I just happened across this recent Goodreads review for my novel By Your Side from a reader in Australia. It made my weekend!
I received an email yesterday morning from the Bethlehem Writers Roundtable informing me that my paranormal short story, “So Hungry . . .,” is a finalist for the 2017 Bethlehem Writers Roundtable Short Story Award.
Final judging will be by NYT Bestseller Carrie Vaughn. Winners be will announced by July 1.
Even if my story doesn’t place in one of the three top slots, I’m honored that it made the final round!
In a previous blog post, I mentioned that I’d spent the last week of April sequestered at a resort in the Poconos area of PA for a training class in Cisco Switching and Routing (for computer networks) after which I passed both required exams to earn my CCNA certification. The certificate finally arrived in my email late last week…
To reward myself, I decided it was high time for a day on the water with the rod and reel today. Since I have to spend my afternoon migrating software from one server to another, I only had a few hours to spare at nearby Beltzville Lake in Lehighton, PA. After losing a few smaller pickerel and bass early in the day, my last few casts were incredibly productive as evidenced by the selfies below. All told, it was a perfect—and much-needed—day out.
Now back to work.
In an effort to win the heart of a fickle young lady, intrepid newspaper reporter Edward Malone volunteers as a member of an expedition to South America to seek proof or otherwise debunk the wild claims of arrogant and intractable paleontologist Professor George Edward Challenger.
Upon returning from South America many years prior, Challenger claimed to have discovered prehistoric life still thriving atop a plateau deep in the jungles of Brazil. Unfortunately, his camera was damaged during a boating accident, leaving him with scant and inconclusive photographic evidence and only the sketchbook of one Maple White, a poet and artist who died of severe injuries shortly after escaping this supposed land of dinosaurs.
During a contentious interview, Challenger permits Malone to peruse the sketchbook, wherein White had drawn numerous mundane flora and fauna—until the final image of an impossibly large reptilian creature. Malone, however, remains unconvinced.
Despite his unadulterated aversion toward the press, Challenger sees some potential in Malone and invites him to a meeting of the Zoological Society where Professor Challenger, living up to his name, disrupts the guest lecturer when mention is made of the extinction of the dinosaur before the dawning of man.
Challenger’s claims of eyewitness accounts of pterodactyls in Brazil draws ridicule from both the audience and his peers, including one botanist and zoologist Professor Summerlee. By the end of the raucous evening, a new team of explorers agrees to travel to Brazil and put the matter to rest. In addition to Malone and Summerlee, famed adventurer and big game hunter Sir John Roxton offers his considerable skills.
Shortly thereafter, the trio embark for South America and are surprised by the appearance of Professor Challenger himself once they reach Brazil. Challenger naturally assumes the role of team leader and guide as the adventurers, along with a number of local hired hands, begin their voyage along the Amazon into the realm of the unknown—where they encounter far more than any of them ever imagined possible.
The story is told from the POV of the reporter, Edward Malone, as he journals the team’s adventures through this unfathomable—and unmistakably treacherous—domain. It had been at least 30 years since I’d last read The Lost World, yet so many elements remained with me since then, such as the cantankerous and haughty Professor Challenger, the fearsome ape men, the pterodactyl pit, and a few other vivid details. After reading it again this past week, I found myself just as enthralled as I was the first time. This should come as no surprise since much of Doyle’s work, most notably Sherlock Holmes, has soundly withstood the test of time.
In London during the summer of 1881, and still early in their now legendary partnership, Doctor Watson schedules a number of appointments for bored, brilliant detective Sherlock Holmes, who has been unable as of late to find a case worthy of his considerable talents. After the string of potential clients are turned away one by one, an unscheduled caller arrives—bringing with her an intriguing case, naturally.
Hermione Frances Sara Wynter, an elderly widow, has been unable to obtain a satisfactory answer from the Admiralty as to the whereabouts of her son, Lieutenant Norbert Wynter. Norbert was due home one month previous aboard the HMS Dido after fighting in the war against the Boers in South Africa.
However, all of Mrs. Wynter’s initial inquiries to the Admiralty went unanswered until finally, they revealed that Norbert had been classified as missing in action and a deserter. His mother, of course, refused to believe such an outlandish accusation.
Holmes accepts the case and, together with Watson, sets forth to interrogate, beleaguer, and otherwise annoy the Admiralty into providing information on Lieutenant Wynter. Soon, it becomes clear that something is amiss, especially since Wynter was listed as missing in action in February, yet continued to receive a paycheck until July.
When Holmes and Watson are attacked on the street by men sent by someone at the Admiralty, the detective is certain that a government cover-up is at play and, as Holmes is often quoted as saying, “The game is afoot!”
An investigation into the missing officer leads Holmes and Watson to a web of conspiracy that involves the death of former Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli, the now defunct East India Company, and much more.
Savile and Greenberger deftly capture the characters and relationship of Holmes and Watson in a plot that was well-conceived and unfurled at a perfect pace. I was pleased to see the inclusion of Holmes’s “street Arabs,” aka The Baker Street Irregulars, as well as Scotland Yard Inspector Gregson over the more famous Lestrade, the latter making only a cameo appearance. I have absolutely nothing against Lestrade, of course, but I appreciate the nod being given to the more minor recurring Gregson.