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A Thousand Rooms #DBA

Book Review

A Thousand Rooms

You don’t wake up expecting to die.

Katie is thirty-two, single, and works in advertising. She’s also dead. A lost soul hitching rides with the dying, trying to find her way to… wherever she’s supposed to be.

And whoever she’s supposed to be with.

Heaven, it seems, has a thousand rooms. What will it take to find hers?

Review: Wow! I honestly didn’t know what to expect when I picked up this work. Shamefully, I hadn’t even bothered to read the synopsis first which is so out of character for me. Why? I couldn’t tell you. What I can tell you however, is A Thousand Rooms far exceeded any first impressions I may or may not have had regardless of my aforementioned neglect.

This is one of those rare books I simply couldn’t put down. I was immediately captivated from the first sentence, and became so completely engrossed that nothing else in the world mattered for a good few hours.

This story would make a great movie that for me would be something like a cross between Ghost, and What Dreams May Come… and some.

Jones’ creativity, originality, writing style, and storytelling skills are first-rate. This book ticks all the boxes for a five-star work.

Goodreads

Amazon UK

Amazon US

13 Comments

The Heart’s Journey Home

Book Review

The Heart’s Journey Home

Poetry for the soul. The Heart’s Journey Home is a collection of 23 poems that capture the essence of the fragility and the resiliency of our hearts; the brilliant beauty of life’s journey. We all love/loved deeply and most likely have been on both sides of goodbye. We know the immobilizing force of grief; we experienced hardships that have brought tears, revelations, and self-discoveries of strength unknown. These trials could easily dishearten us, but instead we are more loving, compassionate, and kind.
The Heart’s Journey Home is a collection of 23 poems titled: Reckless Words, Borrowed Angel, Nobody’s Fool, Silence of the Heart, Love’s Illusion, Fallen Angel, Let’s Dance, Where Does the Love Go, Young Love, Small Town Girl, Winter’s Gift, Destined to Fly, Eternal Love, The War Within, To my Sister on our 40th Birthday, Goodbye without Warning, Old Oak Tree, Names in the Sand, Can’t Let Go, Memories Linger, Caged Bird Sings, Surrender, and Heart’s Journey Home.

Review: My favourite poems from this collection are, Winter’s Gift, and Old Oak Tree. For me they had greater meaning and depth than the rest. However, I don’t doubt others will find different poems from this work equally touching depending on one’s own journey of the heart.

Ducey’s poetry has a pleasant rhythm and easy flow making it quite memorable in a comfortable way.

Goodreads

Amazon UK

Amazon US

16 Comments

Secrets of the Heart

Book Review

Secrets of the Heart

Synopsis: Emotionally scarred by personal tragedy, Tori Morgan needs to get away from Houston and figure out what to do with her life. Seeking refuge and time to think, she accepts a position at a remote ranch in Montana. Firmly convinced love happens once in a lifetime, she resigns herself to being alone.

Her new boss is the first complication in her plan. Mesmerized by his voice on the phone, she anticipates their first meeting with a mixture of anticipation and dread.

And rightfully so. Six feet four inches of man capped off with a potent sexuality that makes clear thinking difficult, Wade McBride wreaks havoc on her emotions from the start. To make matters worse, she discovers she must pretend to be his fiancée for the sake of her new patient.

Wade needed a nurse for his mother but got more than he bargained for in Tori. She was a breath of fresh air in world full of crap. Pretending to be in love with her seemed like a good idea at the time. The plan started out easy enough, even as they try to ignore the instant, heady desire percolating between them, unaware of danger watching from the shadows…

Review: Compared to other stories of the same genre, Secrets of the Heart certainly stands out for originality. The tragedy of two complete strangers mirror each other while fate seemingly draws them together at first as employer/employee with a pretence relationship. There is a lot of suspense surrounding the plot which makes it work really well. The characters are strong and the work is well-written and constructed. Originality and well-written prose go a long way for me even when a work belies my preferred genres. Hence the five-star rating.

Goodreads

Amazon UK

Amazon US

15 Comments

Book Talk – Of Coffee and Islands

Portrait_MMair_ByMaiu

I walk smiling out of the sunlight into my favorite little cafe, let my eyes (or rather my glasses) adjust to the change in light and look around. There she is, a touch of red in her black hair today, coffee already in front of her, head bent over a book. I grab a coffee myself before I walk over. She looks up when my shadow falls across her book. Then she smiles, puts it aside and says:

“Hello, hello! There you are, Margaret. Sit down.” She waves at the chair across from her, moves her coffee out of my way. “It’s been so long, too long, since we got together – good to see you! How’ve you been?”

I put my cup down quickly – it’s burning my fingers. “Good. And busy! Drawing, painting, writing, boat stuff, book stuff, grandparenting, life… You?”

“Busy too. There’s never enough time, is there?” She looks expectantly at the bag I’ve put on the small table. “Now – what is this book whereof you have been speaking? You’ve been building my expectations…”

I pull my slim volume out, hand it to her. My hand is only shaking a little bit. “Here.” Pause. Deep breath. Quick prayer. “So. What do you think? Islands, ten paintings, ten poems I wrote based on them, paintings and poems printed side by side.” I’m babbling. I shut up and wait.

Margaret Mair paintings

She opens it, pages through. “It looks beautiful. Such deep colours.” She stops to look and read before she looks up again. “Okay, I’ll bite. Why islands? And why ten?”

She’s always direct. That’s why I trust her. “Something to do with cruising around islands for two years. Small ones in the Bahamas, beautiful Bermuda, volcanic islands in the Azores, the Canaries, the Caribbean. Such remarkable landscapes, cliffs with so many different colours, places where islands seemed to rise straight out of the sea… So much raw beauty to work with. Of course, I injected a touch of imagination here and there.”

She laughs. “Just a touch?”

I smile back. “Maybe more? And ten because it’s a nice, round number to put into a small book. Besides, I already had ten island-themed paintings.”

“Hmm.” She nods. “Because the paintings were from that show you had?”

My turn to nod. “Ah, you remember. Yes, and because Edward Gajdel made me such high quality images of the paintings. He did a remarkable job of capturing the colours and textures, don’t you think?”

She looks again, pauses at a couple of pages. “Yes, he did.” She reads, looks up again. “And these poems? Where did they come from?”

She Rises_MMair_OriginalArt

Friends say I’m like an onion. I decide to peel away another layer. “Did I ever tell you I used to write poems when I was a teenager? You know the kind, full of storm and drama. Then when I was about sixteen I decided I didn’t have much to write about. So I stopped. Seemed reasonable. After that, except for the occasional odd – sometimes very odd – explosion of verse, I didn’t write any for years. But a few years ago a friend in a writing group challenged the rest of us to try writing different kinds of verse. How could I resist? I tried.”

“You did, eh? Somehow I don’t think these are the poems you wrote then.”

I smile. “Nope. I wrote some pretty terrible verses, several bad haiku, threw bunches of words together and counted syllables. But the bug was back; next thing I knew I was actually working at it. You know – rewriting, reconsidering, changing things about. I even started reading poems out loud to hear how they sounded, how words and lines fit together. Or didn’t.”

She rests her chin on her hands, considers. “Crazy! But that does sound like you. Never quite satisfied…”

MMair_SleepingGiants2_OriginalArt

Is that me? In which world? “Maybe… You remember those not-very-good haiku I wrote to go with the paintings in the show? Seemed like a good idea at the time. Then I put them on my blog. Another ‘good idea at the time’. But then I wrote better poems, so I decided to go back and “update” what I had written.” A pause, a sip of lukewarm coffee. Should I confess how much I came to dislike my own words? “Luckily not many people noticed. If anyone. I love being able to update! Don’t you?”

She laughs. “Would be nice if we could just ‘update’ other things in our lives.” She holds her cup in both hands, looks at me consideringly. “Okay, so that’s paintings, prints and poetry. And islands. Now – why a book?”

Should I tell her how often I thought about making this book, how many times I started and stopped? No… “A book felt like a good way to share my work – it’s smaller, less expensive, totally portable and more shareable than paintings or prints, and my poetry can be part of it. I mean, I love those very expensive coffee table art books, but I wanted something smaller, closer to a chapbook. That’s how I came up with ‘For We Are Islands’.”

I point to the book in front of her. “See? A book you can hold, turn the pages, read through, linger here or there. Think you would like one?” I hold my breath; she’d better answer soon or I might faint.

She lets me wait before she smiles, answers. “I do. You’re saying can I actually buy one?”

Sweet relief. I breathe again. “Yup. Online. I’ll send you a link, and before you know it you’ll have your very own copy. So how about we celebrate with a sweet treat? I’ll buy.”

She likes it! She really likes it! (and here it is)



For We Are Islands

By Margaret Mair

“Thank you. One of those delicious-looking date squares would be nice. And another coffee? Now finish yours before it gets cold.”

I sip. “Oops, too late!”

We laugh. At least our laughter is always warm.

*******

Thank you, Kev, for allowing me to share this little excursion. I really appreciate the opportunity! Maybe you’d like to come along next time?

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Author of the Month… Linda Pirtle!

Linda Pirtle’s book: The Mah Jongg Murders has won her the Book of the Month Spotlight which means a direct link to purchase this truly amazing work from Amazon will be posted in my widget column for a whole month! It’s there now… Check it out! Well done, Linda!

 

If you missed my review on Linda’s work, check it out here: The Mah Jongg MurdersDon’t forget to click on the book cover in my widget column for more information and to buy from it from Amazon.

56 Comments

Basic (self) editing

Welcome to my monthly editor’s guest column.

To edit or not to edit?

Well that isn’t the question.

The question is whether to pay for an editor, and if so, who to pay?

But let’s look at self-editing for this post and leave the ££££/$$$$ for a later post. Because self-editing comes first.

If you are useless at spelling and punctuation, you might as well admit it and hand your baby over to a skilled proofreader.

As for self-editing. One golden rule. Please, please leave your work for a while before you go back to it.

Self-imposed impossible deadlines are crazy when you are self-publishing.

There are lots of tips about how to self-edit: read it out loud, read it backwards (that so does not work for me), change the font/font size (that’s a good one, well recommended), and print it out. I would recommend printing it out but oh! the paper and cost of ink cartridges has me tearing my hair out. In Ye Olden Days reading print proofs was a lot easier. But times change and I honestly can’t justify print proofs.

You can over edit. How many times have I written something only to rewrite it and change it back or write something later on when I’d already said it previously.

In journalism, our stories went through a number of people: chief reporter/news editor, sub editor, chief sub editor, deputy editor, editor. Not all of them all of the time, but a goodly combination.

For example, someone might take the intro and use it as a headline. Then I had to write a new intro. Then someone would rewrite the intro back to my original and choose a different headline. And so on. Aaagh!

Sometimes, what you initially write is best.

Because I am incapable of reading past a misspelt word, wrong quotation mark, non-existent full stop, I’ll start with these small but noticeable errors as basics. They do matter. Please please please check for them.

There are basically two ways of writing fiction in the English language: English and American English. If you don’t know about style guides then I suggest you may wish to buy one. Hart’s for British, Chicago for American. I have and use both. Canadian style tends towards American, Aussie/Kiwi is more British, as are India and Pakistan. South Africa technically goes British, but informally leans US centric.

One of the small but main differences between UK and US is quotation marks. UK preferred style in fiction is ‘single marks’. Americans use “double ones”.

I had a ridiculous exchange with someone on a forum who asked me for my sources about quotation marks and quoted wiki at me. While wiki has (IMO) improved it is hardly the first resource for editing fiction. Talk about telling granny how to suck eggs.

I don’t care what quotation marks people use, but I do tell authors of the differences so they can decide for themselves.

One of the biggies I notice in most books is the misuse of compound words. Again, there is often a difference on the two sides of the pond. Brits wear make-up, Americans wear makeup. Well, some of us do, or don’t, as the case may be.

Americans put punctuation marks inside quotations. Brits vary it, depending on the sentence.

Numbers in fiction should be spelled out up to a hundred (in journalism and many text books it’s 1–10 or 12 that are spelled out).

One of my pet peeves is repetitive words. Especially distinctive ones. Do we really need to hear about someone’s obsidian eyes in every other paragraph?

And on the same repetitive theme, starting consecutive sentences/paragraphs with a subordinate clause is just dire.

If your writing looks like this:

Rushing out of the door, Jamie tripped on a banana skin …

On his way to school, he stopped to speak to the old tramp …

Turning up late for class, he was embarrassed to see Miranda laughing at him …

Edit. Big time.

Technically, it’s regarded as weak writing. More importantly, it is actually jarring to read. What we need is smooth prose for an easy read. This type of construction holds up the reading experience.

I read a draft query letter to an agent and virtually every paragraph started with a subordinate clause. My first thought was that an agent wouldn’t even consider the book based on the poor writing of the letter. What on earth would the book be like?

Dialogue tags

Authors love dramatic tags and adverbs. Purists prefer ‘said’, or nothing, if the exchange is clear. I despair when I read about characters hissing (snakes do that), barking and growling (my Podencos do that), laughing, chuckling and chortling (you can’t do that while speaking).

Trans and intrans

I’ll end with one of the most frequent mistakes I see. Lay and lie. We lay the table, we lie down. That’s not too difficult. But, what happens is, we get constructions like, ‘she went to lay down’. No, she went to lie down. The confusion often arises, because, in the past tense, she lay down. Aaaagh! again. But not she laid down.

Lay ALWAYS takes an object, eg the hen laid an egg. Lie does not have a direct object. Remember the hens if this one confuses you. The hen lays an egg, the hen laid an egg. The person lies down, or did lay down (but doesn’t lay an egg!).

With which, I will lay me down to sleep 😉

Next month I’ll be looking in more detail at the differences in transatlantic writing and discuss pros and cons of sticking to a specific national style, or morphing into one globalspeak.

Happy editing authors!

60 Comments

Book Talk: Waterdragon Watching

I rush down the ramp to the dock girding Elan-Sia, a tier city drilled into the midst of the glimmering delta. The river and sea are brilliant with luminescence, a sheet of liquid light that draws my eyes.

Kevin’s been waiting for me to talk about my new book, Catling’s Bane, and I’m late. But I have an excellent reason. “Guess what?” I catch my breath as I join him. “Instead of Book Talk, we’re going waterdragon watching!”

“Waterdragon watching?” He props his hands on his hips.

“Can you believe it?” I’m giddy at the thought. “While browsing the first-tier markets, I happened to mention that the heiress is in my book. The next thing I know, she’s offered to take us sailing. I couldn’t very well deny her, could I?”

“Is that her?” Kevin gestures toward the city, and I swing around. Lelaine-Elan, the heiress to the Ellegean throne, approaches with her escort of guards. She appears younger than her seventeen years, petite and pink-cheeked with a fall of blond ringlets. Her jacket brushes her boots, and she’s wearing an azure underdress with a wide belt.

We face her and bow. “Our respects, Heiress.” I point a sideways thumb at my friend. “This is Kevin Cooper.”

“A pleasure.” Lelaine dips her chin. “Shall we depart?” She doesn’t wait for a reply, so we clomp down the royal pier behind her. I imagine we’re taking one of the large cutters or ferries, but she climbs down into a single-masted catboat. I give Kev a nervous smile, and when he shrugs, we clamber aboard. A guard hands down a heap of blankets.

“We won’t travel far beyond the breakwater,” Lelaine informs the guard, and when he retreats, she hauls up the sails. Kev stows the blankets, and I stare at the alien sea. “Is there anything I can do, Heiress?”

“Tell me about your book.” She cleats the stays and sits by the tiller. “I’ll manage the boat, and Kevin shall scout for waterdragons. I’m in no hurry to return to my duties, so if we wish, we may wrap ourselves in wool for a nighttime view of the sea. It’s lovely, brighter than the moons.”

Kev grins at the idea while I’m rethinking our adventure. The boat’s dinky, and I forgot my Dramamine. Too late to back out, I hold on as the balmy wind catches the sail, and the catboat glides from the pier.

We cut a smooth wake out of the delta’s harbor, taking the luminescent swells in stride. I proceed to give her the gist of her role in Catling’s Bane. “You’re a clever ruler who faces a world of intrigue. The high wards and the Shiplord plot for your throne; yet, you have a hidden weapon in Catling.”

Lelaine smiles knowingly, her ringlets blowing across her face. “That’s one reason I love the sea. There’s no intrigue, no vying for power, no manipulation, and few responsibilities beyond minding the sail.”

“That’s a huge ship,” Kev says, and I follow his gaze. A double-masted dragnet leans almost broadside to the wind with a heading intended to intimidate if not intercept us.

“Cull Tarr.” Lelaine frowns. “I’m tacking; watch your heads.” She pushes the tiller to port, and the boat veers into the wind. The sail luffs and then snaps taut, the boom swinging to starboard.

“You’re aiming for them,” I point out in case she hadn’t noticed.

“For a moment.” Lelaine inches the tiller. “They can’t turn as quickly. We’ll sail by them, tack, and aim for the harbor, I hope.”

“They’re arrogant,” Kev says as the sleek fighting ship veers toward us.

Lelaine steers farther to starboard, slowing our speed but forcing the bigger ship into a tighter turn.

“Waterdragons!” Kev points, steps up to the mast, and holds tight. Four sleek shapes undulate through the sea toward us, each larger than our boat. “They’re gigantic!”

I clutch the gunwale. “What do they eat?”

“Fish,” Lelaine giggles. “Hang on. We’re going to get wet.”

I yelp as the creatures divide and flank the catboat, two to each side. Pleated fins soar out of the waves and fan over the mast, first one, then another, streams of luminescence thrown to the sunlight. Cold sea drenches the boat. Kevin hoots and the waterdragons dive. Two horned heads burst from the swells, blowing spray from their long snouts. They sink when a third waterdragon rears, its opalescent scales slick with light. Then the four roll, wings arcing through the air, spray glittering in diamond clouds.

Lelaine grabs my hand as the boat bucks and sways. She smiles at my wide eyes. Kev clings to the mast, laughing like a lunatic. The waterdragons curl their tails. Wide flukes slap the surface, and they sink below the foamy waves.

The catboat rocks and the sail luffs, the sheet forgotten. Lelaine grabs the line and tiller, and the Cull Tarr ship sails on. Her hair dripping into her eyes, she shivers and smiles. “Saved by waterdragons.”

Soaking wet, Kev steps down from the mast and breaks out the wool blankets. He tosses one to me and wraps another around the heiress’s shoulders before donning his own.

Lelaine sails into the delta. We climb the tiers of Elan-Sia and join her for a hearty meal. Still swaddled in blankets, Kev and I share a bottle of wine with the future ruler of Ellegeance, satisfied with our adventure and the tier-bound view of the three moons gracing the glittering Cull Sea.

***

Thanks so much, Kevin, for the invite to Book Talk!

Link to D. Wallace Peach’s Blog – Myths of the Mirror

Catling’s Bane:   US,    UK,    Global Link

9 Comments

Galveston 1900: Indignities… The Arrangement #DBA

Book Review

Galveston 1900: Indignities

The Arrangement

I was immediately drawn into this tale as it transported me into the Texas of the 1920’s. I love it when a story can do that to me. Brown certainly has a solid knowledge of the era which is evident through her skill of storytelling and descriptions.

The characters are realistic, the events that take place are mind-blowing but equally as real, and the story not only draws you in; it keeps you captivated throughout as it tests all of your emotions.

The work is very well written and constructed. I did find a couple of minor errors, but this is still a solid five-star work.

Amazon UK

Goodreads

Amazon US

 

 

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Book Talk Gets Magical with Teagan and Kev

Hi everyone. I’m Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene.  Today I’m here with another Book Talk with Kev at KC Books and Music.  I’ve done some joint posts with other bloggers (click here), such as vignettes featuring my characters combine with recipes from Suzanne at A Pug in the Kitchen.  So when Kev and I discussed me doing some “Book Talks” I got the idea to do something similar — but with his music!

I know that lately I’ve focused on my 1920s stories  The Three Things Serial  and (coming up this spring) I’m getting ready for the take-off of the second one, Murder at the Bijou, Three Ingredients-I.  However, my Atonement, Tennessee “universe” seemed the best fit for Kev’s music.  He suggested his compelling and lovely song, Magical

Kev, would you say a few words about your song here?

I would love to Teagan, thank you. Magical is a love song/ballad where the artist expresses how his world has changed as if by magic since his lover came into his life. It is a song about the essence of falling in love. The original song was written many years ago. Last year, I thought I should do something with my song, Magical since I’ve finally started to have some of the songs I’ve written over the years recorded and released. I changed some of the lyrics to bring them up-to-date, but the music remains the same. It’s a mellow arpeggio played upon a classical guitar to keep the ‘magical’ feeling or mood, if you will.

No wonder I liked the song!

Kev and I both agreed it would be fun if I used something from the point of view of Lilith the calico cat.  Kev’s Magical is how I imagine Gwydion’s magic working on Ralda Lawton if everything had been well… right.  However, in quirky Atonement, Tennessee magic is rarely gentle.  So (as with most things in my fictional town) the magic Lilith witnesses Gwydion perform does not go as planned.  My the snippet does not happen in the lovely way of Kev’s song, but it’s definitely magical.  From my work in progress, Atonement in Bloom, take a look at some of the magic Lilith saw.  The scene is followed by a trailer I made for the book-to-be.  

***

feline-calico_xs_3280429

Lilith watched in fascination.  She could feel the magic in the air, even though the men didn’t appear to be doing much of anything.  She could particularly feel Gwydion’s power.  It made her skin tingle and the fur at the back of her head ruffled.

Gwydion used a stick to scratch at the ground at the foot of a giant old oak tree.  He dropped seeds there and deftly covered them.

Fine powder glittered in the moonlight and settled on the fresh dirt where the seeds were buried.  Gwydion stepped aside allowing the moonlight to touch the seeded ground.  Sprouts appeared immediately.  Before Lilith’s watching gaze they quickly grew into mature plants — small but ethereal blossoms of white and pink meadow sweet along with branches of the broom shrub, heavily laden with yellow flowers.

The unnaturally strong scent of the blossoms was powered by Gwydion’s fae magic.  The flowers ran vine-like and entwined with the ancient oak as it started to surge and pulse.purple-shooting-star

The huge and ancient oak had a split in its center that looked like a gaping maw.  The tree shuddered and groaned.  Two limbs, each thick as an adult human’s thigh, writhed and twisted.  As the limbs twined together and merged, they took on an undeniable resemblance to the form of a woman.  The branches became crossed legs, an arched back, and arms outstretched.  The head was held back and the placement of the oak’s bark created an agonized expression on the face.

Lilith crouched down fearfully, but was mesmerized by the horrible scene.  She was unable to turn away.

***

So there you have it… Kev’s Magical, as it might go as a musical component to my story.

Kev, thanks very much for letting me visit again for this Book Talk.  Even if I could resist a pun, I’d still have to say it was magical.  Mega hugs everyone!

Copyright © 2017

All rights reserved.

No part of this work may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission.  Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights.

All images are either the property of the author or from Pinterest unless stated otherwise.

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The Rose Shield: Catling’s Bane goes Live!

Don’t miss the first of Diana’s, The Rose Shield series folks!

Myths of the Mirror

Many of you have read the character introductions and heard me going on and on about getting this book ready. Well, that’s all in the past now as Catling’s Bane is live on Amazon!

Catling’s Bane is currently .99 cents 

Books 2-4 are available for preorder

Available in print too (here)

Many thanks to all those who read, commented, and encouraged me with your kind words over the past two years. Special thanks to my writer’s critique group and to an awesome bunch of beta readers who helped me with the final spit and polish.

The blurb

In the tiers of Ellegeance, the elite Influencers’ Guild holds the power to manipulate emotions. Love and fear, pain and pleasure, healing and death mark the extremes of their sway, but it’s the subtle blends that hook their victims’ hearts. They hide behind oaths of loyalty and rule the world.

A child born…

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