Books, Editing, Publishing, Uncategorized, Writing

Ironing Out the Wrinkles in a Plot

In some ways publishing Fried Windows in May of last year created a few paradoxes for the main character Brent. WARNING: If you haven’t read the book, you might want to before continuing on. I’m about to reveal some things about the plot.

There are some relationships Brent and characters in my other novels, particularly Andy Hunter, Terry Harper, Lee Anders Johnston and Caroline Henderson from One Over X (two of six books published) and The Power of X (as yet unpublished). There is also a loose connection between the mother  in Becoming Thuperman and Terry Harper – as they attended high school together. Brent meets Terry Harper while he attends Purdue University where the latter is pursuing aa doctorate in applied physics and eventually becomes a professor before taking a tenured position at the University of Texas.

Brent and Lee Anders Johnston hale from neighboring towns in rural Ohio. Both were musicians in their teen years. Brent actually played bass for a brief while in a band that Lee led. Lee was best friends with the lead guitar from Brent’s garage band – which is how they met. Ironically, as they were both the sons of farmers, their fathers knew one another, though not very well.

After the disintegration of Brent’s garage band over an issue about performing a Rock Opera Brent wrote for his senior English project – a piece on Beowulf – Brent and Lee perform an acoustic set at the Christmas party of a friend of Brent. It is the last time Brent and Lee perform together for nearly twenty years, though the two of them conspired during their connection to compose a few songs that will end up reuniting them in later years – and reinvigorating Lee’s career as a professional musician.

Lee departs Rock as his vehicle of musical  expression and begins playing Blues with a couple of musicians while he attends Purdue University – where he studies Engineering and meets Terry Harper, his professor of physics. In Lee’s Junior year at Purdue his folks sell their farm in Ohio and retire to Texas. Lee transfers to the University of Texas. The following year, Terry Harper is offered a tenured position at UT, based on his recently published best seller on astral physics the university. And, so Lee and Terry reconnect at UT and the Lee changes his major to physics.

While in Austin and immersed in the vibrant artistic community, Lee joins a country band called Faction. At a bar in Austin he meets Caroline Henderson, the daughter of Joseph Henderson, CEO of HENCO. They share a few dates before establishing a relationship.

When Lee is offered a research job in Colorado, three of the original members of the band follow him there. They form the nucleus of a new Faction that lands a recording contract. Lee and Caroline have a long distance relationship until she completes college.

To pursue his musical career,  Lee quits his job and accompanies the band to Memphis where they record their first album.  Then, against her father’s protests, Caroline joins Lee and goes on tour with Faction, actually performing with the band as a background singer.

So, where is Andy Hunter is all this? Anyone who has read One Over X, knows that both Andy and Lee have a relationship in another version of reality, where both work for Henco. Lee works at a product assembly facility while Andy is a coder for the instructions loaded into the devices the company makes. The company’s CEO is Caroline Henderson who took up the reins when her father, Joseph Henderson passed away – never knowing she is to the Andy who was born of an unwed mother who used to work for the Hendersons.

In the other world, the one where Caroline and Andy grew up as siblings, Andy studies applied physics at UT Austin and becomes enamored with Dr. Harper to the point that he begins writing a boot about him. In the process he attempts to create a device based on Harper’s hypotheses that can cancel out the effects of the electromagnetic fields of the Earth – theoretically opening portals to every other dimension.

The powers that be – as in the Universal Powers That Be – are not amused with Andy’s devise of how it throws a significant distortion into the over all matrix of fabricated reality – the shell they created as the distracting illusion of life. With it Andy can, pretty much, go wherever he wants – as long at he knows his destination. Therein lies the rub.  Andy knows that the device can do but doesn’t understand it’s potential. And in the process of exploring it he becomes genetically altered to be more like an extraterrestrial ancestor of humanity than a man.

Brent is a transplanted straddler, born into the world to correct the problems Andy will eventually cause. He gets sidetracked with his own issues and adventures but, moreover, he is intended to defeat Andy’s modification to the design. Brent is naturally drawn toward the people he needs to connect with in order to fix things. Yet he is uncooperative in dealing directly with any of his new found friends.  As a result, Andy changes many things both for Earth and Anter’x, a directly connect world – via wormholes – on the other side of the galaxy. There the wolfcats thrive – for a while anyway, along with a primordial ancestor of humanity called the Hovdin and a race called Sabatin that enslaved the Hovdin for a time.

In The Attributes, a two book set that I wrote a while back, all the timelines and plot lines are resolved. Imagine that! Me crop 2

 

Uncategorized

Book Review – Knights of the Shield by Jeff Messick

10411808_10204816875012807_971101109097490224_n

Cop shows on TV used to fascinate me as a kid. I loved Hawaii Five-O and Kojak. I still have a soft spot for them although these days I tend to watch things like Castle and Bones. And lately I’ve been reading paranormal stuff. So I have been eagerly awaiting Jeff Messick’s Knights of the Shield, due to release 11/11/14 from Pandamoon Publishing.

Jeff’s an IT guy who lived in San Antonio. He also writes and does it well. But it’s his storytelling skills that make his debut novel shine. Not only is it a fascinating story it merges a couple of pretty-much mutually exclusive genres with a touch of the supernatural blended in just for good measure.

fog

Luke Graham is a fairly standard hardboiled detective. You know the sort, a lone wolf who is forced to take on a brand new partner, Brackett who, though he has cop experience, doesn’t appreciate the finer points of being in the real world of investigating murders. Brackett is also a computer geek. So there is something to be loved there. The pair has a conflict immediately that Brackett exacerbates by following the book counter to Luke’s direction. When Luke is nearly killed, he ignores that Brackett saved his life because he disobeyed an order and allegedly caused the problem in the first place and it was that that almost cost Luke his life.

While recovering from the near fatal stab wound to the chest Luke receives an unexpected visit from a distant relative, a cousin who is a century or so removed – and a chainmail wearing knight at that. And so the journey begins for Luke to learn lessons about honor, respect and duty. In the background, Chuckie, one of Luke’s informants, is the latest victim of the Ribbon Killer, a serial murderer who, after killing eight ex-con in a row turns on other people who at first seem to have no connection to one another or the previous victims.

If you like books about cops, you’ll enjoy this one. If you’re into books that stretch the limits of imagination you’re in for a treat. Oh yes, there is also a touch of romance as Luke reconnects with a high school sweetheart who becomes the damsel in distress as Luke’s investigation proceeds.

Review based on an advance copy supplied by the publisher.

#BookReview #PoliceDrama #JeffMessick #KnightsOfTheShield #NewReleaseBooks

Uncategorized

Some Thoughts On The Unbounded Series by Teyla Branton

The Reckoning

There are at least two ways to write a series and variations on each. The author must decide whether to write each book as a stand-alone or write the entire series in draft and then work on finishing each book one at a time. Then he or she must deal with the necessary backstory elements in some relevant way before continuing with telling the overall tale.

I’m not sure what is the best overall approach. It may depend on the story. It might differ by the author as well but ultimately the expectations of the reader prevail in determining the success of the author;s effort.

It may seem silly to write a series and pretend that each book is a stand alone to the extent of recapping every major point of the series in each of the books. Then again, it depends on how much of a lag there are between releases of the parts of the series. Publishers require the author of a series to write at least a summary of the major points of each preceding book and present it as a Forward to any sequel.

The problem with recapping the facts from the former books into each new installment is that when the series is completely published and a reader can start at the beginning and read straight through the recapping is sometimes glaringly redundant. A good case can be made for a synopsis added into a Forward in that when a reader is plowing through an entire series sequentially he or she would have the option to skip that material or use it as more of a reference.

The real problem I have with providing the backstory is that it distracts from advancing the story.

I mention all this because until reading Teyla Branton’s Unbounded Series I hadn’t really felt that any author did a particularly good job with recapping the previous story while telling of a sequel. Anyone wanting to see how to do it well should read Branton’s four books: The Change, The Cure, The Escape and The Reckoning. She treats background as almost an unobtrusive reminder of what went on as it relates to the present dilemmas. This is an excellent approach.

It is  in the nature of a serial that the larger story spans several books with interim climaxes and cliff hangers. Branton constructs her series well, establishing the main characters in the first book, then adding in other important characters as the plot progresses. The resulting flow feels natural enough despite the paranormal story stretching possibilities. At the conclusion the major questions have been answered and the conflicts addressed sufficiently to end the story. But there is enough left in the background to ruminate and fester in the readers’ minds in case Branton decides to continue the storyline in another series. Personally I hope there is another series – Unbounded II?.

By the time The Reckoning begins Erin has become as seriously badass as her principal love interest, Ritter, but in a complementary way both physically and emotionally. As their bond has grown so has their connection through their skill set as evidences in thwarting the efforts of both The Hunters and the Emporium.

The Reckoning delivers us into the aftermath of The Escape. Erin has a little present her nemesis Delia left inside her. The mystery is not only what is the black coiled snakelike thing but also how to get rid of it – or at least keep it contained and controlled. We also discover the identity of the near corpse that was rescued at the end of The Escape. As has been the case all along the reader is in for a wild ride as the Renegades battle the Emporium.

Despite how well Branton does her thing with bringing the reader back up to speed while continuing the story, I highly recommend reading this story from the beginning. No worries, though. The Change is Free to download. So consider it a way of giving the series a test drive before you buying into it. Be warned, you will end up reading all four books, though – just because it is that kind of story.

Teyla Branton

#TeylaBranton #Unbounded #TheReckoning #Paranormal #Renegades #Emporium

Uncategorized

Review of Teyla Branton’s The Escape, Book 3 of The Unbounded Series

The Escape

The Escape is the third book of the Unbounded Series by Teyla Branton. If you aren’t familiar with the series, here’s a brief overview.

Erin is Unbounded meaning she is quasi-immortal. Like other Unbounded she was born like every other human but around the time she turned thirty she experienced the Change. The Unbounded have the ability to recover from serious, injuries that to mortals would be fatal. Their bodies are designed to survive and regenerate. This also means that their reproduction is almost a certain consequence of sexual intercourse.

Erin might live for two thousand years unless someone severs the connections between her brain, hearts and reproductive organs. She belongs to a group of other Unbounded called Renegades. A rival group called the Emporium wants to take over the world and subjugate all mortals to servitude and to do so they must overcome resistance of the Renegades either converting them to their cause of eliminated them – usually the latter unless the renegade possesses an ability the Emporium desires for their breeding experiments.

Meanwhile a group of mortals called the Hunters want to get rid of all both groups of Unbounded, Fortunately for the Unbounded the Hunters aren’t all that bright. Still, they are dangerous adversaries.

In The Escape, Erin is learning more and more about her special ability, called sensing. In the previous episode she realized that she could sometimes borrow abilities from other unbounded and she also learned that sometimes she could penetrate the mental defense of others. Here she must use what she has learned about herself in combination with the abilities of others we met in the previous installments. The objective is facilitating the escape of Renegade prisoners from the Emporium strong hold in New York City. In the process of planning Erin discovers the nature of the Emporium’s evil plans to take control of the government through subterfuge and murder.

Although I’m not normally a huge fan of paranormal novels I have seemed o read a number of them in the past year. II enjoy the unleashed imagination that is possible when characters can defy the laws of physics – or rather utilize or explore other, undiscovered levels of the physical universe. It makes for good fantasy, especially if the story is told with enough realism that a reader can easily be drawn into the story.

Branton excels in character development giving us an array of people to care about throughout the telling. This volume has action, mystery, suspense and romance blended together with a healthy dose of political intrigue. I am looking forward to reading The Reckoning, Unbounded Book 4, already available at Amazon.

Teyla Branton

#TheEscape #TheChange #TheCure #TheReckoning #TeylaBranton #Paranormal #Romance #TheUnbounded #Renegades

Uncategorized

My Goodreads Review of Crimson Forest by Christine Gabriel

Crimson Forest (Crimson Chronicles Volume 1)Crimson Forest by Christine Gabriel

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

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 launched on August 30, 2014 with the sequel Crimson Moon set to follow sometime in Spring 2015.

View all my reviews

Uncategorized

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.

CG1

#ChristineGabriel #CrimsonForest #NewReleaseBook #Paranormal #Romance

Uncategorized

Review Of The Change by Teyla Branton

The Change Cover

Teyla Branton’s The Change is book one of The Unbounded series, a fresh take on paranormal adventure. The series currently comprising four volumes, the most recent publishing earlier this summer (2014). As the introduction to the extended tale, The Change provides ample character development while establishing the foundation and associated conflicts for everything that is to come in the battle between three factions: the mortal Hunters and the two sides of nearly godlike Unbounded, the Emporium and the Renegades. Branton provides a historical basis for the conflict creating enough plausibility for the reader to suspend disbelief, a critical part of paranormal storytelling.

Branton’s writing style makes for a comfortable read providing enough variation to remain fresh and compelling as she employs first person to convey the story through the eyes as well as other senses of Erin. Barely surviving a horrendous traffic accident in which she was severely burned over seventy percent of her body, Erin learns that she possesses a gene that allows her not only to survive but also to be better than she was before as her body now replicates and repairs itself quickly.

Although near immortality at first it might seem a dream come true, the reality of her new situation casts Erin into the midst of a centuries-old battle. If that wasn’t bad enough, the Hunters that would like nothing better than rid the world of all Unbounded. In the process of self-discovery Erin is compelled to choose which side she will join. She learns that nothing about her life is easy or even what it seems including her ancestry and that her gifts that are rare even amongst the Unbounded.

The Change is full of suspense, action and intrigue with several twists and turns as the reader constantly learns more about the surreal world that exists beneath the unsuspecting noses of most mortals. With attention held from start to finish the reader reaches a conclusion that serves more as a respite than resolution. There is a good deal left to be resolved in the subsequent installments.

Teyla Branton

Link to Amazon:

#paranormal #bookreview #TheChange #TeylaBranton