That was then




I often hear, “Why can’t I write like (fill in the name of a famous writer from the ‘60s, ‘70s, or ‘80s?)”  Folks tend not to like my answer: That was then. This is now.

Tastes change. Trends change.

I came of age when you could title a play “Oh Dad, Poor Dad, Mamma’s Hung You in the Closet and I’m Feelin’ So Sad,” or “The Persecution and Assassination of Jean-Paul Marat as Performed by the Inmates of the Asylum of Charenton Under the Direction of the Marquis de Sade,” or a book “Been Down So Long It Looks Like Up to Me,” or “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry into Values.” These days, the smart money goes with short titles. One to four words. Why? I’m not sure. Maybe shorter attention spans.

And, yes, some writers of the past wrote paragraph-long sentences full of descriptive language that advanced the plot not one inch. Readers today have so many other options for entertainment, and, frankly, they have shorter attention spans. They won’t stick with you if you take tangents. Again, because little in writing is absolute, some writers working today still get away with it. James Lee Burke is one. Unless you have his chops, his following, and his backlist, I’d suggest you not try walking this particular high wire.

Push the envelope a bit if you want to. Don’t shred it. That’s my advice anyway, for what it’s worth.

Well, NaNo was a bust



I suppose the title says it all. I blew NaNo to bits — and not in a good way.

I started getting sick in late October, but I figured the illness was just bronchitis (which I’m prone to) and would pass in a couple of weeks with proper medication. So off to the doctor I trundled. Yeah, well, not so much. As I type this little update, it’s 25 January, three doggoned months later, and not only am I not better, I’m probably worse. Three different antibiotics and now a course of Prednisone have failed to clear my bronchial tubes. My sinuses are now involved, too. I can’t smell, have had no sense of smell for maybe two weeks. And the headache? My poor skull has been crushed to powder since October. Ugh.

All righty then. Do I have any less depressing news? Why, yes, thankfully. :)

I have a book cover for my upcoming short story collection. I’ve finished the edits on a terrific followup book for a client. This book will be out in another month or two. I’ve picked up a couple of possible new clients and begun edits for a for-sure new client. Business is good, y’all.

Want a look at the book cover? Here it is. The wonderful Renee Barratt of The Cover Counts is the artist.

Book cover Roots of Darkness

Book cover Roots of Darkness

It’s NaNoWriMo





I’ve started NaNo again. I’m working on (depending on how it goes) one or two zombie novellas. I wrote for about an hour between midnight and 1AM on 1 November, just getting things rolling a bit. I put down a bit under 600 words.

I’ll try to drop my word counts here, probably not every day because that’s boring, but every few days.

If you are a writer who has never taken a shot at NaNo, there’s still time.  If you can shoot out 1,6667 words every day in November, you’ll finish a 50,000 word rough draft. Will it be ready for a publisher? Oh, heck no. It won’t even be ready for an editor. But it’ll be something — and it will be ready, after you take a couple of days to put some distance between you and your work, for a rewrite. For making that rough draft into a second draft. Which you’ll probably need to re-rewrite into a third draft. Who said writing was easy, anyway?

Baby, if it were easy, everyone would do it. Writing might not be easy, but it’s awfully rewarding.


photo credit: menken at

A review of “Charmed Vengeance” by Suzanne Lazear


A couple of weeks ago, I reviewed the first book in this series, “Innocent Darkness.” I liked that book so much I immediately bought the second, “Charmed Vengeance.”

This book is not as filled with action as the first, but I certainly do not object to that. The action sequences are good. The character development is on display here, with growth and revelations aplenty.

The High Queen of The Otherworld has set Steven a challenge. He spends much of the book working to accomplish this quest. His brother James is along to help him.

Noli is on something of a quest of her own, working with her brother the air pirate we only heard about in the first book.

My own favourite character, Kevighn, is also on a journey of sorts. His fascination with Noli continues.

If you’ve read any of my reviews anywhere, you’ll know I don’t discuss plot in any depth at all. I will continue that policy here.

This is a worthy second novel in this series. It’s lots of fun. As I said earlier, character development is a priority in this one. We learn more about the characters as they grow and mature.

The first half of the book, unfortunately is riddled with small errors. Missing words, mostly. For example, from page three: “It was difficult not to sigh, even though she was used such comments by now.” The second half is much cleaner.  Because I’m a copy-editor, these little errors strike me more than they might most people.

Did I enjoy the book? Oh my, yes. I’ve already ordered the third book.

The themes and the writing as well as the characters are well-worth your time – even if, like me, you read very little Young Adult material.

Review of “Innocent Darkness” by Suzanne Lazear


I read little Fantasy. I don’t read much Steampunk. I read so little Young Adult (hereafter YA) that you could just as easily say I read none.  So why am I reading and reviewing a YA Steampunk Fantasy novel? Funny you should ask, because that’s the most important bit of this blog post. I “met” the author, Suzanne Lazear, when she conducted a Twitter chat a couple of weeks ago. I had never heard of her or her books before that night. She was so forthcoming, entertaining, and interesting in the chat that I’d ordered the first book in “The Aether Chronicles” before the chat was finished. Ladies and gentlemen of the pen, this is how you gain fans. You engage them and show them that you know your stuff.

Okay, on to the review. As always, plot points will be mostly ignored. I’m never fond of reviews that give away the plot.

Magnolia “Noli” Braddock and her best friend Steven “V” Darrow live in an alternative world version of  Los Angeles in 1901. After an incident with a flying car she didn’t have permission – or the licence—to fly, Noli is sent away to a hellish boarding school. There she meets Charlotte and – be still, my bad-boy loving heart – Kevighn. a Huntsman sent by the High Queen of the Otherworld to bring back a mortal girl to sacrifice to the magic. Without that sacrifice,  the Otherworld will cease to exist.  And so will human creativity. High stakes indeed.

I have to say my favourite character is Kevighn. He could have been a straight-up villain, but in Ms. Lazear’s hands, he’s not.  He has depth and emotion and some sort of twisty backstory with V’s family that I hope will be explored in the rest of the series. I’ve already ordered the second book, “Charmed Vengeance.”

“Innocent Darkness”  is an exciting, sometimes funny, sometimes shiver-inducing novel. The characters have layers, faults, and strengths. The plot is entertaining. The writing itself (something I tend to notice more than some readers – and less than others, if I’m honest) is quite good. I enjoyed this book immensely.

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