Filling Magical Plotholes

Elanalue Windthorn (Alue). An elf and one of the three protagonists.

I’m about 40 pages from completing my 2nd draft of a new trilogy… Unraveling the Veil. It’s been a bumpier ride than usual, my laptop jouncing on my knees as the story’s wheels plunge into plotholes on the long and winding road to publishing.

A few of them required me to rock the old tale back and forth while gunning the engine. A couple of times, I had to back up and try again, turning in a slightly different direction to get around a sinkhole. I’ve been known to add an extra gallon of coffee to the tank in order to jack up the imagination and fill in a whopping crater.

Magic is a big part of the problem.

Fantasy authors can easily find themselves mired by their magic. To be honest, I’ve struggled through a lot of “oh, shit” moments where I’ve put a character in a treacherous situation, and then realized (on the second draft) that they can easily escape. Yes, you guessed it, by using the powers I granted them.

A shapeshifter who can turn into a beetle can escape most confined spaces. Uh oh.

A shapeshifter who can transform into a bird can just fly away from a dangerous situation. Darn!

A pyrokinetic elf doesn’t have to worry much about being stuck in an ice storm. Duh.

A goblin who can rearrange earthen matter should be impossible to keep locked up in a stone cell. Gah! Rats!

The list goes on and on.

My characters aren’t all-powerful, but they have talents. And their abilities change over time, so I have to keep track of where they are in their magical evolutions.

The point is, writing, rewriting, and editing fantasy requires a unique analysis of every action scene. We, the creators and purveyors of magic, have to question our logic in order to keep the story plausible. Can my characters use their magical abilities to get out of this terrible situation?

If the answer is “yes,” it’s time to put on the brakes and check the old map. Then fix the road or plot a detour. The journey must go on.

WIP working cover

January Book Reviews

Last year, I was a failure when it came to posting reviews. So this year, after noticing how D.L Finn posts a monthly summary, I thought I’d do the same, (posting my 4 and 5-star reviews).
Click on the covers for Amazon links.


Eventide by Mae Clair

Oh my, oh my, oh my, what a great read. Eventide was my favorite of the Hode’s Hill trilogy and polishes off the series with a lot of scary, spooky shine. The suspense in this paranormal thriller starts on page one and zooms right to the last.

The main storyline is basically about Madison Hewitt, her purchase of a haunted house, and how the mystery of the haunting is revealed. Madison and the cast of characters were all present in the first two novels, but in this one, Madison takes center stage. I found the characters well-rounded and believable, free of most of the nonsensical decisions and lack of insight that tend to escalate tension in many thriller novels.

Each chapter starts back in 1878 with the story of Hollande, a young woman employed as a companion for a mentally unstable and bitter woman (in the same house that Madison just purchased). This is a strong subplot, and I found Hollande’s story mesmerizing as little by little the secrets of the house and what happened there are revealed.

And while that’s all going on, there’s a third plotline – a monster is tearing people apart in town. AND there’s a fourth plotline – Madison is being harassed by someone trying to scare her or worse, possibly a murderous thug from her past. Is there too much going on in this book? Nope. The author drip-feeds the reader tidbits of information, plus some red herrings, and the tension builds and builds and builds until all four plotlines come together in a great conclusion. So well done!

I believe Eventide can be read as a stand-alone without much confusion, though I recommend the whole series to readers who love paranormal thrillers and great writing.


Touching the Sun by Steve Tanham

An anthology of spiritual poetry that evokes the universal and personal connection of man to nature, to the past, and the mystery of life and creation. It’s a collection I savored over several days. Each poem is an evocative jewel worthy of moments of contemplation, mystical in nature, beautifully evocative, but accessible to me as a reader. I was particularly fond of the poems: Stepping Stones, The Hushed Portal, and Pass Slowly Over Me, though there are many more that I could add to this list. Highly recommended to readers who enjoy a profound poetic journey.


The Wizard, the Girl and the Unicorn’s Horn by Kevin Cooper

An ancient evil power is encroaching on the world of Geo, blanketing the land in shadow and stealing villagers. The story tracks the daring adventures of three groups, two off to destroy the shadow, and one simply trying to survive. They all ultimately come together for a final battle.

One narrative follows the wizard, the protector of Geo. He joins with some rambunctious goblins who lead him through the mountain’s tunnels to Land’s End, the barren home of the shadow and its packs of demon wargs (wolf-like creatures). At the same time, Elyysa, a young girl with a magical past, allies with Geo’s wise trolls who collect tolls at the many bridges. She too heads for Land’s End and carries with her a powerful unicorn horn. The third narrative focuses on the villagers who find themselves swept up by the shadow and stranded in a cave. They must make their way through dangerous passageways to the surface.

The story is simply told with a steady pace and vocabulary that a middle-grade student would be able to handle … but there is quite a bit of tragedy in the caves, including the deaths of children and families, and significant violence during the warg attacks. For these reasons, I’d steer this read to mature middle-graders, preteens, and young teenagers who enjoy a fantastical tale of adventure and can deal with the scary and sad moments. (My 7-year-old grandson couldn’t handle it, but grammy enjoyed it!)


Vengeance of a Slave by VM Sang

Ailbert keeps a running list in his head of all the reasons why he hates the Romans—they crucified his father, stole him as a child from his mother, and enslaved him. As he grows into his teenage years as a slave, the list gets longer. With the help of a network of Britons, he escapes, determined to exact his revenge, but not everything is as clear cut as he once thought.

The plot is straight forward, and though there are some tense moments, battling and mortal danger isn’t the point of the tale. This story has a strong moral message about the nuanced nature of people and how they treat and judge each other. Ultimately, it’s about a young man’s growth and the events that change his perceptions as he matures.

The pace is moderate with some repetition, but I was engaged throughout. The historical details seem well-researched, adding to the authenticity of the story. Point-of-view focuses on Ailbert for most of the book, with occasional shifts to other characters, and all main and secondary characters felt believable to me. Ailbert is particularly well-rounded and likeable as the story centers on his thoughts and experiences.

Recommended for YA and adult readers who enjoy coming of age stories, historical fiction, and adventure.


Poet’s Touch by Kamal Roohani

This anthology of poetry makes for a lovely afternoon, or better yet, a place to pause and drop into over several days. The poetry is sweet and positive with tidbits of wisdom about happiness and love. I didn’t find them sappy but enjoyed the beautiful language and mood they invoked. A few favorite poems were: The Golden Rule, I Thought to Myself, and A Deck of Cards. I recommend this lovely collection to any poetry reader looking to be uplifted.


When I Rise by Karen Ingalls

This collection of 12 short stories uses a single poem and the symbolism of 12 specific trees as the underlying foundation of its morals and themes. The trees don’t appear in the actual stories, but each one is referenced by the author at the end of its tale with a statement about its significance. I enjoyed the stories, particularly Two Sisters, a story about enduring love between two sisters; and The Piano, a well-told tale from the point of view of an Alzheimer’s patient.

The storytelling is primarily from an omniscient point of view and moves rapidly through events and years in a simple straightforward style. As a reader, I didn’t get to know the characters deeply but was carried along by most narratives to a satisfying conclusion. An afternoon’s read recommended for those who enjoy short stories with strong moral messages about love and family.


The Crown of Stones: Magic Scars by CL Schneider

I read the first book in this series several years ago and always planned on continuing. I’m not sure why I waited so long, but I picked up book 2 and 3, and I’m glad I did. Picking up where I left off was easy, so clearly the first book made an impression.

I would characterize the series as grim-dark fantasy. It’s violent, contains profanity, contains a few scenes of erotica, and has a great anti-hero. Ian Troy has a moral compass, but he’s also prone to rage and has the power of the crown of stones within him – a power that can destroy armies. Using that power is a need like an addiction and controlling it is important because it’s going to change him into a beast.

I love the writing. Beautiful imagery, detailed descriptions, emotional fullness. Some readers might find the prose overwritten, but I loved the flow and how all this luscious writing contrasted with the brutality of the characters and story. Characters are distinct and the relationships feel authentic. Dialog is flawless.

It’s a complex plot, the magic intricate and the politics span hundreds of years. It’s never confusing, but there is a lot going on! I’m already part of the way into book 3 and I’m looking forward to learning how this gigantic story resolves. Recommended for grimdark fans who love a great anti-hero.


The Crown of Stones: Magic Borne by CL Schneider

I loved this series and am sorry to see it end. Ian’s transformation is complete from anti-hero to hero, a change that he believes will require his death. The story, to me, was about that transition, the emotional ambivalence, the growth, the sacrifice, and the farewells. As in the previous two books of the series, the writing is superb, the descriptions exquisite, and in this final book, highly emotional.

True to its grimdark genre, there is no happy ending here, but there is a satisfying one. I finished the book yesterday and have been thinking about it all day today – a book hangover, for sure. I think the only cure is to read more of this author.


Happy Reading!

Daybreak #Writephoto

Photo copyright Sue Vincent

The chirping alarm clock wakes us at an ungodly hour, and I quickly prepare a thermos of hot chocolate. Muffins packed. Sweaters donned. Flashlights? Check. Blankets? Check. Keys? I pat my pocket, running through my mental checklist. We load up and drive the winding lane to the knoll.

It’s my 60th birthday, and I want to watch the sunrise. My ten-year-old granddaughter indulges my desire.

We spread a blanket on the smooth ledge, cupfuls of cocoa in hand, another blanket warming our laps. The stars behind us glimmer like luminescence in the sky’s black sea. To the east, they fade as dawn breaks. Clouds stream in heaven’s wind, a sheer sail unfurling over the slumbering land.

A light catches the corner of my eye. An iphone! “Gah!  Turn that thing off.”

“I have to check one thing.”

My instruction is ignored. I emit a series of annoyed and exasperated groans, mutterings, and sighs.

“One minute,” she giggles, unswayed by my performance. “I’m looking something up.”

I wait.

She leans into my shoulder and shares. “Did you know that light is actually all colors, and each color has a different wavelength. Blue is the shortest and red the longest.


“Different length lightwaves travel through space, and when they reach the atmosphere, they bounce off particles in the air. Like dust, water, and ice crystals, and tiny gas molecules. They scatter in lots of different directions.”


My subtle hints are failing to have an impact. She scrolls down. “When sunlight travels a short path through the atmosphere, tiny gas molecules scatter blue sunlight in all directions, making the sky blue. At sunrise and sunset, when light travels a long path, it’s mostly red and yellow.”

I sling an arm around her and sigh. “And I thought it was magic.”

She slides her phone into her pocket, and we “ooh” and “aah” as the sun bathes tiny gas molecules with gloriously long light waves.

“You know what else it said?” Apparently, my little scientist isn’t finished.


“That the clouds are a canvas on which nature paints her colors.”

“I like that,” I say.

“I thought you would. You see? It’s magic after all.”


In response to Sue Vincent’s Thursday #Writephoto prompt.

This is a work of fiction.

Smorgasbord Posts from Your Archives 2020- #ShortStory – Sign by D. Wallace Peach

A second “magical” story from my archives shared by the lovely Sally Cronin, blogger extraordinaire. I hope you enjoy this bit of flash fiction. If you visit, take a moment to check out her amazing blog. Have a great week. ❤

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

Welcome to the new series of Posts from Your Archives in 2020 and if you would like to participate with two of your posts from 2019, you will find all the details in this post: New series of Posts from Your Archives 2020

This is the second post by author Diana Wallace Peach and it is another short story in response to the Sue Vincent’s magical #writephoto prompt.

Sign by D. Wallace Peach.

Belladonna Shadowbend climbed the creaky stairs of her dead aunt’s ancient Victorian home. Gossamer cobwebs draped the corners like grayed wedding veils. The eyeballs in the portraits tracked her progress, and a transparent child hissed from the next landing. Belladonna rolled her eyes and blew out a sigh. Honestly, so cliched.

Witchcraft had become so trendy among modern teenagers that Belladonna considered it passé. Gone were the glorious days when witches drowned tied to chairs or…

View original post 734 more words

Ritual #Tanka Tuesday

image copyright 2019 Willow Willers


love painted hands
palms offering the world
the beauty of hearts awakened

scented color
my bridal ritual
bless me with joyful abundance

sweet love
enchant my skin
butterflies transform me
lotus stirs my soul to flower

ripples of change
sunbirds carry my prayers
on gossamer dragonfly wings

guide me
auspicious art
drawn in ancient symbols
even the gods and goddesses



My first crown cinquain ever.
Written in response to Colleen Chesebro’s #Tanka Tuesday challenge.
The prompt this week was this beautiful photo by Willow Willers.

Smorgasbord Posts From Your Archives 2020 – #Shortstory – Clarifying Shampoo by D. Wallace Peach

I’m over at Sally Cronin’s today with a short story from my archives. It’s a bit of silliness about magical shampoo. Thank you, Sally! Comments are closed here, so I hope you head over to read. And take a peek at Sally’s amazing site while your there. 🙂

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

Welcome to the new series of Posts from Your Archives in 2020 and if you would like to participate with two of your posts from 2019, you will find all the details in this post:New series of Posts from Your Archives 2020

This is the first post by author Diana Wallace Peach...and it is a short story, and for those of you (us) who sometimes get into a bit of a dither, it is very clarifying…..

Image Pixabay combo

Betsy over at Parenting is Funny was recently musing over a bottle of clarifying shampoo (yes, it’s a real thing). Her blog is a hoot, and I encourage you to visit. Her post popped a story into my head. I hope you enjoy.

Clarifying Shampoo by D. Wallace Peach

Clara was born a Libra. Not the normal kind of Libra with a smattering of other signs in her…

View original post 1,269 more words

Need Reviews? Try Goodreads Reading Rounds

Reviews are Important, right?

There are a fair number of posts on the internet about how to rustle up book reviews.

  • We can add a plea to our author’s pages.
  • We can give away copies of our books (with a disclaimer stating that a review is optional, of course).
  • We can research top reviewers of books like ours, make lists, send emails, try not to be annoying.
  • We can pay to add our books to lists where potential reviewers can download copies.
  • We can hire marketing professionals.
  • We can badger, beg, remind, reward, and ask nicely.

I browse the web once in a while, looking for the miracle formula.

You guessed it – I never find it.

However, I did find a Goodread’s Review Group and have participated several times in Reading Rounds. Their process is “Amazon Approved” because the reviews aren’t reciprocal.  I actually like this no-fuss process. The reviews are honest, timely, and just about guaranteed.

How Reading Rounds work:

Ten people sign up to read each other’s books. Author One reads the books written by authors 2, 3, 4, and 5.  Author Two reads books by authors 3, 4, 5, 6. The sequence continues and wraps around forming a circle. Everyone ends up giving and receiving four honest reviews.

Considerations and a few rules:

Four reviews for no fuss. All you have to do is read four books. You don’t get your pick of books; they are assigned by a moderator who makes sure that there’s no reciprocation.

No cost. Your only commitment is to read. This commitment is taken seriously by the group.

Guaranteed reviews (almost). It’s possible that someone will sign up and then blow off a review. If they do, they lose the privilege to participate in the future. I have received all reviews from every round in which I’ve participated, so I think this problem is very rare.

A schedule of due dates for reviews is posted by the moderator. There’s always plenty of time read and review (about 3 weeks per book).

Reviews are honest and Goodreads authors are a tough crowd. Unless a book is one of those “loved” finds, don’t count on 5-stars.

DNF (Did Not Finish) is not permitted. You must read the book from start to end, even if it has no punctuation, the writing is incoherent, and it’s 700 pages long.

You can only participate in one Reading Round at a time.

Reading Rounds are set up based on broad genre parameters. This increases the chance readers will enjoy the books assigned to them. The most common groupings are:

  • Out of this World – Speculative Fiction: fantasy, paranormal, sci-fi, horror
  • In this World – Anything but Speculative Fiction
  • General – Just as stated, this group is open to all types of books. My only warning is that you may end up with some of those reviews that start with: “I don’t usually read (this genre)…”
  • 18+ – This group seems geared toward books with sex/erotica. I submitted a violent grim-dark fantasy and got a couple of those “I don’t usually read this genre” reviews. Just be forewarned.
  • Less frequently, there are groups specifically for novellas, YA, or children’s books.

Finally, it’s fun to discover new favorite authors, make friends, and dip into genres that you might never have thought to try.

Here’s the link to the Goodreads Review Group and think about joining (you can always drop out if it isn’t for you). Once joined, click on “Reading Rounds,” check out the complete rules, and think about giving it a try. If a group is forming it will state “forming” in the title.

Happy Reading and Reviewing.