Tuesday, September 5, 2017

The "New Read" Is Read, Now — And More Than Once.

It was that good! I read it twice, despite house cleaning and yard work in preparation for our coming trip to Spain. Sherlock Holmes: Before Baker Street

Sherlock Holmes: Before Baker Street

The book is edited by David Marcum and published by Belanger Books. Both Marcum and Derrick Belanger also have stories in this collection.

I'm a Sherlock Holmes fan, but anyone who loves mysteries would like this book, so I'll give you a link RIGHT HERE now, while I think of it.

Meanwhile, here is my review that I posted at Amazon. Hopefully it will whet your appetite.

It’s always a pleasure to encounter a Sherlock Holmes story. Sherlock Holmes: Before Baker Street, offers eleven cases by contemporary authors along with two of Sir Arthur Conon Doyle’s originals. Doyle’s stories are included for two reasons: Both took place before Holmes’s Baker Street days, and they provide reference points for some of the other stories. I can only offer teasers, but this is a must-read collection. The stories, of course, take place before Holmes moved to 221b Baker Street.

In Jayantika Ganguly’s “The Adventure of the Bloody Roses” eight-year-old Sherlock and his older brother Mycroft discover their tutor dead on a bed of cut roses in his quarters. Their parents are away on a trip, so it’s up to them to call the police, etc. What have dead roses and a murdered tutor have to do with each other? Young Sherlock’s observational skills soon lead to the answer.

Derrick Belanger offers two gems: 1. In “The Vingt-un Confession” a young man crippled from an accident at the docks, is reduced to begging and gambling. He’s not good at either. Young Holmes, not yet in college, teaches him to play Twenty-one, with surprising results. 2. In “Mr. Chen’s Lesson” Holmes shares with Watson the aftermath of a case that taught him humility after he solved a kidnapping but alienated Scotland Yard.

S. Subramanian’s “The Affair of the Aluminium Crutch” takes place during Holmes’s university days. A rich bully holds a special tea with students in his hall (including Holmes) to show off diamond studded cufflinks he’s safeguarding for his father. Another student promises a feat of magic and – poof! – the cufflinks disappear. Where? How? Sherlock Holmes figures it out.

In Robert Perret’s “The Adventure of the Dead Ringer” Holmes is new to Montague Street. He soon learns a tobacconist is being extorted by a criminal gang led by a woman whose husband is on the run. Holmes spies on her when she comes to collect, follows her to her hotel, then leaves an ad The London Times. The next day she visits Holmes and hires him—with unusual results.

In S. F. Bennett’s “The Devil of the Deverills” a post-Montague-Street Holmes is evicted once again due to an experiment gone wrong. He encounters an old classmate, Marcus Zeal. Zeal invites him to his estate in Norton Deverill, to help him with a problem: The mother of a girl Zeal fancies is accused by the vicar of witchcraft. Is she behind the strange things happening?

In David Marcum’s “The Painting in the Parlor” said parlor is at Montague Street. A landscape is painted onto the plaster above the mantelpiece. Holmes looks back an event, when a young man showed him a canvas copy of almost the same landscape given to his great-grandfather. A dagger—a missing family heirloom—shown in the canvas painting is not shown in the parlor painting. Secret codes, and missed encounters are involved—all solved by young Holmes.

Arthur Hall gives the reader a wonderful locked-room puzzle in “The Incident of the Absent Thieves”. Two art thieves, father and son, have been missing for two months. The wife, a usual accomplice, and the son’s fiancée, equally complicit in their capers, are worried, and Scotland Yard isn’t much concerned. The solution to this puzzle is brilliant, if sad.

Daniel D. Victor has Robert Louis Stevenson tell “The Adventure of the Amateur Emigrant” in a supposedly excised section from his memoir, The Amateur Emigrant. During his brief stay in New York, Stevenson attends a British pantomime of Robinson Crusoe. One of the actors is Sherlock Holmes, using a pseudonym. Soon Holmes’s detective skills are put to work when Stevenson’s wallet goes missing.

Mark Mower’s “A Day at the Races” takes a reader to Epsom Downs. Holmes joins friends of Cedric Stone, whose father Holmes helped recover a stolen ring. The group disperses except for Stone and Hughes, a schoolmaster of a boys’ school. Hughes hires Holmes to discover why the woman he hoped to marry—the sister of one of his students--suddenly forbids communication. Another good puzzle mystery with clues that keep you guessing.

Geri Schear’s “The Strange Case of the Necropolis Railway” opens under a railway bridge at 3:00 a.m. A policeman finds a bloody corpse and calls Dr. Stamford, who wants a second opinion before taking it to the mortuary. He sends for Holmes, who says the blood is not the corpse’s and that he died elsewhere. Thus begins an intriguing case only Holmes can unravel.

All the authors show mastery of storytelling and excellent research. This is a book Sherlock Holmes lovers will want to read more than once.

How about you? Are you a Sherlock fan? A mystery fan? A short story fan? Do you like anthologies and collections? As always, I'd be interested in your recommendations. 

Monday, August 14, 2017

In Thralls of a New Read

Dear Victorian Scribbles friends, sorry for not posting recently. I'm finishing up reading a fantastic collection of Sherlock Holmes stories. Three more stories to go, and then I'll be reviewing this book.

Please do come back in a few days.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Celebrating Being Home

I seem to have fallen by the wayside when it comes to blogging in recent months. Preparing for travels, a family reunion in May, our trip to Spain and Portugal, and trying to put finishing touches on notes for recent books, all distracted me from both blogs. We got home last Sunday, and I've been busy ever since then, catching up. But I do have things to celebrate this week:

First, 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. )

Now to the celebrations:

1. As some of you know, I discovered last year that I have glaucoma. It was really severe, too, when the opthamologist discovered it. I've had surgery in the eye most severely affected, and I've been taking drops in both eyes to bring the pressure down. I am diligent in taking my drops. Still, having been away for 10 weeks, I was nervous about what my eye exam would show Monday, the day after arrival. GOOD NEWS: The pressure came down some more in both eyes. I am so happy about that.

2. I have two contracts, one for my picture book, Dragonella, which should come out later this year, and one for my story collection The Carnival of the Animals, which should come out in the later part of next year. As you can imagine, I feel like turning somersaults of joy.

3. A delicious new book I ordered came in my absence: Sherlock Holmes Before Baker Street. As many of you know, I am a great Sherlock Holmes fan. (My book, Imogene and the Case of the Missing Pearls, includes him among the characters.) But I've come in contact with some wonderful pastiche writers far more knowledgeable than I in the Sherlock Holmes canon, and they are among the writers in this story collection. I can hardly wait to get started. As I read the stories, I'll start posting reviews of them here, so stay tuned.  

I'm also caught up on a lot of things, now, so I expect to be blogging more faithfully, both here and on my Fourth Wish blog next door. 

How about you? Have things distracted you from blogging? Have you had good health news lately? Are you submitting your writing projects? Do you have any good summer reads to recommend?

Friday, June 16, 2017

Celebrating Another Great Book on Writing

So it's Friday and time to celebrate the small things again. This time I'm celebrating a book  The Magic Words, by Cheryl Klein. But first,  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 BlogYou can go to any of these sites to add your name to the links, if you want to participate. 

So, the book: The Magic Words, Writing Great Books for Children and Young Adults, by Cheryl Klein, book editor, formerly for Arthur A. Levine Books/Scholastic, and now editorial director at Lee and Low Books; but also an author in her own right. And, as I read her book, it's inspiring, exciting, informative, encouraging, practical, useful — she knows her stuff! This is a book meant to be read and consulted more than once. 

I first heard of this book in a FB post by the children's book editor, Harold Underdown, who also writes a blog called The Purple Crayon and gives writing workshops for writers of boos for children and young adults. All I can say is, "Thank you, Harold Underdown!" I really recommend this book to other writers — even writers of adult fiction. You can learn more about Klein and this particular book HERE .

What are you celebrating today? Do you have a favorite book on writing you can share? I'm always looking for good books on writing. 

Friday, June 9, 2017


I'm celebrating three things today:

First, I'm celebrating the concert I'm going to hear tonight with friends. It's a concert by one of my favorite fadistas, Maria do Ceo. If you go to THIS SITE  and click on the arrow to play, you'll get an idea of how beautiful her voice is. We try to get to one of her concerts whenever we come to Galicia.

Second, an English friend we actually met in Galicia years ago is coming to visit tomorrow. We haven't seen her for about three years. It will be great to catch up on news in person, as there is only so much you can do with Facebook. 😊

Third, yesterday I did my final edit of my story collection, The Carnival of the Animals, and sent it to my publisher. He was pleased to get it, and things will start moving on that after they publish a picture book of mine later in the year. This is a happy time for me.

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. )

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Celebrating a Good Book on Writing

But first: 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. )

So: the good book I'm celebrating is one that Fred and Joan, our neighbors across the street in Sacramento, gave us before we left on our trip. I've been dipping into it from time to time, as we've been very busy since arrival — first with our water problem I mention in the last post, and then socializing with friends and neighbors we hadn't seen for a while.  Sometimes when we're driving to town I read from it, and sometimes in the evenings I take a shot at it, although I fall asleep far too easily after all the galavanting. Luckily, it's the kind of a book you can read pleasurably in bits and pieces:

How To Write Like Tolstoy, A Journey into the Minds of Our Greatest Writers

Cohen is an author, but also an agent and editor who has handled works by several pulitzer prize winners and authors who have been on the NY Times best sellers lists. His approach to the art of novel writing (the main focus in this book) is fascinating. Each chapter heading deals with an aspect of novel writing, and in sequence, so that the first chapter is about first chapters and book beginnings; then settings and characters, etc. In each chapter, he shares what great writers of classics as well as modern day successful writers have said about each chapter theme and how they approach the problem. This book is a keeper, and meant to be re-read many times. Such a wonderful gift. (Thank you, Fred & Joan!)

Cohen's website is HERE, if you want to know more about him or his books. Also purchase sites for this one, including, but not limited to Amazon HERE.

How about you? Have you discovered any good books on writing? If so, please share titles. 

Saturday, May 13, 2017


Not the kind that you see in these two photos from last spring, although we are having plenty of rain, here in Trasulfe. Cold, windy rain. (And, it being mid-May, forgetting the fickleness of Galician weather, I packed summer clothes.) Right now, I haven't had time to take new pictures, but this is what Galicia looks like — only moreso!

No, the water I am celebrating is the water tanked into our village that allows for cooking and bathing. Like — the water system. When we arrived Tuesday, the tank was empty and we were lugging 3-liter bottles of water from the grocery stores for two days. Then we gave into the situation and have been staying at a casa rural for three days. Lovely, but not our "home away from home". You can read more about it in the Facebook posting I've copied:

"The continuing saga of the village water: So we booked rooms at Torre Vilariño for Thursday and Friday nights, right? Possibly for the whole week-end, too, we told them, since we didn't know how long the problem would last. Friday a.m. we drove back to our village (Trasulfe), and lo and behold, we had water! What a thrill. We called Torre and said, no, no need for the week-end. (We were worried they might lose another booking from saving the room for us.) Then we went out to get a bite to eat. 
     "On return, bad news: The water was gone again. Called Torre to say, "Yes, we need the room this week-end," because by now it was Friday afternoon, the problem not solved, and the workmen wouldn't be working on it over the week-end. Then we talked to our new neighbors down the lane. The workmen there were working on it, lifting manhole covers in the road, turning metered faucets on, etc., to no avail. In the meantime, they had managed to turn off Eva & Manolo's water — two of our neighbors who did have water until that point.       
     "More tinkering, with conflicting explanations of what had happened: Explanation #1: It was the incline of the land, given that the water is pumped in from a place near Escairon. (But the land has always been sloped before, right?) Explanation #2, the tank that serves the community was empty. Possible. (But why?) Just as we were about to leave to go back to Torre, everything started working again: We tested the faucets in our house. We had water. But, could we trust this? 
     "We compromised and called Torre: We only needed the room for Saturday night. (We weren't sure that we did, but they'd been so flexible with us, we thought we should show up for at least part of the booking, and, if the water conked out again, we could always rough it out one more day and then go to the town hall Monday to complain. 
     "So, this morning we came home (although we are going back tonight) and checked everything out: YES! We have water! The whole village has water! Including Manolo and Eva! All fixed. New explanation: the tank that serves the community had become clogged from debris, etc., that somehow fell into the tank. They had to clean it out. Ah well, such is life and its little surprises. We had planned to go to the wine festival in Ferreira today, but the weather is cold and rainy and windy, and it feels good to stay home and nap and then meet friends at Torre for dinner on our last evening their. Alls well that ends well. "

How about you? Have you ever gone off for a vacation and found big surprises waiting for you?

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. )