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March 6, 2015

In celebration of the virtual completion of the long-awaited (at least by the me, the author) second book in the Last Nevergate Chronicles, I designed a real (vs a placeholder) cover. Both the story and the cover took me into unexpected dark territory and I'm sorta glad to climb up out of there for a while. The 62,000-word almost-a-complete-draft manuscript is now locked into the Aging Box, where it will, I hope, mature like a fine cheese before I fire up the Slice & Dicer, aka the Rewrite Machine.

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January 6, 2015

I got a copy of the hardcover edition from the author in exchange for nothing at all: it was a Christmas gift. Least I could do is write an honest review, right?

Because I'm inclined toward contrarianism, I'm going to put my bottom line at the top. As product-hawkers say in the fine print, your reading experience may differ, but for me, A Small Indiscretion is a thoroughly engaging, top-drawer first novel by a smart, classy writer. And it’s even better the second time around.*

Some books, I read once and that’s enough. Even excellent, 5-star books by excellent authors. No matter how satisfying the book was on that first reading, I just know I’ll never read it again. Others, I’ll read over and over, although I usually let some water flow under the bridge between readings.

In the case of A Small Indiscretion not so much water has flowed between first and second readings. A day. And I have to confess that I so far in this second reading am still in awe of Annie Black, the protagonist/narrator, and by extension, author Jan Ellison. More so, even. Some of the awe has to do with the raw, almost painful honesty that comes through in Annie’s descriptions of her own frailties and misadventures, and her evolution as a human being over the two decades spanned by the story.

But that’s not all of it. A particular treat for me was descriptions of places I’ve visited and more that I haven’t. I got to experience places in London and Paris, for example, in ways I probably wouldn’t have even if I’d been standing right next to Annie Black. There’s a simultaneous simplicity and richness in the writing that’s almost paradoxical. As a writer, it's hard not to appreciate that. It's also hard not to appreciate the unobtrusive insights on life and love that add cognitive weight to the narrative. Annie Black is a character who sees below the surface and Jan does a sleek job of inserting Annie's hard won wisdom here and there with grace and a gentle touch.

I also found myself appreciating Annie Black's family. Daughters Clara and Polly acted like real kids, not afterthoughts or cardboard stand-ins for flesh-and-blood offspring. A minor appreciation, maybe, but a novel that can be enjoyed time and again is made up of many such minor appreciations.

On the first reading I was pulled through book by the mysteries. They sucked me right in and kept me turning pages until I got to the last page (after a satisfying denouement). Although no bloody corpse appeared on the first page, I didn't find it the least bit slow starting and read it in two sittings with only an interruption for sleep. One of the mysteries I had to have solved was whether or not Annie was going to eventually give her intensely personal epistle to her young adult son; some of the biologically graphic disclosures might be called "too much information" in today's vernacular, after all. As with any novel with mysteries, I had my guesses; some turned out correct, some not-so-much. I like that in a novel.

As a fellow novelist I'm always looking for storytelling chops I might be able to steal or at least emulate. So this second time I around I’m reading more for appreciation of the author’s storytelling craft, how the hooks were planted, hints dropped and the pieces of the puzzle assembled at just the right times.

I’m also allowing myself to just soak in Jan's narrative voice and her command of nuance: in other words, the color and depth of her writing, the authentic ring of the dialog, stuff like that. And I’m taking it slower, like the way my mother always said I should eat. Not wolfing it down, but letting my literary tastebuds capture every bit of savor in the language.

So far, this second reading is even more satisfying than the first. A good sign.

*Confession: I've actually read iterations this novel more than twice already. Way more than twice. Except it had other titles before the wise folk at Random House scooped it up. Being a Very Early Reader is one of the benefits of being related to the author by birth.   ~ ETE

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December 10, 2014

TIME TO TANGO WITH TILLIE & BIG-HEAD

You really want to be an early adopter for this "sorta-kinda christmassy" fable. That way you can kick back and read it on December 24th and see if you can stifle the urge to get out that can of Raid under the sink. Just kidding about the Raid. The PDF is only ten pages of big whimsical type, so it's not like I'm asking you to speed-read a novel or anything. Oh, and it's got pictures, too. So even better than reading it by yourself would be reading it out loud to some rapt kidlets.

A free PDF copy of Tango Tillie & Big-Head Billy is my whimsical holiday gift to the world this year, so please take me up on it. Then you can play Santa yourself by sending free copies to your friends, family, co-workers, etc. And pretty soon you could all be talking sympathetically about a termite for the first time in the recorded history of human-insect relations. Wouldn't that be fun!

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December 5, 2014

LAST DAYS TO GET THE LUCK OF MADONNA 13 FOR 99¢!

The Luck of Madonna 13 was featured today on Ereader News Today and an amazing thing happened: ebooks got bought. Dozens of them. By actual readers. Sales records are falling like digital dominoes. Seriously, that's a big thrill. Lloyd Lofthouse's blog said they generated sales for him and I figured I'd give them a shot. So far, they're the only similar service that's actually generated sales. So cool.

November 18, 2014

NOT FOR NANOWRIMO, BUT SO WHAT?

Sorta feel like Stephen King and his Gunslinger series (don't I wish). Took him a long time to bang out the second book. And it's taken me a long time to bang out the second book in the Last Nevergate Chronicles. But some very kind reviewers of The Luck of Madonna 13 (Book One) recently said they were anxiously awaiting Book Two.  Thank you Kind Reviewers. I'm now up to about 40,000 words, which I figure is about 5,000 words shy of the halfway point. For me, that's pretty cool because it sat at 13,000 for a decade. To put even more pressure on little old me, I designed a graphic tonight that may or may not be part of the cover for The Mask of Madonna 13. Note that I even put a hashtag on it. Wow, am I, like totally on it, Dude/Dudette?  ~ ETE

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November 6, 2014

GET THE LUCK OF MADONNA 13 FOR CHEAP!

November 5, 2014

ONE THING LEADS TO ANOTHER…GIVEAWAY

October 17, 2014

MAYBE THE COOLEST GHOSTWRITING GIG EVER

October 7, 2014

NEW FREE THINGS RIGHT HERE

September 10, 2014

WE GOT ASCRIBED

NEWS

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