Sunday, February 23, 2014

From Despair to Relief - A Scary Road

EXTRA! EXTRA! Sunday News!

In Roland Yeoman's novels, Sam McCord and Samuel Clemens are good friends and survive many adventures together. Their creed: a friend is there when you need a helping hand. A friend does what he can. Roland has always been a great supporter of the blogging community. Now we can pay back that support and generosity by buying one of Roland's books. If that doesn't fit your budget, then offer a word of support at his blog. You can make an author smile. Let's continue the Book-a-thon idea started by Sean at the Midlist Writer and  Civil War Horror blogs.

Roland is at home now, recuperating. The surgery was successful, and he's sleeping a lot as part of the recovery. How do I know this? The ghost of Hemingway told me.  Writing in the Crosshairs, Roland blog, is where he shares his wisdom, wit and writing chops. He's also shared the journey from discovery of the cancer to the removal.

I'm highlighting three of his books that are in my TBR stack. Roland has created a unique universe woven in layers, with well-rounded characters and an undead cast of regulars. Following is a snippet about each.


French Quarter Nocturne
New Orleans after Katrina.

The French Quarter after dark. Don't look in the shadows and don't run. The darkness is trying to envelope the city after the flooding and before help arrives. Only one man and his unusual priest friend face the darkness in the battle to help those who can't help themselves. Sam McCord and Renfield, an unlikely, but highly effective pairing. I'll review this when done.


Death in the House of Life
A tale of Egypt shortly after the completion of the Suez Canal

A story of Egypt in its period of British Occupation and the international 'assistance' it received in running the Egyptian government.  A young Winston Churchill. Tombs uncovered in the desert reveal secrets hidden beneath the sands. My favorite book of Roland's to date is Death in the House of Life, and not just because Sekhmet makes an appearance. Click  for the review and interview on location in the past. . .


Next up: Her Bones are in the Badlands
A story of the silent film era, on location


Have you read any of Roland's novels? Do you have a favorite character? Do you know who' Hibbs, the Bear with Two Shadows' is?

Please share in the comments here, and don't forget to visit Roland's blog. 'You've got mail' is sometimes nice to hear, and especially so when you've just had a surgeon working on your face. Any mention on your blog about Roland's books would be appreciated.

BTW - it's been snowing off and on here, since yesterday. I am not amused. . .


Friday, February 14, 2014

What's in a Face? A Valentine WEP

Sometimes we fall in love with a face, not knowing what's behind it. A dangerous proposition. . .

She Wore Red

As he arrived at the cafe, he saw a woman look up at the door. He couldn't take his eyes off her face.The red scarf was draped around her neck, as she had told him it would be. Her black leather jacket molded to her shape.  She had called earlier, asking him to meet her at Cozmo's.

He remembered Veronica Lester, the local girl who changed her name. She used to sing at the jazz club, but left when she was offered a contract in New York. She came back a few days ago, at the same time her ex-partner at the club went missing.

"I'm Jarvis, you called me earlier today. . ."

"Yes, I hear you're good at what you do."

"I am. I'm a private investigator. You want to hire me?" Her red lipstick made her look  dangerous.

"Yes, I want you to find a friend of mine. I can't go to the police. I'm afraid he's dead."

"Tell me more.  What's your real name?"

"Veronica Lester is my legal name; years ago, I was Vickie Rasmussen."

"Well, Ms. Lester, what is your connection to this person you want me to find?"

"He was an old friend that I promised to keep watch over. If he's dead, I need to know."

"Did you say your name was Vickie?"

"Ah, the light brightens?"

"I do remember the name, and I heard you went to the big city to make a name for yourself."

"Of course, I wanted a career and a recording contract. My ex-partner was  negotiating a future booking at the jazz club, Smoke, in New York. A couple of days ago, he dropped out of sight."

"What's in it for you, if I find this guy?"

"The truth? Money. He owed me back pay, and the Smoke gig was going to be my ticket into the world of New York jazz and blues."  

"I see. How much are you paying me?"

"Enough. What do you charge?"

"That depends."

"I have cash. And, I really need your help."

This dame liked to spar. But, she had cash. If it wasn't for that face and those lips, I'd turn her down.

"I'll do it."

To be continued. . .


A Face from the Arc de Triomphe sculptures, Paris, by DG Hudson


February Theme: What's in a Face? 
A Valentine's Day excerpt

Learn more about WEP at Denise Covey's - Write Edit Publish. This is a monthly themed bloghop with the purpose of getting us to write more, share photos and poetry, and jumpstart a few short stories. Check it out, you might be intrigued. Word count is limited to 1000 words or thereabouts. My entry is once again the seed of another story.


What's your opinion on Valentine's Day? A Hallmark institution or a chance to be romantic? Do you try to read a person's face to determine if you can trust them?

Please share your thoughts in the comments. I'm always listening.


LIE TO ME - a TV show, now off the air. The show is inspired by the work of Paul Ekman, the world's foremost expert on facial expressions and a professor emeritus of psychology at the University of California San Francisco, School of Medicine. Jim Roth's character in Lie to Me, a tv series, was based on Paul Ekman.

***   Denise Covey's site, info on WEP   Paul Ekman, and Facial Expression Studies

Monday, February 10, 2014

Radio Hope, a Toxic World by Sean McLachlan

How many of us are left? And, where is this radio voice coming from?

Cover for Radio Hope, by Sean McLachlan

In a world shattered by war, pollution and disease. . .

A gunslinging mother longs to find a safe refuge for her son.

A frustrated revolutionary delivers water to villagers living on a toxic waste dump.

The assistant mayor of humanity's last city hopes he will never have to take command.

One thing gives them the promise of a better future--Radio Hope, a mysterious station that broadcasts vital information about surviving in a blighted world. But when a mad prophet and his army of fanatics march out of the wildlands on a crusade to purify the land with blood and fire, all three will find their lives intertwining, and changing forever.

The Interview
What is Radio Hope?
Cover for Radio Hope, by Sean McLachlan

Just to whet your interest, I asked Sean to answer a few questions I jotted down when I first saw his blurb on Radio Hope. I've just started reading a copy, so look for a review in the future.

DG: What location is the setting for the story? Europe or the North American continent?

Sean: I leave that deliberately vague. It’s been nearly forty years since the last city-state fell, and only a few old people remember any of the national governments that we would recognize. The local area, including New City, the Burbs, and Toxic Bay, are based on a real place, but I’ll leave it to the reader to figure it out.

DG: Is the story concentrated around the characters' individual struggles or the big confrontation?

Sean:The residents of New City and its adjoining shantytown, the Burbs, are preparing for the invasion of the Righteous Horde and its crazed messiah, the Pure One. But for me as a writer, it’s the personal reactions of the characters to this threat that are more interesting. The cult won’t arrive for several days, and so the main characters will find their best and worst traits coming out.

DG: Who is the strongest character in your story? Why? (who is the strongest in their convictions to survive, or the strongest in terms of motivating others?)

Sean: The plot centers around three protagonists, all of whom are strong (and weak) in their own ways.

Annette Cruz, the bouncer at the most popular bar in the Burbs, is the toughest in a fight, but she also has more to lose. She’s a single mother trying to raise her ten-year-old son in the midst of squalor and crime. The number of people she trusts can be counted on one hand. Unfortunately for her, she’s thrust into a situation where she has to trust people she wouldn’t otherwise.

Jackson Andrews is the strongest when it comes to ideals. He was a citizen of New City until he was branded and exiled for the crime of affixing Blame for the fall of civilization. This hasn’t stopped him from proclaiming his version of the truth, and who listens and who doesn’t becomes a key part of the story.

Marcus Callahan is the best survivor by the mere fact that he’s the oldest. A refugee from the last city-state, he and a few others founded New City. He’s now assistant mayor and is quite happy staying number two—there’s privilege yet no ultimate responsibility. He’d like to keep it that way.


DG: Is the 'radio' the old ham* type?

Sean: There isn’t much technology left in this world, and most of it is concentrated in New City, where they have electricity thanks to some solar cells and a tidal generator. There’s nothing much in the wildlands except a few fortified farms, roving bandits, and scavengers.

Yet somewhere out there, in the mountains perhaps, or beyond the great toxic wasteland, there’s Radio Hope. It broadcasts a powerful and steady signal on AM for twelve hours a day, giving instructions on how to survive in a fallen world. Radio Hope’s broadcasts cover everything from treating a sprained ankle to purifying water, and none of the announcers ever identify themselves. They seem to be the only people in the world who give something without expecting something in return. That, of course, has everyone wondering.

I’ve always loved radio so it was nice to be able to use it in my novel. I used to be a ham radio operator, using the equipment at the University of Arizona back in my undergraduate days to talk to people as far away as Korea and Greece. I still listen to shortwave broadcasts with my son.

***Sean McLachlan is an archaeologist turned writer who is the author of several books of fiction and history. Check him out on his blog Midlist Writer.

* Ham Radio

Good Luck, Sean! I'm going to enjoy reading Radio Hope. I've already been impressed by Annette, in the opening pages.


Are you familiar with Sean's novels or his blogs? Do you have basic survival skills, in the event of an apocalypse? What survival items would you have with you in your work bag or in your car?

Please share your thoughts in the comments, and thanks for dropping by!

*** Midlist Writer, Sean McLachlan's Blog

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Roland Yeoman's 'Death in the House of Life', A Review

Egyptian Mysteries. . .

Something is hiding beneath the sand, a darkness, a ancient hunger for revenge. Meilori is looking for an object of power that she left hidden in the sand centuries ago. 

At the beginning of the 20th century, the world is changing. 

A boy stands beside his dying father's bed, where he's been since the Texas Ranger brought him in. He trusts the lawman to tell him the truth. A bond is formed. The boy is Samuel Clemens, and the Ranger is Sam McCord. Fast-forward to Egypt, in the early 20th century, a country at a crossroads under the governance of a faux local government managed by foreign powers.

An archaeological dig is in progress in Tanis* and the city is thick with humanity when the story opens. In every scene, you feel the heat, the dry air, the crush of the crowds. A sense of danger lurks behind every pillar. Tanis is a city believed to hide unknown quantities of treasure. 

Into this den of intrigue comes a strange mix of fellows: Sam McCord, Meilori, Ada Byron, an adult Samuel Clemens, Nikolas Tesla, and Oscar Wilde. The dialogue is subtle and sometimes blatant as Wilde and Clemens banter, sizzling looks pass between McCord and Meilori, and we learn much in a brief girl-to-girl heart rending by Ada, as she explains why she clings to Sam McCord, even though he's not really to her taste. . .In the midst of the attempt to arrest McCord, a young Churchill shows the first glimmer of his strong convictions and quick mind. The British command thinks McCord and his crew may have had something to do with Wilde being free.

Much of Egypt's history is revealed throughout the story as the characters fight and sidestep danger to accomplish their mission: finding Meilori's buried House of Life. Roland has also included photos of that time in history, an excellent addition that sets the stage. I enjoyed this story so much I'd give it top rating, 5 stars. I would like to see a followup to this story. The pacing and the action were well balanced, with pauses to give us time to breathe. Recommended.

*Tanis, a city in ancient Egypt.
In case you didn't see it:

Previous Interview with the main cast of characters in Death in the House of Life. DG interviews the travelers on location in the past. And tries to stay on the good side of Meilori. . . 


Have you read Death in the House of Life? Do you like stories about Egyptian mysteries? Or do you like reading about historical events merged with fiction? Would you descend into a deep, dank tomb closed for centuries?

Please let me know in the comments that you were here. Thanks for stopping by! I'm always listening.

To get your copy of Death in the House of Life, see Roland's blog, Writing in the Crosshairs; his books will take you on adventures you won't forget.