Writers Digest

26th Annual Writer’s Digest Self-Published Book Awards: “Lucifer In Celestial Gardens”

Writers Digest Lucifer

Evaluations on a scale of 1 to 5 with 1 meaning “needs improvement” and 5 meaning “outstanding”.

9780982936191_cov.inddStructure, Organization, and Pacing: 4

Spelling, Punctuation, and Grammar: 3

Production Quality and Cover Design: 4

Plot and Story Appeal: 4

Character Appeal and Development: 4

Voice and Writing Style: 3

Judge’s Commentary

Very ominous cover. Well done. A couple of oddities in the synopsis. The comma after A.J. Harris and “their lifestyles are told.” Fairly amusing first paragraph. How important a name is! I like how you tell the backstory directly. Too many authors try to slip it in with over-obvious exposition.

“actually suck-up to her unabashedly” – funny! I love the theater scenes, p. 17. An intriguing twist with Kitty Monahan. I imagine an undertaker would know many of a town’s secrets. p. 38. The tale is nicely complex, with many elements for the reader to sort through, p. 72. The dialogues are sharp and compelling, p. 108. A good description of the accident. That’s how they happen, of course, suddenly and with little awareness, p. 136.

An intriguing line of questioning at the trial. It’s fun to watch sharp lawyers in action, and you have a good sense for judicial proceedings, p. 169. “What would I argue with, the corpse?” – funny! p. 204.

The dialogue seems oddly formal, p. 229. The transformation of Bull is an interesting and hopeful turn, p. 259. “I could have told him we had a head start…” Your humor is an everpresent and welcome element, p. 295. A compelling revelation at p. 325! Very imaginative.

Midwest Book Review

Lucifer in Celestial Gardens tells of Lou Siffer (“Lucifer”), the son of a small-town Illinois undertaker who is used to seeing corpses in the basement of their house, part of his father’s profession and the family routine. He becomes embroiled in death in a different way when scandal strikes the town and Lou becomes peripherally involved in adult matters that include a father’s conviction that suicide was not the cause of a death, a corruption case that changes this perspective, and a series of circumstances that lead an already-distant son to feel even more alienated from his father: “My father, my stalwart beacon of integrity had fallen to—what I didn’t know exactly, but from that time forward, I regarded him differently.” Continue reading “Midwest Book Review”

Chapter 94 – No mystery about nonagenarian’s love for writing

November 15, 2017 5:52 AM

WED15A00.inddWith his pure white hair, kindly blue eyes and overall dignified demeanor, Dr. A.J. Harris is the last person one would expect to be the author of mystery thrillers like “Take Two Tabs Then Die,” “Satan Stalks Sinatra Drive,” “Death in the Saddle — Not a Western” and “Fatal Formula.” Even more surprising is his age. The retired orthopedic surgeon is 94 years old, and he’s just finished his eighth novel, “Lucifer in Celestial Gardens”; he’s writing a oneact play, and he conducts a creative writing class at Maravilla Senior Living Community along with his wife, Yetta Harris, 87.

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Fatal Formula: Midwest Book Review

The time is 1953: the place, Cook County Hospital of Chicago where a gifted intern, Dr. Henry Mason, hangs himself, shocking his colleagues. Why would he commit suicide when he seems to have everything?

The quick answer is: he didn’t. But embedded within the question of how Dr. Mason died is the bigger question of who in the medical community might have had a reason to want him dead, and as puzzles increase and attention focuses on Henry’s ground-breaking research, disparate and powerful forces coalesce to gain control of what will be one of the biggest discoveries in the history of medicine.

Fatal Formula is a riveting story that will appeal to fans of Robin Cook and other medical thrillers. It crosses the line into the mystery realm yet focuses on a discovery that could change the world and those forces that would do anything to control it.

But unlike many of these thrillers, which focus on discovery, treachery, and murder, Fatal Formula also includes the formulas of people’s relationships, from their professional associations to their love lives, considering how these forces enter into the equation of innovation and confrontation.

Readers who normally eschew some of the medical thrillers on the market for their formula approaches will find something different in A.J. Harris’s production: a survey of the fundamental forces affecting forensic pathology resident and investigator, Dr. Sam Davis’s life, an examination of romance, flings, and the primary foundations of lasting relationships, and a detailed examination of formulas for greed, success, love, and lives well lived.

As Dr. Sam Davis edges ever closer to a dangerous truth, so he uncovers the kind of relationship that will support rather than injure him – if he can navigate the obstacles that threaten to inject defeat and danger into a formula that negates success.

Does Dr. Henry’s find promise miracles, or is it a recipe for disaster? And will Dr. Sam learn the difference in time? The result is a powerful, compelling, and revealing story line that adopts a winding, twisting approach through all kinds of possibilities and takes no linear path in its journey. It’s the kind of medical mystery thriller that will keep readers guessing about love and loss right up to its unexpected conclusion.

Diane Donovan, Midwest Book Review