Monday, September 26, 2016


Hello All!

Normally I like to have an author interview/guest post with a book review. But, Jay has not been feeling well lately (judging by his recent posts) and I'm pressed for time. However, I was hoping a favorable review of his book would cheer Jay up somewhat.

About the author:

Jay Noel was born in New York, but currently lives in Missouri with his family. He received a degree in English from Southeast Missouri State University many moons ago. Jay is a prolific blogger, and one-time podcaster, and he enjoys connecting with writers, readers, and fellow bloggers from all over the world. Medical sales warrior by day, writing ninja by night, he is the author of The Mechanica Wars series. The first book, Dragonfly Warrior, was published in January, 2014 by 4 Wing Press. Jay loves science fiction, fantasy, literary fiction, biographies, and chocolate chip cookies. .

About the book:

The Mechanica Wars: Savage Machines Are Afoot...

At the age of twenty, Kanze Zenjiro's bloody footprints mark the bodies of those who stood in his way to protect the throne of Nihon. Now, the tyrannical Iberian Empire is bent on destroying his kingdom, and they send their steam-powered giants and iron spiders against him.

Zen embarks on a quest that takes him on the most dangerous journey of his life. To succeed, Zen must live up to his nickname, the Dragonfly Warrior, and kill all his enemies with only a sword and a pair of six-guns. He is called upon to somehow survive a test of faith and loyalty in a world so cruel and merciless, it borders on madness.

My review: An interesting world and concept. This reminds me of the fantasy/syfy novels I read as a young adult. It has a mix of western, samurai, action/adventure, steam punk. A multi genre delight. I was initially drawn to the western/samurai theme (like THE LAST SAMURAI), and loved when it transitioned into the steampunk genre. Zenjihito is a nicely developed young character, on a quest for a talisman that will unite and save the nations of the newly formed empire of Nihon. His travels have him meeting, and collecting, many interesting and complet characters. There are many story plots that eventually all come together for the climax of this story plot.

The world building is well integrated into the story and character plots. It is active, progressive, and utilizes many of the story tropes of multiple genre's. I was just a little overwhelmed by the steampunk technology;I lost a bit of interest in the story when the western/samurai story line gave way to modern artillery, and much of the timelines for the alternate plots did not align, but the characters were complex- hero's and villains alike - and intriguing.

I give this a 4 star rating. While the characters and world building were excellently drawn, and there was enough action and violence to intrigue me, the overuse of modern warfare detracted from the steampunk subgenre. I recommend this book/series to readers who enjoy the Star Wars, Rift War, Indiana Jones, Shannara Chronicles sagas.

Purchasing links:    Amazon US 

I think Jay could use some serious blogger love right now, but he is not a member of the BLOG BLITZ. So I'm appealing to the community here. Please drop by his site and say hello, and wish him a speedy recovery back into the writing and blogging world.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016


The question for this month's IWSG posting is: How do you find the time to write in your busy day?

My short answer is: I don't.

But the longer answer is: I make the time when I'm passionate about a prompt. An anthology theme, a scenario prompt, a special group to join, sudden inspiration from my Muse. And if I get to a hotel early enough, or a week off, I usually open up one of my many WiP and add a few words (very few), or do some editing. Or, write a book review or blog post. Reviews and posts are writing, right?

Speaking of book reviews, this seems a good time to review the first IWSG anthology PARALLELS: FELIX WAS HERE.

I'm giving it an overall 4 stars. Some of the stories were better organized (flow wise) than others, some were just not my reading style. It was an entertaining read, all the stories fit the theme, and I did not notice any technical/formatting errors. Since I had the Kindle read the book to me, I would have noted most even minor editing errors. The authors were all excellent story-tellers; many of the stories made me wish I did not have to put it down for whatever reason. Well done authors, publishers, and contest organizers.

I hear rumors that IWSG founder Alex Cavanaugh will be announcing the specifics of the next anthology today, so be sure to visit his site, the IWSG site, and this month's co-hosts: C. Lee McKenzie, Rachel Pattison, Elizabeth Seckman, Stephanie Farris, Lori MacLaughlin, and Elsie Amata. (Elsie's links are showing error)

Thanks for stopping by. I've pre-scheduled this as I'm on the road - as usual - but will be getting around the linky list through the weekend.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016


Well, here it  is, my GARDENS post for Write Edit Publish (WEP) challenges, hosted by Denise Covey and Yolanda Renee. All I can say is, it takes place in a garden. This is something I started a while ago, but haven't figured out what to do with it. I hope it loosely fits the criteria for this prompt despite the lack of beauty.

(894 words, full critique acceptable)

I was born twenty six years ago, in Year 133 by my clan’s reckoning. The oldest clan in our territory – those that lived under ground since the end and only came out about 4 years before my birth - counts time back 451 years; the youngest clan marked seventy one from day of destruction. But who, besides Rovers and time keepers, is really counting; and not every clan has time keepers.

Some things from the old world haven’t changed. Hours in a day, days in a week, months that make a year. It is said the Universe did not notice the self destruction of one civilization on the youngest planet in the solar system; time moves on, civilizations rise and fall. People gotta eat, and breed.

Only the timekeepers know the secrets of past and future; those obsessed with keeping and reading journals, making calendars and marking off days, listing events. Time-keeping is a revered skill in our clan, and my parents were teaching me the tradition until my grandfather diverted my education when I was twelve.

He had the courtesy to ask me first, which was strange and exciting at the same time. He said, “Jensa girl, is this really all you want to do with your life?”

I loved my grandpa more than anybody, so I immediately said ‘no Grampy,” just because I knew that was the answer he wanted. Some years later I had occasion to regret my quick response, but only for a fleeting moment. I’ve seen the world outside these walls, fought the living and the dead, tallied the worth of the present, and insured the continuity of the future.

Sitting in the village garden today, listening to the Tillerman Rover’s proposal for uniting our clans, I was glad it was my grandfather’s advice that would sway the Counsil and not mine.

As Rovers, Grampy and I had logged the births, deaths and continuing line of the Tillerman’s, knowing it was just a matter of time before our own distant clan would attract their attention. I felt safe in this man’s presence not only because of my skills with bow, knife and words; but also because I was childless. Tillermans only bred outside their clan with women who had already proven fertility and living children.

I pricked my finger on a blackberry vine and wondered if it was an omen.

The heir, Vigor Tillerman, had been here a year before in the guise of a Rover gathering information. The gloves and long sleeves hid his identifying tattoo on wrist and palm, but he’d left plenty of euphemisms about his true lineage before leaving town. Grampy and I both considered him an arrogant prick, unworthy of even our lowest pure bred.

“I have recorded all births within my clan in the last six months, and none of the women claim to have slept with Vigor during his undercover visit. I have all the names of the fathers.”

“And you question every girl who is actively having intercourse? Do you pry into the private lives of all your citizens?”

“Yes we do,” I answered too loudly.

The gardens were positioned close to the gates to insure tranquility and quiet for relaxation, and introspection. We traded squash, beets, beans, corn, tomatoes, a variety of berries, grapes and other vine fruits, and even some of the flowers; but this community garden mainly fed our clan. Time keepers insured all citizens worked their allotted shifts in either the gardens here, or the orchards to the south; but many of our community preferred to contribute in the gardens and had never seen the outside.

Several citizens looked up from their hoeing and harvesting fearfully, though we hadn’t had an attack in my lifetime.

“Vigor has provided the name of the girl, the date of the assignation, and expects she should have conceived already. He is willing to pay tribute for the bride and to claim the child – providing it is healthy and still living.”

“He should pay for the conception regardless of outcome,” I said, accepting a cold lemonade from Maria, a constant gardener.

“Now Brent,” the Rover began, addressing Grampy and ignoring the apologies for my outburst from Counselor Erve.

“My granddaughter is right,” Grampy acknowledge. “However, if there is proof of paternity, and the girl is willing for the barter, we may come to some arrangement.”

I drained my glass to keep my tongue still. Sneaky, under-handed . . We’d turned Gage Tillerman’s proposals down twice prior to his bastard-heir’s not-so-secret visit. Commodities we had in plenty, as well as arms and a fighting force. What we needed, and Tillerman refused to barter, was an infusion of healthy, male donors. Our counsel was not even demanding long term contracts or support, though it would be greatly welcomed.

Too many female births, too few bartered males, inbreeding. The weakness was becoming noticeable among the other clans. I had an idea which family might be concealing a birth, and why. I picked up a hoe and headed towards the east wall where the new vegetable plot was planned. Slashing at the earth would help settle my anger, organize my arguments, and help the community grow.

The growing season was about to begin, and this year the bumper crop wouldn’t be confined to the soil.
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Leave your comments if it pleases you, and if you'd like to read other participants to this challenge, or submit your own interpretation, click here for the list. Linky closes on Aug 19.

Saturday, August 6, 2016


Wow; did you notice its August already? Pretty soon it will be September, and then OMG October, and my birthday again. I think I could stop having those now, I've reached a ripe enough age.

I missed posting for IWSG! I was all set to write up my post when I discovered my battery was down to about 15 minutes- and I left my charging cord at a hotel four hours away. Ugh. Two days later I had a new cord (couldn't find one in a thrift store), was two days behind on work paperwork, slow internet access, and I was just plain tired. I really wanted to post for this IWSG too.

Oh well, I didn't really have the time to go visiting and commenting for this massive monthly event. Besides, I wrote a short story- yay me. About 3600 words, written then submitted to THE FIRST LINE magazine. (Thanks Shannon for the link.) Because I waited til exactly the deadline *hangs head in shame* I did not allow proper time for my CPs to fully crit, so I self edited and hoped they wouldn't find too much cleaning up to do (in case it is rejected and I need to find another place to submit it).

Needless to say, the submitted piece is a mess. But I had fun writing it, and will also enjoy tweaking it again, so even if it gets rejected for lack of editing, at least I wrote something. *pats self on back*

All this to say I've been really busy with work, traveling, and I'll be even more pressed for time throughout this month. I'll be working with my training supervisor again, and should be getting that iPad to make the paperwork much less a hassle. That will be fun to learn and use.

I'm missing all my writing friends, I'll catch up as time allows.

Have a great month!

Monday, July 25, 2016


Are you ready for some pretties today? Pretty tattoos, pretty interesting information, pretty book cover art? And of course, the pretty miss Tamara Narayan. Please train your dead stare at the following narrative and fill your skull with intriguing facts about Día de Muertos, Halloween, and Tamara's upcoming release HEART STOPPER.

Colorful. Whimsical. Scary? Not exactly. Images like the tattoo above depicting skulls painted in bright colors and surrounded by flowers have become increasingly popular. You also see them in movies (The Book of Life), music videos (Prayer in C), and even children's toys (Monster High's Skelita Calaveras). Merchandise featuring these skulls shows up around Halloween. But what are they and what is their cultural significance? 

Image: Lynnsi

Sugar skulls are part of the Mexican holiday known as Día de Muertos, or The Day of the Dead. The purpose of this holiday is to welcome back spirits of the dearly departed and celebrate their lives with events occurring from midnight on October 31 through November 2. 

Altars to guide the dead back to their homes, called ofrendas, are decorated with pictures, candles, and flowers. Marigolds are used because of their vibrant colors and scent. (Source) Toys and candy may be added to an ofrenda for a child. Returning spirits of adults may find tequila, cigarettes, or other traditional beverages at their ofrendas.

Sugar Skulls, made in clay molds and decorated with feathers, colored beads, foils, and icing  (Source), also go on ofrendas along with the departed's favorite foods and pan de muerto, a sweet bread often in the shape of bones or skulls. 

Skulls in this context are not supposed to be scary; they are an Aztec symbol of rebirth. Death is seen as a "positive step forward into a higher level of consciousness." (Source

Halloween may occur at the same time of year, but this celebration's origins come with an entirely different vibe. 

Image: Deanna Wardin, witch moon tattoo

Like the Day of the Dead, Halloween also marks a time when spirits return, but these ghosts were feared, not welcomed as guests. During the festival of Samhain, ancient Celts “would light bonfires and wear costumes to ward off roaming ghosts.” Food was left out on doorsteps to keep the spirits from “causing trouble or damaging crops”.  (

Image: Mez Love, pumpkins and kitty cat

Skulls were associated with physical mortality, the fear of death, danger, and the brevity of life. (Source) Halloween falls at the end of harvest time, the transition between fall and winter, which brings to mind the cycle of life and death.

In Heart Stopper, Dallas Radner is caught between these cultures. He grew up with jack-o'-lanterns and trick-or-treating, but his wife is from Mexico. When his daughter Tessa starts planning to bake pan de muerto and design her own ofrenda, he doesn't know quite what to make of it. The soul Tessa wishes to honor is Dallas's sister, who died when he was a boy in an accident he still feels responsible for.

In the days leading up to October 31st, random objects start disappearing from their house: ten plastic bags, nine ballpoint pens. As the odd countdown continues, Dallas is terrified that the last thing to vanish might be the most important thing in his life: his daughter.

Heart Stopper and Other Stories is a collection of four suspenseful tales, available now at

Halloween comes, and the Day of the Dead 
For one man this custom brings heartache and dread. 
As belongings disappear, a child makes her shrine 
Is it a ghost? Perhaps. Or a shattered mind? 

Are you familiar with Day of the Dead traditions? A fan of sugar skull art or make-up? Any tattoos to discuss?

Wednesday, July 6, 2016


Ok, its INSECURE WRITERS SUPPORT GROUP (IWSG) DAY; which means everyone is in a rush to get to as many posts as possible. I want to only take up two minutes and forty four seconds of your time. Click the video below and let it play while you read my post. It might put a smile on your face.

And remember; quality, not quantity. Which goes a long way in reading (books, reviews, blog posts), writing (drafting/editing/revising/ rewriting) and VISITING friends.

I like this new question of the month feature to IWSG - hosted by Alex J Cavanaugh, and this months helpers: Yolanda Renee, Tyrean Martinson, Madeline Mora-Summonte, LK Hill, Rachna Chhabria, and JA Scott.


I suppose I could write a very long post about this, many people have said nice things about my writings, some of those are genuine appreciation for the concepts; but there are two that really stand out for me.

1: Regarding my women's fiction (as yet unpublished), the best response from beta readers/friends/family has been (paraphrased): Wow, I can relate/identify with . . (character) . . because he/she sounds like me/a family member, or close friend/someone I know.

That is, of course, the goal of the writing: that people will recognize my characters as everyday people, relate to their issues, and maybe take two minutes to "walk in their shoes".

2: Regarding my short story TWO MINUTES INTO TOMORROW: (again paraphrasing feedback at the site) Not sure if I liked it; but it got me thinking, and a little bit scared that this situation could really happen.

I know, some people would take that "not sure I liked it" as negative feedback. But the story was intentionally controversial, abstract, and disturbing. I wanted the reader to "think" and be aware. The reader read the whole story, and had an opinion on the issue presented.

In both these responses, I know I have reached my target audience; ill defined as it is.

My question to you this month is: do you have a target audience, and/or how do you know you've reached that demographic?

Thank you for stopping by today. I hope the song above gets stuck in your head all day (lol) but also inspires you to actually read the IWSG posts you click on today. Remember: quality, not quantity. If you skim, leave a vague comment, and move on - you cannot complain about the lack of interactive comments on your own post.


 Oh, and don't forget to cast your vote for the next IWSG Anthology genre.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016


I've had several books on my Kindle so long they are no longer accessible on the carousel. Recently I decided to open the device storage and take a look at what I've been buying. With me driving so many long hours on the road by myself, getting bored with music in all formats, I finally decided to give the speech feature a try on my Kindle.

The first couple books I started quickly discouraged me. If there are any editing errors in the book (poor grammar, misspelled/missing words, misused words), having it read aloud magnifies the annoyance. And of course, if the "voice" or pace is faulty- well, lets just say it takes me less time to close a book that is being read aloud to me than it does when I'm reading. At first I thought it was just me being too inattentive, letting my mind wander during the story. I've done that before while reading, if the story doesn't hold my interest.

To help with that problem, I took everyone's raving recommendations and downloaded a book with a free trial for audible. Can't remember the name of the book; started with a couple in an antique shop and trying to buy the old shop keepers pocket watch. Unfortunately, I did not like having  someone else determine "the voice" and pacing of the story. When I turned off the voice and just read the text, I was getting into the story, so that let me know I could try again, with a book I already know I like.

Next I played a book I previously read and enjoyed immensely, but it had been a while and some of the story details were fuzzy. This was a short story anthology written by those rascally talented Beer Boys, Bryan and Brandon (or is it Brandon and Bryan?) Anyway. . . after their repeated proclamations (they mentioned it in passing once or twice as the conversation rolled to my dislike of satyr) at how amazed and astounded I'd be with their axe wielding dragon slayer in The Graveyard Shift, I bought the book, read it in a couple days (yeah yeah, I'm slow, even when fully engaged) and had to agree I was thoroughly amazed and astounded. So amazed it took me more than a year to get the review up on Amazon and Good Reads. I wrote:
Fabulously quirky, frequently gritty humor; always chilling and exciting. One of my favorite short story collections. These Authors really know how to craft a thrilling and macabre plot in a variety of settings with believable characters. Turn on the lights, lock up the axe, make only happy memories in your home, never make envious wishes in the mirror . . . .
If you like almost-likeable, psychotic villains, hero's with more guts than common sense, and victims that return from beyond for vengeance; then this is exactly your kind of scary read.
 I liked the book every bit as well having it read to me off the Kindle as I did reading it myself. Yes, the voice was there - the voice the authors intended. I read with a bland voice in my head too, until I get to know the characters, and the Kindle works for that.

So I tried a few other books that have taken up long term residence on that particular e-book shelf. Some I liked, some just filled the long hours and I barely remember the stories, some I disliked so much I barely got to 8%. I can't remember too many, I think I posted reviews (of the ones I finished and could give at least 3 stars). Once I've been on the road a few days, and in need of another book-read, I tend to forget to review.

I'm partial to short stories, always have been, but especially now that I drive, then make frequent stops. COGS IN TIME Vol 2 is a steam-punk anthology of various authors. I don't think I know a single author - though I remember seeing it hosted on a book-blog tour on a blogger I follow. Anyhow, turns out it is a pretty good read. Sometimes I'd be listening to a story that captivated me for a long while, then arrive at a work site and be frustrated that I'd have to pause the story and go work for 2-4 hours; wondering what would happen next in whatever story I was listening to. Of course some were better than others, able to hold my attention as the landscape sped by outside the car. Not all these stories have happy endings - some did not even have satisfactory endings - and many had characters of dubious intentions. I loved the unexpected twists - and occasional predictability.

Stories ranged from macabre and chilling, to nearly too deep and abstract to understand, to endearing and romantic. Story length ranged from maybe 2000 words all the way to possibly 10-12k. In one story, the flying machine was nothing more than a short-hopping-flapping old fashioned bicycle - which made me laugh at the contraption - but that is one of the stories that stood out in excellence; very short but philosophical.

Another one was long, otherworldly, where common citizens are born into debt/slavery. A feel-good, christian romance, not entirely my usual read, but the social conscious message was so well written I was intrigued all the way through. It did not hurt that the Kindle pronounced the child robot - called an automaton - something like AuTomAton. You'd have to hear it get it. I thought it so unique I actually had to read the text to see what the adorable little thing was actually called. I'll never hear it in my mind the way it is actually pronounced again!!

I highly recommend this anthology to readers who like short or long-short stories; enjoys steam-punk in all forms ranging full mechanical to merely implied; and/or is open minded to alternate states of sanity and universes.

On this last trip through Utah and Idaho I resurrected THE GHOSTS OF AQUINNAH by Julie Flanders. I have several of her books on my Kindle; and since I'm getting tired of angsty Were's and Vamps, I decided to give some ghosts a try. I will be giving this a four star rating when I get around
to posting on Amazon and Good Reads. The story concept is awesome; a young adult quits her day job to write about lighthouses, is having boyfriend troubles and thinking the relationship is one sided in favor of the user jerk, and the images on the webcam of an old-fashion dressed young woman become an obsessive distraction. The story is written in dual time zones, multiple third person perspectives that sometimes ebb into omnipotent, light on plot, moderately-heavy on romance, and has well integrated historical facts and info.

I found Julie's characters well rounded, deep, conflicted, heroic and vulnerable. The story was well conceived, the research seamlessly integrated into the setting. Its written in a Wuthering Heights tragic-romance style, which is more appealing to my cynicism than the Harlequin whirlwinds. I did wish Hannah's secondary story and relationship coincided with more with the tale of Stella and Christopher, and I was disappointed that the expected connection between Stella and Hannah was not really cemented. The story itself was overwritten (especially the epilogue), both leading and repeating phrases and concepts that the author needed the reader to keep in mind; so this took away a lot of the mystery, that essential (to me) sense of discovery as all the story threads knit themselves together. But I am a character and setting driven reader, and both were strongly written. I decided I would likely read another story by this author.

Luckily I had several hours to kill on the final drive home, and decided why not read another story by Julie - since I just stated I'd snack on another. I did not know THE TURNAGAIN ARM was a novella (or long-short story), but it suited well for the return trip. Vasyl and Aleksei (again the Kindle reader completely mispronounced Aleksei's name, making him even more endearing) are strongly written characters, the setting in Alaska territory well balanced and researched for the era, and the romance is tragic and nearly overpowers the chilling plot. It is nicely paced, not too repeatative, and the ending left me baring my fangs in anticipation of the next installment in the series. Luckily, that is also off the carousel, but easily retrieved on my next long drive to nowhere.

Of course, PARALELLS: FELIX WAS HERE is up next on the carousel . . . . tough decisions to be made on what to have read to me next.

What do you think; have I convinced you letting the Kindle's voice feature read to you is worth the free price on the device? Or are you still in need of a professional orator to assist the author in conveying a captivating voice?