Thursday, October 24, 2013

Special Guest Blogger, J. Aleksandr Wootton

In Defense of Escape
by J. Aleksandr Wootton

There are still people who criticize the fantasy genre for being “escapist.” They are not wrong; they are missing the point.

Readers, fans, lovers of fantasy do not return to the same shelves at the library only because we want a temporary respite from our own lives, although fantasy does offer such respites.

We do not pre-order our favorite authors’ forthcoming books while browsing fanfic blogs merely because the successes of heroes whose adventures we eagerly follow inspire our own deeds, both great and small – although the heroes of fantasy’s countless elsewheres do provide such inspiration.

We do not dress in costume for midnight movie premieres to demonstrate our disillusionment with the modern world (even if we are disillusioned). We do not cosplay at conventions because fantastic characters and settings have somehow become more “real” to us than our everyday experiences (well, not to most of us anyway – I do have my doubts about some).

The truth is that everyone needs escape, but we find it in different forms. Any engagement with fiction, any exercise of the imagination, is escape – just as the solitude of a painter or poet, working to complete a jigsaw puzzle, keeping a sabbath, or even cleaning the garage, is escape. Everyone loses themselves in some kind of habitual activity which, though doing nothing directly to solve their problems, refreshes them for the return to life’s task at hand.

Escape is a kind of mirror. In losing ourselves we find ourselves; a step taken into another world is a step taken back from our own lives, a chance to re-examine where we are and what we are doing. Time and again the winding path through familiar yet ever-changing woods, the twisted intersections of a car’s mechanical bowels, the road going “ever on, down from the door where it began”, there and back again, all turn out to be disguises for a map depicting the places we have come from and are going to.

In the foreword to her collection Tales from Earthsea, Ursula K. Le Guin has rightly written that “people turn to the realms of fantasy for stability, ancient truth, immutable simplicities.” We are all born with the need for escape; for some, studying the reflection of an alien landscape makes it easier to see the common wisdom linking our heroes’ lives with our own. Familiar lessons stand out against an unfamiliar backdrop.

And if we take solace along the way in the arms of a dream that seems fairer, at least for the moment, than our own prospects, which of you – boomers, hipsters, yuppies – will blame us? Which of us has not, when faced with a problem that seems insoluble (however temporarily), wished ourselves into a different sort of arena – and a champion’s laurel? Who among us has not spent part of his our her life seeking out lesser challenges as an excuse to put off a dubious attempt at something greater? He who is without dreams among you, let him cast the first stone.

Fantasy does indeed offer escape, and it is a noble offer. No chance to better understand our own existences should be lightly put aside, and sometimes the translation of the familiar into the foreign and back again results in surprising clarity, fresh perspectives on subjects and people we look past every day but have long ceased to notice. A good fantasy is useful as well as enjoyable, instructive rather than obstructive: distraction with application.

Tolkien was on to something when he said, in his Andrew Lang Lecture On Fairy-Stories, that we create because we ourselves are made in the image of a great Creator. Regardless of what you believe about how we all got here, it’s difficult to deny that the sum of all of our creativity and scientific inquiry is engaged in a vast effort to make sense of it – to understand what and where exactly ‘here’ is, and why we are at it.

When we depart for a time to explore realms of fantasy, we return in the knowledge – not always admitted aloud – that the wonders we have seen are only shadows of the forms of this world (just as this world may be nothing more than shadows of a world of true forms, as Plato suggested). The imagination can conjure no deeper magic than sunlight in oak leaves; it can sculpt no elf-maiden tall, lithe, mysterious, to compare to the beauty of a young mother laughing in a rainstorm; it can summon no demons more horrible than those that haunt and damn us every day in our homes, on our streets, at our jobs.

The funny thing about escape and escapist literature is that escapes are temporary, and for that we should be grateful. We cannot spend forever reading about the passion and the pain and the joy of love, watching other peoples’ happily-ever-afters on the silver screen, or cheering on sports teams, racers, politicians, or prize-fighters whose victories will never get us anywhere; and ice cream and popcorn make lonely company after awhile.

My point is this: make your escapes, and make them good. Use them well and wisely, and come back to us with whatever little thing you have gained. It is just possible that the wisdom we gather from reading fairytales could help us make real-world fairytale-endings a little less rare.

J. Aleksandr Wootton is the author of the Fayborn novels, available in paperback and digital formats from your favorite online bookseller.
His website is

Friday, September 27, 2013

Brains vs. Brawn, but who is the stronger?

Love by the letter was one of the more well written novellas I've read. Our hero has long been in love with the 'smart girl' in town. She's pretty, she's brainy, and he figures he doesn't stand a chance! Why? Because he can't spell worth beans and his reading is worse! How can he possibly expect the smartest girl in town to marry him and head out west to settle in Kansas? Meanwhile our delightful bookworm has spent her life secretly pining after our hero who in her eyes, won't give her the time of day! Every time she's ever tried to get his attention he runs the other way! What's a girl with an IQ to do but listen to her mother and go to college and get even smarter! It's brains meets brawn in this tale of misperceived intentions! Truly a delight! I'll be watching this author.  At the time of this writing, the book is FREE!

Find it on amazon

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Marcia Lynn McClure, A True Delight!

Meet the McCalls!

I must say, I was delighted when I stumbled across Marica Lynn McClure's The McCall Trilogy!  I do love a good series and wish Marcia had more books about the McCalls, but I suppose reading stories from three different generations of McCalls will have to suffice.

We begin with the charming Jackson McCall who finds a woman out in the middle of nowhere and takes her home to be nursed back to health by his mother Maggie.  Originally titled The Foundling and later changed to Desert Fire, I agree with the author who felt The Foundling was a much better description of the story.  Sold as a single title this story is under the afore mentioned Desert Fire.  The story however does remind one of a foundling.  Our heroine has no memory of who she is and only gets bits and pieces here and there throughout the story.  Add in a nasty villain hunting our heroine down, and Jackson McCall's charming yet tough as rawhide demeanor and you have a winning combination.

In our second story, To Echo the Past, we meet Michael McCall, son of Jackson McCall and who is just as charming and tough as nails as his father ever was.  He's also quite popular among the townsfolk and has definitely caught the eye of the new girl in town.  But our heroine has a little unwanted competition in the local 'self proclaimed belle of the ball' who has just returned from finishing school and who also has not only her eye on Michael, but tries her best to sink her claws into him as well!  Nothing like competition!  And always fun to read!  Just who will win the affection of our charming Michael McCall?

The third installment of our trilogy, An Old-Fashioned Romance, jumps forward a few generations to find Breck McCall working for a private investigation company and privately wishing she could date her handsome boss!  Little does she know she's not the only one!  And little does she know she's already caught the bosses eye!  With a little help from her friends she begins to see there's more to her boss than first meets the eye.  Breck also finds she's been hungering for more than love in this wonderful contemporary romance!

Enjoy all three stories in this delightful new trilogy!  I've found myself a new author to follow!

Friday, February 1, 2013

Short and Sweet But Also ... 

 I'm going to give the author five stars, (I don't give five stars very readily) and a note: Oh if only it was a little longer to really flesh everything out, but I understand if there was a word limit from Highland Press. And advice. Yes it's a short, sweet read. And for me, was a bit like reading a story synopsis for a movie script. Which, I think our dear author should think about. I believe I read something else by this same author as I've read a few anthology collections from Highland Press. But this story stood out as a great story line for a script. (Seriously, Ms. H. Think about it!). For the rest of you, read this touching little story and see if you don't agree. This read is short enough I'm going to give the reader's digest version. Nursing home aide Tess Murphy inherits old Victorian house from loving resident Emmeline who tells her of her parents first meeting and subsequent brief yet mysterious romance, marriage, and her own joyous birth shrouded in both love and tragedy. It's a movie, even if just for DVD. Jump on it Ms. Hatton, before someone else does.


Saturday, December 8, 2012

A Wonderful Holiday Read!

Debut author Camille Eide has stormed the book world with a witty tale of holiday love and forgiveness. Savanna Holt must return to the resort where years before she fell in love with handsome ski instructor Luke Nelson. Luke Nelson, whom she adored. Who could send her heart to racing but whose own heart she broke. Desperate to escape her past by climbing to the top of her game, Savanna leaves Luke and the Evergreen Ridge Resort to find her fortune and fame in the medical world. Now years later she's returned to the place that still holds her heart and the man whom she discovers holds it just as tightly. But what to do? Luke sees her as nothing but a success seeking diva. Someone who years before left him because his care free lifestyle as a mere ski instructor wasn't good enough, sophisticated enough for her. But sometimes God sees fit to arrange circumstances to fit His purposes. And a raging snow storm does just that. Being stuck together at Evergreen Ridge brings back memories and deep feelings in both Savanna and Luke. Will they listen to their hearts and let forgiveness heal a broken love that seems beyond repair? Or will they harbor the pain of the past? Find out in this heartwarming holiday tale! You'll be glad you did. Oh, and better have a cup of tea and some Christmas cookies handy. Camille paints a wonderfully, festive, Christmas picture! I actually had to go out and get some tea and cookies about half way through the story!

So go get your tea and cookies, then pick up a copy of Savanna's Gift here:

amazon   Barnes&Nobles

A Light In the Window Will Light Your Heart

Julie Lessman has done it again! Having read the Daughters of Boston series, this long awaited prequel will delight and warm the wintery heart. (Not to mention any other season your heart might be in!) For those of us who fell in love with Ms. Lessman's writing with 'A Passion Most Pure' , she holds true to her penchant for creating characters of warmth, heart, and dare I say "guts" that drive the story. Marcy Murphy and her best friend Julie (affectionately known as Jewels) are childhood friends reunited due to the financial crisis of the Railroads during the mid 1890's. Julie's brother Sam and his best friend Patrick are roguish gents whose flirtatious dallying with every girl they run into gives pause to enamored Marcy and Julie. That is until Marcy and Julie volunteer to help with a fundraiser to support St. Mary's Parrish soup kitchen. Thrown together to work on a play entitled "The Light In the Window", Marcy soon finds herself the object of affection of not one, but both of our handsome Irish rogues. But our boys don't exactly fit her idea of a Godly man and having both out to win her sends poor Marcy into a tailspin of emotions. Our gents do figure out a way to make sure their friendship stays intact and who will win the right to pursue our heroine. (Not saying anymore on that one! You'll have to read it to find out!). You'll laugh, you may even cry, but one things for sure, you'll not only fall in love with the characters, but 'see' how God's redemptive love works. I must say, Julie Lessman does have a unique knack for taking her characters from crisscrossed relationships, messed up lives and attitudes not to mention broken hearts, introduce a strong faith and God into the mix, and then masterfully have everything workout. By the time you get to the end of the book, you realize, "Wow! Only God could have done something like that!" And so He does. This is a good book of Julie's to start with for those of whom this is your first Lessman book. Trust me, you'll be hooked!
You can get a copy of this wonderful story of love and redemption here:

Amazon  Barnes&Nobles

Saturday, November 10, 2012

"Vanquish fear and panic. Value living. Remember your goal: Getting out alive." U.S. Army Ranger Handbook
Start a book out with a quote like that and you are going to have my attention. As an action/adventure reader and writer, I crave the thrill of the cliff hanger, the constant tension on each and every page that asks the inevitable question "What happens next?!" With Agartha's Castaway, (Book One of the Trapped in the Hollow Earth Novelette Series), you get to ask with not just the action, but a few other things as well. Here we have three friends, Mike - the flirty, care free surfer star. Jack - the hunky egghead. And Casey, the adventurous girl who has had a crush on Mike since, like, forever. While on vacation and fishing together the three are plunged (as in literally, they wind up in the drink) via an out of this world storm, into an incredible adventure. Lost at sea and now stranded on an island that's more than just "Way off the map," the trio tries their best to not only find their way off the island, but not lose their lives in the process. But that's just the adventure part. If you remember being a teenager, there are some things that are a constant. And a crush is one of them. Through strange storms, ship wreck, weird caves, sharks, and dare I add, really BIG spiders, (shivers, dreamed about spiders for days!) the life pulse of young love is hard to kill. Chrissy Peebles captures the essence of young love and mixes it with an adventure that keeps you turning the pages. You begin to see things going on within the trios relationships with each other, and have to wonder, hmmm ... just where might this be going? And I'm sure we'll all get to find out, so long as our heroes can all stay alive long enough. The best part of this wonderful action packed novelette? The price. It's free! Get a copy and enjoy!

Agartha's Castaway Book One

Pick up Book Two and with our three young heroes, continue the adventure.

Agartha's Castaway Book Two