Night-hike to the Panamint Dunes

There was no Chuck Wendig Challenge this week, which fit nicely with my intention to do a little creative non-fiction, with photos. We spent Tues-Sunday last week visiting Death Valley and the environs in search of stunning desert landscapes and spring wildflowers. We found both. The Panamint Dunes are located in the far north end of the Panamint Valley, which is the next valley west of Death Valley proper and part of the National Park. Night Hike to the Panamint Dunes Six miles of rough dirt road behind us, and a hasty dinner prepared and eaten, we hoist loaded packs as the last of the evening light fades away. The sun set early behind the Inyo Mountains, and at 8 p.m. the full moon isn't up. Even so, we can see our goal: the Panamint Dunes are pale in contrast to the surrounding mountains and the scrub-covered alluvial fans that surrounded them. Headlamps, even though I forgot to replace the dying batteries, are enough to show us the footing and avoid injuries as we pick our way

Middle Grade Review: The Book of Kings (Mister Max #3)

  Title: The Book of Kings (Mister Max #3) Author: Cynthia Voigt; illustrated by Iacopo Bruno Publisher:  Knopf Books for Young Readers; 2015. 352 pages. Source: Library Publisher's Blurb:  Ever since Max’s parents were spirited away on a mysterious ship, he has longed to find them. He’s solved case after case for other people in his business as “solutioneer.” And he’s puzzled out the coded messages sent by his father. He doesn’t know exactly what’s happened, but he knows his parents are in danger—and it’s up to Max to save them. Max and his friends (and a few old foes) don disguises and set sail on a rescue mission. It will take all of Max’s cleverness and daring to outmaneuver the villains that lie in wait: power-hungry aristocrats, snake-handling assassins, and bombardier pastry chefs. And behind the scenes, a master solutioneer is pulling all the strings.... Has Max finally met his match? My Review: As you can see, I kept to my word and not only read Book 3 on paper

Review: The Vampire Mechanic by WIll MacMillan Jones

First off, yes, I know it's nearly Tuesday (or, depending where you are, already Tuesday). We spent most of last week in the desert chasing wildflowers and got home fairly late on Sunday. So sue me. Or wait patiently, and by the end of the week I'll have wildflower photos to share! Now for our featured review:             I tossed in both covers because a) I'm not sure which one is on my ebook, and b) I like them both. Also note: I do associate with the author on Goodreads. But he's never sent me cookies, cake, or vegemite (thank the gods), and our association has in no way influenced this review. Title: The Vampire Mechanic (The Banned Underground #3) Author: Will Macmillan Jones Publisher: Safkhet Fantasy, 2012. 173 pages Source: I bought this of my own free will and with my own money. Summary:  First, understand who the Banned Underground is (are?): a dwarf rhythm and blues band, with a bog troll on sax. And a dragon on bass. That's a good start. Now, give the

Friday Fiction: 5 sentence story

Last week, Chuck Wendig challenged us to write a story in 5 sentences, which I didn't do because I felt like writing more. This week, I'm out of town, so here is the story. Chuck suggested 100 words. I took 98, including the title. New Life The cliché “It was a dark and stormy night” doesn’t begin to describe the conditions the night Alexander Solomons died and I became the man you know. It happened in a hurricane—a typhoon, strictly speaking, since we were in the Indian Ocean—and I was a prisoner aboard a sinking pirate ship. I didn’t conjure the hurricane. I did curse the ship and steal the only seaworthy lifeboat. From my perilous position in the tiny craft I smiled as the ship went down with all hands, leaving no one to say who I had once been. ©Rebecca M. Douglass, 2016

Review: Self-Editing for Fiction Writers

  Title: Self-Editing for Fiction Writers: How to edit yourself into print Author: Renni Browne & Dave King Publisher: William Morrow. Second Edition, 2004. 278 pages. Summary: This is a step-by-step walk through the major areas in which fiction can go wrong, below the plot level (the book discusses things that affect plot, but they do not discuss the big plot issues of story arc, etc.). It includes checklists, exercises, and a list of top books for writers. Review:  Each chapter of this book addresses a different area of concern in your manuscript, and includes lots of examples. At the end of each chapter there is a summary checklist of the things you might want to do/look for in your book, and a set of exercises to try. I failed to notice until I finished that there is an appendix with the authors' take on how those exercises might be completed (these are editing choices. There is no one right answer).  As I read through the book, I marked things that I thought were particul

YA Revew: All Fall Down, by Ally Carter

Title: All Fall Down (Embassy Row #1) Author: Ally Carter; narrated by Eileen Stevens Publisher: Scholastic Audio, 2015.  (Original Scholastic Press, 2015, 310 pages) Publisher's Summary: Grace Blakely is absolutely certain of three things:    1. She is not crazy.      2. Her mother was murdered.      3. Someday she is going to find the killer and make him pay. As certain as Grace is about these facts, nobody else believes her -- so there's no one she can completely trust. Not her grandfather, a powerful ambassador. Not her new friends, who all live on Embassy Row. Not Alexei, the Russian boy next door, who is keeping his eye on Grace for reasons she neither likes nor understands. Everybody wants Grace to put on a pretty dress and a pretty smile, blocking out all her unpretty thoughts. But they can't control Grace -- no more than Grace can control what she knows or what she needs to do. Her past has come back to hunt her . . . and if she doesn't stop it, Grace isn't

Camp NaNo and the A to Z Challenge

Yup, another post about writing, and deciding how best to keep myself motivated. And it's not even time for the Insecure Writers' Support Group! Every fall, National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) gets a fair bit of attention as thousands and thousands of people undertake to write 50,000 words in a month. I've written about that, and done it, too. (See here and here and here and here and here .  I've had a lot to say on the subject!). In April, the organization sponsors Camp NaNo, a less structured event in which you set your own goals, with the focus on getting the work done and making connections/finding motivation. I haven't done that before, in part because April is ALSO Blogging from A to Z month. So here's the thing: I need a little more structure and some deadlines. So I want to sign up for Camp NaNo, though I'm debating which project to do. More on that in a minute. First, a word about the A to Z challenge. I love A to Z. It's fun, it helps