Wednesday, December 19, 2012

2012 was grand

I started writing again. In fact, it was right around this time in 2011 that my self-imposed writing exile came to an end. What kept me from writing all this time? I’d like to say my struggle with depression was a major contributor, but it would probably be just as correct to say that my non-writing was a major source of my depression. They certainly went hand in hand. My failure to produce a finished STALKER, the sequel to THE PROTECTOR, weighed heavily on me, too. It wasn’t until just a short while ago that I considered my writing career completely stalled, which didn’t do much to lift the lingering effects of my depression either. 

In fact, it wasn’t until my very good friend and writing buddy agreed we needed to get some stuff published that I realized not only had we written and finished a contemporary novella, but we were nearing the end of our paranormal novel. 

Holy cow, not one, but two writing projects, conceived and written through e-mail and instant messages, both untitled as of yet: 100,000 words written between diaper changes, cooking meals, doing housewifely things and, in my case, homeschooling. 

Neither my friend nor I started writing with an eye toward publication. We just needed something to keep us busy and from going insane. It wasn’t really until the second half of the year, when we were both becoming increasingly frustrated with what the published world had to offer. Dang it, we weren’t even trying and we were doing better than some of those (self-pubbed) authors. Why not publish our stuff?

I’m quite happy to say that I think we’re ready to set out on the road to publication (after major edits). I may not have written the book I was trying to deliver for some years now, but I created two new characters every bit as fun as Mason Ward and Soren Buchanan (who will have their sequel told one day, for sure; it’s half written after all): the somewhat impulsive Journey Pendergrast and my most silent-waters-run-deep character yet, Anson Ardley whose first name was inspired by Xavier Axelson’s EARTHLY CONCERNS. 

Hang around and maybe you’ll find those two and their love interests on your favorite tablet or e-reader sometime in the not-too-distant future. 

2012 also brought a new addition to the family: Texas, the terrier-mix puppy, whom we rescued from the Honolulu Humane Society. Texas is an awesome dog. I like to call her a love-bug. She’s very affectionate and great with Ivy. She doesn’t mind the cats and is absolutely ball-crazy. We couldn’t have picked a better dog. Naturally, she’s a redhead. 

My cousins from Germany and France came to visit in the second half of the year and that was a lot of fun. It was so good to see family again. It’s been a while. Living in paradise does not make for cheap or easy travelling back home. 2012 also saw my parents Skyping for the very first time. We do talk on the phone regularly, but it’s so much nicer when you can look the other person in their grainy eyes. My parents saw their third grandchild live and in action for the very first time and Ivy, I am happy to report, loves talking to Oma and Opa on the computer.

All in all, 2012 was pretty awesome. 

I have a feeling 2013 will be even better.

Thursday, July 05, 2012

Aw ...

Review: EARTHLY CONCERNS by Xavier Axels

EARTHLY CONCERNS was my first but certainly not last novel by Xavier Axelson. There’s something disjointed about reading an eerie, shadow-filled paranormal under the bright Hawaiian sun, but Axelson did a great job of pulling me in and making me forget that I was reading at the beach. 

Anson struggles with the classic gift-is-a-curse trope in a very realistic and understated way. Although his talent and the help he can render are integral to the story, it’s a paranormal after all, it’s his struggle to come to terms with his feelings for Barrett, the ex, that drive the story forward. Barrett needs help, but is beyond saving. Emotionally unavailable, he’s toxic to Anson. Their relationship seems as doomed as the child Barrett lost. 

It is loss that finally helps Anson to reconcile his feelings with what he knows about Barrett in a climax that I thought would have worked far better if not written in first-person. My personal preference to generally skip first-person writing notwithstanding, I do think the drama would have been heightened if viewed through the eyes of the man Anson was trying to save. 

If you’re looking for a quiet, eerie paranormal with excellent writing, look no further than Xavier Axelson. He does first-person exceptionally well, flawlessly showing us life through the eyes of his character (whose first name I totally fell in love with). 


Review: FOR LOVE OR DUTY by Bethanne Strasser

If not for my friend Kim at SOS Aloha, I wouldn’t have found the novella FOR LOVE OR DUTY by Bethanne Strasser. I’m sure glad Kim suggested I read this author. I’m all for military spouses reading military spouses, especially if the writing also deals with military life. 

I had a good time with FOR LOVE OR DUTY. It’s a light summer read for a few hours by the pool. Valerie and Kevin are just complicated enough to keep each other on their toes without weighing the story down with their issues. I really enjoyed that both were open to the idea of no-strings attached fun. And that they tried to make their friendship work. Cheryl, the sidekick, was fun and refreshing. 

But what really didn’t work for me, so much so that it lowered the grade for the entire novella, was the non-communication tool Strasser used to create a very contrived way to keep Kevin and Valerie apart. Seriously? Valerie’s father knew of Kevin’s plans; he wouldn’t have told his daughter what had happened to Kevin the minute he got the news? Cheryl knew of Kevin’s plans, too; she wouldn’t have called Valerie either? If a serviceman is injured, calls are being made. Period. No one cares if there was an argument before/during the deployment. 

I understand why Strasser used this tool (it’s in every new author’s bag of tricks), but her writing is beyond using such beginner tropes. She’s far better than the contrived conflict she created. 

Still, her conflict led to a satisfying conclusion and my absolute favorite part of the story. When Kevin said, “I can’t assure you I’ll be there every time you need me.” I cheered. I loved that he was being honest and realistic. Separation is a very real part of military life and too often overlooked in the happy-ever-after assurances of our fictional military heroes. Kudos to Strasser (and Kevin) for keeping it honest.


Friday, June 22, 2012


If you are not a soccer fan, you may not know that the 14th UEFA European Football Championship is being held in Poland and Ukraine right now (until July 1). Sixteen national teams compete in 31 matches to be crowned European champions. At stake: national pride and bragging rights. And, trust me, in Europe that’s serious business.

Today, the Germans sent the Greeks home. In an exciting 4:2 game, Philipp Lahm, Sami Khedira, Miroslav Klose and Marco Reus struck with greater skill. Go, Germany! 

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Review: I OWN THE DAWN, The Night Stalkers, by M.L. Buchman

Not too long ago I reviewed ML Buchman’s THE NIGHT IS MINE, the first book in a four-book series (because there’re four seats on a Black Hawk helicopter) featuring “women pilots who fly for the immensely secretive, real-life U.S. Army SOAR.” I loved it and eagerly anticipated book two in the series. 

Book two, I OWN THE DAWN, revisits the sunbaked, forward SOAR operations in Pakistan and doesn’t disappoint. I may actually like it even better than book one. Sergeant Kee Smith is an immensely flawed and very human character. A volatile firecracker always on the verge of explosion, she is wonderfully offset by cool and collected First Lieutenant Archie Jeffrey Stevenson who can’t believe his luck when Kee strolls into camp.  

At first, their relationship is a turbulent, hot, hotter mess, but they navigate it like they navigated everything else in their lives: with 100% “Night Stalkers Never Quit” commitment. 

I love Buchman’s warrior women. He has an undeniable way with them; they’re tough, capable, oh so deadly, and yet completely female (not feminine so much). His men are often exasperated by their chosen mates, a very endearing trait that robs them of none of their masculinity.

Fair warning: I OWN THE DAWN is a military romance set in the world of a forward deployed group of elite fighters, but there’s nothing romantic about the setting of war. People die. Lives are in constant danger. Love is a luxury. I loved all the technical, military details that dealt with SOAR, the helicopters and Kee’s job as a gunner, but if you’re not a closeted military enthusiast, the technical aspects of the novel could become a tad bit overbearing. 

If you enjoyed book one, you’ll love book two. If you’re hesitant to jump into a new series, don’t worry about needing to know previous events; I OWN THE DAWN can be thoroughly enjoyed as a stand-alone.