Monday, August 15, 2022

Book Date Monday - #AmReading Aug 15

 

Book Date Monday #6

In today's blog post...


What I've Read: Just finished The Inside Job by J.D. Weston. I wasn't familiar with the author, but evidently he has a number of books in his Stone Cold Thriller series. This prequel novella, in which one of Weston's MCs is born (Harvey Stone) at the end of the story, was kind of hard to follow. It jumped from scene to scene without much transition; and there were a lot of POVs. 

Wasn't sure who I should be cheering for as all the characters seemed to be bad guys trying to pull one over on the other criminals mixed up in the caper. Also wasn't sure who Stone was until the end, so ultimately this story just didn't work for me. (I found it in a free bundle of 7 thrillers called, Into the Silence.)

Now one story I did enjoy recently was a novelet by Cliff Hamrick titled, Poison in the Dark: A Jarek the Scholar Adventure. It's a classic fantasy story; a clever, thieving adventure and quite enjoyable. It features Jarek (my first exposure to this character and first story I've read by Hamrick), a scholar, thief, and rogue. From the short story I read, he seems a likeable character.

Confession: This was free for a short time on Amazon and it was short. I really didn't look at the cover, lol, and when I started reading it I thought I'd stumbled upon sword and sorcery erotica the way the story opens (so reader beware!). But the tale quickly unfolds into a fun and plot-twisty romp. Very well done and a series I may want to get into.

What I'm Reading: Still reading Colin Dexter's first Inspector Morse mystery, Last Bus to Woodstock. Also, Rick Partlow's military SF adventure, Home Front (Drop Trooper #5). 

But one book I forgot to mention last week is an ARC I received from indie writer, J. W. Walker called Insubordinate. It's a sequel to his YA dystopian novel, Champion. He has his own publishing website called Time Space Publishing with a few freebies on his site.

So far, Insubordinate is okay. The series is basically "Hunger Games Meets Ancient Roman Gladiators Run by Skynet." (That's my take, so if I'm wrong, blame me, lol.) It's a bit on the juvenile side of things for my tastes, but given the setting and theme, it's relatively clean and might make for good reading for those into this YA genre.

Books on My TBR: Still trying to get to a sword and planet novel that's been on my virtual nightstand for a few weeks now. It's L. S. King's Laws and Prophecies. This novel is book three in the author's Sword's Edge Chronicles. I liked the prequel novel and books 1 and 2, so I know I'll enjoy this one when I finally get to it. 

I also want to get to the final novel in the free bundle of 7 thrillers I downloaded a long time ago (mentioned above, called Into the Silence.) This last one is by Sandra Woffington and is titled, Merlot and Murder. I believe this is a prequel story to her Wine Valley Mysteries Series that evidently runs 10 books. I've not heard of her before, so I'm looking forward to reading this.

Stacking the Shelves: Only got one extra freebie recently, one for my Nook App from B&N called No Mercy, a Valerie Law FBI Suspense Thriller (Book 1) by Blake Pierce. I've not read him before but man, this guy has tons of books in a whole bunch of different series. Check out his website

What I'm Writing: Finally, for today's wrap up, let me just share what I post at the end of my #amwriting updates. If you want to follow along as I write Secrets & Scents, here's my latest blog post with links to the earlier entries. I'm basically journaling each day I write, so it's sort of fun.

Thanks for reading! Drop a comment with a link to your Book Date Monday post or just tell me what you're reading currently. - Lyn

~*~

Here's a placeholder image for Secrets & Scents - A Kelli & Jo Candle Shop Mystery by yours truly. I'll be launching a Kickstarter Campaign in September, 2022, for cozy mystery fans to acquire their exclusive pre-release edition of my latest novel with a brand new, professionally designed cover. Watch for details. 

In the meantime, if you become a Patreon Subscriber, you'll be able to read Secrets & Scents as I write it! New chapters of my WIP every week, plus a backlist novel a month and bonus short stories exclusive to patrons.

Thursday, August 11, 2022

Review of Hunger Games Prequel

Review of: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins (Scholastic Press, 2020)

If you're a casual Hunger Games fan, you'll probably not like this novel. If you enjoy 'scrappy underdog defeats big bad totalitarian' stories, you're going to be disappointed here. If you dislike Byronic heroes, you'll probably just end up hating this book. 

I think what many were hoping for was another edge-of-your-seat story about a familiar character, but of course, done as a prequel. That's what I assumed I was going to read (well, listen to - I borrowed the audio from our local library).

But what Collins has done with TBoSaS, I think, is to take the big motifs or ideas of the trilogy (nature of man, good v evil, nature v nurture, eternal Leviathan struggle, etc), and distill them into the inner story of Coriolanus Snow. Yep, the main bad guy of the trilogy. This is his origin story. And - spoiler, not really - it's a tragedy in the making. It's a sad tale well told. Not everyone's favorite kind of story.

From a literary discussion standpoint, however, this is a wonderful modern novel for mature high schoolers to wrestle with. That is, if the instructor/facilitator is up for it and allows students to take the discussion where it naturally leads - to spiritual, moral, and truly liberal (freedom embracing) values. Otherwise, it'll be an exercise in futility without any resolution. Because there is resolution. "Snow lands on top." Or it doesn't. One must choose.

(Note: I listened to the audio version last year and posted this review on Goodreads. Follow me there for more reviews.)


Wednesday, August 10, 2022

Finished a Story I Started in...2013!

You read that right. I started a sword and soul fantasy short story back in 2013. It languished in my WIP folder on my computer for 9 years. Didn't know what to make of it or where it was going, plot-wise.

So now that I'm getting back to story writing, I want to finish a lot of "trunk" stories - tales I've abandoned or hidden away in a trunk, best left forgotten! But no, not forgotten! Maybe I can clean them up and make something of them!

That's what happened to this African based fantasy. I was 400 words into it and it just sputtered back in 2013. 

So I employed the best writing advice I've ever heard: Just write the next sentence. And then the next. And keep going until that story is done.

This is one of Heinlein's Rules for Writing. He famously distilled the business of writing down to the folowing five essential steps. 

Obviously, there is more to the craft of writing, but the business of writing (if you want to be a professional) starts here:

1) You must write.

2) You must finish what you start.

3) You must refrain from rewriting, except to editorial order.

4) You must put your story on the market.

5) You must keep it on the market until sold.

Most people quit during Step 1. More people get off the bus at Step 2. If people are still writing, they ignore Step 3 and keep re-writing the same story over and over again, never sending it off to a market or putting it up for sale themselves (Step 4). And then, the last of the crowd will get a rejection and never bother with the story again.

But those who are long-term writing professionals will soldier through all 5 steps day after day after day. So right now I have four stories that I've submitted to markets. Four stories I've finished in the last two weeks. Two have already been rejected and I've resent them to other markets. I like quick rejections! 

So now I'm jazzed. I'm looking on my harddrive for any other potential story starts that need finishing up! I'll get to all of them eventually, for I have a number hidden away in various files. Then I'll write, and I'll finish, then I won't rewrite or edit but instead I will send it to market and keep sending it until it's sold. Who's with me?

~*~

More Short Stories Available...

Are you interested in reading exclusive material not yet available to the public? Do you like to support the arts and back a favorite author or hlep support one just getting started? Then you might enjoy becoming a patron by subscribing to my Patreon page

You'll get to read a short story never before published, plus follow along as I post chapters in my current novel WIP (and get an ebook edition once it's done), as well as get an ebook novel of mine from my backlist every month. 

Check out my Patreon rewards. Thanks for considering it!



Tuesday, August 09, 2022

Expanded a Short Story Today

Now that I'm writing full time, I not only want to complete a series of novels, but I also want to get back to writing short stories and submitting them to magazines for publication. Three reasons, really.

1) It's practice. Writing short stories helps me get better at telling stories in a concise and compelling way. If you want to get better at piano, you have to practice the piano every day, right? Same with writing.

2) It's an opportunity for income. As I submit more stories the more opportunity I have to earn money from the sales of said stories. Yes, there are plenty of paying markets still out there. Lots of different pay rates, but still, it's a great way to get paid for writing.

3) Writing short stories and getting them published is like free advertising for my other published works. People might read a story of mine online or in a magazine and, if they like it, might look me up and buy something else I've written. Perfect way to make money and get free advertising!

Today, I searched for a fantasy story that had been languishing on my computer and edited and expanded it, tightened the plot and gave it more oomph. I'm really happy with the results. 

I then sent it off to a fantasy magazine. If they reject it, no worries. I'll send it out to another market until it finds a home. Now to make sure my spreadsheet is updated so I can track my story subs. Because I plan on writing more and submitting more in the coming weeks and months.

~*~


Are you interested in reading exclusive material not yet available to the public? Do you like to support the arts and back a favorite author or hlep support one just getting started? Then you might enjoy becoming a patron by subscribing to my Patreon page

You'll get to read a short story never before published, plus follow along as I post chapters in my current novel WIP (and get an ebook edition once it's done), as well as get an ebook novel of mine from my backlist every month. Check out my Patreon rewards. Thanks for considering it!

Monday, August 08, 2022

Book Date Monday - Aug 8 2022

What am I reading this week?

Trying to get back to some weekend book blogging and Book Date Mondays. Visit the blog to see what others are reading and to participate in the weekly blog hop.

Also, just posted my Sunday Salon / Sunday Post / and Stacking the Shelves yesterday if you want to catch up on what new books are in the hopper for future reading.

Currently #AMREADING entries...

1) I'm half way through a paperback by Colin Dexter, the creator of Inspector Morse. In fact, this is the first Inspector Morse mystery, Last Bus to Woodstock. The novel Morse is a slightly different character than who we got to know on PBS, and quite a lot different than Endeavor (our younger Morse, also on PBS). But maybe it's the first novel jitters. ;-)

Very much enjoying the mystery, though. It's a slow burn so not a lot of action yet. Not gruesome, the murder occured off the page. And Sargent Lewis is very likeable. 

Last Bus was first published in 1975, and I like the omniscient story telling that took place back in that era. People call it head hopping today, but when done well it really helps move the story along and provides interesting insight into the characters actions and motives.

2) The Inside Job (A Stone Cold Novella) by J. D. Weston. This novella is part of a 7 book bundle that I downloaded for free a long time ago. The selections are hit and miss, but the idea is to introduce a new author and book series to readers and so it does its job. 

Couldn't find this novella anywhere online though as a stand alone. So I assume it's exclusive to this bundle titled, "Into the Silence: Seven Thrilling Stories." You can find it on Goodreads

So far the story is a bit odd - can't tell if I'm supposed to take the criminal characters seriously or if they are meant to be cardboard stereotypes who are over the top dumb. I'll let you know, lol.

3) What I usually read before going to bed is Rick Partlow's Drop Trooper series - currently reading Book 5: Home Front. It's a military SF novel and the series is very good. Books 1 to 4 form a complete story arc, so you don't have to feel like you're committed to all 10 books (or maybe 11 by now).

Each novel is also a stand alone, but you'll probably want to do the whole series if you like Mil-SF. Why I like to read these before I got to bed, I'm not sure! Probably because of the distant worlds and intergalactic conflict. Something to dream about and imagine as I drift off to sleep. 

Fair warning: lots of cussing. But excellent writing and storytelling if this is your genre. Give it a try! Start with Contact Front by Rick Partlow. Published by Aethon Books.

4) Finally, a sword and planet novel that's been on my virtual nightstand for a few weeks now is L. S. King's Laws and Prophecies. It's book three in the author's Sword's Edge Chronicles. I liked the prequel novel and books 1 and 2, so I know I'll enjoy this one when I get to it. 

I can only read about 3 books at a time anymore. It was not unusual for me to have 6 or 7 books going at the same time. But I'm kinda busy writing my own stories now (see below) and so I have only a few open spots for reading time - like right before bed, at noon when I'm taking a break, and when I'm on the go waiting in line at Walmart or something, lol. Three different ebooks for three different occasions!

Well, that's what's on my plate for this week. What are you reading? Comment below. Thanks!

~*~

Hello! I'm Lyn Perry, a spec-fic writer living in Puerto Rico. I'm a former pastor and current husband, father, coffee drinker, and cat-wrangler. My wife and I are semi-retired and enjoying life on the beach where I get to write full time. It's crazy.

I'm currently working on my own series of cozy mysteries featuring Ma Tutt who owns a bakery in Sugar Pine Station. Her mysterious feline friend, Mack the Magical Cat, lends a helping paw as her strange recipes get her in and out of trouble!

This series, which started wtih Ma Tutt's Donut Hut, continues with Book 2, Ma Tutt's Secret Spice, available for pre-order now, arriving Sept 1, 2022. Are you a cozy reviewer? Are you interested in an ARC? Contact me and let me know. I would love a few reviews when Secret Spice hits the online stores in a few weeks! 

Email me at lyngperry at yahoo dot com. You can also find me almost anywhere online, so check out my various Linktree Locations and say hello!

Sunday, August 07, 2022

Stacking the Shelves - Weekly Roundup for Aug 1 to 6

Stacking the virtual shelves with cozies this past week.

Grabbed three new cozy mysteries this week - the first 2 listed from among over 60 freebies via an August Bookfunnel Promo. Check it out - "Free Cozy Mystery Books." 

I could have downloaded a dozen more that interested me, but then I'd also be signing up for the author's newsletters. Which isn't a bad thing...I'm just on a lot of newsletter lists right now! Are you?

What's your approach when getting free ebooks and getting on an author's mailing list - do you feel you should keep getting their newsletter for awhile or do you quit right away?

I usually give the newsletter about a month and if it stays interesting, I keep it. Otherwise, I unsubscribe without comment. I just hate it when people unsubscribe from my newsletter! lol 

The third ebook I grabbed for free was Arson and Americanos and I found it by exploring Maxwell's 2nd book in the series, Murder and Macchiatos. Amazon's "Look Inside" feature revealed this line in the front matter: "To read a free novella showing how Hazel got started with her mobile coffee business, click here!" Which led to her Bookfunnel landing page. Another newsletter, but that's okay!

Looks like I've got some reading to do this next week - plus some newsletters to catch up on!

As for my current #AMREADING entry, I'm half way through a paperback by Colin Dexter, the creator of Inspector Morse. In fact, this is the first Inspector Morse mystery, Last Bus to Woodstock

The novel Morse is a slightly different character than who we got to know on PBS, and quite a lot different than Endeavor (our younger Morse, also on PBS). But maybe it's the first novel jitters. ;-)

Very much enjoying the mystery, though. It's a slow burn so not a lot of action yet. Not gruesome, the murder occured off the page. And Sargent Lewis is very likeable. 

Last Bus was first published in 1975, and I like the omniscient story telling that took place back in that era. People call it head hopping today, but when done well it really helps move the story along and provides interesting insight into the characters actions and motives.


So that's it for me this week. Be sure to visit the following book bloggers and add your links if you want to participate in the weekly blog hops. Comment below and let me know what's on your shelf!
~*~

Hello! I'm Lyn Perry, a spec-fic writer living in Puerto Rico. I'm a former pastor and current husband, father, coffee drinker, and cat-wrangler. My wife and I are semi-retired and enjoying life on the beach where I get to write full time. It's crazy.

I'm currently working on my own series of cozy mysteries featuring Ma Tutt who owns a bakery in Sugar Pine Station. Her mysterious feline friend, Mack the Magical Cat, lends a helping paw as her strange recipes get her in and out of trouble!

This series, which started wtih Ma Tutt's Donut Hut, continues with Book 2, Ma Tutt's Secret Spice, available for pre-order now, arriving Sept 1, 2022. Are you a cozy reviewer? Are you interested in an ARC? Contact me and let me know. I would love a few reviews when Secret Spice hits the online stores in a few weeks! 

Email me at lyngperry at yahoo dot com. You can also find me almost anywhere online, so check out my various Linktree Locations and say hello!

Wednesday, August 03, 2022

Secrets & Scents - Day 6

Wrapping up the flashback / catch-up chapters.

            Wrote just over 3,000 words today. Chapters 10 and 11. Finally caught up to Chapter 1. Next chapter begins in the present moment, just after the strange man is found passed out in the back of the bookstore.

If you’ve been reading along as I post my WIP updates, you know that I flashbacked three months after the opening scene. This backtrack is really working. It’s not boring because I’m introducing an overarching mystery that will carry this series of books to nine novels. (I hope!)

To get to the overarching mystery (the notes, or predictions/prophecies) and its ultimate solution (which I don’t know at this point – it’s a mystery, people! even to me!), I need to introduce a mysterious character from the Ma Tutt stories. Her name is Martía and she’s a Gypsy.

Actually Romany (or Roma or Romani). Anyway, her and her husband Rohan are a curious couple. I won’t spoil the Ma Tutt mysteries, but suffice it to say, they are a lot more than they appear to be.

One of Martía’s specialties, however, is knowing special ingredients, recipes, spices, herbs. That sort of thing. So now that I have the bookstore stocked with books, I need to get the candle shop part of the store up and running.

Kelli’s in charge of this portion of the store and involved CiCi, a teen helper of Ma’s at the bakery. But she can work part time with Kelli to make candles and create their inventory. Where Martía comes in is helping with some scents or aromas. Thus I’m using the situation to introduce new characters that are vital to the ongoing Big Mystery Thing.

Now if you could follow all that, you’re better at story development and plotting than I am! Suffice it to say, the novel is progressing really well.

Chapter 11 ends on a high note. Kelli & Jo host an open house the night before the Grand Opening and all their friends show up. It’s a nice way to get most of the ensemble of the series into the same scene.

A little clever writing ploy I used, though, was to almost end the chapter with another disaster. Spoiler! Our love-to-hate General Inspector Donovan Huckly shows up and threatens to put the kibosh on the store opening. Turns out he’s teasing and everything will move forward as planned. Everyone cheers.

Kelli and Jo end the night content and excited. They just know everything will work out great in the morning.

Bum bum bummm. A little bit of irony.

For the next chapter (which I’ll write next) is the present moment. And we already know there’s a possible murder, or ‘something bad’ that has happened at the end of Chapter 1. So that’s what’s next, the Big Mystery Thing and the one-and-done plot mystery thing come together.

But the characters don’t know it yet. Finally, I the author know something the MCs don’t! Won’t they be surprised? Fun to write this novel so far. We’ll see what unfolds next!

Writing Tip…

I got nothing. Maybe, just be sure you introduce your characters in a normal setting before exploiting them later on when the ‘big mystery thing’ is finally revealed. Don’t bring someone in out of the blue who the readers should have had a chance to get to know earlier in the story.

Progress: Writing Secrets & Scents... 

Introduction – Part 1: Launching a New Series 
Introduction – Part 2: The Missing Novel 
Day 1 - 3100 (Chps 1 & 2) - Total: 3,100 words 
Day 2 - 3300 (Chps 3 & 4) - Total: 6,400 words
Day 3 - 3150 (Chps 5 & 6) - Total: 9,550 words
Day 4 - 3100 (Chps 7 & 8) - Total: 12,650 words
Day 5 - 1550 (Chpt 9) - Total: 14,200 words
Day 6 - 3050 (Chps 10 & 11) - Total: 17,250 words

~*~

Here's a placeholder image for Secrets & Scents - A Kelli & Jo Candle Shop Mystery by yours truly. I'll be launching a Kickstarter Campaign in September, 2022, for cozy mystery fans to acquire their exclusive pre-release edition of my latest novel with a brand new, professionally designed cover. Watch for details. 

In the meantime, if you become a Patreon Subscriber, you'll be able to read Secrets & Scents as I write it! New chapters of my WIP every week, plus a backlist novel a month and bonus short stories exclusive to patrons.