Book Review of McNally’s Caper by Lawrence Sanders

 

 McNally

 

If you never read any of the McNally series, you are missing a treat for a light read. They are almost reminiscent of an English Cozy. Archy McNally works at his father’s law firm. He is not a lawyer, but makes Discreet Inquiries for his father. They often work with wealthy clients and Archy always ends up in wild situations.

There are several things that Archy holds important. Number one is he is a snazzy and very bold dresser. His appearance is important to him and he really likes to stand out in a crowd. A second thing that he holds as vital is that he consume great food. The family has a cook that is outstanding and since he lives with his parents, even though he has his own lair, they often share meals. They eat very well and Archy is sure to tell you about it. He enjoys a cigarette from time to time and his liquid refreshment must be every bit as good as his meals.

While solving mysteries for his father, he seems to have no shortage of female companionship. He has a girlfriend he loves, but cannot stop the wealthy females, the heiresses from throwing themselves at him regardless of class and age.

These are like cozies because they solve the complicated crimes, but in less horrific detail for the reader. The mysteries are still good and contain many twists and turns at times, but the reader also enjoys the character of Archy McNally so much he is the story as much as the crime and solving it. Like any other mystery, it has the same elements as any other who-dun-it.

Lawrence Sanders is a great author and the McNally series delights me every time. I recommend all these books.

 

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Working with an Illustrator

Splashes of Colorful Ink Vector Art 

 

Writing my first children’s book meant having illustrations. There is no doubt about my inability to draw. My cats look the same as I was taught to draw them in kindergarten. Not an ounce of improvement toward the likelihood that someone might recognize what it is supposed to be. Thus, my search for an illustrator began. Creating books can get expensive when you pay everyone to do something for you. We are trying to learn to do as much of the process as we can because it is harder for Indy writers to sell books. As I said, I can’t draw.Many of us are on very limited incomes.

My search for an illustrator was very short since I knew a few artistic souls and had been following some of them on Facebook. I only had to approach one and she was agreeable and reasonable and exactly what I needed.

Things to think about when you are considering hiring an illustrator. You want to know that you both are willing to set the same timeline. If you wish to get the book for sale at a specific time, you need to be agreed as to what that timeline or finish date looks like for you both. We, as authors, must not be unreasonable or inflexible since your illustrator or artist may have many more projects ahead of yours. You may both have to give a little to accommodate everyone’s schedule and anticipated time to complete the work.

If you approach someone to do your illustrations, you should check their previous projects, so you can see a sample of their work. I had seen some of this illustrator’s work previously so already knew she had talent. She, however, had never done book illustrations in the past, but then I had never written a children’s book before or worked with an illustrator. We agreed to learn the process as we worked together and went on.

After establishing the agreement as to what you want or need and their willingness to do the job you asked them to do at the price you both settled on, you need to see if your vision is their vision. It is not often the fact that the price is as much as they deserve, but many of us are working with small budgets.

You need to be able to covey what you want so that they will understand what they need to give you. This was a wonderful experience for us. I had not finished the final draft when she took on the job, so I sent her what I thought we needed for each illustration. A paragraph description of what each picture should show. Even though you wrote the book, your illustrator should be given control of the drawings and let them show you their interpretation of what it should look like. Something I read talks about allowing the writer to make a couple minor changes, but if you are ‘on the same page’ so to speak this should be unnecessary.

A super important element of this selection of illustrator should be a happy working relationship. We did this whole project online through texts and emails and never met each other. I am hoping to remedy that and to meet in person someday.

Your illustrator should have the following qualities: patience with you because you are new to each other, a detail – oriented mind, be an excellent listener, a person that doesn’t get too excited because life is unpredictable and a person you could have a long- term relationship with and I found exactly that person. Part of me does not want to share, but that would be selfish.

 

I highly recommend Janice Ducrepont and would suggest you contact her for help with your next project.

E-mail Janice here-paintwrangler@gmail.com

Once the book is published I will replace the drawing above with an illustration from my book.

Review of The Third George by Jean Plaidy

The Third George

 

 

This novel covers a turbulent time in England’s history. George III was a well-meaning king but he was overcome by scandal and eventually madness. He was once noted to have liaisons with some beautiful women, but all that changed when he married the German princess Charlotte. She was she was not beautiful, in fact very plain. However, when George married her he determined to be a very faithful husband and stopped his former lifestyle. His goal was to be the best king possible. He was determined his life would be an example to others instead of the usual immorality exhibited in Royal courts.

His plain wife was a model wife and would have been an excellent help for him in relieving stress by speaking with her. George, however pronounced he would never have a woman interfere in his life, so he did not use her as a confidant, nor ever discuss politics or policy with her.

Besides being an alliance with Charlotte’s small country he was as all royalty must looking for heirs. In this respect, Charlotte almost became a broodmare as she produced child after child with almost no break. Most of them were very healthy and beautiful. George looked at that as her main function. And so, he had no partner so to speak because he wouldn’t confide in her and because she spent most of her time pregnant and in confinement.

George had a family that constantly caused him scandal and a group of ministers who were ineffectual or tried to undermine him. All of this added to the illness and resulted in madness.

I recommend this book especially if you are interested in royalty and of course anyone who loves history would enjoy it. Jean Plaidy has also written many more books of an historical nature. I will be sure to check them out.

 

 

 

 

 

Book Review of Mrs. Jeffries In the Nick of Time by Emily Brightwell

 

 

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In the nick of time is another Victorian mystery by Emily Brightwell. Mrs. Jeffries and her household servants once again use all their skills to help their master, Inspector Witherspoon solve another case. This ‘cozyis written in the style of all great English mysteries. These books, and there are many of them, are reminiscent of Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple.

 

The case they are trying to solve this time is a murder of an uncle while all the suspects and those with any motive are waiting downstairs for the uncle. They are all here for tea and all present in that room when the murder takes place and the shot is heard. There is a wealth of suspects if it wouldn’t be for the fact in the form of clues they were all gathered together and had alibis.

 

The plots in these books all involved a murder and every member of the household staff meets together to try to solve the murder without the inspector knowing it. They manage to help him by revealing bits and pieces to the inspector during a daily conversation with Mrs. Jeffries.

He doesn’t know he is being led and guided by his faithful and loyal household. When they have a case, that is the inspector has a case, in addition to their regular duties they are out gathering evidence. The source of their information are usually other household staff from other great houses.

 

Brightwell usually gives them a complicated case to solve in their own way. The stories are lighthearted and fun and even though mysteries do not focus on the blood and gore.

 

I highly recommend these this books for light reading and fun mysteries to solve.

Book Review-A memoir of the craft- On Writing by Steven King

 

 On Writing Steven King

I have been quoting this book long before I read it. I found it with books on sale at a thrift store. I am so glad I found it because it is one of the best books about writing that I’ve ever read. The appeal for me was the biographical information of Stephen King that is responsible for who he is. I have little patience for writing books that reiterate the grammar and spelling rules that we learned in school. I am sure I have not mastered does but do not feel they are as important as some of the more elusive solutions in writing that most of us never think about. Rules are very important to know how the craft should be executed, but more important are what goes in to the actual writing not the mechanics or logistics of it.

 

This is an enjoyable book because it offers you suggestions, options and choices and how you produce the material. I like that about the book because every writer works in different ways. We are all not a like nor do we profit by cookie-cutter solutions.

 

The book is very interesting as you get glimpses into what went in to creating Stephen King. He had to work for everything and did not have anything handed to him and yet he is published dozens of books and many countries.

 

I think the hints given in this book are an insight into what we might look for in our own lives. I believe all experiences are reflected in our own writing.

 

I would recommend this book even to non-writers because it is entertaining. All authors and writers would find it helpful and a good resource to keep on your shelves. I highly recommend it.

 

Book Review of Trafficking by Bill Ward

Trafficking

 

Just the word trafficking makes your flesh crawl and the book by the same name by Bill Ward does the same. The subject matter is distasteful and one we would rather shun, but we must not. The amount of people trafficked daily is astounding.

Many unsuspecting women from impoverished countries are tricked into traveling to another country on the promise of a better life and a good paying job. They have dreams of having enough money to buy a few niceties for themselves and send much needed money home to their families who never have enough of anything. When they arrive in their new country, they are disappointed at first to see nothing is as promised. Before long not only is their promised job non – existent, but their life becomes dangerous, sordid and out of their control.

They are turned into sex slaves through prostitution or being sold on a human Internet auction which has no shortage of buyers. These unfortunate women are treated as a piece of property and are controlled by drugs, violence and threats to their own family back home. They are kept imprisoned for the most part and have no freedom, no money, no resources and no friends. This situation has most of all, no hope.

This book describes every tortuous minute of being used and abused and shows how easily someone can be manipulated to their will. The worse part of all of this is, the feeling of desperation and the beginning of devaluing yourself as you have no self -esteem after being put in this situation day after day.

When a young woman is killed her father goes looking for answers and finds himself in a world he never knew existed. The path for answers leads to a discovery of pain, humiliation and depravity as a way of life.

The characters are well drawn and the plot keeps your attention. I recommend this book for anyone wanting a better understanding of this constantly spreading problem.

Personal-In Memory of a Foster Kid

Zack

RIP

 

 Not long ago, we began trying to find the many kids we fostered and worked with decades ago. The search is hard, we are in a different state than the one we fostered in most often. Kids have changed their names, married, been incarcerated, had a bankruptcy or been divorced a couple times. Some kids just do not wish to be found and for other unknown reasons they do not want to stay in touch with us or even speak with us. The challenge is to find them and get them to talk.

Recently, we found one of our more bizarre kids. He was a character with a unique personality. He did unexpected things. He said strange things. He dressed in a manner that was not what most would consider normal. He was his own person even then. He would never conform.

When we called, we were uncertain what kind of greeting we would get. We were foster parents and we had not always made decisions about the kid’s life that they liked. But, he seemed anxious to connect with us which made us happy. He wanted to speak with us and he wanted to share things with us, but he was a very ill young man. We found him in the hospital and he explained, the best he could, his condition. He could barely talk so we had trouble understanding him. We called him a few times including on his birthday. The staff made him a cake and came to celebrate with him. He was pretty much alone except for a friend he made of a Vietnam Veteran, seemed like a strange combination of personalities, but maybe we did not know the older man he had become.

It soon became apparent how sick he was when we found out the kidneys and liver were not functioning. He talked about a tremendous amount of weight from the water he held. He let us know they would soon try dialysis. He was not a candidate for a transplant, I assume because of his alcohol usage. It appeared he had abused it for years. When we had him in foster care and lived with us; he had other problems, more of a psychological nature.

Next time we called, he let us know that the dialysis did not work. It was then we saw how truly sick this young man was and knew what to expect. It was a couple weeks later when he passed away at the age of 42.

Even when you expect it, it is still a shock when someone so young passes away. This man had a rough life and his parents never cared about him. His Vietnam Veteran friend notified us. He said we were on the very short list to be notified at his death. His parents were not. His friend did of course notify them eventually.

You expect foster kids to leave and change homes, being out of your life for a long time. I did not see this kid since we fostered him over 25 years ago, but my husband did.

This young man was a lost soul but, he was a warm human being with a good heart. His life was not good any of the years we knew about. We tried to keep him safe in a loving environment. We tried to give him a sense of belonging I hope he felt. Relationships were hard for him, but he gave what he had to others to the best of his ability. We were terribly busy and never had enough time, according to our wishes, to devote solely to each kid.

Yes, we were just foster parents, we had him for a short time in the scheme of things, but for a while he belonged to our family. He was part of it and was treated fairly and as well as our natural kids. It somehow wasn’t enough. Not enough time. Not enough love. Not enough belief in himself to make a difference. But we cared. I will grieve for him for some time to come. I am sorry you had such a tough life. I’m sorry it ended too soon. You touched people and you had friends even when you thought you were alone. We cared.

I am so glad we found him before it was too late!