Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Lawyers, Killers and Endangered Birds ?

I've just got back from a family reunion in England and found an advance copy of Darryl Nyznyk's The Condor Song waiting for me. After sharing the domain of our feathered friends and watching too many movies on the plane, a tale of condors, inspired by the Sierra Club vs Walt Disney, seems just the thing to inspire me. But can I inspire you to read it too ? More importantly, can I inspire you to buy a copy from Amazon on July 1st? Read on and see why...

Author Darryl Nyznyk practiced law for 2 decades before becoming a full time writer, so I'm sure he'll bring a sense of legal authenticity to this tale. He was also raised in a Catholic family, giving him more than just a lawyer's sense of good and evil. And his earlier novel, Mary's Son, is a three-time Gold recipient of the Mom's Choice Awards! So I'm really looking forward to this read... but are you?

Here's some more information from my friends at prbythebook

Darryl Nyznyk, author of The Condor Song, was inspired to write the book by the 1960s and 70s Sierra Club battle with Walt Disney over a proposed ski resort in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, home to the endangered condor.

Drawing from his legal background as an attorney and love for the environment, Darryl has created a gripping thriller about conservation that appeals to suspense lovers and environmentalists alike.

**For every copy of the book purchased from Amazon on JULY 1st, Darryl will donate $1 to The Sierra Club.**

About the story:

Lawyers, and killers, and endangered birds? Oh my. This unusual combination sets the stage for a riveting legal thriller by best-selling author and former attorney, Darryl Nyznyk.

Described as “The Verdict”, starring Paul Newman, meets John Grisham’s The Pelican Brief, The Condor Song follows Sean Donovan, a new partner in a major law firm who lost everything when he took a costly ethical stand. Wifeless, jobless, and betrayed by his closest friend, Sean spends 13 years trying to find his way back.

Barely eking out a living on small cases, Sean’s redemption comes with the death of renowned environmentalist, Buck Anderson. When the dead man’s niece requests Sean’s help in resolving Buck’s last case with the Sierra Club, Sean happily accepts, but learns too late the opposition is his former law firm and the partner who betrayed him. He may have just signed his own death warrant.

Is Atticus Golden, the Disney-like developer against whose project Buck was working, connected to the Mexican Mafia and groups that would go to any lengths to protect their investments? As Sean gathers evidence against “Uncle Atti,” all signs lead to Buck’s murder. A battle to save a precious environmental resource turns into a classic struggle of good versus evil where a national treasure - and a man’s soul – is at stake.

The Condor Song is a gripping thriller that appeals to suspense lovers and environmentalists alike.

DARRYL NYZNYK lives in Manhattan Beach, CA with his wife, Loretta. After practicing law for 20 years, Nyznyk became a full-time writer and teacher. He is also the author of the holiday novel, Mary’s Son; A Tale of Christmas. For more information, please visit


Tuesday, June 25, 2013

History's mystery and book reviews

I used to say I'd never write historical fiction because it's too easy for someone to prove me wrong when they've really studied the subject. Perhaps that just means I'm too lazy to do the research, or else I'm too scared of my big brother who really does know way more than I ever will about history and politics. But then, if I write science fiction, won't I be subject to science advancing beyond my imagination? If I write of the present day won't someone else know better than I what's really going on? And if I write a book review, why should anyone value my opinion over another reviewer's? I guess I'll hide behind my character's knowledge, or lack thereof, when I write my stories. And my book reviews? Well, they're really just my personal response to the book's I've read. I hate to rate books because I don't feel qualified. But I'm always ready to grab another coffee and read some more.

So here, for your reading and coffee-drinking pleasure, are a few more reviews of a few more books recently read. Enjoy!

Starting with ancient history, Stag Hunt, by Laura DeLuca, is a beautifully evocative novella set among the tribes and forests of ancient Britannia. The king is dead and the queen must find a spouse. But she calls on the ancient ways, sending her suitors on a hunt for the sacred stag. The story's paired with a lovely piece of flash fiction which powerfully completes the tale. Enjoy this beautifully balanced tale with a well-balanced 3-star cup of coffee.

Moving forward to the middle ages and the time of the Spanish Inquisition, Lilian Gafni's Flower From Castile Trilogy starts with The Alhambra Decree. It's a long novel, starting a long trilogy, with complex details, lots of characters, famous, infamous and unknown, and fascinating history. There's a certain satisfaction to seeing the many separate storylines gradually draw closer together, but the story has an incomplete feel and readers will probably want to be able to follow further when they finish reading. Enjoy with a complex 4-star coffee for the complex plot, counter-plot, and history.

Robert Freese's 13 Frights is set in the present day but tells of timeless scares, ghosts and horrors ancient and modern, and gruesome death and destruction. Not for the squeamish, it's a smooth dark collection of truly haunting, well-written frights, best enjoyed with a rich dark 5-star coffee.

And finally, moving further into the realm of the mysterious and the mystical, Dan O'Brien's the Journey is a curious metaphysical trip through the various corners of a cross-roads in the world of dreams, death, and ethical mystery. Enjoy this intense metaphysical analogy with an intense cup of 5-star coffee.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Virtual Fairground for Real EBooks

Why I like ebooks... I can pack my kindle for a trip in the tiniest space in my bag and have a whole library at my fingertips. I can read five whole books on a plane flight from the US to England without doing my back in carrying them around.

Why I don't like ebooks... That kindle gets pretty overloaded after a while and the pages turn as if they're glued with molasses. But help is at hand! Just reset it to "factory settings" and go to Amazon to download the books I really want for my trip. Then turning pages and changing books is a snap, just like new again!

Of course, kindle batteries run down after a while and paper books never do. But I've got a solution to that one too--just carry a mini kobo in your pocket for emergencies. So now I've got two libraries--four if you count the one on my computer and the one on Amazon--and I've plenty to read. But there are still so many books out there... Please can somebody tell me how to download extra reading time?

Anyway, if you're looking for more ebooks to load on your kindle, kobo or computer, head on over to the virtual ebook fair and sample some great Saturday reads. Or wander to my Five Minute Bible Story at first and enjoy another quick five-minute tale. Hope to see you there!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Real world, sci-fi or fantasy?

One school essay question asked "Would you rather have a short exciting life or a long boring one?" I chose long and boring because I'd be able to enjoy so many short exciting ones through fiction over the years. One I've heard of more recently asks "Would you rather live in the real world, a sci-fi future, or a fantasy world?" I'm wondering which answer to give. After all, I've been eager enough to embrace computers and ebooks. Does that mean I really do hanker after living in a sci-fi future, or is enjoying futuristic discoveries just part of the excitement of today. I like elves and dwarves and their stories too... but no, I think I really will choose real world over both the others as well, and enjoy many different futures and fantasies in fiction.

That said, Mary Roach's My Planet is set in a very real everyday world but filled with hilariously fascinating snippets as the author really does "find... humor in the oddest places." It's hard not to find someone or something to relate to in the author's world, and especially hard to read these essays without laughing out loud. Enjoy their bright lively humor with a bright and lively 2-star coffee.

Moving into the future, Lagrange Point by Mike Arsuaga brings his Subspecies Series to a satisfying conclusion, tying up loose ends and expanding the concepts previously explored. Strongest where it looks at long-lived parents relating to offspring who grow old too soon, this one's best enjoyed with a 5-star intense cup of coffee for its intense sexual scenes.

The Man in the Box, by Andrew Toy is set in the present day where a protagonist facing the loss of his job ends up hiding... in a box. But there he finds hints of his childhood dreams and a world where success just might be a little less elusive. An intriguing tale, reminiscent of Narnia all grown up, this is one to enjoy with a dark 5-star coffee.

For younger readers,Nature’s Unbalance, by Andrea Buginsky, continues the adventures of the Chosen in a well-drawn fantasy world of elves and dwarves, threatened by Nature's failure to keep the seasons right. But maybe mankind (or elven-kind) has played a part in the unbalance. Like the first book, the novella evokes role-playing games with rolls of the dice determining the results of spells and strikes with swords. Enjoy it with a 2-star easy-drinking cup of coffee. 

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Sampling Saturday again

The virtual ebook fair looks set to continue through summer and it's filled with great reads for your kindle, kobo, computer or whatever ereader you like to use. (Don't forget, if you haven't got an ereader you can always download one FREE to your machine and read ebooks the same way you read this blog!)

I've got another Five Minute Bible Story at  for you to sample (and share with your children, grandchildren and more). Then if you head on over to you'll find lots more virtual book booths just through the gate. Enjoy! I'll hope to see you there!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Reading a Romantic Interlude

My first romantic novel, Love on a Transfer, should come out soon with Willow Moon Publishing. One chapter's set in Blackpool, near where my Mum lives, and the other day I saw pictures on the internet showing volunteers climbing up and down The Big One there to raise money for injured soldiers... Those views of the beach and tower certainly took me back. And the view from the top of the Big One reminded me of days when I was braver and younger and dared ride super-roller-coasters with my brother. But I must be getting old--these days I'd rather read about roller coasters or watch them on TV than strap myself in to genuine terror.

Anyway, here are some book reviews of Christian romantic suspense novels, with varying levels of scares and romance, all enjoyed from the safety and comfort of the nearest armchair.

Shadows of Things to Come, by Mishael Austin Witty, presents romance in a Christian college environment, with one door closing and another opening at the start of the tale. But is the knight in shining armor truly a savior, or does he hide some mysterious threat? There are interesting depths behind some of these characters, and the novella's an intriguing start to the author's Flashes of Time series, best enjoyed with a 5-star dark intense coffee.

Double Identity, by K. Dawn Byrd, tells the story of a somewhat younger protagonist, high schooler Bree who suddenly finds a previously unknown twin sister taking over her bedroom, her life and her boyfriend. A wise Christian novel with lessons in tolerance, forgiveness and the value of good communication, this is one to enjoy with a well-balanced 3-star cup of coffee.

Hidden Under Her Heart, by Rachelle Ayala, tells a darker tale of romance between adults as two strong characters meet, fall in love, and face issues of their differing views on God and abortion. It's a well-told, thought-provoking tale with some beautifully lyrical descriptions of countryside and some hilarious scenes providing excellent balance.Enjoy this with another well-balanced 3-start cup of coffee.

Then go ride a roller coaster perhaps?

Monday, June 10, 2013

"I read your book" and a cat tale in paperback

It happened! That moment I've dreamed of for years, that time I've read of with shared delight and secret jealousy in other writers' blogs, that preciously impossible wonderfully glorious moment! A total stranger came up to me and said "I've read your book and I enjoyed it"!

The book she'd read was Flower Child, and the stranger had read it on her kindle--she was even planning to share it on kindle with her daughter. So I smiled for the rest of the day and the day after it, and more. She'd read my book! Of course, my joy was slightly clouded when the friends around my previously unknown reader said they couldn't read it because it's "only" an ebook and they only read print. So now my dream is to see Flower Child in print one day--but who would print a short novella? And who would pay the money for so short a print book?

It's an interesting conundrum. Ebooks give readers and authors a chance to explore the novella in a way they probably couldn't when all publishing involved investment of time and serious money in print production. But now the novellas hide away, read only by those techno-savvy readers who've gone out to buy computers and ereaders and more. Meanwhile others complain "I'd read it if I could."

A few weeks back I got lucky though. I've been following the stories of a cat called Zvonek 08 through various excerpts on the internet. I knew I'd like to read the books of his adventures. But they're all published as ebooks and I found myself making the same complaint as potential readers of Flower Child. My concern was I might get addicted to Zvonek and buy so many ebooks I'd pay out more than the cost of a "real" paperback. Then I won the paperback!

Zvonek 08 has now made the transition from ebook to printed book, and seven enovellas about the adventurous secret agent, family pet cat are now available in one fine paperback... with more to come... and yes, I'm addicted! (And, in case you choose to follow the link to my book review, enjoy these bright easy-reading tales with a 2-star bright easy-drinking cup of coffee.)

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Are you going to the virtual ebook fair?

It's Sample Saturday again and I'm posting an excerpt from my Five Minute Bible Stories Series (TM) at again in honor of the event. Great for bedtime stories (or so I'm told) and for Sunday School (which I can verify because I've used them there). They're even fun for Bible studies--we used them in a summer women's group one year. So head on over and see familiar stories through slightly different eyes, then visit the virtual fair at for more samples of writing just waiting to be read on your computer, kindle, kobo, etc... Hope to see you there!

Thursday, June 6, 2013

What makes a literary novel?

I've just posted reviews for two more novels and would have tagged both as literary, if only I'd thought to create a literary shelf in my Goodreads library. But can you imagine going back through those 952 reviews to see which books should have been literarily shelved? Of course, if someone would sell me more hours in the day (preferably free) I'd give it a go... but no-one's offered yet. So the books are shelved under mystery and cultural instead. Meanwhile I'm wondering, what makes a novel literary?

I was wondering that last time I went to church too--strange the thoughts that drift through the brain sometimes. They were taking the collection and the choir was singing a truly beautiful song--but what makes a song beautiful? What lifts one song in church above all the rest?

With my mongrel Christian background, not to mention my English childhood now I've moved to America, I find lots of unfamiliar hymns and religious songs in church services. But I do like to sing and I do my best to join in. Some tunes have a kind of sweet predictability which makes them easy to learn. I hear one line on the piano and I almost know what the next line has to be. Even if I guess a note wrong it will blend rather than standing out. Then the person next to me will say "I didn't know you knew that one," to which I reply, "I don't."

Other tunes are dramatically complex, straining the singer's imagination, begging just to be listened to because how can anyone ask a congregation to match that twisted beat and those musical jumps. But others, like that haunting melody the other Sunday, seep into the brain, begging a response, building up inside though you'd never dare spoil the magic by joining in. You don't sing along with songs like that but you know, almost, where the next note will lie and you drink in the sound like water fresh from the stream.

I'm not sure what makes a song lie in that last category. But if notes were words, such a song would surely qualify as literary. The novel might be a mystery like Howard Owen's The Philadelphia Quarry, or contemporary cultural drama like Paint the Bird by Georgann Packard. But behind its label is music, words that flow and characters that grow, a storyline that never stretches the imagination too far, nor lets it relax...

Two literary novels: I guess I ought to give you links to the reviews and invite you to coffee now I've mentioned them, so pull up a chair and grab a cup...

The Philadelphia Quarry, by Howard Owen, is a modern noir mystery filled with the smoky hard-living atmosphere of a newspaper room and the urgent investigative power of a reluctant campaigner for justice. Willie Black's pulled into another investigation where editorials have cast their verdict before the case goes to trial, and the reader's pulled into a convincing world where parents and children play out their changing lives. Highly recommended--enjoy with a bold dark intense 5-star coffee.

Paint the Bird, by Georgeann Packard combines frailty and strength in a novel of relationships, secrets, betrayals, and families. Birth blood and choice determine who's related to whom, but letting go is hard, however the relationship was made. As two strangers let go in their different ways, they find themselves clinging to each other, learning what they need by looking at the world through different eyes. A novel of beautiful perspectives, or a painting in words, this is one to enjoy with a rich, elegantly complex 4-star cup of coffee.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Meet me at the Fair

Are ebooks real? What about virtual ebooks? I'm reading Zvonek 08 in paperback at the moment and thoroughly enjoying myself. It's definitely a "real" book, but it's made from a collection of ebook novellas published by Gypsy Shadow Publishing. The hero's a wonderful cat called Zvonek who happens to also be a special agent--08 rather than 007, but if you read the books for yourself you'll soon understand the numbers.

Meanwhile I'm posting short stories from my Five Minute Bible Stories Series (TM) on my Bible blog as part of the Virtual EBook Fair's Sample Saturday event. Head on over to, or enter via the garden gate at to read excerpts from lots of great books. Or wander over to to read a five minute story. Hope to see you there.

And I hope you'll agree after reading these pieces that ebooks, even ebooks at virtual fairs, are definitely real.