11 June 2021

To Fanfic or Not to Fanfic -- That Is the Question

I love fanfiction. Love it, y' hear? Love it. Especially when it gets good and steamy. I love steamy fanfic. When you can read all about your current infatuation "in action". Especially when you can imagine that it's you that s/he is getting it on with. 

But writing it seems to be a different matter among many authors. I know of quite a few that refuse to release their characters to fanfic. Even going so far as to threaten legal action if they catch it happening. And I know of many other authors that don't mind as long as you stick to their canon. But I think they forget that there were some very famous authors who wrote and still write fanfiction. James Joyce wrote Ulysses, a fan fiction piece taken from the stories in The Illiad. Neil Gaiman wrote his Norse Mythology, as an unapologetic retelling of the Norse myths of Thor, Odin, and Loki. And let's not forget The Stan, aka Stan Lee who created his own fanfic in the form of his comics about the Norse Gods.

Do a Google search on famous authors who wrote fan fiction. You'll get a long list. 

I love reading fanfiction. But I also love writing it. Go on An Archive of Their Own and look for Lady Thomas Sharpe. I love writing Loki fanfiction -- based on the mythology and the Marvel character -- as well as Tom Hiddleston fan fic. And I write some serious NSFW (Not Safe For Work) stuff, too. 

If you ask me, I don't discourage it. No, you're not writing your own, but.... It will give you great practice in plotting, character development, and writing in the original landscape will teach you how to make your own. It takes work to write fanfic. To be faithful to the characters and the author's intent. Or the movie's intent. Once you learn the tricks of the fanfic trade, you'll be able to go in and make your own stories, your own characters. Once you learn how the originals plotted and then, you'll know what to do with your own worlds and genres.

Always a good thing. Find someone or some world that you feel passionate about and get to writing. Learn by doing. And then come back and give me a link in the comments. I promise, I'll be glad to read. I can't wait. 

Write on, Fellow Authors

26 April 2021

The Plot Usually Thickens...Right?

 From the Coffeyhouse!

And so begins the journey of a blank page to a finished product. Care to join me? Then, let's take the first step. Although, technically, I already have.

I decided to write a sequel to the Her Super Spy trilogy (by Jess Austen, one of my pen names--and that's another post entirely--and you can find them here. First book is still $.99). I wanted to pick up with the other couple in the stories--Alex and Robbie. Had a great idea of the plots for another trilogy. Found my couple again, found the villains. Even included a bit of Kentucky lore. I even found a working title for the books. 

And hit the proverbial wall.

Everyone's heard the term "writer's block" but you have to be a writer to truly understand the term. It's more than just having a problem writing. It's a crippling "I suck!", self-loathing term. We all go through it. I rather suspect that's George R. R. Martin's problem with his Song of Fire and Ice series. But, that too, is another blog. Suffice it to say that, my writer's block is usually a case of a story going the wrong way. Instead of letting it flow organically, I have a bad tendency to try to force my will on them. And the characters and the story will eventually fight back in the form of...nothing coming.

Which was the case here. I had a great opening chapter too; Robbie and Alex get to making the beast with two backs on the dining room table. It just wasn't working. I gutted the chapter half a dozen times. I went through that "I suck" syndrome. I even blamed the story. And then, in one of my usual 3 AM run to the toilet to pee moments, I realized what the problem was. 

Why is it always me in the bathroom getting the fixes or the plots or the characters? Yeah, another blog entry.

The problem was that Alex and Robbie, while being lovely people, were peripheral characters in the first trilogy and I had no ties to them at all. And no curiosity about their lives after the events of the storylines. I was trying to force something. And as Al Stewart once posited in song, "If it doesn't come naturally, leave it." So I did.

It's still a working title of Her G Man, but I found a different couple, a different way to approach the plot, and it's flowing. As "Crash Davis"* once said, "...respect the streak. Because they don't happen very often." Well, in writing, they can and do, but his point was well made. When the stars align, yoyu don't question, you just do.

So, here I go. And do.

Peace, y'all

21 April 2021

Reading, Writing, and Romancing

From the Coffeyhouse!

 Not meaning to whine, but I have come to the conclusion that as an independent writer, there are just not enough hours in the day. Okay, maybe I'm whining just a little bit. But there just aren't. Let me explain.

Let's start with the number of hours in a week -- 168. Multiply 24 x 7 = 168 hours. Now, the break down.

I'm not at a point yet that I can just sit at home and write all day. One day, I pray. But not yet. So, I have an 8 hour a day, 40 hour a week day job. It pays the bills. That's 40 hours out of my schedule to pay those bills. Add another 56 hours a week to hit the pillow and do this little silly thing we call sleep. I'm a pretty fast eater, so maybe 2 hours a day to cook and eat food. 3 squares a day. There's another 14 hours out of the schedule. 

Which leaves me a grand total of 58 hours a week to write, promote my own books while reading other books so I can review for others, and having some semblance of a life. Because, after all, I have family and friends to spend time with. I can't be chained to a desk -- oh yeah, I have to use the "powder room" in there, as well as shower because I get rather stinky if I don't. 

And just to make this truly crazy, I write under three different pen names. My own name (Jesse V Coffey), Jess Austen, and Siobhan. I dropped the last name on that one. They keep confusing me with another Siobhan MacKenzie, who lives in the UK and has only one book to her name. Gets entertaining.

Not enough time to do what I truly love. Yeah, I guess I'm whining. But, for someone reading and trying to get into the writing game, you need to know what you're getting into. Especially if you make that grand and glorious decision to jump into the Independent Writer/Author gig. You are your publisher and marketer. The rewards are amazing. But so is the work load. 

So, join me while I go through my journey. Time I started to put this out there. Wish me luck.

Peace, y'all.

09 March 2021

Review: Death by Bourbon by Abigail Keam

 Welcome to Kentucky -- we enjoy our horses and a good glass of bourbon. But not when it's the instrument of someone's death. That puts a crimp on the enjoyment. She said, tongue in cheek and with a sense of sardonic wit. 

At least I hope that passed for "sardonic wit".

But Death by Bourbon is the fourth book in the A Josiah Reynolds Mystery series by author Abigail Keam. Another great read by the author and another diamond in the series. I'm serious--I can't put these down. Once I start reading, I have to keep on reading until I have read the last word of the story.

The extremely handsome Addison DeWitt has a glass of bourbon and immediately lapses into seizures, ultimately dying. But was it an accident or was it murder? Addison's "girlfriend" is sure it's murder. Josiah thinks so too. But proving it is harder than she imagined it could be. Because no one believes her. Added to that, her daughter Asa has left the country. Her friend Franklin has left for an extended cruise. And her lover Jake is back but distant to her. 

The explosive ending rocks everyone's world; most especially Josiah's.

Once again, red herrings a-plenty. Plot twists abound. One of the great things I like about Keam's cozy mysteries is that they play out from the heroine's point of view and she's not always right. But she gets there. So we have a flawed character who is human but not an idiot. As I've said before, even in the depths of depression, Josiah Reynolds is a fighter and a feisty lady. A strong woman. 

Her family and friends are flawed, but so real. So is her daughter Asa. We get to see a lot of the woman Asa is and learn more about her as a person. Asa is complicated, a little on the scary side, but very protective of her people, most especially, her mother. I wouldn't mind seeing her spun off into her own series, to be honest. 

Death by Bourbon is one of those books that stays with you. And makes you hunger for the next. Made me want to go on to book 5. Of course, reading an excerpt of the next book is a damn fine inducement too. And I intend to. 

Another 5 out of 5 stars. Well done, Ms. Keam!

27 February 2021

Review: "Death By Bridle" by Abigail Keam

 Ever been so deep into a series that it's all you think about it? I have.  Books, television, movies. My latest obsession seems to be Abigail Keam's "The Josiah Reynolds Mysteries". I can't put them down and until I read the last word on the last book, I won't be able to read anything else. After devouring the first two books in the series, I put down the Bridgerton novel I'd intended to read and moved on to book three, Death By Bridle.

I certainly was not disappointed. If anything, I'm even more obsessed. 

Josiah is still recovering from the injuries that she sustained in book one, Death By Honeybee and had begun healing from in book two, Death By Drowning. But now she has another mystery fall into her lap -- the death of an acquaintance, possibly witnessed by Lincoln Todd, the teen son of her lawyer, Shaneika. But that's just the tip of Josiah's personal iceberg. More evidence has popped up in the murder/death of Richard Pigeon (from Honeybee). The detective that almost killed her in book one is back and might just get released on technicalities. And the man she's fallen in love with has disappeared to parts unknown. It's enough to destroy her entire world. Again. 

Abigail Keam adds so much of the history of the state that it's like reading a gossip column of the who's who of Kentucky. The salacious stuff, the juicy tidbits of someone's past that probably should have stayed buried. But can't be, because those details will help her solve the crime. Plot twists galore that kept me on the edge of my seat. I love those books that I can't read fast enough because I have to know what's going to happen next, but I can't read slow enough so that I can savor every little detail that comes.  This is one of those books. You'll hear the term "pacing" a lot. The pace of this one is perfect.  Again. As usual. This lady writes as if she was there and makes me feel like I'm there too.

No wimpy wussy characters in these stories. Josiah is definitely a handful but even in her depths of depression and pain, the real Josiah bubbles to the surface and stands up to the adversity. We see the vulnerable but we also see the stubborn. An amazing woman. The circle of friends that she's gathered are just as diverse as they can be, all of them into other things, different skill sets and talents. And they complement our leading lady quite nicely. 

I'll get to Bridgerton eventually. But for right now, I have to ride this horse as far as it goes, as fast as it can run.  

And I'm giving Death By Bridle another 5 out of 5 stars -- great plot, great pacing, great characters. If you're not reading them and you're a fan of historical cozies, cozies in general, and just flat out wonderful writing, then you're missing out on something special. 

23 February 2021

Review: Death By Drowning by Abigail Keam

 I think after the second book, I am seriously in love with this series. 

Abigail Keam has given us another book in The Josiah Reynolds Mysteries series and this one packs one hell of a punch. Death by Honeybee was tense as it introduced a strong willed woman with a chip on her shoulder (thanks to her now deceased ex-husband, and his widow and child) and someone trying to frame her for murder. Honeybee ended with one hell of a literal cliffhanger and the promise of more intrigue coming. 

Well, the promise is delivered in the second book, Death By Drowning. The story begins with the aftermath of Honeybee and a badly wounded, physically wrecked Josiah Reynolds. Having to recover from a near fatal attack, it's not an easy thing. And the pain that goes with the recovery leaves an emotional morass that Josiah is not sure she'll recover from, or if she even wants to recover from. The woman has hit rock bottom, but Gods love her, she's still sassy. 

A visitor from Kentucky makes her way down to see Josiah, to ask a favor. Her nephew has died and while the authorities think it was an accidental drowning, Irene Meckler and her sister think it's a bit more sinister than that. And, to make life really complicated, the man who tried to kill her and was responsible for putting Josiah in the hospital to begin with might still be alive. 

The wonderful thing about murder cozies is that, unlike procedurals, these books invest in the characters and their interactions with each other. Meeting Shaneika and Matt, friends and Josiah's lawyers, as well as Matt's lover, Franklin, and Jake Dosh, the physician's assistant/physical therapist/bodyguard that Josiah's daughter hired to take care of her mother, and you have a full list of wonderful characters to help Josiah and keep her feet on the ground in her healing. and those interactions are delightful. But they never stray from the story or get lost in places they don't belong. Keam's characters are alive and real. People I would love to be friends with. 

The story is well paced filled with twists and turns and danger. And very well nuanced. I so seldom find books that take my by the hand and hold on to me until I'm done. This was one of those books. I felt Josiah's pain, her dependence on the medication that's slowly taking her down a bad road but I understood her reasoning for wanting to be that dependent. The new investigation serves as a reason for her to get up and get out and she goes at it with vigor. I had to put it down to sleep or eat or do the day job and every moment I wasn't reading, I was trying to figure out the next step. Or wonder what was happening to Josiah now. There was never a moment that I felt things were going too slowly or too quickly. 

I love strong female characters but there is a vulnerability to Josiah in this book. She's still not taking crap from anyone, and she may be physically weak but she's certainly not mentally weak. I love her as much as I love Mona Moon, another of Keam's series. I love how the men are equally strong without doing the mansplaining or condescension that Alpha men can do. Their interference is minimal and for the right reasons. They interact with each other as well as they interact with Josiah in trying to keep her safe and get her healthy.

The investigation comes with complications and twists too. Just when you think the investigation is coming to a head, it twists into another direction and what you thought you knew is nothing. The kind of plot that keeps you guessing but really does follow a logical progression. 

Death by Drowning has only whet my appetite for more and thankfully, there are more books to get now and not have to wait for another to come out. Although, I'm waiting for the new Mona Moon. *wink*. At least I can get my Josiah Reynolds fix satisfied in the meantime. And a new book in that series coming on April 12th, I have time to catch up and be ready. I can't wait.

I'm giving Abigail Keam's Death By Drowning 5 out of 5 stars for great characters, constantly moving and tense plot, and a superb heroine. A "gotta have" read here. 

19 February 2021

REVIEW: Dracula Theory by Jack Wallen

 Twilight pretty much ruined vampire stores for me for a long time. Not that Stephenie Meyer's books are bad, far from it. But I was working as a copyeditor at the time and the sudden glut of vampire love stories put me in a coma. They were bad. They had no clue about the real story and draw of the Twilight books and were such a pale imitation, I begged the publishers to stop sending me those books. I swore I was never going to read another vampire book again. 

And then came Dracula Theory by Jack Wallen. And I quickly changed my mind.

Reading Bram Stoker's Dracula is certainly not a prerequisite, but it helps. Wallen takes that story and gives it a fascinating spin, turning the plot on its ear. Motivations are reexamined and reworked. Jonathan Harker has just proposed to Mina Murray; madly in love, these two. And as is the custom of the time, Harker must have the approval and blessing of Mina's father, the Baron Murray. Who immediately shoots that idea down - how can a mere, lowly lawyer ever be worthy of his daughter. But he gives Harker a task -- if the task is completed successfully, the Baron give his blessing. If not, the happy couple will never see each other again. Jonathan is gone the next morning. Arriving in Transylvania, he is to take a sealed letter to a Count Dracula and then return to England with the Count in tow. However, Dracula gives Harker a resounding 'no' and boots him out the door to return to England, empty handed. Being a rather intelligent young man, Harker feels that since this involves his life and marriage plans, he has a right to know what's going on. So he opens the letter. 

And there begins the first of many plot twists that take you, the reader, into some very dark places. Needless to say, Jonathan does return to Transylvania with a Mr. Renfield and Dr van Helsing along for the business at hand. But you'll get no spoilers from me. You'll just have to read this phenomenal story. And trust me, you will not want to put it down or sleep in the dark. 

I read the original Stoker novel, so this book is following along in some pretty damn big shoes. But Wallen fills them well. His prose has captured the feel and visuals of Victorian England so very well, that I was there. I recognized every moment, every place, and every word spoken. The pacing of the story is spot on, never glossing over or dragging out the events. Everything happens as it should and when it should, raising that sense of danger in the written word. The characters are also true to their time, they remain true to themselves. And I love how Mr. Wallen has added his own spin while being true to the source novel as well. Something that's very hard to do -- but he's done a great job in "re-inventing the wheel". 

Horror novel fans will love this book. Dracula fans will love this book. I'm giving it a five out of five stars for the inventiveness, the faithfulness, and just an all round great story. 

17 November 2020

Review: Murder Under a Black Moon by Abigail Keam

So, I finished Murder Under a Black Moon. The latest in the Mona Moon Mystery Series. 

I can't tell you how much I love these books. A sassy heroine with a nose for murder. Madeline Mona Moon is a 1930s woman for the modern age. I fell in love with her.

MurderUnder a Black Moon is the latest novel in the Mona Moon Mystery series. Alice Roosevelt Longworth -- of THAT Roosevelt family -- has come to town. And murder has come with her. And Mona's dear friend, Wilhelmina (Willie) Deatherage is accused. It's up to Mona to bring the real killer to justice. And plan her wedding to Robert, Lord Farley. It's enough to make her pull her platinum blonde hair out by the roots.

And the action is nonstop There were plot twists galore. I am not one of those readers that likes to figure it out before the characters do. I like seeing through their eyes, learning what they learn, knowing what they know. It hooks me. It makes me part of the story. And, after all, isn't that why we read?

Mona is my favorite, but I do love Willie and Dexter Deatherage. Violet. Dotty. And of course, Robert. These are all very real people to me. I laugh with them, cry with them, get angry with them. Ms. Keam has done an amazing job in bringing them to life. And her Alice Roosevelt is everything I've heard about and more. The author is faithful to the history, making it a living thing as well. The history of the time is another character.

I love this series beyond measure. And I want more!! Definitely another 5 stars and kudos to Abigail Keam!!

03 July 2020

**Observations on having seen Hamilton**

Sorry, kids, I'm not as gaga over this as you are, but I liked it. I wasn't prepared to but I must confess, I really liked it. I still don't like hip hop or rap or whatever you call it today, but the music wasn't bad at all. I liked the mix of styles and I liked the story. The book was genius and I think I would put this in the category of opera, really. If you count rap/hip-hop as a musical form, then it was all music and focused on the story telling with less emphasis on the dialogue. That is the definition of opera. And I'm sure there will be those who disagree with my view -- but it felt like opera to me. I don't care. I liked it. A wonderful cast. Absolutely wonderful and the chemistry between every single actor was amazing. And electric. As much as I liked Lin-Manuel Miranda and Leslie Odam Jr, I think that the breakouts and walkaway actors were Christopher Jackson as George Washington and Jonathan Groff as King George. Groff pretty much walked away with it in his back pocket. But Jackson was...wow. "Brilliant" is too tame a word. His "One Last Time" was such a strong moment that it actually had me in tears. Jackson had me in tears. And I will say this -- Lin-Manuel Miranda has changed the face of musical theater. And I say good for him. As much as I love my traditional, I think this was brave and innovative and bold and brash, and a welcome change. There was so much energy, so much emotion in the music and story, that it's quite easy to see why those who love the show, really really LOVE THE SHOW. And get very fanatical about it. I don't join you in that but I see how and why. I might watch it a time or two more. If you have Disney+, you'll want to see this. If you don't, sign up for the free week and watch this. It's worth at least one viewing. You'll end up forgetting about the quibbles of musical styles and the dialogue being somewhat anachronistic and casting not quite historical -- you'll forget all of that and get caught up in the moment. A historical figure for a new age and if the show gets you more interested in how this country began, if it gives you the urge to find out more of how things work and where we came from, then it's done its job. Five out of five stars for Hamilton.

07 May 2020

Updates and More Changes

That's me with author Joe Hill
Have you ever gotten up and taken a long hard look at things? Only to tell yourself that it's time to update? Change things around?

That's where I am now. This website is...well... Outdate. Outmoded. It's time to change things up. But its such a huge understaking. There's so much to get rid of, add. To reflect who I am now. Like my life.

But it starts with making my mark. Taking myself seriously as a writer/author. And this site needs to reflect that. So, the first step is planning it out. Then doing it. I'm gonna need all the guidance and luck I can muster up.

Write On!