Wednesday, December 23, 2020
January 5, 2021
San Francisco – the Present
Before her withdrawal from society fourteen years ago, Meredith White had been a famous actress. Fifteen years ago, her actor-producer husband left her for a younger Italian actress, moving to New York. Her fourteen-year-old son went to New York to visit his father and died in a tragic accident. Her son’s death caused Meredith to retreat from the world. For the last fourteen years, Meredith has become a recluse in her stone mansion in San Francisco’s Pacific Heights. Her house servants, Jack and Debbie, have taken care of the house and Meredith ever since. She now considers them her only friends. That is until the earthquake. When an 8.2 quake hits the area, Meredith insists that she go into the street to discover if her neighbors need help. Debbie and Jack oppose her decision, insisting she doesn’t even know her neighbors. Meredith goes anyway, and everything begins to change.
While Meredith’s house had minimal damage, her neighbors were severely damaged and have gone to the street for safety. Meredith meets Tyla, her husband, Doctor Andrew Johnson, and their children, eleven-year-old Will and seven-year-old Daphne. Daphne possesses a beloved doll Martha, who helps her in difficult situations. Unfortunately, her brother doesn’t have a friend like Martha to help him. Other residents include blind concert pianist Arthur Harriman, his assistant Peter Stern, wealthy businessman Joel Fine, and his current live-in girlfriend, Ava Bates. Meredith invites all of them to stay in her house until theirs are repaired. They know who Meredith is as her reputation as an actress is still well known, and all are excited at her invitation. Retired Air Force Colonel Charles Chapman also shows up. He is checking neighborhoods in his work for the Office of Emergency Services during this devastating crisis.
The past histories and current situations of these characters, both good and bad, begin to intertwine. The reader’s interest is captured as their involvement with each other brings significant changes to their lives. The story shows how devastation can lead to attainment or even greater failure.
Saturday, December 19, 2020
My Bill asked his Dad (Big Bill) to tell me about the piece of jewelry, which made me curious. I knew Big Bill was a veteran of the Battle of the Bulge. I later learned he was part of the 78th Division's 311th Infantry which was the third infantry to cross the Remagen Bridge into Germany and also among the first U.S. Divisions to enter Berlin. The U.S. Army left Berlin in July of 1945, but the U.S. State Department asked Bill to stay, so he remained in Berlin until the end of 1946, maybe longer. He never mentioned why the State Department selected him to stay or what his job was. Once it was relatively safe, he asked his wife Metta to come to Berlin and stay with him while he was stationed there. They had commandeered a house for their lodging and had three Czechoslovakia driver-bodyguards, Jacque, Fred, and Walter. Jacque and Fred convinced Bill to take Metta for a skiing holiday in Czechoslovakia.
Before anything could be finalized, word spread like wildfire that the Russians were taking over the country. Jacque, who Bill said was a freedom fighter and the bravest man he ever knew, turned white. Bill and Metta were rushed to their cars, a Mercedes and a BMW. Their security guards pushed Metta onto the floor in the backseat, and Bill laid on the backseat. Fred drove the Mercedes, and the BMW followed going (at times?) 100 mph for the German border.
As they neared the border crossing, they saw armed soldiers already held the gate. Fred never slowed down but drove right through the gate, busting it to pieces. It was a hundred yards to the American held gate. The soldiers fired on the two cars, riddling both trunks with bullets, but as the cars neared the American side, they stopped firing as U.S. soldiers had picked up their weapons and aimed them at those holding the Czechoslovakian gate.
They all made it safely back to Berlin, but that was the last they heard from the prime minister's son and his family even though the information was sought through American diplomatic channels and Jacque and Fred inquired through their contacts.
Big Bill and Metta did not speak Czechoslovakian or German, so may have misunderstood who the person offering the business deal was, or one of their guard-drivers might have misinterpreted the information.
Monday, November 23, 2020
Saturday, November 21, 2020
One book I've enjoyed this year is The Eternal City: Rome as Idea and Reality, by Jessica Maier. Published by University of Chicago Press. It was just released this month (11/4). While I mostly read fiction, I enjoy many non-fiction topics such as history, how-to, and art, and in many respects, The Eternal City covers all these categories.
The concept of learning from maps is unusual as most history books are straight forward chronological records. However, as author Maier shows through her map technique Rome's population through every age has had its own perception of their city and its purpose. It shows how the change in time, populations, and their ideas and beliefs also affect history. Rome's citizens essentially changed not only the physical appearance of Rome but also overlapped those changes with the past. The city and its structure have changed both physically and spiritually over time; indeed, different cities have emerged during Rome's long history, but each was built on the past.
Images and ideas take the reader from the beginnings of Rome to the time of the Ceasars, to the age of popes, through Rome's decline and recovery, and now its tourist period. The Eternal City shows how the city's population changed through time and how that changed Rome. Surprisingly, each era's maps show not only the physical changes but also society's perceptions about the city.
Rome, as one of the world's oldest continuing cities, has a long progression of maps. Some have a similarity to today's concept of maps, but not as directionally precise, and historical maps are often affected by the maker's era and purpose. Others are visual landscapes of the city, which in part, also serve as maps. The book's maps, visual images, and photographs are beautiful and insightful and tied to each age's beliefs, prejudices, and sense of humanity.
In the age of global warming, this book, in some sense, is also a warning. People are creative, adaptable, and constantly changing their landscape. This book brings awareness of those changes and of how we need to be aware of them and to be more careful in our choices going forward.
For more reviews please see the following authors' posts:
Sunday, November 15, 2020
Colorado, Arizona, Texas, Finland, Sweden, and Malta – the Present,
Ethan McCloud’s mother unexpectedly calls him. She wants him to come home. His father is acting weird, and she needs Ethan’s help. As he has been laid off from his job as a math teacher, Ethan drives from Nebraska to Denver and gets there in the early morning.
He has a brief talk with his father. His father tells him a six-fingered man haunts his dreams. Matt, his father’s Vietnam war-time buddy, sent him a box, which he sent on to Ethan. Matt was killed in a hit-and-run accident the day Ethan’s father received the box. It seems whoever has the box is destined to die. Shortly after his father goes to take a shower, his mother screams. His father is dead, supposedly from a brain aneurysm, but Ethan believes the six-fingered man killed his father. Ethan is determined to find this man and kill him. He discovers his father left him a laptop computer with a message from him, which also tells Ethan of a debit card with ten-grand in cash on it. He wants Ethan to solve the problem Matt presented. The screen saver on the laptop is a Sumerian statue of a six-fingered giant. It is clear to Ethan that he will be taking a journey, so he inveigles his girlfriend, former soldier Shannon Witherspoon, to join him.
From the notes his father left him, Ethan learns of many legends about giants. Mentions of giants are found in the Bible, and other historical references claim giant skeletal remains were found not only in Europe and the Middle East but also in Native American sites. Those skeletons, of course, have disappeared. It seems two opposing groups are trying to discover the truth or prevent the truth about giants from being known. One group is the Council of David, which wants to wipe giants from existence. The other is the Six-Fingered Mafia, who wants to protect those hunting for the truth (bone chasers), or perhaps they each have different goals. Both groups are willing to kill anyone interfering with their goals. Within minutes of typing some of this information on a library computer, Ethan finds himself being hunted, supposedly by police.
What ensues is a long hunt for facts and truth. Along the way, Ethan and Shannon become separated, making Ethan even more determined to finish his father’s request and find Shannon. Are giants just legends? Have they ever existed? Are there giants living now? All questions are explored in BONE CHASE.
Monday, November 2, 2020
November 17, 2020
Bridgeport, Ohio – the Present
Kimber Klein doesn’t regret leaving her successful modeling job to join her new-found sisters Shannon and Traci in Ohio. Unlike Traci, she was adopted and her parents love her. However, she is unsure of what direction her life should take. She is volunteering in an elementary school library reading books. A high school boy, Jeremy, is there too, doing volunteer work credits for school. Leaving the school, Kimber finds her brand-new Mercedes in the parking lot with two split tires. She fears her stalker from New York, Peter Mohler, has discovered where she is.
Gunner Law is waiting at the school to pick up his foster child Jeremy. The stunning-looking woman draws his attention, and he sees her car has two flat tires, not old-tire break-down, but someone’s intentional slicing of the tires. Learning Jeremy, his foster child, knows who the woman is, he suggests they help her. Once her car is towed away, Gunner is hoping he can see Kimber Klein again.
Kimber is as attracted to Gunner as he is to her, but their lives are complicated. Her agent keeps contacting her about possible jobs, and his latest one is very tempting. Gunner wants to adopt Jeremy, but the boy is quiet and withdrawn and fighting issues of another possible abandonment. Jeremy also worries about what his schoolmates would think if they discovered he is a foster child. Jeremy is, however, interested in one of his classmates and is trying to work up the courage to ask her to the Christmas dance, but he has no idea how to approach her.
This story, like the previous two in the series, is about family and friendship, building new relationships, and helping those you love when things go wrong, and lots of things go wrong in the story. Great Christmas read!
Random House Children’s Books
November 10, 2020
Teen and Young Adult
Camelot – Early Middle Ages
At sixteen, Guinevere is married to King Arthur, but their marriage is not yet consummated. She isn’t sure why, but Arthur wants it that way. She thinks perhaps it is because Merlin arranged their marriage. Using her magic, Guinevere has tied knots of protection on all entrances to Camelot to prevent the Dark Queen Malagant from entering (story in book 1). Yet, she has dreams where Mordred, Arthur’s nephew, who betrayed her, is involved. This frightens her. Her magic knots should prevent her from dreaming.
Arthur, of all people, knows Guinevere is not who everyone believes her to be. He also knows that she has magic, which is forbidden in Camelot. However, the worst is that she has no memory about her past or who she was, and if he knows, he won’t tell her.
Camelot is where Guinevere believes she wants to be, and Arthur is who she wants to be with. Soon she and Arthur will escort her friend Dindrane to her parents’ castle to be married to Arthur’s knight Sir Bors. Dindrane is the daughter of a southern lord and a sister to Sir Percival, another of Arthur’s knights. During the journey, many problems occur, and while Guinevere attempts to help people, she often fatally injures others. It haunts her, and with all the questions troubling her, how can she determine who she is or what she should do?
THE CAMELOT BETRAYAL is an evocative journey about finding yourself despite many adversities. It changes parts of the legendary story, but this fantasy is exciting and evocative.
Friday, October 30, 2020
A History of Rome in Maps
The University of Chicago Press
ISBN-13: 978-0-226-59145-2 (cloth)
ISBN-13: 978-0-226-59159-9 (e-book)
November 4, 2020
Rome with its ancient and on-going history captures the attention and imagination of many people — researchers, historians, tourists, and readers — and its attraction has been on-going for centuries. Author Jessica Maier shows the perceptions of Rome both past and present as caught in maps through the ages. Some of these maps, while not as accurate, are like today’s maps. Others are more picturesque in form. When created, they held a specific purpose for their design.
Rome has a long history, and Maier lets the reader journey through the many ideas Rome has held from its inception, about which little is known and much guessed at, to the present. The book shows aspects of how all building stands next to, or on top of, those made in the past. It explains about Rome’s many changes and exposes information relatable to all major cities. As Maier states, Rome has had many reincarnations, and no city equals Rome’s resilience throughout the ages. As an example, she writes about San Clemente, a church in Rome dating back to the twelfth century which has a staircase leading down to a church of the fourth century upon which San Clemente was built. This fourth-century church was built on top of an old pagan temple, aspects of which can still be seen 60 feet below the ground level of San Clemente.
Maier states Rome is more than its architecture and buildings, for the maps show the inhabitants’ history, myths, and symbolism as shaped by gods, Caesars, pagans, Christians, and tourists alike. It is a fascinating study with an abundance of historical maps. Again, some are linear depictions of roads, ancient walls, and buildings while others are beautiful paintings showing the city’s changes through landscapes. The information is fascinating. How much did I like the book? Since I preordered a copy, a lot.
Monday, October 26, 2020
Perfect 10Ballantine Books
November 3, 2020
Historical Christmas Fiction
England, 1872, Victorian Era
Celia Hooper, who is just over forty, married only a year ago. Her husband is John Hooper, a detective with the Thames River Police. They live a modest lifestyle, but they married for love.
Celia goes to church regularly and likes the Reverend Arthur Roberson, who preaches forgiveness. She does not like church member Seth Marlowe, who is Roberson’s brother-in-law. Roberson’s wife, who was Marlowe’s sister, died of a serious illness several years ago. Marlowe is very judgmental and unforgiving. He singles Celia out to tell her he is marrying her best friend, Clementine Appleby. Clementine is just over thirty and much younger than her intended husband. Marlowe disapproves of Celia and demands she stop seeing or talking to Clementine. If she doesn’t, he will tell not only Clementine of Celia’s lies in court but also all the church members, which will sully her reputation. She did lie in court, yet the judge forgave her because of the reason behind the lie.
Celia is very disturbed by this marriage announcement. She doesn’t trust Marlow as he defames his previous wife, who committed suicide, and his wayward daughter, who disappeared. Clementine, her charitable and affectionate friend, seems deliriously happy with the engagement. Then Seth accuses Celia of sending him an anonymous, hateful letter. Celia doesn’t know what the letter says, but she guesses it may contain a truth Seth doesn’t want anyone to known. He promises her and John trouble. They will lose everything. He doesn’t understand John Hooper is a detective dedicated to discovering the truth.
Christmas is quickly approaching. Will Celia let Seth ruin her friend Clementine’s future as she suspects he might do? Can Celia convince Reverend Roberson that sometimes a person must become aware of their sins and repent before earning forgiveness? This is a short novel, only 200 pages, so it is a fast read. The story contains some very galvanizing issues still plaguing society, which will rivet the reader’s attention. The characters are fascinating and create an entertaining reading. A CHRISTMAS RESOLUTION is not a Ho, Ho, Ho, Merry Christmas story, but more about what Christmas really means. An appealing and heartfelt Christmas story.
Friday, October 23, 2020
October 27, 2020
Nash, the Duke of Malvern, is a handsome but gruff and uncommunicative man who gives away few of his feelings. His mother ran away from his father when he was ten-years-old. A mean and abusive man, his father often beat his wife and son. Once his wife left, he only showed his son the despicable and debauched parts of society. Nash is afraid to intermingle with people, afraid to unleash any violence on them, as his father told Nash he took after him in every way. Nash has hunted for his many illegitimate siblings and helped them in their lives. All of his servants are half-siblings (they wanted to do this). He has no intention of marrying until his grandmother, the Duchess of Malvern, visits and tells him he must—she tells him his cousin and heir (who he is unfamiliar with) is just like his father, and to prevent this man from becoming the next duke, he needs to choose a wife so he can produce an heir, but a woman willing to live separate lives.
Ana Maria resides with her cousin Thaddeus, the Duke of Hasford, in far better conditions. Her step-mother, the former Duchess of Hasford, had relegated her to servant status as a scullery maid. Now she is Lady Maria Dutton, and at age twenty-eight, having her first season. She, however, is now determined to do things her own way and make her own decisions. Outside of her brother Sebastian, who was declared illegitimate as told in the first Hazards of Dukes novel, NEVER KISS A DUKE, and her cousin Thaddeus, the only person she knows is Nash. The four of them played together as children. She understands Nash’s clipped words and growls and other non-verbal communications. While he doesn’t seem to want her, she becomes determined to have him.
These two seem fated for each other, yet Nash’s preconceptions about himself and of love make it impossible, but Ana Maria attracts him more than any of the ‘eligibles’ on his grandmother’s potential wife list. Does Nash use violence? Yes, in criminal situations. Is Ana Maria allowed to do whatever she pleases? Her brothers and Nash all know she doesn’t know the dangers of society. Both Nash and Ana Maria are hunted by potential mates for their wealth, causing some fascinating scenes. Two questions came to mind as I read the story. The first is how could Ana Maria’s father, the duke, let his wife treat his daughter so shamefully? The second, how could two dukes live so close as to be neighbors? Yet the emotional and unique situations in TALL, DUKE, AND DANGEROUS are what carry the story and make it a good and interesting read.
Thursday, October 22, 2020
September 8, 2020
Bridgeport, Ohio – the Present
Officer Traci Lucky left Cleveland, where she worked as a police officer, to move to the small town of Bridgeport to spend a year living with two sisters she never knew she had. Her sister Shannon found them through a DNA test. Traci grew up in foster care. While she eventually landed in a good group home, she had many bad experiences in foster care. In Bridgeport, she got a job with the local police force and has now partnered with her sister Shannon’s new husband, Dylan Lange (series book 1 SHALL WE DANCE). Today during a raid on a suspected meth house, Traci finds an emaciated girl and takes her to the local hospital. There, Doctor Matt Rossi learns the girl, Gwen, is pregnant and still under the effects of drugs. Traci believes Gwen is another person who feels abandoned like she once felt. Rossi keeps Gwen in the hospital. His actions and approach to his patient impress Traci, and she feels a strong attraction to him.
Matt (Matteo) Rossi is happy to work in a small town where he gets to know his patients, and it is where his family lives. This makes his life meaningful. While treating Gwen, he can’t help but be attracted to the woman officer who brought his patient in. She is authoritative, independent, and compelling, but also caring, and unlike any woman he has known. With her visits to Gwen bringing her to the hospital daily, he tries to talk to her more frequently. Then his brother makes a demand that allows him to get to know Traci better. His brother Anthony demands his younger brother Matt dance a waltz at his upcoming wedding reception. Matt doesn’t dance, but Traci’s sister teaches dancing, and he knows the perfect partner to ask.
Traci hasn’t shared much of her past life with her new-found sisters. She has come to love them, but she still feels reluctant to disclose her past. She feels the same with Matt once they grow closer. While this causes emotional turmoil in the story, so does Gwen’s situation. Her ex-boyfriend trouble-maker Hunter doesn’t love her or want their baby but feels he owns her and is going to get her back. The story’s themes of family and building protective, loving relationships, even when unexpected events cause turmoil, makes this a captivating read.
Saturday, October 17, 2020
The first book I read by myself remains on my favorite list as explained in an earlier post. I think I made a mistake though. I thought Miss Hillman was my teacher, but she was my third-grade teacher and I read On Beyond Zebra by Dr. Seuss (Theodor Suess Geisel) in first-grade (Miss Wilkins? Time changes memory.) It was released in 1955. I think what first attracted me was the zebra on the cover. Zebras are like horses and I was a horse-crazed little girl. The story was also very imaginative in concept, wording, and illustration.
I continued reading and eventually, probably about sixth or seventh grade, came across Will James' novel Smoky the Cowhorse (yep, another horse theme book) at the Fenton Public Library. At the time I was walking the mile or two there and back at least once a week. I was in love with that mouse-grey horse and cried through the horrible parts of his sad history. The story won the John Newberry Medal in 1927. The Newberry Award is still given for a distinguished contribution to children's literature. James, the author, was a French Canadian artist whose writing covered the American West's cowboy culture, and Smoky the novel, held many of his illustrations. This story has taken a current trend in how horses are treated, not only at rodeos but also at our racetracks.
When I reached fifteen in the ninth grade I started working after school in a local drugstore. For the previous three years I had worked in my family's pet store selling tropical fish and hampsters, and cleaning tanks, but didn't get paid. At the drugstore, I mostly worked behind the soda counter serving coffee, ice cream treats, and some simple to fix sandwiches. I enjoyed the work, and I was earning some money and guess what? The drug store had a sales rack for paperback books. That bookrack introduced me to romance, both current and historical, and to the genre of fantasy. Soon I was reading another of my all-time favorite novels. Andre Norton's Witch World series mesmerized me. The first volume was written in 1963 but I became familiar with the following stories so I searched and found a copy of the first story.
The drugstore's book rack introduced me to many romance authors, but one of my favorites was Georgette Heyer. She could take a reader back to another time. It showed a judgemental public was not just a modern phenomenon. I remember reading many of the titles but the one that left a lasting impression was Devil's Cub, which I probably read in tenth grade. The hero loved his horses, too. Devil's Cub was a Georgian era time-frame story written in 1932. Heyer wrote many historical romance stories mostly in the Georgian and Regency eras, but she also wrote mystery thrillers. I mentioned this title before in the charming villains' post, and it is a story I've reread many times. I think Heyer started the trend for Regency romances which still continues today.
My next favorite was an eleventh-grade reading assignment--Pride and Prejudice, a book written in 1813. At learning the assignment I had severe apprehension about how I could read, or even like, so old a story. I was even assigned to give a presentation on one chapter. For once though, I loved an assigned story so much, it helped me overcome my reluctance to talk before a group. Each student was given a paperback copy, but I wanted a more permanent copy, so I drove to Flint and bought a leather-bound copy at a book store. My daughter has it now. It surprised me several years later that my (male) college instructor for the class masterpieces in English literature talked about this story. He claimed to have read it twenty-seven times. I'm not certain I've read it that many times, not even half of that. I have, however, seen all the TV and movie shows. Some are good renditions, but I get very upset when they change things.
My last listing is the Lymond Chronicles of six novels about the Scot Francis Crawford of Lymond. Another historical novel, but this one is about the era and not so much romance, although there is some. Scottish novelist Dorothy Dunnet also wrote mysteries. This is a wonderful series published between 1961 and 1975. Again, I found it as a paperback in the drug store. From my drugstore bookrack experience, I had become enamored of all store bookracks, although I kept my habit of haunting libraries, too.
Tuesday, September 22, 2020
September 22, 2020
Everyone knows of Venus as the beautiful Roman goddess of love, lust, and debauchery, and the definitive symbol of desire. She was closely based on the Greek goddess Aphrodite and has defined the beauty of the female form in artworks, whether clothed or naked, for centuries. Author and historian Bettany Hughes explores the goddess’ past and what she represents, and how her influence is still at work. She explains that in the Middle East, earlier civilizations other than the Greeks had similar goddesses such as Inanna, Ishtar, and Astarte. Why were so many goddesses who combine wantonness and warfare created?
The story starts on the Mediterranean island of Cyprus, the historical home of the goddess, where an annual celebration and worship of the miracle of life was held long before the Greek civilization. Archeology now traces the basic idea of the goddess of womanhood and birth, which of course involves sex, back more than 4,000 years as represented in many small voluptuous rock carvings of a female form with a penis head called the Lady of Lemba. It is most likely that each of these goddesses influenced the next permutation. Within the chapters, a fuller explanation develops of the goddess as a symbol of life. Eventually, lust leads to many urges of humankind, including war which Venus also exemplifies by her affair with Mars, the god of war.
VENUS AND APHRODITE describes the transformations of this goddess through time and changes in civilization. We still celebrate her today in art museums, where sculptures and paintings through the ages show her many traits. She is also used more indulgently in commercials and media used to sell products. Her fame has lasted longer than any other gods and goddesses, undoubtedly because Aphrodite-Venus symbolizes so much more than we expect. She shows the dichotomy of love and life. It is an entertaining and informative read with amazing insights into humanity.
Saturday, September 19, 2020
This often happens when the author uses a show rather than tell method. Showing usually involves the use of description especially in a character's actions and expressions, leaving it to the reader to share the character’s reaction from their personal understanding. The reader's perception might be very emotional, especially if they have experienced the same or similar situations. This often happens in emotional scenes, so most writing probably has intuitive emotional themes.
Tuesday, September 8, 2020
“Gotcha. Damn snake. Don’t care if you are good for the garden. I don’t want you in mine.” Its length coiled around her arm. She put her garden pruners to the serpent’s head.
“Don’t kill me.”
Eden jumped, gasped, and a middle-aged bladder leaked. Death-grip fingers grasping the snake released as she tried to fling the thing away. The serpent’s coils clung to her arm. Her voice clogged in her tight throat. “You spoke!” She stretched her arm out as far as she could to get the serpent away from her.
“Yes. I’m an explorer from the galaxy Peareedeeessiss.”
Her mind flooded with movie images of alien invasions. “You'll destroy my world!” She clicked the pruner blades open.
“No! Wait! Just sightseeing. Don't hurt, please?” Pleading tones turned supplicant. “I can change into any shape that pleases you.”
She looked into the alien’s beady eyes and angular face. Was changing shapes any stranger than a talking snake?
“Change like a werewolf or a vampire?” Curiosity tickled her imagination. “Anything?”
“Even a human.” The alien’s coiled body slithered over her forearm in a sensual touch.
Eden hesitated as the sensation brought romantic reminiscence of her husband Guy trailing arousing fingers in such a way. Not that for one instant did she believe Guy’s love had faded, but mutual interests had long ago changed to singular pursuits.
An explorer… a stranger in an unknown place; perhaps he desired companionship as much as she did?
“Change into anything?”
She took him inside. What was she to do with him? Let him slither around the house? Get away? No. She popped him in the empty cookie jar. Always empty now as the kids were gone and she didn’t need the extra calories. The alien’s coiled up body just fit.
Guy came home from work. “Hi, sweetie.” He gave Eden a perfunctory kiss and then found the TV remote. “Big game tonight. Mind if I have dinner in here?” He sank into the couch.
“Sure, honey. You can watch the game over dinner. You mind if I go out?”
“Not at all. You have plans with your girlfriends?”
“No, but while you watch the game, I might as well visit the library, or maybe the museum.”
Guy’s supper served, Eden changed to dressier clothes. Guy didn’t notice when she walked through the living room with his suit draped over her arm. Already the announcer’s voice boomed game statistics and predictions over rousing music.
In the kitchen, she pulled the snake from the cookie jar. It wrapped around her arm. “Be Guy.”
The snake fell from her arm and morphed into Guy. She handed him the suit. “Let me take you out to dinner,” Eden said as he dressed. “Afterward, I can show you my world.” Exciting opportunities opened her mind and Eden smiled. She brushed some scales off the shoulders of the suit as the serpent pulled on the jacket.
As she opened the door to the garage, Eden heard Guy shout from the living room, “Bye. Have a good time.”
Saturday, August 22, 2020
This month's topic is about how to make a story feel more realistic to the reader and what elements achieve this.
In most novels establishing reality isn't hard. The author develops characters representing specific people in specific locations and times; then they add plot lines readers can relate to in some way.
So what is reality? Merriam Websters defines it as the state of being real, a real event, entity, or state of affairs, and the totality of real things and events.
We all know we live on the planet Earth, share the same sun and moon, and see the same galaxy at night. We share Earth with seven billion other humans, so we believe we are real and know the reality of where we dwell and what we do there. Humans have very similar requirements for living, particularly water, food, sleep, and personal relationships. We are social creatures who share similar emotions. We have interactions with other real people and experience many real, even if odd, situations, and we often enjoy telling others about them and hearing their strange events. However, each of us knows the reality of a different place, its weather, family, society norms, education, and living conditions, so our realities vary. We are also different from our past populations' reality as ever-shifting time changes the basic reality of life on this planet and will continue to do so until the species or planet dies. It might be that experiencing the realities of others, even fictional characters in stories make us appreciate our own reality, or change our mental knowledge and images of others and their reality. And don't even go into the bizarre concepts involved in quantum physics reality.
In most genres, authors are writing about real locations and standard human types. Only science fiction, fantasy, and horror introduce situations and characters with powers beyond the basic human scope, but even the strangest characters often share well-known human characteristics. However, my previous post on “How Far Can Fantasy Go?” mentions how people enjoy the unbelievable and have enjoyed fantasy stories far longer than our know stories. Witches, demons, mythological gods, and monsters of various ilk, have been stars in stories forever. Today it only takes the writer's imagination to create a world, and the reader's imagination to believe it. Besides that, everyone knows of situations where the ordinary world became extraordinary in special circumstances.
Reality in Characters: A growing quantity of anthropological proof declares the basic human, i.e. physical, mental, emotional aspects, haven't changed that much from prehistorical times. That means whatever time frame you read or write in, human responses remain the same. Most authors' characters run the huge gamut of the understandable traits and responses of both sane and insane people. Yet sometimes characters can be written to be too good which raises readers' suspicions as they know we all have flaws and insecurities that can drive our reactions. Insanity can reach unfathomable unrealities but still be believable. For me, however, the author can reach such a level of improbability, reality falls away. I’m reading a story now with a killer who wants to protect his illegal industry, but enjoys watching the agony of death, the more anguish and physical pain, the better. I am having trouble reading it. Yet I’ve watched TV shows about serial killers whose practices also seem unreal; unfortunately, the murders they committed happened. So it is possible the previously mentioned characters will have some readers who believe in them. If characters have a full range of emotions, strengths and weaknesses, good traits and bad, the reader will most likely believe them.
|The web and dimensions of reality|
Reality in Plot: This storyline is more difficult as plots can differ in many ways. The key to plot reality is the action and reaction response of the characters due to the action presented in the story. A person’s reaction to a situation differs in real life depending on their personality type and their life issues. The same type of response should be designed into the story’s characters. If a character’s response isn’t what a reader thinks appropriate, then the author needs to build the character’s personality enough for the reader to realize why they acted in a different way from what the reader expected.
Story reality isn’t that difficult until readers encounter those unusual places, events, or characters in a story. Then it is a case of building the story's reality in a step-by-step introduction for each new reality change.
For other viewpoints see the following authors' blogs:
Dr. Bob Rich
Monday, July 27, 2020
Saturday, July 25, 2020
Please visit the following blogs to see these authors' opinions on this topic.
Dr. Bob Rich