Saturday, July 26, 2008


Hi Y'all,

I picked up my mail today, and along with the political flyers, bills, and other junk, I noticed an envelope from my first publisher, Booklocker. These are fine business people, not prone to send useless items, so I ripped it open and found a book review of my debut novel, The Gift Horse, which launched in February 2004, so a review after all that time was quite unexpected, of course.

As I read the reviewer's analysis, I was pleasantly surprised. The Gift Horse is a book that readers either love or hate. In fact, a some love to hate it and have made great efforts to tell me about it! This new review states that The Gift Horse has "a highly original plot with social commentary on the rights of young women in our society. There is an obscure warning in all of this, but Ms. Dodd turns it around into a moral question."

I wrote the much of the book at a time when I was struggling with the almost overwhelming tasks of full time teaching, mothering two school aged children, and being a wife/helpmate to my beloved husband. The Gift Horse manuscript was a stress-relief task, which didn't get the polishing touches until I left high school teaching. The reviewer is quite correct about the social commentary. While most women have embraced modern thought, there continue to be some who are swept away by powerful personalities and our society's total lack of a moral compass.

When composing the back cover copy, I mentioned that readers would be taken for a wild ride on The Gift Horse. Like a helpless rider on a runaway stallion, readers of this novel either enjoy the ride or scream to be let off.

My thanks go to Shelley Glodowski, Senior Reviewer at The Midwest Book Review for her thoughtful comments, and to my publisher for letting me in on the surprise. BTW, the entire review is posted on

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Thursday, July 17, 2008


Novice writers are told at conferences, “you have to have a hook, and you have to hook your reader from the very first page.” That’s great advice, but hard to do every time. Yet, for readers to get interested in a book, when there is so much entertainment competition, the advice is sound.

When I was younger (much younger) there were fewer ways to waste spare time; still, good books tend to make lifelong readers. As a reader (rather than a video vegetable) I have been thinking about the books that got me hooked on reading, and that goes way back.

Mama was a reader, and she made great recommendations to me, even as a child. In addition to series books such as “Donna Parker” and “The Bobbsey Twins” I read all of the books in elementary school library which had anything to do with space. That included a few nonfiction offerings about the space program along with such titles as The Space Ship Under the Apple Tree. Later, Mama bought a few classics for young adults, such as Big Red and Heidi, and I insisted that we add a few space orientated titles such as Mike Mars Flies the X-15. For my teen years, entertainment often came via weekly trips to the public library, where I checked out romantic suspense yarns by Phyllis A. Whitney and Mary Stewart.

My interest in science fiction continued, and it was Mama who recommended Peter O’Donnell’s Modesty Blaise series, along with Sangster’s Katy Touchfeather books. While these “spy stories” were not hard science fiction, I suppose they were forerunners of technothrillers, and I loved them. Our local librarian would order up special requests, and she saw that I got to read Planet of the Apes, which was the most memorable science fiction yarn I read as a teen. During my early adult years I read Heinlein, and I count Friday as one of my favorite reads of all time. Other faves by the grand master include The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, Stranger in a Strange Land, and I Will Fear No Evil. My SF reads in that timeframe included some Arthur C. Clarke and Ben Bova, but Heinlein remains my favorite classic SF writer.

Years later, after children, I realized how much I missed reading technothrillers and science fiction, so I quit reading the bestseller list and began seeking out space opera. David Weber, Lois McMaster Bujold, and Elizabeth Moon became my favorite authors, and the only problem was that they couldn’t write fast enough. Since I like a bit of romance in my fiction, I added Susan Grant, Catherine Asaro, and Anne McCaffrey to my favorite author list.

Reading is like other addictions, but a positive one. Readers acquire a larger vocabulary, have a greater ability to concentrate, and have the most of the tools to be better communicators. I read, therefore I think, therefore I can write and speak articulately.

Mama, thanks for hooking me on a good habit.

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Monday, July 07, 2008

Recent Reads and Viewing

While I have not been working, I have been reading more than usual, including Grimspace by Ann Aguirre and Dagger Star by Elizabeth Vaughan. I mentioned having read Conspiracy Game by Christine Feehan in a previous post. Last night, I finished Moonstruck by Susan Grant. All of those titles are in print. My current eBook read is Human by Choice by Darrell Bain and Travis Taylor. I met “Doc Travis” at Liberty Con in 2006, and I was quite impressed by his knowledge, as well as his class as an author/minor celebrity.

Grimspace is grim, but not unworthy. The plot is not exceptional, but the writing has some great spots. I particularly liked her crisp description, such as “The sky looked like a boiled potato.” Science fiction romance is one of my favorite genres to read for fun, and Grimspace does qualify, due to a romantic undercurrent. Readers of urban fantasy might like it as well, due to its “grimness.” Certainly, this is a winning debut novel, with more to come, I hope.

Since I liked Vaughan’s Warprize so well, I had high hopes for Dagger Star. Alas, I have to agree with the Amazon reviewers who found it to be a disappointment. I did finish it, but it took me a while. The characterizations don’t jump off the page, and the plot reminds me of Ecclesiates (there is no new thing under the sun.) However, I did not realize that magic goats do not produce manure. Nanny Dodd did say that you learn something new every day, so that does qualify, I suppose.

Susan Grant sent me a copy of Moonstruck just before it was officially released, and I didn’t so much put it off as hold onto it, as one does a dessert after the meal, since I expected it to be a treat. Moonstruck, as she predicted, was much more to my taste. The hero and heroine are both realistic and engaging and there is plenty of action as well as romance. Certain aspects of the novel remind me of space operas, both in print and on the screen, and the theme is the same as the name of the ship, Unity. Readers of science fiction romance should really like this tale, as I did.

My teenagers and I have also been to the movies in the past couple of weeks. My son is fifteen and had never seen an episode of Get Smart. He really seemed to enjoy the film, and while I knew many of the lines, since it is true to the original, the script seemed fresh and interesting to my kids. There a couple of times when Max utters the phrase, “Missed it by that much” but the script doesn’t miss, nor does the acting talent of Steve Carrell and Anne Hathaway. If you liked the television show and fear that this will be like the big screen versions of The Beverly Hillbillies or The Avengers, don’t worry any more, just go buy a ticket.

Pixar/Disney did a marvelous job with WALL•E. The main character and story was not what I expected, and yet it was. More so than other studios, Pixar seems to push the medium of animated entertainment into an ever higher art form. This film is beautifully made, with a cautionary science fiction theme. The webzine SciFiDimensions recently featured WALL•E with a favorable and comprehensive review. I don't think it is for toddlers, however.

Now, it is back to work. Darn it!

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Tuesday, July 01, 2008


No good deed goes unpunished—
Clare Boothe Luce