Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Murdered by Country Music by Dianne Harman

     When a group of friends agree to help staff a food truck for a country music festival, they have no idea they will be next door to murder. The Red Pony food truck offers a delicious menu of food, but will the entrĂ©e be overshadowed by deadly events? Dianne Harman brings her High Desert Cozy Mystery crew back for a third adventure, this one filled with food, art, music and nefarious dealings. 

     Psychic Laura James owns the compound where the six friends hatch their plans for the festival. Her artist-boyfriend Les Anderson has joined the festivities. Laura’s sister Marty Morgan is engaged to Detective Jeff Combs of the Palm Springs Police Department. Marty’s background in art and antiques appraisal ties in nicely with Laura’s work for an insurance company. John Anderson, owner of The Red Pony food truck, is always trying out his new recipes on the little group. He and his assistant Max Samuel brought samples of the planned menu for the upcoming music festival to reward the volunteers.

     While the six seem well suited to work together for the few days of the High Desert Country Music Festival, a problem soon develops: Jacque Ruchon, John’s main rival will be part of the Festival, too. All of the ingredients are present for cooking up a recipe of trouble.

     Harman’s core characters are adults, well-established along career tracks. Watching them deal with the youth factor at a music festival brings a light element to the story, while Marty’s involvement with an art appraisal for the owner of the ranch housing the festival lends a warm family touch. Woven throughout the story are the intrigues of a competitive business and people with addiction issues.

     As befits a cozy mystery, the violence takes place off-page, the language is mild and sexual innuendo is kept to a minimum. Harman’s deft handling of the multitude of work roles involved makes for an enjoyable jaunt into a dangerous world. Are you brave enough to visit the High Desert world she describes?

     This book will appeal to readers who like mysteries without grim bloody descriptions. The art aspects of Marty’s appraisal work will delight art enthusiasts. The volume includes recipes for many of the dishes served in the story, making it a treat for cooks.

Murdered by Country Music: A High Desert Cozy Mystery
By Dianne Harman
Available in both print and ebook formats

Disclaimer: This review is based on a review copy provided by the author or publisher with no constraints as to content. All opinions are my own.

Norse mythology to take your breath away - T L Greylock's epic saga begins

     In a stunning display of writing prowess, author T L Greylock brings an epic tales of Norse heroes into modern language. The Blood-Tainted Winter, subtitled The Song of the Ash Tree - First Edda, offers a sweeping story told from the perspective of Raef Skallagrim, a young man who wants nothing more than to take a ship and make his fortune at sea. Raef’s father Einarr, the lord of Vannheim, has other plans for his son and heir.

     When the death of the king leaves a leadership void to be filled, the young lord finds himself in desperate circumstances. Surrounded by those who call themselves friends, he must make difficult choices. Can he trust those at his side? Will he and his warriors ever see Vannheim again? 

     Peopled with colorful characters with names like Thorgrim Great-Belly and Findar Urdson, the Far-Traveled, the story charges its way across Midgard at a gallop. Each character plays an important part in the story and displays many layers of personality. There are no throwaway characters in the book.

     Greylock’s imagery sweeps across the page, drawing the reader into a world of warriors and shieldmaidens, where an insult can lead to a death fight and not all enemies are human. She presents the mythological elements in such a way that the roles played by each figure show clearly, even to readers who have forgotten what they learned of Beowulf in school, but without lecture.

     The powerful story uses Norse mythology but goes beyond, into a human story of hopes and dreams, relationships and revenge as the battle to fill the throne sprawls across the land. Faith and betrayal, friends and enemies spill forth to captivate the reader. Fans of the mythology will find plenty to enjoy, while fans of excellent character study will rejoice as well. 

     Greylock has thoughtfully included two reference tools: a map of Midgard at the front of the book and a list of important characters and their titles at the back. The tools, however, are not the main attraction of the book. The story steals the show, with the characterizations in hot pursuit. Greylock clearly loves the period and approaches the book with affection and depth.

     Be forewarned, though. This is the first volume and the story does not end here. Fall in love with Greylock’s work and get ready to wait for the next installment.

The Blood-Tainted Winter: The Song of the Ash Tree – First Edda
By T L Greylock
Published by Grass Crown Press

Cautions: Violence, Sexual Content, Language, Jeopardy
Rating: Five Star

Disclaimer: This review is based on a review copy of the book provided by the author or publisher with no constraints on my review. All opinions are my own.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Editor, ghost writer Laura Anne Ewald helps writers release better books

     The writing process begins with the writer but will include others as the work progresses. Choosing the appropriate editor can mean the difference between a ho-hum volume and a successful book. 

Ewald working at her desk

     Editor and ghost writer Laura Anne Ewald knows how important the editor’s role becomes in the birth of a book. She is a published author herself. When a writer entrusts a manuscript to the former academic librarian, the resulting book or story delivers a more polished version, but true to the author’s vision.

     In 2011, Ewald left academia to pursue a full-time freelance career. She began with book indexing, the process of creating those handy indices at the back of books to help readers locate references within the volume. From there, she moved into abstracting, including work as a subcontractor to a big publishing house. By 2013, she was referred to Elance*, an online employment service, as a place to find more indexing jobs.

     “I didn’t find indexing jobs but I did find editing jobs,” she says. Her subject matter has included short stories, children’s stories, science fiction novels and personal memoirs. She finds her clients all over the country and in her own neighborhood.

     “Fiction, I think, I like best,” she responds when asked about her favorite genre to edit. “Nonfiction is easier, in the sense that you’re just looking at grammar and syntax.” But Ewald enjoys working in other people’s characters and universes, a joy which shows as she discusses assignments. Fiction poses the extra challenge of staying in the authors voice, one of Ewald’s strengths. Another strong point is her ability to follow the thread of the stories through the volume and recognize bumps or weak spots which need work.

     “I know a lot of authors are afraid of using editors,” she notes, fearing their work will be “swallowed up” or changed beyond recognition by the editor. Ewald’s strength in preserving the author’s voice provides her a special place in the editing world. 

     While editing involves polishing another author’s work, ghostwriting means writing from scratch as someone else. As a ghostwriter, Ewald receives assignments of particular subject matter, time frames and length. Some jobs include detailed instructions as to the theme of the finished piece while others are more general. An aspect of her ghost writing is the research required to complete the assignments.

     “The reason I became a librarian in the first place is, I love research,” Ewald admits. Her ghostwriting jobs give her the direction to follow with the research and the target of the finished article or book. Her clients get a completed work for whatever use they wish.

     Ewald prefers to work on short assignments, such as articles, short stories or novellas. Her work includes Old Order Amish romance stories, children’s books and historical fiction. Some of the jobs are for publication by the person who contracted the job. Others are destined for a family member or special group.

     She bases her fees on a per-word basis for both editing and ghostwriting. Contact Ewald through her website or by email ( for quotes on assignments. Her availability varies according to her workload, but she welcomes hearing from new authors about their needs.

*Author’s note: Elance has since merged with Upwork.

This article originally appeared on Also available on The Entrepreneurs blog.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Support your local comic book shop during Free Comic Book Day 2016

Originally appeared 05/05/2016 at

Lena Prima describes how to make jewelry with travel theme in new book

Lena Prima creates music for a living. She writes and performs it, part of her family legacy as the daughter of the late bandleader, Louis Prima. Music isn't her only creative outlet, however. She also creates beautiful handmade jewelry as part of her Pennies from Heaven company. Now Leisure Arts has published a book written by Prima on making jewelry as part of its reference line and she joins the ranks of authors who share their craft through do-it-yourself books.

In “Wanderlust,” Prima shares instructions for making jewelry pieces inspired by her own travels. Her love of fun jewelry carries over into her designs for bracelets, necklaces, charms and earrings. The jewelry making guide offers a series of travel-inspired pieces, with a background story, materials list and step-by-step instructions for each design.

With section titles such as “Seaside Memories,” “Music Festival,” “Road Trip” and “City Girl,” the wide range of flavors becomes apparent. There are two project themes under each section, and themes can include more than one piece of jewelry. For example, the Sparkling Sand project under “Seaside Memories” provides instructions for a necklace, bracelet and earrings.

Crafters of all skill levels will enjoy the volume. Prima’s designs allow novice jewelry makers to succeed because she uses readily available findings and the only tools required are two pair of chain-nosed pliers. The finished products look great, creating an environment of success to encourage the newbie.

More experienced crafters will find inspiration which they can easily adapt to more intricate projects, as well as thrifty designs which utilize every bit of the purchased pieces in interesting ways.

“Wanderlust” is available at Hobby Lobby and JoAnn stores and online at in both print and electronic formats.

Disclaimer: This review is based on a purchased copy of the book. All opinions are my own.

Originally appeared 5/14/2016 at