Monthly Archives: November 2014

The Subject of Book Reviews

Luanne at the Writer Site posts frequently about memoirs. She read and reviewed Red Clay and Roses as it is a fictionalized true story akin to a memoir or biography. Here is her lovely review.

Luanne Castle's Writer Site

In September, S.K. Nicholls wrote a post on here about the similarities between a novel like her Red Clay and Roses and a memoir. I enjoyed her book so much and eventually wrote a review for it that I posted on Amazon. While I have no memoir review today, here is a copy of my Amazon review for S.K.’s book.

Once I started reading S.K. Nicholls’ roman à clef Red Clay and Roses, I had to be pried away from the book for work and sleep. Her masterful storytelling is ideal for this southern story that, like Faulkner’s, covers generations of customs and politics and changes. She explores the tragedies of racism and gender inequality with a firm hand and a warm heart.

We hear the story through different voices. The nurse who learns the secrets and mysteries of the past tells us the story of the present—what’s “become” of…

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Book Review: All Hallows at Eyre Hall by Luccia Gray

Coming of age at the Ethel Harpst Home, an orphanage in the North Georgia Mountains, when I first read Jane Eyre at fourteen, my primary focus on that book by Charlotte Bronte was Jane Eyre’s life. Her trials and tribulations facing loss and the strengths she relied on to see her through.

In April of this year, at age fifty-three, I chanced to read it again. I was visiting the cabin in North Carolina. It was raining all week, damp and cold in the mountains. I kept a big fire in the huge stone fireplace in the central room of the cabin and I planted myself in front of the hearth all week and read the book again.

My second reading of Jane Eyre was much different than my first. I saw the relationships between the characters having been through so many life changes myself. The rich and lofty descriptions of time and place were still there, but the characters took on greater depth and their actions were accompanied by deep emotional feelings that were not present with my first reading.

Book Review:

It takes a huge amount of courage and dedication to take on writing a sequel to a beloved classic. To do it well, the author must know, without any doubt, the characters and their motives. Luccia Gray knows Jane Eyre and the people in her life as if she were living among them.

I always saw Jane Eyre as a girl who suffered through a cold, hard life but managed to find advantages in her circumstances that permitted her to succeed. I did not see her at all as a spineless jellyfish, but a young woman who braved each new situation with resolve and resilience.  Her decisions and commitments were born out of a desire to improve herself and to love with complete abandon. Her relationship with Mr. Rochester provided for both. As an orphan myself, Jane Eyre is a character dear to my heart.

In Jane Eyre I had issue with Mr. Rochester’s past when he first took on his relationship with Jane. The way he frolicked with the Ingram girl, others, and the deplorable manner in which he managed his first wife caused me much disrespect for the man. I have often felt those who suffered mental illness in eras past had the cruelest existence imaginable. In All Hallows at Eyre Hall, Ms. Gray empathized through Jane all of my feelings about Bertha, her life, and what I had supposed about her. My suspicions about Mr. Rochester were brought out of the shadows and into the light with each word and I felt Jane Eyre had been somewhat venerated.

With Rochester on his deathbed, Jane assumes a leadership role with real decisiveness and strength of character. Strong and clever enough to manage a huge estate, yet merciful and compassionate enough to find forgiveness, Jane does not wrongfully hold others responsible for Rochester’s misdeeds. Jane’s recent past comes to life with all of its joy and sorrow. The relationships she develops are true to her original character and I believe Charlotte Bronte would enjoy this book. The emotions expressed are nearly tangible, as always, love is blind. Luccia Gray also managed to capture a perfect sense of place and time on the moors of old England and in the sprawling manor home, in the clothes and behaviors of the cast.

Initially the first person multiple points of view threw me, but Gray makes it easy to note who is doing the thinking and talking by her distinct voices for each character and a quick reference with each change. I enjoyed this book immensely and am eager to read the next book in the planned trilogy. There are new people and anticipated new places in Jane Eyre’s life. While All Hallows at Eyre Hall answered many questions that remained with the reading of Jane Eyre, the author also leaves us sitting on the edge of our seats anxiously waiting the unfolding of the rest of the story.

5 of 5 Stars


Happy Birthday Florida Style

I hate to start off a post talking about the weather, but really I must. The weather for my birthday weekend couldn’t have been better for what we planned to do. November and April are practically perfect in Florida.

Saturday, we took our new boat out on the intracoastal waterway at Indian River. The sun was shining, the air was refreshingly cool, but the sun’s warmth was felt to the core melting away any morning chill.

This was our first adventure to downtown Cocoa with a boat. Not a great idea. There is a lovely park with boat ramp in the middle of the historic district. I thought it would make for a nice walking tour when we returned. There are little al fresco diners, quaint shops, and boutiques along the way.

one way streets

Wrong. Getting to the park was next to impossible hauling an eight-and-a-half foot wide twenty-three foot boat and trailer. We turned left, then right, then left, again and again, swinging wide to avoid the cars and clipping the curbs on the narrow one-way streets.  After sweating bullets through downtown traffic, we finally made it to the park. I’m certain we were cursed at often.

Once in the water it was a gorgeous day. We motored upriver toward the lagoon. Coming under the A1A bridge, a barge about the length of a football field came blasting around the corner out of a canal to the east and I nearly wet my pants.  I had to turn the helm over to the more experienced captain.  The rest of the day was pleasantly uneventful.


Breaking in the new boat, we had two hours of near idle time keeping the boat under 2000 rpms. Slowly, we meandered down the barge canal to Habortown Marina and had a leisurely lunch at a most obscure waterfront restaurant.

happy birthday on the water 002

Coming back west to the intracoastal we were surrounded by dolphins and manatees. The dolphins all seemed to have babies and the manatees were munching on seagrass. These are not my pics, because every time I tried to get a shot they disappeared into the waters. Osprey and pelicans were everywhere.

It was getting late so I knew a walk around cocoa was out of the question. The only bad thing about winter in Florida is that darkness comes too early.

happy birthday on the water 004

After our short day in the water we headed back through Cocoa. Coming around a corner, the rocket scientist swung wide to avoid a curb, but also had to avoid a parked car on the opposite corner. You know those cute little chalkboard signs that owners put out to advertise their daily specials (like the pretty pink one in this pic)?


Well, the RS clipped one perched on the curb and down it slammed. It sounded like gunshot hitting the sidewalk. A lady jumped off a nearby park bench as if she needed to take cover. I know we were cursed again, “Those damn boaters coming through here!” I can hear it now. Anyway, we made it home.

First order of business upon arriving home. No limes, but a lemon works just as well.
First order of business upon arriving home. No limes, but a lemon works just as well.

Sunday, we put in just north of the NASA building in Parrish Park, a much easier boat ramp to get to on the causeway to Merritt Island.  People were much friendlier today than on our maiden voyage.  It was a sunny day with very little breeze and a perfect temperature.  Much more boater traffic Sunday and I got some good experience at the wheel.


Fun day. Happy birthday. Looking forward to many more. 🙂

This morning the wind was whipping the traveler’s palm leaves around, the air all balmy and tropically warm, and now it is pouring rain, lightning and thundering.

Yo, heads up

This is a really well written book and a delightful story. Countdown deal! Get it now and remember to write a review. Reviews don’t have to be a complete book report, just drop a little note and let the world know you enjoyed it. I did 🙂


IMG_1217Just so you know… Mañana I’ll be starting a Kindle Countdown deal for Occasional Soulmates, wherein you and everyone you know or ever have known may purchase this lovely little ebook for a mere 99 cents. You knew it was coming. All self-publishers must resort to the 99 cent deal, or, even worse, the giveaway, and now is the first of (we don’t know how) many for OS.

Help propel this novel into the top umpty-thousand on the bestseller list. Grab your copy tomorrow!

Oh, and don’t forget to post a brief review too. I’m stuck at eight. Where reviews are concerned, eight is definitely not enough.

Don’t forget, if you’re a print lover, Occasional Soulmates is available as a paperback. It has my picture on the back. That alone is worth $9.99.

The deal runs from the 15th through the 21st. Spread the word.

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Barely Wet

I am going to die on this boat.

We live in Central Florida, almost directly in the center of the state. One of the reasons we wanted a trailerable boat is that we like to go to the west coast on the Gulf and the east coast on the intracoastal waterways, the rivers and lagoons that separate the barrier islands from the mainland. We bought a hybrid boat just for that reason.

A hybrid boat has a modified V-hull. It is good for pleasure riding and fishing. The bottom of the boat is not flat like the lowland fishing boats. In that way, you can take it out in rough waters without getting beat to death. It is not a full-V either. In that way, you can get it into the shallow areas where some of the best fishing takes place.

The draft of the boat is a measure of how deeply the boat sits in the water. Our last boat was 36 feet, full V, and had a draft of nearly 3 feet. We test drove some boats that had a draft of less than 10 inches, but in mildly choppy water your fillings rattled in your head and back and neck surgery would be inevitable from the pounding.

The Coastal 231 solves those problems. It has a draft of only 14 inches and a modified V-hull that smoothly glides over the waves and choppy waters.

The Rocket Scientist has owned a boat since the age of sixteen, so boating is something deeply ingrained. He lived for 12 years on Siesta Key, Fl, and spent 2 years on a treasure hunting boat in the Caribbean. He has had everything from kayaks to cabin cruisers. He could not wait to get this boat wet so we took it over to the intracoastal waterways to put in at Indian River Lagoon on the east coast.

Something you need to know about the east coast: Mosquito Lagoon is barely navigable because it is so shallow. Most people pole small boats through that lagoon or use a small trolling motor. The fishing there and in the Indian River Lagoon that is connected by a canal is some of the best in the world. Indian River Lagoon has some deep channels but the average water depth is 4 feet. The lagoon runs south into the Indian River and opens into Sebastian Inlet from the Atlantic and some seriously deep water.

The locals, mostly rednecks and Hispanics that live around Bithlo and the country villages between Orlando and the intracosatals, don’t like the city boys coming out to fish their holes.

We pulled up to the boat ramp at Parrish Park and there was a group of Hispanics putting their boat in at one ramp and a couple of rednecks putting their boat in at another ramp. We backed toward the third ramp. I got out of the truck and into our boat to back it off the trailer and the Rocket Scientist did the driving down the ramp. All the while, these guys were jawing.

“In Puerto Rico we called them pescado de la ciudad…city fish!”


“We call them jerks,” came the redneck’s reply.


My husband backed the boat down into the water, got out of the truck and quietly went about his business while I cranked up the engine and backed the boat over to the dock. I killed the engine, got off and we tied up the boat. There were insults and jeers coming from the fishermen as my husband went to park the trailer. The group of fishermen continued their exchange and I was feeling uncomfortable when the rocket scientist came back.


Redneck #1: “I don’t understand why these city boys think they’re gonna move in here and catch fish just because they have these big ass shiny new boats.”


Redneck# 2 : “This is one place where bigger ain’t better.”


The Hispanic group boarded their small flat craft and motored away into the darkness of the early morning.


Redneck #1: “Y’all gonna be stuck before the sun rises.” He tossed his fishing gear into his little flat bottom boat.


Redneck #2: “Hope y’all got some poles on that monster to push off the sandbars,” he mocked, spitting tobacco juice into the water.


The rocket scientist smiled. He stepped aboard our new boat and quietly went about checking out the new depth finder.


Redneck#1 “Plannin’ to fish the deep holes?”


Rocket Scientist: “Nah, yo girlfriend ain’t here.”

I froze.

I am going to die on this boat. *sigh*

Name we decided on for new boat!
Name we decided on for new boat!


Path of a Bullet – Put some Ike under your tree this Christmas!

If you haven’t met Ike, Tim Baker’s main character, Path of a Bullet, a collection of short stories that tell what Ike has been up to all year and includes some feature stories by other authors as well, is a great way to get to know him. Tim Baker has seven books out and they are all great!

Books: Publishing, Reading, Writing

I am so pleased, and proud, and downright giddy, that a story I’ve written is being included in the new anthology, Path of a Bullet, A Collection of Short Stories Featuring Ike that Tim Baker has put together for release on Dec. 1 as an eBook and in print.

I don’t mind telling you, I’ve fallen in love with Ike, Tim’s main fictional character, since I first discovered the novels in 2013. Tim began writing short stories featuring Ike late last year, and when he put out a call for stories written by friends and readers, I just had to write one. I went with fan fiction, and have taken Ike for a visit to my own milieu. I tried to make Bequia Blues as much an homage to both Ike and Tim as I could, and those in the know will recognize many of Tim’s other characters, colleagues, friends…

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Wild Concept by C. S. Boyack

A review of a book I have on my TBR list by C.S. Boyack

My train of thoughts on...


My rating:  5  of  5  stars

(by Amazon)

Lisa Burton is a new kind of robot. Built in the concept lab, she will be dismantled at the end of the experiment.

Lisa is a bit naive when she starts her new life, but soon learns to fit into modern society.

She gets assigned to the Hudson Police Department to study how she reacts to pressure, stress, and the everyday world. Hudson PD assigns her to a homicide case to catch the Escort Executioner.

When the escorts start showing up dismembered, she decides not to conclude her own experiment. She takes off on her own adventure to turn the tables on her creators.


Genre(s):  Urban Science Fiction  [this is my (Karen’s) invention, derived from the categorisation ‘Urban Fantasy’]

Length:  296 pages



“…I have a reward for you. When we get home, you’re going to…

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It’s Here! Changelings: Into the Mist

The long awaited Changelings: Into the Mist By Katie Sullivan is now here!

The D/A Dialogues

ChangelingscoverChangelings. They were the descendants of Man and Fae. They walked between worlds – as healers, mystics, even kings – but no more. He thought he was the last, alone and lost, until the day he saw them.

Irish teens Maureen O’Malley and Sean McAndrew are lost in time. To find a way home, they must curry favor with pirates, dodge a revolution, and defy a king out of Ireland’s deepest legends.

They are Changelings, and they have magic in their blood – magic, which will rekindle a centuries-old war that threatens to tear the very fabric of time.

Pirates and rebels and myths, oh my!

Changelings: Into the Mist is the first book in the exciting Changelings series, and it is available in print and digital from Amazon today!

D: And it’s about bloody time.

A: Excuse me?

D: A year-and-a-half you’ve been telling people about my book!


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American English, Language Corruption, and Authenticity

American English. What's that?
American English. What’s that?

Although it was many years ago, I can recall my mother correcting my grammar. Ain’t was not a word that was tolerated, even though I heard it all around me growing up in the Deep South. Them was, rather than those were, he done gone, rather than he has gone. All around me were horrible corruptions of the English language.  There were many other words and phrases that I mispronounced and she was quick to correct.

Mama did a good job. All through junior high and high school, I was commended for being so very articulate. English teachers used me as an example and encouraged me to write. My papers always received good grades. After school, when my sister and step-sister were practicing for drill team and playing in the band, I was sitting in the back of the library reviewing all of the National Geographic magazines from 1875 to 1972, and reading the classics.

When I went to college, again, my English lit professors and composition professors were impressed. That’s not saying so much though. You have to remain aware of where I was coming from.  People in the Deep South have always had their own way of speaking and I am not simply talking about dialect. We had our own words for things. Many of these words came from colonial English.

We wore britches instead of pants or trousers. Under those, we had our bloomers on. And phrases; we did not come inside, we had to get inside. We did not have our breakfast on the plate we had it in the plate, and we sat in the floor, not on the floor.

This was the language I was surrounded by for twenty years before college.

My human anatomy and physiology professor, Dr. William Birkhead, got me good one day. He came out to our farm and tagged rat snakes in our chicken house to see if they homed in to a food source or homed in to mate.  When he was out on the farm, he spoke like all the other country folk around. He seemed like one of us.

Then there was the language he used in the classroom. It was much different. When tests were over, we always reviewed the answers in class. One of our questions was to name the five main functions of skin. I thought I had them all correct, but he marked one wrong and I could not understand why.

1.Maintains the body’s integument.

2.Regulates body temperature and maintains homeostasis.

3.Eliminates wastes

4.Produces vitamin D.

5.Gathers information about its environment. (sensory)

My first answer was, “Holds the innards inside.”


I was the laughing stock of the class. My uneducated, farm girl, southern roots were showing.

Often, when I am writing my regional character’s dialogue, I allow them to slip back into these old countrified, southern roots. Even today, living in the city, the lousy use of the English language is all around me, mixed with Spanglish, Creole and Patois. This corruption is everywhere. No one I know speaks formal English.

When I am writing a character that is southern or influenced by the corruption, it can come across that the writer doesn’t understand the correct use of language. I have to be ultra-careful to keep the narrative correct, else it comes across that the writer doesn’t understand proper use of the language. It appears to be bad writing.

American English is constantly evolving. I want my regional southern fiction to come across as authentic. There is a very fine line between permitting a regional colloquialism to stand in a manuscript and writing poorly. I have to remind myself that it is the perception of the reader that is critical, not the perception of the writer.

Do you use strictly formal English in writing?

Do you encounter colloquialisms that influence your work or writing style?

When you run across a local colloquialism in reading, does it throw you a curve and jerk you out of the story?