Archive for July, 2010


July Blog Tour: ‘Perfectly Dateless’

   Posted by: Faith    in Rye Thoughts

And now for book two! I was so, so excited to read this one, because it’s literally been five years since Billerbeck had a new book out. I also read her blog regularly, so I had the added bonus of knowing how much time, effort, and research went into this one.

Perfectly Dateless – Kristin Billerbeck

Publisher’s Synopsis:

The prom countdown has begun.

Daisy Crispin has 196 days to find the right date for the prom. There’s only one problem–her parents won’t let her date or even talk to a guy on the phone. Oh, and she’s totally invisible at school, wears lame homemade clothes, and possesses no social skills. Okay, so maybe there’s more than one problem.

Can she talk her parents into letting her go to the prom? Or will they succeed at their obvious attempts to completely ruin her life?

Perfectly Dateless is hilarious, shocking, and totally real. You’ll fall in love with Daisy’s sharp wit and resourcefulness as she navigates the world of boys, fashion, family, and friendship.

My Thoughts:

In this novel, Billerbeck has crafted a relatable, realistic teenager with eccentric parents and a best friend who I think I actually liked more than the main character, Daisy… oops!

The story is a growth tale for Daisy, who starts off without a whole lot of backbone and grows into her own skin over the course of the novel. She makes plenty of mistakes along the way — some a little surprising and impulsive, just like you might imagine a teen would — and has to face the consequences of these actions when things inevitably go wrong.

What I liked about this novel is what I tend to like about all of Billerbeck’s works: No one is perfect. Daisy’s parents are very eccentric, strict Christians who mean well and want the best for their daughter, but under their put-together front, they have their own secrets and blemishes. All good people have faults. All ‘bad’ people have some good. That’s life, and no one can be painted with just one brush stroke.

What I didn’t like about the novel is, again, what sometimes irks me about Billerbeck’s works: The dialogue seems to get wonky at times. Sometimes I don’t see a logical flow through people’s conversations, and I have to re-read entire sections to figure out what the heck people are talking about. But then I wonder, since this happens consistently in her novels (note that it hasn’t deterred me from reading & enjoying her books), I wonder if this is a geographical thing. Maybe they really talk like that in California! Who knows!

Without giving away anything from the story, I was also a little disappointed that Daisy’s desire to study neuroscience in college wasn’t addressed to completion. I found her resignation at the end of the novel and the lack of further discussion with her parents incomplete — she gave in too easily, instead of fighting for her dreams. At least, that’s how it seemed to me… but I think there may be more books featuring Daisy in the future, so maybe that was left unresolved for the sake of addressing it in later books. I wish I could elaborate more on this particular point, but I don’t want to give anything away!

In Conclusion…

Billerbeck’s latest is a sweet tale for Young Adults, particularly Christian teens whose parents seem too strict in their eyes (so… all teenagers in the history of the world, is what I’m trying to say… haha). It’s the author’s first foray into the YA genre, but I think she pulled it off well and her writing style suits the audience.

If you know a Christian teen who might need to read a book like this, put it on the Christmas list! Or, add it to your church library… or just go grab a copy and read it for yourself :) If you enjoy it, be sure to pick up one of Billerbeck’s adult novels as well (I recommend Split Ends).

About the Author

Kristin Billerbeck is the bestselling, award-winning author of several novels, including What a Girl Wants. A Christy Award finalist and two-time winner of the American Christian Fiction Writers Book of the Year, Billerbeck has appeared on The Today Show and has been featured in the New York Times. She lives with her family in northern California.

Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications Inc. Available now at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.


July Blog Tour: ‘Back on Murder’

   Posted by: Faith    in Rye Thoughts

*blows vuvuzela*

*runs away from people throwing things*

Okay, okay… I’ll put the horn away for now. But just for now. Why? Because it’s that time again… it’s…

Blog Tour Tiiiime!

Two books this month. Each very different from each other, but I think you (my dear readers) might enjoy them. So, book one — here we go.

Back on Murder – J. Mark Bertrand

Publisher’s Synopsis:

A missing girl.
A corrupt investigation.
They thought they could get away with it, but they forgot one thing:

Roland March is BACK ON MURDER

Houston homicide detective Roland March was once one of the best. Now he’s disillusioned, cynical, and on his way out. His superiors farm him out on a variety of punishment details•until an unexpected break gives March one last chance to save his career. And his humanity.

All he has to do? Find the missing teenage daughter of a Houston evangelist that every cop in town is already looking for. But March has an inside track, a multiple murder nobody else thinks is connected. Battling a new partner, an old nemesis, and the demons of his past, getting to the truth could cost March everything. Even his life.

My Thoughts:

You may be looking at this and thinking “aren’t all these blog tour books Christian?” Well, yes and no, and as I’ve mentioned in previous posts, Bethany House seems to be transitioning into publishing books with a Christian worldview (ie. that’s the author’s belief system) but that aren’t trying to blatantly present the Gospel to the reader.

This is one of those books! This isn’t a ‘Christian’ suspense novel, this is a suspense novel for the general market. There’s murder, violence, and the main character (also not a Christian) thinks about his wife in a rather physically overt way (the word ‘foreplay’ was used in the book, which was when I realized… oh, this is definitely general market… well done, Bethany House!).

But what about the story? Well, I’ll be honest — it didn’t grip me the way I wanted it to, and I suspect that may be because I had some difficulty relating to the main character. Our MC is a male, middle-aged, in the waning years of his career, and having marriage troubles. Hmm. Interesting, yes, but as a young female at the beginning of her career with a fabulous marriage, it was a bit hard to connect. But that’s all right!

The writing itself was good, and the story held together decently enough. Though I’m not a big reader of crime fiction (so I don’t have much to compare this to) Bertrand certainly came out swinging for his debut (though this wasn’t technically his very first novel — he co-authored Beguiled, a romantic suspense novel, with Deeanne Gist; released earlier this year), and I think he has a promising career ahead.

I’ll be honest — I’m not convinced I’ll read other books in the Roland March series. However, I will recommend them to readers who enjoy crime fiction, as I’m sure that Bertrand’s writing and storytelling will only improve from here. And on that note — this is also a book you could hand to the man in your life, or buy him for a gift. There’s a lot of testosterone in this one. ;)

Want to give it a shot before buying? Try this EXCERPT.

Want to know why Bertrand decided to make his main character a ‘suicide cop’? Or why Bertrand chose to craft the story this way? Read this Q&A with the author!

Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications Inc. Available now at your favorite bookseller from Bethany House, a division of Baker Publishing Group.


Love Letters

   Posted by: Faith    in Rye Thoughts

When was the last time you wrote a love letter?

Probably never (unless you were born in a different era, in which case, I hope the recipient saved copies, ’cause those babies are RARE, and apparently the stuff that long, weepy movies are made of).

But what about a love EMAIL?

Now, think about the last couple of books you read. Did you love any of those? Did any of your recent reads make you want to run out and read everything else by that author, or recommend that book to others, or — maybe more likely for some of us — study that author’s techniques so we could learn what he/she did that made the book so engaging?

Jump forward in time a bit. Think about your own book on the shelf, published, its cover gleaming in all its bookish glory. Imagine someone taking that book down from the shelf, reading it (even better if they bought it), and loving it. Maybe it changed their life. Maybe it took them away from the stress of the week for just a few hours. Maybe they found they could relate to the main character more than they’d expected.

As an author, wouldn’t it be SUPER INCREDIBLY AWESOME COOL to know how your book impacted that one person’s life?

Now think about those recent, awesome books you’ve read.

Why not write a quick note to the author to tell him or her how much you loved the book, and if you have time, a reason or two why?

Many authors have contact forms right on their websites, making it even easier to do.

Go ahead — write one love letter this week to the author of a book you adored.

After all, we could be (will be!) on the other side someday… and I’m willing to bet that’s just the kind of love letter we’d LOVE to receive.


In My Mailbox – July 19-23

   Posted by: Faith    in Rye Thoughts

In my mailbox is a weekly meme started by The Story Siren to showcase books you’ve received for review, bought, borrowed, or swapped. Anyone can participate, and it’s a great way to showcase new books and encourage blogger/commenter interaction!

Here’s what came in my mailbox this week!

Received for Review

Er… and I bought this today, on a bit of an impulse!

What came in your mailbox this week? :)


Book Review: ‘Scent of the Missing’

   Posted by: Faith    in Rye Thoughts

Did you know that working search & rescue with a dog is, for the most part, a volunteer position? I didn’t.

Did you know that a potential handler goes through months and months (maybe even years) of training before he or she is ready to even consider raising & training a dog to work with? I didn’t.

And did you know that, once a handler has acquired a dog to train, that dog AND the handler must go through months and months (again, maybe even years) of more training before the dog/handler team is ready to actually head out in the field on their first search? Remember — this is all volunteer. Again, I had no idea.

Scent of the Missing by Susannah Charleson is the autobiographical story of a handler and her partner, from before the partnership even began. I say story because it’s not a memoir, per se — both members of the team are still living — and it’s not strictly a detailing of either member’s life. Rather, Charleson tells the story of life before her partner, meeting her partner, training with her partner, and the maturation of both handler and dog to form a complete, trusting, bonded pair that could work together in the field.

It’s fascinating to see the level of commitment and dedication that both Charleson and her partner, a Golden named Puzzle, had to the job. From birth to present day, Puzzle was groomed to be a search dog (she showed search tendencies during the assessment tests… yes, assessments when she was only weeks old!), and it’s clear from Charleson’s story that the dog truly loved (I should say, loves… she’s still alive and working) her job and was meant to work search & rescue.

Though she downplays her own role in the book, it’s also evident that Charleson is an excellent handler, dedicated to search & rescue, and very in-tune with what it takes to make a potential working puppy into a full-fledged rescue dog. I found that Charleson came across as very humble in her position, and maybe that’s because of the nature of the work… but I think she’s to be highly commended for working such a difficult field and for giving her all to it.

My only question by the end of the book was, if this is all volunteer, how on earth is Charleson (or anyone working search & rescue, for that matter) making a living? They’re on call at all hours of the day and night, and sometimes searches can go on for days, so where is the income coming from? I would have liked to see a little more insight onto how working search affects the humans’ daily lives and how they balance family, paid work, volunteering, training, etc… but understandably, the book wasn’t about humans, it was about working with a dog. Still, I wonder…!

Finally, though every so often I took issue with what seemed to be an excessive projection of human thoughts & emotions onto the dogs mentioned (particularly Puzzle), I also realize that when you work so closely with an animal for an extended period of time, you see things & understand things about his or her movements and moods that others simply cannot see. So, while I didn’t always like the “human thoughts” given to Puzzle, I give Charleson the benefit of the doubt — after all, don’t we all speculate about our pets’ thoughts and emotions from time to time?

And you wouldn’t believe the emotional toll that search takes on the dogs, for that matter. But, rather than tell you about it, I’ll let you read the book and learn a few things for yourself. I love reading animal-related books that teach me something, both about the animal(s) and the human(s) who work with them, and this book was no exception. Canine search & rescue teams are incredibly hard working, and I honestly had no idea whatsoever about them before reading this book — not to mention how brilliant some dogs are when their brains are put to good use, given real challenges.

If you love animals, this is a great book for you to learn more about the intelligence of dogs. If you’re interested in law enforcement, rescue operations, or even human-animal relationships, this is also the book for you. If you love a good story about two souls discovering they were meant for each other, and the long journey toward that moment of discovery… here’s your story. Read, learn, and enjoy.


Interested in Scent of the Missing? Here’s an excerpt of the book for you to read & whet your appetite!

By Susannah Charleson,
Author of Scent of the Missing: Love & Partnership with a Search-and-Rescue Dog

In the long light of early morning, Hunter circles what remains of a burned house, his nose low and brow furrowed. The night’s thick air has begun to lift, and the German Shepherd’s movement catches the emerging sun. He is a shining thing against the black of scorched brick, burned timber, and a nearby tree charred leafless. Hunter inspects the tree: half-fallen, tilting south away from where the fire was, its birds long gone. Quiet here. I can hear his footpads in the wizened grass, the occasional scrape of his nails across debris. The dog moves along the rubble in his characteristic half-crouch, intense and communicative, while his handler, Max, watches.

Hunter rounds the house twice, crosses cautiously through a clear space in the burned pile, and returns to Max with a huff of finality. Nothing, he seems to say. Hunter is not young. There are little flecks of gray about his dark eyes and muzzle, and his body has begun to fail his willing heart, but he knows his job, and he is a proud boy doing it. He leans into his handler and huffs again. Max rubs his ears and turns away.

“She’s not in the house,” I murmur into the radio, where a colleague and a sheriff’s deputy wait for word from us.

“Let’s go,” says Max to Hunter.

We move on, our tracks dark across the ash, Hunter leading us forward into a field that lies behind the house. Here we have to work a little harder across the uneven terrain. Max, a career firefighter used to unstable spaces, manages the unseen critter holes and slick grass better than I do. Hunter cleaves an easy path. Our passage disturbs the field mice, which move in such a body the ground itself appears to shiver.

Wide sweeps across the field, back and forth across the wind, Hunter and Max and I (the assistant in trail) continuing to search for some sign of the missing girl. Hunter is an experienced search dog with years of disaster work and many single-victim searches behind him. He moves confidently but not heedlessly, and at the base of a low ridge crowned by a stand of trees, he pauses, head up a long moment, mouth open. His panting stops.

Max stops, watches. I stand where I last stepped.

And then Hunter is off, scrambling up the ridge with us behind him, crashing through the trees. We hear a surprised shout, and scuffling, and when we get to where he is, we see two men stumble away from the dog. One is yelping a little, has barked his shin on a battered dinette chair he’s tripped over. The other hauls him forward by the elbow, and they disappear into the surrounding brush.

A third man has more difficulty. He is elderly and not as fast.

He has been lying on a bare set of box springs set flat beneath the canopy of trees, and when he rises the worn cloth of his trousers catches on the coils. We hear rending fabric as he jerks free. He runs in a different direction from the other two — not their companion, I think — and a few yards away he stops and turns to peek through the scrub at us, as though aware the dog is not fierce and we aren’t in pursuit.

Our search has disturbed a small tent city, and as we work our way through the reclaimed box springs and three-legged coffee tables and mouse-eaten recliners that have become a sort of home for its inhabitants, the third man watches our progress from the edge of the brush. This is a well-lived space, but there is nothing of the missing girl here. Charged on this search to find any human scent in the area, living or dead, Hunter has done what he is supposed to do. But he watches our response. From where I stand, it is clear Hunter knows what we’ve found is not what we seek, and that what we seek isn’t here. He gazes at Max, reading him, his eyebrows working, stands poised for the “Find more” command.

“Sector clear,” I say into the radio after a signal from Max. I mention the tent city and its inhabitants and learn it is not a surprise.

“Good boy,” says Max. Hunter’s stance relaxes.

As we move away, the third man gains confidence. He steps a little forward, watching Hunter go. He is barefoot and shirtless. “Dog, dog, dog,” he says voicelessly, as though he shapes the word but cannot make the sound of it. “Dog,” he rasps again, and smiles wide, and claps his hands.

Saturday night in a strange town five hundred miles from home. I am sitting in a bar clearly tacked on to our motel as an afterthought. The clientele here are jammed against one another in the gloom, all elbows and ball caps bent down to their drinks — more tired than social. At the nearby pool table, a man makes his shot, trash talks his opponent, and turns to order another beer without having to take more than four steps to get it. This looks like standard procedure. The empty bottles stack up on a nearby shelf that droops from screws half pulled out of the wall. Two men dominate the table while others watch. The shots get a little wild, the trash talk sloppier.

A half-hour ago, when I walked in with a handful of teammates, every head in the bar briefly turned to regard us, then turned away in perfect synchronization, their eyes meeting and their heads bobbing a nod. We are strangers and out of uniform, but they know who we are and why we are here, and besides, they’ve seen a lot of strangers lately. Now, at the end of the second week of search for a missing local girl, they leave us alone. We find a table, plop down without discussion, and a waitress comes out to take our orders. She calls several of us “honey” and presses a hand to the shoulder of one of us as she turns away.

Either the town hasn’t passed a smoking ordinance, or here at the city limits this place has conveniently ignored the law. We sit beneath a stratus layer of cigarette smoke that curls above us like an atmosphere of drowsy snakes, tinged blue and red and green by the neon signs over the bar. Beside the door, I see a flyer for the missing girl. Her face hovers beneath the smoke. She appears uneasy even in this photograph taken years ago, her smile tentative and her blond, feathered bangs sprayed close as a helmet, her dark eyes tight at the edges, like this picture was something to be survived.

I have looked at her face all day. On telephone poles, in the hands of local volunteers, over the shoulder of a big-city newscaster at noon, six, and ten o’clock. She is the ongoing local headline. She’s the girl no one really knew before her disappearance, and now she’s the girl eager eyewitnesses claim to have known all their lives. It’s hard to tell what’s real and what isn’t, but for the most part that’s not our job. We go where law enforcement directs us. We run behind search dogs who will tell us their own truths in any given area: never here, was here, hers, not hers, blood, hair, bone, here, here, here.

We humans aren’t talking about the search, our first day at work in this town. Inappropriate discussion in a public place, and we are exhausted with it anyway. Though today’s bystanders seemed to think we could take our dogs to Main Street and race them outward across all points of the compass — first dog to the victim wins — canine search-and-rescue doesn’t work that way. Assigned to locations chosen by law enforcement, we work methodically, dividing a region into sectors to be searched by individual dog-and-handler teams. It’s a meticulous process, but trained dogs can quickly clear a large area it would take humans days to definitively search.

Even so, we could be here for weeks. We already feel the trackless absence of this girl. Her hometown is small, but its outlying population is widespread, and there are places to hide a living woman or the remains of a dead one that cross lines into other states. Today we were sent to clear more “hot spots” — places where bodies have been dumped before. Shrouded, ugly areas they were too, scarred from previous events, but not this girl, this time. All day the dogs have been telling us: Not here. Not here. Not here.

I look at her photograph again. A big guy shifting on his stool blocks the ambient light from the bar, causing the girl’s face to purple beneath the neon and the whites of her eyes to swallow the irises. Her gaze no longer connects. It’s a condition that was true of her in life, some say. She has a history of scuttling head down, of sitting at the back of the class, never speaking unless spoken to, and even then as briefly as possible. She sounds uncertain on her voicemail greeting, enunciating her name with a rising inflection that suggests she isn’t quite sure of it.

We hear fragments. The cumulative description adds up to a girl who began inching away from this town six years earlier, who saved her allowance and bought a junky car simply to have her first job at a truck stop in another town fifteen miles up the road, who saved her paychecks to buy a used laptop, and who had begun recreating herself in variations all across the Web. No judgment, says a neighbor. An accident waiting to happen, says one interviewee. Authorities suggest she might be a runaway if it weren’t for the methodical, calculated nature of her young choices. She might be a runaway if it weren’t for her purse, cell phone, keys, car, and laptop left behind at her grandmother’s house, the last place she was seen alive.

We’re told she has a tattoo, inked by a trucker where she worked: a butterfly with the letter K on her left wrist. The tattoo is in honor of an online friend, Katie, who had slashed her own wrists in a successful suicide — or so it was rumored, until Katie returned to a chat room a month later with a new location, new name, new boyfriend, holding up her woundless wrists for photographs, laughing at the duped online friends who thought they knew her, who had responded to her loss with depression, Paxil, and new tattoos in her honor. April Fools, all.

Did our girl admire her, forgive her? I wonder. Is this a copycat drama?

I turn away from her photograph. She’s not my daughter, but I feel a mother’s impulse to push the bangs from her eyes, the rescuer’s urge to put two fingertips to her carotid to check for a pulse.

We’re a quiet group, tight and preoccupied. Still wired from the day’s search, we lean forward over our food, weight on the balls of our feet with our heels lifted, as though we’ll push up at any moment to go back to work. Unlikely. We’re stood down for the night and have an early call in the morning. It always takes a while to let go enough to sleep, especially as a search presses forward over days and investigators’ verbs begin to change from she is to she was. That little shift in tense is enough to keep us awake all night, revisiting the day’s barns, ravines, burned houses, tent cities, and trailer parks, triple-checking ourselves against the signals from the dogs. To say this girl haunts us is to overdramatize. But we all mull choices made in the field long after we should be sleeping. I stab at my coleslaw and wonder when one of us will finally relax into the back of a chair.

In time, Terry, a canine handler, leans over to say to me, “Hey. I hear you’re going to work a dog.” The others look up.

“Yes,”‘ I say. The word feels huge as a wedding vow.

I’ve been on the search-and-rescue (SAR) team for a while now, running beside certified dogs and their handlers, working as a field assistant responsible for navigation, radio communication, medical assessment, and other pragmatics of a working canine search team. After three years, I’m senior enough to have earned the next open slot to train and run beside a search dog. I am excited about this, but a little nervous too. Having run with more than a dozen breeds and their handlers, having searched night into day for the living, and having knelt over the dead, I’m aware how serious a proposition bringing a new dog to the team is. Working search is not a hobby or a Sunday pastime.

”What breed you thinking of running?” he asks. He handles a Border Collie, a high-drive, obsessive-compulsive boy who is good all around, but particularly good searching on water.

“I’m not sure. Maybe a Border Collie. Maybe an Aussie. Or maybe a Gol . . .”

“You give any thought to a Golden Retriever?”

I nod, and he tells me about his former Golden, Casey, a good dog with a lot of smarts and a lot of soul and a nose that never stopped. A good dog that died, too soon, of cancer. Though my colleague is not one who generally talks at length, his description is detailed. I see the shape of his Golden boy emerge. A sturdy fellow with a nice face and a wide grin — funny, perceptive, and compassionate. My teammate speaks, and his voice constricts. This dog has been dead for more than five years. Terry’s love for the animal had been too raw at the time he began training his own search canine, and he couldn’t go with a Golden. Listening to him now, I’m aware it’s an open wound. Toughened by years as a homicide detective, he is still not in shape to have another Golden, he says, but he’s safe enough recommending one to me.

And the breed has much to recommend it for search work: drive, stability, commitment to working with a human, congeniality, and nose. I already have other dogs and cats, and for reasons of amicability at home, as well, I’m also drawn to the idea of a Golden.

We speak of other search-and-rescue Golden Retrievers: iconic, much-photographed Riley traveling aloft in the Stokes basket across the debris of the World Trade Center and diligent Aspen supporting her exhausted handler as he presses his face to her back following a search of the collapsed Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City. This fine breed figures in virtually every aspect of search. Snow dogs, bomb dogs, drug dogs, arson dogs too.

“Got to love a retriever,” says Johnny, a Lab man himself, and then he chuckles. “But, girl, no matter what kind of puppy, there’s gonna be some housebreaking and chewed shoes in your future.”

“And sleepless nights,” says Ellen.

“And poop,” adds Terry wryly, a cautionary finger up. “These high-drive dogs. All that adrenaline. When a puppy starts working, you just wouldn’t believe the poo . . .”

I push away my coleslaw.

Leaning back in their chairs at last, the whole group seems pleased about my coming duress. They exchange young SAR dog stories, not one of them featuring angelic puppies poised for greatness. There’s disaster in every punch line — “the neighbor’s TV made him howl” . . . “ate right through the drywall” . . . and “then her parrot learned to bark.” I look at the team trainer dubiously.

“This is good,” says Fleta, rubbing her forehead. ” A new pup-in-training always gives the whole team a boost.” Her eyes are tired, but she grins as she lifts her glass in salute.

On any given day in America, there are as many as one hundred thousand active missing persons cases. A large percentage of these cases go unresolved. At the same time, the recovered and unidentified remains of some forty thousand people are held by medical examiners across the country. As a search-and-rescue worker in the field, I am caught by those numbers — they equal the population of a small city. I’m aware that we run dogs in the thin air between possibility of life and probability of death, and that while we search for a single girl whose weathered flyers have already begun to fade, there are thousands of others actively being searched. Or not. Knowing how many people are involved on the search for this young woman, I cannot imagine the number of investigators, grid walkers, pilots, ATVs, equestrian units, dog teams, and forensic experts of every kind needed to resolve all the others. I suspect geography, marginalization, and limited resources mean quite a few of the missing are short-term questions that go unanswered — or are never raised at all.

Our small-town girl disappeared in a slow news period. I wonder how much time she’s got before funds run out, new local troubles arise, and she is crowded from the docket to take her place in local lore. The margin between SEARCH CONTINUES FOR MISSING TEEN and UNIDENTIFIED REMAINS UNCOVERED IN STATE PARK ten years from now seems narrow.

Time and numbers make me urgent. I cannot train my new dog too soon.

The above is an excerpt from the book Scent of the Missing: Love & Partnership with a Search-and-Rescue Dog by Susannah Charleson. The above excerpt is a digitally scanned reproduction of text from print. Although this excerpt has been proofread, occasional errors may appear due to the scanning process. Please refer to the finished book for accuracy.
Copyright © 2010 Susannah Charleson, author of Scent of the Missing: Love & Partnership with a Search-and-Rescue Dog

Author Bio
Susannah Charleson, author of Scent of the Missing: Love & Partnership with a Search-and-Rescue Dog, works as a handler with her partner, a Golden Retriever named Puzzle, for the Metro Area Rescue K9 unit in Dallas, Texas, a volunteer canine search-and-rescue (SAR) team responding to local, state, and national search and recovery cases. She also serves as the team’s public information officer and gives lectures across the country about SAR. A flight instructor who previously flew disaster searches, Susannah is also an experienced television and radio broadcaster. She and Puzzle share their home with six other dogs, four cats, and a fish named Sound Bite. For more information please visit and follow the author on Facebook.

Many thanks to Julie from FSB Media for sending me this book to review. I received this book in exchange for nothing but an honest review.


Being a Zebra

   Posted by: Faith    in Rye Thoughts

Be a zebra in the midst of horses.

Yet another quote from Dr. Freeman’s presentation at Write!Canada… and yet another sentiment that’s easier said than done! How on earth are we supposed to be a zebra amidst horses? And how do we know when we’ve actually achieved that coveted zebra-ness? Maybe it’s something you know innately… or maybe it’s something we have to wait and hear from critique groups, agents, readers…

I’m not entirely sure how to be a zebra. There are no “original” story ideas anymore, it’s just a matter of how the story is told, so maybe that’s where we need to focus.

Then there’s how we market ourselves, how we use social media, how we adapt to new & changing technology and industry trends, and finding our unique voice. All things which, I think, contribute to our zebra-ness… unless we want to be horses, that is.

Do you know how you’re earning your stripes? I have yet to figure out how to get mine. Then again, would I know I’m a zebra unless someone else told me? As far as I know, horses & zebras don’t look in the mirror that often… but that’s another matter entirely. ;)


One… More… Page…

   Posted by: Faith    in Write!Canada

“Perseverance is the hard work you do after you get tired of doing the hard work you already did.”

— Dr. Joel Freeman

I’m not sure if Dr. Freeman said that himself, or if he got it from someone else, but it’s sure a great thing to keep in mind.

The last thing I want to do right now is continue edits on my 2007 NaNoWriMo manuscript, but it’s been such a long time coming that I refuse to give up halfway through. It’s a tough slog. It’s discouraging, and extremely time-consuming.

But it’s also a great lesson in perseverance! Because if I don’t do it, nobody else will, and that’s a disservice to a story I believe in.

What are you persevering through this week, writing-related or otherwise?


In My Mailbox – July 12-16

   Posted by: Faith    in Rye Thoughts

In my mailbox is a weekly meme started by The Story Siren to showcase books you’ve received for review, bought, borrowed, or swapped. Anyone can participate, and it’s a great way to showcase new books and encourage blogger/commenter interaction!

Here’s what came in my mailbox this week:

Received for Review



That’s it for me! What came in your mailbox this week? :)


Book Review: “Shadow Bound”

   Posted by: Faith    in Tasty Tomes

Looking for a great dark fantasy read this summer?

Ever heard of author Erin Kellison? Neither had I, until I clicked on a banner ad and ended up with a copy of her book Shadow Bound on my doorstep…

Shadow Bound is one of those unexpected great reads that you would never see coming. Look at the cover — does that look like the cover of a great book? Unfortunately not… it’s a very nice image, but I don’t think it accurately conveys the theme and intensity of the story. It looks more like… something for a YA Romance. Which this is definitely not.

Here’s the Publisher’s Weekly synopsis:

Kellison’s debut, a blend of suspense and paranormal romance, follows Adam Thorne as he attempts to unravel the mystery of the wraiths, possessed humans who feed on human souls. Desperate to free his brother from possession, Adam follows a flimsy lead to half-Fae Talia O’Brien, a young woman with a newly minted doctorate, a mysterious past, and magical abilities that stop wraiths in their tracks.

As the wraiths pursue Talia, determined to destroy her in retribution for her father daring to love and impregnate a human woman, Adam tries to protect her and understand her powers, and finds himself falling in love. Fast-paced without being frenetic, interesting and entertaining if not particularly challenging, this tale deftly avoids romance cliches while delivering plenty of action.

Sounds pretty good, doesn’t it?

And it is! It delivers on all counts. The characters are interesting and multi-dimensional (though it takes awhile to get much from Talia, but I think that’s simply due to the personality of the character), and the plot is fast-paced and action-driven.

I also loved the concept of the wraiths, which seemed like a combination of Dementors from Harry Potter and the wraith from Stargate: Atlantis — very creepy, and truly evil. In a way, it’s very refreshing to see truly evil villains, because as great as it is to have villains with pathos, I think recent paranormal/fantasy has got away from that Truly Bad Villain that readers simply want to see destroyed at all costs.

A word of warning to the sensitive, however — there are two sex scenes in this book, but if you’re not comfortable reading these, it’s very easy to flip the page and get on with the story. Just something I thought worth noting, as I don’t want to scare anyone off the book for the sake of missing such a great story.

I should also mention that Kellison is on Twitter, and seems to love interacting with her readers! If you read the book and enjoy it, pop over there and send her a note. :)

And one final thing… when you get to the end and think “Oh noooes, a cliffhanger?!?”, never fear! Book two, Shadow Fall releases this month — some places are even putting it out early, so keep your eyes open.


Firebird’s Embrace

   Posted by: Faith    in Fiction on Foccacia

So I realize that I didn’t actually post the link to my second published short story, which came out in June. Oops! But it’s never too late to be excited about your own work, and since I just got my print copy yesterday, what better time than now?

My second short story is entitled Firebird’s Embrace, and was published in the ‘Midsummer’s Ever’ issue of Emerald Tales, a publication of Scribblers and Ink Spillers, LLC.

If you’re interested, you can either purchase a print copy of the magazine, or you can read the whole magazine for free online! Oooh, exciting! It’s an effort by the editor to gain a bit of publicity for the company, so if you like a story in there and feel like you want to donate a dollar or two to help keep the publication going, you can. If not, read away and enjoy the stories!

Also, if you didn’t have a chance to read my story from last December’s issue of Emerald Tales, the ‘Winter Solstice – Special Edition: Fantasy, Sci-Fi & Horror’ issue is also up to read for free.

Free stories, yay! Well, I got paid for them :) but they’re free for you to read! Huzzah!