author C.C.Cole's blog

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

On the Importance of Original Work

In the 1990’s, along with the rest of the country, I was a fan of the show “Ally McBeal.”  The fifty-pound lead character was cute, the nerd Biscuit lawyer was great, “Ling” was hilarious until it all feel apart to me from estrogen-toxicity.  But, years after the show, I still have the first CD soundtrack.

I always liked the after-work scenes, where they could all go blow it out after a hard days’ weird lawsuits.  (I admit to a bit of jealousy, never had a job like that).  What kept bringing me back to the CD even today are the songs.  Some of them are remakes from music artist Vonda Shepard, and some of them are her own written work.

Like films, with music, I attach myself to songs.  The songs I liked best from the CD were the original works of Vonda Shepard.  When I’ve heard a song done before, it takes a huge awesome performance by the redo-artist to bring me back to the same song.  For example, think of the remakes of “Dock of a Bay,” by Otis Redding.  Nevermind.  Don’t think about it, Otis is irreplaceable.

What does this have to do with the new author?  It’s everything.  If there’s anything/only thing a new author can bring to the table of a reader/publisher, it’s originality.  Big name authors over time often lose their gloss; especially mainstream templates like legal thrillers, murder mysteries, or conspiracy theories. 

What about the ongoing YA frenzy?  Are these books too much like “Harry Potter?”  Some of them remind me of Harry Potter, but in general, new authors I’ve reviewed deviate enough from the mega-hit enough to keep the story fresh.  What about the Vampire frenzy?  While I don’t gravitate constantly to vampire novels (but I use them as characters too), Diana Trees’ “Divine Wine” was nothing like any vampire story I’ve ever come across.  Count Dracula, eat your heart out on that one.

As new authors, we know that blockbuster success is very rare.  Does it mean your work isn’t entertaining?  No!  There’s no scale to weigh the integrity of any novel; it’s all about the audience, exposure, and sometimes, luck.  Life isn’t fair.  That’s OK, facing reality is part of adulthood.  But originality is part of our souls.  New authors, as long as you have that, you have something many writers don’t, famous or not. 

I still like Vonda Shepard.  And I never think of Ally McBeal episodes, except the Dancing Baby.  Some things are too great to forget.  May the work of new authors be that also.

Monday, November 28, 2011

"Summer" by Ernie's Denial

New rockers "Ernie's Denial" with a fun vid of their song "Summer."  It's got fun music, nice lyrics, and a pretty girl.  All the makings of a fun video!  Hope you enjoy it.

check out their site:  
Ernie's Denial

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

On Book Turkeys!

For a little breakaway fun, I’m taking a lighthearted look at a few books that I like, but aspects that I don’t.  So I’m using “Turkey” to mean specifics instead of generalizations.

“Gone With The Wind:” Yes, the greatest film ever made, but this is about the book.  Scarlett O’Hara, one of the most famous heroines in literary history, can’t get over the one man totally unsuitable for her on every level, and unable to love a rich, handsome man that loves the ground she walks on.  In the book, she’s a despicable mother.  Scarlett, you’re a Turkey.

“Little Women:” My Mom gave me this book when I was a preteen, and if I had a daughter, I’d have given a copy to her.  I love this book.  I wanted to be Jo.  But I wouldn’t have been so stupid to turn down Laurie.  Jo, you’re a Turkey.

“Catch-22:” I sympathized with a Blog Farm article whose author read another one of Joseph Heller’s books and hated it.  The huge character cast and the AWOL of the lead character at the end of “Catch-22” doesn’t help carry the inner tragic message of this book.  Yossarian, you’re a Turkey. 

“Revolutionary Road:” I’ve heralded Richard Yates’ masterpiece many times on this blog, but I’m sorry, with my poverty background, the anguished housewife over her half-decent husband, nice home, nice neighbors, and able to raise her kids is a hard sell to me.  I suspect people in other parts of the world would agree.  April Wheeler, you’re a Turkey.

“No Country For Old Men:” I make no secret that I read books after films.  Cormac McCarthy is considered a great American Literary Treasure, and I don’t contest that at all.  But for this book, even he should use quotation marks.  Cormac, you’re a Turkey.  

“We Were the Mulvaneys:” Why did I read this book?  Oh, yes, I saw the film on Lifetime!  I hoped the book would be better, and I was kind enough to give it three stars on Goodreads.  But what kind of family sends their beautiful, kind teenage daughter away after she was assaulted?  Michael and Corine Mulvaney, you are Turkeys.

OK, let me stop before I offend more people than I intend to.  I love making fun of myself, so I’ll give it a go:

C.C.Cole:  I know this author.  She’s one of those people that think she can do anything, so she decided to write a dark fantasy series.  She also decided to start smoking after college, and forgot to smoke her Virginia Slims menthol cigarettes after two weeks in her purse. She thinks she’s a Tribble on Twitter. She’s a Turkey.

“Act of Redemption:” C.C.Cole’s first novella of the Gastar Series.  It begins with a mean little assassin deciding to rub out some bad guys without a death order.  You know, she could have asked.  Shevata, you’re a Turkey. (don't tell her I said that).

“Children of Discord:” C.C.Cole’s second of the four novellas in the Gastar Series.  A group of vampires summon Shevata against her will hoping they can intimidate her into cooperating with them.  How did they think that would really turn out?  Vampires, you’re Turkeys.

Happy Thanksgiving! 


Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Should we be Thankful for the “Hot Shots?”

John Grisham

J.K. Rowling

George R.R.Martin

Stephenie Meyer

As a new author, I read over and over again articles stating how Indies will never get sales and notoriety given to bestselling authors with larger-than-life size features in our local bookstores and on line.  According to some, we’re just dreamers making fools of ourselves chasing dreams.

I don’t buy into the naysayers, but I’m not deluded into thinking my self-published books will suddenly reach Harry Potter fame tomorrow, or the day after tomorrow.  But am I sorry for writing my books?  Answer:  No way!  I enjoy what I do, and I enjoy interacting with other authors. 

So what about the “Big Time Writers” or “Hot Shot” bestseller writers of today?  Should we criticize them from dark angry corners of the Internet?  Why did they get the “big break” and we new authors did not?  What makes their work special? 

Better question:  Do these successful writers block our success as independent new authors?  I don’t think so.  Somehow, I don’t believe someone came across my high-rated novella “Act of Redemption” to pass for a copy of “A Game of Thrones.”  Both are dark fantasy, but the publicity of the work of George R. R. Martin is no comparison regardless of how much I spend in ads and promotion, how much I tweet, or how many authors’ groups I join.  That’s the way it is.

Instead of scoffing at the writers who’ve “made it,” we new authors can learn from them.  Many of them write incredible books.  Others write books that we may not like, but had the “hook” to get the attention of the traditional publishing industry, which like it or not remains the avenue of more sales, though day by day Indie writers are making their way into the devices of readers. 

On Thanksgiving, I’m thankful for my faith, family, and friends, including the virtual people I’ve met.  Of course, I'm thankful for my readers and those who've helped me promote my work.  I’m also thankful for the authors I’ve read, who teach me with every book, regardless of genre.  That’s not just my Indie colleagues, or the classic authors of the past.  The successful writers of today have a lot to teach us new authors as well.

Review of “Caring for Eleanor” by Sonia Rumzi

“Caring for Eleanor” is a well-written character study about the complexities of co-dependency in women.  A young mother becomes a caretaker for sick and elderly people and through them she realizes the troubles of her own home, and takes the needed steps required to gain her own confidence, her happiness, and the independence to care for her own children.  The smooth prose reels in the reader with strong emotional connections to the characters that we’ve met in our own lives.  Excellent work, Five stars!

Review of “Bushfire” by Paul Anthony

“Bushfire” by Paul Anthony is about the illegal drug industry in 1990’s spanning Ireland, Portugal, and across the ocean to South American connections.  This complex, well-written crime story follows layers of characters, from the criminals, the law enforcement, and the go-betweens as they make plans and interact with each other, making a non-stop story that is almost impossible to put down.  I highly recommend this novel to readers that enjoy being pulled into the dangerous, intense world of international crime fighting.  Five stars!

Monday, November 21, 2011

On Strong Characterization and the New Author

As a lifetime nerd, I admit to being a big fan of Sci-Fi TV series, with “Dr. Who” (Tom Baker, of course, though I liked David Tennant more recently) and “Blake’s 7” on my short list of favorites.  On a day net-surfing for DVD’s of the old “Blake’s 7” series, I was irritated by the fact I couldn’t get the series that could be shown on visual devices in the US.  Yes, I spent a summer in London, fried my blow dryer with one of those 220/120 AC adapters, but somehow forgot that our small appliances are incompatible.    

Since I couldn’t get something I wanted instantly (what an outrage!) I began thinking about why I liked the series so much.  After a minimal amount of reading and YouTube cruising, the answer was quite simple:  The characters.  It was not the cartoon-like effects, not the costumes, not the episodes, but the show as a whole.  When I think of “Blake’s 7,” I think about the characters:  Smart-aleck Avon, rebellious Blake, competent Dana, Blake-follower Jenna, beautiful Soolin, and the show-stealer evil, love-to-hate Servalan.  Though the series was short-lived, it got critical acclaim because of strong characterization.

How do we define “strong characterization?”  Answer:  Making characters memorable.  My TV obsession later evolved into film preference.  Following any film or novel, I ask myself which characters do I remember the most.  Be it a large or small part, protagonist or antagonist, I like characters that I remember. 

While in fiction we need a touch of realism (sometimes), it need not be so realistic that we’re experiencing a conversation over the weather in the workplace.  What I find in strong characters is not necessarily a tough kick-butt, but a consistent character able to keep his/her gloss.  The reader gets to know them well enough to predict their actions, but still enough left unknown for the unexpected.

A question in my novellas often comes up that I don’t develop all of the characters as thoroughly as others.  But in a non-epic action novella, there’s only a little room and a few words to work with.  I develop the lead characters, but the supporting characters dictate their actions.   For example, in “Children of Discord,” Shevata was moved to take her first steps to re-claim her humanity after witnessing the relationship between lesser-developed characters Peter, Emeria, and Stephen. 

Of the endless great experiences of reading, I continue to appreciate the various methods writers use to enhance the story.  Some authors create beautiful backdrops; others create horror that make me jump out of my chair, (“Seed” by Ania Ahlborn).  But when all is said and done, to me, it’s the characters we remember the most, and they follow us as we create our own worlds for our readers.

Friday, November 18, 2011

On The Lives of Writers

Biographies have always been a favorite of mine in non-fiction.  From Judy Garland to Napoleon, I usually devour them in short order, though lately I’ve been reading novels.  What I find fascinating about people’s lives is how they all started…just as people, like you and me.

The lives of writers I usually find interesting.  Many of them have similar traits, such as alcoholism and depression (Fitzgerald, Hemmingway, Yates), or sometimes mental illness (Virginia Woolf, Joseph Conrad).  Though many of these writers remain immortal by their work, some of them led very turbulent lives of isolation and loneliness inside.

Are all great writers depressed, alcoholic, drug abusing, or mentally ill? I doubt that.  Why did so many great writers have these problems?  Answer:  People need not be writers to have those problems; they are common amongst society.  But the ones that are writers channel their energy into their work. 

Sometimes people criticize writers’ lifestyles, but to me, there’s the work they do and the lives they lead.  One doesn’t directly coincide with the other. I’ve written before about an erotic novel author that gets ugly emails and letters because readers believe she lives in the world she writes.  That’s to me an unfair assumption unless you happen to know the writer.  Not all genres are for everyone, and some authors find success in genres they didn’t expect to. 

What can new authors learn from the lives of great writers?  We learn that nobody’s perfect, and they’d probably be the first to say so.  We see they felt happiness, sadness, pain, and love, like the rest of us.  We appreciate their ability to transmit their minds onto the page, and leave us their work that we continue to appreciate through the years.

When I look at the lives of great writers of the past, I look at my own life.  I don’t hear voices.  I’m not a substance abuser.  I work at my job every day.  I have migraine headaches.  And I spend a lot of my time at home, writing in front of a computer, which would have been paper or a typewriter decades/centuries ago.   Yes, writers do have some things in common in their lives.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Non-Spoiler V: Review of “A Dance With Dragons” by George R. R. Martin

After thousands of pages, I’m finally up to date with “A Song of Ice and Fire” the mega-epic by George R. R. Martin.  As epics go, it’s great, but even epics need to come to an end.  Not so in this one.

My complaint about Martin bringing in the “Dornish” people makes more sense now.  I’m glad he explained it, but four thousand pages ago would’ve sufficed.  This family has connections to the dragon-blooded Targaryen family.  One of them bravely makes his way across the world to meet Dany, but events turn the journey into a misadventure.

Dany returns in this installment, still beautiful, and struggles with her unsophisticated followers, trying to maintain order. This finally happens by means I certainly didn’t predict; by the time all is said and done is her “children” have grown up, are very dedicated and non-selective carnivores, and she’s “taken away” by one of them.  Literally.

Fortunately, my favorite character of the epic, “The Imp” returns to center stage, facing more physical and mental hardship than he ever did on the Ice Wall.  But like a competent Lannister, his brain makes up for his height, and so far survives a trip into pandemonium.

Winter sprinkles down upon what’s left of the Lannister family.  Cersei finds herself in the same place she schemed to put everyone else she didn’t like.  Her incestuous twin hottie Jaime searches the countryside for the remnants of the Starks, who remain scattered.

Winter is coming.  The Ice Wall is colder, colder, colder, and not yet coldest.  Jon Snow still defends the world against the horrors beyond the wall, but everyone’s so cold by this time, I’m not sure if the enemies can move up there.  The remains of Winterfell are freezing along with the wall; with its new ungallant occupants figuring out that Winter is over-rated.

What Martin accomplished in this tome is to add an epilogue, or a word for saying “I’m sorry I’ve exhausted my readers, so here’s a little treat.”  Something surprising happens in the end, that I certainly didn’t predict.  Unfortunately, it left a cliffhanger.  

“A Song of Ice and Fire” is still an excellent dark fantasy epic.  I don’t necessarily agree with some who say he’s stretching it out on purpose; that rings more like a publisher than a writer.  I do believe Martin is in love with his world.  That’s OK.   But caution, Mr. Martin, Winter is coming to your readers.  Please don’t freeze us out.  I’m giving it a generous three stars.

Review of “Hazardous Choices” by Joseph Rinaldo

“Hazardous Choices” by Joseph Rinaldo follows a young African-American who tries to leave his past life in the world of inner-city gangs to become part of the world of college athletics.  In his new world, he meets new friends and new experiences, but his world of the past envelops him when he travels home to see his mother.  His former gang life catches up with him as he returns to complete his education.  In this intriguing, well-written story, the reader is drawn in to the lead character’s double life.  The few clichés do not take away the compelling but disturbing underlying message of this excellent book.  Four Stars!

Review of “The Underwear Dare” by the Nardini Sisters

“The Underwear Dare” by the Nardini Sisters is a lighter look on the dark issue of bullying.  Fifth grade boys “dare” each other to do socially outrageous things, one being the bully and the other being the nerd.  The “dares” get funnier and become hilarious as the book develops.  To me, the humor is age-appropriate and captures what boys tend to do, that we as adults look back on and keep as funny stories to tell on one another.  Excellent work, 5 stars!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

On "All Quiet on the Western Front" 1930 Version

One of the many nights I’ve stayed up enduring a typical migraine attack, I sat on my couch around 2am and as usual, spun the remote over the movies.  To my fortune, I hit upon the original 1930 version of the famous film “All Quiet on the Western Front.”  I’ve heard about this movie since I was a little kid, but for one reason or another, only a couple of years ago I stumbled upon it.

For a brief breakaway, in the 1990’s a documentary called “The Great War and the Shaping of the 20th Century” came on and caught my attention immediately.  As I’ve written previously, my vast hard science and mathematics education left little room to take history courses, and like so many others, high school seems as long ago as first grade at my age.  The “Great War” documentary perked my interest in how important World War I was, not only from a military, but from a political standpoint as well.  Today we continue to see news almost daily where the background can be tracked back to WWI.

So, when I turned on the film, noting its four-star rating the channel gives, I thought it’d be worth my time to sit and watch it.  Luckily, I caught the beginning, and to those interested, this is a film that needs to be watched from beginning to end in order to take in the entire message.  In a brief non-spoiler summary, the story introduces the audience to a group of students ready to fight for their county, and later bringing out the main character named Paul.  Paul is followed as he first enters the Western Front, is exposed to the horrors of trench warfare, facing dangers from ground artillery, and attacks from the air.  He sees his friends fall, gets wounded himself, and goes home on leave, realizing he’s no longer the young man once so eager for battle.  The final scene in this film is one the most famous in cinematic history.

Needless to say, my husband found me crying uncontrollably by the time he woke up.  I watched it a couple of more times, with the same effect.  Now, as I think back about this moving picture, it’s really fascinating what they were able to communicate on film during the days of infancy in audio.  Also, blood and entrails may be added for a visual effect of horrors, but this film got the point across without any of that.  How did that happen?  It happened by excellent writing (a classic book), excellent directing, and excellent acting.

I know a lot of wartime veterans.  When I ask their opinion on a favorite war film, most of them say “The Longest Day.”  I agree, this is a short-list favorite of mine as well.  When I mention, “All Quiet on the Western Front, 1930 version,” most of them say, “Well, of course!”  Meaning, some stories reach the level of classic that it goes without saying. 

Though this is my final of my series of articles to commemorate Veteran’s Day, I never reach the end of the appreciation I have for so many that gave their lives for my freedom and continue to protect us at great personal risk today.  If I did this tour correctly, hopefully I’ll be back with another series Memorial Day.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

For Our Troops: Meet Shevata of the Gastar Series

For the Blog Tour, you should be coming from author David M. Brown:

I first introduced my dark heroine Shevata, the lead character of my Gastar novellas in 2009 with “The First Book of the Gastar Series:  Act of Redemption,” a medieval dark fantasy/action series. The sequel, “Children of Discord” was published in 2011.  The Gastar series will be a collection of four novellas when completed.   I am honored to present her again to the brave men and women (past and present) who protect our freedom as we write these books.  I hope the Troops get a chance to enjoy the work of all participating authors.

Who is Shevata?  She is a former child slave fighter, amongst thousands of children born and bred for the sole purpose to fight a centuries-long war for the city of Gastar against the Abbians, evil priests who conjured undead soldiers of slain people, creating an almost limitless army.  Shevata was born in the latter years of the war, and was made an assassin instead of a soldier, so she rarely visited the battlefield.  Historical comparisons to her creation would be the numerous regimes that use children for soldiers, for example, the Nazi children of WWII or the Khmer Rouge in the 1970’s, just to name a couple.

What are Shevata’s abilities?  She’s a small, underdeveloped, sixteen year old girl that doesn’t appear dangerous.   So how can one so small be such a competent killer? She has a single unique skill, moving objects with her mind (telekinesis).  As a weapons expert, she can use anything from swords, arrows, and a kitchen skillet to the bad ends of her opponents.  As she concentrates, the weapons are propelled far beyond her physical strength, making her a particular nasty adversary. She can open locks without keys, climb walls with expertise, and move the earth to bury small buildings and slain enemies.

On a radio interview I was asked what was Shevata’s weakness.  Physically, she has few.  In the first two novellas, “Act of Redemption” and “Children of Discord,” her soul was removed as a curse for killing the last Abbian high priest without a death order, which demoted her to murderer.  With no soul, she doesn’t bleed nor age. I know too well by taking martial arts myself that a small person cannot easily overtake a large person by hand-to-hand combat. So size does count in the Gastar Series.

The main supporting antagonist of the Gastar Series is Zermon, demon lord of Hell.  His personality is based on my older brother, now a family joke.  He met and imprisoned Shevata in hell after she rescued scores of living child soldiers held by him as a favor to the Abbians, so the two know each other quite well.  This pair of powerful adversaries plays off one another to add an element of humor to the story; as some call it a “backward spin” of a huge demonic monster accusing a small teenage girl of barbarism.

What does Shevata want?  She wants to grow up. Unlike many medieval stories, she doesn’t make a geographic journey. Her path lies within herself, and the challenge is for her to change everything she’s ever known or learned to become a completely different person who matures, discovering the true life of love and family. 

I welcome readers to meet Shevata in my Gastar novellas.  These are not romantic cuddly stories; Shevata’s tactics rival the brutality of her enemies.  But her feelings are real; she sees people around her living a normal life, and yearns to do the same.  But she knows her enemies from the dark past and her intentions towards them are not forgiving.

Recognitions:  The first, “Act of Redemption,” is currently listed as Best Independent Novel on Goodreads, a reader/writer website. Shevata won a poll on the same site for Most Memorable Female Action Heroine, Assassin category.  The sequel, “Children of Discord” was published in 2009, and won a Pinnacle Achievement Book Award for fiction. 

BTW, when I ask my readers who've done military service what they think of Shevata, generally they say the same thing:  "She's hot!"  (men and women)

For the next part of the Tour, meet author Glen Skinner:

Saying "Thank You" to all our Troops!!!

On Veterans of Ancient Wars

As we commemorate the brave men and women who put their lives on the line for keeping us safe, I thought of wars of the ancient past and why they were fought.  Yes, often they involved kingship and power, but they also fought for freedom from tyrannical threats.

If anyone hasn’t read the history or seen the documentary of the Battle of Thermopylae, I highly recommend it.  Yes, the film “300” is a favorite of mine, and not just because of the eye candy of scantily dressed fit men.  But besides the bare costumes and the Hollywood-style effects, the film brings home the reason the lives of so few stood their ground, facing death as it approached them:  The freedom of their people.

Ancient wars for freedom are hardly limited to Thermopylae, but since Frank Miller created the graphic novel, the film followed, keeping the famous battle fresh in our minds.  In the east, armies were created following devastating invasions from tribal warfare.  The biblical wars showed how few stood against any as well, including the bravery of men and women during that time.

Wars have been going on since the beginning of recorded history.  The act of war is horrific on many levels, and it’s up to us to appreciate what so many have done for us not only decades ago, but centuries ago.  It’s been since 480 b.c. since King Leonidas of Sparta bought time with his life leading to the ultimate victory over the invaders, but also for the freedom of his people.  We honor him and many more like him today.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Welcome to the Blog Tour de Troops!!

I'll be completely honest with all of you, I haven't participated in a blog tour, so I'm still in the learning process.  That being said, this is a great honor to have the opportunity to share our work with the brave men and women keeping us safe and maintaining our freedom.  Over the next few days, my articles will address many levels of various heroes of war, and on November 13th, I will feature my first book, a medieval dark fantasy/action novella with a strong female lead character who is a veteran of a prolonged war.  My prayers go out to all of these brave people, their loved ones, as well as those in the past who fought for the liberty I have at this moment as I type on my computer.  The Best to All of You!!


He’s a Veteran?

With Veteran’s Day upon us, I’d like to dedicate this blog post to all who’ve served to protect our freedom and to the brave men and women that continue to do this dangerous work today.  Like my blog article on breast cancer, everyone has a story, and so many are very touching.  Here’s mine:

I met the hottie above a few years ago, through his son.    He told me he was a World War II veteran.  As a typical civilian, I asked him some stupid questions.  I said, “Were you an officer?”  He laughed, and shook his head.  “What battles were you in?”  He laughed again.  Then, with his wife with him, he explained what happened.

When Pearl Harbor was attacked December 7, 1941, he was a young teenager. In those days, the military draft was alive and well, as it continued at least two wars later.  He read the newspapers, and adults around him said, “Don’t worry, son.  It’ll be over before they get to you.”

Not quite.  He received his draft notice a couple of years later, and was sent to learn how to operate an anti-aircraft weapon for the army in California.  When he was sent overseas as a private, he was nowhere near such a weapon.  Instead, he became a part of the end of the war in the Western theatre, known to most of us as “The Battle of the Bulge.” I asked him how many battles he was in, and he laughed again.

What he recalled like yesterday was crawling on his stomach, holding a gun and feeling the gunfire over him.  He said when you got to a ditch, it was good, because the bullets flew over, but you also knew at one time or another you’d have to move on and crawl over a hill.  So he did.  While attempting to get to a shelter in the basement of a farmhouse, he took many bullets and a piece of shrapnel lodged in his back next to his spinal column.

Being a Prisoner of War, to state the obvious, did not get him to the best of medical care.  Also, he was interrogated about one of the men in his company that he didn’t know anything about.  He doesn’t give details about that, except that he said the truth “I don’t know” as many times as he could.  Weeks later, he feel unconscious to an infection from his wounds.  The local newspaper headlined him as missing.

To his fortune, another POW happened to be a surgeon.  With minimal equipment and no anesthetic, he removed the shrapnel and let the wound drain.  They were liberated and first sent to France for more recovery before going home.  By the time he got home, he weighed just over one hundred pounds.

What happened after that?  He picked himself up, went back to college, and lived his life.  He married a lovely woman, became a successful businessman, and raised a son, who follows the great example set by his father.  Years later, the man in his company he was interrogated about caught up with him for a nice visit.  After retirement, he continues to spend his life helping other veterans.  Last week he celebrated his 87th birthday.  And he’s still good looking.

He told me once that people often ask him if he had any post traumatic stress after being through such an ordeal.  His answer is always the same:  “Everybody has post traumatic stress after such an ordeal.” 

I call he and his wife “The teenagers.”  Despite everything, one thing he never did was stop living.  And may his days be blessed.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

On Author Joseph Rinaldo

I'm happy to be featuring another ace author, Joseph Rinaldo, and also happy to be placing his books on my never-ending reading que, (and that's the way I like it...who wants to run out of books?)

"A Spy at Home" About a CIA retiree returning home, re-establishing relationships with his family, facing the inner complexities of family with love and tragedy.

"Hazardous Choices" About a former teenage gang member breaks out of that lifestyle to make a life for himself, and finds it is not as simple as it seems. 

Joe Rinaldo has written nine novels and also works for a heating, air conditioning, and ventilation distributor.


On Author Jodi Brownlee

It is my pleasure to feature Jodi Brownlee, author of "The Traveler's Telescope," a book for children, with the synopsis below.  I'm looking forward to reading this and recommend parents to check this novel out as well.  

 Granny McQuirky uses the traveler's telescope to travel into another world.  While she is away, Ruby's house-proud mother polishes the telescope and knocks the settings out.  Ruby and her friends try to put it right, but accidentally zap Mrs. Pinkus and her poodle into the other world.  When they follow to retrieve her, they bring back more than they bargained for into their genie world.  Granny McQuirky is accused of the resulting crimes.  If Ruby and her friends don't find the real criminal, Granny will be sentenced to life in a bottle.  At every turn, a mysterious enemy threatens Ruby's life.

Buy Now @ Amazon, Amazon UK
Genre - Children's Fantasy
Rating - G
More details about this book
Connect with Jodie Brownlee on Twitter & Facebook 
Website http://www.jodiebrownlee.blogspot.com/

On Author Jealousy Syndrome

As I was recently networking with some new virtual friends, the subject of book sharing with reviews came up, in the “authors helping authors” line of thinking.  Then another author piped in about review swapping and “Author Jealousy Syndrome.”

As a new author, I admit to ignorance of such an issue.  It was described to me as a successful author “get taken down a notch” by others purposefully posting bad reviews over jealousy.  What? Do people beyond the fourth grade really do this? 

As I’ve written in the past, it irks me that readers post bad reviews and admit to not finishing the book.  I saw this done many times on Jonathan Franzen’s “Freedom,” so I didn’t post a review until I took in every tedious word of the famous mega-novel.  As I read the bad reviews, jealousy didn’t come to my mind.  Most of it looked like readers who became frustrated with the book early on. 

As I ponder jealousy in the writing industry, I’ve felt emotional pain of feeling let down, anger at a bad review by a reader as mentioned above, much frustration at the publishing industry as a whole, but jealousy?  Who am I supposed to be jealous of?  J.K. Rowling?  Well, sure, like who’s not jealous of her to some extent, and that group need not be Harry Potter readers.  Success and wealth continue to be the dreams of many, so it makes sense that some jealousy will be felt for those of us not so fortunate. 

Are new authors jealous of each other?  I’ve never seen this outright.  Most writer groups that I belong to go the other way around, with continuous back-slapping, virtual hand shaking, sharing tweets, and featuring each other in the blogosphere.  If any of them are jealous of each other, perhaps I’m blind to this or fortunate enough to be in virtual groups that focus on positivity.

New authors, we have plenty to do, which includes writing our own work.  Who has time for jealousy?  Better question, who has the energy?  An author becomes successful, that’s great, but to what degree?  Success to one author is a beginning to another.  While I dislike being brushed off, I’d find it as hard to believe that another author would be jealous of me, as I would be jealous of another writer.  Jealousy amongst writers may be out there, but to me, our energy is better focused on our creativity and sharing as appropriate.  Jealousy rarely brings out the best in any of us.

Non-Spoiler IV: “A Feast for Crows” by George R. R. Martin

Somehow I managed to waddle through Martin’s fourth installment of “A Song of Ice and Fire.”  While I’ve given five stars to the prior three books, he’s finally worn me down.  Not that the series isn’t still a terrific, dark fantasy epic but the “epic” is becoming over-extended.  At the end, Martin even admits to the frustration he gave his readers with this book.

What’s great about the fourth book is that winter finally comes to the wealthy, powerful, self-serving Lannister family.  Like the already scattered Starks, they become leaderless and scattered, left up to their own devices.  Unlike the Starks, they still have a greater sophistication, and continue to hold places of power.  While my favorite character, “The Imp” moves away from center stage, it’s taken partly by his hottie older brother Jaime, who, after swallowing a rather large slice of humble pie, rethinks of the kind of man he wants to be.  Meanwhile, his twin sister Cersei tries to continue the power-plans typical of the Lannister family line. 

The almost as powerful Tyrell family also moves closer to the center, as the Lannister power begins to fail, they wait for opportunity as well.  After merging with the Lannisters by marriage, they find the double-sided coin of power as well.

Meanwhile, Martin for reasons unclear to me feels the need to bring even more characters and families into the story.  The “Dornish” families come in sideways, bringing us more names to keep up with, and unfortunately leaving the reader with a telephone directory of names to follow.

One can assume the beautiful dragon-blooded Dany with her unusual "children" still roam other parts of the world, but unfortunately, it's left as an assumption.  The same can be said for the Ice Wall and the horrors beyond.

Do I still recommend “A Feast for Crows” in “A Song of Ice and Fire?”  Yes.  In order to follow the epic, this book keeps the reader in line.  Unfortunately, Martin has gone beyond the distance required for a great epic, going for more characters instead of good use of the ones he’s already thoroughly developed.  His writing is detailed all the way to what they wear and what they eat for almost every meal.  I’m not sure I’ll look at roast duck the same for a while. 

For the Martin fans don’t let yourself get too frustrated in this tome.   The characters you know develop and by the end, make the laborious read worthwhile.  But at this stage, “A Song of Ice and Fire” is to me “over-epic-ed,” (I know, not a word) but it’s befitting.  Three stars!