Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Strickly some book reviews

Two pretty different books this time, one non-fiction and the other, fiction. Let's start with the one the Rhine Research Center Book Club had us read last month: Children's Past Lives: How Past Life Memories Affect Your Child, by Carol Bowman.

When Carol's 5-year-old son suddenly freaked out at a Fourth of July fireworks event—when previously he'd enjoyed fireworks—only a hypnotherapist could help by taking him back to a previous life. There they all discovered that the boy had worked with and died next to cannon during the Civil War.

It took one session to uncover that (later sessions brought up data that could be verified through historical records) and clear the boy of his phobia, as well as eczema which marked the site of a Civil War wound. His older sister's phobia was about fire. Unknown to her family, she kept a packed suitcase under her bed so that in case of fire, she could escape with her things. It turned out that she'd died trapped in a house fire in a previous life. After an easy hypnosis session, she completely recovered from her fear.

This book not only shows that many children spontaneously recall past lives (probably because they haven't shut out/overlaid those memories like adults have), but that quite a few illnesses and chronic conditions can be quickly cured by re-experiencing past lives and working through them. Carol herself had been the first in her family to undergo past-life regression in order to cure her from terrible recurring episodes of respiratory diseases such as pleurisy, pneumonia, etc. that her doctors had unsuccessfully treated.

Imagine: We can cure some diseases and addictions without drugs and do so quickly, just by past-life regression! The book says that this is quite common treatment in Europe.

What do you do if your children or grandchildren start talking about what can only be a past life? Carol gives advice which boils down to: Don't close them off. Don't belittle what they're saying. Don't ask leading questions. Assure them that this is perfectly normal (it is!) and ask them to tell you about what their life was like, who the people around them were, how they felt remembering it, etc. She gives guidelines for determining if this is a true past life or merely a fantasy. (There are clear differences.)

Carol also gives a thorough run-down of the extensive research that has been done through the years on chronicling children's past-life memories. It's interesting that noted skeptic Carl Sagan said the only bit of psi he considered possible was just this, because so much research had been done on children who could not have been influenced that much by outside forces.

Carol's book is an easy, engrossing read. It certainly sent our book club off on scads of speculation in related areas. Recommended! It's spurred me to order books about the Kaballah and the Tibetan Book of the Dead, since they go into reincarnation from a different point of view. I'll add them to my collection of reincarnation books. (My favorites are Reliving Past Lives and Life Before Life, by Dr. Helen Wambach.)

Note: During the book club discussion I happened to mention that I have a recording of the first Bridey Murphy hypnotic session. I was discouraged because no one had ever proven the historicity of Bridey. The group assured me that that was complete bull; that indeed a number of elements of Bridey's story have been confirmed, including the discovery of an ancient bridge she'd mentioned, that hadn't been found until recently, long after the hypnotic sessions. How wonderful!

The Legend of Lyon Redmond (Pennyroyal Green series, #11), by Julie Anne Long. Julie has such a poetic style. She goes deep into sensory detail, and her language is so rich it pulls through your fingers like deep velvet as you read. She's also constructed Pennyroyal Green, a small Sussex town during the Regency, presided over by two rival families. All along, the series has whispered of the forbidden love between eldest Redmond son Lyon, and Olivia Eversea, and how one night Lyon disappeared, never to be seen again, while the beautiful Olivia languished.

Here we finally get their story, and it was worth the wait. Their heartache has lasted five years (my gosh, has all the action in the other books only taken 5 years?) as they've gone their separate ways. There are several spots that will tear at you, though there's no sex until near the end. (But oh! Olivia's first time was far too brutally done! I wonder if Julie realized it? Olivia didn't seem to mind, though. I notice several Amazon reviewers mentioning this, too.) (Whoops. I didn't mean "tear" in that fashion!)

The conundrum Oliva faces in her present-day (for her) life is not a huge one. In fact, it's rather drab and constructed in obvious fashion. For a finale, I think it should have been whipped to a frenzy to made her final decision and its ramifications difficult. As it was, I wondered what took her so long. (She was terribly cruel to draw things out, which didn't sound like Olivia at all.)

We see an awful lot of familiar characters throughout the story. The epilogue, which takes place in (our) present day, tells us what happened to what seems like EVERY SINGLE CHARACTER that was ever mentioned in the series. The teller of this tale seems to have memorized the life stories of these people who lived two hundred years before. Unlikely—and the sequence goes on FAR too long. It would have been better doled out in bits with each book as it pertained to the characters within. Still, it was good to know what happened to you-know-who and uh-huh-that-guy, and that YKW got what he deserved. Probably. But I can't recall which side UHTG's wife was on. Did karma catch up with her? Did YKW actually deserve what happened? I'll have to go back and reread some of the series.

Some of the more sensuous scenes go on too long as well. Yes yes, the language and imagery are heavenly. But after a while your fingers begin to drum and you wonder if the plot will ever kick in again. This happens several times. I kept thinking that a good editor could have clipped a paragraph here or there and greatly improved an already fine book.

So it is recommended. I gave it five stars on Amazon because the language and emotion really do tower over any weaknesses the story has. Book #11 is a fulfilling ending for the series—or at least I assume it is such. The epilogue certainly hints at at least one more interesting story to be told, located a generation or two beyond this one. (Or has it already been written and I missed it?) I encourage people to read other Pennyroyal Green books as well. They've handled characters from both families, as well as outsiders who rent a house in the village, or people employed in the school or at the church, who are neither Redmond nor Eversea.

Someone really needs to record "The Ballad of Colin Eversea," the song that is warbled in every book, sometimes to great extent.

Happy reading! What have you read lately that you've enjoyed?

Let me experiment a bit with this Amazon Associates thing, okay? I have the first in the Pennyroyal Green books here as well, The Perils of Pleasure. Sorry about the prices on Life Before Life, but maybe you can find it used somewhere.

I THINK that next week I'll have news of a great contest for y'all! Stay tuned!

Saturday, September 5, 2015

La Petite PTSD

I know writing is an art, tra la, but publishing a book is hard work. Exhausting, even. Emotionally draining.

There have been times in the past when I've been emotionally drained, like the time I was burglarized. Though we knew who'd done the job, we had no hard proof, so the police told me I'd never win in court. Instead I sat for over two weeks with my mouth hanging open, accomplishing nothing. Post-traumantic Stress Disorder, of the petite variety.

There've been vacations that have gone disastrously awry, unexpected expenses I had to bend over backwards to cover, etc., all of which were followed by me sitting in whatever La-Z-Boy I owned at the time with my mouth hanging open—for about a week at a time.

Well, ye mouth is hanging open now since the release of Ye Newe Booke, but I'm trying to get things done in the meantime. I'm reading through what's been done on the next one. It's eye-opening to see that there's no explanation of how the heroine got from Point A to Point C without going through Point B. But that can be fixed. That's what edits are for.

It helps that I've managed (how?) to get much yard work done. Sure, it should have been done by last Jan. 1, but it's getting there, which means I don't feel QUITE like I'm running just to keep in place. The house is a wreck, but it's Going. To get. Organized. It'll be a slow process, but I can now see it actually done at some future point. There are other goals that are being attained—one millimeter at a time.

According to The Artist's Way, one needs to replenish one's "creative well." I haven't been doing that, but I'm making an attempt to do so now. We'll see how it goes.

But publishing. Argh. This is why people get married, so they can get their husbands to do the dirty work. There's still a LOT of publicity needed, maybe a publicity agency that should be hired (anyone know of a good one?). I'll get to it. Eventually.

My mouth isn't hanging open quite so wide today.

I've made a FB ad that garnered a good amount of click-throughs. (Don't think it garnered any sales, though.) Lesson learned. And I've thrown the first, half-hearted contest celebrating the release of WORLDS APART, the latest volume in my superhero romance series. (Okay, from vol. 5 on I don't think anyone will classify it as a romance [especially RWA with their stringent definitions], so I'll be calling it a superhero adventure series.)

That contest had as its prize a $25 gift certificate to the place of the winner's choice. Let me set up a random-number generator now, get the list of eligible people together and numbered…

Annnndd…  BadWolf219 is our winner! I'll be firing an email off to you. May you enjoy whatever it is you buy from it! Hm, this is a commenter and not a newsletter person (the two ways one could enter the contest). Which reminds me: I haven't put out a newsletter about the new release yet. I've been using Barnes and Noble as an excuse. They haven't posted the print version on their site yet, growl growl. Maybe I'll contact CreateSpace and ask them what's going on.

Hope your lives are proceeding smoothly, your creative wells are brimming with fun, and that your mouths aren't attracting flies!

Wednesday, August 26, 2015


But of course the details on entering will be down at the bottom of this blog.

Worlds Apart, the fourth book in the Three Worlds superhero romance saga (the picture on the right is a link to buying choices), is starting to show up on various sales sites across the internet. I just found a listing of it in Japan, and there's another one in Great Britain on Amazon UK. If you don't find your favorite book site on my page, just Google for it or give a yell and I'll see what I can do.

Tomorrow the world!

The saga follows three characters: Jae Rallene, the last of his people, able to talk to devas and thus change the very structure of matter; Londo Rand, adoptive son of the legendary Maximus—together the two are the most powerful beings this side of Galactic Center, with your basic comic book uber-powers; and primarily Lina O'Kelly, a born telepath and teleporter, and trained psychic.

When he was editing this latest volume, my editor Anselm noted, "The beginning is too domestic." Too domestic???

I've put poor Lina (and the others) through H-E-double-hockeysticks in volumes 1-3. Now I wanted to give her (and the reader) a chance to breathe and enjoy the fact that she and Londo's last names have changed to "Starhart." I wanted to show Cinderella kicking back after the marriage, soaking up that beautiful Happily Ever After.

Unfortunately, Lina has a lot to learn about being the bride of a mega superhero. Not only is there a household to maintain (it doesn't help that the gigantic palace of a house isn't close to being finished yet, or that hubby Lon is adverse to cleaning crews for security reasons), but there are lots and lots of people who want to take her picture—and she's deathly afraid of cameras.

Then there are the nasty folks who aren't particularly fond of Londo in his heroic guise of Valiant. He's never had a weak spot before. Now they see Lina and think: Aha! Will they make her life miserable, or will they want more? Like maybe assault, torture, and/or murder?

Some of these people are backed by an awful lot of power.

It doesn't help that the two men who would defend Lina with their lives are on other-world missions. Or that Lina's powers have been negated by... Well, you'd have to read the story. (Ye Ed said, "What, again?" But I gave the person a good reason besides the fact that he's just a jerk with a stick up his... well. This will be his last hurrah, I promise.)

So the domestic bliss doesn't really stick around that long, though that portion is packed with glitz and glam—everything a Cinderella could wish for. And Montreal! Did I mention the glitz happens in one of the most romantic cities on the globe? Naturellement!

But sooner or later, everyone's got to get back to work. Lina's got a bigger job to accomplish than the vast majority of galactic citizens. Can she survive to get to it?


Yep, YOU could win a $25 gift card! I'll make it to Amazon, iBooks (do they have gift cards?), Barnes & Noble... If wherever you want has gift cards and you win, you'll get it to there.

ALL YOU HAVE TO DO is make a comment to the question: Which superhero is your favorite? They can be from comics, movies, TV, books, urban legends... Make the comment either here or (since some folks have probs commenting on Blogger) on my Facebook pages: here or here.

OR be on my newsletter emailing list (sign up above the book pics on the right). I send out newsletters VERY rarely. Ah hates spam!

We'll make the deadline for comments, oh, Sept. 2, 2015, 2 PM Eastern Time. I'll get someone at the office to draw a name. (Someday I'll learn Rafflecopter or whatever it is.) Good luck!

(That cute Blue Beetle pic by Frobman on DeviantArt. Hope I'm okay in using it. If not, Mr. Frobman, please give me a yell.) (I paid for the credit card illo. Hope to be using it often!)

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Finally: A New Book!

After slaving away for much longer than I'd estimated, I'm very proud to announce that Worlds Apart, Volume 4 of the Three Worlds superhero romance series, is now out! Yay! Let's see what it's about, shall we?

Returning to Earth was no honeymoon

The exciting THREE WORLDS superhero romance saga continues!

After the interstellar chaos of the past few weeks, Lina Starhart thinks she now has time to catch her breath and get used to the idea of not only being a bride but of being married to the galaxy’s most powerful man. But she has yet to learn what the job fully entails.

˃˃˃ Enemies all around

Not only does her famous husband Valiant have to bear the constant scrutiny of celebrity-watching networks, but he has enemies whose attention now turns toward Lina, whom they see as the hero’s primary weakness.

Can Lina step up to her new responsibilities and show herself to be a mega-level champion?
(That is, if she can survive that long.)

Cover illustration by Colleen Doran.
Rated R for violence and sexual situations.

Once again this is a super-sized book, but an awful lot goes on in it. I hope you'll like it. Click on the book cover to the right to see where you can find it. (I'll be adding links as they appear. Some websites take weeks to list books.)

What I need for this book right now are REVIEWS. I'm willing to give away free copies of the book to people who will post an honest review (even bad reviews are good!) on a major site like Amazon, Goodreads, etc. Interested? Give me a yell, either here or on Facebook.

Next week I hope to have a contest lined up. What would you like to see as a prize? A gift card? (To where?) Free books? (Mine or someone else's?) A little teddy bear? Interesting doodads? Believe it or not, I have a few jars of "breast enhancement creme" that I got in a grab bag from work. It won't increase bust size, but to judge from its ingredients list, it'll soften your skin like crazy.

Give me some suggestions! I'm ready to deal out some prizes, if you'll tell me what you want.

—Carol Strick

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Say U.N.C.L.E.!

I'm still waiting for the book to come back from the formatter, so let's talk about one of my all-time FAVORITE TV shows, okay? I mean, there's a movie coming out this weekend that purports to be an update of it, though the trailer seems more a period Bond flick with a double hero.

United Network Command for Law and Enforcement: U.N.C.L.E. This show ran on NBC from 1964 to 1968, and one of its characters, Illya Kuryakin, was my second True Love. (After that mop top Paul McCartney.) Ahhh!

UNCLE (let's spell it that way for simplicity) was a semi-well-known international law agency to the public. They knew about it, but they didn't THINK about it much. It was much like Star Trek (same network; slightly later time frame) in that UNCLE was staffed by a multi-cultural, multi-ethnic crew that hailed from all around the world. In that time of Cold War, the Russian Kuryakin could work side-by-side with suave New Yorker, Napoleon Solo.

(James Bond's creator, Ian Fleming, contributed Napoleon's name and also that of April Dancer, who'd spin off to her own show, The Girl from UNCLE. That was ALL the input he had.)

Though the New York UNCLE office had a public entrance, on the other side of the building agents often entered through a curtained cubicle inside Del Floria's Tailor Shop. They'd turn the coat hook sideways and a secret door would pop open, drawing them into a snazzy modern office (staffed with miniskirted ladies, natch) and computer lights blinking on every surface. The two agents were given triangular badges with their agent numbers on them. If someone came in who didn't wear the badges, a "Whee-oh, whee-oh" alarm would go off, agents everywhere would grab their guns and come running, and the bad guys would be done for!

Leo G. Carroll played Mr. Waverly, head of UNCLE's US offices. Rumor had it Waverly never left the office, yet somewhere I believe there was a Mrs. Waverly waiting at home for him.

The show was supposed to have been about Solo, but it was 1964. The Beatles had just stormed America. Here was the exotic-accented Illya (David McCallum's still sexy as Ducky on NCIS) (Robert Vaughn is very authoritative on all those "We mean business" lawyer commercials) with his longish hair (for the time). He was into jazz, he was quiet, and he could do ANYTHING, be it athletic or technical or seductive.


Vaughn's Solo was the ladies' man, the most Bondian of the cast. (Except when he was frugging with someone in a gorilla suit. The series developed an unfortunate case of Batmania in its third season, which very likely contributed to its only having four seasons. Check out more info here.)

UNCLE utilized cool spy gadgets, ahead of its time. Before Capt. Kirk ever flipped open a cell phone, UNCLE agents had pen communicators. Take the top off, insert it upside-down, and say, "Open Channel D!" This was all done to the beat of a cool blue bongo/flute/brass theme.

The series is on DVD and doesn't cost that much. A network I don't get often shows episodes. Just want to sample? It's difficult for me to choose one, but if I had to, I'd go with Season 1's "The Never-Never Affair," (episodes were always "The Whatever Affair") with Barbara Feldon (the future Agent 99 from Get Smart) as an UNCLE agent who doesn't think the mission she's on is the one she's actually on.

Have a blast watching these episodes. You'll be surprised at how many well-known guest-stars the series had (hey, it was immensely popular in its day!) and how many Star Trek actors showed up.

But if you can't watch, I can recommend two fabulous UNCLE books to you. They seem readily available on eBay. Both were penned by David McDaniel, who imbued his work with humor as well as action. Volume #4 is The Dagger Affair. When I visited San Francisco years ago, I HAD to see Lombard Street, because that's where a major scene in the book took place.

Then there's Volume #6, The Vampire Affair, which sees our Stalwart Heroes off to Transylvania.

Both Mad Magazine and DC's Inferior Five had great take-offs of the show!

Trust me, one way or another, you'll enjoy UNCLE!

Fingers crossed for the movie this weekend. Are you going? Do you have fond memories of the original? Do you know what "Thrush" was an acronym for? (It's revealed in Vol. 4!) (And also Wiki, if you like to cheat.)

Later note: Saw the movie. Enjoyed! I'll definitely be getting the DVD so I can watch it again. Illya isn't the zen-like Illya, but he's still cool. (He needs to have more Illya-type hair, though.) It was a CRIME, though, that McCallum and Vaughn didn't get cameos. The movie is actually a prequel, with U.N.C.L.E. not mentioned until the end credits. I look forward to more installments!

Wednesday, August 5, 2015


Arggh! Yeesh! @#!!

I'm in the middle of full-on edit angst attack.

The book was supposed to have been sent to the formatter a week and a half ago, right before my vacation started. I planned to use that week to paint, putter, and relax. Instead I spent said vacay in front of the computer, progressing word by word through the long manuscript.

And then I got hit by a hacker scam.

Folks, if your Internet suddenly freezes and you get a message from the browser company telling you that an Error 333 has happened, and that WHATEVER YOU DO, don't turn off the browser or your computer, or you may lose EVERYTHING... And that their support team operates 24/7 and will help you; here's their number...

Just force quit out of the browser. Proceed as usual. Maybe get some new anti-virus software.

"First Choice Tech Support" is a scam operation, according to all I could Google about it. There were a few places that said they were a ransomware site. They seemed legit enough to me, and it scares me that I was taken in so easily, when I've easily seen through so many scams before.

Anyway, I contacted the CC company (they've sent me a new card), deleted everything on my HD, and rebooted from my backup (which amazingly I had made just a few days before). Unfortunately, I lost 3 days' of vacation work on the book.

But wait—Dropbox (where I store my wips) has its own backups. Sure enough, there it was. Hadn't lost a keystroke, yay!

But I'm still editing. No time to do a real blog. Current schedule is to get the book to the formatter Friday or Saturday. He could take up to a week to get things done, but fingers crossed: next week's blog will reveal my latest novel!

Hope to see you then. In the meantime, protect your computer with a good anti-virus program. Make a backup now.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Strickly some Regency books reviewed

I was in the middle of reading Helen Keller's first autobiography when I stalled out. It's a really good book, but I'd just hit a depressing section. Y'see, at the age of 11 (or perhaps 12), Helen was hauled before a court of inquiry at her school on the charge of plagiarism  For a story she'd written (not for school) when she was 8. Eight years old. At that point she'd only recently been beginning to learn words and how the English language was structured.

And yes, she ultimately discovered that a friend had read her a story about a year before, but she'd been so concentrated on learning the words and phrases of it that she didn't consciously recall the actual story. (She was a KID!) That is, until she was inspired to write a story as a personal gift to an adult friend about the changing seasons. He had it published (it never says if it was with or without her permission) and sure enough, people wrote in to say it was a close copy of another story.

The trial traumatized Helen. She swore it hadn't been done with any intention of plagiarism, and then confessed from her adult point of view that she often had problems sorting out original ideas from ones she had read, because (justifiably) she was in her own head so deeply and so much.

So I decided to take a break and searched for lighter fare. Jackpot! I came up with two fabulous summer reads that I hope you'll enjoy as well. They're not only Regencies by the same author, but make up a 2-volume series though both are stand-alones. There's one character they have in common, and he's dead when both begin. He's the guy bequeathing the castles.

When I was a kid I made the mistake of reading three of my favorite books, those in the "Witch World" series by Andre Norton (the only ones that had come out to that point), in one weekend. After that I have had a difficult if not impossible time of making it through any other Norton book. Ecch!

Once I read a slew of Leigh Greenwood books and discovered that he wrote all his sex scenes the same way, down to the same dialogue. (A lot of romance writers do this, I've found. Guess it saves time?) They were good books, and if you didn't read them in a row you'd never notice. Still, I stopped buying his stuff.

But now and then I still read several books by the same author in a row.

book cover for Romancing the Duke
Here we have Romancing the Duke, vol. 1 of "Castles Ever After," (2014) by Tessa Dare.

Izzy Goodnight is an almost penniless orphan who has had a castle bequeathed to her by someone who only recently became her godfather. She arrives fainting from hunger to the crumbling estate, to be dragged out of the rain by the castle's owner, the recently-blinded and overly proud Ransom Vane, Duke of Rothbury. Both obviously have different ideas about to whom the castle legally belongs. We soon discover that someone in the duke's employ has been embezzling—but who?

The story is complicated by a very funny use of cosplayers. You see, Izzy's dad had written an extremely popular series of medieval melodrama. Izzy gets tons of letters from fans wondering how things had turned out after the cliffhanger that was never finished because of Izzy's father's sudden demise. (And of course, dear ol' dad had never changed his will to provide her with support after he died.) Some of the fans dress up as the characters and travel to fan fairs to join others in reenacting the stories.

A lot of snarky fun ensues. And yet there's plenty of heart-tugging emotions to be explored as well.

After finishing that I decided to put caution to the wind and ordered the next book: Say Yes to the Marquess (2014), whose cover shows our heroine in dishabille for some ungodly reason.

This time our heroine, Clio Whitmore, has some money of her own, but a lot more is tied up with her dowry. She's been engaged to Piers Brandon, the Marquess of Granville, but as soon as he popped the ring on her finger he told her they had to wait to get married until he finished some foreign business.

That was eight years ago. Since then Clio has become the laughingstock of society, as "Miss Wait-More." It doesn't help that when she finally decides to legally end the betrothal, she has to do so through Piers' power-of-attorney brother, the once-champion fighter Rafe Brandon, who has been in love with her forever.

There's a host of crazy characters, including a sister and brother-in-law you'll want to throttle, and a cute but old doggie. The plot takes twists and turns as we dig deeper into our h/h's psyches and both discover that they're stronger than they thought they were.

Ms. Dare writes in a similar style to one of my favorite writers, Julia Quinn. Who doesn't love Julia? I don't want to give anything away plot-wise, so I'll leave this review at that. Both books are quite reasonably priced in their e-forms. I just wish the Avon formatters would provide more of an indent at the beginning of their paragraphs! If you have a vacation you have yet to take this year (or even if you don't), be sure to take one or both books along.