Sunday, August 7, 2016

Book Review: The Girl Who Watched Over Dreams by Jeff Russell

Life for Kat (Doctor Katrina Hammond) is not turning out the way she envisioned.  Despite her misgivings, she agrees that her mother going into E.D.E.N.’s perpetual sleep program is the best choice for her mother, who is suffering from chronic rheumatoid arthritis.

Engulfed with sorrow over her loss of her mother, plagued by doubts about the program, and uncertain about the science and the quality of life her mother will have in a forever dream state, Kat agrees to take a job at E.D.E.N. This, at least, allows her to be near her mother and watch over her.

Soon after taking the job at EDEN, Kat is approached by a reporter, Morgan Brewer, who is investigating EDEN.  Distrusting his role as a reporter and suspicious his interest is only a pretense to get information from her to use against her employer; she unwillingly turns to him when she has no other options.

It doesn’t take Kat long to become suspicious that EDEN is not the idyllic sanctuary promised for the faceless residents of their perpetual sleep program.  There is something darker happening behind the scenes of EDEN, and Kat’s inability to let it go pulls her deeper into that secret.

Jeff Russell creates a believable character in Kat, a recent graduate doctor of Neuroscience.  She is grounded by her newness to the field, filled with enough self-doubt to add to the challenges she faces, and likeable.  As she presses on with her clandestine investigations over her suspicions, she is pulled in opposing directions.  She doubts her own suspicions, becomes newly suspicious of her employer, convinces herself EDEN really is helping, and becomes disturbed again by her discoveries at EDEN.

Jeff Russell does not overburden his medical thriller with technical descriptions, keeping the story flowing and compelling.  I read this story in less time than I usually do, laying back and putting off the things I really should be doing so I could keep reading.

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.


Friday, July 29, 2016

An Interview and a Question: What Does it Take to Make You Feel Like an Author?

strange thing 2
A strange thing happened on the way to the blog.  I received an email out of the blue from someone I’ve never heard of.  That’s not so strange in itself; I get enough spam to feed a spambot until it vomits flowery poetry.

What was strange is that it was a request for an interview.  This wasn’t the usual, “Let’s fill out interview questions and share them on each other’s blogs to cross promote ourselves,” interview request.  This was a straight up, “I want to interview you.”
 It surprised me.  The first thing I did was check the email address it came from.  It looked legitimate.  Then I skimmed (that’s what my eleven year old called it) her online.  I Googled, found and checked profiles on Facebook and LinkedIn, investigating if the person looks legitimate.  She looked legitimate.
uh oh
It was time for the, “Oh, uh, wow?” moment.  Me?  Why me?  Out of all the authors out there?
 Now I had to know.  I’m not a cat, so hopefully curiosity won’t bring me to my swift demise.
 I asked others on one of the author groups what they thought.
 I contacted the young lady requesting the interview to ask those two big questions: Why me? - and - How did you happen to find me?
 Honestly, I didn’t think I would be all that findable without specifically looking for me.
 Her answers were simple.  I’m an author and she got my information from the local writers’ guild, which I’m a member of.

terrorThen I had a moment of terror.  I’ve never had a real interview.  I almost did once on a blog radio show, but it fell through due to technical issues.  We, the interviewers and my fellow intervewee, spanned states and countries.  Something went wrong and we couldn’t call in.  The blog show failed after too, so there was no redo.
 Why does that even matter?  Because, I was in very near to a state of panic.  An actual talking interview with people I have to answer on the spot.  I can’t come back hours later when I think of something that I think sounds clever.
 And now I’m panicking again at the thought of a face-to-face interview.  I would have to try to be clever on the spot.  I can’t do that.  I can write, the words coming effortlessly and fluidly, and sounding marvelous.  I can’t bloody talk.  In fact, I’m pretty sure I sound like a complete moron when I talk.  The words in my head just don’t come out the same way through my mouth.  My brain freezes, I jumble, stumble, and stutter.  I couldn’t do a speech with my eyes glued to the cue cards I’m reading mechanically from.

 leave your comfort zoneTo truly live, you have to step out of your safety zone.  I decided to swallow my anxiety and give it the old college try.
 It made it easier that I wasn’t doing it for myself.  I can’t count the times I opted not to do something because it was just for me.  I’m not used to doing things just for me.
 The young woman interviewing me is from McMaster University. She won funding for a research project exploring the connection between Canadian literature and identity.  I was a stop on her trek across Canada interviewing authors about their craft and sense of identity as Canadians.
 I went to the interview hoping that I would be of help, but still with that nagging doubt pulling on me like a toddler sized imp trying to whisper in my ear, “Why you?”
 I survived the interview and she didn’t look ill listening to my jabbering.  I have to say, the best part of the interview was the end when I gave her a copy of my latest published book, The McAllister Farm.  She was actually excited I gave it to her.

impAfter the interview, that same nasty little imp kept tugging on my shirt hem and whispering my doubts.  Why me?  There are a lot of authors out there, ones people actually heard of and know; authors who sold a lot book books and made bestseller lists, and everything.  Telling me, “You don’t even feel like a real author.”

 magic quill
What does it take to make you feel like an author?  Of course, the simplest answer should be, “You wrote a book,” or, “You published a book.”  If only life were so simple for everyone.

In all the years I spent writing, I’ve always had that nagging doubt.  I’m nobody.  Unknown.  Just some person with a story in her head (okay many stories) that need to get out.  I’m not James Patterson or Stephen King.  I don’t go by the moniker Dean Koontz or any other name anyone would recognize and say, “Hey, that’s an author!”
 I always had the doubt, expecting anyone at any time to say I’m wasting my time, I’m not a “real” author, or that my writing stinks like the rancid breath of the partially desiccated reanimated corpse of a komodo dragon with a dead skunk stuck in its mouth.
 Even after my first book, Where the Bodies Are, was published, doubts remain.  It’s only one book, after all.  But, it can’t be all that bad if someone else found it worthy of publication, right?  I still didn’t feel like a “real” author; which is probably odd, since I would without question think of anyone else who published a single book as a “real” author.
 Now I have a couple of books published, with Indigo Sea Press picking up not only Where the Bodies Are, but also my latest book, The McAllister Farm.
 With published books I now have to count on more than one finger, I still don’t feel authorey; and yes, I did just make up that word.
  intangible personTo me, an author has always been that intangible person on the other side of the book.  The magic behind the story.  Funny, I don’t look or feel magic.  Not mystical in any way.  I’m just me.
 If I had ten published books, I would probably feel the same way.  I’m just me.  Someone asked me to autograph my book she bought and it felt really weird.  I very recently sold a few books to a few people I know and they asked me to sign them.  It felt just as strange, awkward really, in a, “This is a joke, right?” kind of way.  And these were all people I’ve known for years.  I might get sucked into an abyss of weirdness in the floor if an actual stranger wanted me to sign a book.
 I’m not sure what it will take before I feel like a “real author”.  At what point this will happen, if ever.
 I asked my eleven year old what would make her feel like a “real author”.  Her answer: “If my books sold; lots.  A lot of them.”
 I asked my thirteen year old the same question. Her answer: “When a lot of people buy my books and are asking for them, and when I’m making a good profit.  And, when I’m a New York Times bestseller, because all my books are New York Times bestsellers.”
  pose question.jpg
I pose the question to you, and this is all about YOU, not for you to try to convince me that I’m a “real” author.

Authors: What made or would make you feel like a “real author”?
 Readers: What defines a “real author” for you, as opposed to thinking, “Yeah, whatever, so you wrote a book, but you aren’t a real author”?

Let the game begin.
Can you handle a little darkness?
L.V. Gaudet is the author of the McAllister Series and Garden Grove.
Tormented by his inability to stop killing, the killer is taunted by his need to find the one thing he must find ...
where the bodies are
Learn the secret ... behind the bodies and how the man who created the killer became who he is ...
McAllister Farm cover 052316_edited-1 - front cover.jpg
The third book will bring these two stories together for a dramatic climax... but no story truly ends.

Sabotage, vandalism, poisoned work crew, buried bones, and two strange old people ... why is someone trying to stop the new housing development?
Garden Grove Cover - McNally - front cover


Monday, January 11, 2016

Book Review - The Wind Guardian by Frank Scozzari

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for reviewing it.  It took a bit of time to get through this book with trying to read it over the busy and highly distracting Christmas season.  The terrorist action plot is not my favorite genre, but I have no regrets in taking the time to read The Wind Guardian.  This is an honest and unbiased review.

The Wind Guardian is the first Frank Scozzari book I have read.  If you are looking for a terrorist threat action story that is driven by the characters and does not get lost in the details then you will enjoy this book.

This story is set in the comfort of a United States nuclear power facility where years of living comfortably safe leaves bored security officers with a lackadaisical attitude towards their jobs and the painstaking planning and work that goes into the security of the plant.  Despite the best efforts of their supervisor, John Harkin, to keep his security officers alert and performing diligently to their by-the-book routine, some of his staff continually take a careless approach to their jobs, sneaking off for illicit rendezvous and naps.  The reason for their jobs, threat of terrorist attack, is a world away for our characters.

In The Wind Guardian, Frank Scozzari brings the self-absorbed lives of two characters, newly enamored lovers and co-workers, Cameron and Grace crashing down in a seeming unstoppable catastrophe.  Other developments are in play while Cameron communes with nature in the “bone yard”, a protected archeological and burial site of the native Chumash, who he came to feel an affinity with, and Grace and he focus on trying to find ways to communicate on the shared open radio channel and meet up on the job.  The pair makes the most unlikely of heroes, and are thrust in the center of events by their own selfish choices to put their mindless lust and an obsession with each other worthy of teenagers over their duties.

While Frank Scozzari pauses in the action to fill the reader in on the workings of the nuclear facility and the bureaucracy, planning, routine, and weapons behind keeping it safe, he does it expertly without bogging down the story in the details.  If anything, the tedium of guarding the plant and all the details that ago into it is a good set up for what is coming.  The obvious tedium of the characters jobs and their lack of interest in performing them makes the events that unfold, and how easily, more believable.

Frank Scozzari brings home in a realistic way just how easily the safety we take for granted can be taken away.

The Wind Guardian by Frank Scozzari is available through various online retailers.


Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Monday, December 28, 2015