Wednesday, November 16, 2005

A Writing Life Update

It’s been a little over a year now since we started sharing this space, you and I. Where has all the time gone? Another Halloween has passed and Thanksgiving looms next week though you couldn’t tell it from the way the stores are decked out. I ranted last year on that subject and won’t do it again this year.

At least it finally feels like fall here in North Texas. After days and weeks of above normal temps, this morning we woke to clear skies and lows in the low thirties and lower. That and a large blue heron that flew over this apartment complex screaming its head off at five am. Normally, the bird, which lives around here somewhere, lets loose once or twice and then quits. Not this morning—it didn’t stop for about fifteen minutes and was almost continuous. Of course, everyone else slept on but not yours truly.

I’m up now. Thanks, bird.

So, I grabbed a cup of tea and my coat and stepped out on the porch and caught the last of a full moon heading towards the western horizon as well as the first fingers of dawn. No wind and no traffic except for the occasional car heading down the adjoining street. It was beautiful.

And while I was out there I began to think about my writing and lack of progress as I have for the last week or so. I’m not sure if it is because of my upcoming birthday this weekend, the fact that my oldest, who at birth wasn’t much bigger than my hands put together now can stand toe to toe with me and turns eighteen in late December, or what it is but time seems to have flown. And at least writing wise, I have very little to show for it.

Good News Front

Currently at my reviews of THE RIVER HOUSE By Margaret Leroy, SEE ISABELLE RUN by Elizabeth Bloom, RED HOT CAJUN by Sandra Hill, and PROMISES TO KEEP by Susan Crandall are now up as well as several other ones.

Currently at Mysterical-E my review of AS DOG IS MY WITNESS by Jeffrey Cohen is now up as well as numerous other reviews in the archives section.

In print (not available online) in the November edition of SENIOR NEWS I have my normal book review column which this month covers STILL RIVER: A LEE HENRY OSWALD MYSTERY by Harry Hunsicker and THE TEXAS RODEO MURDER by George Wilhite.

Bad News (Or No News) Front

I have zero fiction sales again this year. Not a one. Nothing and it certainly isn’t from not sending them out. The local stores have made a small fortune from me in mailing supplies and currently a number of stories have yet to bounce back so I could be premature in all of this. After a year, I’ve made very little progress on my novel and there is still no word on the publisher search for the anthology I am involved in so that isn’t going to come into print anytime soon.

So, there you have it. I can and do review books and I think I do them pretty well. But for the life of me, I can’t seem to sell my fiction and haven’t been able to since the late 90’s.

Which begs the obvious question—is it time to fold the tent on all of it and call it quits?

I honestly don’t know.

More next time and as always feel free to drop me a note here or at with your comments, observations, and suggestions.

Thanks for reading!

Kevin R. Tipple © 2005

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Review: "Techno-Noir" Edited by Eva Batonne and Jeffrey Marks

The dark side of technology is often reported in the day’s news. The modern problem of identify theft was a topic long ago covered in classic science fiction. With such problems and others being daily fodder for the media which seems to be driven by sensationalism these days, it isn’t surprising that authors in other genres are going to explore the positives and the negatives of technology. The mystery field, out of the remaining genres, seems to be not only the most suited to do so, but the genre leading the pack in the form of novels, anthologies, and collections.

Case in point is the recent anthology release Techno-Noir edited by Eva Batonne and Jeffrey Marks. In the book, which contains eighteen stories by as many authors, the roles of technology, morality, deceit and consequences are considered. Some authors and the resulting stories play on the classic stereotypes in the mystery field and twist them while others go in a different direction. A couple of works contain some humor but most of the stories in the anthology are deadly serious as is subject matter. Like all anthologies, it’s hard to go into detail on all the strong stories so just a couple will be covered here.

One that really jumps out is “Suspicion” by Leann Sweeney. Keeping one’s mental health secret is important because even the paranoids do have enemies.

“Cookie Monster” by Tim Wohlforth also stands out for divine retribution on a dishonest computer salesman.

Driven by memories that won’t let go, “All the World is a Stage” by Rick McMahan also works very well and gives the reader a lasting image.

That isn’t to say the other authors, Libby Fischer Hellmann, Nick Andreychuk, Michael Bracken, Earl Staggs, Eva Batonne, Stephen D. Rogers, J. Michael Blue, Flora Davis, Bill Crider, Jeffrey Marks, Arla Gregory, Linda Posey, Kris Neri, H. Robert Perry, and Vera-Jane Goodin didn’t contribute excellent stories. They did. But any reader, or reviewer for that matter, is going to have personal favorites. The above are mine. Your experience will vary.

Edited by Eva Batonne and Jeffrey Marks
Zumaya Publications
ISBN #1-55410-266-9
Large Trade Paperback
223 Pages

Kevin R. Tipple © 2005

Monday, November 07, 2005

Killing With Food

One of the things I have noticed lately is the number of books using food directly as a murder weapon or serving as a backdrop to crime, murder, and mayhem. One wonders why and one wonders if it is really safe to eat anywhere but home. Even then, one may not be safe depending on what gets recalled five months after it hit the nation’s food supply. Food and the creation of it is one of several themes in this recent release titled Patterns In Silicon: A Lea Sherwood Mystery by Maureen Robb.

Having someone you just served dinner to in your restaurant become ill and within a short time die at the hospital is pretty bad. Being accused of being the murderess or assisting in it is worse. Both things happen to Lea Sherwood in short order in this very good mystery.

Five months ago, Lea opened Panache in San Francisco. So for, critics have been kind, business is pretty good and other than the usual problems associated with running any small business, things have been going well. Her ex-boyfriend Keith Whitten also is doing well as head of Whitten Systems Corp. Just today Whitten’s company had taken over Decision Ace, run by her current boyfriend, Mr. Paul Boyd. Keith’s decision to come to dinner at her restaurant with a couple of his executives quickly becomes fatal as within hours he is dead, a victim of poisoning.

Having served him, Lea, quickly becomes the number one suspect in both the eyes of the police and the voyeuristic media hungry for another sensational cause. While she is the prime suspect and her business begins to suffer, the police don’t seem inclined to either publicly clear her or search for other suspects. Instead, it is left to Lea to snoop and ask questions both in her culinary world as well as Paul’s high tech computer world.

Using detailed scenes in the restaurant and the company the author shows readers a world where creative input is valued into both arenas. Lea, a complex character doing her best, is left to hang in the media whirlwind and forced to fight for her economic and personal survival with little help from others, several of whom she had previously thought of as friends. The result is an engrossing read that steadily moves forward towards a fully satisfying conclusion.

According to the small author bio at the back of the book, the author is currently working on the next novel in the series. That is very good news as this book provides an excellent foundation for a series while leaving plenty of character growth opportunities to be explored. This is definitely a series to keep your eyes open for in the future.

Patterns In Silicon: A Lea Sherwood Mystery
By Maureen Robb
Drake Valley Press
ISBN #0-9728186-4-2
Large Trade Paperback
304 Pages

More next time and as always feel free to drop me a note here or at with your comments, observations, and suggestions.

Thanks for reading!

Kevin R. Tipple © 2005

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Ending it right.....

Last time in this space I wrote about how some series seem to slowly crash and burn. That the series runs out of steam and should be ended but for some reason, much like a certain annoying commercial (which should be banned so that IQ scores would instantly rise across the nation and planet) the worn out series just keeps going and going. At the opposite end of the spectrum are those series that are ended leaving the reader wanting more. Such is the case with the final installment of The Fisherman’s Son Trilogy aptly titled, “Return of the Golden Age.” Author Marilyn Peake has crafted another winner here.

The third book in this moving young adult series finds Wiley O’Mara faced with a problem. How to blend the six boys from the incredible ancient city on the sea floor into his society which is very poor and where strangers are quickly noticed? Everything about the six boys marks them as being different and they can’t survive on their own or stay hidden for long. Not only do they need to blend in for themselves and accept what can’t be changed, they have to blend in for the society as a whole. Wiley also has to figure out how to help his people understand their magnificent past and to break out of the circle of poverty they have been in for quite some time.

With the help of Elden, Lucinda and others, the aid of seven magical rings and secret caverns on the island, Wiley begins to find answers. Answers that help him aid the newcomers as well as help his own people plan for a future that honors one of the themes of all three books. “Destiny is bigger than what you can understand at the moment” (P. 23). A destiny that he and he alone can fulfill if he has the strength to seek it.

Blending the mystical of what could have been with period correct descriptions, author Marilyn Peake brings to a close what she started so well in The Fisherman’s Son. The usual melancholy feel to the ending of a series is not present in this final novel. Instead, much like the preceeding books, the novel champions determination, perseverance, and a willingness to achieve something greater than can be imagined. This final novel in the series is another strong and enjoyable read as well as a fitting conclusion to the story arc.

Return Of The Golden Age
By Marilyn Peake
Double Dragon Publishing, Inc.
ISBN #1-55404-256-9
Large Trade Paperback
138 Pages

More next time and as always feel free to drop me a note here or at with your comments, observations, and suggestions.

Thanks for reading!

Kevin R. Tipple © 2005