Story Review: “Terms and Conditions”

Terms and Conditions: Must be Met

We meet the fictional Shoeb as he faces a life-threatening problem of his own making. We see the world through his eyes and emotions, yet sometimes we’re privy to other characters’ inner thoughts. While the short story could take place anywhere, anytime, it seems to be set in the present, in a city, perhaps in India or Africa. Setting isn’t so important. Character and plot points are.

In “Terms and Conditions” we follow a workaday man as he spirals deeper into a dilemma that has him saying and doing things against his morals. He tries bargaining with a higher power to get him out of this jam that could harm his beloved, pregnant wife and young daughter. O’Henry fans (and readers who haven’t read O’Henry) will appreciate the ironic twists and surprise ending. The opportunity to heighten irony was, I think, missed by not having both the antagonist and the protagonist utter the title words.

Aashish Jindal deftly handles emotions and descriptions where other novices might have been unable to resist overwrought pathos, schmaltz, contrivances and further insults to readers. The fact that Aashish includes the opening scene again later in the short story might indicate that he doesn’t have confidence in his writing skills, or in readers’ ability to retain a crucial scene, or he simply forgot to delete the redundant scene.

If you don’t notice comma omissions in this next sentence, reading the story will be smooth sailing for you. “‘You know that I want to but my boss is really after me to meet this collection deadline’ Shoeb replied apologetically.” If you did see a boo-boo or two, then this is your warning. The mistake is made throughout.

Any author who can craft a short story that depicts the believable transformation of a good guy gone bad, seriously bad, deserves serious consideration when you’re looking for a quick read. According to the description, this is Jindal’s second book. Keep writing, Mr. Jindal. You’ve got a knack.

https://www.amazon.com/Terms-Conditions-Must-Be-Met-ebook/dp/B01NACF2YS/ref=cm_rdp_product

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By Beth Fowler, author of “Ken’s War.” Visit https://www.facebook.com/kenswar.

The Conversation – Book Review

I approach self-published books with lowered expectations. Calibrating my expectations was not necessary for “The Conversation” by Mike Gannaway, published by WestBow Press, a division of Thomas Nelson & Zondervan.

 

“The Conversation” shimmers with some of the same vibe as the classic “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance,” but reaches its destination within an efficient 110 pages.

 

Diane, thirty-eight and unmarried, is on her way to Bethany Beach, Delaware. In setting up the story, Gannaway displays uncanny talent for creating interest and intrigue with sensory details and forward momentum.

 

Diane is a confident, well-read, thoughtful woman who has developed her own credo for life: Choose Freedom. Having abandoned “clubbing scene” days when she dressed her chiseled body to tantalize men, she now knows that “the key to freedom was not burning off drudgery; it was not succumbing to it in the first place.” That’s some hard-earned wisdom, wouldn’t you say?

 

Less than a quarter of the way into the book, Diane sees a man sitting on the beach. It’s nighttime. The switchblade in her pocket is insurance, of sorts. She joins the man and they begin chatting.

 

Chris is attentive, polite and asks the right questions. He lets her go on for a while, mostly about herself. Things are going swimmingly, and readers might think, “This is nice. ‘Nice’ can get boring.”

 

Diane says she reads “history, science, philosophy, religion, classic literature, poetry…anything that increases my understanding of the world and grows me in sophistication and wisdom.” She’s coming across as a smug and preachy woman.

 

With laser accuracy and timing, Chris challenges Diane.

 

Now there’s tension and an exploration of opposing worldviews about the BIG topic with which most humans grapple: Finding life’s meaning and purpose. From this point on in their conversation, the stakes are raised and Diane’s “Choose Freedom” credo begins to erode like a sandcastle under the waves of Chris’ questions and counterpoints. Chris is not harsh or cruel to Diane during this crucial conversation. He is empathetic and genuine.

 

Gannaway possesses the intuition and skills to know when to reveal information and when to withhold it until later to best serve the plot and the debate. His sense of pacing is superb. While his style is lean, it’s clear that he’s thought deeply about how to portray a woman’s spiritual journey convincingly. In this he succeeds. (I’m happy to say, Gannaway does not resort to using annoying Celestine Prophecy-esque contrivances.)

 

If you’re searching for meaning, or if like Diane, you’re sure you already know the meaning of our existence, then this book is a prime candidate for your “read now” list.  The Conversation is appropriate for truth seekers from young adult age upward.

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Article by the author of Ken’s WarWhen teen rebellion & culture shock collide.

Visit https://www.facebook.com/kenswar.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SQjZBjqFNzs&feature=youtu.be

 ken's war cover

Ken’s War is vibrant with authority … Fowler’s elegantly written novel risks exploring the full range of teenage behavior and emotion.” Nancy Springer, award- winning author of YA books.

 

 

 

Rising Up: Book Review

Beth Fowler headshotPamela H. Bender’s “Rising Up” is not a story focused on abuse or male bashing.

It’s a story of triumph, empowerment and growth.

Anna is married to an abusive husband and finally decides to file for divorce. This is when our protagonist begins the heroine’s journey.

To understand how vastly different her early years were from her adult married life, we are given several chapters that take place during her idyllic childhood. Ordinarily a trip down memory lane is fun for authors to write, but diverges away from the plot. Not so here. Knowing what Anna’s formative years were like puts her adult situation in high contrast. The experiences of her youth also explain how an intelligent, wise, loving woman can find herself in an unimaginable situation. Living with an abuser was unimaginable. When Anna’s parents (the Dennisons) witness their son-in-law verbally mistreat their daughter, the father says, “It’s our fault…We raised her to trust everyone.”

In the tradition of sensitive dramas, the physical and sexual abuse occur off stage. This works because Bender’s story-telling conveys volumes by what she chooses to omit, thereby engaging readers to participate actively in filling in the blanks.

When the pieces of Anna’s new life have come together, she learns she was not the only victim in the family. “Despite the warnings from the girls’ counselors, Anna remained naïve. She’d read Grace and Charlene’s joy at coming home as the end of their ordeal. Instead, it was the beginning of their own strategies for survival.” Then Anna learns that her son, as well as her two daughters, has a secret.

“Rising Up” is the work of a writer who knows the craft. Each character has a unique voice. (Writing instructors say readers should be able to figure out who spoke without relying on speech tags.) Many transitions, although sudden, are economical and smooth.

Because the book is self published, I lowered my expectations. And, yes, there are a few minor flubs, such as a reversed quotation mark. Also, one can’t judge this book by the images and verbiage on the covers.

I cherished each time I opened the book and continued reading about Anna and her heroine’s journey. I rationed out the last few pages. This is what readers do when they don’t want to finish a book populated with characters who seem very real and likeable. Readers who feel a sense of loss at having to say goodbye to a poignant experience upon finishing “Rising Up” will be glad to know that the Dennison family is also featured in “Until There Was Us” and “Worlds Apart.”

Visit Pamela H. Bender at http://www.pamelahbender.com/ and http://pamelahbender.wordpress.com

Review by Beth Fowler, author of the beloved, coming-of-age novel “Ken’s War.”

Visit https://www.facebook.com/kenswar.

 ken's war coverWhen teen rebellion & culture shock collide. Shop here: Ken’s War

Ken’s War is vibrant with authority … Fowler’s elegantly written novel risks exploring the full range of teenage behavior and emotion.” Nancy Springer, award- winning author of YA books.

 

 

 

“Walking the Trail” by Jerry Ellis: Long Trail-Short Book

Beth Fowler headshot by Beth Fowler

 

 

 

When I bought “Walking the Trail” by Jerry Ellis, I crossed my fingers and hoped it would be the kind of travel memoir I would savor while reading and cherish when finished.

My hope was met.

The dreadful history of the Cherokee Trail of Tears is skillfully interwoven in “Walking the Trail.” And we learn a little about Ellis’ family back home, too.

During his walk he, of course, meets people, all of whom are broken to some degree or other, yet they remain kind and philosophical in their approaches to Ellis and life, respectively. He seems to bond with them on a soul level, even though the meetings are brief, a pattern that was cast when he was a boy. He tells us about the time this pattern was created in a passage describing a dove that would come to him when Ellis whistled. I think every human being has had a dove in his or her life, and then learned that doves aren’t forever. The passage is as pure and true as anything you could wish to read.

Readers are rewarded with gems of observation, self-revelation, lust, loss, peace, one-of-a-kind Americans and forward momentum. I was confused only twice by the absence of quotations around dialog.

Ellis wrote about his 900-mile walk in a voice that is both masculine and vulnerable. Now that I’ve finished the 256-page book, I wish the book was longer.

Walking the Trail

Visit Ellis on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/#!/NATIVEDEFENDER

 

 

ken's war coverWhen teen rebellion & culture shock collide. Shop here: Ken’s War

Ken’s War is vibrant with authority … Fowler’s elegantly written novel risks exploring the full range of teenage behavior and emotion.” Nancy Springer, award- winning author of YA books.

 

 

 

“Frugal Book Promotion” tips

Carolyn Howard-Johnson, instructor for nearly a decade at the renowned UCLA Extension Writers’ Program and author of the award-winning series of How To Do It Frugally books, shares tips straight out of her book, The Frugal Book Promoter (www.budurl.com/FrugalBkPromo) :

  • Send a chatty note about your book or its review to the people in the groups or forums you frequent.
  • Do the same with all the people on your personal e-mail contact list.
  • How about your list of media contacts–especially the ones who edit blogs and Web sites. They are always in need of material.
  • Write up a release and place it on a news disseminator like PRWeb.com or PRLeap.com. You’ll find a list of these disseminators on my site at www.howtodoitfrugally.com. Click on the Resources for Writers page and scroll down. Take your time learning to do this. It will be well worth it. For more, step by step information on writing and disseminating media releases go to your e-copy or hardcopy of The Frugal Book Promoter: How to Do What Your Publisher Won’t.
  • Do you put out a newsletter or e-zine? You probably should! Tell your subscribers about this success.
  • Put a link to your book and its reviews up on your Web site. This makes you look credible to your readers.
  • Of course, you’ll want to tweet and blog about it.
  • You can even include the news and a link in your Christmas letter!

Also check out the Resources for Writers pages at www.howtodoitfrugally.com.

Carolyn adds, “There’s tons of good information on getting reviews and hundreds of other promotion ideas in my The Frugal Book Promoter: How to Do What Your Publisher Won’t.”

www.twitter.com/frugalbookpromo.

www.TheNewBookReview.blogspot.com.

 

ken's war coverWhen teen rebellion & culture shock collide. Shop here: Ken’s War

Ken’s War is vibrant with authority … Fowler’s elegantly written novel risks exploring the full range of teenage behavior and emotion.” Nancy Springer, award- winning author of YA books.