Thursday, July 29, 2010

New Mock Cover Art for Match Maker

Hi Everyone,

I'm excited to share the two possible covers that will appear on my novel, Match Maker, coming out in September. I think the folks at Dreamspinner Press have done a fantastic job, but I can't make up my mind which I prefer. So please leave a comment or email me ( ) to let me
know which one appeals to you.

Match Maker Blurb.
In the four years since being forced off the professional tour for being gay, Daniel Bottega has taught tennis at a second-rate country club. He found a sanctuary to hide from an unkind world, while his lover, Jared Stoderling, fought a losing battle with alcohol addiction to cope with his disappointment of not playing on the pro circuit.

Now Daniel has another chance at the tour by coaching tennis prodigy Connor Lin to a Grand Slam championship win. He shares his chance with Jared by convincing him to return to the pro circuit as Connor’s doubles partner.

Competing on the world tour is challenging enough, but Daniel and Jared also face major mediaattention, political fallout from the pro association, and a shocking amount of hate that threatens Connor’s career in tennis, Jared’s love for Daniel, and Daniel’s very life.

Cover #1

And Cover #2

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Book Reivew: Lonnie, Me and the Hound of Hell by Marian Allen

Reviewed by Victor J. Banis
Published by Smashwords

The best word to describe Marian Allen’s short story collection, Lonnie, Me and the Hound of Hell, is extraordinary. Extraordinary in the most literal sense, for starters, because there isn’t a single story among these ten that could be described anywise as “ordinary.” Here is a partial summing up of their themes: In trying to negotiate a deal with the devil, a man believes he’s summoned up instead the devil’s own dog. Two tiny mice come to the rescue of a terrorized little girl. Hmm—over here, we’ve got zombies and man eating wolves. Not to mention Wicca and dueling sorceresses fighting over a horse and a sort of fish. Plus an extra-terrestrial dog. Vampires fixing horse races. Metaphoric (I think) crocodiles, and a gay cat who outwits more aliens to save his boyfriend. So, mostly animal tales, but definitely not your run of the mill animal tales.

They are all of them extraordinary as well in the quality of the writing, which is brilliant indeed. To be sure, there are chills and thrills here and some mystery, at least in the sense of the mysterious, and even romance (if you can think of a gay Persian in romantic terms) but what strikes me as the most salient element in all these stories is a razor sharp and often wry wit.

But, if the collection as a whole is far from the ordinary, the individual stories themselves are hardly any less different from one another–which makes reviewing the book difficult, since I can hardly review every one of them singly, and what I can tell you about one might have little bearing on the next.

Take the title story, for instance, possibly my favorite. Lonnie, Me and the Hound of Hell is roll on the floor funny. Two good ole boys baptize—yes, you read that right—what Lonnie thinks is the Hound from Hell. To do this, they need holy water, and they make their own holy water by taking some ordinary tap water and boiling the hell out of it. Which I think ought to give you the flavor of this one without giving any more than that away. But, don’t expect anything else in the collection to have this same artfully captured voice.

High Stakes has an altogether different voice, and it is funny, too, but in a far more uptown, Damon Runyan way. Vlad the Roumanian hires a mortal detective to find out why his race horses keep losing, and sends the Satin Doll to assist in the investigation, with hilarious results.

In Sledgehammer, the author simply drops you down in a chase scene on, one presumes, the Russian Steppes, with the narrator and his parakeet (I told you these were not ordinary) pursued by zombies riding on wolves. High drama indeed.

And Mr. Sugar, in Mr. Sugar versus the Martians, is that gay Persian I told you about, who gets abducted by little green men who want to “sample” him, but gets his fur up when they also steal the “boy next door,” the object of his affections, and the little green men learn what others have learned before them – When his Sweetie is threatened, a gay male can turn from Sugar to Wildcat in the flick of a tail. Or, put it another way, neutered doesn’t necessarily mean “no balls.”

Well, if all this sounds a little outré to you, be assured that the author makes it all not only believable but quite accessible—I suspect there’s a little witchcraft at work there, frankly. My advice is, just get the e-book for yourself, especially if you like animals – priced at $1.49 it’s a true bargain. Just don’t expect to read Dick and Jane and Spot. These are not those kinds of creatures.

Oh, you can read excerpts here:

Monday, July 26, 2010

What I’ve been reading

Over the last weeks I’ve managed to read four fine books, and most I’ve posted reviews on his blog. They are:

Gailias: Operation Thunderspell by Kage Alan. Published by Zumaya Boundless. This a funny romp for a pair of gay secret agents, who are also lovers, working for the government. This novel has all the wit and banter that Kage Alan fans have come to expect.

Princess Of The Andes by Victor Banis. Published by Untreed Reads Publishing. A passenger on the freighter Princess of the Andes makes himself into a bore, driving the captain and crew up the walls. But then the ship’s doctor comes up with a surprising remedy that will bring a smile to your lips.

Tales My Body Told Me by Wayne Courtois. Published by Lethe Press. Paul Lavarnway finds himself in a group home for “recovering homosexuals”. He shares the home with four other live-in patents and one counselor. He struggles through a drug-induced haze to piece together his life and how he came to be there. As the puzzle falls into place, some strange things begin to happen in the home. Dangerous things.

Disgrace by J. M. Coetzee. Published by Penguin Books. Professor David Lurie loses everything when it is discovered he is having an affair with a young, female student. In disgrace, he flees his home to visit his lesbian daughter who owns a farm in South Africa. While there, an unimaginable act of violence forces father and daughter to confront their already strained relationship.

Lastly, I’d like to mention a book I’m still reading. Story by Robert McKee. Published by Harper Collins. It is one of the finest books on writing that I’ve read. It is geared towards screenwriting, but what McKee has to say is equally as valid for fiction writers. He discusses substance, structure, style, and the principles of writing stories. I highly recommend this book to any serious writer.

alan chin

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Book Review: Gailias: Operation Thunderspell by Kage Alan

Reviewed by Alan Chin
Published by Zumaya Boundless
Pages: 221

Nicholas and Anthony are not only secret agents working for the U.S. government, they are also lovers. Yes, a pair of gay 007s. Nicholas is the brawn of the duo; Anthony is the brains. They are opposites in almost every way, including the fact that Nicholas is Caucasian and Anthony is Chinese. And do opposites attract? Don’t bet on it. Only one thing is certain, when they come together, sparks fly.

They are paired up with Debora, a razor-tongued agent, and sent to a resort island in the Philippines where some very shady dealings seem to be going on, having to do with a new terrorist organization, ever-so-descriptively called, the League. But it’s not your typical sun-sand-surf resort island, it’s an S/M theme park, where all of the guests play a role as either a master or a slave. On this island, the Asians are the masters and the Caucasians are the slaves. Anthony is given an undercover guise that lets him be a master, while Nicholas must submit to being a slave. While Anthony has it easy, Nicholas falls under the brutal hand of The Ball.

Things become more complicated when they find they are not the only secret agents on the island. It seems that Rice and Christian are also there to acquire information; although it’s not certain which government they are working for. In all the confusion, bullets fly, buildings explode, helicopters are blown out of the sky. But do the good guys win? Do we even know who the good guys are? The only certainty is a surprise on every page.

Kage Alan is an extremely funny writer, and this novel shows him at his best. It’s much like watching a Marx Brother’s film, that is, if the Marx Brothers had been gay. Or more appropriately: a gay I Spy vs. Scooby Doo. Nicholas and Anthony spend the novel dissing each other, as only two witty and bitchy lovers can do. The only time they are not dissing each other is when they gang up to diss someone else. This novel has all the wit and banter that Kage Alan fans have come to expect.

There is nothing here to take seriously. It is a lighthearted romp with a couple of razor-tongued queens. The protagonists are in their thirties, which is a departure from Mr. Alan’s previous books. This humor is geared to an adult audience. On the one hand I appreciated the more mature humor. On the other hand, I think this book lost much of the sensitivity that Mr. Alan’s previous novels had, when Andy Stevenson was dealing with issues of coming out.

Still, if you're in need of a good laugh, page after page, then set your sights on Gailias: Operation Thunderspell, and be prepared to be entertained.

For more information about his book or author, go to

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Short Story Review: Princess Of The Andes by Victor J. Banis

Reviewed by Alan Chin
Published by Untreed Reads Publishing

The Princess of the Andes is a freighter registered in Ecuador, making a trip from Los Angeles, through the Panama Canal, to Haiti. In addition to cargo, she also carries passengers looking for cheap transportation to Latin America. One of these passengers, Randolph Letterman, has signed on for the whole cruise to Haiti, and back to L.A.

Everything starts off fine. The weather is grand and they make good time. But as the trip progresses, Randolph makes himself into a bit of a bore. In an effort to be social to Captain Herrman and the crew, Randolph becomes too talkative, too much of a know-it-all, until he has everyone aboard avoiding him. The situation gradually becomes worse until Captain Herrman threatens to throw Randolph overboard so he can enjoy his meals in silence.

It is then that the ship’s doctor comes up with a plan. In his estimation, Randolph is a lonely, older, gay man who desperately needs to get laid. The Doctor suggests, that if they are to get any quiet, then someone from the crew should volunteer to satisfy the old man. That alone will shut him up. The Captain is willing to try anything, but whose to bell the cat?

For several years now, I have been a fan of Victor Banis’s work, whether it be a four-hundred page novel or a ten page short story, Victor puts the same level of artistic talent into everything he writes. And needless to say, I was not in the least bit disappointed with The Princess of the Andes.

I love his superlative voice, his quirky characters, his well-constructed plots. This story is a joy to read. It carries the reader along, and then gives him/her a playful little slap in the face at the end.

I’ve said it before, that I think it takes more talent to craft a short story than a novel, and Victor shows his considerable talent in spades. If you want to spend a joyful half-hour, read The Princess of the Andes.

To read more about this story and/or Victor J. Banis go to

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Writing Tip #19 – Choosing a writing partner, or not?

This is a topic I’ve been churning over for months. You see, I’ve written five novels and two screenplays all by my lonesome, with little or no input from anyone else. But a few months ago I teamed up with a writing partner, Ed, to write a new screenplay. Collaborating on a story has been an interesting experience, both rewarding and frustrating.

The idea for the story was purely mine. I approached Ed to work with me on it because he has a great deal of knowledge about how to best structure a script, and how to structure each scene. He is good at structure; I’m good at creating a compelling story. It seemed like a match made in heaven, but the results have been mixed.

So over the past few months, we’ve created character profiles, a theme statement, a log line, a high level outline, plot points, and thirty pages of script. (about 25% of a full script). He has now focused on completing a medium level outline while I am pounding out the script itself.

The work has moved along at a slower pace than I’m used to, but I’m ok with that because the script is reading really good so far, and I’m sure it will take much less rewriting than I’m used to. And I must say that his input into the story, the structure, and the script have made it a better read than I would have done by this stage in the project. Bottom line: it’s a much better work because of our collaboration.

So where is the rub? I’ll tell you. Because I must respect and allow his input into the story, it has changed from what I originally had intended. That’s not a bad thing, because it is a better story. The problem is, that I’m not nearly as motivated to write this new story, simply because it is no longer my story. I don’t have the same passion for it. Hence, I’ve been avoiding working on it, and it feels like work, not something I do for pleasure.

The upside is, I’m learning tons about structuring a script, not to mention that the script is very good. But I’m losing interest in it day by day. I’ve already begun another script that will be purely mine.

So, when selecting a writing partner, I have two suggestions. First, be sure that you’re willing to write someone else’s story, because it won’t be totally your own once you take on a partner. Second, choose someone that will complement your weaknesses, someone you can learn from. That way, even if you don’t finish the project, you will become a better writer.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Call For Submissions: Thanksgiving Short Story Anthology

Untreed Reads Publishing is in the process of creating an anthology of short stories to be released on November 1st as a Thanksgiving release.

Working Title: The Killer Wore Cranberry

This anthology is designed to be a humorous mystery anthology. Only mysteries with a definite humor angle to them will be accepted or considered. What we're looking for are stories geared around the most popular Thanksgiving dishes: turkey, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, pumpkin pie, etc.. As long as it's a regularly-featured food at Thanksgiving, we're open to how you work it in. Please note that it is unlikely we will publish multiple stories of the same food (i.e.: no two stories where pumpkin pie is featured).

As this is a short story anthology, submissions need to be between 3500-5000 words in length. We may be willing to accept longer works depending on the content. Previously published material is ok for submission providing that all electronic rights have reverted to the author. Stories that have been published previously need to be notated as such, along with the information as to where it first appeared.

The intention is to release each short story as its own release under our existing /Fingerprints /short story line, but there will also be an all-in-one edition at a lower price than purchasing the stories individually to encourage readers to pick up the entire anthology.

Editor-In-Chief Jay Hartman will serve as Editor for this anthology.

Deadline for submissions is September 30th, 2010. Email submissions ONLY, and they MUST be in DOC format, Times New Roman, 12pt. Submissions received that are not in this format will be deleted. Please include the word "Thanksgiving" in your subject line. All stories should be sent to . Submissions sent to other email addresses will not be recognized. If an insufficient amount of usable entries are received, this anthology may be withdrawn, and such withdrawal will be announced no later than September 15th.

Please repost/cross-promote this Call with fellow authors/blogs/lists, etc..

Questions regarding this Call should be directed to Editor-In-Chief Jay Hartman at .

Jay Hartman
Untreed Reads Publishing
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Saturday, July 17, 2010

On A Roll

It seems that lady luck is smiling on me these days. About a month ago, I mentioned that I had signed with Dreamspinner Press to publish my third novel, Match Maker, this coming September. I was still giddy over that stroke of fortune when I received another contract from them today. It seems the good folks at Dreamspinner want to publish my fourth novel, Butterfly’s Child, in early December.

Needless to say, I’m thrilled. A writer spends years on a story, all the while never knowing if it will see the light of day. S/he journeys forth, armed with only a belief in their own talent, and often that belief is a fragile thing indeed. It can be a lonely life filled with self-doubt.

So when professionals at a respected publishing house think enough of that story to gamble their time and money on its success, that is like the heavens opening up and rays of pure energy beaming down to fill the soul. It means that people, hopefully hordes, will read and appreciate your work. It is a sweet feeling indeed, and I am basking in it as I type.

A colossal thanks goes out to the folks at Dreamspinner Press. These are truly the people who make dreams come true.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Book Review: Tales My Body Told Me by Wayne Courtois

Reviewed by Alan Chin
Published by Lethe Press
Pages: 303

Paul Lavarnway lives a comfortable life with his partner, Eric. Then Paul meets and becomes infatuated with Richard, a man he meets at the local gym. They have an affair that begins as car-sex at the gym parking lot, and progresses to a date at Richard’s house. Of course, after lying to Eric about his activities, Eric finds out about the affair and leaves Paul.

Thus begins a series of events that leads Paul to East Oak House in the town of Two Piers, Maine – a group home for “recovering homosexuals”. The house is a seedy place Paul shares with four other men trying to go straight with the help of a live-in counselor. The author turns this situation on its head, however, when the inmates begin to have nightly orgies. But there is something else amiss, and even though Paul is kept in a drug-induced mist for most of the story, he determines that something is terribly wrong. The question is, can Paul figure it out before things turn deadly?

This story is essentially a murder mystery, although the reader doesn’t realize that until nearly the end of the story. The plot, although clever, is difficult to follow and seems to wander aimlessly for the first two-hundred pages. Part of the confusion stems from the fact that the narrator is drugged and not thinking properly. His memories are disjointed, and he struggles to make sense of his life. The reader sees Paul’s world through his confusion. As Paul begins to see his life more clearly, so does the reader. The author manages to pull all the seemingly lose ends together in the end and make sense of it all. It is an ambitious plot, and a clever way to structure the story.

The thing I most enjoyed about the story was the author’s voice. Written in present tense, the prose is often impeccable. It carries the reader along as if in a dream. I think Wayne Courtois has one of the finest voices in modern fiction.

As much as I enjoyed reading his prose, I had numerous issues with the story. The main problem I had was that I didn’t care for the protagonist until the last fifty pages, and by then it was too late to care about his story. He comes off as a shallow and unsavory character, not the kind of person a reader normally wants to invest their time in.

I also had an issue with the pacing. Even though the prose was lovely, the story delved into uninteresting detail that drastically slowed the story to a crawl. I was often tempted to skip pages in order to move the story along.

There were a number of scenes with graphic sex, which I thought did little to move the plot forward. For me, that detracted from the story.

The last thing I’ll mention is that, in tying together all the plot points, the author presented several situations that were either way too coincidental, or simply unbelievable. It made the whole of the story seem false, at least in my eyes. That, more than anything, was disappointing. I expected more from such a talented writer.

Tales My Body Told Me is a bold story that breaks the mold of gay literature. It tells the story of a middle-aged man, struggling in a world that doesn’t appreciate him. In many ways the story is brilliant, and one is inclined to overlook the flaws. This is a book I can recommend to readers who like something quite different, and relish a challenge.

For more info on this author or book, go to

Wednesday, July 14, 2010



July 22 @ 7:30pm
Celebrate DORE ALLEY w/ ALEX IRONROD (Obsession: Leather Masters and Slaves)
Alex Ironrod's latest novel is the final segment of the trilogy about Tarquin and Paul and their adventures in today's leather world in LA, Palm Springs and England. It's a penetrating look at the dynamics of man-to-man sexual relationships, always evolving and diversifying and provides a powerful and dramatic conclusion to Ironrod's three BDSM novels - Submission, Domination and now Obsession (all three will be available for signing).

August 3 @ 7:30pm
Stephen McCauley (Insignificant Others) & Sebastian Stuart (The Hour Between)

Two of the most celebrated gay novelists of their generation come to our store for the very first time. Insignificant Others, about a gay affair with a married man, is currently in the running for our AUGUST BOOK CLUB SELECTION. Set in the late 1960s, The Hour Between is a compelling portrait of a time and place, replete with drugs, sex, Andy Warhol, and some of the sharpest and funniest dialogue in recent memory.

August 13 @ 7pm
DEL SHORES'S SORDID AFFAIR (creator/director and cast of Sordid Lives reunite!)

Come, meet and greet the creator/director and cast - Ann Walker (LAVonda), Newell Alexander (Wardell), Rosemary Alexander (Dr. Eve) and Jason Dottley (Ty) - of one of the most beloved subversive camp comedies ever about a white trash Southern family. Copies of the feature film as well as the hard-to-find TV series on DVD will be available for signing after the audience Q&A.

All our events are FREE and OPEN to the public.

For more information
visit our blog:
follow us on Twitter
like us on Facebook

or contact Oscar Raymundo
Events Coordinator

A Different Light
489 Castro Street
San Francisco, CA 94114

(415) 431 0891

Monday, July 12, 2010

No Rest For The Wicked

I was on track to finish the conversion of my novel Island Song to past tense at the end of this week. I'm really pleased at the work because I'm also tightening the prose as I go. I'm really a much better writer now than when I wrote IS. However, I received the edits for my novel Match Maker from Dreamspinner Press today. I now must go through and examine every edit, approve or reject each one, and I've only got ten days to do it. Doing some quick math tells me I must edit thirty-five pages per day. That's a lot.

I'm not complaining. I'm actually thrilled that my new publisher did the first round of edits so quickly (they do two rounds). But this means I'll be heads-down working for the next ten days, especially if I hope to continue making progress on converting Island Song to past tense.

Don't be surprised if you don't here from me over the next week. lol



Saturday, July 10, 2010

Writing Tip # 18 - Using of Copyrighted Material

There once was a time when you could include a few lines of a song or poem, or quote another book, and no one cared. That time is gone.

To use any quoted material from a work under copyright, you must have official permission from the rights holder. In the case of a published work, this is almost always the publisher, and it will cost money. Expect to pay $250-$500 for up to 100 words for the first 5,000 copies sold (although some may set the maximum at 2,000), after which an additional fee may be required. Fees of $1,000 and more are not out of the question.

Phrases that have been used so often ("Make My Day.") can still be used with impunity, although even then it's technically a copyright violation.

If you're determined to use a bit of copyrighted material, it's your job to obtain the necessary permission. It takes time and money.

Be aware that when it comes to copyrighted material these days "just a little" is too much.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Book Review: Visible Lives

Reviewed by Alan Chin
Published by Kensington Books
Pages: 342

Visible Lives was published to commemorate the one-year anniversary of the death of E. Lynn Harris, one of gay fiction’s best-loved authors. This is a collection of three novellas from African-American gay fiction writers who had some association with Harris. Each story begins with a heartfelt introduction outlining how the author knew Harris and the effect Harris had on their work.

The First story, The Intern by Terrance Dean, tells the tale of Chase, a television executive who has dated a string of losers until a summer intern working in his office comes on to him. The intern is sexy, caring, passionate and hung – everything Chase needs. The problem? The intern is much younger. This is basically a story about how Chase got his groove back.
This turned out to be a moderately entertaining story. I found the characters to be somewhat one dimensional and the plot overly predictable. There were, however, several clever scenes and the dialog was often funny. It’s not a story I would rank high on my list, but it was certainly an enjoyable read.

Story number two, Is It Still Jood to Ya? by James Earl Hardy, tells of how Raheim tries to lure his ex-lover back in order to save their family, at a time when his ex-lover is getting ready to fly off and spend time with another man. Fate steps in and grounds all flights, giving Raheim the opportunity he needs.
I had significant issues with this story. Cardboard characters, page after page of useless dialog that failed to move the story forward, and ending with forty pages of questions and answers in an interview format that was so utterly boring that I couldn’t finish it. This story, in my opinion, is poorly written and tedious. To top it off, every time the author used the word “good” (which was often) he replaced it with “jood”, which pulled me out of the story every time. It became extremely annoying. I can’t recommend this story.

The third and last story, House of John by Stanley Bennett Clay, turned out to be my favorite of the three. A middle-aged man, Jesse, is devastated when he finds that his long-term lover is cheating on him. To retaliate he joins a group of other gay men on a sex vacation in the Dominican Republic that promises a wealth of sexual opportunities with the local hustlers. Although he craves uncomplicated sex with sexy young studs, he finds that he has issues exploiting the locals. But then he meets a local guy who is not only drop-dead-gorgeous, but is also NOT a hustler. The two begin a very sweet romance. But where will it lead?
This story is unique, intelligent and fun. The characters seem real and have depth, and the situations are interesting, sometimes even gripping. It is very well written and the pace moves along at a good clip. This one story made the trilogy worth reading. I can highly recommend it.

I have never read any of E. Lynn Harris’s works, so I’m no judge of how closely these stories come to his style or quality of writing. All three had a heavy erotic content, which seldom detracted from the storyline. And all three had two other things in common, they centered around an African-American man looking for a relationship, and all three managed to work Harris’s name into the storyline. For the most part, the way each one weaved Harris into the story seemed awkward, and somewhat cheesy. Overall, two of the three stories are certainly worth a look. I do recommend this book.

Monday, July 5, 2010

The 4th of July

This is one of my favorite times of year for two reasons. The first is that I love hot weather, and by July the heat is hitting its stride for the summer months. I love it. But the second reason is that I adore fireworks. There are few things in life I enjoy more than a fine pyrotechnic display. Can say why, but lighting up the night sky with color gives me a rush I can’t find with anything else.

I suppose that makes me an old kid. Okay, so be it. At least a kid at heart. It’s nice to be thrilled with something, even if it only comes once or twice per year. It’s one of the reasons I travel through Asia during Chinese New Year. They always do great fireworks.

So I watched the New York display last night on TV. It was so fantastic I could hardly breathe. Tonight, the Marin County fair is having their final night, and they will be launching their final pyrotechnic show. I will have a ringside seat.

So here’s to the kid in all of us.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Writing Tip #17 – Sound

Prose creates sound. Accomplished writers not only tell a story or paint a picture with words, they pay attention to the sound of language, to its rhythms, breaks, alliterations, rhymes and echoes. Good writing translates into immaculate prose, beautiful to hear and beautiful to read.

Musical notes reverberate in tiny waves, always growing louder or softer. The same is true for prose. And sound can be one of the harder problems to diagnose and correct. You want it to flow. The last thing you want is a jarring sound that pulls the reader out of the dream.

The most common dilemma with sound results from poor sentence construction. The root problem is caused by awkward sentence division – misuse of commas, periods, colons, semicolons, dashes and parentheses.

In some cases sentences are simply too short or too long.

Another problem is echoes, using a character’s name or some other word too often. Many authors use “he” and “she” too often. Also, using an unusual word that stands out too often. I have a habit of using “he” or “she” to start several sentences in a row, as in “He said this. He did that. He heard something. He turned around.” It quickly gets monotonous.

Yet another issue is Alliteration, where the repetition of the first letter of a word and the first letter of a following word is the same – for instance, the “large lock” or “walking down the wide street.”

The best way to catch sound issues is by reading the text aloud. On my Mac, I can highlight the text and have the computer read it aloud. I can’t tell you how many problems I’ve caught doing this.

Once you identify an issue, an effective way to deal with it is to cut and/or simplify. Many writers equate complexity of thought with complexity of sentence structure. I believe that is a huge mistake. To present ideas simply and clearly is next to Godliness.

Bottom line is to pay close attention to the sound of your prose.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Short Story Review: The Lawyer, The Ghost and The Cursed Chair by Ruth Sims

Reviewed by Alan Chin
Published by Untreed Reads Publishing

Horatio Lamar (H.L.) Snodgrass IV comes from a long line of successful Lawyers. At the height of his own success, he decides to do an office makeover, and he pays someone to haul away some tattered furniture that has been in his family for generations. That night, H.L. is visited by the ghost of Hawkins Forsythe Snodgrass, H.L.’s Great-great-great Grandfather. Hawkins tells H.L. that he should have never gotten rid of a certain chair, because it had a curse on it. If H.L. doesn’t get the chair back soon, a string of misfortunes will surely befall him. H.L. chocks the vision up to a bad food combination, and ignores the ghost’s warning. But that night his boyfriend leaves him, the next day his wife cleans out the joint bank accounts and drops him like second-period Spanish, he wrecks his car, and his secretary sues him for sexual harassment. It begins to dawn on H.L. that maybe he should get that damned chair back. Thus begins this hilarious journey.

This is a fun, fun read. It is not one of those stories that had me laughing out loud, but rather, it had me glowing with joy. The language, characters and situations all combined to tickle my funny bone. There was nothing deep about this read. It’s a pleasure that one treats oneself to, like a rich dessert only without the calories.

For me, comedy is the most difficult thing to pull off, and Ruth Sims shows off her notable skill and imagination with this little gem. This is the kind of story you want to have handy on a gloomy day, because it will most certainly cheer you up.

I can highly recommend this read to anyone who enjoys quirky characters and funny situations. Or for that matter, to anyone who just needs a good laugh.

For more information about this fine author go to