Thursday, March 26, 2015

Struggling with fate, and trying to add to my novel

So, what do you when inspiration strikes like lightning, setting field and forest both aflame at once?

I started editing Part 1 of my novel, Subtraction. I knew Part 2 was missing (did that mean it was subtracted?) and hoped I might soon figure out where it belonged. So Part 1 grew, and grew longer, and I liked it very much. Then I got stuck. Which is what I meant about flaming fields and forest.

Part 1 is my forest with branches interwined - Andrew is teaching math to a special needs class (yes, he's teaching them subtraction) and a ghost/stranger/predator/murderer/or prowler hides under the trees of Paradise Park. Part 1 ends when... well, I think it ends when the reader works out who the stranger is. And the missing Part 2 will explain who he was, so Part 3 can follow on with how he changes into who he will be. Which makes part 2 the field of past dreams I suppose, and I'm ready, inspired by lightning, to start writing it. The problem is, I keep shifting where it begins. Where do I split the tale half-told, leaving the rest to Part 3 (and 4 I suppose...).

Once upon a time, Part 3 was a post-graduate Cambridge math exam. Okay, now I'm really digressing (and yes. I passed). It must be time to drink coffee and post book reviews.

I'll start with two novels from Aaron Paul Lazar's Gus LeGarde series. Double Forte and Upstaged are reissued versions of the first two books in the series. At least I think they are. Which makes them especially satisfying for me, as I'd never read them before, and they introduce me to different aspects of characters I've grown to love, fill in gaps in their stories, and remind me just how enjoyably different this cozy, familial, natural, scenic and musical mystery series is. Pour yourselves some well-balanced, smooth, full-flavored coffee, and enjoy an almost perfect blend of sweet family life, scary danger, gorgeous scenery, and wonderfully seasoned food.

Double Forte is actually one of a great collection of books found in an e-boxed set called At Odds With Destiny, so if you're not sure if you'd like the author, there's a perfect way to try his writing and that of other authors. You'll find part 1 of Uvi Poznansky's David Chronicles there, plus part 1 of J.J. DiBenedetto's Dream series too - both complete novels in their own right, together with many many others. I'm not sure how to recommend coffee for so many novels in one set, but make sure you have plenty brewing and you can't go wrong.

Outview, by Brandt Legg, is another book from this collection. Told in a nicely believable teen voice, it starts with a fascinating premise of reincarnation, then runs from place to place throughout Oregon and beyond as the protagonist strives to save his brother, change the world, and learn how his father died. Long and complex, this is one to enjoy with lots of bold, dark, intense five-star coffee.

The protagonist of Dan Berne's beautiful novel, The Gods of Second Chances, might be said to be at odds with his destiny too, as he plies Alaskan waters while caring for a granddaughter who maybe needs a mother. But her mother left long ago, and rubbing a native god's belly may or may not bring the right sort of luck. Sue-happy modernity meets tradition, legalism meets faith and hope, and the ocean gives and takes as the gods might choose. Enjoy this richly complex tale with a rich, elegant four-star coffee.

Blackmail at Wrigley Field, by Christopher Geoffrey McPherson, offers another interesting character struggling with his destiny. Young James Murray has had some impressive success writing mysteries in previous novels, but now he's suffering writer's block, mourning the loss of the girl he planned to marry, and turning to drink. How will all this lead to another cool mystery? You'll have to read it and see. Depression era Los Angeles comes to vivid life, and the blend of James' recovery with the fiction he writes is as intriguing and enthralling as ever. Plus, James is a really great character. Enjoy with with some rich, elegant, complex four-star coffee.

In Ryder on the Storm, by Violet Patterson, protagonist Storm struggles against her fate as a seer and more, while strange Ryder struggles against a command to murder her. The fact that they're falling in love with other might be part of the struggle, but there are Seraphs and more to contend with in this fast fun tale. Enjoy with a bright, lively, easy-drinking two-star coffee.

Finally, for a serious change of pace, here are two children's picture books, with no scares, no agonized fighting against fate, and no Parts 1, 2 and 3 either. A Day With Jack, by Steven Lioy, reminds me of books shared with my sons when they were small; nice pictures of a lovely jack russel enjoying an ordinary day; sweet and fun to share. Springtime, by the same author, is nicely illustrated with bright computer-style images, and might even introduce small children to the idea that studying science could be fun. After all, even bees are good for you. Enjoy these two with some mild, light, crisp-flavored one-star coffee.




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