Wednesday, February 26, 2014

RACING DESIRE by Pamela H Bender

This is my first review.  I feel by posting reviews, it might help me identify the weakness' in my own writing.

The story takes place in Hanover, PA, the harness horse racing world.  I loved the setting.  I'm a farm girl at heart, lived on one for seven years before it got washed away.

Pamela Bender added some minor characters which helped the story, and they weren’t human.  I loved her dog Rowdy and the goat Nanny.  Jo Martin is the primary character with Brad Kirby as the secondary.  I liked the way the author introduced Brad Kirby to Jo Martin.  I cried where I was supposed to and smiled at other times. 

What I had a problem with was the POV.  The first few chapters and the latter chapters were fine.  But in the middle, she switched the POV so many times between Jo and Brad that they started sounding alike.  The characters lost their individuality.  And I felt she got lost in her plot.  Didn’t really have the middle of the story fleshed out.  In her bio, she stated she dusted this manuscript off after sitting for over 20 years and changed the character traits for Jo.  Maybe that was the problem. 

There also wasn’t a lot of conflict.  She had a tendency to Tell the story instead of Showing it.  That could've been the issue.  I did lose my interest in the middle, but kept with it and the ending was much better.  Didn't quite end the way I thought it should.  A typical romance ending, but still not what I expected.  Felt like the ending was rushed. 

I did find a few editing issues, but nothing to detract from the reading of the story.  Overall I enjoyed the story and would recommend it.  I give it 4 feathers.



When I went to write my review on Amazon, I saw there were 39 reviews, mostly 5 stars. After having read the book, I couldn't understand how this book rated so well. So I started reading the reviews. The top 3 reviews read like short stories themselves. Praising the author for the depth of her characters and how wonderful the story was written. What? Did they read the same book? Then it dawned on me. These were writer’s themselves, supporting another indie writer. Were they being truthful? Most likely not. Indie writers already have a bad reputation for self-publishing so many poorly written books, so we don’t need to keep perpetuating the problem. Besides, giving a truthful review is beneficial to the writer as well as the reader. It may hurt, but I want to know what I can do to improve my writing. That said, here is my review, even if I get negative feedback.  I don’t play political games.

The subject of the book covers a serious social issue: the sexual abuse of daughters by their fathers or a father figure. The beginning of the book states it is based on true events. If true, I feel for the woman who had to live through these events. My younger sister had a friend in high school that was being molested by her father, and her mother was in total denial.

I found very few editing errors and they did not detract from the story.

My heartstrings were pulled by the plight of Maiya and her struggles to overcome the obstacles in her life.  This book was 71 chapters long.  I was only able to get through half of the story.  It was too long for the writing style.  The book was 90% narration and 10% interaction.  Reading the story was like a Shetland pony plodding around and around at a carnival ride.  The only one enjoying the ride is the child on the back of the pony.  The only one enjoying this story is the writer.  I felt like the pony plodding along trying to get to the end.  I finally had to give up.  I hate not finishing a book.  I even skipped to the end, but I still didn’t want to go back and finish the book.  There are very few books that I have given up on.  This is one. 

The characters did not have that much depth.  The only one that did was the horrible mother, Daydream.  Maiya sounded the same at age 14 as she did at 17.  The same monotone writing style.  Because I couldn’t finish the book, I have to give it 3 stars and I do not recommend the book.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Happy Birthday Valentine's Day Babies

Hi, my name is Pam and I wanted to extend a Happy B-day to all February people, but especially persons born on Valentines' Day.  
My youngest sister, Sue, was born on that special day.  My younger sister, Deb and my older brother Frank, used to tease her.  

As you have noticed, we were all given short, one syllable names for a reason.  My Dad told us, before we were born, he would stand out on the porch and yell names out to see which ones were best for yelling purposes.  This was before the advent of the pager, let along the cell-phone.  In the evenings all you heard were Mothers yelling for their kids to come home for dinner.  We learned to be good yellers back then.  

Anyway, my sister, Sue, was born on Valentine's Day.  She was born with an extra piece of cartilage on the top of her ear which gave her a pointed ear.  Yeah, weird.  We just figured Cupid gave her one of his.  And once Star Trek came out, there was no turning back from the Spock jokes.  FYI, she still has the pointed ear.

Do you happen to know anyone born on Valentine's Day with a strange physical attribute?  I did a google search, but all I could find were kids born with heart-shaped birthmarks.  It would be neat to hear of stranger attributes.  

During my search on Google, I found a book written in 1918 by Astra Cielo called Signs, Omens and Superstitions.   Here is what it said about St. Valentine's Day:


St. Valentine was a Christian bishop who suf-
fered martyrdom in 270 A. D. on February 14th. 
He was later ordained the patron saint of true 
love. Maids and youths were accustomed to be- 
come engaged on that day in his honor. 

Sending verses and picture cards to one's best 
beloved has become a popular pastime in England 
and America on Valentine Day. A girl who 
fails to receive a remembrance from some swain 
is doomed to die an old maid. 

Says an old Valentine verse: 
"When I go out, the first swain I see, 
In spite of fortune shall my true love be." 

On the eve of Valentine's Day it was the cus- 
tom for a man to get five bay leaves, pin four of 
them to the comers of his pillow and the fifth 
in the centre, and then go to sleep. If he 
dreamed of a girl, he would marry her before 
the year was out. 

Another custom was to write your friends* 
names on pieces of paper, roll them in clay and 
throw them into a dish of water. The first paper 
that floated up indicated the one you would marry. 

If you expect a visit from your true love on 
that day, keep your eyes shut till he comes. If 
you see another man first, it may mean a loss of 
the other's love. 

To be married on Valentine's Day betokens hap- 
piness and success. 

Thanks for reading,


Tuesday, February 4, 2014


Just posted my short story for a contest @  I thought it came out pretty good.  Wish me luck.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Finally my own story.

Well, I took the plunge.  I woke up this morning with a story rattling around in my brain.  It was actually a dream.  Even had the title.  Lease On Life. has a contest going for tne newbie members, but only 2500 words.  All of Bob's short stories were way over that limit.  But it got me thinking.  Allen told me I should start writing my own stories.  I never thought of myself as a writer before.  Never had a story demanding to be written.  But this one there, running through my mind.  I only have 876 words so far, but here it is.  Let me know what you think.  

Damn, I thought in disgust, as I find myself once again behind an ugly, orange desk.  So what birthday card was it this time, I wondered?  And there’s that déjà vu feeling I get whenever I find myself here.  But I never remember being here before until I’m actually here.  The paradox makes my head spin.
Glancing around at what I can see of the vast, empty room, I see the usual stuff.  The pumpkin-colored desk and the black chair I’m fidgeting in.  Sometimes the desk is black and the chair orange.  But always the same color scheme.  Since my first visit here, I always wondered if the décor was based on a holiday theme.  I was born in October.  My youngest sister was a Valentine’s Day baby.  I wonder if her motif is red and white.
But I never have a chance to ask her.  We aren’t meant to remember these yearly excursions.
Okay, let’s see if I can do it this year.  Straining as hard as I can, my back threatening to give out, I push against the arms of the chair, trying to stand up.  Sweat trickling down my face, my arms trembling with exertion, I finally give up and sit back down with a heavy sigh of resignation.  I think I moved two inches.  It’s like the chair is a magnet and my body the steel.  Or more likely the chair is a magnet for water, seeing as how our bodies are mostly water.  Each year I give my best heroic effort.  Each year I fail.  Maybe when I come back here on my sixtieth birthday I will finally quit trying.  Probably be too weak by then anyway.
My first task over with, I start to survey the room.  The room hasn’t changed.  Still looks like I am sitting in a huge fogbank.  I can clearly see several feet around me, than everything past that point becomes blurry, indistinct.  The lighting is a soft, white glare, enough to give you a headache, if you try looking too closely or long.  My eyes squinted against the glare, I try looking for walls or a ceiling.  Nothing.  I have no idea how big the room is, but my impression is that’s its endless.  How many other people are in this same room at the same time?  Must be a lot.  I’m not the only person born on October 16th.
Knowing I can’t be the only person in the room, I concentrate  hard, trying to listen for any noises or sounds.  All I ever hear is a faint hum.  But I’m never sure if that humming is from my ears or the room.  Through dry lips, I blow out a low, short whistle.  The sound floats in the air for a few feet, then stops, as if being absorbed.  I loudly call out, “Echo.  Echo.  Echo.”  I used to feel dumb doing that, but not anymore.  Now I just feel peeved.  Once again the sound travels a few feet, then just stops. 
About now is when I start getting jittery.  I hate not being in control.  Not being able to see in front of me, let alone behind me.  Panic Attack, here I come.  Okay, take some deep calming breaths.  Get that heart rate down.  In.  Out.  In.  Out.  Much better.  I‘m not a newbie at this anymore, I chide myself.  I have been here plenty of years to know that some monster isn’t slowly creeping up behind me to eat my brains.  But what if this year is the exception?  Oh damn.  In.  Out.  In.  Out. 
Quit it, I admonish myself.  You know why you’re here.  Now get to business.
I reluctantly look down at the birthday card that started this who process.  It is resting innocently on top of the ugly desk.  Of course, it’s not really a birthday card.  It just looks that way until you open the envelope.  Now it’s a tri-folded legal-sized piece of paper.   I am not the sort that checks my mail on a regular basis.  In fact, the post office is lucky if I check my mail every three weeks.  But, on my birthday, I am compelled to check my mail.  I have no choice.  Lucky me, I thought sadly. 
What if I were driving when I opened the card?  Would there be an accident?  Would I just disappear?  I have never heard about people disappearing and then reappearing.  So maybe this is a time-warp type of trip.  I could be sitting here for hours, but it might only be a second in my reality.
Biting my lip, with a soft crinkling, I slowly unfold the piece of paper.  Across the top, in 22 pt, black, bold type it reads: Lease on Life for Pamela Jean Forbes.  I have held this lease in my hands since I turned eighteen.  Once I became an adult.  If this is a yearly ordeal, who signed my lease for me before I turned eighteen?  My parents?  Maybe just my mother.  Since she gave me life, that would made sense.  I wonder if she was relieved when she no longer had to vouch for me.

With sweaty palms, I smoothed out the legal paper.  This is my eighth lease.