Saturday, September 18, 2021

Steve Wilton debut epic fantasy


Queen of Crows
SL Wilton
Fantasy, 366 pp
August, 2021, Atmosphere Press
$7.99 ebook
$18.99 print
Buy on 
Barnes and Noble

About the Book
In a world of strange magic, dangerous creatures, and villainous wyverns, an ousted young queen struggles to regain her throne.

Sophia Pendergast’s quest is complicated by deep-rooted misogyny embedded in her culture and religion. Her lover, a dashing young knight, offers her a life in obscure comfort, but she refuses to abandon her people to the usurper’s whims. To retake her throne and set prophecy on its path, she must embrace a long-denied secret and discover a prophecy’s hidden meaning.

In S. L. Wilton’s Queen of Crows, we discover simple truths may not exactly be simple. 

My Review:

Wilton has created a wonderful new realm of epic fantasy in his debut novel. Warriors and magic, when it works, and wondrous deeds of valor and sacrifice combine with wyverns and even a little romance to right the wrongs caused by all greedy throne-stealers.

Sophia is a spoiled young princess who thinks she has plenty of time to grow up and step into her father’s kingly slippers and, with his guidance, lead her people with justice and dignity. But stuff happens, and that time is now, and without her papa. Who can she trust?


Follow Sophia and her ragtag band of faithfuls, ousted and abandoned knights, and the downtrodden “crows,” commoners, as she learns how to fight for freedom and her rightful throne while having her eyes opened to the plight of everyday folks. “Why can’t the people rule themselves?” Sophia’s young ward asks at one point when Sophia tries to explain their quest. A thoughtful question indeed.


Told mostly through Sophia’s point of view but with a healthy sprinkling of other colorful characters, readers of fantasy slanted less toward magical creatures and more toward occasional magic and plenty of sword-fighting and things soldiers do will find much to love about Queen of Crows.

About the Author:
S.L. is a retired Non-Commissioned Officer in the U.S. Army. He and his wife live in rural central Wisconsin with their Chihuahua, Willie.

Friday, September 10, 2021

Wisconsin Writers Association Maria Alvarez Stroud and the immigrant experience


This review originally appeared here: 

Brave Crossing: the Journey In-Between, by Maria Alvarez Stroud

Historical Fiction, 212 pp.
August 2021, Publisher: Little Creek Press
Reviewed by Keridak Silk
$9.99 ebook
$18.95 print

About the Book:
This coming-of-age saga is told through the eyes of Ricardo, a young Spanish-Filipino, as he voyages to America in 1916. He embarked on his journey thinking he was leaving behind war, rampant disease, unspeakable deaths, and family secrets only to find a country on the cusp of race riots, World War I, and a global pandemic. He learns that each of these events has the power to define who he is and who he will become.

To succeed, he'll need to face memories of his past life of privilege, grapple with his own culture, and come to peace with the loss of his parents. He'll also need to confront his many attackers. His future depends on it.

In her ambitious debut novel, Maria Alvarez Stroud explores a never-ending question: How welcoming is America to the immigrants who leave everything from their previous lives behind? Richly imagined and vividly rendered, BRAVE CROSSING-A Journey In-Between offers a moving portrait of one man's search for home.

This novel reminds us that historical fiction is not just a view into the past but, in many ways, a mirror to our present.

Keridak Silk’s review:
An absorbing tale from beginning to end. Brave Crossing begins in 1916. Stroud’s father Ricardo Alvarez stands on the ship’s deck regretting his impetuous decision to leave the Philippines. He is barely able to speak English and has no plan for where to live or what to do once he arrives. Ricardo is fortunate to befriend a Filipino couple on the months long voyage. They invite him to stay with them in Chicago.

Ricardo has an ongoing yearning to go back home. Especially when he is met with frigid Midwest winters and ongoing racial inequality because of his brown skin. Warm clothing gets him through the cold. But it’s his ability to reach out to others and his tenacity that help him persist. His fears, curiosity and determination are what keep this novel fresh.

Letters from family and friends make them feel like our own. Ricardo alters how he responds to each. Understanding what he hides, what he gets off his chest, who he asks advice from and who he shares memories with are part of the rhythm of this story. Gradually daring to ask questions about his buried memories, Ricardo re-discovers his family history and his passion. He frequently flaunts expectations prepared to fail but desiring success and acceptance. 

Stroud includes letters to institutions complaining, often demanding, that Ricardo be removed or thought lesser of simply because he wasn’t white. The responses are thought provoking.

Ricardo writes his sister, “Nena, who are these people who think you can treat someone like an animal?” Ricardo also reflects on his own biases. He wonders how often he unknowingly treated people differently. Questions that resonate today.

I enjoyed the historical aspects from Ricardo’s perspective. World War One, Prohibition, the Spanish Flu Pandemic, and the rise of the Klu Klux Klan. Even simple, first-time adventures such as using a phone, riding a train, or tasting German beer.

Bits of Filipino culture, food and language are brought in. One of my favorite quotes is: “Kapag tinapunan ka ng bato, tapunan mo tinapay. If someone throws stones at you throw back bread.” Readers who enjoy discovering another cultural viewpoint will find Brave Crossing fascinating. I did.

His journey takes him from naïve teenager to late twenties. Then we flash to the end of his life answering our questions. Is Ricardo destined to fail or achieve his dreams? Will he ever fit in?

Reviewer Keridak Silk is a Wisconsin/Florida author: A kaleidoscope of magic, myth and reality. Intuitive counselor, tarot reader, and hypnotist, Keridak’s nature makes her a perfect pantser. Stories surprise her as much as they will you. Her fiction and non-fiction cover multiple genres. Discover her published and upcoming creations on her website.

About the Author: 
More than anything, I'm an avid reader and love historical novels. I've done many things throughout my career, from being an executive director of a non-profit to leading a national organization serving public broadcasting stations across the country, and being a producer and community engagement leader in-between. Writing and public speaking have generally been a big part of everything I've done, and so has
listening. What I discovered throughout, is the power of stories. We all have them and by sharing them, others can gain new perspectives, about the world and themselves. When I'm not writing, I'm doing something outdoors; gardening, out on a hike, or on my bike, kayaking or horseback riding. I also love to travel internationally. I live in Madison, Wisconsin with my longtime husband and partner and travel out west to visit our kids as often as we can, always with notebook, computer and kindle in hand.

Tuesday, September 7, 2021

New Follow Me adventure with Amy Laundrie


Follow Me Into the Night
Amy Laundrie
Illustrated by Abira Dias

Released August 12, 2021
Pen It! Publications
36 pp
$3.99 ebook
$13.99 paperback
$21.99 hardcover
ISBN paperback: 978-1-63984-045-8
ISBN hardback: 978-1-63984-046-5

Buy on Amazon

About the Book: 
In this adventure story from the “Follow Me” series, Oliver and Paris follow a Luna moth at dusk and learn about nocturnal animals. With the porch light to guide them safely home, they continue hiking and discover raccoon kits playing hide-and-seek and an opossum with a slumber party on her back! They lose sight of Luna, but have fun stumbling on more surprises in Frog Swamp. When they return home, they discover the biggest surprise of all waiting at the light.

 Watch for other books in this series:
Follow Me Onto the Bog - due out later this year

My Review:
The Follow Me gang, Oliver and Paris, are back in this adventure of exploring the woods at night to learn about night critters. Colorful, bright illustrations bring this story to life in a way that even pre-readers will enjoy. Chasing a luna moth was never so fun as following these two kids on their night hike.

Included in the book are a number of special activities for kids and educators to download from the author’s website, including mazes and word searches and directions to create costumes to accompany a stage version of the story for young actors.

About the Author:
Amy Laundrie, a retired teacher and the author of nine other books, grew up playing “Ghost in the Graveyard,” an outdoor nighttime hide-and-seek game. She’s anticipating her upcoming “sleep out under the stars” night and hopes to see some of the nocturnal animals featured in this book—with the exception of the skunk. Check out the special night games and fun activities listed in the teacher section of her website at

Monday, September 6, 2021

Witty short science fiction with Allison Wall


FOOTNOTES ON A SPACE OPERA: a musical first encounter short story
By Allison Wall, alumna of Novel-In-Progress Bookcamp & Writing Retreat, Inc.
Short Science Fiction
19 pp.
Published September 6, 2021
Available on Amazon .99 
About the Story
When aliens land on Earth, opera—one of Western culture's greatest but most polarizing musical traditions—becomes our planet's greatest interstellar export.

Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy meets Arrival on the stage of the Metropolitan Opera.
Told from the distant future, this short story imagines a reality in which aliens are opera fans, the representative of the human race is a retired coloratura soprano, and classical music is the ticket to the stars. What could possibly go wrong?

Author and classically trained soprano Allison Wall fuses her love of opera with dry humor in this innovative story that will have readers laughing out loud.
My Review
Dry wit and clever contemplation combine to deliver an excellent little story about badly handled introductions and the poignant devastation of passing fancies.
Wall’s musicality renders her story of operatic domination in full, universal acclaim. A first-page footnote on the word Destiny: “humanity would rather not explain, we assign responsibility to Destiny rather than face complex or uncomfortable truths,” sets the tone and pace for this short and cautionary tale of fascination and determination to possess what one does not have.
Footnotes are the key to understanding much of what happens in this alien encounter adventure. Wall chose the terms to explore in footnotes of the text and worded their explanations in a rich and colorful manner while keeping perfect sotto voce as the unseen narrator until the end. Recommended for those who appreciate short stories, find opera colorful, and laugh at Murphy’s Law.
About the Author
Allison Wall is an American writer. She has an MFA in Creative Writing from Hamline University and has published short fiction and personal essays and book reviews.

Allison is trained as a classical singer and pianist, and she works as a music teacher, dissertation editor, and academic tutor.
In the general chaos of 2020, Allison found out she is neurodivergent (autism, ADHD). She is passionate about sharing her experiences, advocating for empathy, and contributing to a world in which neurodiversities are seen on an inclusive spectrum of brain differences, not pathologized as illnesses. To that end, she runs NEURODIVERSION, a monthly newsletter that centers neurodiverse news, research, and current events.
Connect with Allison on her website, or on Twitter, @awritingwall.

Wednesday, August 18, 2021

Light romance from Violet LeFleur


A Man with Class
Violet LeFleur
Romantic novella, May 2019
$2.99 Kindle
$6.99 paperback, 132 pp.
About the Book:
Trina Baxter is a bartender and barista who has sworn off men to focus on her dream of running her own establishment. Little does she know that what begins as a spilled drink turns into a whirlwind romance with a very sexy college professor.

Devin Robinson is an English professor at the University of Chicago. When he discovers that he is in the running to become head of the department, he decides he needs a high profile, successful woman at his side. When he falls head over heels for Trina, Devin begins to question everything he knows about love.
My review:
Well-crafted short and breezy romance set in contemporary Chicago. Two people who are unlikely lovers meets over spilled drinks and friendly encouragement and hook up despite having little in common. Devin, an academic on track for university department chair, introduces barista barmaid Trina with plans of owning her own business someday to different foods and films while Trina shows Devin what a comfortable intact family could be.
Both have control issues and each have anxieties about their futures, though for different reasons. With their friends both rooting for and warning them about broken hearts, readers will cheer them on, hoping they can find a comfortable middle road as they teach each other about finding and keeping love.
Told in alternating viewpoints, this sweet short story will gift romance readers and nice entertaining bite of charm.
About the Author
Violet LeFleur is a music teacher by day, an author by night. When she is not writing romance novellas she enjoys making music, taking walks, and playing video games. A Man With Class is Violet's first novella, and she looks forward to writing many more. She lives with her husband and two beautiful cats.

Friday, July 30, 2021

New crime fiction series with a twist by Howard Seaborne


Divisible Man (7 book series)
by Howard Seaborne
crime mystery/spec fiction, 358 pp
Buy on Kindle $2.99 or paperback, $12.99
About the book:
The media calls it a "miracle" when air charter pilot Will Stewart survives an aircraft in-flight breakup, but Will's miracle pales beside the stunning aftereffect of the crash. Through trial and dangerous error, Will discovers he can make himself vanish, and in doing so, become immune to gravity. In partnership with his police officer wife, he finds himself at the epicenter of high adventure time after time.
While the series follows in sequence, each book in the series stands alone, launching the reader on a page-turning thrill ride to satisfying and startling conclusions.
My Review:
It’s true – the author doesn’t leave the reader hanging by his fingernails at the end of each book, but it’s fun to read them in order. And if you like deep character-led action with obvious spot-on descriptions of flight, you’ll love Seaborne’s Divisible Man series.

I met the author at a vendor fair, and after his wife (yes, great spokeslady!) sold me on reviewing the first book, I happily spent a few days flying around with a dreadfully romantic couple, Will and Andy Stewart, while they took down the bad guys. Will is the private pilot running charters out of small-town Wisconsin, and his wife Andrea is a cop on the ladder to detective whose well-heeled family through her under the bus when she chose a blue-collar life. Will and Andy promised trust in all things between them, but after Will wakes up in the hospital broken but alive for a reason that’s bizarre beyond belief, one disaster after another interrupts Will’s chances to confess to an incredible secret.
With alarming reality, Seaborne describes the current plague of sex and drug trafficking, pedophilia and porn in Wisconsin. Readers will wade through a lot of descriptive language and some minor repetitiveness as Will tries to make sense of what happened to him and what it means, and how he can use this crazy new gift. Will and Andy, and friends are well-developed, comfortable characters. Seaborne’s fun turn of phrase even makes cliché cops and villains interesting to read about. Andy and Will’s relationship is rich and nuanced. I fell in love with them and yes, bought the next book in the series. While the story arc concluded, the author cleverly left us wondering what actually did happen to make Will vanish. I aim to find out. Brutality and graphic violence and some language are not prolonged or overly described, but an organic part of the story.
About the Author:
Howard Seaborne began writing novels at age ten and flying airplanes at age sixteen. He is a former flight instructor and charter pilot. Today he flies a Beechcraft Bonanza, a Beechcraft Baron and a Rotorway experimental helicopter that he built in his garage. He lives with his wife and writes and flies during all four seasons in Wisconsin.

Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Next Open Mic at WWA Zoom Thursday August 5 Register soon

It's that time again!

Join us on August 5th at 7PM to support Wisconsin Writers and hear some great new works. 
Plus a mini craft chat.

Want to read your work? Email 
There are only 10 spaces available, first come first serve.

Thursday, August 05, 2021
7:00 PM - 8:00 PM
Location: Zoom