Etched in Starlight: Hannah’s Heirloom ~ Prequel by Rosie Chapel

This review is written by Mark Schultz,  the Word Refiner, Typo-Buster and Hyper-speller  at

Only eighteen years of age, army recruit Lucius Maxentius Valerius, arrives in Armenia, a world away from the comforts of Rome. Rather than a career in politics, as his family would have preferred, he has chosen a life in the military. Being a soldier in the Roman Army is not for the faint hearted; there is no such thing as an easy campaign and, here in the wilderness of Armenia, they face the Parthians, a formidable enemy, one whom the Romans underestimated once before — to their downfall. This does not deter Maxentius; he has long wanted this life.
It becomes apparent, that Maxentius is a born solider. His uncanny ability to anticipate the actions of the enemy, desire to understand and empathise with the local populace and reasoned perspective on any given strategy, gains the young man the respect of comrades and his superiors and he is promoted with unusual rapidity. A soldier with such instincts is a desirable commodity and, after four years in Armenia, Maxentius is dispatched to Masada, an isolated outpost in the middle of Judaean Desert, taking command of the local garrison. Although a rather mundane assignment, it would be a welcome respite after several years of warfare.

Hundreds of miles away in Jerusalem, a city descending into chaos, a young girl is training to be a healer under the watchful eye of her uncle. Not your conventional Hebrew maid, Hannah bat Avigail, forgoes traditional feminine pastimes, spending her days treating all manner of wounds and ailments. Relishing the challenge, Hannah dreams of becoming a physician.
The city is rife with dissent and clashes between advocates and opponents of Roman rule are commonplace. Every day Hannah and her uncle deal with injuries more typical of a battlefield than a civilised society. Worse, her brother and his friends are caught up in the violence and she fears for their lives.
Deprivation and disease add to the increasing instability, inflaming the agitators and encouraging radical groups to join forces hoping to oust the Romans once and for all. In a desperate bid for weapons, a band of rebels venture into the desert, to a fortress guarded by a Roman garrison.
Hannah’s brother refuses to leave his sister alone in an increasingly lawless city and so she travels with him, accepting that, if nothing else, her skills as a healer will probably be required.

In the aftermath of the attack on Herod’s citadel, Hannah finds and, against her brother’s wishes, treats three badly injured soldiers. Unexpectedly, one of them touches something deep inside her; something that, despite him being an enemy and a captive, she cannot ignore.
Maxentius regains consciousness to the knowledge that this impregnable citadel has fallen and that he is likely one of only three of his garrison to survive the ambush. Uncertain of his future and in a haze of agony, he realises he is in the care of a young woman. A young woman, whose startling green eyes and impish smile, will turn his world upside down
In the days that follow and against impossible odds, they come to realise that they are more than healer and captive, their fate already etched in starlight.

Etched in Starlight is the prequel to the Hannah’s Heirloom Trilogy.

I want Rosie for my time traveling companion when I go to ancient Rome and Jerusalem. She must have been there numerous times already. She writes about the period and places so well, I almost feel like I have been there before. Her descriptions of the buildings, food, clothing and daily life are so detailed and complete. She understands the milieu clearly whether she is describing the often mundane life of a soldier or a physician. Her characters are alive as I read her work.

I really enjoyed the story of Hannah and Maxentius, there was a nice mix of action, dialog and description. The POV while not pure is managed well with the adequate use of tags so we don’t get lost or confused.

I loved the book and give it 4.9 of 5 STARS!

You can buy Etched in Starlight:


You can follow Rosie:


Thank you Liz for the opportunity to share this review on your website. For more of my reviews go to

Showing, Not telling

Every good writer knows the value of showing their readers the scenes in their story. However, sometimes we might think we are showing when we are in fact telling. Here’s an example: “She felt her muscles tighten with fear.” This is more telling than showing. The feeling we want the reader to get is her fear. Here’s the same sentence rewritten and expanded on to show. “Every muscle in her body tightened and her heart pounded so hard it thumped in her ears. She trembled as chill bumps peppered her skin.” It’s a little more vivid now.

We know what happens to us when we feel fear. So the object is to use those feelings to make your reader feel your character’s fear by describing her reactions. The first example is okay if it’s a secondary character. But your main characters need their feelings to be palpable to the reader. The second example gives the reader the feeling of her fear.

Strive to make your words form pictures. Add sensory details to round out the emotions your characters are experiencing. Avoid stating their emotions in generalized terms. Expand on those terms to bring them to life. Ask yourself, How do I feel when I’m afraid, in love, annoyed, ashamed, indecisive, sad , irritated, tired, or bored? What type of body language do those feelings bring out in me? What thoughts go through my mind?

Also, avoid generalized abstractions to describe the scene itself. If you want to tell your reader it’s cold outside, then show it by how your character dresses and behaves in the scene. Such as: John pulled his coat around him and fastened it. He shivered and wedged his hands in his pockets as the wind whipped around the corner. His nose reddened the farther he walked.

Don’t tell us the city was polluted. Show us: The blue sky was barely perceptible through the grey smog that hung in the air. A smell of stale car fumes and factory smoke stacks burned the nostrils. People in masks flooded the streets as they walked to their destinations.

From those three sentences we can visualize that it is a large and polluted city.

A careful writer also needs to be watchful for too much summarized action. At times, this will have its place, but it shouldn’t take up a lot of space in the story. Watch for sentences or paragraphs that start with generalized words such as, each and every. Perhaps instead, take a moment to expand on the actual action that takes place and give the reader the feeling that this is a regular occurance by your word choices.

Telling is okay if it’s a scene that is secondary to the main one, such as something that’s taking place in the background of the main scene. But be careful here that the background is not just acting as useless filler, but also affects or moves the story in some way.

And keep in mind, showing will add length to your writing.

Happy writing!



Writing prompt

Brian sped to the top of the hill in his Mustang GT. He could see in his rear view mirror the blue lights gaining on him. “Crap! I thought I’d lost them,” he grumbled under his breath. If they catch me I’ll never be able to explain that!” he muttered as he glanced at the small leather satchel on the passenger side floor.

Ric-A-Dam-Doo: The Snow Devils by Wayne A. D. Kerr

This review is written by Mark Schultz, the Word Refiner, Typo-Buster, and Hyper-speller  at

Author Wayne Kerr introduces us to Ric-A-Dam-Doo:

A pair of girls have been kidnapped and smuggled into Mexico by a ruthless gang. The police and FBI are rendered virtually powerless by the border and corruption at every turn. Who will save these terrified teens? Their only hope may be a retired couple from Canada. The Reeses will cross that line and others to try and rescue the girls before they disappear forever. Once a Snow Devil, always a Snow Devil! What is a Ric-A-Dam-Doo? First and foremost it is the flag of the Princess Patricia Canadian Light Infantry. But it is more than that. Ric-A-Dam-Doo represents the pride and honor of the brave men and women, past and present, that have served their nation and the rights of the oppressed around the world since the first regiment was formed during WWI.

Wayne has crafted a tightly knit action story based on history with a bit of romance. He has a deft touch for the locales, action, and dialog. He really shines in the relationships, he has a great balance for all the characters, major and minor. He does just enough to prevent confusion caused by head hopping, a little bit more delineation between characters would not detract from the story however.

In short, I loved the story and had a hard time putting it down! I found only a couple of spelling errors. Ric-A-Dam-Doo deserves 4.9 stars of 5! I hope the book is transformed into a series! A couple of prequels wouldn’t hurt also, hint, hint.

You can buy the book:


You can follow Wayne:

You can write Wayne: waynekerrnovels@gmail

Thank you Liz for the opportunity to share this review on your website. For more of my reviews go to

Writing Prompt

Carey sat in the den’s bay window seat watching and listening to the kids playing outside. She could remember well the carefree days and warm summer evenings of childhood. Those days seem to have passed like a momentary sigh. Now all she could see were the strenuous times ahead of single parenting two small children after the death of her soul mate. Would she ever find a love like that again?

Happy writing!


Using the Homophones There, They’re, and Their Correctly

As all writers know, having good grammar skills is essential for good, clear writing. However, it seems that despite spell check and grammar check on word processing programs mistakes still abound on the internet and, unfortunately, even in some published journals and books. So relying entirely on built-in correction programs to do our proofing may not always be the best idea. Not to mention that auto correct is not always so correct.

I’m going to cover a subject that is one of my biggest grammar mistake pet peeves, the misuse of homophones. It’s becoming more and more obvious to me each day as I read social media updates, webpages, and really, most anything, that most of the English-speaking population was apparently absent from school the day homophones & contractions were taught. Besides the chronic misuse of “your” for “you’re” people also regularly use the wrong form of there, they’re, and their. So today, I’m going to go over the correct usage of these words.

The word there is an adverb used to indicate a particular place or position of a person or object. Examples of use: “Our car is parked over there.” “We are going there tomorrow.” Or, “Hello there!”

The word their is a possessive pronoun that shows ownership. Example: “Their car broke down yesterday on their way home.”

The word they’re is a contraction combining the words they and are. Example: “They are going to the beach in a week.” Or “They’re going to the beach in a week.”

This concludes another grammar lesson segment. I hope this will help make your writing easier and clearer. Happy writing!


Mindclone by David T. Wolf


by David T. Wolf

This review is written by Mark Schultz, the Word Refiner, Typo-Buster, and Hyper-speller  at

Author David Wolf introduces us to Mindclone:
Marc Gregorio wakes up paralyzed. He can’t feel his own body. Accident? Stroke? Did someone slip him an overdose of Botox? The answer, he discovers, is much, much worse. He’s only a copy of Marc, a digital brain without a body, burdened with all Marc’s human memories, but without access to human sensual pleasures. Now he has to find a reason to keep on, um, “living.”
Adam the Mindclone meets the real Marc Gregorio–and his new girlfriend Molly Schaeffer. Adam loves her, too. But how does a digital entity experience love? He can’t even experience pizza. His one compensation: a powerful digital brain. At Molly’s urging, he applies it to unearthing terrorist plots, aborting schoolyard mayhem, exposing congressional malfeasance and Wall Street chicanery. However, his good deeds gain the attention of a power-mad military contractor who will stop at nothing—theft, kidnapping and worse—to control the technology for his own ends. Without a body, how will Adam save himself – and the world – from a terrible fate?
Mindclone, 94,000 words, is a serio-comic science fiction romance about the first successful mind-upload. It’s a book of ideas that explores looming advances in cognitive computing and neural networks, and what it means to be human even if you don’t have a body. Plus there’s a carbon-carbon-silicon love triangle, a redeemed ad-man, adventure, humor, frustrated romance, human and digital foibles, and as an extra added bonus, the defeat of death itself.

Scifi is my favorite genre to read. This is a great story! I love the concept of transferring the mind into a digital format as a form of immortality. It is such a Fresh in the Moment story.
Since I am committed to no spoilers, I cannot tell you most of the reasons why I enjoyed the story so much. But I can talk about the writing talent of David Wolf and his skill as an author, and there is a lot of both! David explores the story from multiple angles and does a great job of keeping POV (Point Of View) very clean. I did not have a single moment of confusion about whose POV was current. David also does a great job of developing his characters, we come to know each major character very well, understanding their underlying motivations; even if we don’t like them.
The balance of action, dialog, and introspection is nearly perfect. I never got anxious spending too much time in any one space.
I hope to see more from this author in the future.

You can buy Mindclone:

You can follow David:!headlines

Thank you Liz for the opportunity to share this review on your website. For more of my reviews go to

Using Where & Wear and Were & We’re Correctly

Today’s grammar lesson covers the homophones where and wear, and the words were and we’re. These words often get confused even by auto correct and spell check programs. It’s always a good idea to do a quick read over whatever you’re writing since these words may not be spelled correctly for the context of the sentence. For instance, we may be writing “I know where the house is”, but auto correct or a slip of the fingers may place the word were or wear in place of where.

Since I discussed contractions in a previous post I’ll start with the contraction of “we’re”. This is a combination of the plural pronoun we and the present tense plural form of the verb to be which is are. Example: “We are going to the movies.” Or “We’re going to the movies.”

In contrast, were is the plural past tense of the verb to be. The word “are” is the plural present form of the verb to be. Example: “We were at the beach last week.” Vs: “We are going to the beach.”

The word wear is a verb. It means to use as an article of clothing or adornment. (The Merriam-Webster Dictionary) Example: “I wear a uniform to work.”

Where is probably the most complex of all of these words. According to Merriam-Webster’s dictionary where can be an adverb, conjunction, or a noun.

As an adverb the word “where” indicates the position of something or someone. Example: “Where did I put my glasses?”

As a conjunction “where” still means the location or position of something or someone, but it takes a different position in the sentence or question. Examples:”Do you know where the office is located?” “The driver knows where his destination is.”

As a noun the word where means a specific place or location. Example: “The incident report will state the where and how of the car accident.”

This concludes this week’s grammar lesson. As always, your comments or questions are welcome.

Writing Prompt

Miranda sat down at her desk and pulled a sheet of paper out of a drawer and a pen from the caddy. She chewed on the end of the pen while she stared at the blank page. Her mind raced as she thought of the memories she had made with her family and friends. She searched every nook of her brain for the right words to tell her family and friends that in a few hours she would be boarding a plane to Europe and may or may not ever return.

Happy writing!




House Calls: How we can heal the world one visit at a time by Patch Adams, M.D.

This review is written by Mark Schultz,  the Word Refiner, Typo-Buster and Hyper-speller  at


Author Patch Adams introduces us to House Calls: How We can Heal the World One Visit at a Time:

Dr. Patch Adams knows the inner side of healing. House Calls is a reminder that some of the most important factors in healing are not high-tech marvels but ordinary factors such as love, compassion, friendship, and hope. This book will lighten anyone’s heart and assist him or her on a healing journey.

What a delightful and encouraging book! I love the message of Patch Adams: be happy and help someone feel better! By itself the book is pretty funny, the cartoons by Jerry Van Amerongen are icing on the cake!

You can’t help feel better when reading this book and you will feel inspired to help someone who is not feeling well. You can help anyone, they don’t have to be in the hospital. But of course, that is where misery is pretty concentrated and one person can brighten the day for a lot of people in a short amount of time! I join Dr. Adams and hope you will be that person.

I love this book and give it 5/5 stars!

You can buy the book at:


You can follow Patch Adams:


You can follow Jerry Van Amerongen:


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Thank you Liz for the opportunity to share this review on your website. For more of my reviews go to