As a boy, Ailean MacLachlainn dreamed of living an adventurous life and longed to be a celebrated warrior of his clan. Until a shy smile and a glance from Mùirne’s blue eyes turned his head and escalated his rivalry with Latharn into enmity and open conflict.
When Ailean became a man, his boyhood dreams faded. Until Bonnie Prince Charlie came to reclaim his father’s throne. The Jacobite loyalties of Ailean’s clan chief involved the MacLachlainns in the uprising and set Ailean on a course toward a destiny of which he could never have dreamed.
What happens when a man’s dreams turn to dust? And when a man loses everything, does he have what it takes to go on?
High on a Mountain is the stirring tale of one man’s remarkable journey through life; a story of adventure and love…of faith, loss and redemption.
About the Author
Tommie Lyn resides in the beautiful Florida panhandle with her husband of 48 years (who was her high school sweetheart). She spends part of each day engrossed in the lives of the characters who people her novels.
Visit her on the ‘net: http://tommielyn.com
There’s a lot of action and emotion in High on a Mountain, which is usually a good thing; and I found only minor problems with punctuation and grammar which, compared to most of the books I review here, were inconsequential.
Where the book really failed for me was in the writer’s style. Ms Lyn is rather fond of extraneous detail; she has a tendency to list her characters’ actions instead of showing her readers the action is unfolding. There’s a tendency to hammer plot points home by telling the reader what is happening two or three times: and there are a few very clunky transitions from one point-of-view to another which made the text quite difficult to follow at times.
What really put me off this book, though, was the stereotypical Hollywood treatment that the author gave to the Highlands and its people; and the lack of freshness present in the storyline and in the writer’s style. This book has a dull and dated flavour, I’m afraid, from its tin-of-shortbread tartan cover to its two-feuding-men-both-fall-for-the-same-girl storyline. It’s a valiant attempt but despite the relatively clean text, it didn’t work for me. I read thirty-four out of its three hundred and seventy-nine pages and doubt that any editor worth her fee would be able to bring this up to a good enough standard.
“This is really excellent advice and something many authors need. I know it will be extremely helpful not only to beginning writers but to experienced writers as well.” ~Lillie Ammann, Author and Editor at lillieammann.com
The only How-To-Write book that has nothing to do with writing. It’s all about rewriting.
Whittle away what buries the art of your words beneath pulp, no matter the topic, no matter the genre.
Aggie Villanueva is a bestselling novelist, author publicist, blogger and critically acclaimed photographic artist represented by galleries nationwide, including Xanadu Gallery in Scottsdale, AZ. For decades peers have described Aggie as a whirlwind that draws others into her vortex.
And no wonder. She was a published author at Thomas Nelson before she was 30, taught at nationwide writing conferences, and over the years worked on professional product launches with the likes of Denise Cassino, a foremost Joint Venture Specialist. Aggie founded Visual Arts Junction blog February 2009 and by the end of the year it was voted #5 at Predators & Editors in the category “Writers’ Resource, Information & News Source.” Under the Visual Arts Junction umbrella she also founded VAJ Buzz Club –where members combine their individual marketing power, and Promotion á la Carte where authors purchase promotional services only as needed.
The Rewritten Word is a small book with few pages; and those pages are printed in a large font, making this book a very short read. But sadly it’s not an absorbing read, nor is it an easy one.
Despite telling us that we must cut all extraneous discussion from our work, the author makes most of her own points several times; despite banging on about the importance of ensuring that our writing is crystal clear most of the writing in this book is verbose and confusing; and despite the author insisting at length that we mustn’t allow our writing to be boring… well. You get the picture.
The claim on the back cover copy that this is “the only How-To-Write book that has nothing to do with writing. It’s all about rewriting” sounds clever but it isn’t true: what about Browne and King’s wonderful Self-Editing for Fiction Writers, or Strunk and White’s useful but somewhat dictatorial The Elements of Style?
Ms Villanueva’s attempts to rewrite other people’s rambling paragraphs in a more clear and concise style resulted in text which was almost unintelligible; she provides a long quote from someone else’s website which takes up nearly five pages out of her book’s sixty pages (plus six lines in order to provide a web-link to the original blog—twice); but she provides no acknowledgement of the original author’s permission for her to do so, and I have to wonder if she even asked. I could go on but it feels a little like shooting fish in a barrel.
I read thirteen pages out of sixty, all the time wondering if Ms Villanueva would get to her point or write something sensible: I was disappointed. There are much better books to be had about writing and editing: for example, my friend Nicola Morgan’s fabulous Write To Be Published, which is better than this in all sorts of ways.
The Talisman of Elam (The Children of Hathor) gets off to a very slow start. The text is weighed down by exposition and mundane detail, and although it’s an easy enough read its first thirty pages or so failed to engage me. If I’d seen this in a bookshop its lacklustre back cover copy and opening would not have tempted me to buy it.
The writing improves significantly once it’s past that slow opening but by then, of course, it’s too late. There are other problems with it too: I found a number of contradictions, a few minor plot-points which were much too obvious and were made far too much of; several out-of-character reactions; and far too many incongruencies which pulled me right out of the plot.
It’s a shame, as this book is better than most of the ones I review here; but being almost good enough isn’t enough.
If I were editing this book I’d suggest that the writer dropped most of those slow pages which begin the book, and then that he should rewrite it all paying particular attention to pace and authenticity. This would involve paring the text down by a significant amount and working out how to advance the plot without reliance on coincidence; but a good writer could do that without too much trouble and this book would be much better for it. I read eighty-seven out of this book’s three hundred and thirteen pages, but don’t feel inclined to read any further.
Lenny is a boy from a family of barbarians living in a landfill site, who finds himself lost in a strange, sterile world. Although the people he meets are only trying to help him, Lenny can’t fit in, so he must make the perilous journey back to the rubbish tip to be reunited with his people.
Wastelander has an extremely unattractive front cover with a strange Photoshop effect which doesn’t quite work. The writing is clean enough, with few technical errors; but it’s a bit on the dull side and quite a lot of it is unconvincing.
The main character lives on a landfill site and although there is quite a lot of detail dedicated to explaining how his people live, it’s not convincing. They are not sufficiently different to us; they don’t seem to have much of their own culture or language, and this lack of difference means that when Lenny accidentally leaves the landfill, the world he finds outside doesn’t feel terribly different to his landfill home. The descriptions of the strange new things he encounters have a coy, self-satisfied edge which made me feel as though I were being invited to laugh at Lenny rather than empathise with him; nothing is experienced through Lenny’s viewpoint, which again made it difficult for me to in empathise with him; and all the time I was reading this book I was thinking of Stig Of The Dump, which explores a similar premise so much more successfully.
In all, then, a flat read which misses much of the potential in an interesting premise. I read forty-seven out of two hundred and twenty pages and stopped reading because of the lack of writing flair, not because of my error-count.
If this writer wishes to improve she needs to think more of idiom and detail, get closer to her characters’ emotions, and make her characters believable, rather than cardboard cutouts who only seem to exist in order to move rather passively through her plot. And she needs to treat her main character with more respect, and not use him as a novelty to examine under a light and exclaim about: that, more than anything, put me off this book.
A little more research wouldn’t hurt either: my husband is a minerals surveyor and works with landfill sites, and much of the detail provided about Lenny’s life on the landfill simply did not ring true. I recognise that thanks to my husband I have an insight into the workings of landfills which perhaps most other readers would not enjoy(!); and that this book is fiction and so some artistic licence is only to be expected. But there’s a difference between artistic licence and getting things plain wrong, and that difference makes all the difference to a book.
Does a blurb ever lie?
Can it tell what’s inside?
Go on, open me up
I have nothing to hide
Poetry was the first thing I ever had published: I’ve read a lot of it, I’ve written a lot of it (mostly bad), and, more importantly, I expect a lot from it. I expect poetry to have some sort of lyrical beauty even if it’s a harsh or bloody kind; I expect its language to be at once sparse and pure, and dense with meaning. I want to read poetry which makes me think more deeply, surprises me, and which stays with me for days after I’ve read it. It’s a very restricted form and so, more than any other, poetry cannot afford to have even a single word misplaced.
What poetry should not be is unfocused, meandering or trite. It shouldn’t remind me of that boring bloke I sat next to on a train once who insisted on telling me all of his poorly-informed opinions about things I’m just not interested in.
I’m afraid that Rachel Fox’s More About the Song fell into the category of my second paragraph, not my first. Her language is plodding, her imagery almost non-existent, her rhythms are unreliable and her ideas are trite. She hammers her points home in a way which is entirely unpoetic: and although I read this slim collection right to its end I cannot recommend it. It left me feeling dismayed and faintly embarrassed, which I don’t suppose was the author’s intended effect.
After inheriting a diary written by a 19th century ship’s cook, together with a handwritten will and USA naturalisation papers I was inspired to tell the story of the voyage of the Wave Queen, a merchant vessel, from Shoreham, England to Valparaiso, Chile in the year 1872.
Three years of research and the book became a fictional adventure story based on fact.
The hero, Charles Hamilton-Bashford is an eighteen year old Eton School-boy. He recklessly squanders his five thousand pound annual allowance and being hard-pressed for the payment of debts, begs his father to give him an advance. On refusal he in his desperation steals and forges his father’s cheque to settle his debts.
Charles’ father, a retired Major and a respected Magistrate, discovers the forgery and sends Charles to serve on a cargo ship separating him from his sweetheart, Florry.
Charles escapes before the ship sails, and reaches his aunt ‘s London home only to be recaptured and sent back to the Wave Queen.
Meanwhile Florry is propelled into a series of tumultuous events.
What adventures will befall them ?
Will he returned to England?
Will he ever be re-united with Florry?
The Wave Queen is full of careless errors. I found misplaced commas, missing quotation marks, inconsistent formatting, comma splices, and some random capitalisations. Charles, its central character, uses a modern idiom throughout while his father talks more like Mr. Banks, the father in Mary Poppins; and the heavies who visit Charles in order to encourage him to pay his debts complete our Disney picture by talking a pastiche of English which owes more to Dick Van Dyke than to 1872, the year in which this book is set.
The author has failed quite spectacularly with some of her more basic research: for example, she provides Charles with an annual allowance of £5,000 which equates to an income of £2.7m today which could be possible, I suppose, but it’s a heck of an amount for an eighteen-year-old to have unsupervised access to while at boarding school.
The text lacks detail, colour and sophistication and despite my very best attempts to be lenient, I read just three pages of it.
In Change and Decay, an archivist’s visit to a crumbling gentry estate reveals a history of sharp practice and opportunism belying the elegant exterior, and he becomes embroiled in their current intrigues.
Exchange Mechanism is a science fiction story exploring what would happen if we could see inside other people’s minds.
Candle on the Table follows a frustrated solicitor’s obsession with a perfect family, unaware that it conceals dark secrets.
The world of a maverick PR man and the Toronto Mafia collide in The Gift of the Gab.
In The Time Zone Rule, two colleagues are sent at short notice to Morocco; they find the romance of the situation irresistible, but one night’s folly changes their lives for ever.
All the stories explore moral issues within a framework of spare narration and realistic characterisation, overlain by sardonic humour and elegance of expression. They have been described as “funny, accurate and deeply cynical.”
Martin Locock is an author and poet who works as a project manager at the National library of Wales. Previously he had worked in commercial archaeology, publishing extensively on a range of obscure topics. He was born in 1962 and has lived near Swansea since 1991. He is married with three children. He writes a blog, A Few Words (http://locock.blogspot.com).
I have a small emotional attachment to this book: its author lives in the same Welsh town where my grandfather was born and foolishly this gave me hope that the book would be good. Sadly, I was disappointed.
I did appreciate the errata which the author provided which read, “Corrections. A battle of wills between author and a subversive spellcheck program has led to the replacement of some words with ‘emoraliz’.” Sadly the errata is not quite extensive enough: both ‘emoraliz’ and ‘emoralized’ make appearances, accompanied by those little empty squares which appear in various computer programs when a special character is saved in a format which the program doesn’t support: a good edit would easily have found this problem; its appearance implies problems with the person who typeset the book rather than a rampaging spellchecker; and as this book was printed via Lulu (which is exclusively POD) there was almost certainly no print run of defective books: the author felt that these books were good enough to go out with this error in place. And on that point, I strongly disagree.
The punctuation was erratic, particularly the use of dashes (hyphens are often used where dashes are required, with odd and inconsistent spacing around them); a couple of punctuation marks escaped from the quote-marks which should have enclosed them; and there were a good few surplus commas scattered throughout the text.
The writing provided me with the biggest disappointment: it was flat and dull and unengaging and no more than the barest attempt was made to catalogue the events presented. The characters had no life; the events were dull; there was no depth to the work, and no texture, apart from a couple of places where the author’s voice, and opinions, intruded. And there, too, was a problem: I couldn’t agree with the opinions he voiced, and they were presented in jargon-cluttered language which made them difficult to decipher.
On top of all of that there were issues with the grammar too. I read just nine out of a total of 187 printed pages and hope that this writer polishes his work much more thoroughly before he considers publishing anything else.
(This book doesn’t appear to be listed on Amazon so I’m unable to include a cover image or a link to its sale page.)
Salem 17th century — a bizarre and deadly detour in history!
The witch hunt hits feverish peak! Fear of the devil is as real as God. Witchcraft is a heinous crime a person could commit and is punishable by death at Gallows Hill for the victims accused of sorcery.
River reflections of Bridget’s scantily clad youthful beauty with long, wild, flowing, red hair, is frozen in fear amidst the overture of the Banshee’s foreboding and bloodcurdling wails of imminent death, that of her own.
THE PERUKE MAKER’S vengeful curse hastens chase for the innocent and is carried off by a whirl of ill-omened wind that transgresses all natural laws of time and space.
The Salem Witch Hunt Curse unearthed from necromancy, violates the course of natural events in a modern day world, relentlessly in quest for the avenger of innocent blood.
Sarah, a product of the 21st Century is inextricably caught in a fateful journey that comes full circle. But Michael’s abiding love for her triumphs over evil, transcending the grave in a magical and symbolic act of rebirth at the stroke of midnight of the Autumnal Equinox.
The Author, Ruby Dominguez is challenged by the conflicting complexities of the past and future. Undeterred, she strokes with pen the somber and bright hues of her visions.
A screenplay THE PERUKE MAKER was professionally reviewed by Lejen Literary Consultants and has attained a GOOD SCRIPT COVERAGE ANALYSIS.
“Visually compelling, provocative, suspenseful, memorable characters, smooth pace with excellent twists and turns!” — By Lee Levinson
A Curse Trilogy, she also penned screenplays:
• ROMANCING THE CLADDAGH — The Curse of Macha —
• THE RED DRAGON’S TRIANGLE — Boudicca’s Curse — COMING SOON!
She also exhibits a nifty double play of romance and comedy in the screenplay, “IT’S OVER MICHAEL, BUT…”
As I don’t have much experience in evaluating screenplays I showed The Peruke Maker: The Salem Witch Hunt Curse to a screenwriting friend of mine who has just a little expertise in the field: he’s won a handful of BAFTAs and a couple of Emmys, and although he hasn’t yet managed to grab himself an Oscar I’m sure it’s only a matter of time. You’re very likely to recognise his name if I give it: but he only agreed to comment on this book if I would allow him to do so anonymously. Here’s what he had to say:
This is a confused and confusing script. The prologue makes no sense, and what is it there for? I don’t think it’s a part of the script — it doesn’t seem to be spoken by a narrator, and that last paragraph is stunningly bad. The “time period” page makes no sense either. The lists of characters and locations don’t work. Does the movie’s action began on page 6? It’s not made clear. Is the paragraph which begins “legend has it” spoken by narrator? It isn’t attributed to any character, but it can’t be a stage direction either as it contains backstory. Two pages of this confusion then on page 8 we find the first real dialogue, and it’s awful: “I sense it behind me! It hinders my escape!” A lot of the dialogue doesn’t make sense: “Thou not let the devil take your soul away from your body!” The writer doesn’t seem to know what “thou” actually means.
The problem with scripts like this is that if the dialogue isn’t believable then the script has no chance of working when it’s filmed, or played on stage. I flicked through it and it’s consistently dull, confusing, and wooden. There’s a torture scene in it which reads like particularly badly thought-out porn, and God knows most porn is pretty badly thought out to begin with. I wouldn’t have looked any further than the cover were I not reading it as a favour for you, and can only suggest that if this writer is determined to continue writing, she either treats writing as a hobby or finds herself some good, professional tuition. Because this just isn’t good enough if she wants to get anywhere at all in the professional field.
I read up to page six before I found my fifteen errors, and I agree with all my friend has written: this is a dreadful book which contains misused words, clichés, misspellings, and errors in formatting, layout, grammar and logic.
What I don’t understand is how the Lejen Literary Consultants could have honestly given Ms Dominguez’s screenplay such a glowing reference. A little investigation led me to this thread on Absolute Write: based on the comments I read there, and the yawning gap between the Lejen Literary Consultants’ glowing praise and the reality of this book, I cannot recommend that anyone uses their services. And if you are in any doubt, and are considering paying the Lejen Literary consultants to evaluate your work, here is a direct quote from this book to give you an idea of what they consider good. I can’t reproduce the exact formatting so you’re denied that particular pleasure, but the text alone should be enough to give you an idea of what this is like.
INT. SALEM VILLAGE – JACOB’S BEDROOM – NIGHT
A naked young and enchanting lass by the name of BRIDGET CANE (SEVENTEEN), is with a married couple in bed, seemingly intoxicated.
They engage and indulge in forbidden lusty sexual desires and positions.
MOANS of pleasure reverberate the room.
Hmmmm… Drops of pleasure between your mounds drive me wild!
Such explicit bliss is hard to forget?
MRS. JACOB (EARLY THIRTIES)
(excitedly to husband)
Thy kiss is much sweeter and every thrust much harder since Bridget! I am encouraged by such performance! I crave for more!
A feast fit for a king! Grasps my throbbing manhood as it gorges towards deep chasms of ecstasy!
I hope that makes it quite clear why I strongly suggest that writers avoid using the services of the Lejen Literary Consultancy, which praised this dreadful book.
Journey to an island paradise, the heavenly city of Casilda, and the hideous pit called Marheon and observe the creatures that dwell there and in between. Explore the struggle of good against evil, with humanity caught in the middle, and know that some unseen forces desire the destruction of humans, while others strive for their salvation.
S A Davis, the author of Iman’s Isle – A Tale of Lost Treasures seems to be yet another self-published author who is determined to present his or her book as badly as possible. I can’t be sure of Davis’s gender, as he or she has omitted to include any information about the author in the book.
The back cover copy (reproduced in full above) is full of clichés and nonsensical statements. It gives me just one clue about the genre this book fits into: those odd place-names imply that this book’s genre is probably fantasy or SF. But the back cover copy doesn’t give me any idea of what this story is about, or why it should interest me: and so it fails in the task it has, which is to inform and intrigue the book’s potential readers.
The jacket illustration is another big problem (and before you protest that this blog is meant to review books, not criticise illustrations, despite the numerous issues I have with the illustration I’ve only counted it as one strike of the fifteen I allow each book). What is that big white thing? Some sort of fruit? Perhaps it’s half a radish; but it appears to be bleeding where that creature’s claws are digging into it; and what’s with the six hands, each with six fingers? Do they all belong to one animal? Or to three two-handed creatures? Or perhaps to two animals with three hands each? And while six fingers might come in handy for back-scratching if I were this creature I would willingly trade in half of them for a single opposable thumb. To make the worst of a bad illustration, part of the creature’s furry green tail has been cropped off over on the left-hand side. This surely wasn’t done intentionally, but it makes the whole front cover look even more slapdash.
Inside the book things are little better. I found several inconsistencies in punctuation, some run-on sentences, and a few very confusing lapses in logic. The text was dull and rather confusing. The three men who appear in the opening scene all share exactly the same speech patterns: they all report their dreams in the present tense, but fall back to oddly-formal and rather archaic phrasing in past-tense for everything else; and this lack of characterisation makes it just about impossible to distinguish between them.
There was a paragraph on the very first page which was unintentionally stiff with double entendres, a large and unattributed quote facing the table of contents, and some nonsense about “revised versions” on the copyright page (either the book is a new edition or it’s not): not surprising, then, that I read only two pages of this and will now never know what that creature on the cover was really meant to be. Somehow, that doesn’t feel like a loss.
John McCulloch’s oldest son received a head injury at birth, re-sulting in blindness. A second injury at age 28, resulted in his being confined to a nursing home for life. This book is about how these afflictions and others led one family to a positive result.
John McCulloch’s oldest son received a head injury at birth, re-sulting in blindness. A second injury at age 28, resulted in his being confined to a nursing home for life. This book is about how these afflictions and others led one family to a positive result.
Refined in the Furnace of Affliction is John McCulloch’s account of both his own life and the life of his son John, who received a head injury at birth and was subsequently disabled. There’s an insistent strand of Christianity and prayer in this book, and a strong focus on the need for family life, and it’s obvious that McCulloch is passionate and devoted to all of these things. Sadly, he isn’t a good writer and that lack of expertise means that this book is a flat, dull read.
Most of the pages reminded me of the journals I used to keep as a child: “I got up and then I had my breakfast and then I brushed my teeth and went to school”. It’s all tell and no show and it’s very disorganised, too: in the middle of what should be a heartbreaking tale of the birth of his disabled son, McCulloch abruptly breaks into an account of how his wife got a good deal on a car.
This is a very badly-written book which I wish I could have reviewed more favourably. I read only eleven of its one hundred and fourteen pages.
A top secret agent comes off the assignment of his lifetime. He is having his face reconstructed for his next mission. Without his consent, he is forced to extract all high tech secrets hidden in the mind of a captured prisoner. Through technology the prisoner’s mind is directly wired into Derek’s mind. The prisoner is from the Roswell crash. Derek’s mind is instantly filled with everything the alien knows. Derek decides to run, and publish his secrets. I wrote this for Derek, wherever he is.
Poor old Gary Turcotte: he’s the only writer so far to send me two of his books to review, and I think they’re both just awful.
Carbon Copy: Alpha Man fails for the same reasons that his other book did: poor writing. The text is dull. Turcotte uses lots of short sentences, which leads to a choppy, disjointed style. He tells everything, shows little, but still manages to confuse which isn’t surprising considering how little he seems to know about the subjects he discusses: the surgeries he describes (both medical and cosmetic) are not believable; he seems to consider hypnosis sinister and irresistible, while little more than a stage act; he frequently contradicts himself; he misuses words; and his cover-art is adolescent at best.
I read just six of this book’s 160 printed pages, and that was at least five too many.