“The Way of Kings”

“The Way of Kings”


by Adam Huddleston

I realize most book reviews are written after a reader has finished the work, but I wanted to let you know a little bit about the novel that I am currently reading.  

“The Way of Kings”, by Brandon Sanderson, is an epic fantasy novel.  It is the first in his “Stormlight Archive” series.  At the moment, I am only a quarter or so of the way through, but I can tell that this is going to be a massive story.  The overall plot is told through the experiences of a multitude of main characters, each with their own motivations and colorful back-stories.  The book includes several maps of the fantasy world as well as artwork created by one of the main characters.  

If you are a fan of epic fantasy, or of Brandon Sanderson (whose works include the last few “The Wheel of Time” books and the “Mistborn” series), I highly recommend “The Way of Kings”.  I can’t wait to see where the story goes!

Remembering the Classics

Outtakes 385

Remembering the Classics

By Cait Collins


Back in my school days there was a great emphasis on classic literature. I hated it back then, but rereading them with an adult eye can give us a new appreciation for the masters.

Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn are Mark Twain’s classics about two boys growing up in a turbulent time in American History. They paint a picture of the old South in a time when slaves were a part of the norm. The characters are so vivid. I can easily see Tom Sawyer sitting back eating an apple while watching his friends whitewash the fence. Getting lost in the cave with Becky Thatcher probably raised a few eyebrows.  But catching Injun Joe may have made up for it. Still, there was the importance of faith and community. Remember when Tom and Huck were lost and slipped into the church building during worship? The congregation stood to sing “Old One Hundred. I can hear the music and the song, “Praise God from whom all blessings flow…”

Jane Eyre also reflects a period when men and women were judged by their social standing. A man of wealth and position did not marry his child’s governess. Nor did he attempt to commit bigamy. While she loved Mr. Rochester deeply, she knew the relationship would damage his standing in society, still, she chose to commit herself to her employer. Needless to say, there was a separation and heartache but the love was true and strong. The couple defied the social mores and did live happily ever after.

As with Tom Sawyer, the characters are so vivid. And I can envision the old manor, the parties, and the country church where a wedding was called off because the groom was already married. I was easily removed from my comfortable home to Old England and to witness the shaming of a plain, innocent woman.

The list of great classics is long: Moby Dick, White Fang, Call of the Wild, Of Mice and Men; Wuthering Heights, Little Women, the Jungle Book, and Grapes of Wrath are just a few of the old books my friends and I groaned about. We were kids who were more interested in ice skating and boys or girls than in educating our minds. Maybe we should reread the old classics and see if the stories are more appealing than they were to children.

Provenance – Book Review 



Provenance written by Laney Salisbury and Aly Sujois a true story of John Myatt, an artist living on the edge of financial ruin, yet possessed the ability to recreate the paintings of Cézanne, Matisse, Giacometti.

Enters John Drewe, who becomes the biggest client and collector of Myatt’s “genuine Fakes,” and begins paying John Myatt large sums of money in appreciation to for his work.

Let me let you in on a little secret, Drewe was selling John Myatt’s work to the art world as real Cézanne, Matisse and Giacometti’s. John unknowingly becomes an accomplice through accepting the money Drewe makes selling the paintings. When the fraud is revealed to the artist, it’s difficult to quit.

Provenance is a truly suspenseful story of one of the greatest art frauds of all time. If you like suspense or art, this is a fantastic read.


Natalie Recommends – WRITER GET NOTICED

Natalie Recommends




Have you been writing for years, but feel like no one notices? Have you published your stories, only to gain a handful of readers? Do your marketing efforts feel like shouting into a void?

Veteran writer and motivational coach Colleen M. Story helps you break the spell of invisibility to reveal the author platform that will finally draw readers your way.

There are more books out there than ever before, and readers have many other things vying for their attention. A writer can feel like a needle in a haystack, and throwing money at the problem rarely helps. What does work is creating a platform that stands out, but in a sea of a million platforms, how is one to do that?

Writer Get Noticed! takes a new approach, dispelling the notion that fixing your writing flaws and expanding your social media reach will get you the readers you deserve. Instead, discover a myriad of strengths you didn’t know you had, then use them to find your author theme, power up your platform, and create a new author business blueprint, all while gaining insight into what sets you apart as a writer and creative artist.




Lynnette Jalufka


This is the nickname of a novel that changed the way I write. First off, the cover is blue. Second, the spine is two inches thick in hardback. It’s also an unusual read for me because it contains magic, which is not the type of fantasy I like. But an author who can write an 870-page magical fantasy and keep me hanging on every word did something very right. I got goosebumps when I finished it the first time. This is J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.

The plot is rich with many twists and turns as fifteen-year-old Harry, who to this point has reacted to trouble, starts causing it. When the government takes over Harry’s school, he goes underground to teach his classmates how to fight in the coming battle against his enemy, Voldemort. Rowling does a remarkable job of weaving school life—exams, sports, and romance—into the bigger threat of Voldemort’s return to power and the government covering it up.

What impressed me the most about the book was the emotion in it. Rowling beautifully describes everything from the relief of a Saturday off after a disastrous first week of school to the wonders of a first kiss to the horrific depths of grief. I discovered that emotion was what I was missing in my own stories. Since then, my writing has not been the same.

I Must Start Here


I Must Start Here

By Nandy Ekle

Of course, I must do my first book review on The Shining, by Stephen King. I have said all kinds of things about this book from the first time I read it in the 70’s, all the way to where I am now, deep in the trenches of middle age. I have used this book as examples of good writing, good story telling, and good layering. I will once again say that, in my opinion, The Shining is Stephen King’s masterpiece.

Good Writing. This is actually a huge conundrum. If you pay attention to the mechanics and watch for all the rules of good writing, you will see that Mr. King violates every rule known to the written English language and story telling that there is to violate. But the truth is, you don’t notice any such thing because the tricks he plays on his readers in this remarkable tale are so complete that if he HAD followed the rules, the book would not be the masterpiece it is. One thing I remember from school is that in the creative realm, rules are made to be broken, but be sure you can tell why you are breaking them. 

All I know is that after reading The Shining for the 40th time, and I get through the scenes where I feel like I’ve swirled around in a water drain, I don’t care one iota about any rule—language, punctuation, point of view, or sentence length. I come out at the end feeling amazed at what I just experienced.

Good Story Telling. The best books are character driven. After all, it’s the characters who tell the story. The narrator should simply be a shadow in the back of the room while the characters do the work. In The Shining, this is most definitely true. You have characters (Jack, Wendy, Danny, Halloran) who each have their own motives and their own problems. And most of the story is internal, taking place inside the heads of each one of them, except the Hotel. The Hotel is also a character with a motive and a problem, but the Hotel is, really and truly, not a main character, but a second place—maybe even a third place—character. The entire role of the Hotel is to stir the four pots which are nearly overflowing with bubbling brew. And I believe that is the real genius of the book.

Good Layering. This is really a sub-folder to Good Story Telling. The four heads I spoke of in the previous paragraph are damaged before the story begins, and the damage is deep. And this is where the layers are. Every single time I re-read the book, I find a layer I had not seen before. In one of Mr. King’s introductions a few years after the first printing of the book, he states that he came to a point in the story where he had to consciously make a decision to stick with the same formula he had used before, or to do away with all boundaries and allow the book to write itself, which meant exploring deeper issues going on with his characters. He chose the deeper issues.

And this, Mr. King, is when my intense like of your writing changed to love. Bravo.

So, if you’ve never read The Shining, do so now. I guarantee you’ll be amazed.


“The Long Walk” Review

“The Long Walk” Review

by Adam Huddleston

As many of you probably know, Stephen King is one of my favorite authors.  Although he has written a multitude of top-selling books, my best-loved is “The Long Walk”.  

Written under his pseudonym, Richard Bauchman, “The Long Walk” is a tale set in a not-too-distant dystopian future.  Told in first-person point of view, the main character is a teenager who competes in a deadly marathon where those who fall behind are killed along the way.  King does an excellent job of moving the plot along while developing the main characters.  

If you are a fan of horror, or even dark thrillers, I highly recommend “The Long Walk.”

Ransom Canyon

Outtakes 384


Ransom Canyon

By Cait Collins


There’s something about a series of books that can stand alone, but are even better when read in sequence.  That’s why I enjoyed reading Jodi Thomas’s Ransom Canyon series. The characters are dealing with personal issues. Yancy Grey has just gotten out of jail and arrives in Crossroads, Texas looking for a quick buck. Lauren, the sheriff’s daughter makes a wrong decision and nearly loses her life. Lucas Reyes wants more than small town life and a job as a ranch hand. He dreams big and has a plan. Stanten Kirkland battles troubling memories in the arms of Quinn O’Grady. Different lives, different backgrounds, but they come together in Ransom Canyon.

Ransom Canyon and Crossroads are set in the wide open spaces of Texas. The author is a fifth-generation Texan and has a deep love of the state. She paints a picture of Texas, particularly the Panhandle and West Texas. She pulls the history and romanticism of the old west into the stories. She allows her characters to be human, make mistakes, and pull themselves through the disasters. And they don’t stand alone as they fight their demons. They come together as a family and a community.

I find her characters believable. They struggle, fall, but get back up and try again. The ending to each story is satisfying, but makes the reader hunger for the next installment. I read Ransom Canyon on my flight to Portland, Maine in the fall of 2015. It reminded me of the reasons I love Texas. I recommend the Ransom Canyon series by Jodi Thomas: Ransom Canyon, Rustler’s Moon, Lone Heart Pass, Sunrise Crossing, Wild Horse Springs, Indigo Lake, and Mistletoe Miracles.

Charles Frazier: Thirteen Moons

Charles Frazier: Thirteen Moons

Rory C Keel

Thirteen Moons is a wonderful historical fiction. Young Will Cooper is sold as a bound boy to serve an owner of a trading post near the Cherokee nation.

Without a family, Will Cooper finds a father figure in a Cherokee elder named Bear. 

This novel will take you through the settings of early Appalachia and the hardships of the 1800s, yet it will affirm that the struggles of the human heart are timeless.

Book Review: Any Zombie Fans?

Book Review: Any Zombie Fans?

Natalie Bright

One of my favorite things about writing conferences is meeting other writers and being exposed to genres that I never would read otherwise. Case in point, I met Mr. Ray Weeks at the Canadian River Valley Writer’s Workshop several weeks ago. He happened to take a seat across the table from me. Ray had returned to his home town of Canadian to run the movie theatre in town, and he writes stories. More specifically, short stories and stories about zombies. I bought his book EAT ME for my son. It’s autographed, “To David. Eat ‘Till your dead and then some.” My plan was to read the first few pages, but then I couldn’t put it down.

As a zombie fan, you may think that you have read every possible scenario involving zombies. After all we’ve been reading about the fictional undead since 1929, with the book THE MAGIC ISLAND by W. B. Seabrook. Horror, fantasy, science fiction – the genres can be varied but the scenario is basically the same. An undead man-eating creature destroys humanity. I thought I had read enough to last me a lifetime until I picked up this book by Ray Weeks.

EAT ME is a unique, highly inappropriate, often gross and shocking collection of zombie short stories. I love this book! His writing is brilliant.

You will be entertained by original premises from humans living in the tree tops to a zombie animal, which has always been impossible. Animals can’t be zombies. It’s unheard of. Not in the world where Mr. Weeks resides.

Buy this book. You will not regret it. In fact, order some extra copies for your friends. They will love you for it. Here’s the link for Amazon.

Eat Me: A Zombie Story Collection