Tuesday, February 09, 2016

More news from Florida--you can't make this stuff up.

"Assume everyone you meet is armed and itching for a fight. If you see an orange seller on the street in St. Augustine, she’s likely carrying a springback blade in her sleeve. Watch their hands! A shotgun’s easy to spot, but a bowie knife inside a pants leg could be a fatal surprise.”
“It sounds like a lawless place.”
“You have no idea.


In addition to the shotguns and springback blades, watch out for the other Florida WMDs: FLORIDA MAN HURLS GATOR THROUGH DRIVE-THROUGH WINDOW.

Monday, February 08, 2016

Finding Your Writing Niche

I enjoyed the monthly Writers Alliance of Gainesville meeting where the guest speaker, UF professor and author Dr. Kevin McCarthy, encouraged us to find our niche. I was leaning toward my next project being an American privateer/War of 1812 tale, and I'm going to delve further into this. In the meantime, I'm still editing What the Parrot Saw. As usual, it's a roller-coaster of moments ranging from "Ouch, I can't believe I wrote that!" to "Hmmm....not bad."

More on this as it develops. Also, my books are still available through Amber Quill Press until the end of March, at which time they'll be closing their doors forever. If you're interested in all the stories leading up to What the Parrot Saw, I encourage you to fill your ereader and bookshelves now.

Saturday, January 30, 2016


ForbiddenForbidden by Beverly Jenkins
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Another winner from Ms. Jenkins, highlighting the lives of African-Americans in the old west. Rhine Fontaine is light enough to pass, a situation that's helped the former slave move through Nevada society, amassing property and wealth. But his commitment to living in the white world is tested when he meets Eddy, a black woman making her way through pluck, determination and her talents in front of the cookstove.

Jenkins brings the west to life while shining a light on a part of American history too often neglected in the books and in popular culture. Forbidden will please her legion of loyal fans, and attract new readers as well.

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Sunday, January 24, 2016

Review--Listen to the Moon (Lively St. Lemeston)

Listen to the Moon (Lively St. Lemeston)Listen to the Moon by Rose Lerner
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Sometimes you get tired of dukes and billionaires and vampires and you want to read a story about people who lead ordinary lives, but can still have extraordinary love stories. If so, you'll enjoy Listen to the Moon as much as I did.

This is another "Lively St. Lemeston" Regency by Rose Lerner, set in a small town in the English countryside rather than an exotic locale (like London[g]). John Toogood is a "gentleman's gentleman", a valet laid off and unable to find a new employer after he annoyed a powerful woman. Sukey Grimes is a maid-of-all-work, who catches John's eye with her plucky attitude and saucy smile, but he knows they could never make a go of it, because even in the servants hierarchy they're at opposite poles.

But then an opportunity comes along which could benefit both Sukey and John, and suddenly they're seeing each other in a different light.

Fans of Bate and Anna from Downton Abbey will appreciate this tale of belowstairs love. The author's sensual writing and deep insight into the characters made the novel a book I couldn't put down. I wanted to give it five stars, but head-hopping between protagonists in the middle of scenes kept me from fully enjoying this delightful tale. However, it's definitely one of the best books I've read this month, and is likely to be one of the best romances I'll read this year.

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My Boskone 53 Schedule

It's that time of year, time for this Florida girl to dig out the snowboots and heavy weather gear, 'cause I'm going to Boston!

Not much could convince me to travel from Florida to Boston in February, but it's worth it. #Boskone is the longest running science fiction and fantasy convention in New England, a weekend filled with books, film, art, music, gaming and bid parties. You can go to www.boskone.org  to register, and follow the news at their Twitter feed or Facebook page. I'm confident if we get snowed in, again, there will be enough party supplies that we won't have to draw lots to see who goes in the cook-pot. Actually, the Westin Waterfront has done an excellent job in past years coping with the occasional blizzard and a hotel full of science fiction fans. Kudos to them, and thank you for keeping the bar and restaurants well stocked.

Here's my schedule. The (M) means I'm moderating that panel, and I look forward to seeing you at Boskone53:

Outlander: Something for Everyone

Friday 18:00 - 18:50, Harbor II (Westin)
If your heart's in the Scottish Highlands, come discuss Diana Gabaldon's Outlander in this, its 25th year. This series of novels and shorter works features elements of historical fiction, romance, mystery, adventure, and science fiction/fantasy. It has spawned a Starz TV series, a graphic novel, and a 14-part song cycle. If you loved the books, how do you think the series is faring? Maybe your introduction to Outlander was through the TV series. How do these two perspectives differ?

Heather Albano (M), C.S.E. Cooney, Flourish Klink, Darlene Marshall, Gillian Daniels

Dating 101 in Urban Fantasy

Saturday 11:00 - 11:50, Marina 3 (Westin)
Magic is in the air! Dating comes with its own unique sets of rules when finding love within urban fantasy novels. You never know what secrets your special someone is hiding — or what's really so "special" about her. Our panelists share their best advice for how characters can find true love while fighting against the imminent destruction of everyone and everything they hold dear.
Darlene Marshall (M), Max Gladstone, E.J. Stevens, Charles Stross, Lauren Roy

Young Love and First Kiss Fiction

Saturday 12:00 - 12:50, Harbor III (Westin)
Much of young adult fiction deals with those early romantic impulses: First kisses. Jealousy. Romantic triangles. These are things we all ultimately have to navigate on our own, but reading about them gives us a safe place to imagine how things might happen, as well as how situations might unfold. Panelists discuss the pitfalls of young love, and why it is so compelling for boys and girls as well as for men and women readers. What does YA romance have to offer that we aren't getting on the adult shelves?
Django Wexler (M), Esther Friesner, James Patrick Kelly, Darlene Marshall, Michael Stearns

Romance Across Space and Time

Saturday 15:00 - 15:50, Marina 2 (Westin)
Romance shows up in the unlikeliest places: from prehistory to the far-flung future; from pole to pole; from fantasy and science fiction to horror. Must it be a guilty pleasure? Or should we proudly proclaim the heart of the matter: wherever they may find it, all the world loves a love story!
Darlene Marshall (M), D L Carter, Mary Kay Kare, Steve Miller, E.J. Stevens

It's a Pirate's Life for Me!

Saturday 16:00 - 16:50, Harbor III (Westin)
Hoist up the Jolly Roger, mates, and bend your ear to a lively discussion of the men and women who rule the sea. From Captain Hook to Blackbeard, Jack Sparrow, and the Dread Pirate Roberts, pirates have a long history in speculative fiction. Join our participants for lighthearted discussion about these literally scurvy scourges. Panelists and audience members are encouraged to bring their eye patches, hats, and garb, and of course to talk pirate to us.
Edie Stern (M), Leigh Perry, James D. Macdonald, Darlene Marshall

Dealing With Rejection

Sunday 10:00 - 10:50, Marina 4 (Westin)
Getting rejected is difficult. It can be hard to find the motivation to go on when you feel like you’re not gaining any headway. Our panelists share their own experiences with rejection, what kept them going, what hard truths they faced, and what changes they made to keep working.
James Patrick Kelly (M), Barry Goldblatt, Bob Kuhn, Kenneth Schneyer, Darlene Marshall

Reading: Darlene Marshall

Sunday 14:00 - 14:25, Griffin (Westin)

Darlene Marshall (darlenemarshall@darlenemarshall.com)

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Review--The Theory of Death (Peter Decker and Rina Lazarus, #23)

The Theory of Death (Peter Decker and Rina Lazarus, #23)The Theory of Death by Faye Kellerman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Part of what I've enjoyed with this series, ever since The Ritual Bath, is watching the characters grow and age in real time. Now Peter's semi-retired, and he and Rina have left LA for upstate New York, so they can be closer to their grown children and grandchildren.

Even so, murder has a way of following them, and while their small college town may seem more suited to a "cozy" mystery than LAPD cases, there's still plenty of blood and gore.

New characters are introduced (and return), and there's an outing with the entire family, so fans will feel like they're settling in for a comfortable reunion. Best of all, the murder had me guessing up to the end whodunnit, which is really the best part of all with a long running series.

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Sunday, January 17, 2016

Review--Caliban's War (Expanse, #2)

Caliban's War (Expanse, #2)Caliban's War by James S.A. Corey
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Fabulous story, great characters who come to life on the page, everything you want in a long, involved, complex space opera. Can't wait to read the next one!

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Thursday, January 14, 2016

Review--Frisk Me (New York's Finest, #1)

Frisk Me (New York's Finest, #1)Frisk Me by Lauren Layne
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I liked the romance, but it was one of those situations where knowing the business under discussion made me itchy. Each time the heroine talked about her three hour feel-good special being her ticket to the anchor desk, it made me squirm.

The Superbowl gets three hours. Presidential inaugurations get three hours. Documentaries like "Making a Murderer" get three hours. But a piece on a heroic cop who saves a kid from drowning? Uh uh.

I was a TV news producer, radio news director and station owner in a different life. Now, if her piece had been a three hour expose of corruption, _that_ I'd believe, but puff pieces don't cut it. Aside from all of that, it was an entertaining story, but it didn't rock my world, and I just couldn't find that sweet spot where I could suspend my disbelief.

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