Tuesday, June 23, 2009

A Grand Guy is Gone

A few years ago, one of my dad's good friends called, wanting some advice about getting a book published. At the time, he was wanting to get it done quickly, because he had lymphoma and the future was uncertain.

Frank Gilbert's Chasing the Wind was the book, and not only did he get it published in a hurry, he gave it away. When we originally talked, he said he might want as many as a hundred copies. Instead, he gave away well over a thousand, and my hubby and I were among those who got an invitation to his book party. The room was filled with memorabilia and there was even film running of one of the civil war reenactments that he had participated in. Once, I was invited to speak at a local civic event, and Frank was as well. His talk, which was about the way that people dealt with WWII in our small town, was heart warming and inspiring. Just like Frank himself was.

The title link takes you to a photo and article in Living Jackson, and I am standing next to Frank in the truck.

One of my good friends let me know that Mr. Frank passed this morning. He was a wonderful man, filled with great stories and good humor.

Many people around here will miss Frank Gilbert.


Sunday, June 21, 2009

Trinity on Tylos available at the Palm eBook store

As an eBook fan, and as the owner of a Palm devise, I was doubly pleased when a "Google Alert" let me know that my science fiction novel, Trinity on Tylos is now available at the Palm eBook store. The book is formatted for Palm's eReader software, which is one of the programs I use on my own pda.

Readers of Pam's Pages no doubt realize that this novel has garnered several good reviews from sources as varied as the Midwest Book Review, Living Jackson magazine, and is a Fallen Angels Reviews recommended read, and the novel is still available in print via the internet and at the Bookstand of Northeast Georgia in Commerce.

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Friday, June 19, 2009

A Time to Stop the Series

Readers love series fiction. Writer's love it even more— because when writing a series, an author doesn't have to create a new world or many new characters. Instead, the author can pick up a minor character from a previous tale and follow him or her for a bit. Or the author continues the story of a beloved hero or heroine, and some of the story is already written and is retold via the "backstory."

Recently, I purchased some eBooks, and the first download I read was Beloved Traveler, by Janet Miller. Previous titles in this series include Beloved Enemy (a wonderful read), Promises to Keep (also a good yarn, if not quite as suspenseful and exciting as Beloved Enemy), A Promise Made (a novella that serves merely as a bridge between the other tales) and now Beloved Traveler. This one just did not work for me. As I slogged through it, I realized that Ms. Miller needs to stop the series. When there is nothing novel about a novel, it is time to write about something else. Modern readers of romance undoubtedly dream of a society where people find the right mate on the first try and stay together until death, but even that dream can't support a lengthy series without some novelty for each story.

Some authors can seem to keep a series going indefinitely— Lois McMaster Bujold's stories about Miles Vorkosigan are an example of that. However, that is really an achievement. Even the Star Wars trilogy, with many characters and worlds to explore, lost some of its shine when it became six episodes long. David Weber's Honor Harrington yarns, which are among the best space operas I have read, have gotten longer and more boring with each book, and I gave up somewhere around book eleven.

Like many readers, I do enjoy a good series, so in that same set of ebooks, I have the sequel to Tigra, and a new entry in a long running series by Angela Verdenius, so I will be talking about those in an upcoming post.

Summer is a great time to read, so let me be about it.

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Wednesday, June 03, 2009

A vast American affair with fins....

When I was about twelve, I made the jump from juvenile to adult fiction, with my mother's able assistance. One of her first recommendations was Mary Stewart, who wrote what mom termed "mysteries." The usual label on the cover of a Stewart novel was "romantic suspense," a more apt description for her work. Unlike many of the hack authors of that era, Stewart's prose is beautiful and her characterizations and plots are entertaining. Often, there is a literary bent to her work, which served me well as I studied English literature during undergraduate school. As my professor spoke about Samuel Taylor Colridge's "Christabel," I remembered the quotes at the beginning of each chapter that Stewart used in The Gabriel Hounds.

In one of her novels, her (always sensibly British) heroine hires a car and driver, and the narrator describes the automobile as "a vast American affair with fins" causing me to picture my mother's 52 Cadillac. But it could have been a 57 Chevy, or any number of late fifties vehicles produced in the USA, where large, luxurious cars have long been a symbol of success.

That era, along with American economic prosperity, seems to be coming to a close. Online media is documenting this demise, and I'll suggest two ways to experience it. First, there is a wonderful slide show of GM cars, with photos and captions submitted by readers of the New York Times about the role(s) that these cars played in the lives of their owners. This is really a trip down memory lane, so do take a look. I was always a big fan of Oldsmobile, and there are several, including two 72 Cutlass models, which was my all time favorite Olds.

While I loved the NYTimes piece, I must also share the Wall Street Journal essay by P. J. O'Rourke about the end of the American love affair with cars, a superbly written bit of prose which made me (and hubby) smile and sigh, all at the same time. Again, having lived half a century makes this all the more poignant.

Change is inevitable, but America seems to be going through menopause. What can't be known as yet is will it have a long, graceful old age, or will it deteriorate rapidly and die?

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