Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Book Reviews

Often the worst thing us writers can do is to ask a neighbor, who has never written a book review, to read our masterpiece of fiction and then post a review online for the world to read. This is like asking someone who has never baited a hook, to describe their favorite fish bait and why. Unfortunately, we get the crazy idea that since our neighbor enjoys our casserole dish the third Friday of every month, we assume that same neighbor will also devour our novel with a similar zeal.

Here is an example of why asking your neighbor to write a book review is not the same as inviting them over for dinner.

My neighbor's book review:

I fell off a ladder and broke my leg. My neighbor, Jack LaBloom, in exchange for raking my leaves, asked me to read his book and write a review. First off, I was shocked to learn Jack had written a book. How can a man, who can't write a check that won't bounce, possibly write a novel?

Anyway, here is my review of Jack's romantic suspense novel, ON THE RUN TWENTY WAYS FROM SUNDAY.

This story is about Jack and Janet. There is a warrant out for Jack's arrest. The reader has no idea if the warrant is for unpaid parking tickets or capital murder. I assumed the worst. Otherwise, I would have quit reading right then and there. There is nothing exciting about unpaid parking tickets.

Janet, has an old beat-up car and a credit card she stole from her ex-boyfriend, Bruce. Before leaving town to get away from Bruce, Janet charged a few clothes on the card at a women's petite apparel shop located on the corner of Main and Twenty-eighth street. Two days later, she purchases a burger twelve hundred hundred miles away in another state. No wonder she has to shop for clothes in a store for petite women. If she is only eats one burger every two days, it's a miracle she is alive. Anyway, she is keeping to the back roads, heading west. Apparently, her choices in men verges somewhere between bad and awful. She has it in her head all the good men must live out west.  Therefore, her plan is to drive all the way to California for a fresh start, get away from snake man, and find mister right.

Bruce, the bad guy in this story, has a tattoo of a rattlesnake that goes across his back and down both arms. The rattlers are shown on the back of his left hand and the head of the snake is depicted on the back of his right hand. Rattlesnake man is tracking Janet by monitoring her purchases on his credit card.

Well, as luck would have it, Jack and Janet both end up at one of those One Stop gasoline station/store, located way off the main highway somewhere in Texas. The reader does not know this until a dust cloud that was formed around the gas pumps clears. Janet pulls her car to a stop in front of the gasoline pump. That is when the reader gets a glimpse of Jack's truck and a sign that reads Gas up Now Last Stop for a 150 Miles.

Jack, who is a lot better looking than snake man, walks into the store to buy a bag of peanuts. I don't know why he was only buying peanuts. That was not explained in the story. My first thought was why not buy gas while you're at the only gas station around for the next hundred and fifty miles?

Jack and Janet bump into each other near the checkout counter. She stares at him, and he gazes at her. Based on a long descriptive paragraph about facial expressions, they obviously have an instant attraction for each other. Her pleasant looking facial expression does not last long, after he opens his mouth and speaks. Jack tells her that her car has a flat tire. She gets upset and appears frightened. She assumes Bruce has found her car, slashed her tire, and is waiting for her to come outside. Finally, there is some suspense on page six.

False alarm, turns out she just ran over a nail. The short-on-front-teeth old coot who owns the gas station tells Jack and Janet he had a new roof put on the store last month, and the boneheads, who did the work, left a few roofing nails in the driveway. Due to having a bad back, he has not been able to bend over to pick all of them up. This explanation made sense to me, because I wondered how a nail would suddenly appear out of nowhere and get into her car tire.

Jack gets his hands and face dirty while changing the tire on her car. She is really beginning to like him now. That dirt smudge across his forehead probably sealed the deal. After placing the flat tire in her trunk, for some reason, his truck won't start. That is something else that's not explained in the story. I wanted to know why his vehicle wouldn't start. Made no sense to me that his newer, dent-free, Ford F-150 extended cab truck wouldn't start, and her old beat-up clunker cranked right up. In my opinion, this part of the story is very unrealistic. My Ford truck has never failed to start one time since the day I bought it in 1995. Then it comes to me. If they had left in Jack's truck, snake man might never be able to catch up with them and there would be no more suspense.

All that was in the first chapter, which is as far as I've read. It's hard to keep reading after taking pain pills. At this point I'm thinking three stars, but after I wake up and read some more, who knows, it could go either way.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Sunday, April 17, 2016

A Field Guide for Romance Writers or Maybe Not

Have you ever wondered what it is like to be a romance writer? Wonder no more.

Romantic Comedy

Told he has one year to live, Jack Lamont, a thirty-six-year-old bachelor, decides to advertise for the perfect pretend family, a beautiful women with two well behaved teenaged children. Mary, a desperate widow with kids to feed, lost her job and recently evicted from their home, responds to Jack's ad for a pretend family. Not quite meeting the man's criteria, she has to be a bit creative with her reply. Mary is expecting a platonic relationship, in exchange for Jack's cabin and college money for her kids, when he dies. Jack is expecting Mary to only have two kids and to look like the woman in the photo. There's no love at first sight, but reality finally sinks in. Jack and Mary are both running out of time. Jack learns that having a family often requires sacrifices of the highest order? Mary comes to the realization that her kids will lose another dad, even though he was only supposed to be a short-term pretend one.

A Mystery

A violin and three gold coins hold the key to solving a sixty-eight-year-old mystery. For over six decades, people have traveled to a small Southern town in America in hopes of proving the young man found dead in the city park was their long lost relative. Or are they really trying to make a claim on the gold the deceased man supposedly hid before his death? No one has been able to prove a verifiable link to the unidentified body, and the hidden gold has not been found. Now, sixty-eight years after the death, Rebecca, a young woman from England, has come to the town to set the record straight. She has a different story. But can she prove her version of what happened? She needs a little help from the one man in town who is the most skeptical of all, with good reason. A novelette, approximately 10,000 words.

Monday, January 11, 2016

A Western Romance Short Story

Tom Carland, a young man from back east, has a lot to learn about women. Soon after arriving in a small one-street western town, Tom meets Harriet and her three-year-old daughter, Katie. Tom offers to help, but the widow does not want his pity. Even if he is able to convince Harriet his intentions are completely honorable, Dirk Thurman, a local ranch foreman, makes it known he will not tolerate any competition for the widow's attention. Tom may have a lot to learn about the woman and little girl he can’t stop thinking about, but when it comes to displaying courage, in a life and death situation, the easterner shows he is up to the task.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Photographic proof of Bigfoot and a ten million dollar reward bring thousands of outsiders to Bowden, a small town isolated deep in the Ozark Mountains. In his thirty-plus years of service, the town’s veteran sheriff, Hank Logan, has never had to solve a serious crime. While men with high-powered rifles, camera crews, and curiosity seekers, living in tents and RVs, continue to set up camp around Bowden, Sheriff Logan and his new deputy are tasked with finding a missing farmer. A photo from a motion activated wildlife camera leads everyone to believe the farmer and his dog were taken by a dangerous creature roaming the area. After a search within a five mile radius of the missing farmer’s home results in finding no other clues, or John's body, the sheriff suspects the farmer may still be alive and hopes he can find him in time. The sheriff knows something about the sixty-year-old farmer the outsiders don't: John is one of the best trackers in the country, and if he's on the trail, he won't stop until he finds that creature. And the sheriff won’t stop until he finds John.

A Jack Mayham Suspense

Jack Mayham is a criminal defense attorney with plenty to prove. Fired from three law firms in four years, he believes he's been given the chance of a lifetime to get back on his feet. Soon after depositing a retainer for $250,000, he learns saving the stunning Lisa LeRouse Bedford from the prosecuting attorney is the least of his worries. Lisa’s husband, Earl, was found dead, floating in their swimming pool. The police suspect foul play, as well they should. According to the autopsy report, someone held Earl underwater a bit too long. The prosecutor's case is built on rolling hills of circumstantial evidence, and the fact the widow stands to inherit millions now that her husband is dead. Will the receipt for the purchase of a pair of Jimmy Choo shoes be enough to convince the prosecutor Lisa had nothing to do with her husband’s demise? It better, it’s all Jack has to prove her alibi. If the shoes fit, you must acquit. If only it were that easy.