A New Irish Experience

This  time in Dublin much was different. I’d already visited Ireland three times for fun and once for business between 2002 and 2011, so I was surprised.

In 2004 we met a family on the west side of Ireland who were raising their children to speak only Irish. The desire to regain Irish roots resonated with us, but the approach seemed a bit extreme. Speaking English is an asset, whether one likes it or not, and all bilingual children have a brain-wiring advantage that can’t be duplicated later. Yet, to each their own.

In 2019, that desire to reclaim linguistic roots has taken hold in Dublin, but in a gentler way. Signs are in Irish first, and announcements in public places are made in both languages. I find this new pride to be wonderful, and I am happy a few words stuck with me.

Dublin itself has also undergone quite a transformation, or at least the downtown area has. There is a beautiful convention center along the River Liffey, now, and new construction is everywhere in the area. I’m sure it is a mixed blessing to the residents, like all such things are, but I hope all this new growth will bring Dublin more than it takes from it.

The bus system seems vastly improved, with easy to find and use express buses running to and from the airport and a handy tram running along the river. An affordable and well publicized LEAP card made it easy to buy all the transportation I needed for a week for 40 Euros.

The Irish may have been making gin for a long while, but the push to sell it to visitors was new to me. I found myself passing on the ever popular Guinness several times in order to enjoy the new flavor I fell for — rhubarb gin. Paired with a pink pepper tonic and served with a slice of grapefruit, it was  an amazing drink.

Other things were very much as I remembered them, thankfully. The fish and chips remained wonderful and the Guinness was every bit as easy to find as it has always been. Plenty of Irish still seem to like to talk about politics, and they have a fine way of not holding ones opinions against them. It makes our hostile environment here in USA seem all the more childish.

The World Science Fiction Convention I was attending found many ways to feature Irish myths, including this eerie and beautiful representation of a legendary monster from the River Liffey. And the bridge linking my lodging to the convention center used Ireland’s ancient symbol of the harp in an exquisite way to form a thoroughly modern path across a river.

It was a wonderful week in Dublin, and I was happy to see a country I’ve enjoyed so much so many times doing so well.

(Read more about my Worldcon 2019 adventures in Dublin at And the winner, she is …., at  An Irish Worldcon: I’m here! , at Fast Forward into the Past and at Feeling at home.)

Rich and Gone

Today it is my pleasure to welcome author W. F. Ranew and his novel Rich and Gone.

Author’s description of the book:

PI Red Farlow is on the hunt to find $300 million a Florida insurance executive has bilked out of family and friends.

Woody Cunningham stashed the money in safe havens around the world before disappearing. Has he been done in by one of his enemies? Or did he skip town with his girlfriend to live off the ill-gotten wealth? If that’s the case, where is he?

Farlow must quickly learn how and why people hide their money in offshore accounts if he’s to find out what happened to Cunningham.

When a tough guy from Farlow’s past resurfaces, wanting to settle an old score, Farlow discovers he also has links to the missing man. Clues lead him across Georgia and Florida, and Europe, to find the answers.

Is Woody Cunningham dead, or just rich and gone?

Excerpt:

We straddled barbed wire in a low-slung section of the fence and tramped toward the cabin pitched above the languid, black-water river, stained dark by tannins of vegetation. Along its banks, the sugar loaf knees of cypress trees rose up out of the water. An idyllic spot, if you loved pines, mossy oaks, solitude, and an occasional water moccasin basking on a stump. Lord, it was quiet out here. A quiet broken only by the gently moving stream, birds chirping, and fish jumping. In the distance, a mourning dove sang its song of lamentation.

The dark brown chink-log cabin looked rustic enough. Upon closer inspection, modern accouterments stood out. A roof-mounted satellite dish turned up to the southwestern sky, and a surveillance camera pointed in our direction. A deck had been added at some point and wrapped around the original structure. One section, with a hot tub, hammock, and rocking chairs, extended over the riverbank.

Cunningham owned an expensive collection of shotguns for his frequent hunting trips on the property. Had he kept them in this house? Probably not. He was an insurance executive after all.

My Review:

Rich and Gone starts off with a great title and it goes to on tell an interesting and complex who-dun-it story spiced with lots of genuine southern flavor and the occasional bit of big money intrigue.

Things I especially liked:

  1. All the financial sleuthing, and the impressive research behind it.
  2. An older protagonist who trusts his hunches, is tech savvy, and who is finally having a love affair with the woman he’s yearned for, for forty years.
  3. Great descriptions of Florida and Georgia, and even better descriptions of the food and drink of the south

Things I struggled with:

  1. Too much background information about minor characters, especially those introduced late in the story
  2. A graphic sex scene between two minor characters and a graphic murder showing the homophobia involved — both scenes seemed out of place and gratuitous, as they were unnecessary to plot or character development
  3. Several cases of the protagonist figuring something out, or his future self chiming in about finding useful information, and then not telling the reader what the tidbit is

Even though the story didn’t quite fire on all cylinders for me, it’s a well-crafted crime novel with plenty of complexity and surprises. I’d recommend it to anyone who enjoys this genre.

About the Author:

W.F. Ranew is the author of Rich and Gone, a Red Farlow mystery set for publication May 29, 2019, by Tirgearr Publishing. He a former newspaper reporter, editor, and communication executive. He started his journalism career covering sports, police, and city council meetings at his hometown newspaper, The Quitman Free Press. He also worked as a reporter and editor for The Augusta Chronicle, The Florida Times-Union, and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, where he was a news editor.

Ranew has written two previous novels: Schoolhouse Man and Candyman’s Sorrow. He lives in Atlanta and St. Simons Island, Ga.

Find W. F. Ranew at the following places: His website. The Tirgearr book page. His Tirgearr author page. His Goodreads page. His Blog. On Facebook. Also find him on Twitter at @wfranew

W. F. Ranew is giving away a $10 Amazon or Barnes and Nobel Gift card!

Enter here to win.

This post is part of a tour sponsored by Goddess Fish. Check out all the other tour stops and find many more ways to enter and to win!

If you are interested in a review from me:

This is a blog devoted to thinking about the future. I review books and movies related to this theme or to those that otherwise have a strong tie to subjects touched upon in Flickers of Fortune, such as mysteries or thrillers related to finance.

I do read the entire book and I write real reviews. I cross post my reviews on Amazon, Good Reads and Library Thing, and will post elsewhere upon request. If you would like to be considered for a review please comment here or contact me at Ariel (dot) Zeitman (at) gmail (dot) com.

It Don’t Come Easy

I’ve been thinking about Ringo Starr a lot, mostly because someone just told me he was turning 91, Really? That seemed so hard to believe. With good reason. It isn’t true. He’s turning 79 on Sunday.. Yes, that is still old but ….. it isn’t 91.

A second source confirmed for me it had to be true because Ringo was about ten years older than the other Beatles. Also not true.  Paul McCartney just turned 77. And while we’re at it, over the next week Christine McVie of Fleetwood Mac turns 76 and Patrick Stewart (my favorite Star Trek Captain of all time) will turn 79. There is a lot of talent in that late 70’s group …. but that isn’t my point

I’m more interested in why Ringo got dissed so easily. Is it because he’s always been that Beatle. The one we all though was lucky to be there. Could have been any drummer, right? Maybe. I’ll bet it’s not that simple.

Because I’m not a huge Beatles fan, I don’t have strong feeling on the subject. Ringo only wrote one song I like, but I do like it a lot. Lately I’ve been struggling with some things of my own. Publishing my sixth book next week and getting push back that it’s not that good. A couple of bad reviews of my other books. No, not just bad, snotty. I don’t mind a bad review.  I do mind a snotty one.

I’ve been asking why in the world I’m bothering to put my writing and myself out there so people can shoot me down and make me feel like shit. Am I masochistic? No. Desperate for attention. I don’t think so. Bored. No, I’ve plenty else to do.

The only answer I can come up with is I believe in my writing and in myself. I wonder if Ringo believed in himself through all the snide jokes about how he didn’t matter. I’m just curious.

Today, Ringo does appears to be a healthy and happy 78 year old. Money isn’t everything, but according to Wealthy Gorilla  his net worth  as of 2019 is $350 million dollars.  I think that can buy a lot of solace for people thinking he’s turning 91.

Anyway, enjoy my favorite Ringo song.  I’m singing it in my head a lot these days.

… is still a thousand miles.

I used to love the expression “the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” I say used to, because back when I was starting a lot of  journeys, I needed all the inspiration I could find to get going.

Lately I’ve been doing a lot more finishing of journeys, not the least of which has been the heavy editing and re-releasing of six novels I wrote between 2010 and 2017. Another writer may have patiently refined these books for a few more years before they ever saw the light of day, but not me.  I got them out there with a flourish before I realized they had only gone about half as far as they needed to.

I think, and hope, that I’ve now gotten five of the six of them to the end of the road. Two days ago I made “Flickers of Fortune” available on Kindle and in paperback. It replaces the longer book known as d4 and is a more reader-friendly telling of the tale.

You know what? It was a LOT of work to get this all the way done. Not fun creative stuff, but I-just-want-to-quit-this-shit-and-go-take-a-nap type work.

Why stick with it? The satisfaction is the final product. I’m genuinely proud of it.

And, I’ve gained a new saying. It isn’t nearly as pithy, but it is true.

 

 

 

That’s her!

The appearance of main character Ariel was always well formed in my mind. She had long, thin, straight red hair. She was tall and slender, with an athletic body. She was confident, with a bit of attitude. She is the only character I captured on one of the original covers,  although it was from the back.

When I decided to rename my books, I needed new covers. Current fashion is to show the main character (from the front), so  I needed my new designers to keep my vision of what Ariel really looked like.

By the time we started the cover for Flickers of Fortune, the fine folks at Deranged Doctor Design had already implemented their way of dealing with people like me, who are picky about their MC’s physical appearance. On the previous book, they sent me six potential models to choose from. I expected to see a half dozen or so redheads auditioning to be Ariel. I was surprised when I only got one.

They were spot on. She was Ariel. Not a single modification needed.

When it came time to create the last cover, we needed Ariel to make a second appearance, but not with an identical face. This particular model had other photos to choose from. DDD selected one in which she looked similar, and it would have worked fine.

Looking at it forced me to see other photos of this model, however, and I found several I liked so much better.  Doesn’t she look so much more interesting in the other three photos?

I persuaded DDD to try an edgier look and I was happy with the result. So were most people in my informal focus group, although one person thought she now looked slutty. Sigh …. Not what I intended.

Other people’s opinions aside, I decided to go with this vision of Ariel. I think it’s really her.

 

 

The fifth one

The fine folks at Deranged Doctor Design and I are getting pretty good at working together, I think. (It would be interesting to find out if they feel the same way.) We’ve both learned that I care so much about my main character that the process goes better if they send me photos to look at before they begin.

This time around they knew they’d found my Ariel and only sent  me one option. They were right; she was perfect.

Cillian, the other main character to be featured, appeared perfect too. I’d struggled with whether fellow psychic and love interest Siarnaq should be featured on the cover instead,  or perhaps Mikkel, the other love interest. In the end I picked Cillian. While there is no romance between him and Ariel, he has the most important precognitive skills and he goes on to play an important role in book six.

The first cover came back and I liked it a lot.

But there’s almost always a snag and this cover had two.

First of all, in the book, Ariel and Cillian can’t touch each other because it results in a painful electrical shock. That’s a problem given the way they are standing. I should have guessed the designer would put them right next to each other, but I didn’t, so I had to ask for a revision in which they were separated.

While we were at it, I also wanted more blue ocean in the background. So a design was produced with both corrections.

It had  separation and more ocean, but unfortunately, the beautiful blue on the left of the cover  got lost along the way. Also, a weird serpent like rock appeared off to the right.

This wasn’t going to work.

Then, someone pointed snag number two out to me. They thought Cillian, who is supposed to be in his forties, looked a little too old and could even be mistaken for Ariel’s father Alex, who is in his fifties. At first I didn’t think so, but upon reflection I saw the vague resemblance.

Would getting rid of Cillian’s grey and maybe his facial hair solve both problems? It seemed like it would go a long way towards distinguishing the two men.

So I requested  a revision with younger hair on Cillian, the blue and rocks  on the left put back, but the waves and water on the right left there.

This came back with two out of three. I definitely liked the younger looking Cillian and was happy to have my rocky cliff and thunderous sky back, but I’d really liked those waves and they weren’t there.

I will say, at this point it is tempting to give up. You feel like you’ve been enough of a problem and that the cover is close enough and you should just accept it and move on.

However, experience has taught me that covers matter a lot, and it is worth getting just want you want. So I sent this photo trying to explain what I was hoping for.

It worked!

The final cover is shown below and I don’t think I could be happier with it.

What a shame there is only more cover left to do. I feel like I’m finally getting good at my part in this.

Guess I’m just going to have to write more books, so I can get more covers done. 🙂

 

Finally

It’s interesting that the one cover I struggled with the most when I first released the 46. Ascending novels was for the third book. Interesting because the second time around, it’s been the same. The nice people of Deranged Doctor Design have sent me more varieties than either of us care to count. The first cover is shown  above.

I needed a more yellow sky. I needed a  new head for Alex. I needed a new body for Alex. I didn’t like the swirl. Or the new one. Or the one after that.

Finally I decided I didn’t want a swirl at all Just a bright light. Brighter. But with less dark edges.

Really, I’m not usually this hard to please. I’m not sure what it is about this story. Maybe, deep down, I think it’s the best thing I’ve written. I want this one to be perfect. I finally decided the version to the right was close enough.

Tonight I’ll send off the specs for my fifth novel, Flickers of Fortune. It was the other cover I had the most trouble with. Will history repeat itself?

 

The Sound of a Story

This was complicated enough. I’m overseeing the design of six new covers. I’m giving all six books no less than three separate edits, each one focusing on a different aspect of what will make a novel PERFECT. I’m setting up blog tours and assorted publicity for each book as it comes out, and for the first time I’m trying my hand at Amazon advertising to give these little glowing embers every chance to catch fire that I can.

I’m dizzy with it all.

Then my husband, supporter of my writing and all around good-guy, decides he’s going to read my books aloud so I can have audio books and he’s starting today. Wow. At first blush, this seems great. He knows the books. He has this deep, rich voice, honed from years in a classroom. And, he’s free. I mean, he has the time, but more importantly, he doesn’t cost anything. Narrators are expensive.

And then ….. I’m on the phone with Amazon trying to clarify requirements. He’s making many, many little files and I’m trying to find software to concatenate and convert them and really this just isn’t something I know much about or have time for right now. Arrrgggggg!!!!

You know what. It’s great. I’d rather have a wealth of opportunities coming at me than too little to do. Unlike Ariel, I don’t know  the future. I’ll take my chances throwing as many fishing lines out there as I can. Maybe I’ll catch something.

A Step Forward, a Step Back

Every part of self-publishing is an adventure. The process of having new covers made for my six novels has been no exception. I’ve been working with a group known as Deranged Doctor Design (you’ve got to love the name) and they’ve been great to deal with. We’ve been working on the cover for the second novel, Shape of Secrets, and just finalized the last step, the paperback version of the cover. Isn’t it beautiful? I especially love the beach on the back cover.

Oddly enough, the part requiring the most revision was the color of the spine and the insert on the back. I was determined for it to be orange, the designer wanted something in the burgundy/brown family. Finally she suggested this more transparent look and I loved it.

But no decision is without ramifications. The cover for the first novel, One of One, was finalized a few weeks ago. I love it, too, but take a look at the cover for the paperback.

It needs a semi-transparent spine and back cover inset now too, doesn’t it? Lucky for me the designer at DDD agreed, and One of One is getting its redo right now.

I’m starting to get a feel for the cascading ramifications of making a decision when you really, really want all six covers to match. One of One will be released in January about the time that the new cover for book three is done.

Should be interesting. I really hope we don’t come up with something on cover three that is so great, I have to stop and redo covers one and two again. What do you think are the odds?

Then of course, there are still covers four, five and six coming along. Like I said, it’s an adventure.

One Last Look

Burning Man is the most visually stimulating event I’ve ever attended, so it’s not surprising I ended up with far more photos than I used in my posts. Before I move on to blogging about more recent things, here are a few more I just have to share. Yes, it was quite the experience.