Book Review: The Third Option

Ben Sharpton has never hesitated to take on a controversial topic in his fiction writing. He does it again in his latest novel: The Third Option. When he asked me to do a review, I was flattered and then I read the book. First, let me say I enjoyed the book very much but had a difficult time in figuring out how to approach the review. I did not want to give away the story, but at the same time I wanted the reader to understand what Ben was trying to do with the plot. He accomplished his goal quite admirably, I believe. Here is the review I ultimately posted for his book,

The Third Option by Ben Sharpton

An International Thriller That Hits Close to Home

The Third Option
by Ben Sharpton

I teach problem solving and decision making classes to corporate clients and one of the tenants of a good problem solving/decision making process is the development of multiple options to choose from. What Ben Sharpton has done in this well-written, suspenseful fiction story is take this basic business tenant to the world of personal decisions. When faced with a problem that will impact heavily in a very personal way, the options may appear to be two-dimensional, black and white, either-or solutions. What Sharpton has done here, although it is a fictional account, is to plant the idea that there are always other options, we just need to look for them.

Sharpton wove a bit of science fiction into the process, envisioning a third option that is not currently in the realm of possibility. This begs the question, however, of the possibility of something like his Third Option becoming reality sometime in the future. I remember, as a kid, the idea that one day everyone would have a telephone they could carry in their pockets, with one number that could be reached no matter where they were. Pure science fiction, right? It was then, and now?

Sharpton has taken an issue discussed in court rooms, across dinner tables, in churches, and across social media and turned it into an international thriller, combining elements of fiction, science fiction, controversy, and even love into a story that you won’t want to put down, and one that will make you think about options – there is always a Third Option.

You can find the book at Belle Isle BooksAmazon, orBarnes & Nobel


Writer’s Retreat

are you a writerThis weekend I will be attending the annual Arizona Press Women’s Writer’s Retreat in the cool pines near Payson, Arizona. It is hot down here on the desert floor where I live, so this will be a welcome relief from the heat as well as a good time to relax, recharge, and reflect on my writing projects.

I will be coming back here each evening to write about the day and the activities I will be participating in.


UPDATE: Unfortunately there was no Internet access at the retreat. If you would like to read about the retreat, you can go to my blog post at the Center for Writing Excellence.

Novel Attempts Stalled

writers-block1I have two works-in-progress: Book one of a planned 6-book murder mystery series based on the short story Alexis’ Aggravation. Both the original story and the novel are collaborative projects. My co-author and I have been really busy the past few months and have sorely neglected Alexis – we need to get back to her. The story was written as an experiment to see if we could collaborate on a project and it turned out very well, which is why we decided to go forward with the novel. We got the first three chapters done, and stopped. We have been thinking about setting the novel up as a subscription series – where readers can read the first chapter free, then subscribe to subsequent chapters. This would give us an incentive to get it done, with deadlines for each new chapter to meet the subscription requirements. We will discuss that plan next month when we meet to discuss our progress (or lack of) on the novel.

The second novel is one I started in NaNoWriMo Camp in April. I did not meet my goals there, but did get over 5,000 words down — a mere drop in the bucket for a novel. The working title is 100 Years from England. It is a fictionalized version of a murder that took place in London in in 1849. I found the story when I was researching London in November, 1849 – 100 years before I was born. I had discovered that my  great, great, great grandmother was born on the same day as I was – exactly 100 years before me. My premise for this story is based in some fantasy/witchcraft idea about the woman who was hanged in London on November 13, 1849 being ‘re-born’ in a baby girl in rural Montana on November 13, 1949. I am stuck on making the transition. I have the London background and the current day girl (now experiencing her 18th birthday). I have established a tentative link by talking about odd dreams the girl has every year on her birthday – becoming more vivid as she gets older. And there I am.

I plan on updating this status within the next month – with good news!

Stay tuned

Collaborative Writing

collaborative writingI’ve been a writer most of my life. I have written both fiction and non-fiction, blog posts, magazine articles, books, newsletters, and all kinds of other projects involving writing. The one thing I had never done was co-write. Until now, that is. One of my writer friends and I decided to enter a popular writing competition that features writing in rounds, with elimination possible in any of the rounds. The competition accepts writing teams, so my friend, Rhonda, and I decided to give it a shot. To prepare for the contest, which does not start until February 22, we felt we needed some practice co-writing to see if we could do it. The contest divides the writers up into heats and provides each heat with three prompts: Subject, Genre, and Character. We decided to write three stories, each one following the time and length limits set in the contest. We also created a random list of subjects, genres, and characters. We drew one of each for each of the three stories. Our first random prompt list was: Mystery (Genre), Bartender (Character), and Business Meeting (Subject). We had eight days to write a 2500 word story. You can read it by clicking here: Alexis’ Aggravation   or on the tab above. Our second practice story was to be written in three days and be no more than 2,000 words. Our random prompts were: Science Fiction, Casino Teller, and Halloween. That story is published under the All That Shimmers… tab. The third one, which was to be 1500 words and completed in 24 hours, is now finished. Our random prompts were: History, Lead Singer, and Luck. The story is called Finding Booth. You can click on the story title, or find it under the tab above.

Collaborative writing is interesting. We have had some fun doing this. I was not sure I could do it, because usually when I sit down to write, I just write until I am done. Doing these stories in sections and then discussing them as we write them has been good for me. Writing requires a certain amount of discipline and a collaborative project forces that discipline. I look forward to doing this again!