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Review of 10 DAYS: A Dee Rommel Mystery #1 by Jule Selbo

As a father of three, two of them daughters, I struggled to find heroic stories to read to my girls. It was easy to find such fare for my son, but there was a gross absence of children’s books that offered a brave female with whom my girls could identify. And so I fabricated a few stories to tell them at bedtime. But the experience made me acutely aware of gender bias. And it has not been limited to children’s books. Gratefully, that is changing in all age groups, largely due to the explosion of great female authors who are unafraid to buck the system and create strong female protagonists in genres that in the past have been dominated by male main characters.

I had the great fortune to read an early version of 10 DAYS by Jule Selbo. Honestly, it read like a finished work with nothing major that I saw needing to be addressed, which didn’t surprise me. Selbo is a highly competent writer with oodles of experience as a playwright and she wrote numerous screenplays while working in Hollywood. Recently she has become an award winning novelist as well. 10 DAYS: A Dee Rommel Mystery #1 is her debut foray into Crime Mystery fiction, a genre she loves reading.

10 DAYS’ plot is solid, engaging, and compelling. The pacing feels perfect, building suspense toward a thrilling climax. Selbo’s cast of characters, even the minor ones, are authentic, well-developed to the point that some will become your friends while others will feel like enemies. The protagonist, Dee Rommel is, in a word, remarkable on so many levels that she is destined to become a fan favorite. She is a quick-witted badass in ever sense of the word with a burning desire to find justice for the wronged. It often compels her into risky, ill-advised, confrontations with bad guys as she champions her friends and family. And she does it all without toting a gun.

What Selbo accomplishes more than adequately establishes bedrock for the series yet to come. She creates an endearing female noir private investigator with whom most of us can identify. Selbo pays homage to genre archetypes while venturing into some largely uncharted territory, allowing the reader to share Dee’s dilemmas as well as overcoming the pain of her daily routine. We cheer for her because she’s just the kind of heroine who could easily be a sister or cousin. Her strong, overriding sense of justice and loyalty to her friends and family drives her always, even against mounting odds as her principal foil is fully revealed and fleshed out.

The book releases to the public worldwide on August 11, 2021 in eBook and print, so you don’t have long to wait. I don’t know if there is such a thing as a perfect crime fiction novel, but this one will rank on everyone’s list. It checks all the right boxes and appends a few more in the process. I can’t wait to read the sequel. And yes, this thriller deserves to be made into a movie. So, take note, Netflix.

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Review For Christine Gabriel’s Crimson Forest

The small town of Buffalo, Wisconsin, population 650-something, is noteworthy for one thing, its Crimson Forest. A major attraction to hunters during the season legend has it that mysterious creatures prowl the forest looking for unsuspecting victims, something supported by random disappearances in the past.

Seventeen-year-old Angelina and her mother own and operate a popular bed and breakfast. When the poor girl was twelve years old her father disappeared in the forest leaving them alone. Five years later, during the fall after her graduation when many of her friends from her graduating class have gone off to college, Angelina remains at home helping her mother prepare for the onslaught of hunters in anticipation of the season.

All Angelina has ever wanted was to be normal but like the forest she has secrets. It’s just that she hasn’t yet realized what they are. But her life is about to change dramatically and the adventure will lead her to rediscover secrets about herself and the mysterious forest. In the process she will learn how far from normal she is.

Some of the memorable characters are endearing while others are despicable, as Christine Gabriel has created a creepy setting for all kinds of unpredictable paranormal activity. She has blended realism with fantasy in a way that makes the outrageous seem plausible, creating a world where magic exists as surely as the strange red colored moss that covers the forest’s floor and clings to the trunks of its trees. The question becomes what sort of mythical creatures don’t inhabit this strange world? Although this is not a book about vampires, there is one named Stephen who offers a bit of comic relief. For example, he gets excited over the mention of a potential blood bath toward the climax of the story and later on Angelina tells him to go stake himself.

Crimson Forest is the first in The Crimson Chronicles series. It is due to launch on August 30, 2014 with the sequel Crimson Moon set to follow sometime in Spring 2015.

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#ChristineGabriel #CrimsonForest #NewReleaseBook #Paranormal #Romance

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An Exercise In Publicity

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We are always defining and refining ourselves, even before graduation from high school. But maybe that’s the first time most of us really begin to think about the real world in terms of ‘now what?’

Some like me deferred answering that question completely, extending adolescence artificially, going away to college. But it was always there, int he background. I’m not sure I ever truly answered that question. Maybe fact we never do. There is always something else, isn’t there?

For publicity’s sake I need to define who I am in succinct sound bites that can be offered rapid fire during interviews. Why? Because most people in the media have the attention span of a gnat. But then, they are merely a reflection of their audience. Who wants to hear about my life when they could  get all the latest dirt on the Kardashians?

Here is what I know about me. I’m a storyteller. Always have been; always will be. It’s what I do now, though not yet for a living. But that is also why I’m doing this exercise in publicity.

My storytelling began long before high school but I think it was around the time I was in Mrs. Hibbett’s 9th grade English class that I first decided I wanted to be a writer. She told me that was a mistake. Her actual words were I’d never be a writer. By the time I was a senior she;d forgotten ever having said that.

In college I expanded the whole storyteller concept to encompass a broader range of expression. I suppose part of that came form dreaming of being a rock star. My single greatest achievement was writing a rock opera based on Beowulf. That fact you’ve never heard that composition indicates the effort skyrocketed my band and into obscurity. But throughout the beginning part of college I was marking time until I became famous. I was absolutely convinced I would be famous once day, After all with a name like mine, Elgon, one hardly anyone can pronounce correctly, I had to do something great. Yeah, I’m aware that’s not logical but that was how I thought in the mid ’70’s. I figured I could use my first name alone. After all, other than my dad who never went by it, no one else I knew was named Elgon.  There is a mountain in Kenya and a cosmetics company in Italy. As far as I know that’s it for namesakes and those are coincidences. I was named for neither. I think my grandmother couldn’t spell. Either that of the story about the traveling salesman who had a similar name was true. But we won’t go into that.

Mount Elgon

So, in college I studied mass communication, which by definition is communicating to the masses, right? I was a DJ at a campus radio station. I produced an old school radio drama and a TV news show about music. I interned for a local TV station and at a local newspaper. At the end of all that I figured out I didn’t really like being a journalist. So I decided to focus more on public relations advertising and such. That’s how I got interested in marketing.

I studied Spanish in high school and college, not enough to be fluent, but I can read it to some extent and I generally get the gist of what someone is saying. Seeing how important Spanish has become as a second language,especially where live in Florida, perhaps I should have spent more time learning it. I should have learned a lot of things in college but didn’t. Despite my stubbornness I learned some things, though. One was that regardless of the level of education nothing guarantees you success, or a job for that matter. Eventually I stocked shelves in a grocery store by night and worked part time for a small advertising agency by day. Although I was good at doing both, neither position struck me s having great potential for advancement. So, on a whim and figuring I had a college education, I decided to follow in my sister’s footsteps and join the Air Force. I wanted to be an officer like her but they were being particularly picky about college majors and mine wasn’t what they were seeking. However, in the process of taking the tests for military service, someone figured out I had language ability. Imagine that!

AF picture 1983

You see, after college I interviewed with a lot of companies for positions in management. The economy was limping along in recession so businesses were looking for excuses not to hire people  One of the companies I dealt with was a particular large international bank with an operations center in Miami. After a series of interviews they decided not to hire me. In the rejection letter that stated that based on my at my resume which largely consisted of college transcripts that I lacked sufficient ability to learn a foreign language. How ironic was it that merely a few years later the US military was going to pay for me to learn Chinese Mandarin because I tested very high in the ability to acquire a language over a short span opt training.

I ended up on the other side of the planet for a while, saw a lot of places and met a lot of people I wouldn’t have met otherwise. On balance, despite all the bad aspects of being in the military, it was a valuable experience. One thing I learned was that people are people no matter where you are and we all figure out solutions to our problems in culturally distant ways. Another thing I learned was that people in other countries like Americans but don’t necessarily like our government and its policies. A third thing I figured out was that I didn’t always need to speak another person’s language to be able to communicate.

Upon returning home and leaving the military my role as a communicator shifted to training and leading others in retail management. As things evolved, I began to train customers about products as well. For someone who was painfully shy as a child, comfortably leading training seminars and giving presentations to hundreds of people at times was an extreme departure.

All along my journey I was only delaying what I set out to do, tell stories. During college I wrote in my spare time. In the military I wrote in my spare time. Even after marrying, having children and working seventy plus hours a week in retail management , I wrote in my spare time. When the hobby evolved into a vocation did not happen over night. I had been working on my first novel for years. The second one took less time. Then novels three through twelve came all at once. Over a twelve year span I produced forty stories of novel length, twenty of them in some semblance of a finished state as manuscripts. Still, even though I was a published author I didn’t think I was a professional writer. I wasn’t making a living at it, anyway.But I have always been a storyteller.

I guess as writer you are always seeking a story. Some of it comes from experience, a lot of it comes from inspiration but most of it comes from determination. Writing is an art. Like most artistic endeavors it is not particularly lucrative. Money isn’t why artists produce what we do. To be successful as an artist you need to market the art and that takes publicity, building a support base of fans and general exposure to the the public through some form of communication and networking.

One of the many lesson I learned from the study of communication was a rather basic one. You cannot NOT communicate. Even the decision not to talk to someone is communicative. As much as I’d love to be able to just write the only way to persuade anyone to read what I write – which is the entire point of writing professionally – is to promote it in some way. That requires communication whether through media or more directly, one on one.

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#writing #communication #language #culture #education #experience #publicity #newreleasebook

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Another day, another five-star review for Fried Windows

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This one comes from Jeff Skinner, Toronto, Canada based author of the soon to be released The Vaccine’s Agenda:

Don’t let the title fool you, this book is quirky and fun. It’s not the serious tome the title implies. I started the story with a Charlie and the Chocolate Factory feel, where you enter a world of pure imagination where everything is possible. The Carlos storyline was an interesting twist, and most authors would be content with this storyline. Elgon takes us further; the book changes to include the darker side of thought and the effects they can have long after you think you stop thinking. Elgon is able to take the reader on a ride, straddling the line between dream and reality, where the confines of one are not as defined as they are for most of us.

As a father with a young daughter, I was drawn in by the danger in this book and how Elgon was able to make it feel real.

This was a book I enjoyed reading and would gladly recommend to my friends.

#fivestar #bookreview #FriedWindows #ElgonWilliams #newreleasebook