The psychological thriller is my favorite genre to read. Packed with creepy surprises and unexpected turns, these stories are some of my favorites. Alice Feeney's "I Know Who You Are" is one that delivers on all counts. This book is filled with twists and turns that are easy to navigate, but rarely take you where you expect to go. And, her ending is a complete surprise... right down to the last sentence from the main character. Nothing is as it seems in this creepy tale.
I enjoy Feeney's ability to meld the past with the present in her writing. She gives you backstory not by simple plot exposition, as so many other authors do; instead, she allows the characters to tell and show their own backstory by living through their histories in real time. In other works, this jumping from past to present and back to past can sometimes be confusing, almost like two different stories happening simultaneously. But Feeney has the distinct ability to run both timelines in parallel, which keeps you engaged in both times, and with all the characters in the today and the before. It's fantastic skill.
This is another of those rare instances where I was treated with "Wow!" on the last page, and then ten full minutes of silence while I digested the experience. I read this in audio book, and I must say, the narrator's tone, acumen with the pregnant pause, and slight voice changes made the work more enjoyable. I highly recommend this book, if you like endings that grab your attention.
This is the second installment of this series... a story about Mary Jekyll, Diana Hyde, Catherine Moreau, Justine Frankenstein,, Beatrice Rappaccini, and Lucinda Van Helsing. All are the daughters of their scientist fathers who have questionable moral values when it comes to genetic manipulation. Together, the women make up The Athena Club, and are dedicated to helping save other women facing a similar fate to escape the controlling scientists in their lives, all members of the Alchemical Society.
This book, similar to the first, takes the women on tenuous adventures across Europe, where they encounter strange circumstances and even stranger people. They are faced with mystery and danger at nearly every turn, and must face it all alone through their own special skills, wit, and snark.
As with the first book, Catherine Moreau is the chronicler of their adventures, and frequently records the other women's comments within the text, as they all sit down to read the manuscript together in a sort of critique and editorial session before publication. I find Goss' technique here quite entertaining. It's almost like you have a secret window not only into the adventure, but also into the mind of a fictional author, and by extension, into the mind of Goss, herself. It really is quite delightful.
I would call this book a cozy mystery for those who enjoy the horror genre... it's a new approach to the topic matter that will keep your attention well to the last pages.
Again, I read the audio book version, and found the narrator to be equally skilled the second time around. It's certainly worth your time.
So much of life (and book festivals) is throwing noodles at the wall to see what sticks. What slides down the wall to the floor, you let the dogs eat. What sticks, teaches you that you got something right, and then you reproduce the steps you took, and enjoy the fact that you get to eat more great pasta than you let the dogs eat. There are so many factors involved in this experiment, it can be challenging. The definitive recipe book for this has yet to be written.
Which Pasta Company Makes The Best Noodles?
Do I have the right brand of pasta at the start? This is a tough one. You want to choose a brand that you think people will notice, one they are familiar with, one they've experienced before. I really thought I covered this detail well. The brand I chose was well-known, and large enough to be seen from all four directions... but I guess it wasn't familiar to enough people, because some still had trouble noticing it. So, perhaps not the right brand of pasta. Not a terrific start to dinner.
Are there obstructions between the pantry where you keep the pasta and the stove where you eventually will cook the pasta? Do you need to step over things like trucks, piles of sand, broken pieces of flooring? This is difficult to predict. Of course, if when you make plans for pasta night, and you know you're renovating the kitchen the same day, you probably don't want to cook pasta that night, and maybe do burgers on the grill, in the back yard instead. But, if you made plans for pasta dinner in advance, and the ceiling falls in, damaging the floor in the process... well, there's not much you can do about that. Unforeseen issues may arise, stuff you can't plan for, but you go ahead with your pasta dinner anyway, because you promised people you'd make pasta. So you dodge the cracks in the floor and the piles of drywall, navigating carefully around them to get to the stove, working hard not to spill the huge pot of water. Stuff happens that we can't control sometimes; but we make the best of it.
So, you've got a really nice pasta dinner planned, and you've told everyone you know. You sent out colorful, nifty invitations. You've told them about the kind of sauce you'll be using, the mountains of cheese that will be available, and you've even offered meat or meatless options. You tell every one of your friends, and you invite them to tell their friends, because after all, a pasta dinner is so much fun, you want to share it with as many people as you possibly can. You spend time posting flyers at local meeting places around town, places that don't usually serve pasta (and some that do), you send out several emails and redundant social media postings about the snazzy dinner you're hosting, and you send letters to the local media to let them know how cool your pasta dinner will be... you can only hope everyone will tell the world, or at least everyone within a twenty mile drive.
Pasta Dinner Day
So, you've got your pot of boiling water filled with noodles on the stove, and you add a bit of salt, just to make sure the pasta will cook evenly. You make sure there's plenty of garlic bread, and extra cheese... just in case. You set out the tables and chairs, and make sure that everyone has easy access to the bathrooms... again, just in case. You put out six large signs on the roads to direct people to the kitchen, and another just inside the door, hoping people will see them and make their way to your table in droves. You grab the camera, and get ready for some fun pasta dinner hi-jinks because, let's face it, your friends are the BEST at having a good time when they get to share pasta and talk about EVERYTHING they love about noodles.
Your Friends Arrive Hungry, But...
This is a good thing. You've cooked the pasta and thrown it against that wall. Most of it sticks, but there are a few pieces that fall to the floor. But, with a golden retriever and a little terrier, there's no worry of ants ruining dinner. So you press on. All is going well, you're all set up around the table, ready to share a splendiferous meal with a crowd of pasta enthralled people... but no one shows up. Well, okay, a few trickle in here and there... but not nearly as many as you had planned on, or hoped for. You're disappointed, of course, everyone is. You had really hoped that your friends would scream about this pasta dinner from the rooftops, but it appears that they didn't tell anyone. Or maybe your friends don't have any friends who like pasta, or at least, not this particular brand. You hoped that the local media would scream about it, too, but... crickets. So, everyone packs up and goes home, frustrated and feeling let down because you promised them a remarkable pasta dinner with tons of people, and it just didn't work out that way. You feel a little like a fraud and a lot like a failure.
The Next Day
After contemplating the pasta dinner over a cup of cocoa, and going over where things went wrong, you come to a few conclusions.
First, you should have anticipated that not everyone likes your brand of pasta. They're not used to seeing the green box, and so they didn't really notice the trouble you went to in buying the best brand you could find... while staying within your budget. You probably should have thought this through and asked people ahead of time what brand of pasta they preferred. That may have enticed more people to come to dinner.
Second, you should have checked more than six months in advance to see if any demolition work was planned for that section of the kitchen before you chose the date for your dinner. And in fact, you did, but either the renovations that took place wren't planned, or the workmen didn't bother to tell you... it's hard to nail down the truth on that one because contractors can be so unpredictable.
Third, you realize that you should have had more signs, more cheese, more bathrooms, and more time to take photos. Perhaps a clown or pony rides would have helped, too. But, you had a limited budget based on what your friends were willing to kick in for this awesome dinner, and there wasn't anything left for fun frills like that... so, dinner wasn't all that much fun. None of your friends offered to help, either, and you felt rude and awkward at the idea of delegating or asking for more money. A couple people even left the dinner early. Disheartened, you pack up your leftover pasta, and go home. The leftover pasta, and cheese, and garlic bread are all spoiled now, and you've lost a ton of money, and there's nothing left to give to charity. At this point, even the dogs aren't interested in cleaning up what's left.
Out of desperation, you write a note to all your friends. You tell them that you had planned to host another pasta dinner party in a few months, but after the utter failure you just experienced, you just aren't sure that's such a good idea. So, you ask for their feedback. You ask them to hide their identities so they can feel at ease in being brutally honest. After all, false feedback doesn't help anyone make a better pasta party. What you get back is indeed, brutally honest. But it's not incredibly helpful. There's a lot of critique, but not many specific suggestions on how to improve. Frustration looms large.
Finally, after much thought, a review of the financials, and a conversation with the dogs about their lack of interest in pasta, you make the decision NOT to host another pasta party. Although it's a lot of fun, it's too much work for just one person. And let's face it, you're not as young as you used to be. You contemplate that perhaps the dinner would have been more fun if you had spent more money on things like a balloon animal guy, a marching band, and a gigantic full-page ad in every newspaper in town, but you didn't want to ask your friends to pay more than the pasta dinner was actually worth; 'cus you know, that's all sorts of fun once, but then who wants to spend that kind of money on another pasta dinner party, like EVER?
There's a lot of sadness when you stare at the leftover noodles the next day, and even two days later when they're stinking up the kitchen, and realize that perhaps no matter what you try, people will NEVER like your pasta. So, you accept it and move on. Thinking that perhaps making chocolate chip cookies and only sharing them with your closest friends is a better idea.
I've always believed in the idea of doing what works and not doing what doesn't work... so, no more pasta dinner parties for me. But... I still like pasta. If you're hosting a pasta dinner party someday, I'd love it if you would include me on the guest list - and you can be sure, I'll tell the world!
Translation: Although fun for me, The Summer Indie Author Book Festival 2019 was a complete and utter failure. Pages Promotions will not be hosting another Indie Book Festival. If you already reserved a table for future planned events, your refund will be processed shortly. We appreciate your patience. Thank you.
So, this year marks my 55th trip around the sun. So far, it's been a fun ride. Every year as June 14th (my actual birth date) comes around, I sit back and reflect on where I've been, how I've grown, and I realign my goals for the next year. I tend to look into the reflecting pond at this time of year, rather than in January, with the rest of humanity for two reasons:
First, It's cold in January, and I'm usually still in hibernation mode, trying to keep the old processes warm, adding kindling to the fire that keeps the past year's goals breathing; no small feat. It's tough to keep things growing in the arctic frost. Drake tends to migrate during the cold of winter, so no great help there.
Secondly, everyone else on the planet seems to take that same month to reflect, and albeit with good intentions, I think, also with a foreshadowing of acceptable neglect. The people I've come in contact with, those that make "new years' resolutions", tend to choose things that they don't really want, so that they don't feel like failures when they don't achieve their goals; and they know they won't, because everyone else fails, too. It's rare for your peer group to rave with you when you celebrate a January resolution. Usually, they feign happiness for you, secretly, or not so secretly, frustrated that they couldn't stick to it. Regret is at a high premium in February... I think that's why Hallmark came out with Valentines' Day, so we'd have something to look forward to.
I simply don't like setting myself up to be surrounded by that kind of negative energy, or failure. So, I wait until I feel like my head is in a space where I can reflect and follow my goal setting path with conviction. I do this during a time when we least expect failure - both me and those around me. For some reason, when you announce to the world that you are going to do things differently, and it's not January, there is an energy shift that works to your benefit, rather than your detriment. I like taking advantage of that... the fact that my birthday just so happens to fall during a time of comfort and renewal doesn't hurt, either.
I've raised an amazing little person who has grown into an incredible man... I married an incredible man who has grown into an amazing husband... I've learned more about business than I ever thought possible in one year... I've started a new business... I've established a TV program... I've made a ton of new friends... I've reconnected with some old friends... I've said goodbye to a beloved dog and I've invited a new puppy into my life... I've written more words toward publishing more books... and I've read more words written by spectacular authors. I've spent time sharing with people I care about, and continue to be a cheerleader for those who sincerely want to move their lives and their creativity forward.
How does one celebrate another year? For me, it's all about zero stress. I escaped the "regular world" for a few days, choosing that time to live off-grid and nearer to nature. I feel most at peace when I'm at our little cabin in the woods. And even closer to peace when the rain lasts for hours, and the thunder reminds me of my insignificance. There's something refreshing about being reminded about my smallness in the world. It relieves the pressure of all I want to do, and allows me the energy to simply do what I can... well.
Over the decades of my introspective journey, I've tried to establish a pattern of living that includes this path:
Choose a Goal... Apply Intention... Make A Viable Plan... Research and Learn about what needs to be done... Take Action... Manifest the Outcome... Enjoy the Celebration... Rest... Repeat.
In the coming year, my focus will be on WRITING AND READING BOOKS! There are four writing projects that I have started, each (of course) in a different genre, and each with at least a five-digit word count already created. This indicates to me that Drake thinks they should be written. I've also amassed a TBR shelf that is about forty books long (and I'd really like to buy more). So, I'm resurfacing as a Writer and Reader for 2019. Sure, I'm also pursuing my business and community service work - but that's only because boredom and hunger aren't any fun. But primarily, my emotional energy - and that really is what we're talking about when we discuss re-evaluating one's direction in life - will be focused on writing and reading.
Each November, I try to participate in a program called NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month. The challenge, 30 days, 50,000 words. It's absolutely a challenge easily reached - it's just 1,667 words per day, after all. I do that in a blog post - sometimes in an hour. However, waiting until November each year messes with my intention and momentum. So this year, I'm doing what I'm calling, NaNoWriMo 365. Yes, I'm making a commitment to write a minimum of 1,667 words every day from now until June 14, 2020. On days when I miss, I'm making up for it on another day. I allow myself this little bit of wiggle room because sometimes life intercedes into our strongest intentions and derails our concerted action toward our goals. We become ill and need to recover... We need to celebrate the lives of others... Sometimes, we just need to sleep and recharge after a particularly grueling moment or two; and sometimes, the momentum is so strong that it's difficult to stop - that's when we can take advantage and move a bit slower on a day afterward. So, I've downloaded a word count tracker to my phone and I'm keeping a log of my daily word counts. I'm devoting Monday and Wednesday evenings to sacred writing time, and turning on the focus.
The reading goal is a little bit trickier. I spend so much of my time writing, that I don't indulge myself that down time I used to allow for curling up with a good book and a cup of cocoa on the couch. So, I'm allowing myself "old fashioned reading". What does that mean, exactly? Well, remember when you were a kid and your parents, or a teacher at school used to read out loud to you? We all still considered that reading - we were just doing it orally. We called it storytelling, and I'm embracing that again, now. Instead of criticizing myself for not actually picking up a book and turning pages whenever I want to, I'm allowing myself to read via storytelling... or as we like to say in the 21st century, audio books. Whenever I get in the car, fold laundry, or clean the house, I'm listening to audio books instead of being distracted by television, and my goodness, is it fun! Nothing passes the time like a really great story read out loud. In fact, I'm hearing some new vocabulary words I've not run across before - and when you consider the size of the dictionary, it's not a great surprise. So, just like being in class in second grade, I'm learning, too. Tone inflection, empathy of character, pronunciation, definition within context, secrets about craft that you can only learn from another's mystical practice of putting words to paper, and most curiously, a magical effect on time - from dull to exciting. It's amazing what oral reading can do for you.
Now, don't misunderstand, I am not abdicating printed books for the audio ones... I'm just doing both. My goal is to read two books each month, one orally, one from the printed page (or perhaps digital page). The pure joy of this is to acknowledge that we can get story into our heads in a myriad of ways now, and we shouldn't feel "less than" simply because we're taking advantage of all the methods at our disposal, rather than remaining vigilant to only one. Truth be told, there are some books that I simply haven't been able to find in physical form, but can find them digitally - so I think that's a win - a book discovered and read is wonderment, no matter the form of it's delivery.
So, two books read per month, and 1,667 words written per day, tracking both. I could use a good mutual accountability buddy in human form, but the truth of the matter is that I have yet to find someone with my tenacity for follow through, who can also be nice, as well as firm, with reminders. It's a rare combination. So, my digital nagging system will have to suffice, for now.
The rest of my energy will be spent with those daily "keeping myself alive and the household going" things, as always.
And we will see what my reflection looks like when staring into the pool of my 56th year.
This was a fun day shared with some of my favorite Indie Authors. We had hoped it to be a full weekend, but alas, the storm clouds had other plans for Sunday. Books and Rain are not good friends, so we chose to make it Saturday only, and avoid any unpleasant arguments between the two. And still, we had a great day!
It's a treat to spend festival time with other authors. Working together, we get to offer a greater variety of books to readers, reach out to people who perhaps wouldn't have discovered us or our books, share time "talking shop", and simply having fun hanging out.
Rochester puts on a fun festival, and I plan to return again next year. There were lots of fun events for families, chain saw carving, Irish Step Dancers, Civil War Re-enactors, classic cars, pony rides, and so much more. The event was well organized. They were super-nice people, and very accommodating. The staff made it easy to find the event space, with plenty of signs. We got to pull right up and unload at our space. That's always a bonus. Books can be heavy, and it's nice to avoid the long walks from parking lots with boxes. They did a good job publicizing the event in local media and on social media. Foot traffic was good, despite the disparaging weather.
We met some wonderful people, and sold some books. Meeting readers is something I think every writer enjoys. We get to learn about what they like to read, and perhaps get some new ideas for an upcoming project. The young readers are so cute. Their faces light up when they see a cover that catches their attention. They encourage us to continue on our literary paths. It's nice to imagine these new readers as adults one day, surrounded by books.
Lessons learned from my first "in the wild" festival:
1. Wear water-proof shoes, just in case it rains.
2. Make sure the canopy has well-anchored sides to reduce wind effects.
3. Bring extra cash for the AMAZING french fries you might encounter.
4. Always bring good friends to share the day!
A Huge THANK YOU to Donald Levin, Brenda Hasse, and Charles Stern for making it a fantastic day!
There are few things in this life that make me happier than seeing a friend share his gifts with the world. I was privileged to watch it all unfold again, at Donald Levin's book launch event for Cold Dark Lies, the latest installment of the Martin Preuss Mysteries.
Held at the creatively conceived Color & Ink Gallery in Hazel Park, this was a wonderful event filled with art, music and literature. Sunshine streamed in the gigantic windows, laughter from friends and family filled the space, music rocked the rafters, and we reveled in storytelling at its finest.
Donald read just enough from the book to give us the flavor of the novel, and become enticed by the story, without giving it all away. He read several passages, and even shared a section about my favorite character, Toby, Martin Pruess' son.
After the reading, the audience asked questions and what could have easily been a compelling course on the craft of writing, given Donald's history as a college professor... it was far better. Instead, we delighted in a comfortable conversation with friends about mystery, life, love, and the element of surprise.
After a brief intermission, and some snacks, we were thrilled by the musical talents of Donald and his author pal, Thomas Galasso. With three pieces that were representative of the novel, we enjoyed acoustic guitar and banjo; with Thomas offering vocals. This certainly was not your average book launch party... but then, Donald Levin is not your average author!
There were two major highlights of the day for me... first, I bought an authorgraphed copy of the book (yes, I'm a serious fan... squeeee!)
Second, after the party tapered down, Donald and Thomas allowed me to get up close and personal with their music. You see, being deaf in my left ear means that I hear the world differently... Donald allowed me to feel his music by placing my hand on the guitar as he played. Truly a gift I will always cherish!
Thank you, Donald Levin for a tremendously entertaining afternoon! I wish you continued success and I eagerly await your next literary adventure!
Visit Donald Levin's website HERE to learn about ordering his book and upcoming events where you can meet him.
Yesterday afternoon I did something that I never thought would be a part of my life... I hosted my first television series. It is a little strange, and yet oddly comfortable, simultaneously. I thought, television is something that "the big guys" do, not little start-ups... and then I remembered that the world has changed dramatically since I was a teenager, and truly, anything that I can imagine, can indeed become real. With all the advancements in technology, nothing is completely out of reach.
But enough waxing romantic... here's the thing... It is SO MUCH FUN to host a TV show! I worked in the theatre for several years in my younger life, and being in a television studio is akin to that experience... but with more advanced technology. The rush of the technical rehearsal is the same, and the excitement of "show day" is the same. The jitters of actually recording is the same as a live production. Simply put, it's just plain fun!
The show, hosted on CMNTV, a local station in Troy, Michigan, is called Indie Reads TV, and my goal with this program is to shine a much-needed spotlight on Independent Authors and other interesting bookish people. It's so difficult for indie authors to get the kind of exposure that the major publishers can offer, and I wanted to make a little dent in that disparity.
The long-term goal of the program is to produce one-on-one interviews with authors and those who support authors. I also want to also offer opportunities to bring more awareness to special bookish events happening in the community with remote shoots, and to provide additional in-studio programming for audiences like poetry and story slams, storytime readings for children, literary panel discussions, and perhaps even a literary game show. My vision is to utilize this magnificent outreach tool as a way to enhance awareness not only of our local authors as celebrities, but to also offer programming for viewers that encourages them to embrace literature, and get more enjoyment out of picking up a book.
My first day of recording went well, and I'm pleased with the production. Yes, newbies are certain to make a few mistakes... I blundered a few of my questions, didn't always have the "snappy" retort as I would have liked, and we experienced a few technical glitches due to my inexperience with the equipment... but I'm certain that will all get smoothed out the more shows I get under my belt. I hope when you watch, you'll forgive my foibles.
We've got four shows "in the can": Episode One features Donald Levin; Episode Two features Andrew Charles Lark; Episode Three features Brenda Hasse; and Episode Four features Kate McNeil. The broadcast dates will be revealed shortly, and the programs will be available for viewing on CMNTV channel 18 in local neighborhoods, on the CMNTV website, and later on the Pages Promotions website, our YouTube channel, and there will be links to the programs on our social media channels. There will be lots of opportunities for the public - YOU - to watch and learn about these fascinating authors.
I have upcoming interviews with Mel Corrigan from Scribe Publishing, Indie Author Wendy Thomson, Indie Author Andy Lockwood, and Bailey Lockwood of Just Ducky Editing Services. Also, I'm super-excited to take the remote equipment out into the field to film Donald Levin's book launch on Saturday, May 11 at Color & Ink Studios in Hazel Park, so watch for that program to be available shortly, as well.
Watch for broadcast dates and times to be posted shortly. And... come back to our website frequently for more shows and special appearances by People of The Book on Indie Reads TV!
If you're an Indie Author, in an industry (like editing, cover design, etc) that supports Indie Authors, an Indie Bookshop owner, or an English teacher... I want to host you on my program! Please visit the Indie Reads TV show page on our website, and complete the interest form. I'd love to get you on my production schedule.
Before I go... a BIG, HUGE, THANK YOU to CMNTV and their fabulous staff for making television accessible to the community! We appreciate your guidance and support in creating local television.
This was my second "running with the Penguins" and I had a blast!
Last year, I participated as a speaker on several panel discussions, read from my short story collection (okay, DRAKE's short story collection) and volunteered in the bookshop a little bit. It was a whirlwind of a weekend, and I came home tired... good tired.
This year, I took a different approach... I didn't participate on any panels, and focused on experiencing the Con as a writer instead. I still volunteered at the bookshop... I'll always do that... but this year, it was nice to get out to some of the panels and sit with the "regular" people rather than present. It's a different type of exposure to an event that has so much to offer. I enjoyed having this different perspective. It was fun.
I took part in a panel on pitching your MS to whomever... this was a great way to be reminded that a pitch, whether in an elevator or at a festival, is NOT necessarily your back cover blurb. I knew this already, but of course, who among us doesn't need an occasional refresher course?
I attended a panel that discussed the wonderful writing of Ray Bradbury and how he influenced other writers of that genre. I also attended a session devoted to the mechanics of writing a "Choose Your Own Adventure" novel. I loved this session because this is something that's on my list of writing projects. I've toyed with it for several years, but couldn't quite grasp the nuts and bolts of the build. This session was extremely helpful in showing me an effective flow process. Now, that project is again closer to the front burner... not like I don't have enough irons in my creative mind's fire already!
There was a lively discussion about Tropes. This session was particularly helpful for me... not because I'm confused with what tropes are or how to use them, but because I'm planning a major collaboration project that focuses on using tropes as a momentum vehicle for the story's progression. I'm being cagey about this right now because it's a great idea, and I'm still working on the specifics with a team of outstanding writers. But, stay tuned, because more details will be leaking out shortly. Tease? Me? Never!
There was also a very supportive discussion about attaining your MFA on your own terms... DYI. Hearing about the positive aspects of designing your own degree program was a great reminder that the writer doesn't necessarily need a "credited" program to learn more about craft and thrive as an author. There are a lot of accelerated workshops and low residency retreats that can fuel the writing flames just as effectively, without the long-term commitment or cost of a degree program. The information given to us regarding programs and pricing was helpful, as were the tips and tricks of how to choose the best program for your style of writing.
The discussion group I enjoyed the most, I think, was the panel on Subversive Fairy Tales. This was a delicious romp through the world of what is and isn't a fairy tale, and the history behind them. So many people equate these stories with a Disney-esq approach, and it was refreshing to hear that other writers loved the original, darker tales, as I do. The Grimms Brothers didn't have talking animals in their stories, and they frequently didn't end happily ever after - regardless of how strong the orphan was at the end of the story. This conversation stimulated yet another story idea... and this is exactly why I enjoy Cons so much. You never know where your next story idea may come from, but you're certainly to locate many of them at a Con, if you sit, listen, and watch for a while.
Rounding out the event was time spent with fabulous authors, hearing them read, discussing craft, marketing approaches, and books, in general. I was honored to hear many authors read their work, including Michael W. Lucas, David Erik Nelson, Mary Lynne Gibbs, Jean Davis, G.S. Scott, Brigham Vaughn, and Clif Flynt. Cons are wonderful for networking and making new friends. I even got to play with baby Kit throughout the weekend!
The staff at The Westin in Southfield were exemplary, as usual. Kindness and cleanliness permeated the weekend. The staff got involved by collecting ribbons to show their support, and every one of them had a smile and a "hope you're having a great day" to add to the experience. This truly is a wonderful venue to hold a Con, and I can see why the organizers of Penguicon keep coming back.
Authors, Books, and a Baby... a great way to spend a weekend... even considering the wee bout of ConCrud that came home with me. Will I do it again next year? You Betcha!
Yet another wonderful installment of the Martin Preuss mystery series. This may be the shortest of the books, but it doesn’t skimp on story, character, or rich detail. As with Donald’s previous books, this story was engaging, vibrant, and filled with twists and turns. There were several occasions when I thought I knew where the end would take me, and I was wrong. I love being wrong. The twist presented in the final act had my head reeling and made me flip back a few chapters to find out how I had missed the clues. I didn’t mind that, though, the writing here is just that exquisite… re-reading passages was quite delightful.
I'm not normally a fan of this genre. It's not usually they type of book that I gravitate toward, but I enjoy the detective stories that Donald crafts. Each character is clearly interconnected, and in ways we don't often see right away. The plot itself is created in much the same way. Connecting pieces of a larger puzzle revealing secrets and also presenting clues that lay right before us... clues that we don't see because they hide in plain sight. When reading a Martin Pruess mystery, one gets the distinct impression that Donald has diligently done his homework. The police procedures, dialogue, jargon, and interactions between police, private investigators, and even the supporting cast are real, sincere, and cleverly presented.
Again, in this novel, we learn more about Martin through his close relationship with his son, Toby. There is a special bond between the two… but the best part about their relationship for me, is that in each instance that we see them interact, we learn about layers of Martin that we didn’t know were there before, and in each instance, it’s a beautiful surprise. On each occasion that Martin has with Toby, he invariably is led to a moment of clarity with the case he’s working on. It’s almost as if time with Toby is a meditation for Martin, to help him process the details, and perhaps a “normal” home life might not allow for this type of discovery.
I love that each of these books are microcosms unto themselves, and each is also connected to each of the other novels in the series. This means that each book is a wonderful adventure unto itself, as well as a beautifully connected adventure, one to the other.
I’m sincerely looking forward to reading the sixth installment, “Cold Dark Lies”, which will be launched on May 11, at the Color & Ink Studio in Hazel Park, Michigan.
Visit Donald Levin’s website HERE.
Highly Recommended: Five Stars
I enjoyed my time at this event. The event was well planned-out, super-affordable, with a nice diversity of vendors. There were three book tables (mine and two others), spaced well throughout the room, which worked to everyone's benefit, I think. There was plenty of space for people to walk about without feeling claustrophobic, and nice table neighbors. An added bonus, there was the opportunity for families to bring their children to have photos taken with the Easter Bunny. This event had everything going for it, except there was one major problem... a lack of marketing common sense.
The only place I saw any promotion at all was on Facebook, and there wasn't very much of it. I shared whenever I could, but the organizers should have done more. I'm a member of LOTS of online resources to list events in Michigan, and I didn't see this event listed anywhere.
The event was held at a very nice German Community Club, the facilities were wonderful, clean, warm, with food available and lots of parking... but not one sign out front to let people driving by know that there was something exciting happening inside. The club is situated in Sterling Heights, off Utica Road, with lots of free parking, and plenty of traffic going by, but no one was turning in because no one knew that we were there! There was an "A" frame sign out front advertising the club's Friday Fish Fry, but no sign advertising this event. The event organizers put a hand-written sign on the front door - but no one could see that from the road.
The fact that it was the day before Easter, and a particularly rainy day, didn't help the declining visitors... but certainly, there would have been more people visiting had they known the event was happening. Many vendors were frustrated and went home early - which is never a good sign.
I sold some books, some people signed up for my newsletter, and I had a lovely conversation with my table neighbor... but I'm not sure I will attend this event if they host it next year. At least, not unless they promise to do some more promotion. It has lovely potential, but potential doesn't become real without marketing.
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