Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Market News---A Murder is Announced!

The second issue of Bobbi Chukran's new mystery announcement blog is now up. Her focus is on small and self published at http://a-murder-is-announced.blogspot.com/

Market News---Tony Hillerman Mystery Short Story Contest

Tony Hillerman Mystery Short Story Contest

Contest Rules and Guidelines

What we are looking for: Your best mystery short story, set primarily in New Mexico. We're seeking compelling, original, well-written stories that have not been previously published.

Submission details - Submit mystery short stories that are 2,500 words or less, written in English, set primarily in New Mexico. The story must be previously unpublished. Submissions must be typed, single-sided, double-spaced. Please use page numbers and your title ONLY on each page. Submissions must include a separate cover sheet with title, word count, writer's name, address, phone number and email address.

Fee – Each entry must be accompanied by a check or money order for $20 payable to WORDHARVEST. Multiple entries by the same writer are allowed. Want a critique from the contest judge? Please add $100 per story.
Deadline - All entries must be postmarked no later than August 15.

The Prize - The winning story will be published in an issue of New Mexico Magazine, probably the February issue which is devoted to books and reading.The winner will receive $800, a subscriptiion to New Mexico Magazine and two tickets to attend the awards ceremony at the Tony Hillerman Writers Conference.

More information - Decision of the judges is final. No whining allowed. Please make a copy of your manuscript. Entries will not be returned and will be destroyed after the contest. Please include your email address so you can be easily reached if we have questionsor good news. Enclose a stamped, self-addressed post card if you want an acknowledgment that your story has been received.

Sponsored by Wordharvest Writers Workshops and New Mexico Magazine

ENTRY FORM: Tony Hillerman Mystery Short Story Contest
Co-sponsored by New Mexico Magazine and WORDHARVEST
Name: _______________________________________
Address: _____________________________________
City: ________________________________________
State_________________________Zip ____________
Phone: ______________________________________
Email: _______________________________________
Story title: ___________________________________
Word count (2500 maximum) ______
Entry Fee: $20 per manuscript. (You may submit as many entries as you like.)
I am submitting a total of ________entries @ $20 per manuscript.
I'd like an optional critique of my story(ies) @ $100 each Total enclosed (U.S. funds) $_______________
Check or money order enclosed (U.S. funds only payable to Wordharvest)
Signature ___________________________________________

Please let us know how you heard about the contest. Thank you.

Make a copy of this form and mail it along with your manuscript(s) and fee(s) to:
MYSTERY SHORT STORY CONTEST New Mexico Magazine 495 Old Santa Fe Trail Santa Fe, NM USA 87501

Sherida Stewart of Farmington, N.M. was the winner of the 2011 The Tony Hillerman Mystery Short Story Contest for her mystery "Turquoise Remembrance." Stewart's story was selected from among more than 100 entries and was published in the February 2012 issue of New Mexico Magazine.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Review: "NO REMORSE" by Ian Walkley

The plan was to let the two fathers make the ransom payoff in the valley a few miles outside of Tijuana. Two hundred thousand should buy their freedom as that is what the kidnappers wanted. At least the dads know that backup is watching them and ready to help. All they have to do is give the bad guys the money and get their daughters, Danni and Sophia.

The kidnappers take the money and then want to change the deal. Instead of giving them Danni and Sophia they offer two other teen girls. Understandably the dads want their own daughters back. Things go bad quickly and Delta Force Operator Lee McCloud and his team watch the kidnappers kill the two girls they had been holding in the van. The dead girls were somebody’s children who were murdered solely because the dads wanted their own daughter back. In the aftermath, while they do have a lead to the kidnapped girls, McCloud and his team are in a world of trouble with the United States Military.

Facing court martial and prison time for himself and others of his team, McCloud agrees to take a discharge from the Army after pleading guilty to some lesser charges. He also agrees to go to work as a contractor attached to some sort of vague shadowy unit pursing various terrorists and their monies. While they have their own stated agenda, Lee “Mac” McCloud has his own and that is saving his goddaughter, Sophia, and her friend, Danni.

NO REMORSE  spans the globe in a complicated read that touches on sex slavery, organ harvesting, Islamic terrorism, politics, and various other themes. Numerous characters are involved as are exotic locals, powerful money interests, and nightmarish weapons. The thriller style read shifts in point of view of the various characters through the use of very short scenes, constant action and a minimum of internal narration. Almost no one in this novel can be trusted as their public actions hide a far different and often devious agenda.

The result is a book that is initially slow to get started after the opening ransom scenes as all the players are brought out and explained. Once the pieces are in place the story revs up to high gear by the middle of the book. At some points the pace is so quick that the very short scenes feel rushed as the author moves on too quickly to another point of view. Season thriller readers will also notice that while the characters, often most notably Mac & Tally ( a computer hacker), display classic clichéd elements (both are haunted in their own way by tragedy in the past and are damaged loners ultimately drawn together) the overall read works fairly well as the action moves rapidly forward on many fronts. The final events seem a bit rushed and rather over the top theatrical with a state of the art fortress that must be breached, complex undersea tunnels complete with submersibles, etc.  Despite the flaws NO REMORSE as a whole works rather well and is definitely highly entertaining.

As of this date, NO REMORSE remains the sole title published by Marq Books.  The paperback copy I received of NO REMORSE contains a twelve page preview of Bait due out later this year from the author.

Ian Walkley
Marq Books
January 2012
ISBN # 978-0-9808066-0-1
Paperback (also available in e-book)
406 Pages (including preview)

Material supplied by publicist PJ Nunn of BreakThrough Promotions for my objective review.

Kevin R. Tipple ©2012

Thank you for the "ChipIn"

Thank you to folks who have donated online and off to help us out one more time.  As you can see from the CHIPIN widget, we are still very far from making it. The good news is we are a little closer.

We are also very grateful.

Thank you for helping us hang in a little longer.


Seeing Yourself In Print

Last evening, while it was still 100 plus here, Karl went for his walk that he does every day. Around nine last night he got back bringing home from a nearby Tom Thumb grocery store two copies of the Senior News newspaper. He was thrilled to show me that the July edition of the Collin/Denton counties version of the paper has my book review column prominently displayed on the top left of page two.

I have been doing the unpaid column for a lot of years now. Far more than I care to admit. Plenty of folks say print is dead or dying and e-everything is the way to go. They can make their case, but there is something very special about seeing your efforts in print. To be  able to open up something, in this case a newspaper, and feel the paper and to smell that scent while seeing yourself in print.

Nothing quite like it.

(Picture supplied by Karl's phone using technology I do not understand nor can I operate. He also has better looking thumbs than I do.)

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Saturday Night Sentiment

Senior News---July 2012 Column

For some time now I have been writing a monthly book review column for the Senior News newspaper. The Senior News is aimed to the 50 and over crowd with news relevant to seniors regarding various issues, humor pieces, and my review column among other things. The newspaper is a giveaway at doctor offices, stores, etc. and can be received by via a paid subscription. There are multiple editions across the state of Texas and therefore there is some fluctuation in content in each edition.

My column every month focuses on books of interest to the Texas audience. Therefore books selected for the column, fiction or non-fiction, are written by Texas residents, feature Texans in some way, or would have some other connection to the Texas based readership. At least two books are covered each month in the short space I am given.

Below is/was my July column with the addition here of the relevant book covers……

Capitol Offense - A Bill Travis Mystery
George Wier
Flagstone Books

Norman Howell sits in the Ellis Unit in Huntsville, Texas awaiting his execution date. Bill Travis has come to the prison unit with a simple request for Howell to sign some paperwork on a trust account.  Instead, he gets told bits and pieces about Howell’s role in a dark period of Texas history back in the 80’s when somebody blew up Vietnamese fishing boats along the Texas coast. Howell does not go into much detail but he does mention the name Dick Sawyer. The same Dick Sawyer, Texas Governor, and who might have paid to have those boats blown up.

Capitol Offense - A Bill Travis Mystery is the second book of the series and again author George Wier sets yet another breakneck pace across Texas. Building on the on the solid foundation evidenced in The Last Call this is a solidly good book and good series. 

Waterwise Plants for Sustainable Gardens: 200 Drought Tolerant Choices for All Climates
Lauren Springer Ogden and Scott Ogden
Timber Press
ISBN# 978-1-60469-169-6
249 pages

Water supplies and drought are increasingly serious issues across Texas. As noted in the introduction, the 200 plants in this book are plants that, once established, can survive and thrive on one inch of water every two weeks during their peak growing times. Broken down into 11 color coded chapters that cover trees, shrubs, grasses, flowers, ground covers, and more here is a huge variety here in plant materials and appearances. Each chapter features numerous specimens in large colorful pictures with their Latin names, explanation of shade and light needs, how fast or slow the plants grow, zone recommendations, and detailed notes on each plant. In each case there are also design idea recommendations and a listing of related plants to the one being covered. Another nice touch is the use of numerous symbols with each plant making it clear in a glance what you are looking for

Colorful and well done, Waterwise Plants for Sustainable Gardens: 200 Drought Tolerant Choices for All Climates serves not only as a handy reference guide but a beautiful book to inspire you to transform your landscape into a sustainable one that will be an envy of all and environmentally aware.

Kevin R. Tipple ©2012

Friday, July 27, 2012

FFB Review: "The Poacher's Son" by Paul Doiron

Earlier this week I learned that Paul Doiron has a third book in this series coming out titled, BAD LITTLE FALLS. I had no idea that another one in the series was coming out. I’m currently reading the second book in the series titled TRESPASSER. So, with news that another book was coming out as well as the fact I will soon review the second book, it seemed that is was appropriate to take another look at the debut mystery THE POACHER’S SON. Make sure you check out the entire Friday’s Forgotten Books list over at Patti Abbott’s blog at http://pattinase.blogspot.com/

After working a bear sighting case and calming down the irate homeowner, Maine Game Warden  Mike Bowditch comes home late one night to find a cryptic message on his answering  machine left by his father, Jack Bowditch.  They haven’t spoken in two years and the message isn’t much beyond the fact that his dad is clearly in some sort of trouble.  His Father lives off the land in the north woods of Maine and doesn’t recognize that the government can tell him when he can kill what. He is a man that never should have married, or fathered a child, and yet he did both.  Mike never measured up to his dad’s standards and for Mike, the feeling is mutual.

Instead of hearing it from his dad, Mike has to learn from his supervisors that his dad is a suspect in the ambush murder of Deputy Bill Brodeur and Wendigo Timberlands spokesman Jonathan Shipman. Wendigo is buying up the land in the area and generating lots of anger and threats from the locals who are losing their homes and their way of life.  Deputy Brodeur was driving Shipman to a motel after a contentious public meeting and both were gunned down in the police cruiser.  They never had a chance.

 In trying to clear his dad, Mike Bowditch not only risks his professional career and his life, he is forced to deal with his painful past.

While this debut novel has all the usual clichéd stereotypes such as the violent drunkard father committing illegal acts, the son who wound up trying to be different than good old dad by joining law enforcement, the girlfriend who loves him but can’t stand his lack of money or inability to open completely up to her as well as others, author Paul Doiron uses his expertise on the area and his writing skills to make the book work.  Reminiscent of the work of C. J. Boxx, Paul Doiron brings the land and the characters alive in a way few authors can do. Shifting in points of view with Mike Bowditch always primary for readers, the read moves along at a fast clip despite the frequent use of flashbacks to back fill the history of characters.

Sure to appeal to readers familiar with the local color and flavor, this novel also works for those of us who have never set foot in Maine. This novel is a very strong start to what could be a very good and highly entertaining series.

The Poacher’s Son
Paul Doiron
Minotaur Books
April  2010
ISBN# 978-0-312-55846-8
336 Pages

While the novel is carried in my local library in Plano, TX, I received this ARC by the way of the Amazon Vine Program. 

Kevin R. Tipple ©2010, 2012

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The Writer Magazine---HIATUS

Lee Lofland and others are reporting on Facebook late today that they have received "Dear Contributor" letters informing them that THE WRITER MAGAZINE is going on hiatus with the October 2012 issue. The publisher, Kalmbach Publishing, is looking for a buyer.

While the form letter which Mr. Lofland posted on Facebook explains that some queries will be saved for a possible buyer and everything else is rejected, there is no mention of what will happen to subscriptions.

Sad news.


Review: "Pigtastic!" by Scott Gordon

Charmingly illustrated by Julien Tromeur, Pigtastic! by Scott Gordon gently teaches little ones to accept their own individuality. Facing the reader, the pig explains that though the pig may not be rich, the pig has a heart of gold and that is what matters. The pig stresses through various other examples to consider the
interior of a person and not what he or she is on the outside.

The book concludes with six ads for other books created by the author Scott Gordon. Many of these books have been translated into other languages including Pigtastic.

Colorful and fun, the pig provides a positive role model for little ones ages 3-6 in a very short read that will entertain and educate. Illustrations and text are very simple and tell the thoughts well. While the artwork and text may be very simple, the taught concepts of being positive and accepting of yourself are very important. Like Alphabet All-Stars, Pigtastic! by Scott Gordon is a good one.

Scott Gordon
Kindle E-Book
December 2011
(Estimated print length 39 pages)

Material picked up during the author’s recent free book promotion for my objective review. Pigtastic! was read via the free “Kindle for PC” program.

Kevin R. Tipple ©2012

Interesting Reading Elsewhere---James Lee Burke on Shelf Awareness

Big time thanks to Lesa Holstine for mentioning this yesterday. Shel Awareness ran an interview yesterday with author James Lee Burke. Not only did he talk about his new book, Creole Belle, he covers the dark days in his career when he couldn't sell anything as well as gave some background on his books in general. Very interesting reading.

Take a look at http://www.shelf-awareness.com/readers-issue.html?issue=114#m2229  Scroll down as this piece is about halfway down the page.


Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Review: "Alphabet All-Stars" by Scott Gordon

With colorful illustrations by Iryna Akolzina, Lorelyn Medina, and Nadezda Kouzntsova, the e-book Alphabet All-Stars by Scott Gordon teaches little ones the alphabet. Each letter of the alphabet is depicted with an upper case and lower case letter, an illustration and a short two sentence explanation.  For example:

“C is for Crab.
Crabs are funny
Creatures that
Walk sideways.”

A little explanation goes with each letter in a fun filled way of importing knowledge to little ones. The illustrations are a nice touch as they colorful depict not just the alphabet letter, but the accompanying item image.

At the end of the book there is an illustration of all the letters on one page, followed by a congratulatory message about being an alphabet all-star. That is followed by six ads for other children books developed by author Scott Gordon.

Overall this is a colorful and well done e-book that teaches the little ones approximately three to six the alphabet. In addition to teaching the alphabet, Alphabet All-Stars provides a little information about various things using the letters. Flat out fun and a book that not only works well for the little ones it also meets the expectations of the adults in their lives.

Alphabet All-Stars
Scott Gordon
Kindle E-Book
(Estimated print length 32 pages)

Material picked up during the author’s recent free book promotion for my objective review. Alphabet All-Stars was read via the free “Kindle for PC” program.

Kevin R. Tipple ©2012

Monday, July 23, 2012

The Magic Of This Thing We Call Writing

Review: "Save Me the Aisle Seat"

A love of movies since childhood and a passion for writing combined long ago to drive the author into creating an account at Amazon and later Epinions so that he could write movie reviews. While those reviews have expanded into other content areas, movies remain the primary driving force for Alex Diaz-Granados. The result is this self-published book featuring just some of his eight years of movie review work at Epinions.com.

After an introduction that discusses the passion the author has had all his life for movies¸ it is on to the reviews. The book is broken down into four chapter sections covering movies he liked and movies that he didn’t. The reviews are extensively detailed both in terms of plot and storylines as well as analysis of the films regarding these same details. As a result these are reviews you do not want to read if you have not seen the movie as the review will reveal all.

Chapter 1: The Star Wars Saga: "A Long Time Ago, in a Galaxy Far, Far Away...." opens the book and clearly covers the various Star Wars films including the animated 2008 project The Clone Wars. The movies are reviewed in sequence order making the review of Star Wars-Episode IV: A New Hope released in 1977 the fourth review of this chapter. 

The title of the second section also makes it very clear what it is about. “Chapter 2: A Film by Steven Spielberg” covers the various films such as Minority Report, The Indiana Jones series, ET and others.

After discussing movies he liked in the first two sections, Author Alex Diaz-Granados turns to movies that he feels should not have been made in “Chapter 3: The Franchises That Shouldn’t Have Been Created.” This includes the Airport franchise though he does note that the original Airport does work well especially for its time period. Like with Airport, the original JAWS receives praise while the various sequels do not.

The book then moves on to the concluding chapter, “Chapter 4: Movies That Have Stood The Test Of Time.”  These are The Bridge Over The River Kwai,(1957) Gone With the Wind (1939), The Good, The Bad, And the Ugly (1966) a personal favorite of mine and others.

The book closes with a brief bio of the author.

Overall, Save Me the Aisle Seat: The Good, the Bad and the Really Bad Movies: Selected Reviews by an Online Film Reviewer is an interesting book. The focus is primarily on plot and story details over technical movie making aspects of each film. The plots and storylines are covered in exhaustive detail and therefore contain numerous spoilers for those who have not seen the covered films. For those familiar with the 34 films covered in this book, such detail is not an issue. For those who are not familiar, it would be best to see the film first before reading the review contained in this book.

Save Me the Aisle Seat: The Good, the Bad and the Really Bad Movies: Selected Reviews by an Online Film Reviewer
Alex Diaz-Granados
CreateSpace (division of Amazon)
April 2012
Paperback (also available as an e-book)
114 Pages

ARC provided by the author quite some time ago in exchange for my objective review.

Kevin R. Tipple ©2012