Tuesday, 20 January 2015


Quite frankly, I wonder just how many serial killers are wandering around over there in America! Thankfully not too many when my husband and I were there two years ago and certainly not in Boston, a charming city which we thoroughly enjoyed and which is featured in this novel!

Cameron, a nurse, has managed to get over being unceremoniously dumped by her boyfriend three years previously and is finally finding her romantic feet again. She has the help of two flatmates - the unsociable Greg and the outgoing Karl. Now she is ready to move into a new apartment, and more than ready to start a new romance, which she does. However, fate has other things in store.

This a fast-paced plot which has more twists and turns than a cobra - but gory! It seems a serial killer who is devoted this craft is at work, and the final goal is, of course, Cameron.

I liked the character of Cameron, even though she does some really stupid things - as the heroine are wont to do in these situations - and over all I liked the book. I felt for the main male heroes - yes there are two, the detective and the Assistant District Attorney - but did pick the perpetrator about halfway through. This is did not impinge on my enjoyment of the whole.

I must say I do try to avoid books with serial killers in them now as the theme has been done to death with CSI and NCIS and all the usual suspects on TV, but this book was pretty good.

Good work!

Sunday, 18 January 2015


Seb Kirby's Take No More is what I like to think of as the "traditional" thriller which, as he himself has said, pits the ordinary man against great odds and thereby proves that person is certainly not ordinary.

The plot works around stolen art works and the possibility of many being hidden under layers of other works – either by the original artists or by people hoping to hide them. Collectors would pay millions for well known ones but of course if they can get away with murdering instead, that is faster and cheaper.

The story starts dramatically with James coming home after a day’s work to find Julia, an art restorer, dying inside the front door. Horrified, he calls the police and of course finds himself the chief suspect. Except for a copy of Julia’s downloaded files, he had no clue as to what she had done or with whom she’d associated in order to be murdered.

His brother, Miles, an investigative journalist and his partner Sergio, have unwittingly poked a crocodile with a stick – Alfieri and Alessa’s corrupt business dealings may well get them all killed.
The main character of James Blake, a likable man, is straightforward. We do not know many of his innermost thoughts which do not concern the job in hand, that of solving the mystery into which he has been plunged by the death of his wife. Obtaining information, keeping alive and in the meantime, revenge, are his only goals.

As in all good traditional thrillers, there are myriad twist and turns, some of them delightful, others heartbreaking. The dialogue is natural and flowing, the plot well laid out and easy to follow. Some authors – in my opinion – make their plot so intricate that the average reader, especially me, is lost in a maze of over-cleverness.  The pacing is fast but slows to allow the reader to catch her breath and then soldier on. One of the surprises in this novel, is that the author has actually managed to make me sorry for one of the murderers. That is a feat worth mentioning!

Highly recommended.

Saturday, 17 January 2015


I'm a fine one to tell other people how to write - I'm still learning and will be until the day I cark it - which at my age mightn't be too far away  :)

However, here are some tips for someone who might like to have a go and why not? As "they" say, you'll never know until you try!

Firstly, read read read! 

Most authors write what they enjoy reading, so I would suggest that initially you focus on crime, romance, historical - whatever your "bag" is. After you have decided what you want to write, then you have to learn to write it!

While you're reading observe how the author phrases imagery, how dialogue is dealt with. Decide what  you like about the book you are reading - does it feel good and would you write in that style? I don't mean copy or plagarise of course, just think about how you would write the same book. 

You need to join a writer's workshop group, this is a fantastic way to try your writing out, perhaps with short stories first, and receive critique from your peers. You will also get the opportunity to give your own critique of their writing. This is a fabulous way to learn how to write and decide which genre you want to try. 

 A good way to learn is to start writing drabbles - 100 word complete stories - and then droubles - 200 word complete stories. These are invaluable for practice in tightening up manuscripts.

One of the common problems with which I wrestled and still do, is passive vs active writing. 

Passive: E.g. The dog was chasing the rabbit as fast as he could. 

Active: The dog chased the rabbit at full speed.

Watch your "that" and "which" - a common fault of mine is getting them mixed up - and for goodness sake do NOT use "You done good" and drop your "ly" at the end of the words when they're called for!

So - go to it and good luck  :)

Friday, 16 January 2015


I've just had the fright of my life! My friend, Andrea, rang to tell me that somehow some terrible pornographic images had come up on my FB page!!

If anyone is the recipient of these, please delete them and accept my sincere apology. I would never even LOOK at images like these. much less post them up for all the world to see.

I do not know how some things happen in cyberspace. It is possible that I retweeted a message by mistake, which was linked to other images. That is the only reason I can give for this to happen.

I have discovered that I did Follow (by mistake) a young women who dabbles pornography and of course, when she tweeted to her followers - well, you guessed it! It wasn't her fault - it was my own for not being more careful and savvy.

Please forgive!

Sunday, 11 January 2015


Oh dear, I cringe every time I read "You done good" or "I done good" in contemporary fiction. Is this the way people speak?

Yes, I think it is because I have heard it over and over. It's all very well for the pundits to say that language changes over time, but this is ridiculous! Bad grammar, bad spelling - yes, I am guilty of that too - but never in a million years would I say to someone - "You done good!"  For those who don't know what I am talking about it's - "You've done WELL!" or as I have heard lately, the dropping of the "ly" as in "He did perfect."

I'll be back to finish this blog as soon as I find out whether Roger Federer or Milos Raonic wins the Brisbane International Tennis!

Okay, so The Fed won and it's now Wednesday night and the commentators are working on Rafa Nadal and a young Aussie kid, Omar someone playing the new Fast tennis. The opinionated young man who is explaining a point has just used a term I hate - "to the get go"!  "Get go"????? What about "from the start"? Perhaps that is not "baseball worn back to front" hip speak!!

Another woman on TV - who should know better - said tonight, "It works more effective!" I can't remember what she was talking about but the tendency to cut the "ly" off words is expanding rapidly as I have mentioned earlier on this blog.

I have never been able to come to terms with starting a sentence with "and" or "but," however this has become commonplace in modern fiction. Having done quite a bit of Beta Reading, I have discovered that this is endemic among young women devoted to chicklit. GRRRRRRRRRRRRR. The worst of it is I find myself doing it too  :(  Occasionally. Rarely.

Coupled with this deplorable habit, is another - the idea that if the book is written in short sentences it will be more exciting!! Hellooooooooooooo? I was always taught that short sentences raise the tension and that this method should be kept for that. Imagine reading a book where every sentence consists of no more than around six words!!

The final whine I have today is the use of dashes as punctuation! There is a strong tendency among many to use a dash instead of a comma and the penchant for using brackets to enclose what should be normal script, is horrendous!

What is left of my mind, "boggles."

I read a lot – my husband will attest to that – and just lately it has dawned on me what is lacking in many contemporary novels. Imagery!! Sights, sounds and smells, the intricate details which set time and place.

I am not sure why this is so, but yesterday, while reading a novel, I couldn’t get a sense of where the characters were or even that there was a change of speakers! I knew they were in a house, but what sort of house? Were there pictures on the walls? Was it old fashioned or modern?

Unfortunately, this is all too common in the latest paperback or e-books, as is jumping from scene to scene with nothing to indicate why or where. Many writers seem content to let their characters talk, go shopping, have sex and occasionally go to work. Fine, you say?

Certainly, but where is the detail I would expect to find in a well-written story? What are they seeing, hearing and smelling? Is the scent of flowers drifting in from the garden? Is there anything cooking on the stove? Is there cat hair on the cushions? Where is the attention to detail which makes a mundane novel into a great one?

A novel I read recently detailed a list of what the heroine bought and lots of sex, but this was a murder mystery as well! The shopping and sex took up three quarters of the plot leaving the murder to be crammed into the last quarter. The build up lacked tension, and the minutiae of the killer’s motive was so mysterious as to be non-existent! All the reader got were his thoughts: “She is mine, mine, mine!” As far as I was concerned, he could have her, because I didn’t care enough to worry about her.

Let us take a look at a couple of examples:

“Let’s go and have some dinner,'” she said. They walked into the restaurant and ordered fish to go. Back at the house they ate and washed up and went to the bedroom. “

Then followed some very detailed sex. How riveting is that?

Okay, how about:

“Let’s go out to dinner,” she said, smiling. 

He turned away from the city lights shining through the huge lounge room window. “Where do you want to go?”

“There’s a new fish cafe just down the street with low lighting and soft jazz.” Her hand poised over the stereo, mouth watering as the thought of hot, crispy chips and grilled trout with lime filtered through her mind. Her stomach growled and she hoped he hadn’t heard.

“We’ll get something in.” He moved quickly across the room and took her in his arms, “I don’t want to share you, even with the waiter in a restaurant.” 

Suddenly, all thought of dinner was forgotten...

Not sure why he was gazing at the city lights instead of attending to her, but for the purposes of example – we know that she is hungry, wants to go out and eat but he has one thing on his mind (so what’s new?) and is quite happy to let her starve for the moment. She shouldn’t get too involved with him! This is a spur of the moment, made up scenario and a bit rough, but you get the picture?

The first example, exactly from the book - I don’t want to identify it- gives the reader nothing in ambience, but when you get to the sex there is far too much information, trust me!

Another scene with a couple walking, taken from The Naked Room:

‘The leaves on the trees beside the drive rustled in a gentle night breeze. Stars blazed in the Milky Way giving dim natural light, augmented by the torch. An owl hooted nearby. By mutual consent, we didn’t speak. The only sound was our footsteps and Benji’s nails clicking on the tarmac as he panted along in front. My back cringed as though in the sights of a sniper’s rifle. Somewhere, someone was watching us, probably through night glasses.’

And from another piece in the first example, also with a couple walking:

‘They walked down the road to the river and along the path. Why didn’t he talk, she wondered, but didn’t want to upset him. When they got to the end of the path they turned back, got in the car and drove back to the house.’

Uh? What house, where was the river? Were there ducks on the river, people rowing, fishing, what sort of day was it? Were there barbeques in a park nearby, sending the enticing aroma of sausages or steak through the air? Were there children screaming and chasing each other through the grass? Did they pass anyone on the way there or back? Why didn’t she want to upset him? Sadly, the paragraphs before and after only indicate that he is angry about something, she doesn’t know what and is afraid to ask. Some relationship!

So much more could have been added with a few lines of imagery to set the scene and make the reader care about the couple. Later in the plot, we find out that his father has died and she thinks, in time honoured fashion, that he is angry with her, but he won’t tell her what is wrong so and she won’t ask...blah blah... but by this time, I didn’t give a darn what they did. Is this minimalist style of writing the latest fashion? Is life moving so fast now that people don’t want to be slowed down by such things as imagery?

Lee Childs’ superb minimalist writing of Reacher’s travels and Spartan way of life seem to lose nothing in the ambiance. Kenneth Graham in Wind in the Willows is filled with sights sounds and smells along the river bank and in the wild, wild wood. Which of these famous novelists is right? And why do we enjoy their work so much?

Lee Child’s is a natural story teller. He has perfected a character who I suspect we all would like to be or to know – seemingly free and untamed, going where he likes with few worldly goods to slow him down. Women like sexy Jack’s love and leave ‘em style; men envy his resilience and irresistibility to women.

Reading Wind in the Willows wafts the reader into a dreamlike state, as though he or she is actually living in the painting, where Rattie rows on the river and Mole, a fussy, solitary little animal, is coaxed into an adventure with Badger and Toad. One can smell the damp undergrowth, the scent of wildflowers in spring and feel the ever present danger of predators.

 Kenneth Graham depicts an innocence which is reflected in the sights, sounds and smells of the river bank and the wild wood. This is a place where many would like to get away from the stresses of our lives and for a time escape into the imagery which he so cleverly weaves throughout the tale. Graham draws the reader so deeply into the story, that the incongruity of a rat, a mole, a badger and a toad travelling together becomes perfectly feasible. Thus the power of imagery!

So to sum up that which is obvious and about which I have waffled, sights, sounds and smells whether sparsely or lavishly presented, are necessary for the successful novel and contemporary writers would do well to remember this.

Friday, 2 January 2015


So here we are in 2015 - and good riddance to 2014. The last couple of weeks were too awful to contemplate - a siege by a Muslim extremist who should have been in gaol where he belonged and a woman goes and murders eight children. I do not know how to cope with these things, especially the latter. The sad fact is that there will be more of the same incidents down the track.

Heat and humidity seem to be the "go" this summer. I am so sorry for all the animals whose idiot owners can't be bothered or who are too stupid to realise that their pets need protection and caring. Wish I could stand the owners out in the sun for hours or lock them in cars and leave them in the car park. I can't get over the number of farmers who don't think animals need shade. Well, duh - stupid me. Why would the cows and horses be hiding the trees on a hot day? Of course it couldn't possibly be that they want shade!

I volunteer for the Animal Welfare League op shop in Boonah. Monday morning we open again and let's hope lots of people come and buy things! On Tuesday Andrew and I are taking our two grandchildren, Ally and Ben, to see Paddington the movie and then bringing them back out to our home for a two day visit. Looking forward to spending time with them, and then we'll probably spend Friday resting up  :)

This year I have to write A DARK AND LONELY PLACE, the next in the Susan Prescott series. When I first started with THE NAKED ROOM, I had no idea that there would be three more books to come - THE CELIBATE MOUSE and  AFTER ARIEL. So far N/Room has 33 five star reviews, C/Mouse has 28, and A/Ariel has 7. Let's hope the new one exceeds all!  However, I have my doubts.

It is said by many gurus in the field that the nature of book sales is changing yet again. Apparently it will be harder to sell books this year than last, and I must admit I found it hard then! I think everyone who is going to read the first two books has done so and there are no more reviews in the offing. I do wish I could get more for A/Ariel but you never know ! Things could change yet. With 4 MILLION books on Amazon, the hardest part is making one author's work stand out!

Well, that's all for today. I have to take the nanny nap which is holding the old bones together!

Next blog - the art of writing the drouble and the drabble! What are they? Wait and see...

Bye for now.



I have read books where the premise is somewhat the same - a person is in an accident or gets injured and attains powers hitherto denied them. However, JJ White's plot takes this premise a lot further.

Gavin is injured in an explosion which kills two other people, the one who caused it and an innocent bystander. For thirty days Gavin is in a coma but he awakens to a different world, one of colour and fame. Having been set for the future as a sportsman, he is bemused to find that his talents now lie in mathematical equations, art, classical music and chess! Life is looking up, especially for his ambitious father who sees financial possibilities in his son's changes. As Gavin's life deteriorates, the reader soon becomes aware that someone has been paid to put an end to him and all he holds dear. The reason behind the attempts on Gavin's life become apparent toward the twist at the end when a master manipulator reveals himself.

Sometimes readers and certainly people who fancy themselves as art critics, try to put their own spin on the writer or artist's motivations. In this case, it would seem to me that the author asks the reader to examine whether fame and fortune is all it's cracked up to be and is it what we really want? Could we handle the responsibility that comes with fame and fortune?

The ending leaves the option to continue the story - but does not leave the reader up in the air.

With the exception of Gavin, the characters do not come across as sympathetic, and nor should they. Sharon, who comes into contact with Gavin's dark side, can be forgiven for not wanting to repeat the experience. Gavin's increasing paranoia and decreasing control over his own destiny are and cleverly drawn. The writing flows articulately.

I agreed to review this book - I do not know the author and have never read anything by him previously - but I will definitely read another of his works if given the opportunity.

http://tinyurl.com/lao42mj    $3.79 on Amazon.