A TOURNAMENT TO REMEMBER


A TOURNAMENT TO REMEMBER

Lynnette Jalufka

I waited a long time to read Michael Jecks’ medieval mystery novel, A Tournament of Blood. I made myself read the previous books in the series first. This was the one I was excited about because it concerns one of my favorite parts of the Middle Ages, the tournament. Jecks puts his crime-solving duo, Sir Baldwin Furnshill, the Keeper of the King’s Peace, and Bailiff Simon Puttock in the middle of one. Simon is in charge of organizing the event which puts him at odds with several people, including his teenage daughter who falls in love with a squire with dishonorable intentions. Then the murders occur. Baldwin and Simon must figure out who the culprit is, even though their suspects keep dying.

The best part is when a knight accuses Simon of murdering his son and challenges him to a trial of combat, a battle to the death to prove Simon’s innocence or guilt. Baldwin becomes Simon’s champion although he hasn’t fought in sixteen years. 

There are plenty of colorful characters throughout the book. Jecks has a way of showing all their viewpoints so it’s hard to figure out who is the murderer. I like that Baldwin tempers his desire for justice with mercy when the killer is revealed. 

Although there is a touch of language and sex, the book is a great read. Details bring England in 1322 to life. I love that there is not only a character list but also a glossary of terms that is very helpful in a historical fiction. Check it out.

The Most Classic of the Classics


POSTCARDS FROM THE MUSE

The Most Classic of the Classics

By Nandy Ekle

I am a fan of horror. That’s not a secret to anyone. And there are so many great horror stories that are considered classics. Some I was assigned to read in school like Frankenstein and Jekyll and Hyde. I wanted more. So I made the decision to read Dracula, by Bram Stoker. 

And all I could say was WOW!

This story is written in the form of diary/journal entries and newspaper articles. Even though the book was written during an era of formal English, which makes some stories dry and hard to stick with, the language of this book was easy to digest. As a high school student with a normal attention span, I was completely captivated. I think I devoured the book in two days.

There have been hundreds of movies made based on the story. The legend of vampires goes back, probably to the beginning of time. And this was long before the romantic vampires with consciences who hate what they are. And I think we all know the basic Dracula story. 

Jonathan Harker travels to Transylvania to meet with the Count and discuss some property in England the Count has recently purchased. He leaves his fiancee behind with a typewriter and instructions to practice her typing. Mina, his fiancee, takes her typewriter to the country to visit her aristocratic friend, Lucy, who is being courted by three men. While Jonathan is abroad and Mina is visiting, a mysterious illness afflicts Lucy which causes her to lose blood at an alarming rate, and there seems to be no reason for her blood to disappear. Meanwhile, the count leaves Jonathan locked in the castle to feed his three vampire wives while he travels to England to view the property. Jonathan barely with his life and Mina is called to Transylvania to minister to him as he recovers. They are married and head back to England where they learn Lucy has died. Her three suitors bring in an expert to investigate the mysterious illness and the expert is convinced there is a vampire afoot. Soon Mina is also showing signs of the same illness. The group chases the count back to Transylvania where they finally kill him.

Really and truly, one of the best horror books I’ve ever read. As for versions of the movie, I love the one released in the 90s with Wynona Rider. They add a deep timeless romance to the plot which enhances the story extremely well.

If you get a chance, read Dracula by Bram Stoker.

 

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Book Review: SAWBONES – Melissa Lenhardt


SAWBONES – Melissa Lenhardt

Book Review by Rory C. Keel

Set in the post-civil war 1800s, the main character Cathrine Bennett starts her journey in New York City. Being a female and desiring to practice as a doctor, she is hindered by societal norms of the day. Falsely accused of murder by the wife of a male patient, she sails to Galveston, Texas and begins her dangerous and thrilling escape to the West.

On her trek to start a new life, she faces the loss of loved ones and her own possessions forcing her to survive. Suffering through severe storms and  Indian attacks, we see her tenacity to live and save others.

“I needed to concentrate, to push my personal tragedy and guilt to the back of my mind and focus on Captain Kindle’s wound.”

As a male reader of the Historical Western genre, I really liked this book. I picked this book up on a whim at the bookstore and ended up reading all three in the trilogy.  While characterized by some as a feminist western, I found it to be a thrilling western and offered insight into the female viewpoint of the hardships endured in the historical West.

CHARLAINE HARRIS


CHARLAINE HARRIS

Natalie Bright

Over the weekend I read two books. Both had likable characters, engaging plots but the contrast of the golden rule we’ve all heard over and over was glaringly different. Here are two similar scenes as examples of the SHOW, DON’T TELL rule. Paragraph A is “telling. Paragraph B by Charlaine Harris is “showing”.

  1. “…she tried to hide as much as possible, behind some big boulders and to try to make as little noise as possible.”
  2. “When I came to, I was in the middle of a clump of bushes and large rocks. It wasn’t dawn, but it was close. A snake was gliding by me. I could just make out that it was a rattlesnake, its tongue flicking out to catch movement. I didn’t move. I wasn’t sure I could, anyway. I pretended to myself I was choosing not to stir. The birds were singing, so the gunfire and screaming were long over.”   AN EASY DEATH by Charlaine Harris

“Showing” is putting into words the scene that’s in your head and pulling the reader into the story. Emotion brings your writing up a notch by including the five senses. How many senses can you identify in paragraph B?

Vampires, creatures of the night, bloody battles are not my usual go to for reading material but that Charlaine Harris can spin a highly entertaining tale. I was surprised at how much I enjoy her books. Her writing is phenomenal and worth your time to study. I highly recommend AN EASY DEATH, Book #1 in the Gunnie Rose series. The United States is split and in this new take on the old west, the story follows a young gunslinger named Lizbeth Rose. Harris always delivers intense action with heroines/heroes that are flawed as they face quirky villains.

I’m stepping out of my comfort zone again this year and striving to read books in different genres. What book have you discovered that is something totally different from what you usually read? Comment below and let us know.

Thanks for following WordsmithSix!

IN THE BRAVELANDS


IN THE BRAVELANDS

Lynnette Jalufka

I love The Lion King, so it’s no surprise that I enjoyed reading the first three books of Erin Hunter’s Bravelands series: Broken Pride, Code of Honor, and Blood and Bone. They intertwine the stories of three African animals. Fearless is a young lion who is made an outcast when the cruel Titan destroys his pride. Thorn, a baboon, tries to fight his destiny and move up to the highest class in his tribe. Young elephant Sky discovers she has the rare gift to read bones.

The animals are ruled by one code: kill to survive. The code is broken when several murders occur, including the death of the leader of the animals, throwing the Bravelands into chaos. Different species vie for the position of Great Parent with horrific results. Fearless, Thorn, and Sky must somehow find a way to restore peace to their land. 

The books are filled with action and intrigue. Characters are not always what they seem. There are plenty of cliffhangers to keep turning the pages.

I just found out there two more books in the series. They’re going on my reading list.  

How to Write


POSTCARDS FROM THE MUSE

How to Write

By Nandy Ekle

On Writing, by Stephen King. In my opinion, the best instructional writing book out there. 

The first half of the book is a very honest sort of autobiography (which I think, as a happy “Constant Reader,” is very interesting). The second half of the book is lessons and tips. Since Mr. King is a high school English teacher, along with the fact of his enormous success as a writer, in my eyes, he is a penultimate writing teacher.

The biography half of the book gives us, the readers, an insight into his thought process. He starts with his earliest memories and goes through his experience after being hit by a car in 1999. Extremely interesting material for those of us with a deep love of words, a smattering of talent, and small income vs. daily expenses. According to the book, the King family was next to bankrupt when his first book, Carrie, hit the market. An extremely encouraging epistle.

The writing part of the book is equally helpful. This part gives some grammar advice, dialogue advice, description advice, and insight into what your reader might be thinking. He gives a scenario and a challenge to the readers of the book to write a story (set up by Mr. King himself) and send it to him for review. However, the version of the book I, myself, own is from the year 2000. 

This is why I recommend Stephen King’s On Writing, A Memoir of the Craft for anyone who wants to learn to write fictional stories.

Thanks for joining us on our publication journey!


Thanks for joining us on our publication journey!

Natalie Bright

WordsmithSix Blog will continue with monthly topics in 2020. Join us in January for Book Reviews, featuring our favorites and a few of our own. And then stay tuned for all things writing as we write, critique, and navigate this crazy creative process of writing and publishing. We are so excited to have you along for the ride. We especially appreciate your comments, questions, and shares. Thank you!

It’s time to think about your goals and dreams for the new year.

FINDING INSPIRATION IN 2020

At the beginning of every year I mark a wall calendar with project notes and goals. As I’m filling out my new calendar, I always pencil in a few conferences. Let’s be honest, your family and non-writer friends will not inspire you to write. Every creative second will be hard fought, if your days are anything like mine. You have to recharge that well and you can do that by spending time with like-minded creatives. There are so many reasons to not participate, but you will be amazed at the change in your motivation, craft, connections, and the new opportunities that will come your way just by putting yourself out there and meeting other writers, agents, and editors. Not to mention the ideas you’ll come away with for promotion, blog topics, places to submit—the list goes on and on. But you cannot sit in a corner. You have to make the effort.

WHERE TO GO

Here are a few recommendations for writing organizations and workshops that I have attended.

Texas High Plains Writers meets every other month in Downton Amarillo. All genres, and guests are welcome.

http://texashighplainswriters.com/

Canadian River Valley Writers Workshop, early Spring in Canadian, Texas. Dates for 2020 are pending.

http://canadianartsalliance.com/sample-page/

Oklahoma Writers’ Federation, 1st weekend in May, Oklahoma City

https://www.owfi.org/conference2020

NOTE: We have an Amarillo area OWFI Affiliate. We meet in Amarillo. If you’re interested, comment below and we will send you more information.

WTAMU Writers Academy June 8-12,2020

https://www.wtamu.edu/academics/eod-writing-academy.aspx

DFW.con June 13-14, 2020, Hurst Conference Center, Hurst Texas. This is huge with every genre represented, amazing speakers, and a wide variety of vendors who can help you get a book in hand. This is an eye-opening, jam-packed experience.

https://dfwcon.org/


THE WARRIOR

Lynnette Jalufka

 

‘”I am a warrior! Martin son of Luke! I will live, I will not give in and die up here! Do you hear me, Badrang? I will live to take back my father’s sword and slay you one day!'”

 

So declares the hero of Brian Jacques’ fantasy novel, Martin the Warrior, as he is tied outside in the pouring rain, awaiting the final phase of his death sentence. It also summarizes the book. Martin is a slave of Badrang the Tryant, who, with the help of new friends, manages to escape. They then take a perilous journey to find an army that will free the rest of the slaves in Badrang’s fortress.  

Like all of Jacques’ Redwall books, it is filled with action, narrow escapes, and riddles. What strikes me the most is the different ways warriors are depicted. Martin fights when needed. Another escaped slave, Felldoh, lets his revenge against Badrang obliterate his common sense. Brome wants to be a warrior like Martin but discovers another way he can help. And then there’s Rose, who Martin describes as “‘the warrior who uses the voice instead of the sword.'” Her words get them out of several jams.

If you like adventure, this book is well worth the read. I highly recommend it.


Book Review: The Institute

by Adam Huddleston

 

This month’s blog topics involve book reviews.  Instead of giving a comprehensive review on a title that I have finished, I am choosing to give a week-by-week review on a work that I am currently reading.  I have chosen “The Institute” by Stephen King.  

As of now, I have completed the first part “The Night Knocker” and am a few sections into the second part “The Smart Kid”.  Mr. King begins his tale as he does many of his others, which is to say somewhat slowly but with great character development.  He fleshes out the major protagonist in the first part as the character begins a road trip (another King staple).  Even though a bit of time passes, the story moves along at a pace that keeps the Constant Reader interested.  

The main character in “The Smart Kid” is beginning to be developed as well.  The boy prodigy is both interesting and endearing.  As of this writing, he has just arrived at the titular “Institute” and I am looking forward to seeing what adventure awaits.

Happy writing (and reading)!