Book Review Saturday: Protecting His Witch by Zoe Forward

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is not my usually reading material, especially with the guy on the cover with an open shirt. I like reading books without shirtless men on the cover, but this one was about a witch and the description was interesting.  I was soon to discover that you really can’t judge a book by its cover! This fascinating and imaginative mystery romance is exceptionally well written and keeps the reader totally engaged as the writer builds the story into a crescendo from breathless interludes to heart-stopping suspense. From the very first pages, the reader is drawn to the beautiful and enigmatic Kat and the very dangerously sexy Matthew, as they try to untangle the web of mystery surrounding them.

Kat has no idea who and what she is as she struggles to understand the strange phenomena that grips her and even threatens her life. Matt is determined to avoid being pulled back into a world of ancient mythology that he has tried to forget. Kat and Matt, suspicious of the inexplicable physical chemistry in their passionate and contentious union, find they are under attack by powerful forces that threaten their very existence as ancient enemies lead the world toward Armageddon. Kat and Matthew are determined decide their own fate at the risk of losing everything they hold dear.

I was completely spellbound by the power unleashed in this story of sizzling passion and high suspense to see what fate had in store for the beautiful Kat and the devilishly handsome Matthew. I could not put this story down for a minute and I highly recommend this stylish and sexy thriller as a must read.

In Honor of Horror Fiction: More & More & More Tales to Give You Goosebumps

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Yeah, We’re Talking About R.L. Stine By: Zachary Petit Something about R.L. Stine freaks me out. It’s not that he acts nothing like you might assume, though he is wearing all black. He’s funny and charming, and his amiable character throws kids off on school visits: “They expect someone with fangs, wearing a cape,” he says.

It’s not that nobody calls him “R.L.” except book jackets. (He goes by Bob.)  Its not even that he has written some 300–400 books (!), and has sold more than 350 million in his Goosebumps series alone, making him at one point the bestselling children’s series author of all time. (He’s now No. 2, right behind J.K. Rowling.)

No, it’s how he writes the things that freaks me out: He begins with the titles.“That’s the inspiration!” he says with a laugh. “You want to know where ideas come from—for me, they come from the title.”

For instance, he was walking his dog around New York City, and he thought, Little Shop of Hamsters. It just popped into his head. He liked it, so he came up with a story to bring it to life—What can I do to make hamsters scary? OK, a boy goes into a strange pet shop. It’s all hamsters, and there’s something wrong with one of them …

“Most authors I know work backwards,” he says. “I can’t do it.” So, I decide to conduct an experiment: I’m going to be like Stine. I’m going to work backward, and I’m not going to write a word of my article about him until I’ve got the perfect title, one I can build a story around. Simple enough for a little profile, right? And without knowing it, I’ve fallen into the trap of R.L. Stine, the trap of writing for kids, maybe the trap of writing anything: It all looked so damn easy.

 

 

Three Secrets to Great Storytelling!

Whispering3 SECRETS TO GREAT STORYTELLING as presented on Writer’s Digest. I found this article by Steven James helpful in forming the structure of scenes.  (this is a re-blogging from 2014 but I thought it deserved a revival now, because it is simple, straightforward, and to the point.)

As a novelist and writing instructor, I’ve noticed that three of the most vital aspects of story craft are left out of many writing books and workshops. Even bestselling novelists stumble over them – Steven James But they’re not difficult to grasp. In fact, they’re easy.And if you master these simple principles for shaping great stories, your writing will be transformed forever. Honest. Here’s how to write a story.

Secret #1: 
CAUSE AND EFFECT ARE KING.

Everything in a story must be caused by the action or event that precedes it.  As a fiction writer, you want your reader to always be emotionally present in the story. But when readers are forced to guess why something happened (or didn’t happen), even for just a split second, it causes them to intellectually disengage and distances them from the story. Rather than remaining present alongside the characters, they’ll begin to analyze or question the progression of the plot. And you definitely don’t want that. When a reader tells you that he couldn’t put a book down, often it’s because everything in the story followed logically. Stories that move forward naturally, cause to effect, keep the reader engrossed and flipping pages. If you fail to do this, it can confuse readers, kill the pace and telegraph your weaknesses as a writer.

Secret #2: 
IF IT’S NOT BELIEVABLE, IT DOESN’T BELONG.  

The narrative world is also shattered when an action, even if it’s impossible, becomes unbelievable. In writing circles it’s common to speak about the suspension of disbelief, but that phrase bothers me because it seems to imply that the reader approaches the story wanting to disbelieve and that she needs to somehow set that attitude aside in order to engage with the story. But precisely the opposite is true. Readers approach stories wanting to believe them. Readers have both the intention and desire to enter a story in which everything that happens, within the narrative world that governs that story, is believable. As writers, then, our goal isn’t to convince the reader to suspend her disbelief, but rather to give her what she wants by continually sustaining her belief in the story. The distinction isn’t just a matter of semantics; it’s a matter of understanding the mindset and expectations of your readers. Readers want to immerse themselves in deep belief. We need to respect them enough to keep that belief alive throughout the story.

Secret #3: 

IT’S ALL ABOUT ESCALATION.  

At the heart of story is tension, and at the heart of tension is unmet desire. At its core, a story is about a character who wants something but cannot get it. As soon as he gets it, the story is over. So, when you resolve a problem, it must always be within the context of an even greater plot escalation. As part of the novel-writing intensives that I teach, I review and critique participants’ manuscripts. Often I find that aspiring authors have listened to the advice of so many writing books and included an engaging “hook” at the beginning of their story. This is usually a good idea; however, all too often the writer is then forced to spend the following pages dumping in background to explain the context of the hook.

IN CONCLUSION

By consistently driving your story forward through action that follows naturally, characters who act believably, and tension that mounts exponentially, you’ll keep readers flipping pages and panting for more of your work.

 

Three Secrets to Great Storytelling!

Whispering

 

 

 

3 SECRETS TO GREAT STORYTELLING as presented on Writer’s Digest. I found this article by Steven James helpful in forming the structure of scenes.  (this is a re-blogging from 2014 but I thought it deserved a revival now, because it is simple, straightforward, and to the point.)

As a novelist and writing instructor, I’ve noticed that three of the most vital aspects of story craft are left out of many writing books and workshops. Even bestselling novelists stumble over them – Steven James But they’re not difficult to grasp. In fact, they’re easy.And if you master these simple principles for shaping great stories, your writing will be transformed forever. Honest. Here’s how to write a story.

Secret #1:  CAUSE AND EFFECT ARE KING.

Everything in a story must be caused by the action or event that precedes it.  As a fiction writer, you want your reader to always be emotionally present in the story. But when readers are forced to guess why something happened (or didn’t happen), even for just a split second, it causes them to intellectually disengage and distances them from the story. Rather than remaining present alongside the characters, they’ll begin to analyze or question the progression of the plot. And you definitely don’t want that. When a reader tells you that he couldn’t put a book down, often it’s because everything in the story followed logically. Stories that move forward naturally, cause to effect, keep the reader engrossed and flipping pages. If you fail to do this, it can confuse readers, kill the pace and telegraph your weaknesses as a writer.

Secret #2:  IF IT’S NOT BELIEVABLE, IT DOESN’T BELONG.  

The narrative world is also shattered when an action, even if it’s impossible, becomes unbelievable. In writing circles it’s common to speak about the suspension of disbelief, but that phrase bothers me because it seems to imply that the reader approaches the story wanting to disbelieve and that she needs to somehow set that attitude aside in order to engage with the story. But precisely the opposite is true. Readers approach stories wanting to believe them. Readers have both the intention and desire to enter a story in which everything that happens, within the narrative world that governs that story, is believable. As writers, then, our goal isn’t to convince the reader to suspend her disbelief, but rather to give her what she wants by continually sustaining her belief in the story. The distinction isn’t just a matter of semantics; it’s a matter of understanding the mindset and expectations of your readers. Readers want to immerse themselves in deep belief. We need to respect them enough to keep that belief alive throughout the story.

Secret #3: IT’S ALL ABOUT ESCALATION.  

At the heart of story is tension, and at the heart of tension is unmet desire. At its core, a story is about a character who wants something but cannot get it. As soon as he gets it, the story is over. So, when you resolve a problem, it must always be within the context of an even greater plot escalation. As part of the novel-writing intensives that I teach, I review and critique participants’ manuscripts. Often I find that aspiring authors have listened to the advice of so many writing books and included an engaging “hook” at the beginning of their story. This is usually a good idea; however, all too often the writer is then forced to spend the following pages dumping in background to explain the context of the hook.

IN CONCLUSION

By consistently driving your story forward through action that follows naturally, characters who act believably, and tension that mounts exponentially, you’ll keep readers flipping pages and panting for more of your work.

 

Sara and the Shark

Dark Mermaid 331da5c79500e461b15c45e07d3865e1Sara Windsor was 12-years-old and living in Florida on the beautiful Gulf coast, when her mother and grandmother took her and her siblings to the “Jetties” at Indian Pass to swim. It was a popular place for locals but not well-known for tourists. The Jetties are breakers made of huge boulders that, like a pier, one can tie a boat up to.

It wasn’t the sunniest of days to go swimming, the August sky was covered with gray clouds and the sea was rolling with drab green humps like whales coming to shore, a telling sign that in the far distance there had been a big storm churning up the waters.

Sara was a natural mermaid. Anyone would think she had a tail, as she swam out farther than anyone else. Like a dolphin, Sara moved with grace and agility.  She could stay underwater for minutes at a time, never really wanting to come up for air. When Sara did surface from the drab green rolling waves, she noticed that no one was in the water.

Everyone had lined up, single file on the beach like statues, and her mother was on her knees. No one made a sound – there was dead silence. Sara sensed something was terribly wrong. She turned to look behind her as a huge rolling wave broke and she saw an immense gray white form break through the wave. Sara always stayed vertical in the water when not swimming or diving to the bottom, like any smart mermaid would do, and she had such buoyancy that she needed no movement to stay afloat.

Sara watched with awe, not fear, this amazing creature as it began a large slow circle around her and she silently watched as the shark encircled her. She understood innately, like any fish would know, the danger movement would bring. She allowed the waves to bring her to closer to shore, with the incoming tide. Sara watched the next circle of the great white shark as it drew closer and closer to her. Sara knew she had only one more circle before the Great White had her in its huge jaws. She was close enough to the shark to see its eyes were dark blue orbs that appeared not to see her.

Sara made the decision that it was now or never to learn to fly. She forced herself upward, out of the water like a flying fish and landed at the shore’s edge. The great white was nipping at her heels as she ran up the slope of sand to safety. The Great White, never one to give up easily, beached itself to get what it thought was a young tasty seal. Sara watched the immense shark wiggle back into deeper water, yet it still chased her scent along the shoreline turning back and forth.

Sara wonders to this day the gift of silence from the beach goers and that no one tried to help her, a blessing in disguise. If they had, they would have brought the great white closer to shore and blocked her escape. The ocean that day was also protecting her as it rolled in with the tide. If the tide had been going out, Sara would have had no chance to survive at all.  Sara believed her guardian angel was with her that day.

 

 

THE HARPY

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I wish for a tropical breeze to lighten the intense humidity that hugs this August morning.  The porch, thank goodness, is high off the ground and the mildewed screens somewhat block the steamy rays from the sun.  The sky is intensely blue and the ocean is still and quiet—waiting. I breathe in slowly through my nose and exhale gently through my mouth, waiting for what I know must come. I am powerless to change my fate.

My notebook is before me and I stare at the blank pages.  I have been siting here now for what seems like hours trying to begin a story that I must tell.   I must make sense of it, at least in my own mind. Perspiration drips from the corners of my temples.  Tendrils of fading blond curls are damp across my forehead and I push them aside with the back of my hand.

The old mahogany armchair I sit in, with its old cane seat, presses into my bare legs making my skin feel sticky and I am sure that deep patterns, now imbedded on the backs of my thighs, will blister, courtesy of the mahogany chair.  I shift uncomfortably, and vow to retrieve a pillow from the sofa when next I rise.

The breeze I had been waiting for finally arrives like a soft whisper across my cheek and I turn my face toward its source, the sky and sea.  In the morning light, I open the notebook that is now somewhat damp from the humid air and I begin again searching for the right words, the truest of words. It will come to me…..I know it will. I close my eyes and I try to remember all of it.

_________

Out of the gathering darkness, a whispering voice, close to my ear, speaks, “Dare ye not linger lest she bring a curse upon ye, child.” I turned quickly to the voice, but nothing was there. A chill went up my spine. Moments later, again, the disembodied voice spoke, “Dare ye not linger lest she bring a curse upon ye, child!” This time the voice was urgent and fearful.

I feel an unreasonable fear, of what I did not know. I grabbed my cousin Jordan’s arm to plead with him to let us head for home. He took no notice of me and continued to stare at something that was standing beyond the gate. I turned to look and before us was something that could only have materialized out of a Grimm’s fairytale. She glared at me and her dark crystal eyes began to glow so brightly that the darkness disappeared around us. The hag-like woman, lifted by unseen wings, soared over the gate.

The whispering voice behind me suddenly gave out an ear-splitting scream that shook the ground where I stood. The hag-like apparition in front of me screeched with such an unearthly sound that I dared not move, even if I could. I was still holding Jordan’s arm and he turned to me as if to wonder what I was doing.

“Jordan”, I whispered, “What is that?”

“What is what, Ana?”

“You know, the old hag, the woman, Jordan.”

“Ana, there is no woman, only a light in the window, but there was nothing to it. Let’s go home.”

I was incredulous. Was I the only one who saw and heard the unearthly screams?  My young cousins, Richie and Anise seemed not to be at all aware of what had happened.

I couldn’t understand what was wrong with them and then once again, I heard the whispering voice behind me and I angrily turned to respond. The whispering apparition was floating in the air, in front of me, her hair aflame, burning as brightly as a bonfire, “Thou art hexed, forsaken in ye life, poor child,” she said. “I begged thee not to gaze upon the Harpy.”

The apparition’s voice was sad and low as she slowly disappeared into the night.

___________

 The Mahogany chair is now hot against my thighs as the chair begins to rock back and forth. I know what is coming. The Harpy now stands beyond the screened porch. Her dark crystal eyes peer out from under the dark mane covering her head.  Another form appears on the porch, near me. It is the apparition, I now know as Nellie, who has been protecting me all of these years. The Harpy’s unholy screech suddenly pierces the air and in turn, Nellie’s high pitch scream drowns out all else. These are the truest words. Listen, now, to the screams, should you hear them and abide, for it is far to late.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

TRUE FORM A Magic Realism Gem!

17887240 True Form

Sarah Christine Lalonde’s new novel, TRUE FORM,  is Magical Realism at it’s best. Powerful immortals come to life in this original, imaginative, and inspired story. Lalonda’s beautifully crafted characters will enthrall you until you fall under their spell. You will be taken through time to ancient Egypt where it all began and back again into the present were life and death battles will determine the fate of human and immortals alike and keep you turning the pages wondering what your fate will be.  This magic realism inspired story also tells a deeper truth about immortal and mortal foibles, revenge, and redemption.  I do see a sequel in the future that will continue this fascinating story.  I highly recommend this exciting foray into magical realism.