16 Reasons to read your work aloud

I’m back from exploring canyons (pictures coming soon), but today I’m over at the Story Empire with another post about writing. If you have a moment, stop by and say hi.

Story Empire

All images Pixabay

Most writers have learned the importance of reading their words aloud. It’s advice I heeded early on and am happy to pass along.

Writing works on myriad levels. On one level, it’s the mechanical delivery of a story, the typing of words according to rules. It’s fingers on keyboards, reams of paper, and editing drafts. Beneath the surface, writing is meaning-making through narrative, tapping out universal themes and archetypes that existed before man first etched his carvings into cave walls.

As an art form, writing has the ability to transport a reader into another world. We paint with words on the mind’s canvas, compose the music of language, stirsmells, tastes, and tactile impressions. The goal is emotionalimmersion, being present in the experience.

I have anirksome sensitivity to the sounds of words and the rhythm of phrases and sentences. When I search for the right word, it’s not…

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Off to Explore some Canyons

All images from Pixaby

I’m vanishing from the blog for a few weeks to explore some canyons, starting with the one above.

One of the benefits of retirement is an opportunity to catch up on all those things I wanted to do earlier in my life, but never had the opportunity. While I’m not quite the daredevil I was as a younger person, the desire to explore is still as strong as ever.

I want to see curving waves of rock. Perhaps this one:

I hope to explore a slot canyon. Maybe this one:

I won’t need to rely on pixabay photos to see this. I’m going to walk through it:

I will be offline for most of my break, but loaded with books, and back with much to share.

May you find an adventure to enjoy while I’m gone.

***

And a Happy Mother’s Day to the women all around the world who are tirelessly “mothering” others, even if you don’t have children. You’re amazing.

April Book Reviews

April was another month of intense editing, but that’s behind me as of yesterday. I’m looking forward to getting back to my usual reading indulgence. In the meantime, I’ve got some good books for you.

Below are reviews for this month’s 4 and 5-star reads including a sci-fi thriller, a western paranormal adventure , a fantasy, poetry anthology, and fantasy/folklore/mystery.

Click on the covers for Amazon global links.

*****

Hope by Terry Tyler

In the not-so-distant future when the world is run by mega conglomerates and the vast majority of people are just getting by, the solution to increasing homelessness is Hope Villages. But is there really any hope of escaping poverty in a world rife with unemployment and rigged for the rich, beautiful, and powerful? When Lita and her two roomies find themselves unemployed, the only solution is to enter Hope Village #37. And revealing the truth about what happens within its walls can get you killed.

One of the things that was so enthralling about this read is how realistic it is. I can definitely see these villages (warehouses) for the poor cropping up in the near future. There’s a sense of just-getting-by and that anyone, including the reader, could end up in one of these places. And how they’re run is entirely based on the political party in charge. Scary, scary, scary stuff.

The writing is flawless. The read starts with a fair amount of backstory as Lita, her friends, and the challenges they face are introduced. It builds to a simmer with an impending sense of doom as things start spiraling downward. Before you know it, they’re out of choices, a point at which I found the book difficult to put down. The characters are emotionally realistic, vulnerable, brave, and totally outgunned by the powerful machine controlling their lives. The realism extends right to the end – no happily-ever-after here, though there is hope. Highly recommended for readers who enjoy suspense, dystopian fiction, and “this could happen” thrillers. (Kindle Unlimited).

*****

Dreams Lie Beneath by Rebecca Ross

This fantasy has everything I love: intricate world-building, a twisted plot, great characters, and lyrical/atmospheric writing.

Long ago, a murder in the mountainous realm of Azenor resulted in a curse, and now nightmares come alive every month on the new moon. Clementine and her father are wardens, people gifted with magic who hunt the nightmares and find the keys to their undoing. But when two brothers beat them in a challenge, Clem and her family are forced to leave their village. Clem vows revenge, disguises herself with the help of an ancient troll, and becomes the nightmare-hunting partner of one of the brothers. She’s drawn into a century-old conflict of conspirators and secrets, and only by uniting with her rival will she survive the dangers lurking around every corner.

The magic is clever and layered, and the encounters with nightmares are full of danger. The story unfolds in Clem’s POV, which leaves a lot of mysteries for her and the reader to unravel, including whether she can trust the various players trying to guide, deceive, and manipulate her. Each character is deliciously distinct and many of them aren’t who they seem. Their motivations are questionable, and it’s hard to tell until the very end who the good guys and bad guys are and what role they play in resolving the curse.

The writing is beautiful, full of gorgeous metaphors, and if I read the book as a paperback, I would have employed a highlighter on every page. The story is strong with emotion, visual description, action, and intrigue, as well as flavored with romance. Highly recommended for fantasy readers who also enjoy the works of Katherine Arden and Margaret Rogerson.

*****

Mateo’s Blood Brother by Sandra Cox

I thought the first book in this series was great and couldn’t wait to get my hands on the second. It didn’t disappoint. Mateo, the wolf-shifter sheriff of Grizzly is still a major part of the story but the focus is now on Jessie, his fully human blood brother. After a long period of estrangement, they’re working on their friendship, and they haven’t much choice about sticking together since the shifter-she-wolf they’d thought was dead is back for revenge. She’s targeting them and everyone they hold dear.

I enjoyed the characters the first time around and did so again. Jessie and Mateo share the story’s POV. They’re believable, emotionally authentic, and distinct. I can easily say the same about the secondary characters, even those with small parts. The shifters, including a new and mysterious brown wolf, are appealing with their deep connections to the natural world. I enjoyed experiencing the action through Mateo’s animal senses as well as his human ones and was especially intrigued by his father.

The author is well known for her western romances, but in this series, romance is secondary to the other elements of the plot. I’d characterize the book as contemporary western, paranormal fiction, and there’s plenty of action to keep the pace moving along. I read the book in two sittings while ignoring everything else I had to do. I hope the author will write more for this series. Highly recommended to readers who enjoy paranormal fiction with great characters, a touch of romance, and a quick pace. (Kindle Unlimited).

*****

Hues of Hope, Selected Poetry by Balroop Singh

Singh’s latest collection of free form poetry includes about 100 poems on the subject of hope. They cover a wide range of perspectives, emotions, and sources of hope, found within us as well as out in the world. The hope found in nature, in memories, and in love are prevalent in the first three sections of the book. And in the second half of the collection, hope becomes more complex and entangled with pain, disappointment, and longing, among other less cheery emotions and experiences. It was within these more nuanced explorations that I found some of my favorite poems.

A few memorable poems were “I Have Understood”, “I Know You!” and “Now I Understand You!” Below are the first three stanzas of “Who Are You” from the section Beams of Love:

Who Are You?

Once again dusk descended
Alone she sat in deep thought
One more gorge
That seemed to devour her.

Love entered from the back door
Sat by her side and smiled
She couldn’t recognize the stranger
So she asked: “Who are you?”

“You knew me at birth
You stretched your arms
For me, you cried
When I didn’t embrace you… (con’t)

Highly recommended to readers who enjoy free-form poetry around a complex theme, including the light and whimsical as well as the poignant and painful. (Kindle Unlimited).

*****

Spirit of the Shell Man by Chris Hall

This is Book 2 in the series, and I enjoyed getting together with the same quirky and delightful characters from Book 1: Song of the Sea Goddess. The series isn’t named, and the books may not need to be read in order, but I’m glad I did since there are a number of details that happen chronologically.

As with the first book, the characters were my favorite part of the read. They’re quirky and good-hearted, and thoroughly believable with distinct voices and personalities. There aren’t any dastardly bad guys, and though a few greedy interlopers are creating problems in the South African seaside village, it’s the group of main characters, their kind relationships, and the multiple mysteries that carry the story.

The pace is quite fast, and I read the book in two sittings. The action scenes were well written, especially the time spent in the underground tunnels (which accounted for my decision to finish the book rather than put it down). Similar to the first book, the loose plot is light and whimsical with all kinds of strange and supernatural elements, mysterious notebooks and puzzle boxes, underground tunnels, spirits, magical creatures, and ordinary creatures acting magically. The story has an African “myths and legends” feel to it which I really liked. Recommended for fantasy readers who enjoy great characters and a whimsical adventure.

*****

Happy Reading!

Crafting Rich Characters (Part 5)

Greetings Storytellers! I’m over at Story Empire today with the last installment of “Crafting Rich Characters.” If you’re interested, there’s a worksheet with prompts from the entire series for your downloading pleasure. If you have the time, stop by to say hi. 🙂

Story Empire

Greetings Storytellers! We’re off to Part 5 of Crafting Rich Characters, the final installment of this series. In Part 1, we explored a character’s Physical Appearance, Mannerisms, and Quirks. In Part 2, we covered Attributes and Traits, Skills and Abilities, and Occupations and Interests. In Part 3, we looked at the Formative Backstory, Core Values, and The Lie. And in Part 4, we explored Secrets, The Big Fear, and The Mask.

In this post, we’re going to finish up character-building with Motivations and Goals.

And at the end, you’ll be able to download a worksheet with the aspects of character-building I’ve presented in this 5-part series.

Motivation

All images from Pixabay

Motivation liesat the heart of a compelling character’s profile. Much of what we’ve talked about in previous posts will contribute to an understanding of a character’s internal motivation.

Motivations and Goals are often confused since…

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Enter the Sacred #TankaTuesday

Sunlight filters through tidal barriers of air and water where animals bloom from salty rocks with the permanence of plants, and gardens wear the guise of animals in this place where swimming is soaring from the edges of canyons, hiding in coral caverns of this wondrously alien world, secretive, and brimming with creatures, some tempered by timidness, others leaping and diving from blue to blue.

enter the sacred

domain of eels and turtles

world beneath our world

taught by schools of parrotfish

to touch a dolphin’s wild joy

 

***

Denise Finn chose the wonderful prompt for this Ekphrastic challenge (poetry based on a visual image). If you click on her name, you can read her entry. As a scuba diver, I’m entranced by the underwater world.

My poem is called a “tanka prose,” a bit of prose followed by a tanka with a syllable count of 5/7/5/7/7.

The weekly #TankaTuesday syllabic poetry challenge is the brainstorm of Colleen at Wordcraft Poetry. Think about joining in. It’s great fun.

The Dudes aren’t in the kitchen with D. Wallace Peach.

I’m over at Shehanne Moore’s blog, getting interviewed by the Hamsters. Shey also wrote a wonderful review of Catling’s Bane, though you have to read through the hamsters’ hilarious commentary first. If you have a moment, stop by, and don’t forget to check out Shey’s fabulous regency-era romances. I highly recommend them. ❤

shehanne moore

D. Wallace Peach.Thanks so much for the invite to visit with you and the Dudes, Shey. What a treat to hobnob with the famous (infamous?) Hamstas. Hi guys.

Question one. · Fantasy can stand or fall on the world building and making a reader completely believe in that world. When you first sat down to write Catling’s Bane, what came first, the world she inhabits or Catling?

D. Wallace Peach. For me, both happen at the same time. Usually, the theme comes first – in this case, the ability to manipulate emotions. That bit of inspiration starts a cascade of character, world, and plot ideas that inform each other as the story takes shape. Not until that magic has run its course, do I begin writing.

D. Wallace Peach. Oh I am definitely a plotter. And I wrote all four books before I published the first. That…

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A Legacy of Easter Eggs

I wasn’t raised in a religious family though when Easter came around, I wouldn’t turn down a chocolate bunny or an opportunity to hunt for boiled and dyed eggs in the garden.

But what I remember most about the holiday was painting eggs, and since my grandmother was an artist, painting eggs was a weeks-long event.

My grandparents lived with us, and every year, a few weeks before Easter, my mother and grandmother would make pinpricks in both ends of 100 eggs. They’d blow on one small hole, and the egg whites and yolks would exit through the other, leaving a hollow shell that would last for… well, for lifetimes, at least.

A week before Easter, they’d set up multiple card tables and folding chairs and watercolors and acrylics and brushes and glazes and all the other supplies needed for an egg-painting extravaganza.

They’d invite the whole neighborhood for a day of creativity and community. People would stop by, chat, paint, and leave with their creations. Not all of the eggs were beautiful, but all of them were precious. Those are some of my fondest memories of Easter.

I’m the keeper of my family’s painted eggs.

I have about 40 of them, a legacy of Easter eggs.

They remind me of my grandparents and parents, my brothers, my friends and their families – the joy of community. These are some of my favorites eggs, and a few of them are older than me! I hope you enjoyed them.

I wish everyone who celebrates Easter (as well as those who don’t) a beautiful day painted with love, joy, and peace.

Smorgasbord Bookshelf 2022- Share an Extract from your latest book – #Fantasy #Adventure – The Ferryman and the Sea Witch by D.Wallace Peach

I’ve been a busy bee this week dealing with piles of SNOW, rare in Oregon and unheard of in April! The power came back on just in time to share Sally Cronin’s generous post. I’m over at her place today with an excerpt from The Ferryman and the Sea Witch. If you have a few minutes, head on over to say hi. And don’t forget to check out Sally’s site. ❤

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

In this series you are invited to share an extract of 500 words from your most recent book published within the last 12 months. Details at the end of the post.

The aim of the series

  1. To showcase your latest book and sell some more copies.
  2. Gain more reviews for the book.
  3. Promote a selection of your other books that are available.

Today I am delighted to share an extract from from the fantasy adventure which I can highly recommend by D.Wallace PeachThe Ferryman and the Sea Witch

About the book

The merrow rule the sea. Slender creatures, fair of face, with silver scales and the graceful tails of angelfish. Caught in a Brid Clarion net, the daughter of the sea witch perishes in the sunlit air. Her fingers dangle above the swells.

The queen of the sea bares her sharp teeth and, in a fury of wind…

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Crafting Rich Characters (Part 4)

I just sent a manuscript off to beta readers, and I’m celebrating today with another post over at Story Empire – Part 4 of Crafting Rich Characters. If you have a minute and want to go deep into your characters’ psyches, stop on by. I’d love to chat. Happy Writing.

Story Empire

Greetings Storytellers! We’re off to Part 4 of Crafting Rich Characters. In Part 1, we explored a character’s physical appearance, mannerisms, and quirks. In Part 2, we covered Attributes and Traits, Skills and Abilities, and Occupations and Interests. And in Part 3, we looked at the Formative Backstory, Core Values, and The Lie.

In this post, we’re going to explore some of my favorite parts of character building: Secrets, The Big Fear, and The Mask. We’ll look at the juicy parts of the characters that create tension, obstacles, and perhaps some mystery.

Secrets

All images from Pixabay

Now things get a little interesting. Where The Lie (Part 3) covered information the character doesn’t know, now we’re talking about things the character knows and doesn’t want anyone else to find out.

Secrets are secrets for a reason; they involve risk. Some secrets are small – the “homemade” pie…

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March Book Reviews

March Madness definitely applies. This month was intense with editing and care-giving, but I also found time for some wonderful books.

Below are reviews for this month’s 4 and 5-star reads including a family drama/cozy mystery, a western romance, a story story anthology, a paranormal romance, and another installment of a fantasy serial.

Click on the covers for Amazon global links.

*****

That Darkest Place by Marcia Meara

Meara continues to impress me with her characters, their emotional depth, the reality of their relationships, and how utterly genuine they feel. They’re like people I know—working, struggling, caring for each other, arguing, forgiving, doubting themselves, dealing with baggage from their pasts, and ultimately finding their way. This book, the final installment in the Riverbend trilogy has all that.

The story focuses on the Painter brothers. Their parents are deceased, and it’s only the three of them. When Jackson is severely injured in an auto accident, Forrest and Hunter are committed to seeing him pull through, not only physically, but emotionally. The hurdles are many, including Jackson’s guilt over the death of his passenger, the woman he intended to marry.

There’s an action-oriented subplot, as Jackson starts receiving death threats which escalate into violence. It keeps the tension up, but to be honest, it was the brothers’ relationships that kept me glued to the read. I loved their steadfast loyalty to one another, their good hearts, and pure determination in the face of challenges.

There’s also plenty of romance, but without a lot of superficial drama. The challenges faced by the characters are very real and relatable, and though there are hurdles to overcome, there’s a pervasive feeling of maturity, forgiveness, and commitment. So, if readers are interested in great characters with good hearts and a compelling story, I can highly recommend this series. The last book, this one, will stick with you for a long time. (Kindle Unlimited).

*****

Silver Hills by Sandra Cox

Cox writes western romances, but this book is so much more than that. It’s full of action and adventure, and at times, it also feels like a family saga about a close-knit group of people and how they fare through their lifetimes. Aside from the bad guys, there’s kindness, forgiveness, healing, respect, friendship, and, of course, love. The romance is clean, so this read would be appropriate for teens as well as adults.

Alexandria is fleeing something terrible from her past, and dressed as a boy, she joins a cattle drive. Her skills get her noticed, but not quite as much as her outspoken attitude. And not everyone is fooled by her baggy clothes and low-slung hat. By the end of the drive, Alex’s secret is out, and she’s bewitched her boss, Brandon Wade, owner of the Silverhills Ranch. A stormy romance begins, but there’s a ranch to run, comancheros causing havoc, and that secret from her past is tracking her down.

I loved the characters. Alexandria is feisty and outspoken, and though she frequently requires rescue, she’s tough and skilled with a gun, which comes in handy. Brandon is also strong-willed, and though at times I felt he was pushy about marrying Alex, they were an excellent match. Secondary characters are rich with personality and many of them memorable. I appreciated that the bad guys were also nuanced, especially the comanchero leader, which increased my interest in the story.

The settings are well-described, and there’s plenty of detail about ranch life and raising cattle to give the story an air of authenticity. The plot doesn’t have a “one and done” crisis, which contributed to the feeling I was indulging in a family saga. Unlike many romances that end with a wedding, this story continues into old age, and that part brought a tear to this reader’s eye.

Highly recommended to readers of westerns who also enjoy romance, great characters, plenty of action, and stories about people who won the west. (Kindle Unlimited).

*****

Strange Hwy: Short Stories by Beem Weeks

Strange Hwy is a book of 19 short stories, and though I wouldn’t characterize them as Strange, they certainly are well written and worth reading. Each story is very different from the others, and they range from heartwarming to horror, and from paranormal to family drama. I never knew what was coming next.

My favorite story in the book was the second, titled Constant as the Day. For me, this one was riveting, deeply emotional, and heartbreaking. I would have bought the book just to read this one brief story. One thing that also made it unique as well as impressive is that it’s written in second-person, an extremely challenging undertaking that Weeks pulled off beautifully. It drew me in and didn’t let go.

There are a lot of other stand-out stories including Alterations, Family Traditions, Sweetie Girl, Dodging the Bullet, and Looking for Lucy (and more). A highly recommended book for short story readers who enjoy variety and well-crafted tales.

*****

Ghostly Interference by Jan Sikes

Jag Peters is a bit of a goodie-two-shoes nerd who grew up in an emotionally healthy family. He falls hard for biker/waitress Rena Jett, a woman with a troubled past who doesn’t trust anyone or believe that life will ever be kind. Though Jag’s attraction is immediate, it takes some time for Rena to warm up to him. Rena’s brother Sam, a soldier, died in Afghanistan, and his ghost makes it clear to Jag that he wants his sister to be happy.

Three-quarters of the book is romance with a capital R, focused on the growing relationship. There’s little conflict as the characters get to know and trust each other. Two aspects of Jag’s life get some extra text—his musical abilities and the music scene, and the “new age” spiritual beliefs he’s gained from his mother. There’s some graphic sex, but the majority of the read is Jag simply being thoughtful and nice. He’s almost too perfect, and for that reason, I found Rena a more compelling character.

The story takes a turn in the last quarter, flipping into some great action as Jag and Rena become involved in helping a friend in danger. Both of them shine as they risk their lives to save the day. This last part of the story zips by after the casual pace getting to this point. Recommended to readers who enjoy basking in romance and watching a relationship grow.

*****

Dead of Winter: Journey 12: Goddesses by Teagan Riordain Geneviene

I continue to be impressed by the world-building and scope of this epic fantasy. This “journey” like many of the others is a two-hour read, easily devoured in one sitting. The story advances as the Deae Matres join with the Lost Library Guard in Pergesca. They get their first glimpse of the thousands-strong army of the dead as it spreads over the land.

Though late in the serial, the large cast of characters continues to expand. Two goddesses enter the story, and though one seems to be an ally, her role is yet unclear. Bits of backstory and world-building details make for a moderate pace, which I expect will ramp up as the battle begins. I’m eager for the final journeys and to see how everything comes together, particularly for Emlyn.

*****

Happy Reading!