Review: The Crimson Deathbringer by Sean Robins

The Crimson Deathbringer is the first novel from Sean Robins—and a great debut it is.  It’s chockablock full of action.  You have dramatic alien-versus-human-versus alien encounters, exciting space battles, an insane race to save the world, some warm-hearted romance, and a lot of waggish humor (reminiscent of Douglas Adams).  If you can get this granite face to break a smile, you’ve accomplished something major and Sean has done just that—by infusing campy fun at the right times, in the right places.

I was a Trekkie—and once a Trekkie, always a Trekkie, because I could still [effortlessly, happily] watch episode after episode after episode.  That said, though, I’m not a fan of science fiction.  I’d agreed to review the book, but not checked the genre, so when it arrived, it was a woe-is-me, “Tyler, what’d you get yourself into?”  Then, I read the first chapter and the characters and storyline yanked me in!

Not only do you have protagonist Major Jim Harrison, an Air Force fighter pilot, relaying action through his eyes, you view it through others.  It’s not simple to balance—juggle—different POVs, or stories within stories, but Sean makes it work exceptionally well.

His characters are carefully crafted and his descriptions of future Earth and alternative planets and life forms are well detailed.  It’s easy to visualize all that is transpiring—from perilous shootouts and intense combat, to silly pranks and friendly banter.  There is an emotional level, too—sadness when someone dies, dismay when all seems futile, and encouragement when something heartening happens.

Without giving too much away, the storyline is this: Jim Harrison and his lovely partner, Liz Lopez, are part of a troupe that intend to save United Earth from the dastardly clutches of the egocentric, win-at-all-costs General Maada.  Hailing from a far-off galaxy, his goal is to make the Xortaags’ kingdom the most powerful, most feared entity in the universe.  Fortunately for Jim et al, they have Tarq, who also hails from a distant star system.  His objective is to save his entire species, the Akakies, via Operation KGAFUP (which we’ll leave as an acronym for the sake of a “wholesome” review).  Throw in a corrupt world leader, determined Resistance members and tough Russian mafia sorts, and Bob’s your uncle (always wanted to say that).  The Crimson Deathbringer will take you on an enthralling ride as it swoops through Sean Robins’ cosmos.

And just who is our budding author?  A big fan of Marvel, Game of Thrones, Star Trek and Star Wars . . . and author Jim Butcher.  He’s also an English teacher who has resided in various countries, including Canada; hence those Canadian references, eh.

This novel would be a five out of five, but the editor in me has to give it a 4.5 for those items that need, hmm, a wee bit of editing.  Still, a stellar story.  Looking [most] forward to the sequel.

Rating:  savesavesavesavesave

WPuse at bottom

Please check Sean Robins out at:

https://thecrimsondeathbringer.home.blog

https://seanrobins73.wixsite.com/website

Amazon:  Mybook.to/crimsondeath

 

 

 

Dream On

OMG.   <ROTFL>   On the weekend, I’d posted “Dreaming the Impossible Dream”.  Given that this blog is dedicated to writing/editing and my own fiction endeavors—like The Triple Threat Investigation Agency series—I’d meant to tie it in with writing . . . how we, as writers, have dreams, be it to become a household name, make money, experience fame, or entertain readers.

I got sidetracked but, as an author, I go where the keyboard and/or pen takes me.

“A dreamer is one who can only find his way by moonlight, and his punishment is that he sees the dawn before the rest of the world.”
– Oscar Wilde (poet and playwright)

I’ve had many dreams over the decades, but there’s only one that’s followed me throughout—to be a writer.  I’ll admit I’ve always wanted to make money as one, not by the truckload, but enough to be able to write full-time, live in a decent condo, pay bills, and retire without worry.  And I’ll also acknowledge that it’s still a dream today—an aspiration. WPdreamusealso

As an FYI, a dream is something you wish were true or something you want, yearn for.  An aspiration, like a goal is something you’re determined to undertake, tackle, attain.

“You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.”
– C.S. Lewis (writer and lay theologian)

How does one make a dream come true?  Having one to strive for helps.  Decide what yours is.  Really focus; ensure it’s well-defined and doable (sure, becoming a billionaire may happen, bu-ut).  Believe in it; there’s no waffling; no doubt.  Trust it’s yours to be had, that it’s achievable.

“The only thing that will stop you from fulfilling your dreams is you.”
– Tom Bradley (American politician and former police officer)

The “Law of Attraction”, creative visualization techniques, and umpteen sites will advise something to the effect of:

 Ask.  Believe.   Achieve.  

Sold!  Who can argue with simple easy-to-follow logic like that?  When it came out, I read The Secret by Rhonda Byrne.  Fabulous food for thought and practice.  Basically, whatever you think and feel will affect what you attract into your life—so maintain positive thoughts and feelings, and you’ll receive positive things.

<ROTFL again>  I digress.  Again.  Back to being a writer with a dream.  Once you’ve defined it, believe in it.  Release fear and worry, and determine (record/list) how you can make it happen.  Look at others who have attained what you’d like to; see how they accomplished it and decide what similar action(s) you can undertake.

“Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.”
– Harriet Tubman (abolitionist and political activist)

Understand that it will, with effort and action, take time for the dream to become reality.  Recognize that you may err or experience a setback.  That’s okay.  It’s not a true setback; it’s a lesson learned.

Learning is a very good thing.

 “To accomplish great things, we must not only act, but also dream; not only plan, but also believe.”
– Anatole France (poet, journalist, novelist)

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Dreaming the Impossible Dream

Thinking a lot about life lately . . . things that were, things that are, things that may/could be . . . like dreams.

We’ve all had dreams.  Still do.  Some were envisioned during childhood and youth, others during our 20s and 30s, and a few came later.  Some were realized, others changed.  Some we [now] laugh at, others we [still] wish for.

My mom’s a fan of Gomer Pyle: USMC, as once mentioned, so I bought the DVDs (yeah, I’m old-school, what can I say, LMAO).  Knew he could sing, but never knew he could sing until I watched the show.  One episode in particular—“The Show Must Go On”—has Gomer (Jim Nabors) singing “The Impossible Dream”.  OMG.  What a voice.  It makes me want to belt out the lyrics (fortunate are those not within listening range, LOL).

Especially spirited [moving] are these words:

That one man, scorned and covered with scars  /  Still strove with his last ounce of courage  /  To reach the unreachable star  /  To reach the unreachable start  /  For you know it’s impossibly high

A little history.  “The Impossible Dream (the Quest)”—a popular song from the 1965 Broadway musical, Man of La Mancha—was scored by Mitch Leigh, with lyrics by Joe Darion.  The song was first sung by Don Quixote (a character from 17th-century novelist Miguel de Cervantes’ Don Quixote) when he was asked what he meant about following the quest.  Quixote, by the by, had difficulty accepting the realities [struggles] of life and slipped into a fantasy world where windmills were monsters and he an honorable knight from a bygone era.

And a little trivia.  In 1968, Senator George McGovern introduced Robert F. Kennedy, campaigning to be president, by quoting the song.  It wasn’t that he thought Kennedy’s chance to become president was impossible, simply that he wanted “the audience to understand it’s worth making the effort, whether you win or lose”.  What awesome advice.  Endeavor, do your utmost, regardless of the outcome.  Strive for that impossible dream.

Dozens of singers have covered the song and everyone has his/her favorite rendition, mine being you-know-who.  I’d be remiss if I didn’t provide the lyrics and the wonderful YouTube vid showing Jim Nabors as Gomer singing the song.  It was a toss-up whether to present the long or short version.  The long has an “intro” as to how Gomer regains the voice he’s lost to stage-fright prior to a big Navy relief benefit show.  The short is simply the song.  . . . Flip of the coin.  Ta-da!  You get the long version.  Enjoy!

When days seem bleak and nothing good/positive happens, “The Impossible Dream” instills hope and restores faith.  Suddenly, nothing is impossible and that dream is within grasp. WPdream1

This is my quest  /  To follow that star  /  No matter how hopeless  /  No matter how far

Amen.

To dream the impossible dream
To fight the unbeatable foe
To bear with unbearable sorrow
To run where the brave dare not go

To right the unrightable wrong
To love pure and chaste from afar
To try when your arms are too weary
To reach the unreachable star

This is my quest
To follow that star
No matter how hopeless
No matter how far

To fight for the right
Without question or pause
To be willing to march into Hell
For a heavenly cause

And I know if I’ll only be true
To this glorious quest
That my heart will lie peaceful and calm
When I’m laid to my rest

And the world will be better for this
That one man, scorned and covered with scars
Still strove with his last ounce of courage
To reach the unreachable star

To reach the unreachable star
For you know it’s impossibly high
To live with your heart’s driving upward
To reach the unreachable star

Songwriters: Mitch Leigh / Joe Darion

The Impossible Dream lyrics © Helena Music Company, Andrew Scott Music, Vmg Golden Records Copyrights, Helena Music Corp., SCOTT ANDREW MUSIC

What’s Our Story?

It seemed appropriate to end the “What’s -?- Story?” posts with one aimed at actually writing one.

Maybe you’d like to tell your story, be it in a short post or a long book, or something in between.  But you’re not quite sure where to begin.

First, give some thought as to who’ll read your story: your audience.  Family and/or friends?  Your blog, social media, and/or website followers?  The public?  Do you want the story to be narrated by yourself or would you like to present it as a tale of fiction?

**  Determine your audience.  Decide how to relate your story.  **

Next, pick up a pen or sit at the keyboard, an audio recorder, or a combination thereof, and start.  Record what you’d like your story to entail, what to share and how to communicate it.  Is there a message?  Do you have something you’d like people to learn about or from?  Are there life lessons?  Or maybe you’d simply like to entertain?

**  Start by summarizing your story/life into three-four sentences.  That’s your focus, your description . . . your blurb, as it were.  **

Do an outline and don’t worry about the flow; you can determine how it should progress (timeline/timeframe) later and delete and rearrange accordingly.  In terms of incidents and events, and memories, you can always consult with family members and friends.  Their remembrances may vary and that’s a good thing—it’s called perspective.  Maybe you have some journals/diaries stuffed in drawers?  They’ll help tweak memories.  Old photos?  Use them, if only to fine-tune recollections.

**  Write down critical/essential junctures (two, five, ten, twenty) in your life that are crucial to your story.  They’ll help shape the narrative.  Whether you use them all is ultimately up to you.  **

If your story leans toward heartrending or sad, or tragic, you may want to add a few happy or cheering moments/events.  I don’t know about you, but I’m a “sobber”, a multi-tissue-box kinda gal.  It’s tough on the eyes and nose to always be bawling and blowing.  Prompting a laugh or two—even a smile—is a welcome break.

**  Give thought to what you’re sharing and why.  Maybe it’s a personal purge.  Nothing wrong with that.  Maybe lessons you learned would help others.  That’s noble.  Contemplate how tragic/emotional/funny/life-changing the story should be . . . how much you want—and are willing—to reveal.  **

This post could easily go on for several pages or be divided into a few. There’s a lot of “advice” to be provided re outline steps, narrative, writing “rules”, and the list goes on (and on).  Perhaps I’ll do that at some point but, for today, I just wanted to provide some food-for-thought ideas re you getting started on your [amazing] story.

Sad and laughing Theater mask

[Looking forward to reading it!]

What’s THE Story?

What’s THE Story?

Hey, it’s Rey, the last and best <LOL> in the story posts.  There are so many, it was tough to determine which to share.

Following the template created by the gals before me—specifically The Boss, Linda, and JJ—away we go!

∞ Personal

A two-parter.

The first is about the prickly relationship between my mother and me.  She didn’t much care for me becoming an actress, something I knew I’d be come hell or high water when I was nine years old.  When I left home at 19 to pursue that dream, it created an even bigger rift.  In truth, though, we’ve never been close.  Her thoughts about life and the cosmos and all that were a bit odd (okay, if I’m going to be totally honest, they were downright loopy).  Since I’ve become a P.I. the two of us have made an effort to forget the past and accept each other for who and what we are. WPReyprickly

Is it working?  Yeah, kinda.  Time will tell.  So while the final “Mom & Me” chapter has an outline, a full draft still needs to be written.  It’s all good.

Linda, JJ and I are in the same boat re lack of relationships.  Considering I’ve been married three times, I’m not that keen on commitment.  And given that most of the guys I’ve dated have been major duds, yeah, so not keen.  Confession: I like flirting.  It’s fun!  Sure, I wouldn’t mind having someone to date on a semi-steady—but not serious—basis.  I like eyeing gorgeous guys, being in their company, having them feed my ego.  That’s fun, too!

I think, though, that the relationship I really need to develop is the one with me.  I have a lot of growing and learning to do (as Linda has said on more than one occasion), and I’m kinda looking forward to that.  So the “Rey & Co.” chapter, at this time, is only a list of points and to-dos.  I’m guessing it won’t be completed for years to come and that’s all good, too.

Professional

Another two-parter.

I was a B-actress for years, as you know, and still do some acting, mostly in commercials and, now and again, community theater.  Love being in front of the camera too much to stop doing it completely.  It’s the ham in me (as Linda has also said on more than one occasion).

Do I see myself returning to it full-time?  Maybe, when I’m older—as in retirement older.  So the final “Rey the Artiste” chapter won’t be available for a few decades.

Then, of course, there’s the Triple Threat Investigation Agency.  I enjoy being a P.I.  Love it, love it, love it!  I even get to act now and again when we’re trying to get info outta someone or snoop around a business or company without attracting attention.  It’s challenging and dangerous, for sure, but it’s also rewarding, and I’m not just talking financially—it’s very satisfying helping people in need.

The last chapter of “Private-Eye Rey” will have to wait to be completed.  There are a lot of scenes still to happen.  Love it, love it, love it!

Lucky

Took me a while to find the right adjective.  Life hasn’t always been smooth.  I’ve struggled to eat and pay rent.  I didn’t (don’t) always get along with people.  But I’ve been lucky to do what I’ve wanted to (dreamed of), meet some fantastic folks, live and work on the beautiful island of Oahu, and grow as a person.  I’d never admit that last one to Linda, but I truly believe I’m developing and changing.  I haven’t been much of a reader or learner, but I make an effort—nix that.  I don’t try: I do.  May not always be successful, but that’s not important.  It’s what’s accomplished, even if only to declare, “I did that”.  <LMAO>  That sounds more like something Linda or JJ might say. WPReystoryUSE

Yeah, I’m very lucky and I’m gonna keep counting my blessings.

What’s Her Story?

It’s JJ on story post patrol today, with my cousin Rey taking up the rear.  As she’s been [not too humbly] saying: the best is yet to come.  Uh, yea-ah.  Oops, that just netted me “the look”.  <ROTFL>

In keeping with the personal, professional, and <insert adjective of choice> story model, allow me to share mine.

♠ Personal

Which one re personal, though?  The one about the father I never knew?  That the family is exceptionally eccentric . . . to a fault?  How Rey and I rarely got along when we were young?  That in my early teens I fantasized about marrying royalty?

Mom would never talk about “Dad”.  I don’t even know his name.  Some detective, huh?  <LOL>  I should put the ol’ P.I. skills to the test and find out who he is/was.  But then . . . do I really want to know?

Just looking at the Fonne family names tells you how unconventional we are.  Blame that on the grandfolks, Elmer Finkston and Jocasta Genvieve Fonne.  Grandfather was VP of a company specializing in joke novelties and fun gizmos, and Grandmother possessed a hysterically funny streak that could humble (and crumble) any stand-up comic.

That Rey and I get along so well now is amazing.  When we’d not attempted to shove each other into a bog or pond during summer holidays, we’d endeavored to bury each other’s faces in the dirt—for no other reason than we couldn’t stand each other.  She thought me pitiful Pollyanna; I thought her woeful wannabe.  One time, we were so engrossed in smacking each other silly, we nearly trashed the summer cabin we’d been banned to for the day (courtesy of a rambunctious food fight we’d initiated at a family picnic).  Uncle Charly lost a toupee (an ugly thing that looked like uncooked ramen noodles) and Uncle Flex no longer possessed that furry eyebrow (the two had melded into one long fox-moth caterpillar).  They were so not happy. WPJJstoryUSE2

I will [hesitantly] confess that I’d had my heart set on wedding into a certain royal family.  Unfortunately, they weren’t of the same mind, not having had the pleasure of meeting yours truly and determining that I’d be the “perfect girl” for their prince.  (I must also confess that I am somewhat envious of Meghan, lucky <bleep>.)

The final chapter is undecided.  In truth, there are several to be written . . . every one in its own sweet time.

♠ Professional

My foray into weather reporting had never been intentional.  I’d studied film for two years, then decided I didn’t care dealing with mega egos.  Environmental studies seemed a better option—and more respectful.  I could and would save the world, protect endangered species, and contribute to the termination of global warming.  When I got goosed by a crazed Canadian goose and gnawed by a disgruntled goat, I realized wildlife was better left to those with the calling.  A local cable station admin job rescued me from additional wildlife mis-adventures and, eventually, I became a meteorologist.

While I love being a private eye, I do miss weather reporting.  I suppose I had/had Rey’s acting ambition, because I thoroughly enjoyed being on camera.  I also, however, liked researching community events and local news, and putting together informative specials.  It wasn’t unlike being a P.I. now that I consider it—i.e. researching and assembling facts, and providing findings.

The professional story also has a few chapters still to be developed.  Although Rey, Linda and I often discuss our future as private investigators—expanding the Triple Threat Investigation Agency and all that—who knows how I’ll feel a decade from now?  Presently, though, I’m happy to go with the flow; the stream is winding yet smooth.

♠ Satisfying

My adjective/word of choice.  Satisfying because everything is proving gratifying and fulfilling.  Agency work is fairly regular.  The new house is filled upcoming projects, which will require new skills, so learning adventures are on the horizon.  Satisfying because all seems fairly untroubled.  Maybe my love life isn’t happening but, as a result, there are no squabbles or tension to contend with.  There have been no life-changing disagreements with my coworkers, simply the silly little ones everyone experiences off and on.  Life on this lovely Hawaiian island is truly very satisfying.

Who could ask or wish for more? WPJJstoryUSE

What’s My Story?

The three of us pulled straws and I’m the first to post.  It’s Linda, the smart athletic one from the Triple Threat Investigation Agency.   Oh-oh, got “the look” from Rey.  <LMAO>

The plan for this post: follow The Boss’ template and run with it.

Personal ♥

My life didn’t much begin until I was married—too young—to Chiffre Royale, a sax player who doubled as a heroin addict.  Bad times.  Good times.  He was a sweet guy when he wasn’t hurting.  And a damn talented musician.  Chiffre died way too soon.  It wasn’t long after his passing that I became a screenwriting assistant and, subsequently, met Rey.  That’s when life—my story—truly began. Linda2

Recently, I started communicating with my sister and brother.  We’d never been close and never much cared, but we’re endeavoring to stay in touch and get-together regularly.  I’ve acquired “family”.  It feels . . . nice.  Like I have roots.  Who knows how things will ultimately transpire but, for now, we’ll simply go with the flow (an overused but legitimate expression).

The final chapter of my personal story is still unfolding.  There’s so much to do and learn on an individual, private level.  How exciting!

Professional

I’ve always enjoyed writing and learning.  That’s why I became a scriptwriting assistant—to develop a skill and acquire knowledge through research and experience.

I take courses whenever possible.  Besides being fun, blogging is a great teaching tool—for me and through me.  It’s an awesome feeling to pass along helpful information or prompt a smile.

I’m definitely growing as a person and evolving as a private eye.  The professional path is a lengthy, winding one and I’m looking forward to every step.  This, too, is exciting!

Excited

Definitely—and obviously—the word of choice.  I’m thrilled about what’s happening in my life and what’s to come.

How can I not be?  I live in Hawaii, thoroughly enjoy being a Triple Threat Investigation Agency P.I., have learned to surf, and am constantly acquiring knowledge (Rey claims my head’s filled with a <bleep> load of trivia).  But first and foremost maybe, I’ve started taking so much better care of myself.

My trilogy of stories are simple and plain.  I suspect Rey’s are going to prove outstanding (she can be quite melodramatic, as we all know) and JJ’s will certainly prove interesting.  And that’s the exciting <giggle> thing about stories: there’s always a beginning, a middle, and an end . . . and they can constantly  be rewritten. WPLindastoryClipartsZone

On that note, my humble self will mosey along and contemplate all the positive—exciting—things in the making.

What’s Your Story?

We all have one—personal, professional, life-changing, funny, sad, and/or <insert adjective of preference>.

Given I’m a writer and blogger, it seemed appropriate to share mine.  But which one?  . . . Well, why not two or three: personal, professional, and faith-bound [adjective of preference].

♦ Personal

As I grow older and [finally] mature <LOL> I view life and events from different perspectives.

Some of us have wonderful parents, others have tolerable/fair ones, and a few have ones we wish could be returned to the Customer Service desk.  I grew up with alcoholic parents.  Mom was nasty, Dad quiet (save for glassy eyes, you could never tell he’d been “imbibing”).  I didn’t like my mother much and she—gauging by the attitude and comments—didn’t much care for me.  Childhood and adolescence consisted of humungous tummy knots and treading on eggshells.  Imagination was my BFF. WPstory2USE

The final chapter of this personal story is that I eventually realized my father did love me in his unique, undeclared way.  His own life events (including internment) had shaped him and he did the best he could considering the circumstances.  Mom had made unwise choices and blamed the world—and me—for them.  Maybe it wasn’t the right thing to do (blame someone else) but decades later I finally understood the reasons behind those choices.  I forgive her.  I even love her (she is my mother, after all) and I’ll continue to take care of her during these twilight years.

Professional

I’d wanted to be a writer since Mr. Kennedy complimented something I’d written in Grade 7 English class.  My childhood BFF, Imagination, had already nudged me into composing comics and chronicles.  Later, they evolved into books.  Confession: I wasn’t good.  At all.  Joining writers’ groups and taking classes provided guidance, and while I absorbed all I could, I didn’t necessarily apply it.

Serving as ESL and SE teacher/trainer, and technical editor, didn’t help in the creative writing front.  It was only when I heard instead of listened, read other writers (by the truckloads) and sat back with a truly critical eye that it all started falling, slowly but surely, into place.  That true “a-ha(!) moment” arrived after what seemed a short lifetime.

The final professional chapter will be written the day I finally lay down the four-ink pen and leave the keyboard behind.

Life—and work—is all about learning and growing, realizing and applying.  It’s all so very good.  Tricky and testing, but very good.

Faith-bound

Maintaining faith has been a struggle.  Although I sincerely believe in the Big Guy, his Son, and the Good Book, I—like many—frequently ask “why?”  “Why me?”  “Why this?”  “Why can’t I get a break?”  “Why . . . why . . . why?”  <LOL>  Maybe it’s easier to view ourselves as victims, to place the blame elsewhere.  Accepting responsibility and/or taking action can prove daunting.

We’re given challenges for various reasons.  In my case, I honestly believe He wants me to learn forgiveness and patience.  The forgiveness I believe I’ve acquired, the patience—hell no.  Oops.  Heck no.  I truly am my father’s daughter: he possessed none, either.

The last chapter in this story is that I will master patience.  It will continue to be a struggle, unquestionably, but it will happen.  My faith will grow and stabilize . . . and I’ll be a better person for it.

There you have it.  Three short-and-sweet stories that have shaped me and/or will continue to do so.  It feels good to purge, to wear the ol’ heart on the sleeve, to be honest and open.

The next three posts—more stories—will be authored by the trio from the Triple Threat Investigation Agency.  (Rey’s already pumped up.)

And what about you?  What’s your story? WPstory3USE