Thursday, July 29, 2010

Book Review for The Writer’s Guide to the Courtroom: Let’s Quill All the Lawyers by Donna Ballman, J.D.

Hello, as a writer I often find myself venturing into areas of research that I've never covered before. When I saw the opportunity to review this book, I jumped at the chance. Something new! I was not financially compensated for the review. The book was sent to me, and I read it. The opinions here are strictly my own:

The Writer’s Guide to the Courtroom: Let’s Quill All the Lawyers by Donna Ballman, J.D.

Author’s credibility: The author is a lawyer and has won such prestigious awards as “The Lawdragon 500 Leading Plaintiffs’ Lawyers in America, 2007” and others. Picking up this book, I had total confidence that I was receiving valuable and accurate information. After reading through it, though I don’t have a law background—I am a writer who does constant research on a variety of topics—I knew that the information would be a huge help in writing a book involving the law and lawyers. It was obvious throughout the book that Ms. Ballman is an expert with her background education and experience. The information came across in an easy style, with a quiet confidence. I could almost picture having coffee with Ms. Ballman while I interviewed her for a book I wanted to write having a law setting.

Stated goals of the book: This is a writing reference for those who want to write about when someone is sued, the litigation involved, the characters and law settings that will come up in the plot, or it can be enjoyed by someone who just wants to know more about these things, to be educated in an entertaining way, and not have to drudge through thick, dry tomes on the law. It’s also a great resource to direct a reader elsewhere for more information. It is not a book on criminal law. To write about a murder trial, one would have to refer to another book to get research information.

Here are important things discussed throughout the book, listed on the back cover: What it means to be sued, attacking the complaint, business lawsuits, fraud, discrimination, wrongful termination, negligence, assault, battery, false imprisonment, trespass, depositions, mediation, arbitration, witness list, trial call, opening statement, elements of a trial, post-trial proceedings, appeal.

These things were indeed discussed, and in a way for someone who has zero law background (such as me) to understand and be able to use in a coherent way. However, it is very intelligent writing, and a reader does have to pay close attention.

Writers will be able to write believable characters and stories if they adhere to the facts stated in this reference guide. The author, Ms. Ballman, has a clear understanding of what it would be like to have to research a topic from scratch and write a fiction book because she gives the right information for an author doing just that. Her expertise shining on each page was more useful to me than other sources might have been because of her logical but fun style of presentation, making the information easier to remember than it would have been had she written it like a textbook. 

Overall concept:
The book presents its topics in a manner that I’d describe as more informal, with humor sprinkled throughout, a potentially dry topic discussed in an entertaining way. Her little side comments about things that she witnessed personally were funny.

The book gives detailed background on what it promises to, presenting the information in logical sections stated in the Table of Contents. The ideas are developed topically such as in chapters like “The Characters” where she discusses everyone involved in a trial from the judges to the clerks and plaintiffs to “Settings” (ranging from the smallest solo office to the biggest law firms), and everything in between that would be necessary for an author of legal stories to write. General background is given as well as everyday, little details. I was able to visualize the things Ms. Ballman discussed.

The author, being a lawyer, gives real life examples of things that have happened and could happen, and stimulates a writer’s creativity with excellent questions such as if those at a big firm try to charm an associate away from a small firm, does he sneak them some evidence? (Lots of questions in the book, so much food for thought for those plots)

Enough about each topic is presented to educate a writer so he or she can write vivid details in a law thriller or other legal book. But this isn’t a huge handbook. Some topics cover just enough so that the reader knows where more research might be needed, and the author has done a good job pointing the reader in the right direction. The information is highly valuable but not exhaustive.

I enjoyed the little extras in this reference guide such as comments that cleared up points of confusion, things the general public may assume that are wrong. For example, legal shows have sometimes portrayed things that are simply fallacies. When I read about them, I was quite surprised and happy to learn the truth of the matter. I appreciated the enlightening quotes thrown in from experts who work in the field.

Even if I weren’t a writer, The Writer’s Guide to the Courtroom would be a great, fun book to read, but it requires a little concentration.

There is a helpful bibliography at the end with books and Web sites listed where a reader might find more information on the topic. The index in the back of the book makes it easy to find specific things, for example, Civil Procedure or Trial judges.

To all writers who want to write a legal story, or to those whose just want to know more about how the system works, pick up this book! You’ll learn a lot and smile a time or two in the process.

****

I emailed the author and asked for a short list of authors whose work is realistic in case you're interested; I know I am. She kindly responded with:

"As to books that are accurate with a legal theme, Paul Levine, Brad Meltzer,
John Grisham and Scott Turow are all lawyers who write courtroom scenes that
are pretty accurate."

Thanks to a classy lady who wrote a helpful book. -Laura

Monday, July 26, 2010

Please welcome Rebecca Savage, author of comtemporary romantic suspense

Hello, Rebecca, and welcome! I'm so glad to have you here today at my blog. We'll jump right into it with your blurb and excerpt: (The excerpt is a little steamy. 18 and older please, lol)


Blurb for Guard My Body:
A hard core CIA covert ops expert like Nash Kincaid takes everything seriously, especially his mission to retrieve classified information from his contact, take it to the right people, and stop the deaths of thousands of children at the hands of home-grown terrorists.

A librarian with a wild side could throw a ringer into his plans, but Ayden Devlin takes most things seriously, too, even when she decides to live out the lives of the characters in the books she reads by helping her sister Leigh, a spy for the CIA. She lets Leigh insert classified information into her mouth where there’s a missing tooth, so she can safely transport the info to Nash.

Nash and Ayden meet in a biker bar, and a hit man tries to kill Ayden. Nash throws his body in the path of a bullet to save her. A bullet grazes Ayden’s head and knocks her out cold. When she comes to, she and her rescuer have to establish trust. They don’t know each other, and the mission has gone awry. It takes time to convince each other of their respective honesty and identity.

It takes no time at all for them to realize they’re hot for each other, and not much more time to realize it’s more than heat. Love blooms, stoked by building passion, the flames rising higher with each new dangerous encounter.

Will they survive to share their love and lives?


***
Excerpt:
Who the hell sends a librarian to do the job of an undercover CIA agent?
Covert Operation Expert Nash Kincaid - at least that's what his latest passport said - sat in a seedy biker bar, sipping on his tap beer, waiting impatiently for a librarian - of all people - to show up and make a Top Secret information drop.

He scowled and scoffed silently into his foamy brew at the very balls of his friend and fellow comrade in arms, the man who'd set up this preposterous rendezvous. How the hell had Ace ever gotten it in his head that some stuffy old bookworm would be suitable for a transfer of classified information? So what if this Ayden person happened to be Ace's partner Leigh's sister? That didn't mean she could pull off something like this.

And who the hell is the amazing-looking chick that just walked in the door?

Nash's eyes widened, and his blood simmered beneath the surface. He let his eyes wander down, and then roam back up, the woman's sexy form. Her slim but amply curved silhouette stood out against the shadows of the barroom. Bright neon lights poured over her sexy outline, illuminating her body in vibrant red and yellow hues, cascading over and around her like waterfalls of color for her to bask in. She wore a skin-tight muscle shirt and a short leather skirt. The shiny, sequined material clung to curvy hips, stopped inches above shapely knees, and topped off endless, toned legs. Her fiery hair hung loose, reaching her narrow waistline, flowing like a billowing sea of red. Nash wanted to grip her waist with one hand, run his other through all that mass of organized tangles, hold on tight, and plow into her beckoning body like a madman.

Okay, so maybe her body didn't beckon him, but he sure as hell wanted it to.
***
Bio:
Rebecca Savage’s Publishing Journey
An avid reader can become a prolific writer. Such is the case with me. I started out in my teens reading Louis L’Amour. I have one hundred ninety of his paperbacks and fifteen of his books bound in leather. I read them all, loved them and saved them. I only read one romance during my teens, titled The Daring Deception. Lately I’ve tried to find it so I can buy it, but I haven’t been successful in my attempt to locate it. I only want it for nostalgic purposes, since I had no idea I’d eventually become a romance junkie and writer. In essence, that book was my romantic beginning.

I never read another romance until 2003 when I graduated with a Masters in History and decided to read something for fun. A friend of mine always carried a romance novel in her purse and read constantly. I borrowed a couple of books from her, and the rest is history. I was hooked.

I read all kinds of romance, but only write contemporary suspense/intrigue. I had a top secret clearance in the Air Force when I served as a Morse Code operator/supervisor, so I seldom have to research, yet. I’ve done a bit of digging to confirm things I already suspected to be true, but mostly I write from experience or imagination and stick to the facts as much as possible.

I read books from August 2003 until May 2004, and I was lying on the couch reading one day and thought, “What would I write if I wrote a book?” I like action movies that make you think, a story with a good plot with a hero and heroine trying to figure out what’s affecting their lives, bringing them together, and pulling them apart. I started there. I decided to write a suspense/mystery, since neither the reader nor the characters knew who was after the hero/heroine, although sometimes both the reader and characters do know who the villain in my works is, but the villain is allusive.

So, all those books I read, and still read, were a learning process, just as everything else in my life has led up to where I am now. I was a good student, a good military leader, a good reader, and I hope I’m a good writer. Only time and sales will tell.

I wrote a trilogy in summer 2004 while off for the summer from teaching. I wrote another trilogy in summer 2005. I joined RWA in October 2005, after searching for a publisher on the internet and seeing advice to join organizations like RWA and local chapters. That’s how I ended up at CRW, but not until March 2006. Teaching slowed down the process. Darn those daytime jobs.

CRW taught me so much. My first meeting I learned writing is a business and how to write a query/synopsis. I had no idea there were such things. I also learned how extreme the competition is. I had no idea so many writers existed and wanted to be published or what a game it is. I learned it’s all about persistence and taking the steps to get there. I also learned I’m a fly by the seat of my pants, character driven writer, not a plotter.

After joining RWA/CRW I went back to those first six novels and began self-editing based on things I learned about craft: voice, passive, throw away words, POV, etc. I started submitting to agents, editors, and publishers. I took any and all advice from the rejection letters and fixed anything I was told was wrong.

I didn’t start working with Critique Partners or judging or reviewing for magazines until this year(2007). I wasn’t ready, even though I might’ve thought back then I was. I had to climb the ladder. I had to learn craft and even technical programs. I had no idea what track changes on Microsoft word was. I know. Seems silly, huh? Like everyone should know these things.

When I first started coming to meetings, I thought I was so writing illiterate, and I was. Terms most writers are comfortable with totally escaped me. I didn’t know what POV was, or lots of other things. I didn’t go to college to be a writer. I wasn’t an English major. I’d never been a journalist. I worked on a Masters in History. So my background was foreign to what most successful writers have under their belts.

That didn’t stop me. I just kept plugging along. I had no idea how long it’d take. I thought I’d submit and get published. End of story. Boy, what an eye opener the past few years have been, and when I moved from South Carolina and could no longer attend CRW meeting, I joined MORWA in St. Louis, Missouri.

I landed in a few writers’ woes and pitfalls along the way, but my writer friends have shown me the right way to do things. I submitted to an online agency, and it turned out to be bogus. I paid eighty dollars for my stuff to be looked at, and they tried to weasel me out of more. Thank goodness CRW stopped that mistake.

So my fist pitfall was a hoax agency, and then I contracted with an e-publisher that went out of business, but just kept my work and didn’t tell me anything. Come to find out, my editor was holding my ms, and after the ninety days – thank goodness for that clause – she emailed me and told me of the issues within the company. That company no longer exists.

I was allowed to pull my work from their company and resubmit elsewhere. I did. I got a contract for the trilogy I penned in 2005. I signed with The Wild Rose Press: Fueled By Instinct, Cloaked In Assassination, and Destination Ever After. My other trilogy wasn’t ready yet. It was my first attempt at writing, and I’d worked on it, but it took a lot more tweaking to ready it. Now I’ve published it with Champagne Books, and the first book released in January 2009 and made the bestseller list for February 2009 and is listed as Best Book: Coincidence, Combustion, and Consequences are the three titles in that trilogy. I also have a book published by Double Dragon/Carnal Desires: Guard My Baby.

In the meantime, I wrote another story in 2006 after joining CRW. I submitted to Harlequin and was asked for a full ms. The editor liked it, but not enough. I sent that story to an agent, along with a note saying Harlequin asked for a full. When Harlequin rejected, she did, too, but she asked to meet with me in Dallas at nationals.

I wrote another book after RWA nationals and submitted it to her. She liked it and asked for me to fix a couple of things. I made the changes and resubmitted. She asked for one more thing. I fixed that, too. She asked for one more thing, and I’m in the process of doing those changes now and will resubmit soon.

In other words, it’s all about not giving up. I suppose there’s a time to quit, but as long as a writer is not at a stand still – work on something else while going through the process of one edit – then it’s not a bad thing to take awhile working and dealing with a possible agent/publisher.


rebeccasavage.com
blog: http://grgiall.blogspot.com/
buy link for  Guard My Body: http://carnaldesirespublishing.com/single.php?ISBN=1-55404-726-9

Thanks again, Rebecca. Your book looks exciting, and I totally agree with that last bit of wisdom imparted. Happy writing!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Please welcome author Elaine Cantrell

Hello, Elaine, I'm so happy to have you at my blog today. :) Please share some insights and tell us about your novel Return Engagement.


Elaine: Everyone always wants to know where authors get their ideas, and the answer is fairly simple.  We get them anywhere and everywhere.  Perhaps we hear a piece of music that speaks to us.  Perhaps a lovely picture stimulates our imagination.  Sometimes we simply see an intriguing person and wonder about their story.  Sometimes the creative process reminds me of clicking links on the internet.  You start with a thought, and there’s no telling where you’ll end up. 

In the case of my new novel Return Engagement, the entire concept rests on my definition of what constitutes a hero.  As time went by and I wrote more and more, I started to notice that all of my heroes had certain qualities in common.  I decided to take all of those heroes and create a composite that would be my perfect hero.  This is what I came up with.

First, I know it’s shallow, but I wanted him to be good looking.  Heroes don’t have to be classically handsome.  They can be rugged, have big noses, etc.  The important thing is that they have to be compelling in some way.  In real life I’m usually attracted to dark haired men; I even married one, but most of my heroes were blonde with blue eyes so I decided that Richard Lovinggood would be blonde.   

Second, my heroes all know what they want.  They might have their eye on the presidency as Richard does, or they might be struggling to reestablish a good name as Kyle Alexander did in A New Leaf, but they all have a goal and don’t mind working hard to achieve it.

Third, my heroes are all one woman men.  Who’d want a man whose loyalties were divided?  Richard loved his Elizabeth through a ten year separation, and once they reunited she became the center of his universe.  All of his career plans, his family, everything took second place to her. 

Fourth, my heroes have a romantic streak.  Richard’s the kind of man who’d send flowers for no reason except he thought of you and wanted to please you.  In Return Engagement he once sent Elizabeth little gifts every hour on the hour.

By the way, this irritated my husband no end.  “Richard’s trying to buy her love,” he insisted.  I disagree.  He sent her some flowers, some helium balloons, a picture of himself-nothing extremely valuable, but I thought it was romantic.  Hmm.  My husband doesn’t see that in this case I copied him.  He sends me little gifts all the time.  His last gift was a GPS.  No, that isn’t right.  When we went to Charleston he saw me looking at a basket and waved some money under the basket maker’s nose before I knew what he was doing.

Fifth, heroes aren’t perfect.  All of my heroes have faults.  In Richard’s case, he’s impulsive and has a quick temper.  Perfection isn’t very exciting, is it?  It’s irritating.

Some of my heroes are a little dangerous.  In real life I don’t think I’d like a dangerous man, but in fiction it suits me just fine.  Richard is a little dangerous.

Once I had my hero all I had to do was people his world with characters that would be a match for him.  Elizabeth Lane is my heroine.  Elizabeth comes from humble origins, but by the time she meets Richard she’s rich and famous.  She knows she’s throwing her life into chaos by getting involved with Richard, but she doesn’t care.  She loves him too much to let anything stand in their way.

Richard’s family is also prominently featured in the book.  His father is a powerful senator who wants to make Richard the President of the United States.  He’s totally focused on his goal, and he doesn’t like Elizabeth at all.   The senator is a formidable enemy so Elizabeth has her work cut out for her. 
Richard’s mother is as high strung, hot tempered, and passionate as Richard is.  As Richard’s uncle points out, at the end of the day Richard is very much his mother’s son.

With my fictitious world peopled with characters, I had to come up with a plot.  Richard works for the FBI so that created a lot of opportunities for me to explore.  My villain is genteel, soft spoken, and comes totally out of left field to wreak havoc with my characters’ lives. 

Here’s a blurb and excerpt from Return Engagement.  If you like it you can read the first chapter and order the book at the publisher’s website at http://www.whiskeycreekpress.com

Blurb:
Elizabeth Lane has heard the call of the four most seductive words in the entire English language: what might have been.  Would you risk everything you hold dear to find out what might have been?  That’s the choice which Elizabeth has to make.

Elizabeth is lucky, for she has it all, money, fame, a satisfying career and a devoted fiancĂ©.  Her humble beginnings are all but obscured, but she isn’t the kind of woman Senator Henry Lovinggood wants for his son, Richard.  Senator Lovinggood plans to make Richard the President of the United States; he’ll need a woman from a wealthy, powerful family by his side. 

Ten years ago he broke Richard and Elizabeth up, but this time it won’t be so easy, for Elizabeth wants to know what might have been. This time she’ll fight back, a struggle which ultimately leads to kidnapping and attempted murder and alienates her from the man of her dreams.

Excerpt: In this excerpt Richard and Elizabeth have met each other on a beach after a ten year separation.  They go to a carnival, and now they are on the way back to their cars.

“Look at the moon, Richard.  Have you ever seen anything so big and beautiful?  Isn’t it lovely the way it’s reflecting off the water?” 

“Yes, but not as lovely as you are.”  Richard made a sound of disgust.  “That is so trite.  You’d think I could do better, but all evening I’ve had trouble saying what I mean.”

“Maybe it’s because you’re trying too hard, but for the record, I think you’re doing just fine.”  She shivered and hunched her shoulders as she hugged herself.  “That wind is cold.”

Richard immediately removed his jacket and handed it to her.  “Here, put this on.”

“Won’t you be cold?”

“I’m fine.  I’ve got on long sleeves and that’s enough.”  His eyes twinkled in the moonlight.  “In fact, I kind of like the idea of you wearing my clothes.  Sounds like high school, huh?”

The chilly wind that blew across the moon-drenched water snatched Elizabeth’s laughter away.  “Who cares?  Sometimes it’s nice to be as irresponsible as a teenager.”

“Let’s sit down and watch the moon awhile.”

Elizabeth willingly sank into the damp sand and cuddled close beside him.
“Richard, about this evening….”

“Elizabeth, about Alex….”

“You go first,” Elizabeth urged, glad to put off telling him she couldn’t see him again.

“All right, I will.”  He turned slightly, an almost angry look on his face.  “What the hell do you think you’re doing getting yourself engaged to Alex Crawford?  It’s obvious to a blind man that you don’t love him.  You’ve been teasing me and flirting with me all evening.  You’ve even kissed me.  Right now your body language makes me think if I wanted to take this snuggling any further you’d be willing.”

“Wha…” Elizabeth sputtered. 

“You don’t strike me as the type of woman who’d pick a man for a night of sex and then go back to her fiancĂ© like nothing had happened.  If that’s true I don’t think you love Alex as much as you think you do.  The question is: what are you going to do about it?”

Elizabeth moaned and hid her face in her hands.  Richard expected this surprise meeting to lead to something more that a hot dog on the beach, a casual meeting between two old…friends.  I’ve done enough damage for one evening; I’m going home before I cause any more trouble.  I’ve betrayed Alex and given Richard hope for a relationship with me when there is no hope. 

She tried to jump up, but Richard grabbed her and held her close.  “The wind is cold, and you can think just as well, no better, in my arms.”

Elizabeth gave up the effort to get away from him.  “Yeah, right.  Being in your arms clarifies everything!  I’m so confused I don’t know if I’m coming or going,” she cried.  “I do love Alex.  I do!  That’s why I agreed to marry him, but with you I feel like a different person. 

“I know I shouldn’t have flirted with you and kissed you, but I couldn’t help myself.”  Her eyes misted with tears.  “I didn’t want to help myself.  It’s like it was ten years ago only better because now nobody can accuse me of corrupting a minor.  You asked me what I’m going to do, but to tell you the truth, I don’t know.  The only thing I’m sure of is that I don’t think I can stand it if you walk away again.” 

Elizabeth threw her hands over her burning face again.  “What kind of woman am I?  I haven’t seen you in ten years, yet here I am leading you on and encouraging you to…  What’s wrong with me!”

Richard jerked her hand away from her face and kissed it.  “From my point of view things have finally taken a turn for the better.”  Satisfaction oozed from his voice.

“You’re willing to admit you don’t want to lose me.  It’s taken ten years, but we’re back where we belong-together.  Everything I ever felt for you came back the minute you spoke to me.  Don’t tell me you didn’t feel it too.”

“I…”  Elizabeth fell silent.  After all; what could she say?

“Let me help you make up your mind about what to do.”  Richard pushed her back into the sand and kissed her, a delicate, brushing of lips that deepened as hearts caught fire.  Elizabeth imagined she could feel the thudding of his heart against her own and shivered against him.  She didn’t really notice when his hand slipped under her blouse, but when she felt its warmth on her breast she cried aloud and shoved him away.

“I want to finish this in private,” Richard whispered.  “We’ve waited ten years, and we deserve this night.  Ask me to go home with you.”

Thanks, Laura, for having me today.  I’ve enjoyed visiting your blog.

-I appreciate having you as a guest, Elaine! I find your thoughts on heroes wonderful, and your book looks so good. Best of luck with your writing. -Laura

Monday, July 12, 2010

CSN Stores $40 GC Giveaway

CSN Stores will be giving one Travel the Ages reader a $40 Gift Card! (For U.S. and Canadian residents only. Sorry.)



CSN Stores is a network of more than 200 stores that sell everything from cookware to furniture to shoes and bags



How to Enter:

Mandatory Entry:

Become a follower of my blog via Google friends connect, and leave a comment telling me so. Be sure that I can reach you through your email should you win.

 

For extra entries (leave a separate comment for each so that I know): Only valid after you complete the first mandatory entry:

  • What would you buy from CSN with the gift card?
  • Subscribe to Travel the Ages via email
  • Leave a comment on another one of my posts and tell me you did so in a comment in this post
  • Blog about this giveaway with a link back to this site 
  • Link up Travel the Ages to your blog
This giveaway will end July 31 at 9 PM, Mountain Standard Time. I will draw a winner randomly from those who commented here. Good Luck, and thanks for entering the contest. :)
  1. I will notify winner via email.
  2. Winner must respond within 48 hours.
  3. If after 48 hours I have NOT received a reply email from winner a NEW WINNER WILL BE DRAWN.
  4. Shipping might cost money depending on the item purchased so keep an eye on those charges. It states on the pages if things cost extra for shipping. 

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Deadly Karma: Three Speculative Tales

Hello, my paranormal short story collection Deadly Karma was released today. Here's a little blurb:
Karma: Karma’s Time Machine: A mean college girl learns a lesson she’ll never forget when she stumbles upon another dimension. 
The Deadly 50/50: She is neither good enough for heaven, nor bad enough for hell. Now it’s time to take a stand. Given a task that sends her to the gates of hell, success seems possible; then she sees who the gatekeeper is. 
Karma: The Blue Dress: One woman must make a sacrifice to insure the future. Another must give up something to save the past. What happens when the 21st century meets the 19th for a dual tale across time?

Friday, July 9, 2010

CSN Stores Giveaway to happen very soon

Hello, recently, I came across CSN stores. They have such a huge variety of things. I like this bookcase, but of course, I'd have to rent out another apartment to have proper space for all the books I own and wished I owned! Just looking at those books makes me want to reach for a coffee and immerse myself in reading.
They have some nice shoes and handbags too, along with many other types of items.
For example, here is a bathroom sink I like. It's kind of quirky. :)

When I was a kid, I wanted one of these. My dad said no because we had hamsters, not cats. I didn't want it for our pets. I wanted it for my sisters and me.

Please check back in the next day or so for a $40 giveaway to these stores! So much to choose from...
Have a good one!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

New Release

Hello, everyone, good evening! I'm happy to announce the release of my new novel, Why, My Love. It's the sequel to For the Love of a Queen and considered part of the fantasy genre, being set in the near future in a post-apocalyptic world.

Here is a blurb and excerpt:
What will a queen do to win back her man and her country? Nayda, a warrior queen, and her husband rule over a small kingdom in a post-apocalyptic world doing the best they can to rebuild their city and bring prosperity to their citizens.

A European queen visits and creates chaos. She goes to war with Nayda and takes her crown, and, under strange circumstances steals her husband. Now Nayda must return to her espionage ways. Her missions are extremely dangerous, even more so than battle, where she can at least see the sword coming.

Excerpt:
“I thought I knew you, Jeff.” Her body turned cold, and she swooned inwardly, not knowing who this stranger before her was. This was the biggest disaster of her life.

Eternity seemed to be frowning on her. She imagined herself lying dead on the ground with his sword in her chest, and she knew that part of her had just died. She made an effort to steady her anxious breathing and calm her trembling hands. Jeff lifted his sword and took a killing stance—his feet wider, his arms up in position. She gasped, and tears burned her eyes. With practiced speed, she caught his blade on the downswing, with her own. It rang out, and her heart pounded in its wreckage. Back and forth they swung, and tears rolled down her cheeks.

He forced her back, her feet shuffling. She stumbled over a twig and fell on her back. He bore down with vengeance, and she rolled away. His blade pinned a long, brown braid to the leaves beneath it. She scampered up, missing the braid, and was backed into a tree, and his blade came up and swished, cracking the air with the sound of thunderous betrayal.

“Last request!” she shouted in utter desolation.

Steel stopped, its edge cutting her neck. Sticky blood inched down her skin.

He nodded once.


Buy here link
Leave a comment for a chance to win an electronic (pdf) copy of this novel.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Book review for The Lancaster Rule by TK Toppin


I truly enjoyed The Lancaster Rule by T.K. Toppin. What an intriguing concept this book incorporates. It creates the expectation of an entertaining story to come, and the plot doesn’t disappoint.

This is a sci-fi story set in the future 300 years. Josie Bettencourt is a twenty-first century woman put into suspended animation for centuries. She wakes up as a twenty-five-year-old or a three hundred-year-old woman, however you want to look at it, from her pod in a totally alien world—the oldest pod survivor ever—and witnesses the totalitarian Lancaster rule. She experiences some pretty wicked adventures. The awakening is plausible, and Ms. Toppin did a good job showing Josie’s frustration at her recovery. I believed it could actually happen that way.

Josie is a well-developed character with a memorable personality, having her own quirks. Her vulgar language is humorous in certain situations. She proves to be quite heroic as well, engendering respect. I enjoyed reading her expressive, outgoing responses to things, and she cried at times, making her quite human and real.

The story gets into her psychology and touches upon futuristic social issues. The world building as a whole is well done with many futuristic/scientific/technological details that paint a realistic picture of scientific advancement. Reading about the cool advances like temperature control, travel and communications was fun.

Josie finds herself arrested when her companion blows up a place, something Josie didn’t see coming. She meets John Lancaster, the president and world leader. John is an interesting character as well, subdued and calculating, reserved unless provoked. I really liked him. The author has a talent for characterization.

The motivations throughout the story remain good and are quite believable. Suspenseful situations kept me turning pages. I wondered how Josie was going to act when faced with a situation that tore her loyalties in two directions: toward Lorcan, the man who helped her, an enemy of John, or to John, who she grows close to. The book took an unexpected romantic turn. I was surprised by the strength of a developing relationship. Josie’s and…well, I don’t want to give it away.

A group of rebels attack the Citadel where Josie and the president reside. The later part of the book is filled with exciting fight scenes for survival and had me at the edge of my seat.

Were there any aspects of this story I didn’t like? Well, in the beginning especially, there was lots of telling as opposed to showing, reporting the past. The scenes didn’t unroll in the present, and I got frustrated with this at times, but admittedly, if the author would have written this out, she could have had another book.

At times a point of view issue occurred, for example, with the phrase: unbeknownst to me. That and some distant writing, ie: lots of “to be” conjugations and that pesky word “felt” drew me out of the story. Some repetitiveness occurs and changes in person as well, from first to third etc. I found that a little distracting. I skimmed over some parts early on, having wished they were written out in the present. For example, “He talked of…the school system, the workforce, the sporting activities…” etc. Or there were vague phrases such as “strange looking flowers…” “He smelled really good.” I had no clue what to picture or smell here. I needed more details and couldn’t get an accurate picture in these little sections. I kept hoping Josie would get a tour and get to see these things, touch them, and describe them etc. from her twenty-first century point of view. Thank goodness other details were so well written that I could get a picture of the world as a whole.

The occasional author intrusion bothered me. For example: “The memory of what happened next would still haunt her when she least expected it.”

The beginning was the most problematic for me with my concerns; however, the story got so good, that I no longer noticed these things after a while. I’ll remember Josie and John and the others for a very long time, and I’ll think of this story often I’m sure. I loved it and would highly recommend it, even with the things of which I took issue. The Lancaster Rule was a story well worth reading, one of the most enjoyable I’ve read in a while. The ending had me smiling. I loved the sense of humor woven throughout the story, even among the very serious parts of the books that kept me riveted. This story entertains and takes a reader on an emotional ride. Check it out!

I was given this a copy of this book by the author for review. There was no financial compensation, and it is my opinion only and has in no way been influenced by the author.