Monthly Archives: November 2015

Cover Art

Cover Art

Happy St. Andrews Day!

I am pleased to announce Urban Mermaid, the first installment in the Tails From Colony Island series, is now available for purchase in both paperback and e-book editions. The book is published by Moonlight Gardens Publications, an imprint of Gazebo Gardens Publishing, LLC.

I would like to thank Shelly & Caitlyn Moore at Gazebo Gardens  for all their hard work in getting this book ready for publication, Ilsie Om at The Woodsy Fawn for her wonderful cover design, Emm Cole, S.K. Munt, Pete Tarsi, and everyone else who contributed in one way or another to the pre-publication process.

Finally, I would like to thank Judi, my bride of 40 years for all of her encouragement and ongoing support as well as reading the first draft, even when fantasy books just aren’t her thing.

Given that the holidaze are upon us, I am forgoing the traditional launch parties, blog tours, etc. until after the first of the year. Everyone has so much to do between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day.

Stop by colonyisland.com to keep up with The Latest.

ISBN
978-1-938281-72-3 Paperback
978-1-938281-73-0 E-Book

Oh rapture! Oh bliss!

Seriously, I’ve discovered that there is light at the end of the tunnel and it’s not merely an oncoming train. Urban Mermaid now has a firm release date – November, 30th, 2015. Be still, my heart!

The thirtieth of November is St. Andrew’s Day. For those of you who may not ken, Saint Andrew is the patron saint of Scotland and since one of the main characters is named Macpherson, I think that the 30th is quite appropriate.

I had originally planned to hold a launch party on the release day but the Holiday season will be in full swing a week from today. Trying to shoehorn a launch party in everything involved with the run-up to Hanukkah, Christmas, and the feast of Mithras is a non-starter. Instead, I’m going to try and see if I can get something going on January 30th – maybe a launch party/book signing at Barnes and Noble in Charlottesville.

Meanwhile, there’s fruitcakes to bake and gifts to buy. Yes, Virginia, there is light at the end of the tunnel.

By The Way, I’ll make a formal announcement on the 30th of November. Stay tuned.

Somehow, I made it through round 1 of fruitcake production relatively unscathed. I burned my left thumb sliding the loaves into the (hot) oven and somehow acquired a small cut on my right pinkie. Even my back behaved – for once.

I mentioned the paucity of mixing bowls in an earlier post but I did all right with the assortment of pots and bowls I did have on hand. The only negative was discovering that the beaters that go with the mixer in Mom’s kitchen had been abducted by aliens. This meant I had to use an old-fashioned egg-beater and well as a wooden spoon and a good bit of muscle.

I’ll try to rectify the equipment shortage whilst I’m home for Thanxgiving. Round 2 of fruitcake fever takes place on Tuesday or Wednesday night of the following week. I’m saving the gingerbread cookies for when I’m home for the holidaze.

On tap for tonight, I gently remove the loaves from their pans, warp them in paper cloths soaked in cream sherry, and let the curing begin. I’ll refresh the cloths the next two Monday evenings and this batch will be ready to ship.

I used to soak them in Golden Sherry but that has become almost impossible to find.

Mer Tales # 4

Mer Tales # 4

by Brenda Pandos

Over the past four years, Brenda Pandos has entertained readers – both young and old – with her Mer Tales series. Evermore is the latest and hopefully, not the last, installment. Like its predecessors, Evermore is a fast-paced story with copious plot twists and turns which will keep fans guessing until the very end.

The story opens following a very eventful five months for both Ashley Lanski and Finley Helton. Fin has saved Ash’s life, the couple have become promised mates, Ash has become a mermaid, Ash has discovered she was originally born a mermaid, the couple have been part of a coup d’etat in Natatoria, and all this only begins to scratch the surface.

Now, the two are preparing to return home from Natatoria, the aquatic realm beneath the earth’s mantle with a political system worthy of a dozen doctoral dissertations, and reunite with her adoptive parents. If only things were that simple. Ash and Fin will arrive on the shores of Lake Tahoe to find they are in hot water with the authorities, Ash’s parents, and there are still four more weeks of school left before graduation. Throw in the announcement that Ash and Fin are engaged and plan to be married in August and you have the beginnings of a perfect storm.

My heart gushed with happiness as I listened to him defend his love for me, that I was his everything.

Natatorian males have a persuasive way about them and no, this does not mean brass knuckles. They possess the ability to sing their way out of most situations involving humans and Fin is quite capable when it comes to handling things. This is precisely what Ash does not want him to do. She is tired of watching her family enter a zombie-like state whenever Fin warbles their way out of sticky situations.

Ash would prefer to handle things with carefully thought out and honest – well, mostly honest – explanations. This desire is honoured more in the breach than the observance as there are just too many odd things happening and too many sights which should not be seen. This conglomeration is something that simply cannot explained away as their wedding day approaches. Ash fears her human family will wind up with minds of mush before it’s all over.

As if there was not enough drama, Ash discovers she is in the family way and the wedding needs to take place sooner rather than later. The reason for this is because Brenda’s mermaids have a radically foreshortened gestation period. While it is not too unusual for human brides to be carrying something in addition to a bouquet as they walk down the aisle, Ash will be on the cusp of an exponentially expanding baby bump when the wedding takes place three weeks hence.

With the bride’s three month planning schedule contracting into three weeks, additional help is needed to stage this wedding before the bride starts experiencing contractions. Help arrives in the form of Natatorians, most of whom have never been out of their native waters. Most are eager to pitch in while some – like Ash’s biological mother – are simply nosey. There’s plenty to be done – building a honeymoon cottage is high on the list – and before too long, a sense or organized chaos takes hold. Now, if only the hired help would remember how to act and speak like humans.

Brenda’s genius for writing and imagery really comes to the fore at this point in the story and she has expertly crafted action which is readily visible in the mind’s eye. Fantasy writers will often place constraints on their characters to limit what they can or cannot do in various situations. Superman and Kryptonite are one such example. In the case of Brenda’s Natatorians, their Kryptonite is sunset – a time of day when they revert back to their natural fishiness. Throughout the Mer Tales series, the reader has been treated  to scenes of Fin shredding his blue jeans and board shorts because he’s pushed the envelope just a little too much by talking to Ash on the phone longer than he ought to.

“I know we’ve had our issues, but I feel like this wedding has healed us. That by bringing Fin into our family, I finally understand you.”

Evermore sees Ash, the newly minted mermaid, run afoul of the setting sun. Fin has persuaded the Lanski family that Ash needs to go to her room and study every evening and once the door is closed, they are not to disturb her. Meanwhile, Ash will open her window, climb down a conveniently placed trellis, and dash for the lake in those last fleeting moments of daylight.

On one evening, Ash is caught out by a poignant scene with her mother where veils and wedding plans are discussed. Ash makes it to her room in time to close the door but not in time to slink down the trellis and she must spend the night in the bath tub. Of course, her bratty younger sister, Lucy, is no help at all. Such are the dangers of being a mermaid in the world Ms. Pandos has created.

It is against this reviewer’s policy to divulge details of the latter part of any story. The goal, of course, is to give the potential reader a taste of what is to be found within the story in the hope that they will want to buy a copy and learn the rest for themselves.

Rules are meant to be broken – or at least bent a little – and this reviewer will divulge two phrases that describe the action in the Evermore’s later chapters.

  • Heart-breaking
  • Heart-stopping

It’s now upon the reader to find out just what is meant by those phrases – preferably sooner rather than later.

Once again, Brenda Pandos has given us ample proof of her marvelous skills as a spinner of stories. Her memorable characters of Ash and Fin are guaranteed to find their way into the reader’s heart and stay with them for many years to come. It does not matter if the reader is in their Young Adult years or decades past that point, Brenda’s gift of Evermore will be a lasting treasure.

No doubt, many readers – including this reviewer – assumed Evermore was to be a last hurrah; a victory lap of sorts wherein all loose ends would be tied up and the beloved characters of this series would swim off into the sunset. Apparently, this is not the case as Ms. Pandos has asked her followers if they would like to read more about Ash and Fin. If Brenda Pandos can maintain the level of crisp, engaging story-telling demonstrated throughout her Mer Tales series, then the answer is a resounding, unequivocal, “YES!”

In the interest of full disclosure, I was provided an electronic copy of Evermore in exchange for a fair and honest review.

My Rating:

I had one of those “Oh, Crap!“© moments today. I am supposed to crank out the first batch of fruitcakes this weekend. The filling includes pounds or raisins, currents, candied orange peel, candied lemon peel, candied citron and candied cherries which are soaked for 24 hours +/- in Scotch whisky – Cluny to be precise. This requires a muckle-sized bowl, for starters as well as another not quite so muckle-sized bowl for the pecans and almonds. All this is before I start mixing the batter.

I usually employ my wife’s set of ceramic mixing bowls of which two have the requisite muckle-ness. The problem is that I’m in Hopewell and the bowls are back in Charlottesville.

Last year, I transported the bowls to The Wonder City® in order to have the proper equipment on hand. This time around, I’ve been to C’ville  three weekends in a row and on each occasion, forgot to grab the bowls. No, I’m not making a quick round-trip to Charlottesville just so I can use those mixing bowls.

Instead, I’m going to have to try & make do by using my mother’s hodge-podge of pots, bowls & etc. Baking the 2015 edition of Howard’s Famous Fruitcakes™ is going to be interesting to say the least.

I’ve always enjoyed reading stories intended for those who are rather younger than one’s self. I remember way back in 3rd or 4th grade when I checked out Make Way for Ducklings from the DuPont Elementary School library. There was flurry of notes between the librarian, my teacher, and Mom concerning the book. There was worry that I was regressing or that my reading skills were seriously lacking.

Actually it was because

  1. I loved the rhythms in the narrative
  2. I loved the illustrations
  3. It was about ducks

It seemed like a perfect trifecta to me!

Years later, teachers found it appalling that I read “grown-up” books in the 11th & 12th grade.

Tera Lynn Childs penned the Forgive My Fins series which seemed to be targeted at 8th or 9th graders but the books were such a romp that I felt sorry for anyone in high school and above with an interest in mermaid tales who did not read it.

Since the series ended, Ms. Childs has written several short stories and one novella featuring the characters. Some of you are hoping that she will write one more novel about Princess Lilly and her friends – both above and below the surface – a few years after the end of the 3rd book. All I can say is, please keep on hoping. However, there is a bit of relief at hand.

Tera Lyn Childs has written a short story titled Princess Lessons and it’s available on her Goodreads blog. So, if you need a ‘Lilly fix’, have at it.

It goes without saying that I’m a big fan of mermaid tales. No, I’m not obsessive compulsive about them; you only need to see my pipe collection to understand the true meaning of the term OCD. I’ve found many of the YA (Young Adult) mermaid stories to be a LOT of fun.

It’s refreshing to be able to forget about being an (older) adult for a while and lose yourself in the much simpler problems of those much younger. (Just wait ‘till you have to start worrying about retirement & Medicare, kiddos!)

YA Author, Brenda Pandos has a new installment in her Mer Tales series titled, Evermore. I’m one of the lucky few who get to read this story in exchange for a fair and honest review to appear online no later than Nov. 23rd. That gives me 12 or 13 day window to finish the story and cobble a pithy review. Besides being posted on The Parsons’Rant, it’ll also appear on Goodreads.com, Amazon, B&N, and any other place I can post it.

Believe you me, I’ve been looking forward to this. In the meantime, I have another 3 chapters to review in what is rumoured to be the final, final, absolutely final edits of Urban Mermaid.  I’ve got a fun, fun, fun week-end ahead of me.

While I’m on the subject of Urban Mermaid, Brenda Pandos, Derrolyn Anderson and several other authors will get a shout-out in the story. These mentions will be in the form of subtle references to their novels. Don’t blink or you’ll miss them! To find out for yourself, you’ll just have to buy a copy.

This Month’s Rants

November 2015
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Pipe Count

Dr. Data's Pipe Count

480 (+/-)

Dr. Data has PAD - Pipe Acquisition Disorder

Professional Reader

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