Monday, May 27, 2013

Off the Bookshelf: STILLPOINT

STILLPOINT by Marilyn Kok -- romance in a foreign setting, with danger from deception and evil men, greed, and threats from nature. This was picked up at a book exchange with other members of ACFW Ohio.

I have to admit, I'm touchy when it comes to stories where the hero and heroine have to pretend to be interested in each other for a cover story. So when Kylie wasn't happy to have Jack arrive to investigate problems she  uncovered and one of the first things she learned was that their boss wanted them to pretend to be a couple ... I almost closed the book right there. Tried and true, cliched, call it what you will. I was glad when Kylie was not at all a happy camper and kept resisting it for quite a while. Until more important matters grabbed her attention.

But you use what works, and it makes sense for them to work closely together. What's the story? Jack comes to Hong Kong to investigate suspicious circumstances discovered by Kylie in the import company they work for. People are disappearing or being injured, others are telling lies, and a typhoon is approaching the island. Not a fun time to be had by all.

Except maybe the reader. If you like tension that slowly ramps up as the typhoon swirls closer and the weather gets worse and danger from man and nature grows deeper ... read this one.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Off the Bookshelf: SAVE THE CAT! STRIKES BACK!

If you haven't heard of the Save the Cat! books or Blake Snyder ... well, either you've been living in a cave or you're not into screenwriting.

The thing is, I'd recommend the Save the Cat! books to any writer of fiction/drama, whether novels, short stories, or screenplays.

Blake Snyder, who died in 2009, shared his insights into deciphering what worked -- or more importantly, DIDN'T -- in screenplays through books and workshops. I wish I could have attended one of his workshops, had a chance to meet him, but alas, I can only read and re-read his books and wait for those flashes of "Ah ha!" that solve a problem in my writing at that point in time -- whether a novel, a short story, or my yearly screenplay.

What can I say? Read the books and quietly mourn the loss of a master who told it like it was -- and still is -- for writers everywhere, in writing and in their career.

What does a cat have to do with screenwriting? Well, duh, read the book and find out!

Monday, May 13, 2013

Off the Bookshelf: HOW SWEET IT IS

Book exchanges are great. Besides creating room on your shelf for new treasures and new authors to discover, you get to share a book that you know you won't read again (not because you don't want to, but because there just isn't enough TIME to go back) with someone who might just fall in love and make it a keeper. Everybody has different tastes.

Thank goodness. That means out there are people who love my books, along with people who like them and others -- may they be few! -- who see my name on a book cover and say, "Meh!"

HOW SWEET IT IS, by Alice Wisler, came to me through a book exchange with my ACFW chapter a year or so ago. Maybe longer. Just shows how BIG my to-be-read pile/bookshelf is. Wish I had read this charming, first person POV journey of recovery from shattered dreams and love and a car wreck and its attendant scars just a little sooner.

Deena, our heroine, is a chef -- until the story starts, working at an upscale restaurant in Atlanta. Then a car wreck and discovering her fiance had someone else in his life and an inheritance from her grandfather send her to the mountains of North Carolina. Maybe she doesn't start out searching for change, but it finds her. She learns from some unique and charming characters along the way and learns something about herself while she struggles to teach cooking to emotionally wounded children and set up her cake business. I wish I had her remote cabin in the mountains... Read the book, and visit there for a while, too. You won't say, "Meh!" to this story. Delicious, soft, and sweet. Like the white velvet cake recipe included.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Off the Bookshelf: ORTHODOXY

Whew! It's done! I survived -- at least, I think so. The jury is still out on whether I strained more than the usual number of brain cells.

ORTHODOXY, by G.K. Chesterton -- he of Father Brown mystery stories fame -- was the subject of the spring book discussion group at my church. You want to talk about brain strain? Considering it took me since January to read 155 pages ... You have to go sloooooow with this book, and at the same time, I wonder if the slowness, just a couple pages every day, didn't contribute to the feeling that an awful lot was sliding past me.

This book is over 100 years old and is considered a classic in Christian writing. I don't know if it was the age, the fact the writer was British and there might be some language problems, or what, but I had a hard time absorbing what was being said, learning, and applying. Maybe the most frustrating part was that when I did get one of those instance of insight, of, "Oh, yeah, hey, that makes sense!" it just added to my certainty that I was missing out on a treasure.

Our teacher told us that Philip Yancey reads this book over and over again. Heck, if someone as intelligent and perceptive as Yancey rereads this book, maybe I'm not so bad off, not catching onto much of anything the first time through. I'll have to read it again. I know there's a lot to learn -- a lot of guidance in apologetics, in organizing my thinking, helping me figure out what I believe and why. Just wait until the bruises have faded, okay?