Monday, November 24, 2014

Off the Bookshelf: LIFTER by Crawford Killian

Ever have a book you really enjoyed a long time ago, enough that you remember the title and the author, but you can't find it now?

That was the situation with LIFTER, by Crawford Killian. An Ace book from the "classic" period when so many good, smaller books just came out constantly.

Problem: Alibris and other online used bookstores are DEADLY. I'm talking dangerous. I'm talking almost any book you're looking for, at any price. If you're willing to pay it. I bought two old books I've been wanting to re-read for years, for 99 cents each ... but the postage and handling was ... well, not a problem, per se, but I really hesitated to pay more for postage than I paid for the books. Worth it, though!

What's LIFTER about? A boy dreams of flying ... and when he wakes up, he's floating 2 feet above his bed. He learns how to turn on the Lift Effect and then how to teach his girlfriend how to do it, and then his ability starts changing his life. He goes through lots of questions and concerns, such as whether it's dangerous to teach the rest of the world his new ability, whether he should keep it quiet, and whether the rest of the world will let him keep it quiet.

Fun book. Read it if you can find it!

Monday, November 17, 2014

Off the Bookshelf: HOW TO DEVELOP STORY TENSION by Amy Deardon

Wanna keep readers turning the page, but can't figure out how to make the insertion of tension feel natural and work for your story?

Amy Deardon lays out simple techniques, with examples, in this short, useful book. This is her newest writing book -- at least, it was when I got it! -- and just came out this year.

Her introduction says it all:
"You can write your novel with perfect sentences, and deliver heartbreakingly beautiful descriptions containing profound metaphors, but if you don't have tension in your story your reader is likely at any moment to put it down.
"There are three fundamental reasons your story may not have tension:
"1. The narrative does not have an Outer Story
"2. The narrative's story arrow from the Outer Story is not clearly articulated.
"3. The narrative's story arrow is not moving forward.
"This ebook explores practical methods, including an amazing five minute trick that you can use to automatically develop tension in your writing."

Get it, read it, and start applying the exercises and tips. At the very least, you'll start looking at your scenes and the sagging middle of your book a little differently. Who knows? While you're reading, you might start getting brainstorms about the story you're working on right now ...

Monday, November 10, 2014

Off the Bookshelf: THE WITNESS by Nora Roberts

Half Price Books is a great place. Because, yes, you get books cheap -- and because I can take books I know I won't read again and turn them in for some cash and to "set them free" so someone else can enjoy them.

Last week, I treated myself to THE WITNESS, by Nora Roberts. Elizabeth is the brilliant daughter of a controlling, brilliant, emotionless mother. She had Elizabeth's life planned for her before she chose a sperm donor. At sixteen going on seventeen, Elizabeth has finally tasted freedom and realizes she doesn't want her mother's life -- instead of being a surgeon, she wants to work for the CIA or FBI. When she stands her ground, her mother simply leaves on her business trip instead of arguing -- leaving Elizabeth alone in the house for a few days, certain her daughter will follow the schedule planned for her and report for advanced summer classes.

Elizabeth packs years of rebellion into one day, starting with cutting and dying her hair, going shopping, trying makeup for the first time, forging I.D.s for herself and a girl from school, and going to a nightclub -- a nightclub owned by members of the Russian Mob. That night she witnesses a murder and her entire life changes from that moment.

As always, Nora creates "real" characters you have to care about, nasty side characters you want to see squashed oh, so badly, along with testing and trials that help her characters grow and triumph. I was so glad to find this book at Half Price Books. I've wanted to read this one, and hey, I can justify a new book at such a great price -- even if my to-be-read bookshelf isn't clearing off as quickly as I'd like it ...

Monday, November 3, 2014

Off the Bookshelf: TAKEDOWN TWENTY by Janet Evanovich

Okay, I confess -- I read two Stephanie Plum books in a row. I earned the relaxing and laughing time after the hard summer of working and writing that I had.

This book was well worth the wait (for time to read, as well as waiting for it to come out in paper -- hey, my bookshelves are running out of space! Paperbacks take up less space. Yes, I know I advocate e-books, but I started this series in paper and I want to keep the "set" together, know what I mean?).

In TWENTY, Stephanie has a HUGE problem -- hunting down a mobster character who happens to be her cop boyfriend's godfather, a member of Grandma Bella's family -- and you don't want to get on Bella's bad side. Joe's grandmother is a mean old lady who'll give you the "eye" and destroy your life. And she just keeps coming after Stephanie. Just like the hoods who are trying to discourage her from finding their boss -- even to the point of throwing her off a bridge!

And that's just the beginning of the insanity. Poor Stephanie -- she's finally come to the point of agreeing with her mother, that she needs a new job. But of course, being Stephanie Plum, that doesn't exactly .... work out.

If you have a big chunk of time to stretch out on the couch and just read, do it with this book. You won't want to put it down. I read until past midnight several nights in a row, and only closed the book because my eyes were closing!