The era of the steamboat is not gone forever, thanks to the owners of the Pickwick Belle docked at Pickwick Landing State Park in West Tennessee. Come and take a ride and experience the history of this beautiful area. It is an experience you won't forget! For more information, click on this link.
Saturday, January 20, 2018
BOOK REVIEW OF THE CUTAWAY
By suspense author Christina Kovac
There are few writers who are capable of turning out a
good novel at first try. I suspect that the success of this book is the fact
that Kovac is familiar with her subject matter, which is broadcast news. All of
the characters in this thriller are believable. They sometimes react in ways
that aren’t predictable, which keeps the attention of the reader riveted on the
plot. Most thriller novels are ‘whodunits,’ but this one also has a ‘whydunit’ element
woven carefully into the plot. Readers will find themselves chasing through
buildings, darkened streets, and strategy meetings trying to find out the
identity of the perpetrator-- and if that isn’t enough, we are treated to a
very real situation where people have failed to realize their best potential.
Love, jealously, rage, and vengeance all play a part in this story. If you like
thrillers, mystery, suspense, and a darn good story, you are going to like this
book. I give it a solid 4-star rating. You are going to like ‘The Cutaway.’
Grab a copy at your first opportunity.
Some TV commercials are works of art. They amuse us and some
are too cute for words. It seems that the worse, most annoying ones are played
and replayed for most of our lifespan. I love the Breath Right commercial where
the little girl is videoing her mother who is in bed with a cold. I also love
the dog commercials. My least favorite is the Liberty Mutual commercial where
the young student tells about a automobile named Brad that is totaled in a
wreck. Everything is terrible until Liberty
calls and ‘you break into your happy dance.’ While I don’t like this
commercial, I was surprised at so many other people hating it. One aspiring
critic said that the young woman in the commercial was a student at the University
of Michigan. As he expressed it, he
would like to carry her out on a date to a hair stylist and “have them teach
her how to use a curling iron on her damned old hair.” That was a little too
blunt for my taste, or maybe not. They do this in our living rooms so we should
have a say regarding what they annoy us with. Some commercials rank up there
with a Whoopee Cushion in the wrong chair at a state dinner. I have been good
since I found out that Santa Clause was “Making a list and checking it twice.”
Come on, guys. Try to do better with your ads. The elf on a shelf is watching
One of the things I learned as a computer programmer was not to get
carried away with all of the bells and whistles. There are too many programmers
today that would install a computer on a claw hammer if someone in management gave
them a wink and a nod. One of the many features on our new oven was a feature
where a Jewish person could program the oven ahead of time so it would turn on
and off on the Sabbath in compliance with their datary laws. I’m not Jewish, so
none of this helps me in any form or fashion. It is just one of the useless
features that I have to work around in order to use the oven. The list seems
endless. All I want an oven to do is start as soon as I select the temperature
and cut off when I hit the stop button. No such luck with this appliance. You
would have to hit more keys than it would take to write a letter to grandma
explaining why your son decided to marry that snooty looking cheerleader from Auburn instead of a wholesome
looking girl from the University of Tennessee. I can handle complexity when I need to, but why muddy up the pond when
all you want to do is cook a biscuit.
I don’t know how I missed City of Bones
by Michael Connelly for so many years. I am a Connelly fan and as far as I know
I have read all the others. There are far too many books today that have a boring
sameness to them. By the end of the first chapter you know what is going to
happen, which is often nothing, and you have to yawn your way through a couple
of hundred more pages to the end. Connelly keeps you guessing from page to
page. The characters are usually different from anyone you know, but are
surprisingly real. I you haven’t read any of Connelly’s books, you ought to be
ashamed of yourself. You need to grab City of Bones
and find a good seat because you are likely to be there until you reach the
last page. It is a darn good read and it will keep you entertained.
I search through
my bookshelves occasionally, finding books I read and enjoyed many years ago. A
few days ago, I ran across a book by one of the top suspense writers and
remembered how much I enjoyed it twenty-five years ago. At that time in my life,
I was involved with computers, writing some of my own software and buying too
many gadgets. Computers offered some exciting possibilities for writers, and
most of us couldn’t wait for all of those wonderful things to arrive in the
marketplace. At that time, we knew there were many ideas being considered
regarding operating systems. Computers were complicated, and we needed a way to
make them intuitive where you could throw the manuals aside and get to work
creating a bestselling novel. In this particular book, a cutting-edge company
invented a device that operated somewhat like a treadmill. You walked on rubber
balls down a virtual hallway wearing a pair of goggles that showed an
office-like environment with file cabinets on the walls. You could open any
drawer and browse through the information. It was a very clunky system that
would require a lot of expensive hardware, but fascinating at that time.
Computers quickly advanced beyond this concept to what we have today with
Google, the Internet, and digital drives. Reading the book now, it is slightly amusing,
and it is hard not to laugh at some of the passages. It is very easy for a
writer to get caught up in the same trap. Regardless of how careful you research
any situation, technology moves in unexpected directions because of unforeseen
developments. Young people today are amused at 8-track tapes, cassette
recordings, and CD storage. I research endlessly when I am writing, and you
should too, but don’t write yourself into a corner explaining cutting-edge
developments that will be outdated in a year or two. I have made this mistake,
and it can make your wonderful book outdated a long time before it should be. A
good book can be relevant for centuries, and it should be if it is carefully
written. Happy writing and have a wonderful day.
There was a story on the evening news last night
that made me squirm. I wasn’t listening until they were well into the story so
I don’t remember the names, but the story went something like this. A well-known
baseball player died. One of his fans asked the family for some of the ball
player’s ashes so he could do something to honor his memory. The family
complied with his request and gave him some of the remains. His idea was to
scatter some of the ashes at various ballparks around the nation. He couldn’t
gain access to the playing field, so he had to work out a plan. It finally occurred
to him that it wasn’t necessary to gain access to the field. Instead, he went
into the bathroom and sprinkled some of the ashes into the commode, then
flushed it. The ashes were carried into the field lines and thus became a part
of the playing field. I don’t know about you, but I have a different opinion of
how to honor a fallen comrade. While there are a few people who probably need
to be flushed, well --- I won’t go into that.
I wouldn’t knowingly start any novel
if there wasn’t a romance involved in the plot. Who could ever forget Les
Miserables, Gone with the Wind, or Anna Karenina? In other books, the love
interests might be more subtle. You will find love stories intertwined in the
main plot in most suspense novels. James Patterson does it well, and even the
most hardened prison stories have romance in some fashion. It might be a long
ago high school romance, but if it is worth reading, it is there, and even more
poignant because it is often intertwined with anger and hate.
I don’t like what some people call
romance, which is nothing but thinly disguised porn. You know the kind of story
I’m talking about. The guy enters the laundry, says hello to a girl standing by
the washers, and almost immediately they are on the folding table trying to
increase the world’s population.
The most important question an
author can ask is: ‘what do the characters want?’ That can involve many things,
but the most important is love and to be loved in some fashion or the other.
‘Forgotten’ is such a story. Amber
is lonely, so shy that she has almost no friend except Emily, and a driving
desire to have a career as a singer. Her mother has died two months before her
graduation from USC, and she has no relationship with her father except for an
occasional visit from him. Who is Robert Fitzgerald, she has always wondered,
or more important is the question of what he is. Her father is suddenly in her
life again, showering her with gifts and offers to help her find the career she
wants. But does she dare let down her defenses long enough to establish a
relationship with him? Despite her reservation, her life is suddenly out of
control, and she finds herself in a turbulent situation that both excites and
Don’t miss Forgotten. It will be
released on Amazon Kindle this week at the introductory price of 99¢.
Lost and found is a collection of short stories by Maria Savva about ordinary people living ordinary lives, torn apart by regret, remorse, and deceit. We are all stumbling through life together.
What makes us betray a loved one? Can isolation lead to irrational behavior? Why do other people's lives look more appealing?
Here are some of the stories you will find in Maria's book:
A Different World: A young man finds friends in the most unlikely place.
An Innocent Man: Will Oliver face a prison sentence for something he didn't do?
Boomerang: A single mother wants her old life back, but will her prayers be answered?
What's Left Unsaid: When one lie leads to another.
Office Gossip: What happens when a handsome new male boss starts work in a female dominated office?
Birthday Boy: Will Victor get away with his lecherous behavior?
Happy Anniversary: Les is unhappy in his marriage but things take an unexpected turn.
I certainly did not regret my decision to purchase Antaeus Factor.
It is a skillfully constructed thriller, and at the same time it is a murder
mystery, with an intricate plot and well-developed characters. The action takes
the reader on a whirlwind ride across the globe.
The scene is set in the first chapter with the unexplained murder of reporter
Thomas Allard in Memphis. A mysterious set of events seems to be conspiring to
hinder the police investigations. Ron Cable, working in Rome, Italy is approached out of the blue to
replace his step father as CEO of the hugely influential company Cable
Incorporated. A mysterious series of events sees Ron deported from Italy. This is just one of numerous damaging
and unexplained events that seem to be plaguing Cable Incorporated and anyone
with any connection to the company.
Lies, deceit, murders, computer hacking and manipulated events designed to
shame and embarrass conspire to destroy Cable Corporation. Everyone appears to
be working to different agendas.
Antaeus Factor is a thoroughly enjoyable read that will keep you on the edge of
your seat. The plot is first rate, scene settings and characters are cleverly
constructed with a professional panache. The author has done a skilful job in
creating an easy reading novel that ticks all the boxes.
I think it is wonderful that some experienced writers spend
so much time answering research questions for the rest of us. Three generous
experts come immediately to mind; Neil Low, Dr. Doug Lyle, and Lee Lofland. Many
novels have passed the giggle test because these experts went to the trouble of
giving an accurate answer to some obscure research problem. Regardless of how
well educated you are, you can’t know everything about any given subject, and that
is when you go to someone who knows more about it than you do.
Those of us with less experience can also lend a hand by
writing reviews of books we like. After all, writers spend long hours pulling all
of the threads together to create an enjoyable book. They need (and deserve)
your feedback. Enough reviews and enough sales will encourage the writer to
write another book in a series, and that is what most of us want.
A young woman I met on a forum was very talented, but she
decided to write a book set in the 1950s in the rural South. She was in her mid-forties,
grew up in a city in the Pacific Northwest, and had no
experience on a farm. She asked me if I minded answering a few questions. I
agreed with the understanding that I might pass some of them along to the ‘real’
experts. Fortunately, all of them were about things I experienced when I was
growing up. There were many questions over the year and a half she was writing
and editing her book. She told me that she was going to thank me again on her
acknowledgment page in the front of the book. I got a copy as soon as it was in
print and read carefully through her glowing comments that covered three pages.
When I got to the end of the account, she mentioned the name of her ‘expert’
which wasn’t me. She also posted her acknowledgements on a forum for everyone
to read, and the name she gave was the screen name of another person on the
forum. Almost immediately, I received an email from the other ‘Joe’ who was
embarrassed to have received credit for something he didn’t do. “How do we
straighten this out?” he asked. “This book is already in print.” I had been
laughing since I read her account of how her book came together, and was still
laughing when he sent his email to me.
“No harm done,” I told him. “And don’t try to straighten it
out. It would embarrass her too much.”
I missed my 15 minutes of fame, but I still help less
experienced writers, and I do write reviews when I read a book I especially
like. When you write a review, you are helping yourself in the long run. A writer
you like won’t starve, and he or she might write you another gripping novel.
After all, that is what this writing game is all about.
If your heart isn’t in the right place, you’re going to be
offended by some of the passages in Blindsided. One of my favorite pictures is
a poster that shows an adult down of one knee trying a little boy’s shoelace.
The caption says, “You will never stand as tall as when you bend to help a
child.” There are a lot of things in the world that the haters hate. The rest
of us have to endure more than we should or become like them. The LGBT movement
is not something I completely understand, but I know there are many who believe
they were born in the wrong body. I don’t understand people who shoot up
churches, or the ones who bring about a massacre in a school filled with
teachers and students. I don’t understand road rage, or racial intolerance, or
the people who hate the members of another religion. There are other things I
understand and wish they could be different. Why someone would want to bully
another person because they are different leaves me sad and somewhat puzzled.
It also seems that the people who know better are the worse offenders. Here is
something to seriously consider. God did not burden you with the task of
changing the world. Your assignment is to help those that need a helping hand,
and you can find some of them around your doorstep. If you want to change the
world, it can only be done by performing one small act of kindness after
I received a notice from the moderator of one forum
informing me that Blindsided was too controversial to post my promotional notice
on her forum. She also sent me a copy of Yahoo’s TOS as if she was brandishing
a weapon. Blindsided deals with bullying, and the problems that occur when
someone is perceived as being different from the norm. Some of our young people
are going to read Blindsided and say, “This is what I put up with every day.
What’s the fuss all about?” Others might see themselves in the pages of the
book and consider the ways they can be better than they already are. Everyone
is different, and all of the characters in my novels are flawed in one way or
another, just as real people are. No two of us are alike. There is a song,
‘What the world needs now, is love, sweet love.’ Tolerance should be
incorporated somewhere in the lyrics. Most of the things that bother us so much
aren’t any of our business. Meeting hate, ignorance, or anger in the wrong
manner is like holding a railroad spike against a rapidly spinning grind wheel.
You are going to generate a lot of sparks, but very little light. There are
things worth dying for, but our private dislikes aren’t a part of it. Most of
the world is caught up in a tsunami of hate. We must do better or perish in the
process. Blindsided is about anger, rage, and revenge, but also about forgiveness
and the pain of lost love. Grab a copy of Blindsided when it becomes available
in a few days. If you enjoy it, write a review and let me know what you think .
. . or better still, let me know how you feel. There is nothing better than
being at peace with the challenges of the world. God bless each of you and
I LOVE YOU MORE THAN WORDS CAN POSSIBLY EXPRESS. WHY WON’T
YOU LOVE ME BACK?
I don’t know why we’re always surprised at negative
emotions. The worse of them are hard-wired in our brain from a primitive time
when we had to fight tooth and nail for our very existence.
No one is born civilized. Babies are not born good; they are
born innocent. Civilized behavior is a trait learned from those who nurture us
during our formative years. There is always enough anger, rage, and hate to go
around. At some time in our early years, most of us learn how to handle
negative emotions, or at least avoid the worse of them. The emotion that few of
us learn to master is rejection. We meet someone, and we admire them. We want
to be their friend. There might be a time when we love them, only to be faced
with rejection. There is no plan or blueprint to guide us around the worse of
it, and it hurts so much that sometimes it is hard to even breathe. In
BLINDSIDED, Rodney is the starting quarterback on the football team and the most
popular student in school. He has a bright future ahead of him when everything
suddenly goes wrong. His story is no different from the things that have
happened to many others as they struggle through their high school years. It
might have happened to you. I hope you will take a moment to follow the link
below to Amazon Scout’s promotional site and click the ‘Nominate Me’ button. It
will give me a chance to win a contract for my YA novel. Thank you for reading,
and have a wonderful day.
To those of you who are visiting my website for the first time, welcome, and for those who are returning, it is good to have you back. I am currently finishing the second novel in the Sheriff Daniel Barrett series, and will have it on Amazon Kindle soon. I have two other series that you might like to read. One is the Abraham’s Bones series about terrorism in the Middle East, and the other is the Renegade series, an old-fashioned story of the old west. You can visit my website by clicking here. I hope you have time to read through the description of my novels while you are here.