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.

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

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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

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“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

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“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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A Heartwarming Texas Love Story with a Bonus: It’s True!

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There is only one thing better than a good love story and that’s a love story that’s true, which is the case with this endearing tale. Clearly, the title alone is a spoiler alert, and while it is definitely a tear-jerker at the end, what leads up to it is an inspiring, heart-warming chronicle of the love and devotion between two very special people.

If you’re a music fan, more specifically a country music fan, you’ll enjoy it even more as it recounts the journey of someone who’d been a star in the past making a comeback and bringing his wife and daughters along for the ride, their talents developing and blossoming as well.

The story is pure Texas, which I particularly enjoyed because I live there as well. So much of the culture of the Lone Star State is captured, including parties were anyone who shows up is welcome as well as the vast distances that often lie between where a person lives and the services they need.  A fifty mile drive is often required, which in smaller, more condensed states or many metropolitan areas, would be incomprehensible.  For example, from one end of Houston to the other is also fifty miles and that is how far I live from a full-size shopping center with the usual big stores, with it even farther to an actual mall. A fifty mile drive is almost what you could call “business as usual” in this state.

I loved this heartwarming story. It shows that there are some couples in the real world who truly do love each other, come what may. Unfortunately, it seems that often such pairs must endure many heart-wrenching hardships. Life is truly filled with opposition, but sharing the burden with someone you truly love only makes the bond stronger. The photos bring the story even more to life, even though the names in the book are different from their real-life counterparts, the reason for which the author explains.

I highly recommend this story to anyone who needs a reminder that true love does happen and is something to celebrate. Its rarity makes it all the more precious. Note, also, that this is only part of their story. Be sure to check out the story’s prequels, perhaps in order, though this is a standalone book that doesn’t require that. Any stories or books by this talented author are outstanding.

You can pick up your copy on Amazon here.

New Release from Annie Douglass Lima!

King of Malorn Cover

Thanks for stopping by! Take a look at this brand-new fantasy adventure story with a hint of romance by author Annie Douglass Lima.

You can download a copy of the ebook for free between July 9th and 11th!

Book Description:

Life as the king’s younger sister should be exciting.

Not for Princess Kalendria. She’s sick of the dissent and of constantly having her family undermined by those who think they could rule Malorn better than King Korram.

Hoping to lighten the mood in the palace, Kalendria plans a ball to celebrate her seventeenth birthday. It doesn’t hurt that their handsome Alasian ally King Jaymin has promised to attend, and she’s been waiting for him to notice her for as long as she can remember.

But unfriendly forces have their own party plans. When Kalendria, Korram, and Jaymin barely survive an assassination attempt, their only recourse is to flee into the wilderness. Tracked by unknown assassins, they must figure out whom they can trust and who is behind the plot. Can Kalendria help her brother reclaim his throne – oh, and catch Jaymin’s attention while she’s at it – before they are all killed and war destroys both kingdoms?

Click here to download your copy of King of Malorn on Amazon now! 

Click here to see King of Malorn on Goodreads.

Annals of AlasiaSeries Information:

King of Malorn is book 5 in the Annals of Alasia. But don’t worry if you haven’t read the others; it will still make sense on its own.

Each of the first four books can stand on its own as well. They each deal with events surrounding the same major political incident: the invasion of the kingdom of Alasia by the neighboring kingdom of Malorn.

Prince of Alasia begins on the night of the Invasion and describes what happens to twelve-year-old Prince Jaymin after he is forced to flee for his life.

In the Enemy’s Service features a girl as the protagonist and tells the story of those who were not able to escape from the Alasian palace when the enemy invaded.

Prince of Malorn begins several months earlier and focuses on the Malornian perspective of the events leading up to the Invasion.

The Nameless Soldier shows how a young Alasian soldier lives through the Invasion but then has to survive and make a name for himself in enemy-occupied Alasia.
In each of the books, main characters from the others make brief appearances and interact with each other at the point where the timeframes and settings overlap. 

I also have a short ebook of “interviews” that I conducted with the characters in the other three books. Annals of Alasia: The Collected Interviews is not available on Amazon, but I send a free copy to anyone who signs up for my mailing list (to receive updates when I release new books or occasionally offer them for free).

Annie Douglass LimaAuthor Biography:

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 fiction, fantasy, YA action and adventure novels, a puppet script, anthologies of her students’ poetry, and Bible verse coloring and activity books. 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.

Author Contact Info:

Email: AnnieDouglassLima@gmail.com

Blog: http://anniedouglasslima.blogspot.com

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

Twitter: https://twitter.com/princeofalasia

Goodreads: http://bit.ly/ADLimaOnGoodreads

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

LinkedIn: http://bit.ly/ADLimaOnLinkedIn

Bloglovin: https://www.bloglovin.com/blogs/letters-from-annie-douglass-lima-6275229

Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/annie-douglass-lima

 

 

Today’s Writing Tip

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There are various pros, cons, and opinions with regard to how many characters to include in your story. I’m not going to go into that argument here, especially since I’m probably unqualified to do so in a fair and unbiased manner. By stories tend to be highly populated, though they will all serve a purpose somewhere along the plot line.

This tip is about how to manage a huge cast of characters, assuming they’re justified being there in the first place. Major characters who appear regularly throughout the story are well-established enough that reminding your reader who they are will be annoying. However, they may need a reminder about the minor ones from time to time so they can keep them straight. Placing them in a scene that fits their role sometimes will suffice. Otherwise a word of two about who they are (such as “police captain, doctor, or grocery clerk so-and-so, blah blah blah”) is helpful.

Having a dramatis personae is also highly recommended, though they are more difficult to refer back to in an ebook..

Today’s Writing Tip

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This tip is an offshoot of yesterday’s, which related to maintaining a strong sense of space and time. Flashbacks are often important to your story. They provide background, either to events or  the character’s experience base as it relates to the plot. Entering and exiting a flashback properly is important, again so you don’t lose your reader.

Thus, if you end a chapter or section with a flashback, be sure to take the reader back to the present so they’re not lost when the story returns to its normal time frame. This can be done at the flashback’s conclusion or at the beginning of the next section, whichever works better. It goes without saying you should do this clearly if it’s mid-section or mid-chapter as well.