Friday, October 28, 2011

Take Minions Out To The Ballgame!


Tonight is Game 7 of the 2011 World Series, and St. Louis is caught up in a tidal wave of Cardinals fever. Tickets for the Big Game are going for $475 for standing room only to as high as $20,000 for a seat in the dugout box. For those who can't get tickets (or just can't afford those prices!), our local Wehrenberg Theater chain is showing the game on their big high-definition screens--and the admission there is FREE (yep, you read that right!).







Tonight, we're pulling out all the stops to win our 11th Series in 2011. Our longtime Cardinals mascot Fredbird has called for reinforcements. There's Allen Craig's pet turtle, Torty....




And, of course, the wild and wily Rally Squirrel, who's been a PR star ever since he made his first dash across the field during the National League playoffs. He's great at distracting opposing teams' pitchers....




But what most baseball fans don't know is that the the Triple Threat mascots have called in some outside help from Hollywood to make sure the Cardiac Cardinals win tonight....




"Do you think they'll be able to taste the laxatives in the water?"






"Stuart, you hollow out the Rangers' bats. What? Of course all of them, you idiot!"




"I don't think this is going to work!"



"Kenny, you're in charge of pouring maple syrup in their gloves...."




"And Dave, be sure you put enough itching powder in all their athletic supporters. No, athletic supporters are NOT those people sitting in the stands!"





"Hey, who was responsible for THAT???"




"Yeowwwww...who left maple syrup on the floor?"




It looks to be a verrrrry interesting game.....



Saturday, October 22, 2011

Freebies!

From now through December 27th, I'm giving away free copies of two of my books via Smashwords: Chasing the Wind and Final Hours. In the coming year, the sequel to Chasing the Wind, An Army of Angels,  will be published, as well as an expanded edition of Final Hours...along with the re-release of my backlist books in e-book format.


To get a free copy, enter the coupon codes below each book's cover as follows:


MC82W

ZR83Q

For more information on new releases, go to Beishir Books.





Monday, October 17, 2011

William Kendall's review of Angels at Midnight


Learn to think with your head, not your heart. There’s no room for a conscience in this world.” ~ Collin Deverell, Angels At Midnight


It's entirely fitting that my first book review should be for my dear friend, partner in crime, collaborator, and fellow member of the Writers of Mass Distraction, Norma Beishir. And since I'm always a fan of a good heist story, it's fitting that Angels At Midnight be the subject at hand.
Norma published the book during her days with Berkeley, and gives us two very sympathetic protagonists we can immediately connect with in an intricately plotted, well paced novel that explores themes of love, family, loss, revenge, and how far people will go for their own measure of justice. While our protagonists don't actually meet until halfway through the book, that's a good thing, as we get to follow them along parallel lines for more then a decade, getting to know them, sharing their triumphs and their despair.
Collin Deverill is one of two twin sons, heir to a fortune that his father, an oil tycoon, expects him to take part in. While his brother Justin readily involves himself in the family business, Collin has little wish to tie himself down to an executive life, preferring a carefree life of adventure and his love of fencing. With the sudden death of their parents on a business trip, Collin takes the chance to live life on his own terms, turning over shares in the family company and all responsibility to his brother in exchange for the family mansion, the art collection, and his mother's jewellry. He lives abroad for some years, rarely settling down, living his carefree life, seducing whatever woman crosses his path. When he returns home, he finds that the valuable paintings and jewels have all gone missing, sold off by his devious brother. Collin vows to take back what's rightfully his, even if it means breaking the law and going after some very dangerous people to do it.
Ashley Gordon is an artist from the Napa Valley in California who establishes a career for herself in San Francisco. After becoming a success in the art world and on the social circuit, she falls in love with Brandon Hollister. They're happy together, and Brandon wants to marry her, though she's puzzled by his complete estrangement from his parents. When we meet them, it's not hard to understand: Bradley and Claudia Hollister are downright nasty to the core. Ashley and Brandon marry, have a son, Robert and are happy together, until Brandon is killed in a plane crash. In the wake of her grief, Ashley is hit again when her in-laws launch a custody battle for their grandson, using bribery, lies, and their connections to take him away from Ashley. Ashley is, understandably, devastated.
It's into this mix that Ashley and Collin meet. Collin's been busy recovering what was stolen from him by becoming a thief himself, learning the trade from a master who saves his life. What started out for him as a mission to take back what's his becomes something more, as he discovers his father's company has been mismanaged by his brother, and is falling into the hands of a criminal syndicate who are readily dismantling it. The syndicate are made up of the same people who have possession of his property, and what began as thefts to recover property gradually shifts, as Collin realizes he does, in fact, have a responsibility to save the company his father built. And since Bradley Hollister is a member of the syndicate, Collin decides to enlist his former daughter-in-law as a partner to bring down the syndicate, save his family company, and restore Ashley's son to her custody.
It's a wise decision to keep the two from really meeting until mid way through the book. We, the reader, get to see both characters develop fully on their own, so we care about them and what happens to them (Ashley's loss of her husband and her son are particularly painful, which is one of the reasons the book works so well). When Collin and Ashley start working together, we see a growing connection between them, an emotional intimacy that comes across as very real. This is a testament to how human the two characters feel. They have depth, quirks, and flaws. As Ashley learns the tricks of the trade, of sleight of hand and the use of disguise, she and Collin find themselves drawn closer and closer. The bond and growing love between them comes across to the reader as the real thing. We come to root for them to achieve all they're after, and it's because of how well both of them have been written.
In every heist story, to root for the person pulling off the heist, it requires that the target be unsympathetic. Certainly having the target be a criminal syndicate is a very good way of having the reader dislike the target. And the primary targets, Bradley and Claudia Hollister, are more then worthy of our dislike. Both of them, particularly Claudia, are cruel and malicious. It's not hard to understand why their son broke ties with them, and as readers, we want to see them brought down, broken, and defeated.
Justin Deverell is another interesting character in the book. Early on it felt like he'd be the primary antagonist of the book, but as things go on, it's made clear that he's the dupe, the tool for the syndicate to dismantle the family company after they're done using it. I enjoyed the premise Norma used that Collin and Justin aren't the kind of twins we're used to in fiction... they have nothing in common but blood, barely speak for years, and ultimately are so far apart that it's doubtful they'll ever bridge that gap. There's no closer then blood mental connection sort of bond between these two twins, and it's a refreshing change.
There is a wild card sort of character I thought I'd make mention of. Anton DeVries, an insurance investigator, lurks in the background of the story. He first comes into the picture after Collin discovers the theft of his possessions. Through the rest of the book, he suspects Collin, looks for proof, and takes part in a pivotal moment towards the climax. He's an interesting character, something of a bloodhound, or a Jalvert to Collin's Valjean. DeVries is a good adversary, conflicted by catching a man who he knows to be morally right.
The attention to detail throughout the book is spot on, and perhaps never as much as during the various thefts that take place in the book. From training sequences in which both Collin and Ashley learn how to become thieves to the heists themselves, each act feels intricate, and brings a lot of variety to the table. An escape from a time lock safe and a judicious use of a mirror stand out particularly for me during the theft sequences. And the attention to detail also reflects itself in the early sequences featuring fencing and the artistic process.
Angels At Midnight is a beautifully written book that you'll enjoy reading. The plot and pacing of the novel keeps the reader on the edge. The details drawn out in the book about technique, places, and situations give it a very real world sensibility. And the characters really make the novel. Collin and Ashley are a winning couple that we can't help but sympathize with, to root for, and to cheer.
And who knows? Perhaps Robert has siblings... and all of them have grown up to take after Ashley and Collin's habit of breaking into high security vaults....


Angels at Midnight will be available as an e-book at Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Smashwords in December.



Saturday, October 8, 2011

The Secret Lives of Gadgets


I did laundry last night. I always ask Collin if he's checked all of his pockets before bringing his clothes to the washer. He always says yes. And I end up finding money, cash register receipts, and other items in the dryer. In fact, our dryer still has tiny black streaks inside from the ballpoint pen he forgot.

Last night, when I opened the dryer at the end of the the cycle, a small piece of plastic immediately fell out. It was part of his Bluetooth.

I took the earpiece to him for a positive ID. He wasn't nearly as upset as I thought he'd be. Still, I felt bad for him. He almost always had the thing stuck in his ear. I was starting to think it was some alien life form that was using his ear as a portal to take control of his brain.
The jury's still out on that, by the way.
I also have a Bluetooth. I rarely use it. It's not that I don't like it. I just rarely talk on the phone. With a few exceptions, I hate talking on the phone--and when I do, I almost always use my Kyocera Loft, leaving the Droid for more important things, like email, ebooks, audio books, music, and editing.
So, realizing Collin needed it more than I did, I offered him mine. This meant he would have to un-pair both phones from their respective Bluetooth device and pair my Bluetooth to his phone.
The device divorce didn't work.
"Maybe they mate for life," I suggested. "Your phone doesn't want another mate."
I noticed my phone had refused to surrender its own Bluetooth connection. It wouldn't let another phone have its mate. How sweet.
Collin suggested his Bluetooth might not be hopeless. After all, how many stories have we heard of smartphones surviving a quick dip in a toilet. I pointed out that his Bluetooth had also gone through a tumble in the dryer. On high heat.
"It died a horrible death," I said solemnly. "It must have been terrified."
"No, no, no," Collin said, refusing to listen.
It's my own fault I have trouble getting him to throw anything away.... 

 

Monday, October 3, 2011

Welcome to Monday's Mass Confusion!

I woke up this morning and realized I was doing a juggling act--and failing miserably at it! Three manuscripts, four blogs, a website, an author page at Amazon, a profile at LinkedIn, pages at Facebook, Twitter and Google Plus and countless writers websites...something had to give!






So, after much consideration, I merged three of my four blogs: this one, my humor blog, You've Got to be Kidding!, and the memoir I've been writing for my late parakeet, Sam's Story. Yay! I can now post here just once a week!


So now, I will be blogging here at Windchaser's Journey, at my joint blog with my collaborator, William Kendall (we write together as James Morgan and Scarlett Martin), Basking in the Afterglow (but you have to be over 18 and not a prude to read that one!), and at my website, Beishir Books


But...life will not immediately get easier. I see that in transit, some of my words have gotten run together. I'll be spending the afternoon making corrections....