About Marcha's Two-Cents Worth

I'm a science fiction author of the Star Trails Tetralogy, retired after two decades working at NASA, defected from my physics training to become a professional astrologer, and various other acts of rebellion.

“In the Double Agent’s Service” New from Annie Douglass Lima!

In the Double Agent’s Service

A fantasy novel by Annie Douglass Lima

Book Description:

book banner with lanternErik would give his life to protect King Jaymin. However, when an old enemy shows up with new schemes, that may not be enough.

Anya longs to be noticed by the king’s handsome bodyguard. But as she finally gains Erik’s attention, the notorious spy and double agent Dannel blackmails her into fulfilling a favor she has owed him for years. Anya is forced into a terrible choice: save Erik’s life, or protect her homeland.

Can Erik and Anya thwart an assassin and prevent a war before Dannel destroys everything that matters to them and to the kingdom?

In the Double Agent’s Service is the final book in the Annals of Alasia. Here’s a glimpse of the rest of the series!

Annals of Alasia

Prince of Alasia (just 99 cents through June 14th!)

An orphaned prince and his young bodyguard must disguise themselves and go into hiding after the kingdom of Alasia is overrun by invaders.  Can Prince Jaymin save his kingdom – and himself?

In the Enemy’s Service (just 99 cents through June 14th!)

Enslaved by invaders, Anya spies on the enemy to help her captive people – but when her own father is implicated in the betrayal that led to the Invasion, can she save him?

Prince of Malorn (FREE through June 11th!)

Can Prince Korram recruit an army from among the elusive Mountain Folk and claim his rightful throne before power-hungry Regent Rampus crushes them all?

The Nameless Soldier (just 99 cents through June 14th!)

The lone survivor of a brutal attack, can teen warrior Tarvic reclaim his honor and find a way to fight for his crippled kingdom under enemy occupation?

King of Malorn (just 99 cents through June 14th!)

Pursued by assassins, can Princess Kalendria help her brother reclaim his throne and prevent a war – and catch the handsome neighboring king’s attention while she’s at it?

Annals of Alasia: The Collected Interviews (available for FREE here!)

An orphaned prince. A devious double agent. A well-meaning merchant who may have just doomed his kingdom. Meet the citizens of Alasia and Malorn and prepare to be drawn into a tangled web of war and intrigue.

With the first six books ALL free or discounted, this is the perfect time to grab the whole series! Click here to see the Annals of Alasia series on Amazon.

Meanwhile, here is the first scene from In the Double Agent’s Service!

Pain.

Cold.

The smell of dry dirt.

A hard, gritty surface beneath his cheek.

Erik mentally catalogued the sensations in order of their intensity. He opened his eyes, blinked, and added another to the list.

Darkness.

Where am I? He struggled to sit up, and his pulse spiked at the realization that he couldn’t use his hands or feet. His ankles were bound together, and his wrists were tied behind his back.

What’s going on? Erik forced himself to a sitting position, noting the dirt floor beneath him, a rough wall at his back. Brushing his fingers over what he could reach of it, he discovered that the wall seemed to be made of the same hard-packed earth as the floor.

Am I underground? Though not completely smooth, the surfaces were too flat to be natural. Not a cave, then, but perhaps a cellar of some sort.

Or a cell.

He held his breath, straining his ears for any sound in the darkness. “Hello?” he whispered.

There was no response.

“Hello?” he said, a little louder. The acoustics hinted that he was in a small room. His head, already sore, throbbed anew at the sound of his own voice.

Erik leaned against the wall behind him, trying to keep calm. What happened? And where’s Jaymin? 

Jaymin. Erik’s pulse started racing again. Had something happened to Jaymin?

Calm down, he ordered himself. He couldn’t afford to give in to panic. Instead, he would investigate his surroundings. Perhaps Jaymin was lying unconscious nearby.

Erik struggled to his feet and promptly smacked his head on a low ceiling. Dropping to his knees with a grunt of pain, he drew in a deep breath while a wave of dizziness rolled over him. When it passed, he shifted to a sitting position, bound legs in front of him. Moving slowly because every movement set his head throbbing, he began to crawl crab-like on his backside, feet, and hands. Keeping one shoulder against the wall, he scooted forward.

It didn’t take long to discover he was in a circular room, the walls curving back around toward where he had started. After eight steps, if he could call them that, his toes bumped something hard. Feeling with his feet, he discovered a stair in front of him, perhaps eight inches high. Shifting his weight, he leaned forward and took a little crouching jump into it. Another stair lay above it, and another. When he jumped onto the third stair, he winced as his injured head bumped the ceiling again.

Craning his neck and brushing an uninjured part of his forehead lightly back and forth against it, Erik discovered that the ceiling was made of wooden boards. Ducking lower with every hop so as not to bump it again, he made his way up the rest of the stairs until they ended at the wall. Twisting around, he hunched over awkwardly and ran his elbow back and forth across the low ceiling. As he had expected, a rectangular trapdoor lay just above him. He could feel the seams where its edges didn’t quite meet the surrounding boards. The hinges must be on the other side, but he thought he could detect a keyhole at one end. Nothing happened when he pushed up against the door with one shoulder, not that he had expected it to open for him.

Descending the steps again, Erik felt his way around the rest of the room. Eleven shuffling steps took him all the way around its circumference and back to the stairs. Criss-crossing the middle several times, he discovered it was completely empty.

If Jaymin wasn’t in here, where was he? Erik sat down and leaned against the wall, his head pounding from the exertion. Bending to brush it gently against his raised knees, he could feel a lump on his right temple. In addition, his upper lip was swollen and tasted like blood. It felt as though he had some bruises on his arms and torso, as well.

Erik closed his eyes — not that it made any difference in the complete darkness that surrounded him — and strained to recall what had happened. Had he and Jaymin been on a trip? He thought he remembered something about embarking on a journey. Where were they going? Was there an ambush? What happened to the palace guards who always accompanied the royal carriage?

Surely Jaymin couldn’t be dead. No one would kill the king but take his bodyguard captive. Would they?

And why would anyone take a bodyguard captive in the first place?

In the Double Agent's Service

Click here to grab your copy of In the Double Agent’s Service.

Click here to see the Annals of Alasia series on Amazon.

Annie Douglass LimaAbout the Author

Annie Douglass Lima considers herself fortunate to have traveled in twenty different countries and lived in four of them. A fifth-grade teacher in her “other” life, she loves reading to her students and sparking their imaginations. Her books include science fictionfantasyYA action and adventure novels, a puppet scriptanthologies of her students’ poetryBible verse coloring and activity books, and a fantasy-themed cookbook. When she isn’t teaching or writing, Annie can often be found sipping spiced chai or pomegranate green tea in exotic locations, some of which exist in this world.

 

“Comes this Time to Float: 19 Short Stories by Stephen Geez”

Today I am thrilled to host an author who is beyond a doubt in my Top 5 Stephen Geez Author Icon 2020 800wideFavorite Authors of All Time. I kid you not. You would think that a book of short stories would be easy to set down. Not true with this author. His writing is of the “take me away, Calgon” variety. Rather than “spoiler” alerts, it should come with “addiction” alerts. I have read several of his novels and must say they are all memorable with their endearing characters and his phenomenal writing skills that suck you and your heart right into the story. Here’s your chance to get a sampling of his work and find out what you may have been missing. –MF


Geez Float Tour 2nd leg Placard DAY 9Salutations!

I am thrilled to see you here at Day 9 of this extended blog tour! Gratitude abounds for my generous host who shared some blog space today. I hope to interest you lit-mavens in trying my first book in something lo too many years, this my only collection of short fiction: Comes this Time to Float: 19 Short Stories by Stephen Geez. You could add another “by Stephen Geez” to that, as I put the moniker in the subtitle, too. I’d be forcing it to find a theme, except maybe that all my stories try to look at something I think is important, but told in a decorative sort of way. Written here and there among novels over two decades, they show a variety of genres and styles, as I get restless. Now they’re tucked between jacketed hard covers and softs, or in e-however-you-likes.

The Enticement

Each tour stop will offer the opening paragraphs of a story from the book, then link to the full story online.  A few will also link to audio-shorts narrated by me. An RRBC-specific promo video will be foisted on you every day. Using a narrator didn’t seem right for my own trailer, so yeah, it’s me. Be sure to post reviews in your favorite places, most helpfully if Amazon. RRBC members, be sure to report the Amazon link to your Reviews Coordinator for quarterly credit.

And you, I thank, too.

A Geez Author Blurb

Stephen Geez grew up in the Detroit suburbs during the American-auto domination. He earned his undergraduate and master’s degrees at the University of Michigan—Ann Arbor. He retired from scripting/producing television and composing/producing television music, then expanded his small literary management firm into indie-publisher and multi-media company Fresh Ink Group. Now he works from a deck overlooking the lake in north Alabama, helping other writers share their compelling narratives with the world.

Comes this Time to Float 1000p high The Book Blurb

Prepare to think as you explore these wildly disparate literary short stories by author, composer, and producer Stephen Geez. Avoiding any single genre, this collection showcases Geez’s storytelling from southern gothic to contemporary drama to coming-of-age, humor, sci-fi, and fantasy—all finessed to say something about who we are and what we seek. Some of these have been passed around enough to need a shot of penicillin, others so virgin they have never known the seductive gaze of a reader’s eyes. So when life’s currents get to pulling too hard, don’t fight it, just open the book and discover nineteen new ways of going with the flow, because NOW more than ever Comes this Time to Float.

 The Promo Video

 Today’s Sample: “Bus, Boy”

Busboy.

André, the punk-ass busboy.

Scratchy black pants, stiff white shirt, cheap dark shoes. Sixteen years old, embarrassed to be here, he sits in a booth in the back, waiting for paperwork and some here’s-what-you-do.

P.O. set this up, said only way outta this place is to find a better job hisself. Got tomorrow and the next day off before a five-day schedule kicks in. Bet he’ll have something better before having to show his face for a second day in this place. Judge said gotta work full-time now, then part-time and GED classes in the fall, or serve that suspended year. Catch another case and he’s gone for even longer. That was last week. Probably shoulda started looking for his own job then.

Moms cried when she showed him the clothes she bought him—proud of him, she said, bring in some money, help out, maybe get some insurance to share her car. Teenage boys cost a lot.

Restaurant-style food joint in the mall, booths and tables and stools at a counter, waitresses running trays, two cooks behind the lights, order slips clipped to a turning-deal, Lenore at the register on your way out. It’s humiliating, working at a place like this, these kinda people, right by home where everybody he knows can see him. P.O. says people respect honest work. Yeah, right.

The Whole Story

I have posted the entire story on my blog today. Be sure to come back here!

https://StephenGeez.WordPress.com

The Audio-short

Find the Book Now

Should be just about everywhere, but here are the biggies:

Barnes and Noble

Amazon

Other Places I Lurk

Twitter

Instagram: StephenGeezWriter

Website

Blog

“The Klansman’s Wife” by Scott Skipper

klansmanswife

First of all, I know that I’ve been absent from my reviewing duties for a while now. That’s  because I’ve been up to my eyeballs writing a story that began as a cozy mystery that expanded into a thousand-page conspiracy thriller which has required an astounding amount of research. I truly hope to get at least the first book out in a few months. I expect it will be worth the wait.  Recently I took a trip, however, which gave me time to read on the plane and this was the story I selected. It definitely made the miles fly by at a rapid pace.


The title alone constitutes a spoiler though this cautionary tale definitely drives the message home. Set in South Carolina in the 1970s, this gripping story captures the dark side of the south in the post 60s Civil Rights era. This culture was entirely off the radar of those who lived in other parts of the country and deserves to be read for its education value alone.

I have to smile at the main character’s name, Mason, a Californian who definitely has some interesting revelations and adventures upon venturing below the Mason-Dixon line. A young man in his late 20s who has recently lost his job and been divorced by his wife accepts employment at a company in South Carolina that manufacturers machines used in the printing industry. From reviewing ECRs (engineering change requests) to interactions between employees with a variety of educational and cultural backgrounds, the author did a great job capturing the work climate of such a facility which included plenty of gossip and the inevitable backbiting. It was easy to visualize the environment and feel as if you, too, were an employee observing the drama and goings-on.

Mason is immediately attracted to a flirtatious woman named Jill. Despite warnings that her abusive husband is the Grand Knight of the local KKK, he pursues a relationship with her. As expected, he is attacked and harassed in a vicious manner, any relief from law enforcement nonexistent since they are also members of the Klan. His obsession with her is not to be doused, however, and ultimately becomes coupled with compassion and the desire to help her escape her abusive marriage.

Further description will definitely tread upon spoiler territory, though I’m sure just about anyone can figure out that this is probably not going to end well. Actually, the ending does carry a few major surprises, though the author did a good job of alluding to them. This suspense-laden story is not only a warning not to allow your libido to lure you into dangerous situations, but also provides a glimpse into what it was like in the Deep South a half-century ago. While some of it has improved, it’s still a place immersed in echoes of a culture that few outsiders understand.

Scott Skipper is one of my favorite authors, particularly his Alien Affairs series. Being much darker, this novel lacks the dry humor found there, but his skilled writing style and attention to detail make it an outstanding read.

As mentioned earlier, I read this story while on an airplane. As I was about to get into my car in the remote long-term parking lot I heard a shot. Duly sensitized by the action in the book, I ducked, wondering what was going on and whether I was in mortal danger. Then it dawned on me that it was New Year’s Eve and all I’d heard was a firecracker.  Nonetheless, it illustrated the author’s skill in pulling me into the story. Don’t miss it.

You can pick up your copy on Amazon here. You can learn more about Scott Skipper and his other stories through his social media links below.

Official Author’s Website www.ScottSkipper.com
Facebook.com/Scott Skipper
@SSkipperAuthor

A Perfect Story for Native American Heritage Month

morningstar

Morning Star: Let Us Make a New Way

by Richard DeSirey


November is Native American Heritage Month and if you want to expand your knowledge of American History there is no better place to start than with this well-written, historically accurate story.


This book chronicles the story of those who came to be known as the Northern Cheyenne. They were driven from their ancestral home in the Black Hills area to Kansas, but promised if they went peacefully, they could return to their sacred ground at a later time. Of course this promise was not honored. Determined to return to the land given to them by the Great Spirit, whom they knew as Maheo, they escaped from the barracks in which over 300 had been imprisoned without food, water or heat in the winter and started the long trek back to Montana.

This band was led by a wise chief and leader whose name was Morning Star. In the historical record, he is usually referred to as Dull Knife, a derogatory nickname given to him by the Sioux (Lakota) because he was a peacemaker and wanted to co-exist with the white man. Clearly this is not what the white man wanted. Promises and treaties were made and consistently broken. Those who signed them on behalf of the United States often didn’t have the authority to enforce them. Treaties had to be ratified by Congress, and when this didn’t happen, the terms of the treaty were not met, though the Native Americans were expected to honor their side of the agreement. The military was especially brutal, leaders often decorated for the cowardly slaughter of peaceful groups that included women, children, and the elderly. Yes, Custer did get what he deserved.

The original explorers of North America treated the Natives Americans horribly, especially the Spanish and English. Believe it or not, the French showed them more respect. When the United States attained their independence, the treatment of the Native Americans got even worse. They were in the way as far as western expansion and “Manifest Destiny” were concerned and treated worse than animals or even slaves because they were in the way and of no value.

It is absolutely shameful and a national embarrassment that it took a court decision to declare them as human! Even the pope had declared it acceptable to slaughter indigenous people. In what universe is this acceptable?

As a baby boomer, my impression of the First Americans was that they were blood-thirsty, uncivilized savages. This came from what I was taught in horrifically biased history classes combined with the TV and movies of time. Nothing could be farther from the truth, yet never was it mentioned the depth and spirituality of the culture that they espoused, especially the Cheyenne tribe. In many respects, they achieved a culture that was far more advanced than our own.

As an author myself I am currently working on a trilogy in which my main character is Cheyenne. This has motivated me to do a significant amount of research to assure its accuracy. I have been shocked, heart-broken and ashamed of my country as I have learned how these people were treated. I am currently working with a full-blooded Cheyenne to further develop this character and he is the one who gifted me with this book. The author worked diligently with the Cheyenne people for decades to gather Morning Star’s story as it had been preserved by oral tradition by his descendants. This book is the real deal.

You owe it to yourself to learn how history really unfolded in this country. With all the controversy these days over immigration, try putting yourself in the moccasins of the First Americans as the white man invaded them from across the Great Waters, then proceeded to systematically steal their land.

Would you fight back if they refused to negotiate? You bet you would.

You can pick up your copy on Amazon here.

Colorado’s “Million Dollar Highway”

These pictures capture the locale of my upcoming novels in “The Curse of Dead Horse Canyon” trilogy perfectly! Are they breathtaking or what?

dawn2dawn photography

One of the most scenic highways in the United States, if not one of the most dangerous, the Million Dollar Highway is a must drive if you’re in Colorado. As part of US Route 550, the 25 miles from Ouray to Silverton represents the most scary and jaw dropping stretch. It was originally built in 1882 to serve the local mining industry. Sheer drop offs to my right caused me to slow down and find a safe spot for picture taking.

Uncompahgre Gorge, just south of Ouray.

The town of Ouray

No guardrails here!

I’d hate to drive through here in winter.

Red Mountain

Fall colors can be amazing

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Cold Weather has Arrived! Celebrate with these Recipes Using an Old Favorite: Oatmeal!

Kindle Cover copy

After a long, hot summer, cooler weather has finally arrived. If you’re ready for some true comfort food from an old favorite, be sure to check out this delightful cookbook from author, Annie Douglass Lima! In her own words…


My latest writing project is very different from anything else I’ve written. It’s a cookbook! But those who know how much I love fantasy might not be surprised that this cookbook ended up with a fantasy theme. Many of the recipes have names inspired by fairy tales or fantasy stories, and I love the hints of fantasy in the two covers designed by the awesome Savannah Jezowski.

Why two different covers? The paperback version of the cookbook is an unusual shape, due to the unusual recipe format (more information about that below), so it couldn’t share a cover with the ebook.

Some people might be surprised, though, that the whole book is focused on oatmeal. After all, isn’t oatmeal that boring goop that nobody really eats if there’s anything else available?

NOT ANYMORE! In this book, you’ll find recipes for delectable dishes like creamy mango coconut spice oatmeal, cinnamon almond oatmeal, blueberry cream cheese oatmeal, and (my personal favorite:) caramel banana oatmeal with peanut butter. (Okay, so that one is a little closer to the dessert end of the spectrum than the porridge end!)

Take a look at the book blurb below for more details:

Are you tired of high-sugar, low-health-value instant oatmeals in tiny serving packets full of artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives? Once Upon a Bowl of Oatmeal contains 70 hearty recipes packed with natural ingredients and brimful of vitamins, minerals, fiber, and antioxidants. All are gluten free, assuming you use gluten-free oats, and vegan (or they come with a vegan option). Most require no salt so are perfect for a low sodium diet. Almost all of these recipes can be prepared in ten minutes or less, saving you time in your busy morning.

Oh … and no more math! Whether you’re cooking just for yourself, for a family of six, or any number in between, every recipe comes in the form of a handy table that shows exactly how much of each ingredient you’ll need for however many servings you want.

Tasty enough for kids to crave, but wholesome enough to appeal to health-conscious parents, these mouth-watering recipes will give you plenty of energy for your day while pleasing your taste buds too. Download Once Upon a Bowl of Oatmeal now and say goodbye to artificial breakfasts that don’t fully satisfy.

Take a peek at a few of the fun recipe titles (with pictures courtesy of photographer Denise Johnson). Then scroll down for a free recipe!

TOC with pics copy

And now for a free oatmeal recipe in the unique format I use in Once Upon a Bowl of Oatmeal:

Blueberry White Chocolate recipe

WHITE CH

Ready to grab your copy? Click here to download the ebook for your Kindle or to order the paperback cookbook. And if you enjoy the recipes, please consider leaving a review on Amazon, Goodreads, and/or Bookbub!

About the Author:

Annie Douglass LimaAnnie Douglass Lima considers herself fortunate to have traveled in twenty different countries and lived in four of them. A fifth-grade teacher in her “other” life, she loves reading to her students and sparking their imaginations. Her books include science fiction, fantasy, YA action and adventure novels, a puppet script, anthologies of her students’ poetry, Bible verse coloring and activity books, and now a cookbook. When she isn’t teaching, writing, or experimenting with new flavors of oatmeal, Annie can often be found sipping spiced chai or pomegranate green tea in exotic locations, some of which exist in this world.

Connect with Annie Douglass Lima Online:

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/AnnieDouglassLimaAuthor

Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/author/anniedouglasslima

Goodreads: http://bit.ly/ADLimaOnGoodreads

Blog: http://anniedouglasslima.blogspot.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/princeofalasia

Email: AnnieDouglassLima@gmail.com

Sign up for her mailing list so she can let you know when new books are available. When you sign up, she’ll send you a free copy of one of her fantasy books! http://bit.ly/LimaUpdates

 

 

“Love of Thol”: Book 3 of an Enchanting Sci-Fa Series for All Ages

loveoftholcvr

“Love of Thol”

by Dawn Greefield Ireland

This enchanting series is a perfect example of the somewhat obscure genre known as Sci-Fa, i.e. a combination of science fiction and fantasy. The author has created a vivid world accessible through various portals on Earth. In volume one, “The Prophecy of Thol”, teenager, D’laine Jackson, accidentally tumbles through this portal where she is received as the fulfillment of a prophecy. As she adapts to her new world in which she will play a key part, there is never a dull moment.

As the series progresses through volume two, “Gifts from Thol,” her family and others join her. Each person from Earth discovers they have a special gift in this new world. These include such things as the ability to achieve local teleportation, seeing the future, and communicating with animals. In this volume, another family joins them, their gifts unique as well.

The characters are engaging, individual, and interesting. The imagery is outstanding. I can truly visualize the settings and various characters. One note in that regard, in the back of this book there’s a reference guide to the various terms used as well as brief descriptions of the creatures and positions of the characters. It would be helpful to look that over first. When such are introduced in the previous volumes they are beautifully described. However, if it’s been a while since you read them (which you should, in order, to grasp the full genius of this series) it’s an excellent refresher if your memory is like mine and isn’t always as reliable as you’d like it to be.

The story and characters continue to grow and progress in this volume. D’laine and her husband, Trakon, are now expectant parents. The birthing process on Thol is significantly different than Earth. It appears that D’laine has adapted to their physiology in this regard, though there are various hints that things are about to change. Other civilizations and cultures are introduced, including some intriguing hooks regarding the prophecy that D’laine represents. A horrific storm called a churling that’s comparable to a hurricane on steroids falls upon them, bringing new challenges.

The plot flows easily, as if you’re right there with the characters, and is rich with a strong feel for daily life on Thol, yet new intrigue is skillfully woven in. Fans of this series will be happy to know that there is more to come as new mysteries are introduced, which would be spoilers to specify.

I highly recommend this series. While it’s intended for teens and young adults, its characters and plot are a pleasurable read for any age, from those children to whom it could be read aloud to grandparents like myself, who thoroughly enjoys my escape into this new world. It would make a terrific gift for young readers. Pick up your copy on Amazon here.

“The Choice: The Unexpected Heroes” by Gwen M. Plano

gwen-choice

“The Choice: The Unexpected Heroes” is the sequel to “The Contract: Between Heaven and Earth”. As such, it’s a good idea to read the first book before this one to make sure you have the tale’s full context. As promised, it’s an action-packed tale with a fascinating and timely plot that keeps you guessing. Every time the protagonists uncover another link in the conspiracy to take down the US Government and create a One World Government, that person winds up dead with the protagonists themselves eventually turning up on the kill list.

The ending was satisfying, yet intriguing enough to look forward to the next volume, which is always good in a series. It’s not one of those cliffhanger endings that leaves you tearing you hair out. If you’re looking for a thriller that keeps moving (at least from about 25% onward) you will probably enjoy this book.

However, there are a few things that kept me from awarding this novel 5-stars. First of all, I found the fact it was written in the present tense to be a major distraction. By the time I was about halfway through the book, I got kind of used to it, but it was never  comfortable. In many ways, it read more like a screenplay than a novel. I realize this is supposed to give a story a sense of immediacy, but for me the unconventional style kept jolting me out of the story. It’s okay to “break the rules” if it works, but for me, this didn’t.

I judge a book based on several elements, which I define with the acronym IDEAS: Imagery, Dialog, Emotion, Action and Suspense. This story does a great job with Dialog, Action, and Suspense. Imagery, however, was lacking. I would have enjoyed having better descriptions of what the characters looked like. Ironically, what they ate and when was explained in greater detail than their appearance. The scenery at the base was likewise lean, apparently assuming that most people have either been on a military base at some time or seen one on TV or in the movies, so they could fill in the blanks.

Some readers may prefer filling in these details from their own imagination. As a detail-oriented person, I enjoy knowing more about the characters and scenery so I can visualize it more easily. Such details also can contribute substantially to rendering the story’s mood.

The characters felt more like casual acquaintances than people with whom I felt an emotional connection. I realize that developing these story elements can sometimes slow the story down. Many action-oriented stories are likewise lean on imagery and emotion, so it’s somewhat typical of the genre. However, for me to find a story truly memorable, these are essential. I like to feel something when I read a story. If a novel makes me laugh, cry, or better yet, both, I will always remember it (such as Eichin Chang-Lim’s masterpiece, “Flipping”). Those that make me laugh I’ll often reread at some point (such as Scott Skipper’s “Alien Affairs” series).

Curiosity regarding what would happen next kept me reading, but nail-biting suspense regarding any of the characters’ well-being was never such that I couldn’t put the book down. (This can actually be a good thing, however, if you have to get up for work or school in the morning. Years ago, when I held a full-time job, I had to give up Tom Clancy and Michael Crichton books for that very reason.)

There were a few grammatical issues as far as word usage is concerned. Homonyms are challenges for many, one of the most common pairs to confuse the words shudder and shutter, the former of which is when a person is rattled or scared, the latter those wooden window coverings. The use of the word “patsy” was not the best word for the context of the sentence in one place, and the acronym BOLO was never defined, either, rendering that sentence impossible to understand.

These are minor, I know, but the editor in me picks up on such things, so I include them here to be helpful to other authors; the average reader is typically oblivious to such things.

Most authors, myself included, learn more from criticism, which improves our writing, while accolades merely feed our ego. More often than not, we’re  blind to such things ourselves. On the other hand, an author’s style will seldom appeal to everyone. Some prefer more detail; others, less. Some prefer short, choppy sentences that keep things moving; others prefer prose that flows and is worth savoring.

As always, reviews are subjective. The high demands I place on a novel are probably off the charts as well as the average reader’s radar. That said, this timely story is credible along with having rather chilling implications. Pick up a copy on Amazon here and see for yourself.

“Dark Energy”: Another hilarious episode in “The Alien Affairs” Series

DarkEnergy

The Alien Affairs team is at it again in another hilarious adventure. I love this series and it is one of the few that I have actually read more than once. It’s witty, politically incorrect, intelligent, and never fails to make me laugh, sometimes hysterically. There were a few parts in this one where I laughed so hard I was in tears, especially when they retrieved that “American hero” mentioned in the online book description.  I was reading this while in the waiting room for a doctor’s appointment and I was getting all sorts of funny looks when I would giggle out loud. Best of all, by the time they took me back to see the doctor, my blood pressure was surprisingly low, proving that laughter truly is the best medicine.

There is plenty to be worried about in the world today. As with most things in life that are troubling, we can either cry or laugh. I much prefer to laugh and these stories are guaranteed to generate plenty. Whether it’s grey alien, Deschler, and his persistent body odor issues; banter between Terrie and their avatar, Cassandra; or Uncle Eddie and his antics with Nordic wonder, Emelda (no doubt pictured on the cover), the snarky dialog, clever sci-fi plot that’s full of surprising twists and turns, and of course the author’s strong writing style, kept me fully entertained.

This episode deals with finding a new home for a bunch of Nordic invaders, the options for which lie in different time-frames and dimensions. The fact that these uninvited guests think that Earth’s terraforming efforts on Mars are insufficient,  making it no more than another “sh*thole” planet, cause all sorts of problems for the team, the solutions to which are innovative and original as well as suspense-filled.  There’s a lot of bouncing back and forth through time and space with fascinating effects that testify to the author’s fantastic imagination.

This is the fifth in the Alien Affairs series and I can’t recommend them highly enough. Keep ’em coming, Scott, you have created a hilarious world that is far better than the one we live in.

You can pick up your copy of “Dark Energy” on Amazon here.

Click on the titles to see my reviews for other books in this series, which include Alien Affairs, Alien Eyes & Alien Child,  and Gravity Waves.

Here are my reviews for additional stories by this author, who you can probably tell is clearly one of my favorites.

A Little Rebellion Now and Then

Half-Life.

Sneak Preview: Marcha Fox’s Latest Thriller!

Here’s an early review of my upcoming “Curse of Dead Horse Canyon” trilogy that offers a sneak peek into what I’ve been working on the past year. My current release date is March 2020 so I can release all three books at once so people aren’t gnashing their teeth over the cliffhangers.

Center Stage With John Reinhard Dizon

The Curse of Dead Horse Canyon by Marcha Fox is an entertaining, suspenseful and compelling novel by the accomplished Texas indie lit author. The author extends her horizons beyond the sci-fi genre upon which she established her reputation. Canyon is a thriller that focuses on corporate crime and ecological issues while enlightening us on the state of the Indian community in Colorado and its relevance in the modern world.

The story takes place in Belton, a small town amidst the ski resort area of Colorado where Sara and Bryan Reynolds are enjoying a drive along the countryside. Their sojourn ends in tragedy as a car accident costs Bryan his life. Will and Connie Montgomery, Sara’s parents, are there in her time of need as is Charlie Whitehorse, an Indian of Cheyenne heritage who is part of the Native American community. Charlie is suspicious of the circumstances surrounding the accident. He…

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