BOOK REVIEW: All He Saw Was The Girl by Peter Leonard


Review by Ryder Islington

This is a story about men. McCabe is a scholarship college student who doesn’t care all that much about school. His best friend, Chip, is the son of a U.S. Senator. Chip is also a student. And he’s afraid of his dad. Ray works for the Secret Service and has let his job affect his marriage. Joey is the son of a mafia boss and is having an affair with Ray’s wife. The rest of the men in the story are either cops, mafia big wigs, or mafia wannabes.

The jest of the story is that men want their way and they will use whatever and whomever they need to, to get it.

 I found it lacking in mystery, suspense and thrills. The story is slow. The characters are caricatures, and the plot doesn’t thicken. When McCabe sees a pretty girl, he makes a dumb move. As a result, he is assaulted. He wants to get even. As do all the other men in the story. The theme is definitely Men and Revenge.

While Mr. Leonard is capable of description and dialogue, his other writing skills need some honing. He loves starting multiple sentences with pronouns to the point of distraction, tends to have characters ruminating during action scenes, and has a habit of using incomplete sentences much too often.

 There are people out there who will, undoubtedly, love this book. Bear in mind that mine is just one opinion. I wish Mr. Leonard luck and great success.

BOOK REVIEW: What’s Your Agatha Christie I.Q.? by Kathleen Kaska


Review by Ryder Islington

This is such a fun book! For those of you who are Agatha Christie fans, you’ll really enjoy the quizzes and puzzles. And for mystery writers it’s a great way to learn the basics of writing mysteries through the master mystery writer, Agatha Christie. Ms. Kaska put in a lot of work to make this book fun, interesting and also a great teaching tool. This is a great book for kids as well as adults and for writers as well as readers.

The quizzes include Titles and Plots, Murders, Motives and Victims, Murder Weapons and Victims, First Lines, Last Words,  and quizzes on specific titles from the prolific writer of the mystery genre.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I recommend this book for all lovers of mystery. If you like crossword puzzles, brain exercises, or just the fun of learning facts about one of the foremost authors of the century, pick up a copy of Kathleen Kaska’s What’s Your Agatha Christie I.Q.? 

You can find Kathleen Kaska at kathleenkaskawrites.blogspot.com where you can read about all of her books, including the newest, The Sherlock Holmes Triviology and Quiz Book.

Welcome Guest Blogger Mollie Cox Bryan


 I’m happy to introduce Mollie Cox Bryan as my guest blogger for this week. Mollie has a new book coming out: Scrapbook of Secrets: A Cumberland Creek Mystery. It sounds like a great read and Mollie has agreed to give away a copy to one of the commentors. I hope all of you will enjoy meeting Mollie and  her characters. 

Take it away Mollie!

   

Meet the Women of Cumberland Creek

   My first novel, SCRAPBOOK OF SECRETS: A CUMBERLAND CREEK MYSTERY has just been published by Kensington.  With publishing schedules being what they are, as I begin to promote this book, I’m expecting edits on the second book and am in the middle of the first draft of the third in the series. Seriously. Now, when I sit down to write, it feels like I’m visiting old friends. I’d like to introduce them to you. 

   My series revolves around a group of women in a small but growing Southern town. They get together to scrapbook, eat, and as it happens, to solve murders. 

   The story is told from three main characters points of view. They are surrounded by a secondary group of women and men. There’s also a third tier of characters I like to call my “walk-ons.” You’ll have to read the book to meet those folks. In the mean time here’s my three characters. 

Annie

Annie Chamovitz is 36-years-old and has “retired” from the rough and tumble world of Washington, D.C., investigative journalism. She and her husband Mike moved to Cumberland Creek from Bethesda, Md., a tone suburb.  Her family is the only Jewish family in town.  When the book opens, she is a stay-at-home mom to Sam and Ben.  After being in Cumberland Creek about a year, she is finally invited to a weekly scrapbooking crop. She goes to the scrapbook gathering—reluctantly. Visions of frilly stickers and glitter paper dissuade her. Soon, she is part of the group, finding she loves the “puzzle” aspect to scrapbooking.  Soon enough, she also gets sucked back into freelance journalism.

My favorite quote from Annie:

“I don’t need my husband’s permission, Detective, just his support. This is the twenty-first century,” she said.

 Vera 

Vera Matthews has just turned forty. She is the owner of the only dancing school in town. She has never quite resolved her longing for the stage. So she delights in changing hair color and make-up palettes. She is married to her college sweetheart, Bill. She grew up in Cumberland Creek, went to college in NYC, and danced professionally for a brief period of time. Because she’s childless, she makes scrapbooks for her students and herself.

My favorite quote from Vera:

“I may be a bitch, but I work too hard for my money to go and have some pop psychologist to charge me to tell me about the psychological aspect to a hobby.  Some people just sap all the fun out of everything,” Vera said, taking a bite of the cake.

Beatrice Matthews

Beatrice Matthews is Vera’s eighty-year-old mother and is not a scrapbooker. She is a quantum physicist and has conversations with her dead husband, who appears in ghost form throughout the book—but only to her. She grew up on Jenkins Mountain, one of the many mountains surrounding the town of Cumberland Creek. At the beginning of the book, Bea is stabbed.

My favorite Beatrice quote: “You’re Daddy bought it for me and taught me how to use it. I feel safe with it here next to me in my nightstand. So over my dead body will I get rid of it.  In fact, you can bury me with my gun in one hand and a book in the other,” Beatrice said.

 

About the Book

Having traded in her career as a successful investigative journalist for the life of a stay-at-home mum in picturesque Cumberland Creek, Virginia, Annie can’t help but feel that something’s missing. But she finds solace in a local “crop circle” of scrapbookers united by chore-shy husbands, demanding children, and occasional fantasies of their former single lives. And when the quiet idyll of their small town is shattered by a young mother’s suicide, they band together to find out what went wrong…Annie resurrects her reporting skills and discovers that Maggie Rae was a closet scrapbooker who left behind more than a few secrets – and perhaps a few enemies. As they sift through Maggie Rae’s mysteriously discarded scrapbooks, Annie and her “crop” sisters begin to suspect that her suicide may have been murder. It seems that something sinister is lurking beneath the town’s beguilingly calm facade – like a killer with unfinished business…

Bio

Mollie Cox Bryan is a food writer and cookbook author with a penchant for murder.  Her stories have many forms: cookbooks, articles, essays, poetry and fiction.  Mollie grew up near Pittsburgh, Pa., and attended Point Park University, where she received a B.A. in Journalism and Communications. Her first real job out of college was as a paste-up artist at a small newspaper, where she was allowed to write “on her own time” and she did.

Mollie moved to the Washington, D.C. area, where she held a number of writing jobs, and has written about a diverse array of subjects, such as construction, mathematics education, and life insurance. While working in the editorial field, Mollie began taking poetry classes at the Writer’s Center in Bethesda, Md. Soon, she was leading local poetry workshops and was selected to participate in the prestigious Jenny McKean Moore Poetry Workshop. Mollie still writes poetry— not as frequently— and believes that her study of poetry informs all of her writing.

In 1999, shortly after the birth of her first daughter, Emma, Mollie and her husband moved to the Shenandoah Valley of Va., where he took a job at the Frontier Culture Museum and she stayed at home to take care of Emma and start a freelancing career.

Website/blog: Http://www.molliecoxbryan.com

Twitter: @molliecoxbryan

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/molliecoxbryanauthor

Email: molliebryan@comcast.net

 

Published Books

Mrs. Rowe’s Little Book of Southern Pies (Ten Speed/Random House, 2009) The Good Cook Book Club; named one of the best cookbooks of 2009 by Rose Kennedy of All Foods Considered.

Mrs. Rowe’s Restaurant Cookbook: A Lifetime of Recipes from the Shenandoah Valley (Ten Speed Press, 2006)

Unsilenced: the Spirit of Women, Commune-A-Key, 1999.  A poetry and essay compilation.

Honey, I’m Sorry I Killed Your Aquasaurs (and other short essays on the parenting life) E-book on Amazon. This is a compilation of my newspaper column, Thoroughly Modern Mollie.

A few publications Mollie’s articles are published in:

 Grit, NPR’s Kitchen Window, The Christian Science Monitor, Taste of the South Magazine. Virginia Living. Relish,

Currently, Mollie is a restaurant reviewer for the Daily News Leader, Staunton, Va. and a frequent contributor for the local NPR-affiliate, WVTF.

#Ryder’s Journal–Sunday August 7, 2011


The theme of this journal is the dilemma that authors face after we are published. Our job doubles. Now we have to write and we have to promote.

I received a comment after the first entry, yesterday. The comment was about the fact that, as a writer, of course, we have no choice but to write. And that is true. I am writing this moment, as I create this journal entry. And I wrote earlier as I prepared the article on Writer’s Conferences that will run tomorrow.

But today, I did not work on my WIP. My mind pondered the character sketches of three characters but I didn’t solve the issues involving them. As the Sabbath is set aside for the Father, so Sunday is set aside for family. I over did, as I sometimes do, and now need a break. How tomorrow will work out, only time will tell. I’d like to get a thousand words done tomorrow. We’ll see.

 

#Writer’s Conferences


This article is part of the Rolling Mystery Writers Blog Tour roll for Monday, August 8, 2011.  Today’s subject is Writer’s Conferences. This roll started with KT Wagner’s blog, followed by Mollie Cox Bryan’s blog. Thanks KT for getting us started and Mollie for introducing my blog. We hope that you will take the time today, or this week, to visit each blog on this roll. The list of participants follows my article.

And now, on to my thoughts on Writer’s Conferences

I’ve attended large conferences, and small ones. Both have their positive and negative qualities. Large conferences draw more big names, and have more of a variety of classes. But I found myself frazzled by the end of each day and when it was over I needed a few days to recoup.Though I went home with dozens of business cards, I didn’t really remember anyone, except James Patterson and I’m sure he didn’t remember me. The classes were great, but short and filled with others who had questions, so sometimes I didn’t get to speak.And I spent way too much money.

Then there are the small conferences. They may be a little shorter, have fewer participants and fewer classes, but they have something their big counterparts lack. Here’s a perfect example. A chapter of RWA in Shreveport call themselves the NOLA Stars. They meet once a month, have about twenty-five to thirty members at any one time, and sponsor a great little conference each March called Written In The Stars.

I’ve been an insider at this conference and know for a fact that everyone involved in the planning, teaching, sharing, etc., cares about every participant. We usually limit the participants to one-hundred. The conference starts with a finger-foods tete a tete Friday night. This is where the small conference shines. Editors, agents, and all levels of writers rub elbows, converse, tell jokes, and talk writing. I’ve actually stood talking with Jennifer Blake  as if we were old friends. I’ve gotten advice from multi-selling authors on my WIP. I’ve talked to agents and editors on a personal level.

There is also an awards luncheon where the Suzannah Contestants find out who won, and someone in the business does a little talk on what’s new in the industry, or how they made their start.

The next day is filled with panels of editors and agents who answer questions about their companies/agencies. Then classes start–only a couple, but excellent–usually by names like Jennifer Crusie, JoAnn Rock (a member of NOLA Stars), Debbie Macomber and Judith Ivory, and senior editors from major publishing houses. There are always special teachers who share their experience and knowledge, and enough time to cover a topic thoroughly and get questions answered.

Oh, and the prizes! A table full of books, tea pots, mugs, knick-knacks, do-hickies, and whatchamacallits, sit in the back of the room, waiting to be chosen by someone who has purchased a chance to win. A dollar could get you a great book on writing–or a basket full of a variety of books from different authors. I once won a basket filled with books, mugs, bookmarks, and choclate all from Christine Feehan. Great books. Huge mugs. Wonderful chocolate. Thank you Christine.

There are the individual pitch sessions, where you get five minutes to pitch your book to an editor or agent. And that five minutes it yours. Even if they are not interested in your book, you will learn tons by just getting in there and participating.

Saturday night is the big dinner when you get to sit by the agents, editors, writers, teachers, and all around giving people, who often drink a margarita or two, and enjoy a meal–we have to reserve a whole room at the restaurant for this event.

You can see where my heart lies on this subject. I had great experiences at large conferences, but for me, the less expensive and more personal small conference wins out every time. If you get a chance to attand a writer’s conference, I hope you take advantage of it. Large or small, which ever you choose to attend, it will be well worth it.

I hope this article has been helpful to you, and also that you will visit the other participants on this roll and see what they have to say about Writer’s Conferences. Next on the list is Sara Wisseman’s blog: http://www.sarahwisseman.blogspot.com/ Thanks for visiting.  Come back soon.

KT Wagner http://www.northernlightsgothic.com/blog
Mollie Bryan http://www.molliecoxbryan.com
Ryder Islington http://www.ryderislington.wordpress.com
Sarah Wisseman http://www.sarahwisseman.blogspot.com/
Kathleen Kaska http://www.kathleenkaskawritesblogspot.com

#Ryder’s Journal–Saturday August 6, 2011


I’ve been thinking of how I can manage to blog something everyday and finally came up with a solution. Starting tonight, my plan is to make an entry to my journa every day. The theme of this journal is the dilemma that authors face after we are published. Our job doubles. Now we have to write and we have to promote. 

So for tonight I’m just going to say that on Saturday, I don’t do either. At least not until sundown, when the Sabbath ends. I want these entries to be short enough so that you don’t mind visiting everyday and seeing what it’s like to face both challenges at the same time.

Since I’m working on a #trilogy, and the #first book came out in June of this year, readers will expect the second book next year. The problem is that it took me years to write the first one. Granted, I learned a lot in that process, but that doesn’t make the writing easier. And now I have to #promote book one while I’m writing book two. This is a bit overwhelming.

I used to be able to multi-task, but no more. My mind can only concentrate on one thing at a time. Tonight, I plan to work on the #plot of book two, which for me is a challenge in itself, since plotting is not my strong suit. Since bookstores and newspaper offices are generally closed on the weekend, I can only do #promotion online tomorrow. Or I could write. Whoa is me! What to do. What to do.

Come back tomorrow and see how it goes.