Weather Report, June 15



June 16: “Betrayal,” by Sharon Brownlie.
What I found fascinating about this undeniably gritty and intense novel is that it is built around something of a role reversal. Those unfortunate souls on the receiving end of sexual abuse are often dismissed by novelists, their victimhood forcing them into subservient roles in the plot as well as their lives. Helen King, on the other hand, brings to Brownlie’s book what Dexter Morgan brought to popular television. Rather than being helplessly tortured by her bad memories, she sets out to do battle with them, and everyone associated with them. It’s hard to imagine a drug-addicted prostitute who ruthlessly murders people as a sympathetic character, but Brownlie’s Helen comes close. At the very least, you come to understand what drives her rage, and you have to acknowledge it.
June 23: “How Not to Avoid Jet Lag,” by Joshua Samuel Brown.

There is a little of Hunter S. Thompson in Joshua Samuel Brown’s writing, a pinch of P.J. O’Rourke, maybe even a dash of “Gulliver’s Travels.” For unlike many travel writers who draw back and write about exotic places from a safe and contemplative distance, Brown plunges right in, experiencing the good, the bad and the inedible. Ever wonder how you can tell the difference between good and not-so-good dog meat soup in Korea? Did you know that Beijing has a ghetto inhabited primarily by Muslims? Brown is counterculture savvy, technologically wired and, to some degree, able to converse in Mandarin. Yet through all 19 of these traveler’s tales, he never forgets who he is — a bewildered outsider. He eats Asian dog meat so you won’t have to.


1. In order to make room for various musings about writing and publishing, guest posts, and the like, I’ve started a new complementary blog called More Snowflakes ( Guest posts are always welcome.

When you get a chance, check it out.

2. I want to publicly thank Linda Goin and John Maberry for their enormous assistance in the technical aspects of this project. Because I’m something of an anti-geek, I couldn’t have put this together without them, and they continue to be receptive to my frequent (and no doubt annoying) pleas for help.

John’s “Waiting for Westmoreland” was our second featured book. He lives in New Mexico and is a self-taught computer troubleshooter.

Linda, from Louisville, KY, has done just about everything in the writing business. She’s a copy editor and copywriter, a former newspaper editor, and a social media whiz who has chaired several workshops on the latter subject.

Bless both of you!

3. Claudia Taller, wdaffodilshose “Thirty Perfect Days” will be featured on Snowflakes in a Blizzard later this month, has already come out with a new novel — “Daffodils and Fireflies.” Its coming out party was held on June 13.

A resident of the Cleveland, OH area, Claudia has written over 300 magazine articles and several books, and her organization “Igniting Possibilities” specializes in holding weekend workshops on creativity. She is also something of an expert on Ohio wineries.

4. I’ve decided to post a short list in this space from time to time, kind of like a Letterman list (but not nearly as funny).  
This time around, let’s look at some books in our “catalogue” that might appeal to Dads on Father’s Day, Call them “guy books.”

1. “Jacks or Better,” by Michael Billington.
Three dead men, all named Jack, are found in a boat in the middle of a small southern Ohio lake. Why were their bodies dumped in a boat and set adrift? The answer to those questions will take reporters Mel Palazzo and Mick Church on the ride of their lives.
2. “Collision Course,” by Joe Broadmeadow.
The novel is set in the background of the strained relationship between the police and the minority community, arising from racial prejudices embedded within police departments. When his encounter with a troubled Marine Corps war veteran ends tragically, police sergeant Josh Williams finds himself a victim of politics and the quest for power. Written by a longtime Providence, RI cop, this has the ring of authenticity.
3. “Waiting for Westmoreland,” by John Maberry. Click on John’s name on the “Author” page of this blog.
Surviving poverty and the deaths of loved ones, the author remains hopeful as he exits childhood. then comes the draft that sends him to Vietnam. With innocence lost and illusions shattered, he seeks answers. College courses are intriguing but offer no solutions. Eventually, hope returns in the form of a life philosophy that comes from a chance encounter at a party.
4. “Island Dogs,” by B.M. Simpson. Click on the name on our “Author” page.
A ragtag group of expatriates find each other — and all sorts of trouble — in a congenial bar on the Caribbean island of Angilla.
5. “Hustle Henry and the Cueball Kid,” by Jack Strandburg.
A clever semi-spoof on “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” that has two itinerant pool hustlers terrorizing the Old West with cue sticks instead of pistols.
6. The Secret Corps,” by Peter Telep.
When a small town home invasion results in a tragic death, Marine Corps veteran Johnny Johansen and his three buddies get swept up in a conspiracy that threatens the entire nation. Lots of five-star reviews on Amazon.
7. “Road Gang,” by H.V. Traywick Jr. 
A lively memoir about U.S. Army engineers building roads in Vietnam during the war.

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Recently retired after 35 years with the News & Advance newspaper in Lynchburg, VA, now re-inventing myself as a novelist/nonfiction writer and writing coach in Lake George, NY.

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