Monday, December 9, 2013

The Nature of Things


In Ellen Wilson’s novel The Nature of Things, she does a great job of gathering all of the elements of a good mystery together in a way that is entertaining and doesn’t let up until the last page. The book begins with environmental officer Clare McElroy investigating a black bear attack in a campground in Upper Peninsula Michigan. Having spent a lot of time in campgrounds where bears are a nuisance, it was hard for me to keep my feet still as I read the opening chapter of this book. Clare is a gutsy officer who has to contend with disgruntled campers who want to shift the blame for their carelessness after having little enough judgment to feed a bear. This book would make a good movie, and as I read it, I could visualize a younger Jody Foster playing Clare. Not only does Clare come to life on the page, the rest of the characters are equally real -- and there is a wide assortment of them.


There are too many books where the author doesn’t pick a theme, and the result is a hodge-podge of events that don’t hang well together. The theme here is the conflict between what is needed to protect the environment, versus the needs of the people who live in close proximity with the animals. You can also feel the atmosphere of the area where the story unwinds -- the forest, the quant tavern/restaurant where much of the action takes place, and the lake. The characters in this story are a combination of desires, and the conflicting personal flaws that keep them from realizing their goals. There is no melodrama here, but just the right amount of angst to make everything interesting.  


The story is further conflicted when assistant district attorney Pheeny Delmato comes to town to investigate a murder, and the problems of all the characters become entwined. Murder, greed, and suspicion are a good combination -- especially when you throw characters who are conflicted into the mix. If you like mystery, suspense, with just the right amount of romance, you are going to love this book.


Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Friday, September 27, 2013

I really can’t think of anything as frightening as those strange creatures in the movie Jurassic Park unless it is a bear. I am at home with horses, farm animals, and other large creatures, but bears have the capability of generating their own special brand of terror. I was attacked by a brown bear once, and have a picture around here somewhere of the bear’s eyes at the moment our foreheads collided. I was lucky that our collision occurred at the exact moment that the flash on the camera fired. The bear ran off, growling and protesting. I am lucky that she didn’t carry a body part or two with her when she left.

The best stories occur when they spring full-grown from real experiences. Bear Essentials is short enough that you won’t kick your feet around too much while you’re reading it, but it will get your blood pumping. If will be free starting tomorrow on Kindle for your reading pleasure. Drop by Amazon and get your copy, and if you like it, write a review or drop me a note. I hope you enjoy reading it. You can get your copy here.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

How Well Do You Know Your Music?

I have always loved music, but there are few of us who can remember the tunes of a few years ago that seemed so important to us at the time. Here is a list of songs that were big on the charts for weeks on end, and then faded away along with the artists that recorded them. See how many of them you can remember without taking a peek at the answers. The answers are below.

1. Winchester Cathedral

2. Mickey

3. The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia

4. Afternoon Delight

5. McArthur Park

6. Don’t Worry, Be Happy

7. The Hustle

8. The Purple People Eater

9. Teen Angel

1. The New Vaudeville Band

2. Tony Basil

3. Vicki Lawrence

4. Starland Vocal Band

5. Richard Harris

6. Bobby McFerrin

7. Van McCoy

8. Sheb Wooley

9. Mark Dinning



Monday, July 29, 2013

Many fantasy, time travel, and science fiction books are written for young children or teens, so it is delightful to find one that is aimed at an older group of readers. Ellen Wilson’s novel, ‘In the Shadow of Shakespeare,’ is better understood by someone having a detailed knowledge of England during the years in which Shakespeare lived. Most time travel stories require a strong suspension of disbelief because the author doesn’t bother to give us an explanation regarding the reason why the character can travel through time. Ellen Wilson does a good job of laying the groundwork for this story.


If this book has a flaw, I think it lies in the fact that some of it will pass over the head of readers who have no knowledge of Elizabethan England. There are few today who are aware of the controversy regarding the existence of a writer named Shakespeare unless they had English literature in college. Wilson weaves this controversy into her story in a way that is compelling and interesting.


The characters are believable, the story is well plotted, and you feel as if you have been immersed in the culture of the day. If you like intellectual literature you will enjoy this book, but if you taste runs to Harry Potter or stories written for young children, you should probably select something else.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

You won't die if you read a bad book!

A friend of mine is a rather well known thriller writer, but he still gets an occasional bad review. He also has a sense of humor. Here is a review he sent to me:

I normally read Regency Romance novels, and had never read a thriller until I picked up (author’s name) newest novel. It stinks! How anyone could write such drivel is beyond me. I have always been a fan of Michael Jackson, and I thought his Thriller Album was about as good as it gets. This awful novel was nothing like that. It told the story of a family that was murdered in their home. The woman’s son was a NYPD detective and he returned home for the funeral and decided to stay and try to solve the crime. (Picture that actually happening!) I don’t like guns, but it seemed that in every chapter he had a gun in someone’s face. In the final scene, he chased the suspect along a public highway and caused him to have a wreck. There were four five-star reviews, which have to be faked. No one in their right mind would enjoy reading a book where so many bad things happen. A one star review from me, and he is lucky to get that. I want my money back!

Well, what can I say . . .

Thursday, February 21, 2013

You Know You Are Getting Old When . . .

(1) Elevator music is too loud for you.

(2) You no longer lay face down on the bed when someone hurts your feelings.

(3) You can’t remember your dog’s name but you can remember your first grade teacher’s phone number.

(4) You still use the phrase, “You sound like a broken record.”

(5) You have won lady/man of the year twice.

(6) You reach for the clutch when you speed away from a traffic light.

(7) You have a collection of 8-track tapes in your closet.

(8) You start a lot of sentences with, “I remember when-”

(9)  You pull out a dime when you approach a drink machine.

(10) You leave a quarter tip for the waitress.

(11) Your dancing shoes go all the way up to your ankles.

(12) You have an extra pair of glasses in each vehicle you own.

(13) You think modern music is the work of the devil.

(14) Your medicine cabinet contains medicine instead of grooming products.

(15) When your friends come down with any illness and you have already had it—twice.

(16) You think your doctor is a kid.

(17) You can’t tell a navy blue tie from a black one.

(18) You no longer say ‘excuse me’ when you belch.

(19) Everyone you meet ask if you are feeling alright.

(20)  You can name all of the presidents since Garfield.

(21) When you bend over you ask yourself if there is anything else you need to do before you straighten back up.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Prequel to The Renegade Series Now on Amazon

I have just finished a new novel set in the Civil War era. The name of the book is Redemption, and it is a prequel to The Renegade series. This book came about in a rather strange way. When I put the eBook version on Kindle and sales began to take off, I started receiving emails from readers who had the same complaint. One reader stated the problem rather succinctly, and I usually listen to what readers have to say. This reader said: “After reading the other books in this series, I sensed that I am missing a lot of events in the lives of your characters. Have you thought about writing a prequel about what happened before Wolf Spencer starts?


Well, I had, so I followed his advice and wrote Redemption which covers some of the events concerning the war years. This was an easy book to write because I still had the notes that I made when I lived in Washington D.C. and visited all of the places I mention in the book. This book was a labor of love, and I am not sure that I can stop writing about the lives of the many characters in this series. I hope you enjoy reading this just half as much as I enjoyed writing it. Here is a synopsis of the book an a link where you can purchase it on Amazon.


Washington, 1865: As the American Civil War drew to a close, military and government leaders realized they were facing grave dangers they had not anticipated. There were many who did not understand that it was easier to start a war than to end one. The Confederacy was crumbling rapidly, and Generals Nathan Bedford Forrest and Robert E. Lee were willing to surrender, provided they could do so with honor. Many government and military leaders did not agree with President Lincoln’s intention to grant a full pardon to anyone who would agree to the terms of surrender. And the most difficult thing of all was the radicals who were not willing to give up a lost cause, and were determined to stop the peace process regardless of the cost.


Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Happy New Year!

Whoever decided that the beginning of the year should occur on the first day of January was wiser than most of us realize. The beginning of the year could just as easily have occurred on any calendar date, but someone decided that it should occur just after the beginning of the winter solstice. This is when the sun appears to have reached its lowest altitude in the sky at solar noon. The days are long and dark and we see little of the sun. Winter is just beginning, and for many of us, it is a time when we need a little moral boost from the dreary weather that lies ahead. There are many of us who start counting the days until the fishing season starts, or the golf course is open for use. But even though these events are weeks away, something magical happens. People, who know more about science than the rest of us, say that gamma rays from the sun are responsible for the transformation, but to me I still believe in the magic of my childhood. Tiny flowers began to appear beneath the snow, and onions and potatoes sprout in the pantry. You wouldn’t notice any of this if these small events happened months later, but at the beginning of the year it is magical. We look with wonder at the tiny flowers, and feel a sense of promise of what is to come. Today, I pulled the small golden bloom from a bitterweed, and I have it on my desk as I write this. I am probably the only person in the world who likes this small plant, but to me it holds the promise of what is to be in the coming year. The days are already growing longer, in small increatments, just as life has a way of slipping up on us. I look at this small bloom with its bittersweet smell, and know that there will be pain, sorrow, and grief as we inch toward spring, but there will be good things, too, things that are magical and wonderful. I look forward to these events with great anticipation as I wish each of you a Happy New Year . . .