My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Pirate Hunter by Tom Morrisey is one of those fun reads. A pirate on the Caribbean seas–a la Captain Jack Sparrow.
Though separated by time, the main characters share a family trial that forces them into a confrontation of sons and fathers.
Read it because Morrisey is an excellent story teller. Finish it, because it’s got a great dual time period story, each one of wonderful detail and inspirational message.
When it’s over, you want more. The ending might be a tad rushed, but the bulk of the message is a beautiful story of redemption and faith. Great job, and will look for more books by Morrisey!
HEA, for those of you not in the know, means Happily Ever After. We’re all about Happily Ever After in my house. After all, I’m raising a couple of princesses. This review is special, however, because while I strive for five star writing, a review like this makes me pause.
What about it is special? What makes me feel like I’ve just slid my toe into that glass slipper? Felt it snug around my foot like a lover’s hands?
Love can bloom at any age…But, will it wilt under the spotlight?
Former fifties Hollywood starlet—Nona Darling—fell in love onscreen over and again. In her granddaughter Misty’s opinion, true love only exists in the movies and too often, she falls for the villain. Running from a failed relationship and her film production company turned tabloid, she returns to Almendra, California to care for her grandmother, and hide from the world.
Cain Trovato, a small town jack-of-all-trades, finds Misty and refuses to let her escape into obscurity. Blocked for years from songwriting, he starts putting words to music as a way to define his growing feelings.
When the Almendra Film Festival spotlights Nona Darling, Misty’s former fiancée makes a claim to reveal her grandmother’s secret past. No amount of editing will spare the coming scandal. With Cain at her side, can Misty believe in a happily ever beyond the rolling credits?
All I can say is, Wow! This story is incredible. Part of the Flower Basket series, each story by a different author, stands alone in its own right. If you only read one, this one would be it.
Cain, a musician and man of many talents, is desperate to write songs again, not having written since his high school girlfriend left him ten years previously. Misty, fleeing a controlling ex-boyfriend hides out in a sleepy town under the guise of caring for her grandmother. Slowly she gets her life back, in more ways than one.
The setting is amazing. I love books that pull you in and make you feel as if you are there and this one does that with its simple but intricate description of the breeze, the olive trees, right down to the paint on the walls and the faded curtains.
Firmly grounded in reality, both Misty and Cain show their fears and strengths equally, in this love story that keeps you turning the pages. The sub-plot is lovely and I didn’t see it coming. The ending is perfect. Definitely one to read over and over.
5 Tea Cups!
Many of you might know me as wiremamma .
It’s my Twitter handle. I chat about books, publishing, social media and networking, and use it to promote my novels.
While describing this to my father over the weekend, he reminded me of my grandfather, a ham radio operator.
Granddaddy John was W7LBW. They had a 20 foot tall antenna over their house, that looked more like a mini death star under construction. He made friends all over the world. Some of my favorite memories are sitting in his office, mike at the ready, watching the voice modulation as we called out into the ether.
Though granddad has gone on to his reward, perhaps I inherited his desire to stay in touch with the world at large. I know that ne would have been enthralled with an entire world at your fingertips…and wonder, what will we see when my daughters have children of their own.
All story is built on an idea. Like a great oak is born from a tiny acorn, every idea has to start somewhere. The difference is, unlike growing one plant from one seed, ideas can germinate from multiple sources, blending more into a recipe or blend to serve your own nefarious purposes – to get your hero and heroine, and quite likely your villain, into the proper space and time.
All or Nothing is historical fiction, based upon facts. A series of interesting points from the same time period in Arizona Cavalry history, when mixed together became the story that it is today. What I needed:
- A setting – I chose Tucson, Arizona of the late 1870s. Having grown up there, I used to spend hours daydreaming about the people who inhabited the fort, built the adobe structures, looked upon those same mountains…
- A motivating/inciting incident for my brooding hero – I chose an incident from history that was in my backfile – a newspaper article by Tucson reporter, Bonnie Henry, when she discussed the horrors of the Camp Grant Incident from 1871. A group of powerful citizens of Tucson took it upon themselves to pal up with one side of a Native American war, and see to it they obliterated the Apache tribe under supplication to the military. This horrified me when I read it, and even more when I realized that so many streets, districts of Tucson boasted the names of the men in charge of the mess. How would a soldier with a conscience, doing as told, have handled such a massacre? Thus, became Bowen’s backstory.
- A reason for my heroine to head west, and meet said brooding hero—well, what did a woman do in the 1870s? She was either a wife, a teacher, possibly a nurse, a seamstress. As I’ve always loved the art of stitching—seamstress she became. And, her erstwhile hubby—a dreamer and schemer—received a contract to make military uniforms for Fort Lowell…that she must fulfill after his murder.
- A mechanism for such a strong minded heroine to lean so heavily upon her hero/and a mystery for them to solve, together—An Arizona Highways article led me to the brief blurb about El Tejano, one of the bandits who roamed the Tucson area mountain trails in the late 1870s, terrifying his victims with a horrible mask and the Mexican phrase, Todo o Nada…All or Nothing. Not only the title, but his catch phrase. And, who better for him to set upon than a young widow traveling through the mountains, flying by the seat of her pants, powered by faith that someday things would be better for her.
Years ago, while an archaeology student at the University of Arizona, I studied the laundresses of Fort Lowell, under the tutelage of the Museum Curator, David Faust. He loves to talk about the women who worked the fort, how the officers’ wives felt about them, and how important and unsung they were. Mr. Faust told me about the landscape of the area, gifted me with articles that described the area rivers in detail—now dry and dusty, diverted to reservoirs. I’ve moved those files with me from home to home over the course of fifteen years, and finally found a story worthy of using them.
While I had the framework of the idea, and the story in full swing, occasionally I’d find myself in need of “seasoning.” I no longer had the luxury of running to the Arizona Historical Society to view their archives of photographs, but I did have their web site to sift through. And, thanks to the Google Book Project, I had access to writings and journals from people who lived in the time period and place I was researching. I poured over Martha Summerhayes’ Vanished Arizona, her account of growing up in the west, a new Cavalry wife, available in the public domain. Though only a small portion takes place at Fort Lowell, she taught this writer about what it was like to travel during that time, to be a mother during that time, and provided the name of my hero from one of her lesser characters. Bowen. Loved it. Had star quality, even if her description is a far cry than my own devastatingly handsome hero.
With yellow pad in hand, I took notes. On Martha’s remembered sights, scents, sounds. It was a start, but I needed more. I needed details on dress, costume, what resources were available for a woman in a remote fort. What would she buy at the post store? How would she ride a horse? How long would it take to go by horseback from the fort to the city? To the edge of the mountains? Plus, I had the advantage of hiking that terrain most of my life, and an author’s imagination of how someone from a time with no air conditioning in the heat of the summer, no indoor plumbing, and no ready access to a Walmart would handle the perils and pitfalls of being a woman during that period of history.
Of course, there was creative license. It’s fiction, after all—and sometimes, even with the history in hand, you need to bend facts to meet your plot-needs. But, before bending them, you need to know what really happened, and make it work for your modern audience.
So, how’d it all pan out?
Reviews of All or Nothing have been overwhelmingly positive, remarking on detail, setting, and story. The recipe was sound, the ingredients meshed together in proper flavor, and the seasoning enough to provide an intriguing event for my hero and heroine to reach their happily ever after.
Researching the elements of history were key to success, and most of it, from the comfort of my living room couch, courtesy of my wireless internet access.
Yes, it’s barely necessary to darken the doorways of a library anymore –though I do, whenever possible—because nothing can replace the skills of a knowledgeable librarian, and the scent of book stacks.
- Camp Grant Incident – 1871: Original article pulled—which I spoke with Ms. Henry about at length. The Rebuttal: http://www.azstarnet.com/public/comm_editorials/Peter_Vokac_334394.html
- Fort Lowell – a US Cavalry fort in Tucson, Arizona. The fort was in full swing in 1876, decommissioned in 1879-1880:
- Archives at Historical Society: http://lista.azhist.arizona.edu/cgi-bin/Pwebrecon.cgi?DB=local&PAGE=First
- Museum Site: http://www.oflna.org/fort_lowell_museum/ftlowell.htm
- Plan of Fort Lowell: http://www.oflna.org/fort_lowell_museum/fort_lowell_1880%20map.tif
- Military in Arizona Territory: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arizona_Territory
- US Army Uniforms – Uniforms were contracted out by the Post – researched on Wikipedia, and through visiting numerous sites, including: http://www.ushist.com/cavalry_dragoons.htm
- Costumes and dress of a traveling woman in 1876: http://www.ushist.com/wardrobe/ladies.htm
- Army Laundresses – the women in service of the soldiers, and were in fact paid by the army by the soldier (often paid better than the soldiers!) and also received steady rations. So, what was her life like? Resources like this are useful, found through google searches: http://www.armylaundress.com/theirjob.htm
- Transportation – the train didn’t reach Tucson until 1878, so how would a woman traveling with her sister reach Tucson from Kansas City, Missouri? — I literally ran into an almost train wreck here, having an improper stop on my Atchitson, Topeka, Santa Fe line out of Kansas City. So, back to Google I went – during edits! And found some excellent maps, depicting stops, as well as how one would get from Colorado to Tucson, by way of stage. Searching a variety of resources, including Wikipedia led me to a blip of a station in La Junta, Colorado: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atchison,_Topeka_and_Santa_Fe_Railway
- El Tejano – villains of the old west, vanished treasure, and approximate location, originally through www.arizonahighways.com article, and varying reports. His exact identity uncertain, due to the mask he wore – and his treasure never securely found, this time of year—A quick web search found a story of his ghost roaming the desert, challenging those who seek his treasure with their very lives… http://tucsoncitizen.com/paranormal/2009/09/28/the-ghostly-legend-of-el-tejano/
While writing this article, I’ve discovered something about historical research. It’s possible, when you talk about something long enough, devotedly enough, that you can in fact put your own thumbprint on history. Research of El Tejano, more often than not, brings up blog posts I’ve written on this unsung villain of our desert. See my comments on him here:
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I was asked today how to outline a work in progress by one of our new mamawriters. With NaNoWriMo on the way, no time like the present to take a time out and discuss the benefits of plotting, and adhering to an outline.
This is not a formula, per se… but some things you can think on. I don’t think in terms of outline. I do think in terms of prose — so for me, writing a full synopsis from the get go is the best way to find out what happens along the way to the end.
- Identify theme of story (Man vs. man, Man vs. nature, Man vs. self).
- Put your whole story synopsis into a 3-5 page, single spaced tale. Hit the high notes. Think five paragraph essay – introduce your H/H in first paragraph. Introduce their wants. (Hero wants X, Heroine wants Y, Antagonist wants Z). Make notations as to first glance, first kiss, first *ahem* depending on your book… first cup of coffee or first date or first night together (in mine, it leads up to the ultimate statement of true love… a marriage proposal, whatever – I write inspy, I’m allowed to be coy. My fellow romance writers can explain the differences on importance of other encounters. *ahem*
- Make sure each paragraph has conflict, and that the conflict builds on something that happens previously, and leads toward the ultimate climax. Make sure that you’re dropping clues toward your h/h’s journey along the way, how they’re getting what they wanted in the beginning, & what they want in the middle.
- Toward the end, you’ll have your climactic scene, where the H/H win, they receive what they ultimately desire, and then your denouement, when all settles into a HEA.
NOW, separate your synopsis into a word doc, where each paragraph is a note toward your plot progression. Give each one a Chapter #, and off you go! You should have about 30-40 or so chapters using this method. You can give yourself wordcount goals, or what have you — and if your plot goes pear shaped, you can figure out how to rein your characters back, or revise the remaining paragraphs later. The best part is, each paragraph is a prompt for the next time you pick up the WIP.
Oh, and do your best not to edit along the way. Use the 5 minute editing rule! I’m digging that one, discussed today on www.mamawriters.com
Good luck, and happy writing! 🙂