Friday, April 20, 2018

Saturday Seven Favorite Suspense series

Ophelia Bell, LATFOB 2017
Sci-fi panel, LATFOB 2017
The effervescent Tara Lain at the Dreamspinner booth, LATFOB 2017

I hope that those bibliophiles in the area get a chance to stop by the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books this weekend. It's a great opportunity to bond with the "tribe" and celebrate the love of books (and get a free totebag and other goodies, lol). I don't feel like dealing with the crowds or the heat, but it's a great opportunity to visit the USC campus and enjoy the sights and presentations.

Poppies 2017

The Antelope Valley Poppy Festival is also this weekend, so if you're into crafts, poppies, or other entertainment, it's also a great way to enjoy the fresh air (but beware of heat stroke!). Sadly, they haven't had the wonderful smooth jazz performers the past few years, but it's still a fun festival.

I've gotten hooked on multiple suspense thriller series over the years, although, sadly, I haven't been able to keep up with most of them as my life has gotten more and more crowded, but here are some of the ones I've enjoyed.


Jonathan Kellerman. Despite this author's connection to that hated rival school (speaking of which, congrats to all of the new Trojans being released upon the world in a couple of weeks!) I enjoyed seeing L.A. from a different perspective and watching Alex Delaware's life change (and of course adoring his spoiled dog, lol) and the tricky twists that the cases took. I enjoyed some of his wife (Faye's) stories as well, but never quite developed the same degree of attachment to her books although I was fascinated to learn more about Jewish culture through following her stories.


Catherine Coulter. I loved the insouciance and psychic element of this series, and the wonderful connection these folks have with each other. It doesn't hurt that Lacey Sherlock is as bad-ass and capable as her soulmate, either!


Patricia Cornwell. I didn't know much about what a Medical Examiner did until I started this series...and was more than I needed to the Body Farm and whatnot, but it was fascinating! I didn't like the weird turn the series took after a while with a couple of the recurring male characters, and I eventually stopped reading.


Catherine Coulter and J.T. Ellison. What a winning combination of a collaboration! I'm afraid I'm VERY far behind on these books, but I have enjoyed the ones I've read and have been impressed by the synergy between these two authors.


J.A. Jance. I was amazed that this author was able to keep three distinct series fresh and captivating, but never boring. I adored J.P. Beaumont and was thrilled that Joanna Brady was such a capable representative of the law while juggling the duties of motherhood, plus the emotionalism of following Alison Reynolds kept me following her adventures avidly.

Iris Johansen. It's amazing how characters become part of your life. I was enthralled by Eve Duncan's ability to reconstruct a skull's face (and yes, I've forgotten the fancy term) through a combination of scientific measurements and an eerie psychic connection and the author impressed me even more by the remarkable secondary characters she gradually elevated in importance over the years. As frequently happens with me, I was fascinated by the psychic/paranormal elements in the series.


John Sanford. I got more squeamish the more of these I read and decided that I needed a stronger stomach to keep up with the graphic violence depicted, so I gave up reading this author!


Yes, I never can stick to just seven, lol...

I should mention the prolific Sandra Brown, who I have also been following (like Iris Johansen and Jayne Krentz) since her days with series romances, but she doesn't tend to have an ongoing connected series! The admirable Nora Roberts also has plenty of stand-alone suspense stories that never fail to enthrall.

Please share some of your favorites as well and don't forget to visit the other wonderful authors who are participating in the Saturday Seven hop that is the brainchild of Long and Short Reviews. Start at this link.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Scenes and Sequels: How to Write Page-turning Fiction by Mike Klaassen (Spotlight and review)

Mike Klaassen


Are you thinking about writing fiction? Writing a novel? Trying to improve a manuscript? Then you need to know all about scenes and sequels. Scenes and sequels are the one-two punch of a story that make it page-turning fiction. If you don't know what they are and how they work, how can your tale reach its potential? Writing fiction isn't easy, but trying to write a novel without a solid understanding of scenes and sequels will fall flat. You can learn about scenes and sequels in three ways: (1) just start writing and hope you figure it out over time, (2) read lots of books and attend a bunch of seminars, or (3) study a book devoted entirely to the subject. Mike Klaassen has already read the books and attended the seminars. Combining his copious notes with his own writing experience, he's clarified and expanded the concepts of scenes and sequels. Save yourself a ton of time, money, and frustration with one comprehensive, concise book. Inside "Scenes and Sequels," you'll discover: practical definitions of scenes and sequels, the components of scenes and sequels, how scenes and sequels compare to other passages of writing, the nuances of using each, practical examples of how to use scenes and sequels, prototype scenes and sequels, how to control the pace of your fiction, how to troubleshoot a manuscript with scene-and-sequel analysis, and much, much more. Why spend countless hours doing your own research? "Scenes and Sequels: How to Write Page-Turning Fiction" is a treasure of straightforward, practical information that you can use immediately. Unlock your full writing potential with "Scenes and Sequels" today!

Amazon link

My review:

3.5 out of 5 stars

Scenes and Sequels: How to Write Page-Turning Fiction by Mike Klaassen is a non-fiction book that analyzes the elements of a chapter and what makes a story move along and keep a reader’s interest. The author breaks down what makes a scene and uses examples from various well-known fiction stories to explain how to give the character a goal and follow his or her attempts to achieve that goal, with the obstacles that prevent success. Balancing this with the exposition he terms sequels is what distinguishes a particular work. There are conventions and tweaking of those conventions that characterize a particular writer’s style.

The material presented is a bit dry and ponderous to read, but the basic premises are informative and will undoubtedly give a writer a guide to use when analyzing a manuscript. There are multiple citations and advice to delve more deeply into the concepts by reading guides that have become standards in the field but I was somewhat disconcerted by the amount of repetition of concepts and the way things are restated. It was entertaining to follow the analysis of a popular fairy tale that is retold and made more exciting, albeit ending very differently than the traditional tale. I think this book will give a framework for a writer to start with and provide the tools to identify problem areas and the impetus to consult other more in-depth books.

A copy of this title was provided to me for review

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

The ABCs of Living Green by Theresa A. McKeown (spotlight and review) PUYB


Theresa A. McKeown

Picture Book/Tweens
56 pp.
$17.95 (Hardback) 

 Theresa A McKeown

Publisher: The ABCs of Everything, LLC
Pages: 56
Genre: Picture/poetry book for children and tweens


“The ABCs of Living Green” completes the ABC trilogy of picture books focused on raising happy, healthy, conscious children in body, mind and spirit. Written from the voice of Mother Earth, every letter of the alphabet and corresponding word gives readers a multitude of fun ways to be mindful not only of the planet we all share, but of the people with whom we share it. A book that focuses on the beauty and fulfillment of stepping up and doing our part in taking care of the environment and each other, “The ABCs of Living Green” is truly a book for the enlightened child of the 21st century.

Order Your Copy!

Book Trailer:

Theresa McKeown spent over two decades in the entertainment arena before embracing her true passion of writing children’s books. After producing hundreds of hours of television for a host of cable and network outlets, Theresa is now on the path of what she considers her highest calling.
Theresa and her sisters have created “The ABC’s of Everything, LLC”, a family endeavor solely focused on publishing several series of children’s books, digital content, and educational curriculums.  All will be written and produced with an awareness of the true possibilities that children of the 21st century can realize.

As an author, Theresa is dedicated to estimating rather than underestimating the wisdom of children. Her philosophy is that kids are fully adept at understanding nuance and meaning and it’s not necessary to talk down to them.  She is dedicated to creating a new paradigm in the children’s book world by introducing work that fully embraces the insightfulness, perception and unlimited intellectual potential of today’s youth.

Her books are meant to plant the seeds of education and awareness early in a child’s development, knowing full well that children will ultimately blossom into the best versions of who they are meant to be.

In her role as producer, Theresa traveled worldwide, filming from locations as diverse as the White House, NORAD, the Pentagon, FBI headquarters, maximum-security prisons and from the top of the World Trade Center.  Along the way she “tail-hooked” onto an aircraft carrier in the Pacific, yachted through South America with jet setters and chased bad guys with the LAPD in a helicopter.  She survived both OJ Simpson trials, shot live from heart of the LA Riots and drove through a wall of flames during the Laguna fires.  Yet, with a background like this, building a community to celebrate children promises to be the most exciting adventure of all.

As George Elliot once said, “It’s never too late to become who you might have been”.
…Words this author has taken to heart.




My review:

3.75 stars

The ABCs of Living Green by Theresa A. McKeown is illustrated by Arisbet Sandoval Cantu. This thought-provoking book is aimed at encouraging people to look at themselves and find a way to improve the world around them. Each letter is represented by a word that is expounded upon in verse with a message to look within, make a conscious effort to unite with those around us, and act to conserve the world. There are lovely illustrations with a watercolor feel accompanying each poem, and I am delighted that there is a mixture of ethnicities represented.

I think this is a book for older children or young adults, who will be more likely to appreciate the poetry, although I daresay a bit of vocabulary review will be needed. The language is a bit esoteric and didactic in places and there are only a few specific examples of what should be done but the encouragement to do something positive and work together to husband and maintain the world around us is inspiring and praiseworthy.

A copy of this title was provided to me for review