Moment of Truth

Hurt, resentment and a bit of anger welled up from my heart and swirled around my brain stem begging to be vocalized and hurled at my unsuspecting wife.  Not long ago I would have opened my mouth and given release to them, but years of training were finally paying off and caused my jaw muscles to clench for a moment while I reviewed the situation.  What had actually just happened?  Is this response appropriate?

It began a few minutes earlier that bright sunny, Sunday morning.  My wife; Marie, and I got into the truck to go to church.  I turned the key, fully expecting to hear the familiar quick rowr-rowr-rowr of the starter motor turning over the engine followed by the purr of combustion indicating a successful start.  Instead all we heard was the rapid metallic fluttering of a solenoid failing to engage.  I knew that sound all too well. Continue reading “Moment of Truth”

Book Review: Semper Audacia

Semper Audacia, Mary Pax, M Pax, Sci-Fi, novelSemper Audacia is the story of a warrior; the last of her kind, defending her home world via an orbital outpost.  The planet’s population too has dwindled and is just hanging on.  Their ancient foe attacks and the last guardian springs into action accompanied by a battalion of ghosts; the memories of her fallen comrades.

The odds are almost hopeless.  Almost.  She must try; it’s what she does, it’s what she is and has been all her life.  But then a wrinkle – the enemy battleship transmits a valid “friendly” code even as it’s powering up weapons.  If the enemy are finally responding to their pleas for peace, attacking the ship would fling her people back into eternal war.  If it’s a ruse, her people could be exterminated.  She chooses a decidedly unconventional solution.   Continue reading “Book Review: Semper Audacia”

Book Review: The Burning Sky

The Burning Sky was my very first encounter with a truly Steampunk novel.   I read it more out of curiosity about the genre than anything.  I’m glad I did, and I’m glad I chose this one as a starting point.  This is my review.

 

The Burning Sky novel, steampunk LewisThe Burning Sky, by Joseph Robert Lewis is the first book in the Halcyon Trilogy.  I found it to be the embodiment of the old writing adage that says: to create suspense, place your protagonists in a very bad situation, then make it worse.  The story starts out with a horrific act of terrorism sweeping up an uninvolved mechanic on an air ship and carrying her along throughout the story.  For most of the story, her plight and those of the characters that get rolled into the mix, get steadily worse.  Resolution is saved for the very end.

The story is a masterful weave of multiple story lines, all winding around the main plot, although we don’t learn what that is for quite some time.  However Mr. Lewis does not allow us to founder in confusion; each character’s contribution is quite interesting all on its own and the intrigue builds as they begin to coalesce and we start to make the connections.     Continue reading “Book Review: The Burning Sky”

AVOID LITEARY PRATFALLS

Ken Consaul is, like many writers, a man of diverse backgrounds.  He has been a custom home builder, general contractor, cabinet shop owner, restorer of classic cars, waterbed salesman, loan officer, and several less savory vocations we will not discuss. He is a painter and writer and makes reproduction antique furniture as a hobby.  He blogs on occasion at bonnershouse.com
 
Ken Consaul is the author of Bonner’s Road West, a family saga about two young people, their fortunes joined by the tragedy of a cholera outbreak.  Together they decide to continue on to Oregon with another party of emigrants.  They marry and, at Fort Laramie in Wyoming, hear tales of the discovery of gold in California.  They split from their party and form another, determined to make their fortune in the new territory. Serialized into five segments, Bonner’s Road West is available at Amazon.

 

It’s the middle of the night when inspiration jolts you awake.  What a great idea for a new writing project, you say.  Leaping from bed, you start writing down ideas so you don’t fall asleep and then forget everything by morning (BTDT).  The words line up effortlessly.  The sentences are concise, clever, and lead effortlessly to the next gem.  Finally, with notes appended for future scenes, the muse departs and you return to a self-satisfied rest.   Continue reading “AVOID LITEARY PRATFALLS”

Simply Swapping Favors and the Barter System

Photo by Michael Ging

There was a time when, especially in rural America, most “commerce” was done not by exchanging cash money for goods you wanted but by trading something you had and could spare for something you needed.  Many rural General Stores were simply barter centers where families who had chickens would bring eggs and trade them for butter and milk brought in by another family or for flour ground by the mill up the road.

These stores would have cloth, pots, pans and farming implements brought in from the more industrialized East, thereby being able to supply most of the needs the local families had.  Cash transactions were accepted of course, but a large part of their trade was done through barter.

Rural life is still a lot like that.  Swapping favors is one way we can help one another get things done without depleting our bank accounts.  This goes beyond rallying around a friend who has something heavy to move because we know when we need help he will return the favor.  For instance, I have the equipment and skills to do high end woodworking, Tim has a truck and trailer.  Tim has often delivered my furniture pieces going “out East” for me, and I have built him furniture.   Continue reading “Simply Swapping Favors and the Barter System”

Whence Blows the Wind?

sunset,mountain,evening,tennessee
Photo by Allan Douglas

As the orange orb of the sun slid down behind English mountain, splashing the sky with rose, vermillion and mauve, the day’s heat began to wane.  The air started to move; a cool caress of their faces as they sat in their rockers on the porch before it drifted off to play among the trees.  The rustling leaves were like soft music.

The breeze wafted first from the south, then paused, and resumed again from the northwest, paused and swung back again as though it were playing a game.  “I wonder what makes the wind change like that.” She sighed.   Continue reading “Whence Blows the Wind?”

Follow, Follow, Follow the Twitter Brick Road

If you’ve been around the Internet for very long – more than a day or so – you will have encountered the advice that social media is a great way to promote what you’re selling.  In our case, books we’ve written.  And among social media, Twitter is a favorite.  Some of the marketing gurus make a case for following anyone and everyone you can find so they will follow you back, and you will develop a huge “audience” very quickly.  They often make it out to be a simple matter of follow, follow, follow the tritter brick road to riches.

   Continue reading “Follow, Follow, Follow the Twitter Brick Road”

Book Review: The Fountains of Paradise

Fountains of Paradise, review, book, sci-fi, A.C. ClarkeArthur C. Clarke’s 1979 Hugo and Nebula Award winning novel, The Fountains of Paradise is Science Fiction’s definitive novel about the “space elevator,” or “Skyhook”.  This concept enjoyed a brief period of enthusiastic interest among SF circles in the early 1980’s. The concept deals with an elevator (more like a monorail train car actually) that stretches from Earth’s surface to a space station in geosynchronous orbit, which would in turn serve as a construction, servicing  and  launching facility for ships voyaging to the moon, planets and even deep space.  A primary plus was eliminating the need for expensive, inefficient, and environmentally unfriendly rocket launches from the ground.  The whole idea seems incredible but is not outside the realm of engineering possibility.  Clarke makes a strong case for the feasibility of such an unconventional project within the context of a completely engrossing story set mostly in the 22nd century.   Continue reading “Book Review: The Fountains of Paradise”

Book Review: In Her Name – Empire

In Her Name, Empire, Michael HicksThis is a review of the eBook version of “In Her Name: Empire”; the first book of the In Her Name series written by Michael R. Hicks.

On a five-star scale, I’m giving this one four stars.  It probably deserves five stars, but I’m snatching one back simply because there were parts of it that made me, personally, uncomfortable.  If this were a literary review I would not do that, but this is me telling you how *I* felt about this book.

***No Spoilers***

This is an exciting, well-crafted read. It embraces a number of genres as the story goes along, but I’d classify it primarily as Sci-Fi.  The initial chapters are definitely Sci-fi as remnants of a defeated human population try desperately to fend off an alien invasion of their planet.  Our protagonist is a boy caught in the devastation.  The second scene is an orphanage planet established for youths like our protagonist who lost their families in the war.  It is a harsh environment, an alien place run by petty bureaucrats who think nothing of exploiting the children in their care.   Continue reading “Book Review: In Her Name – Empire”

Steampunk – What It Is, What it’s Not

I have been a fan of Science Fiction since I was old enough to pick up a book and read it for myself.  Normally I prefer hard science Sci-Fi to any form of fantasy.  However I have been captivated by the old Wild, Wild West television show and movies such as League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and books like Jules Verne’s 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and From the Earth to the Moon, H.G. Wells’s First Men in the Moon and The Time Machine.  All of these combine a Victorian environment with high-tech achievement but without high technology.  Confused?  So was I when I first heart the term “Steampunk”.

The ‘punk’ part misguided my brain onto thinking it was some urban-new wave sort of stuff and I paid it no mind.  But as the term was bandied around more, I became curious, and found that it is in fact that odd, red-headed  stepchild of Sci-Fi with which I was so fascinated.  But I still was not clear on what the rules were; where are the boundaries.  Then I came across this PBS mini-documentary that cleared it up nicely.  If you are less than certain, I hope it will do the same for you.

Continue reading “Steampunk – What It Is, What it’s Not”