Saturday, April 25, 2015

Ollie Hopnoodle's Haven of Bliss

Probably my favorite movie of all time, Ollie Hopnoodle's Haven of Bliss is a classic.

Wikipedea (the source of all things unverified) says, "Ollie Hopnoodle's Haven of Bliss (1988) is a television comedy film written by Jean Shepherd and directed by Dick Bartlett, based on the 1968 short story by Shepherd. A satire of childhood recollections of annual family vacations, the film follows the Parker family (of A Christmas Story) as they travel to a Michigan lakeside camp, the eponymous Haven. It was a co-production of The Disney Channel and PBS, and aired in that order, and was released on video."

One reason that this movie is dear to my heart is that I first watched it with my hubby as we were dating back in 1993. He introduced it to me as one of his all time favorites and it has been one of mine ever since. I don't think a lot of people are familiar with this gem so I've made it my movie review for April. It's the perfect summer vacation adventure.

It's a wonderful family movie, full of laughs and situational (spell check says that's not a word but I'm leaving it) comedy that most of us can relate to. The author of the tale, Jean Shepherd, has a way of telling a yarn that tickles my funny bone every time. So if your looking for a fun summer family watch, and you haven't seen it, I recommend this one. My only reservation is that it's hard to find a good copy that's available. I don't think Disney has ever re-released it on DVD and the copies that are out there are poor at best, made from the VHS versions.

I see that you can watch it complete on Utube at the moment. It's not great quality but you get the idea. (click --  Ollie online )

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Coming Soon: The Haunting of Springett Hall, by E. B. Wheeler

This week I'm announcing the debut of a new book that comes out July 14, 2015. The Haunting of Springett Hall, by E. B. Wheeler. The newly released cover looks great.

The description on Amazon reads: "Eighteen-year-old Lucy doesn't know how she became a ghost, but the more she remembers of her life in Victorian England, the more she wants to forget. Her only hope of changing the mistakes of her past is to enlist the help of a servant named Philip- the one living person who can see her. This impossible romance story is filled with delightful period detail and plenty of mystery."

I'm looking forward to reading this book. I love a good ghostly mystery/romance. In the mean time I've asked Emily a few questions that might help you get to know her and her writing quirks.

1. Tell me a little about yourself. Anything fun or goofy that we should know?

I'm a total history geek. I love stories about how people lived in the past, and I love discovering the ways they were like us as well as the ways they were different. As for goofy, I'm not a great singer or dancer, but that doesn't stop me from doing both at home or in the car. The crazy lady singing to herself in the car next to you? That might be me. :) At least when I have my kids in the car with me, I look a little less nuts, but sometimes they complain.

2. Where do you live and what is it like to live there?

I live in the mountains of Utah. It's beautiful in the summer, but bitter cold in the winter, and winter lasts about six months of the year. Luckily, that gives me lots of excuses to curl up on the couch with hot chocolate and good book.

3. Tell me a bit about your family/home life (if you don't mind).

My husband and I will celebrate our ten-year anniversary this May! It's hard to believe how fast time goes by. We have two wonderful, energetic daughters who keep me on my toes. My family is super patient and supportive of my writing habit: all the frozen dinners, critique group meetings, and "Hold on just a minute while I write this idea down!"

4. Why do you write? What do you write? Do you have any weird writing habits? (I know that's 3 questions; just tell me about your writing.)

I've been writing nonfiction for about ten years, mostly about history and historic preservation. I had story ideas that wouldn't leave me alone, though, so I started writing them down. THE HAUNTING OF SPRINGETT HALL is a YA Victorian paranormal mystery, and I'm working on some other historical fantasy as well as realistic historical fiction. I love the process of getting to know my characters and working through plot problems within the bounds of history. I get a thrill from diving into historical research and finding some little detail that just clicks with the story and brings it all together. I think I'm addicted. :)

Learn more about Emily Wheeler and her new book at these links:

Twitter @EB_Wheeler
Official Web Site
Pre Order: THofSH on Amazon

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Review: White Plume by Niki Gamm

White Plume is a little different than the normal books I read. It’s a young adult historical thriller set in the Ottoman Empire during the 1716.

Twelve year old Charles Henby and his father are sent on an errand by the “real” king of England to take a letter to the sultan enlisting his help in regaining the throne.
His father is killed and Charles is caught up in the battle between the Ottomans and the Austrians for control of the Balkans. He is taken to the sultan’s court where he becomes a favorite. However, he is still determined that the sultan receive the letter that he and his father were commissioned to deliver. Can he survive this strange culture with it’s strict and deadly rules long enough to fulfill his commission?

Reading White Plume gave me insight into a part of history that I was not familiar with. I think it has merit, not only as a story but as an enjoyable history lesson. The Author, Niki Gamm, has obviously done a great deal of research into the Ottoman cultures of the time. The only complaint might be that it is a little too heavy on the history, but that is more a personal opinion.

The writing is easy to read, though it seems a little stilted at times. It could be that, as it was actually written in Turkey, the differences in language have influenced the meter. It was annoying at first but as it went on it rather added to the feel of the story. The boy had to learn to speak the language at court. Intentional or not, the formal, chopped, sentences worked okay. There were however some awkward sentences that didn’t work and a few things that the editors missed. These however did not distract all that much from the story.

White Plume is newly released in the United States and I’m pleased to be a part in it’s unveiling.

A little bit about the author:

1. Tell me a little about yourself; anything fun or goofy that we should know? 

What a challenge! Tell me a little about yourself. How do I shorten 72 years in a paragraph? I’m a rebel, but of the old school. My first act of rebellion was apparently staged at age 2.5 or 3 when I slipped out the front gate of our home in Seattle and was found half a block away watching a mother bird feeding her young in a tree. The family I was adopted into thought men went to college and women became were store clerks or stayed at home so I got a Ph.D. Tourist traveling was for retirement years in the family so as soon as I got a driver’s license and my own car at age 18 I took off to see friends in L.A. and four years later went on the “Grand Tour” of Europe by myself.  Somewhere along the line I fell in love with Turkey and in particular, Istanbul. Now I’ve spent more than half my life there, nearly 35 years as a journalist, although I’ve maintained contact with friends in Seattle. As you can probably discern, I love challenges (time limits, new and different subjects for example) and change for better or worse.

2. Where do you live and what is it like to live there?

As for where I live, I have an apartment in the center of Istanbul in an area called Cihangir, not on the historic peninsula with its “Old City” Byzantine and Ottoman buildings. Cihangir was full of gardens and orchards and wooden mansions in the 19th century but now is covered with apartment buildings along a hill from which you can see the Bosphorus Straits, Sea of Marmara and the Old City.  Although Istanbul has shopping malls and large supermarkets, my area has lots of small mom-and-pop stores, fast food outlets, butcher shops, pharmacies, repair shops and the like with all of them willing to do home deliveries without an extra charge. Even the veterinarians will send someone to pick up one of my cats if necessary. If a delivery isn’t too heavy, you just lower a basket from your window.  We even have garbage pickup five or six times a day.

3. Tell me bit about your family/home life (if you don’t mind).

These days I write a column once a week for the daily newspaper where I’ve worked for more than 30 years and that’s quite different from the 24/7 life as a news reporter for a daily paper.  I’m single and I share my third floor apartment with nine cats – there used to be more. It’s quite large so I’m rarely bothered by them unless they need cuddling or are hungry and what’s available doesn’t suit them.  There’s a green area in back without cars or dogs so they’re free to roam there. Two or three of them have figured out how to get down to the street in front of our building and will sit there crying very loudly until someone lets them in and I find them pawing at my door. When they let me, I monitor news reports, keep up on my e-mail correspondence, translate from Turkish to English for friends, write articles for the paper in addition to my column and work on / think about the several writing projects I have in mind, including a second and third follow-up to White Plume, which will shortly be up on Amazon. I also, with a Turkish friend, write a website ( click here for link which is a blend of information and a blog.

4. Why do you write? What do you write? Do you have any weird writing habits? (I know that's three questions; just tell me about your writing.)

When I was young, I used to write little scenarios or mostly dream them up without committing them to paper.  Since those were the days before television, I used comic books to stimulate my imagination or novels. Then my rebellion took me into academia with its quite different style of writing and eventually journalism. I kept my imagination to myself for the most part until a serious health scare made me aware of the passing time.  So I felt I should commit some of the more recent scenarios to paper and see about sharing them with others. I first wrote a trilogy, set in southwestern Wyoming about half way between Cody and Rock Springs which is still hibernating on my computer and then White Plume.  If there’s anything peculiar about my writing, it’s that I do my first draft by hand in spite of my arthritis – blank, unlined white paper and a fine-point pen, one page a day regardless of other commitments.  I don’t prepare an outline for my story but they’re fiction set in historical periods so the frame is already there.

(A note of interest to me here was that Niki has written a trilogy set between Cody and Rock Springs WY as I live in Cody and my newly released book is set in the badlands of WY. What a small world we live in to have such a connection to someone half way across the globe.) I've enjoyed meeting Niki online. What an interesting person, a true free spirit.

Look for White Plume at:
The White Plume on Amazon

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Review: The Crystal Bridge, the Lost Shards, Book One by Charlie Pulsipher

My only criticism of this book is that it ends with a cliffhanger. Now I have to get my hands on the next book, fast. Ahhhhhh! Charlie Pulsipher, how can you do this to me?

At first I had a little trouble getting all the characters into my head because this is one of those epic books where several different stories are playing along beside each other. I often hate that, but in this case it was worth it because all of the stories were equally interesting. Once I got past the several beginnings, getting to know the characters in each thread I became very much enthralled in the stories.

I don’t want to put out any spoilers here, but the basics of the story revolve around a young boy named Kaden who has a secret power to travel between worlds, a girl name Aren who can see into peoples memories and a man named James who is involved with a dark, underground science project that has untold mysterious possibilities.

Put them all together with a lurking, godlike evil presence and you have the beginning of a story that will draw you in and keep you reading into the wee hours on a school night.

I recommend this book to readers young adult and up, boys, girls, men, women, anyone can enjoy this book. It also gets my G rating approval. 5 out of 5 stars

Note: I have now read the next book and it ties up all the ends very nicely, thank you Charlie.

About the author:

1. Tell me a little about yourself. Anything fun or goofy that we should know?

I'm a huge biology nerd who loves woodworking, art, and funny television shows. I'm a writer. That probably makes me goofy right off the bat, but I also built a teardrop trailer from scratch and I do a mean velociraptor impression. It has been know to make grown men and women scream and hide behind large vehicles.

2. Where do you live and what is it like to live there?

I live in St. George, Utah. It's one of the most beautiful places you will ever see, stunning red cliffs, crystal blue skies, majesty and more majesty. You just have to ignore the fact that it turns into the molten underbelly of Hades every summer. No matter how hot it gets, you never have to shovel sunshine, and that makes me pretty happy. I also enjoy the hiking and camping at my fingertips year round.

3. Tell me a bit about your family/home life (if you don't mind).

My wife and I have one neurotic dog that is literally afraid of his own shadow, vacuum cleaners, other dogs, people, exercise balls, and our yellow clothes hamper. He goes by Mahoney, Moopers, Honzers, Moopy, and Nugget. We spend a lot of time watching well-written television and reading when I'm not puttering around my garage.

4. Why do you write? What do you write? Do you have any weird writing habits? (I know that's 3 questions; just tell me about your writing.)

I write because I love creating something from nothing with something as intangible as words. Serious, these little letters that appear on the screen as I type are just photons that represent sounds. Can you get any more insubstantial than that? Yet, words are how we create and paint our realities. I will never stop loving these sorcerous abilities. I write science fiction, fantasy, the combination of the two, zombie humor, and health and fitness articles. It's a weird mix, I know. My day job is as a copywriter for a plant-based supplement company and then I tinker with my own stories when I get home. I don't know if I have weird writing habits. I suppose spend a lot of time not actually writing, but dreaming up scenes, conversations, histories, and just letting my characters play in my head. Anyone watching me would think I was just a lazy guy who likes laying on the couch and staring at the ceiling for hours, but I'm writing.

Links where you can find more of Charlies books: