You are now entering the world of my thoughts.

This blog is my diary of works in progress. The only way a writer can improve upon her skill is to practice, practice and practice some more. Here, in this place of quiet peace, I pen to paper my thoughts and creativity. Welcome to my world.

Copyright © 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013 SN Taylor, All Rights Reserved

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Book Blast: The Infinity Program by Richard H. Hardy

The Infinity Program
by Richard H. Hardy 

Jon Graeme and Harry Sale are unlikely friends. Harry is a world-class programmer, but his abrasive personality alienates co-workers. In contrast, Jon is a handsome and easy-going technical writer, the low man on the IT totem pole. Sharing a love of nature, the men set out together, planning to go their separate ways--Jon on a hike and Harry, fly fishing. Three days later, Jon arrives at the rendezvous point, but his friend is nowhere in sight. When Jon finds Harry unconscious on the floor of a cave, Harry claims to have been lying there the entire time. But he is neither cold nor hungry. What Jon doesn't know is that Harry fell into an underground cavern, where he came into contact with an alien quantum computer.

Back at work, Harry jettisons his regular tasks and concentrates exclusively on inventing new operating language to access the alien system. In the process he crashes his office's Super Computer and is fired. Jon convinces the company to give Harry a second chance, arguing that the system he has invented will make them millions. Jon has no idea what havoc Harry is about to unleash.

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Richard H. Hardy's Bio:

  Richard H. Hardy was born in Glasgow, Scotland, during a week of relentless bombing raids just before the close of World War II. The day he was born an incendiary bomb fell on the church across the street from where he lived, so he is fond of saying that he entered the world with a big adrenaline rush. His family later moved to England and then on to America. After college Richard bounced through a series of temporary jobs as he traveled around the country, wanting nothing more than to write fiction. A job driving a library van allowed him free time to write several short stories and work on a novel. He and his wife moved to New Hampshire, where he took an entry level job at a software company. He was soon promoted to the technical writing department and ended up producing over 500,000 words of online documentation. After a few years he was promoted to the programming department and ended up as the Senior EDI Programmer, creating EDI maps and writing UNIX scripts and troubleshooting on AIX systems throughout the U.S. and Canada. After he retired, he started writing fiction again. The Infinity Program is his first published novel.

Format/Price: Paperback ($13.95)
Genre: Science Fiction
Pages: 250
Release: April 1, 2014
Publisher: Camel Press
ISBN: 9781603819336
Amazon buy link - $13.95

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Monday, February 17, 2014

Book Review: A Taste Fur Murder by Dixie Lyle

Book Description:

Introducing an animal-loving Gal Friday with a telepathic cat, a shapeshifting dog, and a ghost of a chance of solving supernatural crime…

Meet Deirdre “Foxtrot” Lancaster. Trusted employee of eccentric zillionairess Zelda Zoransky, Foxtrot manages a mansion, a private zoo, and anything else that strikes her boss’s fancy. Her job title is Administrative Assistant, but chaos handler would be more accurate. Especially after she glimpses a giant ghost-beast in Zelda’s pet cemetery. For some strange reason, Foxtrot is seeing animal spirits. And, ready or not, in this mystery from Dixie Lyle, the fur’s about to hit the fan…
Still reeling, Foxtrot comes home to find her cat Tango—her dead cat Tango—alive and well and communicating telepathically. But that’s not all: There’s an ectoplasmic dog named Tiny who changes breeds with a shake of his tail…and can sniff out a clue like nobody’s business. So when a coworker drops dead while organizing closets, Tiny is on the case. Can Foxtrot and her new companions ferret out the killer among a menagerie of suspects—human and otherwise—before death takes another bite?

My Review

Dixie Lyle is my new favorite detective author! Whiskey, Tango & Foxtrot will be taking shelf space right next to my Cat in the Stacks mystery series.

Foxtrot is an outstanding assistant, cool, calm and collected when chaos knocks on her door. That includes talking dead animals. Foxtrot is called upon to save a graveyard that is more special than she can imagine, and the life of her boss from someone who would do anything to get their hands on the land that the graveyard sits on, that includes murder. With the help of her dead cat, Tango, and shape-shifting ghostly dog, Tiny (aka, Whiskey) you are in for the  supernatural experience of your life! Nothing scary here though! My favorite scene *spoiler alert* is the exchange between Foxtrot and the badger! I laughed so hard I cried! I wont be able to hear the word MUMBLE for a while without cracking up!

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Blog Tour: Children of the Knight

Children of the Knight Book Summary:
According to legend, King Arthur is supposed to return when Britain needs him most. So why does a man claiming to be the once and future king suddenly appear in modern-day Los Angeles?

This charismatic young Arthur creates a new Camelot within the City of Angels to lead a crusade of unwanted kids against an adult society that discards and ignores them. Under his banner of equality, every needy child is welcome, regardless of race, creed, sexual orientation, or gang affiliation.

With the help of his amazing First Knight, homeless fourteen-year-old Lance, Arthur transforms this ragtag band of rejected children and teens into a well-trained army—the Children of the Knight––where even gay boys and gangsters work side by side. Through his intervention, they win the hearts and minds of the populace at large, and gain a truer understanding of themselves and their worth to society. But seeking more rights for kids pits Arthur and his children squarely against the rich, the influential, and the self-satisfied politicians who want nothing more than to maintain the status quo.

Can right truly overcome might? Arthur’s hopeful young knights are about to find out, and the City of Angels will never be the same.

The Knight Cycle begins . . .

Michael J. Bowler's Bio:
Michael J. Bowler is an award-winning author of three novels - A Boy and His Dragon, A Matter of Time, and Children of the Knight - who grew up in San Rafael, California.

He majored in English and Theatre at Santa Clara University and earned a master’s in film production from Loyola Marymount University, a teaching credential in English from LMU, and another master's in Special Education from Cal State University Dominguez Hills.

He partnered with two friends as producer, writer, and/or director on several ultra-low-budget horror films, including “Fatal Images,” “Club Dead,” and “Things II,” the reviews of which are much more fun than the actual movies.

He taught high school in Hawthorne, California for twenty-five years, both in general education and to students with learning disabilities, in subjects ranging from English and Strength Training to Algebra, Biology, and Yearbook.

He has also been a volunteer Big Brother to seven different boys with the Catholic Big Brothers Big Sisters program and a thirty-year volunteer within the juvenile justice system in Los Angeles. He is a passionate advocate for the fair treatment of children and teens in California, something that is sorely lacking in this state. He has been honored as Probation Volunteer of the Year, YMCA Volunteer of the Year, California Big Brother of the Year, and 2000 National Big Brother of the Year. The “National” honor allowed he and three of his Little Brothers to visit the White House and meet the president in the Oval Office.

He has already completed the two continuations of Children of the Knight that complete the trilogy - Running Through A Dark Place & And The Children Shall Lead. Both will likely be released in 2014.
My Review:
I was a little disappointed in this book because it was not what I had anticipated based on the book description.  There was far too much about sex (gender and relationships) and children exploring sexuality for my taste of reading. To be honest, I did not begin to enjoy the story/characters until the very end when there was actually a problem and the children pulled together to face that problem. I was sad at the outcome and even cried for Lance though he annoyed me to bits in the first part of the book.
I understand some of the issues the book tried to address, my mom worked as a social worker for years as well as a peace-officer in the juvenile detenction center in our county. So I understand that some children have it really hard and some of the worst things happen to them, so I am not knocking the subject content of the story.
The writing and dialogue threw me for a loop until I got the hang of it but it was hard to connect with it. If this had been a non-fiction piece, I could have seen it for what it was, an eye opening awareness of how are current system is unfair and neglectful of children on the streets or already in the system. But the fact that this was fiction, I could not get into the story.
I do however, appreciate the author's attempt at exposing the truths of the streets for young disadvantaged children and the lack of empathy from the authorities and society at large.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Book Review: Fireborn: A Dragonborn Novel by Toby Forward

Fireborn: A Dragonborn NovelFireborn: A Dragonborn Novel by Toby Forward
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

This story follows the adventures of Cabbage, an apprentice to Wizard Flaxfield, Perry, a roffle, from the Deep World, and Bee, a young girl whose powerful magic is stolen and creates a wild kind of magic that goes on a destructive path that threatens to kill everyone, including her. When the wizard, Flaxfield loses his magic, it is up to Cabbage and Perry to help Bee and stop Slowin and his hungry beetle army and return balance to the world.

When I first began reading Fireborn, I almost did not finish it. The beginning felt disjointed with the different story lines of Bee and Cabbage, it was hard to tell where the story was going. However, once I had a sense of the story arc and plot, I was able put the pieces together and enjoy the story. This was unlike any story about magic that I have ever read, which is great because I don't normally like to read about magic and sorcery.

I can see preteens liking the characters, Cabbage and Perry. They are brave, adventurous, loyal, witty and funny. They are boys from two different worlds, that would rather keep them apart, but they forge a friendship despite the rules in place to separate them. They are the reason I kept reading and cheering for their success. I was a little disappointed in Bee's character and the lack of her presence and journey in the book. I wanted to see more of her the way I experienced Cabbage and Perry.

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Friday, December 13, 2013

Book Blog Tour: Ruby Heart by Christelle Comby

Ruby Heart

When elderly client Doris Hargrave informs private investigator Alexandra Neve that her beloved antique ruby heart necklace has gone missing for the second time in a period of over sixty years, Alexandra knows this is no ordinary jewellery theft. The ruby heart is a family heirloom and the only thing that connects an ailing Mrs Hargrave to her parents, who were murdered during the Holocaust. To solve the case, Alexandra and her business partner, blind history professor Ashford Egan, must sift through obscure Holocaust documents to find out the truth. It’s that way that they learn of a secret World War II-era love affair which could hold the key to all the answers they are looking for. Meanwhile, Egan is under immense pressure from the university to quit his private investigating business, and Alexandra is afraid that a man she trusts will leave her. Again. When Alexandra begins to receive anonymous threats and her flat is vandalized, this all becomes personal. Knowing that there is someone out there to hurt her, Alexandra vows to find that elusive ruby heart if it’s the last thing she ever does.

My  Review:

Alexandra is a struggling PI with a blind university professor as her assistant. Most of her cases range from missing pets to cheating spouses. All of which barely pays her bills. She longs for a real case. She gets it in the form of an elderly woman who's heirloom, a ruby heart necklace is stolen, for the second time in a period of sixty years. This necklace is no ordinary piece of jewelry. It has a historical connection to the holocaust era. In order to solve the case of the stolen necklace, Alexandra and her partner, Ashford, delve into the past to figure out who stole it the first time. Her investigation lands her in a lot of trouble. When her home is sacked, her family threatened, and the only evidence she has linking the past thief to the recent one, Alexandra knows she is close to the truth.

Ruby Heart is the second book in the Neve and Egan series. Having not read the first book in the series, I was afraid I would miss a lot but I was pleasantly surprised that while sometimes references were made to incidents in the first book, they did not confuse or hamper the story line in Ruby Heart. I love a good detective story and this one has been added to my list. I have to admit, I was worried how a blind character could possibly be of any use to a PI but I loved Ash in the story, he certainly can pull his weight if he needs too (and he does :D)

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About the Author:

Cristelle Comby was born and raised in the French-speaking area of Switzerland, in Greater Geneva, where she still resides. Thanks to her insatiable thirst for American and British action films and television dramas, her English is fluent. She attributes to her origins her ever-peaceful nature and her undying love for chocolate. She has a passion for art, which also includes an interest in drawing and acting. Ruby Heart is her second new-adult novel, and she’s hard at work on the next titles in the Neve & Egan series.

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Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Once Upon A Pitch

So, you find yourself in a conversation with an old friend, co-worker, random stranger and it comes up that you are writing a story. "Oh, what's your story about?" they ask. If you are anything like me, then this dreaded question sends you into shudders, stammers and hyperventilation.

Pitching my work in progress is the hardest thing for me to do. One would think I should be able to pitch my own story but actually, it is hard to give a description of a story without rambling and giving it all away. Well, it is hard for me.

I have joined quite a few groups, blogs and forums, looking for ways to develop the art of pitching books. I get a lot of practice reading other pitches over on Susanna Hill's blog. She has a wonderful weekly blog post called Would You Read It, where writers post a pitch of their work in progress. Readers are given the opportunity to say why they would or would not read a book based on the given pitch. The exercise gives the writer help in tightening their pitches. It is also great for people like me to learn just what makes a good pitch.

But I was even more thrilled a few days ago to find a really super and simple way to pitch a story plot. This wonderful example comes from Mandy over at Picture Book Academy. Her post, Plotting Your Picture Book with a logline or pitch is quite informative. She begins with the basic elements of a character based/plot driven picture book. Then Mandy gives an example of a generic pitch.
Character wants to do something but can’t because there are obstacles. But when something drastic changes or happens, the character is able to do something and solves the problem.

_________________________ wants to _______________________ but can’t because _____________________ .But when _____________________, he/she is able to_________________ and __________ .

Visit Mandy's blog post and download her awesome worksheet that outlines the basic structure of a story pitch.

Happy Pitching!!!

Member of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators