Wittier Word Weavers

Writers' Club of Whittier

Reaching a Milestone

I am finished. No, that sounds wrong. I am finished with my book. Does that mean I have thrown it out? I have finished my book invites the question: finished reading or finished writing? I have completed writing my book. Well, this sounds clearer. Now that I am going through the labor pains of putting all the pieces together: table of contents, acknowledgements, dedication and other boring stuff, I am already dreading the post partum despondency that happens after a book is sent in for publication. I hang on to the book like a treasure and am tempted to lock it up in a bank drawer. I have become tyrannically possessive. It’s like taking your first-born to kindergarten and dreading to leave the child there.

Did I mention completion? Can you imagine the audacity of writing a book in a foreign language? How about reading it over for the nth time, revising some, wondering if I missed a crooked sentence which may happen in the mire of translating from Armenian, my mother tongue; English learned at high school in Cairo; and American since I came to the United States. I still struggle with prepositions, compositions and oppositions. A few other sterling words seep in, like ambiance, kismet, raison d’etre that lose half their flavor translated into Amerenglish. Expressions like “you’re pulling my leg,” or “working the graveyard shift” throw me off completely, because I take them literally.

The book has passed the editing stage long ago but it is still on final revision – it has been on final from the second to the eighth version. I still find erroneous sentences, words underlined in red by the computer, a missing comma here, a capital letter there, quotations marks that I have not closed. When does it end? We crossed quite a milestone together. We went through critiques, computer hacks, identity theft, personal health problems, and other hair-raising distractions like losing seventy-five percent of the edited data without hope of recovery. Comparatively speaking, changing the title was a child’s play.

Reviewing my writing  itinerary was eye-opening. Now, would I be able to face doomsday when I part with it? Did I mention all that needed to be told? Did I overlook a life-changing event in my all-important memoir? Yes, I could include a few more but the original assumption that my book would end in three chapters has already grown into two volumes, putting me into competition with the Encyclopedia Britannica. I look back and marvel at the transformation I went through. I never expected that this quiet and silent girl who as a young adult had to ask for permission to go out of the house, escorted by her brother, crossed three continents alone in search of a niche and settled in the fourth one, a hemisphere away.

In writing this memoir I found the real me.


Review of SciFi Novel Lieutenant Henry Gallant by H. Peter Alesso

In an era of genetic engineering, Lieutenant Henry Gallant is the only Natural (non-genetically enhanced) officer left in the fleet. Many of his superiors, including rival Anton Neumann, have expressed concern he is not up to the challenge. However, his unique mental abilities have proven essential to the defense of the United Planets in its fight against the Titan invaders.

Serving on the first FTL prototype, the Intrepid, on its maiden voyage to Tau Ceti, Gallant finds a lost colony on the planet Elysium. Cyrus Wolfe and his son, manipulate planet politics against the democratic opposition led by James Hepburn and his granddaughter Alaina. Wolfe has allied himself with an ancient Artificial Intelligence which had lain dormant on the planet for millennia, but is now willing to protect the colonists against the Titans.

With Alaina’s help, Gallant discovers the ancient AI has a sinister ulterior motive and he matches his unique and exceptional mind against the complexity of machine intelligence to escape the ultimate trap and prevent the extermination of humanity.

In Lieutenant Henry Gallant, one man pits the naked human mind against the perspicacity of machine intelligence.

My Review

Lieutenant Henry Gallant is an action-filled speculative adventure with good premises and ideas behind its science fiction. Both mystery and conflict drive the story of Henry Gallant as his mission to save himself and his crew from the alien Titans transforms into a larger threat.

H. Peter Alesso weaves generous setting description with hard science to paint a new space-exploring society. He seems naturally comfortable narrating from a military officer’s perspective, which added a nice realism to the story. The author’s strengths clearly lie in speculative science, but he is also skilled with foreshadowing. In the Mohs scale, I’d say this story attempts to follow true speculative science along the lines of Larry Niven.

However, passive voice fills every scene, dulling the reader’s experience. Narrative summary cuts out action that could have drawn me in. The dialogue often feels cliche, and despite the vivid descriptions of setting and science, there’s little emotional connection to the characters. The characters themselves lack a level of inner conflict would have made them compelling. Lastly, the sci-fi sometimes felt a little like the author threw every theory he knew in, plus the kitchen sink (particularly in the med bay). The result was some thin spots in his otherwise strong worldbuilding.

I’m giving this story 3.5 stars despite its flaws because I felt that Alesso’s pacing, suspense, and scifi elements were strong. I believe he’s an author to watch out for in years to come.

I recommend this book to fans of speculative space fiction, space opera, and perhaps trekkies. 😉

gold stargold stargold starhalf-star= Good story with obvious flaws in craft or editing

MEDIA KIT pete2As a scientist and author specializing in technology innovation, H. Peter Alesso has over twenty years research experience at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL). As Engineering Group Leader at LLNL he led a team of computer scientists and engineers in innovative applications across a wide range of supercomputers, workstations and networks. He graduated from the United States Naval Academy with a B.S. and served in the U.S. Navy on nuclear submarines before completing an M.S. and an advanced Engineering Degree at M.I.T. He has published several software titles and numerous scientific journal and conference articles, and he is the author/co-author of seven books.

You can visit his Web site at: http://www.hpeteralesso.com/Default.aspx

Author Social Media:

Author Web site at: http://www.hpeteralesso.com/Default.aspx

Goodreads Address: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/413852.H_Peter_Alesso

YouTube trailer for Henry Gallant Saga: SciFi Book Trailer: Midshipman Henry Gallant

Facebook for Henry Gallant Saga: https://www.facebook.com/MidshipmanHenryGallantInSpace

Author Blog Address: http://cosmologysymmetrybreaking.blogspot.com/

Amazon link for Volume 1 of the Henry Gallant Saga: http://www.amazon.com/Midshipman-Henry-Gallant-Space-Volume/dp/1482640325/ref=tmm_pap_title_0

Volume 2: http://www.amazon.com/Lieutenant-Henry-Gallant-Saga-Book-ebook/dp/B00MOLJ4Y6/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1407955491&sr=1-1

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Enter to win a $50 Amazon or Barnes and Noble gift card.

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Book Review: If I Say Yes by Brandy Jellum


Elizabeth Lewis was the child of Hollywood’s darling couple, until her father murdered her mother.

Six years later, she has traded her flashy, luxurious lifestyle for one of safe anonymity as a literary agent. With a different name and appearance, Liza Winter is living the life of her dreams—one where she’s known for who she is instead of what her father did. Except her apartment should be condemned, her car only starts when it wants, she hates the romance genre she has been assigned, and the CEO’s deliciously attractive nephew is out to ruin her carefully laid plans.

Reid Harder has never met an obstacle he couldn’t overcome. When his new position in the romance department comes with a benefit his uncle didn’t mention, he decides to wage a war against the intelligent, beautiful Liza to destroy every argument she has for turning him down. Still, the closer he gets to winning the prize, the more he realizes that the woman is keeping secrets that may endanger not just her life but his.

Will Liza overcome her mistrust of Reid to reveal her secrets before he learns the truth and walks away? Or will a grudge-wielding apparition from her past make her the next deadly Hollywood headline?

Our Review

Our reviewer Kathy Smith received a free copy of If I Say Yes in exchange for an honest review. Here’s what she said:

If I Say Yes is the classic “girl with troubled past who has written off men, falls in love with Mr. Stud” romance – with a suspense/thriller twist.

I found the book generally well written and the prologue kept me intrigued enough to read the whole thing.  I am generally not a romance reader, and found parts of it very unbelievable, but that being said I did read the whole thing, waiting for what originally pulled me in.

I found myself wishing that the writer had just focused on the suspense thriller part of the book and less on the romance.  I felt that if that level of romance was necessary, it needed to be built more, because that part of it left me feeling like the heroine was weak  – she fell off her “I’ve written off men” pedestal way too quickly- and the hero’s immediate intensity for her came off kinda creepy.

I would love to see more character development; I really wanted to like them.

The twist in the book came out a little confusing because there was not enough background, too many characters were quickly introduced without a past and it could have worked, but I felt it did not.

The general idea for the book was fantastic, but I really felt it needed more storyline and character development in order to pull the reader through and leave them wanting to read the second book.   Unfortunately I did not feel that connection to the characters. I really did like the story idea and the writing, but I felt so much more could have been done.

gold stargold stargold star


An Excerpt from If I Say Yes

Dull. Boring. Pathetic.

I exit out of the email screen on my computer and push away from my wooden desk. A frustrated groan escapes my lips. It’s the same thing, over and over again. An author wishing and hoping to land an agent, to be published, to become the next big thing. Them and about a million other people in this world. If one thing is lacking from being involved in the world of books, it’s imagination. No one has it anymore. Most books are all the same out there. The only books that can both thrill and excite me are the books that belong in the Horror/Thriller genre. That is where the real art form of writing lies, the books that truly hang on the verge of being genius. Everything else is wretched, worthless. Simply put, it is mundane.

And the reason why being forced to work on the Romance floor of Harder’s Literary Agent House is the worst job I can possibly have.

I shouldn’t complain, I’m lucky to even have such a prestigious job fresh out of college, especially with little experience, except for the last year I spent interning here. When I interned here, I was able to work alongside one of the biggest agents who represents authors in the Horror/Thriller genre. Nothing like a good thriller book keeps me on the edge of my seat, turning page after page, trying to figure out what is going to happen next, and who is behind it all. Trust me; it’s a much better alternative than sitting in the dark, wiping away tears, rooting for the guy you want to win the girl’s heart, and waiting for that happy ending. Nonetheless, when Lawrence Harder hired me on full time, it came with one condition– “I had to spread my wings and fly.”—his words exactly. Either work in Romance or try my hardest to land a delivery job at another agent company and work my way to the top. Which could takes years, if I succeeded at all. It is something I couldn’t risk since it doesn’t fall in line with my list. So I took the job, regardless of how much I despise it.

It’s been three months since I took the coveted agent position here, and I haven’t signed a single author yet. Mr. Harder assures me that it takes time to shift into a new genre and that I will eventually adjust and find the perfect author. Let’s be real for a second; not many authors are flooding the email of a twenty-four year old agent just starting out in world. Then my other problem–Viola Harder–Mr. Harder’s most recent wife, which according to gossip is his seventh. She is a problem in the most ridiculous of senses. The only things she has going for her is that she is strikingly beautiful and in the best shape any woman of twenty-five can be. Other than that? Nothing, absolutely nothing fills the stupid, bottle blonde head of hers. She walks around the floors, strutting around like she is God’s gift to earth, and she is large and in charge. All because she is married to the man who owns the company. Viola’s had it out for me since my first day at orientation over a year ago, for who knows whatever reason, and she has been trying her best to get me fired ever since.

Viola’s newest arguments are that I bring absolutely nothing to the table and that my place in the company is a waste of space, time, and money. I’m easily replaceable. As if she can hear my thoughts from six floors above, my email screen pops up on the computer, flashing with a new message from the devil herself.

From: hotblonde69
To: LWinter@hlah.com

Ms. Winter,
Tick-tock. Tick-tock. Tick-tock.

Do you know what that is the sound of? That is the sound of the clock ticking, a reminder that your time here is quickly running out. You still have yet to sign anyone, and it’s only a matter of time before LJ takes notice and rids the company of you, once and for all. I, unfortunately, cannot say that it would be with the utmost sadness to see you leave Harder’s Literary Agent House (HLAH). I will be absolutely thrilled when that day comes. Believe me, that day will come. Sooner than you think.

Viola Harder
Vice President of HLAH

I shake my head and laugh at the sheer lack of professionalism in her email. First of all, who has an email account with the screen name hotblonde69? Seriously, how old is she again? Sixteen? Her threat, however immature as it may seem, is quite valid, though. I hate to agree with the woman, but I have only a matter of time before Mr. Harder decides to get rid of me. But am I going to sign an author anytime soon. Especially if I can’t even get through a single sentence of a query letter. I have to do something to fix this. I have to get out of here and back to where I belong–in Horror/Thriller. I quickly grab the phone resting on top of my desk.

“Heidi,” I say into the receiver. Heidi is my assistant, a year younger than myself, and an intern with the same aspirations I have. She has been a godsend. “I need to talk with Mr. Harder. Can you see if he is available?”

“Right away, Ms. Winter.” Her voice still holds a trace of a southern accent. I look up from my desk, out the panel of windows in front of me, to see her sitting at her small oak desk and shake my head.

“How many times do I have to remind me to call me Liza?” I hate being called Ms. Winter. It sounds too formal and makes me feel older than I am.

Heidi runs a hand through her long, strawberry blonde hair and releases a sigh into the phone. “Yes, Ms. Win-, I mean Liza.” I smile and see her return the smile through the window. “I’ll call up to his office now.”

“Thank you.” I hear the receiver click, indicating that she hung up, and watch her dial Mr. Harder’s secretary. A few seconds later a smile spreads across her face, she nods, and hangs up the receiver. I pick up my phone on the first ring.

“Mr. Harder can meet with you for a few minutes. But you must hurry,” Heidi says quickly. I nod my head, acknowledging her through the window, and hang up the phone.

About the Author

Author Pic Brandy JellumBrandy’s passion for writing began long before she actually sat down to write. As a child, she has had an obsession with reading, everything from the classic stories by Jane Austen to YA Fiction by Richelle Mead. Finally, in 2012, she decided to create her own stories for people to fall in love with. Brandy bounces back and forth writing both Romance and Young Adult Fiction (which is mainly just for fun).

At the beginning of 2014, Brandy signed a contract with publishing company Booktrope. She is very excited about the next chapter of her life and cannot wait to share her books and passion with readers.

When she isn’t writing, she can be found chasing after her husband, her four children and her black lab, Diesel. Or curled up on her favorite corner of the couch with her newest book.

Social Media Links: WebsiteFacebookTwitterAmazonBarnes and Noble

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