Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Book Covers and Grand Girls

In 2011, I received the cover image for my new release, Moon Spun. After studying the girl on the cover, I thought, Hmm, she looks familiar and immediately filed it away in the dusty part of my brain labeled, “Things to think about when I have more time.” Now you know why it’s dusty.

Shortly after, we had a visit from our daughter-in-law and two granddaughters, Madelyn and Arianna. Since Maddie and Ari make their debut as hedgerow pixies in Moon Spun, they were anxious to see the cover. I led them to the computer and opened the file. My daughter-in- law exclaimed, “I don’t believe it! She looks like Madelyn!” The aforementioned thought woke up and shook off the dust. Bingo! We had our very own cover girl.

 I’m sure you can guess what happened next. We simply had no choice. We had to re-create the Moon Spun cover with eight-year-old Madelyn as our model. I grabbed my digital camera, which I despise. Its teensy, weensy buttons have caused me moments of utter frustration, immediately followed by colorful cursing. I silently promised to control myself. After all, I was in the presence of children.

We chose an outdoor setting next to our flowering plum tree. Daughter-in-law, Trini, arranged Madelyn’s hair and positioned her in the correct pose. It was then we discovered it was practically impossible for the child to not smile. She’s a naturally happy little girl and comes from a long line of beautiful, photogenic Latino women with sparkling smiles, shiny dark hair and expressive brown eyes. Madelyn was born to smile. It’s in her DNA. Little sister? Not so much. She may have inherited a recessive gene from Grandma Marilee. The one that goes, “Give me three good reasons I should do what you say.”

The photo shoot was complicated by Arianna demanding we take a picture of her hanging from a tree limb and Mauli, our Labrador retriever, who kept wandering into the scene. Finally, Trini snapped, “Madelyn, close your mouth and look sad,” and we got the shot we wanted. I fumbled around trying to press the right button to review the pictures and the display went black. Trini said, “Oops, I think Grandma deleted the picture.” Well, damn! Who has fingers that tiny?

More fumbling ensued as my evil camera chuckled to itself, thwarting every effort to locate the picture I just knew had to be perfect. Muttering to myself, I persevered and finally found it lurking in a dark alley along with a dozen other photos I’d given up hope of ever recovering. Yes! Grandma didn’t delete the picture after all.

I have the book cover and the picture of Madelyn pinned up on the wall next to my computer where I can see them every day. They bring me great joy. Do you believe in magic? I do. How else can one explain the serendipity of the girl on my book cover and granddaughter looking so much alike? As for that danged camera . . . its days are numbered!  

Monday, February 25, 2013

Monday $$$ Madness - Week 4

Shopping for a cartload of goodies? If so, don't forget to enter my contest.

Since the contest will be going full blast until April 1st, every Monday I will post the picture of the prizes along with the entry form. Remember, there's a special category for international readers, so if you're not living in the U.S., no problem. Tuesday through Sundays, I will return to guest posts, reviews, etc. Please stop by often.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

The Kabrini Message

Book Blather correspondant, Sue Roebuck, graciously agreed to share her interview with Marie Carhart. Thank you, Sue and Marie

Author J.R. Egles is smiling on his sister right now. From Heaven.

Please welcome Marie Carhartwho has done something very special for her brother.

Sue: First of all Marie, many congratulations on the publication of your book “The Kabrini Message”. I know you’re not actually the author of the book, so could you give us some background to how and why it was published? 

Marie: As you know, The Kabrini Message is a novel written by my late brother, Joe Egles, back in 1987. I only recently discovered Joe’s manuscript (hand typed by our mother) in a box in my attic. It was in a manilla envelope that just said, “Joe’s Book” in my mother’s handwriting. 

The whole “story-behind-the-story” can be read on the two-part blog post I did, so I won’t repeat the entire thing here. 

But basically, after reading The Kabrini Message and becoming entranced by it, I decided it must be published. This “message” just had to make it out of the attic and into the hands of the public. I know everything happens for a reason, when and how it’s supposed to. I believe my “message” in finding this forgotten jewel was to get it out there and right now, twenty-six years after it was written, just must be the right time. 
I also had to make sure The Kabrini Message was finally published as a gift to both my brother and our mother who always believed in him. 
I have been “on a mission”…yes, a woman obsessed! But the journey has been a fun, fascinating and educational labor of love and I am thrilled and so very grateful to say that as of January 18, 2013, more than a quarter of a century after it was written, The Kabrini Message is a published novel! 

Sue: That is fabulous. You must be so proud (I am, I know that!) What’s your favorite genre in fiction? Apart from The Kabrini Message can you recommend any books for us? 

Marie: You are probably expecting me to say sci-fi, but no, that’s not it! The Kabrini Message is the first (and only) sci-fi book I have ever read! I admit it may open up a whole new world (literally!) to me now. Also, The Kabrini Message is not your typical sci-fi book in that it has a strong action/adventure crossover and a strong “message” of collective consciousness, which I am a big believer in, and it has a lot of very funny parts, too.

However, back to your question…I actually like romances. Especially historical fiction romances. My favorites are Danielle Steel novels and my all time favorites of hers are a couple of her older ones, No Greater Love, which takes place on the Titanic and Granny Dan, set in Russia in 1902 revolving around a young Russian ballerina and the Czar and Czarina and their family. That one starts out in the present, after the main character’s death and travels back in time as her granddaughter finds a box of old letters that tell the tale of a whole exciting life she never knew her grandmother had. I also like the Friday Night Knitting Club series of books by Kate Jacobs and Star of Flint, written by Jill Smith Entrekin, the mother of my friend Amy Entrekin Bell

Of course, my all time favorite book will always be Margaret Mitchell’s Gone With The Wind. 

Sue: I also know you love poetry. Would you like to end with an inspirational poem that sums up “The Kabrini Message” or life in general?

Marie: Just today I came across this one. I think it sums up both The Kabrini Message and life in general! 

Somebody said that it couldn't be done,
But, he with a chuckle replied
That "maybe it couldn't" but he would be one
Who wouldn't say so till he'd tried.

So he buckled right in with the trace of a grin
On his face. If he worried he hid it.
He started to sing as he tackled the thing
That couldn't be done, as he did it.

Somebody scoffed: "Oh, you'll never do that;
At least no one we know has done it";
But he took off his coat and he took off his hat,
And the first thing we knew he'd begun it.

With a lift of his chin and a bit of a grin,
Without any doubting or quiddit,
He started to sing as he tackled the thing
That couldn't be done, and he did it.

There are thousands to tell you it cannot be done,
There are thousands to prophesy failure;
There are thousands to point out to you, one by one,
The dangers that wait to assail you.

But just buckle right in with a bit of a grin,
Just take off your coat and go to it;
Just start to sing as you tackle the thing
That cannot be done, and you'll do it

Sue: Thank you! I'd never heard that before and it's terrific. Marie, what’s next in line in terms of publication? 

Marie: Well, as you mentioned, I am not a writer, so personally, I have no plans for any further publications, however, I am anxious for the print release of The Kabrini Message. Also, I have already had readers ask about the possibility of a sequel. I’m not sure how that would work, but you never know. 

The storyline does lend itself perfectly to one and I think Joe probably originally planned to write one. Again, if it was meant to be, it will happen. My initial thought while I was reading The Kabrini Message the first time (and every time since) was that it would make a fabulous movie! So I think the next big project is the screenplay. (You heard it here first!)

Hooray! A FIRST on my blog!!!!!

Marie: I’d like to thank you so much for having me today, Susan, and for allowing me to tell our story. I hope your readers will enjoy The Kabrini Messsage in the true spirit of love from which it has come forth! 


An alien race. A shocking message. Let the evolution begin…
During an archaeological dig in Greece, Jeffrey Driscoll stumbles upon a miraculous find: ancient crystals with celestial coordinates that will connect humankind with the Kabrini, a highly advanced alien civilization. His discovery leads him on a quest from the jungles of Africa to the
Islands of Greece, from the streets of London to the tombs of Egypt, from Washington D.C. to Los Angeles, Jamaica, and Vienna, and finally to the deepest depths of space and Earth’s first global space effort, the Legacy mission.
When Driscoll Mining and the U.S. Army complete deep space construction of the Kabrini communications network, the Legacy mission is deemed a success. But a dangerous terrorist group hungers for revenge, and Driscoll will stop at nothing to save the project. As his obsession with the Legacy mission spirals out of control, he risks losing everything—his company, his grasp on reality, and the one thing he’s ever truly loved: his wife. And when humankind finally makes contact, they discover the Kabrini Message isn’t exactly what they expected to hear…


The fire in Professor Gregory’s study burned low.  Outside, it was just getting dark and the first drops of a cold London rain splattered against the windows.
“Alrighty, then,” Gregory started as he sat down behind his desk. “As you may know, the Romans had umpteen gods. So did the Greeks. So what’s one more soothsayer? With a god for every occasion, they were only being religious by convenience anyway. That’s why I never took this damn thing so seriously in the first place.”
“Took what seriously?” asked Driscoll.  “The Romans…or the Greeks?”
“Neither,” said Gregory sounding exasperated already. “I’m talking about the Oracle, the Oracle, you numpty.”
Gregory was clearly annoyed.  He was used to dealing with his razor-sharp archeology students, and they were used to paying attention to details.  Driscoll was not…at least, not to the point required for Gregory’s complex explanation. Driscoll practiced what he liked to call a holistic approach to life situations.  In other words, he took in the big picture and then did whatever was necessary to keep from getting chucked out of it.
“The Oracle, right, at Delphi,” said Driscoll. “You mentioned that on the phone. But what’s the fuss? It’s not news. That’s where rich folks went for advice about the future, right? The place where people went for prophecies…from priests or something.”
“But the Oracle wasn’t just a place, like a fountain or a shrine,” corrected Gregory. “It was supposed to be a person, or a deity, who only spoke through priests. The priests in turn doled out the information to the faithful.”
“And by ‘faithful,’ you mean those who could afford to pay,” said Driscoll.
“Well, yes,” agreed Gregory. “But my point is, it couldn’t have been all rubbish or they wouldn’t have kept coming back for advice. And they did…important people, like Caesars and such. There must have been something to the Oracle’s prophecies.”
“Unless it was just fashionable,” said Driscoll.
“Ah…wait, what?” stammered Gregory. Driscoll had broken his train of thought, which stunned the professor into silence. “This is what’s so difficult about talking to Driscoll,” thought Gregory. He never knew when to expect an intelligent comment. This one had caught him by surprise.
Driscoll kept talking as Gregory struggled to regain his composure. “I mean, in those days, you couldn’t impress your wealthy friends by buying a flat screen TV or a Ferrari—so you blew a load on the Oracle to show off.”
Gregory was mildly shocked. “Has money made Driscoll wise?” he wondered. “No, no, surely not. It never works that way. But trust Driscoll to do everything ass-backwards, including getting smart,” he thought.
“Precisely!” Gregory finally answered. “And what do you suppose the priests did with all that wealth, mate?”
“I don’t know,” Driscoll responded as he thoughtfully scratched the stubble on his cheek.
“Neither did anyone else,” Gregory said with a slight leer in his eye. “Until now.”
Driscoll dropped his boots to the floor and leaned forward on the leather couch. This had definitely piqued his interest.
“Listen to this,” said Gregory, producing a notebook from his jacket pocket. “This is an exact translation from a scroll my colleague Jessup unearthed near Delphi.”
The professor flipped through the tattered pages of his composition book and read aloud:
“‘I am an apprentice to a scribe.  But, by the time this is read, I will not only have been a scribe, but will have been dead for some two thousand years.
However, due to my experience as apprentice to Piros—scribe, scholar and personal acquaintance of the Great Emperor Claudius—I have access to certain knowledge, which if I do not set down, may be lost forever; unless the High Priests forsake their vows, which is not likely.
But to share this knowledge in my own time would certainly be the cause of my death.  Therefore, I share it with yours.’”
 Gregory paused and glanced at Driscoll, who seemed to be mulling over the words.
“So this guy has something important to say, is that it?”  Driscoll said sarcastically.
Gregory rolled his eyes.  “Yes, yes…brilliant.  Now, listen to this part, mate,” he said.  He continued reading:
“‘In my time, I have no understanding of what I have seen.  Yet I hope the passage of many centuries may bring wisdom to my words so that you, in your distant world, though you are standing exactly where I am now, may read and understand.
 For I have seen the Oracle at Delphi.  And It is not Human.’”
 “Not human?!”  Driscoll repeated.  He was leaning so far forward now, Gregory thought he might tumble off the couch.
“That’s what the bloody man says,” said Gregory, “and he should know.  He claims to have been there several times and seen this Oracle thing twice.  Once while it was reclining and going about ‘business as usual’ with the High Priests, and once when it was being carried out.  During this second viewing, the scribe said the Oracle didn’t look at all well.  It might have been dying or perhaps already dead, and the priests were taking the body to some secret burial place.  Anyhow, It was never brought back.  Apparently, interest in Delphi seemed to wane after that, at least among the big shots.  For the Caesars and the like, the Delphi prophesies seemed to have lost most of its punch.  The priests continued to sell prophesies, but more so to the public—at a cut rate, I presume.”
“Discount prophecies,” Driscoll said with a pensive grin.  “Talk about bargain shopping.”  He paused briefly to take another sip of brandy.  “Did he write anything else about the Oracle, Itself?” he asked anxiously.  He was already getting involved. “I mean, did he say what it looked like?”
“Oh yes,” said Gregory with a smug smile.  He knew he had Driscoll now.  “In fact, he was quite descriptive.  The scroll was very long . I only copied the first part, but I read Jessup’s entire translated version.  He said the Oracle’s appearance was that of a boy with longish hair—except It had pale blue skin and dark blue hair.”
“Holy shit…sounds like some kind of freakish Smurf!”  Driscoll said.
Gregory restrained from rolling his eyes this time.  “Also, Its eyes were clear, or maybe white.  The translation is not precise on that point.”
“Pretty strange, either way,” Driscoll said, genuinely interested.
“Yes, and it gets even stranger,” continued Gregory.  “The scribe’s description was from that first occasion, when the Oracle was reclining on a couch and being attended by the priests.  He said it appeared to be nude except for a thin, light blue veil and—are you ready for this Driscoll?—It had the sexual organs of both male and female!”
Driscoll said nothing.  He just sat on the edge of the couch, his elbows resting on his knees, his empty glass dangling from one hand.
Gregory stood up, stretched and walked out from behind his desk.  He leaned against the front of the desk and said slowly, “Driscoll, I think that Oracle was an alien.  Those High Priests had found, and were keeping, a bloody alien!”
The rain tapped on the windows.  The darkness from outside seemed to crowd into the study, despite the blazing fire.
Driscoll slowly set his glass on the coffee table and stared into it for a few moments.  His mind raced back to his boyhood bedroom.  He recalled all those sleepless nights he’d gazed at the stars through his homemade telescope as his drunken father raged downstairs.  Fast-forwarding to college, he remembered the countless hours he spent in the Princeton observatory studying the infinite depths of space, examining each pinprick of light.  Every time he’d ever looked up at that endless vista, he’d always had a feeling there was something—or someone—looking back at him.
“Gregory…”  Driscoll began stiffly.  For once, he was truly at a loss for words. “Gregory, are you…that is, well…don’t you think you might be jumping to conclusions?  I mean, isn’t it more likely that that poor thing was the sad result of generations of inbreeding or something?  We know it went on all the time, back then.  Maybe that or some terrible disease or something…”
“Goddammit, I’m a scientist, Driscoll!”  Gregory interrupted.  “I don’t jump to bloody conclusions.  It’s true, I don’t have any real proof, but that’s where you come in.  And anyway, there’s more. About the crash site.”

Oh, Marie, I love The Kabrini Message already. Come on guys! Let's get the book (I'm off to Amazon immediately after I post.


YouTube Video Trailer

Monday, February 18, 2013

Monday $$$ Madness - Week 3

Why is this kitty so happy? Because, now he can enter my big giveaway!

Since the contest will be going full blast until April 1st, every Monday I will post the picture of the prizes along with the entry form. Remember, there's a special category for international readers, so if you're not living in the U.S., no problem. Tuesday through Sundays, I will return to guest posts, reviews, etc. Please stop by often.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Goodbye Adverbs

We writers are often madly, truly, deeply in love with adverbs. Really. Maybe it’s time to set them free. Give them the boot. Allow them take wing. Alex Telander of Book Banter is back with an informative lesson on the subject. Welcome back, Alex

Adverbs, Good or Bad?
Whether you’re Ernest Hemingway or Stephen King, or just about any writer in between, then you probably have something to say about the creative writing device known as the adverb.  It’ll probably be something to the effect of that you hate them and use them sparingly . . . oops, there was one; you’ll use them rarely . . . dammnit, there’s another . . . you’ll use them few and far between.  There we go, no adverb.
 But did you see what I did there?  I used more words to describe something that one little adverb would’ve done excellently.  (There’s another.)  And therein lies part of the great debate on the use of adverbs.  You have a head-to-head with two of the rules of creative writing: one being to use brevity, to use the least amount of words possible; and the other to use as few adverbs as possible.

In my years of writing, I’ve kind of switched back and forth on the use of adverbs, and I think I’ve come to the conclusion now that a number of writers have: it’s okay to use adverbs, but you really want to avoid using them, which is really the key to revision and rewrites.  That’s where you can get rid of most of those suckers.  I do find that I use plenty of adverbs in a first draft, and then work diligently to cut out as many of them as possible.  But I think one big reason writers prefer to err on the side of not using them is because it leads to lazy writing.  You pick up just about any example of popular fiction, or your latest James Patterson, and you will find the pages swimming in adverbs, because it’s much easier to throw in some adverbs to quickly get the concept across to the reader than to work at and use more specific and powerful words to create a more evocative sentence.

For example, below is a short bit of action writing with plenty of adverbs (I’ve put the adverbs in italics):

“Ellen ducked down quickly, feeling the bullet whiz by overhead.  She peeked over the top, looking for her target, and speedily dropped down again, as more bullets missed her.  She nervously sucked in a breath, counted to three, then jumped up and opened fire, letting her hand and eyes skillfully do the work, and mercilessly killed her assailant.”

And now we have the same piece of action writing with more evocative and descriptive words used in place of the adverbs: 

“Ellen ducked down, dropping to her knees, feeling the bullet whiz by overhead.  She peeked over the top, looking for her target, and dropped down again, smashing her knees against the ground, as more bullets missed her.  She choked in a breath, counted to three, then jumped up and opened fire, letting her hand and eyes work like a perfect pitcher, and shot her assailant between the eyes.”
It’s essentially the same little snippet of scene, with the same actions being conveyed.  Ellen is shot at once, then twice, and then she shoots her assailant.  But the key is in how you tell it.  The first version adds speed and builds suspense with the adverbs, but the second version does this and more.  In place of those adverbs are little pieces of description that create a concrete image in the reader’s mind.  Instead of ducking down quickly, Ellen drops to her knees.  Instead of speedily doing it again, this time she smashes her knees against the ground.  Instead of nervously breathing, she chokes in a breath.  Instead of skillfully looking and firing, I use a simile to link her with a good pitcher in baseball.  And finally, instead of mercilessly killing her assailant, she shoots him (or her) between the eyes.  
Each of these descriptive clauses add more to the scene and the writing, creating a stronger and fuller picture in the reader’s head, and ultimately makes for a better scene, story and overall book.

As a reader, you may feel different.  You may in fact prefer those adverbs, like that particular style of writing, which is perfectly fine.  To each reader their own.  But I also think you’re missing out on something wonderful about the English language and its range and breadth and possibility.  Some of my favorite writers who do this very well include Neil Gaiman, Michael Chabon, Seanan McGuire, Dan Simmons, and Haruki Murakami.  And there of course many, many more.  

So the next time you sit down to read whatever book you’re currently reading, pay some attention to the use of the adverbs.  Sometimes it’s the perfect word that fits and nothing else will do, and sometimes (in fact often with some authors) there are simply too many adverbs and it’s just sloppy writing.  And other times there’s a piece of great writing that you can’t help being impressed by, a piece that could’ve been easily replaced by a weak adverb, but wasn’t.