Book Spotlight: Where Darkness Walks by Donna Hawk

This is a young adult paranormal romance book that’s received good reviews on Amazon and Goodreads. Thought I would spread the word about a fellow independent author, Donna Hawk.

Donna Hawk Final Cover for May

Clarie’s world is about to change for the darker. Rand broke up with her at the prom, she uncovers a secret in the hidden back of an armoire, and she meets Patrick, who is determined to help her forget her broken heart.

As Clarie evades classmate Bulldog’s stalking, she and Patrick explore the dark halls of an abandoned cement plant. After following Clarie and Patrick deep inside the cement plant, Bulldog confronts Clarie as he fights with Patrick. When she is accidentally pushed against a set of dark doors into the shadow realm of Mortgatha, everything she fears is set into motion to keep her away from her beloved Earth world.

Even with Patrick’s help, the doorway home moves randomly, evil characters beset them at every turn, and the way home seems farther away than ever.

Where you can purchase this book

Paperback Createspace

E-Book Amazon

donna hawkAbout the Author

I have been a teacher in Kansas for 33 years. I enjoy writing, riding my bicycle, and spending time with my husband. I am an avid photographer and Photoshop user. Currently, I am working on a dark trilogy for young adults, the first of which I am hoping will be completed by the end of the summer 2013.
If you have any questions for me, you can email me at: bydonnahawk@gmail.com

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A Review of NOS4A2 by Joe Hill

I’ve suffered from a bout of mental incontinence lately that has affected not only my blogging, but also my writing. I have been writing every day, but the words have come out in forced drips. Not pretty, but I pushed through and now everything seems to be fine.

During that period I became engrossed in the latest novel by Joe Hill, NOS4A2. The novel is a wild, trippy ride through the inscapes of the mind meshed with the story of one woman’s struggle to relate to her loved ones and the world around her.

NOS4A2

Joe Hill writes a good story. I loved the idea of inscapes, and especially the call out to Mid-World from the Dark Tower Series. The overarching story of how Vic McQueen deals with her gift (or curse) and her conflict with the antagonist, Charlie Manx, drive the story.

My main criticism is that at times I felt that the narrative could have been tighter, and in fact a review I read on Amazon nailed how I feel:

NOS4A2 is epic in length, but not in scope.’

Vic McQueen is the best part of the story. She has a gift or a curse, depending on your point of view, and her life unfolds in response to this gift (or curse). Joe Hill nails the reality of mental illness with his portrayal of the evolution of Vic’s character. I felt a great deal of sympathy for her and pulled for her throughout the novel. Vic is the classic tragic heroine.

Charlie Manx is a real-life villain. What he does is horrible, but when seen from his point of view you can understand why he does what he does. You understand why he thinks what he does is right. In that way Charlie is not a caricature, but I never sympathized. There are points in Charlie’s history where Joe Hill could have tweaked a few events and made Charlie a villain for whom you feel sympathy, thus making Charlie deeper, but that never materialized.

Outside of Vic, the real delight is the idea of inscapes–how everyone has their own perception of reality and that each of our perceptions of reality are linked. These perceptions of reality can become separate worlds whose extent are limited only by our imagination. It’s a powerful set of ideas that Joe has put out there.

Unlike Horns, Joe Hill’s previous novel, I was able to set aside NOS4A2 when I needed to sleep–except for the climax. The last hundred or so pages flew by.

In the end what makes NOS4A2 a good novel is the sum of the positives. Like I said, the prose could be tighter, but the lead character, Vic McQueen, and the story itself pull this novel together and make it a good read.

If you like Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere or The Dark Tower Series by Stephen King, I think you might like NOS4A2.

I will say that after reading NOS4A2 I now want a Rolls Royce Wraith.

Rolls Royce Wraith

“Reynolds! Reynolds!”—The End of Edgar Allan Poe

After reading A Jane Austen Daydream by Scott Southard, I started to think about the authors from bygone eras who have influenced my fiction writing. Two stand out. Mary Shelley and Edgar Allan Poe.

1848 Daguerreotype of Edgar Allan Poe at 39, a...

1848 Daguerreotype of Edgar Allan Poe at 39, a year before his death (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Frankenstein stirred in me an interest in science fiction. The novel was the first so-called classic that I read and enjoyed so much that I re-read it. The conflict within the doctor over what he created was moving. The story was tragic. The creature learned to be civilized and only wanted a mate because in his mind he thought that he deserved happiness, just as anyone else did. The doctor agrees to create a mate for the creature, but the story ends in revenge and bloodshed.

I invite anyone who enjoys science fiction and who has not read Frankenstein to give the story a try (it’s free on Amazon). Mary Shelly was truly a gifted writer.

As for Poe, as far as I know, he stuck to short stories and poems. The two stories of his that have stayed with me to this day are The Purloined Letter and The Murders in the Rue Morgue. Both are detective stories ahead of their time, and again, not being an expert on Poe, I believe that they are the inspiration for the Sherlock Holmes and Watson characters, in that you have the detective, Dupin, who is borderline genius and the unnamed sidekick.

The stories, especially The Purloined Letter, were masterfully done. I’m not a mystery story connoisseur, so I know not how the stories rank with modern mystery tales, but I found them to be clever and engaging.

C. Dupin--The Purloined Letter

C. Dupin–The Purloined Letter

Reading those stories opened me to Poe’s other stories, and from there I moved on to Lovecraft, Dean Koontz, Stephen King, Clive Barker, Peter Straub, and now, Joe Hill.

Poe was an odd man, to say the least. He wrote a poem he titled Eureka, in which he presaged the idea of the Big Bang, but the work has been largely dismissed because it is riddled with scientific errors. Still, Poe considered it his master work and, in his words, “more important than the discovery of gravity”.

In addition, he died under odd circumstances. Being a rampant alcoholic and leading a poor writer’s life, Poe abused his body. He died early at the age of 40, but his life’s ending, like many of his stories, is not so simple on its face.

One night Poe was found roaming the streets of Baltimore in a delusional state and dressed in another man’s clothes. He repeatedly called out the name, “Reynolds, Reynolds!”

Why? No one by that name was found.

Adding onto the oddities, no one knows from what he died because his death certificate was lost.

I wonder what really happened to Poe that night? Maybe he met an end different from what we believe? I’d like to think so. 

Still, even if what we know is true, then, even in death, Poe wrote the beginning to a great detective story.

I will title it “Reynolds” and go from there.

What stories have lingered with you through the years?

English: Signature of writer Edgar Allan Poe.

Book Review: A Jane Austen Daydream by Scott Southard

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A Jane Austen Daydream is a roller-coaster emotional ride through the love life of Jane Austen set against the background of her day to day ups and downs with her family and her struggles within the confines of British society.

I should note that I read Scott Southard’s blog and have had communication with him where he has answered questions I have about writing and publishing. He’s a very friendly guy and I recommend reading his blog where he offers advice to the aspiring writer and talks about his own life as a writer.

That said, despite my desire to at least give A Jane Austen Daydream a try, I kept putting it off because I have been staying within the realm of science fiction, fantasy and horror for some time. I couldn’t see myself visiting a place outside of my comfort zone and liking what I found, but one night, after being mired in a book that I felt was going nowhere, I opened a sample of A Jane Austen Daydream on my kindle and read. And read. And read.

As I mentioned several times on Twitter, Scott’s novel ate into my precious sleep time. I kept reading, hoping that Jane would find what she was looking for.

What hooked me though, and what I think would hook any reader, no matter their genre preference, is the witty, fun and genuine dialogue.

After a few chapters I found myself invested in the fates of the characters, particularly Jane and Cassandra, her sister. Scott’s Jane is the kind of woman most men would love to meet some day. She is strong, witty, kind and intelligent. I found myself living her dreams and hoping her hopes. I wanted her to find someone.

Jane Austen

Jane Austen (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Throughout the novel Jane grows in character. At first she is rash, but over the years her personal struggles and the experiences she has with her family mature her. What remains constant throughout though are her charm, wit, and grace. She is one of the more enjoyable characters I have read in literature in some time.

The only criticism I have is that several chapters in I saw the pattern of the novel play out in my head. I could see how Scott structured the novel, and that moment of realization broke the dream state briefly. It’s a minor criticism because the story itself is wonderful, the characters endearing.

By the end of the novel you will, if you have a heart, feel for the characters, and you will be happy that you gave Scott Southard’s A Jane Austen Daydream a try.

Is there more pressure on female characters to be likeable?

This post made me think about how expectations of women in our society bleed over into the literature we write.
Also, I wonder if I could write a story with a strong female lead while not conforming to an ingrained sense of what makes a female character likeable?

MeReader

Do characters have to be likeable? Is there more pressure on female characters to be likeable, and more pressure on female writers to write likeable characters? Is this an issue of genre, of high and low culture, of literature versus popular fiction?

In an interview about her new book, The Woman Upstairs, Claire Messud was asked about the fact that her female protagonist is not very likeable. Here’s her response:

For heaven’s sake, what kind of question is that? Would you want to be friends with Humbert Humbert? Would you want to be friends with Mickey Sabbath? Saleem Sinai? Hamlet? Krapp? Oedipus? Oscar Wao? Antigone? Raskolnikov? Any of the characters in The Corrections? Any of the characters in Infinite Jest? Any of the characters in anything Pynchon has ever written? Or Martin Amis? Or Orhan Pamuk? Or Alice Munro, for that matter? If you’re reading to find…

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