I’m featured on Historical Novel Review

Check out my interview and book review by author Mirella Patzer on Historical Novel Review:

http://historicalnovelreview.blogspot.ca/2014/10/meet-author-charles-ray-and-his.html

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Interview with Historical Novelist Mirella Patzer

I’m privileged to feature an interview with Mirella Patzer, a Canadian author who specializes in historical romance fiction. She writes sweeping historical, with a touch of romance, set in an exciting period of world history. But, why don’t I let her speak for herself.

Author Mirella Patzer

Author Mirella Patzer

  1. What got you started writing historical romance fiction?

 

To tell you the truth, I never intended to write historical romance. What launched my interest in writing was my desire to write about my family’s history during World War II Italy. The Battle of the Moro River occurred on my grandfather’s vineyards, lands that are still owned by my mother and her sister. 2000 Canadian soldiers died, but the won and freed my mother’s town, San Leonardo, from the Nazis. It is a tale of survival and devastation as experienced by my mother who was an eight year old child. The family had to live in caves because their home was bombed. I haven’t written the story yet, but it is definitely on my list of future books to write. Before I do so, I want to visit those caves and experience the November cold and rain my mother had to live through.

  1. Why do you write about the period that you chose for your stories?

 

Because of my strong Italian roots, I have a great passion for historical fiction set in the medieval era. Almost all the novels I have written are set in Italy between the 10th century and 17th century.

  1. How much research did you do for Orphan of the Olive Tree?

 

Orphan Cover with BRAG Medallion Large PrintI have been working on a biographical novel entitled The Prophetic Queen, a novel about saint and queen Matilda of Ringelheim for approximately 10 years. Years of medieval research into Italy and Germany have created a comfort zone for me because I’ve acquired so much knowledge. So, it was easy to place the story in Italy. I did about 6 months research into superstitions, the Battle of the Monteaparti Hills, and the daily life of peasants and knights during that time. All the rest came from previous learning I acquired because of my research.

  1. Are your characters based upon historical figures, or totally made up?

 

All the characters in Orphan of the Olive Tree are purely fictional. After being steeped in so much research for my biographical novel, and trying to write with a high degree of accuracy, I wanted to work on another project that would allow me some creative freedom. I let my imagination run free and unfettered, and the result was Orphan of the Olive Tree, which is my biggest seller!

 

  1. Do you write in other genres? If so, which ones?

 

I stay strictly with historical fiction, a great passion of mine. My novels so far span from the 10th century to the 17th century, however, I would love to write a western one day and have a story forming in my mind. I would never write a contemporary novel, simply because I find historical fiction more challenging and love the research.

 

  1. What are you currently working on?

I am currently polishing and completing the final edits of The Prophetic Queen, which will need to be divided into two books – The Scarlet Mantle and Crown of Discord. I anticipate the release date to be 2015.

  1. Any writing advice you’d like to offer my readers?

 

Yes, I have two pieces of advice that I do my best to follow.

First, if you are an aspiring author, but afraid or unsure about getting started, the best advice is “just do it!” Writing is a constant learning curve. Do not be afraid of failure. Your writing skills evolve the more you write and through feedback gained from critique groups, writing groups, or other authors.

Second, always pay yourself first. What I mean by that is it is easy to get distracted with life and daily tasks such as email, blogging, critiquing, reviewing books, or other distractions. Train yourself to sit down and write for an hour or two first. Pay yourself. Then move on to these other tasks! That will keep you moving forward in your writing career.

I’d like to extend a big thank you to Charles Ray for discovering my books and for his kind invitation to visit his blog.

For more information about me, my books, and my blogs, here are some links:

http://www.mirellapatzer.com

http://www.historyandwomen.com

https://www.facebook.com/MirellaPatzer

https://twitter.com/MirellaPatzer

Review of ‘The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes’

As a youngster, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Edgar Rice Burroughs were among the first authors I read. I was overjoyed, therefore, to receive a free review copy of The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. This volume, however, is a book with a difference. First published in 1892, the famous detective is back, thanks to Story Cartel Classics, with endnotes and articles showing how the stories offer life lessons that we can all benefit from.

So, not only do you get to read some of Doyle’s best Holmes’ stories, but at the end you’re offered examples of how the story can relate to your present circumstances – and improve them. And, as an added bonus, the e-Book has interactive links to enable readers to talk about the lessons and discuss them with other readers on the Story Cartel blog. Now, how neat is that, folks?

Take for example, the first story, ‘A Scandal in Bohemia.’ The story of the King of Bohemia who comes to Holmes for help illustrates five paths everyone can follow for a better life:  1) pay attention, 2) don’t make assumptions, 3) be authentic, 4) laugh a lot, and 5) prioritize things in your life.

This is an easy book to like, unless you just happen to be among that miniscule percentage of people who don’t like Sherlock Holmes. Actually, even if you’re not a particular fan, you’ll find it a different kind of self-help book, so give it a read anyway.

I can’t say enough good about it, so I’ll stop and say, read it, Read It, READ IT!

Five-stars!

Review of ‘Ding Dong! Is She Dead?’

I received a free review copy of Ding dong! Is She Dead? NOVA Ladies Adventures, Book #1, by Alathia Paris Morgan, and, based on the title, anticipated that it would be a humorous mystery. As both a mystery and a humor fan, I particularly like when an author is able to effectively combine the two.

I wasn’t completely disappointed. The story of Jennifer Smythe, a big city girl who works in a bar who witnesses two men disposing of a corpse and ends up as Allie working in a department store in rural Texas, does have it moments of humor. There is mystery as well. The concept is solid, and author Morgan in her first effort is well on the way to making it work well.

The dialogue in this first effort was a bit stilted, and some of the transitions are a bit jumpy. Morgan gets a good grade, however, for effort. Writing mystery is difficult; writing humor even more so; and combining the two the most difficult of all. Ignoring the aforementioned issues, Morgan has done a creditable job in creating likeable characters with whom the reader can sympathize. I predict that this author will be even better in her next effort. For this one, I give three stars.

Review of ‘Truth Insurrection: The Saint Mary Project’

While conducting surveillance of a cheating wife, private investigator William Harrison sees a strange shining sphere darting through the night sky in Tucson, Arizona. Motorcycle cop Nick Ridley experiences radio interference while on patrol in Las Vegas, Nevada. A military convoy travels to the mountains near Las Vegas to conduct an experimental test flight, and while there observes a macabre encounter between an unidentified flying object and two military jets.

What do all these incidents have in common? You’ll have to read Truth Insurrection: The Saint Mary Project by Daniel P. Douglas to find out. Douglas, a former military man, has written a sci-fi thriller about the government’s cover-up of encounters with aliens from other worlds that will have you doubting every news report you read afterwards.

A chilling picture that takes us from the western deserts to the corridors of power in Washington, DC, where generals and politicians spar over access to information, Truth Insurrection is pure fiction – but in Douglas’s skillful hands, it has a tiny ring of truth. You’ll find yourself cheering for Harrison as he finds himself mired deeper and deeper in a conspiracy of galactic proportions.

This is Douglas’s first novel, but one has to hope not his last. I received a free review copy of Truth Insurrection, and now I’m looking forward to seeing what this author does next. Five stars for this one.

Review of ‘Marza’ – A Different View of War

MV5BMjI1NTIxMTQwOV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwODQ5MzAxOQ@@._V1_SX214_AL_ Every war spawns a whole host of books and films, and the second war in Iraq is no exception. Most, though, focus on the relationships among those who fight. ‘Marza,’ a film written, directed and produced by former Marine Regan A. Young is a film with a difference.

The story of a cynical, battle-hardened Marine sergeant (played by Josh Ansley) who meets and befriends a quizzical, precocious young Iraqi girl, Marza (Claire Geare) who likes chicken and ice cream shows us the human side of war that is seldom portrayed. Sergeant John Whitacre is a man who has seen much war, and as a result has a decidedly dark view of life in general. Marza pulls him out of his funk in ways he could never have anticipated, and teaches him to feel again.

This is a film that has both dark and light moments – and enough death to lift it from the category of a mood movie and firmly into the ‘war’ category. Young, a veteran of tours in Iraq, writes and directs this short film with a sense of awareness of the realities of war that most in the business lack. Moreover, he takes us into the depths of emotions that run rampant when death is a constant companion, and shows that even at the darkest hours, there is a glimmer of light and hope.

If ‘Marza’ doesn’t get an award for best short, independent film of 2014, there is no justice. And, if you can watch it with dry eyes, I’d suggest an immediate trip to an ophthalmologi

Frontier Justice- Charles Ray

Charles Ray:

A great review by Richard Bunning!

Originally posted on richardbunning:

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This book is typical of Ray’s easy to read journalistic style. Writing is never effortless, though Ray leaves one feeling that it comes to him nearly as easily as breathing. This historical fiction about the legendary Deputy U.S. Marshall Bass Reeves is a delight, though I would have liked to have had more of the same to read. That we don’t is no doubt simply because Ray has no wish to stray far from the factual history. The conversations created to put the bones on the known story ring so true that I found myself on the dusty trail, spitting tobacco with the best and worst of those tough pioneers.
That a black man born to slavery, Bass Reeves, could do so well for himself and so soon after the emancipation that stemmed from the American Civil War is nothing less than astounding. Some of his success seems almost unbelievable…

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Want to change the world – start with changing politics

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The world’s in a bad way. Climate change threatens to make it uninhabitable. Ebola, if unchecked, could remove a large percentage of the inhabitants before an unfriendly environment gets the chance. Police no longer seem to have the mission to ‘serve and protect,’ but rather to ‘control and dominate.’ You have to wonder how we came to such a condition.

I’ve not proven it scientifically, but if you look around – at the world, and here at home – I think you’ll come to agree with me that politics is behind a whole lot of our problems. Politics has long been defined as ‘the last refuge of scoundrels,’ but nowadays, it’s so much worse. At least, the scoundrels of the past attempted a semblance of governing for the greater good – even if they did spend a large percentage of their time stealing us blind. Today’s politicians don’t even pretend.

You have the Tea Party nuts trying to take us back to a time in history when a select few ruled, while women and the rest of us waited in the wings for their benevolence to shine down upon us. They want to rewrite history to remove all that does not conform to their distorted vision of the world and its past. Despite overwhelming evidence, you have politicians who vehemently deny the existence of climate change; all the while pocketing donations from their fat cat corporate supporters who are busy polluting the air, water, and soil, and contributing to that change. Another school shooting? Before the young corpses are cold, the toadies of the gun lobby are coming up with excuses to prevent common sense rules regarding gun possession and ownership in a country where gun violence is endemic. These politicians, who hold that demanding a photo ID from someone wanting to buy a gun at a gun show is unconstitutional, want to demand photo IDs for anyone who wants to vote.

I could go on and on, but I hope you get the point. We’re a point in our history where inequality is a big problem. There are rules and conventions for the elite, and different rules for the rest of us, and it’s the sad state of our politics that’s to blame. If we want a world where ‘all are equal, and endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights,’ we need to do something about this sorry situation. Term limits, performance pay for politicians, a political ombudsman to serve as a watchdog over our errant pols? I wish I had an answer, but for now I can only air the problem and hope we can, with our collective wisdom come up with a solution.

I can tell you this, though. If we don’t do something, the balance will keep tipping until it reaches a point where the only thing left is for the whole system to fall down. Already, the richest people in America (the 1%) control a percentage of the country’s total wealth equal to what they did during the robber baron days. And, along with that wealth, they’re controlling our politics.

Think about it.

Review of ‘A Dead Red Alibi’

Lalla Bains is scheduled to marry her sweetheart, Sheriff Caleb Stone, but he’s a no-show at the ceremony. Angry, Lalla decides to go off and cool down. When her Aunt Mae gives her a wedding present, the deed to an old abandoned mining property in Wishbone, Arizona, Lalla decides it’s far enough away from Modesto, California to meet her needs, so off she goes with her father to check out her new property.

Things quickly go from bad to worse when her dad goes off by himself, and she later finds him at the bottom of an old mine pit, along with the body of Wishbone’s sheriff.

R.P. Dahlke’s A Dead Red Alibi is a rib-tickling murder mystery, with enough chuckles and scares to keep you awake for a good long time. Witty dialogue, descriptive settings, and more plot twists than a roller coaster at a Six Flags amusement park, this story sets the standard for humorous mystery. Between laughing and shivering, you’ll find something here to like on almost every page. It has everything, from coyotes (both the four-legged kind and the alien smuggling kind) to cold-hearted killers for chills, and wacky characters with enough unresolved issues to warm the heart of a therapist. This one’s a keeper, for sure.

An easy five stars for Dahlke’s fourth volume in the Dead Red series of humorous mysteries.

Review of ‘The Remarkables’

Teenager Owen Johnson has a secret – one that at first even he doesn’t understand. He has the amazing ability to do things that should be physically impossible. And, there’s that blue glow that appears when he does them. For a young man about to finish school it’s truly a perplexing situation. Only the old lady, Mrs. Argyle, seems to understand, until Owen meets Ken. It seems that the three of them all have these remarkable abilities.

A.D. Elliott’s The Remarkables, which I received a free review copy of, is the tale of how Owen learns to live with his powers. A well-told tale that is part fantasy, part science fiction, and totally entertaining – despite a few grammatical glitches in the opening chapters. You’ll be swept along in suspense as Owen and his friends contend with the mysterious Trilby.

Elliott does a good job of creating a situation which makes it easy to suspend disbelief. A fantastic – no, remarkable – tale that will entertain readers of all ages. A solid three stars.

Review of ‘Writer’s Doubt’

“If the Sun and Moon should ever doubt, they’d immediately go out.” This quote by William Blake starts the introduction to Bryan Hutchinson’s excellent mentoring volume for writers, Writer’s Doubt: The #1 Enemy of Writing (and What You Can Do about it). I was fortunate to get a free review copy, and after reading it, I only wish Hutchinson had written it many years ago when I was just getting started in the business of writing.

There’s not a writer who has not at some time or other been paralyzed by doubts about his or her ability to master the art of writing – who is suddenly struck with such doubt, there is a certainty that no one wants to read what has been laboriously put upon the page. Using his own experiences in overcoming doubt, Hutchinson takes the reader on a journey that will help banish the demons of self-doubt, and set the writer on the path to self-fulfillment. He writes in a self-deprecating manner, unlike many authors of books on how-to write, that is easy to identify with. He also includes a lot of practical advice that is useful for any writer, whether plagued with doubt or not.

Whether you’re just beginning on the journey or are a veteran from the trenches, this is a reference book that you should have in your library. Four stars to Bryan Hutchinson for an excellent book.

Review of ‘Another Space in Time’

If you’re a fan of esoteric, boundary jumping fiction, Richard Bunning’s Another Space in Time is the book you should read.

Arthur Fieldman is given a new lease on life when the heart of recently deceased Rodwell Richards is transplanted into his body. Problem is – Rodwell’s memories, or some semblance thereof, come with the heart.

Bunning explores a whole host of –isms, philosophies, and schools of thought in this sometimes funny, sometimes eerie romp with Arthur as he tries to come to grips with his ‘new’ existence. Bunning not only creates a whole new world, but does the full monte by creating a new calendar, time system – the whole shooting match. He even comes up with a new version of Latin; and it works.

Not since Doug Adams’ Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy have I read an author who can just pull words and concept out of the deep recesses of his brain and make you believe the world he’s created as effectively as Bunning. If you want an entertaining weekend read, you have to get this book.

Five stars as soon as I pick myself up off the floor.

Review of ‘Orphan of the Olive Tree’

In 1260, after the battle between Sienese and Florentine forces in Tuscanny, lifelong friends, Enrico Ventura and Carlo Benevento, who have stood together in battle, make a vow to wed their firstborn children. Carlo, crippled before battle, and Enrico, seriously wounded during the battle, though they might be the vest of friends, do not take into account the relationship between their spouses, Prudenza and Felicia.

Jealous of Felicia for being the first to become pregnant, and then having twin boys, Prudenza casts the evil eye on her. Learning of this, Felicia goes to the sorceress Cosma and obtains the knowledge to cause the evil spell to rebound, and thus the lives of the Venturas and Beneventos take an eventful and nasty turn.

I received a free review copy of Orphan of the Olive Tree by Mirella Sichirollo Patzer, the first book I’ve ever read by this author. While I’m not normally a romance genre reader, I found this tale spellbinding and an absolutely fascinating read. The characters are complex, with the mixture of good and bad that is common in the human species, and the interplay – with a healthy dollop of romance as you might expect for the genre – between and among characters makes compelling reading. I particularly like the way Patzer inserts the history of the era into her story, making it a part of the characters’ lives, and thus bringing it to life for readers.

If all romance authors wrote like this, I’d be a total fan of this genre. For now, though, I think I’ll stick to reading Patzer’s books. An easy four-star rating.

Review of ‘Orphan Elixir’

James Gallowbread sat out the Civil War as a guest in Lafayette Prison. Freed after serving an extra month of his seven-year sentence due to a contagious illness, he is thirty-two years old and knows no real trade – other than the illegal kind.

I’m not only a fan of the western genre, but write it as well, so I was more than pleased to receive a free review copy of Orphan Elixir by Joseph Hirsch. Hirsch tells the tale in the first person, in the style of fiction of the immediate post-Civil War era, and pulls it off extremely well. The reader can see, hear, smell, and feel the setting and people of Gallowbread’s world as seen through his jaundiced eyes.

Not at first a truly sympathetic character, as we get to know Gallowbread more, he becomes real, and not at all a totally bad sort. Hirsch gets points for his ability to take a flawed character and show what made him thus. He also effectively merges humor and pathos in a tale that you’ll find hard to put down until you reach the end.

My hat’s off to a western author to be looked out for. Four stars to Hirsch for Orphan Elixir.

Review of ‘Courage Matters’

Ray Courage was a college professor with a major addiction to baseball. When a student tried unsuccessfully to seduce him to get a better grade, and then accused him of coming on to her, he gave up teaching, and decided to become a private investigator.
When his former lover, Jill Stroud, comes to him with a plea to help her dad who thinks he’s about to be cheated, Courage has some doubts about this, his first case, but takes it anyway.
In Courage Matters by R. Scott Mackey, follow the sometimes funny, sometimes scary adventures of Ray Courage as he learns to be a PI – with the help of Rubia, a former gang-banger who owns the Say Hay Bar, a baseball-themed establishment.
I received a free review copy of Courage Matters, and while it was my first time reading Mackey’s work, I’m looking forward to another turn at bat.
Great dialogue and description, and some really wacky, but totally believable characters, and I like the way the author weaves his encyclopedic knowledge of baseball into the story. Mackey gets five stars for this one.

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: The Color Yellow

I’m late to the dance, as usual, but Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge, The color Yellow, was too interesting to pass up. The subject color doesn’t have to be all over the photo – a well-placed accent is quite effective.Two diametrically opposed photos that I think have yellow as a real stand-out color.

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Review of #Houston 69: Apollo 11 – When Men Walked on the Moon

“What if there had been social media during the first mission to land a man on the Moon in 1969?” With these words, author Philip Gibson introduces #Houston 69: Apollo 11 – When Man Walked on the Moon, an account of the Apollo Moon landing told via social media postings, primarily tweets.

Gibson, a UK author who was 19 when American astronauts first set foot on the lunar surface, is an accomplished historical writer who makes historical events come alive in a most unique way. His ‘created’ social media posts put us into the minds of the principals to these events in a way that mainstream history books, and even most historical fiction, simply cannot do. From the straight-forward comments by noted newsman Walter Cronkite to the poetic waxings of Eric Severaid, he sets up the pre-launch period, a time when the success of the mission was only a dream. Postings from launch control, the White House, media, and most importantly, the astronauts themselves, show the tension of events, large and small as Neil Armstrong and the crew of Apollo 11 set off on a mission that could have very well been one-way.

From pre-launch until splashdown, you’ll be on the edge of your seat as postings describe events – mundane and momentous – of one of mankind’s most historic undertakings. In the process, thanks to the brief bio information that Gibson provides, you’ll learn things about the history of the period that I can assure you, you never knew before.

Five stars to Gibson for another ‘out of the park’ home run!

Have You Heard Of … Lilly Say?

Charles Ray:

A young author to watch out for.

Originally posted on Facing 50 with humour.:

Lilly best photoI love introducing new authors to you but today I am even more pleased than usual because my post is about an extraordinary young lady called Lilly Say AKA Hilda Poppitt, the author everyone expected to be an old lady.

If you read my post earlier this year about the People’s Book Prize Award, that name will ring a bell. Lilly wrote her first book for children, Sugar and Spice and all things nice. S.A.S.A.A.T.N, at the age of 17, was published by Percy Publishing, and shot to fame with a feature in the national press and then became a finalist in the children’s category of the People’s Book Prize award.

Since then, Lilly has been involved heavily with promoting literature and regularly goes into schools and to scout groups to talk about writing.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERALilly used to attend Trinity Catholic High School, where she took A Levels and got the…

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#IWSG: Finding the right voice in your writing

InsecureWritersSupportGroup It’s time once again for my contribution to Alex Cavanaugh’s Insecure Writers Support Group, where bloggers weigh in on issues relating to writing – problems or advice on how to improve your writing. If you’re interested in being a part of this select group, go here to join. This month I’d like to talk about voice in writing.

One of the most difficult things for beginning writers of fiction – or any other type of writing for that matter – is finding their unique voice. Writing guides and advice books pour out reams of advice on this aspect of writing. The problem is that most never clearly define what they mean by voice.

After decades of pounding out millions of words, I must confess that I remain in something of a fog myself on this problematic aspect of the writing craft – or art, depending upon your point of view.

My fog, though, is not so dense that I don’t have a vague idea of what is meant by voice in fiction, so I’ll add to the pool of thought on the issue.

Multiple Voices

Looking at my own writing over time, I’ve come to realize that any work of fiction has multiple voices. First, there’s the individual writer’s voice; the unique way a writer expresses him or herself. It is the author’s style or unique way of expressing personality, character or attitude. It is shown in the choice of words, how sentences or paragraphs are structured that conveys that individual’s uniqueness.

Of equal importance is the voice of the characters in the story. It is the speech and thought patterns, or persona, of a first-person narrator, or the speech patterns and mannerisms of characters in third-person POV. Careful selection and differentiation of speech patterns of characters makes it easier for readers to identify individual characters even in the absence of tags or descriptions, which can help the flow of your writing.

Finding Your Voices

The best way to find your own voice in your writing is to let it find you. Know your story and where you want it to go – what impression you want it to make on a reader, and then write the words you hear in your mind as you mentally map out the story. What word selections or sentence structures do you find natural when you write? Let them flow and your voice will emerge. What do you want your reader to feel or think about your writing? Select the words and sentences that convey that. That is you communicating to your reader in your unique voice.

As for character voices, what image of the character do you want the reader to have? Chose words and mannerisms that convey that image, being careful not to have every character act or speak in the same way. Presto! Your character’s voice will emerge, and the character will come alive for the reader.

You’ll notice I haven’t made any specific suggestions – short versus long sentences, long versus short paragraphs, colorful metaphors, etc. For your own voice, pick the ones that are you, and for your characters, pick the ones that convey the image you want the reader to have.

Finding an appropriate voice in writing is like learning to ride a bike. You keep getting back up and pedaling every time you fall down, and one day you’ll discover that you’re no longer falling.

You will have found that elusive voice.