Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Book Reviews

Often, one of the worst things a new writer can do is ask a new neighbor, who has never written a book review, to read and review one of the writer's stories. This is like asking a person who has never baited a fish hook, to describe their favorite catfish bait. 

Unfortunately, I got the crazy idea that since said neighbor enjoyed drinking the beer I took him on move-in day, he'd devour my latest novel with a similar zeal. The key words here are new neighbor. My other long time neighbors are well aware of my shortcomings in fiction writing, which is why I no longer ask them to write book reviews or take beer to them.

Of course my new neighbor, Harvey, readily agreed to read my story. The case of Bud Lite hanging from my right hand may have helped seal the deal. Two days later I realized things had not gone as well as I had hoped.

Harvey's book review:

This book review is written without bias and had nothing to do with the author giving a case of beer to me for my trouble. I understand that Amazon requires this type disclaimer for book reviews.

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

This story is about a man named Jack Sandstone and a woman named Janet Oliver. There is a warrant out for Jack's arrest. The opening scene gives no indication 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 a guy on the run for unpaid parking tickets.

Janet, bless her heart, drives an old beat-up car and is using a credit card she stole from her ex-boyfriend, Bruce, who is also referred to as snake man. Before leaving town to get away from Bruce, Janet charged a few clothes, on the stolen credit 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.

While she is driving, she calls her best friend, Cissy Haperton and tells her, if anyone asks where she is to tell them she is still in New York City. From the conversation, I learn that Janet's choices in men, so far, has verged somewhere between bad and awful. She has it in her head the good men must live out west.  Therefore, her plan is to drive to California for a fresh start, get far away from snake man, and find her a 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. Snake 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 the same gasoline station located way off the main highway somewhere way out in west Texas. The reader does not know this until a dust cloud that was formed around the gas pumps clears, after Janet pulls her car to a stop in front of the pump. That is when the reader gets a glimpse of Jack's truck and a sign beside it that reads Last Gasoline Station For a 150 Miles.

Jack steps 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 also buy gas while you're at the only gas station around for the next hundred and fifty miles?

Jack bumps into Janet near the checkout counter. She turns and glares at him.  He immediately apologizes and gazes at her. Based on a long descriptive paragraph about facial expressions, the two obviously have an instant attraction for each other. Her unpleasant looking gritted teeth changes into a smile, which quickly reverts to a frown, after 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, on page six, there is some suspense.

False alarm, turns out Janet 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, spilled a box of roofing nails in the driveway. Due to having a bad back, he has not been able to bend over to pick up all of the nails. 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. I based that on the fact she scrambles into the car to check her makeup in  the rear view mirror, while Jack wrestles with getting the spare tire on her car. The dirt smudge across his forehead probably sealed the deal for her. After placing the flat tire in her trunk, and telling her goodbye, for some reason, Jack's 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 manly white truck wouldn't start, and Janet's 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 Jack had driven away alone, there could be no romantic relationship developed between the two of them.

So here is what happens next. Janet offers to give Jack a ride to the closest auto parts store, which is twenty-six point eight miles down the road in a small town called Hellish. And it just so happens that Snake man is having lunch at what the locals refer to as the cesspool dinner, which is located across the street from the auto parts store.

All that was in the first chapter, which is as far as I've read, because I'm getting sleepy. It's hard to get hooked on a story in which a Ford truck won't start. At this point I'm thinking three stars, but after I wake up and read some more, who knows, it could go either way, depending on which truck part Jack buys at the auto parts store.

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.