivid tapestry of heroes and villains, Christianity and Norse mythology, day to day life, festivities, and raids. The battles are brutal. The love scenes are mesmerising. In short, nothing is missing in this glimpse of ancient times. A well-rounded read that is engrossing from the beginning to the end. Highly recommended.