Blackbirch, The Beginning, a new and thrilling YA series by KM Allan

Mystery abounds in this fresh and exciting YA novel, which is the first book in the series to come.  Young Josh Taylor has been sent to live in the town of Blackbirch with his mother’s best friend, after the car accident that took his parents’ lives. Part of the mystery is that Josh suffers from a sort of amnesia which keeps much of his memories hazy.  Though he doesn’t know why.

Blackbirch is a touristy town that heralds a reputation of being a location for witchcraft and magick.  His mother’s friend, Grace, owns a store dealing in spell books, candles, herbs and other magical items.  Eve, who believes in magick, and Sarah, who doesn’t, are Josh’s friends. Josh doesn’t pay attention to any of it until he touches a magical item and then power he doesn’t understand shoots through him.

To add to these circumstances, a girl named Kallie, who only comes to him in his dreams, warns him of impending danger and a sinister presence. Josh is driven to find the answers to his questions. And some mysterious force keeps drawing him deep into the woods toward a house that he’s told doesn’t exist. The mysteries keep mounting. What really happened to his parents? What caused the car accident. Why can’t he remember so many things. Who can he trust?

The world building is terrific. Blackbirch is a town we’d all be fascinated by, a place we’d all want visit.  The books ends with us needing to read the next in the series to get our own questions answered. This is a clean, and a true young adult book, though all ages will enjoy the premise. KM Allan has crafted an intriguing and mysterious story with more to come.

Life With a Small Dog, Doggerel

Five stars for this wonderful foray into the world of a dog with its human.  Sue Vincent, the human in question, carves rhyming sentences into sweet and often comic vignettes.

I’m a dog lover so I was drawn to a book all about Ani, a photogenic doggy.  I love all of her incredible expressions. What’s more amazing is Ani’s story is done entirely in verse, rhyming  verse, no less. It’s a delightful read all about Ani and her human’s daily adventures. If you are a dog lover, like me, you’ll want to read this well told story.

Happy  Doggerel reading.

On The Craft: Exploring Themes and Symbols

Exploring Story Themes & Symbols

Another element of a story is its Theme

Simply put, the Theme is why the plot happens.

Theme can take a story from the commonplace to the extraordinary.

Theme is the exploration and understanding of emotions that impact both the characters and the reader on a universal level.

Breaking down Themes: Beyond the personal, emotional level.

Theme as defined by Fiction First Aid, Raymond Obstfeld

  • Plot is what happens
  • Character is whom the plot happens to
  • Theme is why the plot happens

A Universal Theme impacts the reader on an intellectual level which may stimulate the reader to examine his/her own view of self or the world at large.

A Universal Theme patterns the plot in a way that has something in common with readers: love, desire, hope, relationships, fear and death.

→Stories that arouse only emotion are Melodramas which tend to be superficial, not memorable. The reader may feel manipulated.

Exploring Story Symbols

Symbolism is a method by which the writer weaves the thread of the theme throughout the story by using one or more symbols. Sometimes writers refer to a reoccurring symbol as a ferryman, something that carries the writer through the story.

Symbols, used effectively, raise the level of a theme. Symbols can infuse the story with nuance and texture. However, the overuse of symbols can become problematic. Again, the reader may feel manipulated.

Breaking down Symbols:

  • Environmental Symbols: The writer uses, or references weather, terrain or geographical symbols to show chaos, upheaval, serenity, etc.
  • Animal Symbols: The writer uses animal behaviors to relate to human instincts and behaviors.
  • Homage: Here the writer openly references a well-known plot. The reader is informed the structure will be similar as the writer overlays a different story but in the same vein: satire, mythical, comedic etc.
  • Character Names: The writer references the obvious by using Biblical names, Literary names, or names from Greek and Roman mythology.
  • Title: The writer may use quotes from important literary works, the Bible, songs or art.
  • Settings: Big or small bodies of water, rivers, streams. Wooded areas, mountains, forests, Deserts, etc. Places of business, educational, governmental or geographical or even picket fences.
  • Objects: Household items, foods, clothing, vehicles, books, etc.

An artfully incorporated theme unifies the plot elements.

The depth of the story is enhanced by its theme and its symbols

~ ~ ~


#Writephoto Realm of Dreams in Haiku’s

I am beckoned

Into the realm of dreams

where visions await

      * * *

Here castles of yore

Where their mysteries unfold

Yearning, I follow

* * *

Oh, candle so bright

show me with your knowing light

my heart’s desire

* * *

Unbroken lines

of loves lost to memory

here to remember










For Ani’s Advent Calendar

Though I may not have a tail,

I do have a tale to tell

It’s fur Ani’s Advent Calendar, and well

I think that’s swell.

So here’ my story to tell:

Once upon a Christmas night

beneath a tree so bright

there was an unexpected sight

that gave me quite a fright

between and betwixt

a mound of ribbon and bows

there arose, a button nose

and a pinkish tongue

that quite suddenly, sprung

into my arms . . .

she was brown and white

and such a delight

I named her Wiggles

because she made me giggle

I knew one day

she would go away

yet, even after all these years

she still remains

that sweet little doggy

who stole my heart