Author Event Promo, Fayetteville Public Library

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Find out more about Susan, her book Deadly Ties, and her Waterside Kennels Mystery series  by visiting her website at www.dogmysteries.com

Book Review: Pit of Vipers

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Pit of Vipers is the second book in Millie Thom’s wonderfully detailed and enthralling Sons of Kings trilogy set in the 9th Century. Here the epic, heroic adventure continues as we follow historical Alfred, fictional Eadwulf, and hordes of invading Danish Vikings.

Young Alfred, brother of kings, learns to hone his leadership skills and navigate the complexities of the royal court he is destined to rule. Eadwulf is back in Mercia four years now after being held slave of the Danes and is dead set on seeking revenge against his scheming, traitorous, cold-blooded uncle, Burgred.

This story has everything historical fiction fans could hope for: strong, believable characters, meticulously rendered historical settings, love and heartache, scheming intrigue, vicious deceptions, revenge, and epic conflict.

The author’s research into and knowledge of the time period provides an in-depth, fascinating look into the trials, tribulations, and challenges of those who lived in this historic period. We are drawn into their lives, suffering with them through their heartaches, rejoicing with them during moments of joy, and we are provided a front-row seat to witness the battles—both victories and defeats, private and epic—against the Anglo-Saxon’s nemesis, the great heathen armies of the Danes of the 9th Century.

No spoilers here but Pit of Vipers ends on an unexpected cliff-hanger that provides what I hope is a tantalizing transition to the third book of Millie Thom’s Sons of Kings trilogy.

I look forward to reading the final installment of this classic adventure.

Probably A Good Idea

Here’s a list of forbidden and off-limits titles, subjects, and story ideas originally attributed to a creative writing teacher for a class tasked with writing stories for children. Also seems applicable to anyone involved in creating flash fiction involving young readers and writers. Not sure if I should laugh or cringe.

  1. You Are Different And That’s Bad
  2. The Boy Who Died From Eating All His Vegetables
  3. Fun Four Letter Words To Learn And Share
  4. Hammers, Screwdrivers, And Scissors: An “I-Can-Do-It” Book
  5. The Kid’s Guide To Hitchhiking
  6. Curious George And The High Voltage Fence
  7. The Little Crybaby Who Snitched
  8. That’s It: I’m Putting You Up For Adoption
  9. Grandpa Gets A Casket
  10. Where To Hide Those Peas You Don’t Want To Eat
  11. The Magic World Inside The Abandoned Refrigerator
  12. Garfield Gets Feline Leukemia
  13. Fun Things To Do With Matches
  14. Strangers Have The Best Candy
  15. Your Nightmares Are Real
  16. Where Would You Like To Be Buried?
  17. Why Can’t Mr. Fork And Ms. Electric Outlet Be Friends?
  18. Places Where Mommy And Daddy Hide Neat Things
  19. Making Grown-Up Friends On The Internet
  20. 101 Fun Games To Play In The Highway
  21. You Can’t Hide It If You Are Stupid
  22. I Dare You! 101 Challenges To Prove You Are Not A Coward
  23. Trixie Goes To The Big City
  24. The Pop-Up Book Of Human Anatomy

 

Creating A Lovable Villain

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Check out the blog writersinthestorm for some wonderful tips in a short, well-written article about creating a lovable villain by award-winning author Shannon Donnelly (Under The Kissing Bough) as she speaks of “villains we love to hate and how to keep them from becoming a cardboard stereotype whose every action is predictable and boring.”

“Nothing marks a writer as a beginner as clearly as the cliché bad guy.

This is the bad guy who is ugly inside and out with no redeeming qualities—this is the “boo-hiss” melodrama mustache twirling villain. And this is an easy fix in any story.

What’s that easy fix? Lots of things can help, but here are five quick fixes:

5 Quick Fixes to Make Readers Love Your Villains” –Shannon Donnelly

The article is definitely worth the read and I found myself thinking of one of my villains as I read Shannon’s advice.

I won’t say the assassin in “The Mystery of the Death Hearth” is exactly a lovable creature. Parzifal is, after all, a person who makes a living by killing. But he does have depth; that is to say as the story progresses, more is revealed about his background, his parents, his past and the horrid conditions among the less-than-honorable slave owners that helped create his inevitable destiny as a professional killer. He also has present-day motives that go beyond the daily, murderous tasks given him by criminal bosses. Parzifal has plans, high hopes for a new life, and a mental image of possibilities beyond his current circumstances having nothing at all to do with underworld crime. Does he manage to accomplish those personal goals? Can he successfully break away and fulfill his dreams? No spoilers here but I almost found myself rooting for this man even though he can and does make my protagonist’s life miserable to the brink of death.

I encourage a visit to writersinthestorm and read the rest of the Shannon’s article. Very interesting and informative.

Your next villain will appreciate it, too.

On The Road Again

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Me at Iron Bridge Spillway Lake Fayetteville, AR

In June, doctors and specialists completed their blood-drawing, prodding, poking examinations. They decided prescribing a drug called TEGRETOL to help manage the pain until they could diagnose the exact problem was the right thing to do. It wasn’t. Side effects (among the many) include depression, anxiety, thoughts of suicide, and death. Yes, death.

In whose world is death a side effect?

Maybe it’s the mystery writer in me or my sense of humor:

Doctor: “Yes, Mr. Cotner, we have a cure for what ails you: Death.”

Me: “Thanks, Doc, but I’ll pass if it’s all the same to you.”

Anyway, I’m not dead (yet) and now that the full body and brain CAT Scans are over and the results in, they’ve determined the problem causing pain and occasional paralysis in hands and feet is not a brain tumor as they first suspected but it is pinched nerves in my spine caused by deteriorating spinal discs.

I’ll live with the pain and have opted out of drugs and surgery (at least for the foreseeable future).

I’m back on the road again, a few pounds heavier than usual but that will soon be lost when I get my daily hiking and biking regime back in full swing. Managed to ride seventeen miles around Lake Fayetteville on the day these pictures were taken with no problem and little pain. It’s good to be out and about again. I’m cheering for the return of normal (whatever that is).

Good to be back blogging again, too.

 

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Taking a rest at Iron Bridge below spillway

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Bridge across the spillway on the lake’s bike trail

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Wildflower Meadow On The Fayetteville Bike Trail

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Taking A Water Break At Wildflower Meadow

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Wildflowers Lake Fayetteville Meadow North

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Bike Trail East Of Lake Fayetteville

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Winding Bike Trail East of Lake Fayetteville, AR