It’s All In The Writing, Folks and the Week Ahead in Reviews

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To prepare for my time at GRL in Atlanta in October, I am trying to get ahead in my reviews for September and October.  And that means reading tons of books and of course writing about them.  And books read in volume will highlight the most common flaws I am seeing across the boards from person reading stacks of booksauthors seasoned and brand new to publishing.  Surprisingly it’s not one sided.  Just yesterday I finished a book from a favorite author of mine only to get to the end and find that not only did the story not have an ending, it was missing a hugely anticipated “aha” moment.  I was astonished, and quite a bit frustrated to say the least.

I don’t know what is going on but these same issues are everywhere and I am not the only one who has noticed.  Currently I am working on my next mini rant “The Case of the Missing Aha Moment”.  It will pair up nicely with my mini rant on missing endings.  *shakes head*  Really there is no excuse.  The most immediate remedies to these issues that pop into my brain are 1) get a great editor and 2) super concrit partners or betas.  Both could and should point out issues such as these in a person’s writing.

For a humorous look  at writing do’s and mostly don’ts visit  http://tom.mcallister.ws/?p=868. It’s Tom McAllister’s 107 Ironclad Rules for Writers Who Want to Be Better at Writing.  Some I agree with and of course, some I don’t.  But they are fun, and thought provoking.  Here are the first six to give you a sample:

1. Write every day. Except on days when you don’t feel like writing that much and you don’t have anything interesting to say.

2. Never write when you’re too hot. Beads of sweat are ideas leaking from your brain.

3. Nobody really eats turnips. They are a ridiculous food. Characters cannot eat turnips.

4. Hypnosis is the writer’s greatest tool.

5. Skinny people are often the cause of conflict. Fat people are often the solution. NO MEDIUM SIZED PEOPLE.

6. If you must write about the travails of being a writer, at least give yourself a glass eye or a cyborg hand or something.

If you want to read more, check out the link above.  Next week we will talk about the new words added to the dictionary.  Srsly?

Now on to the very exciting week ahead.  Next week I start on the third series in the offerings from the Pulp Friction authors.  This is the Triple Threat series from L.E. Harner.  It’s menage, it’s kinky, and its wonderful.   And drumroll please…….Kendall McKenna is also releasing her long awaited sequel to Strength of the Pack.  It’s titled Strength of the Wolf and it releases Sept. 6th from MLR Press.  To celebrate, Scattered Thoughts is hosting a 2 part guest blog with Kendall McKenna and a two book contest for a lucky person who comments during the contest time.  Might even be another surprise giveaway too, more about that later.  So many great things to look forward to.  Mark your calendars, and check them twice.  Hope to see you all here all week long.

Monday, Sept. 2:                   Coliseum Square by Lynn Lorenz

Tuesday, Sept. 3:                   Triple Threat (Triple Threat #1) by L.E. Harner

Wed., Sept. 4:                          Contest Announcement and Dates

Thurs., Sept 5:                        Kendall McKenna’s Guest Blog – Part 1

Friday, Sept. 6:                       Strength of the Pack  by Kendall McKenna – Review (reposted)

Sat., Sept. 7:                            Kendall McKenna’s Guest Blog – Part 2
Winner of first contest announced

For those of you here in the States, have a happy and safe Labor Day weekend.

Review: The Mayfield Speakeasy by L.A. Witt

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Rating: 4 stars

The Mayfield SpeakeasyWalter Mayfield’s life is quite the balancing act.  The Mayfield Speakeasy, owned by himself and his brothers, is neutral ground in an area subjected to continual turf wars by various gangs.  It is only due to Walter’s reputation as an honest man and his diplomatic skills that the gangs check their grievances and guns at the door of his establishment.  The same goes for the cops, Vice cops that is.  For Prohibition is in full swing and serving liquor to the sounds of easy music is the name of the game for The Mayfield Speakeasy.  The balancing act also includes keeping his volatile brothers in check and the liquor flowing.  But that all changes when Detective Joe Riordan comes through the door.

The bodies of three women have been dumped in the river and the only connection between the three is Walter’s brother, John.  Detective Joe Riordan and his partner are there to get information and to find the murderer. And they are going to start with asking questions of Walter.  As the investigation gets underway, Joe and Walter realize that the other man is gay and act on their attraction to one another.  But the gangs soon notice that the cops are continuing to hang around and soon the delicate juggling act is threatened by the murder case as well as Joe and Walter’s ongoing relationship.

As the case hits closer to home than either man expects, it is a race to catch the murderer before everything threatens to collapse under the  investigation, from The Mayfield Speakeasy to the new burgeoning love affair of Walter and Joe’s.

The Mayfield Speakeasy is a short story of 62 pages and L.A. Witt manages to cram a lot of historical flavor and plot into such a short length.  She starts off the story in a very “film noir” manner . Here is Walter as he views his club:

The O’Reilly brothers and their goons liked to put back some bootlegged whiskey and smoke cigars–those Cuban cigars that cost way more than the cheap ones everybody else had to make do with–while that pretty dame in the red dress sang next to the piano. That was Shirley. She was new here. She’d be Walter’s sister-in-law soon, if Billy didn’t mess things up.

There are plenty of dames and gangsters and bodies floating in the river.  And into this speakeasy of Walter’s walks Detective Joe Riordan. Cue the music as Walter walks over to the table the cops are sitting at:

Music still played, and Shirley was still singing in that pretty voice of hers, but nobody was talking. Nobody except Walter. “Name’s Walter Mayfield,” he’d said. “I don’t want no trouble.”

L.A. Witt does a fabulous job of bringing the Prohibition era to life in the form of The Mayfield Speakeasy, you can almost taste the smoke and hard liquor.  But the short length brings its own issues, primarily that of lack of character development and depth of plot.  The men jump into bed even with all the dangers surrounding such actions.  And Billy and John, Walter’s two brothers, need fleshing out for their roles to gel and their animosity towards each other to feel real.  The mystery too needed a little more length so that you don’t see the identity as soon as you do in the story.

But still, within these 62 pages, the 30’s come to life once more as the liquor flows illegally, and so does a love that dares not speak its name.  While it takes time for the affection to build between Joe and Walter,  the reader will enjoy every moment from the smokey beginnings to the end.

Cover art by Trace Edward Zaber.  Great cover, looks as though it just came off one of the dime store novels of the era.