Welcome to the place where I rant, rave and discuss books, writing, the town of Cobourg Ontario and anything else that strikes my fancy.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Book Review: Stepping Forward by Paul Carroll

Stepping Forward by Paul Carroll

Stepping Forward by Paul Carroll

This novel was beyond anything I’ve ever read before. The closest story I could compare it to is, “The Stepford Wives” – except it was much more fast-paced. The author has a sturdy voice that takes the reader to the brink of curiosity in waves upon waves of suspense.

I downloaded this book for free from Smashwords. It was the 3rd book I read on my Kobo (teehee, I love my Kobo). Yes there was some spelling and grammar errors, and words missing from sentences which was, of course, distracting, but I’ve read novels that I’ve downloaded, that do cost money, that were far worse off than this. And at least Stepping Forward had meat!

When I got to the end of the book I was a little disappointed. The potential is there, this book could be amazing, Paul Carroll has already got the goods in the palm of his hands, but the execution needs some tweaking.

To make this book everything it could be, it first needs all of the storylines explored and explained. There didn’t seem to be a real conclusion anywhere and all of the questions the reader is left asking aren’t answered. After tying up the storylines, a good editing eye to fix up the little issues that distract from the story – and voila, we’d have a real kickass novel.

I hope Paul Carroll keeps up with his writing and turns this so-close-but-not-quite-there suspense sci-fi story into the amazing oh-my-god-I-can’t-put-this-masterpiece-down novel that it almost is.

You can get your free copy of Stepping Forward here.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Book Review: Between - A Novel by Cyndi Tefft

Between by Cyndi Tefft

What a fun little read! Quirky and fast-paced – that’s the good part. When I read the overview of the book I was immediately drawn in. It was a cheap buy, and I love anything to do with Heaven and Hell and well… whatever lies in “Between”.

I also thought the title was a clever play on words, my perception was that it was about a ‘Tween. A ‘Tween stuck in the between. I was wrong, there was no clever suggestion in the title. My bad.

When I read the intro to the book, the second book (I’ve read on my new Kobo Vox which I love love love,) the author mentions Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series. My brow furrowed at the reference, because I am a HUGE fan of that series and I was a little confused by the reference. Regardless, I trudged on and was soon enveloped in the MC’s world.

Until the leading man showed up. And the similarities between this character and Diana Gabaldon’s whole world were unforgivably obvious. Right down to the surnames. If I hadn’t been such a fan of Gabaldon’s work, or, the author of Between hadn’t made the connection ahead of time for me, I may have been able to look past it. But, even the pet-names that the leading man Aiden calls his beloved MC Lindsey, are the same that Gabaldon’s leading main Jamie, calls his beloved Claire. Influence is lovely and imperative, but I’m afraid this novel may need to border on Fan Fiction as oppose to original content.

Regardless, I liked the story. It was, as I said before, quirky and fast-paced. The religious aspect got a little heavy for me at times, and the love blossomed a little too fast, but it was a short book. Without giving away any of the good stuff, I will say that the author takes the reader on one crazy roller-coaster ride in a VERY good way.

Now, I rounded the end of the book, I became furious, knowing there was no way this story could be completely wrapped up in the pages that were left. The questions left unanswered were too many and too crucial to the lives of the characters to be left unaddressed. Luckily, as I finished the novel, the overview for the next book became available which basically described that those incomplete storylines would soon be taken of. WHEW!

Key evidence to me that this was a good read, and well-told, is that when I wasn’t reading it, I was thinking about it. It got under my skin that way, which is a good thing.

Help a fellow Indie-writer out! Purchase Between for only $0.99 cents! It’s a hell of a ride.

Monday, January 23, 2012

How to get the Kindle app on your Kobo Vox

If you happen to have gotten a Kobo Vox but have NOT been able to read and books published on Kindle, here is the way to do it folks. I'm so excited about this, I've had the Kobo Vox since Christmas and I'm only now able to get Kindle/Amazon books on it... Whew!

How to get the Kindle App on your Kobo Vox

A big huge THANK YOU to Boris Bax for completely helping me out with this one.

#1 – Make sure you have an amazon account. (Helps to have the Kindle reader on your actual computer – they can link up)

#2 – Go to http://www.freewarelovers.com/android/app/kindle and click download - you’ll probably have to click the little blue underlined “click here” for the download to work.

#3 – Follow along and Ta-Da! You now have Kindle as an app on your Kobo Vox! I searched the internet high and low for this, and couldn’t find a thing. If you have any questions or it doesn’t work for you just leave me a message below and I’ll walk you through it 

A Writing Prompt - Tarantinoed

Adam Boeing posted this writing prompt the other day. Below you will find the instructions and my effort at following in the prompt. Bear with me, I hadn't written in a while and I'm still getting back in the groove of things.

Adam's Prompt: Tarantinoed! Write the end of a story as the beginning, then give the rest of the story. Do not give anything away. :P

My attempt at doing the prompt:

She stood naked in front of the full length mirror. Her hand spread wide, palm down on her stomach just above her belly button, she twisted her frame slowly to examine all angles. Lips pursed, she shook her head at the widening her hips had done without her permission. Her gaze moved up to her breasts and her pursed lips spread into a smile as she admired their perkiness. She twisted a little more to catch a glimpse of her back side, smiled wilder, and then faced the mirror, full-frontal, once more.

A moment passed, her mouth turned down into a frown as she studied the spot above her navel that her hand concealed. Reluctantly, she glided her hand to her hip, revealing the deep red scar that turned her otherwise fine figure, into a monstrosity of tortured memories. She stared deeply at the reflected revulsion, getting lost in the pinks and reds of torn tissue. Pinks and reds with silver strands. Pinks and reds....


Pink and red hearts floated as if by magic, lined with silver tinsel along the archways, the tables, the doors and the chairs of the restaurant. Pink and red roses with wisps of baby's breath spouted from crystal vases on the white linen-clad tables. Leanne's chipper smile greeted the Valentine's Day dinner guests as she showed them to their seats.

She loved her first job out of high school, a hostess in her small town's best restaurant. She loved her boyfriend, Bruce, who she would be meeting after her shift. A bubbly feeling filled her heart as she sat her parent's at a special table. She hugged them both tightly and wished them a Happy 25th wedding anniversary.

As she sat guest after guest, Leanne's mind wandered to her future. Next year, when she was away at University, would Bruce still be waiting for her on Valentine's day with a stuffed bear and chocolates like he had for the past 2 years? She shrugged the idea aside, of course he would. It was her last coherent for three weeks.

When she awoke in the hospital, in unspeakable pain with a shroud of drugged confusion veiling her thoughts, she prayed to return to oblivion. Days after she awoke, when the police arrived to take her statement, the only words she could manage to form were to ask questions instead of answering them.

A week passed before anyone explained to her what happened in the time she had lost.

A man had used chloroform to render her unconscious. A stranger. Not a resident of her fine little town, not a patron of her lovely workplace, not a person in her perfect little world. A stranger had taken her and done unspeakable acts to her young pristine body. A stranger had spent hours violating her before carefully carving out the center of stomach. A janitor had spotted the light on in the cellar of the elementary school and went into the cold unforgiving basement to investigate - stopping the strange from... nobody dared to imagine what would have come next.

Leanna knew what he had done, it took her some time to figure it out, but she knew. When she was unconscious to the world, and he had her in his grasp, he cut her open to insert a monster into her very being. That monster ate the love she had for her boyfriend and replaced it with repulsion at the slightest tough. The monster devoured her content and fed her anxiety and malice in its place. It stole her light and filled her with darkness.

Deep beneath the scar, under the red and pink and silver lines above her navel, an evil parasite had been planted. The light reflected off of the silver razor blade as she held it to her stomach. Orderlies pounded hard on the door but Leanne ignored them. Red and pink flashed in the mirror before her as she cut and tore to get the monster out.

If you take a shot at this prompt, please leave a link below so I can take a gander. All comments and feedback are welcome :)

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Mind muscle memory

“Practice makes perfect?” Maybe. But idleness does cause atrophy. Back when I was writing everyday, stories came naturally to me. Everything I saw and did related somehow to writing. Movies, books, a walk on the beach, the texture of food, the smell of my dog, and how certain events made me feel.

It’s been a couple of months since I’ve written anything fictitious, and now when I try, my brain freezes up – it doesn’t flow like it used to. Ideas don’t just pop into my head, and a story doesn’t simply appear by staring at a blank screen.

Upon reflection, I believe the creative writing muscle in our minds is not unlike a bicep. If you work it out every day, you’ll tone and define it. Maybe at first you won’t be able to lift a car one-handed, but as you keep building the muscle in different ways, it will become stronger. You can lift up the couch easily while you vacuum underneath it, it’s not a car, but it’s a start.

Until you stop.

Then the muscle returns to normal, maybe weaker than before, and you find yourself handing off a jar of pickles for someone else to open.

That is until one day, you wake up and remember, you wanted to be able to lift a car one-handed. You walk over to the couch, and try with all your might to lift it, and it doesn’t budge. You’re left with an ache in your shoulder and a small congregation of dust bunnies under your sofa. The good news? Muscle memory. If you’ve done it once, you can do it again. Your muscles remember what to do, even if you don’t, and with a little exercise, practice and discipline, they can jump right back on track. Your bicep muscles don’t forget, and neither does your creative writing muscles.

So here’s to starting back at square one. Am I willing to start all over again, to exercise that creative writing muscle in my mind until it is toned and defined? Damn straight I am. Are you?

Social Writing Experiment take #1

Thanks to Adi Peshkess we did what he calls an “Exquisite Corpse” yesterday. Some of you may know it as a “Round Robin”.

Below are the rules that were required, followed by the final results of the experiment. It was an interesting first go!

So here's the dealio - those who choose to participate are going to collectively write a story.

Please keep your entry over 10 words, but under 250.
Please please please refresh your page before posting so that the story flows. Pick up from the last post and keep it going! :)
Feel free to post more than once, but allow five people to post between your last post and your newest one.

When the story comes to an end, I'll post it all together on my blog and here on G+ as a memory of a fun little G+ experiment.

Give +Adi Peshkess all the props here as it is completely his idea!

The story will start in the comments below, feel free to add as soon as you can!

The Results:

The woman waddled down the sidewalk, red wagon in tow behind her. She avoided the snow drifts, stepping around them precariously. The stiff plastic tires on the wagon grated heavily on the pavement.

Every few steps, she looked around as if she thought she might be followed, and an on-looker who didn't know better might even think she was sniffing the air.

She didn't always take this route but the recent riots forced her to find an alternative path. She longed for the warmth of the home she once had and sleep weighed heavily on her eyelids.

In the wagon, a scraggly puppy whined under a threadbare woolen blanket, and eyed the bag of groceries with a longing of Shakespearean dimensions. The French baguette and Italian salami were teasingly close to its snout, but every sniff earned the mongrel a reproachful word from Nanette's lips.

It had been years since she had last visited him, and the memory of the wood stove burning, the warmth of his tiny kitchen, the safety of his hidden home, urged her steps on. "Hush!" she whispered to the pup she had just rescued. "We're almost there”

She stoppe'd, and she could see they didn't followe'd her anymore! The ice cold sweat on her forhead started to come into her eyes. The street laying there cold and dark, the only thing she could hear was her own breath

Nanette reached down and gave the puppy a quick pet, smiling a little as it licked her gloves, then hurried on. Suddenly, a figure stepped out from a snowdrift in front of her. He was covered with fresh flakes, but it hadn't snowed for the past few minutes, so he had to have been standing there, waiting, for a quite a while.

She recoiled, fearful recognition in her eyes. "I told you to leave me alone," she wailed. In the wagon, the puppy growled

He stoppe'd for a while, he came closer to her. She could smell the whisky from his mouth as he grab around her neck. Pleace, she said, I didn't do it!

Nannette tried to look away, but she averted her gaze seconds too late. The man stared deep into her eyes revealing a universe of psychedelic floating checkerboards and liquid rainbows. Nannette's world spun wildly around her, before it turned to black.

Gerard smiled at her fear. He was well aware of the effect he had on women, and used it to his advantage.

"Another mouth to feed, Nanette?" he asked, showing his teeth in a sneer. "That bread won't go far if you keep spreading it so thin. Where did you find the whelp anyhow? Strays don't last long on the streets these days. Not everyone can find sausage, you know."

Gerard removed a wristwatch from his pocket. Its spring band rattled in his palsied grip.

He spread his lips in a cancerous smile. "You don't have to worry about meeting Jordan, Nanette. Not anymore."

A worn leather leash, attached to the sturdy wagon, bought the frenzy of oversized paws and matted fur crashing to the ground. Gerald smiled, let Nanette sink into the grey slush, and slowly approached the snarling puppy.

"Well, well, well. You WILL be useful. This is turning into a wonderful day."

Gerard, blinded by his malice, tripped over a can of red tart cherries which had rolled from the cart. He flailed but to no effect, and consciousness left him as his head hit the edge of the cart with a sickening plastic crack.

Nanette forced away the taste of bile in her throat as she dared to hope for a reprieve. Urgency seized her, and she did not feel the cold in her limbs as she sprang to free the puppy and flee...

Then, still with much fear and disgust, she carefully approached Gerard - or, to be precise, as she soon found out, Gerard's still warm body: his skull fractured, a thin vein of blood slowly flowing from the wound, breathless. Nanette felt relieved but the moment of reprieve was brief:

for her puppy decided right then to pee on the poor corpse, marking the death as his own to all his fellow dog brethren, so he would go down in the annals of history as "the dog that killed a man with a can of cherries" After Nanette tugged hard on the dog's leash to keep him away from the body...

she continued her initial course of fleeing the scene. Waddling faster and faster, her feet pounded hard against the cold pavement, slushing through the snow drifts that she no longer bothered to avoid. Her breath blew out in cloudy little puffs before her face and her nostrils began to stick together with every intake of crisp air.

She became vaguely aware of the sound of steps coming from her left, and then, all of a sudden, startled hearing Jordan yelling her name. She turned, and there he was, walking with Gerard behind him. But Gerard had different clothes, somewhat more suited for the weather, and no visible wound on his head.
"Jordan" she cried "what's going on?" - but soon it became clear to her that Jordan had a gun pointed at his back. And another strange thought started sneaking up on Nanette: the person holding the gun might not be Gerard, in spite of the apparent morphological similarity.

Just then, her attention was drawn away from the tableau by a more immediate concern: the child in her swollen belly kicked insistently, taking her breath for a moment. When she could focus again, the two were much closer. But the man in back still looked too much like Gerard for her comfort.

That’s as far as we got in one day. It took some interesting turns!
Here is a list of the participants:

Nina Pelletier
Tessie L'Amour
Raul Marengo Lopez
Adi Peshkess
Miriam Dunn
Liv Berg
Kathlyn Hawley
Drew Nicholson
Chris Allinotte
Karl Vaden
Tony Escobales
Gianmario Scotti
Kathlyn Hawley
Nykki B

Monday, January 16, 2012

An overview on overviews

Fellow writers and readers, this is about how important an overview of your book is to literary snobs like me (and others I know, like my mother).

I was recently directed to a book by a fellow social networker, the author, that I considered purchasing. Writers helping writers and all that stuff, stuff that I actually do believe in. When I got to the overview of the book, it was poorly written. Or at least, poorly edited. There were words missing, and the sentences didn’t flow. Did I buy the book? Nope. Would I have downloaded the book onto my Kobo and read it for free? Nope.

The reason is two-fold. First, I’m a slow reader. Not like, super-slow, but I take my time and really delve into what I’m reading. So my reading time is valuable to me, and I don’t want to waste it. Second, I’m a writer. Or at least I aspire to write. The advice from successful authors is to read, read, read! I don’t want to read something that is poorly written and pick up bad habits. For example, if I’m having an issue with punctuation in dialogue, I’ll pop open a book I have handy to find an example and see how it’s done. That doesn’t work if the book is poorly written, and I can not expect to learn very much if the overview hasn’t even been edited.

Now I’ll be the first to admit, when Letters to my 10-year-old Self first hit smashwords, there were a few spelling errors in the introduction and overview. These were minor booboos that I missed when I edited it, just once… but that my mother caught immediately and pointed out to me right away. (Thanks mom!) I guess with the excitement of the book being finished and ready to send out into the world, the other stuff didn’t really matter that much. But if even one person didn’t download the book because of those little errors, I wouldn’t blame them one bit.

So to sum up, as a writer, take every single step seriously. Abate the excitement that comes with your finished project and put as much focus on each step as you do on the actual book itself, because snobs like me, (and my mother) will assume you did.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Literature as Visual Inspiration

Literature as Visual Inspiration

Sit back in your seat and get nice and cozy,
Don't muss and don't fuss and don't get up to mosey.
Let your mind soar with imagination sprung wide,
Press play and hold on for one hell of a ride!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Prompt-and-Share: Simile exercise

Prompt-and-Share It's not a complete return yet, still dealing with medical issues, but here's a fun little writing exercise to get your creative writing juices flowing.

Similes! Fill in the blanks below with imaginative similes and post in the comments! (Or do them on your own if you don't feel like sharing)

#1 - Being with him was like ____ .

#2 - She was as nervous as ______ .

#3 - The snow fell like _____ .

#4 - Her eyes were as blue as ____ .

#5 - His hair _____ in the wind like _____ .

Have fun with it! I'm looking forward to seeing what you come up with :)

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The Great Lenore, by JM Tohline

The Great Lenore by JM Tohline

I don’t do typical book reviews. There is always a story attached to them, because honestly, it’s been my experience that internal and external factors weigh into any appreciation of art.

With that said, I read JM Tohline’s The Great Lenore as my first e-book ever on my Kobo. I downloaded it months ago on my home computer, but found reading a book on my home computer just wasn’t for me. For Christmas I got the Kobo Vox (that’s the Canadian version of the Kindle Fire). I was anxious to finally be able to get into The Great Lenore , and I started over from the beginning.

What a ride! First, I will admit I had a hard time following some of the story and had to flip back a few pages to figure out where I was. Whether this is because A) It was in a new format for me, B) I was going through some health issues or C) it really just wasn’t written as easy-to-follow, I’m really not sure. But at this point, I’m giving Tohline’s skills the benefit of the doubt and blaming the lack of focus on a mixture of the two first points I mentioned.

The writing is beautiful. The tempo is beautiful. I don’t want to call it poetic because poetry often needs to be dissected to be understood. The Great Lenore is beautifully written and in its own way poetic without being ostentatious. I think that’s the best way to describe it.

The opening line traps you in.. Without knowing what the book was about, (and for a while, had me thinking it was a ghost story) it gave me the sense of excitement and a secret. It lied to me without lying, as do a lot of the suggestions throughout the book which keeps the flow of suspense constant without being in-your-face.

This novel is beauty. Beauty in writing. Beauty in the world. Beauty in the beautiful and in the ugly parts of the human experience.

On a different note, as I closed the book last night and was about to drift off to sleep, I thought about Lenore. There’s just something about Lenore. Which made me think of the movie “There’s something about Mary”. Then I compared the two and came to the conclusion that JM Tohline’s Lenore, is the equivalent of a much more sophisticated and elegant version of the cult film’s Mary. There’s just something about her that makes you want to keep on tracking her story.

I recommend you give it read, especially as a winter novel.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Movies vs Books – Part 3

Movies vs Books – Part 3

This post started out as a Book Review, but instead, turned into a philosophical rant… yet again.

In case you haven’t noticed this about me by now, and if you have, you’ve either found it endearing or annoying, I often take a situation, flip it inside out, back to front and look at it from a million angles until I drive myself batty with an internal battle between inner voices. Think Fight Club, for intellectuals, the arena being the mind.

The subject of conflict these days? Movies vs Novels. Here’s the story, I read the book The Help. It was an amazing read. I know there was a lot of controversy about the book, jabs thrown at the author that I won’t even dignify with discussing here, but I really loved the story.

When I was done reading the book, I watched the movie. I enjoyed it. It missed some few key points when I looked back on it, points that I cheered for in the novel, but I still enjoyed the movie.

Here’s the clincher, at the same time I was reading The Help, I was also reading The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood. The Ya-Yas is one of my favorite movies, so I figured reading the book would be fun. It was not. I did not like the book.

Is what we are exposed to first, whether it be the film or the novel, the key to our perception and subsequently, the end result of our enjoyment? Please let me know what you think.