Category Archives: Book Review

Review of Behold the Dawn, by K.M. Weiland

Compelling and riveting historical fiction

Get ready for a novel by KM Weiland that will grab you and hold on until you turn the last of its captivating pages.

Behold the Dawn, by K.M. Weiland

Behold the Dawn opens in the year 1192 when Crusaders under King Richard I battled Saladin’s Muslim forces in the Holy Land in an attempt to recapture Jerusalem. At the same time, Marcus Annan engaged in deadly mock battle as a Tourneyer. Annan, “…fought today for the same reason he always fought: it was the only thing his life had left him fit for.” Under threat of excommunication, tourney participants such as Annan continued to ply their trade.

Excerpt from the tourney

The setting sun, burning gold through the dust of the field, glinted against the iron tip of a war hammer. Annan’s blood pumped heat into his muscles. The rules of this tourney banned the war hammer from competition; its lethal heft would crush armor and shatter flesh and bone alike. His fist tightened on his sword hilt, the leather finger of his gauntlet creaking against the steel of the crossguard. Marcus Annan wasted no mercy on duplicitous knaves.

After a day of dealing death, he’s troubled by the sight of a faceless monk, a face hidden within the shadow of a cowl. By the time the spark of recognition brought flashes of hidden memories from 16 years past, the monk disappeared. Annan collected his spoils and ransom from battle while a chain of unfolding events propelled him from Bari, Italy to the fields of battle in the Holy Land.

Annan and his sidekick Peregrine Marek, a Scottish lad indentured to his service, would face deadly challenges from former comrades at arms in addition to threats from avowed enemies. A onetime believer in Christianity, Annan now felt his soul beyond hope; a conscience seared from a life running away from a nightmare called St. Dunstan. Gethin the monk, also known as the Baptist, raged against the Church, the Pope, the Holy War and especially against Roderic the Bishop. These words resurrected memories of the tragic day as he had tried to forget all those years.

During an encounter with Roderic and men at arms allied with him, Annan agrees to kill a former colleague by the name of Matthias, but refuses to kill William, Earl of Keaton his former mentor, his wife Lady Mairead, and the Baptist. By doing so, events are set in motion that take Annan and Marek to the Holy Land.

Not long after landing on the beaches of Acre, Annan and Marek found themselves in the heat of battle, tasting victory as Crusader catapults breached the walls of Acre. Just when the battle appeared to be won, Saladin’s cavalry breached the flanks of Christian fighters. Annan took an arrow from a Saracen volley as it passed through his mail shirt. A Moslem blade disemboweled Annan’s mount. Annan fell, the world around him faded. When Annan woke, he found himself in a prison camp in the care of Knights Hospitalers and in the presence of Lady Mairead the Countess of Keaton, wife of William of Keaton. Annan is one of 2,500 prisoners. Eventually, Annan gained an audience with William after making a plea to Mairead. During that meeting, a dying William made a daunting request, a request to escort Mairead from the Holy Land to a convent in Orleans, France.

Annan accepts the request that will lead to a series of attacks on Annan and Mairead. The story progresses through a series of narrow escapes. Enemies abound. Friends die. Mystery compels constant diligence. Mairead, a deeply religious Christian, prays for Annan, not for his life only but that he accept God’s redemption. While doing so, barriers she had placed between them, fade. Her persistence causes him to question his lack of faith. Maybe there is hope after all.

KM Weiland thoroughly researched the period then used her amazing gift of expression and talents of turning the right phrase and delivering memorable quotes. Readers become part of the field of battle, experience thrilling suspense, and visualize colorful tapestries as she paints poetic word pictures of earth, sky and sea.

Excerpt, lyrical text

This was the fortress city of Jaffa, its repaired walls dark against the sunset red of the sea, pinpricks of early firelight just beginning to show through the window slits in the wall.

I’ve read and enjoyed other novels and short stories by KM Weiland and have a new favorite in Behold the Dawn.

In addition to writing wonderful fiction, Ms. Weiland has written back to back, award winning books on the writing craft, Outlining Your Novel and Structuring Your Novel.  Refer to her author biography for a complete listing of her work.

K.M. Weiland Biography

K.M. Weiland Author, mentor and blogger

K.M. Weiland lives in make-believe worlds, talks to imaginary friends, and survives primarily on chocolate truffles and espresso. She is the IPPY and NIEA Award-winning and internationally published author of the Amazon bestsellers Outlining Your Novel and Structuring Your Novel, as well as the western A Man Called Outlaw, the medieval epic Behold the Dawn, and the portal fantasy Dreamlander. When she’s not making things up, she’s busy mentoring other authors on her award-winning blog http://www.helpingwritersbecomeauthors.com. She makes her home in western Nebraska. Find out more about her fiction at http://www.kmweiland.com.

Why I write:
Stories are like breathing. Life without a story in my head is one-dimensional, stagnant, vapid. I love the life God has given me, but I think I love it better because I’m able to live out so many other lives on the page. I’m more content to be who I am because I’m not trapped in that identity. When I sit down at my computer and put my fingers on the keys, I can be anyone or anything, at any time in history. I write because it’s freedom.

Writing routine:
I set aside two hours, five days a week, to write, usually between four and six p.m. I’m a firm believer in Peter de Vries claim: “I write when I’m inspired, and I see to it that I’m inspired at nine o’clock every morning.” I spend the first half hour scribbling ideas in a writing journal, reviewing character sketches and research notes, reading an article on the craft, and proofreading what I wrote the day before. Then I pick a soundtrack, say a prayer for guidance, and dive in.

Process:
It takes years sometimes for my ideas to find their way onto the page. After the first kernel of inspiration takes root, I play with it and play with it, discovering characters and scenes and plot twists. Finally, when I think it’s ready, I dig out a notebook and start sketching ideas and outlines. Depending on the subject matter, I spend a few months researching, then take a deep breath and pray that all the work will pay off in a way that will glorify God.

Inspiration:
Most of my story ideas begin with a character and a place. An outlaw in the Wyoming Territory. A mercenary knight in the Crusades. A vigilante plantation owner in Kenya. A female spy in the Napoleonic Wars. A barnstormer in early 20th-century Kansas. After that, who knows? Inspiration is a gift from God: bits and pieces, tiny ideas that bloom into unexpected treasures.

Advice:
Writing is both a gift and an art. As a gift, it must be approached with humility: the writer is only the vessel through which inspiration flows. As an art, it must be approached with passion and discipline: a gift that’s never developed wasn’t worth the giving.

Websitehttp://www.kmweiland.com/

Writing advice: http://www.helpingwritersbecomeauthors.com/

Amazon.com Author Page: Link

Smashwords: Link

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Filed under Book Review, Historical Fiction, Writing

Book Review — Del Norte by Julia Rob

review by Rich Weatherly

A gritty story about life on the southern plains in 1870 San Angela

Del Norte book cover

Del Norte may be Julia Robb’s best book yet! Del Norte, a saloon near San Angela, Texas and Fort Concho. The people living there in 1870 have a legacy of hard times and difficult circumstances. This story draws upon a cast of characters from diverse backgrounds. Remote outposts like San Angela make earning a living easier than crowded places farther north and east. Magdalena Chapas and partner Thomas Lamb run the Del Norte Saloon. Ray Cortez is Magdalena’s ex-husband. It wasn’t her doing. As it turns out Ray is a womanizer, and this is just one of his many character flaws. Magdalena cares for her disabled son, Benni. She looks to Dr. Wade Pitney for help in making Benni’s arm functional. Thomas wants to marry Magdelana.

Thomas and Wade had both arrived from a Union prisoner of war camp back east. Thomas became the camp adjutant after taking a bullet in his thigh. Wade was a Confederate doctor charged with stealing food from the prisoners. He denied the charge saying his brother was dying from consumption.

Captain Thomas Lamb described camp conditions. “During fights, he saw artillery behead soldiers, he saw men die holding their intestines in their bodies with their hands, saw them die with dysentery, spilling their evil-smelling waste at army hospitals, or in their own tents, or on the ground under cold skies. Nothing ever shocked him compared to Elmira”

Sing Kum arrived in San Francisco after being sold by her father. A girl’s life was cheap in Canton. Lan, a former Chinese pirate rescued Sing when she was deathly ill in the back of a box car. She grew to love Lan but did not know of his dark past. Lan is ambitious. He’s determined to become a big shot. To him, Sing is just a woman.

Julia Robb brings in other characters, warts and all, to create a compelling story. Her characters are complex; some likeable, other’s seemingly have little redeeming social value. This frontier town populated by a diverse array of personal backgrounds makes conditions ripe for conflict. Racism and bigotry brings dark consequences. Nothing is sugar coated. Expect a well written, gritty portrayal of life on the frontier that moves toward a shocking climax.

Try Del Norte. I’m sure you’ll learn a lot about life on the southern plains in 1870.

Amazon Purchase link: Del Norte

Author’s Bio

Julia Robb- Author

I’m a former journalist and editor-I spent 20 years in the newspaper business-and I’m now a free-lance writer/editor in Marshall, Texas. For fun, I drive across Texas, to the deserted corners, the wide spaces, heading west past Waco, watching the mesas float in the distance.
I began writing “Scalp Mountain” in 2009, when I saw images in my mind; a man kicking his horse into a gallop, racing away from a crime, two men fighting in a Texas valley, a woman hugging an Indian baby, refusing to let him go.
Buddies in the Saddle said about “Scalp Mountain,” “This is a fine novel. If you drew a line between “Lonesome Dove” and “All the Pretty Horses,” you would find “Scalp Mountain” somewhere along the way…..there were times when this one had me and refused to let go. For anyone who likes their westerns well grounded in history, this is one you don’t want to miss.”
I published “Saint of the Burning Heart” in February, 2013.
Saint is about a half-Hispanic child who is left homeless and alone in small-town Texas. A powerful rancher, Frank Kendall, and his family, adopt Nicki and give her a life of comfort and position.
But family intimacy leads to a obsessive, violent love affair between Nicki and Frank. Nicki is forced to leave town and when she returns finds the town at war with itself, with Anglos pitted against Hispanics. And two of the people she loves best are struggling against each other. Frank leads the Anglos and Nicki’s best friend, David Rodriguez, leads the Hispanics.
I published Del Norte this month, in December, 2013.
Del Norte is a novella about San Angela, Texas, which is a rough place in 1870, and Magdalena Chapas knows all about it; from the men who shoot holes in each other while drinking in her saloon, the Del Norte, to the man who loved her, married her and left her without a word.
Now Ray Cortez is back, and Magdalena doesn’t know what her ex-husband wants.
Does it have anything to do with the gravestone she leaned on the Del Norte’s back wall?
The stone says, “Americo Chapas, 1823-1868, Asesinado, Dios Lo Vengara, Murdered, God Will Avenge Him.”
Sing Kum knows about men.
She was freezing to death in a boxcar when Lan found her and nursed her back to health.
But Lan has a past and ambitions Sing only discovers when it’s too late. She already loves him.
Dr. Wade Pickney knows what men can do because the Yankees locked him up in a POW camp during the war and almost starved him to death.
Then they accused him of the unspeakable.
Thomas knows what men can do because he was adjutant at the camp which imprisoned Wade.
Thomas, Magdalena’s partner at the Del Norte, also knows Ray Cortez is going to be the death of somebody if he, Thomas, doesn’t stop him.
Thomas tells Magdalena that Ray was not a good man but she can safely trust him, she can love him.
“Shut up,” Magdalena says, fending off the drunks, slipping the cards from the faro box, raking in the money, and waiting for her world to explode around her.

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Filed under Book Review, Historical Fiction, Western

Book Review— Odd Interlude: A Special Odd Thomas Adventure

by Dean Koontz

The Odd Thomas series by Dean Koontz features a twenty something fry cook who is gifted with special powers and abilities. He’s one of my favorite Dean Koontz characters and Koontz is one of my favorite suspense/thriller authors.

This is one of the shorter books in the Odd Thomas series so I decided to read it before picking up my hardbound copy of Deeply Odd on my nightstand.

I’d read some of the negative reviews about the book so had my guard up while reading. I couldn’t disagree more with the negative reviews. Having read nearly every Dean Koontz book and all prior Odd Thomas books I found several features that I enjoyed. For new readers to the series, it offers a short recap of the original Odd Thomas book then moves on to place Odd in a small dysfunctional community. We learn of a family who is terrorized by a powerful villain who will give Odd one of his biggest challenges yet.

Readers will find a good blend of the mad scientist theme frequently used by Koontz, events related to a black ops government research facility and a terrifying antagonist.

This is a great read and I highly recommend it!
For more information about Dean Koontz click the image below.

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Filed under Book Review, Suspense/Thriller

New Website by Novelist, Western Historian and Friend Julia Robb

Several months ago I interviewed my friend Julia about her book Scalp Mountain. I’m pleased to announce Julia 1012439_10200980573130615_20148056_nunveiled a new website and blog today. Many of you know Julia. This is a well designed site and it reflects well on her work. I’m honored to share it with my blog followers and visitors. Please check it out and feel free to comment. I know Julia will appreciate it!

Julia Robb — Novelist & Western Historian

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Filed under Book Review, Books, Guest Host, Publishing, Texas Volunteer Rangers, Writing

Book Review—Warrior’s Psalm

a Novella by Thomas Rowe Drinkard

review by Rich Weatherly 

A well crafted fantasy thriller

Thomas Rowe Drinkard served as a US Army Special Forces officer in Vietnam. In my opinion, his experience in warriorspsalm 560 x 740combat and as a seasoned writer helped make Warrior’s Psalm one of his most compelling stories yet. The novella opens on a young couple as they complete their final test that will qualify them as members of an elite clan, the Recondos. Freya and Kalev, the young couple and protagonists communicate between one another using telepathy. That gift more than any other will be critical to the success of their mission.

The story takes place in a post-apocalyptic setting where both sides use high-tech gadgets to sense, track and engage the opposition. You’ll learn of drones that resemble insects, cloaking devices, and instruments that provide secure access to camouflaged safe houses.

Freya and Kalev have grown up together in a close-knit community. While working as partners in combat, we see a warm affectionate bond developing between them. The skills they demonstrate at the end of training exceed the expectations of their mentor and handler. As a result of this success, their first real-world assignment will have the pair extracting an embedded spy from The Hive, an enclave operated by the enemy, The Deciders and Protectors.

Thomas Drinkard blends elements of YA fiction, Science Fiction, and Fantasy to create a thrilling page turner. Character development is well executed and the plot line riveting. If you enjoy good writing, I can guarantee you won’t be disappointed.

Book Description

Freya and Kalev are the newest members of an elite warrior clan, the Recondos. They are a unique reconnaissance team. They are true telepaths who can link their minds and
communicate silently, over extended distances.

On their initiation recon, they see the enemies of their civilization for their first time: The Deciders and Protectors. They also witness a brutal execution ordered by the Deciders. 

From that day, their courage and faith will be put to severe tests. They must rely on their gifts to face a cruel enemy and the challenges that young women and men encounter as they begin to mature.

Purchase Link on Amazon.com 

About Thomas Rowe Drinkard

Thomas Rowe Drinkard was born and reared in Alabama.  He graduated from the University of North Alabama with a degree in English.  Upon graduation, he was commissioned an Army second lieutenant. Within two years he completed parachute school and was selected for the U.S. Army Special Forces (the Green Berets). He spent more than ten years with the fabled unit.

After his active duty years, he found his way into teaching and writing in the securities exam preparation business. Many of his articles and texts are currently in use.

Tom is now a full-time writer/ part-time editor. He is the author of the novels; Piety and Murder, Where There Were No Innocents, Overload and Devil’s Blade as well as the novellas, V Trooper -First Mission and V Trooper-Second Mission, The Demon. His newest book is the YA novella, Warrior’s Psalm.He is also the author of a chapbook of Vietnam poetry, Finding the Way Home.

A workin progress is scheduled for publication in 2013; A SciFi novel, tentatively titled Swift & Co.

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Filed under Book Review, Books, Mixed Genre

Q&A with Kourtney Heintz, Author of The Six Train to Wisconsin

post by Rich Weatherly

Friends and fellow bloggers, I’m honored to introduce you to Kourtney Heintz, debut author of The Six Train to Wisconsin. Kourtney has agreed to an interview about her past and about her writing life. Before I start the Q&A, I think this is a good time to introduce your book Kourtney.

Synopsis of Novel: SixTraintoWisconsin1600

When Kai’s telepathy spirals out of control, her husband Oliver brings her to the quiet Wisconsin hometown he abandoned a decade ago, where he must confront the secrets of his past to save their future.

Sometimes saving the person you love can cost you everything. There is one person that ties Oliver Richter to this world: his wife Kai. For Kai, Oliver is the keeper of her secrets.

When her telepathy spirals out of control and inundates her mind with the thoughts and emotions of everyone within a half-mile radius, the life they built together in Manhattan is threatened.

To save her, Oliver brings her to the hometown he abandoned—Butternut, Wisconsin—where the secrets of his past remain buried. But the past has a way of refusing to stay dead. Can Kai save Oliver before his secrets claim their future?

An emotionally powerful debut, The Six Train to Wisconsin pushes the bounds of love as it explores devotion, forgiveness and acceptance.

 The Q&A

Welcome to my blog Kourtney! Before I get into specific questions, are there any general comments you’d like to share as we kick off this interview?

Rich, I’d like to thank you for sharing your blog space with me and for taking the time to interview me. Really appreciate the support you’ve given me and my novel!

RW– When I purchased your book, I couldn’t help but notice the following: The Six Train to Wisconsin, was a 2012 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Semifinalist. Do you have any thoughts on the reason for your book’s early success?

Aw, thank you. I fretted over the book being ready. I sent out my first manuscript too soon and I didn’t want that to happen again. So I took my time with this one. I won several charity auctions to have my first 50-100 pages critiqued by agents, editors, and published authors. I had a few beta readers. I work shopped it. I brought it to writing critique groups. And I listened to the feedback and incorporated it over time. I tried to put my ego aside and make the best book I could make.

I also didn’t try to write to trend. I wrote the story that was inside me. The story I was most passionate about. My characters had lots of quirks and flaws. They were people I could spend years with.

I tried to focus on universal emotions– jealousy, regret, guilt, uncertainty… to tap into things that everyone could relate to. Even the arguments between the husband and wife. I tried to capture what I’d experienced in arguments–where you are having two separate conversations simultaneously and don’t even realize it at the time.

 RW- You mentioned to me that you used genre blending and alternating point of view. Please elaborate.

I don’t write straight genre fiction because I don’t seem to be able to stay within the lines. I know what the expectations of the genre are, but my stories inevitably pass through several genres.

 This one started out with the telepathy being the central story point for the couple, which is why it’s speculative fiction. Later, we learn the husband has a secret about his father whom he’s run from since high school. This introduces a mystery element. The relationship between the husband and the wife skirts along women’s fiction and literary fiction with the in-depth emotions and the beautiful turns of phrase. As the book progresses, a thriller element weaves through the last 100 pages. I didn’t plan any of this. The story just went where it went, and I realize this would be a humdinger to categorize.

 The alternating point of view (POV) was something an agent suggested to me during a revise and resubmit. Originally, I told half the novel from the husband’s POV, a quarter from the wife’s POV, and then alternated chapter by chapter to the end. The agent strongly advised me to alternate POV from the get go, allowing the characters to live and breathe side by side. She thought it would enrich the story. After several months of painful revisions, I completely agree with her.

 Alternating POV is more common in love stories. And at its heart that is what this novel is to me. It’s not all hearts and rainbows. There are misunderstandings and hurt feelings; there are betrayals and heartbreak. Even so, I think all of that is part of the journey of love.

RW- I think it’s fair now for me to refer to you as a successful debut author. What are your writing plans for the future?

Thank, Rich. I’ll take that. 🙂

Right now, I’m in promotional mode. I have book tours, blog tours, and lots of social media work to do. But this summer, I plan to start revisions on my YA novel, Reckonings. I have another YA novel that a beta reader is going over for me. That’s on my to do list too. And this fall/winter, I really want to start on the follow up to Six Train.

 RW- Who are your favorite authors?

Charlaine Harris and Laurell K Hamilton are two authors I really love because they do cross genre so well.  

I’m a huge fan of Sue Monk Kidd and Alice Sebold–they have such beautiful writing.  

I also love YA fiction–Jay Asher and John Green move me to tears with their books.

RW- Do you have any recommendations or thoughts to share with aspiring writers?

You may have to hear hundreds of rejections before you get that one yes. That’s okay. It’s all part of the process to make you a better writer. Listen, absorb, and learn. It truly is a craft not a calling. So practice is essential. Keep writing and keep putting your work out there. It’s the only way you’ll ever get that elusive yes.

 And if you are getting lots of personalized rejections on full manuscript requests where they compliment your writing, but telling you they don’t know how to sell it, then it may be the time to consider indie publishing. Because maybe your story is ready, but it’s just not a big enough moneymaker for traditional publishing.

Bio

IMG_0891

Kourtney Heintz – Author

 Kourtney resides in Connecticut with her warrior lapdog, Emerson, her supportive parents and three quirky golden retrievers. Years of working on Wall Street provided the perfect backdrop for her imagination to run amuck at night, imagining a world where out-of-control telepathy and buried secrets collide.

 RW– Please include any links you have to share.

Website: http://kourtneyheintz.com includes purchase links.

Blog: http://kourtneyheintz.wordpress.com

Facebook Page: http://www.facebook.com/kourtneyheintzwriter

Twitter: http://twitter.com/KourHei

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/goodreadscomkourtney_heintz

Taylor Swift Ticket Giveaway: http://www.facebook.com/kourtneyheintzwriter/app_228910107186452

 

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Filed under Author Interview, Book Review, Books, Introduction, Literary Fiction, Mixed Genre, prose, Thriller

Book Review— Fancy by David N. Walker

A Review by Rich Weatherly

A well crafted Civil War era YA novella

Fancy, a Novella by David N. Walker

Fancy places the fourteen year old Fancy Greene on her family farm near Florence, Alabama. This resourceful, smart young lady works the farm and cares for her younger sister, Danni. To make matters worse, not long after the story begins, she is notified that her dad has been killed in battle at Manassas Junction. None the less, Fancy determines to finish planting for the crop that should provide for their needs.

Her life becomes complicated by a lecherous preacher who will stop at noting to make Fancy his wife. When he is rebuffed by Fancy, the preacher turns to a neighboring property owner who wants the Greene property for himself. The two conspire to take the Greene property. The preacher tells the neighbor he can create a false deed, sign the document as a witness and get the deed certified by the local judge.

Fancy isn’t the push-over the preacher hopes for and no one counted on Fancy finding a friend of her dads who seeks justice on Fancy’s behalf.

I found Fancy to be an endearing, well crafted story that has much in common with classic literature. I highly recommend it and I’m eager to read the complete series. I’ve become a fan of David N. Walker.

To purchase Fancy on Kindle, click here

For the Fancy Paperback, click here

About the Author

Author David N. Walker

David N. Walker is a Christian husband, father and grandfather, a grounded pilot, a would-be Nashville star, and a near-scratch golfer who had to give up the game because of shoulder problems. A graduate of Duke University, he spent 42 years as a health insurance agent. Most of that career was spent in Texas, but for a few years he traveled many other states. He started writing about 20 years ago and has been a member and leader in several writers’ groups. Two of his books, the devotional Heaven Sent and the novella Fancy, are now available in paperback and in Kindle and Nook formats. Fancy: The Search is the second novella in the Fancy series.

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Filed under Book Review, Books, Historical Fiction, Publishing