Saturday, August 31, 2013

How I Hate Revisions - well maybe I do

I finished my first rough draft of An English Summer back in May of this year.  Great I thought!  Now I will do some editing, send it over to a beta reader and then off to a publisher.  Hah...was my next thought.  It is not that simple; not unless you're Clive Cussler or Emily Mah Tippetts.  Then you can get away with one rough draft plus one or two edits.  But not me!  No, I'm a new writer and have so much to learn.

And what have I learned you ask.  I learned that I have several words that I like to use repeatedly.  They are: that, what and okay.  I also like to use the phrase of course a lot.  I did one edit where I went through and removed most of the thats and whats.  Then someone in my critique group noticed I used a lot of okay.  Usually that would be fine as there weren't that many of them used.  The problem is, okay is a 20th Century word and my novel is set in the 19th Century.  So, going through the manuscript I changed 90% of the okays to alright with the other 10% to fine.  Alright did not fit every time and fine was a better choice.  Not the kind of usage of fine the way a woman says it today.  But more like, yes, I'm fine.  So it worked out okay.

I also learned that I use a lot of compound sentences.  I have attached two perfectly good sentences that can stand on their own by adding the word AND.  It's unnecessary and makes me look/sound dumb.  I have gone through and reworked the sentences to either stand on their own to read as one sentence to convey the message without the use of AND.

At first my two main characters were to be Magnolia and Penelope with Aspen being a side character.  Turns out that Aspen pushed Penelope out of the way and took second place.  She also pushes her sister around in the story.  You'll have to read it find out what I mean.

So, as I work with someone on what I hope is the last edit, please get in gear to buy my book once it's published and enjoy the read.

And I really don't hate revisions.  They are a necessary evil so we will get readers.

Brenda Birch Gallaher

Sunday, August 25, 2013

1 Star review for Past Suspicion by Therese Heckenkamp

I received "Past Suspicion" by Therese Heckenkamp free in exchange for an honest review.  Heckenkamp’s writing for the most part was good.  There were a few errors, but we will place that blame on the editor.  That is the editor’s job to check for, find and fix any such mistakes.  The really big glaring mistake Heckenkamp did was what a majority of people do.  She used the term “Victorian style” to describe her protagonist’s uncle’s house.  There is no such thing.  It is Victorian Era.  There are quite a few style that came fourth during the Victorian Era such as Italianate.  Again, her editor should have known the difference.
To the story itself, I’m even less impressed.  It was touted as a Christian Romance story.  It was more of a religious story.  Every third page or so there was some religious reference.  It is quite overtly Catholic.  It really was a put off.  I don’t like reading such books.  I read an Amish love story once and that was enough.  If I want to read an overtly religious books, that’s what I’ll do.  I’ll go and read one of my church books.  Not a novel that I’m reading for please, for an escape from reality for awhile.  There was another author I read that did a trilogy.  The first book had a little reference, the second book and the third was just too much.  Then she wrote more books in the serious and I won’t be reading them.  But to each their own.
Heckenkamp’s protagonist Robin finds herself an orphan at age 17 and is forced to move from California to Wisconsin to live with an uncle she never knew existed.  She wants to return as quickly as possible to California.  This sounds like the great beginning of a book.  That’s where it ended.  She does a prolog, and it’s supposed to set up the book.  By chapter 9 the prolog still does not make any sense.  It could have been left out entirely or used as back story throughout the novel.
I was so bored with the book that I gave up at the end of Chapter 8.  When Robin works in her uncle’s bookstore she meets two young men, two young men totally different.  At the end of the meeting of the second young man I had figured out which one was going to be the good guy and which one was going to be the bad guy.  I skipped to the end of the book, read the last chapter and the epilog.  I was right on which one was the good guy.  I’m not going to bother to read the rest of the book.  I really don’t care about what happens to Robin, her uncle or the two boys she meets.

Theresa Heckenkamp’s writing was good, I just did not care for her story.  I sincerely hope she does well.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Jordan River Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

The Jordan River Temple is the house of the Lord.  A place where someone can go and become closer to God and His son Jesus Christ.  I know this post has nothing to do with writing, but since it's Sunday, I thought it was a good post to make.  I hope everyone is enjoying their Sabbath.

Heartkeeper by B.T. Lyons

Book One in the Heartkeeper Saga

Heartkeeper is free on Amazon

“People of the Field, of the Cave, of the Forest, and of the Mountain, and all the places and habitats in between, our race is able to gather here tonight because in time past we found that we were not the warden of the Earth, but the Earth was our warden, our sustainer, our parent...”

Mankind has survived the near-collapse of life as they knew it, now living in harmony with the world around them.  Adain, a young Tenderfoot of this Future Earth, is about to take part in his Heart Chase – the search for a companion animal spirit that will act as his companion and conscience for the rest of his life.  Success in the Heart Chase and surviving the subsequent Trials over the year ensures his place amongst the People as an adult, but failure means his certain death...
...and his whole future lies on the Heart of a mouse.

Heartkeeper  is the first book in the “Heartkeeper Saga”, an epic adventure of friendship, challenges, and danger as humans struggle to regain their foothold in a new world that is no longer theirs to control.  Can they survive in balance with the Earth, or will the Earth decide they no longer belong?

It's a new year, a new batch of Tenderfeet, and a new Heart Chase... but it is not the joyous occasion it has been for generations.

Shan, a Tenderfoot from devastated Sunperch Village, wants nothing to do with Hearts, the Heart Chase, or the Trials.   All he wants is for the surviving children of his home to be safe... and he's willing to do anything to protect them.

Cill, now the youngest Heartsworn ever chosen by the People, is thrust headlong into a side of his People's culture that is changing daily, where the answers to life's challenges are never easy and what is “right” is not as obvious as it once seemed.

New alliances will be forged, an entire way of living will be questioned, and the mystery of the Hearts and the Guardians deepens in  Heartbound, Book Two of the Heartkeeper Saga.

Interesting Facts:
One thing that makes this cover extremely exciting is that the artwork was created by the author herself! (To see more of her art, check out her  art page on her website.) 

The novella of Heartkeeper was featured in Clean Teen Publishing's break through anthology,  Wonderstruck  and has received numerous outstanding reviews. When B.T. Lyons accepted our invitation to submit a full length novel for this fantastical story, we were so pleased. All of us at CTP are super excited to have such a talented artist and writer on our team!

Get to know the Author

 Top 10 List from B.T. Lyons:

B.T. Lyons' List of Top Ten Books – Appropriate for Many Ages
I never grew up, and my favorite books reflect that very clearly.   I am just as likely to curl up with a children's book as I am with the latest Dan Brown or Stephen King.   For this list I have compiled my favorite books of all time that can be enjoyed by young adult readers and up, with many on the list appropriate for children of all ages.   In the spirit of Clean Teen Publishing's content disclosure policy, I've made notes about anything that parents or readers may want to be aware of ahead of time.   I've marked these with a star and a brief description of what they include so that you may use your best judgment; however, it should be noted that all of these books are common in middle or high school libraries (if not the children's section) in schools in many countries, and have been enjoyed by readers for years, so please do not think that a notation of “adult situations” is the equivalent of the content of an adult magazine, for example.   Those marked with a star are ones that I would take a look at before handing them to a child under twelve if the notes are of concern to you.
1.)    *Watership Down  by Richard Adams –  not just a simple story about bunnies, this is a remarkable book about freedom, oppression, and survival by wits.   Not to mention it has some of the best modern fairy tales (for rabbits) ever written snuck into some of the chapters.   The animated movie of this book is a Christmas broadcast tradition in the U.K. . (Includes violence between animals, references to natural animal behaviors of adult nature)
2.)    *Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch  by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett –  very simply the funniest romp in the Apocalypse you will ever take.   I also blame the authors for being prophetic themselves, for after reading this book my 1976 Toronado got “The Best of Queen” jammed in its 8-Track player.   You'll have to read the book to understand. (Mild language, references to adult situations, violence, references to drinking and smoking; reader MUST have a sense of humor in relation to Christianity and religion to appreciate this one.)
3.)    *The Cat Who Went To Heaven  by Elizabeth Coatsworth –  a Newbury Award-winning children's book that everyone should read, about a cat in ancient Japan.   Bring tissues. (Emotional ending; though this is a children's book, if your child has lost a pet recently, read it first before deciding if it is the right time for your child to enjoy it.)
4.)    Momo  by Michael Ende –  little-known on the American side of the pond, this book by the author of  The Never Ending Story  will be loved by anyone, but will be especially appreciated by those who never seem to have enough time.
5.)    The Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle Series  by Betty MacDonald –  these classic books are wonderful for young children, bedtime reading, and threatening those who don't want to take a bath or don't clean their room with delightful magical cures for misbehaving.
6.)    *The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy  by Douglas Adams –  brilliant British humor about the destruction of the Earth, how to travel for free between the stars, the answer to Life, the Universe, and Everything, and why you should never go anywhere without a towel.   (Mild language, adult situations, violence, references to drinking and smoking.)
7.)    *Tailchaser's Song  by Tad Williams –  incredible tale about a cat's journey to the ends of the earth and beyond to find his lost friend.   Blows the “Warrior Cats” series out of the water. (Violence between animals.)
8.)    *The Jungle Books  by Rudyard Kipling –  THE classic children's stories with talking animals. Though I rarely recommend a movie based on a story as much as a book, don't miss Chuck Jones' (of Bugs Bunny and the Grinch fame) animated version of  Rikki Tikki Tavi  if you can find it. (Violence between animals.)
9.)    *Childhood's End  by Arthur C. Clarke –  one of the best science fiction books ever written, hands down.   Deep, philosophical, and for more advanced readers.   Extremely impressive as a book report.   (Mildly written but emotionally powerful.)
10.)                   *Anything by Mark Twain –  no top ten list is complete without Samuel L. Clemens.   My personal favorites (although I love all of his writings) are  A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court  and the short story  The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County.   (Works may include racial references that were common at the time of the writing but are considered offensive by today's standards.)

B.T. Lyons was born in 1973, growing up in Boylston, Massachusetts, and lived her early life working on the family goat farm and learning wilderness survival skills in the surrounding woodlands.  She is a jack-of-all-trades, having worked as everything from a zookeeper to bookstore manager, to a horror theme park actress, to a radio personality, to a builder of utility trucks. In a current fit of happy mid-life crisis, she is a history major at South Dakota State University in Brookings, SD.

She shares her home with her husband and her thirteen-year-old daughter, as well as a rat terrier, a Pomeranian, a ball python, and a rotating guest list of foster animals from the local humane society. B.T. is a rabid video game addict, and also enjoys drawing and creating various Neolithic-style handcrafts as her other hobbies. Her role models include Jim Henson, Jackie Chan, Hiyao Miyazaki, and Bill Cosby, and she is inspired by authors such as Richard Adams, Tad Williams, and Ray Bradbury.

Connect with B.T. Lyons: 

Saturday, August 10, 2013

5 Star Review of Isabelle Webb Legend of the Jewel by N.C. Allen

I have met NC Allen and she signed my book.  But, she did not give me the book in exchange for an honest review.  I had bought the book about six month before I had met her and I had so many other books to read that I finally got around to this one.  I was at a writing conference and she was kind enough to sign it for me.  This is the first in her Isabelle Webb series and I had already read the second book in the series.  She was kind enough to sign that one for me also.  No strings attached.  Here is my review.

Isabelle Webb is an injured Pinkerton spy.  The American Civil War is over, Lincoln is dead, she isn't talking to her sister and she and her ward Sally are traveling in London for rest.  Webb is a Yankee and her ward is a Rebel Southern Belle.  They are polar opposites.  Both had suffered during the war.  But they both depend on each other.

Of course being the first book in the series it sets up all of the characters and how they meet and who wants what and why.  Who gets shot, attacked by snakes in the jungle, who's chase by whom and so forth.

While in London Belle and Sally meet an American man named James who is looking for his brother Phillip.  His brother is in bad company and the young man was asked by his mother to retrieve his brother.  The two brothers are from Utah and so far he had been able to trace his brother to London.  Sally, being more open and younger, has convinced the two adults that the girls should tag along on his adventure to look for his brother.  After all, they are going in the same direction.  And so they do.

The story is about what happens on their way to India by boat and once they get to India in search of the young man.  Some of it is good as Isabelle's heart is beginning to open up to the possibility of love.  And the bad happens with murder and attempted murder.  Since I had read the second book first I already knew that some of the characters in this story would not survive til the last page.  But I did not know how they died so this was a good book to read.

Allen's writing is easy to read, and the story is good.  I would suggest this book to anyone fourteen and older.  It's a good clean adventure/romance novel that can be enjoyed by anyone.  It's a great historical romance for those who like those.  She describes India very well and the story is well worth reading.  There is a third book in the series so now I need to find it so I can see how the story continues.
This is the third book in the series that came out in March 2013.

Her blog is:

Allen also writes the Faith of our Fathers series.  I have not read those yet, but if they are anything like her Isabelle Webb series, they will be worth reading.

Monday, August 5, 2013

author interview with award winning David Handler

Today’s author interview is with David Handler.  David Handler is originally from California but now lives in Lyme, Connecticut.  He has written three distinct different series: Hoagy & Lulu, Danny Levine and Berger & Mitry.  My favorite is the Berger-Mitry series.  This August he comes out with a new series; Runaway Man.  His website is:

1.      You have been writing for a long time, in fact you have three very well received series.  What inspired you to write?
I've been writing ever since I went to work on my high school newspaper when I was fifteen. I discovered that I love to write.  And I've never lost the love.
2.      Do you still work off of that inspiration, or do you now have a new inspiration that you work from?
I tend to write about what’s happening in my life, so as I've evolved and grown my work has evolved and grown with me. Or so I tell myself!
3.      When did you write your first book?  When was it published? 
I started writing my first book, an autobiographical novel called “Kiddo,” when I was in my mid-twenties.  It took me ten years and 24 rejections before it was finally published ten years later in 1987.
4.      How many books do you publish per year?
Lately, I've been averaging a book a year.
5.      You have a new series that will be out in August.  Can you tell us a secret about it?
Absolutely not. That would be telling.
6.      What is your launch date for the new series?
August 20.
7.      Please give us a brief synopsis of your new series.  Help us fall in love with your new characters.
RUNAWAY MAN is the first novel of a new crime series about Benji Golden, a 25-year-old would-be actor, who works in his family’s struggling mom and pop business over a 24-hour diner on Broadway and W. 103rd Street in New York City. Golden Legal Services was started by Benji’s father Meyer Golden, a hero cop.  The business is now run by Benji’s mother, Abby, who used to be the only Jewish pole dancer in New York City, and is staffed by Lovely Rita, an eye-popping computer wizard who’s a former lap dancer.   Golden Legal Services is a private detective agency.  Baby-faced Benji, who is exactly one-quarter inch shy of five feet six, weighs a buck thirty-seven and answers to the nickname of Bunny, specializes in finding missing young people.  Runaways who've disappeared in the City’s seamy underbelly. When it comes to tracking down teen runaways there is no one in the City better than Benji. The kid is shrewd.  The kid is feisty.  The kid has been there.  He was a runaway himself.
8         What was the inspiration for your new series?
When I was a young reporter in New York City I had a chance to interview Ray Bradbury and he gave me the best piece of advice I've ever gotten: “Write what you love to read.” I love to read nuanced, sharply observant crime novels that feature smart, funny, flawed characters.  Characters who I’d to like to know. Recently, I was hunting around for just such a book to read and couldn't find what I was looking for.  That’s because most of the writers who I've come to know and love over the years, like Donald Westlake, Ross Thomas and Stuart Kaminsky, are no longer with us, I’m sorry to say.  So I simply decided to write one of my own.
9        Why a new series?  Why not just write more books in your current series?
I’m still writing the Berger-Mitry series. My next book, THE COAL BLACK ASPHALT TOMB, will be out in March.  One doesn't preclude the other. I can do both.
10    How does this new series stand out against your previous ones?
I’d say it’s consistent with what I've been doing all along. Probably the biggest change is that Stewart Hoag and Mitch Berger are both amateurs.  Hoagy is a failed novelist.  Mitch is a film critic whose lady love, Des Mitry, is a Connecticut State Trooper.  RUNAWAY MAN is my first private eye novel in the traditional sense.  Benji Golden is an actual licensed PI.

11    You attended Columbia Journalism School and then worked as a journalist.  How did you transfer from journalism into writing novels? 
It was always my dream to write novels.  I made the transition to story telling by way of television and movie writing, which I began doing when I was 26 in addition to my newspaper and magazine work.
12    What awards have you won for your writing?
I’ve won an Edgar Award and an American Mystery Award. I've been a finalist for an Anthony, a Dilys and a Derringer award.
13    Is there anything else you would like my readers to know about your writing?
Be prepared to have a wicked good time.

I want to thank David Handler for taking time out of his busy schedule to answer questions today for my blog.  I do appreciate your time.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Hazel's adventure, well at least the first three pages of it anyway...

Hello Followers.  Thank you for joining me today.  I have started a new novel.  No, I do not have a title for it as of yet, but it is about Hazel and her friends in high school.  It's a fantasy story.  So, I am posting my first three pages, and I want your feed back.  Is there enough "showing what I mean" instead of "telling" and does it read smoothly.  Tell me if you think something is out of place.  Do you want to read more?  If you don't want to read more, tell me why not.  thanks...


Chapter 1
            Hazel placed silverware and napkins on her lunch tray, paid the lady who sat at the register, picked her tray up and turned around.  All she could see was a sea of teenagers in the cafeteria and not an empty seat.  She sighed.  The noise that assaulted her ears was almost deafening.  As she scanned the room she found a table with a sole occupant.  She weaved her way through the tables filled with other students and stopped at the rear empty table.
            The blonde girl at the table looked up at Hazel and she asked, “Are you saving this for anyone or may I sit here?”
            “Uh…no…go ahead.”  The blonde blinked several times.
            “Thanks.”  Hazel put her tray down and then sat on the small round seat.  “I’m Hazel O’Quinn.  I’m new here.”  She put her hand out to shake.  The blonde took it reluctantly.
            “I’m Daisy Jones.”  She gave a weak smile.
            Hazel shook her milk carton and opened it before she took a huge swig.  “I’ve never been to a school with this many kids before.  There are so many.”  Hazel looked over her shoulder at the other students.  “What grade are you in Daisy?”
            “I’m a junior this year.  And you?”
            “I’m a junior also.  My homeroom teacher is Mrs. Cook.”
            “You’re across the hall from me.  I have Mr. James for a homeroom teacher.”  Daisy took a drink of Sprite.  “I heard the mayor’s granddaughter was going to start school here.  Is that you?”
            “Yes, but don’t let that scare you off.  My grandfather is a kind man.  He’s my mother’s father.”  She took a large bite of her cheeseburger.
A group of five bleached blonde girls approached Hazel from the right side.  The leader of the group tapped her on the shoulder.  She turned to look at them and grinned widely and showed perfect white teeth.  “I’m Adeline and you need to come and sit with me and my friends.”  Adeline was dressed like Lindsay Lohan when she went to court.  In other words, Hazel thought she was completely inappropriately dressed.  Her hair was bleached blonde and the girl wore enough makeup for two girls.
“Oh, I’m perfectly happy sitting where I am,” Hazel said after she swallowed.
“As the mayor’s granddaughter you should seriously consider whom you sit with.  If you choose the wrong people, then you may not make any friends.  No friends mean you will be an outcast at school and at school functions.  You really should not be sitting with Pushing Up Daisies.”
Daisy looked down at her lunch tray and did not move.
“I don’t think calling someone names is very nice.  And I’m happy sitting where I am.  Thank you.”  Hazel smiled.
“I really don’t think you understand.  Who you sit with on your first day will determine whom you will and will not be friends with.  Certainly people will not talk to you if you don’t choose wisely.”
“I think I have chosen wisely, but thank you for your concern.  If you’ll excuse me, I’d like to finish my lunch before the bell rings.”  Hazel returned to her food.
Adeline’s face turned a beat red and the four bleached blonde girls behind her gasped.  Adeline clinched her fists and stormed off.
“You shouldn’t have done that.  She is the most popular girl in school and she’s only a junior.”
Hazel lifted the right side of her mouth and her right shoulder.  “I don’t care.  It is rude to ask one person to come and sit with them and not the other person.  It’s uncalled for.”  She grabbed a few limp French fries and shoved them in her mouth; she savored the salt on them.  Daisy continued to eat her salad.
The two sat and ate quietly when the five girls returned with the assistant principal.  He was a tall skinny man that Hazel was sure if he tried he could fit through a wire coat hanger.  His name was Mr. Snod.  “Hazel,” he said.
 She looked up at him which made her slightly light-headed.  “Yes sir.”
“You need to come with me and sit at better table for lunch.”
Did she just hear him right?  Was he ordering her to move?  She looked at Adeline who stood next to Mr. Snod and she smiled like the Cheshire cat.  “Are you ordering us to move and sit somewhere else?”  She cocked her head in hopes of looking dumb.
“Not both of you.  You need to sit at a more appropriate table.”
“If this table isn’t appropriate for me how could it possibly be appropriate for Daisy?”  She cocked her head in the other direction and just stared at the assistant principal.
Mr. Snod leaned over and picked up her food tray.  He did not touch her purse.  “You need to move young lady.”
By this time other students in the cafeteria stared at what happened at Hazel’s table.  Before that she had been invisible.  She stood up and asked, “So you are ordering me to move?  I just want to make sure I understand so when I speak with my grandfather this afternoon I tell him the truth.  He wants me to tell him everything that happened the first day of school.  I just want to make sure that when I tell him I had to move lunchroom tables it is because you ordered me to, even though I did not want to move.”  She had a blank look on her face.
Mr. Snod replaced her tray on the table.  “Of course not, I’m not forcing you to move.  I…I was under the impression that you wanted to move, but didn’t know how to politely.”  He stepped back a few paces.
Hazel sat down.  “No sir, I am fine where I am sitting.  I do not wish to move.”
“Then enjoy your lunch Hazel.”  Mr. Snod quickly left the cafeteria.
Adeline, with fists clinched at her side, stomped her foot, made a nasty noise and stormed off.  The other four girls followed her.  The others in the lunchroom either laughed at Adeline as she passed or clapped loudly.  Hazel returned to her lunch and smiled at Daisy.
“I don’t think you should have done that.”
“Done what Daisy?  Not let some girl with too much makeup on tell me what I can and cannot do.  Or whom I can or cannot eat lunch with?”  pfftt….  “I do as I please.  My parents taught me to think for myself and to not let others bully me.  I’m not about to start now because I have to live with my grandfather.”
“She can make your life miserable.”  Daisy did not look at Hazel.
“Only if I let her.  On the other hand, if you didn’t want to eat with me, you should have said so before I sat down.”  She looked at the other girl without blinking.
“It’s not that.  I just know how mean she can be.”
“Who?”  A very handsome boy asked as he sat down next to Daisy.
Daisy answered, “Adeline tried to force Hazel to sit with her for lunch by getting Mr. Snod involved.”
“And you didn't move?”  Hazel found his golden eyes to be mesmerizing.  They went well with his golden hair.
“I am fine where I am.  I will sit where I want to.”
Daisy said, “This is my cousin Logan.  Logan, this is Hazel and it’s her first day.”
He smiled.  “I saw her in History class.  I sit in the back and I saw you take a front seat.  Why sit up front?”
“I like history; especially Egyptian and the 1800’s.  Why do you sit in the back?”
“It’s expected.  I’m the football captain.”  He nodded his head.
“That is sad, to expect our athletes to be dumb.”  She drank the rest of her milk and wiped away a milk mustache.
“Oh, he’s not dumb.  He gets A’s in everything except for history, then he gets only a B.”
“Maybe he could get an A if he sat in the front.”  The two girls giggled.
“I’m not good at remembering dates.  Besides, it doesn’t matter where I sit.  I just don’t get certain things when it comes to history.”
“I understand that.  I’m not the best in math, but I love history and science.”

End of lunch bell rang.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

iWriteNetwork: St. George Writing Retreat Announced

iWriteNetwork: St. George Writing Retreat Announced: Are you ready for this? You are not going to want to miss this one. It's time to take your writing to the next level. Join us. ...