Posted in fiction, FYI, Uncategorized

Love Romance. Want a Soulmate Divination.

Yep, June’s shaping up to be full of love and romance, especially for me as I’m holding a stall this Sunday, 4 June 2017, at the Africa Online Book Fair on Facebook.

I’m talking books (mostly romance), playing some games, and giving away 2 free complete Relationship/Soulmate Divinations to 2 lucky people.

This divination also worked a treat for my #writerstarot when I got the whole plot for the sequels to two of my stories. I’ll be sharing those audio readings at the fair too. My stall is up from 1pm-2pm GMT+2 (unless it’s daylight savings over at GMT, then it’s GMT+1).

So, say hi to me and all the other wonderful writers too. It’s all free, no tickets needed, from 2-4 June 2017. Catch you there!

Posted in book review, fiction, FYI

Book Review: Distant Origins — LARC1: Not so distant Archeology, Mythology and Colonization

Book Review: Distant Origins
Author: S Shane Thomas
Genre: Science Fiction
Format: novel

I received a review copy.

In brief:

S Shane Thomas introduces us to the main themes, technologies and characters of his LARC universe in this action-packed and, at times, too fast-paced story. Distant Origins, the first book of the LARC1 series, begins with a human colony and ends with multi-species co-existing and planning for the future. For the most part, I was once again left in awe at Thomas’ imagination, plot twists and his weaving of ancient history, deities, and historic figures into a whirlwind of action.

 

The Whole story:

xdistantoriginscover-jpg-pagespeed-ic-qxvu0qam45LARC1 is the first human colony to leave Earth in the near future, utilising technology gained from the spaceship Atlantis. Two suitable planets are discovered for colonisation: Haran, home to the Pneuma feudal civilisation, and Nibiru which is apparently free of sentient life. The colony settles on Niburu after an abortive contact attempt with the king of Haran, taking two Pneuma children with them.

On Nibiru, the colonists soon discover remains of advanced technology proving the gifted descendants of Pneuma, and that the Anki had built the Atlantis and influenced human history significantly. As the colony settles in, other species abducted by the Anki are found, and technological breakthroughs advance the colonies resources at an astonishing rate. At the same time, the relics of the Anki’s security system are activated, so threatening the existence of humans in that solar system.

Our heroes and heroines find themselved fighting not just for civilization and higher values, but for their lives and loves too.

What I loved about this story:

I was never bored with this action-packed story. The main characters’ open-mindedness and acceptance of all species and cultures (along with their teamwork) was a mental and emotional balm after going through my social media feeds. The technology (especially the LARC1 colony ship with its design and the way it was adapted to serve the colony even on landfall) really intrigued me.

Having read A Palaeolithic Fable first, it was great to get to know more about Bobby, Nabu and the origins of the shugarra. Having Pringar, a non-human narrator, also worked well for me.

What I thought could be better:

While Distant Origins is a fun read, there was much that I thought could be better. I was disappointed that some plot threads were dealt with so quickly and contained the odd inconsistency. I wanted the story to slow down at times so I could digest all the new developments and characters. I honestly wanted this book to be longer, or a series, so I could enjoy the developing plot points and characters more.

And on a technical note, I’d prefer having Pringar’s POV differentiated from others, at least visually.

So what did I learn from this whole experience?

I learned that I’m seriously into the LARC universe and Thomas’ stories now. I was reminded of some mythology I’d forgotten. And that I might actually enjoy reading epic sci-fi again.

Rating: 4/5

I Recommend to: lovers of ‘80s/90’s Saturday morning sci-fi and manga, quest-addicted gamers, classic sci-fi and fantasy readers

Posted in fiction, Reviews of Smashwords eBooks, Uncategorized

Harcourt’s Mountain by Elaine Dodge

Book Review: Harcourt’s Mountain
Author: Elaine Dodge
Genre: Historical Fiction/Historical Romance
Format: novel

I won this eBook in a contest.

In brief:

Harcourt’s Mountain reads like a good frontier mini-series complete with a damaged mountain man; a sensible, sweet heroine; and a supporting cast of colourful characters with generous hearts or dastardly intentions.

The Whole story:

I was surprised to win this eBook. I was even more surprised to find myself thoroughly savouring and enjoying it; surprised because while I often enjoy historical fiction and romance fiction, I don’t often enjoy them together – unless it’s a Judith Merkle Riley or M.M. Kaye. So bravo to Elaine Dodge for this greatly satisfying novel.

Harcourt’s Mountain is set during the gold rush in British Columbia when brides could be bought at auctions, mountains could be won in poker games, and sailors could be press-ganged into sailing around the horn of South America.
Luke Harcourt, ex-navy and now apple-tree grower, buys Hope Booker at a bride auction. Unlike most brides, Hope can’t remember how or why she was on the bride-ship, and only knows that she doesn’t belong there. Unlike most buyers, Luke only buys Hope’s freedom out of pity and to save her life. Time eventually sees the thorny and kind-hearted Luke fall madly for the gentle, spirited Hope. Yet just when it seems their happiness is set to stay, their love is tested in a most arduous way.

What I loved about this story:

The setting is so rich. It was easy for me to dive right into the story again as I read it through my lunchtimes. Dodge’s exploration of the harsh frontier life, especially of the ‘brides’ and their fates was, at times, shocking. But, at the same time, it was these very details and observations which elevates this story, in my opinion.
Hope and Luke make a sweet couple who earn each other’s trust and love in believable ways.

And the supporting characters are all stars! From the Lees with their care of their friends to Mr Samson and his livery, from Adam and his clan to (my favourite) Wolf, the wolf-dog; they all bring a depth to the story and make Harcourt’s Mountain a place you’d want to visit.
The villains are varied, too, with predictable and satisfying motivations.

And Elaine Dodge does great research which makes for great scenes in her story – the mark of a good historical novel.

What I thought could be better:

There are some plot twists which seem a little too contrived. In particular, I thought Hope’s ex-fiance turning up in Silver Birch, of all places, was just a little bit of a stretch. Fortunately, this didn’t lessen my enjoyment of the story.

So what did I learn from this whole experience?

British Columbia, during the gold rush, was dangerous place for a lady. The Nlaka’pamux have/had a fishing festival, and the wealth of a mountain isn’t always in its minerals or timber.

Rating: 5/5

Recommended to: lovers of:  the movie Gunless, historical frontier stories, and Dr Quinn.

Website       Goodreads       Smashwords   

Posted in fiction, FYI

When Three Million’s A Crowd…

Second Chances are important to me, especially as the people I’m giving them to don’t often realise it. I can’t tell you the number of times I wanted to slap someone with a wet fish and yell at them, “This is your second chance, you great galumph!”
Fortunately, I can make things a lot easier (and less fishy) for my characters…though sadly, not for me:-)

You see, in my latest story, Vivian and Munro aren’t as good at tip-toeing around issues like me, and as for subtlety…

Truth be told, not many of the characters in Three Million’s A Crowd do have subtlety, after all, most of the story does happen during the filming of a reality TV show similar to the Amazing Race. Which once again raised a very important question for me as a writer (and possibly for most contestants of similar shows) namely: how do you address sensitive and vital issues with the evil-eyed lenses of TV cameras daring you to make a fool of yourself?

Seriously, how would you? And can you think of anything more scary?

Would you:

Avoid that talk all together?
Wait until the cameraman is on a break?
Break the camera or the cameraman…? (OK, that’s mean. Like really mean!)
Duck away from the cameras and have that little talk?

Or is there something I’m missing here? Something I’ve been getting wrong all my life and would have saved me some metaphorical fish? Is there a way to subtly address the vital matter at hand without revealing to an audience of strangers some very private matters? I mean, do you want John and Jane Doe (with their last breaths) telling you what you should have said to win back your beloved in this week’s episode?

My solution as a logical person?
Don’t address vital do or die matters while on a popular reality TV show.

My solution as a writer?
Let the characters lead the way. Let the characters have their say.
Far from subtle…but less messy and much more lucrative for Viv and Munro:-D

Three Million’s A Crowd is a novella available only in the Second Chances – A Love Anthology. You can read an excerpt here, and the first part of the first chapter here.

Posted in fiction, FYI, Recycled Book Reading Challenge, Uncategorized

Recycled Book Review: He Huffed and He Puffed

Here’s my long delayed review. What can I say, when I’m late, I’m really late!

He huffed and He Puffed Barbara Paul cover

He Huffed and He Puffed by Barbara Paul

Mliae over at LifeExperimentblog has a challenge for us bookish and environmentally concerned ones: the Recycled Book Review Challenge. Each month, you are challenged to reach to the highest (or lowest levels) of your bookshelf, withdraw a book long forgotten or beloved, one that was bought from a secondhand/charity shop, dust it loving off, and read and review the book for us. Pingback to LifeExperimentblog and see which other books surfaced this month.

I was looking for a short quick read, one I could lay aside at a moment’s notice. I picked wrong. I found this story quite engrossing and finished reading the book within two days instead of the estimated week.

Barbara Paul – an author I haven’t come across again since I bought this book back in the ‘90’s – has written a solid suspense novel just perfect for a long trip or a cold weekend, especially if you’re going through an ‘80s phase.
I, in all probability, bought this book for its cover; a wolf and a violin, how could I have resisted…

He huffed and He Puffed detaill cover

So what’s it about:

A whodunnit set firmly in the 1980’s with a Sunday afternoon movie cast of characters.

Despicable millionaire, AJ Strode (the wolf), acquires and plunders companies and people’s lives with impunity until he decides to acquire House of Glass.
To get his paws on the controlling stock, Strode has to persuade one of three other stockholders to sell him their holdings.
This proves a greater challenge when he realizes that each of the three are unwilling to sell, especially to him. Even more distressing, all three have just as questionable ethics as Strode, all three have probably murdered before, and all three have never been caught letting their masks slip.

Strode unwisely decides to play a nasty game. He collects evidence to blackmail all three, then invites them to his home for a weekend, allowing only one the option to sell to him and so prevent their crime from coming to light.

Naturally he ends up very dead, leaving us with three solid suspects for the police.

What I like about it:

It was very difficult to like any of the characters in this story, yet I could not stop reading it. I found it well written. I really wanted to see all of the characters reveal themselves and get their comeuppance. And, of course, to see who the killer was, and how they might have gotten away with it.

So, in short, I thought He Huffed and He Puffed has a great suspense whodunnit plot with slightly stereotypical characters who work well in this story because I don’t really care about them…Don’t ask me how, but it works!

Strange fact:

Technology has advanced quite a lot since this book was written and some scenes may not work so well if you don’t take that into account. So, as a writer, it’s made me a little more aware of how to portray technology in suspense/crime stories.

PS. See who else has been recycling reads over here.

Posted in fiction, FYI, Pinime, quotes, Uncategorized

PiniMe: Integrity

Alan Dean Foster quote gender good writing attract

The one and only Alan Dean Foster — writer, educator, adventurer and creator of many of your favourite sci-fi and fantasy worlds —  is the guest of this week’s interview for my sci-fi/fantasy feature over at InBetweener.

You can read my interview with Alan Dean Foster here.

I chose this quote to share with you because:

So many writers are writing to someone else’s prescription, when all they have to do is write what the story demands. That way lies integrity. That way  makes you good enough, if only to your own worst critic — yourself.

How do you define integrity in your art and writing?

 

Posted in fiction, FYI, Pinime, quotes, Uncategorized

PiniMe: Why Draw, paint, sketch…?

Shannon Legler Illustrator quote drawing details love

Shannon Legler, illustrator and creature creator,  is the guest of this week’s interview for my sci-fi/fantasy feature over at InBetweener.

You can read my interview with Shannon Legler here.

I chose this quote to share with you because:

I thought this was a such  a cool reason to draw, paint, create…if you do in fact need one.

Do you need a reason to draw, paint, create? If so, what would it be?

 

Posted in fiction, FYI, Pinime, quotes, Uncategorized

PiniMe: Resilence

Jason Rennie Editor SciPhi Journal succeed fail quote b

Jason Rennie, the editor of Sci-Phi  Journal, is the guest of this week’s interview for my sci-fi/fantasy feature over at InBetweener.

I chose this quote to share with you because:

Sometimes we need a simple reminder of how to find resilience. Keep it simple. Find it easier 😀

You can read my interview with Jason Rennie here.

Posted in fiction, FYI, Pinime, quotes, Uncategorized

PiniMe: A Noble Human Thing

Christoph Weber Writer Arborist poet conquer darkness

Christoph Weber, a new writer in the science fiction and fantasy genre, kicked off my sci-fi/fantasy feature this May over at InBetweener.

I chose this quote to share with you because it resonated with me, and I know that many of us bloggers have been fighting the same darkness in the form of depression, chronic illnesses and fear caused by this uncertain and bewildering period that we’re currently facing.

I thought you’d like to know that someone is celebrating your bravery 😀

You can read my interview with Christoph Weber here.

Not this Arnold, the other one!
Hey Arnold!

And if you need a laugh, you can see what happened when Arnold answered Christoph’s phone for him over on his blog here or here.

Not this Arnold, the other one!

Posted in fiction, Uncategorized

Does this sound like a hero you’d watch?

As part of the Introduction to Screenwriting Course  that I’m doing (one of the reasons I fell off the face of the earth this week), we were asked to work on a character from a movie or of our own making.

As my project, I’ve worked on Rob Hart, the hero of my novel Settle Down Now.
He’s been a bit problematic, you see. Most readers of Settle Down Now dislike him intensely and don’t think he’s worth Charmaine’s time.

So I’d like to know what you think from my assignment. Does Rob Hart sound like a hero to you?

I  had to quickly jot down his major actions, then deduce his needs and wants, then describe his character.

Character: Rob Hart

Actions:

Defeats pirates to save Charmaine and The Sunflower.
Confesses to Charmaine that he loves, but doesn’t act on it.
Confronts Charmaine about past, scaring her.
Risks life to chop away fallen mast to save Charmaine and The Sunflower.
Constantly makes snarky, insulting remarks to Charmaine to convince himself he hates her, and ensure that she dislikes him.
Threatens to sabotage the show, but never does.
Carries Steve’s package, even though he’s not so sure it’s a good idea.
Accepts the show’s offer despite it meaning he’ll have to deal with Charmaine in his life again, telling himself it’s for The Sunflower’s good.
Remembers Charmaine and the pain.
Takes Steve’s advice and contacts the shows producers to offer The Sunflower as transport/venue for the show.
Takes measures to ensure he forgets Charmaine.
Falls in love with Charmaine in Scotland despite himself.

Robs needs and wants:

Wants: to hate Charmaine, earn enough money to keep The Sunflower running, to be loved and settled, to have a sailing lifestyle.
Needs: money, to explain himself to Charmaine, to be loved by Charmaine, to feel not a failure at everything.

Psychology:

intelligent, sly, drily humorous, resourceful, charming, generally in control of self, own worst enemy, a realist, wary/distrustful

Described as:

not the easiest going guy, a retired ladies’ man, active, dependable, predictable, selfish, self-absorbed

Physical:

Tall and lean, bright eyes, greying dark hair, quick movements, energetic, active, sea-farers complexion, long-fingered.

m_Rob on Charmaine

So, is it thumbs up for Rob, or a rotten tomato?