Thursday, October 22, 2009

Great Children's Author

I read a wide variety of books, although my favorite type of literature is suspense. It is always a treat to pick up a book in another genre and find something stimulating and interesting. Sevetlana Kovalkova-McKenna is the author of several books for children. Her stories are the type of books you want to buy for your own kids. She studied Journalism and Broadcasting at Moscow State University in Russia, and has a liberal arts degree from Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee. She is not only a writer with great talent, she is also an artist who illustrates her own books. After reading my review of Kaitlyn and the Secrets of the Sea, I hope you will add it to your Christmas list for your own children to enjoy.

Reading Kaitlyn and the Secrets of the Sea, carries me back to a magical time when my daughter was young and we spent time reading to each other. The story of Kaitlyn’s adventure under the sea is suited for preteen children, but those who are much younger will enjoy a parent or an older family member reading it to them. Sevetlana Kovalkova-McKenna weaves a magical spell for those who enjoy a modern fairytale. It is reminiscent of the classic stories of yesteryear, but suited for our modern world. The story elements are strong, the characters intriguing, and the lessons worth remembering. There are many of us who believe in magic, but you will wonder as you read this wonderful story, if the author knows something that has escaped the rest of us. I highly recommend this book.

This book is available at

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Child Abuse

Tags: child abuse, crime, thriller, mystery.

Statistical evidence reveals a shocking truth about America. Child abuse is at epidemic proportions and society seems unable, or unwilling, to do anything about it. Studies have suggested that one in four girls are sexually abused while they are growing up. Divorce, problems with our school systems, and absentee parents, makes the situation more difficult. There are far too many authority figures who prey upon our youth, while children find themselves powerless to resist. Child abuse is not a subject any of us are comfortable with, but it accomplishes nothing to bury our head in the sand and pretend it will go away. My latest novel, ‘Innocent’ is not the kind of book I would ordinarily read, and it is unlike anything I have written before. Some people might be disturbed by the content, while others will realize that the hard, cold wind of reality, will sometimes drive the smog away and clear the air.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Columbus Day

Tags: American history, Christopher Columbus, holidays.

Whenever a holiday rolls around, we usually focus briefly on the person or event the holiday is supposed to commemorate. Holidays that celebrate the lives or accomplishments of individuals are especially interesting. Many of these historical figures are bigger than life and the known ‘facts’ often do not always fit reality. Shortly after his death, George Washington was the benefactor of exaggerated accounts intended to make him bigger than life. In our own time we have seen the same thing happen with Elvis and Michael Jackson. Each historical figure has their own list of facts and myths that shadow the reality of who they really were. Now that we are celebrating Columbus Day, it is interesting to examine a few of the myths surrounding Christopher Columbus and the time in which he lived. One is the theory that ships did not sail far from some known land mass because they were afraid they would fall over the edge of a flat earth. Once you examine ancient literature, you start to wonder if people ever believed the world was flat. You only have to stand on a beach and watch a vessel disappear over the horizon to see that this is not true. Greek mathematicians were able to calculate the circumference of the earth in ancient times, and arrived astonishing close to modern scientific measurements. It is interesting to note that the first known representation of a round earth was made by Crates of Mailus in what is now Turkey around 150 BC. Another depiction of a curving earth can still be viewed in the Naples Museum in Italy. It is part of a sculpture called the Farnese Atlas, and was created in 150AD. The first terrestrial globe that attempts to show the earth in its entirety, was made by Martian Behaim in 1474. While it is inaccurate by as much as 16 degrees in certain locations, it is interesting to note that this was 18 years before Columbus discovered America. The human race has always been restless, wandering the face of the earth for untold centuries before the official discoverers arrived. Recently, skeletons of Caucasians that date to more than 40,000 years ago have been found in graves in the Pacific Northwest, in Illinois, and in South Carolina. Our hats should still be off to Christopher Columbus for his role in the ‘discovery’ of the New World, but we should not forget those who went before him.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

A Great First Sentence

You can always tell when a writer has reached best seller status by looking at the prominent way in which the author’s name is presented on the front cover of a novel. Dick Francis, Robert Crais, or Barbara Delinsky’s name will always appear in large letters that will almost crowd the rest of the graphics off the page. But what about the things we see inside the covers. While fonts, white space and artwork are important, editors tell us there is nothing like a great first line to capture the reader’s attention. Most writers are very conscious of first lines, and often look with envy at the work of someone else who is the master of a carefully crafted phrase. Here is the way Barbara Delinsky starts Facets:

‘Of all the things he’d done to her in the past, of all the things he hadn’t done or either might have or should have, his betrayal now was the cruelest.’

While I am a great Delinsky fan, I hadn’t intended to read that particular book until I read than first line. Who is this idiot, I asked myself, who has caused such mind-numbing pain. You can feel her suffering and rage in the choice of words, and in the complex way in which she expressed it.

Robert Crais immediately captured my attention in Chasing Darkness. The first line reads:

‘Beakman and Trenchard could smell the fire—it was still a mile away, but a sick desert wind carried the promise of hell.’

Dick Francis has created a lot of memorable lines, but I like this one best:

‘I do not like my father’s fifth wife.’

A good first line, a warm cup of coffee, and a glowing fire in the fireplace. What more could anyone ask?