Archive | August 2013

Review/Guest Post: The Serpent’s Tooth Trilogy by Kathy Fischer- Brown

Good morning folks! Apologies for my silence lately but I’ve got all kinds of balls in the air at the moment. So to make up for it, today’s post is a long one but very good. I’ll be reviewing the Serpent’s Tooth Trilogy with excerpts from the books and you’ll also hear from the author, Kathy Fischer-Brown, on how she did research for the subject matter. It all makes for an interesting read so grab that cup of coffee and get comfortable.

Historical Fiction
Date Published: 6/13/2012
 

Lord Esterleigh’s Daughter (Book 1)

As a child, Anne Fairfield dreams of the father she never knew, the hero who died fighting the French and their Indian allies in a land across the sea. Her mother’s stories, and fantasies of her own devising, sustain and nurture her through a poor and lonely existence. Until one winter night, a strange man comes to call, and the life she has known comes crashing down like shattered glass.

Forced to confront sordid truths, secrets and lies, the headstrong young woman begins to learn that, like generations of women ruled by their hearts, she is destined to follow in their footsteps.

Set against the backdrop of 18th century England, Lord Esterleigh’s Daughter is the first book in “The Serpent’s Tooth” trilogy, which follows Anne from the rural countryside, to London society and into the center of the American Revolution.

Excerpt

“Are you hurt?” He bent toward her.

She flinched away. “No thanks to you, I think I’ve escaped permanent injury.” She turned her eyes on him, a glowering look that held a trace of fear.

The look took him aback. “Forgive me, I was afraid that you—”

Her eyes softened, a rush of color surged in her cheeks. She turned away, as if embarrassed. “Is it your custom to go around sneaking up on people?” She rose gingerly, flexing her left ankle.

“To be quite truthful, it’s not.” He smiled sheepishly and scrambled to his feet. “Is it your custom to go climbing over walls?” He found her shoes in the grass and deferentially offered them to her. “Sensible people would use the gate.”

“Perhaps I’m not sensible!” Without a word of gratitude, she snatched the offering from him and winced as she slipped her left foot into the boot. “Now if you’ll excuse me, I must go.”

She hurried off, but soon moderated her pace to a hobbling limp. He followed with caution.

“Stealing off to see the old witch, are you?” Relief coursed through him that she had not seriously injured herself.

She stopped and half-looked up at him, a flickering smile spreading over her full, ripe mouth. “Hetty Powell is not a witch!”

“I wouldn’t be so sure of that,” he teased. “And I wouldn’t make it a habit of calling upon her without an escort. Old witches have a special fondness for saucy young maids. Feed ’em lots of tea and biscuits, they do…soften ’em up, make ’em sweet and tender!”

She looked up at him fully. “Are you offering me your protection?”

The candor expressed in her voice and those clear, violet eyes left him momentarily speechless. “I wish only to accompany you.”

“You are an ill-mannered young man!”

“And you’re an impetuous young woman. You’ll not go far on that ankle.”

“That remains to be seen!” She turned from him and walked lamely away.

“I can’t help feeling responsible,” he called out and hurriedly overtook her.

“You are responsible!”

“What possessed you to climb that wall?”

“It’s none of your concern.”

“An impressive display of skill and daring, I must say.”

“Would you?”

“Indeed! Not to mention agility and—”

Anne stopped suddenly and gazed hard at his face. A shiver of apprehension vibrated up her spine. For all his seeming sincerity, he was not to be trusted. Surely he would find a way to return her to the hall and inform her father of her attempted flight. “What do you want? Why must you pester me so?”

His gaze turned searching, steady. His voice was almost pleading. “Allow me to walk with you and I’ll promise not to speak another word.”

An uncomfortable heat rose in her face. She glanced away. “Then I might as well walk alone,” she said softly.

Date Published:  8/31/2012

 Courting the Devil (BOOK #2 May contain spoilers)

Four years after a near fatal blunder uproots her from her home and inheritance, Anne Darvey, daughter of the Marquess of Esterleigh, finds herself an indentured servant on a farm near Fort Edward in New York, as the British army advances toward Albany. Driven by guilt over the pain she has caused her father and grief over her lover’s death, she sets out to deliver a message. The consequences lead to the discovery that all is not as it seems, and sets in motion events that lead to love and danger.

Set against the backdrop of the American Revolution, Courting the Devil is the second book in “The Serpent’s Tooth” trilogy, which follows Anne from her childhood in the rural English countryside, to London society, and into the center of the American Revolution.

Excerpt

His memory had not failed him. Summer nights were infinitely cooler by the pond near the creek. Brighter as well, with milky flashes of light reflecting off its smooth surface and a riot of fireflies darting among the reeds, twinkling over the water like so many stars. Had there been a moon, it would have floated on the water, sending glimmers of light up to the treetops.

He would have seen her then by moonlight.

Rather it was the dull light of the ill-smelling flame of his lamp that revealed her there at the edge of the pond in the tall grass, sitting in nothing but her damp shift, her back against the trunk of a sycamore, as she applied a towel to her hair. Had he’d arrived moments earlier, he might have seen her emerge, dripping from the creek like some water nymph. He paused where he stood and watched for a moment, then he cleared his throat and continued closer.

The brush crackled under his feet. He slowed his steps when she turned, a startled look on her face, her fingers frozen in the wild tangle of thick, dark hair tumbling over her shoulders and down the length of her back. At the sight of him, she quickly covered her chest with crossed arms.

Harris hesitated, holding up the lamp so that its light revealed his face, causing her to blink into the brightness. “No reason for alarm,” he reassured, and hung the lamp on a bough just above her head. “I didn’t mean to frighten you.”

She turned away and on her knees quickly gathered up the objects spread out on a towel in the grass. He leaned on his hand against the tree, and regarded her with interest. In the light of the swinging lamp, drops of water shimmered on her bare arms. The smell of milled soap with a hint of lavender emanated from her hair, mingling with her own sweet, warm scent on the heavy air. Though coarsely made, her damp chemise clung to her like second skin, revealing the soft, round contours of a supple body. He imagined his hands holding her close, the feel of her, lithe and wet, against him, and fought back the stirring in his groin.

He licked his lips. “I didn’t expect to find anyone here at this hour of the night. Forgive the intrusion, I–”

She glanced up at him, a look of uncertainty in her eyes, along with the flashing sky. “No need for apologies, sir. I was just about to leave.” She rolled her hairbrush and a small, well-used sliver of soap in its original paper wrapper into the frayed huckaback towel. After slipping into her shoes, she snatched the coarse-woven skirt and linen bodice from the low bough from which she had hung them. Having wrapped everything in the skirt, she rose with the grace of a goddess and turned toward the path back to the house, the bundle clasped to her breast.

He stepped away from the tree and blocked her escape. She halted just short of him, but did not avert her eyes from the ground before her. “I wish you wouldn’t go,” Harris said through the dryness in his mouth.

Maintaining her focus on the dark path beyond the circle of light cast by his Betty lamp, she drew in a slow breath. In spite of the heat, she shivered. “There is nothing to keep me, sir.”

He laughed softly. “I hope that was not meant to be a gibe at my vanity?”

She shook back the mane of dark, wet hair that had fallen over her face, but kept her eyes averted. “It was not my intention to appear so bold.”

“Then I’m very much relieved!” His gaze wandered over her wet, scantily clad form, at the soft rise of her breasts before they disappeared under the cover of her infringing bundle. “But I forget myself. It is your modesty and virtue that–”

“Excuse me, Mr. Harris. It’s been a long day, and I’m tired.”

“It’s too hot to sleep. I thought I would—”

“You needn’t explain yourself. Not to me, sir. Now, if you will kindly let me pass …”

“You don’t like me, do you?”

At that she raised her eyes fully upon his face with a slow and deliberate stare, as if the impulse to look at him had been spontaneous and she resisted its appeal with all the self-control at her disposal. “My feelings are of no consequence, Mr. Harris,” she said in a soft voice, devoid of expression.

 “But you do have them. Are you dismissing them as insignificant, or is it that you have no desire to discuss things of a personal nature?” Her soft, full lips were enticing. Even in the sweltering night air, the heat emanating from her body wrapped around him like a caress.

“If you really must know, sir, I have no time for such diversions.”

“Nor anything else, I dare say.” Fighting the urge to clasp her to him and taste her mouth, he stepped aside to let her pass. “You push yourself far too hard. It’s a sure sign.”

Just beyond the spill of light from the hanging lamp, Annie stopped and raised her head. For a long while she stood in silence, as if waiting for him to speak.

He sensed he had struck a nerve. “A sure sign of what, you might ask. Then again, I would be presuming to know your mind, which, I assure I do not… All right then, I’ll tell you. I notice things about people who labor for a living, Miss Annie.” He stepped toward her, outside the circle of dingy light. “Those who work for their own subsistence tend to perform their duties with an honorable sense of purpose. For when successfully accomplished, the task at hand yields its own reward. From my own observations, I’ve also noted that those who are obligated to toil in the service of others tend to do only that which is expected of them. No more, no less.” He paused. Again the sky flickered, revealing her standing with her back to him, head lowered. “Where rewards are few, there is nothing to be gained by working one’s self to an early grave. That would leave one unable to savor the freedom earned by such senseless toil.”

She turned slowly and swept his face with her gaze. “Do you not work for your living, Mr. Harris?” In her soft voice, he detected a note of challenge.

“I am a schoolmaster, Miss Annie.” And then he vacillated, his mouth twitching into a smile. “I was a schoolmaster…until I lost all my students! For the life of me I can’t fathom why…” She did not appear moved by his attempted levity. “But, no, I never had a reason to earn a living. My father was…well-connected.”

Her eyes shimmered in the darkness. “It is said, Mr. Harris, that the Devil finds work for idle hands.”

He laughed softly. “It is also said, Miss Annie, that to speak of the Devil is to court his presence.”

She lowered her face until shadows once more enveloped her features, her hands tightening around the bundle. “If that is so, then I hope he finds me busy. Good night, Mr. Harris.” She vanished quietly into the darkness.

 

Date Published: 2/6/2013

The Partisan’s Wife (BOOK #3 May contain spoilers)

Faced with an impossible choice, Anne Marlowe is torn between her husband’s love and the hope of her father’s forgiveness. As American forces follow up on their tide-turning victories over the British at Freeman’s Farm and Bemis Heights, Peter is drawn deeper into the shady network of espionage that could cost them both their lives.

Is his commitment to “the Cause” stronger than his hard-won love for Anne? Will her sacrifice tear them apart again…this time forever? Or will they find the peace and happiness they both seek in a new beginning?

The Partisan’s Wife follows Anne and Peter through the war torn landscape of Revolutionary War America, from the Battle of Saratoga to British-occupied New York and Philadelphia, and beyond.

Excerpt

At last, she stopped pacing and leaned against the wall, arms crossed over her breast. “My God, Peter! How could you?”

He forced a sheepish smile but made no attempt to answer.

“You lied to me! Shipping trade indeed!”

“I swear I never lied.”

“Half-truths, then!” She pushed away from the wall. “‘I’m finished here. I’m done with that!’ Why didn’t I see?”

“LeClair will find a way out of this.”

She looked at him in challenge. The candle flame shone in the mirror of her eyes. “You seem so assured.”

“I have the utmost confidence in LeClair. When he returns, we’ll ferry across the river into Paulus Hook. We’ll be safe in New Jersey.”

“And then…?”

He stood and regarded her, his mouth a taut line. “Didn’t you say in no uncertain terms that you wished to go to Philadelphia?”

“I never said I wished to go. I said I had to go.”

He paused for a long moment. “You know I can’t go with you.”

“You can’t come with me…?” she said with astonishing composure. “Or, more precisely, you won’t come.”

“I can’t.” He reached for her hand; she yanked it away. “I can’t go with you.”

“Why? So that you may continue to play at your little game of masquerade and intrigue, exposing yourself to danger? For what purpose? Have you no concern for my—”

“You are not the only one blessed with a cause!” He glared at her. “It would appear that we are each compelled to do as our conscience dictates.”

Steadily she met his gaze through the candle light. “And if you could come with me…?”

Her wide-eyed face betrayed her apprehension, as though she already knew his answer yet hoped against hope for the response she longed to hear. It could have been so simple to play along and accommodate her wishes and, for her sake, make promises he could never keep. For his own sake, he chose not to respond.

 

REVIEW

In book 1, Annie finds that the father she’d grown up believing was a war hero who died in battle is actually an English lord who abandoned her mother because his family didn’t approve of the match only to return 16 years later as her mother lay upon her deathbed. She’s made to promise her mother she’d go with him to Esterleigh Hall and to try to love him but this is a tall order. While already dealing with her resentment for the mythical hero turned louse, she also must contend with the bitter ex-wife and a disinherited brother as well as learning and adapting to the heartless, cutthroat ways of London Society.  To further complicate matters, she loses her heart to a dashing young servant who’s bound for America in order earn his fortune and be worthy of her hand. In book 2, Annie is kidnapped by what is essentially her wicked stepmother and shipped off to a farm in Upstate New York where she toils as an indentured slave during the American Revolutionary War. With the farm being right smack in the middle of the battlefield, Annie takes the opportunity to escape and seek out the best friend of her sweetheart. In book 3, ties up all the lose ends left in the first two books as Annie finds herself embroiled in the rebellion thanks to her husband, Peter, while at the same time trying to find her estranged father after discovering he had traveled to New York to find her.

It’s difficult to review a series because I don’t like to drop any spoilers but I found The Serpent’s Tooth Trilogy to be a very interesting series. It isn’t often you find an author tackling the subject matter of the American Revolutionary War in this way and it was very nicely done.  Katy Fischer-Brown immerses you into the time period and you learn a lot of little details about life in the 18th century without bogging down the story itself. Although each book is a bit slow to start, the pace isn’t excruciating and it really is worth waiting for the story to pick up. Once it does, well…

Researching the Historical Novel Then and Now

When I started writing seriously in the dark age before computers, researching the historical period in which I had chosen to set my books was no easy task. The local library didn’t always have a particular resource on its reference shelves and if the book was long out of print, it was unavailable at any cost (no Alibris back then). Inter-library loan was the only way to go and even that didn’t always pan out. Travel was not always possible, especially on a limited budget. Letters to experts was a practical resource, as were phone calls, but in the days before the breakup of Ma Bell, calls from Indiana to New York were expensive.

Today, those same resources and more are just a few key strokes away. Many of the same research materials I used to wait weeks for have been scanned and uploaded to the web. In addition, there are hosts of fabulous materials I would never have dreamed of back then. Old maps and documents, in addition to diaries and other first-hand accounts are all available online if you know how to find them.

When I pulled “The Serpent’s Tooth” trilogy out of mothballs and dusted it off for an overhaul, I found myself tapping in to these resources. With all of the material I was able to find, I scrapped entire portions of the story in favor of rewrites based on information I was able to discover.

As a native New Yorker, I was especially fascinated to learn of the vast changes that made Manhattan what it is today. From street names to the layout of the streets themselves as the population grew and expanded north of Wall Street, the old city of the mid-eighteenth century can no longer be found. There are a few photographs from the late 19th and early 20th centuries of long-gone buildings from the period and some extraordinary descriptions in old books. Paintings and maps of the period also give us glimpses. Land fill long ago altered the shape of lower end of the island (where the Dutch established their first settlement in North America on land inhabited by the Native Americans who lived and hunted there). Creeks and streams, hills and forests were plentiful on Manhattan, serving the hosts of indigenous animals that made their homes there. The creeks, streams and fresh water ponds were later filled in, becoming (to name just one) Canal Street.

Street names were especially interesting. During and after the Revolution, many streets, such as King Street, King George Street, and Queen Street, were renamed, remapped, and/or rerouted. Today you’ll find Pine, William, and Pearl Streets. In The Partisan’s Wife, the area in which Peter and Anne’s house stood, then called Wynne (or Winne) Street between Bayard’s Lane and St. Nicholas Street, is now Mott Street in the heart of Chinatown, which was basically unsettled in the mid-part of the 18th century as was pretty much everything to the north. The West Village was farmland and rolling hills. Many streets and avenues in old New York evolved from long driveways belonging to huge mansions with gardens, orchards, and expansive lawns. For example, the long drive that belonged to the Bayard homestead in the late 1700s was for a time called Bayard’s Lane. It’s now part of Broome Street on the Lower East Side.

Unfortunately, few buildings from the period remain standing on lower Manhattan — Fraunces Tavern and St. Paul’s Chapel being a couple of exceptions — as a multitude of fires and later human development over the next century or so led to the destruction of pre-Revolutionary War era buildings…many in the name of progress.

To write historical fiction is, to a large extent, to live there for a while and become comfortable with the clothes, attitudes, and customs of the time. It’s also my desire to take the reader along and hope they enjoy the journey.

Kathy Fischer-Brown

Author Bio:

As a child Kathy wanted to be a writer when she grew up. She also wanted to act. After receiving an MFA in Acting and playing the part of starving young artist in New York, she taught theater classes at a small college in the Mid-West before returning home to the East Coast, where over the years, she and her husband raised two kids and an assortment of dogs. During stints in advertising, children’s media publishing, and education reform in the former Soviet Unions, she wrote whenever she could. Her love of early American history has its roots in family vacations up and down the East Coast visiting old forts and battlefields and places such as Williamsburg, Mystic Sea Port, and Sturbridge Village. At the same time, she daydreamed in history classes, imagining the everyday people behind all the dates and conflicts and how they lived.

Claiming her best ideas are born of dreams, Kathy has written a number of stories over the years. Her first published novel, Winter Fire, a 1998 Golden Heart finalist in historical romance, was reissued in 2010 by Books We Love, Ltd.

When not writing, she enjoys reading, cooking, photography, playing “ball” with the dogs, and rooting on her favorite sports teams.

LINKS:

Website:  http://www.kfischer-brown.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/KathyFischerBrownAuthor?ref=hl

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/KFischerBrown

Blog: http://illsay.wordpress.com/

BooksWeLove (Publiisher) : http://www.bookswelove.net/kathyfischerbrown.php

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Book Review: Lady Gwendolyn by Magnolia Belle

Historical Fiction
Date Published: July 2013
In early medieval days, bandits beset a caravan taking Lady Gwendolyn Hampton of England to marry Angus Dewar in Scotland. In the confusion, she escapes, while the bandits think her maid, Madeleine, is her. From one peril to another, Madeleine must keep the ruse in order to stay alive. Lady Gwendolyn’s brother, Lord Richard Hampton, wants Madeleine as his consort, and tries to rescue her. Through betrayal, intrigue and murder, she becomes a woman of title, and must decide if she wants the life he offers.

Excerpt

Madeleine, her maid and companion since childhood, interrupted her reverie.  “Can you believe it?  You’re to be married into such a grand house.  I’d be nervous.”

“I am, a bit,” Gwendolyn admitted and stretched her hand out to clasp Madeleine’s.  “I wonder,

though, why Father made Richard stay behind.  It seemed a sudden decision, and I wanted both my brothers to attend my wedding.”

“Your father has his reasons, I’m sure.”  The maid’s smile did not reach her eyes.

“Of course.  I’m most grateful my father allowed you to accompany me.”

“He knows better than to separate us.”

Gwendolyn squeezed her hand once and sat back. Madeleine returned the squeeze, but they both knew where the line had been drawn. Everything Gwendolyn learned, Madeleine did as well.  She knew how to run a great house, how to dress and conduct herself as a lady, and how to use house politics to her advantage.  But she would never need those things.  She was, after all, a companion, a maid—not highborn.

A scream stopped their conversation.  Another scream of pain followed. The litter shuddered to a stop. Yells and curses washed over the women in a cacophony.  Swallowing hard, Gwendolyn raised her hand halfway and paused.  In a burst of courage, she jerked the curtains open, daring to look.  Arrows whistled through the air, puncturing men and animals alike.  Ill-clad ruffians leapt from behind the bracken, brandishing arms and giving offense, attacking anyone within reach.  Lord Hampton fell, mortally wounded, his shield splintered.  Not far from him lay her brother, Phillip, pierced by arrows. She understood instantly as she ducked back in.  Her father and younger brother were dead.  Now only her oldest brother, Richard, and she carried the Hampton line.

“They’re slain!”  Her eyes, wide and alarmed, fixed on Madeleine while her mind whirled.  “Richard must be warned!”

Links to Buy 
About Magnolia Belle
My pen name “Magnolia Belle” came from a dream of one day owning a riverboat that offered dinner, sultry jazz and hot R&B while floating down the Mississippi. Realizing I didn’t have the millions it’d take to get that dream off the ground, I took the name to write under. I figured it’d be one hard to forget. Plus, it’s as southern as I am.
 
I live in Texas with my husband and our ‘pack’ of fuzzy children (aka dogs). Before that, I grew up in a military family and lived all across the US and in the Orient. In 1977, I got married and in 1978 I graduated with a degree in Accounting from Tarleton State University. Yeah, I know. BIG leap from accountant to novelist.  As editor of the University paper, I won first place in the Texas Intercollegiate Press Association Editorial competition in 1977. I was also a member of “Who’s Who Among Colleges and Universities” in 1977-78, and graduated with high honors. A singer/songwriter and guitarist, I played with a band in the 1980s that made 3 albums.
 
I started my company, “Black Wolf Books” in 2005 as a venue to publish and sell my work. The name “Black Wolf” comes from the first series of 5 novels I’ve written (and am still working on).
 
My heritage includes at least two Indian nations, one on my mother’s side and the Iroquois on my father’s. Because of that, I write about American Indians with great respect. I also spend inordinate amounts of time in researching history, facts and personalities in the era they are presented.  Historical events and documentation (such as treaties) are cited in my novels, so readers can see what really happened.
 
My characters become very real to me, and I often find myself not writing, but rather taking dictation as they tell me their stories. That’s also why I tend to write in series of novels. My characters are a gabby bunch!
 

Things I Think About: Movies whose happy endings are bogus

When I’m not working on my novels my brain tends to go in odd directions in an attempt to keep itself occupied so I figured I’d share these thoughts from time to time in a segment I call Things I Think About. Today, I post about how the happy endings of some movies just don’t sit right with me. Bear in mind these aren’t necessarily movies I hate, it’s just that sometimes even your favorite movies can have holes big enough to drive a truck through.

The Running Man

Loosely (as in copied the title of the book before tossing it into the shredder) based on the Stephen King novel, this movie covers the story of Ben Richards, a cop who goes against orders to fire on a crowd of hungry unarmed civilians and is sent to prison for insubordination. He manages to escape and comes across some old friends who are planning to overthrow the corrupt government but all he wants to do is spend the rest of his life basking on a beach in Hawaii. Because when you’re an escaped convict with the knowledge that the government gave you orders to kill thousands of innocent people, moving to an island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean with no where else to go is an excellent idea.

Anyway, he goes to his brother’s house (because again, the government would never think to find him there) where he finds the man has been taken away to be brainwashed/killed and a hot Latin chick who writes jingles for ICS is living there now. Knowing Amber believes what she sees on TV (like the rest of the country) and isn’t about to help him, he decides to kidnap her and drag her to the airport to board a plane to Hawaii with him. It’s at this point Ben Richards confirms he’s a moron.

She blows the whistle on him at the airport, he’s recaptured and the news broadcasts about how he went on a bloody rampage before getting caught which has Amber wondering if she made a mistake in not helping him since she realizes officials are lying about the incident. He ends up being a contestant on The Running Man where he meets up with two of his rebel friends who tells him they can get to the station’s satellite from the playing field and jam the signal to broadcast the truth to the public and STILL Ben wants nothing to do with it because not only is he a moron but possibly even a coward. Meanwhile Amber starts snooping in the company files where she finds the real video of the massacre Ben was blamed for, and subsequently shoves said videocassette up her snooch for future use, before getting busted and thrown into the game with Ben and his friends.

Long story short they manage to get to the satellite and the rebels take over the station with the help (FINALLY) of Ben Richards. The people are disillusioned, the game show host is killed and Ben and Amber walk off into the sunset and all is right with the world. Right?

Erm. No.

As we’ve witnessed throughout the movie, the government is seriously corrupt, crime and the economy are really bad and the people aren’t happy. Rather than actually trying to solve these issues the government decides to distract the public with a series of super violent and malicious tv shows on the ICS station which apparently the people lap up like mother’s milk because their mindset is in Jerry Spring on Steroids mode. Yes, there is every possibility that this little uprising set off many others as many people wake up from their fog and realize they’ve been deceived and over the coming years society rights itself again. However, there’s also the possibility that in the meantime while the group of teenagers and the old man who led them as well as Ben and Amber are mowed down the instant they leave the building by the leagues of Swat teams waiting for them outside and/or storm the building since it never occurred to anyone to put the damn building on lockdown!

Wall-E

Another futuristic movie this time brought to you by Disney and Pixar. A Walmart type company essentially destroys earth and ships the inhabitants into deep space for several hundred years while they attempt to fix the damage only to give up when it got too hard and leaves everyone out there for generations. The last working robot on the planet is apparently little Wall-E who happily works to clean up the planet while jamming to the movie Hello Dolly until he meets the sleek and sexy Eve who’s sent to Earth periodically to find any sign of biological life. She slowly warms up to Wall-E and they zip back to the ship when he shows her the plant he rescued from the broken refrigerator. On the ship we discover mankind has evolved into a bunch of puffy boneless couch potatoes who drink their meals while staring at TV screens all day. When the captain gets news of the plant he’s ecstatic to be going back home, especially when he realizes that the Earth needs some TLC to help it come back to life. Unfortunately the main computer has other orders and gets downright mean in its attempt to prevent the ship from returning to Earth. In the end though, they make it back, Wall-E gets the crap kicked out of him but survives and all is right with the world. Right?

Erm. No.

During the end credits we discover that the ship’s computer didn’t actually go into full-blown Hal mode and decide to murder everyone onboard because they wouldn’t follow its prime directive and the people manage to kick start the planet into a clean and livable place again. However, I doubt everyone was as excited to climb off their chairs for the first time in their lives in order to not just take care of themselves but to start the labor intensive farming and clearing activities necessary to get Earth back on track.

As we saw in the film, exposure to artificial gravity has caused everyone’s bones to shrink, which made them more reliable on the floaty chairs. This coupled with the fact that none of them have actually done anything physical in at least a century and it’s virtually impossible that these people would have been able to walk very far on the planet never mind doing anything else without a great deal of pain and bruising. Add this to the level of fear and uncertainty many of the passengers would have felt at this sudden change in lifestyle and mix with the very nature of some humans to just be outright lazy and we have a problem.

You can’t tell me there wasn’t a faction of people on that ship or any of the others floating around that said “To hell with this! Why should I bust my ass to save a planet I know nothing about? This life was good enough for my parents and their parents before them etc. and it’s good enough for me!” And assuming this faction didn’t just up and fly away with the ship while everyone else was toiling in the fields leaving them to fend for themselves and probably succumb to all kinds of injuries and illnesses as their bodies get used to life on Earth, how did they procreate? Did they keep using the lab or did John and Mary discover that inserting Slot A into Slot B = Baby and were put in charge of Sex Ed by their fellow Weebles?

Um well, that’s not exactly how it… oh hell knock yourself out!

Of course I never really expected the movie to cover this last bit since Disney’s idea of a sex talk is this:

This seems to be a common issue with futuristic movies involving the overthrow of a Dystopian society/lifestyle change and is the same beef I have with movies like Logan’s Run and V for Vendetta. They end with the celebration of freedom for the people but in reality the societies in these stories are in for years, perhaps decades of unrest and hard times as new ways are established and civilization is rebuilt. It’d be nice to see at least one Sci-fi story address this.

Book Review: Over The Rainbow by Brian Rowe

Brian Rowe, author of Over the Rainbow, talks about the difficulties he faced in getting this interesting book published.

Over the Rainbow marks my ninth self-published novel. I love the control I have over my work in self-publishing, and no book I’ve ever written has needed as much control as Over the Rainbow. This is a book that incorporates science fiction, fantasy, action adventure, and coming of age; it’s a book that deals with lesbianism, the rapture, The Wizard of Oz, and dinosaurs. I queried agents with this book between August 2012 and March 2013, and even those who liked it said that the book would never see the light of day without some of the creative elements being toned down a little, or eliminated completely. One agent, for example, told me I should cut out the dinosaurs. I knew from the beginning Over the Rainbow was going to be a difficult book to sell to agents and publishers, and in the end, I decided it was best with this one, probably more than any book I’ve written, to ultimately go the self-publishing route.

I’ve self-published many young adult books before, including the Happy Birthday to Me trilogy, but I’ve never written a book I care about more than Over the Rainbow, and this time, I really wanted to do it right. Not only have I pulled out all the stops with the marketing of the book, and worked hard to make sure the book had a beautiful cover, I’ve done all I can to ensure the manuscript is the best it can be. Many are wary of self-published books because they’ve been burned before, with so many typos and inconsistencies in the texts. But such is not the case with my new book. Not only have I done ten full drafts, twice the amount I usually do, but Over the Rainbow has been professionally edited by a traditionally published author, and copyedited by two different professional copyeditors. I’ve worked tirelessly night and day for the last few months in making sure the book reads just as professionally as would a traditionally published novel. The reader, every time out, deserves only the best.

Over the Rainbow is the first book I’ve self-published that will be appearing on five different platforms—Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Apple iBookstore, and CreateSpace. For too long I stayed exclusive to Amazon, and this summer I decided to branch out to all the various platforms customers use to read their books. I’ve never been, and am still not, against traditional publishing, and will start querying my next young adult novel Magic Hour later this year. But self-publishing should never be looked at as a last resort. It is a viable option for all authors, and can be loads of fun. And in the case of Over the Rainbow, it proved to be the best route to go.

YA Fantasy
Date Published:  8/6/2013 

16-year-old Zippy Green never meant to fall in love with a girl, but when she does, her ultra-conservative father tries to send her to anti-gay camp. At the Kansas City airport, however, she hides inside a giant suitcase and sneaks onto an airplane headed not to the camp, but to Seattle, where her online love Mira lives. Halfway through the flight, the plane barrels out of control and crashes into the ground, knocking her unconscious.

When Zippy awakens, she finds that most of the passengers have vanished. She doesn’t know what’s happened, but she’s determined to find out. She begins a quest on foot toward Seattle, and along the way, she meets a teenager with a concussion , a homeless man with a heart condition, a child without a shred of bravery, and a terrier named Judy. Together the group discovers that more than two-thirds of the world’s population has mysteriously disappeared. But that’s only the beginning…

All Zippy wants is to find her Mira, but before she can she has to contend with two outside forces. The first is her homophobic father, who does everything in his power to keep her from the girl she loves. And the second is extinct creatures of all shapes and sizes, including living, breathing dinosaurs, which have replaced the missing population.

 

Excerpt

            When I came home from school, my dad was in the living room, alone, sitting upright. He wore a fancy gray business suit. Papers and brochures were sprawled out over the table.

He turned his head toward me in a slow, robotic fashion. “Sit down.”

I stared back at him. “What’s wrong?”

“Do what I ask.”

“But I have homework to do—”

Zipporah Green! I’m not going to say it again!”

I sat down and tried to pinpoint my crime. And then there it was, at the edge of the table: my most recent e-mail from Mira, the one in which she said she wanted me to come visit her this summer.

Dad turned to me, an expression on his face that suggested I wouldn’t escape this little chat alive.

“I know about Mira. I know all about your little friend from Seattle.”

The immediate pain in my gut almost doubled me over. For my father to be so condescending to call her “my little friend” made me want to pick up the living room table and throw it against the wall. “I’ve been meaning to tell you about her—”

“You’ve been talking to her online for two years? Zippy, I know you’ve struggled trying to follow the righteous path of Jesus Christ. But never in my wildest nightmares could I have ever conceived you, my own flesh and blood, as the most blasphemous of sinners.”

“Dad, it’s not like that.”

He wiped his sweaty fingers against his chin. “What’s it going to look like if my own child is a…” He struggled with the word. “A homo…”

I didn’t want to have to finish the word for him; he was a big boy. “A what, Dad?”

“A homosexual.”

I should have been cordial. I should have sat with my little hands in my little lap and pleasantly agreed with every statement he made. But it was time to be strong. “I don’t understand why you have to come down on me for this. Why can’t I have this one thing in my life that makes me happy? Mira makes me happy, Dad.”

“I can’t have a gay child,” he said. He hadn’t locked eyes with me since the start of our conversation. I always thought my dad to be close-minded, but I never knew him to be a wimp. “I can’t have a lesbian daughter. I love you, sweetheart, you know I do—but what you’re doing is wrong.”

I leaned toward him and whispered, “But it’s the only thing to me that’s right.”

I don’t think he heard me—at least, he pretended like he didn’t. “Promise me, here and now, that you will suspend all communications with this girl.”

“No.”

“No?”

“Dad, please—”

“I’m not asking.”

“You don’t even know her.”

“I don’t want to know her.”

I tried really, really hard not to cry. “If you could just look past your hate for one second, you’d be able to see that she’s the best thing that’s ever happened to me.”

“You can’t mean that.”

“I do,” I said. “She’s my best friend.”

“Your best friend? But you’ve never even met her. For all you know, she could be—”

“I love her.”

He finally looked at me. His neck turned so slow I heard his bones twisting. “What did you say?”

“I love her, Dad. I do.”

My dad sighed and pushed away from the table, like the closest he could sit was a yard’s length away. He shook his head and stood up, his hands shoved into his pockets.

“Connie and I had a long talk about this,” he said. “We’ve decided to send you away this summer. To a camp.”

“A camp?” I shuddered. I didn’t know what to think. “What kind of camp?”

“It’s called Moral Inventories. It’s in Memphis. And it’s for teenagers like you who suffer from…” He searched for a word. “…abnormalities.”

Abnormalities?” I looked away. I didn’t want my father to see me cry.

He turned to me. His chiseled face emitted strobes of anger and resentment. “I’ve tried to guide you on the righteous path, but clearly I haven’t done enough. You need proper, around-the-clock assistance if you want to have any chance of being cured of this… disease.”

I sat there stupefied. I tried to think of something to say. I had nothing.

“You’re young, honey,” my dad said, in a calmer tone, “and I thank the Lord for that, because there’s time for you to be set free through the power of Jesus Christ. When our Lord and Savior returns to Earth and takes the Chosen up to Heaven, I don’t want you to be left behind.”

I narrowed my eyes, tried to make sense of his madness. “Are you talking about the rapture?”

“It could happen any day, sweetheart. You have to be prepared. We all do.”

My dad had officially passed over from closed-minded to completely nuts. “You really think this camp is going to make God love me more?” I breathed in deeply, then asked the most pivotal question of all: “You really think this camp is going to make me not gay?”

“It better.” My dad finally looked at me. “Because if it doesn’t, I’ll see to it you never come back.”

I ran upstairs to my bedroom, slammed the door so loud my framed Spice Girls poster fell and crashed against the carpet.

I wanted to write to Mira. Tell her what had happened.

But my computer was gone.

Review

This was a fantastic book! As a long time fan of the Wizard of Oz I’m always interested in alternate versions and inspired works and Over the Rainbow just made my list:) When Zippy escapes from her domineering religious fanatic father in the airport she begins her journey to find her long distance love in the Emerald City (Seattle). Along the way she meets Frankie, a man with a head injury who jokes he doesn’t have a brain, a frightened little black girl named Elle who doesn’t know what courage is and Mr. Baum, a Vietnam Vet with a bad heart. Did you catch the play on names there? Frank Elle Baum? Get it? FYI for those who are staring at the screen like a deer in headlights, Frank L. Baum is the author of the Oz stories. Oh and there’s also a little terrier named Judy who I’m guessing is a nod to the great Judy Garland.

I found myself speeding through the pages with my mouth open as Zippy and her friends face encounters with prehistoric animals, dinosaurs and Zippy’s crazy father but the ending was incredibly satisfying and I truly hope there’s a sequel in the future.

Well done Mr. Rowe! Six Ruby Slippers cuz cmon, what can you do with five?

Brian Rowe

Brian Rowe is a writing fiend, book devotee, film fanatic, and constant dreamer. He’s written nine novels, dozens of short stories, five feature-length screenplays, and hundreds of film articles and essays. His fiction has appeared in Dreamspinner Press, Mobius Magazine, and Wilde Oats Literary Journal. He is one half of the YA book blog Story Carnivores, where he reviews the latest in books and film. He is currently pursuing his MA in English at the University of Nevada, Reno, and is hard at work on his first New Adult novel, which will be released in November 2013.

Website: brianrowebooks.com

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17792829-over-the-rainbow

 

LINKS TO BUY 

Amazon Author Page