Monday, September 19, 2016

Great Stories Starring Sherlock, and a Wonderful Find

What a busy week it's been: I attended a writing workshop,  I finished the story collection,  Beyond Watson, I found just the right book for my next Sherlock story, and a furry visitor -- the cute little rabbit that started visiting our back yard.reminded me that it's always great to celebrate the small things.

First, I'll start with  the book I found: In my neighborhood, someone in a a home on the corner of F & 25th has started a "little free library." I've read of these: A small box atop a post with shelves and a glass door--you can take books for free and leave books for others to take for free. On my walk yesterday, I passed it and peeked in, and what to my wondering eyes did appear . . .

Yes! just the reference I need at my fingertips to help with a story idea that's rolling around in my head for a new Sherlock-related tale -- and we're going to be traveling, so I can't take my shelf-load of Sherlcock-related books. This was beyond cool. (I did leave a generous load of books return.)

Then there is the matter of reading the rest of the marvelous story collection, Beyond Watson. It's been way busy lately, and then I came down with a really horrible cold. But it gave me time to put my feet up and finish my Beyond Watson reading feast:

Let me give you some snapshot reviews of the remaining stories I hadn't yet read.

Previously I gave little thumbnail reviews to 
three of the stories on June 27th HERE and four more stories on August 4th,  HERE . Check them out again, and then read the rest, as I did with great pleasure. Here are 5 more. 

     Mine, "Kidnapped," stars Imogene, Rusty, and Sherlock again, as well as Imogene's trusty cook, Mrs. Parker. Rusty gets kidnapped in this story, and more than that, I will not say.
     In David Ruffle's "The Tarlton Affair" someone in Sherlock Holmes's past shows up to confront him about a nefarious murder plot in which Sherlock actually played a significant role.This story, BTW, is full of twists and surprises--something I always enjoy in a mystery, and you will, too.
     In Jack McDevitt's "The Lost Equation," during a trip to London, the American journalist, H. L. Mencken, helps Sherlock Holmes unravel a case involving Einstein's famous equation, E=mc².  Apparently a young physics student discovered particle theory two years before Einstein did, then died shortly afterward, at age 32, of a stroke. Why? And was it a stroke?
     In "An Adventure in the Mid-day Sun," by Daniel D. Victor, fifteen-year-old Raymond Chandler (yes, that Raymond Chandler) is working as a page at 221 Baker Street. On a fateful day, he witnesses a murder in the back alley and is about to be next, when a mysterious boy he's seen lurking about rescues him. Stolen pearls, a part in a play, blackmail . . . and a clever surprise at the end!
     Last, but not least, "Some Notes Upon the Matter of John Douglas," by David Marcum, involves an interview in the Dartmoor Prison with Sebastian Moran, whom Holmes has described as "the second most dangerous man in London." Moran's status in this tale comes from being Professor Moriarty's right hand man, (Moriarty being the "first most dangerous man in London"). In this interview he recalls a case when an American came to Moriarty to basically arrange a hit on a Pinkerton detective (in England under the new name, John Douglas) who brought down a crime ring in America. But what a tangled tale this becomes, and one with effects far into the future.

So, run, don't walk . . . or at least let your fingers do the running . . . and get a copy of this fine collection HERE. You won't regret it. 

Third,  I went to a writing workshop about getting published on September 9th and pitched my cozy mystery (alas, not involving Holmes or Watson) to two agents. I got two requests: one for a full, one for a partial. (Which means, I know, only that the pitch sounded good and they'd like to see more.) Still, I'm over the moon. Especially since it seems I've learned how to write the dreaded pitch, something that has always terrified me.

And now -- the bunny I'm celebrating. It may sound strange to celebrate the arrival of a little cottontail rabbit who has decided to make our back yard one of his favorite visiting spots. But a few days ago, that's just what happened. He comes almost every day, now, and munches on our grass and, I fervently hope, the weeds I haven't had time to pull. And he is just too cute. 

Celebrate the Small Things  is a blog hop co-hosted by Lexa Cain at: Lexa Cain,  L.G. Keltner @ Writing Off The Edge , and Tonja Drecker @ Tidbits Blog. (You can click on any of these sites to add your name to the links, if you want to participate. I recommend it, because it's fun to see positive news that others are celebrating, and to share your own as well.  A dose of the positive is always refreshing.)

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Celebrating Lots of Things

It's celebration time again--and I am two days late! For good reason, though. I'm celebrating several things this week. 

Celebrate the Small Things  is a blog hop co-hosted by Lexa Cain at: Lexa Cain,  L.G. Keltner @ Writing Off The Edge , and Tonja Drecker @ Tidbits Blog. (You can go to any of these sites to add your name to the links, if you want to participate. I recommend it, because it's always fun to see positive news that others are celebrating, and to share your own as well. )

What am I celebrating?

First, Goodreads is having a book giveaway for Beyond Watson from August 26th to September 3rd, 2016. So jump in and win your copy
HERE: I'll be updating with my thumbnail reviews of four more stories in a couple of days. 

Second, I finished one of those two big projects I mentioned a few posts ago: The finished project was a rewrite of a cozy mystery that I'm going to be pitching to a couple of agents at a workshop in a week and a half. 

(The second project--a mystery project until I finish--will tie me up for all of September, but when I finish, you can bet I'll be celebrating here!)

Third, my copy of Mark Noce's Between Two Fires came yesterday. Yay! I was getting a little concerned, because he's signing books in Sacramento this coming Saturday, and I want to him to sign my copy. So I'm celebrating his signing as well.  

And Fourth -- a bit more personal -- my god brother had heart surgery a couple of weeks ago and came through it like a champ! He's doing great. So happy for this very special person and his very special wife!

How about you? I hope good things are happening in your life and that you are having a week of celebrating the small and large things that make life so meaningful. Have a great week. 

Friday, August 19, 2016

New Book Review -- Rodin's Lover

It's celebration time again--time for the Celebrate the Small Things blog hop, co-hosted by Lexa Cain at: Lexa Cain,  L.G. Keltner @ Writing Off The Edge , and Tonja Drecker @ Tidbits Blog. (You can go to any of these sites to add your name to the links, if you want to participate. I recommend it, because it's always fun to see positive news that others are celebrating, and to share your own as well. )

Today I'm celebrating the discovery of another fabulous read, a novel about Rodin, the French sculptor, and his tempestuous relationship with Camille Claude, his muse and the love of his life.

Rodin's Lover is set in Belle Epoque Paris -- the Paris of the French Impressionist painters. The author, Heather Webb, captures the era beautifully: cobblestone streets, cafés, ateliers (artists' studios), gaslit street lamps and the new electrical lights, church spires, horse-drawn carriages, the elite art critiques who held artists' destinies in their hands. To that mix, Webb brings the texture and reality of sculpting in clay, chiseling and polishing marble, and the thrill of the artist coaxing life out of stone and mud and creating something to last beyond his or her own life. 

The story itself is heart-breaking. The author thoroughly researched the lives of Auguste Rodin and Camille Claudel. Camille began studying with the famous sculptor in her late teens, but it soon became evident her genius was on a par with his own. As their relationship evolved, and August trusted her artistic judgement, they became peers critiquing each other's work. Powerfully attracted to each other, it was inevitable that they would become lovers.

In French society, young girls were expected to get married, not have careers. Camille's mother wanted nothing better than to find a suitable suitor for her (though she was a cold and critical mother in every other respect). Camille was strong-willed and independent, determined to become famous and not let herself be broken. She was also suspicious and obsessive. Auguste still lived (unmarried) with the mother of his son and didn't feel he could abandon her. He, too, was strong-willed and obsessive. They were the perfect mix for an affair filled with passion and despair, and the author makes you ache for these two star-crossed artists from the first page until the last.

You can find out more about the book and the author HERE. She's a historical fiction writer and has written another book I would like to get -- Becoming Josephine

BTW: Please go next door to my Fourth Wish blog  to read my review of Mark Noce's debut historical novel that will be published next week -- Between Two Fires It's both historical romance and a mystery set in Celtic Britain in the year AD 597. A really gripping read.

And next week I'll be back to report on four more stories from Beyond Watson, so please come back then.

Meanwhile, do you have a favorite period of history you like to read about? Are you a fan of historical fiction? Or are mysteries more your cup of tea? And what are you celebrating this week? Please share.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Celebrate the Small Things

It's nice to return to the Celebrate the Small Things blog hop, co-hosted by Lexa Cain at: Lexa Cain,  L.G. Keltner @ Writing Off The Edge , and Tonja Drecker @ Tidbits Blog. (You can go to any of these sites to add your name to the links, if you want to participate. I recommend it, because it's always fun to see positive news that others are celebrating, and to share your own as well. )

I'm celebrating the continued good news about my eyes: The pressure has come down a great deal in both eyes. 

It looks like I won't need glaucoma surgery in my left eye, although in a couple of years I will need cataract surgery, and I will need to take eye drops for the rest of my life.

At present I still take an eye drop every two hours for my right eye (the operative eye). But my opthamologist says it is healing nicely and looks very good. She gave my husband and I the go ahead to travel in October to our beloved Galicia. We would have liked to go for two months (September and October), but she's still monitoring it. I have another eye appointment next week, and then I'm assuming the check-ups will fade to every two weeks, then monthly, then every two months. Once she's sure it's stabilized, then the check-ups will be every 6 months.  (So hopefully next spring we can stay longer.)

What are you celebrating today? I'm looking forward to your good news. Have a great day, and have a great week-end. 

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

More Stories from Beyond Watson

Political conventions, doctor appointments, and working on query letters have delayed my continued reviews of Beyond Watson stories, but now I'm back to share four more tales in this collection with you.

Perhaps what I'm enjoying most about the stories is how different they are from one another. They all capture the "Victorian" tone of storytelling, but each author has a distinct voice. A second factor is the contrast between a short story and a novel. For quite a few years, I've been mainly reading novels. I had forgotten how pleasurable it is to dip into something you can finish in one sitting, compared to the commitment a novel takes and the vexation you feel when you have to put it down because of unfinished tasks hovering in the wings.

So: to the four stories I'm highlighting today:

Don Everett Smith, Jr.'s "The Curse of Cairgannham" weaves back and forth in time and location. It's narrated during "the second year of the Second World War." An 85-year old retired American newsman, Larkin Cobb, looks back on the time he was sent by his editor in New Jersey to interview Sherlock Holmes in England. Cobb ended up assisting Holmes to catch a mysterious figure terrorizing the farming community of Cairgannham. For reasons I can't tell you, Cobb is inspired by this memory as WWII rages on.

Luke Benjamin Kuhns's "The Tiger's Master" is narrated by a minister's wife, Violet Thane, who is  none other than Violet Hunter, the governess Holmes rescued in Doyle's "The Copper Beeches." (It's always fun to meet a character in one story who is a character in another story.) As the minister's wife, Violet has won the confidence of wives in the parish. Thus, Daisy Jones confides in her that thugs assaulted Mr. Jones, leaving him for dead—this some days after he discovered a stranger their back garden. Remembering the way Holmes approached her dilemma when she was a governess, Violet soon discovers nefarious plans afoot and helps Holmes unravel a case full of surprises.

Kieran Lyne's "The Adventure of the White Cedar Hotel" is narrated by Percival Tremayne, a loyal if perplexed employee who functions as butler and jack of all trades for the mysterious hotel owner, William Walberswick. Walberswick has created a sense of privilege to stay at the White Cedar, despite his truly odd rules—one of which is that hotel guests must enter and exit from the back entrance. Recently a new arrival, Monsieur Todd, has started making up his own rules, offending other guests. He seems to have Mr. Walberswick at some disadvantage, which is why Tremayne asks Holmes to investigate. And quite an interesting game is "afoot" here.

And then there is Derrick Belanger's delightful story, "Yes, Virginia, There Is a Sherlock Holmes." Bert Provencher, a mailman, stops by his favorite speakeasy, and notices again a father drowning his sorrows in beer, his sad, young daughter (Virginia) at his side. Today Virginia has a copy of The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes. Hoping to cheer the father and daughter up, Bert launches into the story of how he actually met the real Sherlock Holmes. Amid scoffing remarks of friends in the bar, Bert persists in recounting that fateful day when Sherlock Holmes changed his life forever. A brilliant gem of a tale that left me smiling at the end.

You can get your copy of Beyond Watson at:
AMAZON        and         BARNES&NOBLE      (among other sites) 

Question for you: If you were going to write a story about Sherlock Holmes, who would you choose for a narrator?

Monday, June 27, 2016

Beyond Watson Stories

This post is not a "celebration" post (although a few weeks ago I did celebrate the publication of Beyond Watson.) In the coming weeks, though, in addition to Friday celebrations, I'm going to be posting about the other stories in this great collection.

With much pleasure, I'm working my way through them. I'm purposely going slowly, as I want to appreciate each story for itself. So far I've read three, and each is a gem:

Geri Shear's "Mrs. Hudson's Lodger" tells how Mrs. Hudson and Sherlock Holmes met. You'd be surprised. One of my favorite painters, the English landscapist William Turner (or J. M. W. Turner, more formally) is involved. The characterizations of Mrs. Hudson and Sherlock Holmes are excellent. The story, charming and completely engrossing, flows beautifully.

Marcia Wilson's "The Mortal Condition," takes place during a stake-out on a cold winter night. In this atmospheric tale, a reader sees Sherlock Holmes through the eyes of Lestrade, the inspector who is so often overshadowed by Holmes. Lestrade turns out to be a deeply philosophical and sympathetic character whose observations cast new light on The Great Detective and his partner, Watson. By the time I finished the story, Wilson's setting was so real that I felt I had actually been there and experienced the cold and damp, the ominous shadows.

Richard Paolinelli's "A Lesson in Mercy" is a brilliant reminiscence by none other than Sir Winston Churchill. (I love it when historical figures are pulled into a Sherlock Holmes story!) The famous prime minister shares an incident that he considers "the darkest time in my career." What that event was, you'll just have to read the story to find out. But the characters are engaging, and we get young Churchill's view of both Holmes and Watson.

Now I'm starting Derrick Belanger's "Yes, Virginia, There Is a Sherlock Holmes." (Belanger as in Belanger Books.) With typical modesty and support of the other authors, Belanger put his story last in the anthology. Reading the collection, I started at the beginning, and was working my way down. But then my husband read "Yes, Virginia . . ." and his reactions were such that I simply had to skip ahead and read it now. I'll be sharing that and other stories next time.

Meanwhile, you can order Beyond Watson at:


How about you? Do you have any story collections to recommend? Do you like the idea of seeing Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson through new eyes?

Friday, June 24, 2016

Celebrating Good Reads and New Projects

Hi, there, I haven't been very active on this blog since my eye surgery, but the eye is healing, and it's time to celebrate again.

But first, this Celebrate the Small Things blog hop is co-hosted by Lexa Cain at: Lexa Cain,  L.G. Keltner @ Writing Off The Edge , and Tonja Drecker @ Tidbits Blog. You can go to any of these sites to add your name to the links, if you want to participate. I recommend it, because it's always fun to see positive news that others are celebrating, and to share your own as well. 

So, what am I celebrating? 
1. I'm starting a new project--one I can't talk about yet, but it will keep me busy all through the month of July and possibly August. 

2. Meanwhile, during my "recuperation" period, I've been reading lots of good books, and "filling the well."

3. And, three new beta readers read through my latest mystery rewrite and, apart from a few small tweaks, thought it was good. I'm letting it "rest" for now, while I mull over the comments, but August I plan to go through it with those tweaks and then send it out. 

How about you? Do you have any projects you can't talk about yet? Have you read some good books lately? (Names, please. These days I do a lot of my reading based on recommendations.) Do you give your manuscripts time to rest between rewrites?