Thursday, January 27, 2011

The Breach by Patrick Lee

So you haven’t heard of Patrick Lee yet? Well, if you’re a fan of modern thrillers, chances are you will soon. In fact, if you’re reading this review right now, then voila, you’ve now heard about him. Lee is a new entrant to the thriller scene, having released his first two novels, The Breach, and Ghost Country in the last year or so. However, the way he approaches the genre is fresh and unique because he takes all elements of the crime thriller that I know our readers love so much, and combines them with some really wacky science fiction concepts.

In Breach we meet Travis Chase, an ex-con who has just been released from prison, he’s hiking through the back woods and mountains of Alaska, trying to figure out who he is and what he wants to do with the rest of his life. His family has totally rejected him and there’s nothing left for him, a fairly typical back story, and frankly not particularly interesting. However, things pick up quickly when Chase finds the smoldering wreckage of a 747 full of sophisticated computers, the bodies of government agents, and the First Lady of the United States. No one has come to help so, Travis is the only one who knows what has happened. Through a series of harrowing escapes and adventures he saves a beautiful young operative who has survived the crash (of course) and finds out that the plane was brought down by mercenaries seeking to recover an alien technology that knows everything!!! And will help its holder take over the world!!!

How did the beautiful young operative (named Paige) gain possession of said alien technology? Apparently back during the Cold War, American scientists accidently ripped a hole in the space-time continuum (called the “Breach”) and now an unknown alien entity is passing weird technologies through it. I know, sounds like a bit much to swallow, and it is. Thus, if you have a hard time suspending disbelief you might have trouble with this book. On the other hand, it’s also kind of hard to believe that one man, even one named Reacher, could go into a warehouse and kill 15-20 operatives using nothing but his bare hands and a bit of dental floss, so maybe alien technology isn’t too hard to swallow. Seriously, if you have trouble with sci-fi, this may not be the book for you.

As far as the general presentation of the book goes, it doesn’t start off too well, I could tell that Lee was writing his first book. However, the end of this book is brilliant. I was taken totally by surprise and had no idea the book was going to end when it did. Absolutely amazing, the end of this book was one of the best I’d ever read. So…if you have the patience to muddle through some so-so portions in the beginning and middle, you’ll be richly rewarded at the end.

In sum, Breach is a good start for a new author, with an ending that totally knocked me over. I recommend it highly to fans of sci-fi and thrillers, as well as for anyone seeking a new read.  You can find out more about Patrick Lee on his website here.

This review was written by The Senator.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

NEEDLE: A Magazine of Noir

I still remember the very first short story that ever made an impact on me. I was in third grade and our teacher gave us an assignment to write a short story involving the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday.   It wasn't the first writing assignment we had been given in her class. Mrs. King loved reading books to us and always encouraged us to use our imagination in our writing assignments.  But it wasn't until this particular assignment that I realized just how gifted some individuals could be at story telling. 

It was the final day before Thanksgiving break when Mrs. King stood up in front of the class and told us that she had a very special story to read to us in preparation for the holiday. The story was written by my good friend Sara and it chronicled the life a turkey family living on a ranch with hundreds of acres of roaming space. They were a happy family. A mother. A father. Three little ones. They lived a perfectly happy life until one day the father was dragged away by the ranch owner and sacrificed in front of his entire family for Thanksgiving dinner.  For a third grader the writing was amazing.  Mrs. King had to stop reading more than once in order to collect her emotions. By the time she was finished reading her face was stained with tears and all of us were whimpering at the thought of eating a turkey dinner the next day.  In fact, as an adult, I still recall with perfect clarity the emotions from that experience while I'm stuffing my own prized bird each year. I also find myself silently praying that this turkey wasn't sacrificed in front of his family like the one Sara wrote about so long ago.

Flash forward many, many years and you'll find that I've developed a passion for reading short stories. My coworkers have heard me talking about them ever since I was introduced to short story collections in December.  I love, love, love them! There is something amazing about reading a story for twenty minutes and walking away feeling no different than if you had just finished a 400 page novel.  The characters are strong, the information is just as descriptive, and the emotions you develop while reading the stories are probably more intense since you are getting an incredible amount of info in a really small amount of time. 

So, today I thought I'd introduce to you an option that I found that helps me quench my thirst for all things short story related.  It's called Needle: A Magazine of Noir.  Within its pages lies a collection of kick-ass short stories written by multiple authors that are all woven together by one common theme: crime fiction.  Needle describes their magazine like this: Hardboiled. Lean and mean. No silly reviews. No poetry (that's for pussies). No advertising. Nothing but hard hitting stories. In your face and busting up your kiss-maker. Kapow.  They aren't lying about that description. I've said it before and I have no problem hitting the repeat button - short story writers are beyond brilliant. Their ability to engage a reader with so much emotion and information in just a few pages speaks volumes about their talent.  I've read the stories in Needle...having this magazine on my shelf is just as important as my love for all things Reacher.  Now that has got to mean something, right? 

This is a magazine filled with nothing but stories and it isn't riddled with adds or perfume samples. You won't even find a review.  Even better, this collection of short stories comes in packaging that isn't much bigger than a paperback book and fits easily in my purse.  (uh...that last part is clearly to sell it to the females...for most of us women this is really, really important) This makes it perfect reading material for those on the go and is a great alternative  for those who feel they don't have time to devote to an entire novel.  And because I'm such a lover of the written word and all things short story related...I'm going to give away 3 copies of NEEDLE. Leave a comment on my blog between now and Wednesday, and I'll enter you in a drawing to win one of three issues from 2010.  It's going to be a good day on My Friends Call Me Kate and I would hate for you to miss out.

If you would like to learn more about Needle: A Magazine of Noir and the people responsible for giving us such greatness, you can check out their website here.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Jarrett Rush- The Why Behind the Write

Out of the gate, I need to take a second and thank Sabrina for letting me steal a spot on her blog. It’s an honor, especially for an unknown like me.

When she asked me to contribute, I was flattered. Then I was nervous. What do I write about? What would people want to hear from me? So I asked Sabrina what she wanted. She said she’s always interested in why people write. So that’s what you’ll get here. OK?

Ask some writers why they like to write and they’ll answer, “I write because I can’t not write.” That’s not me. For me, it’s always been easy not to write. You just don’t do it. And for a long time -- even though I’ve wanted to be a writer for as long as I can remember – I didn’t write.

I told myself I was a writer. I would put together a few sentences every once in a while, but, as far as serious writing, I didn’t do it.

It wasn’t always that way. As a kid I wrote a lot. I didn’t write well, but I was prolific. It started in junior high and I had a little file of stories I wrote. The first was a story titled “The Man Who Made the Weapon.” A dreadful title. It was a fantasy story. I don’t recall anything about it, but I know at the time I was proud of it. I wrote other stories. All were amateurish and way over my head. I remember one line that I was going to use to start a story. “His obituary read like the end of a bad romance novel.” I was 12 and doubt I’d ever read an obituary and know I’d never read a romance novel.

I kept writing some in high school, mostly about a spy who lived above a diner in London. He liked dry toast and fried-egg sandwiches. Obviously a different time, since I don't know anyone now who would order a breakfast that includes four pieces of bread. This guy also liked his coffee hot and black. I didn’t drink coffee then. Don’t drink it now, but my characters still did.

Let’s fast forward through the next ten years or so. College. I’m working at the student newspaper and all my writing efforts go there. I was a reporter and was writing daily, all stories about new professors or tuition hikes. I graduate and go into newspapering as a career, and, by that point, I’m not writing much. Some, but not regularly. And that’s mainly because the first job I got wasn’t a writing job. I was editing instead.

About five years after graduating from college, I started to pick the writing back up again. I started writing regularly. I worked up a short story and actually thought it’s pretty good. I also realize that I liked the process of writing, editing, and finishing the story. I liked it, so I wrote more. And the more I wrote, the more I realized I enjoyed it. That’s why, since then, I’ve been writing. Not every day. I’m not one of those writers who has to write every day. I write when I can and try and make the best use of my time. But I do write, and write often. And I do it because it’s fun.

So, the answer isn’t something deep like “I can’t not write.” For me, it’s simple really. Writing is fun. That’s why I do it. Because I can sit behind a keyboard and create something from nothing. And when you can find a world or character that you really like, there is nothing better.

And speaking of characters and worlds you like, I think I’ve found both in the coming series of novellas that should be available starting in early February.

Everything takes place in the near future in a city called New Eden. It’s dirty and dark. The government has collapsed and left a vacuum that one big company, RomaCorp, is trying to fill. RomaCorp is like Wal-Mart on steroids, providing everything from bread to electricity.

The first set of stories will follow a pair of guys who are trying to help a challenger to RomaCorp rise up and grab a piece of the pie. Other sets of stories will follow other characters and be set in the same world. One of the distinguishing characteristics of the place is the use of data as a drug. It’s a technology that everyone calls “the wire.” It allows users to plug directly into a data feed. Like an ethernet cable you plug straight into your body.

This technology, and the ramifications of its use and abuse, is a big player in all of the stories. It’s an idea that blossomed from a phrase that came to me at work.

Don’t tell my boss, but I was at my desk and my mind started to wander for a minute. I started thinking about the phrase “bird on a wire.” I don’t know why. Then I thought maybe the phrase was “bird on the wire.” Then my mind wondered what would it mean if I were “on the wire.” My head spun for a few moments and I banged out this bunch of paragraphs.

“How long have you been on the wire?”

She was blonde, tall, and entirely fake. I could practically hear the servos fire when she batted her eyes.

She slid her long legs a bit closer and swirled her drink in her glass.

I grunted an answer and she asked me to repeat it.

“For as long as I can remember,” I said again and kept staring at our reflection in the mirror behind the bar.

“Oh, a lifer.”


“Well, I hope you don’t mind me saying this, but you are very mature for someone who has been riding for that long.”

A flub in her language database programming. “I don’t think you mean mature. I think you mean old. And, yes, I am.”

A soft chuckle. “I suppose I do. You’re old for a lifer.”

I said that I guess I was old. “But I’m more careful than most,” I told her, and finally looked her way. She spun her legs to face me. “That would explain it,” she said.

“Yep.” I waved the bartender over with two fingers and he came quickly. I needed a refill.

That was the start. Even though none of that appears in any of the first novellas, everything was kicked off with that little five-minute burst of inspiration. I got other ideas. Ways to use the technology. What would be happening in the world I’d created. The kinds of characters who would live in this place and some of the stories they needed me to tell.

And that’s why I write. Because when you create a world you love and populate it with people who you are interested in, there’s nothing as fun as finding out where their stories go.

Jarrett Rush lives in Dallas with his wife, Gina, and their 1-year-old chocolate Lab, Molly. You can follow him on his blog at and on Twitter at @JarrettRush. His first book, Chasing Filthy Lucre, will be available in February, if not sooner.

For now you can access his short story Consider Us Even and get a sample of Chasing Filthy Lucre here.

Thanks Jarrett for being a guest on my blog.  You are AWESOME!

Monday, January 17, 2011

What the Heck is Smashwords???

I knew Jarrett Rush and I would get along when I read the comment he left on my blog when I dissected those bad reviews of Nothing to Lose by Lee Child.  Remember?  I had come across about 300 nasty grams for Lee on the Barnes and Noble website and decided that my goal should be to try and resell the book to past readers.  Would you believe it worked?  Here is Jarrett's comments:

I love Lee Child and Jack Reacher, but this is one I couldn't get through. I just felt like he was wandering the desert between the towns too much. I need my Reacher interacting with people and he didn't do enough of that here. Sounds like I may have bailed a chapter or two too early. (And didn't he pretty much save Officer Vaughn from her life of misery by giving her some much needed lovin' and a better understanding of how to deal with her husband. )

You've got me thinking I need to go back and try to pick up where I left off.

Don't ya just love happy endings?  I'm so glad my quirky little book blog and the part where I highlighted the "much needed lovin' could convince Jarrett to give this book another try.  After reading his comment, the first thing I tried to do was find Jarrett on Twitter. He wasn't there. But he showed up a couple days later and signed up to follow me.  Then he started tweeting about his free book Consider Us Even that you can find on Smashwords. Smashwords? What the heck is Smashwords?

Well, I'm glad you asked. is an online collection of books that are published in various electronic formats so that they can be read on computers, cell phones or other electronic devices such as the Kindle or the Sony Reader. It's also a place where writers can go to publish their own work.  While there might be some controversy over self publishing and going the traditional route to get a book deal, I personally, don't care how the work is published just as long as I can gain access to it.  And making sure my coworkers and blog readers have access to great reads is just as important. 

Getting a Smashwords account is easy.  You'll head over to and set up an account. Having an account is free and you'll be surprised at  how many free books and stories are available through this website.  Using your e-mail account, you'll set up a password. That's it. You're done.  The only thing you'll need to do now is set up your library. This is great for individuals that don't have access to an e-reader. You can open these books in HTML or JavaScript, both being programs that most of us our familiar with. 

Since setting up the account is easy and free, I'm hoping you'll take time out of your schedule to set up an account for yourself. I have several books on my reading list this year that can only be accessed with a Smashwords account. I would hate for you to miss out on some great reads, so...get it done! Don't worry coworkers-I'll be by your desks periodically throughout the day to help you set up an account just like I did when I forced you all to follow my blog. (I'm soooooo EVIL) Of course, using the account and reading the books you find will be done on your personal time.

Jarrett Rush will be stopping by the blog this week to discuss his reasons for writing.  He's a pretty creative guy. His short story Consider Us Even takes place in a futuristic city called New Eden. It's a quick pace story that sets up what will be a series of longer stories with many characters evolving over time.  I've read Consider Us Even and loved it because it's like a Sci-Fi meets Crime Fiction all in one. The story itself starts with a punch and ends with an even bigger punch at the end. Upon completion it takes you into a 30 page excerpt of Jarrett's novel Chasing Filthy Lucre that will be available soon on Smashwords. I can't wait for you to meet Jarrett and I can't wait for you to become acquainted with Smashwords.  Reading with all of you is going to be so much fun!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The Chosen Historian by Randi Ertz

I left home when I was 21.  I was gone for about 18 months and when I returned...I knew I didn't belong there.  Circumstances prevented me from leaving right away because my father had suffered a series of heart attacks.  So I stayed in the little town of Coos Bay, Oregon and enrolled in the college there, and lived at home to take care of my father. But there was an incident one night at the house.  It wasn't the first of it's kind, but it was at that moment that I knew I had to leave, and that I would never be returning home again to live there or anywhere nearby. 

In The Chosen Historian by Randi Ertz, Evin Driscol has returned to his childhood home in Burlington, Iowa after surviving the Civil War.  Ready to settle down with his childhood sweetheart, Marianne, and run the shoe shop that his family has owned for years, Evin finds out that everyone, including Marianne, have all moved on with their lives.  Marianne is married and living in Chicago and the family business is now being ran by his brother, Conor. After struggling to find his place in Burlington, he decides to leave for Chicago in the hopes of finding Marianne, the woman whose thoughts had helped him survive the war, and with the hope of fixing his one regret; not telling Marianne he loved her.  But moving to Chicago proves difficult when he is attacked in an alley by a coven of Vampires.  On the brink of death, his run away sister, Elli, a member of the very coven that attacked him, steps in to save his life. 

Leaving his past forever behind, Evin is now living in a "present" time where Vampires are living amongst the human race.  Evin isn't only a Vampire, he is a Daywalker.  With his one hundred and seventy-one years of living,  Evin has become an accomplished historian writing books about the supernatural and their impact on human history.  While rapping up his latest book tour and lecturing at the University of Illinois at Chicago, Evin meets and falls in love with Katie Riley, a beautiful blue-eyed blond with the same passion for history. 

In the story you'll read about Katie's connection to Evin's past, be charmed by Evin's kindness and wisdom, watch Evin be hunted by an old member of the coven, witness fighting between Vampires that will make you think you've stepped into a Harry Potter film, and learn that even after all of these years...his sister Naomi is still alive.  And...she's not even a vampire.  Although the book outlines Evin Driscol's one regret as not telling Marianne that he loved her, you'll find as you read the book that Evin's biggest regret is not returning home to provide protection and to keep watch over his family. 


Randi Ertz received her Psychology degree at the University of Illinois at Chicago and her MBA from Keller Graduate School of Management.  She developed a passion for reading during her sophomore year in Germany while reading The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley. After arriving in Germany to live with her father, Randi found that her reading skills were behind others in her class.  Determined to do all she could to receive the highest grade possible, she set out to complete all extra credit assignments, including the reading of The Mists of Avalon.  It was the study of this particular book that sealed her love for reading. The Chosen Historian is her first novel. The second book of the series is due out in 2011.

While putting herself through college, Randi worked multiple jobs and has participated in over 300 volunteer hours. After graduating, Randi realized that there was more to life than working 9-5 and bringing home a paycheck.  Randi knew what she wanted and that was to be an author and to own a publishing company that cared about its authors, readers, publishing team and the community. Randi then founded The Little Things Publishing, LLC and launched it in 2010.  TLT Publishing, LLC is dedicated to helping fiction authors publish their works. First time authors often have difficulty becoming published. The Little Things Publishing was created by an obsessed and avid reader/writer who is interested in assisting other writers achieve their dreams of becoming published. We are a unique publishing company looking for diverse writers who are passionate about the books they write.

You can learn more about Randi Ertz and The Little Things Publishing at the TLT Publishing website:

Thursday, January 6, 2011

A Letter to Lee Child

Dear Mr. Child-

Remember me?  I'm the crazy lady from Salt Lake City that planned my entire vacation around your two book signings in New York. It wasn't easy getting through this series. I started to panic after book seven. But now that I've finally caught up with all of the Reacher books, I thought I'd drop you a little note to let you know just how thankful I am that you've chosen writing as a career. I also wanted to let you know how inspiring your character, Jack Reacher, has been in my life.

Thanks to Jack Reacher I have been able to define my very existence around my "Reacher worthiness." It's true.  Ever since you spoke about Roscoe's eyes and her "ass"  in Reacher's debut novel, Killing Floor, I have been obsessed with making sure that I am doing everything I can to be seen in such a favorable light.  You can read about this turning point in my life here.  I'm not embarrassed by this turning point and I have no problem admitting that I doubled my workouts to look "extra Reacher worthy" for you (I mean, Jack) on my trip to New York and created a Reacher Worthy Status Chart to measure my progress with.  

I've also found myself in meetings comparing gospel principle lessons on Sunday to Jack Reacher, as well.  You can read about that experience here.  I've since started calling them "Reacher moments' and I'm happy to tell you that I'm not the only one that has them.  My Reacher moments are famous at work. In fact, I was so upset that others weren't experiencing them with me that I devoted an entire blog post to encourage my friends to read the books with me. It became my mission. It also showcased how difficult it is to balance marriage and Reacher.

Did you know I taught my coworkers the importance of following the "Reacher said nothing" rule?  Well, I did and it's a great post that clearly shows the importance of being taught this lesson early in life.  I also taught them the importance of not being selfish. You have no idea how difficult this lesson is for me. I still struggle with the thought of my Reacher books coming back damaged.  Oh! The thought totally makes me sick.  I also told them stories of my attempt to develop an internal clock, and showcased Reacher's "four in the morning theory" as well as his knowledge of rats.  And I can't forget his math wisdom.  Seriously, Reacher's math knowledge made me look at passwords in a whole new way! Reacher is a true genius.

With all that being said, there is one scene that still haunts my dreams at night, and it goes back to the very first book.  If I could be any character in any book...I would choose to be Officer Roscoe.  Mr. Child, I would have stepped on that bus. I would have stepped on that bus with nothing but the clothes on my back and I would have memorized every moment, every touch, and every word in the short time I had been given with Jack. The ending of that book broke my heart. And even though I know it never would have lasted longer than a week...I still would have gone. My job would have still been there. My political aspirations would have still been successful. I would have left it all behind for just a few days, and I would have stepped on that bus.   There would have been no cause for Reacher to have tears in his eyes for a hundred miles because I would have stepped on that bus.

So, with all that being written...I just want to say thanks for choosing writing as a career and for giving me so many topics to write about these last few months.  It really has been fun and my coworkers have enjoyed every minute of it.  I'm looking forward to the next Reacher novel and I'm really hoping we get a chance to meet again.  Remember when I accidentally told you that I loved you at Borders on Broadway in New York?  Well, I'm starting to think there might have been some truth to that after all.  You are, after all, an "amazing man with the most beautiful blue eyes I have ever seen in a picture..."  and they are just as amazing in person, too. Thanks again for the friendship on Facebook.

Warmest regards-
Sabrina Ogden

And the winner of the signed copy of Worth Dying For by Lee Child is... Cindy Westover!  Not only did you capture my thoughts, but you seem to know Reacher quite well just from reading my blog!

Oh my dear Katie please don't be so blue.
For I'm here in your dreams just waiting for you.
Your eyes are still worthy, your soul still complete,
with qualities like that you'll never be beat.
So dab at the dribbles falling from your beautiful eyes,
Because Jack Reacher has never been good at good-byes.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Worth Dying For by Lee Child

Imagine me crying,
Imagine me blue;
Imagine me super sad
that I am losing you.

(sniff, sniff) :'-(

I know. I know.  It's the saddest poem in the history of blogger world. is a very sad day for me and it's the best I could do under such depressing circumstances. Plus, I never said I was a deal with it!

Since I'm not quite ready to part with Reacher, this is all your going to get for now. 

Oh - And I have a signed copy of Worth Dying For by Lee Child. I figure the value is close to $2500.00. Of course that is taking into consideration the following expenses of planning my vacation around Lee Child and his two book signings in New York.  It's true that I didn't have to go.  But then, if I didn't, you wouldn't have the opportunity to win this book now would you?  Expenses were:

Travel                  $796.00
Hotel                   $1337.68 (no bedbugs...totally worth the cost)
4 books               $91.54
Subway               $35.00
Food                   $50.00 (I'm only counting the cost of our meal at Carnegie Deli. After all, they did slaughter and entire cow for our two sandwiches because we weren't properly prepared for the size of the meal. Oops! I still feel kind of bad for that cow.)
Cab                     $100.00 (that was to and from the airport)
Statue of Liberty  $20.00 (and I'm talking a little statue for my desk at work)
TOTAL               $2430.22

Well, I'm hoping to find this book a loving home.  Preferably to someone that can understand the incredible pain I am going through right this very moment.  If you think you're the one...leave me a comment with a small poem in the comment section below.  I'm sure you won't have any problem besting mine.

I'll be announcing the winner on Friday (1/7/2011)! 

This is the saddest day EVER! WAAAAHHHH! :'-( I don't wanna wait for another book...I don't wanna!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

61 Hours by Lee Child

So, I know Reacher told me where he was headed originally in this book, but honestly, the guy wanders so much that I've stopped paying attention to locations until I know he's landed in the locale where the book is actually going to be taking place.  In 61 Hours, Reacher finds himself stranded in Bolton, South Dakota after the tour bus he hitched a ride on slips and slides into a ditch.  It's winter time in the middle of nowhere.  There's a blizzard blowing into town.  It's cold...really, really cold. Like 20 below zero cold! Have you ever been in 20 below zero weather? I have. It was my freshman year in college and it dropped to 60 below with the wind chill. The college didn't close for the day, so like everyone else, I put on my clothes and headed to class.  I made it as far as the street corner from my apartment....maybe 300 feet. That's when I fainted. Anyway, where were we?  That's right...Bolton, South Dakota. 

The bus crash causes Reacher to take up residence with Deputy Chief Andrew Peterson where he learns that an elderly woman, Janet Salter, is in danger because of her insistence on testifying against drug dealers that have taken up residence at an abandoned military post in Bolton.  They aren't small time drug dealers. These guys have ties to a very short,  but brutal Mexican cartel member named Plato.  Reacher soon becomes acquainted with Janet, and knowing that Plato wants her silenced, Reacher is determined to do whatever is necessary to provide protection for her. 

In this story you'll see Reacher strike up a telephone friendship with Major Susan Turner, watch him develop a mother/son relationship with Janet Salter, learn that he was part of a government experiment when he was six, learn how to balance while walking on the ice,  put a bullet in the head of the Chief of Police, and scramble to escape a fiery ending that will leave you screaming, "NOOOOOOOO!" "NOOOOOOO!"  "NOOOOOOO!" After that, you'll read through the last five pages of the book with no mention of Reacher, and find out that Major Susan Turner is being deployed to Afghanistan.  What? Wait a second.  What happened to Reacher? Hmmm. I guess I'll have to read the next book to find out!