This blog will touch on the experiences I have as a writer (not to be mistaken for my experience as a writer, i.e. how many books I've written, etc); the pleasure and the pain, the joy and the grief, the satisfaction and the frustration, the magic and the reality - have I left anything out, oh yeah, the rejection, rejection and more rejection, the humiliation and the embarrassment, the jealousy and the resentment - that pretty much covers it, except for why I do it which perhaps I'll realize along the way. Are you totally confused? Good, let's begin.
The BIRD WHISPERER
Mattie Saunders Series - Book 3
Free ‘til Jan. 3 at https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B003DS6LEU
Mattie doesn’t believe in love at first sight, maybe not in love at all, so what’s going on with this guy who has been hired to meet her at this remote airport in The Rockies?
Simon is there to take her to a remote cabin in the wilderness to do fieldwork on the Rufus Hummingbird while Bodine, her rock-star partner is on tour for three months with his protegé, Ellwyn, promoting her new album he produced and co-wrote. Mattie’s thinking maybe absence will make the heart grow fonder, but she doubts it.
It’s over, it just hasn’t ended.
She began falling out of love about a year ago. Nothing specific, just a lot of little things; she’s sick of seeing her life portrayed on ET and in tabloids; she can’t stand his pretentious, self-absorbed friends; and except for Pickles and Manny, their two macaws, they have nothing, zero, nada in common.
Regardless, Simon, the only First Nations person she’s ever had a conversation with is igniting sparks without even trying. But why him and why now? Could it be opposites attract; big-city white girl, small-town indigenous boy?
Free ‘til Jan. 3 at https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B003DS6LEU
#books #bookworm #twitterbooks #readers #interracial #romance
#parrots @birdsrescue #birdwatching
END OF THE ROPE - A Play in 4 Acts
Letting go is not an option - or is it?
When you rope up you put your life in the hands of your climbing partner. But what if you've just ruined his?
Craig, Whit and Milt are friends, have been for a long time. They've grown up together, but the friendship forged as young boys are getting tested as they grow into men - men with different perspectives and priorities.
Their love of climbing has kept them together. On the rock faces of the mountains they are as they once were - a team, a unit, loyal and committed. The ambiguous world of careers and relationships is left below - or is it?
End of the Rope - A #Play in 4 Acts.
Free 1 day only. Dec. 30 at
For those of us who have only known life in an affluent country with a stable, democratically elected government, it’s hard to imagine the danger and drama of regime change in other parts of the world. Everything you believed in and all you’ve worked so hard to attain, can abruptly become a liability, and the peace and security of your loved ones suddenly put at risk.
This is the fate that befell so many South Vietnamese the day after the fall of Saigon in 1975, which marked the end of the Vietnam War with victory for the communist North Vietnamese forces.
One such person was Tim Tran, who relates his experience in the memoir, American Dreamer: How I Escaped Communist Vietnam and Built a Successful Life in America by Tim Tran with Tom Fields-Meyer.
To make that historical event even more personal and painful, Tran, a native-born Vietnamese, had experienced life in America on a scholarship and attained a degree in business from the University of California, Berkeley. He’d only returned to South Vietnam less than a year before the country fell to the communists.
In American Dreamer, Tran describes his childhood in a loving family that thrived through hard work, determination and amazing resourcefulness that emerges out of necessity. And how his father provided the motivation and the training for him to succeed academically.
Chapters about his immersion into American culture during his university years are a testament to his outgoing personality and the gracious, friendly, and helpful reception he received from almost all the Americans he interacted with.
Accounts of navigating day-to-day living in a totalitarian regime, harrowing experiences trying to arrange an escape from Vietnam, life-threatening confrontations as boat person beset by pirates, and volunteering with agencies while in a refugee camp are gripping and told with candour and humility.
Once back in America, career success is achieved with a combination of effort, excellence, enthusiasm, and integrity The author just doesn’t abide in America, he embraces it, holds it to his heart, then magnanimously gives back by creating an endowment that will for many years support the library operations at Pacific University. In these pages, Tran also pays tribute to all those who have supported him in fulfilling this dream.
Entertaining and inspiring, American Dreamer, attests to the fact the American dream is still alive for those determined enough to pursue it. And furthermore, there’s no need to make America great again, for people like Tran, it still is and always has been.
An Early Christmas Present
The Rocker and the Bird Girl, Mattie Saunders Series Book 1.
"... a seriously non-traditional #lovestory".
Romance and action combine with environmental themes for an exciting exploration of contemporary culture.
Free ‘til Dec. 16 at
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Unexpected Healers is a collection of easy to read, feel-good short stories primarily about horses as mediums for psychological healing. Author, Laurie Ingebritsen, a therapist and avid horsewoman has recounted touching episodes where women and children suffering from the trauma of abuse make rapid and remarkable progress toward positive behavioural change with equine-assisted psychotherapy.
Though her grammar is flawless, Ingebritsen’s prose leans toward being didactic. She sets up the scene and then tells the reader what the character is feeling, not unlike a psychologist’s case book, leaving no room for reader interpretation. She even summarizes the endings making sure nothing is left to our imagination. And when it comes to imagination, there’s not much of that with each story similar to the next; a person arrives with a problem and a horse resolves it. No surprises.
Presented in a linear fashion, all the stories are narrated in a passive voice, told rather than shown, denying the reader the opportunity to experience events as they unfold. Indeed, two stories have no dialogue whatsoever.
Unexpected Healers succeeds when read as a testament to equine-assisted psychotherapy and a tribute to the beautiful and noble horse, but stumbles as a work of literature.
The government of England is one of appeasement. Furigans, misfits who thrive on violence and anarchy are deemed not responsible for their criminal behavior because of being disadvantage and marginalize. Indeed, to condemn them is to commit an act of Nastiness, be harried by Compassion Stewards, and come under the scrutiny from the Commission for Fairness. All parties adhere to this Political Consensus. Debate is empty and meaningless.
Roger Tyson, a business magnate, is a solitary voice calling for a return to truth, justice, freedom of speech, and an end to mandated Niceness. He’s being vilified for it until his dire predictions of economic collapse begin to manifest.
But are Roger’s tough-love politics and bare-knuckle tactics enough to save England from the shadowy Muhonin who are preparing to violently overthrow the decaying, corrupt government and reinvent this Green and Pleasant Land by imposing their own violent and radical ideology?
Steve Shahbazian’s novel, Green and Pleasant Land, is cleverly conceived and well-considered dystopian fiction similar to George Orwell’s classic in that the government seeks to gain consensus not through violence but by influencing the cultural milieus of the masses. If you disagree with the policies of the government of the day they don’t make you disappear, they use their unwitting operatives to shame you into silence.
However, the strength of this novel is also its weakness. Replete with political machinations and characters launching into philosophical diatribes it is dense, plodding and much of the dialogue is didactic. Real action, the exciting kind that builds tension is scarce, and similar scenarios of debate, discussion, and ultimately indecision, are presented again and again with little or no consequences.
Well-developed characterization is also lacking with the host of characters only defined by their political affiliations.
The author has also chosen to use Japanese greetings and political terminology throughout the story. Perhaps it is a metaphor to indicate how far the birthplace of the Parliamentary system has drifted from its roots. If so, it’s an unnecessary impediment.
#amreading #readingcommunity #booklovers
As the subtitle suggests, The War of Mankind is A Dystopian Survival Thriller with copious amounts of well researched information on everything from food security to personal security. All this information is jammed into a story told by a young man as he experiences the apocalypse brought on by climate change, the results of which reactivates a recessive gene in human beings – a deadly one.
A crops fail and food becomes scarce, starvation is a reality, and not only in third world countries. Amongst all that junk DNA, there’s a sleeping gene that allowed us to consume raw meat, and it’s awakening.
The first indication that something dark and disturbing is going is the mutilation of the bodies of homeless people and others who die in parks. Their corpses appear to have been partially eaten. But as famine increases, soon it’s not only dead bodies that are being cannibalized, but also the vulnerable among the livin
g; children and the elderly.
The protagonist begins to realize there are a growing number of the population who prefer a diet of human flesh over anything else and they are on the increase. He can identify them by the subtle genetic modifications they undergo and, with the help of his father, takes steps to defend himself and escape to where pe
ople have more conventional dietary habits, at least for now.
But he has a problem. The beautiful, young woman he’s fallen in love with shows all the signs of being a cannibal, including her preference for the uncooked varieties of dog food.
Author Clark Wilkins uses a creative blend of actual media reports, pseudo-science and imagination to weave a convincing story about a gruesome end to the world as we know it. The plot unfolds realistically, and the response of the protagonist is just as pragmatic.
Characterization is minimal, and at times the plot is brought to a standstill with survival information such as how to operate a stove, home lights, and a hot water tank without electricity and details of other actual survival techniques including weapons.
However, considering the state of civilization, this information overload may turn out to be an asset to the reader rather than a liability.
Read "The War of Mankind: A Dystopian Survival Thriller" as entertainment, then save it for future reference.
I review and critique a lot of books, pre and post published. Most of the authors write well; good grammar, reasonable diction, understandable. What they don’t do well is structure their stories. This is often evident in the first few paragraphs and certainly by the end of the first chapter. It’s the main reason readers abandon a book even if it has a good story premise.
Here are the essential fundamentals of every good story. Disregard them at your own risk.
Begin in media res – in the middle of the action. It’s not uncommon for an author to begin a story and realize the first three chapters are backstory – laying groundwork for the beginning. This is a mistake and a big one. The solution is not to take an action scene from the middle of the book, put it at the beginning and call it a prologue. This only postpones the inevitable – three subsequent chapters of boring backstory. All this information is valuable for you to understand your characters and how they think, feel, look and react. However, it’s not necessary for the reader to know all of it.
Identify the inciting incident and begin there. Remove everything that comes before it.
Now insert only what is necessary to give the reader context. Avoid anything that distracts from the story experience even momentarily. Ideally, facts and information the reader needs should not be forced on him, but be inserted subtly and always be timely, relevant, motivated and, above all, minimal.
The inciting incident – This is the moment when your protagonist’s status quo is upended, a situation takes place that must to be resolved. Something important, dramatic, serious has taken place that propels your hero into action and sets the story in motion.
From this inciting incident, the reader must learn three things about the protagonist:
His Goal - what he wants.
His Motivation - why he wants it.
The Conflict - what is preventing him from attaining his goal?
Write down the GMC and refer to every time you begin to write.It will keep your story focused.
These four elements need to be introduced very early in the story, the first page, even the first paragraph, but certainly in the first chapter so the reader understand what’s at stake. It’s always best to open with action. Action that hooks the reader and keeps them turning the pages to find out what happens next.
Don’t begin with: •
Backstory. The history of your characters, the town, the country, the political climate. • Character Description. The features of your characters; his height, hair and eye colour, that crease between his eyebrows.
• Setting description. Use just what’s needed for context: This world or on another planet, day or night, inside or outside, and a clue as to whether the story is happening now, in the past, or in the future.
The Story Arc – Once you have established the four story essentials, challenge your hero with one obstacle after another as he tries to achieve his goal. Stories are about conflict, intense conflict that is either life-threatening or threatening to a way of life. Keep the conflicts coming and increase their severity and importance. As the tension climbs so does the story arc until it peaks. At this point you’ve reached the climax of the story, the ultimate battle, life or death, love or loss. The hero either wins or loses.
The Denouement – Following the climax, the story quickly winds down, tying up loose ends until it ends.
- Don’t leave the reader with unresolved issues.
- Don’t introduce new characters or plot threads.
The Ending – A good ending doesn’t have to be anticipated, but it must feel appropriate. To be satisfying, the goal the protagonist was after has to be resolved, though not necessarily successfully. This is the physical journey. Furthermore, the protagonist must have changed internally (spiritually, emotionally, morally) during his pursuit of the goal. This is the internal journey.
Write for the reader. Get rid of author indulgences – those things you find really interesting but have no relevance to the story or the character.
Less is better. Try to write your story with as few words as possible.
- Unnecessary description
- Unnecessary actions
- Unnecessary speaker attributions
- Most adverbs
- The words “that” and “just”.
The cardinal rule is if it doesn’t develop character or advance the plot delete it.
OFFER ENDS AT MIDNIGHT, WED., SEPT. 30, 2020
The BIRD WITCH
The Mattie Saunders Series - Book 4
FREE TIL SEPT. 30, 2020
Download your FREE digital edition now from Amazon at
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When cultures collide...is love enough?
Can you love someone whose worldview is different from yours? Who is committed to a cause that excludes you because of your race? Simon is an Indigenous person dedicated to the struggle for justice for First Nations people. Mattie loves him but is love enough?
Birds are dying. At the Saunders Bird Rescue and Sanctuary where rescued parrots abandoned by their owners are rehabilitated and re-homed, a deadly virus has them dying in Mattie's hands. In the midst of this outbreak, she's called to investigate a mortality event where dozens of starlings fly into the pavement as if committing suicide.
Mattie needs Simon's support, but after spending weeks at a remote protest site, as soon as he returns home he begins working with Wendy Walters, the attractive, ambitious Indigenous politician on her re-election campaign. Mattie's just about had enough.
When Simon proposes a vacation on the Mexican Riviera, Mattie sees it as an opportunity to recover from the death of her beloved birds. She's also hopeful it's an indication Simon's reconsidering his priorities.
She didn't realize while on vacation he'd want to attend the Conference of Indigenous Peoples in Chiapas. Mattie's annoyed but decides to indulge her passion and do some tropical bird watching rather than attend a boring conference.
But Simon's conference turns out to be anything but boring when a deadly firefight erupts between the Mexican Army trying to arrest suspected terrorists and revolutionary Zapatista's.
Now Simon is missing, and Mattie is determined to find him, but to do so she must first escape being kidnapped by corrupt Mexican police and avoid abduction by vicious cartel members.
The fourth book in The Mattie Saunders Series, The Bird Witch combines romance and action with environmental themes for an entertaining and thoughtful exploration of contemporary culture.
I write because I love to. Ask me what I’d like to do today and I’d say write. Sit down, by myself, and write. Sure, I like to do other things as well, but it’s one of my top three.
Still, some time’s it’s lonely being an indie author. It’s also frustrating – a lot. But every once in awhile, quite unexpectedly and without warning, something remarkable happens.
For example, this review by Thomas Dalcolle of my novel Local Rag. When I read it, I thought, is he describing something I wrote? Yes. He is. I wrote this! Though I must admit, I don’t remember it being quite as good he indicates.
What makes this most satisfying is, Thomas Dalcolle got it. In fact, he read more into my story than I intended, but that’s the thing about fiction, it can mean different things to different readers.
Here’s Thomas Dalcolle’s take on my novel, Local Rag. REVIEW OF LOCAL RAG by Thomas Dalcolle
HEADLINE; A local rag challenges the powerful; corpses start piling. Five well deserved stars.
After the index, the book displays a famous quote about truth and opinions from Marcus Aurelius—stoic philosopher and Roman emperor of the second century AD—, not quite a John Doe. But Jim Mitchell, journalist owner of a local rag in Vancouver, carries a very different creed. He believes in the presence and relevance of truth and is fully committed to the deontology of news journalism. Check the facts before publishing, then tell the truth without warping it anyhow.
The existence of a unique, accessible truth is here an unquestionable axiom. Moreover, “Jim considered unbiased, in-depth news coverage essential in a functioning democracy.” Which, depending on the definition of democracy, may contradict the premises. To his bad luck, Jim must soon realize that the mission of bringing all that irksome theory to reality seriously conflicts with the laws of profit, and with the legitimate aspiration to an ordinary, happy life.
In a particular way if this comprises a marriage with a sexy, rich, vain woman, daughter to a billionaire—owner of a giant multimedia company—and an interiors decorator driving a Porsche Boxster. But this is nothing, just a detail in the indecipherable, garbled puzzle of Jim’s life.
Jim is part of a trio of close friends, a sort of childhood soulmates club. The other two members are Frances, daughter to Chinese immigrants, and Tony from an Italian family. Jim, on his turn, though a native Canadian, had to bear another even bitter stigma, as the son of an alcohol-addicted father, and grown-up in dire poverty. The three friends, marginal individuals in the community of schoolboys, almost outcasts, help each other to overcome their condition of social seclusion.
Growing up, they conceive the dream of reforming the society into a more accessible and inclusive one. In their ideal society, everybody, not only the natives and the millionaires, may aspire to a political career and even become a leader.
At the time of the facts, Frances, the inspirational soul and moral guide to the group, is a successful lawyer and is supporting Tony—already a town’s counselor—in his electoral campaign for the post of Mayor.
The story goes that Frances, despite the friendship and loyalty to Tony has turned to a secret intimate relationship—Tony is already married—investigates his campaign supporters and discovers wrongdoing. Frances collects evidence and calls on Jim, in the hope he may pressure Tony to take distance from his principal supporter, a notable member of the local Indian community. The man, called Brar, behind the mask of a successful entrepreneur, is a real thug involved in fraudulent real estate projects, international drug smuggling, as well as human trafficking.
In a confrontation that goes physical, Tony tells Jim plainly that Brar is the only one who can grant him enough preferences to win the Mayoralty race, and that he doesn’t mean to drop his dream of a life. He’s ready to prosecute it whatever it may cost, with genuine Machiavelli's tactics. The premises for the frontal clash are set up. Jim, covertly sustained by Frances, threatens Tony to publish the evidence of Brar’s wrongdoings on his local magazine and to expose the advantages that the thug plans to gather from Tony’s election to Mayor.
After that, the killing begins. First, a witness of Brar’s drug smuggling disappears and is then found dead on the city river’s banks. Then the same Frances, who holds an affidavit from the murdered witness, disappears from her flat, which appears as the theater of a butchery. Jim is sure that Tony has personally killed Fran. There are clues and circumstantial evidence in that direction, even though no conclusive proof. To make things worse, Frances’ body, as well as the incriminating affidavit, are nowhere to be found.
Jim swears he won’t let Tony go away with what he’s done. He’ll use his only weapon, his local rag, putting himself on the line of fire. I won't say more to avoid spoilers. I only add that, in the end, Local Rag should appear to the careful reader much more than a well-designed, masterly written, and realistic murder mystery.
Local Rag is, in my opinion, a philosophical parable on the ultimate meaning of truth in our earthly lives. The last pages will clarify the individual relevance of the initial Aurelian quote in this story. By the way, the closing image of the book is a powerful visual allegory about where humanity as a whole is heading fast, if not for a sharp change of route. Just don't jump to the end of the book to decipher these allusions. You'd remain baffled. The only way is to follow the characters all along their troubling adventure.
LOCAL RAG is available from Amazon. Visit
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By 2045, a majority of the US population will be people of color. This will change the electoral makeup and enable people of color to have a transformative political impact.
In Zerlina Maxwell’s, The End of White Politics - How to Heal Our Liberal Divide, the former staffer for Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign explains this is not a movement, it’s not a theory, it’s a demographic fact. To take advantage of this shift, the Democratic Party has to listen to the people of color and diverse groups, promote them to positions of power within the party, and let them lead the way.
According to Maxwell, when you’re accustomed to privilege, equality feels like oppression, and that applies to all white males including those in the Democratic Party. Maxwell takes aim at the Bernie Bros, calling them “a manifestation of white male privilege”, and the “same as Trump supporters responding to the same perceived loss of privileges.” She claims whitelash increased racial solidarity among white people with the shared perception that they were losing status, rights, and privileges they had traditionally enjoyed was the reason for the Trump win.
She endorses identity-based politics explaining, in reality, it is politics saying there is more than one experience to consider. That means embracing identities other than those that are white, male, and heteronormative and accordingly running political campaigns based on the needs and experiences of those African Americans, Latinx, and the LGBTQ+ communities and women. Though women currently are a majority of the US population, their numbers don’t reflect that in elected officials.
Critical of Democratic presidential nominee, Joe Biden, she suggests he has a “long history of telling the black constituency he can be trusted, while simultaneously authoring and implementing policies that would hurt them.” This includes supporting Bill Clinton’s 1994 Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act that has resulted in the current crisis of mass incarceration.
Maxwell identifies with The Squad, four young women of color recently elected to Congress saying, “there is no group more representative of how the next generation of leadership will look than The Squad.” She’s a supporter of their outspoken candor on public policy saying that lived experiences make better-informed policymaking. To Maxwell, the impulse of most Democrats to be moderate “feels like a manifestation of the white privilege that has plagued us for so long. Being a moderate is not a virtue. Moderation does not pull us toward progress.”
The book is dense with facts and then some since Maxwell has a tendency to repeat the same arguments in different context. She’s also fond of political jargon and memes, ostensibly to enhance her insider credibility, but which frequently sent me on an internet search to understand.
As an analysis of the current state of America’s political system, The End of White Politics reads like the future, like an awakening, like common sense.
Written with passion and commitment, Zerlina Maxwell presents her argument persuasively and unapologetically, and with enough anecdotes to lift it above the political thesis. She reminds us when she quotes feminist Laura Duca, “At any given moment, you’re either actively fighting for equality, or you’re complicit in the system of oppression that prevents it.”
Amazon won’t deliver my books to Canada or within the USA.
Part of my process of self-publishing is to send my new work to beta readers. The payback, I’d like to believe, is their contribution enhances an original work of art. Too grandiose? Okay, how about they get to be one of the first people to read a soon-to-be bestseller? Wishful thinking? At the very least, they get a free book once it’s published with their name listed on the Acknowledgement Page. And, of course, my undying gratitude.
But alas! Due to COVID19 Amazon is not shipping books to Canada, saying, “...due to the current Prevention measure taken by the US and due to increased demand for essential goods, we have been forced to reduce product selection available for delivery to Canada and also within the US as well.”
Some of my beta readers prefer ebooks, but others want paperback proof copies, and so do I. For me, the typos and dropped words I’ve missed in my Word manuscript jump out from a hard copy. And there are a lot of them.
So that means, The Bird Witch - Book 4 in The Mattie Saunders Series, will have to wait for what I’m not sure. A vaccine?
Until then, if you’re running out of things to read, contact me at email@example.com and I’ll send you the ebook ARC of The Bird Witch along with some beta-reading tips.
Just think, not only will you be one of the first people to read a soon-to-be bestseller, your contribution will have enhanced this an original work of art.
The free launch of The Triumvirate - Love for Power. Love of Power. The Power of Love, topped out on the Amazon free ebook category at 12,340 on June 29.
That's with a homemade cover, self-edited, and your help.
Now if that converts into reviews I may even make some money. The free ebook is still available until midnight July 1, 2020.
Oh yeah, Happy Canada Day, eh?