Tuesday, August 9, 2011

A Book Review: Flawless Ruins

by Kieryn Nicolas

In Flawless Ruins author Kieryn Nicolas transports the reader to a future in which wars are a thing of the past. Society now belongs to women, who enjoy the best education, a challenging career, a perfect male “Like” to shower them with love and admiration. In fact, Morgan, has such an ideal life in such a well-manicured society, she never questions how all of it is maintained. When she accidentally discovers the cost of maintaining her world, she can no longer take pleasure in it. The more she knows about the lies behind the pretty walls of her town, the more certain she becomes she should expose them.
On the other hand, Neil’s life is completely different. He and his friend, Han, inhabit a walled city with none of the luxuries found in the women’s towns. Boys have become the service staff in 2238, with little hope of escaping the forced labor of their female overseers. Glimpses of the comforts forbidden to them have made them bitter. Worse, boys seem to disappear when they reach adulthood.

When Morgan and Neil meet, their two worlds smash into each other and disrupt both their lives. Morgan feels compelled to learn more about Neil and the others and suffers disillusionment with her unblemished civilization. Neil struggles against a lifetime of abuse to put even the smallest trust in Morgan.   

Kieryn Nicolas, herself a teenager, designed an entirely new social order as the premise for Flawless Ruins. The details she imagined were well thought out and integrated smoothly into the story. Her greatest skill, however, is her ability to bring her characters to life on the page.  The reader readily understands their motivations and becomes emotionally involved with them. As Neil and Morgan race the clock to avoid a disaster, the tension builds beautifully and keeps the reader involved until the very end.

Although I am not a sci-fi aficionado, I truly enjoyed this book. Kieryn Nicolas is a very talented young writer, and I think readers of all ages will enjoy Flawless Ruins.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Cassidy Creek Bridge: The Long and the "Short" of it

Sue Wentz just released a short story I really love. Not everyone can describe a couple's entire relationship in such a brief story, but she has done exactly that. "Cassidy Creek Bridge"  is the account of two people who seek shelter from a rainstorm. As is often the case when a man meets a women, a little flirtation develops and becomes a "what if" chance for a future together. In only three very limited conversations, the author portrays two well-developed characters, tension, romance, betrayal, and more. Her use of language and imagery in this story also plays an important role in making the whole thing work so well.

I'll be watching in September for her young adult novel, Servant To The Wolf. Can't wait for another great read!

Sue Wentz is an award-winning author of short stories and articles. She is also the author of a previous novel called The Bluff. She lives in Wisconsin where she enjoys horses, greyhounds, and writing.

Friday, July 8, 2011

The Anonymous Client

By JP Hailey (Parnell Hall)
ISBN: 978-1-936441-22-8,
e-book edition released 2011,
232 pages.

 This is another fast-paced novel featuring criminal defense attorney, Steve Winslow. The protagonist is clever and so is the novel. It’s also slick, fast-paced, amusing and entertaining. The author has a good sense of his readers and their likely primary interests. He also has a good eye for detail and a finely-honed ability to use words to their maximum effect.

The novel begins and ends with personnel problems in Winslow’s office, a nice counterpoint to the main theme. The problem is a little fillip that adds some rhythm to the book. In the beginning, Winslow’s sole employee, Tracy Garvin, complains of being seriously underworked. That’s because her boss has a tendency to not appear in the office for weeks on end, and that’s because Winslow has few clients.

One day, as the novel opens, a letter arrives. It contains ten one thousand dollar bills. Thus is laid the basis for a very entertaining, very complicated murder and blackmail plot. As is the case with other novels in this series, the plot is a morass of mis-direction, tricky timing, private detectives, and a lot of both internal and external speculation and dialogue. The book is rife with minutia, details that enhance and color the reader’s perceptions of what has just happened, what it may mean and where the story is going next.

Set in New York City, Hall and his protagonist mine the rich variety of setting and character in mostly excellent ways. There is considerably less action in the novel than is often found in crime fiction except for the courtroom scenes which are among the most compelling I have ever read. Dialogue heavy, with sometimes arcane legal maneuvering; these scenes crackle with urgency and tension as we watch the nimble attorney skate along the edge of legal chasms while trying to save his client, sometimes without even knowing who his client is.

Carl Brookins www.carlbrookins.com http://agora2.blogspot.com Case of the Great Train Robbery, Reunion, Red Sky

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Let There Be Light...In Teen Literature

I recently read an article in the Wall Street Journal discussing young adult literature “so dark that kidnapping and pederasty and incest and brutal beatings are now just part of the run of things in novels directed, broadly speaking, at children from the ages of 12 to 18.” The article begins with a parent expressing her concern about the topics common in teen novels.  
  I understand the argument that illuminating real problems helps kids to realize they are not the only ones suffering the same misery. I did, in fact, write my own novel for that very reason. Kids today are, of course, more aware of crime and corruption. Movies, television shows, video games, even news articles deal much more openly with disgraced politicians, immoral religious leaders, and dishonest public servants. If there is no sensational wantonness in our own community, local news reports horrors in other parts of the country. Because of this increased exposure, conscientious parents use these situations to discuss them and put society’s abuses into perspective for their kids. What about the teens whose parents don’t take the time and trouble to educate their children? I don’t think anyone can deny many, many teenagers have little or no guidance.

Even more, though, than the general knowledge of the world’s dark side, I find the description of the detail, or “how-to,” of self-mutilation or other destructive behavior completely unnecessary. As an adult, I find such graphic depictions depressing and distasteful. Does anyone really need a step-by-step plan for rape or suicide?

So by now some of you are thinking “preach on, Sister,” and that’s all right with me. I’m way too passionate about this subject to worry about that. I also realize teen readers of this blog will likely think me hopelessly old fashioned. Oh well, it won’t be the first time, so I’ll finish the sermon with a preachy, out-of-style thought. Adults have some responsibility in how they present illegal or cruel activities to kids who are still figuring out who they are. Uncovering corruption and sleaze is all well and good, but maybe we’ve taken it a little too far. If we want young adults to have values, empathy and ideals, we will have to show them people who still possess them. Kids still need to see some good in people, even if they know to be careful of the bad. Although the young should be aware there are villains in the world, they should also recognize heroes still exist.

And besides, I still need those things myself.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Likin’ the Lycans - A Review: Werewoof

Norm Cowie’s recently released novel is called Werewoof, which tells you a lot about the book right off the bats (pun and “s” intended). When teenaged Erin is twice bitten by a vampire, she and her family plot to rid the town of the blood-sucking evildoers before their daughter is given the third and irreversible bite that will complete her transition to undead.
Assisted by three good friends, Erin and her sister Alex soon run afoul of the wrestling team turned werewolves and a group of teenaged vampires on the prowl. The five friends find themselves in the middle of a clash between factions of not-too-bright night creatures. To this add the local triathalon team pedaling way into the middle of the battle, Erin’s bat providing vampire wisdom, and the girls’ parents running around with garlic and gardening stakes, and you find yourself leaning back in your chair and settling in for the fun.

Cowie makes you chuckle and groan as you make your way through the doggy jokes and clever one-liners, all the while keeping you invested in the fast-paced story line. In the end, the tale is more than a collection of witty turns of phrase. In fact, the story portrays a classical message of the importance of friends and family sticking together to deal with the danger beyond their threshold.   

Think “Twilight” meets “Saved by the Bell.” This one is fun for all ages.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Today's the Day: April 1st release

It's April 1st, the day my book, Snowstorm, will be released. I hope....it isn't up yet. You don't think it will matter, when you've been waiting nearly a year, whether the book shows up on-line at 8am or 8 pm, but apparantly I was wrong about that. I started checking all the locations when my feet hit the floor, and I can't seem to focus on anything else.

I started working on writing more than six years ago, started this book about 5 years ago, got the contract last year, and now I can't wait patiently for a few hours! Ah well, this is what I wanted, right? To be a writer? It really doesn't mean anything that it's April Fool's Day, does it? The book will come out, it will, it will. Then I can worry about something else, like what if nobody reads it?

I think I'll go to the gym. I don't think I'm making much progress here.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

A Book Review: How to Survive a Killer Seance

Try a book review from Carl Brookins. I've got to read this one!
How to Survive A Killer Séance

By Penny Warner
Mass Market release in 2011
by Obsidian, 290 pages.


Party planner Presley Parker is back. In another delightfully cozy murder mystery, she’s got herself enmeshed with some high-roller, high energy, digital silicon-valley types who are nothing if not focused. The problem is they seem to have left everything resembling human values back at the starting gate. Compassion? Nowhere to be found. Fidelity? It is to laugh.

The women are sexy and high energy, the guys are bright and energetic, if often ill-tempered, and poor Presley is caught between some over-stressed corporate types, her own urges and career needs, and her flakey mother. It’s easy to see where Penny gets some of her idiosyncrasies.

A wide range of characters? You bet. Unusual ideas and offbeat characters? Absolutely. This author fully understands what her readers are looking for and in spite of having already produced a huge number of enjoyable books, she continues to plumb her creative muse to write stories that satisfy a certain risibility and belief in the quirkiness of human nature.
A fast read, well-plotted, with a setting to die for, and characters that are distinct. This is yet another of Penny Warner’s diverting, novels. Here there is no gloom or doom, just a murder or two in dark rooms, secret passageways, unreal emanations and a fast romp to a perfectly designed conclusion.

Carl Brookins
http://www.carlbrookins.com/, www.agora2.blogspot.com
Devils Island, Bloody Halls, Reunion, Red Sky
more at Kindle, Smashwords & OmniLit!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

A Short Story for you: Ruff Love

This one is pretty different from the last one. Hope you like it!


   Jenna lowered her grocery bags to the kitchen counter and closed her eyes. As she counted to ten mentally, she gritted her teeth and watched her five year-old son toss a candy wrapper in the direction of the trashcan.

She forced her mouth into a smile. “Hey, Sport, how about you and me take the dogs for a walk?”

He shook his head. “Nah, you do it. I’m going to watch television.”

“Well, only for a minute. I’ll get these groceries put away and then we’ll go out.”

Reaching into a bag for the milk, Jenna sighed. She knew Justin would make a fuss if he didn’t get to watch his show, just as he had done at the grocery store over the candy bar. Every time she denied him anything, he fought harder. He would hate her if they continued to butt heads like this, and more than anything she feared losing his love.

While she moved around the kitchen putting things away, she pondered the three weeks since Justin had been out of kindergarten. She had known, of course, about his teachers’ problems with him. At home, however, Justin had seemed agreeable enough. Having him at home with her all day for the summer showed her a different side of him. Justin was pleasant enough when he got his way, but defiant when he didn’t. She and Steve, her husband had talked, begged, lectured, and offered rewards for better behavior. They had tried it all.

Only last weekend, Justin crossed his arms over his chest and stated he did not want the ham sandwich his grandmother made for him. While her sister’s kids munched happily, Jenna heated a can of ravioli for her son, hoping to avoid a scene. When he wouldn’t eat that either, she caught the raised eyebrows of her sister and the answering shake of her mother’s head. Meanwhile, Justin rolled his eyes at her, reached for the rejected sandwich, and took a bite. Maybe she just wasn’t cut out to be a mother.

The family’s Sheltie whined and pawed at the doggy door, reminding her mistress that she and the puppy had been cooped up in the small yard all day. When their entry door was unlatched, the four year-old mother, Maggie, and the three month-old, Hamlet, bounced into the kitchen, tails swishing with joy. Jenna’s mood slid from behind the dark cloud as she crooned their names and rubbed them both from one end to the other. She laughed when Hamlet lay down and turned his pink belly up for a tummy rub.

As she sat back in her chair, Jenna watched Maggie lick Hamlet’s ears and settle down beside him. The puppy pulled himself over a few inches, pawed through the long fur, and nestled on Maggie’s tail for a nap. Maggie turned to sniff him and looked up expectantly.

“You’re a good mother, Maggie girl,” Jenna said. “Not every dog would put up with him the way you do.”

Crrack! came a loud popping noise. Jenna bolted down the hall to the family room where the television blared.

She rushed into the room. “Justin? Are you okay?”

Justin sat in the floor holding a toy screwdriver, fascinated, watching a DVD Tray slide with in and out over and over, something inside scraping with each ejection. She pressed the power button, but the machine continued to spit the DVD halfway out then pull it back it. Jenna hurried to the far wall and pulled the plug from the electrical outlet, halting the barrage.

“Justin, what were you doing?”

His brows lowered and lips shoved out. “Just playing! Put it back on.”

“Give me the screwdriver.” Jenna extended her hand.


“Justin. I’m going to count to ten. One, two, three…”

Instead of handing her the toy, he reached over to DVD player and jammed it into the slot, peering up at his mother with narrowed eyes and a smug smile.

She felt her mouth drop open and tried to think what to do next. After a moment, Jenna knelt on the carpet and reached around to unhook the wires that connected it to the television. Standing, she lifted the DVD player above Justin’s head, forcing him to let go of his toy. He screamed and pounded his other fist on the door of the entertainment center.

“Give that to me!” He swung his arms above his head, trying to catch a cord dangling over her arm.

“Stop it, Justin.” Jenna recognized the same whine in her voice she heard in his. “You’ve already torn it up.”

“Then it don’t matter, does it?”

“Yes, it matters. What did you think you were doing anyway?”

“I wanted to see what was in there.”


“Yeah, what makes it so special anyway? You and Daddy make such a big deal about touching it.”

She stared at him. “Oh, Justin, which one is it? Not our wedding tape!” she said.

“Yeah, that one. Give me it.” He crossed his arms over his chest.

“No. Now turn off that television and go to your room. I’ll come get you when I’m ready to take Maggie out.” She padded from the room. Behind her she heard a loud thud and knew that her son had thrown something at the door. She wondered if it was aimed at her.

Back in the kitchen, Jenna cried silently and ran her thumb over the deep scratches on the disk. She could get another copy, but she couldn’t get another little boy. She wanted him to be happy, but it seemed like the only thing he liked was aggravating her and his father. The proof lay in her hands.

She glanced up as Maggie skulked, heads down, toward the door with Hamlet behind her. Any kind of conflict upset Maggie and she, no doubt, thought she was in trouble. Jenna spoke quietly to let her know things were calm. “It’s okay, darling. You’re a good girl. Nobody’s mad at you.” She gave her a pat on the head, looking into soft brown eyes. Maggie nuzzled her hand and the gentleness of her touch felt like sympathy, which caused another tear to slide down her face. “Oh, Maggie, what am I doing wrong? Taking care of Justin is my main job and I’m so bad at it.”

Frustrated with the lack of attention, Hamlet pushed between them and jumped on Maggie’s face, biting her on the ear. His mother’s reaction was immediate. She shook him off, her face twisted into a snarl, and nipped at his rump as he tucked his tail and ran. And then it was over. Maggie turned a placid face to Jenna, barely glancing at Hamlet when he crept around the other side and leaned into her.

Jenna blinked. Then, she stroked Maggie, gave Hamlet at tickle, and stood. “Thank you, Maggie. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have some snapping of my own to do.”


Wednesday, March 9, 2011

A book review: Tomb With A View

While I work on a new short story and a bit of editing, I am posting a  book review for you from my colleague, Carl Brookins. Looks like a good one!

Tomb With A View

By Casey Daniels

ISBN: 9780425235515
2010 mass market release from Berkley Prime Crime

Pair one of our less interesting presidents, James A. Garfield, with a cute slender, sexually aware private detective, cum medium, and what do you get? You get this delightful cozy mystery, one of several in Casey Daniel’s series of Pepper Martin adventures.

But be warned. If you don’t like a bad pun or two, several tongue-in-cheek jokes and a huge riff on one of the presidents of these United States, this delightful novel isn’t your cup of tea.

On the other hand, if your humor runs to the mildly risqué, you don’t mind a self-aware sexy cemetery tour guide(!) who happens to be reluctantly channeling the dead President, and you enjoy fast-paced well-conceived criminally artful plots, this latest adventure of Pepper Martin is definitely a winner.

Around every prominent figure in history there swirls scandal and scandal attracts the greedy. If this author is to be believed, an incredibly audacious land swap plan was under way when anarchist Charles Guiteau fired the bullet that cut short what might have been a sterling presidential career.

That’s all in the past. What’s here and now, is a well-managed funny, and twisty story peopled with interesting characters, not the least of whom is one well-named, Pepper Martin.

Carl Brookins
www.carlbrookins.com, www.agora2.blogspot.
Devils Island, Bloody Halls, Reunion, Red Sky
more at Kindle, Smashwords & OmniLit!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

To Be a Writer - I'm already there!

Today is March 1st, which means it's 30 days until my novel comes out as an e-book. Snowstorm is my first novel, and it seems like I've been working on it forever. Now, as the release date gets close, I'm happy and excited, but also slightly terrified.

What if, after all the work and anticipation, it isn't well-received? Argh! It's a hard thought to take.

On the other hand, it's another in a long, long series of what ifs. When I started writing, it was "what if" I really could  pull together a novel. Now that would be an accomplishment, I thought, even if nobody else ever looked at it. Then it was, what if it gets good feedback at the writer's conference. When that happened, it was what if an editor asked for it, and liked it, and made a contract offer, and on and on.

So now, here I am thinking what if it sells? What if it doesn't? If it does:: hallelujah! If it doesn't,  I will keep at it, because by now I really am a writer. I will keep writing, that much I know.  I spent too long doing other things and found writing too late to give it up now.

Over the past several years, writing and the challenges of the field have taught me things about myself I never knew. Abilities, values,  faults, and weaknesses have shown themselves to me. Whatever happens with the book and my success, writing teaches the writer to examine things in new ways. And that, I can never give up.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

A Short Story: If Something Happens to Him

Because I write often about the upcoming book, I'm give you a little taste of my writing in a short story. My writing style and tone are a little different from the book, of course, since it's for adults and not for teens, but it still sounds like me. I appreciate all comments, even the negative ones. I've developed a pretty thick skin by now!

If Something Happens to Him

When her husband’s gurney disappeared behind the swinging double doors of the emergency room, Martha Wiley blinked away the flutter of antiseptic air.  She still stood there when one of the paramedics pushed back through the same doors, nodded to her as he spoke into a radio, and trotted out to his ambulance. In the foyer behind her, the drone and sway of an industrial floor polisher was enough to cause motion sickness, so Martha put one foot in front of the other, as she always did, and looked for the waiting room.

The chain of black vinyl seats overflowed, so she found space to stand next to a soda machine in one corner. Twenty minutes passed to the hiss of muffled conversations punctuated by the occasional shriek or nervous giggle. A man with tears in his eyes forced a smile for three small boys on the floor as he distracted them with a game of cards. One of them, the youngest she thought, needed a diaper change, but the father seemed oblivious, his glance darting repeatedly to the pair of doors.

When a nurse in bright yellow scrubs stepped into the doorway, every head turned in her direction. “Redfield?” she said, prompting a thirty-something blonde woman to pop up and haul her two children to their feet. “You can see your husband now.” The nurse turned to lead them back down the hall. The little girl, about three, startled by the sudden yank, made a high-pitched keening sound. Her mother drew the toddler into her arms and pulled her son along so quickly his feet dragged across the floor behind him.

Martha took one of the vacated chairs and settled her body gratefully. The day had been long already, and now anxiety gnawed at her. She closed her eyes and pictured herself at the kitchen sink peeling apples when Frank came through the back door after his golf game. She couldn’t remember if she’d looked at him then. She could recall her husband of forty-seven years asking what she made for dinner, and her own hesitation to answer.

“Well, can you talk or not?” he’d said.

She cleared her throat. “Oven-fried chicken, you know, the recipe with the Cornflakes you liked? Broccoli and fried apples.”

His response stung, just as she’d dreaded. “Again the chicken. How stupid are you anyway? We had chicken yesterday, didn’t we? And I despise broccoli.”

“The doctor said…”

“I don’t give a damn what he said. Throw that crap in the trash and make me a steak.”

“I just thought...” Martha stopped when she realized her mistake.

Frank took a step toward her and grabbed the skin under her arm, pinching. “You know better than to think. I believe your face and your brain are drying up at the same rate.” When she tugged her arm, he twisted. “Stand – right - there.” He articulated each word individually. She winced but went still, knowing the bruise he left would hurt less than the punch she would take if she moved.

“I’m don’t feel so great anyway,” he said. “I’m going to take a nap before dinner.” He released her arm and knocked the plate of breaded chicken off the counter on his way out.

Martha stood still until his footsteps retreated down the hall, then bent to clean up the ruined food and shattered platter. She’d long ago ceased crying over things like this. Her arm throbbed, but she didn’t look at it; this mark would look exactly like all the others: angry and inflamed. Like Frank’s personality, she though with a little smile.

Half an hour later, with the steaks sizzling on the grill, Martha reached for the “start” button on the microwave when she heard Frank’s voice.

Anxious not to upset him again, she hurried down the hall to check and found him in the bedroom, flopping his body around in an odd undulating motion. He heard her approach and turned his head slightly toward her. Then one of his arms flailed at her awkwardly, and she caught his hand and laid it back on the bed. Fear laced the gray eyes in a way she’d never seen when his mouth drooped around a sort of guttural whine.

“It’s okay, Frank. I’m calling an ambulance.” She grabbed the phone on the nightstand.

Martha felt someone slide into the seat next to her and looked up, her replay of the afternoon over for now. A glance at the new arrival revealed the blotchy face of a woman about her own age biting her lip. Martha nodded and checked her watch. Nearly an hour since they’d taken Frank away.

The other woman wept quietly for a couple of minutes, then managed to regain control. She turned to Martha. “I’m sorry to bother you, but do you have any tissues? I seem to be going through them like a faucet.”

“I believe so.” Martha fumbled in her bag and produced a small pack, which she handed to the woman. “Are you okay?”

The woman sighed, her eyes glued to the doors to the treatment area. “I am, I guess. For now. It depends, doesn’t it? On what happens in there. I think my husband had a heart attack.” She wiped her nose. “You?”

Martha said, “My husband too. I mean, not a heart attack, at least I don’t think so. I’m guessing a stroke.”

“Oh, dear, I’m so sorry.” She took Martha’s hand in her own. “My name is Betty van Roden, by the way.” A new stream of tears began, and she dabbed at them with a fresh tissue. “My poor George. What would I do if something happened to him?” She looked at Martha. “My whole world would be changed.”

Martha squeezed Betty’s hand, then released it as the other woman’s words brought her own situation into focus. What would I do if something happened to him? She tried to envision going home without Frank, and immediately shamed herself for the sense of relief washing through her. She uncrossed and re-crossed her legs, pushing the thoughts from her mind. Then, finding she couldn’t ignore the possibility, she carefully approached the idea again. Alone. Without Frank? Yes, the thought definitely produced a loosening of the ever-present tension in her shoulders. She’d never been on her own, but living alone didn’t scare her. In fact, when she considered the fear she’d lived with since the age of eighteen, a house free of menace seemed like peace beyond her imagining.

A tear escaped the corner of her eye, surprising her. Betty patted her shoulder, and Martha felt too guilty to respond. She covered her mouth with her hand, as if to prevent herself from speaking the obscenity. The tear fell not for Frank, but for the sweet possibility of a future without him.

“Mom?” Her son’s voice brought her head up. “Oh, Mom,” he said, when he saw the tear gliding down her cheek. He stooped in front of her.

“I’m okay.” She looked around and saw open space in the corner. “Let’s move over there, David.” She wished Betty good luck and moved to the other side of the room.

“I’m so glad you came,” she said.

David’s gaze was fierce. “For you, Mom. Not for him.”

She felt as if she were choking on the tension between them, the silence heavy with his unspoken criticism. David pleaded with her over and over to leave. Divorcing Frank might be the only important thing she’d ever refused her son. Martha’s eyes begged David not to start the argument again. His, gray like his father’s, insisted she admit her stupidity. “This is not the time, David. Not here. Not now.”

He relented. “Have they told you anything?”


David left her there and approached the admissions desk. “Wiley,” he said. “Franklin Wiley. Can you find out his condition?”

While he waited, she tried to answer the question David had asked her so many times: why did she stay with Frank? The easy answer did not exist, at least not a single explanation. Instead, she had a whole host of reasons, each one binding her to Frank as the years passed. First, she’d been raised to believe the man should be the head of the family, so she accepted his dominance as her duty. Second, at the time they had married, good people did not get divorces; marriage was a vow to God. Of course, Frank’s threats, which she’d never discussed with David, intimidated her. Initially, Frank promised to kill her if she left, and Martha had believed him. Anyone who took the beatings she had would believe him too. The day he threatened to harm their son, she stopped loving Frank. Letting go of the love had been, in a way, a blessing, because his insults no longer hurt her much.

When David grew up and Martha contemplated escape, she just plain quaked at the thought. After all, she’d been forty years old, had never worked, never rented an apartment, never bought a car, never had her own bank account, never even traveled on her own outside her hometown. The idea of doing all that by herself paralyzed her. Frank did his work well. She felt incapable of doing anything without him.

David rejoined her and explained Frank had suffered a rather severe stroke. The staff was trying to get him a little more stable. “They say he has a fifty-fifty shot.”

She turned to him. “At what? Living?”

“Yeah, and apparently if he makes it, he will most likely have problems walking, speaking, even eating. There’s rehabilitation, I guess, but they don’t really know yet how extensive the damage is.”

Martha’s eyebrows lifted. “Disabled?” A new possibility, and a difficult one. Frank would so despise being unable to do whatever he wanted. Most of all, how would he be him? How would he torment her?

“You’d put him in a nursing home, Mom. You’d have to.”

She started to disagree, but paused to think about the options. To bring him home and give him the kind of attention he might need would be a full-time job. Taking care of him would be the right thing to do, but could she bring herself to do see to his needs, to his comfort? Home health care would be some support. Nurses and assistants could do a lot of the physical stuff, but she would be alone with him most of the time.

I would be the strong one, she thought. Martha swallowed hard and closed her eyes, searching within for the mercy in herself she always wanted from Frank. Not finding the compassion within her, she panicked, and turned to her son.

“David, I, uh, I don’t know if I could be kind to him.” David nearly grinned, and she gripped his shoulders. Her voice dropped to a whisper. “No, don’t do that. I’m talking about me, about who I am. I don’t know if I have enough compassion after everything. What if I’m not a good enough person to take care of my husband?”

“Mama, of course you’re a good person. I don’t know anyone who…”

“Then I would have to do tend him. To prove to myself I wouldn’t hurt him.” She brought her fist to her mouth. “I’d have to look after him.” She began to sob. “But I don’t know if I could.”

“Maybe,” said David softly in her ear, “maybe he won’t make it at all.”

Her eyes went wide. She opened her mouth to speak, but before she could say anything, a male voice boomed through the room. “Wiley?”

Martha’s heart raced as she swung her gaze around to the tall, dark-skinned doctor with his hands clasped in front of him. He looked as if he were holding a crystal ball to his chest as she crossed the room to him.

And then, he opened his hands and told her future.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

What he said

After spending about 3 hours on-line and realizing I'd never checked e-mail or blogged, which were the things I came on to accomplish, I finally log into Yahoo and find an email from a fellow Echelon author. Because my blogging has been rather lacking lately in regularity as well as originality, I decided to check out Marc Vun Kannon's blog before I started. And there, much to my surprise were many of my own thoughts.

As you'll see, if you take the time to click on the above link and read Marc's piece, this writer thing is great when you occasionally  get time to write. Lately though, I'm pretty overwhelmed with the on-line balancing act that I'm not balancing very well right now.

But Marc says it better, and besides, I can save a few keystrokes today if I just ask you to read his. And if you like steampunk, check out his books!

 So yeah, what he said....


Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Leaning with other writers

Recently I had the opportunity to take part in an authors' forum on twitter. A new experience, I found it a little chaotic, but enormously helpful. I suppose there were nine or ten of us on together, and the questions and answers were flying faster than most of us could keep up with. Topics changed from character description to how to make a book trailer and everything in between.

What I found most interesting proved to be how open everyone was about how to do things. Because I haven't really had any long term exchange with other novelists, I found it truly gratifying to see how supportive everyone was. Although I attend a wonderful writers' critique group, I have only recently had another novelist join the group on any consistent basis. People really do need a sense of community to provide a sense of camaraderie, or possibly it just helps to know you aren't the only person who  doesn't already know how to put together a trailer or write up a press release.

As I push through the dozen new tasks I'm trying to master, I think the most important thing I've learned is to lean on others just a little more. I've never been good at depending on others, but I figure there's no time like the present.